(PRWEB) December 11, 2013
(NCR, John L. Allen, Jr.) Cardinal Timothy Dolan has stepped down as president of the USCCB but he has issued a challenge for the bishops to follow under the leadership of the new president, Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Louisville: Take action now against the persecution of Christians around the world.
In a farewell speech at the council’s meeting in Baltimore, Dolan admonished the bishops to “not allow our laudable battles over religious freedom at home to obscure the actual violence being inflicted on Christians elsewhere.”
As a Trustee on the Board of the Franciscan Foundation for the Holy Land, Dolan is very much aware of the dangers that plague Palestinian Christians in the Holy Land where their numbers are dramatically shrinking because of travel, work and education restrictions imposed by the government of Israel which views all Palestinians as a security threat.
While acknowledging that other faiths are under attack in these areas, he pointed out that, “Christians are singled out in far more places and far more often.” He called on the bishops to become “advocates for these and many other Christians whose lives literally hang in the balance.
In a previous statement, Dolan spoke strongly, “The plight of Christians in the Holy Land continues to be precarious. Giving them hope for the future and dignity in their lives has been the mission (of the Franciscan Foundation for the Holy Land) whose task is to stem their exodus and support their historic presence in their homeland.”
Dolan singled out numerous other places where Christians are being persecuted and killed every day. Among them are Nigeria, China, the Indian state of Orissa and the entire Middle East including Syria, Iraq and Egypt.
“We are being beckoned by history, by Pope Francis, and by the force of our own logic and the ecclesiology of communion to extend those efforts to the dramatic front lines where Christians are paying for their fidelity with their lives,” he added, pointing out that the rise of a new generation of martyrs represents the most urgent Christian story of our time.
FFHL president, Fr. Peter Vasko, OFM, has pointed out that it is the responsibility of every Christian to be concerned about the exodus of Christians from the Holy Land. He says, “Without stable roots, without the living and breathing branches, the living stones, our Church will wither.” He adds, “Without a Christian presence in the Holy Land, there is little hope of a future peace.”
Dolan, who was ordained as a priest in 1976, served as Auxiliary Bishop of St. Louis and Archbishop of Milwaukee before becoming Archbishop of New York in 2009.