Church leaders concerned about Iran's Christians

.- A Swiss Catholic Church delegation who recently returned from a week-long visit to Iran and says that Christians do not enjoy religious freedom in the Islamic country.

The 10-member delegation, led by Bishop Pierre Bürcher, auxiliary bishop of Lausanne, Geneva, Fribourg and Neuchâtel, found that Christian minorities in Iran were free to practice their religion but only within their own communities. They cannot speak about their faith outside their community.

As a result most Iranians knew little of Christianity and other religions, added Galgano.

The visit by members of the Swiss Bishops Conference's Islam Committee followed an invitation from Iran's Islamic Culture and Relations Organization, which had visited Switzerland in September.

During this current visit, the political crisis over Iran's nuclear aspirations, the controversy over the Mohammed caricatures, and the West’s perceptions of Iran were discussed. Iranians shared their desire for peace. As well as meeting Christian minorities in Iran, the Swiss delegation also visited Muslim holy sites.

There are 110,000 Christians among Iran’s 70 million people. A book containing speeches from the visits is to be published in Farsi and English, and distributed in Iran.

In another effort to further dialogue, Bishop Bürcher is attending the "Doha Trialogue" in Qatar this week between Middle Eastern Christians, Jews and Muslims.


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