Pope Urges World to Protect Iraqi Christians

ap_jordan_pope_mosquespeech2.jpgBy VOA News

Pope Benedict takes the stand as Prince Ghazi bin Mohammed leaves at Amman’s King Hussein Bin Talal mosque, 09 May 2009
Pope Benedict has urged the world to make efforts to protect Iraq’s Christian minority.

In a speech Saturday to Muslim leaders in Jordan, the pontiff called on the international community and local political and religious leaders to try to ensure Iraqi Christians a “right to peaceful coexistence” with other Iraqis.

The pope also called for continued efforts to improve ties between religious groups in Iraq, and he praised those who have helped rebuild institutions and infrastructure in the country.

Since the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, Muslim extremists have targeted Iraqi Christians across the country, forcing tens of thousands to flee abroad.

Christians now make up about three percent of Iraq’s largely Muslim population.