Amid escalating tension between the United States and Iran, Pope Francis urged involved parties to exercise self-control and practice dialogue.

Pope Francis’ comments came his midday Angelus address to the Faithful in Saint Peter’s Square on Sunday.

Pope Francis called out the “terrible air of tension” that is “felt in many parts of the world,” without naming any specific countries involved.

He called for involved parties to practice self control and dialogue to avoid war, as “war brings only death and destruction.” He invited all to pray for peace, which happens to be his prayer intention for January: “Let us pray in silence that the Lord may give us this grace.”

“I call all sides to keep alight the flame of dialogue and self-control and to ward off the shadow of enmity.”

Archbishop Leo Boccardi, the Papal Nuncio to Iran, said a concerned Pope Francis is closely following the situation between the United States and Iran. Boccardi said both sides need to to “believe in dialogue, knowing from what history has always taught, that war and weapons.”

“We must believe in negotiation. Conflict must be rejected so that the weapons of justice and good will can be taken up instead. This requires that effort be made to bring the situation in the Middle East to the attention of the international community. Everyone must respect the rules of law.”

Patriarch Louis Rafaël Sako of the Chaldean Catholic Church issued a similar appeal for dialogue in a statement:

“Iraqis are still shocked by what happened last week. It is deplorable that our country should be transformed into a place where scores are settled, rather than being a sovereign nation, capable of protecting its own land, its own wealth, its own citizens. In the face of this delicate and dangerous situation, we implore all the parties involved to exercise moderation, to demonstrate wisdom, to act reasonably and to sit down at the negotiating table to dialogue and seek understanding so that this country might be spared unimaginable consequences We lift our prayer to Almighty God so that He might grant Iraq and the region that peaceful, stable, safe ‘normal life’ that we desire.”

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