Tánaiste has come in for sharp criticism for apparently turning a blind eye to the persecution of minority Christian communities
Tánaiste and Foreign Affairs Minister Eamon Gilmore has come in for sharp criticism for apparently turning a blind eye to the persecution of minority Christian communities, particularly in the Middle East.
Former Labour Party Chairman Colm Keaveney has hit out at Mr Gilmore for failing to take sufficient action against the persecution of Christians in the Middle East.
He was speaking in the aftermath of a deadly suicide bomb attack on a Catholic Church in Peshawar, Pakistan by the Taliban which killed 85 Massgoers.
Echoing the criticism of the Tánaiste, David Turner, Director of Church in Chains, an Irish-based group which advocates on behalf of Christian communities in the Middle East told The Irish Catholic “it is disappointing that the Peshawar attack has not been publicly condemned by the Minister for Foreign Affairs – in contrast to his statement about the terrorist attack in Kenya, which occurred at the same time.”
“Similarly, last month, it was disappointing that while the Minister condemned the actions of the Egyptian military in clearing protest camps in Cairo, he was silent about the burning of over 50 churches in Egypt by supporters of President Morsi,” Mr Turner said.
Meanwhile, Bishop Donal McKeown has criticised the media for not highlighting the plight of Christians suffering persecution and intimidation.
“There is almost a bias in the media in the West which undermines Christians being persecuted,” he said.
“Christian persecution tends to be on the backburner,” he said.
Deputy Keaveney also criticised a “curious silence” in the media regarding the persecution of Christian minorities worldwide.
“The number of Christians suffering persecution is as high as 100 million. Yet, there is a curious silence about this in the Irish media and it excites little comment from our Government,” he noted.
Mr Keaveney called on the Government to take a more active role in securing the safety of persecuted Christian communities suffering in the midst of the political difficulties in much of the Middle East and North Africa.
“What we need to see is the Department of Foreign Affairs taking action to address the persecution of Christians around the world, particularly in Syria,” he insisted.
From a parish-based point of view, Bishop McKeown said the Church in Ireland needs to reach out to some of its former mission territories that are now suffering under oppressive regimes.
“We have to treat them as brothers and sisters rather than just ecclesiastical dependents. We have to find ways of having a globalised sense of being Catholics. The Church of Pope Francis is a Church of community and solidarity rather than just sending things overseas,” he said.
Eamonn Meehan, the incoming director of Trócaire, told The Irish Catholic that “minority communities like the Christian community in Pakistan are vulnerable and easy targets in times of civil unrest.
“Governments have a duty to protect all citizens but especially vulnerable groups. Our own Government and others should be seeking assurances that everything is being done to prevent such attacks and to counter messages which promote religious intolerance and hatred,” Mr Meehan said.