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(Forum 18) reports that after ten years’ service as a parish priest Fr Robert Maciejewski was forced to return to his native Poland because Belarus’ senior state religious affairs official refused the Catholic bishop’s request to extend state permission for him to continue religious work.
Another foreign Catholic priest has been forced to leave Belarus after the authorities refused to extend permission for him to continue to serve in the country. Polish citizen Fr Robert Maciejewski – who served as parish priest in Mstislav in Mogilev [Mahilyow] Region for almost ten years – had to leave Belarus on 25 April.
Fr Maciejewski left Belarus because the authorities had not extended his permit to carry out religious activities, the spokesperson of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference, Fr Yuri Sanko, confirmed to Forum 18 from the capital Minsk on 23 May. Fr Sanko did not explain the reasons for the denial.
Fr Maciejewski’s enforced departure from Belarus came two weeks after the diocesan head, Archbishop Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz, had called for the state to end the requirement that foreign citizens need permission to conduct any religious activity (see below).
Another Polish Catholic priest who left Belarus at the end of May after 28 years’ service had seen his application for Belarusian citizenship rejected five years ago.
Meanwhile, organisers of a bike ride in mid-May to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the publication of the first translation of books of the Bible into Belarusian were told both the ride and meetings they had planned in several towns along the route were banned.
And court bailiffs visited New Life Full Gospel Church in Minsk in late April in a renewed attempt to force it to vacate the building it bought and has used for worship for 14 years. Church leaders hope that negotiations with the authorities will resolve the dispute. Read full article.
(World Watch Monitor) Activists and representatives of the Croatian Baptist Church are urging the state not to deport Christian asylum-seekers to Iran, saying they could face serious consequences because of their faith, reports Balkan Insight.
Iran is known to be a country where living as a Christian is difficult, especially for those who have converted from Islam. It is ranked eighth on Open Doors’ 2017 World Watch List of the 50 countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian.
Late last year, Iranian and European human-rights and religious-rights organisations urged the international community to hold the Iranian government to account over its treatment of Christian converts. In their letter, they detailed what they described as “a pattern” of treatment by the Iranian authorities that included arrests, interrogations, detention, raids on churches and harassment by security agents. They also mentioned the ongoing trial of four converts – including Youcef Nadarkhani, a church leader previously sentenced to death for apostasy.
Croatia is one of the nations that saw thousands of refugees and migrants cross its borders in 2015/2016 and remains a transit country, according to Amnesty International. Most refugees and migrants have set their eyes on going further West. And it is in the migrant camps of Europe, like the so-called former “Jungle” camp near Calais, where the Christian presence hidden in Iran is becoming visible.
“I truly feel that I am a part of the Body of Christ. And I know people are praying for me, not just here, but people in America, Germany, Russia. It’s like the Scripture says, how the entire body suffers when one member suffers.
Voice of the Persecuted is working to encourage and support our brothers and sisters suffering in extreme persecution. Too often, they’re overlooked by governments and the global community at large. Yet, the modern-day persecution of Christians is one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world, today. Let us step up and in to help care for our own. If we don’t, who will?
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Together with your generous help, we can reach the goal to alleviate horrific suffering. In darkness and desperation, let us serve in love, with open arms and giving hands to provide light and hope.
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Who has held the oceans in His hands? Who has numbered every grain of sand? Kings and nations tremble at His voice. All creation rises to rejoice
Behold our God seated on His throne
Come let us adore Him
Behold our King nothing can compare
Come let us adore Him!
Who has given counsel to the Lord? Who can question any of His Words? Who can teach the One who knows all things? Who can fathom all His wondrous deeds?
Who has felt the nails upon His hands bearing all the guilt of sinful man?
God eternal humbled to the grave. Jesus, Savior risen now to reign! (Behold Our God, original lyrics)
STOP, be still. Turn off the all that distracts you. Shhh, be silent and listen. Can you hear that? The ONE who loves you is calling your name…Go to HIM!
Today around noon a monk of the Dečani Monastery, while taking a walk along around the monastery territory, noticed graffiti on the garden house, approximately 300 meters east of the Monastery. The monks immediately alerted the MNBG West KFOR Commander Col. Minelli and the local Kosovo police. It was learned that the graffiti was written on five more locations on the monastery’s land. The most common graffiti displays the abbreviations for the Albanian National Army “UCK,” other abbreviations of Islamist armies “ISIS,” “AKSH,” a threat that “The Caliphate is coming,” and some undecipherable lines that look like an attempt to write in Arabic. While Col. Minelli, the chief of police, and abbot of the monastery Fr. Sava were inspecting the graffiti, a group of young Kosovo Albanians who were passing on the road overlooking the monastery land began shouting UCK in chorus. This was witnessed by both Col. Minelli and the KP commander. Later the police informed the monks that three young Albanian men were detained by the police for provocative behavior.
The graffiti was most probably written during the previous night (11/12 October). The perpetrators of this provocation most probably entered the monastery property on the eastern side where there is no wall. Six years ago, the Monastery had to stop construction of the wall on the eastern side because they were openly threatened in the press by the local UCK war veteran organization, claiming that the Monastery had no right to do so. This part of the Monastery property remains the most critical point and it is very hard to secure without at least some barbed wire or fence, before the wall is constructed.
Today’s incident comes several days after the incident at Peć Patriarchate gate where a Wahhabi man (identified as Alegorik Muhamed Beqiri born in 1992 from Skenderaj/Srbica, with residence in Peć/Peja) attacked and injured a local Kosovo policeman shouting “Allah u-Akbar”. On that occasion the Church learned that this man and his companions had allegedly threatened the Catholic nuns in Peć a few days before, telling them that they would be slaughtered.
Dečani monks informed KFOR two months ago that they sighted four vehicles filled with bearded men dressed Wahhabi style passing by the monastery on their way to the Dečani gorge. They returned to the town of Dečani soon afterwards. Today’s incident also comes six months after unknown individuals left UCK graffiti on one of the Monastery gates (April 24, 2014). The perpetrators of this vandalism have not yet been brought to justice. Although the graffiti this time was written further away from the Monastery compound, the Dečani monks nevertheless remain very concerned, because this incident shows that there is a possibility of unauthorized access to the area in which the brothers work in the gardens and take care of the cattle every day.
In the recent weeks, KFOR has increased security around the Monastery with random patrols as an additional element of protection to the existing checkpoints. KFOR has also mediated in a few projects that should improve the relations with the local community. This latest incident comes as a step backward for all.
PRESS RELEASE BY THE DIOCESE
The Diocese of Raška-Prizren and Kosovo-Metohija has strongly condemned the Islamist and Albanian nationalist graffiti that were written by unknown individuals on the property of Visoki Dečani Monastery. This is one more in the series of many provocations directed against Visoki Dečani Monastery and the Christian Orthodox sites in Kosovo.
Bishop Teodosije has made an appeal today to the international representatives as well as the local Kosovo institutions, warning that any extremism of nationalist and religious character presents a serious threat not only for the Serbian people and the Church in Kosovo, but also for all citizens in this region. Our Church, said Bishop Teodosije, expects the international community and the Kosovo institutions to protect peace and order as well as Christian sites in Kosovo from provocations and potential acts of terror.
The Serbian Orthodox Church in Kosovo has been exposed for years to acts of violence and provocations which must stop once and for all, emphasized Bishop Teodosije.
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By Eduardo Verastegui —At this very moment in Iran, an America pastor named Saeed Abedini sits in a prison cell: his crime: refusing to be quiet about his faith in Jesus Christ. Across the globe in North Korea, another America named Kenneth Bae also a devout Christian languishes in a North Korean prison camp: his crime: also refusing to be quiet about his Christian faith.
In the Ukraine, government officials have warned leaders of the Ukranian Greek Catholic church that unless they stop praying in the streets with anti-government protesters, the Church may lose its status as a legitimate religious entity.
What does this have to do with me, an actor enjoying the good life in Hollywood, California, you might be asking yourself? Well, as it turns out, plenty.
First, I too am a Christian, not a very good one perhaps having made plenty of mistakes in my life, but a Christian nonetheless and when a fellow Christian is suffering anywhere in the world because of his beliefs, I too am suffering.
Continue reading why Eduardo Verastegui feels compelled to speak up for persecuted Christians HERE
While it is no secret that the so-called mainstream media habitually fails to report on the international phenomenon of Christian persecution, few are aware that they sometimes actively work to undermine the efforts of those who do expose it.
Consider a new report by the BBC titled “Are there really 100,000 new Christian martyrs every year?” by Ruth Alexander, who asks:
So how widespread is anti-Christian violence?
“Credible research has reached the shocking conclusion that every year an estimate of more than 100,000 Christians are killed because of some relation to their faith,” Vatican spokesman Archbishop Silvano Maria Tomasi announced in a radio address to the United Nations Human Rights Council in May.
On the internet, the statistic has taken on a life of its own, popping up all over the place, sometimes with an additional detail-that these 100,000 lives are taken by Muslims.
The number comes originally from the Center for the Study of Global Christianity (CSGC) at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in the US state of Massachusetts, which publishes such a figure each year in its Status of Global Mission (see line 28).
Its researchers started by estimating the number of Christians who died as martyrs between 2000 and 2010-about one million by their reckoning-and divided that number by 10 to get an annual number, 100,000.
But how do they reach that figure of one million?
When you dig down, you see that the majority died in the civil war in the Democratic Republic of Congo….
If you were to take away the 90,000 deaths in DR Congo from the CSGC’s figure of 100,000, that would leave 10,000 martyrs per year.
Later, after arguing that “while violence continues in DR Congo, it’s less extreme today than it was at its height,” Alexander quotes approximately 7,000-8,000 Christians worldwide dying for their faith (the CSGC projects 150,000 dead by 2025).
Regarding the statement “How do they [CSGC] reach that figure of one million? When you dig down, you see that the majority died in the civil war in the Democratic Republic of Congo,” it is unclear where Alexander got this information. She does provide a link to the Center for the Study of Global Christianity’s Status of Global Mission, telling readers to “see line 28,” which indeed confirms the average number of 100,000 Christians martyred per year. However, nowhere in this CSGC report does the word “Congo” even appear, prompting one to ask where Alexander went to “dig down” for information.
If it is true that the number 100,000 is primarily based on the Congo, and that the real number is 7,000-8,000, the total number of Christians killed specifically because of their faith would seem to be reduced by a whopping 93%.
Of course, many human rights activists do indicate that Christians are specifically targeted in the Congo. Moreover, regarding the question of how many Christians are killed, Alexander herself later quotes another source saying, “[T]here is no scientific number at the moment. It has not been researched and all experts in this area are very hesitant to give a figure.”
And this seems to be the real point. Of all the questions and aspects of Christian persecution that objective researchers and reporters can explore and expose, why did the BBC pick the very one that 1) cannot be answered and 2) is ultimately irrelevant — at best academic, at worst cold and callous? (The issue is less whether 100,000 Christians around the world are killed for their faith, but rather that any Christian, any human — even Alexander’s “paltry” 7,000 — is being killed for his or her faith.)
The BBC naturally picked this “numbers” question because it best serves to minimize the specter of Christian persecution, specifically by prompting the casual reader to conclude,
“Oh, well, things are certainly nowhere near as bad as I thought for Christian minorities outside the West.”
More importantly — and here we reach BBC policy — it serves to exonerate the chief persecutor of Christians: the Islamic world. As Alexander is quick to conclude, “[t]his means we can say right away that the internet rumours of Muslims being behind the killing of 100,000 Christian martyrs are nonsense.”
Incidentally, since when do numbers matter to the supposedly “humanitarian-conscious” BBC and other “liberal” media? Would the BBC ever write a report dedicated to trying to show that the number of Palestinians killed in the conflict with Israel is actually 93% lower than widely believed?
Of course not. When it comes to the Arab-Israeli conflict, far from minimizing anything, the BBC regularly exaggerates to demonize Israel.
And therein lies the main lesson. The BBC is in the business not of reporting facts, but rather of creating smokescreens, building and knocking down straw men, and chasing red herrings. All this to further its narratives — in this case, that “only” 7,000-8,000 Christians are killed annually for their faith, and the Islamic world is largely innocent. So what’s all the fuss about?
Raymond Ibrahim is author of Crucified Again: Exposing Islam’s New War on Christians.
Voice of the Persecuted wonders:
How Ms. Alexander would feel after receiving countless messages (from the large majority) afraid to ever go to the press or authorities for fear of further violence and oppression? Would she count these unreported incidents as persecution?
What would she think after reading message after message from Christians begging for help to get asylum, because they no longer believe they can ever be safe in their nation?
Would she in turn become of VOICE for those who sent her horrific pictures and stories of the severe persecution against them?
Would she beg others to pray with her when she realized this problem is growing rapidly with no end in sight?
Would she diminish their plight by claiming the issue is not as bad as we thought???
Earlier this year Candida Moss claimed the traditional idea of the “Age of Martyrdom” when early Christians suffered persecution from the Roman authorities and lived in fear of being thrown to the lions, is largely fictional. Though she agrees modern-day persecution is happening, we find it interesting at a time of increasing Christian persecution, stories like this are being written and published. The dismissals do more harm than good.
Regardless of what the main stream media agenda is, DON’T STOP PRAYING AND BEING CONCERNED FOR PERSECUTED CHRISTIANS. It is happening—no matter how the ‘world’ tries to conceal and downplay it. The ‘Age of Martyrdom’ is NOW!
Four and a half months after Belarus’ KGB secret police arrested Catholic priest Fr Vladislav Lazar on 31 May, it is still unclear why he was arrested or what specific acts he is accused of having committed, Forum 18 News Service notes. Fr Lazar is being held in a KGB detention centre under conditions which have been described as designed to crush the spirit. He has – against international human rights law – been denied visits from his family, friends and fellow-clergy, including Papal Nuncio Archbishop Claudio Gugerotti. Fr Lazar has been charged with treason, which carries a punishment of between seven and 15 years in jail, but the authorities have refused to reveal details of their allegations. Curiously, the charges were first revealed by the Catholic Church three and half months after the arrest, not by the authorities. The KGB secret police has bullied Fr Lazar’s family, but campaigns for him continue. Pope Francis has also expressed his concern, and many in Belarus are convinced the priest is innocent. “The case is falling apart and everyone understands that the charges sound funny”, journalist and family friend Lyubov Lunyova told Forum 18.
Read more at Forum 18