24 December 2015

Don't forget those who cannot celebrate Christmas publicly

As you gather with family and friends to celebrate the Nativity of Our Lord tonight and tomorrow with great festivity and joy, please remember in the charity of your prayers our many brothers and sisters throughout the world who cannot celebrate the Birth of Jesus with the same mirthful solemnity.

The Sultan of Brunei has forbidden public celebrations of Christmas, including decorative displays and the singing of carols. Authorities in Somalia have issued a similar ban.

The Islamic State has posted warnings against the celebration of Christmas in Mosul, Iraq and has declared such festivities heretical.

Christians in Bethlehem and throughout the Holy Land will hold subdued celebrations of Christmas because, as His Excellency the Most Reverend William Shomali, Auxilliary Bishop of Jerusalem, said, full celebrations "would give a false message that the situation is normal."

Celebrations marking the coming of Christ are, of course, also subdued or forbidden in many other parts of the world; these are only a few stories which might be posted.

Take time at your table to pray for our persecuted brothers and sisters. Light a candle for them in church or in your living room window. Whatever you do, do not forget them.

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