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Pope's words encourage struggling Christians: Iraqi archbishop

Catholic World News - January 11, 2011

By strong emphasizing religious freedom in his message for the World Day of Peace and his address to the Vatican diplomatic corps, Pope Benedict XVI has provided welcome encouragement to embattled Christians in the Middle East, said Archbishop Louis Sako of Kirkuk, Iraq.

“The most important issue for our region, the Middle East, is religious freedom,” said the Chaldean Catholic archbishop. That freedom is endangered, he said, by “religious fanaticism.”

The Pope’s argument for the importance of religious freedom should be readily easy for Islamic rulers to grasp, the Iraqi archbishop said. He explained:

The nations of the Middle East are governed in one way or another, by theocracies. These countries should understand more so than nations that have a secular government, the value of freedom of religion affects every relationship and all activities.

Archbishop Sako said that targeted violence “have sown death, pain, and confusion among Christians” in Iraq, prompting thousands “to leave the land where their ancestors have lived for centuries.” The same sad phenomenon is now visible in Egypt, he said.

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  • Posted by: wolfdavef3415 - Jan. 12, 2011 3:52 AM ET USA

    How precious did that grace appear; the hour I first believed.

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