A prominent human rights attorney has said that “reports that the White House will declare that the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has committed genocide against Iraqi Yazidis, but not against Christians, are of grave concern”. JJ Daniels has called the President’s decision not to name Christian victims as well “a strategic mistake”.
Pope Francis in his Christmas address had called Christians in Iraq and Syria “our martyrs of today”. He referred to the “brutal acts of terrorism” that struck the French capital this year, as well as attacks in Egypt’s airspace and in Beirut, Mali and Tunisia. “Only God’s mercy can free humanity from the many forms of evil, at times monstrous evil, which selfishness spawns in our midst,” he said.
Francis has made the church’s message of mercy the focus of his pontificate, and dedicated an entire jubilee year to stressing it. Holy Years are generally celebrated every 25-50 years, and over the centuries they have been used to encourage the faithful to make pilgrimages to Rome to obtain an indulgence. While ISIS’ caliphate in the Middle East remains intact, in Nigeria Boko Haram, who has pledged allegiance to ISIS, is growing. Moreover, Boko Haram is working on spreading further east, to Central African Republic (CAR).
The U.N. Security Council last week threw its support behind a peace process for Syria, including a cease-fire and talks between the Damascus government and the opposition. The council has also recently endorsed the U.N.-brokered deal to form a unity government that Libya’s rival factions have signed.
Meanwhile, scholars from Notre Dame’s Center for Civil and Human Rights and the Religious Freedom Project at Georgetown University’s Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs gathered in Rome to present their research which confirms yet again, that Christian persecution is on the rise.