On this first day of the Jubilee of Mercy, the Catholic News Service has published an excellent article by Matt Hadro titled, "Your apathy is hurting ISIS victims - a challenge to US Christians," in which he rightly says that "Christians in the U.S. must stop their apathy to the bloody persecution of religious minorities in Iraq and Syria, said a religious freedom advocate who proposed an “examination of conscience” for faith communities."
He quotes Timothy Samuel Shar, Associate Director of the Religious Freedom Project at Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs at University, who describes the general apathy of Christians in the United States of America (and, if we are honest, of the West in general) toward the plight of our brothers and sisters in Christ suffering greatly under the Islamic State:
The rest of the article is worth your time.“Just as a basic matter of our experiencing the suffering of our brothers and sisters in some kind of way, experiencing some kind of solidarity, we are failing the test,” he said, calling his own Catholic parish “pretty indifferent” to the plight of persecuted religious minorities in Iraq and Syria.“I don’t hear a lot of real outrage from Christian leaders about this issue, on a regular, consistent basis,” Shah said. “Where are the widespread demonstrations? Where are letters by thousands and thousands of pastors to appropriate leaders to do more about this? Where are the spontaneous grassroots campaigns? I don’t see them.”
For more than a year now I have been trying to stir the consciences of Christians in the U.S. and in the West, but to little avail. Many have expressed their gratitude to me for keeping their plight before them, they have said a few prayers for them, but most have done little more. They have not written to their elected representatives. They have not organized prayers for them. They have not donated to charities working directly with them (I've had links to four such organizations at the top of the sidebar for months).
Thinking people might be more desirous of donating toward a specific goal, I shared the story of the Sisters of the Congregation of Jesus and Mary who are trying to provide winter clothing for Syrians in Aleppo. They need nearly $75,000 to fulfill this corporal work of mercy that confronts them today. Thus far, Aid to the Church in Need has only received $370 towards this project, most of which - if not all - has come from readings of this blog (some of whom have let me know of their donation).
To those who have made a donation toward this important cause, thank you! If you have not yet made a donation, please do so. Even a gift of just $5 will not be unimportant, especially if lots of you make such a donation. It all adds up.
Now that the Year of Mercy has begun, let us endeavor to be merciful like the Father whenever and wherever we can!