Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Deacon Keith Fournier

4/4/2012 (2 years ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Catholics believe that the Gospel of Jesus Christ demands a response which goes beyond the walls of our Church buildings

The situation in Iran and the challenge issued by this courageous Chaldean Bishop should cause us to pause and think as we enter into these Holy Days. This Bishop is correct; a culture without God has no future. He also asks us the right question, what are we doing with our freedoms? Pope Benedict reminds us that "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."

Chaldean Catholic Bishop Ramzi Garmou

Chaldean Catholic Bishop Ramzi Garmou

Highlights

By Deacon Keith Fournier

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

4/4/2012 (2 years ago)

Published in Middle East

Keywords: religious liberty, Iran, Chaldean Catholic, HHS, HHS Mandate, Obamacare, Human Rights, Bishop Ramzi Garmou, Deacon Keith Fournier


CHESAPEAKE,VA  (Catholic Online) - I recently read a report from Aid to the Church in Need, a Catholic Charity under the guidance of the Holy Father  with a special mission to "help suffering and persecuted faithful worldwide. It was an  interview with the Chaldean Catholic Bishop of Tehran, Ramzi Garmou. He gave the charity a message for  Christians of the West, "Be aware of the value of the freedom that you enjoy."

Here is another excerpt from the report.It can be read in full here.

*****
"He then challenged Western Christians to "make good use of their freedom," asking, "How do you use it in your countries?" He emphasized that they must not become "the slaves of a culture that seeks to drive God out of people's hearts," but rather that they should use their freedom to "propagate respect for human life." A culture without God leads to "death" and has "no future," he said.

"Christians in Iran only represent a small minority, yet "their vitality does not depend on their numbers but on the quality of their faith and their living witness." In their "day-to-day dialogue" with the Muslims, the Christians in Iran "give authentic witness to the values of the Gospels," he continued.

"The substantial emigration of Christians from Iran for political, economic and religious reasons represents a challenge, but Bishop Garmou emphasized that the Christian community in Iran does not let itself become discouraged. "Although we are our mothers' children, in truth we were sent to this country by God."

"He continued by saying that it is often forgotten today that the suffering endured for the Church is the "source of the life of the Church." He went on to say that such trials lead to the renewal and strengthening of the Church. Up to 99 percent of the population of the Islamic Republic of Iran is Muslim. Conversions from Islam are forbidden and punishable by death."

"Christians represent a minority of some 80,000, three-quarters of whom are Armenian Orthodox. The 20,000 Catholics living in Iran belong to three different Rites. They are permitted to practice their religion within their congregations at their places of worship, but they are not allowed to profess their faith openly, and missionary activity is forbidden."

*****
Under the heroic leadership of the President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Cardinal Archbishop of New York, Timothy Dolan, we are standing against the growing encroachments against the fundamental right to Religious Liberty in our own country.

The most recent example is the HHS mandate which seeks to compel our institutions, through the use of the Police Power of the State, to offer contraception, abortion inducing drugs and pay for sterilization.

There is a silver lining in the cloud. This HHS Edict has given rise to a tide of resistance.We have found one another and we are standing together in a movement of solidarity and citizen action. Every single Catholic Bishop in the United States is in opposition to this egregious mandate.

We are also properly using the Courts.The Becket Fund and other good lawyers and law firms have filed numerous lawsuits on behalf of numerous Catholic apostolates. On Thursday, February 23, 2012, the attorneys general from Nebraska, Michigan, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Florida and Texas filed lawsuits opposing the unconstitutional mandate and the numbers are increasing almost daily.

There is a legislative response underway. The Respect for Rights of Conscience Act was introduced in Congress (H.R. 1179, S. 1467).  It would ensure that all who participate in the health care system "retain the right to provide, purchase, or enroll in health coverage that is consistent with their religious beliefs and moral convictions." It has not yet been passed - but the efforts continue.

The situation in Iran and the challenge issued by this courageous Chaldean Bishop should cause us to pause and think as we enter into these Holy Days. This Bishop is correct; a culture without God has no future. He also asks us the right question, what are we doing with our freedoms?

In May of 2011, the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences gathered in Rome for its 17th annual plenary session. Its theme was "Universal Rights in a World of Diversity - The Case of Religious Freedom". The gathering reflected the deep concerns the Holy See has over growing threats to the fundamental human right to Religious Freedom. Pope Benedict XVI is a Champion of Religious Liberty.

Pope Benedict XVI told the Pontifical Academy, "Since man enjoys the capacity for a free personal choice in truth, and since God expects of man a free response to his call, the right to religious freedom should be viewed as innate to the fundamental dignity of every human person, in keeping with the innate openness of the human heart to God. In fact, authentic freedom of religion will permit the human person to attain fulfillment and will thus contribute to the common good of society."

"Aware of the developments in culture and society, the Second Vatican Council proposed a renewed anthropological foundation to religious freedom. The Council Fathers stated that all people are "impelled by nature and also bound by our moral obligation to seek the truth, especially religious truth"

Only months into his pontificate the Pope told the Roman Curia: "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."

On Thursday, January 19, 2012, when he addressed the Bishops of Region IV in the United States (Baltimore, Washington and the archdiocese for the Military Services) who had gathered for their ad limina visit, he warned them of a "radical secularism which finds increasing expression in the political and cultural spheres".

He told these successors of the Apostles entrusted with the Church in the United States, that the "seriousness of these threats needs to be clearly appreciated at every level of ecclesial life. Of particular concern are certain attempts being made to limit that most cherished of American freedoms - the freedom of religion."

There is a trend emerging in the rhetoric of the current US Administration. It involves the use of the term "freedom of worship" rather than the constituional phrase, the "Free Exercise of Religion". Some say any concern over this verbal change is overblown, a matter of semantics. I passionately disagree. "Freedom of Worship" will, in effect, keep us in our church buildings.

Our worship leads us into a world which God stll loves so much that He sends his only Son - through His Body, the Church - of which we are members.The concern is real. We must act upon it before we lose more of our fundamental right to religious freedom and are impeded from our mission.

Catholics believe that the Gospel of Jesus Christ demands a response which goes beyond the walls of our Church buildings. We are our brother and sister's keeper. We do not reach out to people in need because they are Catholic. We reach out to people in need because we are Catholic.   

The Edict issued by Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of the Health and Human Services, which requires all employers, including Catholic and other religious employers, to cover sterilization, abortion inducing drugs, and contraception in their health care plans is an example of the danger we face if we do not oppose the effort to narrow the definition of religious freedom.

This Iranian Chaldean Catholic Bishop has asked Western Christians the proper question: Are we making Good Use of Our Freedom? The West is mission territory now - and we are the missionaries.

---


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


© 2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for September 2014
Mentally disabled:
That the mentally disabled may receive the love and help they need for a dignified life.
Service to the poor: That Christians, inspired by the Word of God, may serve the poor and suffering.



Comments


More Middle East

A HEINOUS NEW LOW: Syrian rebels sabotage vaccinations, killing 50 babies Watch

Image of Physicians for Human Rights, a New York-based group that works in rebel-held areas of northwest Syria, sent an internal e-mail saying that up to 50 children may have died from the vaccine.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

As proof of their bravery, rebels fighting against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad are suspected of sabotaging a batch of measles vaccinations, leading to the deaths of up to 50 young children. If true, it's a new low in an especially discouraging chapter of ... continue reading


Casualty of war; Syrian children fall behind in studies Watch

Image of Even if they should survive and thrive after the civil war in their nation of Syria ends, millions of school children, deprived of an education during the conflict, will be a generation of ill-prepared citizens.

By Katie Nguyen, Thomson Reuters Foundation

The 3-1/2-year-old conflict in Syria is preventing 2.8 million children from getting an education and has destroyed or damaged more than 3,400 schools, an international children's charity said on Thursday. (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - The 3-1/2-year-old conflict ... continue reading


'Lend Me Your Ears' Hostage reporter appears in Islamic State sham news report Watch

Image of reporter and hostage, John Cantile appeared in a video made by the Islamic State.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The Islamic State has released another video, perhaps attempting to persuade Americans and British forces from attacking them. This time, instead of beheading a journalist they have created what appears to be their own version of a crude news segment. LOS ANGELES, CA ... continue reading


Half of Iraqi army incapable of fighting against ISIL, top U.S. general declares Watch

Image of According to General Martin Dempsey, the solution must begin with formation of an Iraqi government that is able to convince the country's Kurdish and Sunni populations that they will be equal partners with the Shiites in Iraq's future.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey, the U.S. military's top officer gave his assessment of Iraq's military capability in deterring the Islamic State. Dempsey says that almost half of Iraq's army is incapable of working against ISIL. ... continue reading


Stone structure in northern Israel was to worship moon god, scholar says Watch

Image of The vast structure, which is 150 meters long with a volume of 14,000 cubic meters, is thought to have taken more than five months to build.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

In the shape of the crescent moon in northern Israel, a 5,000-year-old stone structure is now being declared as an ancient monument. Predating much of the construction of Stonehenge in England and Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt, the structure according to one ... continue reading


A plea from Christian churches around the world: Stop the genocide in Iraq and Syria Watch

Image of Fighters from the Islamic State have been systematically waging a war of terror on Christians and other religious minorities in regions under their control in Iraq and Syria.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Christian leaders throughout the Middle East have called on Muslim governments and religious authorities to condemn the Islamic State for its ongoing persecution of minority religious communities in Iraq and Syria. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The leaders ... continue reading


ISIS on the run! Kurdish forces on the move towards Mosul! Watch

Image of Kurdish forces with a captured Islamic State fighter.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Kurdish Peshmerga forces have retaken a bridge and several villages around Irbil, the capital of Iraq's Kurdish region, and pushed fighters from the Islamic State back towards Mosul, Iraq's second largest city. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The Islamic State ... continue reading


Refusing responsibility, Hamas admits to using schools, hospitals as 'human shields' in rocket attacks Watch

Image of The question that remains: Did Hamas deliberately and systematically fire rockets at Israel from homes, hospitals and schools in the hope that Israel would be deterred from retaliating, as Israel claims?

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Two weeks after the ceasefire, a Hamas official admits that his organization DID use schools and hospitals in Gaza Strip as "human shields" to launch rocket attacks on Israel. Said official, Ghazi Hamad claims it was "mistake." LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) ... continue reading


Stemming tide of ISIS recruits: Nations work to prevent citizens from joining jihadists Watch

Image of While part of Turkey formerly supported the Islamic State, Turkey has since changed its tune after Turks were targeted for violence.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Countries across the globe are disturbed by the high recruitment rates by the Islamic State, who are gathering fighters from all over the world. Working to turn back this deadly tide, nations are formulating policies that will hopefully turn back the tide of ... continue reading


WARNING GRAPHIC VIDEO - Jihadi John beheads David Haines (FULL VIDEO) Watch

Image of Haines in the moment before his apparent execution.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The Islamic State has beheaded David Haines, and threatened to kill another Briton if the British government continues to ally with the United States against the Islamic State. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Time is running out for Alan Henning, who is next in ... 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, First Corinthians 15:35-37, 42-49
35 Someone may ask: How are dead people raised, and ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 56:10-12, 13-14
10 In God whose word I praise, in Yahweh whose word I ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 8:4-15
4 With a large crowd gathering and people from every ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for September 20th, 2014 Image

Sts. Andrew Kim Taegon, Paul Chong Hasang, and Companions
September 20: Feastday: September 20 The evangelization of Korea began ... 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