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

March 10, 2015 By Public Affairs Office

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

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

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

Full text of the statement follows:




March 10, 2015

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

We urge all people of goodwill to work toward protections ofthe marginalized and persecuted.Inunion 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 ofreligious minorities and civilians within the framework of international andhumanitarian law; address political and economic exclusion that are exploitedby extremists; and increase humanitarian and development assistance.

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


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

MEDIA CONTACT:Don ClemmerO: 202-541-3206

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