The Vatican has called on Muslim leaders to denounce unambiguously the persecution of Christians and Yazidis in Iraq – and hinted that it is considering breaking off dialogue with Islamic representatives if they fail to do so.
In a statement on Tuesday, the department in charge of inter-religious dialogue said: “The dramatic situation of the Christians, the Yazidis, and other minority religious and ethnic communities in Iraq demands that religious leaders, and above all Muslim religious leaders, people engaged in inter-religious dialogue and all people of good will take a clear and courageous stance. All must be unanimous in their unambiguous condemnation of these crimes and denounce the invoking of religion to justify them.”
In a departure from its customary language in the highly sensitive area of inter-faith relations, the Vatican statement asked: “Otherwise, what credibility will religions, their followers and their leaders, have? What credibility could the inter-religious dialogue [which has been] patiently pursued in recent years have?”
The statement highlighted the fact that the campaign being waged against religious minorities by the Islamic State (Isis) threatens to provoke the biggest crisis in Catholic-Muslim relations since 2006 when the then Pope Benedict gave a controversial lecture in Germany in which he quoted a comment critical of Islam.
Up to 100,000 Christians are reported to have fled their homes in Iraq because of the threat posed by Isis.
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