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Canada May 23, 2018

Agency coming to aid of Middle-East Christians

By Michael Swan

Archbishop Miller meets with Iraqi Christian families during a recent CNEWA-sponsored visit to Lebanon. 

The Catholic Register

Under the banner “Christians Can’t Survive Without You,” the Catholic Near East Welfare Association in Canada has launched a year-long fundraising campaign to help Christians remain in the Middle East.

“If we turn our backs on what’s happening in the Middle East, particularly to the Christians of the Middle East, then we’re turning our back on ourselves as Christians,” CNEWA Canada executive director Carl Hétu told The Catholic Register.

CNEWA raised just over $47 million worldwide to support emergency, humanitarian and pastoral projects between 2014 and 2017. 

CNEWA Canada has not set a financial target for the year-long “Christians Can’t Survive Without You” campaign launched May 16.

“We don’t want to limit or over-plan ourselves,” Hétu said.

The campaign is launched in the context of a rapidly diminishing Christian population throughout the Middle East. More than 2.5 million Middle East Christians have been forced from their homes over the past 15 years, according to the international pontifical charity. 

While a large part of the exodus is attributable to wars in Iraq and Syria, there are also economic pressures and daily discrimination and persecution pushing Christians out of the region.

“This campaign’s very important purpose is to tell Canadian Catholics that they should care about the presence of Christians in the Middle East, because they are the leaven of peace in the Middle East,” Hétu said.

Although Christians are a tiny and diminishing minority in Lebanon, Syria, Palestine, Iraq, Egypt and Israel they have an outsized footprint in education, health care and social services — works that make life in the region better for Muslims, Jews, Christians and others.

In the region where Christianity was first preached, the preservation of Christian communities, Christian institutions and Christian values is the only proven buffer against Mideast violence, bigotry and dysfunction, according to Hétu.

“An attack on them is an attack on the values Christians promote worldwide,” said CNEWA Canada board president Archbishop Terrence Prendergast. “To lose Christianity in the region would be a devastating loss.”

As a registered Canadian charity, CNEWA Canada can issue tax receipts for any contributions made online at cnewa.ca, for cheques sent to CNEWA Canada at 1247 Kilborn Place, Ottawa, Ont., K1H 6K9, or contributions made by calling 1-866-322-4441.