A priest examines the ruins, including a decapitated statue of Mary, in the Catholic church in Karamdes, Iraq, following the town’s liberation from ISIS

Knights of Columbus to Save Christian Town Decimated by ISIS in Iraq

$2 million will help reconstruct and resettle Karamdes on the Nineveh Plain. Pope Francis Commends Efforts of Knights of Columbus on Behalf of Persecuted Christians, Promotion of Family Life

VATICAN INSIDER STAFF
TURIN

In a move that will give many Christians and other religious minorities in Iraq hope for the future, the Knights of Columbus will raise and donate $2 million to save Karamdes (Karemlash), a predominantly Christian town on the Nineveh Plain which was liberated from ISIS late last year.

The Knights’ action will move hundreds of families from minority religious communities in Iraq – especially Christians – back to the homes from which they were evicted by ISIS in summer, 2014.

The Knights’ action matches a similar donation by the government of Hungary, which recently donated $2 million to save another predominately Christian town, Teleskov. About 1,000 families have now moved back to that town, providing a proof of concept that shows that such actions can actually work in restoring pre-ISIS populations to their home and towns.

Like the government of Hungary, the Knights will partner in this resettlement and rebuilding effort with the Archdiocese of Erbil, which is currently housing the largest population of Christian refugees in Iraq, including many of the residents of Karamdes.

“The terrorists desecrated churches and graves and looted and destroyed homes,” said Knights CEO Carl Anderson during his annual report at the Knights of Columbus 135th annual convention. “Now we will ensure that hundreds of Christian families driven from their homes can return to these two locations and help to ensure a pluralistic future for Iraq.”

The Knights are urging K of C councils, parishes or other Church groups, and individuals who want to help to donate $2,000 – the approximate cost of resettling one family. Just a thousand such donations would be necessary to reach the $2 million goal. The rebuilding work will begin this week and money will begin flowing to the project immediately.

Urging the Knights to get behind this historic new initiative, Anderson paraphrased the words invoked by Winton Churchill in 1940: “Put your confidence in us …We shall not fail or falter, we shall not weaken or tire. We will give you the tools and together we will finish the job.”

In the same speech, Anderson also announced that the K of C would partner with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops on a “Week of Awareness” for persecuted Christians beginning Nov. 26.

Since 2014, the Knights’ Christian Refugee Relief Fund has donated more than $13 million for humanitarian assistance primarily in Iraq, Syria and the surrounding region. The Knights’ documentation of ISIS’ atrocities and advocacy on behalf of Christians and other religious minorities in the Middle East were decisive in U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s 2016 genocide declaration for Christians and other religious minorities in the region. This designation was reaffirmed by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson last week.

One hundred percent of the money raised will be used for this project. Knights of Columbus Charities, Inc. is recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a charitable organization under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Donations can be made at www.christiansatrisk.org or by calling 1-800-694-5713. Donations are tax deductible to the extent allowed by law.

Papal greeting sent to K of C’s 135th international convention

Pope Francis has praised the Knights of Columbus for its charity, especially on behalf of persecuted Christians and for defending and promoting the sanctity of marriage and the dignity and beauty of family life.

The pope’s sentiments are expressed in a letter of greeting to the Knights’ 135th international convention, whose theme, “Convinced of God’s Love and Power,” is described as “a missionary one,” revealing “enthusiasm for evangelization.”

Pope Francis expressed his “gratitude for the commitment of the Knights to supporting our Christian brothers and sisters in the Middle East” and commended the Knights of Columbus Refugee Relief Fund as “an eloquent sign of your order’s firm commitment to solidarity and communion with our fellow Christians.”

The fund has raised $13 million in aid primarily for those suffering persecution in Iraq, Syria and the surrounding region.

The letter asks the Knights to combat injustice and the growth of a global culture of indifference “in fidelity to the vision of the Servant of God Father Michael McGivney,” and to do so in “their families, their parishes and their local councils.”

The letter notes that Father McGivney founded the Knights of Columbus “as a fraternal and charitable union of Catholic laymen, workers, husbands and fathers.”

The letter also points out that Pope Francis “is especially appreciative of the unremitting efforts of the Knights of Columbus to defend and promote the sanctity of marriage and the dignity and beauty of family life.”

It is in the family, says the letter, “that we come to see that the larger world is also our home, in which we are called to live together, to learn closeness, care and respect for others, and to value the God-given gifts that each of us has to offer for the good of all.”

The pope’s message was conveyed in a letter from Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin. Nearly 100 bishops including almost a dozen cardinals were present along with more than 2000 attendees at the convention as the letter was read at the opening business session on Tuesday, Aug. 1.

Founded in 1882 by Father McGivney in New Haven, Conn., the Knights of Columbus has grown to nearly 2 million members with charity as its primary mission. Last year, Knights donated $177.5 million and more than 75 million hours of service to charitable causes.

 

SOURCE Knights of Columbus