Pope Condemns Religious Persecution In Middle East: ‘This Gravely Offends God’

Pope Francis condemned the actions of Islamic State militants in Iraq, saying that persecuting Christians and other minorities “seriously offends God and seriously offends humanity.”In his weekly Sunday blessing, Francis said the news in Iraq “leave us in dismay and disbelief,” citing “thousands of people, including many Christians, driven from their homes in a brutal manner; children dying of thirst and hunger.”

“All this gravely offends God and humanity. Hatred is not to be carried in the name of God,” the pontiff said. “War is not to be waged in the name of God.”

The pontiff expressed confidence that an “effective political solution on both the international and the local levels may be found to stop these crimes and re-establish the rule of law.” He is sending  his  personal envoy to Iraq, Cardinal Fernando Filoni, will depart today “in order to better ensure those dear suffering populations of my closeness to them,” he said.

Pope Francis thanked “those who, with courage, are bringing aid to these brothers and sisters of ours” and told people he was sending Cardinal Fernando Filoni as his personal envoy to Iraq. Cardinal Filoni, a former nuncio to Iraq and current prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, met the pope privately the evening of Aug. 10 to receive instructions for the mission and a financial contribution “for the urgent needs” of the victims, according to Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman. The cardinal told CTV, the Vatican television center, that he had the impression Pope Francis “would like to go himself to be with these poor people. He entrusted this mission to me precisely so that I would make his affection, his profound love,” clear to the people.

The Vatican said  that the cardinal was expected to leave Rome Aug. 12 and visit Baghdad as well as Iraqi Kurdistan, where many of those displaced by the Islamic State are seeking shelter. Along with perhaps hundreds of thousands of Christians and tens of thousands of members of the Yezidi religious minority, the cardinal said, there probably are “a million displaced people looking for a safe place” to live free from the threat of the forces of the Islamic State, which the U.S. government defines as a terrorist organization.

The U.S. military began airstrikes against the Islamic state Aug. 8 as well as airdrops of food and water for Iraqis forced to flee their homes.

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