US Catholic bishops designate Nov. 26 as Day of Prayer for Persecuted Christians

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has designated this coming Sunday, Nov. 26, as a Day of Prayer for Persecuted Christians, religious minorities, and other vulnerable individuals who are suffering because of their faith.

(REUTERS / Kim Hong-Ji)Students pray during an early-morning prayer session at the Presbyterian University and Theological Seminary (PUTS) in Seoul, South Korea, September 12, 2017.

In its announcement, the U.S. bishops' conference said Nov. 26 was a "fitting time" to contemplate on religious freedom and to remember the untold number of Christians who were being persecuted. The statement was made in association with Christian charities including Aid to the Church in Need, the Catholic Near East Welfare Association, the Knights of Columbus, and Catholic Relief Services, the Catholic News Agency detailed.

"On the solemnity of Christ the King, I ask that the entire church in the United States come together in a special way for a day of prayer for persecuted Christians to express our solidarity with those who are suffering," said the U.S. bishops' conference president, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston.

Cardinal DiNardo clarified that focusing on the suffering of Christians was not tantamount to turning away from the plight of other people. However, giving attention to the most vulnerable individuals can help "strengthen the entire fabric of society" so that everyone's rights can be preserved.

The designated day of prayer also coincides with the beginning of a week called "Solidarity in Suffering," which aims to raise awareness over the plight of religious minorities in various parts of the world. The said week will run until Dec. 3 and will be promoted on social media using the hashtag #SolidarityinSuffering.

On Nov. 5, churches worldwide spent some time remembering persecuted believers on the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church. Todd Nettleton of the Voice of the Martyrs USA told Mission Network News that this practice was important because the Bible teaches Christians to "remember those in bonds as if you were bound with them."

In line with this thought, Nettleton shared that when their staff travel to other countries and meet persecuted Christians, the first thing that they ask for is prayer. He also marveled at these suffering believers' requests because they do not pray for the persecution to come to an end, but they ask Christians to pray that they will be able to remain faithful to Jesus Christ no matter what happens.