Christian Persecution Is Real: The 2020 Saints Peter and Paul Conference

The Basilica of Saint Mary hosted its third annual Saints Peter and Paul Conference on September 11 and 12, 2020. The topic of the conference was “Christian Persecution Is Real.”

The 2020 Saints Peter and Paul Conference in Four Minutes


This four-minute video contains highlights from our 2020 Saints Peter and Paul Conference. Videos and podcasts of the presentations from the conference are posted below.

Fr. Kurt Klismet



Fr. Kurt Klismet, O.SS.T. is the Provincial Treasurer for the Immaculate Heart of Mary Province of the Order of the Most Holy Trinity and of the Captives (the “Trinitarians”) and the President of Trinitarian Solidarity, USA.

Fr. David Dufresne



Highlights from Father David Dufresne’s reflections at the Basilica of Saint Mary’s 2020 Saints Peter and Paul Conference. Father David is the Parochial Vicar at the Basilica of Saint Mary in Alexandria, Virginia.

Dr. Sayo Ajiboye



Dr. Sayo Ajiboye is the President of the RCCGNA Seminary in Greenville, Texas. He also serves as the President of the Mission Africa International, a non-profit organization committed to advocacy on behalf of the voiceless and persecuted victims of religious violence in West Africa.

Dr. Bob Fu



Dr. Bob Fu is the Founder and President of China Aid, an international NGO with a mission to advance religious freedom in China. Fu was a campus student leader during the Tiananmen Square democracy movement in 1989. He was tortured in a Chinese prison for his faith.

View Dr. Fu’s slideshow here.

Former Congressman Frank Wolf



Former Congressman Frank Wolf (R-VA) served in the House of Representatives from 1981 to 2015. Wolf authored the International Religious Freedom Act, which infused America’s first freedom – religious freedom – into U.S. foreign policy by creating the International Religious Freedom Office at the State Department headed by an Ambassador-at-Large.

Faith McDonnell



Faith McDonnell directs the International Religious Liberty Program and Church Alliance for a New Sudan at the Institute on Religion and Democracy in Washington, D.C. She has been an advocate for persecuted believers and other human rights issues for 27 years.

View McDonnell’s slideshow here.

Stephen Rasche


*Rasche’s talk also includes a 15 minute slideshow chronicling his experiences in Iraq. Unfortunately, we had to mute the music that accompanies the slideshow due to copyright claims.

Stephen Rasche is the author of the critically acclaimed book The Disappearing People: The Tragic Fate of Christians in the Middle East.

Rasche is legal counsel to the Chaldean Catholic Archdiocese of Erbil and Vice Chancellor of International Affairs for the Catholic University in Erbil. In his work in Iraq during the years of the ISIS war of 2014-2018, Rasche held direct responsibility for the Church’s humanitarian and resettlement programs for the families of displaced Christians and persecuted minorities in Northern Iraq and was a founding member of the Nineveh Reconstruction Committee.

He is an official representative to the Vatican Dicastery on Refugees and Migrants and also serves as official member to the Historical Commission to the Vatican Postulator in the cause of Fr. Ragheed Ganni and three murdered Iraqi Deacons.

Archbishop Bashar M. Warda


Archbishop Bashar M. Warda, CSsR is the Chaldean Catholic Archbishop of Erbil in the Kurdistan Region of Northern Iraq. He joined Saint Peter’s Seminary in Baghdad and was ordained a priest in 1993 after which he joined the Redemptorist Order of Flanders. In 2009, he was elected as Archbishop of the Archeparchy of Erbil at the Synod of Bishops of the Chaldean Catholic Church. He was consecrated on July 3, 2010 after receiving the consent of Pope Benedict XVI.

As a leading international voice for the persecuted Christians and minorities of Northern Iraq, the Archbishop’s responsibilities extend far beyond his normal peacetime pastoral duties. As de facto chief administrator for the displaced Christians of Mosul and Nineveh Plain during the ISIS war, as well as the pastoral leader of his existing Archdiocese, his work over the past six years has included oversight over food, housing, education, medical and pastoral care for nearly 20,000 threatened Christian families.

Since the ISIS invasion of Mosul and Nineveh in 2014, the Archbishop has emerged as a global spokesman for the remaining Christians of Iraq. He regularly appears in broadcasts and interviews in major news outlets throughout the world. In December 2019, he spoke to a global audience at the UN Security Council on behalf of Iraqis of all faiths in seeking government reform, directly challenging the Iraqi government to end corruption and the accompanying violence of religious factions.

In 2011, the Archbishop founded the Mar Qardakh School in Erbil, which received its International Baccalaureate accreditation in 2015. In 2012, he initiated the founding plan for the Catholic University in Erbil, which held its inaugural opening in November 2015.

This year, he opened the Maryamana Hospital in Erbil. The hospital brings full service modern hospital facilities to the greater Erbil region and provides an anchor institution for the remaining Christian population there.

Watch "Christians in the Mirror" on Amazon Prime


The Basilica of Saint Mary hosted a screening of the documentary Christians in the Mirror to open our conference. You can view the film on Amazon Prime here.

Full Video of the Conference

The Basilica of Saint Mary live streamed the conference on our Vimeo video page. We will continue posting individual video and podcast recordings from the talks in the coming days.

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