Thousands of Iraqi Christians are in Turkey waiting, from a few months to a few years, for an answer to their resettlement applications to Western countries.
Pope Francis met with a group of some 50 young refugees from conflicts throughout the Middle East Sunday evening here, before ending his three-day trip to Turkey and heading back to Rome.
Telling the young people -- who had fled violence in places such as Syria, Iraq, and other parts of Turkey -- not to be discouraged, the pontiff promised that he and the Catholic church are with them in their struggles.
Istanbul -- Pope Francis: "The one thing that the Catholic Church desires, and that I seek ... is communion with the Orthodox Churches."
Istanbul -- Visiting an ancient Christian community, Pope Francis called on the church to "throw off defensiveness" to overcome misunderstanding.
Istanbul -- Speaking to Turkish leaders Friday, Francis said the "grave conflicts" in Iraq and Syria "cannot be resolved solely through a military response."
Istanbul -- Francis will visit Turkey Friday and Saturday, but some people there may not even know there are Christians for the pontiff to visit.
Istanbul -- Pope Francis will wade into a complex mix of ecumenical, interreligious, and global political affairs as he visits continent-straddling Turkey through the weekend.
Churches and monasteries in Turkey are struggling to shelter a rising number of Syrian Christian refugees who are reluctant to seek help at government-run relief camps because of reported Muslim extremism, said a Catholic Relief Services staffer.
Sleiman Saikali, program officer for the U.S. bishops' relief and development agency, told Catholic News Service that he met Christian refugees living in and around the southeastern Turkish cities of Mardin and Midyat; some lived in churches and two ancient monasteries.
Michel George Sarkisiyan is behind on the rent for the one-bedroom apartment he shares with his wife and 8-year-old daughter, Magdalena.
That's just one of the hardships the small family has faced since fleeing to Istanbul from their home in Aleppo, Syria, 554 miles away.