Tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians who have fled the Islamic State terror group to neighboring countries such as Jordan have said they are stuck in limbo, with nowhere to go and limited ways to provide a living. Pope Francis has condemned the world's silence on the issue, while an Iraqi archbishop has said that Christians in the region are hated because they want to keep hold of their faith.
"The Church is unable to offer and guarantee the fundamental security that its members need to thrive. It is no secret that hatred of minorities has intensified in certain quarters over the past few years. It is difficult to understand this hate. We are hated because we persist in wanting to exist as Christians. In other words, we are hated because we persist in demanding a basic human right," His Exc. Mgr. Bashar Matti Warda, C.SS.R., Archbishop of Erbil, said in a statement to Fides News Agency.
The Associated Press reported on Sunday that close to 7,000 Christians from northern Iraq alone have fled to Jordan. They have not been granted permission to work and have not been resettled to the West as hoped, leaving them in a state of limbo. more >>
In a recent letter to Archbishop Maroun Lahham, a Catholic leader considered to be the vicar of the Patriarch of Latin America, Pope Francis stressed the severity of the persecution that many Christians are enduring throughout the world as their neighbors remain silent about the atrocities.
Francis' letter stated that today's persecution against Christians, which often comes from radical Islamic groups such as the Islamic State and Boko Haram, is being carried out "before the eyes and in the silence of all."
"They are the martyrs of today, humiliated and discriminated against because of their fidelity to the Gospel," wrote Francis. more >>
Some of the most influential Christian leaders in the Middle East convened in Syria in late July to urge world leaders to support the persecuted Christian community, crying out for help to remain in the land "watered by the sweat of our fathers."
The meeting in the Old City of Damascus was attended by the five patriarchs of the oldest Christian churches in the Arab world including the Antiochian Greek Catholic Church, the Syriac Orthodox Church, the Melkite Greek Catholic Church, the Syriac Catholic Church, and the Maronite Church. The Vatican's ambassador to Syria also attended.
"We call on everyone who claims to have an interest in our fate to help us to remain," said the Mid East church leaders in a joint statement released from Syria's capital. more >>
The head of the Roman Catholic Church will soon celebrate a mass in Communist Cuba, at a location within sight of an image made in homage to atheist revolutionary Che Guevara.
Pope Francis is scheduled to officiate the mass next month at Havana's Plaza de la Revolucion, nearby a 118-foot artistic rendering of the deceased Communist guerilla.
Professor Michelle Gonzalez Maldonado, Ph.D., a religious studies professor at the University of Miami who specializes in Catholicism and Cuba, told The Christian Post that this will not be the first time a pontiff has celebrated mass at the Plaza. more >>
Addressing the crowds that gathered for Sunday mass at St. Peter's Square in the Vatican, Pope Francis preached from John 6:24-35, and said they should turn their focus away from material needs to Jesus "the bread of life."
"After the multiplication of the loaves, the people had begun to look for Jesus and they found him in Capernaum," Francis said, according to Catholic Culture. "These people followed him because of the material bread that had satisfied their hunger the day before, when Jesus had multiplied the loaves. ... They had given more value to the bread than to its provider."
It was due to this spiritual blindness that "Jesus points to the need to go beyond the gift and discover the giver," Francis explained to the thousands of pilgrims who braved the Roman summer heat. "With these words, he wants us to understand that beyond physical hunger, man has a different kind of hunger — all of us have this hunger — a hunger that is more important and that cannot be satisfied with normal food." more >>
Join Pope Francis in laughter as he struggles to keep his cap on and mantle down in the blustery winds of St. Peter's square during mass and greeting the faithful in Italy and Brazil. Enjoy these hilarious moments captured in photos.
Pontificating in the wind: