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Persecution: Still a brutal curse

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- When the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops assembled this week, Cardinal Timothy Dolan told 300 delegates that religious persecution -- faith-based murder and violence -- didn't fade in medieval times, but remains a blight on humanity.

Although America enjoys peaceful tolerance, many corners of the globe suffer ugly attacks and massacres almost daily, or at least weekly, he indicated.

"Many of our Christian brothers and sisters in other parts of the world . . . are experiencing lethal persecution on a scale that defies belief," he said, adding: "The 21st century has already seen in its first 13 years 1 million people killed around the world because of their belief in Jesus Christ."

Most of the examples cited by the cardinal involved attacks by Muslims on Christians, but he acknowledged that other types of religious killing occur -- such as slaughter between Hindus and Buddhists in Sri Lanka and suicide bombings between Sunni and Shiite Muslim sects.

Religion is supposed to bring out "the better angels of our nature" -- not the worst demons.


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