An obligation to aid the persecuted
The following commentary first appeared as an unsigned editorial in the March 17 issue of the St. Louis Review, newspaper of the Archdiocese of St. Louis. It is provided here through Catholic News Service.
It’s far removed from life in America, but the suffering of Christians and others in the Middle East demands our concern and compassion.
Refugees, displaced people, the elderly, children and the sick in the Middle East are in need of our help. People are dying of untreated illnesses, being kidnapped and killed.
“Many live in agony for their loved ones or suffer when the family is divided on account of forced migration and exodus,” Cardinal Leonardo Sandri and Archbishop Cyril Valil, prefect and secretary, respectively, of the Vatican Congregation for Eastern Churches wrote in a letter to U.S. bishops recently. “They know the darkness and fear of neglect, of loneliness, of misunderstanding. It is a time of trials and challenges, even of martyrdom.”
Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, issued an urgent call March 14 to support a petition to stop genocide in the Middle East and convince the U.S. Department of State to include Christians in any formal declaration of genocide.
On March 17, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said that atrocities carried out by the Islamic State group against Yezidis, Christians and other minorities were genocide, the first U.S. declaration of genocide since Sudanese actions in Darfur in 2004.
Citing the “evil of deadly persecution,” Archbishop Kurtz said: “The very future of the ancient Christian presence in the Middle East is at stake.”
As Archbishop Kurtz stated, the people of God must speak up for our brothers and sisters facing genocide in the Middle East.
In a video on the Knights of Columbus website, Father Michael Barota of St. Mary Assyrian Chaldean Catholic Church in Campbell, California, states that ISIS has targeted Christians and “took everything, our dignity, our churches, our future, our properties.”
The Knights of Columbus compiled a 280-page report that includes information on churches in the Middle East that have been destroyed, Christians who have been killed, kidnapped, raped, sold into slavery, driven from their homes and dispossessed at the hands of ISIS. It also details interviews with witnesses to the atrocities that were collected during a Knights of Columbus fact-finding mission to Iraq in February.
The Collection for the Holy Land on Good Friday is one way to assist the Franciscans of the Custody of the Holy Land in their educational and ecclesial efforts. The Knights of Columbus fund is another way. Let’s do our part.
Help for Holy Land, refugees:
• To support the Christians of the Holy Land, contribute to the Good Friday pontifical collection at churches in the archdiocese, visit www.myfranciscan.org/good-friday or send contributions to the Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land in America, 1400 Quincy St. N.E. Washington, D.C. 20017.
• Contribute to the Knights of Columbus Christian Refugee Relief Fund at christiansatrisk.org, or by sending checks or money orders (payable to “Knights of Columbus Charities”) to P.O. Box 1966, New Haven, CT 06509-1966. The memo portion should indicate that the check is for “Christian Refugee Relief.”
• For information on atrocities against Christians, visit www.kofc.org and www.StopTheChristianGenocide.org.
The views or positions presented in this or any guest editorial are those of the individual publication and do not necessarily represent the views of Catholic News Service or the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.