Cardinal Timothy Dolan acknowledged that Christians are slow to answer the alarm clock. He offered high praise for the current level of engagement of U.S. Christians in responding to the needs of Christians overseas, particularly in the Middle East.
“We have heightened the conversation. People know what’s going on”, Dolan remarked at the conclusion of a daylong summit on “The Crisis for Christians in the Middle East,” in New York on Tuesday.
According to the United States Department of State, Christians in more than 60 countries face persecution from their government or surrounding groups. In Iraq, over one million Christians have been killed for their faith over the past decade, and by some estimates and if the current situation could be overcome no Christians will be left in the country in five years.
He added that he knows that all Catholic Parish in the United States pray for the persecuted Christians throughout the world. It has become a staple prayer in Sunday Mass.
Both Cardinal Timothy Dolan and Ambassador Ronald Lauder (president of the World Jewish Congress) praised the faithfulness of the persecuted Christians in the Middle East, saying that in many respects they place a higher value on the role of religion in their society.
Dolan offered a call for action for Western Christians to take the signs and symbols of the faith more seriously.
“If you don’t take a statue of the blessed mother or a cross on top of a church seriously, you’re not going to stand up when the Chinese come in and make the Christians remove all the crosses or when ISIS goes into the village and beheads not only people but statues and blows up churches, because you thought, well those are nice. But is it really worth losing your life over? Yes, it is. ISIS believes it is and so do we need to believe it is.” he said.
Dolan said that unlike western Christians, persecuted believers know the value of these symbols. They die for them. They continuously go to Mass on Sunday, even though they know there is a chance they would not return because they will either be burned alive at the church or they will be shot or their wives will be raped.