Mental shift

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Pope condemns violence against Christians in Iraq, India

Posted by jytmkh on October 13, 2008

VATICAN CITY (AFP) — Pope Benedict XVI condemned on Sunday violence perpetrated against Christians in India and Iraq.

“I invite you to pray for peace and reconciliation as situations cause concern and great suffering…. I think of violence against Christians in Iraq and India,” he said after a ceremony in which he canonised India’s first woman saint.

The pontiff addressed Indians who made the trip to Vatican City for the canonisation of Sister Alfonsa, who died in 1946 aged 36.

India’s Christian minority, making up little more than two percent of the population, has felt particularly threatened in recent months.

Attacks by Hindu extremists on Christians in the eastern Indian state of Orissa have left 35 people dead since August

“As the Christian faithful of India give thanks to God for their first native daughter to be presented for public veneration, I wish to assure them of my prayers during this difficult time,” Pope Benedict said.

“I urge the perpetrators of violence to renounce these acts and join with their brothers and sisters to work together in building a civilization of love,” he said.

In Iraq, the government said it dispatched nearly 1,000 police to the northern city of Mosul on Sunday to protect Christians fleeing the worst violence perpetrated against them in five years.

Nearly 1,000 Christian families have fled homes in the city since Friday, taking shelter on the northern and eastern fringes of Nineveh province after at least 11 Christians died in a spate of attacks in recent weeks.

At least three homes of Christians were blown up by unidentified attackers on Saturday in the Sukkar district of Mosul, which is regarded by US and Iraqi security forces of one of the last urban bastions of Al-Qaeda in Iraq.

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