VATICAN CITY: Pope Francis mourns the fleeing of the last Christian from Mosul.
Pope Francis grieved over the fact that last Christian eventually fled from Iraqi city of Mosul. Prior to their exodus, these Christians were given an ultimatum by the ISIS to convert, pay the Jizya tax or leave.
“They are persecuted; our brothers are persecuted, they are driven out, they have to leave their houses without having the possibility of taking anything with them,” Pope Francis voiced his concerns. “I want to express my closeness and my constant prayer to these families and these people,” he continued. “Dear brothers and sisters who are so persecuted, I know how much you suffer, and I know that you are stripped of everything. I am with you in the faith of the one who has conquered evil!”
Pope Francis encouraged those gathered in St. Peter’s Square as well as those watching on television to pray for “the situations of tension and conflict that persist in different parts of the world, especially in the Middle East and in Ukraine.”
“The God of peace will awaken in all the authentic desire for dialogue and reconciliation. Violence will not win over violence. Violence is won over by peace!” he said, and led the pilgrims in a moment of silent prayer.
Members of ISIS, a militant group that operates in Iraq and Syria with the aim of establishing a caliphate in northern Syria and Iraq, overtook the country’s second-largest city, Mosul and the city of Tikrit, seizing portions of Ramadi and Falluja earlier, Tal Afar and parts of Baquba. ISIS at this time controls much of the Sunni areas of northern and western Iraq, as well as cities along the Euphrates River in northwest Syria.
The self-proclaimed Islamic Caliphate declared to the remaining Christian community of Mosul that they needed openly convert to Islam, pay an unspecified jizya tax in exchange for their safety while observing certain conditions, or leave their homes with only their clothes, nothing more. Following this declaration, the houses of Mosul Christians were marked with an “N,” signifying “Nazarenes.” As a result, the Christians have left; this has been the first time in history the city has been without Christians.