'It Is Unacceptable to Kill or Persecute Because of Religion,' Pope Tells Yazidis

Stresses the International Community Cannot Stay Silent in the Face of Your Drama

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«It is unacceptable that human beings be persecuted and killed because of their religious affiliation! Every person has the right to freely profess his religious beliefs without constraints.»

Pope Francis received members of the Yazidi community from Germany before the General Audience this morning,  in the small hall of the Vatican’s Paul VI Hall. The Yazidis are religious minority, many of whom have been killed or forced out of their homelands by ISIS.

The Holy Father began by saying he embraces all the members of the Yazidi community, especially those living in Iraq and Syria. 
«My solidarity and prayers go to the innocent victims of senseless and inhuman barbarism,» he said.
The Pope decried that their history, rich in spirituality and culture, has unfortunately been marked by «unspeakable violations of the fundamental rights of the human person: abductions, slavery, torture, forced conversions, killings.»
Lamenting that their sanctuaries and places of worship have been destroyed, the Pontiff noted that the most fortunate among them have been able to escape, but always leaving everything they had, even their dearest and most sacred things.
«In many parts of the world, there are still religious and ethnic minorities, including Christians, persecuted because of faith,» the Pope reminded, saying, «The Holy See does not tire of intervening to denounce these situations, demanding recognition, protection and respect.»
At the same time, he noted, their constant call for dialogue and reconciliation to heal every wound.
«Once again I raise my voice in favor of Yazidi rights, above all the right to exist as a religious community: no one can attribute the power to cancel a religious group because it is not part of those ‘tolerated.'»
The Pope also remembered the other members of their community still in the hands of terrorists, saying he sincerely hopes «that everything possible will be done to save them.»
«The international community cannot remain silent in the face of your drama,» the Pope said.
Encouraging institutions and people of good will belonging to other communities to contribute to the reconstruction of their houses and places of worship, the Pope stressed the importance of promoting, and not neglecting, efforts to create the right conditions for the return of refugees to their homes and to preserve the identity of the Yazidi community.

«May God help us to build together a world where we can live in peace and brotherhood,» he prayed.


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Deborah Castellano Lubov

Deborah Castellano Lubov is Senior Vatican & Rome Correspondent for ZENIT; author of 'The Other Francis' ('L'Altro Francesco') featuring interviews with those closest to the Pope and preface by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Parolin (currently published in 5 languages); Deborah is also NBC & MSNBC Vatican Analyst. She often covers the Pope's travels abroad, often from the Papal Flight (including for historic trips such as to Abu Dhabi and Japan & Thailand), and has also asked him questions on the return-flight press conference on behalf of the English-speaking press present. Lubov has done much TV & radio commentary, including for NBC, Sky, EWTN, BBC, Vatican Radio, AP, Reuters and more. She also has contributed to various books on the Pope and has written for various Catholic publications. For 'The Other Francis': http://www.gracewing.co.uk/page219.html or https://www.amazon.com/Other-Francis-Everything-They-about/dp/0852449348/

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