The 2011 edition of ‘Persecuted and Forgotten?’, the Report of Aid to the Church in Need on Christians oppressed for their Faith throughout the world, was launched in Dundalk, Co. Louth, last month.
Speaking at the launch, Cardinal Seán Brady, Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland, made some very thought-provoking statements. In particular, it is vital that what he said in regard to Ireland should be carefully listened to and acted upon. During the course of his speech (the text is available at www.acnirl.org - and it should be read in its entirety), Cardinal Brady said:
‘By simply professing their Faith in public, Iraqi Christians are being persecuted physically, socially and economically; their lives and livelihoods are under continuous threat. The overt and aggressive private and public anti-Christian sentiment so evident in Iraq however is not limited to Iraq. It is to be found throughout the lesser and greater Middle East, throughout Asia. It is to be found also in Africa and increasingly it is being found within the once-Christian lands of Western Europe.
‘The evidence is clear and it is persuasive, Christianity is being aggressively uprooted from the Middle-East, the very lands from which it first sprang. The evidence may be less clear and the aggression may be less blood-stained but the reality remains that Christianity is under threat in Western Europe and throughout the Western World by an aggressive Atheism. Not the old style heavy-handed militant Atheism and tyranny such as was evident in the former Soviet Union but by a more recently-fashioned Nihilism which insistently denies the existence of any God-given Truth.
‘Notwithstanding the fact that the “roots” of European culture are profoundly Christian, an element of the culture of contemporary secularised Europe not only denies this reality but seeks to have Christianity eliminated, or failing that, “ghettoised”. Christian culture, Christian values and the Christian faith are under sustained attack in many quarters. […]
‘Self-evidently professing one’s faith and giving an account of it is more “life-threatening”, at least from a physical perspective, in present-day Iraq as compared to present-day Ireland. But does the same hold true from a spiritual perspective? Could it possibly be the case that it is more difficult to be a Christian believer in Ireland than in Iraq? […]
‘One hundred years ago, Europe was the cultural, economic, social and scientific powerhouse of the world. Today, Europe has become eclipsed as a global “superpower”. Indeed Europe is, in the opinion of many, rapidly becoming a socio-economic “has-been”. I think the case is clear; any healthy sustainable vision for a “New Europe” must embrace, not deny its Christian roots and in this what applies to Europe also applies to Ireland. […]
‘Europe is floundering because of its failure to warmly embrace its Christian heritage, it is declining because of its failure to respect the God-given dignity of every person and the revealed truths of Christian faith.‘Furthermore I would suggest that when one takes the Christian leaven out of any society, that society’s development is greatly impaired. Indeed I would go so far as to argue that society’s development will regress. [...]'