Bishop John McAreavey, the Chair of the Council for Justice and Peace of the Irish Catholic Bishops' Conference, has revealed that Christian persecution is at an unprecedented high, with at least 11 believers killed hourly because of their faith.
Breitbart News reports that in a presentation before the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Trade this past week, McAreavey emphasized that Christianity is the most oppressed religion in the world, as believers are severely persecuted 110 countries.
"Many of these countries have significant trade links with Ireland. Persecution is increasing in China," McAreavey said, citing a recent Pew Research study. "In North Korea a quarter of the country's Christians live in forced labour camps. Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and the Maldives all feature in the 10 worst places to be Christian.
He continued: "According to the International Society for Human Rights, a non-religious organization, 80 percent of all acts of religious discrimination in the world today are directed against Christians."
The bishop reflected on statements from the Chief Rabbi of Britain, Jonathan Sacks, who recently asserted that the suffering of Christians in the Middle East is "one of the crimes against humanity of our time," comparing it to Jewish pogroms in Europe and said that he's "appalled at the lack of protest it has evoked."
The atrocities committed against Christians in the Middle East is "a threat to our common humanity and to the religious and cultural patrimony of the world" and places "peace and stability of the entire planet" at risk, the bishop continued.
In concluding his comments, McAreavey criticized Western nations who have failed to help Christians in the Middle East.
"Perhaps because of a fear of being seen as less than aggressively secular in their own country," he said, "many Governments of majority Christian countries in the west seem reluctant to give direct aid to Churches and religious minorities."
He added that the West risks losing its own understanding of the importance of religion by ignoring the plight of Christians in the Middle East and ask his fellow believers to urg"to all governments and societies to affirm the vital importance of respecting the right to religious freedom and conscience as a fundamental principle of genuine pluralism in a tolerant society."
Other Christian leaders in the West have also addressed the lack of aid persecuted Christians are receiving in the Middle East, including Mark Arabo, a leader of the Chaldean Christian community in eastern San Diego County.
Last year, Arabo asserted that the United States has a moral obligation to right the wrongs of the government's foreign policy blunders in Iraq. Such mistakes, he argues, include the initial invasion of Iraq and failure to attain a status of forces agreement, which set the foundation with which IS has thrived.
"We must focus less upon our political affiliations and more upon the humanity that is at stake in this tragic situation," he told the Gospel Herald in an emailed statement. "I cannot live with the thought of us turning a cheek to a genocide of Christians. Our inaction can only result in the loss of more life. As America, we must ensure both safety and security for those left stranded by our inability to secure a Democratically stable Iraq."
Other Middle Eastern Christian leaders, including Sister Diana Momeka, an Iraqi Catholic nun who was driven out of her home by ISIS in August of 2014, have also weighed in on the issue.
Recently, Momeka visited the U.S. to address Congress on the militant Islamic group's persecution of Christians in the region. During her visit, she argued that the killing of believers will destroy the "bridge" between the Eastern and Western cultures if it continues, Christianity Today reports.
"This is cultural and human genocide," she said during a congressional hearing on Wednesday, adding that the erasure of the Christian community has "placed the whole region on the edge of a terrible catastrophe."
"Christians have for centuries been the bridge that connects Eastern and Western cultures. Destroying this bridge will leave an isolated, inculturated conflict zone emptied of cultural and religious diversity."