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Monday, October 6, 2014

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Vatican City, 4 October 2014 (VIS) – THE HOLY FATHER HAS SENT A VIDEO MESSAGE to the International Centre of the Focolare Movement in Loppiano, Italy, on the fiftieth anniversary of its foundation by Chiara Lubich. The Pope remarked that Loppiano “inspired by the Gospel of fraternity … lives in the service of the Church and the world”, and offers a “living and effective witness of communion among persons of different nations, cultures and vocations” and maintaining, above all, mutual and continual charity in everyday life.

NO MORE WAR OR HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS, affirm the papal representatives in the Middle East at the end of their meeting in the Vatican from 2 to 4 October, during which they discussed the situation faced by Christians in the region. They expressed their serious concerns regarding the actions of various extremist groups, in particular the “Islamic State”, before whose violence and abuses it is impossible to remain indifferent. The international community cannot remain inert, they remarked, when faced with massacres carried out on the pretext of religious belief or ethnic origin or the exodus of thousands of people and the destruction of their places of worship. The participants in the meeting emphasised that it is acceptable to stop an unjust aggressor, always with respect for international law. However, the problem cannot be entrusted solely to the usual military response, but must be faced in more depth, starting from the root causes that are exploited by fundamentalist ideology. An important role can be played by religious leaders, Christian and Muslim, collaborating to promote dialogue and education in mutual understanding, and clearly denouncing the abuse of religion to justify violence. Faced with the crisis of so many people forced to leave their homes in a brutal fashion, the participants highlighted the need to recognise the rights of Christians and other ethnic and religious groups to be able to remain in their homelands and, should it be necessary for them to leave, to return in suitable conditions of safety, with the possibility of living and working in freedom and with prospects for the future. In the current circumstances this requires commitment on the part of the governments involved and the international community as a whole. Finally, they stressed that we cannot resign ourselves to imagining a Middle East without Christians, who for two thousand years have confessed the name of Jesus Christ there.

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