Pope Francis on Sunday expressed outrage at violence aimed at religious minorities in Iraq and urged the international community to find "an efficient political solution" that can stop crimes in Iraq and "re-establish the rule of law."

He said his personal emissary, Cardinal Fernando Filoni, would depart Monday for Iraq.

In a strongly worded message during his traditional Sunday blessing, Francis said the news from Iraq "leaves us in dismay and disbelief."

"The thousands of people, including Christians, who have been brutally forced from their homes, children who have died from thirst during the escape and women who have been seized," he said.

Cardinal Fernando Filoni, the Vatican's ambassador in Baghdad during the Iraqi war, said Friday that his aim will be to offer spiritual help to those forced to leave their homes.

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