Knights of Columbus, In Defense of Christians mount genocide petition

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(CNS) — As a mid-March deadline approached for U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to
make a decision on whether to make a declaration of genocide in the Middle
East, the Knights of Columbus, based in New Haven, Connecticut, and the Washington-based
group In Defense of Christians have mounted a petition campaign asking Kerry to
make a genocide declaration.

must end its silence about the ongoing genocide against Christians and other minority
groups in Iraq and Syria,” the petition says.

cites as evidence of genocide the assassinations of church leaders, mass
murders and deportations, torture, kidnapping for ransom, forcible conversions
to Islam, and the sexual enslavement and systematic rape of girls and women, as
well as destruction of Christian churches, monasteries, cemeteries and artifacts.

United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of
Genocide defines ‘genocide’ as killing and certain acts ‘committed with intent
to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious
group,'” the petition says.

and irrefutable evidence supports a finding that the so-called Islamic State’s
mistreatment of Iraqi and Syrian Christians, as well as Yazidis and other
vulnerable minorities, meets this definition.”

The State Department is required by law to make a decision one way or the other about genocide by mid-March.

petition, found at, notes others who have made their own declaration of genocide in the
Middle East, including the Feb. 4 declaration by the European Parliament, and
the Feb. 12 joint declaration signed by Pope Francis and Russian Orthodox
Patriarch Kirill. Pope Francis had previously called Islamic State’s actions
genocide himself, The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, the U.S. Commission on International
Religious Freedom and Genocide Watch are among other groups that have issued statements.

aspirants Hillary Clinton — who was Kerry’s predecessor as secretary of state
— as well as Sens. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Marco Rubio, R-Florida, also have called it genocide.

petition already has several high-profile Catholic signers. Among the clergy,
they include Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York; Archbishops Charles J.
Chaput of Philadelphia, Jose H. Gomez of Los Angeles, Joseph E. Kurtz of
Louisville, Kentucky, the USCCB president, and William E. Lori of Baltimore; and
Bishops Oscar Cantu of Las Cruces, New Mexico, Gregory Mansour of the Brooklyn, N.Y.-based
Maronite Diocese of St. Maron, and Sarhad Y. Jammo, who heads the San Diego-based Eparchy of St. Peter the Apostle. The Chaldean eparchy has a large population of Chaldean Catholic
refugees who have come to the U.S.

the lay Catholic signers are Supreme Knight Carl Anderson; Thomas
Farr, director of the Religious Freedom Project at the Georgetown University’s
Berkeley Center; Mary Ann Glendon, former U.S. ambassador to the Vatican; and
the Ethics and Public Policy Center’s George Weigel, who wrote an authorized
biography of St. John Paul II.

On Capitol Hill Dec. 9, several groups testified at a House hearing urging the Sate Department declare the situation genocide. On Dec. 4, Washington Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl was among 30 Christian leaders who asked to meet with Kerry to discuss the issue.


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