Pope Francis appeals to International Community for victims of Syria, Iraq

More than 50 Catholic charity organizations, representatives of episcopal conferences and ecclesial institutions and religious congregations operating in Syria, Iraq and neighbouring countries gathered at the John Paul II Auditorium of the Pontifical Urban University to take part in a meeting organised by the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development on September 13 and 14, 2018.

While expressing deep appreciation to the organisations for their apostolate in Syria, Iraq and neighbouring countries, Pope Francis in his address at the conference last Friday, made a passionate appeal to the international community asking them “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.”

“We cannot close our eyes”, he said, “to the reasons that have forced millions of people to leave, painfully, their home countries.  At the same time, I encourage all parties involved, and the international community, to renew their commitment to ensuring the safe return of displaced persons to their homes.”

For so many years the conflicts of bloodshed in that region, and the situation of peoples in Syria, Iraq and neighbouring countries, have continued to cause great concern and there is a real risk that “the Christian presence may disappear in the very land from which the light of the Gospel first emanated.” 

The Pope went on to say that, “in cooperation with the Sister Churches, the Holy See is working to diligently ensure a future for these Christian communities, giving them the courage “not to give in to the darkness of violence and to keep alive the light of hope.”

Noting the many initiatives the Catholic Charitable Organizations promote, the Pope praised in particular “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” and encouraged those present “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”.