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Pope defends Yazidis: No one can claim the right to obliterate a religious group

Christ Church Jerusalem-cc
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The darkest forces can be unleashed from the heart of man ...

It is unacceptable that human beings continue to be persecuted and killed because of their religious affiliation, the pope said today, speaking specifically in defense of the Yazidi minority.

“Once again, I raise my voice in favour of Yazidi rights, above all for the right to exist as a religious community: no one can claim the power to obliterate a religious group because it is not tolerated,” Francis said before today’s general audience.

He was speaking to a group of representatives of the Yazidi communities from Syria and Iraq who have found shelter in Germany.

“Your history, rich in spirituality and culture, has unfortunately been marked by unspeakable violations of the fundamental rights of the human person: abductions, slavery, torture, forced conversions, killings,” Francis said. “Your sanctuaries and places of worship have been destroyed. The luckiest among you have been able to escape, leaving behind everything you had, even the dearest and most sacred things.”

In his address Francis also recalled that “in many parts of the world” there are still religious and ethnic minorities, including Christians, who are persecuted because of their faith.

He said the Holy See never tires of intervening to denounce these situations or of demanding recognition, protection and respect while exhorting “dialogue and reconciliation to heal every wound.”

“The darkest forces can be unleashed from the heart of man,” the pope reflected, making him capable of planning “the annihilation of his brother, of considering him an enemy, an adversary, or even an individual without his same human dignity.”

He appealed to all not to forget community members who are still in the hands of terrorists and expressed his hope that everything possible will be done to save them, to trace those who are missing and to give identity and a worthy burial to those who have been killed.

“The international community cannot remain a silent and unresponsive spectator in the face of your tragedy” he said.

Pope Francis concluded his address encouraging institutions and people of good will who belong to other communities to contribute “to the reconstruction of homes and of places of worship” without neglecting to push forward concrete efforts and create the conditions for the return of the refugees to their homes and the preservation of their identity.

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