Christian persecution in key countries across the Middle East, Africa and Asia, will be analysed in a report commissioned by the UK government, along with a comprehensive policy response.
“So often the persecution of Christians is a telling early warning sign of the persecution of every minority,” Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said in a statement announcing the move on Wednesday.
“Today I have asked the Bishop of Truro to look at how the British government can better respond to the plight of persecuted Christians around the world.
“We can and must do more.”
An estimated 505 million Christians face persecution for following their faith, a Catholic NGO Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) report indicated in November, with Christian women and children particularly vulnerable and often subject to sexual violence as a result of their beliefs.
— Thomas D. Williams (@tdwilliamsrome) December 12, 2018
Last year, on average, 250 Christians were killed every month because of their faith.
The BBC reports the Bishop of Truro – the Rt Reverend Philip Mounstephen – is expected to finish the task by Easter. The review will have three aims:
- To map the persecution of Christians in “key countries” in the Middle East, Africa and Asia
- To provide an analysis of current UK government support
- To offer recommendations for a “cohesive and comprehensive policy response”
The intervention comes after an outcry over the treatment of Asia Bibi, a Christian woman who faced death threats after being acquitted of blasphemy in Pakistan.
Ms Bibi spent eight years on death row until her conviction was reversed by Pakistan’s Supreme Court earlier this year.
Large crowds took to the streets to protest against the court’s decision, as her husband pleaded for asylum from the UK, US or Canada, saying the family were in danger.
Not one Western country has since offered her a safe place, and Bibi is currently in hiding somewhere in Pakistan.
The commissioning of the report comes five days after Pope Francis underscored the travails of persecuted Christians around the globe, declaring that the Church is living a new period of martyrdom, as Breitbart News reported.
— Thomas D. Williams (@tdwilliamsrome) December 21, 2018
We are experiencing “a new age of martyrs,” the pope told members of the Roman Curia in his yearly Christmas address to them. “It seems that the cruel and vicious persecution of the Roman Empire has not yet ended.”
“A new Nero is always being born to oppress believers solely because of their faith in Christ,” he said.
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