London, Jan 2 (ANI): Pope Benedict XVI has urged Christians to remain strong after a car explosion outside an Alexandria church in Egypt killed at least 21 worshipers yesterday.
"In the face of the threatening tensions of the moment, especially in the face of discrimination, of abuse of power and religious intolerance that today particularly strikes Christians, I again direct a pressing invitation not to yield to discouragement and resignation," Stuff.co.nz quoted the Pope, as saying.
He also condemned a widening campaign against Christians in the Middle East in his homily at St. Peter's Basilica, repeating his comments last month in which he called a lack of religious freedom a threat to world security.
"I stressed that religious freedom is the essential element of a state of law - you cannot deny it without, at the same time, undermining all rights and fundamental freedoms," he added.
Benedict has repeatedly criticised a campaign against Christians in Iraq blamed on al-Qaida militants, including an October attack on a Baghdad Catholic church that claimed 68 lives, two of them priests.
Citing two negative extremes at work in the world, the Pope said: Secularism is "pushing religion to the margins to confine it to the private sphere," and "fundamentalism, which instead would like to impose (religion) with force on all."
Benedict further announced that in October he will make a pilgrimage to Assisi and invited non-Catholic Christians and world religious leaders to join him in the Umbrian hill town of St. Francis.
He said he wanted to mark the 25th anniversary of a similar pilgrimage made by Pope John Paul II and highlight his conviction that "the great religions of the world can constitute an important factor of unity and peace for the human family." (ANI)