Pope Francis met with a delegation representing the Yazidi people today at the Vatican Apostolic Palace.
The Yazidi, along with Christians and other religious minorities, have faced violence and persecution by the Islamic State. There are almost 1.5 million Yazidis worldwide, half a million of whom live in Iraq.
According to Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Holy See Press Office, the delegation was led by the head of all the Yazidi, Tahsin Said Ali Beg, and their Supreme Spiritual Leader, “Baba Sheikh”, Skeikh Kato. Both Ali Beg and Skeikh Kato live in Iraqi Kurdistan. Representatives of Yazidis in Northern Iraq, Georgia and Germany were also present.
“The Delegation thanked the Pope – who was referred to by one of the delegation as ‘father of the poor’ – for his support of the Yazidis in this time of persecution and suffering,” Fr. Lombardi said in a statement.
“They informed him on the situation of almost 5,000 Yazidi women reduced to slavery by ISIS, and highlighted the good relations among the Yazidi and Christians as well as their reciprocal solidarity.”
The Vatican spokesman went on to say that the Pope expressed his support and spiritual closeness to the Yazidi people as well as his hope that justice and peace would be restored to them.
The meeting took place in the private library of the Vatican Apostolic Palace and lasted over 30 minutes.