Pope Francis says international community cares more about oil and weapons than persecuted Christians

"While proclaiming peace and justice it is tolerated that traffickers of death continue to operate those lands," Pope Francis said.Reuters

The Pope has berated the international community for prizing "oil and weapons" above the lives of those persecuted for their faith in the Middle East, Vatican Radio reports.

His comments on Monday were made during an address to the Reunion of Aid Agencies for the Oriental Churches meeting at the Vatican this week (ROACO).

He spoke passionately about the ongoing conflicts in the Middle East which "make us feel the cold of a winter and a frost in the human heart that never seem to end".

The Pope added: "The land in these regions, crossed by the footsteps of those who seek refuge, is irrigated by the blood of so many men and women, including many Christians persecuted for their faith."

While the plight of Christians in the Middle East has become more prominent in recent months, he said there still seemed to be international agreements in which "the lives of thousands and thousands of families – women, men, children, and elderly people – seem to weigh less than oil and weapons on the scale of interests.

"So that while proclaiming peace and justice, it is tolerated that traffickers of death continue to operate those lands" he said, referring to the large number of migrants making the perilous journey across the Mediterranean. Many who make the journey to escape persecution risk their lives at the hands of people smugglers on dangerous vessels. 

However, Francis acknowledged and encouraged the work of humanitarian agencies and urged them to continue working with mercy and compassion.

And he called all Christians to join prayer and in seeking justice for our brothers and sisters. "May their cry become ours and together we can break the barrier of indifference that often reigns concealing hypocrisy and selfishness."