WASHINGTON, Nov. 14, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Knights of Columbus have sent a letter of solidarity to the people of Lebanon and Iraq, addressing the recent unrest and protests in those countries.
The letter was signed by Archbishop Timothy Broglio of the Military Services, USA in his capacity as chairman of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops' Committee for International Justice and Peace, and by Knights of Columbus Supreme Knight Carl Anderson, who leads the world's largest Catholic fraternal organization.
"Today, in Lebanon and Iraq, we are witnessing critical moments as protests grow against corruption and foreign interference," said the letter, addressed to the Catholic patriarchs of the two countries. "We pray that the effect of these protests will be a more just society for all the citizens of these two countries."
Under Anderson's leadership, the Knights of Columbus began its advocacy on behalf of religious minorities in the Middle East in 2014 and has committed approximately $25 million in support of persecuted religious minority communities from Iraq, Syria and the surrounding region. Anderson visited displaced Christian communities in Iraq earlier this year and has also testified on behalf of these communities before U.S. congressional committees and at United Nations gatherings.
In their letter, the conference of bishops and the K of C "join Pope Francis in calling on the Iraqi government to 'listen to the cry of the people who are asking for a dignified and peaceful life,' especially in light of the attacks on protesters that have killed hundreds in recent weeks."
The letter also takes note of growing instability in Lebanon and quotes the words of Pope St. John Paul II, who said Lebanon "is more than a country, it is a message of freedom and example of pluralism for East and West."
The letter concludes: "We continue also to watch closely and with concern the situation in other countries in the region where so many have suffered from war and violence, and in the case of Christians, have been targeted often simply for professing their belief in Christ."
The Knights led the effort to have ISIS's crimes declared a genocide by providing the State Department in 2016 with a nearly 300-page report detailing the evidence and legal analysis supporting that determination. Congress passed a unanimous resolution declaring that ISIS had committed genocide and then-Secretary of State John Kerry also declared that ISIS' actions against Christians and other religious minorities constituted genocide.
Last year, the Knights signed an agreement with USAID to help better coordinate responses to persecution and genocide in the Middle East, including through information sharing.
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SOURCE Knights of Columbus