Pope Urges Outcry on Bombings, Christian Persecution

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Pope Francis is asking the world to speak out against the persecution of Christians.

He didn't cite any specific countries in his remarks in St. Peter's Square on Thursday as the church remembered St. Stephen, its first martyr.

However, the request came a day after three Christmas day bombings targeting Christians in Iraq, killing at least 37 people and wounding more.

Francis pointed out some countries guarantee human rights "on paper" but not in practice, leaving Christians subject to "limitations and discrimination."
 
He said "injustice must be denounced and eliminated," and that  more Christians are suffering discrimination and violence now than in Christianity's early times.

Click here to watch CBN's Middle East Bureau Chief Chris Mitchell give insight on the attacks and growing Christian persecution in an interview with Fox News.

Earlier, a bomb ripped through an outdoor market in the nearby Christian section of Athorien, killing 11 people and wounding 21, the official added. 

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attacks, but Iraq's dwindling Christian community, which is estimated to number about 400,000 to 600,000 people, has often been targeted by al-Qaida and other insurgents who see Christians as unbelievers.

Wednesday's bombings came amid a massive military operation in Iraq's western desert as authorities try to hunt down insurgents who have stepped up attacks across Iraq in the past months, sending violence to levels not seen since 2008. 

The Christmas Day attacks brought the total number of people killed so far this month in Iraq to 441.  According to United Nations estimates, more than 8,000 people have been killed since the start of the year.

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