Mansour Cites Group’s Humanitarian Work in the Middle East
By John Alexander
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
The humanitarian work of Catholic Relief Services (CRS) and its partner agencies directed toward refugees in the Middle East deserves far more attention than it has received and Maronite Bishop Gregory J. Mansour says it’s time Catholics in the pew knew about it.
The work of feeding, sheltering and providing health care for hundreds of thousands of people who have trekked to safety in Jordan and Lebanon from Iraq and Syria is a story that the mainstream media largely has ignored, much to the chagrin of Mansour, the incoming chairman of the board at CRS.
In a Dec. 16 interview with Catholic News Service, he said that the focus of much media reporting has been on assessing blame for the catastrophe or analyzing the response of governments in the region with little attention paid to the plight of the people uprooted from their homes.
Mansour heads the Eparchy of St. Maron in Brooklyn, which includes Maronite Catholics in the District of Columbia and 16 states. It is one of two Maronite eparchies in the U.S.
The Maronite Catholic Church is a worldwide Eastern Catholic Church that traces its roots to a fourth-century Syrian monk named Maron.
“I think the Middle East has had a story to tell and unfortunately, all you hear about is the rebels and the regime in Syria,” said Mansour, who is succeeding Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City as chair. “You don’t hear about all the humanitarian work that is being done, Christians and Muslims alike in tandem working together.”
Mansour critiqued the media for focusing blame and then doing nothing in the way of solutions. “Pope Francis got it right: The media people, many of them just antagonize, make the situation worse. They’re not doing what CRS is doing on the ground. They’re not doing what Caritas (is doing). They’re not doing what the Catholic Church is doing,” he said.
George Prezioso, chairman of the Catholic Citizens Committee, said, “Bishop Mansour’s eastern rite Catholic background makes him the ideal choice to chair the CRS.”
The Maronite leader has been an outspoken advocate for persecuted Christians and other religious and ethnic minorities in the Middle East for years.
He has visited Lebanon since the 1980s and Jordan and Egypt more recently. At the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ fall general assembly in Baltimore in November, he called on his brother bishops to focus greater attention on the plight of persecuted Christians in the region.