By Linda Bordoni
Pope Francis has raised his voice in favour of Yazidi rights describing the persecuted community as “innocent victims of a senseless and inhumane barbarity.
He was speaking to a group of Yazidi refugees from Iraq and Syria whom he received in the Vatican before the Wednesday General Audience.
The right to profess one’s faith
Saying that it is unacceptable that human beings continue to be persecuted and killed because of their religious affiliation, the Pope called for the recognition, protection and respect for persecuted minorities and said that every person has the right to freely profess his or her own faith without limitations.
No one has the right to obliterate a religious group
“Once again, he said, I raise my voice in favour of Yazidi rights, above all for the right to exist as a religious community: no one can claim the power to obliterate a religious group because it is not tolerated.
To those present the Pope said “Your history, rich in spirituality and culture, has unfortunately been marked by unspeakable violations of the fundamental rights of the human person: abductions, slavery, torture, forced conversions, killings. Your sanctuaries and places of worship have been destroyed. The luckiest among you have been able to escape, leaving behind everything you had, even the dearest and most sacred things”.
In his address Francis also recalled that “in many parts of the world” there are still religious and ethnic minorities, including Christians, who are persecuted because of their faith.
The Holy See's position
He said the Holy See never tires of intervening to denounce these situations or of demanding recognition, protection and respect while exhorting “dialogue and reconciliation to heal every wound”.
Man capable of planning annihilation of the other
“The darkest forces can be unleashed from the heart of man”, the Pope continued, making him capable of planning “the annihilation of his brother, of considering him an enemy, an adversary, or even an individual without his same human dignity”.
He appealed to all not to forget community members who are still in the hands of terrorists and expressed his hope that everything possible will be done to save them, to trace those who are missing and to give identity and a worthy burial to those who have been killed.
“The international community cannot remain a silent and unresponsive spectator in the face of your tragedy” he said.
The return of refugees
Pope Francis concluded his address encouraging institutions and people of good will who belong to other communities to contribute “to the reconstruction of homes and of places of worship” without neglecting to push forward concrete efforts and create the conditions for the return of the refugees to their homes and the preservation of their identity.