A memorial stone is seen at the burial site of 2,411 aborted babies, whose remains were interred Feb. 12, 2020, at Southlawn Cemetery in South Bend, Ind. (Credit: CNS photo/Indiana Office of the Attorney General.)
SOUTH BEND, Indiana – A cold, gray, wintry day in South Bend seemed like an appropriate setting for the burial of 2,411 aborted babies, whose remains were interred in Southlawn Cemetery in the city Feb. 12.
The babies had been aborted between 2000 and 2003 by the late Dr. Ulrich “George” Klopfer, who operated abortion clinics in Indiana since the 1970s and performed an estimated 30,000 abortions before having his license revoked in 2016.
The medically preserved remains of those fetuses had been transported across state lines and stored for years on Klopfer’s Illinois property, in his garage and in the trunk of a car. The grisly discovery of the remains was made after his death Sept. 3 last year.
Neither his family nor authorities have been able to determine why Klopfer kept the remains instead of properly disposing of them. Indiana law now requires fetal remains to be cremated or buried.
Records found with the remains indicated the abortions had taken place in South Bend, Fort Wayne and Gary, so Indiana Attorney General Curtis T. Hill Jr. took possession of them.
Originally, an effort was made to determine in which city each abortion took place so that the remains could be returned home for burial. The state received several offers of burial locations, including an offer by Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades of Fort Wayne-South Bend for space and services at Catholic Cemetery in Fort Wayne.
However, Klopfer’s records were so incomplete and inaccurate that Hill’s office was unable to determine where each abortion occurred. Thus, it was decided to bury the remains together, “each connected by their common fate,” Hill explained at the burial service. South Bend was chosen as the site because it is the most central of the three cities involved.
In his opening remarks at the burial service, Hill told a somber crowd of over 200 mourners: “The shocking discovery of 2,411 medically preserved fetal remains in Illinois left in a garage and in the trunk of a car was horrifying to anyone with normal sensibilities. Regrettably, there is no shortage of depravity in our world today, including due regard for the most vulnerable among us. And so, we brought them home, back to Indiana.”
The attorney general said that not only was it Indiana law that fetal remains be buried, it was fitting and proper for the aborted babies to receive a final resting place, just as it is appropriate for any human being. He observed that people hoped it could never happen that 2,411 unborn human beings would been terminated, discarded, lost and forgotten.
“But friends, we will not forget,” Hill said. “We therefore honor and memorialize these unborn that their lives be remembered not for their brevity, but for how their discovery has impacted our collective conscience. May each of the 2,411 buried here rest in peace.”
Hill thanked Indiana, Illinois and local authorities who worked together to bring the babies to their final resting place and acknowledged the many offers of assistance by countless others across the state.
Palmer Funeral Home donated the burial space at its Southlawn Cemetery and a memorial stone, which reads: “In memory of the 2,411 precious unborn buried here on Feb. 12, 2020.” The funeral home also provided a tent with chairs for family members, chairs that remained empty during the brief burial service.
The attorney general also thanked the 200-plus mourners for coming to “personally honor and memorialize these 2,411 precious unborn who now stand as a reminder of the fragility of life and of the obligation of the state and of the nation to preserve human dignity and respect for all.”
After Hill left the podium to conduct a news conference, a multifaith prayer service took place, led by a variety of religious leaders. Among them was Father Glenn Kohrman, pastor of South Bend’s Holy Family and St. John the Baptist parishes and a board member of Catholic Charities and Right to Life Michiana.
Kohrman offered a modified version of the Catholic Church’s prayer of Commendation of an Infant Who Died Before Baptism.
Sister Agnes Marie Regan of the Sisters of St. Francis of Perpetual Adoration in Mishawaka, Indiana, attended the burial service with several of her Franciscan sisters, and probably spoke for the hundreds of mourners when she told Today’s Catholic, diocesan newspaper of Fort Wayne-South Bend, that she attended because, “These are our brothers and sisters.”
A memorial service at the gravesite will take place Feb. 23, sponsored by the right to life groups of Lake County, Michiana and Northeast Indiana.
Carey writes for Today’s Catholic, newspaper of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend.
By Christmas Eve 2019, I was done with the lies. By God’s grace, a Portland judge granted my petition to legally restore my sex to male.
This has been a five-year ordeal. I first rose to become a transgender activist in 2015, telling The New York Times: “I now live in a world where radical, conservative politicians and religious groups routinely attack my very existence with legislation to deny me basic human rights such as a bathroom that matches my gender-identity.”
In these trying times, we must turn to the greatest document in the history of the world to promise freedom and opportunity to its citizens for guidance. Find out more now >>
New to identifying as a woman at that stage of my life, but indoctrinated by the peddlers of transgender ideology to believe I was one, I incorrectly believed that gaining access to female bathrooms was a human rights issue for me.
I was wrong. In hindsight, it was all part of a selfish quest to nourish my long-held sexual fantasy of being a woman—a mental disorder called autogynephilia.
Although my landmark court case was built on lies, deceit, and pseudoscience, I didn’t care. It didn’t matter to me that the sex change petition fictitiously claimed my sex was non-binary and got two doctors to say so.
It didn’t matter to me that before the brief hearing, which lasted mere minutes, my lawyer had confided that the case was essentially fixed, that the judge had a transgender child and had recently granted a sex change for a 12-year-old.
None of that mattered, because winning meant getting sweet revenge against those who I’d come to believe were harming me and stopping me from engaging in my addiction—the feminists, and conservative Christians.
Fine, I thought to myself back then. If all these parties don’t want me in female bathrooms, then I’ll help destroy the very thing they want to protect: The definition of sex as we’ve known it for over 200 years in America.
When I was finished, sex was no longer grounded to science by things like chromosomes and genitals observed at birth. It was determined by personal feelings rooted in what I would later come to realize were sex stereotypes.
It wasn’t lost on me that if I won the case and had my sex declared as non-binary (neither male nor female), and had that codified into law, then bathrooms would subsequently have to be made gender-neutral.
People who are hurt end up hurting people, so at the time I didn’t care if my actions were detrimental to women and young girls.
In my mind, by winning the case, I was sticking it to those radical feminists who had refused to accept me as one of them. Being legally no longer classified as female meant this vicious group of women could no longer accuse me of appropriating womanhood and being a caricature of a female—even if that was true (and it was).
Likewise, I intended to take revenge on the Christians, another group that had antagonized me since I’d begun donning a wig and dress and acting out sexually in public.
I didn’t know much about the Bible back then, but I knew enough to know they cherished its teaching about how God created only male and female. So I vowed to destroy that sacred belief.
When I officially “broke” the gender binary, the media circus was spectacular. Media outlets from as far away as Germany cheered me on, celebrating my victory and embracing me as their latest LGBT hero.
For me, the celebration went on for months as I entertained reporters with tales of how I was the third gender: a special combination of male biology and a female gender identity.
Of course, it was all a complete delusion, but journalists ate it up. Not once did they question me. And above all, I believed it. Having an official “X” marker on my driver’s license served as validation from the government that I was, indeed, nonbinary.
The X marker is supposed to mean “sex unspecified or indeterminate,” but that’s not what I or any of the other people getting the designation believe about ourselves. At birth, my correct sex was easily determinable by the male genitals I have always possessed.
Today, back to my senses and having legally reclaimed my male birth sex, I recognize the damage I’ve done. But my return to sanity and embrace of my male sex have caused the cheering on the left to fall silent.
Even more importantly, though, I’ve taken responsibility for the harm I have caused, for the millions of dollars spent to advance the fraud that I shamefully participated in. In church and public, I confessed my sins, and humbled myself before the Lord, pleading for Him to lift me up.
As a result, the Lord has lifted me, and I’m now getting the help I should have gotten all along.
Setting the Record Straight
In April 2019, the Department of Veterans Affairs reluctantly agreed to diagnose me with a sexual paraphilia, the true cause behind my previous sexual confusion. And in December, despite my past and who I had been, a Christian legal organization agreed to help me change my sex back to male.
On Dec. 12, a Portland attorney submitted a new sex change petition on my behalf to the very court that had once declared my sex as non-binary.
In the documents, we asked for reclamation of the male birth sex that I was correctly observed to be at birth, and for the restoration of the precious name given to me by my parents.
After receiving the news that the petition was successfully filed, I prayed. Others joined me in prayer, asking the Lord for speedy success in our endeavor. And within just a short time our prayers were answered.
In only a week, a more competent judge signed the order, ending the legal fiction behind the fraud that had allowed an X marker on drivers licenses in over a dozen states.
On Dec. 24, a courthouse clerk deposited the signed and notarized court order declaring my sex male and my name James Clifford Shupe into the postal system, with a destination of my new home state of Florida.
President Ronald Reagan taught me as a young soldier to vote with my feet, so I did, leaving Oregon with the intention of sending a clear message that I wouldn’t be party to the mutilation of children that goes on there under the guise of gender therapy.
I’m often asked what has prompted my turnabout and conversion to Christ.
The answer lies in the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous, which also apply to other addictions, such as my compulsive sexual behavior.
I have admitted that I am powerless over my mental illness and transvestic disorder. I have accepted that my life has become unmanageable and that only a power greater than myself can restore me to sanity. And I have made a conscious decision to turn my will and my life over to the care of God as I understand Him.
During my long journey of first identifying as a female and then later non-binary, I’ve walked among the many drug and alcohol-addicted homeless people sleeping on the streets of the West Coast each night. I’ve abused my flesh in Portland sex clubs, BDSM dungeons, and adult theaters. I’ve harmed my body with cross-sex hormones and risky sexual behaviors. And I’ve dishonored my wife and my marriage vows with inexcusable transgressions, of which there are many.
It took seeing and experiencing all of that destruction and recognizing the harms of it for me to finally understand that Christianity builds stronger families, safer communities, and most importantly, a better nation.
Like the Apostle Paul, my past actions of harming Christians, and in my case also harming women and girls by entering their bathroom space, will always humble me before women, the American public, and the Lord.
Similarly, like Paul, I too will carry an irremovable thorn in my flesh. Biblical scholars are unable to agree about the type of thorn Paul carried, but for me, it is a transvestic disorder with autogynephilia—a mental disorder I will battle for the remainder of my days.
Will I stumble and fall, or relapse again as we call it in recovery? Maybe—and to be honest, I already have. Going into my detransition, I set an unrealistic goal of perfection for myself, throwing away all of my women’s clothing and vowing to never cross-dress or act out sexually again.
That proved to be disastrous because as my testosterone quickly returned, I soon relapsed into another bout of stockpiling female garments.
But no relapse like this means that I or any other male with this mental disorder is female.
Some Christians have compared my circumstances to Norma McCorvey, the plaintiff in Roe v. Wade who later became a pro-life advocate.
In my non-binary court case, I lied about not being male. Similarly, McCorvey lied about being sexually assaulted. And in both cases, a loophole in state law was exploited to advance destructive medical practices. In Texas, for McCorvey, it was the right to get an abortion. For me in Oregon, it was the right to change your sex.
Both of our court cases then went on to unleash something monstrous.
Like McCorvey, because of the magnitude of my misdeeds and the amount of damage done, I sought forgiveness in the only place capable of bestowing forgiveness: the loving arms of Jesus.
Should I relapse, the correct response for others would be to promptly get me help. Civilly commit me if necessary, if the relapse has progressed to self-harm. But do not, under any circumstances, indulge my past delusions or new ones.
In Christ, I am a new creation. “The old has gone; the new has come.”
On Sept. 12 last year, a little more than a week after abortionist Dr. Ulrich Klopfer died, the medically-preserved remains of 2,246 aborted babies were found in boxes in his garage, along with patient records
Catholic News Agency
SOUTH BEND, Ind. — The remains of more than two thousand aborted children discovered in a garage belonging to deceased abortionist Dr. Ulrich Klopfer will be laid to rest on Wednesday.
The remains will be buried on Wednesday at Southlawn Cemetery in South Bend, Indiana, with state Attorney General Curtis Hill scheduled to attend and address the service on behalf of the state. Representatives from Right to Life Michiana will lead a prayer service following Hill’s speech.
On Sunday, February 23, there will be an additional memorial service to honor the aborted children. That service is being jointly organized by Right to Life Michiana, Lake County Right to Life, and Right to Life Northeast Indiana.
On Sept. 12 last year, a little more than a week after Klopfer died, the medically-preserved remains of 2,246 aborted babies were found in boxes in his garage, along with patient records. Klopfer, who lived in Will County, IL, was a prolific abortionist who at one point operated three clinics throughout the state of Indiana.
In October, 2019, additional aborted children were discovered in the trunk of one of Klopfer’s cars, bringing the total to 2,411. The children were all aborted between 2000 and 2003, with the majority dating from 2000 to 2002.
During his decades-long career as an abortionist, Klopfer is estimated to have aborted more than 30,000 children. His medical license was temporarily suspended by the state of Indiana in 2015 and indefinitely in 2016, after numerous complaints were made against him to state authorities. He admitted to performing abortions on two 13 year-old girls and not reporting the cases to the state in a timely manner. His Fort Wayne clinic was reported by the state’s medical board to be “rundown,” and he charged adult patients extra for pain medication.
Klopfer also admitted to performing an abortion on a 10 year-old girl in Illinois, who had been raped by her uncle, while not reporting her case to the authorities.
In December 2019, the Indiana Attorney General’s office released a preliminary report investigating the discovery of the fetal remains. Due to Klopfer’s death, there will not be any charges filed.
“The troubling discovery of 2,411 fetal remains from Indiana abortion clinics was a shock to our state and our nation alike, and my office is proud to lead the investigation of this horrific situation to bring answers and closure to all those impacted,” Indiana Attorney Hill said in the report issued by his office.
“My office continues to work diligently on the investigation of the circumstances leading to this discovery, and I intend to provide for a dignified burial of these remains in accordance with Indiana law so these remains may finally rest in peace,” said Hill.
The report said that the preliminary investigation found that Klopfer failed to properly dispose of fetal remains as required by Indiana law.
The children were unable to be identified, said Hill at the time.
Former mayor of South Bend, Pete Buttigieg, who is currently a frontrunner for the Democratic nomination for president, said in September that he found the discovery to be “extremely disturbing,” and he supported an investigation. He also said that he hoped the discovery of the hoarded aborted children will not be used to further restrict abortion rights.
“I hope that it doesn’t get caught up in politics at a time when women need access to healthcare,” he added. Buttigieg has since repeated his support for abortion up until the child takes its first breath.
As mayor, Buttigieg attempted to block the construction of a crisis pregnancy center aiming to offer support to women considering abortion in South Bend. Buttigieg instead supported the operation of Whole Women’s Health, an abortion clinic operating without a license and administered by a former employee of Klopfer.
Ein junger Mann, der selbst bei einer Vergewaltigung gezeugt worden ist, lehnt eine Ausnahme vom Abtreibungsverbot ab. Das betreffe ihn und andere wie ihn, sagte er bei einer Lebensschutzkundgebung in San Francisco.
San Francisco (kath.net/lifesitenews/jg)
„Leben ist Leben, keine Ausnahmen. Leben ist ein Geschenk, keine Ausnahmen. Leben ist wertvoll, keine Ausnahmen.“ Das gelte auch für Vergewaltigungen. Wer für eine Ausnahme beim Abtreibungsverbot bei Vergewaltigungen sei, meine ihn und andere wie ihn, sagte der 30jährige Nathan beim „Westcoast Walk for Life“, einer Lebensschutzkundgebung in San Francisco am 25. Januar.
„Wie ich empfangen wurde bestimmt nicht wer ich bin“, betonte er. Was ihn geformt habe, sei die mutige Entscheidung seiner leiblichen Mutter und seiner Adoptiveltern.
Vor Nathan trat seine leibliche Mutter Kathy Folan auf. Sie erzählte die Geschichte ihrer Schwangerschaft mit Nathan, die mit einer Vergewaltigung begonnen hatte. Als sie etwa einen Monat später feststellte, dass sie schwanger war, sei sie schockiert und panisch gewesen. Gleichzeitig sei ihr die „intrinsische Würde dieses neu geschaffenen menschlichen Wesens“ deutlich geworden, „das Gott mir anvertraut hat“.
Folan war damals eine Studentin und unverheiratet. Sie entschloss sich, eine Adoptivfamilie für ihr ungeborenes Kind zu finden. Sie hatte das Glück, ein katholisches Ehepaar zu finden, dem sie Nathan einige Tage nach seiner Geburt übergeben konnte. Es sei nicht leicht gewesen, ihn abzugeben, doch als sie ihn einige Monate später bei seinen Adoptiveltern besuchte, war sie sicher, die richtige Entscheidung getroffen zu haben. Er konnte in einer Familie leben, die sie ihm nicht bieten konnte.
Nathans Schicksal und seine Entwicklung zu einem erfolgreichen Geschäftsmann und Lebensschützer stelle die weit verbreitete Ansicht in Frage, Abtreibung bei Vergewaltigung zuzulassen, sagte Folan.
Pope Francis greets a man during his weekly General Audience, January 15, 2020. (Shutterstock)
The dignity of each person “imposes a duty to never abandon anyone,” Pope Francis said.
VATICAN CITY — Warning of the modern tendency to judge human life on the basis of utility rather than dignity, Pope Francis Thursday urged the need to protect the lives of the smallest and most vulnerable.
“A society deserves the title of ‘civilized’ … if it recognizes the intangible value of human life,” Pope Francis said Jan. 30 in a meeting with the Vatican Congregation of the Doctrine of Faith (CDF).
“The current socio-cultural context is progressively eroding awareness of what makes human life precious. In fact, it is increasingly evaluated on the basis of its efficiency and usefulness, to the point of considering ‘rejected lives’ or ‘unworthy lives’ as those which do not meet this criterion,” the pope warned.
Pope Francis applauded the CDF for dedicating its plenary assembly to the topic of care for the terminally and critically ill.
“Around the patient it is necessary to create a real platform of human relationships while promoting medical treatment, open to hope, especially in those borderline situations,” he said.
The dignity of each person “imposes a duty to never abandon anyone,” Pope Francis said.
“Human life, because of its eternal destination, retains all its value and dignity in all conditions, including precariousness and fragility, and as such is always worthy of the utmost consideration,” he said.
“When illness knocks on the door of our life, the need to have someone looking us in the eye, holding our hand, showing his tenderness and taking care of us, like the Good Samaritan of the Gospel parable,” Pope Francis said.
Hospices can be places where terminally ill people are accompanied by qualified medical, psychological, and spiritual support to live with dignity, comforted by the closeness of their loved ones, the pope said.
“I hope that these centers will continue to be places where ‘therapy of dignity’ is practiced with commitment, thus nurturing love and respect for life,” he added.
The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is the Vatican department responsible for protecting and promulgating the doctrine of the Catholic Church. It is headed by Cardinal Luis Ladaria Ferrer, S.J., and consultors include cardinals, bishops, priests, canon lawyers, and lay theologians.
Pope Francis congratulated the CDF for its publication of the document “What is Man? An Itinerary of Biblical Anthropology” by the Pontifical Biblical Commission last December.
The CDF is currently reviewing the rules for delicta graviora (the most serious crimes) outlined in the “Sacramentorum sanctitatis tutelage”, a motu proprio issued by John Paul II in 2001 on safeguarding the sanctity of the sacraments, particularly the Eucharist and confession.
“I urge you to continue firmly in this task, to offer a valid contribution in an area in which the Church is directly involved in proceeding with rigor and transparency in protecting the sanctity of the sacraments and the human dignity violated, especially of the little ones,” the pope told the CDF.
“Christian doctrine is not a rigid and closed system in itself, but neither is it an ideology that changes with the passing of the seasons; it is a dynamic reality which, remaining faithful to its foundation, is renewed from generation to generation and is summed up in a face, a body and a name: the Risen Jesus Christ,” Pope Francis said.
Zwei Frauen, die ihre Abtreibung überlebt haben, gaben beim Marsch für das Leben in Washington D.C. Zeugnis und sorgten mit ihren Zeugnis für Erschütterung bei den TeilnehmernZwei MUST-SEE-VIDEOS
Washington D.C. (kath.net/jg)
Claire Culwell und Melissa Ohden sollten abgetrieben werden. Sie überlebten wie durch ein Wunder und gaben beim „Marsch für das Leben“ in Washington D.C. am 24. Januar Zeugnis von der Würde des Lebens und der Liebe, die sie erfahren durften.
Culwell erfuhr erst 2009, dass sie ihre Abtreibung überlebt hatte. Sie war adoptiert worden und traf vor zehn Jahren zum ersten Mal ihre leibliche Mutter. Als sie sich dafür bedankte, ihr das Leben geschenkt zu haben, brach ihre Mutter in Tränen aus und erzählte von der Abtreibung, die Claires Zwillingsschwester das Leben gekostet hatte. „Der Schmerz in ihren Augen ist etwas, das ich nie vergessen werde“, sagte sie wörtlich.
Das Wissen um die versuchte Abtreibung war für Culwell eine Erklärung für einige Besonderheiten in ihrem Leben: ihre körperlichen Beschwerden, die aus ihrer frühen Geburt resultieren, ihre Sehnsucht nach einem Geschwister, ihre tiefe Dankbarkeit gegenüber ihren Adoptiveltern, die ihr die Gewissheit gaben, gewollt und angenommen zu sein.
Als Culwell ihr Zeugnis gab, standen ihre Adoptiveltern und ihre eigenen Kinder mit ihr auf der Bühne.
Melissa Ohden begann mit einem Hinweis auf das Urteil „Roe v. Wade“, mit welchem der Oberste Gerichtshof die Abtreibung in allen Bundesstaaten der USA legalisierte. „Vor 47 Jahren hat der Oberste Gerichtshof die Entscheidung getroffen, die mein Todesurteil sein sollte“, sagte sie wörtlich.
1977 sei ihre Mutter dazu gebracht worden, eine Salzabtreibung durchführen zu lassen. „Fünf Tage lang schwamm ich in einer Salzlösung, die mich vergiften und verätzen sollte. Aber vor 42 Jahren sagte Gott ‚Nein. Nicht dieses Kind’, und durch Zufall bin ich lebend auf die Welt gekommen“, sagte sie wörtlich über ihre Abtreibung.
Ohden sprach dann alle Menschen an, die Ja zu ihr gesagt hatten. Die Liebe ihrer Adoptiveltern habe sie gesegnet, heute sei sie selbst Ehefrau und Mutter zweier Töchter. Sie habe ihrer leiblichen Mutter vergeben und sei mit ihr und ihrer Familie versöhnt. „Abtreibung hat meine leibliche Mutter nicht gestärkt“, sagte sie und widersprach damit den Abtreibungsbefürwortern. „Sie hat auch mich nicht gestärkt. Sie hat auch meine Töchter nicht gestärkt, die nie gelebt hätten, wenn die Abtreibung mein Leben beendet hätte.“
Was sie wirklich gestärkt habe, sei das Leben, fuhr Ohden fort. Das Leben habe Heilung ermöglicht, das Leben habe Liebe und Vergebung ermöglicht und das Leiden ihrer Familie in etwas Sinnvolles transformiert.
„Ich bin mehr als eine Entscheidung (engl. „Choice“ in Anspielung auf die Bezeichnung „Pro-Choice“ für Abtreibungsbefürworter, Anm.). Ich bin mehr als das ‚reproduktive Recht’ von jemand anderem. Ich bin ein menschliches Wesen und das sind die anderen Überlebenden einer Abtreibung“, stellte sie wörtlich fest.
Melissa Ohden hat eine Organisation für Abtreibungsüberlebende gegründet . Diese hat ein kurzes Video mit dem Titel „Faces of Choice“ produziert. Ohden und andere Überlebende von Abtreibungen stellen die Frage: „Können Sie mit in die Augen sehen und mit sagen, dass ich nicht existieren sollte?“ „Dass ich tot sein sollte?“ „Dass ich an diesem Tag sterben sollte?“ Jeder von ihnen sagt zum Abschluss: „Ich bin das Gesicht von ‚Choice’.“
Hier die Videos von den beiden beim MARCH FOR LIFE:
Franziskus zeigte sich überrascht, als er erfuhr, dass seit der gesetzlichen Freigabe der Abtreibung in den USA im Jahr 1973 mehr als 60 Millionen ungeborene Kinder getötet wurden
Papst Franziskus hat vergangenen Woche bei einem Treffen mit US-Bischöfen in Rom betont, dass der der Schutz der ungeborenen Kinder von “überragender Priorität” für die Kirche sei und stimmte damit mit er Prioritätensetzung der US-Bischöfe überein. Dies berichtet CNS. Er zeigte sich überascht, als er erfuhr, dass seit der gesetzlichen Freigabe der Abtreibung in den USA im Jahr 1973 mehr als 60 Millionen ungeborene Kinder getötet wurden. Erzbischof Joseph F. Naumann von Kansas City, der auch Vorsitzender des Pro-Life Komitees der US-Bischofskonferenz ist, war einer einer 15 Bischöfe, die beim Papst zum “Ad Limina”-Besuch waren.
Martyrdoms drop in Nigeria but soar in Burkina Faso, while China brings 16 million more Christians onto Open Doors’s 2020 World Watch List of Christian persecution.
JAYSON CASPERJANUARY 15, 2020
Every day, 8 Christians worldwide are killed because of their faith.
Every week, 182 churches or Christian buildings are attacked.
And every month, 309 Christians are imprisoned unjustly.
So reports the 2020 World Watch List (WWL), the latest annual accounting from Open Doors of the top 50 countries where Christians are the most persecuted for their faith.
“We cannot let this stand,” said David Curry, president and CEO of Open Doors USA, during the 2020 list’s unveiling in Washington, DC, this morning. “People are speaking out and we have an obligation to hear their cry.”
The listed nations comprise 260 million Christians suffering high to severe levels of persecution, up from 245 million in last year’s list.
Where It’s Hardest to Follow Jesus:
1. North Korea
Another 50 million could be added from the 23 nations that fall just outside the top 50—such as Mexico, Chad, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo—for a ratio of 1 in 8 Christians worldwide facing persecution.
Last year, 40 nations scored high enough to register “very high” persecution levels. This year, it reached 45.
Open Doors has monitored Christian persecution worldwide since 1992. North Korea has ranked No. 1 since 2002, when the watch list began.
The 2020 version tracks the time period from November 1, 2018 to October 31, 2019, and is compiled from reports by Open Doors workers in more than 60 countries. The list “provides the most comprehensive grassroots data on Christian persecution,” said Curry. “But it is much more than that. It is sounding an alarm.”
Last year, CT noted “Asia Rising” as India entered the top 10 for the first time while China rose from No. 43 to No. 27.
That trend continues, as 2 in 5 Asian Christians now face high levels of persecution, up from 1 in 3 the previous reporting period. China’s crackdown on both state-sanctioned and underground churches and its growing surveillance network added 16 million to Open Doors’s tally of Christians facing persecution.
“The Chinese government is committing unparalleled human rights crimes against Christian citizens and seeking to wipe religious sentiment from its country,” stated Curry in a press release ahead of today’s event. “Yet, as the Chinese Christians who will join me will testify, the persecution Christians face—including extensive surveillance, raids on churches, and imprisonment—have not succeeded in eliminating Christianity.
“Instead, the underground Christian community has banded together and is actively working to call the world’s attention to the plight of the Chinese people. We will join them in that call.”
At the DC rollout, Curry was joined by Chinese pastor Jian Zhu. “The persecution of Christians is the worst I have seen since 1979,” he said. “Christians have a worldwide brotherhood, and the government sees this as a threat.”
“It is time for religious persecution to stop once and for all,” said Robert Destro, Assistant Secretary of State in the US State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, at today’s rollout. “But as we all know, that is a long-term proposition.”
This year the top 10 is relatively unchanged. After North Korea is Afghanistan (No. 2), followed by Somalia (No. 3), Libya (No. 4), Pakistan (No. 5), Eritrea (No. 6), Sudan (No. 7), Yemen (No. 8), Iran (No. 9), and India (No. 10).
Image: Open Door USA
Open Doors tracks persecution across six categories—including both social and governmental pressure on individuals, families, and congregations—and has a special focus on women.
But when violence is isolated as a category, the top 10 persecutors shifts dramatically—only Pakistan and India remain.
Top 10 Countries Where Christians Face the Most Violence:
4. Central African Republic
5. Burkina Faso
10. Sri Lanka
Open Doors reporting period: November 2018 to October 2019
Five of the most violent countries for Christians are located in the Sahel, a horizontal belt of semi-arid grazing areas and farmland located between the Sahara Desert and the African savannah.
Militant Islamist rebel groups and terrorists have proliferated in the Sahel in recent years. Conflict between Muslim herders and Christian farmers has also resulted in violence. And weakened government structures leave the population vulnerable.
Nigeria, where Africa’s largest Christian population has no cheeks left to turn, ranked No. 12 overall but is second behind only Pakistan in terms of violence, and ranks No. 1 in the number of Christians killed for reasons related to their faith. Open Doors tallied 1,350 Nigerian martyrs in its 2020 list.
Where the Most Christians Were Martyred:
1. Nigeria: 1,350
2. Central African Republic: 924
3. Sri Lanka: 200
4. Democratic Republic of Congo: 152
5. South Sudan: 100
6. Burkina Faso: 50
7. Egypt: 23
8. Pakistan: 20
9. [name withheld]: 20
10. Colombia: 16
Open Doors reporting period: November 2018 to October 2019
The Central African Republic (ranked No. 25 overall) ranks fourth in violence against Christians. Burkina Faso (No. 28) ranks fifth. Cameroon (No. 48, its first time on the list) and Mali (No. 29) join Egypt (No. 16), Colombia (No. 41), and Sri Lanka (No. 30) in rounding out the top 10. (Another Sahel country, Niger (No. 50), rejoined the list for the first time in five years.)
Sri Lanka rose 16 spots from No. 46 last year, primarily due to the Easter suicide bombings which killed over 250 people at Catholic and Protestant churches, and hotels.
But the year’s largest and most dramatic jump was in Burkina Faso, which jumped 33 slots after not even qualifying for the top 50 last year (it would have been No. 61).
Dozens of Burkinabe priests and pastors have been kidnapped or killed. Over 200 churches have been forced to close. The United Nations estimates 500,000 people have been displaced from their homes. The African Center for Strategic Studies calculates that extremist attacks have quadrupled since 2017, and deaths from violence increased 60 percent in 2019. Open Doors counted 50 Christians among that number.
Meanwhile, a transition in Nigeria from village raids to kidnapping by militant Muslim Fulani herdsmen—whose attacks were six times as deadly as Boko Haram’s, according to the International Crisis Group—resulted in an overall decrease in Christians killed in the Sahel, as well as worldwide.
Due to this shift in tactics, worldwide martyrdoms fell to 2,983 in the 2020 report, down from 4,305 the year before. (Open Doors is known for favoring a more conservative estimate than other groups, who often tally martyrdoms at 100,000 a year.)
Abduction of Christians is a new category tracked by Open Doors in this year’s report, with 1,052 tallied worldwide. Nigeria tops the list, with 224.
Nigeria also leads the newly tracked categories of forced marriages (accounting for 130 out of 630 worldwide), attacked Christian homes (1,500 out of 3,315), and looted Christian shops (1,000 out of 1,979).
Other new categories return the focus to Asia.
Of the top 7 nations where Christians are raped or sexually harassed, 4 are recipients of migrant workers in the Arabian Peninsula: Saudi Arabia (No. 13), Qatar (No. 27), Kuwait (No. 43), and the United Arab Emirates (No. 47). Nigeria is eighth. Worldwide there were 8,537 recorded cases, but Open Doors warns this tally is just the tip of the iceberg, as many assaults occur in private and are not reported.
India ranks first in the new category of physical or mental abuse, which includes beatings and death threats. The continuing rise in the subcontinent of a militant Hindu nationalism contributed to 1,445 of the reported 14,645 cases worldwide.
China is the chief violator in Open Doors’s other two previously tracked categories.
Beijing has jailed or detained without charge 1,147 Christians for faith-related reasons, out of a total of 3,711 worldwide. This number rose from 3,150 last year.
Where the Most Churches Were Attacked or Closed:
1. China: 5,576
2. Angola: 2,000
3. Rwanda: 700
4. Myanmar: 204
5. Nigeria: 150
6. Ethiopia: 124
7. Burundi: 100
8. Mali: 100
9. Pakistan: 58
10. Burkina Faso: 50
Open Doors reporting period: November 2018 to October 2019
But attacks and forced closures of churches have skyrocketed from 1,847 to 9,488, with China accounting for 5,576.
Angola was second with 2,000 and Rwanda was third with 700. (Neither ranks among the top 50 persecution countries; Angola would be No. 68, Rwanda No. 71.)
Open Doors cautioned that in several nations, the above violations are very difficult to document precisely. In these cases, round numbers are presented, always leaning towards conservative estimates.
Its research is certified and audited by the International Institute for Religious Freedom, a World Evangelical Alliance-backed network based in Germany.
In the Middle East, Open Doors noted little change, with 4 of 5 Christians experiencing “high” levels of persecution. The main and continuing trend is the dwindling number of Christians from Syria (No. 11) and Iraq (No. 15).
Syria has lost 75 percent of its Christian population since the outbreak of civil war in 2011, down to 744,000 last year from an estimated 2.2 million. Iraq has lost 87 percent of its Christian population since the Gulf war in 2003, down to 202,000 last year from an estimated 1.5 million.
Open Doors believes it is reasonable to call Christianity the world’s most severely persecuted religion. At the same time, it notes there is no comparable documentation for the world’s Muslim population.
All nations of the world are monitored by its researchers and field staff, but in-depth attention is given to 100 nations and special focus on the 73 which record “high” levels of persecution (scores of more than 40 on Open Doors’s 100-point scale).
The only good news in the 2020 watch list comes from Ethiopia (No. 39), where recent reforms removed 2.5 million from Open Doors’s global total of Christians facing high levels of persecution. Despite increasing sectarian strifeas its Nobel Prize-winning evangelical president makes peace and attempts reforms, the Horn of Africa nation declined in rank from No. 28 to No. 39.
Open Doors also noted the positive case of Pakistan’s Asia Bibi. In May 2019, the Christian mother of five was allowed to emigrate to Canada after the Supreme Court of Pakistan overturned her death penalty conviction for blasphemy. She had been in prison for nine years.
“The suffering of persecuted Christians cannot be recorded in statistics,” stated Open Doors. “Millions of people are found behind the numbers. Each one of them has their own story.
“This often includes deep suffering, but also courage and strong faith.”
The persecution of Christians is getting more severe than ever, affecting increasing numbers of believers around the world. That’s one of the findings of the newly published World Watch List, which reveals the 50 countries where Christians face the most persecution.
A staggering 260 million Christians in the top 50 countries on the World Watch List face high or extreme levels of persecution for their faith. That’s 15 million more people than the previous year. Open Doors estimates that there are another 50 million Christians facing high levels of persecution in a further 23 countries outside the top 50. Persecution comes in many forms, from the Easter Sunday church attacks by Islamic extremists in Sri Lanka, to a believer being denied their rights or ostracised by their family and community.
North Korea remains the most dangerous place in the world to be a Christian, having been at number one since 2002. Owning a Bible could mean that you and your whole family are put in horrific concentration camps, or killed.
Each year, the publication of the World Watch List is an opportunity to pray for and support Christians around the world. The 50 country profiles include background information, recent developments, testimonies from courageous Christians and ways that supporters can respond through prayer and gifts.
“Thanks to your support, the secret believers experience that God loves them and provides in everything they need,” says Sang-Hwa*, a North Korean Christian.
The World Watch List is based on an analysis of faith-based persecution in five spheres of life, from private life to the national laws, and the scale of violence believers face for their faith.
Thousands of pro-life campaigners marched in Denver and Chicago on Saturday calling for an end to abortion.
The marches are part of a nationwide effort to draw attention to the more than 600,000 abortion procedures carried out in the US each year and call for laws that support women and protect unborn babies.
A record-breaking 9,000 people attended the March for Life in Chicago, Illinois which had the theme ‘Life Empowers: Pro-Life is Pro-Woman!’.
Ahead of the march, the March for Life Chicago board president, Dawn Fitzpatrick, told the Chicago Tribune, “There’s more people in Illinois and the Midwest who recognize the urgency of this. We recognize that there’s a human being that’s created from the moment of conception.”
Over 8,000 people gathered for the Celebrate Life rally in Denver, Colorado carrying signs that read, “Civil rights begin in the womb” and “I am the pro-life generation.”
Participants were given the chance to sign a petition to support a policy on the 2020 Colorado ballot, which seeks to protect unborn babies by ending the practice of late-term abortion in the state.
Under Initiative 120, a person conducting an abortion after 22 weeks of pregnancy could be subject to having their medical license suspended for a least three years, except in cases where the life of the mother is at risk.
According to the Charlotte Lozier Institute, a pro-life research group, in 2018, there were 323 abortions that occurred in Colorado at 21 weeks or later in a pregnancy. The survival rate for babies born at 22 weeks has doubled over the past decade prompting new guidance in the UK, allowing doctors to try to save babies born as early as 22 weeks into a pregnancy.
Colorado became the first state to allow abortion in limited instances in 1967. Currently, the state doesn’t have any restrictions on when a pregnancy can be terminated and abortion rights advocates have pushed to keep it that way. Abortion providers in the state can opt-out of providing post-abortion care and don’t require parental consent for minors seeking abortions.
Among the speakers at the rally was Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila, who shared how his experience of working in a hospital as a college student and seeing aborted babies there changed his life.
Revealing details about an abortion procedure that still impacts him decades later, Aquila toldColorado Public Radio “It is tragic and I remember being stunned…I can still remember the horror on the young woman’s face [during the abortion].”
Referring to Initiative 120, the Catholic archbishop assured attendees of the rally that it does not amount to an endorsement of abortion during the earlier stages of a pregnancy.
“But we also desire to protect, even in increments, the gift of given life. We are not voting for abortion, nor are we saying we agree with abortion up to 22 weeks. What we are saying, is that we respect life, and we respect it for all the pregnancy,” Aquila said.
David Bereit, co-founder of pro-life group 40 Days For Life, said“We are not going to rest because what started in Colorado will end in Colorado… Colorado has tried other ballot initiatives on the pro-life side in the past that have failed. This is the one that a large majority of people agree upon.”
Pro-life demonstrations across the world have also seen record numbers in attendance in recent years. In 2019, over 50,000 Slovakians called on the country’s leaders to protect unborn babies. Pro-life demonstrations in Northern Ireland reached over 20,000 people, over 11,000 marched for life in the Netherlands, over 5,000 people marched for life in the UK, and over 2,000 people attended New Zealand’s March for Life.
A spokesperson for Right To Life UK, Catherine Robinson said:
“What a wonderful way to begin 2020, continuing with the trend of the record-breaking numbers of people attending pro-life demonstrations that we have seen over the past few years, not just overseas but also in the UK.
“In 2020 and beyond, we will be using this momentum and the momentum of a more pro-life parliament to call on the Government to urgently bring forward increased support for women with unplanned pregnancies to reduce the tragic number of abortions that happen each year.
“We are excited to see the pro-life movement continue to grow around the world this year and are hopeful of innovative new laws and safeguards that will support women and protect unborn babies.”