The president of the US episcopal conference has called on the bishops to consider taking up a special collection “to provide humanitarian relief and pastoral support for our affected brothers and sisters in the Middle East.”
In an August 19 letter, Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky, requested that the collection be held during the weekend of September 6-7 or September 13-14.
The impetus for the special appeal is a “great concern for the ongoing crisis in the Middle East, the cradle of Christianity,” Archbishop Kurtz explained in the letter. “Our Church mourns the terrible suffering of Christians and other innocent victims of violence in Iraq, Syria and Gaza who are struggling to survive, protect their children and live with dignity in dire conditions.”
Money given to the collection will be disbursed for humanitarian needs by Catholic Relief Services (CRS) and other Catholic agencies working in partnership with the local Church.
These organizations, Archbishop Kurtz explained, have well-established partnerships with the Catholic Church in the region that allow them to respond quickly and efficiently to victims in some of the hardest-to-reach areas. Collection funds will also support Church programs to aid persecuted Christians and for rebuilding needs of Catholic dioceses in the impacted areas.
“Our Christian brothers and sisters and other innocent victims of the violence in the Middle East urgently need the assistance of the Catholic community of the United States,” Archbishop Kurtz wrote. “Thank you for your support of this special collection and for your continued prayers for the victims of this crisis.”
More information can be found at: www.usccb.org/about/national-collections/index.cfm