ROME, September 12, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – With nearly 2 million people estimated as displaced by the Syrian civil war, many of whom are Christians fleeing violent persecution and death at the hands of Islamic extremists, the US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has heeded the calls of Pope Francis for help. To assist pro-life people, LifeSiteNews.com has contacted a fully pro-life and Catholic aid organization, the Catholic Near East Welfare Association (CNEWA), endorsed by the bishops, that specializes in sending material assistance directly to distressed Christians in the Middle East.
In a press conference on Wednesday, Timothy Cardinal Dolan, Archbishop of New York and president of the conference, said that the USCCB's administrative committee “in solidarity with our Holy Father, Pope Francis, and the suffering bishops, churches and people of the Middle East,” have unanimously agreed that the solution to the crisis in Syria is political and humanitarian aid, not military intervention. “Violence spurs more violence, and innocent people, many of them Christians and other vulnerable minorities, pay the price. We bishops offer our prayers and ask the United States to work with other governments to begin building an inclusive peace in Syria.”
The world’s Catholic bishops, along with the pope, have appealed to Catholics and others of good will to donate to aid Syrian refugees and residents. In a statement today, the U.S. bishops said, “We make our own the appeal of Pope Francis: ‘I exhort the international community to make every effort to promote clear proposals for peace in that country without further delay, a peace based on dialogue and negotiation, for the good of the entire Syrian people.
“May no effort be spared in guaranteeing humanitarian assistance to those wounded by this terrible conflict, in particular those forced to flee and the many refugees in nearby countries.’”
CNEWA, that has workers on the ground, reported, “Surveys or statistics about displaced families is not available yet, but given the level of destruction and violence, it is believed to represent a significant humanitarian catastrophe.”
In one week, Pope Francis has made three separate, urgent appeals to the world leaders and to the people of the world to help. On September 5, the Holy See released a letter to Vladimir Putin, president of the Russian Federation at the G20 Summit in St. Petersburg, urging leaders to “find ways to overcome the conflicting positions and to lay aside the futile pursuit of a military solution” in Syria.
“Let there be a renewed commitment to seek…a peaceful solution through dialogue and negotiation of the parties”, Pope Francis wrote. “Moreover, all governments have the moral duty to do everything possible to ensure humanitarian assistance to those suffering because of the conflict, both within and beyond the country’s borders.”
On Wednesday, September 4, Pope Francis said, “I renew the invitation to the whole Church…, and even now I express gratitude to the other Christian brethren, to the brethren of other religions and to the men and women of good will who desire to join in this initiative, in places and ways of their own…to ask the Lord for the great gift of peace. May a powerful cry for peace go up from every land!”
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Pope Francis repeated the appeal at the Angelus address the following Sunday, saying his “heart is deeply wounded in particular by what is happening in Syria, and anguished by the dramatic developments which are looming.” Millions of Christians and others around the world were able to participate in a day of fasting and prayer for peace in Syria and the Middle East called by Pope Francis for Saturday, September 7.
Reports are increasing daily of violent attacks and ongoing harassment of Syria’s Christian population. CNEWA cited UN statistics from 2012, saying that of 1.5 Syrian million refugees, at least 300,000 are Christians displaced from their homes since the start of the war who have fled the country. Thousands more are homeless but have remained in Syria, seeking refuge in mainly Christian towns, many of which are under attack. “However,” CNEWA reports, “as the host families’ ability to host becomes strained and refugees can no longer afford even the most basic rents, they will become more visible as a refugee population in need of immediate aid.”
The news is widely reported of Christians suffering atrocities including beheadings, widespread rape, shootings and beatings, forced “conversions” and confiscation of property by “rebels” who reportedly have come from many countries to further their jihadist goals. Those who have left the country have fled mainly to Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan.
CNEWA reports that in June, in the town of Qusayr, near rebel-held Homs, some mosques in the city announced from the minarets, “Christians must leave Qusayr within six days.”
CNEWA has been able to help thousands of Christians affected by the conflict, both those in refugee stations and those who remain in Syria. Christian families, of all communities and denominations, have received food, hygiene products and other daily necessities, “winter kits” and school supplies in Damascus, Homs, Aleppo and around the country. Children have been able to attend summer camp and mothers have received necessities for their babies.
They have provided, exclusively for LSN readers, a “device code” to be included in donations made through this special LSN appeal. Just type the number “8879” into the comment box on the CNEWA donation page to allow them and LSN to track the response. LifeSiteNews.com will not benefit financially from any donation made through this special appeal, which is not part of our annual fundraising efforts.
To donate to CNEWA from the U.S. click here, and remember to type the device code, “8879” into the comment box.