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December 24, 2014 10:47 am

In Christmas Eve Letter, Pope Francis Urges Mideast Christians to Remain Steadfast

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Pope Francis greeting onlookers. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

JNS.org In a letter of solidarity before Christmas, Pope Francis urged Middle East Christians to remain steadfast in the face of the emergence of “newer and disturbing” terrorist organizations.

“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,” Pope Francis wrote, calling Mideast Christians the victims of “a newer and disturbing terrorist organization, of previously unimaginable dimensions, which has perpetrated all kinds of abuses and inhuman acts,” referring to the Islamic State jihadist group.

The pontiff wrote that Mideast Christians have been “brutally driven out of your native lands, where Christians have been present since apostolic times.” Pope Francis also wrote that Christians help to promote peace in the region and represent a sign of hope there.

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“Do not be afraid or ashamed to be Christian. Your relationship with Jesus will help you to cooperate generously with your fellow citizens, whatever their religious affiliation,” he wrote.

Pope Francis has frequently spoken out in support of Mideast Christians. During a recent visit to Turkey, he issued a joint declaration with his Orthodox Christian counterpart, Partiarch Bartholomew of Constantinople, saying that “we cannot resign ourselves to a Middle East without Christians.”

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