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Did Pope Francis Just Endorse U.S. Airstrikes Against Islamic State Militants in Iraq?

"I can only say this: It is licit to stop the unjust aggressor."

Pope Francis arrives at Seoul Air Base in Seongnam, South Korea, Monday Aug. 18, 2014. Pope Francis wrapped up his first trip to Asia on Monday by challenging Koreans - from the North and the South - to reject the "mindset of suspicion and confrontation" that clouds their relations and find new ways to forge peace on the war-divided peninsula. (AP Photo/Kim Hong-Ji, Pool) AP Photo/Kim Hong-Ji, Pool

After Vatican officials sent strong signals that the Catholic Church might be offering its support for U.S. airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Iraq, Pope Francis once again addressed the dire need to protect religious minorities Monday, though he stopped short of endorsing the current military campaign against ISIS.

"I can only say this: It is licit to stop the unjust aggressor," Francis said during a press conference aboard his plane from South Korea back to Rome, according to CNN. "I underline the verb: stop. I do not say bomb, make war, I say stop by some means."

While the pontiff offered his support for stopping ISIS from the continuation of its murderous rampage, he said that the international community — and not one nation alone — should find consensus on how to intervene.

Pope Francis arrives at Seoul Air Base in Seongnam, South Korea, Monday Aug. 18, 2014. (AP Photo/Kim Hong-Ji, Pool)

"One nation alone cannot judge how you stop this, how you stop an unjust aggressor," he said. "After World War II, the idea of the United Nations came about: It's there that you must discuss 'Is there an unjust aggression? It seems so. How should we stop it?' Just this. Nothing more."

Pope Francis' comments come after Vatican officials greatly departed from the typical peace policy advocated by the Catholic Church and seemingly supported U.S. military action.

As TheBlaze previously reported, Archbishop Giorgio Lingua, Pope Francis’ ambassador to Baghdad, offered some strong words in a recent interview with Vatican radio, saying that the airstrikes were necessary in order to stop ISIS, according to John Allen of the Boston Globe.

“Military action in this moment is probably necessary,” added Silvano Tomasi, ambassador to the U.N., while also speaking on Vatican radio.

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, according to the AP.

Pope Francis celebrates a Mass of reconciliation at Seoul's main cathedral, in South Korea, Monday, Aug. 18, 2014. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

The Vatican's response differs when compared to its disapproval of the U.S.-led Iraq invasion in 2003, though TheBlaze previously noted that the situations are likely viewed very differently in the eyes of Catholic officials.

The Catholic Church teaches that "just war" is sometimes permissible — the use of force in certain scenarios.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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