Pope Francis Sunday told Syrian and Iraqi Christians being persecuted and brutally killed by ISIS that “they have not been forgotten.”
Addressing pilgrims and faithful gathered in St. Peter’s Square following the recitation of the Marian prayer of the Angelus, the Pope said: “Unfortunately, there is no stop to the tragic news coming from Syria and Iraq about violence, kidnapping and the harassment of Christians and other groups.”
The 78-year old pontiff continued: “We wish to assure all those who are involved in these situations that we have not forgotten them. We are close to them, and we are praying unceasingly that the intolerable brutality of which they are victims may be put to and end as soon as possible.”
This week, several Christian villages were devastated by the advance of ISIS’s Islamic militants in northeastern Syria. According to reports, some 350 Christians have been captured, and 15 young Assyrians, many of whom were fighting to protect and defend their villages, have already been killed for their faith.
Pope Francis, who just returned from a one-week Lenten retreat in the Alban Hill town of Arriccia, Sunday reiterated his deep concern and closeness in prayer: “Along with members of the Roman Curia, on Friday I offered the final Mass of our retreat for this intention,” he said.
The Pope then urged the Christian faithful and the international community, “to work to alleviate the suffering of those who are experiencing affliction, often only because of the faith they profess.”
Diane Montagna is Rome correspondent for Aleteia’s English edition.