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Pope endorses use of force to protect Iraq minorities, but says UN should approve intervention

Pope Francis has endorsed the use of force in Iraq to stop Islamic militants from attacking religious minorities but says the international community — and not just one country — should decide how to intervene.

Francis also said he and his advisers are considering whether he might go to northern Iraq to show solidarity with persecuted Christians, but are holding off on a decision for now.

In comments Monday to journalists returning from South Korea, Francis confirmed he will travel to the United States in September 2015 to attend a family rally in Philadelphia and was considering a three-city tour to address Congress in Washington and the United Nations in New York.

He said a Mexico stop on that trip was possible, as well as a separate visit to Spain.

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