Solidarity at the Service of All People in the Middle East

February 10, 2017 By Public Affairs Office

WASHINGTON—The chairmen of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops'(USCCB) Committees on Migration, Religious Liberty and International Justiceand Peace, along with the board of Catholic Relief Services (CRS) issued ajoint statement expressing solidarity with Christians and all those who sufferin the Middle East.

The full statement follows:

A statement from ArchbishopWilliam E. Lori of Baltimore, chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee for ReligiousLiberty; Bishop Oscar Cantú of Las Cruces, New Mexico, chairman of theCommittee on International Justice and Peace; Bishop Joe S. Vásquez of Austin,Texas, chairman of the Committee on Migration; and Bishop Gregory J. Mansour ofthe Eparchy of Saint Maron of Brooklyn, chairman of the board of CatholicRelief Services

Our Christian brothers and sisters in the Middle East needour solidarity, and the Middle East needs our Christian brothers andsisters. A concern for our Christianbrethren is inclusive and does not exclude a concern for all the peoples of theregion who suffer violence and persecution, both minorities and majorities,both Muslims and Christians.

A recent USCCB delegation visit to Iraq confirmed once againthat what has happened—and continues to happen—to Christians, Yezidis, ShiaMuslims, and other minorities in Syria and Iraq, at the hands of the so-called"Islamic State," is genocide. It isimportant for Syrians and Iraqis of all faiths to recognize this as genocide,for that recognition is a way to help everyone come to grips with what ishappening, and to form future generations that will reject any ideology thatleads to genocidal acts and other atrocities. Likewise, a particular focus on minorities is essential to formingcommunities that respect the rights of all, including members of the majority.

What can our nation do? The United States can:

Accept our nation's fairshare of the most vulnerable families of all religions and ethnicities forresettlement as refugees,including special consideration of the victims of genocide and other atrocities;

Encourage both the centralgovernment in Baghdad and the regional government in Erbil to strengthenthe rule of law based on equalcitizenship and ensure the protection of all, including vulnerableminorities; U.S. assistanceshould help local and national efforts to improve policing and thejudiciary, while encouraging appropriate self-governance at the locallevel; similar actions will also be needed in Syria; and

Provide generous U.S. humanitarian and developmentassistance to refugees, displaced persons and communities in Iraq andSyria as they rebuild, including funding for trusted faith-basednon-governmental agencies like Catholic Relief Services and local Caritasagencies so that aid reaches all groups, including majority and minoritycommunities.

To focus attention on the plight of Christians and otherminorities is not to ignore the suffering of others. Rather, by focusing on the most vulnerablemembers of society, we strengthen the entire fabric of society to protect therights of all.

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Keywords: USCCB, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, peace,Middle East, refugees, genocide, humanitarian, Catholic Relief Services, Christians,Yezidis, Shia Muslims, U.S. assistance, rule of law

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Norma Montenegro FlynnO: 202-541-3200