The pope also demanded that everyone must have the right to freely choose their own religion, and to practice it publicly, "without endangering one's life."
He said the time has come "to move beyond tolerance to religious freedom."
Further, the pope seemed to link the deprival of religious liberty to Christian flight from the Middle East, warning that the long-standing decline in the region's Christian footprint means "human, cultural, and religious impoverishment."
"A Middle East without Christians, or with only a few Christians, would no longer be the Middle East," the pope said, calling on political leaders to avoid the advent of a "monochromatic Middle East" without religious diversity.
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Posted September 18, 2012 at 8:00 am
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