WHEREAS, Christians are the group most targeted for persecution around the world according to the Pew Research Center and have been the target of a genocide by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS); and
WHEREAS, Pope Francis has urged government leaders, non-governmental organizations, and people of goodwill to respond to the persecution of Christians; and
WHEREAS, the Holy Father 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” through our Christian Refugee Relief Fund, which has now committed more than $25 million; and,
WHEREAS, the Knights of Columbus dedicated its 18th Marian Prayer Program to Our Lady, Help of Persecuted Christians, and encouraged 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, the Knights of Columbus developed the nearly 300-page report detailing the genocide being waged against Christians and other minorities, and undertook massive publicity, advertising, and advocacy efforts which led to the U.S. Secretary of State’s official declaration of genocide in March 2016; and
WHEREAS, the Order’s advocacy and report were not only decisive in securing this declaration of genocide, but also in securing the unanimous passage of two bi-partisan resolutions, H. Con. Res. 75 and S. Con Res. 33, both expressing the 114th U.S. Congress’ belief that a genocide was occurring and that the international community must respond; and
WHEREAS, the Knights of Columbus has provided critical advocacy, research, and technical assistance to change U.S. policy, thereby helping to end what was tantamount to de facto discrimination against the most vulnerable victims of ISIS; and
WHEREAS, the Knights of Columbus has 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, Congressional testimony by the Supreme Knight established the blueprint for the introduction of H.R. 390, the Iraq and Syria Refugee Relief and Accountability Act, bi-partisan legislation sponsored by Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) and Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-CA), which is designed to help ensure the U.S. Government take the necessary steps to aid these targeted communities and bring the perpetrators of this genocide to justice; and
WHEREAS, the Supreme Knight and members of the supreme office staff have travelled to Iraq and seen firsthand the sufferings endured by the Christian communities there; and
WHEREAS, in July 2019 the Supreme Knight addressed senior government officials from around the world on this issue at the State Department’s Ministerial on Religious Freedom.
NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the Knights of Columbus stands in solidarity with Christians in the Middle East who are suffering from violent persecution and commits to continue providing support while calling on all Christians and people of goodwill to do the same; and
FURTHER RESOLVED, that we commend those nations providing support to religious minorities seeking to rebuild their lives after persecution by ISIS in Iraq and Syria, 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 commend the Government of the United States for its changes in policy designed to assist these vulnerable communities and for its promise of assistance to them, and call on it to direct the designated funding to these communities with all possible speed; and
FURTHER RESOLVED, that we welcome the recent Executive Order directing necessary funding to programs that support those persecuted for their faith and empowering the United States Foreign Service to properly address violations of religious freedom throughout the world; and
FURTHER RESOLVED, that we call on the Government of the United States to take quickly 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.