A letter from Fr Martin Barta, to Fr Pedro Narbona related to the attacks to the churches in Chile.
Fr Martin Barta is the International Ecclesiastical Assistant of ACN and Fr Pedro Narbona, is the Ecclesiastical Assistant of ACN Chile.
Dear Father Pedro,
One of the priorities of ACN is helping the suffering and persecuted Church. We aim to inform the world and our benefactors in particular about the situation of Christians who suffer in so many countries where persecution, discrimination and the destruction of the Church are a daily reality. In the past these countries were far away, in regions dominated by Islam or by dictatorships hostile towards the Church. But now, six churches in Chile have been profaned and daubed with blasphemous graffiti, the crucifixes and statues of the Virgin Mary have been dragged out into the streets and destroyed and two churches have been burnt to ashes. News of these events, which have reminded us of images of the terror of ISIS in the Near East, and which are all the more horrifying for our Foundation in light of the fact that two of the churches that were vandalised and burned in Santiago de Chile are under your own personal care, you who are at the same time the Spiritual Assistant to our Chilean national office. Please be assured, dear Father Pedro, in this situation that was once unimaginable in a Christian country such as Chile, that you and your parish communities are close to us and that we stand by your side.
Inevitably, this news from Chile reminds us of the passages in the Gospels which speak of the Apocalypse and which have been read out over these last few Sundays of the Church’s liturgical year. Jesus speaks of the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem, and of the world wars, disturbances, earthquakes, plagues, famine and persecution that will precede the Last Judgement and the eschatological end of the world. We see all these things and we too are conscious that we are engaged in a tremendous spiritual struggle, even though – to outside appearances at least – peace still reigns in our countries.
Nicaragua, Bolivia, Burkina Faso, Iraq, Iran, Cameroon, Nigeria, the Philippines, Syria… The daily reports of the terrible sufferings of so many peoples show us to just what an extent these apocalyptic signs are applicable to our own times. The world, so desperately in need of peace, justice and love, is quite simply falling apart and yet our daily news bulletins, if we do not take care, are desensitising us and causing us to become indifferent. In our own countries we take freedom and peace for granted, forgetting the fact that only 30 years ago a large part of Europe – including my own country – was still enslaved by atheistic communist regimes, regimes which sought to annihilate all things sacred and even the search for truth in the human heart.
And still today, many believers are paying with their blood for their witness to God and to the truth. We do not fight violence with violence, but instead we trust in the power of the Cross and in the redeeming love of God. Through the Cross, Christ conquered all evil, and in this lies the hope that our faith inspires in us. It is for this reason that every church tower and steeple is surmounted by the cross, raised on high, raised to the heavens. In the name of the Crucified One we can and must raise our voices when the truth of God is trampled underfoot, when what is sacred in man, his freedom and justice are trampled underfoot.
The Church’s year concludes with the great Solemnity of Christ the King, on this Sunday 24 November. May his Kingdom come for us! Surely, it may sound like small comfort to you, Father Pedro, when we from a (so far still) peaceful Europe, urge you to hope in this Kingdom together with us. But it is the Kingdom of those who believe, of those who hope, of the martyrs. It is the Kingdom of those who trust in His Eucharistic Presence, in the grace of pardon and in concrete love and charity, despite everything. And so it is in this spirit, in union with the Mexican martyrs and now also together with you and your many other brothers and sisters, that we can exclaim: “Viva Cristo Rey!”
With my fraternal greetings and every good wish and blessing, I remain
united in prayer with you,
Father Martin Barta
International Ecclesiastical Assistant of ACN