Thanks to the hard work of the Archdiocese of Erbil, millions of dollars in funding from the Knights of Columbus, and an upgrade to the neighborhood’s power grid by the Kurdistan Regional Government, the lights have turned on at McGivney House, and many former refugees now have a home for Christmas.
Since 2014, the Knights of Columbus has committed more than $25 million to food and educational programs, medical clinics, housing projects, rebuilding churches and reconstruction of the town of Karamles, Iraq, which was previously destroyed by ISIS.
Facing genocide, hundreds of thousands of Christians were forced to flee the region in a mass exodus, drastically altering the demographical footprint in the Middle East. Now families will celebrate Christmas in their own homes this year thanks to support from the Knights of Columbus. But Christians in the Middle East still face a “perilous moment” as Supreme Knight Anderson noted in an op-ed in the New York Post.
“The future of the Iraqi state hangs in the balance,” Supreme Knight Anderson wrote. “Either it will become more sectarian under the influence of its more powerful neighbors — or it will become the pluralistic country sought by thousands marching in the streets, including Christians.”
During a recent visit to the Knights of Columbus Supreme Headquarters in New Haven, Conn., Archbishop Bashar Warda of Erbil thanked the Knights of Columbus for supporting the needs of his people.
“We think and believe because we have Christ and we can also make a change within this troubling Middle East, but that comes because of your prayer and your support and solidarity,” Archbishop Warda said.
This support has been made possible through the Knights of Columbus’ Christian Refugee Relief Fund, which directs 100% of all donations to benefit persecuted Christians, especially in the Middle East.
Thanks to the Knights and their donors, in partnership with the Step-In Clinic from Bratislava, Slovakia, tens of thousands of persecuted Christians and Yazidis to receive necessary medical support every year. Often, this was the first medical assistance provided to women escaping ISIS slavery.
Knights are providing safety for persecuted communities by funding a joint initiative with the International Trust Fund of Slovenia and the Austrian Government for landmine removal in northeast Syria. And to help provide for spiritual needs, Knights of Columbus councils around the world are also participating in an “Adopt-a-Parish” initiative, in which they provide direct support for one or more parishes in Iraq.
The K of C has also advocated the U.S. government for support for persecuted communities. The Knights provided the State Department in 2016 with a nearly 300-page report detailing ISIS’ genocidal campaign against Christians, signed an agreement with USAID to help coordinate responses to persecution and genocide in the Middle East and supported the signing of the “Iraq and Syria Genocide Relief and Accountability Act of 2018.”
Last month, the Knights of Columbus and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops signed a letter of solidarity with the people of Lebanon and Iraq, advocating that the governments “engage in a meaningful dialogue” and “remember that they exist to serve the common good of their people.”
Archbishop Warda asks for the Knights’ continued support and prayers.
“We need your voices to speak for the persecuted Christians,” he said. “We have 214 million reasons to speak — that’s the number of the persecuted Christians today.”
The need is dire. Donate now to support persecuted Christians.
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