National Catholic Reporter

The Independent News Source

Istanbul

Francis to refugees: 'The church is with you'

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Pope Francis met with a group of some 50 young refugees from conflicts throughout the Middle East Sunday evening here, before ending his three-day trip to Turkey and heading back to Rome.

Telling the young people -- who had fled violence in places such as Syria, Iraq, and other parts of Turkey -- not to be discouraged, the pontiff promised that he and the Catholic church are with them in their struggles.

Syrian Christian refugees turn to churches for help

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Churches and monasteries in Turkey are struggling to shelter a rising number of Syrian Christian refugees who are reluctant to seek help at government-run relief camps because of reported Muslim extremism, said a Catholic Relief Services staffer.

Sleiman Saikali, program officer for the U.S. bishops' relief and development agency, told Catholic News Service that he met Christian refugees living in and around the southeastern Turkish cities of Mardin and Midyat; some lived in churches and two ancient monasteries.

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