In a letter to Christian in the Middle East, Pope Francis said he is grieving the violence that has “ravaged and displaced” thousands of Christians.
"I write to you just before Christmas, knowing that for many of you the music of your Christmas hymns will also be accompanied by tears and sighs,” the letter said.
"I think in particular of the children, the young mothers, the elderly, the homeless and all refugees, the starving and those facing the prospect of a hard winter without an adequate shelter," he says. "This suffering cries out to God and it calls for our commitment to prayer and concrete efforts to help in any way possible."
The pope asked other countries to join with him in seeking peace for the area, where Christians have been forced to flee their homes because of religious persecution.
"How much longer must the Middle East suffer from the lack of peace? We must not resign ourselves to conflicts as if change were not possible,” he wrote.
He also called the Islamic State "a newer and disturbing terrorist organization, of previously unimaginable dimensions, which has perpetrated all kinds of abuses and inhuman acts."
Publication date: December 24, 2014