World

Pope leads silent prayer at Vatican for all those abducted by IS militants in Syria and Iraq

Pope Francis delivers his message on the occasion of an audience granted to members of the Italian Confcooperative, cooperative associations, in the Paul VI hall at the Vatican, Saturday, Feb. 28, 2015. (AP Photo/L'Osservatore Romano, Pool)

Pope Francis delivers his message on the occasion of an audience granted to members of the Italian Confcooperative, cooperative associations, in the Paul VI hall at the Vatican, Saturday, Feb. 28, 2015. (AP Photo/L'Osservatore Romano, Pool)  (The Associated Press)

Pope Francis has led tens of thousands of people in prayer in St. Peter's Square for Christians and others who have been kidnapped or are victims of other "intolerable brutality" in Syria and Iraq.

The pope on Sunday also appealed for "everyone, in line with their possibilities, (to) act to alleviate the suffering."

More than 220 Syrian Christians were kidnapped last week by the Islamic State group, with no word on their fate.

Francis called for silent prayers for "these sisters and brothers who suffer for their faith in Syria and Iraq." The packed square fell silent for a minute or so.

The pope said he wanted to assure the victims of kidnappings, abuse and other violence that "we don't forget them."