Pope Francis has called on all the faithful to remember in prayer Christians fleeing the Iraqi city of Mosul, and to continue praying for others caught up in conflicts around the world, especially in the Middle East and Ukraine.
The Holy Father made the appeal after reciting the Angelus prayer in St. Peter’s Square today.
He was responding to news on Saturday that the last of Mosul’s Christians have left the city, driven out by Islamist militants. Until now, the city, which had 60,000 Christians before the Iraq War began, had not been without a Christian presence for 1,600 years.
The Pope said he had learned of the news “with concern” and recalled that in Mosul and in other parts of the Middle East, Christians from the very beginning of Christianity “lived with their fellow citizens, offering a significant contribution to the good of society.”
“Today they are persecuted, they are driven away, they have to leave their homes without the possibility of taking anything with them,” he said. “To these families, to these people, I want to express my closeness and assure them of my constant prayer. Beloved brothers and sisters who are so persecuted, I know how much you are suffering, I know that you have been stripped of everything.
“I am with you in the faith of Him who has conquered evil! And to those of you, here in the piazza and those who are following us by means of television, I address the invitation to remember these Christian communities in prayer.
The Pope also urged the faithful “to persevere in prayer for situations of tension and conflict that persist in different parts of the world, especially in the Middle East and Ukraine.
“May the God of peace inspire in all a genuine desire for dialogue and reconciliation. Violence will not be overcome with violence. Violence is overcome with peace!”
The Holy Father then paused for a moment of silence before praying for the intercession of Mary, Queen of Peace.