At the conclusion of today’s press conference on the Pope’s apostolic trip to South Korea next week, Fr. Federico Lombardi, director of the Holy See Press Office, gave the following statement on Iraq, on behalf of Pope Francis:
The Holy Father follows with heartfelt concern the tragic news coming from the north of Iraq, which affects defenseless populations. Particularly hit are the Christian communities: a people fleeing from their villages because of the violence that these days is raging and overwhelming the region.
During the Angelus prayer last July 20, Pope Francis exclaimed with grief: “Our brothers are persecuted, they are thrown out, they must leave their homes without the possibility of taking anything with them. I wish to express to these families and persons my closeness and constant prayer. Dearest brothers and sister, so persecuted, I know how much you suffer; I know you have been despoiled of everything. I am with you in faith in Him who conquered evil!”
In light of the anguishing events, the Holy Father renews his spiritual closeness to all those who are going through this most painful trial and he unites himself to the brokenhearted appeals of the local bishops, asking, together with them and for their afflicted communities, that an incessant unanimous prayer be raised by the whole Church to invoke from the Holy Spirit the gift of peace.
Moreover, His Holiness addresses his pressing appeal to the International Community so that, activating itself to put an end to the humanitarian tragedy underway, it do its utmost to protect all those affected or menaced by violence and to ensure the necessary aid, especially the most urgent, to the many evacuees , whose fate depends on the solidarity of others.
The Pope appeals to the conscience of all, and, to every believer, he repeats: “May the God of peace arouse in all a genuine desire for dialogue and reconciliation. Violence is not defeated by violence. Violence is defeated with peace! Let us pray in silence, asking for peace; all, in silence … Mary, Queen of Peace, pray for us!” (Angelus, July 20, 2014).[Original text: Italian] [Translation by ZENIT]