Knights to send $2 million to restore Christian town in Iraq

IMAGE: CNS photo/Archdiocese of Irbil

By Josephine von Dohlen

(CNS) — In 2014, the Islamic State removed hundreds of families of religious
minorities from their homes in Karamdes, a mostly Christian town on the Ninevah
Plain in Iraq. Just over two years later, the town, also known as Karemlash,
was liberated.

Knights of Columbus will raise $2 million to assist these families in
returning to their homes, according to Knights CEO Carl Anderson, who announced
their pledge at the Knights’ 135th annual Supreme Convention being held Aug. 1-3 in
St. Louis.

terrorists desecrated churches and graves and looted and destroyed homes,”
Anderson said in his annual report, which was livestreamed from the convention.
“Now we will ensure that hundreds of Christian families driven from their homes
can return to these two locations and help to ensure a pluralistic future for

The Knights are following the
example of the Hungarian government, whose new spending bill allowed for $2
million to be sent to the Archdiocese of Irbil in Iraq, assisting with the
rebuilding of a Christian community near Mosul, Iraq.

Families who were previously
displaced from their homes were able to return to their homeland because of the government of Hungary. This example served as proof to the Knights of the
impact of returning families to their homes.

cost of resettling one family is around $2,000, the amount the Knights are
encouraging councils, parishes and individuals to donate.

Christian communities are a priceless treasure for the church,” Anderson said
to the Knights attending the convention. “They have every right to live.”

Knights have actively sought to provide humanitarian aid to Christians in Iraq,
as well as Syria and the surrounding areas, donating over $13 million. In June,
Anderson joined Rep. Chris Smith, R-New Jersey, and Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-California,
in speaking in a news conference to urge the Senate to pass legislation that
would provide U.S. humanitarian aid to the Archdiocese of Irbil, after the
House unanimously voted in favor of the bill.

Pope Francis commended the Knights for
their work in the Middle East in a letter sent to the Knights at the convention
from Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin. The pope professed his
“gratitude for the commitment of the Knights to supporting our Christian
brothers and sisters in the Middle East,” according to the letter.

Pope Francis
also described the Knights’ relief fund as “an eloquent sign of your order’s
firm commitment to solidarity and communion with our fellow Christians.”

a news conference July 27, Secretary of State spokeswoman Heather Nauert
reaffirmed the use of the word “genocide” to describe the situation of
Christians and other religious minorities in the Middle East.

we look at Iraq and we look at what has happened to some of the Yezidis, some
of the Christians, the secretary (Rex Tillerson) believes, and he firmly believes, that that was
genocide,” Nauert said.

March 2016, then-Secretary of State John Kerry first declared that that ISIS militants’
actions in Iraq and Syria against minority Christian, Yezidi and Shiite Muslim
groups was genocide.

Knights of Columbus also will join the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops for a
“Week of Awareness” for persecuted Christians, which will begin Nov. 26 with a
day of prayer for persecuted Christians.

In his
annual report, Anderson urged each council of Knights to mark this day with
“highest priority.”

work has truly changed history,” Anderson said.

The work
to rebuild Karamdes will begin the first week of August and any funds raised
will go directly to the project.

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