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Pope Condemns Violence Against Christians, Immigrants
Carol Glatz
Source: Catholic News Service
Published: Tuesday, January 12, 2010
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VATICAN CITY (CNS)—Pope Benedict XVI condemned the use of violence, especially when the name of God is used to justify aggression against others.

"Violence against Christians in some countries has provoked the indignation of many people," especially because the recent hostility has been perpetrated during "the most sacred days" of the Christmas season, he said after his Angelus address to pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square Jan. 10.

Though the pope did not specify which countries he was referring to, Christians have recently been targeted in Egypt, Malaysia and Iraq.

Seven people died in a drive-by shooting in the southern Egyptian town of Nag Hammadi as they were leaving the Virgin Mary Church after Christmas Eve services Jan. 6.

Homes and shops were set on fire in nearby villages a few days later by Christians and Muslims. Interreligious tensions have been high since a Christian man was accused of raping a Muslim girl in November.

In Malaysia six churches have been firebombed since a court ruled that the word "Allah" can be used by non-Muslims as a term for God. The word for God is "Allah" in both Malay and Arabic, though some in the predominantly Muslim country of Malaysia said the word should be exclusive to Islam.

In Iraq, where a Christian church in Mosul was targeted in late November, another church was bombed Dec. 23.

After praying the Angelus at noon, Pope Benedict emphasized that political and religious leaders "must not shirk their responsibilities" when it comes to confronting violence against fellow citizens.

"There can be no violence in the name of God, nor can one think of honoring him by offending the dignity and freedom of other people," he said.

The pope also condemned the poor living conditions, exploitation and violence immigrants are subjected to.

"An immigrant is a human being, who is different only because of country of origin, culture and traditions, but he or she is a person to be respected and is someone who has rights and duties," he said.

He said people are often tempted to exploit immigrants in the work world and in how they are forced to live.

"Violence must never be the way to resolve difficulties," he added.

Dozens of people have been injured following violent clashes in the southern Calabrian town of Rosarno. Some local residents attacked immigrants with iron bars, gunfire and cars in the violence.

Hundreds of immigrants took to the streets after two foreigners were attacked Jan. 7.

The pope said lying at the heart of the problem of violence against immigrants and religious minorities is the lack of respect for the human person.

"I ask you to look at other people's faces and discover that they have a soul, a history and a life; they are a person and God loves them just as he loves me," he said.

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