NEW HAVEN, Conn., March 5, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- The Knights of Columbus joins Pope Francis in prayer and support as he makes his March 5-8 apostolic journey to Iraq — the first papal visit to that country. This historic encounter stands as a powerful sign of hope and solidarity with the persecuted Christians and other minorities of the war-torn region and as a demonstration of international religious unity.
"As the Holy Father has said, Iraq "has been a martyred land for too long,'" observed Supreme Knight Patrick Kelly. "Support of persecuted minorities in the Middle East has been a major initiative of the Knights of Columbus since 2014. We are proud to support the Holy Father's outreach to the people of Iraq, and I urge Catholics everywhere to continue to pray in solidarity with our suffering brothers and sisters there and throughout the world."
Supreme Knight Kelly added, "These courageous souls have endured war, persecution and now a pandemic while keeping the light of the Christian faith alive in a community that traces its roots to St. Paul. They are a testimony to the world of the power of faith."
In assistance to the apostolic visit, the Knights of Columbus provided $100,000 USD to the Archdiocese of Erbil to support the organization of the Papal Mass at "Franso Hariri" stadium. The Knights also gave $18,900 to the Institute of Ancient and Threatened Christianity to support a documentary it will produce on the Papal Trip to Iraq. The one-hour film will be from the point of view of the Iraqi Christians themselves so that the full impact of the trip can be properly understood by the faithful around the world.
The Knights of Columbus has played a significant role in bringing relief to persecuted Christians and other religious minorities in the Middle East, influencing international policies, prayer, advocacy and contributing more than $25 million to rebuild targeted communities. Significant projects have included assisting in the reconstruction of the Syriac Catholic Cathedral in Qaraqosh (Nineveh); reconstruction in the town of Karamles for the Chaldean Archdiocese of Mosul; restoration of Christian cemeteries destroyed by ISIS; and the construction of McGivney House, a 140-unit apartment building in Erbil that continues to provide housing for displaced Syriac and Chaldean families and individuals.