(Vatican Radio) The Holy See’s Permanent Observer to the United Nations in Geneva, Archbishop Silvano Tomasi has renewed his appeal to the international community to stop Islamic State militants from persecuting and exterminating Christians and other minorities in Iraq and other parts of the region. Speaking to Vatican Radio’s Italian Service, Archbishop Tomasi said, “In this tragic context of violence, the Church ‘s job is difficult but continuous. The example of the Holy Father is clear: he continues to appeal to the international community and to all of us believers, to pray that the path to peace will be found, inviting everyone to negotiate and inviting the countries that are capable of stopping the aggressor - through the mechanisms of the United Nations - (to take action).”
“Local bishops, the Patriarchs, Orthodox and Catholics of various rites – the Syriac, Chaldean, Melkite – met a few days ago and clearly formulated important plans of action. First, to ask for help from the international community to stop the violence and the killing not only of the Christians but also of the Yazidis and other groups. We think that Christians are being decapitated and from the photos, you can see the heads are put on hooks like wall or gate decorations. These things are unheard of, truly unacceptable!
“Second, they ask that there is an international presence that guarantees the return of the Christians to their villages and to their homes. It is not right that the international community accepts that automatically, the Christians are condemned to exile. They have the right to live at home, where they’ve lived for 1,700 years, since before the arrival of Islam, so that they can continue (to live there) not only because it is their natural right, but also because they are a presence that is a benefit to the Islamic community and which helps diversify the social context which can slowly favor a democracy that respects the identity of every person and each group.”
Asked if he is concerned about the actions of the Islamic militant group Boko Haram which has terrorized and recently proclaimed a caliphate in Nigeria, Archbishop Tomasi said, “the violence used by Boko Haram is worrying. The fact that the systematic use of violence against innocent civilians – particularly Christians - is a form of power-grabbing poses the question to the international community: how will it react? Nigeria is still doing its best to find a solution to this fundamentalist sect that disguises its thirst for power with religious language but in reality, what is at the root of this movement is (its desire for) domination and control of the territory. So, the international community needs to condemn (Boko Haram) and make it clear that the methods used by these people are completely unacceptable. In whatever manner deemed useful, it must also support the Nigerian government to fulfill its efforts to reject this group.”