Pope condemns Islamic State, decries suffering of children

Fri Dec 26, 2014 11:42am EST
 
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By Philip Pullella

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - Pope Francis on Thursday condemned the "brutal persecution" of minorities by Islamic State insurgents and said the joy of Christmas was marred by the suffering of children in the Middle East and around the world.

Tens of thousands of people flocked to St. Peter's Square to hear the Argentine pope deliver his "Urbi et Orbi" (to the city and the world) blessing and message, marking the second Christmas since his election last year.

He condemned Islamic State fighters who have killed or displaced Shi'ite Muslims, Christians and others in Syria and Iraq who do not share the group's ideologies.

"I ask him, the savior of the world, to look upon our brothers and sisters in Iraq and Syria, who for too long now have suffered the effects of ongoing conflict, and who, together with those belonging to other ethnic and religious groups, are suffering a brutal persecution," he said.

Later he departed from his text and spoke emotionally of "children displaced due to war and persecution, abused and taken advantage of before our very eyes and our complicit silence."

"I think also of those infants massacred in bomb attacks, also those where the Son of God was born," he said, without elaborating. Again without elaborating, he spoke of "contemporary Herods," with blood on their hands, referring to the Biblical king who ordered children to be killed because he saw Jesus as a threat to his power.

He also spoke of "infants killed in the womb" condemning abortion as a product of "a culture that does not love life."

Speaking of the plight of refugees he asked that "indifference be changed into closeness and rejection into hospitality, so that all who now are suffering may   Continued...

 
Pope Francis kneels as he leads the Christmas night mass in Saint Peter's Basilica at the Vatican December 24, 2014.  REUTERS/Max Rossi