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Pope Benedict XVI says Christians are the religious group that suffers most from persecution.
He expresses his worry in the Vatican's annual World Peace Day message for the new year. He laments that this year was again marked by "terrible acts of violence and religious intolerance."
Benedict said he is especially thinking of Christians in Iraq, where an attack on a Catholic cathedral in Baghdad in October killed two priests and more than 50 other faithful.
Benedict also decries what he calls "sophisticated forms of hostility to religion," including rejection of religious symbol
That's all well and good but, the Church allowed the inquisition, which killed many.
On Sunday, October 31, when a group of militants seized a church in Baghdad, killing and wounding scores of Iraqi Christians, it signaled yet another episode of unimaginable horror in the country since the US invasion of March 2003. Every group of Iraqis has faced terrible devastation as a result of this war, the magnitude of which is only now beginning to be discovered.
True, the situation in Iraq was difficult prior to the war. Having visited the country in 1999, I can testify to this. But the hardship suffered by many Iraqis, especially political dissidents, was in some way typical characteristic of authoritarian and dictatorial regimes. Iraq could, at that time, be easily contrasted with other countries living under similar hardships. But what has happened since the war can barely be compared to any other country or any other wars since World War II. Even putting aside the devastating death toll, the sheer scale of internal displacement and forced emigration is terrifying. This is a nation that had more or less maintained a consistent level of demographic cohesion for many generations. It was this cohesion that made Iraq what it was.
Iraqi Christians communities had co-existed alongside their Muslim neighbors for hundreds of years. The churches of the two main Christian groups, the Assyrians and Chaldeans are dated back to the years A.D. 33 and 34 respectively. A recent editorial in an Arab newspaper was entitled “Arab Christians should feel at home.” As moving as the article was, the fact is, the fact remains that Arab Christians should not have to feel at home – they already are at home. Their roots dates back to the days of Jesus Christ, and since then they have maintained a unique identity and proud history under the most difficult of circumstances.
Before leaving her country she described her experiences in Iraq as a member of a minority that dates back to the earliest days of Christianity.
I will miss Iraq. I was born here. My family comes from the north of the country, which isn’t like the rest of Iraq. Dohuk and Sulaimaniya, where most of the population is Kurdish and Christian, are like the Geneva of the Middle East. They are much more peaceful, they have everything that you want and the scenery is beautiful, with mountains and lakes. That I will miss very much, because I always missed going there. Especially at Christmas time.
But I will not miss them enough to pass up this adventure. I have always wanted to study in an American university. Somewhere I don’t have to beg and grovel to get a book out of a college, or where you can’t go to the library because it doesn’t have electricity.
I won’t miss Baghdad or my neighborhood. I hate my neighborhood. As Christians we kept to ourselves mostly after 2003, except for a very, very few liberal neighbors.
Just a few days ago I was beside a mosque. I could hear the preacher saying “It is your duty as a Muslim neighbor to show your other non-Muslim neighbors the light, you have to show them the right path.” This is just “in your face” offensive. They are taking it for granted that there won’t be any comeback, that we Christians
are harmless. Which we are most of the time. But that doesn’t mean we aren’t offended.
VATICAN CITY -- Pope Benedict XVI singled out Christians as the religious group that suffers from the most persecution on Thursday, denouncing lack of freedom of worship as an "intolerable" threat to world security.