The Vatican must move ahead with economic and diplomatic initiatives to support Christians in Muslim-majority countries, said the Holy See foreign affairs minister Archbishop Giovanni Lajolo.
The difficult situation in these countries “is making thousands of Christians leave their homeland, where their fundamental rights are not adequately guaranteed,” he said, according to AGI. The bishop named the Holy Land, Turkey and the Middle East as particularly difficult regions.
“It's sad to acknowledge the exodus of Christians from Iraq, where they are a minority, but well-rooted," the bishop said.
The bishop pointed out that it is impossible to give accurate figures of the number of Christians in these countries since these governments do not conduct a census.
However, the Holy See compared UN, U.S., and Vatican figures and concluded that Catholics accounted for 0.1 percent of the population in Iran in 1973. In 2005, that percentage dropped to 0.01.
During that same period, the number of Catholics in Iraq dropped from 2.6 to 1 percent. In Syria, that figure fell from 2.8 to 1.9 percent, and in Israel-Palestine, the percentage decreased from 1.9 to 1 percent.