Carl Hetu

Carl Hetu

Hetu is executive director of the Catholic Near East Welfare Association of Canada —

Eighteen years ago this month, I officially began my journey as a national director for CNEWA, specifically to help establish a Canadian office. 

On July 7, 2018, in Bari, Italy, at an important ecumenical gathering of all Christian leaders from the Middle East, Pope Francis made a jarring reference to a Middle East without Christians. 

At Mass a few weeks ago, I heard an unusual noise coming from the entrance of the church. Without thinking, I turned and found myself fearing the worst. An attack? After Mass I asked others if they felt the same way and, to my surprise, some did. 

During recent travels in Beirut I met Kamal and his family, Syrian-Armenian Christian refugees. They told a harrowing tale.

The history books will remember 2014 as a devastating year for people of the Middle East.

The “principle purpose” of the May 24-26 visit of Pope Francis to the Holy Land is not a conventional pilgrimage, as conducted by John Paul II and Benedict XVI. It is to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the meeting between Pope Paul VI and the Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras I.

Last time I was in Amman, Jordan I met a lovely 12-year-old Christian girl with a beautiful smile. Her father used to be a taxi driver in Baghdad — until a gang of criminals or jihadists or both threatened his life and his family if he didn’t leave Iraq immediately.