Just hours before the Taliban took full control of Kabul, and after leading the Angelus on Sunday’s Solemnity of the Assumption, Pope Francis prayed for peace.

Speaking to pilgrims in Saint Peter’s Square, and the world, he said:

“I join the unanimous concern for the situation in Afghanistan. I ask all of you to pray with me to the God of peace so that the clamor of weapons might cease and solutions can be found at the table of dialogue. Only thus can the battered population of that country—men, women, elderly and children—return to their homes, and live in peace and security, in total mutual respect.”

Caritas Italiana, an Italian Catholic bishop’s charity, has been present in Afghanistan since the 1990s. They’ve said they fear for the safety of all Christians in the country, and may need to suspend their charity work there.

“The instability of the situation will lead to the suspension of all activities. Fears are growing about the possibility of maintaining a presence even in the future, as well as for the safety of the few Afghans of Christian belief.”

In 2018, there were an estimated 200 Catholics in the country. A single Catholic Church is located in the Italian embassy in Kabul operated under the Catholic mission of Afghanistan.

“The Christian community is a small but significant community which in recent years has shown attention towards the poorest and most fragile. After a twenty-year war of incalculable human costs and billions of euros in expenditure, the withdrawal of the U.S. military is leaving the country in a tragic void. As always, the weakest will pay the highest price, already in the tens of thousands fleeing the combat zones, while the Taliban are now in the capital, Kabul. Together with the staff of the embassies, even the very few priests, men and women religious who are in Kabul are preparing for their forced return.”

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