Sadly, our world continues to be shaken by violence that is unfathomable and made even more repulsive by the fact that its victims are people of faith.
Recently, we witnessed the premeditated slaughter of more than 250 innocent people in Sri Lanka, many of whom were Christians taking part in the celebration of Easter, the most important and joyous feast day on our liturgical calendar. May God comfort the families of the victims, and those who died, I believe, as martyrs of our faith. May He hold all of them, especially the children, in the comfort of His peaceful and caring embrace.
The ongoing violence against Christians isn’t isolated to Sri Lanka. We have seen its bloody impact elsewhere— in Egypt, Nigeria, and in other countries around the world. Christians have also been targets here at home— in South Carolina, Texas, and even in Tennessee.
As a man of deep faith in a peaceful God, I offer my prayers and compassion for all people who have been assaulted celebrating their faith—to the victims of the recent synagogue shootings in California and Pittsburgh, and to the victims of the mosque shooting in New Zealand. In each of these cases, people were gathering to worship in peace.
As a Christian, and as the Bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Knoxville, I feel compelled to express my specific concern for the growing number of violent attacks on Christians and for the erosion of respect we encounter in all aspects of our Christian life.
Recent news coverage given to these brutal attacks should not fade from our attention as the media casually moves into its next news cycle.
May God bless all of us with His love and peace,
Most Reverend Richard F. Stika
Bishop of Knoxville