NEW YORK — The status of Christians and other vulnerable peoples in the Middle East, and the challenges they face as they seek refuge, will be among the subjects discussed with the head of Lebanon’s largest Christian community, Bechara Peter Cardinal Rai, Maronite Catholic Patriarch of Antioch, at a press conference at the offices of Catholic Near East Welfare Association, 1011 First Avenue, New York, on Monday, 27 June, at 11 a.m.
The press conference is one of several events scheduled in New York for the patriarch, who is in the United States on a pastoral visit from 22 June to 10 July. The visit includes stops in a number of Maronite Catholic communities and parishes throughout the eparchies, or dioceses, of St. Maron of Brooklyn and Our Lady of Lebanon of Los Angeles. Some 85,000 Maronite Catholics worship in Maronite communities in the United States, although some church leaders believe a far larger number participate in other churches in areas without Maronite parishes.
“Yes, our patriarchal shepherd is visiting his scattered flock in many states across the country, but his concern is much broader,” said Maronite Bishop Gregory Mansour of the Eparchy of St. Maron of Brooklyn. “He wants to raise awareness among Americans of the needs of those who desire to remain in their homelands in the Middle East, and how we can help them.
“His care extends to not only Christians in need, but to men and women of good will of other faith traditions. They, too, have fled the bloodshed that has destroyed huge swaths of a once vibrant and diverse Middle East.”
An agency of the Holy See, CNEWA has been a lifeline for the poor throughout the Middle East, Northeast Africa, India and Eastern Europe for 90 years. Founded by Pope Pius XI in 1926, CNEWA works for, through and with the Eastern Catholic churches to build up the church, affirm human dignity, alleviate poverty, encourage dialogue — and inspire hope.