National Catholic Reporter

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Iraq

Yazidis thank Pope Francis for his support at Vatican meeting

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.

Chaldean patriarch urges moderate Muslims to challenge extremist acts

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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.

Minority communities wonder why Iraqi government fails to protect them

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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.

Winter's early arrival challenges Iraqi Christians who fled militants

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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.

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