Call to Peace Launched for Christians in East

Pope’s Secretary of State Signs Statement

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VATICAN CITY, OCT. 27, 2008 ( Representatives of Christians in the East who were attending the synod of bishops have launched a “call to peace,” which Benedict XVI seconded.

The statement particularly calls to mind the anti-Christian persecution and difficult situations being lived by Catholics in the Holy Land, Iraq, Lebanon and India.

The signatories, including the Pope’s secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, wrote: “We tremble in our hearts at the suffering of so many of our sons and daughters in the East: children and youth, people in extreme difficulty because of age, health and the want of spiritual and material basic necessities, [and] families that feel more and more the temptation to discouragement regarding the present and the future.

“And we feel the duty to give a voice to their justified expectations so that a dignified life in a fruitful social coexistence is soon guaranteed.”

The Holy Father mentioned the statement during an address Sunday before praying the midday Angelus with crowds gathered in St. Peter’s Square. He said he made his own the appeal for peace for Christians of the East, saying, “They do not ask for privileges, but only want to continue living in their nation with their countrymen, as they have always done.”

Work of justice

The statement from the synod fathers added: “Peace is a work of justice. It is an imperative from which we do not want nor can we free ourselves. Let us ask, for this reason, in particular for the Holy Land, birthplace of Christ the redeemer, for Lebanon, Iraq and India, for peace in justice, guaranteed by a true religious liberty.”

Those who signed the statement assured their spiritual closeness to those who “suffer for the Christian faith and for all those believers who are impeded in their religious profession. We render homage to those Christians who have recently lost their lives in fidelity to the Lord.”

The declaration closes by making a call to the international community and government leaders, “so that they guarantee true religious liberty at the legislative level, overcoming all discrimination and [giving] help to those who are obliged to leave their own lands because of religious motives.”

“Christ is our peace,” the synod fathers concluded. “This divine Word brings consolation and hope and pushes for a search for new paths of peace, which find efficiency in the blessing of God. Space for peace, we, pastors of the East, want this to be our humble but urgent call, which we place in the hands of the Holy Father, giving thanks to God and to those who welcome it with benevolence.”

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