Pope Francis has reached out to an Iraqi priest helping refugees who are fleeing terror group ISIS and are said to be in a “miserable” situation, telling the priest that he is always with him in prayer.
“‘I read your letter,’ said the Pope. He said he was very sorry for everything that was happening to us and he said, ‘Know that I am with you in prayer always. I never forget you,'” Fr. Behnam Benoka told CNA on Sunday, recalling the pontiff’s phone call.
Benoka had written to the pope to tell him of the dire situation thousands of refugees, including many Christians, face in Iraq as they continue fleeing violence from ISIS.
The priest’s letter to Francis, published in Arabic and Italian, read in part:
“Holiness, the situation of your sheep is miserable, dying and hungry, your little ones are afraid and cannot go on. We, priests and religious, are few and are afraid of not being able to meet the physical and mental demands of your and our children.
“I would like to thank you so much, in fact, very much because you always carry us in your heart, putting us there on the altar where the mass is celebrated so that God erases out sins and has mercy on us, and perhaps takes this up away from us.”
ISIS, an al Qaeda offshoot, has captured a number of cities across Iraq and Syria, proclaiming an “Islamic State” in the region and carrying out many atrocities, including mass rapes and beheading of children.