Vatican Official Decries Mass Exodus of Christians Forced to Leave Their HomesBy Staff Reporter
VATICAN CITY, August 08, 2014 (Zenit.org) - The prefect of the Congregation for the Eastern Churches has called for an end to the forced exodus of Christians in Iraq and Syria and appealed for humanitarian intervention in the region.
“These are acts against humanity,” Cardinal Leonardo Sandri declared in a statement yesterday on the situation in the Middle East. Cardinal Sandri's message came on the same day that Vatican spokesman, Fr. Federico Lombardi, made a statement on behalf of Pope Francis, calling for dialogue, reconciliation, and an end to violence.
After thanking Pope Francis for his support and closeness to those suffering, Cardinal Sandri lamented that “more than 100,000 Christians that had to leave their homes, churches and villages” in the plain of Nineveh in Iraq in the night and “now wander to the city of Erbil in impossible conditions," trying to survive.
Given the gravity of the situation, Cardinal Sandri expressed his hopes that “the civil world, public authorities and international organizations will not delay in their indispensable humanitarian interventions, as well as at every other level, to halt, especially in Iraq and Syria, the painful and profoundly unjust exodus of Christians.”
Saying he understands the “immense grief” and “indignation” of Eastern Catholic pastors and faithful worldwide, the prefect stated that he renewed his prayers for those affected, calling the situation a "barbarity." Such attacks, he stated, are “totally contrary to human dignity and full and Christian solidarity, in their treatment.”
Cardinal Sandri said he is keenly aware of the situation in Iraq, as he is in regular contact with Chaldean Patriarch Louis Raphael Sako, as well as Church officials and representatives in the country.
Concluding his statement, the Aregentinian prelate encouraged those in places of autority to continue to alleviate the sufferings of those affected.
“If we do not put an end to the marked general insecurity, fueled by the indifference of many," the cardinal stated, “it is feared, unfortunately, there could be a disastrous outcome.”