WHEREAS, people of faith are widely targeted for persecution around the world by non-state actors such as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and Boko Haram, and by the policies and actions of states classified by the U.S. Department of States as “countries of particular concern”; and
WHEREAS, on several occasions Pope Francis has urged the international community to respond to the persecution of Christians, including during his recent apostolic journey to Iraq; and
WHEREAS, the Knights of Columbus played a major role in the United States’ 2016 declaration that ISIS was committing genocide against Christians and other religious minorities in the Middle East, by preparing and distributing a 300-page report detailing the atrocities and by successfully advocating for unanimous passage of congressional resolutions in support of such a declaration; and
WHEREAS, the Knights of Columbus signed a memorandum of understanding with the U.S. Agency for International Development to collaborate on relief efforts and to share information to help increase the effectiveness of the government’s response to this crisis; and
WHEREAS, persecution of Christians in Africa continues unabated, especially in Nigeria, where the terrorist organization Boko Haram, the West African branch of ISIS, and other anti-Christian entities have murdered more than 55,000 Christians since 2010 and where nearly half of all religiously-motivated murders of Christians occurred in 2020; and
WHEREAS, religious persecution in East Asia is enabled by dictatorial regimes that reject the tenets of religious freedom and enact punitive laws that ban religion, decree certain practices illegal, or subvert religious observances in favor of fealty to the state; and
WHEREAS, the Knights of Columbus dedicated its 18th Marian Prayer Program to Our Lady, Help of Persecuted Christians, thereby encouraging all Knights of Columbus families to pray that the Blessed Mother intercede on behalf of all those persecuted for their faith in her divine Son; and
WHEREAS, in July 2019 Past Supreme Knight Carl Anderson addressed senior government officials from around the world on these issues at the State Department’s Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom; and
WHEREAS, Pope Francis has expressed his appreciation to the Knights of Columbus for our support of those “brothers and sisters in Christ throughout the world suffering from … violent persecution,” which has been accomplished through our Christian Refugee Relief Fund, which has now committed nearly $30 million to support these communities in need.
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the Knights of Columbus stands in solidarity with all Christians around the world who are suffering from violent persecution, and we call on all Christians and people of good will to do the same; and
FURTHER RESOLVED, that we commend those nations providing support to religious minorities seeking to rebuild their lives after persecution and call on all governments and legislative bodies around the world to recognize this genocide against Christians and other religious minorities and to assist these persecuted communities; and
FURTHER RESOLVED, that we call on the government of the United States to continue an aggressive pursuit of religious liberty abroad through its engagement in international organizations and by the authority granted it in the International Religious Freedom Act, the Iraq and Syria Genocide Relief and Accountability Act, and other applicable statutes; and
FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Knights of Columbus pledges to continue providing assistance to those who are victims of atrocities, especially those Christians who have faced violent persecution because of their faith; and
FURTHER RESOLVED, that we call on the government of the United States to take the following three steps: (1) continue to demand that the United Nations assist the communities that have suffered genocide by including them in humanitarian and reconstruction aid; (2) demand that the appropriate international body prosecute those guilty of genocide in Iraq and Syria; and (3) continue to work with the international community to defeat ISIS and similar terrorist groups.