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The blood of the faithful

The massacre in Alexandria — which targeted the Orthodox Coptic faithful in the Egyptian city as they emerged from a liturgical celebration — met with coverage in the media across the world at the end of a year punctuated by violence and attacks against Christians.

Once again Benedict XVI raised his voice to denounce “this despicable act of death, like the present trend of setting bombs close to the homes of Christians in Iraq to force them to leave”. Mincing no words he condemned a “strategy of violence that is targeting Christians has consequences on the entire population”.

This time the anti-Christian attacks — that are increasing in various parts of the world — seem to have attracted the attention of the international media which, in general, is not particularly sensitive to such issues. In fact, for at least three years, important representatives of the Holy See and the Catholic Church have been sounding the alarm in the face of Christianophobia.

This situation that is unfortunately spreading is alarming and must be fought at least as much as Islamophobia and anti-Semitism, as Archbishop Dominique Mamberti emphasized on 10 January 2008 in a lecture he gave in Rome.

“Christians are the religious group which suffers most from persecution on account of its faith”, the Pope wrote in his Message for the World Day of Peace, but even this did not get much coverage in the media.

So it was that the lucid analysis of Benedict XVI that focuses on fundamentalism and secularism — described as the “extreme forms of a rejection of legitimate pluralism and the principle of secularity” — and he recalls the Conciliar Declaration Dignitatis Humanae on religious freedom when he stresses that it is “the condition for the pursuit of truth, and truth does not impose itself by violence but ‘by the force of its own truth’”. In spite of contrary representations, encouraged precisely, by secularism, which identify religion with obscurantism and intolerance.

In his Message the Pope underlines that “in a particular way, in Asia and in Africa, the chief victims are the members of religious minorities, who are prevented from freely professing or changing their religion”.

With regard to the forms of violence that use religion as a pretext to massacre the faithful the Holy See and Benedict XVI have raised their voices many times and made no distinction as to whether the victims were Muslims or Christians.

In his Discourse for the exchange of Christmas Greetings with the Roman Curia on 20 December, the Pope returned to these dreadful and unacceptable “acts of violence in which there is no longer any respect for what the other holds sacred, in which on the contrary the most elementary rules of humanity collapse”.

Mentioning the celebration of the Synod of the Churches of the Middle East, Benedict XVI recalled the wise words of the Counsellor of the Mufti of Lebanon who said: “‘when Christians are wounded, we ourselves are wounded’. Unfortunately, though, this and similar voices of reason, for which we are profoundly grateful”, the Pope added, “are too weak. Here too we come up against an unholy alliance between greed for profit and ideological blindness”.

Many reasonable voices were raised in solidarity in various parts of the world after the massacre in Alexandria of Muslims, Jews and Christians and this is a sign of hope. Which justified the words of Benedict XVI and his tenacious determination as regards coexistence: “The human being is one, and humanity is one. Whatever damage is done to another in any one place, ends up by damaging everyone”. Because to shed the blood of the faithful, of any believer and of any human creature, offends God.

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St. Peter’s Square

Nov. 13, 2019

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