Robert Lalonde, ACN Canada
Translated by Amanda Bridget Griffin
Montreal, Wednesday April 23, 2014 – Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) Canada, in partnership with the Fraternité monastique de Jérsusalem and Solidarité Internationale Trinitaire (SIT), is organizing a conference with the theme of “The persecuted Church, today….?” This conference will take place Saturday and Sunday, May 3 and 4 beginning at 8:45 am, at the Sanctuaire du Saint-Sacrement, situated at 500, Mont Royal East, in Montreal.
This conference which will extend over two days, will include – testimonials, presentations, reflection periods in small groups, question and answer periods and the viewing of “Il était une foi” (Once upon a time) as well as two religious celebrations: The Vespers at 6:00 pm on Saturday, and The Lauds on Sunday at 8:00 am.
From the outset, “La situation de la Syrie” (The situation of Syria) will set the tone of this conference. You will then have the opportunity to hear the discourse of the much awaited professor and expert on the Middle-East, Sami Aoun, followed in the afternoon a no less interesting presentation by Marie-Claude Lalonde on “La liberté religieuse et la persecution dans le monde” (Religious freedom and persecution in the world.) Marie-Claude Lalonde has held the position of National Director at ACN Canada since 2000.
Lastly, to complete the conference on Sunday, you are invited to attend at 9:00 am the discourse of Italian sociologist and founder of the Centre des études des nouvelles religions (CESNUR), Massimo Introvigne, entitled Les actes anti-chrétiens en Occident“ (Anti-Christian acts in the West) . The day will end at 11:00 am with a Eucharistic celebration with the community of brothers and sisters from the Fraternernité monastique de Jérusalem
Photo Exhibit related to persecution
During the entirety of this event, you will also have the opportunity to take in an exhibition of photographs with the theme of persecution, which will be set up on site. The 24 photographs in this expo tell the stories of various situations where Christians in many countries have suffered acts of violence. ACN personnel will be on site to answer any questions you may have.
“Today, Christians constitute the religious group which suffers the greatest number of persecutions because of their faith,” Benedict XVI once stated in a message he gave for the World Day of Peace in 2011. This statement may appear to be an exaggerated one, but it rests on real facts.
According to the Report on Religious Freedom in the World, prepared by ACN every two years, it is estimated that currently the number of Christians in the world who may not freely practice their faith is approximately 200 million, that is to say: 1 out of every 10. Whereas according to Msgr Anthony Frontiero, member ot the Pontifical Council of Justice and Peace, some 150 000 Christians die every year because of their faith, representing as many as in the first three centuries of the history of Christianity.
For example, in Pakistan where this Christian girl, her neck decorated with a Cross, seems to be looking skyward for a sign of hope. This photograph, in our opinion, expresses the suffering of Christians in many parts of the world. In Pakistan, this girl is part of a Catholic minority who suffer a multitude of discriminations in schools and universities. The work left for them to do is the most difficult and the worst paying, such as brick-making in the sun, work which entire families, parents and children alike are subject to.
Or, in Vietnam where for more than 30 years, all Christian symbols were prohibited by the totalitarian regime. Today, fireboxes of persecution like the one suffered here in 2006 by the parish of Me Vo Nhiem, persist. The parishioners pick up the burned Cross anyway, and so bring their church back from the ashes.