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This is true despite the fact that the most powerful Christian in the world, Pope Benedict XVI, has not been silent. For example, on Jan. 10, in his annual address to the Vatican diplomatic corps, he spoke of “the Christian communities in (the Middle East) which suffer greatly because of their fidelity to Christ and the Church … the attacks which brought death, grief and dismay among the Christians of Iraq.”
He appealed directly to the Muslim world: “To the Muslim religious leaders I renew my heartfelt appeal that their Christian fellow-citizens be able to live in security.”
He continued: “In Egypt, too, in Alexandria, terrorism brutally struck Christians as they prayed in church. … Regarding the states of the Arabian Peninsula, where numerous Christian immigrant workers live, I hope that the Catholic Church will be able to establish suitable pastoral structures.”
He wasn’t done: “Particular mention must be made of the law against blasphemy in Pakistan. I once more encourage the leaders of that country to take the necessary steps to abrogate that law.”
And even more: “Violence against Christians does not spare Africa. Attacks on places of worship in Nigeria during the very celebrations marking the birth of Christ are another sad proof of this.”
Again, eight days earlier, the pope announced: “Yesterday morning we learned with sorrow the news of the serious attack on the Christian Coptic community in Alexandria, Egypt. This despicable act of death — like the current trend of setting bombs close to the homes of Christians in Iraq to force them to leave — offends God and the whole of humanity.”
But aside from the pope and some activist groups, the Christian world is as silent today as it was when Christians were imprisoned and killed in the Soviet Union.
It is time to change this pattern. Christians should organize an international day or week of solidarity for persecuted Christians in the Muslim world. And not only Christians should attend these hopefully large events. Jews and Muslims should also be in attendance, and their representatives should speak. Jews should because it is right and because of all Christians did for Soviet Jewry and do for Israel; and Muslims should because it is right and because nothing would protect the good name of Muslims like joining non-Muslims in voicing solidarity with the many Christian victims of persecution in Muslim countries.
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