July 25, 2014
WASHINGTON—The United States should help Christian communities and other Iraqis plagued by violence through humanitarian assistance and international collaboration, said the chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on International Justice and Peace in a July 25 letter to National Security Advisor Susan Rice. Bishop Richard E. Pates of Des Moines, Iowa, had written to Rice on June 19 about the escalating violence in Iraq and wrote that the situation had only deteriorated.
“The Islamic State has taken control of large swaths of territory in northern Iraq, leaving a trail of destruction, burning and looting ancient churches and mosques, homes and businesses,” Bishop Pates wrote. “Thousands have fled with little more than the clothes on their backs, often being robbed of their few personal possessions as they ran.”
Bishop Pates sent Rice a translation of a July 22 appeal by the bishops of the Chaldean Catholic, Syrian Orthodox, Syrian Catholic and Armenian Churchs of Iraq calling for protection of the rights of Christians and other minorities who have been displaced and remain targets of violence by extremists.
“I ask the U.S. government to do all that it can to provide this critical assistance to those in desperate straits and to work with other governments in an effort to stop the violence,” wrote Bishop Pates, who reiterated the words of Pope Francis that “violence is defeated with peace.” Bishop Pates asked that the aid be given through “trusted NGOs” with a proven track record of actually helping those most in need.
Full text of the letter is available online: www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/global-issues/middle-east/iraq/upload/letter-to-nsc-advisor-rice-from-bishop-pates-re-iraqi-christians-2014-07-25.pdf
Keywords: USCCB, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Pope Francis, International Justice and Peace, Bishop Richard E. Pates, National Security Adviser, Susan Rice, Iraq, Christians, violence, ISIS, humanitarian assistance, NGOs