The Peace Pulpit: When we live that good news, then we will draw people to God, and gradually our whole world will be changed.
An estimated 5,000 Yazidi women are being held as slaves by militants from the Islamic State group, Pope Francis was told when he met a top-level delegation of Yazidi leaders Thursday at the Vatican.
The delegation was led by Tahseen Said Al Baig, the Yazidis' secular leader, and Sheikh Kato, the group's supreme spiritual leader, or "Baba Sheikh," the Vatican said in a statement.
Yazidi officials from northern Iraq, Georgia and Germany were also among the delegation that met the pope for 30 minutes inside the Apostolic Palace.
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.
The rise of the so-called Islamic State dominated headlines in 2014 as the group sowed death and destruction across Iraq and Syria.
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.
Gathering at "a time of severe tension and conflict," particularly in the Middle East, 24 Catholic and Muslim leaders and scholars urged dialogue to promote greater respect and understanding and condemned all acts of violence committed in the name of religion.
Two months after 3-year-old Christina was snatched by Islamic State militants from a bus as her family helplessly watched, Ayda Abada wonders about the fate of her daughter.
Now sheltering in an unfinished building in the Christian enclave of Ainkawa outside of Irbil, the capital of the Kurdistan area of northern Iraq, Abada replays the scene over and over in her mind.
Sister Habiba's kindly face is etched with sadness as she surveyed the muddy field where dozens of tents sheltering displaced Iraqi Christians once stood.
Cold, punishing rains and blustery wind swept through the encampment Oct. 20, earlier than expected for winter, crashing down the tents in the dead of night. Shoes, slippers and toys were strewn about, stuck in the muddy mess, signaling the mad dash for safety.
Q&A: Even though the news hasn't spent much time on the Middle East recently, Archbishop Silvano Tomasi says the area continues to face war, murder and chaos.
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