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Pope: Ensure a better future for the people of Iraq, Syria

The Pope’s address to the Catholic Charitable Organizations on Friday offered encouragement and appreciation for the work that they do in Syria, Iraq and neighbouring countries, but it was also a speech in which the Pontiff made a forceful appeal to the international communityasking 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.”

Appeal for the region

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.”

The Pope added, “ensuring their protection and their future is a demand imposed by civilized behaviour.  It will be through drying the tears of children who have seen nothing but ruins, death and destruction that the world will recover its dignity.”

Speaking to the representatives gathered in the Vatican’s Consistory Hall, Pope Francis told them that the work they were doing with regard to studying the humanitarian aid provided by ecclesial groups, was important to “contributing to a better understanding of the needs of these populations and to coordinate aid to them.”

The Pope said that for “too 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.”

The Christian Community

During the audience Pope Francis reiterated the fact that there was a real risk that “the Christian presence may disappear in the very land from which the light of the Gospel first emanated.”  He went on to say that, “in cooperation with the Sister Churches, the Holy See is working to diligently ensure a future for these Christian communitie

He also said, the whole Church stood with these brothers and sisters in faith 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.”

Pope Francis especially 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”.

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