The Knights of Columbus are to expand aid to Middle Eastern Christians with a national campaign to raise funds and "foster awareness of the terrible suffering," reported the Catholic organization in a press release.
The Knights of Columbus is the world’s largest Catholic fraternal organization with nearly 1.9 million members worldwide. Considered one of the most active charitable organizations in the United States, the Knights donated more than $173 million and 71.5 million hours of service last year.
Already, the organization has donated more than $3 million in humanitarian aid to persecuted Christians and other religious minorities in the Middle East.
At its international convention this week in Philadelphia, the Knights will also announce additional details of its program to aid Christian refugees. Archbishops from Iraq and Syria, where the violence against Christians has been especially brutal, will attend.
In August 2014, the Knights began its Christian Refugee Relief Fund with $1 million in matching funds that was quickly met and exceeded by its members and the public. The humanitarian assistance provided has included new housing for those who have had to flee their homes, as well as support for medical facilities in areas flooded with Christian and other refugees.
Supreme Knight Carl Anderson said, “Christians in the Middle East are facing a dire situation – and even extinction – while the response from the international community has been woefully inadequate."
“Pope Francis," he added, "has urged the international community to take action to help Christians in the Middle East, and, as an organization that has long supported victims of religious persecution, the Knights of Columbus is responding by asking our own members, and the public at large, to help us save the lives of people who are being persecuted simply because of their Christian faith.”