06/25/2010, 00.00
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Pope: peace in the Middle East grows out of respect for human rights and religious freedom

Receiving the assembly of Roaco, Benedict XVI renewed his appeal to the leaders of nations to fight all forms of discrimination "in a concrete way". Christians in the region must seek, despite violence and difficulties, to remain "where they are born."

Vatican City (AsiaNews) - Respect for religious freedom and the rights of individual, families and communities can bring peace and justice to the Holy Land and throughout the Middle East. Benedict XVI repeated this today as he also renewed his appeal for Christians in the region, to whom he expressed his solidarity, asking them to stay "where they were born” and not to forget their origins, religious and cultural.  He also asked the leaders of nations fight "in a concrete way" all forms of discrimination.

The Pope returned to the subject of the Middle East this morning in his address to participants at the assembly of the "Reunion of Aid Agencies for Eastern Churches” (ROACO).

"All of us - said Benedict XVI - desire the gift of stable peace and secure coexistence in the Holy Land, in Iraq and in the Middle East. This will arise through respecting human rights, families, communities and peoples, and through overcoming religious, cultural and social discrimination. I entrust to God, but also to you, the call I launched for the Christian East from Cyprus. As instruments of ecclesial charity, may you continue to collaborate to build more justice in freedom and peace! "

"I encourage - he continued - brothers and sisters in the East, to share the priceless gift of Baptism to persevere in faith, and despite the many sacrifices to remain where they were born. At the same time, I urge migrants from the East not forget their origins, especially their religious origins. Their loyalty and human and Christian coherency depends on this. I would like to pay special tribute to Christians who suffer violence because of the Gospel, and I commend them to the Lord. I am still counting on the Leaders of Nations to concretely guarantee, everywhere and without distinction, the public and common profession of the religious belief of each individual".

Benedict XVI then spoke of "abundant fruits of holiness" brought by the Year for Priests, that has just concluded, "not only among the priests, but all the people of God." "We implore the Holy Spirit - he said then - to confirm these signs of divine favour through the gift of vocations, which the ecclesial community, both in the West and East, badly needs”.

In the eyes of the Church on the Middle East, Benedict XVI said is "the common commitment to prepare the special assembly for the Middle East of the Synod of Bishops." Thanking ROACO for all it has done and will do for the success of the meeting. "I ask you - he concluded - to contribute your works to keep alive the 'hope that never disappoints' among Eastern Christians (Rom 5:5; see Instrumentum laboris, Conclusions). In the "little flock" (Luke 12:32) that they comprise, God’s future is already at work, and the "narrow path" that they are taking is described in the Gospel as "the path of life" (Mt 7:13-14).  May we always be by their side!  

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