Pope calls on world leaders to protect Christians

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Vatican City, Jan 11 (IANS/AKI) Pope Benedict XVI has called on world leaders to step up efforts to shield Christians from discrimination and violence.

In his annual message for World Day of Peace to the diplomatic corp accredited to the Holy See Monday, he said countries must guarantee “religious freedom as the fundamental path to peace”.

“Peace is built and preserved only when human beings can freely seek and serve god in their hearts, in their lives and in their relationships with others,” Benedict said in his address.

Citing recent violence in Iraq, Nigeria and Egypt, he said governments must implement measures to protect those countries’ Christians.

The pontiff lashed out against a blasphemy law in Pakistan which can sentence to death anybody found guilty of insulting Islam, and spoke in favour of Catholics in China where there are pastors “who are experiencing a time of difficulty and trial”.

“In a number of countries…a constitutionally recognised right to religious freedom exists, yet the life of religious communities is in fact made difficult and at times even dangerous because the legal or social order is inspired by philosophical and political systems which call for strict control, if not a monopoly, of the state over society,” he said.


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