Pope Francis and religious freedom
World Watch Monitor, March 19, 2018
Pope Francis has met some of those who have suffered persecution because of their Christian faith, including Rebecca Bitrus, a Nigerian woman terribly abused by Boko Haram, and the family of Asia Bibi, on death row for blasphemy since 2010 in Pakistan.
“Religions … have a specific and unique role to play in building peace. They cannot be neutral, much less ambiguous, where peace is concerned,” he said.
In Egypt in May 2017, he said “violence is the denial of every true religion” and his visit seemed to inspire a more vigilant approach to religious hate speech against Christians and a new church was built with Muslim support.
He has raised the plight of persecuted Christians with many heads of state in over 30 countries and was the first Pope to have ever visited Myanmar, a staunchly Buddhist country.
He seeks to repair relations with fellow religious leaders to address persecution of Iraqi and Syrian Christians.
In 2017, he met leaders of the World Evangelical Alliance to discuss collaborating in promoting religious freedom in a world where persecution of Christians is on the rise.