Vatican Calls to Protect Christian Minorities

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — In the wake of a deadly church bombing in Iraq, a Vatican official urged greater protection of Christian minorities in the Middle East.

“The violation of human rights occurs around the world today in far too many ways. One of the most glaring is that being experienced by the Christian communities of the Middle East,” said Archbishop Carlo Vigano, secretary-general of the Vatican City governor’s office.

The archbishop spoke Nov. 8 in Doha, Qatar, at a general assembly of Interpol, the International Criminal Police Organization. The Vatican’s security forces joined Interpol in 2008.

Archbishop Vigano said the Oct. 31 siege and attempted rescue at the Syrian Catholic cathedral in Baghdad, which left 58 dead and at least 75 injured, was “an act of unheard-of ferocity against defenseless people united in prayer.”

The archbishop, who once served as a Vatican diplomat in Iraq, said that for years Iraqi Christians have been the object of “atrocious attacks” as well as daily limitations. On the other hand, he said, Iraq’s dominant Muslim communities also have suffered terrorist attacks, often by Islamic groups that “show no respect, not for the dignity of the human person, and not even for (those belonging) to the same religion.”

He said the testimony of bishops during the recent Synod of Bishops for the Middle East made it clear that when it comes to the fate of Christian minorities, “there are crimes to fight” in the region.

Speaking more generally, Archbishop Vigano said the Vatican insists on emphasizing that the promotion of human rights is the best strategy for combating inequalities that lead to crime and terrorism.

“It is undeniable, in fact, that the victims of deprivation and despair … become easy prey for the appeal to violence,” he said.

The archbishop praised Interpol’s efforts to promote cooperation among police forces around the world and thanked Interpol for assistance during papal trips abroad.

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