(NCR, by Joan Desmond) Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York marked the desperate plight of Christians in Iraq and Syria with an urgent plea for Americans to take action before it’s too late.
“When it comes to the persecution of Christians, we are talking about an… international emergency,” Cardinal Dolan said, expressing both frustration and hope as he called for lay Catholics to demand action from their government, provide humanitarian aid and pray, during an address at conference on “The Islamic State’s Religious Cleansing and the Urgency of a Strategic Response.” Listen to the conference here.
Defending persecuted Christians “is not some chic hobby. We are talking about life and death, we are talking about the survival of beloved, ancient, loving, innocent Christian communities,” explained Cardinal Dolan at the May 7 conference sponsored by the Hudson Institute in New York City.
The New York Church leader outlined a seven-point plan for action as reports from the territory controlled by Islamic State in Iraq and Syria offered little sign that the multi-national forces opposing IS will succeed in driving out the militant organization.
Cardinal Dolan’s plan for helping Christians stressed the extreme nature of the threat posed by Islamic State, Al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups in the Middle East and Africa.
The seven points:
1. Americans who care about persecuted Christians need a “sense of urgency.”
2. Never apologize for keeping the issue alive.
We need to give this “constant accelerated publicity. We have got to be ‘Johnny one note.’ We are talking about Christians being beheaded, martyred, threatened, and harassed throughout the world.”
3. ‘Islamic-Christophobic terrorism’ Is the problem.
“We have to call it what it is: we are talking about fanatical, Islamic-Christophobic terrorism, and we should not be afraid to tag it as such.”
4. Back moderate Muslims
“We have got to affirm genuine Islamic moderate voices, not only affirm, but rejoice when they are willing to speak up…. We got have to create a space for them, especially in the United States.”
“We need to advocate [on behalf of persecuted Christians] with our government, but also with the governments of nations where this Christophobia is taking place.
The advocacy “is especially cogent when it comes from our lay leaders, including corporate leaders” with business interests in countires where Christians are under fire.
6. Inter-Religious Action
“We need inter-religious” action. …Jewish leaders look me in the eye…and say. ‘Why are you Christians so horse about this? Take it from us, it will not go away.. You must speak up constantly or it will only get worse.”
7. Prayer and Humanitarian Aid
“We don’t just approach this…topic..from a sociological, political, historical or cultural point of view. We can never forget the optic of faith…. Never do we underestimate the power of prayer…never, ever do we stop mentioning the suffering of Christians across the world at every Mass, never stop mentioning the words of Tertullian: ‘The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church.’”
“Never do we stop giving help to …organizations who are there to bandage the wounds of Christians in trouble –Aid to the Church in Need, and the Catholic Near East Welfare Association.”
“We can’t let those people down.”