Pope Francis Denounces Religious Persecution in His Christmas Address

Pope Francis

In his Christmas address on the morning of December 25, Pope Francis denounced the brutal persecution of religious minorities by militants of Islamic State (IS). Hundreds and thousands of people gathered at St Peter’s Square to hear the Pope deliver his Urbi et Orbi, as he urged people around the world not to be indifferent to the suffering of others.

The Argentine Pope also appealed for an end to be brought to the conflicts taken place across several African countries. He urged dialogue between Palestinians and Israelis, and he condemned the recent attack carried out by Taliban insurgents, which led to the death of more than 130 students in Pakistan. Additionally, he thanked those who have been helping victims of the Ebola epidemic.

His strongest words, however, were reserved for those who have been victim to IS’ ruthless killing and displacing of Christians, Shias and other religious minorities in the Iraq and Syria region.

“I ask him, the Saviour of the world, to look upon our brothers and sisters in Iraq and Syria, who for too long now have suffered the effects of ongoing conflict, and who, together with those belonging to other ethnic and religious groups, are suffering a brutal persecution. … May Christmas bring them hope, as indeed also to the many displaced persons, exiles and refugees, children, adults and elderly, from this region and from the whole world,” he said.

The pope, who is 78-years-old, addressed his listeners from the balcony of St Peter’s Basilica, where he had first made an appearance on March 13, 2013, as the newly elected pontiff.

“May indifference be changed into closeness and rejection into hospitality, so that all who now are suffering may receive the necessary humanitarian help to overcome the rigours of winter, return to their countries and live with dignity,” he said, speaking in Italian.

On the eve of Christmas, he made a surprise telephone call to Christian refugees in a camp in Iraq, because he wanted to reach out to them and comfort them.

“You are like Jesus on Christmas night. There was no room for him either,” he told them.

Photo Credits: NBC News

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