Pope to Middle East Christians: Stay Strong

Hours after Egypt church blast, pope urges followers 'not to yield'
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jan 1, 2011 1:04 PM CST
Pope Benedict XVI blesses the faithful as he arrives in St. Peter's square to bless the nativity scene at the Vatican, Friday, Dec. 31, 2010.    (Gregorio Borgia)
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(Newser) – Pope Benedict XVI urged Christians to remain strong in the face of intolerance and violence in a New Year's appeal today that came hours after a bomb blast outside an Egyptian church killed 21 people as worshippers left Mass. The pope condemned a widening campaign against Christians in the Middle East in his homily at St. Peter's Basilica, echoing comments last month in which he called a lack of religious freedom a threat to world security.

"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 Vatican is very worried that a steady exodus of minority Christians from Iraq will permanently reduce their numbers and discourage the wider community of Christians in the Middle East.

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