Pope laments Christians fleeing the Middle East

Pilgrims wait to visit the tomb in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem’s Old City 23 March, 2024, the eve of Palm Sunday and the start of Holy Week. (OSV News photo/Debbie Hill)

Pope Francis expressed his concern that Christians fleeing the Holy Land and the whole of the Middle East will leave no Christian presence in the land “where it all began.”

The pope lamented the “dramatic situation” taking place in the Holy Land, where the apostles “received the mandate to go out to the world to announce the Gospel,” during a 27 June meeting with the Reunion of Aid Agencies for the Oriental Churches (ROACO), which is part of the Dicastery for the Oriental Churches.

“Today, all of the world’s faithful are called to make their closeness known and to encourage Christians there and in the entire Middle East to resist the temptation to leave their lands, torn by conflict,” he said, adding that the emptying of Christians from the Middle East is a “terrible situation.”

Pope Francis criticised the pain caused by war, which he said is “all the more jarring and absurd in the places where the Gospel of peace was proclaimed,” and called for a cease-fire so that dialogue may begin for the coexistence of different peoples.

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