The Most Reverend Armando X. Ochoa, Bishop of the Diocese of Fresno, asks the faithful to join him in prayer for our Christian brothers and sisters who belong to the Coptic Church in Egypt. The devastating impact of religious persecution, hate and violence has once again killed, wounded and invoked fear and anxiety within a faith-filled community, as they gathered to worship peacefully and prayerfully on Passion / Palm Sunday.

Our Lord Jesus knew that the Hosannas sung upon his entrance into Jerusalem would soon turn into cries to have him crucified. United to Christ by faith, we too know that forms of persecution remain part of living the Christian life. Although, like Christ, we do not seek to respond to violence with violence – we must continue to seek out ways to protect the weak and vulnerable among us, while addressing religious persecution that puts them in harm’s way.

Let us join our Holy Father, Pope Francis, who calls us all to pray for the conversion of hearts and minds of religious extremists who exploit the Islamic faith for devious and evil purpose, along with those who are radicalized to follow them.

May this Holy Week deepen our relationship with our Lord Jesus as we walk the road to Calvary with Him, trusting that the light of the Resurrection will heal, strengthen and guide us, as we continue our journey of faith in the name of Christ.

From Diocese of Fresno.