Catholic Survey Findings on Christian Persecution Around the World

A report published this year by Aid to the Church in Need, USA entitled : “The National Catholic Survey Findings on Christian Persecution Around the World” sheds light on how informed Christians are about the persecuted Church and suggests ways to make the lay faithful, especially in the USA, more aware of the plight of their persecuted brethren.  

Matthew Devoy, Dublin, Ireland

Every institution or company, big or small, is keenly aware they must know their audience if they are to be successful in their business; churches and charities are no exception. Christians who suffer because of their faith beliefs around the world frequently look to those countries who can practice their faith unhindered, for prayers, empathy, financial support and volunteers. Catholics, who are regular Mass-goers are often asked to help those who suffer because of their faith.

But how tuned in are those devout Christians who sit in the pews of our churches every Sunday to the plight of their persecuted brothers and sisters in the faith and how likely are they to come to the aid of those in need?

For the purpose of clarity and brevity, information from the report has been highlighted under  four headings: Survey; Statistics; Significant Statements and Suggestions

The final recommendations are those proffered by ACN to inspire Christians to support those who suffer and sometimes die for their faith.

The Survey:

‘his nationwide poll of 1,000 Catholic adults was conducted from January 16th, 2018 through January 24th, 2018. All interviews were run online; survey invitations were distributed randomly within predetermined geographic units.

The Respondent Profile was:

  • Male 46% and Female 54%
  • Age: 18-29 (18%), 30-40 (18%), 41-55 (21%), 56-65 (23%), Over 65 (20%)
  • Education: 45% had a college degree or higher education.’

The Statistics

‘When ranking the severity of Christian persecution in 14 countries, US Catholics ranked in the following order the top five countries where they believe Christian persecution is  “extremely severe” — North Korea, Iran, Iraq, Syria and Pakistan.’

40% of Catholics acknowledge that Christian persecution around the world is “severe,” while 51% consider it to be “somewhat severe.”

However, one statistic stands out in particular:

When asked to rank their concerns about global issues, US Catholics ranked Christian persecution last as the issue they are very concerned about. The percentage of US Catholics very concerned about global issues was in the order of importance:

  • human trafficking 72%
  • poverty 68%
  • climate change 55%
  • refugee crisis 51%
  • Christian persecution 49%”

Being more concerned about climate change than the persecution of Christians must raise a red flag when it comes to making people aware of the grave situation that followers of Christ find themselves around the world.

When it comes to supporting persecuted Christians, the following data makes interesting reading. ‘While 50% of those surveyed had helped the cause of the persecuted church, almost half  (47%) of US Catholics say that they have not donated in the prior year to an organisation that helps persecuted Christians. Giving increases among regular Mass-goers. The majority of those who do not regularly attend Mass do not give to any organisation.’

However, 64% of US Catholics ranked prayer as “very important” to help persecuted Christians, followed by raising awareness at the parish level (56%), donating (53%), and contacting Members of Congress (49%).

Significant Statements:

It is interesting to note that according to the report, the majority of American Catholics think it is important for the U.S. and other Western countries to pursue certain policies to deter Christian persecution around the world.

‘Diplomatic pressure on countries is seen as “very important” by 59% of American Catholics; 55% ranked economic sanctions as most important; 50% favoured emergency asylum; 47% chose financial aid to persecuted Christian communities as most important.’

The Suggestions:

The report by ACN merits further study and reflection and a link to the full text is enclosed below.  The concluding statement by George J. Marlin,  Chairman of Aid to the Church in Need-USA is clear, concrete and precise. Implementing it at all levels, not only in the USA but across the globe could in the long run better the plight of persecuted Christians.

Marlin  writes: “The survey reveals quite clearly that there is a need to increase the engagement level of the US Catholic Church when it comes to global Christian persecution— both at the grassroots and leadership levels. There is a need to better inform and engage the Catholic audience.

There is an obligation to keep the spotlight on the topic and showcase the seriousness and pervasiveness of Christian persecution around the world.”

Photo by Thaï Ch. Hamelin / ChokdiDesign on Unsplash

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