Pope decries violence against immigrants and Christians


After the Angelus on Sunday, Pope Benedict XVI called for respect between those of different religions or places of origin. The papal appeal comes in obvious relation to recent atrocities committed against Coptic Christians in Egypt and the continued “revolt” being led by immigrant workers in southern Italy in the last week.

Although he didn't specifically name an instance, the Pope said, "Two facts have drawn my attention in particular in recent days: the case of the condition of migrants seeking a better life in countries that, for various reasons, need their presence, and conflict situations in various parts of the world where Christians are under violent attack."

Protests turned violent recently in the Italian region of Calabria as immigrant workers spoke out against exploitation and poor working conditions on citrus plantations in the city of Rosorna.  After clashes with locals and subsequent police intervention, hundreds of the immigrant workers were evacuated to other cities where they've been taken in to shelters run by Catholic organizations, reported the Catholic newspaper L'Avvenire.

The Pontiff exclaimed that solutions are needed, "We must get to the heart of the problem!  We must go back to the meaning of the person!"

The Pope defended the immigrant, saying he or she "is a human being, different in origin, culture, and traditions, but a person to be respected with rights and duties, particularly in the workplace, where the temptation to exploitation is easy... ."

Denoting the problem as primarily human, Benedict XVI challenged, "I ask you to look at the face of the other and discover that he has a soul, a history and a life and that God loves him as he loves me."

The Holy Father also extended his thoughts to anti-Christian violence, saying, “I want to make similar considerations regarding man in his religious diversity. The recent violence against Christians in some countries has aroused the indignation of many, not least because it has been reported in the most sacred days of the Christian tradition.

"Institutions, both political and religious, must not ... deny their responsibilities. There can be no violence in the name of God, nor can we think of honoring Him by offending the dignity and the freedom of others.”

Among other occasions of violence against Christians in the last month, the most recent and gruesome attack was the drive-by killing of Coptic Christians in Egypt as they were leaving Christmas Eve Mass on the night of Jan. 6. Malaysia has also been enveloped in a series of petrol bombings against Christian churches of various denominations. The attacks are related to a court case on the use of “Allah” in a Malay-language Catholic newspaper to refer to God, in keeping with a longstanding tradition.

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