Pope Francis says religious fundamentalists in the Middle East, “under the guise of religion, have profaned God’s name, which is peace, and persecuted age-old neighbours”, Reuters reports.

Pope Francis (Photo: European Union 2014 / European Parliament / CC)
Pope Francis (Photo: European Union 2014 / European Parliament / CC)

The pope was speaking during a summit of Christian leaders in Bari, Italy, on Saturday, 7 July.

He spoke of the “terrible suffering” in Syria and condemned the “murderous indifference” and “complicit silence of many”.

“There is also the danger that the presence of our brothers and sisters in the faith will disappear, disfiguring the very face of the region. For a Middle East without Christians would not be the Middle East,” he said.

“We want to give a voice to those who have none, to those who can only wipe away their tears. For the Middle East today is weeping, suffering and silent as others trample upon those lands in search of power or riches.”

Earlier this month, the pope welcomed the newly established peace between Ethiopia and Eritrea, ending a conflict that had claimed 80,000 lives, Zenit news agency reported.

“In the midst of so many conflicts, it’s necessary to point out an initiative that one can describe as historic – and one can also say that it’s good news: after 20 years, these days the governments of Ethiopia and Eritrea have begun to talk of peace again together,” he said in St. Peter’s Square in the Vatican on 1 July.