(JNS.org) The Vatican’s top envoy to the United Nations said in a rare appearance at a U.S. congressional hearing that there is “flagrant and widespread persecution of Christians” in the Middle East.
“Flagrant and widespread persecution of Christians rages in the Middle East even as we meet,” Archbishop Francis A. Chillikatt said, Vatican Radio reported.
Chullikatt testified in front of the House subcommittee on global rights humans chaired by U.S. Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) as part of a hearing on persecution of Christians throughout the world.
“No Christian is exempt, whether or not he or she is Arab. Arab Christians, a small but significant community, find themselves the target of constant harassment for no reason other than their religious faith,” Chillikatt said.
Chullikatt served as the Vatican’s envoy to Iraq and Jordan in Baghdad from 2006 to 2010, a time that represented the height of violence and persecution of Christians there during the Iraq War.
The archbishop also described the emerging “tradition” of terrorists targeting Christian churches on holidays such as Christmas Eve. He lamented that these Christians, who are indigenous to the Middle East, are being driven out.
“This tragedy is all the more egregious when one pauses to consider that these men and women of faith are loyal sons and daughters of the countries in which they are full citizens and in which they have been living at peace with their neighbors and fellow citizens for untold generations,” he said.