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World News

US Catholics' concern about Christian persecution declines, survey reveals

by Ruth Sax

A new poll shows that although more than half of US Catholics are "very concerned" about the persecution of Christians around the world, the level of concern has sharply declined in the past two years.

US Catholics who say they are "very concerned" about global Christian persecution dropped from 69 per cent in 2018 to 52 per cent in 2020, a decline of almost 25 per cent.

The percentage of US Catholics who think that Christian persecution is very severe declined 11 per cent compared to a year ago, falling from 46 percent to 41 percent.

The third annual nationwide poll examining the views of US Catholics on the global persecution of Christians was conducted by McLaughlin & Associates on behalf of Aid to the Church in Need-USA (ACNUSA), a Catholic aid charity that supports persecuted Christians.

The softening of the level of concern about Christian persecution among US Catholics is also evident in their ranking of the importance of global issues. Global Christian persecution is ranked as less urgent an issue than human trafficking, poverty, climate change and the global refugee crisis.

Catholics who identify themselves as being very devout are most concerned about the persecution of Christians, but even this group has ranked human trafficking the issue of greatest concern for three consecutive years.

Asked to rank policies by the US government and other Western powers to help persecuted Christians, US Catholics say diplomatic pressure on offending countries is most important, followed by economic sanctions and emergency asylum for victims of persecution. 

As to actions US Catholics can take themselves, 68 per cent of respondents ranked prayer as "very important," followed by raising awareness of the plight of Christian persecution.

Regarding the Pope, 47 per cent of US Catholics say he is "very engaged" on the issue of Christian persecution. But this figure is down by 8 percent from a year ago.

Chairman of ACN-USA George Marlin some the results are "disheartening". 

"Two years ago, the genocidal campaign waged by ISIS against Christians and other minorities in Iraq and Syria had only just begun to decline, but memories of that atrocity have faded since then. This may well help explain the apparently lesser concern," he said. 

"The survey clearly shows that US Catholics believe that the Church in America can do much more when it comes to calling attention to the gravity of Christian persecution.

"In a world where up to 300 million Christians are confronted with various forms of harassment and outright persecution because of their faith, the US Church simply must do more to inform and galvanize the faithful."

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