The story of the Middle East for 2014 is one of war and displacement, broken families and tireless aid workers and the rise of a new terrorist group.
Chaldean Catholic Patriarch Louis Sako of Baghdad implored moderate Muslims to reject "terrorism in the name of religion" and step up to challenge the actions of Islamic State militants against minority communities in Iraq.
During an international conference of Muslim and Christian leaders, Sako called the situation in Iraq an "unprecedented historic crisis" and called on Muslims in attendance to exercise their responsibility to protect Christian, Yezidi and other minority communities.
Aid to the Church in Need distributed the letter Sako read to the conference.
In Iraqi cities under the control of Islamic extremists, everyone walks in fear amid a new reign of terror.
"Our brothers and sisters are persecuted, they are chased away," Pope Francis said, assuring Christians in all of Iraq and the Middle East of his "constant prayers."