Christians from Qaraqosh, south of Mosul in Iraq, are celebrating after their village was liberated from ISIS last week, as Pope Francis denounced “brutal acts of violence” being carried out by ISIS in Mosul.

In 2014 jihadists swept through Qaraqosh, where an estimated 120,000 Christians lived. They fled when ISIS militants gave them a choice to convert to Islam, pay the Islamic jizya tax, or be killed.

Christians who once fled in terror are now celebrating with singing and dancing, while church bells ring out.

As a coalition of 30,000 men, mainly Iraqi soldiers and Kurdish Peshmerga militia, began their offensive to recapture Mosul and the Nineveh Plain, Pope Francis said that the cruelty of the fighting in the Iraqi city of Mosul “makes us cry, leaves us without words”. Speaking as he gave the Angelus blessing last Sunday, the Pope said “Our souls are shaken by the brutal acts of violence that are being committed for too long against innocent citizens, whether Muslims or Christians.”

The retaking of land from ISIS is only the beginning of the process of rebuilding Iraq, said Iraqi Archbishop Bashar Warda of Erbil.

Speaking to Catholic News Service last week, Archbishop Warda said that people must “think again about the education, about the curriculum, about all the violent acts that happened during the last years …

​How to continue reading…

This article appears in the Catholic Herald magazine - to read it in full subscribe to our digital edition from just 30p a week

The Catholic Herald is your essential weekly guide to the Catholic world; latest news, incisive opinion, expert analysis and spiritual reflection