Thursday, November 27, 2014

ORIGIN OF OUR THANKSGIVING DAY

Brother John M. Samaha, S.M.


          St. Paul urged us to give thanks to God always.  Our forebears and our founding fathers, active Christians, often followed this sage counsel.  And eventually our national day of Thanksgiving evolved.

          The very first Thanksgiving was celebrated on September 8, 1565, in what is now St. Augustine, Florida, by Spanish settlers and Timucua Indians.  On that day the first Mass, an act of thanksgiving, was celebrated on American soil, and it was followed by a feast of bean soup.

          Another Thanksgiving was observed in El Paso, Texas, under the leadership of Spanish explorer Don Juan de Onate, who declared: “In the name of the Most Holy Trinity…I take possession of this whole land this April 30, 1598, in honor of Our Lord Jesus Christ, on this day of the Ascension of Our Lord ….”  Mass was celebrated and a feast of geese, cranes, and ducks was enjoyed by the colonists, followed by a play organized by the Franciscan missionaries honoring the Native American converts.

          Another interesting note concerns Squanto, the Native American who helped the Puritan pilgrims and Native Americans arrange at Plymouth Rock in 1621 what is the historical forerunner of our Thanksgiving.  Squanto had
previously been captured and enslaved by the English, but was freed by the Spanish Franciscans, and was baptized a Catholic.  Thus, a Catholic contributed to arranging our Thanksgiving Day. 

          Thanksgiving is one of the most loved and honored American holidays.  Some travel considerable distances to spend this day with family.  Spending time with family is surely a special blessing.  But it is important to remember that Thanksgiving is much more than turkey, stuffing, and football.  Unlike other secular holidays like Labor Day and the Fourth of July, Thanksgiving is a national holiday that is clearly religious in nature.  As a nation of faith with Christian foundation, we set aside this day to thank God for his many blessings.

          During his first year in office, 1789, President George Washington called for a day of Thanksgiving because “it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor.”

          In 1815 President James Madison issued a proclamation for “a day of thanksgiving and of devout acknowledgements to Almighty God for his great goodness.”  But after Madison Thanksgiving reverted to a regional celebration in the New England states for 48 years.

          During the Civil War a concerned magazine editor, Sarah Josepha Hales, petitioned the Lincoln administration in 1863 that a day of Thanksgiving “now needs national recognition and official fixation to become permanently an
American custom and institution.”  That year President Abraham Lincoln called on Americans to “fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it, as soon as may be consistent with the divine purpose, to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility, and union.”


          Thoughts to ponder this Thanksgiving.  Thanks be to God!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

ACN News - Chinese regime said to intensify persecution of Christians



By Marta Petrosillo
ROME (Nov. 25, 2014)—“We shouldn’t get our hopes up. I don’t see any sign of an immediate improvement in China-Holy See relations.” Thus commented Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun, former bishop of Hong Kong, reflecting on a symposium on China held at the the Pontifical Urbaniana University in here. The Nov. 18 event was sponsored by AsiaNews.

Now 82, the bishop told international Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need that, “as in every relationship, [progress] depends on both sides,” adding that it’s not possible to expect any improvement until the Chinese government changes its policy on religion. “The Pope knows the situation—he is patient and ready to work hard to improve the relationship and the situation of the Chinese Church. However, he is also aware that the process can be long,” the prelate said.
Speaking about the situation of the Catholics in China, Cardinal Zen criticized Beijing: “The Chinese government has intensified persecution recently. We have seen demolished churches and crosses taken off buildings. There’s not much we can hope for immediately. The Church is still enslaved to the government.”

Cardinal Zen does not think that now is a propitious time for the Pope to visit China. “I would strongly recommend he not go, because the current circumstances are not the right ones.” According to the cardinal, the Chinese government isn’t making any efforts to improve the Chinese Church’s situation nor improve its relationship withVatican. He believes a papal trip would probably be stage-managed by Beijing.

“They would not let the Pope meet the people he would like to meet and they will try to force Francis to meet the people they want him to meet. The only outcome of such a visit will be good people suffering and the Pope’s good will being misused,” the cardinal argued.

The cardinal also commented on the situation in Hong Kong, where protests against China’s new plan for Hong Kong’s 2017 general elections are still ongoing. Protests started as authorities tried to mar the elections by limiting the list of candidates to figures who would be “acceptable” to Beijing. Cardinal Zen strongly supports the so-called Occupy Central protests. He even marched himself among the students who started the peaceful occupation of the city’s financial district.

“We cannot expect to win immediately, but as long as we have freedom of speech, we should keep fighting, even though victory is not close,” he said. Cardinal Zen did charge that the student leaders “went too fast” and were not realistic about their chances of success. “We should stay united, as we were at the start of the protest, but the student leaders began to run on their own without listening to the rest of us,” said the cardinal.

At the AsiaNews Symposium, the cardinal told his audience that when Pope Francis greeted him after Paul VI’s beatification Mass, the Pontiff said of him: “This is the one who fights with a sling,” in a reference to the cardinal’s participation in the protests. “He didn’t mean to make fun of me, but to encourage me,” Zen said, adding that “when [Pope Francis] was serving in Buenos Aires, he always fought for freedom and the poor. So he understands our position.”

Cardinal Zen praised the strong support of Hong Kong’s Church for the people of the island. “The Church, thanks to a competent Commission for Justice and Peace, is backing the population in its fight for democracy, following the Church’s social teaching to the letter,” he said.
Maria Petrosillo head communications for the Rome office of Aid to the Church in Need, an international Catholic charity under the guidance of the Holy See, providing assistance to the suffering and persecuted Church in more than 140 
countries. 



Monday, November 24, 2014

This Advent...


This Sunday is the First Sunday of Advent.  As is my personal tradition, I like to make Advent resolutions in anticipation of the birth of the little baby Jesus.

So, this Advent I will:

- abstain from frivolous entertainment (or at least cut back on them considerably).  This means, less time playing games and watching certain TV programs that I really like.

- not fall into the trap of having to compete with the crowds for finding that special gift.  I will also put myself on a budget.

-  pray more, talk less.

-  make the special feast days that fall within the Advent season, more special, especially the Feast of the Immaculate Conception and Our Lady of Guadalupe's Feast day.

-  try to make frugal meals as a small sacrifice for those who do not have enough to eat.

-  remember the less fortunate, either by prayer or in some concrete way.

-  spend quality time with the family in the evening when we light our Advent candles, read from our Magnificat's Advent Companion.

-  make a supreme effort to conquer my faults.

-  forgive anyone who has hurt me and reach out to anyone I may have hurt.

-  hold off on trimming the tree and putting out the other Christmas decorations until the last week of Advent.

-  not open any Christmas card until the last week of Advent.

-  spend quality time with Jesus in Adoration.

-  smile or greet anyone who looks sad or lonely.

-  make it a point to be still and not fall into the frenzy of the worldly Christmas spirit but be more reflective in the spiritual Christmas spirit.

-  give a gift to someone who isn't expecting anything and who cannot reciprocate.

- watch spiritually uplifting programs and movies, including childhood favorites like the Little Drummer Boy, A Charlie Brown Christmas, and  How the Grinch Stole Christmas so that I can relive the magic of the Christmas anticipation when I was a young girl.

-  sing Advent hymns and carols.

- be joyous.


Friday, November 21, 2014

Meatless Fridays - Pasta with Garlic and Olive Oil or Aglio e Olio



This is a super easy meal to make yet very delicious.  Yesterday, I looked into the refrigerator to see what I could have for lunch.  I only had a small container of cooked spaghetti but no sauce.  It was then I remembered my mom used to make pasta with olive oil and garlic as a snack.  The following recipe will be for a pound of pasta.

1 lb. of pasta such as spaghetti or linguine cooked al dente, and drained (time it so it is done with the sauce is ready.  Pasta should be hot).
1 head of garlic (not one clove), peeled and chopped coursely NOTE:  add more garlic if you'd like
Approximately 1/4 to 1/3 cup of a good extra virgin olive oil (TIP:  a good olive oil does come from California.  Check out the organic extra virgin olive oil from California Olive Ranch).
I small bunch of Italian parsley (chopped as finely as is your preference)
1 large pinch of crushed red pepper
Juice from 1/2 small lemon
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Heat up a skillet and add the olive oil and garlic.  Fry the garlic until golden brown.  Then add the salt and pepper along with the crushed red pepper.  Mix well as it continues to fry for a few seconds and then add the lemon juice and parsley. At this point you can add the cooked pasta in batches (which means you would have to make the sauce two times) or you can just add the entire sauce to the hot cooked pasta in a pasta bowl.

For a variation, you can add anchovies at the time the lemon juice and parsley is added.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

ACN - ACN-USA News: Devastated Christian community in Kandhamal, India still awaits justice



Last August marked the anniversary of the 2008 massacre of more than 100 Christians at the hands of a Hindu mob in Kandhamal district in Orissa (Odisha) State, India—and the culprits, though most of them have been identified, have yet to be tried. Eight years later, a Catholic priest who narrowly escaped a most gruesome death and lived to testify against his attackers, finds himself at a parish New York, at a safe remove. Father Thomas Chellan’s memories of the tragedy, however, have not faded. His testimony takes on fresh urgency in light of the recent attacks on Indians Christians by Hindu fundamentalists. This is his story:

All these years later, the Christian community of Kandhamal, which falls under the Archdiocese of Bhubaneswar is still waiting for justice. The attacks reduced more than 300 churches and almost 6000 Christian homes to ashes, rendering more than 50,000 people homeless. They began refugees hiding out in the forest. Yet, the Christian faith stood out shining amidst the rubble of burned out churches and Christian houses.

While more than 100 Christians became martyrs for their faith, hundreds of others were fortunate to survive after they were brutally tortured for refusing to renounce their faith. They had been targeted just for their identity. The assailants’ goal was to force the Christians to give up their faith and embrace Hinduism.

It all began with the gruesome murder on Aug. 23, 2008, of a local swami, a leader of the Vishna Hindu Parishad of Kandhamal District.  The fundamentalist Hindu groups used the killing as an excuse to attack Christians. The local community utterly failed to protect the lives and property of their Christian neighbors. In the end, the victims who survived, homeless, became refugees in their own land, housed in relief camps set up by the government. All in all, attacks on Christians continued for a full two months, until, finally, the federal government and the Supreme Court of India responded to the inability of the state government to protect the Christians .

This was my experience: on the afternoon of Aug. 24, 2008, hundreds of people suddenly came into the compound of the Diyyajyoti Pastoral Center, home to facilities to train the laity. Seeing the crowd rushing in, my assistant priest, a woman religious and I jumped over the compound wall and escaped into the nearby forest. We hid there until 10.30PM,. We could see our home going up in flames. The mob broke open all the doors and windows, thinking we were hiding inside.

That night, under the cover of darkness, the Sister and I went to the home of a Hindu gentleman. He was kind enough to give us food and shelter, putting himself and his family at great risk. My assistant priest found shelter at his brother’s house. The next day, Aug. 25, a group of some 50 people came back to the area, shouting slogans against Christians. Seeing them armed with sticks, knives, axes and other village weapons, our host got nervous and asked me to leave. He did allow the Sister to stay.

The best he could offer me was his outhouse, where I hid under a table. But the crowd came up and broke open the door with an axe. I was pulled out and beaten with sticks and iron rods. I sustained injuries on top of my head, my forehead and shoulder. Immediately, Sister was pulled out of the home as well. Both of us were dragged over to the nearby archdiocesan social service center, which had been attacked the previous day. There, they tore of Sister’s clothes and raped her. When I tried to prevent the men from attacking her I was taken outside and doused in gasoline. Someone took out a box of matches. Seeing that I said my last prayers, thinking my end had come.

It was decided to tie us both together, so we could both be set on fire. I was made to kneel on the road before the crowd. They brought out Sister, too, and we were made to march to the nearby marketplace, less than a quarter of a mile away. We had no choice but to obey orders.

A police car approached—but failed to stop; no one came to our rescue. Policemen were standing along the road as mute spectators. I asked them for help, but got beat up instead by the crowd. Sister sat herself between two officers on a bench, but they did not thing and the mob pulled her back onto the road.

At the marketplace, we were made to sit down on a concrete bench along the roadside and a man shouted at us: “from today on, you will say Ram, Ram only.” It is the name of a Hindu God. A big pile of tires was set on fire. We expected to be burned alive. But the worst thing did not happen. The good Lord has His way. That is all I can say.

Next, we were taken to a police station. We were made to sit on the floor. One of our attackers sat in a chair nearby. That night we were transferred to the main police headquarters where we spent the night. The next day, Aug. 26, 2014, police transferred us by bus to Bhubaneswar, the state capital. We stopped at the Archbishop’s House. But soon both us were taken out of state for medical treatment.

Looking back on all that happened, I thank God for giving both of us a fresh lease on life. We harbor no anger or bitterness toward those people who attacked and maltreated us. I only hope and pray that peace and justice may come to Kandhamal and that people can live there without religious discrimination.

Most of the Christians in Kandhamal belong to the so-called scheduled castes. They are dalits, the lowest caste in the traditional Hindu hierarchy and they have long been discriminated against in India. But unlike Buddhist and Hindu dalits, Christian dalits—like their Muslim counterparts—are not receiving any government benefits, which is contrary to the Indian Constitution. Nonetheless, the local Christian community has made remarkable progress in every sphere of life, particularly when it comes to education.

Christians are claiming their rightful place in society, unwilling to put up any longer with religious and social discrimination. In fact, the local Church runs a number of programs that boost human development—programs that are open to anyone, without any discrimination based on caste or creed. That is the Christian way!


Friday, November 14, 2014

ACN helps Iraqi Christian refugees in Jordan



Catholic pastoral charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) has allocated $68,400 of humanitarian aid for Christian refugees from Iraq. This will support about 200 families from the Mosul region who have been taken in by the Catholic Parish Mary, Mother of the Church in Amman, Jordan.

Father Khalil Jaar, pastor of Mary Mother of the Church in Amman, Jordan for some months now has been a gracious host to Chaldean refugees from Iraq, where ISIS forces have driven them from their homes.

He told international Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need: “The people arrived here with nothing. They therefore urgently need anything that could in any way be useful, such as shoes, clothing, blankets and medicine. Daily meals also need to be provided for about 200 families. No one can say for how many days or months they will be living in our parish.”

Families are no longer only living in the rectory; some have in the meantime been moved to apartments the parish has rented in the surrounding neighborhood. “We are still taking in new arrivals every day. We have started renting small apartment close to our church. We are housing at least two families in each of these because the rents are very high.”

In addition to meeting everyday necessities, the parish is also caring for the psychological needs of the children and their parents as well as organizing discussion groups and prayer meetings, Father Jaar said.

He explained that the Christians who fled Mosul to escape ISIS have been traumatized: “The Muslim extremists who conquered Mosul last summer gave Christians the choice of either converting to Islam, paying a tax or risk being executed. The result was a mass exodus of Christians to the semi-autonomous region of Kurdistan. A man told me how they were inspected at an ISIS checkpoint as they fled Mosul. Everything was taken from them, money, passports, jewelry and watches. Their three-year-old son was not even allowed to take his milk bottle with him.”

King Abdullah II of Jordan has reacted to the persecution by allowing many of the Christians from Mosul to stay in his country. “The king has proclaimed his sympathy and his support for the persecuted groups and has condemned the violent acts of the ISIS as not Islamic.”


With picture of Iraqi Christian refugee in Jordan (Photo: ACN)

Thursday, November 13, 2014

ACN News - Gaza: ‘the extremists must be isolated’



Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, archbishop of Genoa and president of the Italian bishops’ conference, recently returned from a trip to the Holy Land. He spoke of his findings with international Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need.

You have just visited war-torn Gaza as a guest of the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem. What impressed you particularly?

How a city has been destroyed—but then there was the hope that I saw on the faces of so many children. It was like an explosion of joy. There was also a sense of dignity and pride of the people, who need so much but ask for nothing. I was also impressed by the local Christians’ devotion to their faith. They are a very small, but very effective minority.

You also visited Sderot, the Israeli city on the border with the Gaza strip, which has suffered from Hamas rocket attacks for years.

The situation in these two territories typifies the state of mind of both peoples. If, on the one hand, the cities which have been damaged have to be rebuilt, how much more important is it to rebuild people’s hearts so that they can forgive the destruction inflicted upon them and start out on the path of reconciliation. Spiritual and moral rebuilding must be the foundation of all further reconstruction.

Will you report on the situation in the Holy Land to the Pope?

Yes. I will tell him how much the people here love him. They thank him for his visit here this year. They would naturally be delighted to welcome him here again. They trust in the prayer and the word of the Holy Father, but also in the influence which he enjoys thanks to his authority at the level of international bodies, his ability to draw the world’s attention to the dramatic situation here in the Holy Land and throughout the Middle East.
From everything I hear from many sources, solutions are coming. They consist of creating an alliance of all moderates in the region in order to isolate the extremists. If such a sincere and effective alliance of moderates were formed, then the extremists would be left isolated. God-willing, they would then be obliged to give up their evil project of constantly unleashing chaos and violence.

Do you believe that Western Christianity is paying sufficient attention to the situation of Christians in the Holy Land?

There is no general answer to this question. However the Catholic Church in the individual countries of Europe needs to become more aware overall of the drama that is taking place in the Holy Land and throughout the Middle East. It should also reflect on how it can express solidarity with the faithful in the region better. We must do even more.
Do you already have ideas for projects to help the Christian community here?
We will continue to lead our dioceses in prayer for the peoples of the Holy Land. In addition, according to our means, we plan to implement concrete works of solidarity. Many of these exist already, such as schools, hospitals and so on. Thirdly, I believe that we must step up the pilgrimages to the Holy Land. This is possible, and we need not be afraid. Our communities must overcome their fears and start visiting once more the places associated with the life of Jesus. That would be a major boost for the Christian communities in the Holy Land.

In view of the events in Syria and Iraq, do you believe that Christians have a future in the Middle East?

They must have a future. Anything else would be a disaster for humanity, and not just for one religion. It would mean the failure of the civilisation that must strive for and ensure that individuals can profess their own faith in peace and be universally respected. Furthermore, if this failure were the result of a concrete project, that is to say, to wipe out the Christian presence in this country or other countries of the world, that would be even worse. That must not be allowed to happen. All men and people of good will and good sense must prevent the execution of any such plan to eliminate the Christian presence in the Middle East.
(Cardinal Bagnasco visited the Holy Land on 3 and 4 November together with the Presidium of the Italian Bishops’ Conference)



PRAYER FOR THE HOLY SOULS IN PURGATORY

Picture source

Shared by Mary Jane.

After each invocation say:
My Jesus, mercy

O JESUS, Thou didst suffer and die that all mankind
might be saved and brought to eternal happiness.
Through the Agony of Thine Crown of Thorns
 I offer it to Thy Eternal Father that Thou wilt
hear our pleas for further mercy on the souls of:

My dear parents and grandparents,

My brothers and sisters and other near relatives,


My godparents and sponsors of Confirmation,


My spiritual and temporal benefactors,


My friends and neighbors,


All for whom love or duty bids me pray,


Those who have offended me,


Those who have suffered disadvantage of harm through me,


Those who are especially beloved by Thee,


Those whose release is near at hand,


Those who desire most to be united to Thee,


Those who endure the greatest suffering,


Those whose release is most remote,


Those who are least remembered,


Those who are most deserving on
account of their services to the Church,


The rich who are now the most destitute,


The mighty who are now powerless, 


The once spiritually blind, who now see their folly,

The frivolous, who spent their time in idleness, 


The poor, who did not seek the treasures of Heaven, 


The tepid, who devoted little time to prayer,


The indolent, who neglected to perform good works,


Those of little faith, who neglected
 the frequent reception of the Sacraments,

The habitual sinners, who owe
 their salvation to a miracle of grace,


Parents who failed to watch over their children,

Superiors who were not solicitous
for the salvation of those entrusted to them,


Those who strove for worldly riches and pleasures,

The worldly minded, who failed to
 use their wealth and talents in the service of God,

Those who witnessed the death of others,
but would not think of their own,


Those who blasphemed and committed
 sacrilege without due reparation,


Those who violated the dignity of the human body
 and mind through impurity,


Those who are Purgatory because of me,


Those who did not provide for the life hereafter,


Those whose sentence is severe because
of the great things entrusted to them,

The popes, kings and rulers,


The bishops and their counselors,


My teachers and spiritual advisors,

The deceased priests of this diocese,

The priests and religious of the Catholic Church,


The defenders of the holy Catholic Faith,

Those who died on the battlefield,


Those who fought for their country,


Those who were buried in the sea,

Those who died suddenly in accidents
 and from other causes,


Those who died of sudden illness,


Those who suffered and died of lingering illnesses,

Those who died without the last rites of the Church,


Those who shall die within the next twenty-four hours,


For those who procured abortions or aborted their children,


For those who promoted or practiced contraception,


For those who gave scandal, especially to children,


My own poor soul when I shall have to
 appear before Thy judgment seat.

PRAYER
Eternal rest grant unto all of these,
O Lord; and let the perpetual light of 
Thine countenance shine upon them soon. Amen.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Meatless Meal Idea - CURRIED LENTILS AND BROWN RICE WITH KALE & ROASTED SWEET POTATO

This is a dish I came up with because a) I wanted to use legumes b) I wanted to use leftover rice and sweet potatoes that were starting to sprout and c) I wanted it to be something tasty that would make my family forget the flavor of meat.



1 cup uncooked brown lentils (washed, picked over and cooked)
Approximately 3 to 4 cups cooked brown rice (preferably cold and sitting in refrigerator a few days)
½ cup to one cup chopped fresh kale (or frozen kale that has been thawed and squeezed to remove excess moisture)
1 large yellow onion, sliced thinly
3 large garlic cloves, minced
5 to 10 curry leaves if available or 1 tablespoon prepared powered curry
3 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and pepper
A large pinch of crushed red pepper
½ to 1 teaspoon of cumin

Heat a large skillet on medium heat.  Add the oil.  Add the garlic and onion slices.  Cook for approximately 2 minutes.  Add the curry leaves.  Fry the curry leaves until brown and aromatic.  (or add the curry powder at this point).  Add the crushed red pepper, cumin, salt and pepper to taste.  Add the cold rice and fry for two or three minutes.  Add the kale.  Continue frying for approximately 3 to 5 minutes or so. Add the drained, cooked lentils and cook for an additional 3 minutes.   Add the roasted sweet potatoes on top of the curried lentil rice.

You can serve four people as a main dish or more as a side dish.

ROASTED SWEET POTATO
Preheat oven to 400 degrees
3 medium Okinawan sweet potato (or yam), washed, dried and cut into small cubes
3 garlic cloves, chopped coarsely
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Toss all the ingredients in a large bowl and place in a shallow baking pan. Roast the sweet potatoes for approximately ½ hour or until a fork goes through the sweet potato cube.  Set aside.




Monday, November 10, 2014

ACN News - ‘The worst crime in the history of Pakistan’





A Muslim mob severely beat a Christian couple accused of burning pages of the Qur’an in eastern Pakistan and then incinerated the bodies in a brick kiln, killing them and their unborn child.

Shama Bibi, who was four months pregnant, and her husband Shahbaz Masih were bonded laborers at a brick factory in the village of Kot Radha Kishan in the Punjab province, 28 miles south of Lahore.

The tragedy followed in the wake of last month’s court decision that condemned a Christian woman to death, Asia Bibi, who was convicted of blasphemy in 2010.

Since the 1990s, a number of Christians have been charged with desecrating the Qur’an or of committing blasphemy. While sentences have been overturned due to lack of evidence, even a mere accusation of blasphemy can incite mob violence.

Regional Coordinator for Pakistan of the United Religions Initiative, Father James Channan, O.P., the former Vice-Provincial of the Dominican order in Pakistan, for which he serves as director of the Peace Center, made the following statement to catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN):

“The barbaric act by fanatic Pakistani Muslims of burning alive a poor Christian couple is a crime against humanity. It is the worst crime in the history of Pakistan committed in the name of religion. It was triggered by the false accusation of the burning some pages of the Qur’an.”

“Muslims and Christians alike are victimized by controversial blasphemy laws that stipulate life imprisonment for desecrating the Qur’an and the death sentence for defaming or insulting the Prophet of Islam.”

“The problem with these laws is that most often they are used to settle personal scores, such business disputes. In any case, who in their sound mind would burn pages of the Qur’an or insult the dignity of the Prophet Mohammed.

“Most problematic is that these laws are very vague; plus most Pakistanis are illiterate—hence, the application of the law is very easily abused, with people taking matters into their own hands, as happened in Kot Radha Kishan.

“Extremist Muslims, incited by mere accusations, have murdered other Muslims as well as Christians.”

“But the Christian community is most vulnerable, since an accusation leveled against a single individual can provoke violence aimed at his or her family as well as the entire local community. Homes are attached, churches are burned down and people are killed.”

“These laws are so dangerous that once a person is accused his or her life in Pakistan has become impossible. Even if the courts eventually declare an individual innocent, radical Muslims may still murder the person, which is considered an act worthy of praise.”

“What should be done? Pressure on our government from other countries will help. The UN should get involved and condemn such crimes against humanity, while appointing fact-finding commissions to investigate matters on the ground.”

“These are but some of the measures that may help to put an end to such barbaric acts as the cruel killing of the Christian couple and their unborn child.”


With photos of Shama Bibi and her husband Shahbaz Masih and Father James Channan, O.P. (© ACN)


Editor’s Notes:



Directly under the Holy Father, Aid to the Church in Need supports the faithful wherever they are persecuted, oppressed or in pastoral need.  ACN is a Catholic charity - helping to bring Christ to the world through prayer, information and action.

Founded in 1947 by Father Werenfried van Straaten, whom Pope John Paul II named “An Outstanding Apostle of Charity,” the organization is now at work in over 145 countries throughout the world.

The charity undertakes thousands of projects every year including providing transport for clergy and lay Church workers, construction of church buildings, funding for priests and nuns and help to train seminarians. Since the initiative’s launch in 1979, 43 million Aid to the Church in Need Child’s Bibles have been distributed worldwide.


For more information contact Michael Varenne at michael@churchinneed.org or call 718-609-0939 or fax718-609-0938. Aid to the Church in Need, 725 Leonard Street, PO Box 220384, Brooklyn, NY 11222-0384.  www.churchinneed.org