Pope Expresses Outrage at Violence in Iraq

Sunday, 10 Aug 2014 09:45 AM

 

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Pope Francis on Sunday expressed outrage at violence aimed at religious minorities in Iraq, where fleeing children have died of thirst, and called on the world "to stop these crimes." 

In a strongly worded message during his traditional Sunday blessing, Francis said the news from Iraq "leaves us in dismay and disbelief." He cited "the thousands of people, including Christians, who have been brutally forced from their homes, children who have died from thirst during the escape and women who have been seized."

"We are left incredulous and dismayed by the news coming from Iraq," the Argentine-born pontiff said, two days after the United States began air strikes to tackle an insurgency that threatens to tear the country apart.

"Thousands of people, among them many Christians, banished brutally from their houses, children dying of hunger and thirst as they flee, women kidnapped, people massacred, violence of all kinds, destruction everywhere ... All of this deeply offends God and deeply offends humanity."

A hush fell over the crowd in Saint Peter's Square after Francis, who has been tweeting calls to pray for the people of Iraq over the last two days, interrupted his prepared speech to ask for a moment of silence.  

Editor’s Note: Do You Approve of Pope Francis? Vote Now in Urgent Poll

He also spoke of the destruction of "the destruction of religious, historic and cultural treasures."

The pope urged the international community to find "an efficient political solution that can stop these crimes and re-establish the rule of law." He said his personal emissary, Cardinal Fernando Filoni, would depart Monday for Iraq "in order to better ensure those dear suffering populations of my closeness to them."

Filoni, the Vatican's ambassador in Baghdad during the Iraqi war, will travel to Iraq to show solidarity with Christians, who have been among those targeted by Islamic State militants for elimination. Filoni has acknowledged in an interview with Vatican Radio the difficulty in reaching the region where thousands of refugees are starving.

The pope also called attention to the renewed violence in Gaza, after a brief cease-fire, "that kills innocent victims and only worsens the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians."

The pontiff departs Wednesday for Korea and asked the faithful "please, accompany me with your prayer."

Editor’s Note: Do You Approve of Pope Francis? Vote Now in Urgent Poll

© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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