Pope Benedict XVI urged loyal Catholics in China and Iraq to have courage in the face of persecution and limits on their religious freedom, as the largest number of pilgrims in a decade flocked to celebrate Christmas in Bethlehem. Bombings in Nigeria and the Philippines left 11 dead and 11 injured, however, and Christians’ fears in Iraq also marred the Christmas festivities. Benedict’s traditional holiday speech highlighted the tensions between Beijing and the Vatican and the dangers facing minority Christians in Iraq, where militants have used violent attacks to try to drive them out of the country. “May the birth of the savior strengthen the spirit of faith, patience and courage of the faithful of the church in mainland China, that they may not lose heart through the limitations imposed on their freedom of religion and conscience but, persevering in fidelity to Christ and his church, may keep alive the flame of hope,” Benedict prayed.
Christians, it seems, are becoming more and more the object of disdain. So along with the Pope’s prayer I can gladly add my own Amen.
- Pope’s holiday message embraces China’s Catholics (cbc.ca)
- Have courage in China, Pope tells Catholics (ctv.ca)
- Pope’s Christmas message urges peace in troubled lands (cnn.com)
- Pope Offers Support for China’s Catholics (online.wsj.com)