Pope Francis prayed for an end to Christian persecution in the Middle East on Sunday, one day after Christians were forced to flee the village of Mosul in Iraq following threats from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS), a jihadist militant group.
While leading a moment of silence in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican on Sunday, Francis said that Christians suffering persecution in the Middle East will be the subject of his "constant prayers."
"Violence isn't overcome with violence. Violence is conquered with peace," the pope told the crowd gathered at St. Peter's Square. "Our brothers and sisters are persecuted, they are chased away." more >>
Members of the militant group Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) reportedly torched a 1,800 year-old Catholic Church in Mosul, Iraq and have effectively left that city "empty of Christians" as believers fled the area in fear of their lives, according to Chaldean Catholic Patriarch Louis Sako.
Sources told Shoebat that the ISIS group in Mosul called "Daash" completely burned the Syriac Catholic Diocese and its contents in Mosul. A Chaldean, Syriac and Assyrian Website released photos of the church in flames Saturday.
The torching of the church comes on the heels of the destruction of a number of other Christian monuments in Iraq in recent months including the tomb of biblical prophet Jonah, which was dug up by ISIL militants in the east of Mosul. more >>
Following news that Iraq's dwindling Christians have been forced out of their centuries' old homeland over the weekend, a British academic and scholar of American history demanded to know why their plight had received such scant attention and called the status quo response "worthy of contempt."
Writing for The Telegraph Monday, Tim Stanley, called the ISIS-prompted exodus from Iraq a "war crime that, strangely, no one seems to want to talk about."
The scholar summarized the Christians' plight as "an unattractive choice: convert, pay a religious tax, or be put to the sword." more >>
New York City pastor William Devlin has traveled to Khartoum in Sudan where he has met Christian mother Meriam Ibrahim and offered to help bring and take care of her and her family in the United States.
"The Devlin family has offered to bring this family back to the USA from Khartoum and have them live with us. I have been interviewed by the U.S. State Department in Washington D.C. and I have also met for three hours with the U.S. Ambassador to Sudan here in Khartoum – and his senior staff," Devlin said in an email to The Christian Post on Sunday.
"Furthermore, because of my long term friendship with the Foreign Minister of Sudan, I have met personally with him and asked him to advocate for this family – and have the Sudanese authorities release this family to me to bring them back to U.S.. I have offered to pay for their flights (the four of them) to America and to house them indefinitely in our home – and to provide for their needs." more >>
Thousands of Christians are fleeing northern Iraq and communities they have lived in for almost 2,000 years following militant group ISIS' ultimatum last week that they convert to Islam, pay a tax, or be killed for their faith.
"In my opinion this is a very grave situation. No Western leader is moving to stop such a tragedy but they offer only empty words with no actions," Dr. Munir S. Kakish, Chairman Council of Local Evangelical Churches in the Holy Land, told The Christian Post in an email on Sunday. "ISIS must be stopped before it wipes out Christians from other areas." The Independent noted that ISIS, which has taken control of the city of Mosul and much of the surrounding region, gave Christians until midday on Saturday to comply. The militants have declared the establishment of an "Islamic state" on the territory of Iraq and Syria, where they have also been active.
"We offer them three choices: Islam; the dhimma contract - involving payment of jizya; if they refuse this they will have nothing but the sword," an ISIS statement was read out at Mosul's mosques, BBC News reported. more >>
The lawsuit brought by Christian mother Meriam Ibrahim's Islamic relatives in Sudan has been dropped, a lawyer working on the case said, which could open the way for Ibrahim and her family to soon travel to the United States.
"We are no longer proceeding with the lawsuit," Abdel Rahman Malek, the relatives' lawyer, told Reuters on Wednesday.
Malek did not provide a reason for dropping the lawsuit. more >>