Pope Francis writes letter to the Iraqi President

Pope Francis wrote to the president of Iraq talking about an end to the “brutal suffering of Christians and other religious minorities” and telling political leaders to end the humanitarian crisis.

Francis said this in his letter to President Fouad Massoum of Iraq:

“I appeal to you with my heart full of pain while I follow the brutal suffering of Christians and other religious minorities who are forced to leave their homes, as their places of worship are destroyed.”

Cardinal Fernando Filoni, the pope’s official spokesperson currently in Iraq, delivered the message during his recent trip to the northern reaches of the country. The two met at the Vatican on Thursday. The pope previously appealed to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to intervene in the crisis.

Earlier this week, Francis said during a media conference that he was ready to travel to Iraq to try to find a solution to the violence. The pope surprised many people when he said that he endorsed military action to stop “unjust aggression” by Islamist militants and their attacks on religious minorities in the region.

“In these cases, where there is an unjust aggression, I can only say that it is licit to stop the unjust aggressor,” Francis said. “I underscore the verb ‘stop.’ I’m not saying ‘bomb’ or ‘make war,’ just ‘stop.’”

It was the best endorsement for using military force by any pope in over 100 years.

Filoni, the former papal nuncio to Iraq and Jordan from 2001 to 2006, during the invasion of the United States, heads the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples at the Vatican currently. He has spent a few days in Irbil supporting Christian refugees and also met leaders in Baghdad. On Wednesday, the Italian Parliament also made a move to send military aid to Iraqi Kurds fighting the Islamic State militia.