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Jerusalem patriarch calls upon Mideast nations to recognize right to convert

Catholic World News - September 20, 2013

The Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem has called upon the nations of the Middle East to recognize the right to change religions in their constitutions.

Recounting a recent interreligious dialogue meeting organized by the king of Jordan, Patriarch Fouad Twal told Vatican Radio that “we [bishops] spoke so frankly that they were a little bit disturbed … One of these arguments that we touched publicly without any fear was this feeling whether we are equal or not equal.”

“We want to see this equality with … freedom to reach the mass media,” he added. “To have access to the television, to the radio, as the others. We want to feel this citizenship [by exercising] our right to freedom of conscience. Conversion to Islam or conversion to Christianity.”

“The Patriarch says the bishops want to see these rights enshrined in the constitutions of each country,” Vatican Radio reported.

Patriarch Twal also said that talk of attacks on Syria abated after Pope Francis’s September 7 day of prayer for peace.

“Before the prayer big politicians were choosing which kind of war: short war, long war,” he said. “After the prayer, they [began] looking for a diplomatic solution and they didn’t speak about war. That doesn’t mean that we must stop” praying, he added.

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