In light of Holy Week, the Knights of Columbus announced that it will be donating more than $1 million to aid persecuted Christians in the Middle East.
“As we recall the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus, it is particularly timely for us to remember and support our brothers and sisters in Christ who have, in places like Iraq and Syria, endured so much persecution for their faith,” said Carl Anderson, Knights of Columbus CEO, in a recent statement.
“Having faced suffering and even death at the hands of ISIS, we hope that our assistance will help these communities to rise up again and rebuild for the future,” Anderson continued.
The funds contributed by the Knights of Columbus will be used in a variety of different ways. Around $500,000 will go toward a food program run by the Chaldean Archeparchy of Erbil.
Another $300,000 has been committed to the Syriac Catholic Patriarchate of Antioch, which aids upwards of 3,000 families from Iraq and Syria who have been affected by conflict in their homelands. They offer food, clothing, shelter, and aid with education or medical care.
As part of an ongoing initiative to rebuild the Iraqi town of Karemlesh in the Nineveh Plain, the Knights of Columbus are additionally contributing $250,000 to financially aid the process. Karemlesh was destroyed when it was overtaken by the Islamic State, but has since been recaptured. Since then, locals have been committed to rebuilding the primarily Christian town.
While this Easter initiative amounts to over $1 million in financial aid, the Knights of Columbus have now contributed a collective $19 million to support Christians and minorities in the Middle East since 2014.
Chaldean Archbishop Bashar Warda of Erbil noted the significance of the funds, saying that financial support from the Knights of Columbus has contributed significantly to the ongoing presence of Christianity in the area.
“Our people know that without the direct support from the Knights of Columbus to Christians in the region, and without assistance in making our case to the United States government, Christianity might already have been driven out of Iraq completely,” Archbishop Bashar said.
Additionally, Syriac Catholic Patriarch of Antioch Ignatius Joseph III Younan said he has relied on the “compassion and understanding” from the Knights of Columbus in “our plight in the Middle East, particularly in Syria and Iraq.”
The Knights of Columbus is an international Catholic men’s organization with over 1.9 million members, founded upon the pillars of charity, unity, fraternity and patriotism.