December 20, 2010

Spurred by the exodus of Iraqi Christians, the Toronto Archdiocese doubled the number of Iraqi refugee families it sponsored in 2010 to 190.

The boom in the resettlement of Iraqis was fueled by 40 new refugee sponsorship committees or initiatives aimed at rescuing Christians fleeing the violence-torn country.

The Catholic response to the plight of Iraqi Christian refugees has been the most significant development in Canada’s refugee resettlement system since faith groups pushed the government to create a private sponsorship system 30 years ago in response to the thousands of Vietnamese fleeing by boat from their homeland, said Martin Mark, executive director of the refugee office.

To make the sponsorship system more responsive, the archdiocese has launched a fund that will help parishes organize fundraising efforts and manage expenses for refugee resettlement.