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USCCB committee chair reflects on Mideast issues, laments plight of persecuted Christians

January 28, 2016

In a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry, the chairman of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on International Justice and Peace reflected on an array of Middle East foreign policy issues.

“Having just made a solidarity visit to the region and having met with Syrian and Iraqi refugees, Church officials, and other leaders in Lebanon and Jordan, I can testify to the fact that the region is in chaos and the suffering is deep,” said Bishop Oscar Cantú of Las Cruces, New Mexico.

In his wide-ranging recent letter, Bishop Cantú

  • welcomed the Iran nuclear deal
  • called upon Kerry to “promote inclusive governance” in Syria and Iraq “so that all ethnic and religious groups have a stake in peace”
  • called for increased humanitarian assistance to refugees
  • called for “robust assistance” to a postwar Syria
  • said that “it is critical that the United States encourage the election of a President in Lebanon”

Bishop Cantú also decried the plight of persecuted Christians in the region.

“In our visits with Christian refugees, we heard harrowing stories of persecution by the so-called Islamic State and other extremists,” the prelate wrote. “It is clear that they want to ‘cleanse’ the region of Christians and other ethnic and religious minorities, and even of Muslims who dissent from their narrow, distorted and extremist ideology.”


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