Spokesman Voices SOS for Iraqi Christians

Says Fundamentalists Are Going House by House

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VATICAN CITY, OCT. 26, 2008 (Zenit.org).- A Vatican spokesman is decrying a campaign of persecution against Iraqi Christians, asking Muslims to join in decidedly opposing fundamentalists.

Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Vatican press office, made this appeal on the most recent edition of Vatican Television’s «Octava Dies.»

«Obviously,» he said, «all of the people of Iraq, and not just the Christian communities, suffer the consequences of decades of oppressive regimes, an ominous war and the social and political disorder that has plagued them.»

Nevertheless, Father Lombardi continued, «the ancient Christian communities of the country are now submitted to systematic and intentional pressure, with an impressive series of violent acts and threats.»

The Vatican spokesman noted the case of Mosul, where the situation has worsened in recent weeks.

«Reports from humanitarian organization and independent news agencies reveal that the threats from extremist Muslim groups are promoted street by street and house by house, spreading delirious written notes with messages such as, ‘You should leave your house and this area in 24 hours. If not you will be justly punished and you will be killed, as our Islamic religion orders done with those who, like you, venerate the cross.'»

Father Lombardi affirmed that «it is absolutely necessary that fanatic fundamentalist groups be decidedly opposed.»

«It is necessary for all men of peace, also from the Muslim world, to oppose with strength and clarity this horrible violation of the fundamental rights of the person,» he added. «We hope that the initiatives of dialogue with the Muslim world, along the path opened by John Paul II and continued by Benedict XVI, contribute to affirm ever more decidedly that in the name of God, one cannot kill and hate, but only love and respect every human person.»

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