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“We need a respectful, mutual listening, free of ideology and predetermined agendas.” Pope Francis, Let us Dream, December 2020

World needs to mark faith persecution

Lord David Alton of Liverpool is calling for an international day for victims of religious persecution.

The Catholic peer says the world must do more to tackle the oppression faced by people of all faiths after turning a blind eye to the abuse of religious minorities in Syria, Iraq and Burma.

He warns that those responsible for the persecution ‘scoff’ at the thought of being brought to justice, while the international community fails to step in, making a mockery of all human rights protocol.

‘We have singularly failed to prevent, protect or to punish,’ Lord Alton writes in The Times. ‘Have we learned anything from the Holocaust or the genocides in Rwanda, Bosnia…? We miss the ‘red flags’ of such atrocities.’

The Catholic peer believes that religious persecution must be properly understood before it leads to mass atrocities, and ‘one small step…to improve public and political awareness would be to establish a UN-led day commemorating the victims of religious persecution,’ he writes.

‘Without acknowledging the religious character of such crimes, there will never be an adequate response.

‘The annual event could let the victims of such mass atrocities tell their stories and to remind the world of how it looked the other way.’

Picture: St John Paul II prays at the Hill of Crosses in Siauliai, Lithuania, in 1993. Tens of thousands of crosses had been placed there by Lithuanians to mark the sufferings caused by deportation, imprisonment and persecution. (CNS photo/Arturo Mari, L’Osservatore Romano).