Pope Francis is the first Pope from outside the West in 1200 years which can’t help but beckon Catholics to a more global perspective. One arena where that impact seems clear is religious freedom, especially when it concerns mounting anti-Christian violence around the world. 

Catholic leaders in the US have invested tremendous energy lately fighting what they see as a “war on religion” in America, symbolized by the contraception mandates imposed by the Obama administration as part of healthcare reform.

But any “war on religion” here is a metaphorical one, fought in legislatures and courthouses and on cable news talk shows.

In other global neighborhoods, the war is violent, not verbal, and statistics say Christians are its primary victims.  One estimate pegs the share of global acts of religious persecution directed at Christians at 80 percent, while the low-end guess for the number of Christians killed for the faith around the world every year is 9,000, which works out to one new martyr every hour……….

In the Francis era, this global war seems more likely to be what comes to mind when Christian leaders think about religious freedom.

The new Pope said so himself on Sept. 25,…………………….the Pope asked, “When I think or hear it said that many Christians are persecuted and give their lives for their faith, does this touch my heart or not?”

…………………….Cardinal timothy Dolan of New York, devoted his final address as president of the bishops’ conference on Nov 11 to urging his fellow bishops to speak up on behalf of persecuted Christians worldwide.

(If it touches your heart, pray and speak up..)