Vatican official urges Iraq's Christians to forgive, rebuild

VATICAN CITY (AP) — The Vatican secretary of state has urged Iraqi Christians who endured years of Islamic State violence and persecution to forgive and rebuild their broken communities as he celebrated Mass in Iraq's largest Christian town.

Cardinal Pietro Parolin has spent the Christmas holidays in Iraq in a show of Pope Francis' solidarity with the region's Christians, many of whom were forced to flee their homes to escape extremist attacks.

On Friday, Parolin celebrated Mass in the Altahera Syro-Catholic cathedral in Qaraqosh, which was overtaken in 2014. In his homily, the text of which was provided by the Vatican, Parolin praised those who refused to renounce their faith, comparing them to the martyrs of the early Christian church.

He urged Christians to not dwell on revenge but to instead focus on forgiveness.