"The news coming from Iraq leaves us in disbelief and dismay: thousands of people, including many Christians, brutally driven from their homes; children dead from thirst and hunger during the escape; women who are abducted; people slaughtered; violence of every kind; destruction everywhere, destruction of homes, destruction of religious, historical and cultural patrimonies," he said.
"All this greatly offends God and greatly offends humanity. You cannot bring hatred in the name of God. You cannot make war in the name of God!"
Following his appeal, the Holy Father led the pilgrims in St. Peter's Square in a moment of silence and prayer for those suffering.
The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has wreaked havoc in the country, forcing Christians to either flee, convert to Islam or face death. The terrorist group took over the city of Mosul and also bombed, and now controls, the biblical city of Nineveh.
The Pope called on local and international organizations to find a solution that will end the violence and restore the rule of law in the region. Earlier this week, the Holy See announced that Cardinal Fernando Filoni had been chosen as the Pope's personal envoy in Iraq. The 77 year old Pontiff informed the faithful present that Cardinal Filoni will depart tomorrow "to better assure my closeness" to the Iraqi people.
Continuing his call for peace, the Pope also called to mind those suffering in Gaza. War between Israel and Palestine resumed after a brief ceasefire. The conflict, he said, "kills innocent victims, children, and does nothing other than to worsen the conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians."
Pope Francis concluded his appeal by inviting all present to pray for peace. "Let us pray to the God of peace, through the intercession of the Virgin Mary: Give peace, Lord, to our days and make us builders of justice and peace. Mary, Queen of Peace, pray for us," he said.
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