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Pope decries 'aversion' to Christians

Pope Benedict XVI, left, walks in procession upon his arrival at St. Paul Outside the Walls' Basilica in Rome, Monday, Jan. 25, 2010. Pope Benedict XVI says the world is marked by religious indifference and is decrying what he calls a 'growing aversion' to Christians. The pontiff is also urging Christians to overcome their differences through dialogue so that they can unite their efforts to influence debates in society on ethical issues like abortion, euthanasia and the limits of science and technology. Benedict was leading a Vespers service Monday evening in Rome's Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls. The occasion drew to a close a week that the Vatican each year dedicates to prayers for Christian unity. Pope Benedict XVI, left, walks in procession upon his arrival at St. Paul Outside the Walls' Basilica in Rome, Monday, Jan. 25, 2010. Pope Benedict XVI says the world is marked by religious indifference and is decrying what he calls a "growing aversion" to Christians. The pontiff is also urging Christians to overcome their differences through dialogue so that they can unite their efforts to influence debates in society on ethical issues like abortion, euthanasia and the limits of science and technology. Benedict was leading a Vespers service Monday evening in Rome's Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls. The occasion drew to a close a week that the Vatican each year dedicates to prayers for Christian unity. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
January 25, 2010

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ROME—Pope Benedict XVI decried Monday what he called "growing aversion" to the Christian faith in the world.

The pontiff in his homily in a Rome basilica didn't single out any geographic area, but his worry about the plight of the Christian minority in the Middle East will shape discussions Mideast bishops will hold later this year at a special meeting at the Vatican.

The Vatican has repeatedly expressed concern about the flight of Christians from the overwhelmingly Muslim region as well as about the religious discrimination that many of those who remain are suffering.

Benedict urged Christians to invigorate efforts to spread their faith's message despite what he described as the unfriendly climate to Christianity in parts of the world.

'"In a world marked by religious indifference and even by a growing aversion toward the Christian faith, a new, intense activity of evangelization is necessary," the pope said.

He urged Christians to overcome their differences through dialogue so that they can unite their efforts to influence debates in society on ethical issues like abortion, euthanasia and the limits of science and technology.

Benedict was leading a Vespers service in the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls to mark the end of a week that the Vatican each year dedicates to prayers for Christian unity.

The pontiff has made better relations among Christians an important aim of his papacy.

Despite that goal, relations with Anglicans were strained last year when Benedict made it easier for the conversion to Roman Catholicism by traditionalist Anglicans who are disillusioned by their own church's embrace of gay priests, blessing of same-sex marriages and women clergy.