(JNS.org) In a rare display of Christian unity, Pope Francis and the Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew issued a joint plea deploring the “terrible situation” facing Middle East Christians.
"We cannot resign ourselves to a Middle East without Christians, who have professed the name of Jesus there for two thousand years," the Church leaders said at a meeting in Istanbul on Sunday, Vatican Radio reported.
“Many of our brothers and sisters are being persecuted and have been forced violently from their homes. It even seems that the value of human life has been lost, that the human person no longer matters and may be sacrificed to other interests. And, tragically, all this is met by the indifference of many,” the joint statement added.
Pope Francis wrapped up his historic three-day visit to Turkey on Sunday, where he also met with various Turkish leaders, as well as toured Christian and Muslim holy sites.
Pope Francis said that he urged Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that "it would be wonderful if all the Muslim leaders of the world -- political, religious and academic, spoke up clearly and condemned" the violence perpetrated by Islamic extremists.