Bishop James Healy, first bishop with African ancestry

The level of racism that existed among white Americans can be mind-boggling to the  modern mind.  Even whites who are sensitive to the racial situation fail to grasp just how oppressed anybody with Black African ancestry could be treated in this country. All three world powers – England, France and Spain – of our colonial era enslaved Africans who were sold to traders on the western coast of Africa. These unfortunates were packed into the horrible slave ships and sent across the Atlantic, in a bewildering mixture of tribes and nations, to the West Indies or North America. In the English colonies, the Africans eventually became property, listed as assets along with horses and cows. The infamous Three Fifths Compromise counted slaves as being equal to 3/5 of a white person, and it was in our Constitution! In the Dred Scott Decision, our Supreme Court ruled that anyone who had a slave ancestor was denied American citizenship, and therefore protection under the law. This was fiercely opposed by Republicans, and led directly to the Civil War. The Catholic Church’s institutions owned slaves, as did many Catholics. Catholic owners were obliged to provide religious instruction and services for their slaves, although the slaves – and free people of color – had to sit behind whites in church or in the choir loft, and could not receive Holy Communion with white parishioners.

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Slavery in the American South had been declining at the time of the Revolution, with a class of free persons of color arising, until the invention of the cotton gin in 1793 resulted in a vast expansion of cotton plantations, and the “peculiar institution” spread. The spread of cotton planting went hand in hand with the destruction of family life, as not even spouses were kept together, let alone children. Our slavery system was much different from the one known to Saint Paul, and much crueler. People were even subjected to breeding, whereby marital relationships were ignored in favor of producing the best candidates for labor, and rape by white owners of black women was common.

A Catholic Irishman, Michael Healy, won 1,300 acres in an 1823 land lottery in Georgia. In 1829, he fell in love with Mary Eliza Smith (or Clark), a mulatto woman who he had purchased from another planter. She was half-white, but could not be freed, even by him, and they could not legally marry. The Georgia Legislature had to approve each act of freeing a slave by an owner, and few people were granted this “privilege”. Mary Eliza and Michael had nine children who survived to adulthood, and who by law were considered slaves because of their “tainted” blood. Those tainted children  would become the first African Americans to be ordained priests (James, Sherwood, Patrick) a bishop (James),  to hold a university doctorate (Patrick, at Louvain) president of a university (Patrick), diocesan chancellor (James),  hold a command military posting over white soldiers and officers (Michael), serve as a Mother Superior over white Sisters (Eliza). They were a remarkable family – just think of all the other unknown talents lost  to our Church and our country due to racial prejudice.  In the North, their three-quarters white ancestry and light coloring enabled most of them to pass as white Irish Catholics, although their African ancestry caused problems for those who pursued religious vocations. Had they stayed in the South, none of their achievements would have taken place.

A chance encounter with Bishop John Fitzpatrick of Boston resulted in four sons going to Holy Cross College, and the Notre Dame Sisters of Montreal accepting the three daughters. Here the first three sons finally became Catholics, along with the sons of the famous convert Orestes Brownson, in 1844. James and Sherwood went to Canada and then Paris  to study because no United States seminary would take in a “colored” student, no matter how white they looked. The parents decided that their children must all live in the North to be safe and thus have careers in the Church or business, and were going to sell the plantation and go north and be legally married, bringing along the three remaining children. In 1850 both Mary Eliza and Michael died before they could fulfill their dream; since planters’ children could be sold, regardless of their white ancestry, the older children intervened to rescue their siblings.

That the parents did not have a state-recognized marriage was an impediment to priesthood and vows in those days, and Bishop Fitzpatrick had to intervene for all the Healys who served the Church. In 1854, James was ordained a priest after finishing his studies in Paris – the first American Catholic priest with African ancestry. Patrick entered the Jesuits – who owned slaves – in Maryland where he took his vows, and Sherwood also studied in Montreal and then Paris. Hugh had graduated from Holy Cross and gone into business, but died at the age of twenty-one due to illness.Father Sherwood was an expert in Gregorian chant, rector of a seminary, at Troy in New York state, and because of his talents was nominated to become the head of the North American College in Rome. His appointment was forbidden by the Americans because “he has African blood and it shows in his exterior”  and there was fear that certain seminarians would refuse to obey him as a result. He died, not knowing this fact, at the age of thirty-nine.  Josephine died early also, in the Canadian Religious of Saint Joseph the Hospitaller: she could not enter an Order in the United States due to her ancestry.

Captain Michael  Augustine Healy 

Daughter Eliza entered the Sisters of Notre Dame in 1874 at Montreal – no United States community would receive her. As Sister Mary Magdalene she flourished, teaching in Quebec. Her greatest challenge was in Vermont, where she took over a school in serious financial trouble. Even the diocese would not back her. She used her talents to not only pay off the debts, but make the school and convent one of the best in the Order, and she was the first African American Mother Superior. In 1918 she had to resign as superior due to new canon laws which limited the time a superior could serve in one post, and she took over a school on Staten Island, where she served as Superior once again until her death. Daughter Martha also entered the convent, but eventually left to join her brothers in Boston and married an Irishman and had children. Son Eugene is listed as never having really been settled in life. All of them passed as white in the North – they were accepted as being Irish Catholics, and did not mingle with African Catholic parishes or laity. Michael rose in the ranks of the US Cutter Service to become a captain, the first African American to hold a command posting in our military, in Alaska. He married a white woman and raised a family. Healy descendants still live in the Lowell area of Massachusetts.

Father Patrick worked himself to exhaustion, especially as the “second founder of Georgetown”. He became  the first person of partial African ancestry to obtain a Catholic doctorate, but he had to do so at Louvain, Belgium, because his African blood was an issue as America headed to the Civil War and passions rose over racial issues. Father Patrick returned as a professor and became the first African American head of a Catholic university at Georgetown in 1874. He worked hard to expand the university, and did a very good job at it, but wealthy donors were known to back out when they realized his partial African ancestry: that he was a good priest, teacher and administrator would by rejected by these worthy souls because of his Black ancestry. His piety and work did not save his legacy entirely – when his African ancestry was publicly acknowledged by the Society of Jesus and the university in the 1950s, a white Georgetown University student vandalized the portrait of him.

Father Patrick Healy, SJ 

Bishop James Augustine Healy was the first-born child, and he continued the “first” status all his life. He had a vigorous ministry in Boston, becoming the first diocesan chancellor, and helping his bishop as he had aged and become ill. He defended the rights of Catholic children in public orphanages where they were deprived of the Sacraments, and convinced the old-line Puritan establishment to finally yield on this in 1875. His preaching was legendary. At the State House he  spoke at public hearings to fight proposed tax laws which would have devastated the Catholic churches, schools, and charitable institutions. In 1875, Pope Pius IX named him Bishop of Portland, Maine, as  the first bishop in the country with African ancestry, which embraced both Maine and New Hampshire. Being part Irish and fluent in French, he could serve the two main Catholic populations in those states well.

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Portrait of Bishop James Healy 

As bishop, he would establish 60 parishes with construction of new churches, 18 schools, new convents and charitable institutions for children and the poor. He was popular with Portland’s children, letting them hook their sleds to the back of his horse-drawn sleigh, letting those without sleds ride with him, and helping the orphans. He paid overdue taxes and doctor bills for the poor, and unlike some bishops, he continued to go on sick calls and hear Confessions.  Hearing Confessions led to some interesting moments. We know from stories passed down by those who were the confessing party, that he heard people confess that they had sinned by calling their bishop derogatory terms for Negro. In one case, a girl confessed that she had said “that the bishop was black as the devil.” To her chagrin, he revealed who he was and said that in the future perhaps she should say “black as coal.”

Bishop James and Father Patrick both had health issues, and Bishop James had to leave Maine for warmer climates during the hard winters. The brothers traveled down to New Orleans and other southern locales, but they never once went back to their home state of Georgia. They never lived to see the racial laws revoked in our country that made their parents criminals. The Catholic Church would not appoint another African American Bishop for nearly 100  years, Bishop Harold Perry, SVD, of Washington DC in 1965.

Next Installment: First African American Catholic Priest



Posted by: Fr Chris | February 11, 2017

Black Catholic History Month

February is Black History Month in the United States. This month I am running some notices about American Black Catholics whose Causes are opened for sainthoodPeople forget that Catholicism has been a strong part of African-American life, especially in Louisiana, Maryland, and New York City. 

Servant of God, Pierre Toussaint: This former slave from Haiti is the only layman resting in the crypt of Saint Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City, surrounded by cardinals and archbishops. Born in Haiti, he was brought to New York City by the Bernard family when they feared – rightly- that there were going to be slave revolts. The Berards had baptized their slaves and instructed them in the Faith (though how it was that even priests thought it was all right to own slaves remains a mystery to me).  But like all the planters, they lived in incredible luxury that came from the sweat of thousands of enslaved Africans. Basic evangelization rarely included charity, and even more rarely, freedom. The Berards brought the “house slaves” with them, and the plantation was later destroyed in the great rebellion that swept Haiti.

Apprenticed by his owner as a hairdresser – a profitable trade in the 18th century given the elaborate hair styles of the wealthy and middle class women – Pierre became a confidant to both wealthy New York families and destitute French fleeing the Haitian and French Revolutions. He attended daily Mass for sixty-six years as  New Yorker, both as a slave and free man. Madame Berard became not only a widow when her husband died of pleurisy, but an impoverished one when the New York securities firm holding their savings went bankrupt. She and the other family members were now totally dependent upon Pierre’s earnings. While still contributing to the upkeep of his widowed owner, even after she remarried since the new groom was also impoverished, Pierre carefully set aside his own savings which he used both for charity and to hopefully buy his freedom.

Granted his freedom after his owner’s death in 1811, he bought the freedom of his fiancé and married her. Childless, they adopted his niece and devoted themselves to supporting Haitian refugees, teaching trades to African-American children and sheltering Black orphans, and helping the Catholic Church. Familiar with discrimination, Pierre assisted St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, who was rejected by New York society after her conversion to Catholicism, and his donations supported the fledgling Sisters of Charity and their work. Pierre was a founder of the first cathedral, but a white usher pushed him out at the dedication Mass, to the shock and embarrassment of his white friends who intervened. While he put in sixteen hour days, even in old age, he, like all Blacks, was forbidden to ride in the horse-drawn public omnibuses and had to either walk across the growing city or rely on a customer’s charity to get a ride in a carriage. He continued to  guide young people, help the poor French, assist the Africans, and support the Church. In this he outlived almost everyone he had known,  including his wife and adopted daughter. Yet he never missed  six o’clock Mass, waiting at the church door in the gray dawn.  A member of an influential family said of him in his last months: “The last time I saw Pierre, he was seated among a group of mourners, beside the coffin of a lady venerated for years in the highest social sphere of the city. She was almost the last tie that bound him to the past. He had visited her daily for thirty years, and brought his offering of flowers; and there he sat, with his white head bowed in grief, and every line of his honest sable face wet with tears. It was a beautiful homage to worth,–a beautiful instance of what may be the disinterested relation between the exalted and the humble,–when the genius of character and the sentiment of religion bring them thus together.

He died on June 30, 1853, and his funeral at Old Saint Patrick’s was attended, as was only fitting, by people of every class and both races. He was laid to rest by his beloved Juliette-Noel.

The “new” Saint Patrick’s Cathedral on Fifth Avenue has a special crypt for the deceased cardinals of the archdiocese. This is immediately behind the High Altar. When Pierre’s Cause finally began, his remains were exhumed from the graveyard at Old Saint Patrick’s, and they now rest among those cardinals. Quite a difference from how he was once treated by an usher, but unfortunately, our country still has a way to go in racial harmony.

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Pierre and his wife, Juliette-Noel

Pierre was declared Venerable in 1996, five years after his body was re-buried in Saint Patrick’s. The first biography of him, Memoir of Pierre Toussaint (1854) was written just months after his passing, and drew heavily on the recollections of the wealthy and poor New Yorkers who loved him.  In this time of racial divides, perhaps he would be a good heavenly patron for reconciliation of all Americans, just as all New Yorkers loved and revered him, telling stories of his kindness for generations among both the “old families” of New York society and the Haitians’ descendants. 

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After a lot of pressure from human rights groups and some Christian Churches, our government finally  agreed that the jihadists of Islamic State are committing genocide against the Christian population of Syria and Iraq. Before civil war broke out five years ago in Syria, thanks to the failure of the great powers and the UN who would not step in and help the peaceful demonstrators and let Assad begin his campaign of butchering people, Syria was one of the few refuges for believers in Christ. Those persecuted in Iraq usually fled to Syria or Jordan. Those two countries and  Israel were the only ones where Christians could lead fairly normal lives, although Syria was a dictatorship with very little freedom of speech or press. The Christians accounted for 10% of pre-war Syria’s population, with a rich diversity of Eastern Churches – Armenian, Assyro- Chaldean, Greek,Maronite, Melkite,  and Syriac – which covers Eastern Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, and the Church of the East. In addition, there were Latin Catholics and Protestants. All of these people have suffered massacres, gang rapes of women, beheading, kidnapping, torture, slavery for continuing to believe that Jesus is the Son of God. So our generous country opened its doors to those who were driven from their homes by war and persecution, and have allowed forty-seven Syrian Christians to emigrate to our shores. Apparently the previous posting of 83 was wrong – we didn’t let in even that many after all! 

Forty-seven. I have more immediate relatives than that!

How do our president, secretary of state, and those who have arranged the immigration of over 9,400 Sunni Muslims (Sunnis are 75% of Syria’s population) sleep at night? They merrily consign the Christians and Yazidi to the ongoing hell of the civil war. Islamic State does indeed persecute Sunni Muslims who do not go along with their extremist brand of Islam, but let’s face it – there are lots of Arabic Muslim countries to which they can go, but few places that will take a Christian.

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The excuse is that Christians don’t register at the UN camps. They don’t because the Sunni refugees routinely berate, mock, beat, and terrorize Christians. When crossing the Mediterranean, Sunni Muslims have thrown Christians overboard and forsaken them. In refugee centers in Germany, Christians beg to be separated from their Muslim fellows because of what happens when the social workers go home. When they get to America and well-meaning social service agencies say “Let’s put all the Arab refugees together so they can be with people of the same language and culture” they are again exposed to extortion, beatings, and even rapes. So no, Christians don’t go to UN camps. But they do register for asylum, they do ask to be taken to safety. And we have bravely taken in forty-seven.

God must weep over us.

Write to your Congress people about this travesty. Maybe write Mr. Kerry and Mr. Obama. But I doubt they will hear us if they refuse to hear the cries of those dying or being enslaved on a regular basis. 


See my post of August 28 – apparently this statistic of 83 was too generous. The numbers were inflated for  Syrian Christians. But the rest of this post is accurate as to what is happening. 

Syria continues to burn, Christians are routinely — ROUTINELY – massacred, raped, kidnapped, enslaved and yet we have allowed in a grand total of ………… eighty-three Christian survivors.

The Armenian St Kevork Church in Aleppo was burnt during fighting between rebel fighters and Syrian government forces

Saint Kevork Armenian Apostolic church, burned in 2014

Here’s the latest news:

The Obama administration admitted 2,340 Syrian refugees into the United States in July, almost as many as the record number of admissions in June (2,406), keeping it on track to reach its goal of 10,000 by the end of September.

Continuing a trend seen throughout the fiscal year, just 15 of the 2,340 resettled in July (0.6 percent) are Christians, while 2,308 (98.6 percent) are Sunni Muslims.

According to State Department Refugee Processing Center data, since the beginning of FY 2016 on October 1, a total of 7,551 Syrian refugees have been admitted. Of that number, 7,432 (98.4 percent) are Sunnis and 35 (0.46 percent) are Christians, including six Catholics, two Orthodox and one Greek Orthodox adherent.

The remaining 84 Syrian refugees admitted in FY 2016 comprise 50 other Muslims, 20 Shi’a Muslims, 10 Yazidis – like Christians, a minority singled out by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS/ISIL) for persecution – three refugees identified as “other religion,” and one as having “no religion.”

Since the civil war began in 2011 the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has registered 4.82 million Syrians who have fled their homeland. Some 495,000 are accommodated in U.N. refugee camps.

Displaced Syrians include those wanting to get away from ISIS and other jihadist groups, those fleeing from atrocities carried out by the Assad regime – dominated by a minority Shi’a sect that has targeted Sunnis in particular – and its Hezbollah, Iranian and Russian allies, and Syrians simply wanting to escape the chaos and deprivation of the conflict.

Although Syrians of all ethnic groups and religious denominations have been caught up in the crisis, the number of Christians among refugees admitted into the U.S. is still disproportionately small: Some 10 percent of the Syrian population is Christian, and yet Christians account for less than one percent of refugees admitted to the United States.

On the other hand, Sunnis comprised around 74 percent of the Syrian population when the war began, while the proportion of Sunnis admitted to the U.S. exceeds 97 percent.

Of a total of 9,424 Syrian refugees resettled in the U.S. since the conflict broke out,83 (0.8 percent) are Christians, and 9,151 (97.1 percent) are Sunnis.

——– Frankly, I’m surprised we even let in those eighty-three survivors. I suppose one must keep appearances though.

This comes courtesy of the ACLJ , American Center for Law and Justice, which is doing a petition drive as well. It is a conservative group in terms of politics – but the timeline is accurate and gives you an idea of how ISIS/ISIL has grown in its ability to spread terror, and in the ferocity of what it does to Christians, Yazidis, and those Muslims it disapproves of. The stuff they do is satanic in origin – horrible for all living under its rule.


  • April 18, 2013 – Before the rise of ISIS, the ACLJ draws attention to the worsening plight of Christians in Syria.


  • June 29, 2014 – ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi declared the establishment of an Islamic caliphate.
  • July 19, 2014 – ISIS takes over Mosul and other towns in Syria and gives an ultimatum to Christians: they must convert to Islam, pay jizya, or leave, and if they refuse they will die.
  • August 7th, 2014 – ISIS captured the primarily Assyrian Christian towns of Qaraqosh, Tel Keppe, Bartella, and Karamlish, prompting the residents to flee. More than 100,000 Iraqi Christians were forced to flee their homes and leave all their property behind after ISIS invaded Qaraqosh and surrounding towns in the Nineveh Plains Province of Iraq.
  • August 8, 2014 – Human Rights Office in Iraq reports ISIS has been burying hundreds of children and young people alive in Christian region of Mosul.
  • August 8, 2014 – After capturing the Iraqi town of Sinjar, ISIS fighters replace church crucifixes with ISIS flags. Christian leaders in the area also reported “systematic beheadings of children.”
  • August 12, 2014 – Reports surface of a 5-year-old Anglican Christian boy being cut in half by ISIS in Baghdad.
  • August 15, 2014 – Reports estimate that over 1,500 Christians and Yazidis have been abducted and forced to become sex slaves to ISIS fighters.
  • August 15, 2014 – In light of the recent attacks, the ACLJ began a petition to recognize the genocide and to protect the Christians in the Middle East.
  • August 19, 2014 – Journalist James Foley becomes first American citizen and American Christian to be executed by ISIS and was brutally killed via decapitation.
  • August 27, 2014 – The ACLJ filed a legal memorandum with the U.N. detailing ISIS’s assets, tactics, and atrocities, as well as condemning “the genocide of Christians being perpetrated by ISIS in Iraq.”
  • September 15, 2014 – The ACLJ released #1 New York Times bestseller, Rise of ISIS: A Threat We Can’t Ignore, exposing the atrocities committed by ISIS against Christians and other religious minorities.
  • October 2014 – A United Nations report confirmed that ISIS was holding 7,000 Yazidi women as sex slaves.


  • February 12, 2015 – ISIS released a video that appeared to show its militants in Libya beheading a group of Egyptian Christians who had been kidnapped in January.
  • February 23, 2015 – 1,500 ISIS fighters attacked a series of Christian towns in northeast Syria, burning churches, taking as many as 90 hostages, and forcing hundreds to flee from their homes. When ISIS fighters attacked the town of Tel Shamiram, they separated out the men, around 50 of whom they have taken into the mountains, and approximately 90 women and children are being held prisoner in the village by ISIS militants.
  • March 11, 2015 – ACLJ Chief Counsel Jay Sekulow testified before the U.S. Senate Committee on Appropriations regarding “Protecting Religious Freedom Abroad” and stated that “[t]he heinous atrocities committed by ISIS against Christians . . . is nothing short of genocide.”
  • April 19, 2015 – ISIS released a video of militants from two of its Libya affiliates killing dozens of Ethiopian Christians, some by beheading and others by shooting.
  • July 9, 2015 – Four children were killed when ISIS blew up the historic Mother of Aid church in Mosul.
  • August 2015 – Twelve Syrian Christians (including women and children) were brutally and publicly tortured and executed in village near Aleppo, Syria, because they refuse to convert to Islam. ISIS members cut off young boy’s fingers and beat him as they demanded his father and two other men renounce Christianity, before executing all four by crucifixion. Eight women were publically raped and beheaded for refusing to renounce Christ.
  • August 2015 – A Syrian Priest who was kidnapped by ISIS was ransomed to his family for $120,000. When his family paid the ransom, ISIS had his body chopped up and mailed back to his family instead of releasing him as promised.
  • August 18, 2015 – The ACLJ launched a targeted legal advocacy campaign through a petition to the Obama Administration urging the Administration – specifically Secretary of State Kerry – to recognize the genocide against Christians.
  • October 5, 2015 – The ACLJ joins a coalition of concerned non-governmental organizations and individuals by sending a letter to President Obama regarding the International Religious Freedom Roundtable. The letter requests that President Obama officially recognize ISIS’s actions as genocide.
  • October 8, 2015 – ISIS released video showing three of the Assyrian Christian men kidnapped in Khabur being executed. It was reported that 202 of the 253 kidnapped Assyrians were still in captivity, each one with a demanded ransom of $100,000.
  • December 18, 2016 – The ACLJ’s European-based affiliate, the European Centre for Law and Justice (ECLJ), submitted an amicus brief to the European Court of Human Rights “to share testimony about the current genocide of Christians in Iraq at the hands of ISIS.”
  • December 30, 2015 – ISIS suicide bombings took place in Syria in three restaurants frequented by Kurds and Assyrian Christians, killing sixteen and injuring dozens.
  • Late 2015– ISIS bombed and demolished Iraq’s older monastery, St. Elijah’s, which had stood near Mosul for more than 1,400 years. Father Paul Thabit Habib, a Catholic priest said that Iraq’s “Christian history was ‘being barbarically leveled’. He added, “‘[W]e see it as an attempt to expel us from Iraq, eliminating and finishing our existence in this land.’”


  • February 5, 2016 – The ACLJ sent a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry regarding legal analysis of the law of genocide as applied to the atrocities being committed by ISIS against Christians
  • February 15, 2016 – Through the ECLJ, the ACLJ submitted a written statement to the U.N. Human Rights Council, requesting that the U.N. join other international bodies and publically proclaim that Christians in Iraq and Syria are victims of genocide and deserving of international assistance and protection.
  • March 4, 2016 – Multiple gunmen linked to ISIS killed 18 people at a nursing home founded by Mother Teresa and run by Christian nuns in Yemen.
  • March 11, 2016 – The ECLJ presented an oral statement to the U.N. Human Rights Council (HRC) asking the HRC to condemn the genocide against Christians.
  • March 14, 2016 – A bipartisan resolution that was drafted in 2015 passes the House of Representatives. The resolution finally declares the atrocities committed by ISIS are “genocide”.
  • April 22, 2016 – The ACLJ launches its seven-point, multipronged legal advocacy effort to stop the genocide and protect Christians.
  • April 28, 2016 – The ACLJ sent a letter to U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon requesting that the U.N. formally recognize that ongoing atrocities committed by ISIS against Christians as genocide.
  • May 19, 2016 – The U.S. House of Representatives unanimously passes a bill containing several key recommendations that Dr. Sekulow proposed during his March 11, 2015 testimony before the U.S. Senate Committee on Appropriations, Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs.
  • May 23, 2016 – The ACLJ sent a second letter to Secretary of State John Kerry to thank him for declaring ISIS’s atrocities as “genocide against . . . Christians” and also requesting that he use his position to mobilize the international community to stop the genocide and protect the victims.
  • May 27, 2016 – The ACLJ submitted a written Statement to the U.N. Human Rights Council requesting that the U.N. “recognize the ISIS atrocities against Christians and other religious and ethnic minorities as genocide and take immediate appropriate action.”
  • June 6, 2016 – The ACLJ sent a letter to United States Ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Power thanking her for her consistent stance against genocide. The letter also urged her to “continue and intensify” efforts to mobilize the international community to stop the genocide against Christians and others religious minorities by ISIS.
  • June 7, 2016 – A twelve-year-old Christian girl was burned to death in her own home by ISIS terrorists in Mosul, Iraq.
  • June 16, 2016 – The ACLJ sent letter to the 47 Member States of the U.N. Human Rights Council regarding the upcoming genocide discussions at the Council’s June meeting and asking for their support in naming ISIS’s actions “genocide”. Some of the contacted Member States mention genocide as the ACLJ encouraged, which shows the progress being made within the international community to stop these hate-filled actions by ISIS.
  • June 22, 2016 – The ECLJ delivered an oral intervention at the U.N. on behalf of Christian victims of genocide and urged U.N. Human Rights Council to declare ISIS’s atrocities as genocide against Christians.
Posted by: Fr Chris | July 12, 2016

US Attitudes Towards Christians of Middle East

Nina Shea posits that our government has hesitated to support the Christians directly and openly so as not to open them up to the trumped-up Muslim charge of being “Crusaders”. That is a valid point, but frankly ISIL/Daesh and al-Qaeda have been damning Christians as crusaders for years. Christians are generally unarmed – that they can be considered an army is just effective propaganda. IN FIVE YEARS WE HAVE TAKEN IN SIXTY SYRIAN CHRISTIAN REFUGEES, BUT THOUSANDS OF SYRIAN MUSLIMS.

Iraqi church in ruins

What is worse is our continued refusal to grant sanctuary to those people who need to escape because they are believers in Christ as the Son of God. But our government works hard to defeat that. Our Kurdish allies are starting to replay some of their old history, when Kurds persecuted and massacred Christians in the Ottoman and Persian empires. Land is stolen, Christian families evicted, Christian names are banned, Christians are given shorter visas. The  Chaldean and Assyrian patriarchs want to be able to keep their people in their own homeland – but how is the big question. Details are below.

Nina Shea, defender of Christian believers around the world 

US Ignores Iraqi Christians for Fear of Being Called ‘Crusader Army’

By Samuel Smith

The United States government is afraid to work directly with persecuted Iraqi and Syrian Christians because it doesn’t want America to look like a “crusader army,” prominent human rights lawyer and religious freedom advocate Nina Shea said Friday.While speaking on a panel discussion focusing on global persecution at International Christian Concern’s first annual conference on the persecuted church, Shea, the director of the Washington-based Hudson Institute’s Center for Religious Freedom, detailed the U.S government’s troubling pattern of indifference toward the plight of persecuted Christians across the world.

In addressing whether or not it will be plausible for Christians and other religious minorities in Iraq to have their own province in the Nineveh Plain once the Islamic State is defeated so that Christians can return to their homelands, Shea stressed that she doesn’t think that such outcome could happen because Christians would have serious trouble defending the land.

“I am not terribly optimistic about the Christians getting their own province, at least not right now,” Shea bluntly asserted.

Shea said that although it is plausible to train Assyrian and Chaldean Christians and other religious minorities to defend their own province, the U.S. has a “complex” when it comes to working directly with Christian people groups.“Maybe they can be trained, maybe the U.S. can overcome its reluctance to work directly with Christians because it has a complex that it doesn’t want to look like a ‘crusader army,'” she explained. “This was true under the [George W.] Bush administration and more so now that the United States is desperate to avoid the label that we’re a ‘crusader army.'”

In general, Shea added, the U.S. government is “so unsympathetic” to the plight of Christians.

“The day before [Sec. of State John] Kerry designated [ISIS’ atrocities against Christians and other religious minorities] as genocide officially, the [State Department] were announcing they were only going to name Yazidis as victims of genocide,” Shea stated. “We signed petitions and put enough pressure on them with facts and arguments that [Kerry] listened but he hasn’t done anything since then.”

“In fact, he went to Iraq and gave two speeches a month later and never mentioned the genocide issue,” Shea continued. “This is Secretary Kerry, he gave a speech on the anniversary of the Holocaust and said ‘never again must we forget’ and never mentioned the ongoing genocide in Iraq and Syria right now.”

In addition, Shea pointed out the fact that Syria’s Christian population has not been fairly represented in U.S.’ Syrian refugee resettlement program.

“Christians comprised 10 percent of the population of Syria before the war five years ago, they constitute less than one percent of the refugee resettlement in the United States. The United States has resettled about 60 Christians in five years from Syria,” Shea said. “I don’t think at this point, we want to see all the Christians pull out but there are certainly more than 60, like the woman who saw her husband [crucified on their front door], she is not going back. She doesn’t ever want to go back. She wants to get out.”

“The United States as a government is absolutely indifferent and keeps its distance from oppressed Christian minorities,” she added.

As Shea does not believe that Christians will be able to defend their own province in northern Iraq, she believes the best thing for Christians who want to remain in the region to do is stay in Kurdistan under the protection of the Kurdish government. However, fellow panelist Juliana Taimoorazy, the founder of the Iraqi Christian Relief Council and an Assyrian Christian who fled persecution in Iran in 1989, warned that Christians also face injustices living under Kurdish rule.

“The priests and clergy do not openly speak. Many of them are under pressure. So, they come in with a different message,” Taimoorazy detailed. “There are many Assyrian businesses that have Assyrian names and Aramaic letters on their stores. According to a new law, the new businesses that are opening are not allowed to have Assyrian names. They have to be Kurdish.”

Juliana Taimoorazy, Assyrian Christian activist 

Taimoorazy added that the Kurdish Regional Government also makes it hard for internally displaced Christians to get a job and gain economic stability.”When a Yazidi is given a permit to work for six months, an Assyrian Christian is given a permit to work for a month. There were many cases that came to us complaining about that,” she said. “They said, ‘They make us go back over and over again and sometimes they deny the permit that we are given on a monthly basis.'”

Taimoorazy explained that the Iraqi Christian Relief Council went to Kurdistan about a month ago and most of the Christians whom her organization spoke with expressed a desire to ultimately return home to the Nineveh Plain one day. But after speaking with Kurdish generals, Taimoorazy said that the only way the peshmerga will liberate Christian lands is to claim them as Kurdish lands.

“Our ancestral homeland is the Nineveh plain. When we met with the Peshmerga generals, many of them were very much not in favor of the Assyrians and the Yazidis and the Turkmen Shiites having their own province,” Taimoorazy said. “We have to fight against that here in the West. It is absolutely to be detrimental to Assyrians if we are completely tied to Erbil.”

Posted by: Fr Chris | July 3, 2016

Fourth of July – Catholics in the Colonies

I give a lot of talks over the years on a broad range of Catholic-affiliated topics. Some people asked me to put together some items in honor of our Independence Day and the role of Catholics in the 13 Colonies. It’s worth noting though that the oldest parish in the US is actually where I live, in New Mexico: San Juan Bautista opened in 1598 in Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo! These founding colonies, which united themselves in 1776 as the United States, were all under British rule. At the time of our revolution, the British Empire was the most powerful nation on earth, and already widespread. There were more Catholics in the British Caribbean than on the mainland, but the Church was very much present.

The main problem for Catholics under British rule were the harsh Penal Laws, which were designed to exterminate the Catholic religion and force its followers into the Church of England. These Laws were put into force in the colonies of the Atlantic coast. Anti-Catholicism today remains the one acceptable prejudice in America: a  comedian can mock our most sacred teachings and do so with no fear of rebuke. Do the same to Jews or Muslims, watch out!


Papist Patriots: The Making of an American Catholic Identity, Maura Jane Farrelly, Oxford, 2012. The title alone is bold: very few Americans were ready to believe that the Papists could be patriots in league with them.

Papist Devils: Catholics in British America, Robert Emmett Curran, Catholic University, 2014. Covers all the colonies from Jamaica to conquered Quebec.

In both of these works, you will find a fascinating history of how Catholics survived: most saw a priest infrequently, Catholic prayers could be denounced as witchcraft (especially in Massachusetts), books were expensive and few. Many Catholics who were sold as slaves or indentured servants died without the sacraments and eventually drifted into Protestantism. But there was a solid core of English, Scots, Irish, German, and Africans who built chapels, sought out priests, and slowly and painfully built a flourishing Church.

Maryland was founded as a refuge for Catholics, who in turn gave sanctuary to persecuted Anglicans and Puritans. These turned on their benefactors, and cruelly sought their destruction in 1704. But the laity and Jesuits endured, and Catholic Maryland endures today. The Carroll family produced the only Catholic signer of the Declaration Independence (Charles Carroll), and his cousin, Father John Carroll, SJ, would become our first bishop, and then first archbishop (at Baltimore).


Archbishop John Carroll 

Pennsylvania was a refuge for all believers, and home to strong German and Irish Catholic populations. The oldest Catholic parish in the Thirteen Colonies is Old Saint Joseph’s in Philadelphia.

Priests spent most of the year traveling, ministering to scattered settlements and small industrial centers in Maryland,  northern New Jersey, Pennsylvania and beyond. Here  you can read about the heroic labors of Father Ferdinand Steinmayer, better known as Father Farmer, who served not only in the safer areas of Pennsylvania and Maryland, but was intrepid enough to minister across northern New Jersey and eventually founded New York City’s first parish, Saint Peter.

Here are some interesting resources

The Jesuits came to the colonies in 1634 – despised and feared in Britain, they found refuge in Maryland through the kindness of the Calvert family. They became the core of the Catholic clergy; when the Order was temporarily suppressed these men stayed at their posts.

Old Saint Joseph Church, the oldest parish in the Thirteen Colonies, opened in Philadelphia in 1733, served by Jesuit missionaries. It had to be built behind a courtyard and wall as Catholic buildings could not be open to the street where all could see! But the construction of an actual public chapel for Catholic worship was presented to the colony’s ruling council as being dangerous and seditious: there was “no small concern to hear that a House lately built in Walnut Street.was sett apart for the Exercise of the Roman Catholick Religion and it is commonly called the Romish Chappell . where Mass [is] openly celebrated by a Popish priest.contrary to the Laws of England.”  But the Council decided that Penn’s “Holy Experiment” meant that even Papist Catholics could find refuge, and history was made. A plaque at the church today records that when the parish was recognized, it was the only place in the English-speaking world where Mass could be publicly offered. 

Old Saint Mary Church, the second oldest English parish in the Colonies, built in 1763. Many members of the Continental Congress attended Mass and devotions there for the first time in their lives.

German chapels were built at Conewago and Goshenhoppen, Pennsylvania. Then Saint Mary’s in Lancaster was established, flourishing in 1757 with 212 Germans and 49 Irish.

Historic Saint Mary, Lancaster 

Saint John the Evangelist, at Silver Spring in Maryland, became that state’s first open parish in 1774.  I could take the Metro out there from my seminary – beautiful chapel used today by a Latin Mass parish, Polish parish, and St. John’s parishioners as well, who also have a modern church nearby. Diversity of Roman Catholic America!

Holy Trinity, the first German Catholic parish, founded in 1784 in Philadelphia:

German Catholic Missionaries in Maryland: fascinating look at the lives of these intrepid missionaries.

New Jersey’s Catholic history begins  in the south, when Belgian glassblowers were brought over.  Father Theodore Schneider, SJ, left Baltimore to celebrate Mass and Baptisms in Salem County in 1743.  Northern New Jersey saw its first priest with Father Farmer, who made his first foray into the colony in 1763, to serve the German, Slovak, and Polish colonists who labored at the first ironworks in the Ramapo region. Read more here:

New York City has been a cosmopolitan port from its foundation by the Dutch. English Catholics had freed for only a few years, 1683-1691. After the “Glorious Revolution” in Britain overthrew the Catholic king, Penal Laws resumed in New York, and Catholic priests were banned in 1700. Father Farmer came only in the 1750s to celebrate clandestine Masses for the very few faithful. The top floor of a carpenter’s shop served as a hidden chapel, with Mass being offered there through 1783. The ban was lifted after the Revolution succeeded and British power finally left New York, in 1784, and local Catholics immediately appeared: French, Spanish, Irish, German, Portuguese united to open the church of Saint Peter in 1785.

The first religious service in honor of our independence was not held by the Puritans or Anglicans, but by the Catholics, at Old Saint Mary Church. The courtesy of General Washington who forbade his soldiers to continue anti-Catholic activities like Guy Fawkes Day and who incorporated Catholics into his personal guard set the tone for the rest of the revolution. Catholic France and Spain recognized the republic, Catholic soldiers from Poland and the German states led our troops. Anti-Catholic laws lasted in New England until the 1830s, but eventually they were all undone.

High Altar with Crucifixion, Old Saint Joseph’s Church

John Adams, a firm New Englander who was raised as a Congregationalist, attended Mass in Philadelphia on several occasions, for civic events and special services for Catholics involved in the revolution. One of his letters to his wife describes the scene before him, which he found awe-inspiring while still disturbing:

he poor wretches fingering their beads, chanting Latin, not a word of which they understood, their Pater Nosters and Ave Marias. Their holy water– their crossing themselves perpetually– their bowing to the name of Jesus wherever they hear it– their bowings, and kneelings, and genuflections before the altar. The dress of the priest was rich with lace– his pulpit was velvet and gold. The altar piece was very rich– little images and crucifixes about– wax candles lighted up. But how shall I describe the picture of our Saviour in a frame of marble over the altar, at full length, upon the cross in the agonies, and the blood dropping and streaming from his wounds. [see photo above]The music consisting of an organ, and a Choir of singers, went all the afternoon, excepting sermon Time, and the Assembly chanted– most sweetly and exquisitely.

Here is everything which can lay hold of the eye, ear, and imagination. Everything which can charm and bewitch the simple and the ignorant. I wonder how Luther ever broke the spell.”

In these troubled times for our country, as we face terror abroad and at home, as prejudice against not just Catholics but all Christians seems to be building, let us pray fervently for our country, for our leadership to adhere to solid Christian teachings in their actions, and that all those who were baptized into the Catholic faith would return to it if they left, or be even more on fire if they are still practicing. People from all over the world want to come to America, where anybody can find a home and live in freedom. May our republic fulfill the hopes of General Washington for Catholics when he wrote in 1790:

may the members of your society in America, animated alone by the pure spirit of Christianity, and still conducting themselves as the faithful subjects of our free government, enjoy every temporal and spiritual felicity.


MAKE HER KNOWN – With those words, Pope Pius IX entrusted the icon of Our Mother of Perpetual Help to the care of the Redemptorist Order on this day in 1866. On that first day, as the icon was carried through Rome’s streets in procession, miracles took place, and miracles continue to this day as God answers prayers which the Virgin Mary, the Theotokos (Mother of God) intercedes for under this title.


Our Mother of Perpetual Help 

The icon came from Crete, which is where this type of Passion Icon was made. The man who brought  this one to Rome either stole it or rescued it, and at his death he left it to a Roman family to give to a church. The mother decided to keep it, a big mistake, as Our Lady told the daughter of the house in three dreams, that she wanted the icon in the church of St. Matthew. Finally the mother relented, and presented the icon to the Augustinians who served the church, telling them that in the dream, Mary specifically gave the title I am your Mother of Perpetual Help. You can read more about its adventures here: ; suffice to say that it is now honored greatly in Rome. Everything in the icon has a meaning: this site does a good job of telling what the icon “says” to us:

As an icon given to a Latin Rite Order, this beautiful image of Mary and Jesus has served as a bridge to the East. The Redemptorists founded  Eastern branches in the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church in 1913 at L’viv, and in 1921 in eastern Slovakia at Michalovce, which serves the Byzantine-Ruthenian Catholic Church, to which I belong. In 1934, Pope Pius XI gave the Sisters of St. Basil the Great – Uniontown Province – a copy of this icon to promote pilgrimages for peace in the Church at a time when our Church in America was being torn by schism. These pilgrimages at Uniontown broughts tens of thousands of people on Labor Day weekend for The Otpust, the biggest Byzantine Catholic gathering in America. This continues today: the traditional litany of “O Mary help us, O Mary help us” has been repeated by so many people, and you can do the same at our parish on Wednesday nights.

Church interior 

The parish where I have been serving as pastor, 1985-2008, and as a helper pastor emeritus since then, is dedicated to Mary under this title. The church was founded by workers from Sandia Laboratories who were recruited from universities in Pennsylvania and Ohio. These different Byzantine Catholics met up with each other, and as they married and started families, they began to plan to have a church. A previous attempt by Melkites and different Slav-origin faithful to do so at the Mount Carmel church had failed in the 196os, but this time these young people decided to make it work.  The Archdiocese granted use of the chapel at St. Pius X School, then on Louisiana NE, where Uptown shopping is today, and the Assumption church hall for fund-raising dinners and dancers. Some of the founding families were: Adamsko, Boccio, Drozdick, Dzek, Grega, Jakymiw, Novotny, Smith, Stevenson – it was already a diverse mix! You can read more about our history here:!history-of-olph/c103u

Since a majority came from Ruthenian parishes back East, the people wrote to Bishop Emil Mihalik of Parma, who had jurisdiction over the Western States for the Byzantine Catholic Metropolia to get their own priest, and to establish a parish named Our Lady of Perpetual Help, as Mary was definitely helping them move so quickly. While he agreed to work with them for a priest, he declined the name, writing that there were too many churches with that name. The laity persevered, and purchased a church with a residence and parking lot on Bell SE, in what now has the rather elaborate title International District, generally known as Trumbull. Bishop Mihalik sent Father John Kovach  as the first pastor, and yielded to both the pressures of the faithful and the intercession of Mary, and the parish was given this glorious name, Our Lady of Perpetual Help and canonically established us in November, 1974 .

My first Divine Liturgy here was the feast of St. Elijah the Prophet on July 20, 1985. I blessed cars after the Liturgy, as Elijah is the patron of vehicles (due to his ascent to heaven in a fiery chariot!) and we were off! Bishop Thomas Dolinay told me to come here for a couple of years, and then he’d send me on to another church. But that never happened.

Ascent of Elijah to heaven in chariot of fire 

The Perpetual Help icon has been the site of many prayers over the years, and many favors granted by God. Every Wednesday night, devout members of the parish gather at 5:30 PM to pray the traditional prayers and litany, and sing the popular Byzantine hymns in honor of Our Lady. Mary has blessed us in many ways, and under different titles, as you’ll see below!

One of the ladies in the parish always said that something wonderful would happen here. She was hoping for a miracle like the weeping icon of Mariapocs. We did not get that, but we have had many, many other blessings.

There are four priests from this parish that has never numbered more than 90 households: Fathers Michael O’Loughlin, pastor at Holy Protection   and Vocation Director of the Eparchy of the Holy Protection of Mary  ; Brian Escobedo, Nathaniel Block for the Diocese of Gallup, and Tyler Strand (who serves two parishes:;

We have sent two women to the Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist: Sister Teresa Benedicta Block, daughter of former cantor and choir director Steve Block; and  Sister Victoria Marie Edge –

Our pastor, Fr. Artur Bubnevych, carries the large Helper of Mothers icon in the March for Life, 2016. 

Our Lady, Helper of Mothers – The original small icon came to our parish in 1997, and has been accompanied by miracles ever since: difficult pregnancies or childbirths ending safely; couples who had used all possible Church-approved methods of conception and still being childless, conceiving successfully. The large gold-covered icon was purchased by then-Father Kurt Burnette, and has been successfully presented at abortion clinics and resulting in some turnarounds and thus babies saved, or going to parishes and thus more couples finding out about this icon and the blessings accompanying it.

Our parish continues today – this year we had the biggest parish bazaar ever; half our membership is under 18 years of age; adult education, Knights of Columbus, choir, OLPHelpers for the women, Eastern Christian Formation for children, weekly prayers at the abortion clinic, weekly prayers to Our Lady of Perpetual Help in church – it stands as a witness to Jesus Christ the High Priest, to our Catholic Faith expressed fully in the Byzantine Tradition, as a family of worshippers committed to living out the Faith as well as possible, and looking forward to the future.

Come by sometime – it’s a great church, and that lady was right – great things are happening here.  


Praying in the ruins of St. George Church, al-Hasakah province, deliberately bombed by ISIS

The US has acknowledged that Christians are victims of genocide at the hands of Islamic State. Every day Middle Eastern news agencies report on another anti-Christian atrocity: beatings, robbery, kidnapping, sexual slavery, murder of people who refuse to renounce their Christian faith and destruction of churches that go back 1700 years. And our great and glorious Immigration service saw fit to admit … drum roll …

a grand total of TWO Christian refugees, and 1,035 Sunni Muslims. How these people in Washington sleep at night is beyond me. And you most certainly did not hear this story on ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, or FOX.

Two people who believe in Jesus Christ were worthy of admission to our great nation? Two??

U.S. Admits 1,037 Syrian Refugees in May: 2 Christians, 1,035 Muslims
By Patrick Goodenough

The number of Syrian refugees admitted into the United States jumped to 1,037 during May — an increase of 130 percent over the previous month — but the proportion of Christians among them remains miniscule: two Christians (0.19 percent) compared to 1,035 Muslims.

May’s figure of 1,037 Syrian refugees brings the total number since the beginning of 2016 to 2,099 — compared to 2,192 for the whole of 2015, according to State Department Refugee Processing Center data.

Earlier years since the Syrian civil war began saw much smaller numbers arriving — 20 in 2011 (dated from mid-March); 41 in 2012; 45 in 2013; and 249 in 2014.

Of the 2,099 Syrian refugees admitted so far this year, six (0.28 percent) are Christians, 2,043 (97.3 percent) are Sunni Muslims. The remaining 50 are 17 (0.8 percent) Shi’a, 30 (1.4 percent) other Muslims and 10 (0.47 percent) Yazidis.

Similar proportions are seen in the number of Syrian refugees having arrived in the U.S. since the start of fiscal year 2016: 2,773 in total, comprising 12 (0.4 percent) Christians, 2,703 (97.4 percent) Sunnis, 17 (0.6 percent) Shi’a, 30 (1.1 percent) other Muslims and 10 (0.3 percent) Yazidis.

And since the conflict erupted, of a total of 4,646 Syrian refugees admitted, 60 (1.3 percent) are Christians; 4,422 (95.1 percent) are Sunni Muslims. The remaining 163 include Shi’a, other Muslims, Zoroastrians, Baha’i, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Yazidi, and refugees identified as “other religion” or as having “no religion.”

Syrians of all faith and ethnic backgrounds have been fleeing their homeland, with almost five million now registered by the U.N. refugee agency UNHCR as “persons of concern.”

They have done so to escape the violence and deprivation generally, or to get away specifically from ISIS, other jihadists rebel groups, or the Assad regime — which is itself a minority regime that has committed atrocities, including alleged war crimes, against majority Sunnis and others.

Although Syrians of all stripes have been affected, the number of Christians among those admitted into the U.S. — 1.3 percent — remains significantly smaller than the proportion of Christians in the total population when the war began — an estimated 10 percent, according to the CIA World Factbook.

Last week, Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.) said the very small proportion of Christians among Syrian refugees resettled in the U.S. “has got to change.”

He was speaking at a House Foreign Affairs subcommittee hearing on steps that should be taken following Secretary of State John Kerry’s declaration last March that atrocities being carried out by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS/ISIL) against Christians, Yazidis and other minorities in areas under its control constitutes genocide.

As has reported previously, groups aiding Syrian Christians say many of those who have left the country avoid UNHCR refugee camps due to safety fears, seeking shelter instead with churches, charitable organizations or relatives in surrounding countries.

Since the U.S. relies on UNHCR referrals at the early stage of processing refugee status applications, Christians may as a result be disadvantaged. (if that is the case, you would think that we’d find a way to help people who are being butchered daily! But apparently we do not want Christians coming into our country)

The UNHCR has itself acknowledged that minorities “fear that registration might bring retribution from other refugees” in the camps.

It has also said that accommodation in a camp is not a requirement for refugees to be registered with the agency. (So if you can be considered a refugee while living in a Christian-run camp, why can’t we help those folks? In 1933-1940 it was anti-Semitism that kept Jews off our shores. What is it now?? 

Posted by: Fr Chris | April 16, 2016

Yes, Islamic State is committing genocide: now what?

Why Silence After Kerry’s Genocide Declaration? Church Must Keep Making Noise, Advocate Says

“Keep banging the pots and pans,” George Marlin advises

Security Council Holds Meeting On Countering Terrorism During The United Nations General Assembly

Spencer Platt/Getty Images

The Church in the United States needs to “keep banging the pots and pans” as a follow-up to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s declaration that the Islamic State group is carrying out a genocide against Christians in the Middle East, says the head of a Christian humanitarian aid organization.

Kerry’s March 17 declaration, which identified religious minorities in Iraq and Syria as targets of ISIS’s campaign of ethnic and religious cleansing, came after months of debate and pressure from advocacy groups. But, according to George J. Marlin, chairman of Aid to the Church in Need, there’s a sense that the declaration was the last the world will hear about it.

“It was like, ‘Okay, we’re done for the day. Let’s move on,’” Marlin said at a talk this week. “The question is what happens next.

“The Christian world, the Catholics in the United States, the bishops, have to bang the pots and pans loudly enough and say, ‘We are outraged by this. What is the West going to do?’” Marlin said in an interview after the talk, which he delivered Sunday at the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Waterbury, Conn.

“The first thing is humanitarian aid, which is very important, and to recognize that Christians are not going into the international camps,” he said, referring to a statement he made in his talk, that Christian refugees from Iraq and Syria fear the camps because of potential harassment from Islamic radicals in those camps. “I’m not going to play Henry Kissinger and get into all the foreign policy, but sooner or later the West is going to have to sit down with the moderate Muslim world, and until they decide that Islamic terrorism, radicalism, is wrong, it has to be crushed, we can never do enough to end it. There are 1.6 billion Muslims in the world, of which a tiny minority are these radicals, so they’re going to have to get active. It was good to see the president of Egypt a year ago say to the mullahs, ‘You guys are going to have to get your act together and do something about this because this is wrong. So the Muslims are going to have to take the lead. The U.S. and the Western world can be a part of that in trying to encourage them. In the meantime we’ve got to help all these people because if it wasn’t for the institutional Church and all the Christians around the world and what we do, these people would be starving in the streets.”

At the same time, there is continuing tension between Christians determined to stay in their ancestral homelands and those who are trying to escape the miserable life ISIS has inflicted there. Aid to the Church in Need is supporting local Churches and Christian communities who are striving to maintain a presence in a land where the Church has been for almost 2,000 years.

It is a dilemma which Christian internally displaced persons staying in Erbil in Iraqi Kurdistan for the past two years may face if Mosul is liberated from ISIS control. Many of the Christian IDPs have said that even if the city is liberated, they would be reluctant to return because they feel their former Muslim neighbors betrayed them.

“I don’t have a sense of that at the moment, but what I do know is that people like Archbishop [Jean-Clement] Jeanbart [the Melkite archbishop of Aleppo, Syria] are urging their people to stay,” said Marlin, author of Christian Persecutions in the Middle East: A 21st Century Tragedy. “We’ve been there for 2,000 years. The bishops I’ve met with are hoping to help rebuild, the money we’re raising is to help rebuild. So if ISIS is pushed out of these cities and towns and there is a sense of settlement there, I’m hoping Christians will stay and come back, but that remains to be seen.”

In Syria, ISIS was pushed out of the Christian city of Al-Qaryatayn, but a local priest expressed doubt that its inhabitants would return anytime soon, especially in light of  revelations this week that the jihadists murdered local Christians and tortured those who would not convert to Islam.

“The residents who have fled, both Christians and Muslims, are afraid,” Father Jihad Yousef, a monk of the order of Mar Musa, told Aid to the Church in Need. “They fear that IS may come back again.”

– See more at:

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