Pope says 'no Middle East without Christians'

VATICAN CITY (AFP) - Pope Francis on Thursday said the Catholic Church will not accept a Middle East without Christians, who often find themselves forced to flee areas of conflict and unrest in the region.

"We will not resign ourselves to imagining a Middle East without Christians," he said after meeting with Patriarchs from Syria, Irak and Egypt, before calling for "the universal right to lead a dignified life and freely practise one's own faith to be respected."