Pope Francis looks from a window owerlooking St.Peter's Square on Sunday. / Alberto Pizzoli, AFP/Getty Images
Pope Francis called Sunday for an end to the violence in Iraq, where religious minorities are being persecuted and driven out by the militant group the Islamic State.
In his weekly Sunday blessing, Francis said the news in Iraq "leave us in dismay and disbelief," citing "thousands of people, including many Christians, driven from their homes in a brutal manner; children dying of thirst and hunger."
"All this gravely offends God and humanity. Hatred is not to be carried in the name of God," the pontiff said. "War is not to be waged in the name of God."
The pontiff expressed confidence that an "effective political solution on both the international and the local levels may be found to stop these crimes and re-establish the rule of law."
Pope Francis' personal envoy in Iraq, Cardinal Fernando Filoni, will depart Monday "in order to better ensure those dear suffering populations of my closeness to them," he said.
Filoni - who acknowledged in a Vatican Radio interview that the region is difficult to reach - was the Vatican's ambassador in Baghdad during the Iraq War.
The pontiff also spoke about war in Gaza saying it "cuts down innocent victims and does nothing but worsen the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians."
Near the end of his blessing, Francis also offered prayers for the victims of the Ebola virus in Africa, where nearly 1,000 have died in Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone since February.
Contributing: The Associated Press
Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Read the original story: Pope condemns religious persecution in Iraq