ISTANBUL — Pope Francis said Islamic militants were carrying out a "profoundly grave sin against God" in Syria and Iraq, calling on Sunday for inter-religious dialogue and action against poverty to help end conflicts there. The pope spoke on the last day of his weekend trip to Turkey, which is sheltering nearly 2 million refugees from Syria, thousands of Christians among them.
At a joint service with Patriarch Bartholomew I, spiritual head of the world's 300 million Orthodox Christians, Francis said people of all faiths could not remain indifferent to the cries of the victims of the "inhumane and brutal" war next door. "Taking away the peace of a people, committing every act of violence — or consenting to such acts — especially when directed against the weakest and defenseless, is a profoundly grave sin against God," he said during the service.
It was the third time in as many days that the pope referred to ISIS militants, who have killed or driven Shi'ite Muslims, Christians and others who do not share their ultra-radical brand of Sunni Islam out of swathes of Syria and Iraq.
In a separate joint statement issued during the service at the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the official seat of the Orthodox Christian patriarch, Francis and Bartholomew said: "Muslims and Christians are called to work together for the sake of justice, peace and respect for the dignity and rights of every person, especially in those regions where they once lived for centuries in peaceful coexistence and now tragically suffer together the horrors of war."
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