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World Pope Francis Calls on Muslim Leaders to Protect Christians in the Middle East



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Pope Francis on Monday in Vatican City appealed for the protection of Christians in the Middle East.

He said at a special meeting of cardinals, known as the consistory, that it was "unimaginable" that Christians could be driven out of the Middle East after 2,000 years.

"We cannot be resigned to imagining a Middle East without Christians," he said.

He said it was so unfortunate that while the number of Christians had been dwindling throughout the Middle East, recently there had been an exodus of the minority community from Iraq and Syria following the steady advance of the Islamic State extremist group.

"The latest developments, especially in Iraq and Syria, are very worrying. We are looking at a terrorist phenomenon of previously unimaginable dimensions,’’ he said.

Francis described it as an "unjust situation" that required not only constant prayers, but also an adequate response from the international community.

Pietro Parolin, Cardinal Secretary of State, who is also the Vatican's unofficial Prime Minister, said a special responsibility fell on Muslim leaders not just to disown the Islamic State and its jihadist aims. He said they should be bold enough to condemn in more general terms the killing of others for religious reasons and all forms of discrimination.

Parolin said the Islamic State threat was specifically discussed at a crisis summit on October 2 to October 4 with Vatican ambassadors from the Middle East.

He said any action had to be "in respect of international law," and that the resolution of the problem cannot rest only on a military response, but had to tackle the root causes of fundamentalism and stamp out sources of terrorist financing.

#Vatican #Muslim #Catholic #PopeFrancis