Knights of Columbus to Raise Awareness for Persecuted Christians in Iraq, Syria

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K of C is co-sponsor of Week of Awareness starting Sunday, Nov. 26
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NEW HAVEN, Conn., Nov. 22, 2017 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The Knights of Columbus is helping organize several informative events next week as it joins the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and other Catholic groups in sponsoring “Solidarity in Suffering,” a Week of Awareness for Persecuted Christians.

The week begins Sunday, Nov. 26, with a day of prayer.

To highlight this issue, the Knights of Columbus has helped organize a number of events, including a memorial mass for victims of ISIS’ genocide, an event at the UN cosponsored by the Holy See’s Mission to the United Nations, and a number of roundtable discussion and talks in New York, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C.

“The Week of Awareness is an opportunity to inform people about the dire situation facing Christians in places like Iraq and Syria where our faith has been present since the time of the Apostles, but could soon disappear,” said Knights of Columbus CEO Carl Anderson. “It is a time to pray, and to offer help and crucial hope to those who have lost everything but their faith for their faith.”

Chaldean Catholic Archbishop Bashar Warda of Erbil will be in the United States for the Week of Awareness. Since ISIS invaded Northern Iraq in 2014, the vast majority of Christians in that country have resided within the Archdiocese of Erbil, where Archbishop Warda has overseen a massive humanitarian operation to feed, clothe, shelter, educate and care for this displaced community, and those of other faiths also in their care. Since ISIS’s defeat in the Nineveh region of Iraq earlier this year, Archbishop Warda has helped oversee the return of displaced people back to their recently liberated homes in nearby Nineveh.

Among other meetings, Archbishop Warda will meet with media at the National Press Club on Tuesday, Nov. 28. He will celebrate a Chaldean Catholic Memorial Mass that evening at 6 p.m. at the Saint John Paul II National Shrine, also in Washington.

The Knights of Columbus and the Holy See’s Mission to the United Nations will sponsor a conference at the UN on “Preserving Pluralism and Diversity in the Nineveh Region,” on Thursday, Nov. 30 from 3 to 5 p.m. Archbishop Warda, Knights of Columbus CEO Carl Anderson and other experts will participate together with Archbishop Bernardito Auza, the Holy See’s permanent observer to the United Nations.

During the week, Knights of Columbus councils throughout the country will also work with their parishes to share information about persecuted Christians and the Knights’ efforts on their behalf, including a $2 million initiative to rebuild Karamles, a predominately Christian town in Nineveh that was previously under the control of ISIS.

The Knights of Columbus has committed more than $17 million to assistance for the persecuted groups and those in their care in the Middle East. The organization has advocated on their behalf, including urging the congressional and state department genocide designations against ISIS in 2016.

The Knights of Columbus has long urged adequate funding for the fragile and too-often-forgotten groups targeted for genocide by ISIS. It applauded Vice President Mike Pence’s recent announcement that the Trump administration will begin providing aid directly to religious minority groups impacted by ISIS’ genocide. The Knights has also been supportive of H.R. 390, a bill that passed the US House unanimously this summer, and is awaiting approval by the US Senate. The bill would mandate that the government provide financial assistance to religious groups that were targeted for genocide.

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