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.
Making a Difference: Many of us will enjoy bountiful meals this Christmas season. Can we make it possible for our hungry brothers and sisters to eat, too?
Bullet holes pepper the front windows of the old city council office and paramilitary police in armored jeeps patrol the main street in this mixed Muslim and Druze village in the Galilee region.
Two weeks ago, more than 40 people were injured in a brawl between the two communities, most of them by a grenade thrown into a group of Muslim rioters.
The State Department says it has raised concerns about the use of child soldiers, even as the U.S. aids these Kurdish fighters battling against Islamic State militants in Syria.
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.
The conflict in Syria has affected almost half of its pre-war population of 22 million people. Nearly 3 million are refugees, and 6.5 million are internally displaced.
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.
The Middle East, especially Iraq and Syria, are experiencing "terrorism of previously unimaginable proportions" in which the perpetrators seem to have absolutely no regard for the value of human life, Pope Francis said.
"It seems that the awareness of the value of human life has been lost; it seems that the person does not count and can be sacrificed to other interests. And all of this, unfortunately, with the indifference of many," he said during a special meeting at the Vatican on the Middle East.
The challenge posed by the Islamic State, the violent Islamic movement that has swept across northeastern Syria and western Iraq, should be surmountable.