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Pope prays for Iraq’s persecuted Christians

By editor - 21 July, 2014

Pontiff assures Christians of the Middle East of his closeness and constant prayer.

Iraqi Christians flee Mosul.

Iraqi Christians flee Mosul.

Courtesy: Vatican Radio

Pope Francis on Sunday expressed his concern for the plight of Christian communities in the Iraqi town of Mosul and in other parts of the Middle East.

Speaking after the Angelus in St Peter’s Square, the Pope spoke of those Christians who are now persecuted in the lands they have lived since the beginning of Christianity, and who offered a precious contribution to the good of society.

“Today our brothers are persecuted,” the Pope said. “They are banished from their homes and forced to flee without even being able to take their belongings!”

He assured these persecuted Christians of his closeness and constant prayer.

“My dear brothers and sisters who are persecuted, I know how much you suffer; I know that you are deprived of all. I am with you in faith in He who conquered evil,” the Pontiff said.

He then appealed to those present in the Square and beyond to persevere in praying for peace in all situations of tension and conflict in the world, and he especially mentioned the Middle East and Ukraine.

“May the God of peace,” Pope Francis said, “arouse in all an authentic desire for dialogue and reconciliation. Violence cannot be overcome with violence. Violence is overcome with peace!”

On Saturday, it was reported that the last of Mosul’s Christians have left the city, driven out by Islamist militants.

Mosul had 60,000 Christians before the Iraq War began, a presence in the city which dates back 1,600 years.

The Pope’s appeal followed his Sunday address to the crowds gathered in the Square for the recitation of the Angelus prayer.

Taking his cue from the Gospel reading of the day, the Pope reflected on the parable that tells of the man who sowed good seed in his field while his enemy sowed weeds. But when the man’s servants offer to pull up the weeds, the man stopped them saying “if you pull up the weeds you might uproot the wheat along with them”.

This parable, Pope Francis explained, speaks to us of the problem of evil in the world and it highlights God’s patience.

The devil, he said, plants evil where there is good, trying to divide people, families and nations.

But God knows how to wait. He looks into the ‘field’ of each person with patience and mercy: he sees the dirt and the evil much better than we do, but he also sees the seeds of good and patiently awaits their germination.

God, Pope Francis said, is a patient father who waits with an open heart to welcome us and to forgive us.

He pointed out that God’s patience does not mean He is indifferent to evil. “One must not confuse good and evil,” he warned.

And at the end, at the time of the harvest, Jesus will judge us all separating those who have sown good seed from those who have sown weeds.

And we will be judged with the same meter with which we judged others; we will be shown the same mercy we showed towards others, the Pope said.

“Let us ask Our Lady to help us grow in patience and in mercy,” Pope Francis concluded.

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