عدد المساهمات : 38191
تاريخ التسجيل : 21/09/2009
|موضوع: Aug. 05, 2015 Aid for Middle East Christians from the Knights of Columbus الخميس 06 أغسطس 2015, 20:41|| |
Aug. 05, 2015
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Aid for Middle East Christians from the Knights of Columbus
(©Reuters) Christians fleeing Mosul
The Pope sends a message to the convention in Philadelphia: defend marriage between men and women from cultural attacks, protect persecuted Christians
- اقتباس :
The Knights of Columbus has launched an awareness campaign to raise funds for humanitarian aid to Christians in the Middle East, because Christians are more persecuted today than "ever in their history," announced Supreme Knight, Carl Anderson, opening the international convention which takes place from yesterday through Thursday in Philadelphia, in the United States.
“Christians in the Middle East are facing a dire situation – and even extinction – while the response from the international community has been woefully inadequate,” said the Supreme Knight, Carl Anderson. “Pope Francis has urged the international community to take action to help Christians in the Middle East, and, as an organization that has long supported victims of religious persecution, the Knights of Columbus is responding by asking our own members, and the public at large, to help us save the lives of people who are being persecuted simply because of their Christian faith.” In particular, "in Syria 700 thousand Christians have been displaced" since the attacks of the self-proclaimed Islamic State began, 125 thousand Christians have left the Iraqi city of Mosul and 70 percent of Iraq's Christians have left the country since 2003.
The Knights of Columbus, the world’s largest Catholic fraternal organization with nearly 1.9 million members in the United States and other countries, and one of the largest insurance groups in the US, has already donated three million euros in humanitarian aid to Christians and other persecuted minorities in the Middle East. Now they are increasing this commitment with a national campaign aimed at raising both public awareness and funds for this cause.
Among other initiatives, an ad campaign will be broadcast on televisions in the United States, opening with the dramatic situation in Iraq: "For almost two thousand years Christians have called Mosul ‘home.’ Today, not one is left.” The ad, also viewable on YouTube at https://youtu.be/Mq--mXUhNfk, is being launched simultaneously with the new site ChristiansAtRisk.org aimed at raising funds. The Knights of Columbus has not set a target figure, nor have they decided upon the duration of the campaign, Anderson explained in a press conference. Donations will be used mainly to provide housing, education and medical services for refugee Christians, and Anderson, in response to a question, explained that over time the organization could expand its aid to Muslims and other religious minorities affected by Isis terrorism. In Philadelphia, in addition to the two thousand delegates, the Archbishops of Aleppo (Syria), Jean-Clement Jeanbart, and Erbil (Iraq), Bashar Matti Warda, were also in attendance. "My people are scared," said Jeanbart. "It is a very dangerous situation," reiterated Warda.
By engaging on behalf of persecuted Christians in the Middle East, the Knights of Columbus underlines, in a note, how the issue was also addressed by New York Times Magazine - which, in the edition from this past July 26, asked: “Is This the End of Christianity in the Middle East?”
The Knights began its Christian Refugee Relief Fund, on behalf of Middle Eastern Christians, in August of last year with $1 million in matching funds, an amount quickly met and exceeded by its members and the public. The humanitarian assistance provided has included new housing for those who have had to flee their homes, as well as support for medical facilities. The Knights of Columbus has a long history of providing humanitarian relief for emergencies in past years, including the terrorist attacks of 9/11, the typhoon in the Philippines in 2013, Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy, flooding in Mexico, and tsunamis in Indonesia and Japan. Concerning support for the victims of religious persecution, the organization previously created a fund in the 1920s on behalf of Mexican Catholics. In 2014, overall, the Knights of Columbus donated $198 million and 290 thousand hours of volunteer service.
The Pope sent a message to the convention, signed by the Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin. “His Holiness Pope Francis has been informed that from 4 to 6 August 2015, the 133rd Supreme Convention of the Knights of Columbus will be held in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He has asked me to convey his warm good wishes to all present, together with the assurance of his closeness in prayer. As he prepares to visit Philadelphia next month for the Eighth World Meeting of Families, the Holy Father expresses deep appreciation for the steadfast public witness which your Order has borne to our Christian understanding of marriage and the family. Elevated by the Savior to the dignity of a sacrament, marriage is, in the Creator’s plan, a natural institution, a life-long covenant of love and fidelity between a man and a woman, directed to their perfection and sanctification, and to the future of our human family. Today, when the institution of marriage is under attack from powerful cultural forces, the faithful are called to bear witness to this basic truth of biblical faith and natural law, which is essential to the wise and just ordering of society. In meeting the moral, social and political challenges of the present hour, great wisdom and perseverance will be required of them — ‘the patience of the saints, who keep the commandments of God and hold fast to their faith in Jesus’ (Rev 14:12).
For this reason, His Holiness trusts that the theme of this year’s Supreme Convention — Endowed by their Creator with Life and Liberty — will draw attention to the duty of American Catholics, precisely as responsible citizens, to contribute to the reasoned defense of those freedoms on which their nation was founded. The cornerstone of these is religious freedom, understood not simply as the liberty to worship as one chooses, but also, for individuals and institutions, to speak and act in accordance with the dictates of their conscience. To the extent that this right is menaced, whether by invasive public policies, or by the growing influence of a culture which sets alleged personal rights above the common good, there is need for a mobilization of consciences on the part of all those citizens who, regardless of party or creed, are concerned for the overall welfare of society.
“It is the Holy Father’s hope,” concludes the message, “that the program of catechesis and prayer which the Knights have inaugurated in view of the forthcoming Synod on the Family and the World Meeting of Families will contribute significantly to this prophetic witness. The protection of religious freedom must also engage the consciences of believers on the global level, in response to the attacks unleashed on minority communities, most often Christian, in various parts of our world. His Holiness is profoundly grateful for the efforts of the Knights to raise public attention to this grave humanitarian tragedy. He is likewise grateful for the practical solidarity shown to suffering individuals and families through the recently established Christian Refugee Relief Fund. He appeals once more to your Order for constant prayer, in families, parishes and the local Councils, for these, our beleaguered brothers and sisters, who strive only to be faithful to Christ. It is urgent that, from Catholics throughout the world, an unceasing sacrifice of prayer be offered for the 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. Finally, the Holy Father has asked me to express his appreciation for the outstanding charitable, educational and spiritual activities with which the Knights of Columbus contribute to the Church’s mission, and to his own ministry as the Successor of Peter, charged with solicitude for all the Churches.” US President Barack Obama and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper also sent their regards to the convention.
The meeting was opened yesterday with a Mass celebrated by His Excellency, Charles Chaput, Archbishop of Philadelphia, who, in reference to the World Meeting of Families which will be concluded in late September by the Pope in person, called the convention of the Knights of Columbus “the first chapter” of that meeting. Concelebrating were 11 cardinals, 98 bishops and a hundred priests from the United States, Canada, Mexico, the Philippines, Poland, Ukraine, France and the Caribbean.