Pope Francis is speaking out against he violence of ISIS in Iraq, saying the terrorist group offends God and humanity.
The Roman Catholic leader denounced the Iraq militant group during his weekly address in Rome on Sunday. The radical ISIS has taken over large portions of Iraq and into Syria, brutally executing those who do not share the group’s Salafi Wahhabi beliefs.
“We are left incredulous and dismayed by the news coming from Iraq,” Pope Francis said, days after the United States started precision strikes against the group.
“Thousands of people, among them many Christians, banished brutally from their houses, children dying of hunger and thirst as they flee, women kidnapped, people massacred, violence of all kinds, destruction everywhere… All of this deeply offends God and deeply offends humanity.”
For several days, Pope Francis has tweeted calls to pray for the people of Iraq.
ISIS in Iraq has been blamed for thousands of executions, including the slaughter of tens of thousands of the Yazidi minority group. ISIS fighters have taken over areas where the group is prevalent, driving 40,000 Yazidi onto a remote mountaintop, where several hundred have been slaughtered.
Christians have been targeted by ISIS in Iraq as well. The group captured the nation’s largest Christian cities, demanding that Christian followers either convert to Islam or be killed.
There have been some disputed reports that ISIS soldiers in Iraq have been targeting Christian children, killing and beheading many of them.
Though some have dismissed the reports as propaganda, prominent Chaldean-American businessman Mark Arabo told CNN during a Skype interview, “There is a park in Mosul, where they actually beheaded children and put their heads on a stick and have them in the park.”
“The world hasn’t seen this kind of atrocity in generations,” he said, noting that ISIS is quite proud of their massacres of innocent civilians.
The ISIS denouncement from Pope Francis comes just days after he implored world leaders to bring an end to conflicts and bring peace.