Group wants meeting with Kerry before State Dept. genocide findings

IMAGE: CNS photo/Solan Kolli, EPA


(CNS) — A group of 30 Christian leaders, including Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl of
Washington, has asked for a meeting with Secretary of State John Kerry in
advance of the State Department’s declaration of genocides taking place around
the world.

group believes Middle East Christians should be included in any listing of
genocide victims based on their treatment by the Islamic State, commonly called

recently learned that a State Department finding is imminent that ISIS is
committing genocide against the Yazidis,” an Iraqi ethnic group that
traces its origins to biblical times, said the Dec. 4 letter to Kerry. “We
would wholeheartedly endorse that finding, but we are deeply troubled by the
prospect that the department’s statement will either omit or reserve judgment
on whether ISIS is committing genocide against Christians” in the Nineveh
area since summer 2014.

reason given for the State Department not counting Christians as genocide victims,
according to the letter, is that it “lacks sufficient information about
the experience of the Christian communities in Ninevah during that time to
conclude that genocide took place.”

with Kerry, the letter said, would allow the signers “to present the
available evidence of ongoing genocidal acts against Christians in Syria and
Iraq at a level where it can be considered before a finding is made.”

reason is a press report indicating that “unlike Yazidis, ISIS gives
Christians a ‘choice’: They can convert to Islam, pay an Islamic tax, or be
killed, enslaved, tortured or held hostage. The implication is that ISIS abides
by traditional Islamic sharia, under which other ‘people of the book’ — Christians
and Jews — pay a tax in exchange for protection by their Muslim rulers,”
the letter said. “We would like the opportunity to explain why this is
emphatically not the case.”

letter said, “The world recoiled when it learned that ISIS jihadis had
stamped Christian homes in Mosul with the red letter ‘N’ for “Nazarene” in
summer 2014, but the elimination of Christians in other towns and cities in
Iraq and Syria began long beforehand. ISIS genocidal campaign against
Christians continues today, with hundreds of Christians remaining in ISIS
captivity, and with summary executions, including by beheadings and
crucifixions, occurring as recently as only a few months ago.”

added, “Pope Francis has called ISIS’ crimes against Christians by their proper
name: ‘genocide.’ The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and Christian leaders
in the Middle East have done so as well. We agree, and are hopeful that, once
you have seen the evidence, you will too.”

arguing for a meeting, the letter said it was “critically important that
the State Department consider the best available evidence before making any
official pronouncement that rejects allegations that Christian are, along with
Yazidis, targets of ongoing genocidal acts.”

Other Catholic
signatories to the letter include Chaldean Bishops Gregory J. Mansour and Sarhad
Y. Jammo of the Chaldean eparchies of St. Maron of Brooklyn, New York, and
St. Peter the Apostle of San Diego, respectively; Carl Anderson, supreme knight
of the Knights of Columbus; former U.S. Ambassador to the Vatican
Mary Ann Glendon, who now teaches at Harvard Law School; and Thomas F. Farr, director
of the Religious Freedom Project at Georgetown University.

– – –

Copyright © 2015 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at

Original Article