anti-christian feeling spreading due to war on terror says vatican minister - news from ekklesia

By staff writers
December 5, 2004

Anti-Christian feeling spreading due to war on terror says Vatican minister

-5/12/04

Anti-Christian feeling is spreading in Muslim countries and other parts of the world because the war on terrorism is seen as linked to Western political strategy, says the Vatican's foreign minister.

Archbishop Giovanni Lajolo, in a speech to a conference on religious freedom, was the latest Christian figure to decry what the Church fears will be a difficult future in regions where Christians are in the minority.

Last month two senior anglican bishops said that the religious dimension of the conflict in Iraq needed to be recognised and that huge numbers of Muslims "increasingly regard the current military action as a war between religions".

"We cannot disentangle the actions of what is perceived to be a Christian government from the backlash against local Christians as seen in the bombing of Christian churches" they said.

"It should be recognised that the war against terrorism, even though necessary, had as one of its side-effects the spread of 'Christianophobia' in vast areas of the globe," Archbishop Giovanni Lajolo told the conference.

Lajolo, the Vatican's second-ranking diplomat, said anti-Christian feeling existed where political strategies of Western countries were believed to be driven by Christianity.

He said this was why the Vatican had insisted that "Christianophobia be condemned together with Islamophobia and anti-Semitism" in recent U.N. human rights documents.

After September 11th 2001 President Bush set off alarm bells in the Muslim world by referring to his war against terrorism as a "crusade", recalling the historical trauma for the Muslim world, which was besieged by Christian crusaders from Europe during the Middle Ages. The word resurfaced again in a Bush campaign fund-raising letter earlier this year.

While Lajolo did not specifically mention Iraq, his comments appeared to be a reference to it and other Islamic nations where minority Christians have come under attack.

A spate of bombs have hit churches and hospitals in the past few months, leaving numerous dead and injured.

Iraq's estimated 800,000 Christians, mostly Chaldeans, Assyrians and Catholics, comprise about 3 percent of the population. Many have left Iraq and the Vatican fears more will go if attacks go on.

Lajolo later told reporters the perceived dislike of Christians was taking place because "their institutions and their activities are seen as attempts to win converts or interfere in local cultures".

John V. Hanford III, U.S. ambassador at large for international religious freedom, said Washington was concerned about any Christian exodus from Iraq but that the U.S.-led intervention could not be blamed for the religious strife.

Anti-Christian feeling spreading due to war on terror says Vatican minister

-5/12/04

Anti-Christian feeling is spreading in Muslim countries and other parts of the world because the war on terrorism is seen as linked to Western political strategy, says the Vatican's foreign minister.

Archbishop Giovanni Lajolo, in a speech to a conference on religious freedom, was the latest Christian figure to decry what the Church fears will be a difficult future in regions where Christians are in the minority.

Last month two senior anglican bishops said that the religious dimension of the conflict in Iraq needed to be recognised and that huge numbers of Muslims "increasingly regard the current military action as a war between religions".

"We cannot disentangle the actions of what is perceived to be a Christian government from the backlash against local Christians as seen in the bombing of Christian churches" they said.

"It should be recognised that the war against terrorism, even though necessary, had as one of its side-effects the spread of 'Christianophobia' in vast areas of the globe," Archbishop Giovanni Lajolo told the conference.

Lajolo, the Vatican's second-ranking diplomat, said anti-Christian feeling existed where political strategies of Western countries were believed to be driven by Christianity.

He said this was why the Vatican had insisted that "Christianophobia be condemned together with Islamophobia and anti-Semitism" in recent U.N. human rights documents.

After September 11th 2001 President Bush set off alarm bells in the Muslim world by referring to his war against terrorism as a "crusade", recalling the historical trauma for the Muslim world, which was besieged by Christian crusaders from Europe during the Middle Ages. The word resurfaced again in a Bush campaign fund-raising letter earlier this year.

While Lajolo did not specifically mention Iraq, his comments appeared to be a reference to it and other Islamic nations where minority Christians have come under attack.

A spate of bombs have hit churches and hospitals in the past few months, leaving numerous dead and injured.

Iraq's estimated 800,000 Christians, mostly Chaldeans, Assyrians and Catholics, comprise about 3 percent of the population. Many have left Iraq and the Vatican fears more will go if attacks go on.

Lajolo later told reporters the perceived dislike of Christians was taking place because "their institutions and their activities are seen as attempts to win converts or interfere in local cultures".

John V. Hanford III, U.S. ambassador at large for international religious freedom, said Washington was concerned about any Christian exodus from Iraq but that the U.S.-led intervention could not be blamed for the religious strife.

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