By Tim Harfmann
Cardinal Timothy Dolan headlined a symposium in Manhattan to raise awareness for Christians who are suffering because of their faith.
“We have to stand up for them, darn it! We can’t let them go. We love them. We support them. We’re praying with them and for them. We have to advocate for them, too,” said Cardinal Dolan.
Christian persecution is at an all-time high, according to Aid to the Church in Need. The organization is devoted to supporting Christians who are persecuted around the world. Experts estimated 600,000 Christians suffered discrimination for their faith in 2016.
In Iraq, more than half of the country’s worshipers are refugees in their own homeland — and Christianity could be wiped out by 2020.
The number of Christians in the Syrian city of Aleppo dropped more than 75 percent in recent years.
The symposium featured religious leaders and human rights activists, including Ray Kelly. He wass New York City’s longest-serving police commissioner.
The former top-cop is now using his expertise to promote religious freedom overseas.
“People are being persecuted. People are literally being killed every day. So it’s a right that we have here that we should cherish and not just take for grated,” said Kelly
The conference recognized the 20th anniversary of the International Religious Freedom Act, which President Bill Clinton signed into law on October 27, 1998. Its goal was to advocate on behalf of persecuted people in foreign countries because of their faith.
“It gives a great mission to American identity and foreign affairs, but we have to follow through,” said Cardinal Dolan. “We have to make sure that our government keeps its promise of getting aid especially to suffering Christians.”
Ed Clancy is a director from Aid to the Church in Need and has worked directly with Christians on the front lines.
“I actually believe it’s more important now. Religious freedom faces overt, existential threats around the world. Its been said many times that religious freedom is the first freedom. If it goes, everything else will follow.”
The need to act is as vital as it was two decades ago.