Pope Endorses Action to Save Iraqi Persecuted Minorities

Tuesday, 19 Aug 2014 08:46 AM

By Melissa Clyne

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Pope Francis has given his blessing to military intervention to rid the region of the terrorist Islamic State, also known as ISIS, which has forced thousands of Iraqi Christians and other religious minorities to flee their homes while killing and torturing others, The Washington Times reported.

"In these cases, where there is an unjust aggression, I can only say that it is fair to stop the unjust aggressor," Francis said on a flight from South Korea to Rome, according to the Times. "I underscore the verb 'stop.' I’m not saying 'bomb' or 'make war,' just 'stop.' And the means that can be used to stop them must be evaluated."

The statement is stronger than one he made last week in which he called for only "protection" and "assistance" for those being persecuted, adding that "the international community had a moral imperative to stop the humanitarian catastrophe," according to Reuters.

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He said he believes it should be the consensus of the international community via the United Nations that decides how best to combat the mushrooming genocide taking place in Iraq, according to the Times. He is worried about a "war of conquest."

"How many times under this excuse of stopping the unjust aggressor [have] the powers taken control of nations? he asked. "And they have made a true war of conquest. One single nation cannot judge how you stop this, how you stop an unjust aggressor."

"After World War II, the idea of the United Nations came about. It’s there that you must discuss ‘Is there an unjust aggression? It seems so. How should we stop it?’ Just this. Nothing more," Francis said.

The Vatican has historically opposed military intervention in recent crises, including St. John Paul II trying to put the brakes on the Iraq war and Francis asking for peace in lieu of the United States’ threat of airstrikes on Syria last year, according to The Associated Press.

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The change in stance may have come about because Christians are being kidnapped, tortured and killed solely because of their religious beliefs, AP said, noting that "Church teachings allow for 'just wars' when military force can be justified under certain circumstances."

According to AP, other ranking members of the church, including Monsignor Giorgio Lingua, the Vatican's ambassador to Iraq, and Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, its ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva, have also endorsed military action. Lingua said on Vatican Radio that "it's good when you're able to at the very least remove weapons from these people who have no scruples."

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