(Sir Europe – Bratislava) "We are shocked by the brutality to which Christians are being exposed by radical Islamic fundamentalists. We appeal to the Government of the Slovak Republic to make the care for persecuted people its foreign political priority", reads a statement from the Bishops’ Conference of Slovakia published at the end of its plenary session this week. The prelates wrote about the "insufficient efforts" of the European nations and institutions that are causing an "exacerbation of the humanitarian crisis" and are putting pressure on Christians to leave the areas where they have lived for two thousand years. The Bishops’ Conference, in cooperation with Caritas Slovakia, has announced a collection to support persecuted Christians and "relieve the suffering of our brothers and sisters in faith". The collection will take place on Palm Sunday (29 March) in all Catholic churches of the country. "May our concrete help and prayers contribute to ending the spiral of violence. These tragic events confirm that respect for religious freedom represents a basic condition for the development of every society", the letter concludes. In the past days, the official portal of the Catholic Church in Slovakia (www.kbs.sk) has published prayers for the victims of violence in the Middle East and Ukraine, so that all faithful can pray for "the gift of conversion of people’s hearts, the rule of justice and reconciliation".