Pope Francis says ‘murderous indifference’ of great powers to blame for violence in Middle East

Pontiff also renews calls for two-state solution to Israel-Palestininian conflict during massive gathering of Christian leaders from the region

Saturday 07 July 2018 19:21
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Pope Francis, center, flanked by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, left, and Tawadros II, Pope of Alexandria and Patriarch of the See of St. Mark, free doves in Bari
Pope Francis, center, flanked by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, left, and Tawadros II, Pope of Alexandria and Patriarch of the See of St. Mark, free doves in Bari

Pope Francis has blamed "murderous indifference" for the violence that continues to rage in Syria, Yemen, Iraq and other nations in the Middle East, driving thousands of people from their homes.

The head of the Catholic church said western powers had put profits before people in the region during a gathering of Orthodox patriarchs and Catholic leaders in the Italian port city of Bari.

And, along with releasing a dove of peace, he renewed his calls for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

"So many conflicts have been stoked too by forms of fundamentalism and fanaticism that, under the guise of religion, have profaned God's name – which is peace – and persecuted age-old neighbours," he said.

He specifically denounced the weapons trade that he claimed had fuelled the region's wars, and urged global powers to stop their "thirst for profit that surreptitiously exploits oil and gas fields without regard for our common home."

And he added: “Indifference kills, and we desire to lift up our voices in opposition to this murderous indifference. For the Middle East today is weeping, suffering and silent as others trample upon those lands in search of power or riches."

The meeting was the first of its kind, the Press Association news agency reports. It is the only time so many Orthodox patriarchs from the Middle East have met with the Pope.

In a special service during the day-long gathering designed to highlight the plight of Christians and others in the Middle East, the Pontiff said the region had been “covered by dark clouds of war, violence and destruction, instances of occupation and varieties of fundamentalism, forced migration and neglect.

"All this has taken place amid the complicit silence of many. The Middle East has become a land of people who leave their own lands behind."

Among the patriarchs in attendance were the spiritual leader of the world's Orthodox Christians, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, as well as patriarchs from ancient churches of Alexandria, Antioch and Jerusalem.

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