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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 to Middle East Christians: Stay Strong
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)

(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.

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"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. (Read more Middle East stories.)

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