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Mideast’s Church leaders denounce ISIS for ‘crimes against humanity’

Mideast’s Church leaders denounce ISIS for ‘crimes against humanity’

The Patriarchs and Church leaders of Eastern rite churches have again denounced what they call “crimes against humanity”  committed by Islamic State (formerly ISIS) militants in Iraq and Syria.  Meeting outside Beirut, Lebanon, the Patriarchs condemned the persecution and killings of Christians, Yazidis and other minorities, saying the continued existence of Christians in the region is being threatened by the jihadi group’s campaign of terror.

Thanking those who’ve been offering humanitarian assistance to the displaced, the Patriarchs are calling on the international community to stop the “criminal actions” of Islamic State and  are challenging Islamic institutions to forcefully condemn the extremist group.

The statement is the latest in a series of actions taken by leaders of the Catholic Church’s most ancient rites which originated in the Middle East some two thousand years ago.

Last week, Maronite Patriarch Bechara Rai of Lebanon visited Christian and Yazidi refugees in Erbil, in northern Iraqi Kurdistan.  He joined calls from the Chaldean Patriarch, Louis Sako, to stop the massacre of innocent civilians.

Earlier in August, the Eastern Patriarchs issued a statement saying “Christians in countries of the Middle East are suffering from harsh persecution, being kicked out from their homes and lands by takfiri extremists amid total international silence.”

“We call upon the Arab League, the Organization of Islamic Conference, the U.N. Security Council and the International Criminal Court to take swift, effective and immediate salvaging action,” the statement said.

The Patriarchs appealed to the United Nations to take firm action “to ensure the return of the people to their lands by all possible means and in the quickest possible time.”

(From archive of Vatican Radio)