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BosNewsLife – Pope Benedict XVI expressed concern Friday, October 21, about the persecution of Christians in India , including reports that believers have been killed throughout the country, an official told BosNewsLife.

The president of the influential advocacy group Global Council of Indian Christians, (GCIC), Sajan George, told the BosNewsLife New Delhi Bureau in an e-mail message that he had discussed the situation of persecuted Christians Friday, October 21, in a “private audience” with the pontiff.

The GCIC and other church organizations have expressed worries about what they say are wide spread attacks against churches and individuals, including the killing of missionaries and pastors, by Hindu militants.

George said Pope Benedict XVI was “deeply concerned about the condition” after he learned of “the murders of Christians in different parts of India .”

The GCIC official stressed that the leader of the world’s estimated one billion Catholics promised to “pray for the persecuted” as well as for the people affected by the earthquake in and around the region of Kashmir, in which over 50,000 people died, and other “natural calamities in Kashmir and other parts of the world.”

George also informed the Pope about the GCIC program Mother Teresa Concern which he said aims to help “children living in distress” across India . Pope Benedict XVI was also informed about Christians living in poverty and persecution elsewhere in Asia , he said.

Dr Joseph Lam, the president of World Children’s Fund, who accompanied George, invited the

pontiff to visit China “and explained the [situation of] persecuted Church in China ,” George added in a statement to BosNewsLife.

There are at least up to 80-million Christians in China and many are persecuted because they meet in unofficial house churches, human rights groups say.