printer friendly versionPrint
Pope Condemns Attack on Christians in Egypt

image
A Christian woman mourns on the coffin of Mina Demian during a funeral at Abassaiya Orthodox Cathedral in Cairo 10 Oct. At least 26 people, mostly Christians, were killed 9 Oct. when troops broke up a peaceful protest against an attack on a church in southern Egypt. (photo: CNS/Mohamed Abd El-Ghany, Reuters) 

12 Oct 2011 – by Cindy Wooden

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Condemning an attack on unarmed Christians in Egypt, Pope Benedict XVI said that during the country’s transition to democracy, all of its citizens and institutions must work to guarantee the rights of minorities.

At the end of his weekly general audience Oct. 12, Pope Benedict said he was “profoundly saddened” by the deaths Oct. 9 of at least 26 people, mostly Christians, after peaceful protesters were attacked by gangs, and then a speeding military vehicle ran into them and officers fired on the crowd. Hundreds of people were injured.

The pope said Egypt, which has been transitioning to democracy since the February ousting of President Hosni Mubarak, has been “lacerated by attempts to undermine peaceful coexistence among its communities.”

Safeguarding harmony and cooperation is essential for a future of true democracy, he said.

The pope asked Catholics to pray that Egypt would “enjoy true peace based on justice and respect for the freedom and dignity of every citizen.”

“In addition, I support the efforts of Egyptian civil and religious authorities in favor of a society in which the human rights of all — especially minorities — are respected to the benefit of national unity,” the pope said.

Christians make up about 10 percent of Egypt’s population; 90 percent of its 82 million inhabitants are Muslim.

Comboni Father Luciano Verdoscia, a missionary in Egypt, said that over the past 40 years successive governments have exploited differences between Christians and Muslims in the country, and tensions were increased by money and influence from Islamic groups outside the country.

But Father Verdoscia said Western countries also share some of the blame. “I fear that Western governments are interested in preserving their economic interests at the expense of individual rights. They do not have the ethical strength to denounce discrimination against minorities in Middle Eastern countries,” he told Fides, the Vatican’s missionary news agency.

Father Rafic Greiche, spokesman for the Catholic Church in Egypt, told Vatican Radio a lack of government activity is partly to blame for the rise in violence.

“It all stems from the government’s failure to enact a law that regulates the building of places of worship, be they churches or mosques, which they promised to do months ago,” Father Greiche said. The Christian protesters had been rallying to call for an end to attempts to burn down churches that some critics say are being built illegally.





1 | 2 |


Tags: Egypt Middle East Christians Pope Benedict XVI Coptic Christians