Pope Francis Stands Up For Christians’ Rights in the Middle East

Posted: Nov 22, 2013 3:51 PM

Western leaders may be silent about the persecution of Christians in the Middle East, but Pope Francis isn’t. Speaking Thursday to a gathering of Eastern rite church leaders that have ties to the Roman Catholic Church, Francis said he would “not rest as long as there are men and women, of any religion, affected in their dignity, deprived of life’s basic necessities, robbed of a future, forced to the status of refugees and asylum-seekers.”

"I'm very worried about living conditions faced by Christians who are suffering from conflicts and tensions in many areas of the Middle East," Francis said.

The persecution of Christians in the Middle East, particularly in Egypt and Syria, has worsened considerably since the ousting of the Mubarak regime and during Syria’s civil war. More than 40 churches in Egypt have been burned, Christian laity in Cairo were gunned down and Orthodox bishops in Syria have been kidnapped by rebel forces.

“We won’t resign ourselves to a Middle East without Christians who for two thousand years confess the name of Jesus, as full citizens in social, cultural and religious life of the nations to which they belong,” Francis said.

Persecution watchdog group Open Doors USA has launched a global petition urging the UN and other world leaders to “act to safeguard all Syrians, including vulnerable Christian communities,” CNS News reports. The group plans to deliver the petition to the UN Security Council on December 10, which is Human Rights day at the international body.

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