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  • » 08/01/2009, 00.00

    VATICAN

    Pope calls for prayers for refugees and persecuted Christians



    This is Benedict XVI’s prayer intention for the month of August. The pope hopes that " public opinion more is informed by the problem of millions of displaced persons and refugees" and calls for "equality" and "religious freedom" for "those Christians who are discriminated against and persecuted in many countries in the name of Christ" .

    Vatican City (AsiaNews) - The Pope calls on Catholics worldwide to pray for refugees and persecuted Christians. In his prayer intentions for August, Benedict XVI invites the faithful to invoke the Lord "so that public opinion may be more aware of the problem of millions of displaced persons and refugees and find solutions to their often tragic situation."  

    Along with concern for the refugees, the Pope also recalled "those Christians who are discriminated against and persecuted in many countries because of the name of Christ" and invites us to pray so that "human rights, equality and religious freedom are recognized so that they can live and profess their faith freely.”   According to recent statistics, about 42 million refugees are living around the world. Most of them come from so-called developing countries. 2009 saw 700 thousand cases less than in 2008, but also the emergence of new emergencies.

    Asia significantly reflects the extension of the phenomenon. Almost every country in the continent has to deal with displaced persons and so-called internally displaced persons (IDPs). There are persistent situations such as those of the Philippines, where the ten-year war in Mindanao with the Muslim separatists MILF has caused more than 200 thousand refugees. Added to these are new areas such as Pakistan and Sri Lanka. At the end of the conflict between the Tamil Tigers and the military, there were 300 thousand IDPs. In May,  Pakistan registered a mass exodus, with 834 thousand civilians abandoning their homes in the Swat valley to escape the Taliban.

    War is the main cause of the 42 million refugees worldwide. And very often conflicts and violence are rooted in hatred against religion. Even in this tragic combination Asia offers dramatic examples. The end of August marks the one year anniversary since the anti-Christian pogrom of Orissa, when rampaging Hindu fundamentalists caused thousands of refugees and hundreds of deaths. In the Pakistanis districts of North-West Frontier Provincethe violence of the Taliban and imposition of Sharia have forced the non-Muslim minorities to flee.

    Asia also registers numerous cases of discrimination on the basis of religion. Currently, out of over 52 Asian countries, at least 32 to some degree limit the mission of Christians: Islamic nations (from the Middle East to Pakistan, Indonesia, Malaysia) make it difficult for those who want to convert; India and Sri Lanka are increasingly pushing for anti-conversion laws; the Central Asian countries - excluding to some extent Kazakhstan - restrict religious freedom, the communist countries (China, Laos, Vietnam, North Korea) stifle or even persecute the Church. Often religious discrimination does not result in open conflict, but remains a latent phenomenon that permeates society and only emerges from time to time in open cruelty. One of the most recent cases is that of Vietnam where in recent days priests and faithful of the diocese of Vinh are suffering violence and arrests.
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    See also

    27/02/2009 INDIA - VATICAN
    Kashmir: Young converts from Islam pray for Benedict XVI
    After a group of Muslims from North Africa and the Middle East, young converts from Kashmir join in the prayers for the pope launched by AsiaNews for this Lent. The three converts are offering their suffering and marginalization, together with the sacrifice of their father Bashir, murdered by Muslim extremists because he had converted to Christianity. There is also participation from Italy, where the humiliations suffered by John Paul II are also being remembered.

    01/10/2009 VATICAN - PAKISTAN
    Zardari promises Pope to overcome discrimination caused by religion
    The "need" to promote respect for the rights of all citizens in talks between the President and Benedict XVI. In Islamabad, meanwhile, it is announced that Christian organizations in the country have called for a national conference on October 24 to demand the abolition of the blasphemy law.

    02/10/2008 VATICAN
    Fight terrorism and fundamentalism without limiting religious freedom, says Pope
    Benedict XVI receives Central Asian bishops, urges them to follow the example of early Christian communities. They may have been small but they were not inward-looking. The Church “excludes any form of proselytism that forces, allures or entices people by trickery to embrace it.”

    23/05/2011 VATICAN - CHINA
    Sheshan: Beijing’s war and the Pope’s “battle”
    Every year, the Sheshan shrine is transformed into a battlefield: police, checkpoints, cameras, metal detectors, to crush the pope's appeal for the unity of the Church in China, on the World day of prayer for Chinese Catholics. Labour camps,, arrests, bans fail to stop prayer, even in prisons. Attempts to divide the Church and our solidarity.

    08/01/2007 VATICAN - CHINA
    Card. Zen: “No openings for religious freedom in China”
    Speaking to AsiaNews about the address of Benedict XVI to the diplomatic corps, the bishop of Hong Kong said the pope expressed “the desire for religious freedom, a good that should not be feared.” Commenting on the pope’s angelus address on 26 December, Cardinal Zen recalled the pope’s nearness to the suffering of the unofficial church and stressed that martyrdom is a glorious act laden with meaning.



    Editor's choices

    EGYPT – LEBANON
    Muslims and Christians meet in Cairo for Jerusalem, 'the cause of causes'

    Fady Noun

    A conference was held on 16-17 January at al-Azhar. Many prominent figures from Lebanon took part, including the Maronite Patriarch Bechara Al-Rahi. The Arab world is divided between "complicit passivity" and "noisy but ineffective speeches". For a former Lebanese premier, coordinated actions are needed to ensure greater efficacy on behalf of Jerusalem’s "pluralistic identity " and "religious freedom". Card Al-Rahi called for joint prayers, Islamic-Christian interfaith solidarity in the Arab world, and support for the Palestinians.


    CHINA
    Yunnan: Christians accused of membership in an apocalyptic sect get up to 13 years in prison



    The Three Grades of Servants cult, an underground pseudo-Protestant sect founded in Henan, is especially strong in the countryside. Those convicted claim they are just ordinary Christians and know nothing about the sect. Defense lawyers have been threatened with loss of their license to practice.


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