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ICC Note: The heads of the Eastern Orthodox and Catholic churches met in Turkey and raised a joint call for the end to persecution of Christians by the jihadist militants from ISIS. The group that espouses radical Islamic ideology has committed horrific atrocities across Iraq and Syria and has been responsible for hundreds of thousands of Christians fleeing their homelands.

11/30/2014 Turkey (USA Today) – Pope Francis and the spiritual leader of the world’s Orthodox Christians demanded an end to the violent persecution of Christians in Syria and Iraq on Sunday and called for dialogue with Muslims, capping Francis’ three-day visit to Turkey with a show of unity.

Francis and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I issued a joint declaration urging leaders in the region to intensify help to victims of the Islamic State group, and especially to allow Christians who have had a presence in the region for 2,000 years to remain on their native lands.

“The terrible situation of Christians and all those who are suffering in the Middle East calls not only for our constant prayer but also for an appropriate response on the part of the international community,” they wrote.

The statement was issued at the end of Francis’ first trip to Turkey during which he prayed in one of Istanbul’s most important mosques. He was also set to meet with a few of the 1.6 million refugees who have crossed into Turkey to flee the IS assault in neighboring Syria and Iraq.

Francis, who represents the 1.2 billion-strong Catholic Church, and Bartholomew, the spiritual leader of the world’s 300 million Orthodox Christians, called for “constructive dialogue” with Islam “based on mutual respect and friendship.”

“Inspired by common values and strengthened by genuine fraternal sentiments, 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,” they said.

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