U.S. cardinal says forces in Mideast intent on eradicating Christians

By Sharyn McCowen Catholic News Service

Cardinal Edwin F. O'Brien, right, grand master of the Knights of the Holy Sepulchre, prays during Mass Nov. 10 at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Baltimore. The Mass, marking the 225th anniversary of the Baltimore Archdiocese, was celebrated on the first day of the annual fall general assembly of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. (CNS photo/Bob Roller) See BISHOPS-MASS Nov. 11, 2014.

Cardinal Edwin F. O’Brien, right, grand master of the Knights of the Holy Sepulchre, prays during Mass Nov. 10 at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Baltimore. The Mass, marking the 225th anniversary of the Baltimore Archdiocese, was celebrated on the first day of the annual fall general assembly of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. (CNS photo/Bob Roller) See BISHOPS-MASS Nov. 11, 2014.

SYDNEY (CNS) — When Cardinal Edwin F. O’Brien was named grandmaster of the Knights of the Holy Sepulchre in 2011, he found himself embroiled in a war a world away from the jungles of Vietnam where he ministered to dying troops as a young priest.

“The forces that are at work now are intent on eradicating the Christian civilization, nothing less,” said the 76-year-old U.S. cardinal, who was in Sydney in October to reach out to the order’s 600 Australian members.

Christians in the Holy Land face “daily horrors,” while “our public is very blase about the whole thing,” Cardinal O’Brien said.

“Unless we face the facts, this radicalism, this extremism, is going to keep spreading,” he told The Catholic Weekly, newspaper of the Archdiocese of Sydney.