Pope Francis asked Catholics around the world to pray for tens of thousands of Christians from villages in northeastern Iraq who were forced from their homes in the middle of the night by Islamic State militants.
The pope also made a “pressing appeal to the international community to take initiatives to put an end to the humanitarian drama underway, to take steps to protect those involved and threatened by violence and to ensure the necessary aid for so many displaced people whose fate depends on the solidarity of others,” Jesuit Fr. Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman, said Thursday.
Lombardi told reporters the pope was appealing “to the conscience of all people and every believer,” repeating what he had said July 20 after a similar forced exodus of Christians from Mosul: “May the God of peace create in all an authentic desire for dialogue and reconciliation. Violence is not conquered with violence. Violence is conquered with peace. Let us pray in silence, asking for peace.”
Overnight Aug. 6-7, fighters belonging to the Islamic State attacked the predominantly Christian town of Qaraqosh and other villages in Ninevah province, said Chaldean Patriarch Louis Sako of Baghdad. “The Christians, about 100,000, horrified and panicked, fled their villages and houses with nothing but the clothes on their backs.”
In an appeal, the patriarch described the scene as “an exodus, a real ‘via crucis,’ ” or Way of the Cross. “Christians are walking on foot in Iraq’s searing summer heat” toward Iraqi Kurdistan. “They are facing a human catastrophe and risk a real genocide. They need water, food, shelter.”
SOURCE: Cindy Wooden
Catholic News Service