FROM A SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT THE Catholic Faith is being persecuted in one country out of six throughout the world, according to an article from the Catholic news agency Fides published last week in the Vatican newspaper L'Oss-ervatore Romano.
Persecution ranged from the murder of priests by the Vietcong "to terrorise Christians," to the "hidden and damaging" attacks in free and developed nations made in the guise of human progress.
The article summed up five general types of persecution of the Church: Political: "Like the Roman Empire in the time of Christ, suspicious of a Kingdom that they cannot understand to be beyond
Nationalistic: Where "the exaggerated sense of country, blinds the eyes to Catholicism, to the universality of the Church."
Sociological Cultural: Persecution especially toward minority groups "considered westernised."
Of Religious Content: Particularly in Asia and Africa, where the Christian religion is regarded as "foreign" by other major religions.
Persecution arising front a "materialistic concept of life."
Fides said this last type of persecution was seen in its extreme form in Communist nations, but also ex
isted in free nations "where in the name of a pretended human progress and of the relative nature of truth, one is taught on an everincreasing scale a theoretic materialism that threatens to destroy the Faith.
Because of this attitude in many places now "it is difficult and even heroic to spread the good news (of the Gospel) in all its entirety."
In such places, Fides said, "faithfulness to the promises of baptism or of the priesthood impose upon one the acceptance of mis understandings, humiliations, social discriminations, explusions and in certain cases, the test of a slow martyrdom known only to God."
Direct persecution, in eluding imprisonment of priests, still existed, the article said, citing the case Of the American missionary, Bishop James Walsh, released last year after 16 years in a Chinese prison on charges of spying.
"Beside mainland China, where the Church is reduced to silence, it is undergoing the hard test of seeing itself deprived of some of its shepherds in other countries as well, as in Guinea, where Archbishop Tchidiniho of Conakry was unjustly sentenced to life imprisonment by the civil authorities, and in Equatorial Guinea, where the government recently expelled Bishop Gomez Marijuan of Santa Isabel.
"The guerrilla warfare that accompanies the conflict in the Indo-Chinese peninsula has claimed a number of victims among the Catholic priests, religious and teachers, eliminated by the Vietcong expressly because they are exponents of the Church and to terrorise Christians.
"In Burma in late years zealous native priests have been assassinated."
The article said persecution "exists firstly and in strict form in Communist nations, following the example of China and Russia, where the concept is inspired and supported by the party."