Pope Mourns with Christians in the Middle East in Christmas Letter
by Ruth Gledhill
"In a special Christmas letter to the faithful of the region, Pope Francis says: "I write to you just before Christmas, knowing that for many of you the music of your Christmas hymns will also be accompanied by tears and sighs."
"He calls on the international community to step up its efforts to promote peace through negotiation and diplomacy, "for the sake of stemming and stopping as soon as possible the violence which has already caused so much harm."
"He says: "How much longer must the Middle East suffer from the lack of peace? We must not resign ourselves to conflicts as if change were not possible!"
"He singles out Islamic State as "a newer and disturbing terrorist organisation, of previously unimaginable dimensions, which has perpetrated all kinds of abuses and inhuman acts."
"Christians have been "brutally driven out" of their native lands where they have been present since apostolic times, along with members of other religious and ethnic groups.
"'I think in particular of the children, the young mothers, the elderly, the homeless and all refugees, the starving and those facing the prospect of a hard winter without an adequate shelter," he says. "This suffering cries out to God and it calls for our commitment to prayer and concrete efforts to help in any way possible...'"