22 November 2013 – Umberto Bacchi
Pope Francis said he is seriously concerned about the safety of Christians living in the Middle East suffering because of an escalation in political and sectarian violence in Syria, Iraq and Egypt.
Speaking at the plenary assembly of the congregation for Eastern Churches in Rome, the pontiff said he will work restlessly to ensure Christians have the right to profess their religion without facing persecution.
“I’m very worried about living conditions faced by Christians who are suffering from conflicts and tensions in many areas of the Middle East,” Francis said.
“So often Egypt, Iraq and Syria and other areas in the Holy Land ooze tears.”
Francis urged Middle Eastern governments and authorities to protect Christian minorities from violence.
“The Bishop of Rome [the Pope] will not rest as long as there are men and women, of any religion, affected in their dignity, deprived of life’s basic necessities, robbed of a future, forced to the status of refugees and asylum-seekers.
“We won’t resign ourselves to a Middle East without Christians,” Francis said.
The Pope’s appeal came as an increasing number of Christians are fleeing from the mounting ethnic violence that has gripped Syria and Iraq and is threatening to spill over into Lebanon.
The Syrian Civil War has polarised Sunni and Shia Muslims across the Middle East. Christian have been often caught in the crossfire and are often directly targeted by Islamist extremists.
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