For the second year in a row, U.S. Catholics say they are more focused on human trafficking, poverty, and the global refugee crisis than they are on the persecution of Christians around the world.
Nonetheless, 46 percent of U.S. Catholics believe the global persecution of Christians is “very severe,” and 58 percent say they are “very concerned” about the issue. Both figures represent a significant increase from a year ago.
These are among the major findings of the second annual survey of the views of U.S. Catholics regarding the persecution of Christians around the world. The poll was commissioned by Aid to the Church in Need-USA, a Catholic charity I chair, and conducted by McLaughlin & Associates.
The survey aimed to measure:
The extent to which American Catholics are aware of the persecution of Christians around the world;
The countries and regions where they consider Christians to be most severely persecuted;
Specific measures and policies they want the U.S. and other Western governments to pursue to help and protect persecuted Christians;
The extent to which they feel that the Pope, their bishops, and their parishes are making the issue of the persecution of Christians a priority;
Actions they believe they can and should take themselves.
A mixed picture emerges that shows the urgent need for more and better coverage of the persecution of Christians by mainstream media. It is also clear that bishops and pastors must do more to inform and galvanize the faithful on this issue.
Only 19 percent of U.S. Catholics say their parish is “very involved” with the topic of the persecution of Christians, while 62 percent say it is “very important” their parish do more; less than one-quarter of U.S. Catholics say their local bishop is speaking out on the persecution of Christians — a drop of 8 percent from a year ago. In addition, it is alarming that 14 percent of U.S. Catholics believe their bishop is “not engaged at all.”