Pope Francis has called the Patriarch of the Syriac Catholic Church Ignatius Youssef III Younan to reassure him that he is following news out of Iraq with concern, especially the dramatic situation of Christians in Mosul.
Pope Francis phoned Patriarch Younan shortly after reciting the Angelus on Sunday to express his solidarity with Iraqi Christians, Vatican Radio reported Tuesday.
Islamic militants threatened Mosul’s Christians with death and seizure of their homes unless they left or converted to their form of Islamic belief. Iraq’s second largest city is now without a Christian presence for the first time in nearly two thousand years.
During the nine minute phone call, the patriarch thanked the Pope and asked him to intensify his efforts to engage world leaders, bringing them face to face with the facts on the ground.
Specifically, he underscored that in the province of Nineveh a massive religious “cleansing” campaign is underway to rid the region of those who do not share the beliefs of the new occupiers.
At the end of the call, Pope Francis bestowed his Apostolic Blessing upon all eastern Christians with the assurance that he “will always keep them in his prayers for peace and security.”
At his traditional Angelus blessing, the Pope offered prayers for Iraqi Christians who “‘are persecuted, chased away, forced to leave their houses without the possibility of taking anything with them” and called for dialogue to resolve armed conflicts.
Patriarch Younan recently denounced an arson attack by members of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) on the episcopal headquarters of the Syriac-Catholic Church in Mosul. (D.C.L.)