5 September 2019
Daughter of Charity Sister Naglaa stands with students in St. Vincent de Paul School.
(photo: Hanaa Habib)
In the current edition of ONE, Magdy Samaan described some of the remarkable work being done Reclaiming Lives in Cairo’s poorest quarter. Here, he offers some additional impressions:
To have your child admitted in a private foreign language school in Egypt, you have to do more than just pay the fees. Most of these schools are expensive, but they also set requirements for admission based on the parents’ social level and education.
They conduct an interview with the parents to make sure that they come from certain social classes. This deprives students from poor backgrounds from receiving good education. They are left with only one choice: to enroll in a government school, where education has deteriorated greatly in the past few decades.
This has created opportunities for private schools in Egypt. It has become like a market, where service varies greatly in the level of education and expenses.
But education costs Egyptian families an increasing amount of their shrinking income. Even those who go to government schools often need private tutoring, because the quality of education is not the best. Students coming from poor families, who can’t join a private school or afford private courses, have a hard time succeeding.
In the past, there was kind of equality in education. Public school used to be the main place for most Egyptians. Sons from poor families had the chance for social mobility through education. But nowadays it has become harder and harder for them to keep up with those who have more money and can afford better schools.
But then is the Saint Vincent de Paul School in Cairo. Children whose parents are poor — such as garbage collectors — are welcomed in the school. They even get help in paying the fees. Some get a discount; others have the fees waived. It can make a tremendous difference.
But it isn’t easy. The school seeks donations to support the students who can’t afford the fees. Sadly, not many people are willing to help.
This remains a great challenge in Egypt. Seeing the good that Saint Vincent de Paul School accomplishes should inspire more people to support this kind of schooling. As one of the sisters told me, “If we all shut the door in front of them, where shall they go?”
Read more about the lives of Egyptians trying to get a good education in the July 2019 edition of ONE. And for an intimate glimpse of life in Egypt, check out the video below.
5 September 2019
A group of migrants tour historic Kerak, Jordan, on their way to the Ader Learning Center.
We received the following email from Ra’ed Bahou, CNEWA’s regional director in Amman, describing some of CNEWA’s outreach to Filipino migrants who have settled in Jordan:
Our staff took part recently in a pilgrimage to Kerak and the Ader Learning Center, under the care of the Rev. Boulos Baqa’in. Three library staff accompanied some 40 migrants, who visited Kerak Castle with Father Boulos and a tour guide, who explained the biblical, historical, and archeological importance of the place to Jews, Christians and Muslims.
At noon, they attended Divine Liturgy at a Greek Catholic Church. After that, they interacted with children and parents at the Ader Learning Center, which CNEWA supports; they distributed coloring books and games to the children, along with cultural magazines for adults, some books on religion and two balls for playing football.
It was a fulfilling encounter for everyone!
5 September 2019
Tags: Jordan Migrants
Metropolitan-Archbishop Borys Gudziak, head of the Ukrainian Catholic Archeparchy of Philadelphia, is seen in this undated photo. (photo: CNS/courtesy Ukrainian Catholic Archeparchy of Philadelphia)
Archbishop pushing for a papal visit to Ukraine (Crux) Archbishop Borys Gudziak, one of nearly 50 Ukrainian Greek Catholic bishops in Rome this week, says he and his fellow prelates are pushing harder than ever for a papal visit to Ukraine — a trip that he said is crucial to ending conflict in the country, but which is being held up by fear of potential reprisal from Russia…
A chapter of Jewish history in India comes to a close (UCANews.com) In the city locality of Mattanchery, a grief-stricken crowd had gathered in front of Sarah Cohen’s tiny house-cum embroidery shop which had served as a marker of by-gone time in so-called Jew Town. Cohen was hospitalized last week after she fell from her bed and later died back in her home on 30 August. She was 96 years of age. She was buried at the Jewish cemetery in Mattanchery, close to the synagogue on 1 September. She was the oldest of three Jews left in the once popular Jewish trade center on the coast of the Arabian sea in Kerala…
New archeological findings at Goliath’s birthplace (The Jerusalem Post) A new layer of the ancient Philistine city of Gath has been uncovered in an archeological excavation led by Aren Maeir of Bar-Ilan University — which has the potential to re-contextualize much of biblical history…
Syrian musicians defy limitations (Arab News) Despite the dominance of war and gloom in headlines about Syria these days, and despite the fact that the few positive stories reported via mass and social media are by and large about individual instances of success, the large majority of the Syrian people continue to soldier on. Whether in search of a sense of normalcy in daily life or in working hard to achieve a semblance of stability individually or as families, many Syrians are drawing on hard work, but also on creativity, to overcome difficulty. One particularly hopeful and active group of Syrians appears to be the country’s musicians…
4 September 2019
Tags: Syria India Ukraine Jerusalem
The Rev. Khalil Jaar, Amy Peake, left, and Um Rita discuss the washable diapers the Iraqi Christian community is creating for refugees. (photo: CNS/Dale Galvak)
A petite, dark-haired woman busily measures and cuts large pieces of pastel pink and blue fleecy material as another sews.
“We left Iraq with our most precious possessions. ISIS stole everything from us, but thank God, they did take not our daughters,” the woman, known as Um Rita by her colleagues, told Catholic News Service, her eyes welling with tears.
Many Iraqi Christians, who fled Islamic State militants in August 2014, are still displaced, both inside Iraq and as refugees in neighboring lands, such as Jordan.
But the Rev. Khalil Jaar and British humanitarian Amy Peake have teamed up on an initiative that provides a livelihood to some of his Iraqi refugee parishioners, who have run short of funds, in a crowded section of Amman, the Jordanian capital.
“We have around 800 Iraqi refugee families living in my parish in Marka. They came after ISIS took Mosul and arrived here with almost nothing,” explained Father Jaar, who has devoted his ministry to aiding Iraqi and Syrian refugees flooding into Jordan from neighboring conflicts for more than a decade.
“Unlike the Syrian refugees, the Iraqis are not allowed to work. They don’t receive any help from nongovernmental organizations,” he told CNS. “So, you can imagine the situation of these families. I am looking to find a way for them to live in human dignity, to work and to have some money,” said Father Jaar, who grew up as a Palestinian refugee from Bethlehem, West Bank.
The Jordanian government grants work permits to some Syrian refugees, but others, such as Iraqis and Yemenis, are not officially allowed to work. But Father Jaar explained that Iraqis working in the church and on the compound may do so, because they are Christian and it’s a Catholic institution which has been helping them.
“When Amy visited our center, I felt her heart was burdened. She told me, ‘Father, I have a problem.’ ‘I have the solution,’ I told her.” And he chuckled, recounting their first meeting at his parish compound, Our Lady Mother of the Church.
Peake told CNS that at Zaatari, Jordan’s biggest refugee camp for Syrians, she had created a factory to produce high-quality washable diapers -- known in Britain as “nappies” -- and sanitary pads to aid Syrian refugee residents suffering from incontinence, including traumatized children, the elderly and the disabled.
The diapers are free; the idea was to help keep the refugees from spending most of their monthly stipend on disposable diapers.
“Not everybody is going to want to use a washable nappy for obvious reasons. But the 60 percent of people who carried on using them said they saved 25 percent of their monthly income -- which is a huge amount of money,” Peake explained.
Despite the positive results, the United Nations decided not to continue the project.
“Amy proposed to put the sewing machines here and immediately I gave her a big room, because we solve Amy’s problem as well as the problems of many Iraqi refugees in our parish. I see the Lord resolving so many issues,” said Father Jaar. At this time, more than 20 Iraqi Christians are working in the diaper factory.
“Behind each one working in the factory is a family to support with about five children. So, I do thank the Lord for this grace, this blessing he sent to us. I also thank Amy and everyone behind this fantastic relief service,” said the priest. “The families are given the opportunity to work in human dignity, not to beg for the needs of their family.”
Father Jaar said the Iraqi Christians who fled Islamic State are well-educated and skilled. They want the possibility to work, rather than receiving handouts.
“I remember during a food coupon distribution, I saw an Iraqi man crying,” he recalled. “I asked him, ‘Has someone hurt you? Why are you are crying? Why are you sad?’ He said, ‘No, Father, I am sad for myself. The work you are doing to help these people, this used to be my work in Mosul. I was a very rich man and I used to help people. Now, I am asking for someone to help me.’“
“You can imagine the frustration of these people,” Father Jaar said, adding that this man now has a responsible role in the factory. “My duty is to support them, to encourage them, to tell them that you are suffering, but you are suffering for a very high, noble reason: to preserve your faith. For you, for me, you are the living saints in my parish. I thank you for living with me.”
Diapers are distributed to churches working with Iraqi refugees in Amman and nearby Fuhais, as well as organizations such as “the House of Peace for the Elderly” (Dar es Salam for the Elderly), located in Amman, founded and run by Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity. The Collateral Repair Project, which assists 10,000 refugee families in Jordan, is also involved in locating refugees who need the washable diapers.
4 September 2019
Tags: Refugees Jordan
In this 11 September photo, displaced children are seen at a camp in Idlib, Syria. (photo: CNS /Khalil Ashawi, Reuters)
Half of Idlib’s children may miss school as battles rage (Al Jazeera) More than half the children living in Syria’s besieged Idlib province will probably be unable to attend school this year as fighting between rebel groups and Syrian forces destroyed hundreds of learning facilities, according to a new report released on Wednesday. Aid group Save the Children found 87 education facilities were destroyed and hundreds damaged during months of fighting. The schools that remain open are under constant threat of air attacks and shelling…
Christians march to protest harassment in India (UCANews.com) Hundreds of young Christians have marched through the street of Ranchi city in eastern India, in protest at the pro-Hindu Jharkhand state government, which they accuse of violating their constitutional rights. The leaders addressed some 500 young people who converged in a public square in the state capital on 31 August and claimed that the government led by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was abusing its authority for harassment and intimidation…
Indian state sharpens laws to check ’forced conversions’ (UCANews.com) India’s Himachal Pradesh state has enacted a new law regulating religious conversions, saying the existing one was not stringent enough to check an increase in forced conversions in the northern state…
The churches trying to save Ethiopia’s trees (BBC) In northern Ethiopia, churches are fighting to protect their sacred forests. In the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, it’s believed that these forests provide protective ‘clothing’ for their sacred spaces. They can also offer the only shade for miles…
Coptic Orthodox communities in Canada welcome Bishop Boulos (Canada Newswire) The Coptic Orthodox communities in Ottawa, will celebrate on Thursday, 5 September the arrival of His Grace Bishop Boulos, the first ever Coptic Orthodox Bishop over Ottawa, Montreal, and Eastern Canada…
3 September 2019
Tags: Syria India Ethiopia
Pope Francis greets Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk of Kiev-Halych, head of the Ukrainian Catholic Church, at the Vatican 2 September 2019. The 47 bishops from Ukrainian dioceses in Ukraine and 10 other nations met the pope during their synod in Rome. (photo: CNS/Vatican Media)
Before a synod, bishops must learn what their people want and think and need, not so they can change church teaching, but so they can preach the Gospel more effectively, Pope Francis told the bishops of the Ukrainian Catholic Church.
Forty-seven bishops from Ukrainian dioceses in Ukraine and 10 other nations, including the United States, Canada and Australia, met the pope on 2 September during their synod in Rome.
Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk, head of the Ukrainian Catholic Church, told Pope Francis that “every bishop and representative of our local communities has made his journey to Rome carrying with him the sufferings and hopes of the people of God entrusted to our pastoral care.”
The bishops, he said, want to be synodal -- walking together with their people -- “not only during our sessions but also when we return to our communities. Because, in fact, one cannot walk while seated!”
Speaking to the bishops, Pope Francis focused on Archbishop Shevchuk’s remarks and on how the Eastern Catholic churches, like the Orthodox churches, have a longer and uninterrupted history of decisions flowing from bishops’ synods.
“There is a danger,” the pope said, which is “thinking today that making a synodal journey or having an attitude of ‘synodality’ means investigating opinions -- what does this one and that one think -- and then having a meeting to make an agreement. No! The synod is not a parliament!”
While synod members must discuss matters and offer their opinions, he said, the purpose is not “to come to an agreement like in politics: ‘I’ll give you this, you give me that.’“
Bishops must know what their lay faithful, priests and religious think, the pope said, but it’s not a survey or a vote on what should change.
“If the Holy Spirit is not present, there is no synod,” he said. “If the Holy Spirit is not present, there is no synodality. In fact, there is no church.”
The vocation of the church is to evangelize, he said, and the Holy Spirit should help bishops gathered in a synod to do that better.
“Pray to the Holy Spirit,” the pope told the bishops. “Argue among yourselves” like early church leaders did at Ephesus but listen to the Holy Spirit.
“We don’t want to become a congregationalist church, but a synodal church,” he said. “Keep moving forward on this path.”
3 September 2019
Tags: Ukraine Ukrainian Catholic Church
In this photo from 2017, Pope Francis prays as he arrives for a consistory to create new cardinals in St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican. The pope announced on 1 September that he will create 13 new cardinals at a consistory in October. (photo: CNS/Paul Haring)
Pope names 13 new cardinals, including key leaders in interreligious dialogue (CNS) two other members of the group are also Vatican officials: 67-year-old Bishop Miguel Angel Ayuso Guixot, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue; and 53-year-old Archbishop Jose Tolentino Medonca, Vatican archivist and librarian. One of the over-80 cardinals-designate is 82-year-old Archbishop Michael Fitzgerald, a Missionary of Africa born in England, who had served as president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue and later as Vatican nuncio to Egypt…
Kerala floods leave dams more vulnerable to earthquakes (LiveMint) As Kerala struggles to recover from the monsoon floods that ravaged the state yet again this season, research has highlighted that floods triggered by heavy rain has left reservoirs and dams highly prone to earthquakes. The state has 43 dams and reservoirs predominantly located in the highly deformed and fractured Western Ghats. Of these 21 are now highly prone to tremors, a phenomenon called reservoir-induced seismicity (RIS), according to the latest geographic information system (GIS) analysis…
Kurdish forces pull back from border in Syria (Al Jazeera) In Syria, US-backed Kurdish forces are continuing to slowly pull back from positions near the border with Turkey. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan threatened to send troops in to push out the YPG if they did not move…
Ethiopia launches online power of attorney service for diaspora (Borkena.com) The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia launched an online power of attorney service to the members of Ethiopian Diaspora community, the state-affiliated Ethiopian Broadcasting Corporation (EBC) reported on last week. The ministry says that it is “Fast, Secure And EasyPower Of Attorney Service”…
30 August 2019
Tags: Syria Pope Francis Ethiopia Kerala
Pope Francis greets Cardinal Achille Silvestrini in 2016 photo. The cardinal, former prefect of the Congregation for Eastern Churches and a longtime Vatican diplomat, died on 29 August 2019, at the age of 95. (photo: CNS/Vatican Media)
Cardinal Achille Silvestrini, former prefect of the Congregation for Eastern Churches and a longtime Vatican diplomat, has died at the age of 95.
In a message of condolence to the family of the cardinal, who died on 29 August in Rome, Pope Francis noted that his decades at the Vatican included service to seven popes.
He will be remembered for “a life spent in adhering to his vocation as a priest attentive to the needs of others, a skillful and adaptable diplomat and a pastor faithful to the Gospel and to the church,” Pope Francis said.
Born in the northern Italian city of Brisighella, the future cardinal was ordained a priest in 1946 and subsequently received doctorates from the University of Bologna and the Pontifical Lateran University in Rome before entering the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy, which provides training to priests for eventual service in the Vatican diplomatic corps.
As a member of the Vatican diplomatic corps, he focused on international issues concerning Vietnam, China, Indonesia and Southeast Asia. He also accompanied Cardinal Agostino Casaroli, then-Vatican secretary of state, to Moscow in 1971 to deliver the Holy See’s adhesion to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.
In 1979, he was named by St. John Paul II as secretary of the former Council for the Public Affairs of the Church, now known as the Section for Relations with States. As secretary, a position equivalent to foreign minister, he represented the Vatican on diplomatic missions to various countries, including Spain, Malta, Argentina, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Poland and Haiti.
He was created a cardinal in 1988 and named prefect of the Apostolic Signatura, the Vatican’s supreme court, where he served until 1991 when St. John Paul appointed him prefect of the Congregation for Eastern Churches.
During his time as prefect, the Vatican called upon Cardinal Silvestrini’s diplomatic experience in areas of tension, particularly in the Middle East. In May 1993, he led a Vatican delegation to meet with former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.
He urged Hussein to make signs of goodwill and fulfill U.N. resolutions in order to ease economic restrictions imposed upon Iraq following the Gulf War. Cardinal Silvestrini served as prefect of the Congregation for Eastern Churches until 2000.
His death leaves the College of Cardinals with 215 members, 118 of whom are under the age of 80 and therefore eligible to vote in a conclave.
30 August 2019
In this image from 2012, Cardinal George Alencherry of the Syro-Malabar Archdiocese of Ernakulam-Angamaly, India, is pictured at the Vatican. (photo: CNS/Paul Haring)
In a step designed to quell ongoing controversies, the Vatican announced the appointment of a vicar for the head of the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church, and Pope Francis conferred on him the personal title of archbishop.
Archbishop Antony Kariyil had led the Syro-Malabar Diocese of Mandya, India, and served as secretary of the synod of bishops of the Eastern-rite church before his appointment as vicar was announced by the Vatican on 30 August.
The website Matters India reported that the synod, in agreement with the Vatican, created the post of vicar to the major archbishop to help deal with ongoing controversies involving Cardinal George Alencherry of Ernakulam-Angamaly, major archbishop of the church.
The vicar was to have broad administrative powers and complete control over the financial affairs of the archdiocese, but the cardinal would retain the title of major archbishop and must be consulted on important decisions, the website said.
Matters India also reported that the synod lifted the suspension of the archdiocese’s two auxiliary bishops and transferred them to other dioceses: Bishop Sebastian Adayanthrath will succeed Archbishop Kariyil in Mandya and Bishop Jose Puthenveettil will become auxiliary bishop of Faridabad. Both appointments were announced by the Vatican on 30 August.
In June 2018, Pope Francis had named an apostolic administrator to run the Archdiocese of Ernakulam-Angamaly in an effort to put an end to infighting and financial controversies aggravated by disputed land deals approved by the cardinal.
30 August 2019
Tags: Syro-Malabar Catholic Church
In this photo from 2 April, displaced Syrian children walk with bread at a camp in Hassake, Syria. (photo: CNS/Ali Hashisho, Reuters)
Syrians in makeshift displacement camp face ‘impossible choice’ (CBS News)An estimated 11,000 to 24,000 displaced Syrians still trapped in the remote Rukban camp along the eastern Syrian-Jordanian border. They have spent years languishing in a desert no man’s land along the border since fleeing Islamic State attacks on their hometowns in eastern Homs province in 2015. The camp remains an informal settlement, scattered with makeshift mud homes. Since March, nearly 18,000 Rukban residents have left the camp aboard the Syrian government’s buses, headed for government-held territory in Homs, according to the latest U.N. count from August. Hundreds of others have smuggled themselves out of the camp toward Syria’s opposition-held north…
Vicar appointed Major Archbishop for Ernakulam-Angamaly (Vatican Press Office) The Synod of Bishops of the Syro-Malabar Church elected Vicar of the Major Archbishop for the Archieparchy of Ernakulam-Angamaly HE Mons. Antony Kariyil, CMI, transferring him from the Siro-Malabar headquarters in Mandya. The Holy Father raised him to the dignity of Archbishop, assigning him the titular see of Macriana Maggiore…
Ousted Greek Patriarch gets to go home (Haaretz) The ousted Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem, Irenaeus I, departed Israel on Thursday and was headed for Greece. His departure puts an end to a 15-year-old religious and political saga…
Kashmir curfew taking a heavy toll (UCANews.com) For the past three Sundays, Allen Francis has had only one prayer during Mass: Bring normalcy back to Kashmir, where an Indian government clampdown has been enforced for several weeks. The continuing chaos in the state bordering Pakistan has now rendered the 35-year-old mason jobless for almost a month…
Tags: Syria Syro-Malabar Catholic Church Indian Bishops