Christian Society Distributes $4 Million in Aid to Refugees in Middle East

Displaced Iraqi Christians settle at St. Joseph Church in Irbil, northern Iraq, Friday, Aug. 8, 2014 (ASSOCIATED PRESS FILE)
Displaced Iraqi Christians settle at St. Joseph Church in Irbil, northern Iraq, Friday, Aug. 8, 2014 (ASSOCIATED PRESS FILE)

A fraternal benefit society founded by a Connecticut-born priest has distributed more than $4 million in humanitarian assistance to displaced Christians, and other persecuted religious communities, in the Middle East.

The Knights of Columbus, whose supreme council, or international headquarters, is based in New Haven, launched its Christian Refugee Relief Fund last August, and raised the money to help with such needs as housing and medical issues, primarily from its 1.9 million members.

The order, chartered by the Connecticut state legislature on March 29, 1882, to give financial and other assistance to its members, as well as perform community service, has begun to run a television commercial to help Iraqi Christians.

The commercial features the Rev. Douglas Bazi, who was kidnapped and tortured for nine days in 2006 until the Church paid for his release. A Catholic Chaldean priest, Bazi has given sanctuary to more than a 100 families at Mar Elia Catholic Church in Ankawa, a Christian suburb of Erbil in Iraqi Kurdistan.

The area has become home to thousands of families from Mosul and Nineveh who fled invasions by Islamic State fighters last summer.

The Knights of Columbus are financing this month’s delivery of food supplies to more than 13,500 displaced families in the area.

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SOURCE: Anne-Gerard Flynn
MassLive.com

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