Pope outraged over Iraqi Violence

Pope Francis expressed outrage at violence against religious minorities in Iraq on Sunday. He called on the world “to stop these crimes.”

In a strongly worded message during his blessing, Francis said that the news from the region “leaves us in dismay and disbelief.” He said that “the thousands of people, including Christians, who have been brutally forced from their homes, children who have died from thirst during the escape and women who have been seized.” He also spoke about “the destruction of religious, historic and cultural treasures.”

The pope urged countries around the world to find “an efficient political solution that can stop these crimes and re-establish the rule of law.” He said that his personal envoy, led by Cardinal Fernando Filoni, would depart on Monday for the Kurdish regions of Iraq “in order to better ensure those dear suffering populations of my closeness to them.”

Filoni, the ambassador in Baghdad during the war, will travel to Iraq to show the Vatican’s solidarity with Christians, who have been among the religious minorities targeted by Islamic State militants for elimination. The pope also called attention to the violence ongoing between Israel and Gaza “that kills innocent victims and only worsens the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians.”

The pontiff departs Wednesday for Korea in his first Asian trip.