Christians could vanish from Middle East due to 'murderous indifference' of world govts, Pope warns

Christians could vanish from Middle East due to 'murderous indifference' of world govts, Pope warns
There is a “deep danger” that Christians will disappear from the Middle East, Pope Francis has warned, blaming “murderous indifference” to violence that has forced tens of thousands of Christians to flee their homes.

Speaking to leaders of Middle East churches in the Italian city of Bari on Saturday, the pontiff said there is a “danger that the presence of our brothers and sisters in the faith will disappear, disfiguring the very face of the region.” He added that a Middle East without Christians “would not be the Middle East.”

In his opening prayer, Francis described the Middle East as being “covered by dark clouds of war, violence, and destruction, instances of occupation and varieties of fundamentalism, forced migration, and neglect.” All of that, he said, “has taken place amid the complicit silence of many.”

The pontiff went on to address the “indifference” exhibited by regional powers to have sought power and profit at the expense of people in the region. “Indifference kills, and we desire to lift up our voices in opposition to this murderous indifference.”

He denounced the weapons trade that fuels wars in the region, and appealed to global powers to end their “thirst for profit that surreptitiously exploits oil and gas fields without regard for our common home, with no scruples about the fact that the energy market now dictates the law of co-existence among peoples.”

At the end of his address, the pontiff expressed hope that through prayer and working together, the “art of encounter will prevail over strategies of conflict.”

Francis has long been an outspoken opponent of wars. In November, he called them “useless massacres” that “produce nothing other than cemeteries and death.” 

The proportion of Christians living in the Middle East has fallen from 20 percent before WWI to four percent today, according to the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.

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