Headlines you aren’t seeing

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Christian churches are under attack at an epidemic rate right now. Why aren’t we hearing about this?

Killings in the Congo have church leaders worried about an organized campaign.

A Catholic priest and a nun were killed in the Bukavu archdiocese, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, in separate incidents that took place within hours on December 6 and 7. Father Daniel Cizimya Nakamaga was killed by assailants who burst into his residence on Sunday night. On Monday evening, Sister Denise Kahambo Murahirwa was killed by armed men in uniform who attacked the monastery of Our Lady of Light in Muresha. The archdiocese, noting that the attacks appeared quite deliberate, expressed fear of an organized campaign against the Catholic Curch.

Another missionary priest is killed in South Africa.

Father Louis Blondel, a French missionary priest of the White Fathers, was killed in Pretoria, South Africa, on December 6. He was shot down by one of three young men who broke into the White Fathers’ residence in Diepsloot, a township of Pretoria. Father Blondel is the 4th Catholic missionary to be killed in South Africa this year.

Christians in Mosul have been given a deadly warning to leave….or else.

Security sources in Mosul confirmed the murder of two brothers originally from Batnaya, a Christian village 20 km north of the city. Yesterday morning the two had arrived in the industrial area of Mosul, to repair their truck. The police found the bodies last night: Both were killed with a gunshot to the head. The dynamics of the attack speak of an execution style killing.  Suspicions fall on Sunni extremists who previously attacked the Christian community.

Frightened Christians are preparing for a quiet Christmas in Pakistan.

Pakistani Christians are preparing for a silent and low key Christmas without much public pomp and display. The community is still reeling from last summer’s attacks against the villages of Koriyan and Gojra. The army’s offensive against Islamic extremists and the latter’s wave of attacks are not helping either. Indeed, fear of more violence remains high…

In previous years, schools and parishes used to organise outdoor recitals, carols and other events associated with the festivities. This year, many people “have already cancelled events” and “outdoor decorations will not be put up on homes and buildings.”

“This year, the atmosphere and mood are not happy because people are fearful and upset by the country’s current situation,” the archbishop said. Still, liturgical functions and Midnight Mass will go ahead as in the past, and “the number of people will not be less because their faith is firm.”

That should be another headline. Their faith is firm, in the face of such repression and threat.

And then there are the attacks unforeseen in our own neighborhoods, where we believe we’re ‘safe’.

A converted church in the Bronx was torched.

“We have no idea who did this,” said the Rev. Raymond Talavera, pastor of the 150-member nondenominational Glory of Christ Church.

Only the hard plastic pulpit survived, the pastor said.

More than 100 firefighters were called to the scene at about 4 a.m. Wednesday, just before morning prayers at 5:30 a.m. By then, the flames in the two-story building were under control, according to fire department officials. Three firefighters suffered minor injuries.

Words scrawled in big black letters on a wall by the church entrance – “GET OFF OUR BLOCK” – offered no clue as to who was responsible for the fiery attack, said Talavera, speaking on his cell phone outside the building.

However, subsequent details reported in this story offered clues about the attackers and their rage, though no one saw it coming.

The congregation had a clothing outreach and a soup kitchen set up with a donation from the late Yankees broadcaster Bobby Murcer. It also had prepared Christmas gifts for children in the Parkchester area, and medicines to send to Africa.

The pastor was mystified.

“Nobody has ever expressed animosity against us,” he said. “We’re at a complete loss. It was a hateful thing.”

Which makes it all the more newsworthy. Silence is an enabler.

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