The president of the Italian Bishops’ Conference, Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, is urging the international community to ensure that religious freedom is respected “in all places and without exception.”
The cardinal made his call during the Mass of the Epiphany on Jan. 6 at the Cathedral of San Lorenzo in Genoa, Italy.
He expressed his astonishment at the recent acts of “religious intolerance and violence,” as he reflected on the Dec. 31 attack on a Coptic Orthodox church in Alexandria, Egypt, which left 21 dead and 79 injured.
In his homily, Cardinal Bagnasco said, “Perhaps Christians are discriminated against and persecuted because they speak in the name of Christ about the dignity and equality of every person … and because the also preach love for one’s enemies.”
“Could this be the reason why some consider them dangerous and unacceptable and that they are the objects of intolerance, persecution and death?” he asked.
Cardinal Bagnasco called on Christians to pray for the eternal repose of those killed in the attack in Egypt and that those responsible would “open their eyes to the light.”
Christians, he said, should pray for the faithful “who throughout the world are examples” of fidelity to others.