OTTAWA – Catholic Near East Welfare Association (CNEWA) Canada national director Carl Hetu reports Catholic aid agencies contributed $150 million in 2015 to help the people of Iraq and Syria.

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June 23, 2016

Protection for all

Give credit to the federal government for recently acknowledging that the systematic murder, rape and enslavement of the Yazidi people of Iraq and Syria constitutes genocide. But why stop there? 

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LONDON – Catholic Relief Services and other international aid agencies are working with local Christian and Muslim charities to help about 70,000 people fleeing Fallujah, Iraq, as conflict deepens between Islamic State militants and Iraqi forces seeking to regain the beleaguered town in Anbar province.

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BEIRUT – Syriac patriarchs, marking the two-year anniversary since the Islamic State group expelled Christians from a large part of Iraq, denounced "the ethno-religious genocide" of their people and called for the liberation of those areas.

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AMMAN, Jordan – Iraqi refugee women who fled Islamic State group violence in their homeland have appealed to Pope Francis for help, sending a hand-sewn mantle and imploring him to pray for them and for peace in their country.

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VATICAN CITY – Pope Francis is calling on Catholics to play a part in the “rebirth” of a united Europe that opens its doors to refugees.

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Good fences make good neighbours, wrote Robert Frost. But don’t try telling that to the bishop of Eisenstadt, Austria.

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BAGHDAD – Chaldean Catholic Patriarch Louis Sako of Baghdad urged Iraq's leaders to put an end to the "institutional, economic and security deterioration" in the country.

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WASHINGTON (RNS) Religious freedom remains under “serious and sustained assault” around the globe, according to a new annual report from the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.

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UNITED NATIONS – While religious freedom in much of the Middle East is under siege and the civil war in Syria seems to have no end in sight, Carl Anderson, CEO of the Knights of Columbus, and others called the United Nations to action.

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ONTREAL – Seated in a quiet room, the Melkite Catholic archbishop of Aleppo, Syria, spoke slowly, in an almost muffled voice. His eyes sometimes ran astray, lingering on the buildings across the street in downtown Montreal. He detailed how Fouad Banna's family was torn apart when their house was destroyed by an attack a few months ago.

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BRUSSELS – Lebanese Cardinal Bechara Rai urged the international community and the European Parliament to stop the wars in the Middle East through dialogue, and he called for a return of the displaced to their countries of origin.

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WARSAW, Poland – Russia's Catholic Church has launched a joint project with Russian Orthodox leaders to rebuild churches and monasteries destroyed during the war in Syria.

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A German Catholic leader’s defense of religious freedom has triggered a backlash following anti-Muslim statements by far-right politicians in the country.

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VIENNA – An Austrian bishop said the government may not use Church property to build a border fence to keep out refugees.

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