John L. Allen Jr.: Two hints something’s stirring on anti-Christian persecution

(Crux) Once in a while, perhaps, transformative social movements are born fully formed, like Athena from the head of Zeus. More often, however, they come together bit by bit, without any central planning, as one small piece intersects with another until critical mass is achieved.

Rome during the past week saw a couple such pieces emerge in the budding push to do something about anti-Christian persecution around the world.

For one thing, a delegation of Hungarian diplomats and politicians was in town for meetings with Vatican officials, including their Deputy State Secretary for Assisting Persecuted Christians – making Hungary to date the only country in the world to have a position in their foreign ministry specifically devoted to anti-Christian persecution. The new effort was announced in September, and the Hungarians wanted to drum up Vatican support.

The group was led by Bence Rétvári, Hungary’s Vice Minister for Human Capacities, and had meetings with Archbishop Paul Gallagher, the Vatican’s Secretary for Relations with States; Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, Prefect of the Congregation for Eastern Churches; and Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, former Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations in Geneva.

Crux spoke to Rétvári on Wednesday, and I asked him to explain why Hungary is doing something no other state in the world is doing.

“We can put that question the other way around,” he said. “Christians are the most persecuted religious group in the world, so why are there no other governments that want to help them?”

“Christians [in the Middle East] are discriminated against doubly, first because they are hit by the war, and second because they are Christians,” Rétvári said.

“Religious freedom as guaranteed in international treaties is not always respected, and in some cases people face death for refusing to abandon their religion. There are communities that have existed for more than 2,000 years that are facing extinction.

“We’re like a brother who sees that his sister’s house is on fire,” he said, “and we need to go put out the fire and then help rebuild the house.” [More]