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'


Copywriter 2015 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for May 2015
Universal:
That, rejecting the culture of indifference, we may care for our neighbours who suffer, especially the sick and the poor.
Evangelization: That Mary's intercession may help Christians in secularized cultures be ready to proclaim Jesus.


Rosaries, Crosses, Prayer Cards and more... by Catholic Shopping .com


Comments


More Middle East

Wholesale slaughter of Palmyra residents begins as Islamic State invades Watch

Image of Will this marble altar depicting the Goddess Allat with a lion from the Temple of Baal Shamin in Palmyra be destroyed by ISIS jihadists?

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Shocking images have emerged of decapitated bodies strewn across blood-filled streets in Palmyra While the world worries that the Islamic State will destroy the cities many priceless historical treasures, the wholesale slaughter of Palmyra's citizens has begun. ... continue reading


OOPS! Comment riles Iran, threatened to rain down '80,000 missles on Tel Aviv and Haifa' Watch

Image of The misquote was most likely based on Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon's comments from the May 5 Shurat Hadin conference.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon made a comment recently that was taken out of context. The comment was so misunderstood that it prompted war talk from Iran. While the war talk was mostly bluster, Iran obviously took the comment seriously as Iran's United ... continue reading


Foreign Legion: 17,000 men and women from more than 90 countries wage Muslim holy war for ISIS Watch

Image of

By Abigail James (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The Islamic State continues to round up and recruit foreign fighters to join their "Muslim holy war." During the past three and a half years, ISIS has gained between 16,000 and 17,000 men and women from 90 countries, according to The Jakarata Post. LOS ANGELES, CA ... continue reading


Catacombs becomes popular as graveyard space in Jerusalem grows scarce Watch

Image of The first phase of construction includes 22,000 crypts, arranged floor to ceiling in three tiers.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Many of the Jewish faith yearn to be interred in the Holy Land. Jerusalem, however, is running out of graveyard space. To meet this growing demand, plans are in the works for a new, massive necropolis - located deep underground. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic ... continue reading


Islamic State seizes control of Palmyra Watch

Image of The capture of the ancient Syrian city of Palmyra, one monitoring group said, now gives ISIS control of half the country.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Islamic State extremists have seized full control of the ancient Syrian town of Palmyra. Syrian Government defense lines collapsed there earlier this week. It is not yet known how close to the famed archaeological site the extremists advanced, activists said. ... continue reading


Extreme female terrorist 'White Widow' commands army of 200 female jihadist spies Watch

Image of

By Hannah Raissa Marfil (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The so-called "White Widow" is now reported as commanding an army of around 200 female jihadists who pose as normal citizens and workers, like shop owners and hotel receptionists, and gather classified information for the leaders of the Al-Shabaab, according to ... continue reading


Islamic State captures World Heritage site despite Kurdish offensive Watch

Image of Islamic State fighters continue to make gains both in Iraq and Syria, despite efforts from Kurdish forces as well as government and militia units.

By Matt Waterson (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

While the Islamic State's recent capture of Mosul in Iraq has been making the news, it's there current conquests in Syria that are more worrying to several international historical groups. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Islamic State fighters recently seized ... continue reading


Saudi Arabia beheading rate increases, new executioners recruited Watch

Image of

By Nikky Andres (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

In Saudi Arabia, death sentences are usually performed by beheading. Now, Saudi Arabia is recruiting eight new executioners to carry out the rising number of death sentences. MUNTINLUPA, PHILIPPINES (Catholic Online) - Saudi Arabia has begun advertising for new ... continue reading


Killing of Abu Sayyaf by U.S. prompts cries of revenge by Islamic State supporters Watch

Image of Senior leader Abu Sayyaf was responsible for directing many of the group's military activities.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A U.S. military strike deep in Islamic State territory took out senior leader Abu Sayyaf, captured his wife and freed a Yazidi woman they had kept as their slave. Supporters of the extremist organization are calling for revenge. Taking place near the eastern ... continue reading


Will archaeological marvel of Palmyra be destroyed by ISIS? Watch

Image of Will the ancient city of Palmyra fall prey to Islamic State's march against antiquity?

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The ancient city of Palmyra, which has stood for 2,000 years, now faces being reduced to rubble at the hands of the Islamic State. There are fears that the Syrian World Heritage Site could face destruction of the kind the jihadists have wreaked in Iraq. LOS ... 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, Acts 2:1-11
1 When Pentecost day came round, they had all met ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 104:1, 24, 29-30, 31, 34
1 Bless Yahweh, my soul, Yahweh, my God, how great ... Read More

Gospel, John 20:19-23
19 In the evening of that same day, the first day of ... Read More

Reading 2, First Corinthians 12:3-7, 12-13
3 Because of that, I want to make it quite clear to ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for May 24th, 2015 Image

St. David I of Scotland
May 24: David, the youngest son of Scotlandís virtuous queen, (Saint) ... 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