Pope summons Mideast envoys to Rome over Islamist advance

October 1, 2014
(A woman prays near pictures of victims who were killed in an attack at the Syrian Catholic cathedral of Our Lady of Salvation, during Christmas eve in Baghdad, in this photo taken December 24, 2010. A French mission to rescue victims of the church massacre in Baghdad has raised questions about the fairness of such operations, with rights groups calling for the rescue of all Iraq's threatened groups, not just Christians. Picture taken December 24, 2010. To match Feature FRANCE-IRAQ/CHRISTIANS REUTERS/Mohammed Ameen )

(A woman prays near pictures of victims who were killed in an attack at the Syrian Catholic cathedral of Our Lady of Salvation, during Christmas eve in Baghdad, in this photo taken December 24, 2010. REUTERS/Mohammed Ameen)

Pope Francis, who has expressed alarm over the rise of Islamic State militants and the plight of Christians in the Middle East, has summoned his envoys in the region to a rare meeting to discuss a response to the crisis, the Vatican said on Tuesday.

The Oct. 2-4 gathering will include Vatican ambassadors to Jordan, Iraq, Iran, Lebanon, Syria, Turkey, Israel and the Palestinians as well as representatives to the United Nations and the European Union.

They will hold talks with more than a dozen top Vatican officials, including Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin, who addressed the United Nations on the Middle East crisis on Monday.

Earlier this month during a visit to predominantly Muslim Albania, Francis issued a strong criticism of Islamist militants, saying no religious group which used violence and oppression could claim to be “the armor of God”.

Islamic State has declared a “caliphate” in the territories it controls in Syria and Iraq and has killed or driven out large numbers of Christians, Shi’ite Muslims and others who do not subscribe to its hardline version of Sunni Islam.

Asked about Islamic State last month when returning from a trip to South Korea, Francis endorsed action by the international community to stop “unjust aggression”.

Parolin, the Vatican’s top diplomat, told the the U.N. General Assembly in New York on Monday that it was “both licit and urgent to stop aggression through multilateral action and a proportionate use of force”.

Islamic State is battling Shi’ite-backed governments in both Iraq and Syria, as well as other Sunni groups in Syria and Kurdish groups in both countries, part of complex, multi-sided civil wars in which nearly every country in the Middle East has a stake.

via Pope summons Mideast envoys to Rome over Islamist advance | Reuters.

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