By Sr Bernadette Mary Reis, fsp
In a statement released on Tuesday, the same day the legislation was signed by President Trump, US Bishops Conference (USCCB) “applaud” the enactment of the Iraq and Syria Genocide Relief and Accountability Act. Through this legislation, genocide victims in Iraq and Syria will receive humanitarian aid and perpetrators will be held accountable.
Sign of hope
In the statement, Archbishop Timothy Broglio, Chairman of the U.S. Bishops’ Committee on International Justice and Peace, said that the legislation “is a signal of hope for the critically vulnerable of this region”. He thanked the bill’s author, those who sponsored it, and President Trump for signing it into law.
Statistics on Christians
According to Archbishop Broglio, only 14% of Christians have remained in Iraq. Of these, many are displaced and in desperate need of assistance in order to return home and remain in Iraq. The Yazidi population has suffered a similar fate.
Form of genocide
The Archbishop concluded the statement, saying the Catholic Church has consistently drawn attention to those in the Middle East and throughout the world who face “persecution and displacement”. Pope Francis, he said, has called “the persecution, torture and killing of Christians in the Middle East…a ‘form of genocide’ that must end”.
US Bishops approve funds in Eastern Europe
In a statement released on Wednesday, the USCCB announced that on 11 November its Subcommittee on Aid to the Church in Central and Eastern Europe had approved $4 million for 143 projects in Central and Eastern Europe. These projects include: support for single mothers in Armenia, construction of a rehabilitation centre in Georgia, funding for Latvian youth going to World Youth Day in Panama, the translation into Ukrainian of Papal encyclicals and other documents containing the Church’s social teaching, support for the “most rapidly growing seminary in Eastern Europe in Kyiv, Ukraine, where the number of seminarians has increased from 39 to 79 in the last five years”. These funds are raised in an annual Collection for the Church in Central and Eastern Europe on Ash Wednesday in the Churches in the US.
US Bishops approve funds for US mission dioceses
In a separate statement released on Wednesday, the USCCB announced that $9.5 million had been approved in October by its Subcommittee on Catholic Home Missions in order to assist 79 US dioceses and eparchies. This money will help local churches “provide basic pastoral services” that they would not otherwise be able to provide. These funds are also collected in an annual collection called the “Catholic Home Missions Appeal”, generally taken up on the fourth Sunday of April.