06/21/2007, 00.00
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Pope: martyrdom of Christians in the Middle East, where peace is offended

Benedict XVI renews his condolences for the murder in Iraq of Father Ragheed Ganni and his three sub deacons and remembers those families forced to flee under threats of death and violence. An appeal to political leaders to free peace from discrimination, be it religious, cultural historic or geographical.

Vatican City (AsiaNews) – The “weakness of peace”, longed for in the Middle East, is being further eroded by new and old injustices and by the “deadly disease” of discrimination, which gives way to violence, a violence that is targeting the regions Christians particularly those in Iraq.  Remembering Fr. Ragheed Ganni and his three sub deacons murdered June 3 last in Mosul, Benedict XVI today spoke of the “authentic martyrdom in the name of Jesus Christ” of Iraq’s Christians and assured the prayers and action of the Holy See and of all of the Church for the Holy Land, Iraq and Lebanon.   

The Pope returned today to express his “sorrow and concern for the delicate situation of vast areas of the Middle East” receiving members of the Reunion for the Aid to Oriental Churches (Roaco). The Pope also spoke of the tragic reality of Iraq with the Patriarch of the Assyrian Church of the East Mar Dinkha IV who he also received today. Peace, so longed for - he said – is unfortunately still being offended.  It is offended in the hearts of the individual, which compromises interpersonal and inter community relations.  The weakness of peace is being further undermined by old and new injustices.  Thus it is quashed, leaving space to violence, which often degenerates into war more or less openly declared, which constitutes, as we see in these days, a grave international problem”.  For peace the Pope invited Christians and the faithful of other religions to “knock on the door to God’s heart”.  “I am knocking – he continued – on the door to the hearts of all of those who have specific responsibility so that they adhere to the very serious duty of guaranteeing peace for all, without distinction, freeing them from the deadly disease of discrimination, be it religious, cultural, historic or geographic”.

Assuring the spiritual closeness of Catholics to their suffering brothers, Benedict XVI turned to the Chaldean Catholic Emanuel Delly to renew “the Pope’s condolences for the barbarous murder of an innocent priest and his three sub deacons which took place at the end of Sunday mass on June 3 last in Iraq.  The entire Church accompanies all of its sons and daughters with affection and admiration and it supports them in this the hour of an authentic martyrdom for the name of Jesus Christ”.  Earlier he had told Patriarch Mar Dinkha “Christian families and communities are feeling increasing pressure from insecurity, aggression and a sense of abandonment.  Many of them see no other possibility than to leave the country and to seek a new future abroad.  These difficulties are a source of great concern to me, and I wish to express my solidarity with the pastors and the faithful of the Christian communities who remain there, often at the price of heroic sacrifices”.

In conclusion the Pope dwelt on the specific role of Roaco, to co-ordinate the catholic faithful’s aid to the Church in the area, where many different faiths live together.  This gave him the occasion to reaffirm “the Churches irreversible commitment to ecumenical efforts and its firm belief in the imperative of inter-religious dialogue”.  The Pope added that “it is only through acts of ecclesial charity that true dialogue may take place and as yet un-hoped for paths to unity may be opened”.  While – concluded the Pope – we implore the Lord to hurry the day when there will be full unity between Christians, and the day when there will be a serene coexistence between religions animated by reciprocal respect, we ask Him to bless our efforts and to illuminate us that we may never work to the detriment but only for the increment of the ecclesial community”.

 

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