By Fr. George Welzbacher
March 13, 2011
"You will be hated by all for my name's sake" (Matthew 10:22). "If the world hates you, know that it has hated Me before it hated you.... If they persecuted Me, they will persecute you" (John 15:18 and 20). "Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death; and you will be hated by all nations for my name's sake" (Matthew 24:9).
Our Lord's words apply-as indeed they must - to every age, our own included, and today not only in Communist countries but throughout the Muslim world. Item: Elements of the Egyptian army attacked a Coptic monastery last week in a hit- and-run raid to inspire terror. Item: A few days ago a Muslim mob of some four thousand burnt a Coptic church and destroyed the homes of Christians in a town about 18 miles from Cairo, as the army stood by. Item: A high-ranking Catholic member of Pakistan's government, the Minister for Religious Minorities, was shot dead because of his audacious efforts to moderate his country's blasphemy law, which imposes the penalty of death upon anyone judged to have spoken disparagingly about Islam or about Muhammad. This murder comes on the heels of the murder of Saiman Taseer, the governor of Pakistan's largest and wealthiest province, the Punjab, for the same reason, a month ago. May I share with you the account of the Muslim assault on Egyptian Christians as provided by the Assyrian News Agency, followed by a report of the murder of Pakistan's Minster for Minorities, Shahbaz Bhatti, a report printed in the Wall Street Journal for March 3, 2011.
* * * * *Nearly 4000 Muslims Attack Christian Homes in Egypt, Torch Church
Assyrian International News Agency
A mob of nearly four thousand Muslims has attacked Coptic homes this evening [March 5, 2011] in the village of Soul, Atfif in Helwan Governorate, 30 kilometers from Cairo, and torched the Church of St. Mina and St. George. There are conflicting reports about the whereabouts of the Church pastor, Father Yosha, and three deacons who were at church; some say they died in the fire and some say they are being held captive by the Muslims inside the church.
Witnesses report the mob prevented the fire brigade from entering the village. The army, which has been stationed for the last two days in the village of Bromil, 7 kilometers [less than 5 miles] from Soul, initially refused to go into Soul, according to the officer in charge. When the army finally sent three tanks to the village, Muslim elders sent them away, saying that everything was "in order now."
A curfew has been imposed on the 12,000 Christians in the village.
This incident was triggered by a relationship between 40-year-old Copt Ashraf Iskander and a Muslim woman. Yesterday a "reconciliation" meeting was arranged between the relevant Coptic and Muslim families, and together with the Muslim elders it was decided that Ashraf Iskander would have to leave the village because Muslims torched his house.
The father of the Muslim woman was killed by his cousin because he did NOT kill his daughter to preserve the family's honor, which led the woman's brother to avenge the death of his father by killing the cousin. The village Muslims blamed the Christians.
The Muslim mob attacked the church, exploding 5-6 gas cylinders inside the church, pulled down the cross and the domes and burnt everything inside. Activist Ramy Kamel of Katibatibia Coptic advocacy called US-based Coptic Hope Sat TV and sent an SOS on behalf of the Copts in Soul village, as they were being attacked by the mob. He also said that no one was able to contact the priest and the deacons inside the burning church and there was no answer from their mobile phones.
Coptic activist Wagih Yacoub reported the mob had broken into Coptic homes and had called on Copts to leave the village. "Terrorized Copts have fled and some hid in homes of Muslim neighbors," he added. [Note that not all Muslims are terrorists].
Witnesses said the mob chanted "Allahu Akbar" and vowed to conduct their morning prayers on the church plot after razing it.
* * * * *
A more refined kind of attack is about to be visited upon a Christian institution (viz.,the traditional understanding of marriage) and upon the liberty of a Christian conscience right here at home in the U.S.A. I am referring in the first instance to the recently announced decision by President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder to refuse to defend against future court challenges the DOMA law, the Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as a legally recognized union between one man and one woman, and in the second instance to Mr. Obama's announced decision to remove from existing law the protection of the right of pharmacists, medical practitioners and hospitals to refuse, on grounds of conscience, to provide certain services or products.* * * * *
I reprinted here last week the protest lodged by America's Catholic bishops against the new Obama policy on DOMA, as opening the door to legal reprisal against those refusing to participate in non-traditional "marriage" ceremonies. Here is a report from a private blog on the new threat to freedom of conscience in the world of medical practice.
Obama Makes Good on His Threats to the Catholic Church
In January 2009 Barack Obarna and his ... Congress had a choice. They could ram through the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA), appeasing the abortion-hungry Left, or let it sit while they rammed through "more important items" like Obamacare and Card Check .... Their sense of the situation told them they probably couldn't do both.
Now after a series of stinging defeats on Card Check and the ever dirnming chances of Obamacare's actually (being implemented] ...
Obama has ordered Kathleen Sebelius, the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), to start threatening medical professionals who, for reasons of personal conviction, will not dispense drugs that cause miscarriages - in effect aborting fetuses....
Obama has unilaterally stripped away the "Conscience Clause" put in place by George Bush....
HHS claims its rules "...never intended to allow providers to refuse ... medical care to individuals because [such] behavior [was] found objectionable..." A more practical view of the consequences of this new ruling, is the eventual closing of Catholic hospitals.
Dr. J. Scott Ries of the Christian Medical Association is very concerned about this decision. He predicts two outcomes: A - Rather than disobeying God's law, a number of health care professionals will walk away from their jobs, and not yield to Obama's law; and B - When that happens, faith-based hospitals will close or drastically cut services to their communities.
Helped by pro-life Democrat Dan Lipinski from Illinois, Republicans Chris Smith of New Jersey, Joe Pitts of Pennsylvania and Dr. John Fleming of Louisiana are fighting back with HR 358 the "Protect Life Act" and HR 361 the "Abortion Non-Discrimination Act." Help these men. They are fighting for us. Call them to let them know you support them.
Dan Lipinski 202-225-5701
Chris Smith 202-225-3765
Joseph Pitts 202-225-2411 and
John Fleming 202-225-2777
To contact your congressional representative check this link: http://www.contactingthecongress.org
* * * * *
And here is a report on the latest anti-Christian atrocity in Muslim Pakistan. .* * * * *
Minister is Gunned Down in Pakistan* * * * *
Zahid Hussain and Tom Wright
The Wall Street Journal
March 3, 2011
ISLAMABAD - Suspected Islamic militants shot dead the most senior Christian in Pakistan's national government, in the latest sign that political moderates backing the U.S. are failing to rein in a growing wave of Islamist extremism.
The second killing this year of a politician who has stood AGAINST the country's blasphemy law, which sanctions the DEATH penalty for insulting Islam, threatened to further destabilize a country where secular-minded politicians are increasingly imperiled by a rising strain of Islamism in the middle classes.
The chilling climate was highlighted in a video made by the latest victim, Shahbaz Bhatti, the Minister for Minorities' Affairs, to be released in the event of his death.
The U. S. has attempted to bolster moderate elements of Pakistan's society and combat religious extremism with huge disbursements of civilian aid, but the targeting of politicians who espouse secular views and are viewed as supporting the U. S. complicates this strategy. Ties between the two countries have hit new lows after a U. S. Central Intelligence Agency contractor in January was detained after shooting dead two armed men in Lahore.
The government of President Asif An Zaradi, a U. S. ally, recently DROPPED moves to REFORM the blasphemy law, fearing a backlash from extremists.
Mr. Bbatti was traveling in Islamabad to attend a cabinet meeting when three gunmen opened fire on his car, police said. The assailants dragged Mr. Bhatti from the vehicle before shooting more bullets into him. He died on the spot after receiving at least eight bullet wounds.
The killers, who escaped, dropped leaflets saying they had acted in the name of the Punjabi Taliban and Al Qaeda because the government had put an "infidel Christian" in an important position.
"Bhatti's murder is the bitter fruit of appeasement of extremist and militant groups," said New York-based Human Rights Watch in a statement.
Mr. Bhatti, a 42-year old Catholic, had sought a reform of the country's blasphemy law, which rights groups say has been used to persecute Christians and other minorities.
Salmaan Taseer, a former governor of Punjab province who also opposed the law, was gunned down in Islamabad by his police bodyguard in January. The guard, who said he was angered by Mr. Taseer's stance, has become a national HERO for Islamist groups.
Secretary of State Hilary Clinton told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee she was "shocked and outraged" by the assassination. She called Mr. Bhatti, whom she met last month in Washington, a "courageous man" who was aware of the threats against him.
Mr. Zardari condemned the killing of Mr. Bhatti and ordered an official inquiry but didn't mention the blasphemy law.
Mr. Bhatti, who faced assassination attempts six years ago for his SUPPORT of rape VICTIMS, recorded a video in December in Dubai with First Step Forum, a Finland-based Christian human rights group, which made it public Wednesday. In the video, Mr. Bhatti says repeated death threats from militants wouldn't deter him from supporting Christians and other minorities.
"I will die to defend their rights," Mr. Bhatti says.
Targeted killings of politicians have created a newfound feeling of insecurity in Islamabad, a city that had been successful in stopping large-scale terrorist attacks for more than a year. Militants have responded by moving to more limited attacks, like Wednesday's shooting, which are harder to guard against.
The killing of Mr. Taseer by a police officer who was meant to protect him also has shown how hard it is to rely on Pakistan's security forces to guard against attacks because of widespread sympathies with militants.
Fearing for his life, Mr. Bhatti had asked authorities for a bullet-proof automobile in recent months but hadn't received one, said Johan Candelin, executive director of First Step Forum. Wajid Durrani, Islamabad's police chief said Mr. Bhatti was provided protection in view of the threat to his life but was traveling without his security detail at the time of the attack.
The death of Mr. Bhatti shook Pakistan's small Christian community. Christians are the largest religious minority in the country, where about 5% of the 180 million population are non-Muslims. "We have lost our most courageous spokesman," said Akram Massig Gil, a Christian member of parliament.
Radical Islam is not the only religion that is hostile to our way of life. Extremist environmentalism, a kind of secular pantheist pseudo-religion, can take its place in line, too. In 2008 environmentalist spokesman Steven Chu stated forthrightly: "Somehow, we have to figure out how to BOOST THE PRICE OF GASOLINE to the levels in Europe." Like, let us say, to $10.00 a gallon or more? President Obama chose Mr. Chu to be the U. S. SECRETARY OF ENERGY.* * * * *