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Pope Francis Urges Christians to Pray that God May Soften the Hearts of ISIS

( [email protected] ) May 27, 2016 12:53 PM EDT
Amid ISIS's ferocious campaign in Syria and Iraq against Christians and the Yazidis, Pope Francis is urging the Christian world to pray that God may reach the hearts of the terrorists, and stop them from sowing "death and destruction."
People walk past a destroyed passenger bus hit by an ISIS bomb in the Syrian city of Jableh. Photo: Reuters

Amid ISIS's ferocious campaign in Syria and Iraq against Christians and the Yazidis, Pope Francis is urging the Christian world to pray that God may reach the hearts of the terrorists, and stop them from sowing "death and destruction."

In the latest attack, 160 people were killed in a premeditated bomb attack in Jableh and Tartus, which are the government's stronghold on the west coast of Syria. It was ISIS first large civilian target since the start of the civil war.

The pontiff highlighted these coordinated attacks as he ended his general audience in Rome last Wednesday, describing the victims as "defenseless civilians of beloved Syria."

As this develops, the United Arab Emirates' Islamic Council is inviting Pope Francis in a bid to improve relations between Christians and Muslims.

UAE's Council of Elders has organized a series of talks to build bridges between the two religions. Vatican has accepted the offer provided that the pontiff will be accommodated in the second round of the meeting to take place either in Cairo or at the Vatican.

Dr. Ali Al Nuami, chairman of the council, said they have seen the desire of the Holy Father correct the image of Islam and Muslims in the Christian society. This initial agreement is an offshoot of the first meeting between Pope Francis and Dr. Ahmed El Tayyeb, the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar at the Vatican last Monday.

With ISIS shift of attack targeting civilians, the government and the UN are now concerned about the safety of the hundreds of children across Syria who will be joining the processions and prayer meetings commemorating the June 1 International Children's Day.

At the St Peter's Square, the Pope called on the faithful "to pray to the merciful Father, to pray to the Madonna, that [God] might give eternal rest to the victims, and consolation to their families, and might convert the hearts of those who sow death and destruction."

He reminded the faithful though that a prayer is not like a magic wand that gives a result in an instance, but rather a tool of faith.

"God promptly answers his children, although this does not mean he does it in the time and manner that we would like," he said.