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Bishops Call for Prayer Amidst 'Stark Reality' of Religious Persecution, Violence

 
March 10, 2015

WASHINGTON—People of all faiths are called to pray for victims of religious persecution and violence and work to protect the marginalized and persecuted around the world, according to a statement of the Administrative Committee of the U.S. bishops, approved March 10. The bishops said Lent is a time for prayerfully reflecting on suffering.

"Let us use this season to unite with our suffering brothers and sisters and pray for them and with them in a special way," they said. "With hope, let us pray for the day when we can all share in the joy and lasting peace of Christ's resurrection."

The Administrative Committee is chaired by Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). The committee consists of the elected chairs of the 16 standing committees, the elected representatives of 15 geographic regions, the chairman of Catholic Relief Services and the elected officers of USCCB.

Full text of the statement follows:

STATEMENT ON RELIGIOUS PERSECUTION

ADMINISTRATIVE COMMITTEE

UNITED STATES CONFERENCE OF CATHOLIC BISHOPS

March 10, 2015

Upon learning of the death of 21 Coptic Christians at the hands of ISIL terrorists, Pope Francis called their murder a "testimony which cries out to be heard." On behalf of America's Catholic Bishops, we pause to listen and invite people of all faiths to join us in prayer for those facing the stark reality of religious persecution in the Middle East and elsewhere. The testimony of those 21 brave and courageous martyrs does not stand alone as thousands of families – Christian and other religions – find themselves fleeing from horrific violence.

We urge all people of goodwill to work toward protections of the marginalized and persecuted.In union with the local Churches and the Holy See, we call upon our nation to: work with the international community to intervene and protect the rights of religious minorities and civilians within the framework of international and humanitarian law; address political and economic exclusion that are exploited by extremists; and increase humanitarian and development assistance.

Lent is a season to meditate upon the Cross and unite ourselves even more closely with Christ's suffering. Let us use this season to unite with our suffering brothers and sisters and pray for them and with them in a special way. With hope, let us pray for the day when we can all share in the joy and lasting peace of Christ's resurrection.

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Keywords: religious persecution, Middle East, ISIL, Islamic State, Pope Francis, U.S. bishops, Administrative Committee, martyrs, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz, Louisville, Kentucky, president

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