famillechretienne.fr, Bénédicte Drouin-Jollès, 2017-03-02
Image: Catholics living in Germany denouncing the persecutions against Christians, Berlin, August 17, 2014. ©REUTERS/Thomas Peter
For Mr. Marc Fromager, branch manager Help the Church in difficulty (Aid to the Church in need) the example of persecuted Christians can only encourage the believer to be more faithful to Christ. Where does their power come from?
The persecuted Christians you met, how did they find the strength to resist?
The members we meet live in a situation that persists over time, for example during a political crisis, or in a difficult situation that has existed for a long time, sometimes spanning several generations. Especially in the case of Egypt.
Everyone has a different story, but each time he clings to Christ, to prayer, to the Church, he can endure, he can overcome trials and threats. Humanly, they have no interest in remaining believers, but they still hold on. When the Nile Delta fell in August 2014, the majority of Christians still lived there. The Islamic State group gives them a choice: either they convert to Islam and no longer have to worry, or they have to flee and abandon their possessions, or they stay and are killed. All are gone, it is better to lose everything than to deny God, even if they have to face the uncertainties due to the brutality of the self-proclaimed Islamic State group.
At some point, these Christians from many different countries were faced with the same stark choice: “What is most important to me? What is the peak of my life? … We must be attentive to this question every day. But since the contexts do not make us react in an urgent way, it is possible that sometimes we forget to make the choice to be Christ again. However, Christ is the vocation of the baptized. Throughout the Gospel, Jesus asks us: “Who do you think I am? (Mt 16.15).
What touched you the most about these condemned Christians?
Their faith is amazing. I often wonder what I would do if I were in their shoes. They can say to God: “Your cross is too heavy, I am always secretly faithful to you in my heart, but outwardly, I agree to be a Muslim so that my family is safe, so that I can keep my possessions. keep the jobs”… But no! Even if they know it, if they agree to change their religion, many problems will be solved. Sometimes they are even rewarded: a few years ago in Egypt, for example, Muslims offered a bonus of 1,500 euros to anyone who returned; you should know that the average salary of a teacher is 50€ per month…
I also met a Chinese priest who spent 32 years in prison simply because he did not want to be part of the Patriotic Church controlled by the Chinese Communist Party. The father’s faith and priesthood were not directly threatened by an offer to enter the official Church; but in my conscience, I want to be faithful to the pope. Every day you can be released if you sign the paper; but his father remained in prison.
Christians have disappeared in the Middle East. Is it possible to reverse the situation in these regions, the region of the cradle of Christianity?
The disappearance of Christian communities did not begin with the war in Syria. For centuries, Christian churches have been in decline. But at the same time, more and more Muslims are converting to Christianity, so disgusted are they by the barbaric actions of extremist terrorists. Why did God let the Church in the Middle East almost disappear? I make a comparison between what the Church endured with the end of the life of Christ, marked by the Passion and the Resurrection. These communities cooperate in the sacrifice and live in their flesh and in their skin this sacrifice in anticipation of the resurrection.