Bishops Urge US to Increase Humanitarian Aid to Egypt

Warn That Extremists Have 'Scapegoated Christians'

Washington, D.C., (Zenit.org) | 1154 hits

The United States should work with the international community to support Egyptians in ending violence, restoring the rule of law and building an inclusive democracy in their country, says the chairman of the U.S. bishops' Committee on International Justice and Peace.

In an Aug. 23 letter to Secretary of State John Kerry, Bishop Richard Pates of Des Moines, Iowa, urged a path of dialogue and reconciliation that promotes peace, human rights and religious freedom in Egypt.

“Amidst the tragedy of violence and bloodshed in Egypt, our Conference has a special concern for the Christian community,” wrote Bishop Pates. “Extremists have scapegoated Christians, blaming them for the current state of affairs, and viciously attacked Christian churches, institutions and communities, destroying property and terrorizing people. The destruction of Christian churches and the targeting of Christians are unacceptable.”

Bishop Pates said that the bishops of the United States join Pope Francis in praying for “all the victims and their families, the injured and all those who are suffering.” He echoed the words of the Coptic Catholic patriarch of Alexandria, who commended the Muslims in Egypt who stood with Christians and defended their churches and institutions. Bishop Pates also expressed concern for Egypt’s poor and refugees, who are particularly vulnerable in a time of upheaval.

“We urge the United States to preserve, and even increase, humanitarian and economic assistance,” Bishop Pates wrote. “Poor and vulnerable Egyptians should not pay the price of the political turmoil and violence gripping their nation.”

In an August 23 memo to all U.S. bishops, Bishop Pates and Bishop Gerald Kicanas of Tucson, Arizona, chairman of Catholic Relief Services (CRS), said that CRS is working with the Church in Egypt to help those most affected by the violence and unrest. CRS is currently helping to rehabilitate church schools that have been burned and looted.

Their ongoing work includes: educating refugee children; aiding young women vulnerable to sex trafficking; helping people find work during the recent years of turmoil and economic uncertainty; and fostering dialogue and acceptance among religions. Last year CRS began a program with the Coptic Catholic Church that has brought together thousands of Christians and Muslims.

The full text of Bishop Pates’ letter is available online:http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/global-issues/middle-east/upload/Letter-to-Sec-Kerry-on-Egypt-2013-08-23.pdf

The full text of the memo from Bishop Pates and Bishop Kicanas is also available online: http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/global-issues/middle-east/upload/IJP-USCCB-CRS-Memo-to-Bishops-on-Egypt-2013-8-23.pdf