Pope Francis Wraps up Visit to Turkey
Pope Francis and the spiritual leader of the world's Orthodox Christians have called for an end to the persecution of Christians in the Middle East, particularly in Iraq and Syria.
In a joint declaration, the Roman Catholic pope and Patriarch Bartholomew I said "we cannot resign ourselves to a Middle East without Christians."
The two religious leaders urged regional leaders to increase help to victims of Islamic State militants, writing that "the terrible situations of Christians and all those who are suffering in the Middle East calls not only for our constant prayer, but also for an appropriate response on the part of the international community."
The statement was issued as Pope Francis wrapped up his three-day visit to Turkey, during which he attended a liturgy alongside Bartholomew in the patriarchal Church of St. George.
Switzerland Votes on Immigration Reform
Switzerland is voting Sunday to decide whether to impose radical limits on immigration, a referendum opponents to the proposal have labelled xenophobic and disastrous for the economy.
The so-called Ecopop initiative would cap immigration growth at 0.2 percent of the population, or an addition of 16,000 people annually instead of the current rate of roughly 80,000 per year. The initiative also calls for Switzerland to use 10 percent of its international development aid budget for family planning programs abroad, a move critics say smacks of "neocolonialism."
Christian Luescher, a parliamentarian for the Liberal Party and co-chair of the committee opposing Ecopop told the French News Agency the initiative is "absolutely absurd." He said the proposal aims to "drastically, linearly and arbitrarily reduce immigration to Switzerland, with absolutely no consideration for the needs of the economy." He warned the move would impoverish the country.
Ecopop supporters say the current influx of foreigners is swelling the Alpine nation's population and shrinking its idyllic landscapes and green spaces.
Polls suggest the Ecopop initiative will fail, along with two other proposals.
One proposal calls for the Swiss central bank to boost its gold reserves, while the other would scrap one of Switzerland's biggest tax perks for wealthy expatriates, dealing a blow to the country's reputation as a tax haven.