Skip to main content

USCCB Administrative Committee Honors 'Martyrs of Charity'

03-08-2016

Note: Bishop Michael Burbidge serves as a member of the Administrative Committee of the USCCB.

WASHINGTON—The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Administrative Committee issued a statement, March 8, honoring the work and the lives of the four religious sisters of the Missionaries of Charity, who along with other 12 people were murdered in Yemen, March 4. 

“Wherever people of good will, of any faith, face death because they reject violence and extremism, we must be their witness,” the statement reads. “We give particular thanks to God for the ‘martyrs of charity.’”

The Committee also renewed their call for an increase in the international response to violence in the Middle East.  

The full statement follows.

Honoring the “Martyrs of Charity”
A Statement from the Administrative Committee of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

March 8, 2016

Caring for the aging and dying is an act of love and mercy. Giving totally of oneself to serve the most vulnerable of our brothers and sisters is an act of courageous faith.  Thus, it is always a great sorrow when such acts of mercy lead to martyrdom.  On March 4, four sisters from the Missionaries of Charity, along with 12 people for whom they cared, were murdered in Yemen.  Acknowledging they “gave their blood for the Church,” Pope Francis described these sisters as “martyrs of charity.”

In the words of the Holy Father, they were “victims not only of those who have murdered them, but also of the globalization of indifference.”  As the Administrative Committee of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops convenes this week in Washington, DC, we pause to make our own the words and prayer of Pope Francis.  We invite the faithful and all people of good will to join in solidarity with people of faith – all faiths – who see their lives threatened by evil, indifference, hatred, and terrorism.

We renew our call for an increased international response.  Addressing the full body of bishops in November, USCCB President Archbishop Joseph Kurtz described the atrocities faced by Christians in the Middle East as “nothing short of genocide.” The United States Department of State is considering an official finding of probable cause that genocide is occurring against Christians, Yazidis and other religious minorities. It would be an important step toward a declaration of genocide.  That declaration would be a life-saving aid in the defense of those facing the extremists’ violence.  The Christian community along with others is working to help gather the necessary evidence to urge State Department action.

Wherever people of good will, of any faith, face death because they reject violence and extremism, we must be their witness. We give particular thanks to God for the “martyrs of charity.” Through their sacrifice, they were transformed into signs of Christ’s victory over sin, violence and death.