Christian persecution happens far away from us. We may complain about the atheists or the satanists and their displays, or a lack of public prayer, but this isn’t the hard persecution many Christians face. For most of us, Christian persecution is a remote possibility.
However, for many millions of others, persecution is a daily reality. The threat of discrimination, abuse, kidnapping and even death is a genuine possibility.
Christians living in parts of Africa, Asia and especially in the Middle East routinely face the prospect of death. And as we learned with Fr. Jacques Hamel, even here, in the “civilized” western world, persecution occasionally takes place.
Making this real for Christians is a challenge. Most people are so accustomed to bad news that nothing shocks them anymore. The wholesale slaughter of Christians is just another news item that plays before the sports scores.
Yet, millions of Christians deserve to practice their faith without fear of dying for it. Those who have been displaced or harmed deserve relief.
To communicate this, Aid for the Church in Need, which is the direct, charitable arm of the pope, has established an exhibit.
The exhibit, which is on display in Rome, is filled with artifacts from people who were killed for their faith. A teddy bear. A child’s swing. A few desks belonging to students killed in a bombing. A table from a restaurant.
Visitors then walk through a dark tunnel where they see pictures of those recently killed for their faith. Jacques Hamel, the Italian priest, Andrea Santoro, and many others who are less well known.
The point of the exhibit is to renew awareness that Christian persecution is real and that fellow Christians need help. Aid to the Church in Need and many other charities continue the humanitarian mission of the Church in spite of the many threats.