Pope Condemns ‘Atrocious, Inhumane and Inexplicable Persecution’ of Christians

In a letter marking the first anniversary of the arrival of Iraqi refugees in Jordan, the Holy Father appealed for a Church ‘that doesn't forget or abandon her children, exiled for their faith.’

A young child at the Sharia Refugee Camp in Dohuk, Iraq
A young child at the Sharia Refugee Camp in Dohuk, Iraq (photo: Daniel Ibanez/CNA)

VATICAN CITY — On the first anniversary of the arrival of Iraqi refugees in Jordan, Pope Francis sent a letter thanking the country for welcoming thousands forced to flee their homes and urged the international community not to remain indifferent.

“Many times I have wanted to give voice to the atrocious, inhumane and inexplicable persecution of those who, in many parts of the world — and especially among Christians — are victims of fanaticism and intolerance, often under the eyes and silence of all,” the Pope said in his Aug. 6 letter.

“They are the martyrs of today, humiliated and discriminated against because of their fidelity to the Gospel.”

Addressed to Latin Patriarch Fouad Twal of Jerusalem and to Bishop Maroun Lahham, the patriarchal vicar for Jordan, the letter was sent on the occasion of the first anniversary of the arrival of Iraqi refugees in Jordan Aug. 8, 2014.

With ISIS forces beginning a major offensive in June 2014, more than 2.5 million refugees — many of them Christian — fled from Mosul and the Nineveh Plan, either to neighboring countries or to Erbil and other cities in the Kurdish area.

In recognition of the anniversary, the president of the Italian bishops’ conference, Bishop Nunzio Galantino, will visit Jordan Aug. 6-7 and participate in various meetings and events. Among them will be several visits refugee centers, the Vatican announced Aug. 6.

Pope Francis marked the bishop’s trip as an occasion to renew his appeal for solidarity and for a Church “that doesn't forget or abandon her children, exiled for their faith.”

The Pope voiced his gratitude to Jordan and the many other countries for refusing to look the other way when refugees began to arrive.

“You announce the resurrection of Christ with the sharing of their pain and the fraternal help which provides aid to the hundreds of thousands of refugees; with your stooping down into their suffering, which risks suffocating hope; with your fraternal service, which also risks many dark moments of existence,” he told them.

On the other hand, Francis stressed that “public opinion” can always be more attentive and quick to participate in helping to end the global persecution of Christians and other religious minorities.

He renewed his frequently repeated appeal for the international community to “not remain mute and inactive in front of such unacceptable crimes.”

Such crimes, he said, evoke an alarming concern for the most essential human rights and impede the richness of peaceful cohabitation among peoples, cultures and different faith practices.

Pope Francis waves to pilgrims during his Angelus address August 30, 2020.

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Reflecting on Sunday’s Gospel, the pope said that “living a Christian life is not made up of dreams or beautiful aspirations, but of concrete commitments, in order to open ourselves ever more to God's will and to love for our brothers and sisters.”