Trafficking, climate change, refugees greater concerns than Christian persecution for US Catholics: Poll

(Photo: REUTERS / Akhtar Soomro)Female Christian supporters of Pakistan's Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM) political party carry posters of their leader Altaf Hussain and a cross while listening to a speech during a rally to show solidarity with the Pakistan Army in their ongoing offensive against militants in North Waziristan, in Karachi July 6, 2014.

Forty percent of U.S. Catholics believe that Christian persecution around the world is "severe," however they say they are more concerned about human trafficking, poverty, climate change, and the global refugee crisis.

While 9 out of 10 U.S. Catholics believe that persecution of Christians around the world is somewhat or very severe (51 percent and 40 percent respectively), half (49 percent) said they were very concerned about it.

Almost 1 in 5 said they were not concerned at all (18 percent).

The National Catholic Survey titled "Findings on Christian Persecution Around the World" was carried out independently for Aid to the Church in Need and polled 1,000 Catholic adults throughout the United States from Jan. 16 through Jan. 24, 2018.

A significant number of U.S. Catholics is unsure about the engagement level of the Catholic Church on the issue of Christian persecution.

Almost half of U.S. Catholics say that Pope Francis is "very engaged" on the issue, while only 27 percent say that of their local bishop is very engaged, and 24 percent believe that their parish is very involved with the issue.

North Korea, Iran, Iraq, Syria and Pakistan were placed in the top five in the ranking the severity of Christian persecution in 14 countries for U.S. Catholics in the category of "extremely severe."

"What the survey reveals quite clearly is that there is a need to increase the engagement level of the US Catholic Church when it comes to global Christian persecution—both at the grassroots and leadership levels," said George Marlin, chairman of Aid to the Church in Need-USA (ACNUSA).

"The issue has to become a priority."


Marlin noted, "What we hope our poll will do is show the bishops and their priests that the laity need more education and leadership to give them a stronger sense of the seriousness and pervasiveness of Christian persecution around the world.

"We have an obligation to raise our voice and stand up for persecuted Christians," Marlin said.

Four-in-ten Catholics say that half or more of religiously-based attacks around the world are directed at Christians.

In terms of possible U.S. and other Western government policies to deter Christian persecution, U.S. Catholics say diplomatic pressure is most important.

This is followed by economic sanctions, granting victims of persecution emergency asylum, supporting persecuted Christian communities financially, and military intervention

When asked what they themselves should do to help persecuted Christians around the world, American Catholics ranked prayer highest, followed by raising awareness at the parish level, donating to agencies that work to support persecuted Christians, and contacting their members of Congress.

However, almost half of U.S. Catholics have not donated in the past year to an organization that comes to the aid of persecuted Christians.

The survey showed that 38 percent of U.S. Catholics identify themselves as very devout; almost half (45 percent) think of themselves as somewhat devout, while 17 percent describe themselves as not devout.

A total of 35 percent of U.S. Catholics say they attend Mass at least weekly; 18 percent attend Mass on a monthly basis; 18 percent attend Mass only at Christmas and Easter, while 29 percent rarely or never go to Mass.

In terms of their religious beliefs, 27 percent identified themselves as liberal, 39 percent as moderate and 34 percent as conservative

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