11 October 2018
In this image from 1968, Pope Paul VI greets children as he visits the Church of St. Leo the Great in Rome. (photo: CNS/Giancarlo Giuliani, Catholic Press Photo)
As the world prepares to mark the canonization of Pope Paul VI this weekend, we are reminded of his remarkable legacy — and how a significant part of that touches the people and places we serve, most notably in the Holy Land.
There, an extraordinary event occurred in January of 1964. Pope Paul VI became the first Bishop of Rome, the pope, to visit the Holy Land since St. Peter left it almost 2,000 earlier. That alone would have been enough to make history. However, Paul VI was committed to the spirit of Vatican II, which included a call for the Catholic Church to be ecumenical. So, while in the Holy Land, the pope met with Athenagoras, the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Constantinople. The significance of this cannot be overstated: this marked the first time a pope had met with the patriarch since the Great Schism of 16 July 1054, when the legate of Pope Leo IX announced the excommunication of Patriarch Michael I Cerularius — who, in turn, then excommunicated the pope. Despite efforts over the centuries, the break between the Catholic and Orthodox Churches showed few signs of healing. Thus the meeting of the Pope of Rome and the Patriarch of Constantinople was by any and every measure historic.
However, the Paul VI’s visit to the Holy Land was not merely an opportunity to meet with the patriarch. It was also an opportunity for him to meet the people of the land—Israelis and Palestinians. Popes had historically shown concern for the Palestinian people through the establishment of the Pontifical Mission for Palestine by Pope Pius XII in 1949, which is presently the operating agency for CNEWA in the Middle East. Paul VI was no exception.
Even before the 1967 War and the occupation of the West Bank by the Israelis Pope Paul VI saw that the situation of Palestinians was dire. Palestinians were leaving the Holy Land — and Christian Palestinians, often more educated than the general population, were emigrating in alarming numbers. After 1967, the situation became and has remained worse.
In an effort to improve the situation of Palestinians, Pope Paul VI suggested opening some kind of educational facility. The schools of the Latin Patriarchate were always in need of teachers and so originally the idea was for an institute to train teachers. However, in 1973 Brother John Manual, FSC, suggested a university—the first of its kind on the West Bank. Brother Manual’s community, the Christian Brothers of De La Salle, had been active in education in the Holy Land for decades. The community offered property which they owned in Bethlehem for the new project.
Bethlehem University was opened at the suggestion of Pope Paul VI and today continues to serve students of all faiths in Palestine. (photo: John E. Kozar)
Like the other schools the brothers ran in the Middle East, the new university would be built on “La Sallian” principles of education and ethics, providing higher education opportunities for Palestinians. The university opened in 1973 with three religious brothers, some Palestinian faculty members and 112 students. Over the decades, Bethlehem University has become one of the premier universities in the region. With the goal of providing not only education but also employment opportunities to its students, the university over the years has added schools of nursing, business, education and an Institute for Hotel Management and Tourism — critical for handling the vast numbers of pilgrims who visit the region from around the world.
The university now has more than 15,000 alumni and an enrollment of over 3,200 students. As the Christian population continues to diminish, Bethlehem University continues to serve all Palestinians—Christian and Muslim. By having Christian and Muslim students study together and get to know each other, the university is promoting a pluralistic culture of friendship and cooperation between Christians and Muslims in Palestine.
CNEWA has been intimately connected with Bethlehem University over the decades. The Pontifical Mission for Palestine is engaged with the university and the president of CNEWA sits on the university’s board of directors. Bethlehem University refers to its students and alumni as “the bright stars of Bethlehem.” One can hope that those “stars of Bethlehem” can lead the Palestinian people to a new and brighter future.
That is certainly what Pope Paul VI — soon to be St. Pope Paul VI — would have wished.
Read more about The Perseverance of Bethlehem University in the November 2004 edition of ONE magazine.
11 October 2018
Tags: Bethlehem Pope Bethlehem University
Schoolgirls in Chandigarh, India, wear pink turbans on 11 October to mark International Day of the Girl Child. (photo: CNS/Ajay Verma, Reuters)
11 October 2018
Two months after the historic flooding that hit India, efforts are underway to raise more money for relief and to raise awareness, as well, about disease. (video: CNBC/YouTube)
Relief workers: Thousands of Syrian refugees could face starvation (Reuters) Thousands of Syrians stranded on Jordan’s border with Syria are running out of food as routes leading to their camp are closed by the Syrian army and Jordan is blocking aid deliveries, relief workers and refugees said on Thursday…
Before and after photos of flooding show how Kerala is recovering (Indian Express) Even as two months have gone by since Kerala’s worst disaster in a century, the biggest challenge for the state has been to raise money for the relief and rehabilitation process. At least 493 people lost their lives in the rains and floods during the South West monsoon…
Israel destroys Gaza attack tunnel (Reuters) Israel destroyed a cross-border tunnel on Thursday running from the Gaza Strip into Israeli territory, which it said was dug by the Palestinian Hamas group with the aim of carrying out attacks…
Young people of India show solidarity with Synod of Bishops (Vatican News) Young Catholics from all over the Archdiocese of Bombay in India came together in Mumbai on October 7 to participate in a novel way in the Synod of Bishops on young people currently taking place in the Vatican. Mumbai’s young Catholics celebrated what they called Synodgy2018 that aimed at inspiring young people to work together with the Church, with the promise that the Church would listen and respond to them...
10 October 2018
Tags: Syria India Kerala
Youth gather by the headquarters of Bethlehem's Terra Sancta Scouts. Learn more about Defining ’Christian’ in Palestine in the current edition of ONE, now available online. (photo: Samar Hazboun)
10 October 2018
Chaldean Archbishop Habib Nafali of Basra, Iraq, speaks to schoolchildren on 5 October at St. Columba's parish in Chester, England, about the persecution of Christians in Iraq.
(photo: CNS/Simon Caldwell)
Iraqi archbishop fears more persecution (CNS) Christianity in Iraq is just one wave of persecution away from extinction, said the Chaldean Catholic archbishop of Basra. In an interview with Catholic News Service, Chaldean Archbishop Habib Nafali said there were now so few Christians in his country that the church there would disappear if it was subjected to further persecution. He said the displacements and murders of Christians over the past 15 years constituted genocide…
Lebanon: 100,000 Syrian refugees to return home by year’s end (Xinhua) Lebanese General Security chief Abbas Ibrahim said Tuesday that the number of Syrian refugees returning home by the end of this year will reach 100,000. ”The General Security is offering security and logistic facilities in addition to financial exemptions to Syrian refugees living illegally in Lebanon to accelerate their return back home,” Ibrahim was quoted by Elnashra, an independent online newspaper, as saying…
Russian Orthodox Church warns of protests in Ukraine (AFP) A high-ranking Russian Orthodox cleric on Wednesday warned that protests would erupt in Ukraine if the country’s Orthodox Church is granted independence from Moscow…
Kerala reopens to tourists (The Times of India) The Kerala state tourism department on Tuesday said that the state was back to normalcy after the devastating flood and was ready to open its doors with several new tourism initiatives…
For some Americans, Jerusalem’s newest pilgrimage site is the U.S. embassy (NPR) The new embassy has become a magnet for American visitors, many of them devout Christians who support what it stands for: an about-face in U.S. policy, recognizing Israel’s sovereignty claims to the coveted city…
9 October 2018
Tags: Syria Iraq Lebanon Kerala Chaldean Church
The September edition of our award-winning magazine ONE is on its way to your mailbox, but you can get a first look online right here.
In this edition, follow a young man’s journey to the priesthood in Egypt; learn how the church is continuing her mission to children in India; hear from a mother rebuilding her family’s life in Iraq; and share the hope and promise of at-risk mothers and young children in Georgia. All that, plus important news from the world we serve, along with journalism that was recently hailed for its “breath-taking photography, innovative design and (above all) textbook storytelling.”
The theme of this ONE is proclaimed proudly on the cover: “Sharing Hope.” And in the video below, our president Msgr. John E. Kozar offers a more detailed preview of just what that means.
We’re pleased to be able to share our hope with you — and grateful for all that our readers and donors have made possible. Thank you!
Check out more.
9 October 2018
Tags: CNEWA ONE magazine
Anna Marie, Natalie and Nitsa, three of the seven children currently living at the St. Barbara Mother and Child Care Center in Georgia, have become fast friends. Learn more about how the church is Confronting Abuse of Women in Georgia in the September 2018 edition of ONE. (photo: Molly Corso)
9 October 2018
A Marian icon is seen as Pope Francis leads an audience for laypeople, clergy and religious of the Slovak Catholic Church at the Vatican on 6 October. (photo: CNS /Alessandro Bianchi, Reuters)
Pope says families of Eastern Catholic married priests set example (CNS) The families of Eastern-rite Catholic priests give an important witness to what is healthy and wonderful about family life, Pope Francis said. Speaking to laypeople, clergy and religious of the Slovak Catholic Church — a Byzantine-rite church that has maintained its tradition of ordaining both celibate and married men — the pope said, “the families of priests live a unique mission today…”
Syria: rebels withdraw heavy weapons from Idlib (BBC) Syrian rebel fighters are reported to have withdrawn their heavy weapons from the frontlines around Idlib province. Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency said rockets, mortars and missiles had been removed in line with a deal to create a demilitarized buffer zone separating rebel and government forces…
Crowdfunding to be used to Kerala rebuilding (New Indian Express) The meeting to review the flood relief and rehabilitation work held here under the leadership of Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has decided to make maximum use of crowdfunding for the purpose. An internet portal has been set up for crowdfunding. Details of the work to be taken up by various departments should be submitted to the portal by the departments concerned urgently, it was decided…
Israel to take in approximately 1,000 Ethiopian Christians (Jewish Press) The Cabinet, at its weekly meeting, on Sunday approved the proposal of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (Likud) and Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon (kulanu) to bring to Israel approximately 1,000 members of the Falash Mura community who have children are in Israel. In 1860, Henry Aaron Stern, a Jewish convert to Christianity, traveled to Ethiopia and Eritrea in an attempt to convert the Beta Israel community to Christianity. Today, according to some estimates, there may be as many as 50,000 Christian converts in Ethiopia and Eritrea who maintain some familial relations with Ethiopian Israelis…
Authorities unearth earliest-known inscription bearing the name ’Jerusalem’ (Haaretz) The 2,100-year-old Hebrew inscription on a piece of limestone unearthed in Jerusalem is the earliest-known mention of the full name of the city that is spelled as it is today, the Israel Antiquities Authority announced Tuesday. The name was inscribed on part of a Roman structure dating to the 1st century B.C.E., which was discovered during a salvage excavation prior to the paving of a road near the Binyanei Ha’uma convention center, at the entrance to Jerusalem. The artifact was found by IAA archaeologist Danit Levy…
5 October 2018
Tags: Syria Jerusalem Kerala Ethiopian Christianity Byzantine Catholic Church
Ethiopian Cardinal Berhaneyesus Souraphiel of Addis Ababa checks out the name badge of Nathanael Lamataki, a youth delegate from the French territory of New Caledonia in the South Pacific, as they leave a session of the Synod of Bishops on young people, the faith and vocational discernment at the Vatican on 5 October. (photo: CNS/Paul Haring)
5 October 2018
In the video above from 2016, Nadia Murad speaks to the UN about her experience being kidnapped by ISIS and forced to become a sex slave. Friday, she was named co-winner of the Nobel Peace Prize for her efforts to end sexual violence as a weapon of war. (video: The Guardian/YouTube)
Yazidi rape survivor from Iraq named co-winner of Nobel Peace Prize (CNN) The 2018 Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded to Denis Mukwege and Nadia Murad for their efforts to end the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war and armed conflict. Mukwege, a gynecologist and surgeon, has long worked to treat thousands of women and girls affected by rape and sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Murad is a Yazidi woman from the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar, who was held as a sex slave by ISIS, she told CNN in an interview last year. In 2016, at age 23, she was made a UN goodwill ambassador…
Coptic Metropolitian Bishoy dies (Egypt Independent) Coptic Bishop Metropolitan Bishoy of Damietta, Kafr el-Sheikh and the abbot of the Monastery of Saint Demiana in Barrari, Belqas, died at the age of 67 from a heart attack. Bishoy, who was known as the “church’s iron man”, has been suffering from heart muscle disorder for years. He died after his return from a pastoral tour in Armenia. During his 45 years of ecclesiastical service, Bishop Bishoy became famous, especially during the time of the late Pope Shenouda III, for maintaining the image of the “strong man” and for being a professor of theology, which allowed him to participate in theological conferences against other churches at home and abroad…
Rights commission says Ethiopian government failing to protect people from ethnic violence (Reuters) Ethiopia’s government is failing to protect its citizens amid escalating ethnic violence that has displaced nearly a million people in the last six months, the head of a national human rights body that reports to parliament said on Thursday…
Kerala banks on tourism to revive its economy (LiveMint) Looking at the camera, several men and women in Kerala comprising fish vendors, rickshaw drivers, homemakers and children among others hold out a placard that reads “We Are Open.” This is how a new advertisement by luggage maker Samsonite ends, aimed at exhorting more tourists to visit the flood-ravaged state. It puts across a message that not just hoteliers and other big businesses, but commoners in Kerala too are seeking a revival in tourism.
Syria’s recovered antiquities go on display (The Times of Israel) Syria’s antiquities authority on Wednesday unveiled an exhibition in Damascus of hundreds of artifacts retrieved from around the war-torn country. Dozens of Syria’s archaeological sites have been destroyed, damaged or looted since the start of the seven-year civil war, with all sides blamed for the plundering…
Tags: Iraq Egypt Kerala Coptic Christians