Vatican City, Jan 9, 2012 / 11:42 am
Pope Benedict XVI stressed the plight of persecuted Christians and other religious minorities in his annual address to Vatican-accredited diplomats on Jan. 9.
“In many countries Christians are deprived of fundamental rights and sidelined from public life; in other countries they endure violent attacks against their churches and their homes,” the Pope reminded the 179 diplomats accredited to the Holy See from around the world, who were gathered at the Apostolic Palace.
In his speech, Pope Benedict paid tribute to the slain Pakistani Minister Shahbaz Bhatti, a Catholic “whose untiring battle for the rights of minorities ended in his tragic death” in March 2011. But in bringing up Bhatti's murder, the Pope said he was “not speaking of an isolated case.”
“In the past year religiously motivated terrorism has also reaped numerous victims, especially in Asia and in Africa,” he recalled, before stating that religion “cannot be employed as a pretext for setting aside the rules of justice and of law for the sake of the intended 'good.'”