The Suffering Church

The Catholic Herald carries a story about the increasingly perilous position of Christians in Pakistan, where Christians and the Church are coming under increasing attack by people describing themselves as Moslems.

The situation is not helped by Pakistan’s blasphemy laws, which impose a death sentence on offences against Islam and are being exploited by zealots as part of a widespread attempt to eradicate Christianity in the country (the leftists in the media often point out that these are a product of the colonial era, but fail to point out that blasphemy only became a capital offence under the Zia regime).

Cases are rarely conducted to standards that would be seen as reasonable or fair in other legal systems (for example, a court at first instance convicted a youth of scrawling anti-moslem graffiti despite the fact that the youth was acknowledged to be unable to read or write) and convictions are very rarely upheld on appeal. However, individuals in custody and appearing in court have proven to be sitting targets for the zealots and, as with today’s incident, Christians accused of blasphemy are routinely murdered long before the law can take its course.

As happened during the Danish cartoon saga, and the furore following the Holy Father’s Regensburg address, many of the allegations against Catholics are either outright fabrications or cruel distortions disseminated by extremists with an Islamist agenda.

Pakistan just happens to be today’s news: throughout the Moslem world Catholics are under intense pressure, with the ancient Christian communities of the Middle East facing extinction in this generation.

What can we, as individuals, do about this terrible situation?

Our first action should be prayer, please remember the Catholics in Pakistan and the Middle East in your prayers, especially your prayers before the Our Lord in the sacrament; our second should be to contribute to organisations like Aid to the Church in Need or Iraqi Christians In Need.

And a final thought. Perhaps we as laity should be encouraging the leaders of the Church in our lands to give up on pointless “dialogue” with Islam and get on with the essential work of bringing the Faith to the non-Christian migrants that live among us.

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16 Responses to The Suffering Church

  1. hopeful62 says:

    I caught sight of the terrible events in Pakistan earlier this week, when two Christians were murdered as they left the courthouse and later a mob of 2000 Moslems, whipped up by their preachers, rampaged through the city and attacked Christians.

    I think I was made aware of this via Catholic World News. I looked on the internet and found various news agencies reporting it. What I also noted with despair was that I could find none of the MSM in the UK mentioning it at all. Nor did Christian Aid or CAFOD, okay, that was no surprise, was it?

    A bit inconvenient, I guess, as such stories don’t reflect the Religion of Peace in a particularly good light.



  2. afcote says:

    “Perhaps we as laity should be encouraging the leaders of the Church in our lands to give up on pointless “dialogue” with Islam and get on with the essential work of bringing the Faith to the non-Christian migrants that live among us.”

    Hear, HEAR!


  3. Frere Rabit says:

    Very good post, Raven. In the UK the main charity monitoring the suffering of Christians in other countries, and also providing direct help, is Aid to the Church in Need, a very good Catholic organisation: to donate to the charity go to


  4. mmvc says:

    I remember being shocked to read that worldwide there were more Christian martyrs in the twentieth century than in all previous centuries put together (see This post is a salutory reminder to us, that however tough it may seem to live out our faith in this country, there are countries even today where Christians pay the ultimate price for their faith.


  5. rebrites says:

    “Perhaps we as laity should be encouraging the leaders of the Church in our lands to give up on pointless “dialogue” with Islam and get on with the essential work of bringing the Faith to the non-Christian migrants that live among us.”

    … couldn´t we, in good faith, continue following the diplomatic route and evangelize as well? There´s more than one way to make peace. We´re to “seek peace and pursue it” every way we can, no? And perhaps the laity ought to let the leaders of the Church in our lands get on with high-level talks, and take on the grass-roots peace-seeking OURSELVES? Imagine that!


  6. Brother Burrito says:


    What you are proposing is totally consonant with the Catholic idea of Subsidiarity.

    Well done in reaching that conclusion. Indeed, we must all as individuals show our open and loving Christian hands to everyone around us. At the same time, our Church at its highest levels must speak clearly, and not with forked tongue, on behalf of Christ, our prime exemplar.


  7. The Raven says:

    I recall a chap posting as Ibrahim on DT’s blog (a convert from Islam) explaining that our Moslem interlocutors have a basic position: we must convert to Islam.

    While it is entirely sensible to seek some measure of reciprocity (if it’s ok to have mosques in Rome, it should be permissable to have a church in Saudi; if the niqab is permissible in Bradford then going without should be permissible in the Moslem world).

    Sure, let’s talk, but we need to be honest about our respective objectives.


  8. omvendt says:


    Here are a few things to consider when weighing up the prospects of ‘dialogue’ with Islam:

    Nullification or abrogation: this means that Allah can replace verses in the Koran with ‘new’ or ‘better’ ones. So Allah can change his mind completely.

    Thus, “Allah has no fetters”. He is not bound by logic or consistency or even by truth.

    Allah is unknowable: to make positive statements about the nature of Allah is blasphemy; to even speculate about the nature of Allah is blasphemy.

    Allah’s relationship with mankind is that of master and slave.

    Allah loves only Moslems.

    It’s difficult to get dialogue going on those bases.

    Evangelisation is a different matter: we should have the confidence to be able to reach out to everyone with our Gospel message of love and salvation.

    We would do well to follow the advice of St Francis of Assisi: “Preach the Gospel with all your might; and if necessary, use words.”


  9. rebrites says:

    “well done on reaching that conclusion!”
    Mouse, a word to the wise: Your efforts at evangelism will be much more successful if you begin with leaving that smug, patronizing attitude behind. I´ve been a Christian for years, and a practicing Catholic for a few years less. I don´t think I need a pat on the head for knowing a few of the basics.
    But thanks anyway.


  10. Brother Burrito says:

    You are absolutely right. Sorry.

    (Burrito scampers off, embarrased, like a mouse)


  11. piliersdelaterre says: is an interesting website about the importance of Mary in both Christian and other faiths- in view of the subject above- Islam also has a high regard for Mary. In view of the dreadful conundrum of clashes with Islam (particularly), Mary’s role looks increasingly promising! On this website there is also a guide to all the Black Madonnas of Europe (most seem to be in France, and most of those in the Auvergne region). Perhaps the most famous is the Vierge Noire of Chartres.


  12. Frere Rabit says:

    “Burrito scampers off, embarrased, like a mouse” ROFL.

    Reminds me of some of the less successful similes produced by my Key Stage 3 English pupils when experimenting with similes (e.g. “She stood there in complete astonishment, like a woman who was astonished.”) My favourite bad simile has been doing the rounds of English teachers’ websites for a least ten years, and it was originally a real student example. It certainly has the ring of genuine naïvety about it: “John and Mary had never met. They were like two hummingbirds who had also never met.” Priceless.


  13. churchmouse says:

    ‘Mouse’? That wasn’t this Mouse, but someone else.


  14. churchmouse says:

    Rebrites — I think that was Brother Burrito …


  15. omvendt says:

    Props to the ‘Catholic Herald’ for raising awareness of the persecution of Christians which routinely takes place in many parts of the Islamic world.


  16. rebrites says:

    sorry. I can´t tell my ass from a rat!


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