Before the General Audience this morning, Pope Francis received in the Vatican’s Paul VI Hall members of the Yazidi community from Germany. Below is a Zenit working translation of the Pontiff’s words below:
[Pope’s words before the audience:]
Dear brothers and sisters,
I greet you fraternally and I thank you for this meeting, through which I embrace 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. 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.
Your 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. Your sanctuaries and places of worship have been destroyed. The most fortunate among you have been able to escape, but 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 Holy See does not tire of intervening to denounce these situations, demanding recognition, protection and respect. At the same time, it exhorts dialogue and reconciliation to heal every wound.
Faced with the tragedy that is being perpetrated to the detriment of your community, we can understand, as the Gospel says, that from the heart of man, the most obscure forces can come out, able to come to plan the annihilation of the brother, to consider him an enemy, an adversary, or even an individual without the same human dignity. 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.’
I also think of the members of your community who are still in the hands of terrorists: I sincerely hope that everything possible will be done to save them; as well as to find the missing and to identity and give worthy burial to those killed. The international community cannot remain silent in the face of your drama. I therefore encourage institutions and people of good will belonging to other communities, to contribute to the reconstruction of your houses and places of worship. One cannot neglect efforts are made 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.