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Thursday, Feb. 29, 2024
The Observer

Fighting for Christians throughout the world

A common refrain among Notre Dame students is that despite its virtues, the “Notre Dame bubble” can often isolate us from the rest of the world. It is admittedly easy to get caught up in the many interesting things that happen on the Notre Dame campus in a day and forget about the happenings of the world. A seemingly never-ending stream of work and tests makes it even easier to forget how blessed we are to even attend a school like Notre Dame. However, the easiest thing to forget about the Notre Dame bubble is that in many parts of the world, the entire student body would be subject to violence and even death just for enrollment in a Catholic university.

I attended an Ash Wednesday Mass at St. Matthew’s Cathedral in Washington, D.C., this year. After the ashes had been distributed and the Mass had ended, Cardinal Wuerl reminded those in attendance that the ability to walk in public while displaying an obvious symbol of Christian faith is by no means a universal privilege. “We can go out those doors with ashes on our forehead … however … there are parts of the world where that will just as well be a death certificate.”

At Notre Dame, we freely worship or choose not to worship (another privilege) without fear of our chapels and dorm buildings being destroyed. At Notre Dame, we can express our faith without fear of being sold into slavery. At Notre Dame, we can be Catholic without fear of a brutal, torturous death.

In Libya, a group of Egyptian Christians were barbarically beheaded by ISIL militants just because they were Christian. At a Kenyan college, al-Shabaab militants sorted out 147 Christian and non-Muslim students and massacred them. In Nigeria, Boko Haram terrorists burned churches after slaughtering nearly 2,000 members of a Christian majority city. In Iraq, at least two-thirds of a once 1.5 million Christian population has fled the country out of fear.

Many religious leaders have demanded that greater attention be given to the heinous and systematic execution of Christians throughout the world. Pope Francis has said, “I hope that the international community doesn’t stand mute and inert before such unacceptable crimes, which constitute a worrisome erosion of the most elementary human rights. I truly hope that the international community doesn’t look the other way.” Ronald Lauder, president of the World Jewish Congress, has added, “The Jewish people understand all too well what can happen when the world is silent. This campaign of death must be stopped.”

It is my belief that we possess not only a powerful platform but a moral imperative to stand against the despicable and inhumane suffering of Christians across the world. If we remain silent on this issue, who should we expect to speak up? If we do not speak, loudly and incessantly, of the fear, torture and murder of our Christian brothers and sisters, who will?

Notre Dame asks the question, “What would you fight for?” We, as students, faculty and administration, must fight against persecution. We must fight for every last person who wakes up in the morning and is afraid just because he or she is a Christian. We must fight against intolerance, injustice and cruel violence. We must fight for human rights, free expression and peace. As the leading Catholic university in the world and a community that aspires to be a global force for good, we must fight for suffering Christians throughout the world.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.