Silence Over Persecution of Christians Lamented

COLOGNE, Germany, FEB. 2, 2004 ( A German cardinal lamented the state of religious persecution of Christians, especially in Nigeria.

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Cardinal Karl Lehmann made that point during a press conference Thursday when he presented the German bishops’ program «Solidarity with Persecuted and Oppressed Christians.» Cardinal Lehmann is president of the episcopate and bishop of Mainz.

He outlined the problems that Christians face around the world. «The current persecution of Christians is often ignored and sometimes directly suppressed,» he said.

Analyzing Muslim fundamentalism and its fallout, the cardinal focused on the situation of Christians in Nigeria, stressing «that religious conflicts are situated in a larger setting of conflicts, with social, cultural and ethnic roots.»

He identified the country’s policies as a fundamental cause of the present conflicts, and lamented the instrumentalization of religion for political ends.

The purpose of the bishops’ initiative is «to create an opening, to change consciences and the way of perceiving reality,» Cardinal Lehmann said. Moreover, «assistance to all the persecuted and oppressed, regardless of their religion, is an obligation of Christians.»

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