Holy Week has been once again a time of real passion suffered by many Christians in many parts of the world. The persecution of Christians “that the world tries to hide”, as the Pope commented after the two attacks on churches in Pakistan, continued last week in Garissa in Kenya, with a vicious new attack, this time in a university, against helpless students who are guilty only of being Christians. There are 147 confirmed deaths among students, as well as those of four policemen.
According to information in the media, the terrorist force consisting of four people divided up the students, singling out Christians to be taken hostage and eventually killed.
“There is great fear among the population. People speak about nothing else. The terrorists have threatened to carry out new massacres and Christians are now afraid even to participate in the Stations of the Cross or the Easter ceremonies,” according to the Salesians in Kenya.
“Like everyone else, we are shocked by this attack. Leaked documents give a higher number of casualties than the official count. They mention about 200 dead, plus about seventy wounded and 300 students unaccounted for.
As Salesians we do not feel particularly at risk. As a result of the attack there are now many soldiers and police on the streets. We have planned security checks for our ceremonies,” they conclude.
At the present time, according to the Pew Research Center in Washington, Christians are discriminated against in 139 countries, or in about 75% of the officially recognized countries in the world.
Meanwhile a significant move has taken place. On 1 April, at al Awar in Egypt, the first stone was laid of a church dedicated to the Martyrs of Libya, the twenty-one Coptic Christians beheaded for their faith. They were immediately entered in the Synaxarion (the list of Saints) of the Coptic Orthodox Church. On the same day in Geneva, Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, Permanent Observer of the Holy See at the United Nations, reminded the international community: “We cannot remain blind to the fact that extremist groups are growing like a cancer.” He reiterated that it is not possible today to maintain “an attitude of indifference” and one of “no action in response to these horrific crimes.”