Catholic Near East Welfare Association was established by Pope Pius XI in 1926.
At that time, the Holy Father joined together in one organization several American Catholic associations concerned for various purposes the welfare of people in Russia and the Holy Land, the work of the Eastern Catholic Churches, and the promotion of the union of the Catholic and Orthodox Churches.
The new papal agency was placed under the immediate direction of the archbishop of New York and was charged by the pope to work on behalf of Russia and the Christian East that is, those lands in which from ancient times the majority of Christians are members of the various Eastern churches.
Our mandate extends from central and eastern Europe to India, including northeast Africa to the churches and peoples of Afghanistan, Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Georgia, Greece, India, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Palestine, Russia, Syria, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan and to Eastern Christians everywhere.
As a small international non-governmental agency, we address and respond to those needs to which others cannot or do not.
We encourage and provide assistance to projects and programs of pastoral support, humanitarian assistance, interfaith communication and public awareness.
Pastoral support. Our association is Catholic. We support the pastoral mission and institutions of the churches of the East. We assist local bishops, priests, religious and lay leaders to build, nurture and maintain a living Church. We prepare church leadership, facilitate priestly ministry, build church institutions and assist the Holy See.
Humanitarian assistance. We are also catholic. In providing food, clothing, medical care, shelter and other basic necessities for the relief of suffering people and in caring for the afflicted, our only criterion is need, not creed. Besides responding to urgent human needs, we also rehabilitate dwellings and institutions, sustain a network of human services and contribute to education.
Interfaith communication. Our association promotes Christian unity, especially among the Churches of the East and Rome. We foster interreligious dialogue with non-Christians and collaboration in works of human development, justice and peace.
Public awareness. We raise consciousness of the conditions of the churches and peoples of the East. We disseminate information about their history, cultures and faith. Through educational programs and publications, we encourage intercultural communication and respect for human dignity and rights.
Msgr. Robert L. Stern, Secretary General of CNEWA