An Era of New Martyrdom…

icon of Martyrdom in Soviet Russia

An Era of New Martyrdom. Discrimination of Christians in Various Parts of the World

by Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk

On February 20, 2012, Metropolitan Hilarion, head of the DECR and rector of the Sts Cyril and Methodius Post-Graduate and Doctoral School, visited the Moscow theological schools to deliver the following lecture for the faculty and students:

Your Eminence,

Dear Members of the Faculty of the Moscow Theological Academy,

Brothers and Sisters:

The theme of my lecture is the situation of Christians in the countries in which they constitute a minority. Today this issue has become especially relevant and acute. Our era is rightly called an era of new martyrdom, for in a whole number of countries, Christians are subjected to mass persecution and discrimination.

From November 30 to December 1, 2011, a conference on Freedom of Faith: The Problem of Persecution and Discrimination Against Christians was held at the conference hall of the Danilovskaya Hotel. I made a report to that forum, citing numerous facts of discrimination committed against Christians in various countries.

Last week, launched a special new section on ‘Persecution of Christians’ 1. . It is called to introduce readers online to the facts of violence against Christians in various parts of the world. I would like also to enumerate several English internet resources. These are mostly websites of human rights organizations specializing in monitoring the situation of Christians and providing materials and legal support to persecuted Christians.

1) Christian Solidarity Worldwide, an international organization for protecting persecuted Christians . It gives statistics concerning the persecutions according to regions, analytical materials and numerous video clips. Based in Great Britain, this organization also provides legal support for Christians persecuted in countries in which the Christian confession is prohibited in this or that form.

2) International Christian Concern, a US human rights organization maintaining at an internet resource called ‘Persecution’. It is an important resource which includes a detailed survey according to world regions and particular countries.

3) Barnabas Fund, an international organization which publishes the latest news about facts of the killing and persecution of Christians in the world. There is a solid bulk of related news concerning the latest events in Syria and Egypt. This organization is one of the few ones which organize continuous help to Christians in Syria whose situation is getting worse with every day because of the actions of militants.

4) Open Doors, an international organization which places on its website detailed surveys according to countries and continents. Recently it has published an annual list of 50 countries in which Christians are subjected to the severe discrimination, the so-called ‘World Watch List’. Countries are divided into four groups according to the extent of pressure brought to bear on their Christian communities.

The Christian Church began to be persecuted since the very first years of its existence. The Church is a divine-human organism; it belongs at the same time to the upper and lower worlds. The Archenemy cannot reconcile himself to its nature being not of this world. The Lord Jesus Christ said on several occasions that Christians would be persecuted in the world: ‘If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also (Jn. 15:20).

The Lord predicted the persecution of Christians in the world: ‘They will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors for my name’s sake…’ (Lk. 21:12).

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