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Friday 29 August 2014

Mideast Church leaders denounce ISIS for ‘crimes against humanity’

Maronite Patriarch Bechara Rai

The Patriarchs and Church leaders of Eastern rite churches have again denounced what they call “crimes against humanity”  committed by Islamic State (formerly ISIS) militants in Iraq and Syria.  Meeting outside Beirut, Lebanon, the Patriarchs condemned the persecution and killings of Christians, Yazidis and other minorities, saying the continued existence of Christians in the region is being threatened by the jihadi group’s campaign of terror.

Thanking those who’ve been offering humanitarian assistance to the displaced, the Patriarchs are calling on the international community to stop the “criminal actions” of Islamic State and  are challenging Islamic institutions to forcefully condemn the extremist group.

The statement is the latest in a series of actions taken by leaders of the Catholic Church’s most ancient rites which originated in the Middle East some two thousand years ago.

Last week, Maronite Patriarch Bechara Rai of Lebanon visited Christian and Yazidi refugees in Erbil, in northern Iraqi Kurdistan.  He joined calls from the Chaldean Patriarch, Louis Sako, to stop the massacre of innocent civilians.

Earlier in August, the Eastern Patriarchs issued a statement saying “Christians in countries of the Middle East are suffering from harsh persecution, being kicked out from their homes and lands by takfiri extremists amid total international silence.”

“We call upon the Arab League, the Organization of Islamic Conference, the U.N. Security Council and the International Criminal Court to take swift, effective and immediate salvaging action,” the statement said.

The Patriarchs appealed to the United Nations to take firm action “to ensure the return of the people to their lands by all possible means and in the quickest possible time.”
Text found at: http://en.radiovaticana.va/news/2014/08/29/church_leaders_denounce_isis_for_%E2%80%98crimes_against_humanity/1105416

Cardinal Vegliò: Action is needed to defend minorities in Iraq

Pope Francis on Thursday met with Cardinal Antonio Maria Vegliò, the President of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants, to discuss the plight of those fleeing the Islamist violence in Iraq. The so-called Islamic State controls large areas of both Syria and Iraq, and has been conducting a campaign of terror, especially against religious minorities, including Christians.

Cardinal Vegliò told Vatican Radio the Pope said the Church must be in the forefront  in efforts to  defend the weak.

Cardinal Antonio Maria Vegliò

 “The Church must help those most in need, because their rights are being trampled upon,” he told Vatican Radio.  “The Church is for the poor and the voiceless.  We must be present and never tire of saying these things in homilies and speeches; and to influence, if possible, the political situation.”

He recalled the words of Pope Francis when he returned from Korea, and said “it is licit to stop the unjust aggressor.” Pope Francis also emphasized the means to do this “must be evaluated.”

Cardinal Vegliò said it was up to the “international community” to conduct this evaluation, but warned there would be no excuses if nothing was done.

“It would be the same thing as when Hitler killed the Jews, and afterwards many said ‘no, no, we did not know anything.’ It is total hypocrisy,” he said. “We must do something.”

So far, the Cardinal said the international community has done too little, and faulted the United Nations and Europe, which is geographically close to the region.

“Unfortunately, in Europe we have so many problems, so we are selfish and only think of ourselves, and very little about others,” he said.  “However, our problems are relatively small compared to those of the Iraqi people, who are fleeing to avoid being slaughtered...I hope Europe  shows sensitivity – and some countries have already begun to do so -  and gives them a chance to be accepted in their countries - Germany, France, England, Italy, Spain: All rich countries compared to these poor ones.”

Cardinal Vegliò said he also hopes the Church is part of the solution.

“And when we speak of the Church, we are not only thinking of the Vatican or the Curia,” he explained.  “The Church is a reality everywhere, and the Church has the sensitivity to help these poor people, these migrants, these refugees, these displaced people.”

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