Catholic Near East Welfare Association

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Catholic Near East Welfare Association
CNEWA's official logo
Abbreviation CNEWA
Established 11 March 1926
Type 501(c)(3) nonprofit charity
Status Active
Headquarters New York City
President Msgr. John E. Kozar
Board Chair Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan

$28,674,931 (2016)


The Catholic Near East Welfare Association (CNEWA) is a papal agency established in 1926 and dedicated to giving pastoral and humanitarian support to Northeast Africa, the Middle East, Eastern Europe, and India.[2] CNEWA operates specifically in areas of concentrated mass poverty, war, and displacement, providing human dignity and addressing basic needs for vulnerable populations. As a Catholic organization CNEWA utilizes the network of Eastern Catholic Churches and devoted religious sisters in order to provide the most effective and holistic humanitarian support regardless of creed or religious affiliation.[3] As sisters with CNEWA have stated, “We don’t help people because they’re Christian. We help [them] because we are.”[4]

CNEWA’s regional offices employ natives who collaborate with local churches and Christian institutions to identify needs and implement solutions as a means of ‘working from the ground up.’ CNEWA has held a presence in areas that have been recently volatile, such as Syria, Iraq, and Palestine, and its operations respond rapidly to the constantly-shifting needs of the people.[5] With a 95.43 rating on Charity Navigator, CNEWA provides 86.6% of its funds raised for programmatic support.[6]


Early Years[edit]

In the wake of the destruction of World War I , Pope Benedict XV and later Pope Pius XI, recognized the great need for spiritual and material aid across Europe. This push for relief was specifically oriented towards Russia and Eastern Europe as they experienced a series of famines between 1921-1923.[7]

In 1924, a dynamic Irish chaplain who had served British troops during World War I, Msgr. Richard Barry-Doyle arrived in New York at the behest of Father Paul Wattson, a Franciscan Friar of the Atonement, who enlisted the priest to raise funds for the humanitarian activities of Greek Catholic Bishop George Calavassy , the apostolic exarch in Constantinople.[8]

In 1926, Pope Pius XI united Catholic organizations working in the region under the “Catholic Near East Welfare Association,” centralizing and strengthening Catholic relief. Rather than being specifically oriented to Russia, the organization rapidly expanded to cover the entirety of what was then known as the “Near East.”[9]

Pontifical Mission for Palestine[edit]

Msgr. John G. Nolan sits in on a geography lesson at a refugee camp near Amman.

In 1949, in the aftermath of the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, Pope Pius XII ) decided to focus relief efforts in Palestine, which fell under the administration of CNEWA.[10] Temporary emergency operations continued as the region only further destabilized, while CNEWA expanded to Lebanon and Iraq in response to their own respective national crises.[11]

Present Day[edit]

In June 2011, Monsignor John E. Kozar was appointed by Archbishop Timothy Michael Dolan, the President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and Archbishop of the Archdiocese of New York, as President of the Catholic Near East Welfare Association and President of the Mission. The appointment was confirmed by Pope Benedict XVI.


CNEWA’s mission states that it exists to “build up the church, affirm human dignity, alleviate poverty, encourage dialogue — and inspire hope.”[12]

Accompanying the Church[edit]

CNEWA helps form church leadership by funding seminaries and religious houses of formation, university chaplaincies, lay catechist formation programs, advanced studies for clergy and religious leaders, and scholarships for priests and religious leaders. CNEWA also aids local churches by repairing damaged parish facilities, funding local church assistance programs, funding pastoral initiatives for refugees, and by funding youth formation programs.[13]

Responding to Human Needs[edit]

Throughout the numerous different areas that CNEWA works, there are some common needs that CNEWA repeatedly addresses. For example, child care initiatives such as schools, orphanages, food programs, centers for children with special needs, and child health care practices are funded by CNEWA’s programs.[14] CNEWA also helps care for the marginalized in society by funding hospice programs, programs for refugees and immigrants, and initiatives for the elderly, abandoned, and neglected.[15] CNEWA helps provide emergency relief, such as food packages, bedding, first aid, and sanitary kits for areas impacted by warfare, social upheaval, or natural disaster.[14] Lastly, CNEWA helps fund sustainability programs that are geared towards helping society in the long-term, such as vocational training schools or programs, entrepreneurial initiatives, and self-reliance initiatives.[14]


The Pontifical Mission for Palestine is a special agency of the Holy See, founded by Pope Pius XII in June 1949[16] to assist Palestinian refugees.[17]

The Pontifical Mission became the Holy See's relief and development agency for Israel, the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, Jordan, Iraq, Lebanon, and Syria.[16] It is administered by the Catholic Near East Welfare Association, and its headquarters are located in New York City. The Mission has an office in Vatican City, and field offices in Beirut, Jerusalem, and Amman.[17]

The founding president of the Pontifical Mission was Monsignor Thomas McMahon.

On July 16, 1974, Paul VI sent a letter to the President of the Pontifical Mission for Palestine, Monsignor John G. Nolan, where he referred for the first time to the Palestinians, stating:

The work of the Mission for Palestine has been one of the clearest signs of the Holy See's concern for the welfare of the Palestinians, who are particularly dear to us because they are people of the Holy Land, because they include followers of Christ and because they have been and still are being so tragically tried. We express again our heartfelt sharing in their sufferings and our support for their legitimate aspirations. May our paternal solicitude bring comfort and encouragement, especially to the refugees, who for years have been living under inhuman conditions.

Unfortunately such a state of affairs has produced in many Palestinians a sense of frustration and, in some, such anguish and desperation as to move them to acts of violent protest which with sorrow we have been constrained strenuously to deplore. It seems to us, nevertheless, that this is the moment for all Palestinians to look to the future with a constructive, like-minded and responsible attitude, as the hope becomes ever stronger that their particular problems will be them will be found during the peace in the Middle East.[18]

As at 2006, the President of the Mission was Archimandrite Robert L. Stern, and the Vice President was Chorbishop John D. Faris.

In June 2011, Monsignor John E. Kozar was appointed by Archbishop Timothy Michael Dolan, the President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and Archbishop of the Archdiocese of New York, as President of the Catholic Near East Welfare Association and President of the Mission. The appointment was confirmed by Pope Benedict XVI.


Middle East[edit]

CNEWA has offices in Beirut, Lebanon, Amman, Jordan, and in Jerusalem which oversee work in Lebanon, Jordan, Israel-Palestine, Egypt, Iraq, and Syria.[19] CNEWA works with local churches and religious sisters to deliver the most effective on the ground support, delivering a total of $36,568,166 to the region.[20]

Northeast Africa[edit]

A group of small children stand together in a village in Ethiopia.

CNEWA works across Egypt and the horn of Africa. CNEWA has an active role in providing aid during droughts and bad harvests, as well as mudslides, and has led efforts in the educational field in Ethiopia and beyond.[21] CNEWA’s office in Beirut leads its initiatives in Egypt while its office in Addis Ababa [22] leads initiatives throughout the Horn of Africa.


CNEWA has been a leading nonprofit across India with its office based out of Ernakulum [23] providing basic necessities to those in need such as food, clothing, education and healthcare.[24] At the same time, CNEWA works to train seminarians and novices to lead the spiritual community.

Eastern Europe[edit]

CNEWA supports programs throughout Ukraine, Georgia, Armenia and Romania, caring for the marginalized and revitalizing their spirit. The agency’s focus within this region tends to be on abandoned elderly populations and seminarian formation.[25]


  1. ^
  2. ^ "Catholic Near East Welfare Association (CNEWA) | Devex". Retrieved 2018-03-06. 
  3. ^ "Catholic Near East Welfare Association - Idealist". Retrieved 2018-03-06. 
  4. ^ "The CNEWA Story". Retrieved 2018-03-06. 
  5. ^ Duncan, Don (Summer 2015). "Grace". ONE. 
  6. ^ "Charity Navigator - Rating for Catholic Near East Welfare Association (CNEWA)". Charity Navigator. Retrieved 2018-03-13. 
  7. ^ "Russian famine of 1921–22". Wikipedia. 2018-01-13. 
  8. ^ by. "90 Years, 90 Heroes:Bishop George Calavassy". Retrieved 2018-03-13. 
  9. ^ "CNEWA". Retrieved 2018-03-13. 
  10. ^ "CNEWA". Archdiocese of New York. Retrieved 2018-03-13. 
  11. ^ "Pontifical Mission for Palestine". Retrieved 2018-03-13. 
  12. ^ CNEWA (January 28, 2014). "Primary Programmatic Initiatives". Catholic Near East Welfare Association. 
  13. ^ Wuilbercq, Emeline (December 2017). "No Place Like Home". ONE. 
  14. ^ a b c "What We Do". 
  15. ^ Abrahamyan, Gayane (June 2017). "This is the Only Light". ONE. 
  16. ^ a b Pontifical Mission Jerusalem
  17. ^ a b Statement of H. E. Archbishop Renato R. Martino, November 3, 1999
  18. ^ "Catholic Near East Welfare Association - Idealist". Retrieved 2018-03-06. 
  19. ^ Bunson, Matthew (August 29, 2017). "Middle East Christians: A Status Report". National Catholic Register. 
  20. ^ "CNEWA in the Middle East". 
  21. ^ "Summer 2016 Ethiopia Drought Summer". 
  22. ^ "Addis Ababa". Wikipedia. 2018-03-07. 
  23. ^ "Ernakulam". Wikipedia. 2018-02-27. 
  24. ^ Duncan, Don (June 2017). "The Secret of Their Success". ONE. 
  25. ^ Sargsyan, Flora (Summer 2015). "A Letter from Armenia". ONE Magazine: 32–33. 

External links[edit]