Speaking in Philadelphia to the national convention of the Knights of Columbus (KofC), Archbishops Bashar Warda of Erbil, Iraq, and Jean-Clement Jeanbart of Aleppo reported that only a tiny number of Christian refugees have been approved for visas to come to the US; Muslim refugees have been approved at a significantly higher rate. “Our people are asking these questions: How come we apply for the American visa and are denied,” Archbishop Warda said.
The archbishops agreed that they would prefer for their people to remain in Syria and Iraq, if possible. But when they do apply for help to live abroad, Americans should treat them fairly, the prelates said. Archbishop Warda told the KofC: “Please remember this: this is part of your heritage, this is part of being an American. Please speak for the persecuted around the world, especially for the Christians today.”
Both prelates thanked the KofC for the financial support the organization has given to Christians in the Middle East. During the Philadelphia convention, Carl Anderson, the worldwide leader of the KofC, announced the opening of a portal in the group’s web site that will collect donations for Christians in the Middle East. The KofC will cover administrative costs, he said, so that all funds donated will go to Christians in need.