islamic state

Pope condemns 'cruel abominations' of Belgium attacks

People gathered at Place de la Bourse March 22 to pay tribute to the victims of the bomb attacks in Brussels. Three nearly simultaneous attacks that day claimed the lives of dozens and injured more than 200.

VATICAN CITY -- Assuring his prayers for the victims and families of the terrorist attack in Brussels, Pope Francis condemned the "cruel abominations" and prayed for the conversion of those who adhere to violent fundamentalism.

"To all, I ask that you persevere in prayer and in asking the Lord in this Holy Week to comfort the hearts of the afflicted and to convert the hearts of those people taken in by cruel fundamentalism," the pope said at the end of his weekly general audience in St. Peter's Square March 23.

Editorial | An obligation to aid the persecuted

It's far removed from life in the middle of America, but the suffering of Christians and others in the Middle East demands our concern and compassion.

The news is barely covered in the U.S. lately, considering the boisterous presidential election campaigns, stock market and oil price fluctuations, weather patterns and other concerns. Even celebrities' comings and goings get more attention.

Refugees, displaced people, the elderly, children and the sick in the Middle East are in need of our help. People are dying of untreated illnesses, being kidnapped and killed.

Knights of Columbus, In Defense of Christians mount genocide petition

WASHINGTON -- As a mid-March deadline approached for U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to make a decision on whether to make a declaration of genocide in the Middle East, the Knights of Columbus, based in New Haven, Connecticut, and the Washington-based group In Defense of Christians have mounted a petition campaign asking Kerry to make a genocide declaration.

"America must end its silence about the ongoing genocide against Christians and other minority groups in Iraq and Syria," the petition says.

European bishops welcome EU classification of Islamic State 'genocide'

MANCHESTER, England-- A European bishops' commission has welcomed a move by the European Parliament to classify atrocities and religious cleansing by the Islamic State as genocide.

Father Patrick Daly, general secretary of COMECE, the Commission of the Bishops' Conference of the European Community, said the designation represented progress in halting the persecution of Christians and other minorities in Syria and Iraq.

"Steps to prosecute criminals and bring them to justice are also imperative," Father Daly said in a Feb. 4 statement.

House committee calls attacks on Christians, others in Middle East 'genocide'

WASHINGTON -- The House Foreign Affairs Committee March 2 unanimously passed a bipartisan measure condemning as genocide the killing of Christians, Yezidis and other ethnic and religious minorities by Islamic State militants in the Middle East.

The House body also passed a second measure unanimously calling for an international tribunal to hold the Syrian government led by President Bashar Assad accountable for war crimes for "terrible atrocities" committed against the country's own people.

Witnesses at hearing say killing of Middle East Christians 'genocide'

Assyrian Christians, who had fled Syria and Iraq, carried placards and waved Assyrian flags at a gathering in late May in front of U.N. headquarters in Beirut. Chaldean Catholic Patriarch Louis Sako of Baghdad said the survival of Christianity in the Middle East has reached such a critical point that the chances of dialogue and reconciliation in the region are being threatened.

WASHINGTON -- A congressional hearing Dec. 9 sought a State Department determination of ongoing Christian genocide by the Islamic State, a designation that could produce considerable pressure for additional U.S. military intervention in the region, not just humanitarian aid.

Such a designation also has policy implications for U.S. efforts to restore property and lands taken from the minority groups and for offers of aid and asylum to the victims.

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