BALTIMORE - Bishop Gregory J. Mansour of the Eparchy of Saint Maron of Brooklyn introduced a discussion today, during the U.S. bishops' fall General Assembly, on ways the Church in the United States can assist persecuted Christians in the Middle East.
"Although the vast majority of today's refugees are nonChristian; the vast majority of those who serve them are Christians, who continue to be the light of the world and the salt of the earth," Bishop Mansour said. "Today Christians are more united than ever, through a common suffering, a common martyrdom, and a common assistance given to those in need."
The efforts to improve assistance and support Christians in the Middle East cover three main focus areas: advocacy, humanitarian aid, and ecumenical support.
In the area of advocacy, the bishops urge the U.S. government to increase U.S. humanitarian aid and development assistance for refugees as well as internally displaced persons and those countries in the region hosting large refugee populations. The bishops also urge the U.S. Government to promote peace in the region and encourage the building of inclusive governments while working with other nations to stand against ISIS and hold them accountable for their genocidal acts.
Regarding humanitarian assistance, efforts include: developing a plan to assist Iraqi and Syrian Christians in the future in rebuilding churches, hospitals, schools, homes and livelihoods; the promotion of a linking (twinning) of parishes and dioceses between the U.S. and Churches in the Middle East; and continued funding efforts for various Catholic charities including Catholic Relief Services (CRS), Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), Catholic Near East Welfare Association (CNEWA) and Knights of Columbus (K of C).
Efforts in the area of ecumenical and interreligious support include: working ecumenically with interfaith partners to draw attention to the need for basic human rights, full citizenship rights and religious freedom for people in the Middle East; collaborating with human rights and refugee organizations to highlight the crisis and advocate for measures to alleviate suffering; and strengthening ecumenical and interreligious outreach to deepen witness and foster respect and support for Christians and other religious minorities in the Middle East.
The USCCB Committee on International Justice and Peace coordinates and leads the U.S. bishops' advocacy for persecuted Christians and other minorities in cooperation with the Knights of Columbus, In Defense of Christians, and CRS.