NNA – Pope Francis demanded an immediate end Thursday to what he called “a genocide” of Christians taking place in the Middle East and beyond, describing it as a third world war.
The pope, who has never been afraid to weigh into delicate issues both religious and political, made the comments in Bolivia, the second stop on a three-nation tour to his home continent of South America.
“Today we are dismayed to see how in the Middle East and elsewhere in the world many of our brothers and sisters are persecuted, tortured and killed for their faith in Jesus,” Pope Francis said.
“In this third world war, waged piecemeal, which we are now experiencing, a form of genocide is taking place, and it must end.”
In September last year he lamented a rash of global conflicts, saying they were effectively a “piecemeal” third world war and condemning “terrorism.”
He has also in the past voiced grave concern about the dangers facing Christians around the world, including in Iraq and Syria, where the Islamic State extremist group has overrun large areas in a brutal offensive of beheadings and forced conversions.
His latest remarks, at a so-called World Meeting of the Popular Movements in the city of Santa Cruz, came after he apologized for “offenses” committed by the Catholic Church against indigenous peoples during the colonial-era conquest of the Americas.
The first Latin American pope “humbly” begged forgiveness, during an encounter that included indigenous groups and other activists.
“I say this to you with regret,” he told an enchanted crowd. “Many grave sins were committed against the native peoples of America in the name of God.”–AFP