Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Deacon Keith Fournier

10/3/2011 (3 years ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

A missionary Church known for proclaiming her message to all peoples must necessarily work for the freedom of the faith

Today we bring to the attention of the global readership of Catholic Online the plight of a Protestant Christian pastor in Iran, Pastor Youce Nadarkhani. This brave Christian man was sentenced to death because he refuses to convert to Islam.

Protestant Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani

Protestant Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani

Highlights

By Deacon Keith Fournier

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

10/3/2011 (3 years ago)

Published in Middle East

Keywords: Iran, persecution, anti-Christian, anti-Catholic, Jihad, militant Islam, Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, Jay Sekulow, ACLJ, Deacon Keith Fournier


GILAN, Iran (Catholic Online) - The martyrs of the early Church died for their faith in the God who was revealed in Jesus Christ, and for this very reason they also died for freedom of conscience and the freedom to profess one's own faith - a profession that no State can impose but which, instead, can only be claimed with God's grace in freedom of conscience.

A December 2005 address given by Pope Benedict XVI to the Roman Curia states the clear position of the Catholic Church concerning Religious Freedom as a fundamental human right:  "The Second Vatican Council, recognizing and making its own an essential principle of the modern State with the Decree on Religious Freedom, has recovered the deepest patrimony of the Church. By so doing she can be conscious of being in full harmony with the teaching of Jesus himself (cf. Mt 22: 21), as well as with the Church of the martyrs of all time.

"The ancient Church naturally prayed for the emperors and political leaders out of duty (cf. I Tm 2: 2); but while she prayed for the emperors, she refused to worship them and thereby clearly rejected the religion of the State. The martyrs of the early Church died for their faith in that God who was revealed in Jesus Christ, and for this very reason they also died for freedom of conscience and the freedom to profess one's own faith - a profession that no State can impose but which, instead, can only be claimed with God's grace in freedom of conscience.

"A missionary Church known for proclaiming her message to all peoples must necessarily work for the freedom of the faith. She desires to transmit the gift of the truth that exists for one and all. At the same time, she assures peoples and their Governments that she does not wish to destroy their identity and culture by doing so, but to give them, on the contrary, a response which, in their innermost depths, they are waiting for - a response with which the multiplicity of cultures is not lost but instead unity between men and women increases and thus also peace between peoples."

The Fundamental Human Right to Religious Freedom is under a frontal assault all around the world. The persecution against Catholics and other Christians has escalated. We regularly report on the persecution against Catholics. Today we bring to the attention of the global readership of Catholic Online the plight of a Protestant Christian pastor in Iran, Pastor Youce Nadarkhani. This brave Christian man was sentenced to death because he refuses to convert to Islam.

I first read about the plight of this Christian pastor in an article written by Daniel D. Tovrov of the International Business Times  entitled  Iranian Pastor Sentenced to Death: Nadarkhani Refuses to Convert  "Iranian Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, who is facing the death penalty, again refused to convert to Islam to save his life. Nadarkhani was arrested in 2009 for the crime of apostasy because he allegedly abandoned Islam for Christianity. As a pastor, Iranian clerics believe that Nadarkhani was preaching in order to convert Muslims.

"Before his last hearing Wednesday, Nadarkhani had been given three previous chances to repent, and all three times he has refused. After his final refusal Wednesday, no verdict has been announced, but many expect that he could be put to death as soon as Friday.The case has slowly garnered international attention, and there are a number of Christian rights groups advocating for his release.

"U.S. House Speaker John Boehner also has spoken out against Iran. "While Iran's government claims to promote tolerance, it continues to imprison many of its people because of their faith. This goes beyond the law to an issue of fundamental respect for human dignity. I urge Iran's leaders to abandon this dark path, spare [Nadarkhani's] life, and grant him a full and unconditional release," said Boehner. "

I then discovered that one of those groups rising to the defense of the Pastor was the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) which is led by a friend, Chief Counsel Jay Sekulow. I served the ACLJ for seven years as its first Executive Director. The American Center for Law and Justice reported on Thursday

"ACLJ attorneys confirmed with Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani's attorney in Iran, Mohammad Ali Dadkhah, that the death sentence still stands. Mr. Dadkhah stated that at the end of yesterday's hearing, three of the five judges appeared to be leaning toward annulling Pastor Youcef's sentence. Recognizing, however, that the judges' decision is not final and may be swayed by outside pressure before delivering the final verdict, he urges the international community to continue to cry out for Pastor Youcef's unconditional release until he walks free from the jailhouse.

"The White House Press Secretary just released the following statement: "The United States condemns the conviction of Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani. Pastor Nadarkhani has done nothing more than maintain his devout faith, which is a universal right for all people. That the Iranian authorities would try to force him to renounce that faith violates the religious values they claim to defend, crosses all bounds of decency, and breaches Iran's own international obligations.

"A decision to impose the death penalty would further demonstrate the Iranian authorities' utter disregard for religious freedom, and highlight Iran's continuing violation of the universal rights of its citizens. We call upon the Iranian authorities to release Pastor Nadarkhani, and demonstrate a commitment to basic, universal human rights, including freedom of religion."

While this is a huge step in the right direction, it is crucial that we continue to pressure Secretary of State Clinton to take direct action to save this pastor's life."

We agree with the ACLJ. The pressure must continue. All who desire to have their voices heard can join in the ACLJ's efforts to stop this brutal application of Shariah law and sign the Petition to Secretary of State Clinton - Call on Iran to save Christian Pastor Youcef from execution for his faith.  We will keep you updated as this case progresses and we ask you to pray for the release of Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani and for an end to persecution of all Christians in Iran.

The character and courage of Christ is evident in the heroic witness of this pastor. When asked by the judges to repent, Nadarkhani stated: "Repent means to return. What should I return to? To the blasphemy that I had before my faith in Christ?"

"To the religion of your ancestors, Islam," the judge replied. "I cannot," Nadarkhani said.

I end with the words with which I began. The martyrs of the early Church died for their faith in the God who was revealed in Jesus Christ, and for this very reason they also died for freedom of conscience and the freedom to profess one's own faith - a profession that no State can impose but which, instead, can only be claimed with God's grace in freedom of conscience. Free Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani!

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


© 2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for November 2014
Lonely people:
That all who suffer loneliness may experience the closeness of God and the support of others.
Mentors of seminarians and religious: That young seminarians and religious may have wise and well-formed mentors.



Comments


More Middle East

Syria's 1,500-year-old Christian community under imminent threat in civil war Watch

Image of Christian leaders in Syria warn of an exodus on the scale of Iraq, where the 1.5 million-strong community that lived there prior to the first Gulf War is now down to as little as a tenth of its former size.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

As reported by Ruth Sherlock of the Telegraph, the Syrian town of Izraa, home one of the world's oldest Christian communities, is under threat by ongoing civil war. The area's Christian community is leaving in fear for their lives, draining a once vibrant oasis ... continue reading


Jordan's Queen Rania denounces ISIS for plunging Arab world 'back to the Dark Ages' Watch

Image of Queen Raina of Jordan says that education and job creation as being the key to thwarting the extremists.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Known for her poise and beauty, Queen Rania didn't hold back in denouncing the repugnant activities of Islamic State during a powerful address to the Abu Dhabi Media Summit in the United Arab Emirates. The 44-year-old monarch spoke against the disgusting videos ... continue reading


Defense officials warn that airstrikes are not stopping Islamic State's conquest of Iraq and Syria Watch

Image of Members of the Islamic State ride a captured tank through an Iraqi city displaying their black flags.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

President Obama's multi-month campaign of airstrikes against Islamic State forces in Iraq and Syria, while a major moral booster for Iraqi forces and a token gesture of support from the United States, may not actually be nearly as effective as the White House has ... continue reading


Religious extremism driving majority of world acts of terror Watch

Image of Groups with a religious agenda are attributed to the majority of incidents over the past few years, according to the author's report.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Instead of making humanity more respectful of their fellow man, religion is one of the factors fueling violence and chaos in the world. Religious extremism, which disallows interpretation and those of other faiths, is the force behind the majority of the acts ... continue reading


ISIS ammo: Deadly terror group can keep fighting for two years, United Nations warns Watch

Image of One anonymous member state has provided information about

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

It's both a dire warning and lesson to the West when it comes to terrorist organizations.  According to the United Nations, the dreaded Islamic State, or ISIS has enough weapons now to continue fighting for two years unabated. The ironic twist? Most of ... continue reading


The long and painful war against terrorism: 2013-14 the worst years to date Watch

Image of Operating in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the Taliban is one of the militant groups responsible for the most deaths around the world.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A new report has revealed that the number of people who have been killed by militants across the globe has jumped up more than 60% from 2013, reaching a record high of nearly 18,000. This death toll could continue to rise in 2014 because of the escalating ... continue reading


The United Arab Emirates just named these two American organizations as terrorists! Watch

Image of Al-Qaeda and its affiliates throughout the Middle East and North Africa have been designated a terrorist organization by the United Arab Emirates.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

It came as somewhat of a shock to two Islamic groups in the United States when they found that they were recently included in a list of terrorist organizations by the United Arab Emirates. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The Council on American-Islamic ... continue reading


Two U.S. Islamic groups branded as terrorists Watch

Image of Both CAIR and MAS were among more than 80 groups whose designation was approved by the UAE cabinet and announced this past weekend.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Two moderate, mainstream Islamic groups in the United States feel as though they've been tarred and feathered with the same brush. The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), which describes itself as "America's largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy ... continue reading


Did Army Ranger Peter Kassig resist Jihadi John during his beheading? Speculation abounds why he made no statement. FULL VIDEO available here Watch

Image of Army Ranger and American citizen, Peter Kassig was kidnapped by the Islamic State after serving in Syria as a humanitarian aid worker.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

American hostage Peter Kassig, who was allegedly beheaded by Islamic State terrorists did not make any statement to the camera as previous victims did. This has fueled speculation that Kassig may have been killed in another fashion, such as in an airstrike or while ... continue reading


'Jihadi John' reported wounded in U.S. airstrike that killed 10 top ISIS commanders Watch

Image of According to reports received by the Foreign Office, the masked executioner is believed to have narrowly escaped death as he attended a summit of the group's leaders in an Iraqi town close to the Syrian border last Saturday.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The British-accented terrorist known as "Jihadi John," who beheaded two British and two American hostages held by Islamic State terrorists, has been injured in a U.S.-led air strike. Jihadi John has recently been seen in the beheading video of U.S. aid worker ... continue reading


All Middle East News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Revelation 14:1-3, 4-5
1 Next in my vision I saw Mount Zion, and standing on ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 24:1-2, 3-4, 5-6
1 [Psalm Of David] To Yahweh belong the earth and all ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 21:1-4
1 Looking up, he saw rich people putting their ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for November 24th, 2014 Image

St. Andrew Dung Lac
November 24: Through the missionary efforts of various religious families ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter