29 October 2015
A picture taken on 29 October 2015 shows Syrians inspecting damaged buildings following a reported air strike by Syrian government forces in the rebel-held area of Douma, east of the capital Damascus. (photo: Sameer Al-DoumyAFP/Getty Images)
Kerry seeks end to Syrian civil war “hell” (BBC) The US is intensifying diplomatic efforts to end the “hell” of Syria’s civil war even as it increases support for moderate rebels, US Secretary of State John Kerry has said. Mr. Kerry is travelling to Vienna for talks with foreign ministers on ending the four-and-a-half year conflict...
Cardinal: Only peace will save the Christians of Mesopotamia (Fides) In Iraq and Syria, “without peace, there is no hope for anyone,” and only the end of sectarian conflicts can ensure the survival of the indigenous Christian communities in Mesopotamia. This is how Cardinal Fernando Filoni, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, highlighted the dangers that threaten the present and the future of Christians in vast areas of the Middle East...
Bishop: talks underway about possible meeting between Pope Francis and Patriarch Kiril (Tass) The Russian Orthodox Church and the Vatican are in talks over the possible meeting between Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia, said Bishop Tikhon (Shevkunov) of Yegoryevsk... “The relations [between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church] have varied over the past 20-30 years, at times they were tense. However, it is a different period now — of benevolent attention to each other. The negotiations over such a meeting [between the Pope and the Patriarch] are underway, and it is quite possible that we will learn something specific in the near future,” he said answering a question from a TASS correspondent...
Istanbul churches issue “Basic Principles of Christianity” book (TodaysZaman.com) For the first time after 1,700 years in the Christian world, the leaders of the Greek Orthodox, Armenian Apostolic, Syriac Orthodox, Catholic and Evangelical churches in Turkey came together at the Fener Greek Patriarchate in the Balat neighborhood of Istanbul to release the book “Basic Principles of Christianity” written by a council consisting of members from the churches...
Rastafarians return to Ethiopia (CNN) Two hundred and fifty kilometers from Addis Ababa, Shashamene’s Rastafarians live in 200 hectares of land bequeathed by former Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie I, the country’s leader from 1930 to 1974. A modernizer, he was a strong supporter of pan-Africanism and brought the country into the League of Nations, United Nations and made the capital Addis Ababa the center of the Organization of African Unity — the precursor for the African Union. But for many Rastafarians he was more than just the head of state. In fact the erstwhile duke (“Ras”) Tafari Makonnen gave his name to an entire religion...
28 October 2015
In this image from 2014, Sister Marie-Claude Naddaf, in the blue habit, meets refugees
during a visit to Erbil, Iraq. (photo: CNEWA)
Name: Sister Marie-Claude Naddaf
Order: The Good Shepherd Sisters
Facility: The Provincial Home of the Good Shepherd Sisters
Location: Ain Áar, Metn, Lebanon
During times of peace as well as war, the abuse of wives and daughters is often condoned in many communities across the Middle East. Sister Marie-Claude Naddaf knows she can’t end such widespread, deeply ingrained practices. But at the Provincial Home in Lebanon, she’s having a positive effect on women’s lives just the same.
Like her fellow Good Shepherd Sisters, she views the group home they’ve established for those at-risk as an oasis of compassion. “Our mission is to support women and girls living in violence in their homes,” Sister Marie-Claude explains. “We receive women who have marital problems and they’re sometimes pregnant. We give them food and shelter. We also help children between 2 and 7 years old, and have a boarding home for girls 4 to 18 years old.
Many refugee families now living in Lebanon are also receiving help, either at the Provincial Home or at other facilities run by the greater community of Good Shepherd Sisters.
As Sister Marie Claude points out, “We provide shelter, rehabilitation, education and professional training for young people, women and refugees. There is also an emergency food and hygiene program, a legal support program for women, and psychosocial support for children who have suffered trauma from the war.”
Among the children they’ve assisted is Syrian girl named Hamide. As Sister Marie-Claude explains, “At the age 12, Hamide was taken by a group of terrorists. She was raped several times, but managed to escape and was found in a public garden in Damascus.”
Once she was brought to the Provincial Home, “Hamide became another person. She studied hard and she is now in her complementary level. Hamide is very loving and very sensitive, especially when the sisters receive a new person in our home.”
If Sister Marie-Claude has one frustration, it’s that the Provincial Home is so understaffed, “we are not able to help the sick refugees. We do not have enough time to listen to so many people. We are only three sisters and there are so many requests for help.”
With no solution in sight, Sister Marie Claude admits she’ll simply continue working, as hard as she possibly can. But with so many desperate people to comfort, the sisters need more than dedication to continue their work. It’s why they need your support.
Thousands of sisters. Millions of small miracles.
To support the good work of sisters throughout CNEWA’s world, click here.
Also, for a limited time, you can make your gift go twice as far. A generous benefactor is matching every donation to support the sisters between now and 1 November, All Saints’ Day. Learn more about this great gift here.
28 October 2015
The Autumn 2015 edition of ONE is now available online and will be arriving soon in a mailbox near you. You can check it out right here.
We have — appropriately — a cornucopia of inspiring news and information in this edition. Among other stories, our reporters and photographers tell how faith is growing in Ukraine, how Christians in India are standing firm in the face of persecution, and how Ethiopians are learning to adapt to an increasingly urbanized landscape. All this and more, in the new edition of ONE.
Take a look.
And take a moment to watch Msgr. John E. Kozar’s video preview below.
28 October 2015
A seminarian prays before the morning liturgy in Uzhorod, Ukraine. A new generation of seminarians is helping breathe new life into the seminary and the Greek Catholic Church. Read more in “Out From Underground” in the Autumn 2015 edition of ONE. (photo: Oleg Grigoryev)
28 October 2015
In the video above, Pope Francis marks the 50th anniversary of Nostra Aetate during his
weekly audience. (video: Rome Reports)
Iran accepts invitation to Syria peace talks (Reuters) Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and three of his deputies will attend multilateral talks on Friday in Vienna that seek to resolve the conflict in Syria, the foreign ministry was quoted as saying on Wednesday. It will be the first time that Tehran, the main regional backer of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, attends an international summit on the four-year-long war. Other participants, notably the United States, say Assad can play no part in Syria’s future...
Russians meet with religious leaders in Syria (Fides) A Russian delegation composed of parliamentarians, political and military representatives recently made a visit to Syria for a program of meetings which also includes visits to representatives of churches and local religious communities...
Iraqi parliament rejects law on religious affiliation for children (Fides) Parliament in Iraq rejected the proposal — made by Christian representatives, but supported by parliamentarians belonging to different alliances — to amend the law by which a child is automatically registered as a Muslim, even if only one parent converts to Islam...
Ethiopia experiencing worst drought in 30 years (UN Humanitarian Bulletin) Ethiopia is experiencing its worst drought in 30 years. The impact of the failed spring belg rains was compounded by the arrival of the El Niño weather conditions that weakened summer kiremt rains that feed 80 to 85 per cent of the country. This greatly expanded food insecurity, malnutrition and devastated livelihoods across six affected regions of the country. The level of acute need across virtually all humanitarian sectors has already exceeded levels seen in the Horn of Africa drought of 2011 and is projected to be far more severe throughout an 8-month period in 2016...
Catholic bishops in India ask government to focus on values, inclusiveness (Vatican Radio) The CBCI has proposed the ministry of Human Resource Development to form its new education policy focusing on teaching values and probity in public life without being religion-specific. The Catholic Church which owns the second highest number of education institutions in the country claimed that the present system was deficient in ethical and moral components. Further, the Church said that the new policy should nurture diversity, inclusiveness and secularism as well as divergent and critical thinking among the students...
‘Nostra Aetate’ at 50: the ‘Magna Carta’ of interreligious dialogue (CNS) Representatives of the world’s religions gathered in Rome to commemorate and reflect on the 50th anniversary of “Nostra Aetate,” the Second Vatican Council’s declaration on relations with other religions. Although it is the shortest of the Second Vatican Council’s documents, its influence continues to be felt in the life of the church today, said speakers at an anniversary conference 26-28 October sponsored by the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue and the Pontifical Commission for Religious Relations With the Jews...
27 October 2015
Tags: Syria Iraq India Pope Francis Russia
Migrants from Syria walk along a road in the village of Miratovac, Serbia.
(photo: CNS/Marko Djurica, Reuters)
A month after endorsing CNEWA’s campaign to aid refugees, the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) has issued a powerful pastoral letter on the subject entitled “I Was a Stranger and You Welcomed Me.”
Citing both biblical teaching and the recent words of Pope Francis, the bishops state:
The immense and unprecedented refugee crisis today is heart-breaking, moving us to tears and urging us to act. As leaders of the Catholic Church in Canada, we believe that discussion is not enough; this is a time for urgent action. Every single day, desperate people try to cross a vast ocean of indifference. These people are called refugees. They are often treated simply as a problem or a concern, but to us they are our brothers and sisters, fellow human beings who need our help right now.
Among other things, the bishops urge the faithful to provide moral and spiritual support to those in refugee camps; call on the federal government to expand the acceptance of refugees in Canada; and support vital aid organizations — including, most notably, CNEWA.
This is a strong and powerful statement on behalf of our suffering brothers and sisters around the world. It cries out for attention. Please read the entire document and share it. And if you can, prayerfully consider supporting us in our mission — one that can help carry out our call as Christians and truly help the stranger so in need of being welcomed.
If you live in Canada, please visit this page to learn how you can help. Outside of Canada, please check out this giving page.
And thank you!
27 October 2015
Orthodox icons seen in Larnaca, Cyprus. (photo: Hannes Magerstaedt/Getty Images)
By virtue of its dominant Hellenic culture, many consider Cyprus a part of Europe. Yet this eastern Mediterranean island of 1.2 million people — divided into Greek- and Turkish-speaking zones — also figures in the annals of Asian history. Cyprus lies just 45 miles south of Turkey, 63 miles west of Syria and 120 miles northwest of Israel.
The history of Cyprus is riddled with conflict. But one constant factor has maintained the isle’s Hellenic identity into the modern era: the Orthodox Church. This faith community constitutes about 90 percent of the island’s population and has served as a cultural repository and a bastion of faith even as rival Asian and European powers conquered Cyprus.
From its origins in Roman Palestine, Christianity quickly took root among the many Greek-speaking populations of the Roman Empire.
Largely through the evangelical efforts of Sts. Paul and Barnabas, who as described in the Acts of the Apostles first brought the faith to Cyprus, these Greek-speaking Christians formed urban communities that evolved into important Christian centers. Rather than rejecting their Hellenic culture, these churches embraced it, providing philosophical and theological vocabularies that later helped define the teachings of Jesus among the empire’s elite.
Cypriot Christian Orthodox devotees carry a bier depicting Christ’s preparation for burial during a Good Friday procession, at the Ayios Georgios Exorinos Church in the Cypriot Turkish controlled North on 18 April 2014 in Famagusta, Cyprus. (photo: Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/Getty Images)
The church of Cyprus, while linked to the churches of Antioch and Constantinople, flourished and became largely independent. In 488, the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) emperor, Zeno, confirmed this independence and granted the church’s metropolitan archbishop certain privileges that remain to the present day.
While Cyprus was taken in the seventh century by invading Arab Muslims, for nearly 300 years Cyprus was governed jointly by Byzantine and Muslim Arab governors — an arrangement rare in the history of international law. In 988, however, the Byzantines asserted complete control and Christian life in Byzantine Cyprus flourished. Judging by the sophisticated architecture of the era’s churches and the quality of the art, Cyprus maintained close ties to Constantinople and its workshops.
These ties were ruptured, however, when soldiers of the Third Crusade, led by King Richard the Lion-Hearted of England, suddenly took the island in 1191, imprisoning the Byzantine governor. The Latins reduced the power of the island’s Greek-speaking Orthodox hierarchy, exiled the archbishop and expropriated church property. Resistance was dealt with ruthlessly. Latin Catholic missionaries flooded Cyprus and founded monasteries and reordered Byzantine churches for Latin Catholic use.
When Cyprus fell to the Muslim Ottoman Turks in 1570, the island’s Greek-speaking communities (who were considered neither Catholics by the Latins nor Orthodox by mainland Greek Orthodox clerics) greeted the Turks as deliverers. The sultan of the Ottoman Turks — who had taken Constantinople in 1453 and assumed the mantle of its emperors — banished the Latin hierarchy of Cyprus, recognized its long suffering Orthodox community, reconstituted its hierarchy and appointed the metropolitan archbishop as head of the Greek-speaking community, or millet. This reinforced the role of the Orthodox Church as custodian of Cyprus’s Hellenic culture, warden of the isle’s Byzantine identity and spiritual guardian of its Christians. But charging the Orthodox hierarchy of Cyprus with responsibility for governing its own people proved to be a double-edged sword.
Click here to read more.
27 October 2015
In this image from the Autumn 2015 edition of ONE, deaf culinary students enjoy the food they prepared at the Women’s Promotion Center in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. To learn how churches are helping young women like these to make a better future in a rapidly changing Ethiopia, read “Bright Lights, Big Problems.” (photo: Petterik Wiggers)
27 October 2015
Cardinal Oswald Gracias of Mumbai, India, signs a document in which leaders of the world’s regional bishops conferences appealed for action on climate change. From left behind the cardinal are Auxiliary Bishop Jean Kockerols of Mechelen-Brussels, Belgium; Cardinal Ruben Salazar Gomez of Bogota, Colombia; unidentified priest; Archbishop Thomas G. Wenski of Miami; and Archbishop Richard Smith of Edmonton, Alberta. (photo: CNS/Paul Haring)
Syrian violence spurs civilian flight from country (The New York Times) A tenuous truce in the Syrian countryside north of the city of Homs was shattered this month when Russian warplanes attacked the village of Ter Ma’aleh, killing at least a dozen people and sending most of the residents into hurried exile. The intensity of the fighting, they say, is fueling increased desperation as a growing number of Syrians are fleeing to neighboring countries and, especially, to Europe. More than 9,000 migrants a day crossed into Greece last week, according to the International Organization for Migration, the most since the beginning of the year. The assault on the village was part of a wider escalation of violence across the country that has displaced tens of thousands of people in just weeks and led relief workers to warn that Syria is facing one of its most serious humanitarian crises of the civil war...
Bishops plead for climate change action (CNS) The presidents of the U.S. and Canadian bishops’ conferences joined leaders of the regional bishops’ conferences of Asia, Africa, Latin America, Oceania and Europe in signing an appeal for government leaders to reach a “fair, legally binding and truly transformational climate agreement” at a summit in Paris. Indian Cardinal Oswald Gracias of Mumbai, president of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences, signed the appeal on 26 October at the beginning of a joint news conference at the Vatican...
Father Jacques Murad speaks of his captivity in Syria (Fides) “Even while being deported, with my hands tied behind my back, I surprisingly found myself repeating again and again: I am going towards freedom. My captivity was like being born again.” This was how Syrian monk and priest the Rev. Jacques Murad, Prior of the Monastery of Mar Elian, summarised the spiritual experience during the time he was deprived of his freedom by ISIS jihadists. A period of trial which started on 21 May, when armed men abducted the priest from the Monastery in the outskirts of Qaryatayn together with a co-worker, and ended on 11 October, when Father Jacques regained full freedom...
Chaldean archbishop: Thousands of Christians fleeing Iraq (Christian Today) Thousands of Iraqi Christians are still fleeing their country even though the humanitarian situation for the displaced has improved, Chaldean Catholic Archbishop Bashar Warda of Erbil has told Aid to the Church in Need. Growing numbers of Iraqi Christians forced out of their homes by ISIS are leaving the country as hopes fade that they will be able to return home, he said...
Pope Francis congratulates patriarch on honor (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Monday sent a message on the occasion of the conferral of an honorary doctorate to Bartholomew I, Patriarch of Constantinople. The Honorary Doctorate in the Culture of Unity was granted the Patriarch by the Sophia University Institute “for his service to the unity of the human family...”
Synod drafts declaration on Middle East, Africa, Ukraine (Vatican Radio) The Synod Fathers launched a new appeal for peace and the resolution of conflicts in the Middle East, Africa and Ukraine, asking the international Community to act via diplomatic channels and to engage in dialogue to end the suffering of thousands of people. In the declaration, the Fathers make special reference to families compelled to flee their homes, and give thanks to the countries that have welcomed refugees...
Russian Orthodox official warns eating potato chips is “sinful” (The Moscow Times) Orthodox believers should shun unhealthy foods such as potato chips and products made by corrupt manufacturers because they are sinful, Moscow Patriarchate deputy speaker Roman Bogdasarov was cited as telling the Interfax news agency by the RBC news website on Sunday. “The Church has laid down a strict rule — sin is that which harms human health,” Bogdasarov said. Problematic products include foods containing “various trans fats, alcoholic beverages of poor quality, potato chips, energy [drinks] — everything that negatively affects a person’s health,” he was cited as saying in the report...
26 October 2015
Tags: Syria Iraq India Russian Orthodox
In this image from 2011, Sami El-Yousef, CNEWA’s regional director for Palestine and Israel, visits with staff at the Pontifical Mission Library in Bethlehem. (photo: John E. Kozar)
On Sunday 25 October 2015, the Pontifical Mission Library in Bethlehem celebrated its 45th anniversary on the campus of Bethlehem University. The celebration started with a Eucharistic celebration at the Chapel of the Divine Child where the main celebrant was His Excellency Archbishop Guiseppe Lazzarotto, Apostolic Delegate to Jerusalem and Palestine, assisted by over ten priests. His homily concentrated on the need to have God in our presence in whatever we do, and for each person to find “light” in his/her life, especially amid the violence this land is currently facing. Mass was followed by a formal program where a number of speakers made comments about the history of the library and the great services it is providing to the local community in Bethlehem. Monnitte Monana, the current Teresian director of the library welcomed the guests, and formally opened the celebration by thanking all in attendance. I was privileged to make the opening remarks, emphasizing the three-way cooperation that has made the library such a success. I highlighted the role played by the Teresian Association for being entrusted with the leadership and administration of the library since its inception; thanked Bethlehem University for housing the PM Library in its main library building since 1978; and acknowledged the moral and financial support of CNEWA since those early days. I further highlighted the fact that the library has dramatically expanded its services since those early days and is now more of a community center providing educational and cultural activities for a wide variety of audiences.
The second part of the program included a video presentation narrated by previous and current members of the library. (You can watch the video at this link.) This was followed by short talks about the humble beginnings and history of the library by Brother Joseph Lowenstein, who was the Vice Chancellor of Bethlehem University when the initial agreement to host the PM Library was signed back in 1978, as well as by Mellie Brodeth of the Teresian Association who worked in the Library in those early days and is now the director of the Bethlehem University Library. They both spoke eloquently about the importance of people in the life of the library and how it has evolved over the years.
As a way to show the diversified nature of the activities of the library, there was a surprise: a Palestinian folk dance performed by young members of the library who learned this dance as part their activities during the summer camp 2015. This was followed by a ceremony presenting awards to individuals and institutions who made significant contributions to the life of the library over the past 45 years — including, among others, Archbishop Lazzarotto, Br. Joseph Lowenstein, CNEWA, Bethlehem University, the Teresian Association, plus a number of library members. The ceremony concluded with closing remarks by the regional director of the Teresian Association, Dr. Nenita Tenefrancia, who reflected on the mission of the Teresians and how that mission is being lived in Bethlehem through their presence in both the Pontifical Mission and the Bethlehem University Libraries. Their founder Saint Pedro Poveda should be very proud as they fulfill the mission of “transforming society, and promoting human values in accordance with the spirit of the Gospel.” A reception followed in the Institute of Hotel Management served by students of the university.
You can read more about the library here and here.
And to support the ongoing mission of the Pontifical Mission Library, please visit this giving page.