Source: Associated Press
VATICAN CITY (AP) — The Vatican secretary of state urged Iraqi Christians who have endured years of Islamic extremist persecution to forgive, reconcile and rebuild their broken communities as he celebrated Mass Friday in Iraq’s largest Christian town.
Cardinal Pietro Parolin has spent the Christmas holidays in Iraq in a show of Pope Francis’ solidarity with the region’s Christian minorities, many of whom were forced to flee their homes during the years of extremist violence.
Parolin celebrated Mass in the Altahera Syro-Catholic Cathedral in Qaraqosh, which was overtaken by the Islamic State group in 2014. In his homily, Parolin praised those who had refused to renounce their faith and instead resisted and went into exile.
“In God’s saving plan, your sacrifices will not be without fruit, as fruitful as the witness of so many martyrs who, from the first centuries of Christianity, bathed this land with their blood and lived their faith heroically to the end,” he said.