Persecution of Christians in Muslim lands
Fresh attacks against Christians marred Christmas Day as Pope Benedict led pleas by religious leaders for an end to persecution and for peace in the Middle East.
While record crowds flocked to Bethlehem, the Palestinian town where Jesus Christ was believed to have been born, hundreds also defied al-Qaeda threats and packed Our Lady of Salvation Cathedral in Baghdad for Christmas Mass.
Although there were no immediate reports of attacks against Christians in the Middle East, bombings in other parts of the world highlighted the threats facing believers.
A series of Christmas Eve church attacks and explosions left 38 people dead in Nigeria and six injured in the Philippines.
The situation was especially tense in the central Nigerian city of Jos, where at least 32 people died and a further 74 were injured, many as they were doing their Christmas shopping, police said. Sectarian unrest in the region has killed hundreds this year.
In Maiduguri, in northern Nigeria, suspected members of an Islamist sect that staged an uprising last year attacked three churches, leaving six people dead and one of the churches burnt down, an army spokesman said.
In the Philippines, a bomb in a church in Jolo injured six. The island is a bastion of Abu Sayyaf, a group linked to al-Qaeda.
In his Urbi et Orbi address, the Pope called for human rights to be respected in Afghanistan and Pakistan and an end to the turmoil in African trouble spots, and rebuked the Chinese government for what he said were the limitations placed on Christians living in China.
He reserved special mention for Christians in Baghdad after 44 worshippers and two priests were killed when Islamist militants laid siege to a church in Baghdad in October. "May the comforting message of the coming of Emmanuel ease the pain and bring consolation amid their trials to the beloved Christian communities in Iraq and throughout the Middle East," he said.
In Britain, the Archbishop of Canterbury also urged people to remember those who face persecution because of their Christian faith. "We may feel powerless to help, yet we should also know that people in such circumstances are strengthened simply by knowing they have not been forgotten," Rowan Williams, said.
Useless shepherds: Cowardly Christian leaders fail to defend their flock
Jon Jay is dissatisfied with the occasional lame statements of the kind we see above (Spelling etc. tidied up a bit):
Let us just squarely address the silence of the "leaders" of Christendom on the slaughter of Christians generally, and specifically, the slaughter of Christian celebrants during the high holy season, by Islam, to advance the purposes of Islam.
This failure of Christian leaders, such as the Pope and the Archbishop of Canterbury, to address this issue is immoral, and it is sin. This craven silence, this eloquent indifference to the suffering of the faithful at the hands of Islam is cowardice in the face of attack, and such cowardice is immoral in the extreme.
It is immoral because it only encourages and incites islam to further outrage, outrages, i would note, that are perpetrated against the lambs in the flock as opposed to being directed at its "shepherds." it is one thing for the shepherd to turn the other cheek to the ravening wolf, ... , that is a personal choice on the part of the shepherd.
It is quite another matter for the shepherd to stand idly by while the innocent lambs of the flock are slaughtered. And, it is a matter of added sin and guilt for the shepard to make the way to the flock easier for the wolf, and moreover, to encourage the wolf to continuing his ravening attacks by not loosening the hounds in protection of the flock.
To stand by mute while these attacks occur, is immoral and it is grave sin for the Pope and the archbishop to remain silent in the face of such outrage.
How do these cowards meet their maker, with faces downcast in shame for their inaction, for their silence, for their very complicity in truckling with islam?
Dan Friedman says: "Give them time. This is a tough one. It's going to take a while before they figure out how to blame it on the Jews"