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Persecution

Egypt Recalls Vatican Ambassador…Really

The deadly New Year’s bombing at the Coptic church in Alexandria sparks clashes between angry Christians and Egyptian riot police. (Reuters / January 1, 2011)

File this under “you’ve got to be kidding me”.  Here’s what has transpired:

Bombing in Egypt
On New Years Eve a car bomb detonated as Coptic Christians were leaving Mass in the East Alexandrian Coptic Church of All Saints.  21 worshipers were killed along with 79 injured, the latest victims in an uptick  of growing anti-Christian violence throughout the world.

Pope Benedict Responds
The following day at the Noon Angelus in St. Peter’s Square, Pope Benedict said the following:

“This vile and murderous gesture, like that of placing bombs near the houses of Christians in Iraq to force them to leave, offends God and all humankind, which only yesterday prayed for peace and began a new year with hope. In the face of these strategies of violence, which aim against Christians but have consequences on the entire population, I pray for the victims and their relatives, and encourage ecclesial communities to persevere in the faith and in the witness of non-violence which comes to us from the Gospel. I think also of the many pastoral workers killed in various parts of the world in the course of 2010. For them too we equally express our affectionate remembrance before the Lord. Let us remain united in Christ, our hope and our peace!”

Egyptian Imam Accuses Pope of Meddling in Egypt’s Affairs
Ahmed el Tayeb, the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, the oldest Islamic seat of learning, told reporters the Pope’s comments were “an unacceptable interference in Egypt’s affairs…I disagree with the pope’s view, and I ask why did the pope not call for the protection of Muslims when they were subjected to killings in Iraq?”

Pope’s Spokesman Reiterates Commitment to Religious Liberty for All
Jesuit Fr. Lombard said:

Pope Benedict XVI’s position is very clear, and always has been: a radical condemnation of violence, closeness to the community that has been so horribly stricken, and concern for the religious freedom of Christian minorities. As he said in his Peace Day Message, the Pope’s concern for the religious freedom of Christians has always been within the context of his concern for the religious freedom of all people, not only Christians.

Time and again, the Pope has condemned violence against all people – not only that, which is perpetrated against Christians. We recall his recent discourse to the new Ambassador to the Holy See from Iraq, in which the Holy Father spoke of the innocent victims of violence, both Muslim and Christian.

Pope Addresses Holy See Diplomats in  “State of the World” Speech
Each year the pope issues an important foreign policy speech to the Diplomatic Core.  This year he eloquently spoke about religious freedom and directed comments to governments of countries where religious persecution seems to be on the rise.

Looking to the East, the attacks which brought death, grief and dismay among the Christians of Iraq, even to the point of inducing them to leave the land where their families have lived for centuries, has troubled us deeply. To the authorities of that country and to the Muslim religious leaders I renew my heartfelt appeal that their Christian fellow-citizens be able to live in security, continuing to contribute to the society in which they are fully members. In Egypt too, in Alexandria, terrorism brutally struck Christians as they prayed in church. This succession of attacks is yet another sign of the urgent need for the governments of the region to adopt, in spite of difficulties and dangers, effective measures for the protection of religious minorities. Need we repeat it?

Egypt Recalls Vatican Ambassador
“Egypt asked its ambassador in the Vatican to come to Cairo for consultation after the Vatican’s new statements that touch on Egyptian affairs, and which Egypt considers an unacceptable interference in its internal affairs,” foreign ministry spokesman Hossam Zaki said in a statement.