New York City, N.Y., Oct 31, 2016 / 11:21 am
Christianity is at a crossroads in the Middle East, and only a dedicated campaign of aid and activism can help Christians survive as a merciful, forgiving leaven in the region.
“Either Christianity will survive and offer a witness of forgiveness, charity and mercy, or it will disappear, impoverishing the region religiously, ethnically and culturally,” Carl Anderson, Supreme Knight and CEO of the Knights of Columbus, said Oct. 12.
His remarks came at the awards banquet for the Path to Peace Award.
Archbishop Bernardito Auza, the apostolic nuncio heading the Holy See’s permanent observer mission to the U.N., conferred the award in recognition of the Knights of Columbus’ work in the Middle East and their humanitarian work throughout the world. The award is granted by the Path to Peace Foundation, which supports the Holy See’s U.N. mission.
Anderson outlined three steps to aid the Christians of the Middle East.
“The first step on the path to peace in this region has been taken,” he said. “Christians have forgiven their persecutors. The second step must be a level of government funding directed to those communities that have faced genocide, so that they, and their witness, can survive. The third step must be the creation of real equality regardless of religious belief.”
“If we take these steps, we will not only have saved the faith of a people, we will have ensured that their witness of mercy and reconciliation – which is the only authentic path to peace – continues to be a leaven in this region.”
The Knights’ support campaign began in 2014, raising millions of dollars for Christians and other minorities suffering from war or persecution in the Middle East, especially Iraq and Syria. The organization was a leader in the successful effort to persuade Congress to recognize the persecution of Christians as genocide. The designation triggered additional protections and programs under U.S. law.