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Monday, January 10, 2011

Pope speaks about plight of Christians in Pakistan

In Pakistan, last July, two Christian brothers accused under the law of writing a blasphemous letter against Muhammad, the founder of Islam, were gunned down outside a Pakistani court.

In 2005, another Christian accused of blasphemy was beaten to death in a prison hospital by a guard wielding a hammer.

In November 2010, a Christian mother of four was sentenced to death under the law, a case that has sparked wide international protest.

In early December, a pro-Taliban Pakistani cleric offered a reward of $5,800 to anyone who kills the woman in prison, angered by attempts of the local governor to save her life

The governor of Punjab, Salman Taseer, spoke out forcefully for clemency for the Christian woman

The governor was slain

Many Pakistanis have come out in support of the governor's killer since the assassination nearly a week ago. Crowds showered him with rose petals and shouted supportive slogans during court appearances

Yesterday tens of thousands of Islamists rallied in Pakistan's southern port city of Karachi in support of the nation's controversial blasphemy laws, and clerics threatened to kill anyone who challenged them

Today in a wide ranging and hard hitting speech on World Relations to the Ambassadors on Freedom of Religion,the Pope tackled amongst other things the issue of the persecution of Christians in Pakistan through the use of its blasphemy law. He said:

"Among the norms prejudicing the right of persons to religious freedom, 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, all the more so because it is clear that it serves as a pretext for acts of injustice and violence against religious minorities. The tragic murder of the governor of Punjab shows the urgent need to make progress in this direction: the worship of God furthers fraternity and love, not hatred and division."

The Pope is undoubtedly brave and courageous and unafraid to speak out for what is right. Perhaps he will be universally recognised as one of the greatest religious leaders despite what many in the secular West and elsewhere might like to think

Please pray for him and his intentions.