All of us, together with Pope Francis, are following with deep concern the dramatic news reports coming from Iraq, Gaza and Syria. Defenseless populations, including our Christian brothers and sisters, flee from their homes, in urgent need for protection, food, shelter and medical assistance. In solidarity with their sufferings, and in communion with the whole Church, let us, in the words of the Holy Father, “raise up with one voice a ceaseless prayer, imploring the Holy Spirit to send the gift of peace” to the Middle East.
Each parish in our diocese is invited for the coming weeks to include in the prayers of the faithful the following intention: That the Holy Spirit inspire Canadians and the international community to protect all those affected or threatened by violence in the Middle East, to be with them in solidarity and concern, and to offer them assistance and aid.
You are also encouraged to join with Christians and others in urging your Member of Parliament to encourage the Government of Canada to do even more for the Middle East — by providing Canadian emergency and reconstruction assistance, by making it easier for our country to accept refugees, by participating in international efforts to foster justice and peace in the region, and by insisting on respect for freedom of conscience and religion, as well as respect for the rights of minorities.
Three Canadian Catholic agencies are fundraising for the suffering people of the Middle East. These are the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace, CNEWA Canada, and Aid to the Church in Need – Canada. Catholics are encouraged if possible to support all three agencies in their work. We wish to particularly highlight the good work of CNEWA in response to the recent crisis and encourage the faithful to support its charitable appeal.
Further information on the situation in the Middle East is regularly provided by Caritas Internationalis, which is the Church’s international network of over 160 national Catholic charities, serving poor people, of all faiths, all over the world. Up-to-date reports on the Middle East are provided on its website in English, at http://www.caritas.org/where-we-are/middle-east-north-africa/; in French, at http://www.caritas.org/fr/ou-nous-trouver/mona/