• With messages of support from Pope Francis and Scottish Government
By Michael J Robinson
MORE than 1,000 young people from across Scotland took part in a youth rally yesterday (Thursday, 16th June), standing shoulder to shoulder in solidarity with those who are persecuted and oppressed for their religious faith.
The event, involving 26 Catholic schools, was organised by the Scottish office of Aid to the Church in Need, the Catholic charity for persecuted and oppressed Christians.
The focus of the day in Carfin Grotto, Motherwell, was to raise awareness, encourage prayer, and take action in support of the persecuted Church.
The keynote speaker was Sarmad Ozan, who fled Mosul, northern Iraq, after it was seized by Daesh (ISIS) in the summer of 2014.
Mr Ozan said: “In 2014 ISIS invaded many cities, including my city Mosul with the ambitions to destroy all minorities, including Christians and to create an Islamic state in Iraq…”
Mr Ozan added: “One day we woke up and noticed a letter “N” was marked above all our doors which stands for Nazareans, signifying the house within are Christians.
“In addition, there was a marking stating “This is now the property of ISIS”. We were all terrified and then, as we walked around the city, we saw that it was barricaded and surrounded by ISIS military.”
Bishop John Keenan of Paisley read out a personal message from Pope Francis, thanking the young people: “…for their prayers and solidarity with all Christians who suffer persecution throughout the world”.
ACN called on attendees to show the Scottish Government that young people want to stand up for religious freedom.
Angela Constance, Cabinet Secretary for Communities and Equalities on behalf of the Scottish Government, offered a message of support and thanks to the young people in attendance: “The Scottish Government strongly condemns all persecution on the basis of religion or belief.”
Ms Constance added: “I hope that you enjoy today’s rally and thank you for your commitment to promoting religious freedom around the world.” .
Event organiser Lorraine McMahon, ACN’s Head of Operations in Scotland, said: “The atmosphere at the youth rally was incredible and we are very pleased with the turn-out and participation of all involved.
“Christian persecution is a human rights issue and one that needs to be recognised more by the media and parliament.”
Concluding the rally, Ms McMahon added: “After attending ACN’s Rally today, we ask you to be ambassadors for ACN Scotland – go back to your schools and families and tell them about today and encourage them to get involved with Aid to the Church in Need.”
Notes to the editor
• For more information contact Lorraine McMahon, ACN Head of Operations in Scotland, on 01698 337470 or firstname.lastname@example.org or
Michael J Robinson, ACN Communications Executive in Scotland, on 01698 337 472 or Michael.Robinson@acnuk.org
Directly under the Holy See, Aid to the Church in Need supports the faithful wherever they are persecuted, oppressed or in pastoral need. ACN is a Catholic charity – helping to bring Christ to the world through prayer, information and action.
Founded in 1947 by Fr Werenfried van Straaten, whom St John Paul II named “An outstanding Apostle of Charity”, the organisation is now at work in more than 140 countries throughout the world.
The charity undertakes thousands of projects every year including providing transport for clergy and lay Church workers, construction of church buildings, funding for priests and nuns and help to train seminarians. Since the initiative’s launch in 1979, Aid to the Church in Need’s Child’s Bible – God Speaks to his Children has been translated into 176 languages and more than 51 million copies have been distributed all over the world.
Aid to the Church in Need UK is a registered charity in England and Wales (1097984) and Scotland (SC040748). ACN’s UK office is in Sutton, Surrey and there is a Scottish office in Motherwell.
While ACN gives full permission for the media to freely make use of the charity’s press releases, please acknowledge ACN as the source of stories when using the material.