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Synod focus on rights of Christians in Middle East

Catholic World News - October 15, 2010

The rights of Christian minorities in the Middle East, and especially in Iraq, were in focus as the Synod of Bishops continued its discussions in plenary sessions on October 14 and 15.

“Churches and minority religions in the Middle East must not be subject to discrimination, violence, defamatory propaganda (anti-Christian), or the denial of permits for building places of worship or for organizing public functions,” insisted Cardinal Peter Kodwo Turkson, the president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace. He suggested that in protecting religions from defamation, the UN “should not limit itself to Islam (Islamophobia) in the Western world. It should include Christianity ... in the Islamic world.”

Father Raymond Moussalli, the vicar general of the Chaldean Catholic Patriarchate of Babylon, reminded the assembly that in Iraq the ancient Chaldean Church is the object of a “deliberate campaign to drive Christians out of the country.” The Chaldean identity cannot easily be separated from the nation, he said. “We are a part of the history and culture of this Middle Eastern region, and if we were forced to abandon it we would lose our identity within a generation.”

Marco Impaglilazzo, the president of the Sant’Egidio community, argued: “It is in the interest of Muslim societies that Christian communities should remain lively and active in the Middle Eastern world.” He explained: “Without them, Islam would be more isolated and fundamentalist. Christians represent a form of resistance to an Islamisizing totalitarianism.”

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