|August 7, 2015
Dear Brother Knight,
During my annual report at our Supreme Convention this week, the delegates from every jurisdiction in our Order stood and held up an olive wood cross made in Bethlehem as a pledge of support for our brothers and sisters suffering persecution in the Middle East. Then, at our States Dinner, we heard stirring testimony from Archbishop Bashar Warda of Erbil, Iraq, and Archbishop Jean Clement Jeanbart of Aleppo, Syria. Rarely in the history of our Order have we heard such words, delivered by men who daily risk their lives for the Faith.
We have already donated more than $3 million to this cause, and, as an Order, we have pledged to redouble our efforts to do even more.
Please visit www.ChristiansAtRisk.org and help support these brave men and women who have lost everything, simply for their belief in the One who taught us to love one another.
As I noted in my report on Tuesday, we need “a season of truth,” to help bring their story to the attention of the world. I also said:
In Iraq alone, the Christian population has fallen by at least two-thirds, from 1.5 million to less than 400,000. Many of these Christians have fled to the city of Erbil.
In Syria, almost 10 percent of the population is Christian. There, too, violence against Christians has caused a refugee crisis. Thousands have fled for their lives to escape forced conversion and martyrdom.
Just days ago, a headline in The New York Times asked, “Is This the End of Christianity in the Middle East?”
The world remains largely silent. These refugees’ cries for help remain largely unheard. … But neither the United States government nor the United Nations are doing enough.
The blood of these martyrs cries out to heaven for justice. And the blood of these martyrs cries out to you and to me for help.
Through our Knights of Columbus Christian Refugee Relief Fund, we have already delivered more than $3 million to assist our brothers and sisters in Iraq and Syria. Our dollars provide housing and medical care, but we can and must continue to do more.
The Holy Father has also expressed his support for this initiative. The papal greeting to our convention, read Tuesday, was clear.
On the issue of the “protection of religious freedom,” and “in response to the attacks unleashed on minority communities, most often Christian, in various parts of our world,” the letter noted that Pope Francis is “profoundly grateful for the efforts of the Knights to raise public attention to this grave humanitarian tragedy.”
It also expressed the pope’s gratitude “for the practical solidarity shown to suffering individuals and families through the recently established Christian Refugee Relief Fund.” And the pope asked the Knights and Catholics throughout the world to pray for “a conversion of hearts, an end to fanatical violence and intolerance, and a general recognition of those fundamental human rights which are not granted by the state, but from the hand of the Creator, whom all believers invoke as a God of peace.” The letter expressing the pope’s sentiments was signed by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin.
So once again, I ask for your renewed support for these brave, persecuted Christians. Please visit www.ChristiansAtRisk.org to learn more about what is happening there, to help us bring attention to their cause, and to help us support these Christian refugees financially.
Every penny of your donation directly supports humanitarian assistance and raising awareness for persecuted Christians and other religious minorities, especially in the Middle East.
|Knights of Columbus
1 Columbus Plaza
New Haven, CT 06510