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 CNS Story:

SYNOD-EAST Oct-24-2008 (330 words) xxxi

Synod members appeal for justice, religious freedom 'in the East'

By Cindy Wooden
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Justice and religious freedom are essential for peace, said Catholic leaders from the Middle East, Eastern Europe and India.

The leaders, who were participating in the world Synod of Bishops on the Bible, issued an appeal Oct. 24 asking God to protect those who suffer and calling on all people of good will to work for "peace in freedom, in truth and in love."

"Our hearts tremble for the suffering of so many of our sons and daughters in the East," especially children, the aged, the sick, parents who are losing hope that their children will have a better future and, especially, those prevented from expressing and drawing sustenance from their faith, the church leaders said.

The appeal was signed by representatives of 10 Eastern Catholic churches, the Latin patriarch of Jerusalem, the Vatican secretary of state, the prefect of the Congregation for Eastern Churches, the secretary-general of the Synod of Bishops and the three cardinals who served as delegate presidents of the synod.

The church leaders expressed particular concern for Christians in the Holy Land, Lebanon, Iraq and India, calling for "peace with justice, whose real guarantee is religious freedom."

"We are near to those who suffer for the Christian faith and to all believers prevented from professing their religion," the appeal said. "We render homage to the Christians who recently have lost their lives in faithfulness to the Lord."

The church leaders asked "Christians and all people of good will to practice respect and acceptance of others in daily life, being a neighbor to those in need."

They asked pastors and religious leaders "to preach and promote such an attitude, supporting initiatives of mutual understanding, dialogue and emergency assistance."

The church leaders asked politicians and government leaders to guarantee religious freedom for all people, to punish discrimination and to provide assistance "to those forced to leave their homelands for religious reasons."


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