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Knights of Columbus to focus on helping persecuted Christians in the Middle East

2015-08-14

The Knights of Columbus is one of the Catholic Church's biggest service organizations. And now they're helping to take on one of Christianity's biggest challenges in modern times.

The organization's CEO announced at a recent press conference that the Knights would be working to "expose the crimes against humanity that are being committed” against Christians in the Middle East.

The group, which was meeting for its 133rd annual international convention in Philadelphia, will also continue delivering humanitarian aid to the region.

CARL ANDERSON
Knights of Columbus 
"We know that there is much more that needs to be done. Food and education are sorely needed. More housing, more medical care. More of everything, actually, is needed by people who have literally nothing. And the Knights of Columbus will reimburse all of the administrative costs of this program. So 100 percent of the money donated to this cause will go to the people who need help.”

Also present at the press conference were bishops from Iraq and Syria. They delivered powerful testimony about the importance of publicizing the atrocities in their countries.

JEAN-CLEMENT JEANBART
Melkite Archbishop of Aleppo (Syria)
"We have seen people killed, slaughtered. Women violated. Priests and bishops kidnapped. Houses destroyed. Churches and commons invaded."


BASHAR MATTI WARDA
Chaldean Archbishop of Erbil (Iraq)
"Love, and faith, and hope. That's what marks Christians. We have seen and experienced the love of God through all the charity and love that's being given to us to stay there.”

The Knights of Columbus have already donated millions of dollars to the region. They've built permanent housing and supported medical facilities that serve refugees.

The focus on persecuted believers isn't an unprecedented move for the organization. Nearly 100 years ago, they made major efforts to help oppressed Mexican Catholics.

Vatican Secretary of State Pietro Parolin delivered a message to the group on behalf of Pope Francis. According to the cardinal, Pope Francis asked the group to offer "constant prayer” for the "brothers and sisters, who strive only to be faithful to Christ.”


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