.- Following Mass in St Peter’s Basilica that concluded the Bishops’ Synod, Pope Benedict XVI on Sunday defended Christians in Iraq and India who are “victims of intolerance and violence.”
Greeting the thousands of faithful present in St. Peter’s Square, the Holy Father noted that the synodal assembly is a clear example of ecclesial communion because the Word of God, that is the person of Christ, is the center of attention. According to the meaning of the word “church,” the Pope expounded, “We experienced the joy of being gathered around the Word.”
The Holy Father joined an appeal by the Patriarchs of the Oriental Churches calling the attention of the international community, of religious leaders and of all men and women of good will to the tragedy of Christians in Iraq and India. He said, “There, Christians are victims of intolerance and violence, are killed, threatened and forced to abandon their homes and wander in search of refuge.”
The Pope expressed his hope that over the course of centuries of peaceful coexistence, the people of Iraq and India appreciated the contribution that the “small, yet active” Christian minorities made to their shared native land. He recalled that Christians do not demand privileges, but desire only to live in their countries, together with their fellow citizens.
Addressing civil and religious authorities, Pope Benedict asked them to make every effort to restore immediately civil coexistence. He continued to explain that “honest and loyal citizens” should be able to count on “adequate protection” by the State. Civil and religious authorities should make “significant and explicit gestures” out of friendship and consideration toward minorities, Christian or otherwise, defending “their legitimate rights.”
Pope Benedict concluded his remarks by announcing his trip to Africa and entrusting the sufferings of Christians in Iraq and India and all personal intentions, including the Synod for Africa, to the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary.