1. ITV Report

Archbishop of Westminster: Pray for the people of Iraq

Cardinal Vincent called on people to pray for those in northern Iraq. Photo: ITV News

The leader of the Catholic Church in England and Wales has called on all people to pray for the people of northern Iraq who need to be protected from the "evil force" at work in the country.

Cardinal Vincent Nichols, the Archbishop of Westminster, said every Catholic Bishop in Europe had asked their congregation to pray for those being persecuted by fighters from the extremist Islamic State group, previously known as Isis.

He added: "I would extend that to anyone who has a moment in which they pray during the day, please pray for this situation and these people who are being brutalised in this way."

Cardinal Nichols called the Islamic State fighters a "cruel, tyrannical movement that is behaving in the way of medieval marauders."

Islamic State fighters were compared to 'medieval marauders' by Cardinal Vincent. Credit: Reuters

He said: "They are just seeking to impose their world view on he cradle of the Christian faith, the Jewish faith and the Islamic faith and they're doing it by utter cruel domination and destruction."

He added that the group's "focused deliberate killing and oppression" was "the definition of genocide," on people who have lived in the region for 1900 years.

He said: "These people need protection. There is an evil force at work in this land and people have to be protected from it. How that is done is for political leaders to work out."

As someone who thinks that violence often leads to more violence, Cardinal Vincent said he was unsure whether airstrikes would work, adding that it was decision to be taken by those in the governments of the US, the UK and Iraq.

But he said: "It is very assuring that, it is very proper that the British government has got an aid passage flowing to these people."

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