Founded by Pope Pius XI in 1926, CNEWA is an agency of the Vatican sustained primarily by the Church in the United States and Canada. Its first president was a legendary American Jesuit priest named Edmund Walsh, who was also the founder of the prestigious Georgetown University School of Foreign Service. CNEWA’s mandate is to support the Eastern churches in Catholicism, meaning the Catholic communities scattered across the Middle East, Northeast Africa, India, and Eastern Europe that draw on Eastern Orthodox traditions. In recent years, that’s made CNEWA a prime mover in delivering aid to persecuted Christians in some of the world’s leading hot spots. Today, CNEWA is among the largest providers of aid to Middle Eastern Christians anywhere in the world. Though it’s a Catholic organization, it helps Christians of all sorts. This week, CNEWA announced the release of grants totaling $686,000 to aid the Christian community in the Middle East, targeted at places that have absorbed the heaviest blows. They include three six-figure projects:
Other recipients include a community of Sacred Heart nuns in Iraq that runs a home for the elderly and disabled, a community of St. Catherine of Siena sisters that lost its mother house in Mosul and several other convents, Dominican sisters in Jordan working with expectant mothers and children, and sisters in Lebanon working with poor Lebanese, whose needs often slip through the cracks today amid an influx of Iraqi and Syrian refugees. Michael La Civita, a spokesman for CNEWA, told me this week that the new disbursements supplement the total of $6.8 million that the organization has committed to spending on aid to Christians in the Middle East this year.
- $100,000 to rebuild churches and other Christian sites destroyed during anti-Christian riots in Egypt in 2013, the most violent pogrom directed at Egypt’s Coptic Christian minority in at least a century
- $150,000 to help parishes in Jordan cope with an influx of Christian refugees from Iraq by providing necessities like bedding, clothing, and food
- $100,000 to provide medical care for impoverished families in Syria, largely administered by religious orders of women and men in the country
Catholics appalled by what’s happening don’t have to feel powerless. They may not be able to bring peace or resolve political stalemates overnight, but they can at least support committed people doing what they can to support the suffering.
There’s a lot more. Read it all. I’m pleased and proud to see CNEWA getting this sort of attention. If you’ve like to learn more, visit our website. And if you’ve like to know how you can help, check out our giving page.