Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Deacon Keith Fournier

10/3/2011 (2 years ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

A missionary Church known for proclaiming her message to all peoples must necessarily work for the freedom of the faith

Today we bring to the attention of the global readership of Catholic Online the plight of a Protestant Christian pastor in Iran, Pastor Youce Nadarkhani. This brave Christian man was sentenced to death because he refuses to convert to Islam.

Protestant Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani

Protestant Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani

Article Highlights

By Deacon Keith Fournier

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

10/3/2011 (2 years ago)

Published in Middle East

Keywords: Iran, persecution, anti-Christian, anti-Catholic, Jihad, militant Islam, Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, Jay Sekulow, ACLJ, Deacon Keith Fournier


GILAN, Iran (Catholic Online) - The martyrs of the early Church died for their faith in the God who was revealed in Jesus Christ, and for this very reason they also died for freedom of conscience and the freedom to profess one's own faith - a profession that no State can impose but which, instead, can only be claimed with God's grace in freedom of conscience.

A December 2005 address given by Pope Benedict XVI to the Roman Curia states the clear position of the Catholic Church concerning Religious Freedom as a fundamental human right:  "The Second Vatican Council, recognizing and making its own an essential principle of the modern State with the Decree on Religious Freedom, has recovered the deepest patrimony of the Church. By so doing she can be conscious of being in full harmony with the teaching of Jesus himself (cf. Mt 22: 21), as well as with the Church of the martyrs of all time.

"The ancient Church naturally prayed for the emperors and political leaders out of duty (cf. I Tm 2: 2); but while she prayed for the emperors, she refused to worship them and thereby clearly rejected the religion of the State. The martyrs of the early Church died for their faith in that God who was revealed in Jesus Christ, and for this very reason they also died for freedom of conscience and the freedom to profess one's own faith - a profession that no State can impose but which, instead, can only be claimed with God's grace in freedom of conscience.

"A missionary Church known for proclaiming her message to all peoples must necessarily work for the freedom of the faith. She desires to transmit the gift of the truth that exists for one and all. At the same time, she assures peoples and their Governments that she does not wish to destroy their identity and culture by doing so, but to give them, on the contrary, a response which, in their innermost depths, they are waiting for - a response with which the multiplicity of cultures is not lost but instead unity between men and women increases and thus also peace between peoples."

The Fundamental Human Right to Religious Freedom is under a frontal assault all around the world. The persecution against Catholics and other Christians has escalated. We regularly report on the persecution against Catholics. Today we bring to the attention of the global readership of Catholic Online the plight of a Protestant Christian pastor in Iran, Pastor Youce Nadarkhani. This brave Christian man was sentenced to death because he refuses to convert to Islam.

I first read about the plight of this Christian pastor in an article written by Daniel D. Tovrov of the International Business Times  entitled  Iranian Pastor Sentenced to Death: Nadarkhani Refuses to Convert  "Iranian Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, who is facing the death penalty, again refused to convert to Islam to save his life. Nadarkhani was arrested in 2009 for the crime of apostasy because he allegedly abandoned Islam for Christianity. As a pastor, Iranian clerics believe that Nadarkhani was preaching in order to convert Muslims.

"Before his last hearing Wednesday, Nadarkhani had been given three previous chances to repent, and all three times he has refused. After his final refusal Wednesday, no verdict has been announced, but many expect that he could be put to death as soon as Friday.The case has slowly garnered international attention, and there are a number of Christian rights groups advocating for his release.

"U.S. House Speaker John Boehner also has spoken out against Iran. "While Iran's government claims to promote tolerance, it continues to imprison many of its people because of their faith. This goes beyond the law to an issue of fundamental respect for human dignity. I urge Iran's leaders to abandon this dark path, spare [Nadarkhani's] life, and grant him a full and unconditional release," said Boehner. "

I then discovered that one of those groups rising to the defense of the Pastor was the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) which is led by a friend, Chief Counsel Jay Sekulow. I served the ACLJ for seven years as its first Executive Director. The American Center for Law and Justice reported on Thursday

"ACLJ attorneys confirmed with Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani's attorney in Iran, Mohammad Ali Dadkhah, that the death sentence still stands. Mr. Dadkhah stated that at the end of yesterday's hearing, three of the five judges appeared to be leaning toward annulling Pastor Youcef's sentence. Recognizing, however, that the judges' decision is not final and may be swayed by outside pressure before delivering the final verdict, he urges the international community to continue to cry out for Pastor Youcef's unconditional release until he walks free from the jailhouse.

"The White House Press Secretary just released the following statement: "The United States condemns the conviction of Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani. Pastor Nadarkhani has done nothing more than maintain his devout faith, which is a universal right for all people. That the Iranian authorities would try to force him to renounce that faith violates the religious values they claim to defend, crosses all bounds of decency, and breaches Iran's own international obligations.

"A decision to impose the death penalty would further demonstrate the Iranian authorities' utter disregard for religious freedom, and highlight Iran's continuing violation of the universal rights of its citizens. We call upon the Iranian authorities to release Pastor Nadarkhani, and demonstrate a commitment to basic, universal human rights, including freedom of religion."

While this is a huge step in the right direction, it is crucial that we continue to pressure Secretary of State Clinton to take direct action to save this pastor's life."

We agree with the ACLJ. The pressure must continue. All who desire to have their voices heard can join in the ACLJ's efforts to stop this brutal application of Shariah law and sign the Petition to Secretary of State Clinton - Call on Iran to save Christian Pastor Youcef from execution for his faith.  We will keep you updated as this case progresses and we ask you to pray for the release of Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani and for an end to persecution of all Christians in Iran.

The character and courage of Christ is evident in the heroic witness of this pastor. When asked by the judges to repent, Nadarkhani stated: "Repent means to return. What should I return to? To the blasphemy that I had before my faith in Christ?"

"To the religion of your ancestors, Islam," the judge replied. "I cannot," Nadarkhani said.

I end with the words with which I began. The martyrs of the early Church died for their faith in the God who was revealed in Jesus Christ, and for this very reason they also died for freedom of conscience and the freedom to profess one's own faith - a profession that no State can impose but which, instead, can only be claimed with God's grace in freedom of conscience. Free Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani!

---


Pope Francis calls for your 'Prayer and Action'


© 2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for March 2014
Respect for Women:
That all cultures may respect the rights and dignity of women.
Vocations: That many young people may accept the Lord’s invitation to consecrate their lives to proclaiming the Gospel.



Comments


More Middle East

AL-QAEDA ALIVE: 'We must eliminate the cross ... The bearer of the cross is America!' Watch

Image of  In the video, the nefarious

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

"This is quite an extraordinary video," terrorist experts Paul Cruickshank says. There's another word for it: absolutely horrifying. In the video, the nefarious "crown prince" of al-Qaeda, Nasir al-Wuhayshi is seen addressing a group of 100 like-minded ... continue reading


Suffering, dying in silence: Syrian Christians face arduous holy week Watch

Image of Maronite Archbishop Samir Nassar of Damascus says that Syrian Christians face a seemingly endless Way of the Cross, with many suffering and dying in silence.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The assassination of Dutch Jesuit Fr. Frans van der Lugt, shot to death by an unknown assailant at his base in Homs, Syria on April 7 has cast a pall for the faithful here. Maronite Archbishop Samir Nassar of Damascus says that Syrian Christians face a ... continue reading


Asia Bibi remains in prison, reluctant officials hide behind bureaucracy Watch

Image of Asia Bibi remains in prison, judges unwilling to take up her case for fear of violence.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Asia Bibi, the Pakistani woman facing death for blasphemy in Pakistan still sits in a women's prison her case held up by deliberate delays and a reluctance of judges and others to hear her case. Officials are afraid that they will become targets of Islamic ... continue reading


Dutch priest beaten, killed at his Syrian monastery Watch

Image of Father Frans van der Lugt was described as a man of great courage who

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Dutch Jesuit priest, 75-year-old Frans van der Lugt was beaten and shot dead by unidentified gunmen at his monastery in Homs, Syria this week, the Vatican said. He had been living in Syria since the early Seventies. He's being described as man of great courage ... continue reading


Tunisian government strives to root out Islamist influence from Mosques Watch

Image of Tunisia's newly elected government, recognizing that one of the nation's chief sources of revenue is tourism, has wasted little time in quelling extremist factions there.

By Kaci Racelma (Algiers, Algeria)

Tunisian authorities, along with the Islamist party Ennahda had clashed on several levels for any months. The conflict was felt on all strata of Tunisian society. Violence roiled in the streets, to the universities, in places of worship and private homes. ... continue reading


Syrian refugees in Lebanon passes one million mark Watch

Image of U.N. staff in Lebanon register 2,500 new Syrian refugees every day, the UNHCR said.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

As Syria's devastating Civil War drags into its fourth year without an end in sight, the number of Syrian refugees in Lebanon has officially passed the one million mark, the United Nations' refugee agency says. Syrian refugees now make up almost a quarter of ... continue reading


Meet Catholic Online's new Middle East correspondent Watch

Image of Kaci Racelma received his Bachelor of English literature in 1996. He has worked in the daily Algerian newspaper la Nouvelle République since 1998.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Journalist Kaci Racelma has joined the Catholic Online family as a much needed and vaunted Middle East correspondent to our international news desk. We welcome his wealth of experience in relaying breaking stories in this complex part of the world.  LOS ... continue reading


Authorities break up kiddie sex abuse ring, 17-year-old pimp and several men arrested Watch

Image of Several hundred women in Israel - many of them foreigners - are trafficked within the country annually for commercial sexual exploitation.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Tel Aviv Police have arrested seven men in connection with a child molestation ring. An undercover investigation began after one of the purported victims came forward and told them about a number of girls who had sex with a group of adults in exchange for ... continue reading


New Saudi Arabian law defines atheists as 'terrorists' Watch

Image of Saudi King Abdullah has clamped down on all forms of political dissent and protests that could

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

According to a report from Human Rights Watch, Saudi Arabia has introduced a series of new laws which define atheists as terrorists. King Abdullah has issued Royal Decree 44, which criminalizes "participating in hostilities outside the kingdom" with prison ... continue reading


Executions on the rise: United States among top five countries Watch

Image of The report does note that only a small number of countries, about one in 10, carry out executions, and 140 countries are against the death penalty either in law or actions.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Executions for criminals for a variety of crimes has risen across the world. While the majority of these executions take place in the Middle East, the United States is among the top five nations that has experienced an uptick in capital punishment. LOS ANGELES, ... continue reading


All Middle East News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Isaiah 52:13--53:12
13 Look, my servant will prosper, will grow great, ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 31:2, 6, 12-13, 15-16, 17, 25
2 turn your ear to me, make haste. Be for me a ... Read More

Gospel, John 18:1--19:42
1 After he had said all this, Jesus left with his ... Read More

Reading 2, Hebrews 4:14-16; 5:7-9
14 Since in Jesus, the Son of God, we have the ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for April 18th, 2014 Image

St. Apollonius the Apologist
April 18: Martyr whose Apologia, or defense of the faith, is considered ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter