BEIRUT: The Vatican Tuesday called on Muslim leaders to denounce the brutality of the ISIS militants who have taken over Iraq, saying there was no justification for such heinous crimes.
"The terrible position of Christians, Yezidis and other religious and ethnic minorities in Iraq demands a clear and courageous stance from religious leaders, especially Muslims," the Vatican said in a statement.
The Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue condemned militants for the "heinous practice of decapitation, crucifixion and stringing up bodies in public places," while also deploring the kidnapping of women and young girls as well as the barbarous practice of genital mutilation.
"No reason, certainly not religion, could justify such barbarism," the council said.
The council called on parties to unite in condemnation of these crimes and denounce the use of religion as a justification.
Pope Francis on Sunday expressed outrage at violence aimed at religious minorities in Iraq, where fleeing children have died of thirst, and called on the world "to stop these crimes."
The pope urged the international community to find "an efficient political solution that can stop these crimes and re-establish the rule of law." He said his personal emissary, Cardinal Fernando Filoni, would depart imminently for Iraq "in order to better ensure those dear suffering populations of my closeness to them."
Filoni, the Vatican's ambassador in Baghdad during the Iraqi war, will travel to Iraq to show solidarity with Christians, who have been among those targeted by Islamic militants for elimination. Filoni has acknowledged in an interview with Vatican Radio the difficulty in reaching the region where thousands of refugees are starving.