The Synod of Bishops on Friday denounced “barbaric” violence in the Middle East, saying the Holy Family’s flight to Egypt offers a sign of hope and reconciliation for all families suffering due to armed conflict. “We join with the Holy Father Francis in emphasizing that no one may use the name of God to commit violence, and that to kill in the name of God is a grave sacrilege,” the Oct. 10 message read. The message, addressed to all families who suffer as a consequence of the numerous conflicts the world is currently undergoing, came in the context of the Third Extraordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on the Family, whose meetings are taking place Oct. 5 to Oct. 19. The message offered specific prayers for the families of Syria and Iraq, who have been forced to “abandon everything and flee towards a future without any form of certainty” due to their membership in a certain religious or ethnic community. The synod fathers also offered their thanks to international organizations and communities for their solidarity and invited “persons of good will to offer the necessary assistance and aid to the innocent victims of the current barbarism.” “At the same time we implore the international community to act to re-establish peaceful co-existence in Iraq, in Syria, and in all the Middle East,” the statement continued. In addition to the families of Syria and Iraq, the synod fathers offered their condolences and support to families who are “torn apart and suffering in other parts of the world, and who suffer persistent violence.” “We wish to assure them of our constant prayer that the Lord may convert hearts and bring peace and stability to those who are now in need.” The statement concluded with a petition to the Holy Family of Nazareth, noting they also suffered “the painful road of exile” to make each family “a community of love and reconciliation a source of hope for the whole world.” During the synod, Pope Francis called a special consistory to address the situation of Christians in the Middle East. It will be held at the Vatican on Oct. 20, the day after the conclusion of the extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the Family.
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