· Pontiff reminds the international community of the tragedy of refugees in Syria and Iraq ·
Ensuring protection and a future to those displaced by war “is a demand imposed by civilized behaviour”. Pope Francis recalled this in his speech to participants in the sixth meeting of Catholic Charitable Organizations in Iraq, Syria and neighbouring countries, promoted by the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, which began on Thursday, 13 September, at the Pontifical Urbaniana University.
Receiving them in audience on Friday morning, 14 September, in the Consistory Hall, the Pontiff stressed that we “cannot close our eyes to the reasons that have forced millions of people to leave – painfully – their home countries”. He then appealed to all those involved and to the international community “to renew their commitment to ensuring the safe return of displaced persons” to their land of origin.
Expressing his concern, the Pope warned of the “risk that the Christian presence may disappear in the very land from which the light of the Gospel first emanated”. He ensured that “the Holy Church is working to diligently ensure a future for these Christian communities”, supporting them “through closeness in prayer and concrete charity not to give in to the darkness of violence”.
The Holy Father expressed his satisfaction for “the great project of supporting the return of Christian communities to the Nineveh Plain in Iraq, in a special way through the Open Hospitals project”. He encouraged those who work in the name of the Church and asked them to “continue to provide for the education of children, employment for young people, closeness to the elderly and those who are psychologically wounded; without forgetting the wounds of the heart, which the Church is called to heal”.
The Pontiff ended with a heartfelt appeal to the international community: “Finally, and forcefully, I ask the international community not to neglect the many needs of the victims of this crisis, and above all to set aside special interests in order to be at the service of peace, and to bring an end to war”.
St. Peter’s Square
Oct. 22, 2019
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