Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Vatican press office, reported this in on the last episode of "Octava Dies." He commented on Benedict XVI's message for the 44th World Peace Day, which was released Thursday. This day is observed every Jan. 1, which is also the Solemnity of the Mother of God. The theme for 2011 is "Religious Freedom, the Path to Peace."
"Christians," he said, "are currently the religious group who suffer the greatest number of persecutions because of their faith."
Reiterating one of the Pope's "most striking statements" in his message for the Day of Peace, Father Lombardi stated that "many continue to live with the false idea that Christians are generally in positions of power and that generally it's followers of other religions who are discriminated against, perhaps by Christians."
"The growing documentation from reliable sources forces one rather to correct this perspective," the priest added, "and it is right to stress it again."
Father Lombardi clarified, however, that "this is not the center" of the Pope's message. The main point of the letter, he continued, "is the same as every year: It turns to a broad horizon to the good of all humanity, appealing to the dignity of the human person, of every human person, and claiming a fundamental right."
"It is not only a message on behalf of Christians then," the spokesman added. "It is a message on behalf of everyone, which bears the mark of the direct experience -- even of suffering and death -- of Christians, who claim for all the right to seek God, to recognize him and honor him in their life, personally and together with others.
"Without respect for this right, of everyone and for everyone, we cannot build a peaceful community. Fanaticisms, fundamentalisms and aggressive secularism are the enemies of true peace."