The world’s first shrine for persecuted Christians has opened in New York

On June 12, St Michael’s Church in Manhattan opened the first shrine devoted to persecuted Christians. At the centre of the shrine is an icon of Our Lady of Aradin (the Aramaic word for Eden), Mother of the Persecuted Church. The ceremony was led by the rector, Fr George Rutler, and Fr Benedict Kiely, the founder of nasarean.org, which popularised the use of the Arabic letter nūn as a symbol of solidarity with Middle Eastern Christians under attack by Islamists.

In attendance were Stephen Bannon, former White House chief strategist and ex-chairman of Breitbart News Network; Kristóf Szalay-Bobrovniczky, Hungarian ambassador to the United Kingdom; Erik Prince, founder of the private military firm Blackwater (now called Academi); Roger Kimball, editor of The New Criterion; Sohrab Ahmari, columnist for Commentary; and Matthew and Julia Schmitz, senior editors of First Things.

Fr Kiely says persecution is by no means limited to the Middle East. He speaks of this as a “Lepanto moment” for the West (referring to the Battle of Lepanto against Ottoman forces in 1571). The threat does not only lie in “aggressive, militant Islam – which, despite political correctness is, indeed, a serious threat to the culture of Europe”. No: it also comes from “the rapidly accelerating aggressive secular liberalism which is a grave threat to religious liberty”. The solution, he says, is the same as four centuries ago. “The praying of the rosary as ordered by St Pius V saved Western civilisation – which was, of course, Christian civilisation.”

There are echoes of Pat Buchanan’s infamous 1992 “culture war speech”, but this is no mere populist appeal. Bannon wields real political power. Kimball and the Schmitzes are three of the Right’s outstanding intellectuals. Ahmari is employed by an influential, mainstream news magazine. Critics of overweening secularism have moved out of the fringes and into the mainstream. A politics grounded in solidarity among Christians, both in domestic affairs and foreign policy, will radically reshape American conservatism within a generation.

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