Pope Francis met with Mar Gewargis III, Patriarch of the Assyrian Church of the East, at the Vatican on Friday, 9 November.

Pope Francis and the head of the Assyrian Church of the East, Mar Gewargis III, have called for an end to the violence against Christians in the Middle East, following their meeting in Rome on Friday, 9 November, reports Catholic news site Crux.

The church leaders said both communities “shared the suffering” of Christians persecuted in the Middle East, especially in Iraq and Syria.

They called on the international community to find “a political solution” to the many conflicts in the region, but also emphasised “the primacy of law, including respect for religious freedom and equality before the law,” necessary for peaceful co-existence among the communities in the Middle East.

“For decades now, the Middle East has been an epicentre of violence where entire populations endure grievous trials every day. Hundreds of thousands of innocent men, women and children suffer immensely from violent conflicts that nothing can justify … Without distinction of rite or confession, they suffer for professing the name of Christ,” the church leaders said in a joint statement, adding that it had led to a mass exodus of Christians from the region.