CNEWA Canada national director Carl Hetu; CCODP's new executive director David Leduc; and ACN executive director Marie-Claude Lalonde have joined forces to appeal for aid for Syrian refugees. They worked out their joint news release while attending the CCCB plenary as observers Sept. 14-15. Photo by Deborah Gyapong

Catholic bishops, organizations join forces to help Syrian refugees

By 
  • September 18, 2015

OTTAWA - For the first time, several Catholic aid agencies are joining with the Canadian bishops to mount a joint appeal to raise funds to help Syrian refugees.

“We’re thinking it’s quite good to show the united face of the Church,” said Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace communications director Ryan Worms

“It’s a common effort to reach as many Catholics and the wider public as possible,” said Catholic Near East Welfare Association (CNEWA) Canada national director Carl Hétu, noting the strategy includes the bishops sending their communique to their dioceses, and from there to individual parishes to “invite a mobilization on this issue.”

Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) communications officer Robert Lalonde said his organization will, like the others, have a social media campaign as well as direct outreach to their benefactors.

The organizations issued a joint press release Sept. 17, saying their united response reflected “the magnitude of this tragic crisis.”

“Funds collected through this appeal will go towards humanitarian aid for Syrians living through the suffering of war and those who have fled to other countries, including Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey who are hosting the vast majority of Syrian refugees,” said the release. All the aid agencies are recognized by the Holy See and Development and Peace is part of the Caritas Internationalis federation.

The release noted the Canadian government will match any donations made to these agencies prior to Dec. 31, 2015.

“This fund was announced in the wake of a mass influx of refugees from Syria, as well as from Iraq, Afghanistan, Eritrea and other countries plagued by poverty, war and lack of human rights, that are making treacherous journeys to enter Europe,” the release said.

“Pope Francis called on parishes around the world to open their doors to Syrian refugees, and dioceses across Canada have launched sponsorship initiatives.”

The release cited a recent open letter from outgoing CCCB president Archbishop Paul- André Durocher, who wrote: “The refugee crisis is an important moment to deepen our faith, extend our charity, and summon up hope. Together we can make a better world for all those in need, and so witness to Christ’s Kingdom.”

Canadians can donate to the humanitarian efforts of these agencies that have been working with Caritas partners and directly with the churches in the region to help Syrian refugees since the beginning of the crisis, the release said. They can also donate directly to diocesan refugee sponsorship programs. The CCCB will also ask for special parish collections for the appeal.

Ongoing civil war has displaced seven million Syrians within the country and forced another four million into exile.

Donations can be made via the agencies’ various web sites or by phone: Development and Peace at devp.org or 1-888-634-3387; CNEWA at cnewa.ca or 1-866-322-4441; and ACN at acn-aed-ca.org or 1-800-585-6333.

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