(JNS.org) In a letter of solidarity before Christmas, Pope Francis urged Middle East Christians to remain steadfast in the face of the emergence of “newer and disturbing” terrorist organizations.
“I write to you just before Christmas, knowing that for many of you the music of your Christmas hymns will also be accompanied by tears and sighs,” Pope Francis wrote, calling Mideast Christians the victims of “a newer and disturbing terrorist organization, of previously unimaginable dimensions, which has perpetrated all kinds of abuses and inhuman acts,” referring to the Islamic State jihadist group.
The pontiff wrote that Mideast Christians have been “brutally driven out of your native lands, where Christians have been present since apostolic times.” Pope Francis also wrote that Christians help to promote peace in the region and represent a sign of hope there.
“Do not be afraid or ashamed to be Christian. Your relationship with Jesus will help you to cooperate generously with your fellow citizens, whatever their religious affiliation,” he wrote.
Pope Francis has frequently spoken out in support of Mideast Christians. During a recent visit to Turkey, he issued a joint declaration with his Orthodox Christian counterpart, Partiarch Bartholomew of Constantinople, saying that “we cannot resign ourselves to a Middle East without Christians.”