The Mission Hub

The Pontifical Mission Societies include the Society for the
Propagation of the Faith, the Missionary Childhood Association, the Society of St.Peter Apostle, and the Missionary Union of Priests and Religious. These Societies promote a prayerfulmissionary spirit among baptized Catholics and to gather a fund of support for the evangelizing and pastoral programs of more than 1,150 local churches of the Developing World.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Deliver Us From Evil

When most of us think of Christian martyrs, I’d be willing to guess that our minds go quickly to the early days of the Church, the days of the Coliseum and the catacombs. Or perhaps we think of heroes like Father Maximilian Kolbe who gave his life to save a Jewish prisoner’s life in the death camp at Auschwitz during World War II. The painful truth is that, even in this very sophisticated era of the twenty-first century, brave men and women, clergy, religious and laity, are still called to lay down their lives for the faith that means so much to them. And this is often accomplished by means of violence perpetrated against them, simply because they are people of faith.

Most recently, the Pakistani Federal Minister for Minorities, Shahbaz Bhatti,
a Roman Catholic layman, was assassinated on March 2, 2011. Bhatti was the first Christian parliamentarian and one of the founding members of the organization All Pakistan Minorities Alliance (APMA) in 1985. He was considered a representative of all the religious minorities in Pakistan.

Significant information concerning the contemporary situation in Pakistan was provided in a commentary by Father Robert McCulloch, a member of the Society of Saint Columban, who has spent more than thirty years as a missionary in Pakistan. I know Father McCulloch personally because he spent a summer in the Archdiocese of Boston several years ago. He was here to learn the basics of Tribunal procedure in order to assist his bishop in establishing a Tribunal. At the time I was functioning as a judge in the Tribunal of the Archdiocese of Boston.

According to Father McCulloch the murders motivated by religion are advocated publicly in Pakistan by Islamic extremists who define them as “acts that are pleasing to Allah and that guarantee immediate salvation.” Religious hatred is cultivated and nurtured in Pakistan’s public schools. In some official texts, religious minorities are completely excluded and not even considered “part of the nation.”

Pope Benedict’s missionary prayer intention for the month of March is that the Holy Spirit may give light and strength to the Christian communities and the faithful who are persecuted or discriminated against because of the Gospel.
How appropriate this is in light of the difficult and dangerous climate in Pakistan where good people are persecuted and killed simply because of their faith. We pray for them and for those who would do them harm.

For more information on the missionary activity of the Church, go to our website http://www.propfaithboston/.org.
-Rev. Rodney J. Copp, JCL

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