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Pope Benedict XVI Urges Christians Worldwide to Remain Strong

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The Roman pontiff Pope Benedict XVI urged Christians to remain strong in the face of intolerance and violence in the hours following the senseless and brutal attack on innocent Christians leaving The Saints Coptic Orthodox Church after a Divine Liturgy for the New Year.

The pope condemned a widening campaign against Christians in the Middle East in his New Year’s homily delivered at St. Peter’s Basilica. “In the face of the threatening tensions of the moment, especially in the face of discrimination, of abuse of power and religious intolerance that today particularly strikes Christians, I again direct a pressing invitation not to yield to discouragement and resignation,” he said.

The pope referred to his assessment of two negative extremes at work in the world: secularism, “pushing religion to the margins to confine it to the private sphere,” and “fundamentalism, which instead would like to impose (religion) with force on all.”

To combat these extremes, Pope Benedict urged world leaders to make a “concrete and constant commitment” to help bring peace. “I stressed that religious freedom is the essential element of a state of law — you cannot deny it without, at the same time, undermining all rights and fundamental freedoms.”

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