RADIO VATICANA REPORT: “An offense against God and all humanity”, that is how Pope Benedict XVI has described the New Year’s eve bombing of a Coptic Orthodox Church in Alexandria, Egypt, and the ongoing campaign of violence against Christians in Iraq. Speaking to a densely packed St Peter’s Square after the Sunday Angelus prayer, the Pope spoke of his sorrow and pain on hearing news of the latest spate of killings targeting Christians communities.
He said “Yesterday morning we learned with sorrow the news of the serious attack against the Coptic Christian community in Alexandria, Egypt. This vile act of death, such as planting bombs close to the homes of Christians in Iraq to force them to leave, offends God and all humanity, who only yesterday prayed for peace and began the New Year with hope”.
On Saturday, the 44th World Day for Peace, in fact, Pope Benedict had renewed his call for religious freedom as the only path to peace, social stability and coexistence between cultures and peoples.
The Holy Father then appealed for Christians to remember the Gospel teachings of non-violence: “Before this strategy of violence that has targeted Christians, and has consequences for the whole population, I pray for the victims and family members, and encourage church communities to persevere in faith and witness to non-violence that comes from the Gospel”.
Pope Benedict also remembered those religious and lay killed during the course of the past year because of their witness to their faith: “I think also of the many pastoral workers killed in 2010 in various parts of the world to them also goes our loving remembrance before the Lord”.
Once again this year, Fides published its annual report of all the pastoral workers who lost their lives in a violent manner over the course of the last 12 months. According to their information, during 2010, 23 pastoral care workers were killed: one Bishop, 15 priests, one male religious, one religious sister, two seminarians and three lay people.
Again this year the continent most affected is America, with the blood of 15 pastoral care workers: 10 priests, one male religious, one seminarian and three lay people. Following is Asia, with one Bishop, four priests and one religious sister killed. The least affected was Africa, where one priest and one seminarian violently lost their lives.
The Holy Father concluded Sunday by reminding the tens of thousands of pilgrims and visitors to the Square this Sunday, that as Christians “we remain united in Christ, our hope and our peace!”.
“Today we continue to contemplate the divine mystery of Jesus Christ, born in Bethlehem of the Virgin Mary. He is the Word of God made flesh for our salvation, the Wisdom of God who has come to enlighten us. Let us always cherish this presence of Jesus who brings us grace and truth! I wish you all a pleasant Sunday and renew my good wishes for a Happy New Year!”.