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Pope Calls for Prayers as Militants Chase All Christians out of Mosul

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An Iraqi Christian woman fleeing the violence in the Iraqi city of Mosul sits inside the Sacred Heart of Jesus Chaldean Church in Telkaif, Iraq, on 20 July. Pope Francis called for prayers, dialogue, and peace, as the last Iraqi Christians flee Mosul. (photo: CNS/Reuters) 

22 Jul 2014 – By Carol Glatz

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — As the last Iraqi Christians in Mosul fled the city, Pope Francis urgently called for prayers, dialogue and peace.

“Violence isn’t overcome with violence. Violence is conquered with peace,” the pope said before leading thousands of pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square in a moment of silent prayer on 20 July.

“Our brothers and sisters are persecuted, they are chased away,” he said, as he assured Christians in all of Iraq and the Middle East of his “constant prayers.”

The pope’s plea came as the last Christian families living in Mosul were forced from the city after facing increasing threats, violence and intimidation.

The Islamic State group, which has taken control of Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city, was threatening to kill any Christians who did not convert to Islam or pay a tax, Syriac Patriarch Ignatius Joseph III told Vatican Radio.

The militants in Mosul also burned to the ground the building housing the Syriac bishop’s office, residence and library, and everything inside, he said on 19 July.

Islamic State fighters “have already threatened that if they don’t convert to Islam, all Christians will be murdered. It’s terrible! This is a disgrace for the whole international community,” he told the radio.

The international community must immediately halt all aid to the Islamic State group, he said.

“Whom are they getting their weapons from? From these extremist nations in the [Persian] Gulf, with the approval of Western political leaders because they need their oil.”

The patriarch said the world community must uphold human rights and the freedom of religion.

“We are in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon: We Christians weren’t imported, we’ve been here for millennia and, therefore, we have the right to be treated as human beings and citizens of these countries,” he said.

Patriarch Ignatius Joseph spoke with Pope Francis by telephone on 20 July while visiting Rome and told him of the “disastrous” situation in Mosul.

The pope said “he was following closely and with anxiety the plight of Christians” in Mosul, the patriarch told Catholic News Service.

During their nine-minute phone conversation, the patriarch begged the pope “to continue intensifying efforts with the powerful of this world” and to warn them “that it is a mass purification based on religion which is underway in the province of Ninevah,” whose capital is Mosul.

“What a shame for the silence of the so-called ‘civilized world’“ in response to the tragedy, the patriarch told CNS via email.

The Syriac patriarch was in Rome with retired Syriac Archbishop Basile Georges Casmoussa of Mosul and Syriac Catholic Archbishop Ephrem Yousif Mansoor Abba of Baghdad, to meet with Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, the Vatican’s foreign minister, and explain the plight of Christians in Mosul and surrounding areas.





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Tags: Iraq Pope Francis Violence against Christians Iraqi Christians Iraqi Refugees