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An ocean of pain

· The Pope calls for non-violent solutions to conflicts in Syria and Iraq and, speaking of the women and children of the street, he recalls that all people have dignity which must be defended ·

“No one can pretend not to know” the “ocean of pain” caused by the conflicts in Syria, Iraq and other nearby countries, nor can we “abandon the victims”. Pope Francis spoke to participants in a meeting organized by the Pontifical Council Cor Unum in audience on Thursday, 17 September. 

There the Pope addressed strong words to the international community which “seems unable to find adequate solutions” to what appears to be, he said, “one of the most overwhelming human tragedies of recent decades”. Among the victims of conflicts, the Pope's thoughts turned to persecuted Christians who are “oppressed because of their faith, driven from their land, kept in prison or even killed”. This is an example that “evil destroys buildings and infrastructures, but especially evil destroys the conscience of man”.

The new martyrs of the Church were also remembered by the Pontiff at another meeting on Thursday. In the Paul VI Hall the Pope met with 5,000 young consecrated men and women. To them, Francis told them he was carrying a small cross given to him by an Iraqi priest. “It was the cross”, he explained, “that he was carrying with him when he his throat was slit for not denying Christ”. These testimonies of “today's martyrs”, he said, are even more numerous than in the first centuries. In response to this aggression and persecution, the Church “responds, bearing witness to Christ courageously”. Thus, the Pontiff said, we cannot “abandon the victims of this crisis, even if the world's attention diminishes!”.

Address to the participants in a meeting on the humanitarian crisis in Syria and Iraq 

Dialogue with young consecrated men and women 

Address to the participants in the symposium on the pastoral care of the street 

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