03 November 2011

When one part of the body suffers, all suffer

Readers of this blog are no doubt aware of my concern for our brothers and sisters who suffer daily because of their faith in Jesus Christ.  It was this concern - particularly for those Christians in the Holy Land - that led me to accept my nomination to join the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem.

It was also this concern that led me to write to Represtantive Aaron Shock (R-IL, 18th District) after the recent brutal assault of the Egyptian military on peaceful protesting Copts.  When the U.S. State Department failed to mention on its web site (at least not where I could find it) the violence in which military vehicles simply ran over Christians and soldiers opened fire upon them, and when President Obama simply called for "restraint" on both sides, I asked to meet with Mr. Shock when he is next in Springfield to discuss the plight of persecuted Christians throughout the world and the lack of adequate responses from the various governments of the world.

I was contacted earlier this week by Mr. Schock's staff and met with one of them this morning.  I am deeply grateful to Mr. Shock for his willingness to meet with me.  When we meet I will ask him to see what Congress can do to alleviate their plight.

Shortly after I wrote to him the North American Orthodox-Catholic Theological Consultation met and released the following statement today on The Plight of Churches in the Middle East (with my emphases):
The “Arab Spring” is unleashing forces that are having a devastating effect on the Christian communities of the Middle East. Our Churches in Egypt, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and Palestine report disturbing developments such as destruction of churches and massacres of innocent civilians that cause us grave concern. Many of our church leaders are calling Christians and all people of good will to stand in solidarity with the members of these ancient indigenous communities. In unity with them and each other, we the members of the North American Orthodox-Catholic Theological Consultation, gathered October 27-29, 2011, add our voice to their call. 
We are concerned for our fellow Christians who, in the face of daunting challenges, struggle to maintain a necessary witness to Christ in their homelands. United with them in prayer and solidarity, we ask our fellow Christians living in the West to take time to develop a more realistic appreciation of their predicament. We ask our political leaders to exert more pressure where it can protect these Churches, many of which have survived centuries of hardship but now stand on the verge of disappearing completely. 
When one part of the body suffers, all suffer (cf. 1 Cor. 12:26). As Christians in the West, we therefore have the vital responsibility to respond to the needs of our brothers and sisters who live in fear for their lives and communities at this moment. As Orthodox and Catholic Christians we share this responsibility and this concern together.
 Please, I beg you, do what you can to help our brothers and sisters who suffer because of their faith every day.

The Lord himself warned us, "You will be hated by all because of my name, but he who endures to the end will be saved" (Matthew 10:22).  Pray for those who are persecuted, that they might not lose faith.

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