11 March 2019
A representative of the American Jewish Committee gives Pope Francis a certificate on 8 March 2019, certifying that a grapevine in Israel has been dedicated to him and promising that each year he will receive a bottle of wine produced with the vine's grapes. (photo: CNS/Vatican Media)
Engaging in any form of anti-Semitism is a direct contradiction with the Christian faith, Pope Francis said.
Meeting members of the American Jewish Committee on 8 March, the pope shared his “great concern” over “the spread, in many places, of a climate of wickedness and fury, in which an excessive and depraved hatred is taking root,” including “the outbreak of anti-Semitic attacks in various countries.”
“It is necessary to be vigilant about such a phenomenon,” he said, because, as the Vatican Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews said, “History teaches us where even the slightest perceptible forms of anti-Semitism can lead: the human tragedy of the Shoah, in which two-thirds of European Jewry were annihilated.”
Cultivating good relations, showing respect for others and being vigilant against any sign of hatred and prejudice is “a call from God,” the pope said.
Christians and Jews, he said, must transmit to their children “the foundations of love and respect. And we must look at the world with the eyes of a mother, with the gaze of peace.”
Meeting the group on International Women’s Day, Pope Francis spoke of “the irreplaceable contribution of women in building a world that can be a home for all,” a home where believers strive to fulfill God’s command in Deuteronomy to “love the Lord, your God, with your whole heart, and with your whole being, and with your whole strength.”
“Women make the world beautiful, they protect it and keep it alive,” the pope said. “They bring the grace of renewal, the embrace of inclusion and the courage to give of oneself.”
“If we take to heart the importance of the future, if we dream of a future peace, we need to give space to women,” Pope Francis said.
Interreligious dialogue, he said, is an important part of efforts to fight hatred and anti-Semitism. The dialogue aims to promote “a commitment to peace, mutual respect, the protection of life, religious freedom and the care of creation.”
Pope Francis urged Jews and Christians to work together, countering the spread of “a depersonalizing secularism” by “making divine love more visible for humanity” and engaging in common works of charity “to counter the growth of indifference.”
“In a world where the distance between the many who have little and the few who have much grows every day,” he said, “we are called to take care of the most vulnerable of our brothers and sisters: the poor, the weak, the sick, children and the elderly.”
Pope Francis also encouraged Catholics and Jews to involve young people in interreligious dialogue as “an effective means of countering violence and opening new paths of peace with all.”
John Shapiro, president of the American Jewish Committee, thanked Pope Francis for deciding to open to scholars in March 2020 material in the Vatican Secret Archives covering World War II and the papacy of Pope Pius XII.
“We look forward especially to the involvement of the leading Holocaust memorial institutes in Israel and the U.S. to objectively evaluate as best as possible the historical record of that most terrible of times, to acknowledge both the failures as well as valiant efforts during the period of the Shoah,” Shapiro said, according to a statement from the AJC.
Members of the group also presented Pope Francis with a certificate testifying that a grapevine dedicated to him would be the first in a “vineyard of the nations,” a vineyard in Israel where each vine is sponsored by a Christian outside of the country. In addition, they told the pope, each year he would receive a bottle of wine from his vine.
11 March 2019
Tags: Pope Jewish-Catholic relations anti-Semitism
Pope Francis has expressed his condolences and prayers for victims of a plane crash in Ethiopia which killed all 159 people on board. (video: The Guardian/YouTube)
Pope prays for victims of Ethiopia Airlines plane crash (Vatican News) Pope Francis has expressed his condolences to victims of a plane crash that occured near Bishoftu, some 50km from Ethiopia’s capital: Addis Ababa. In his telegram, the Pope “offers prayers for the deceased from various countries”, and sends his condolences to their families. He invokes “the divine blessing of consolation and strength” to all those who mourn. The Kenya-bound Ethiopia Airlines plane had taken off from Ethiopia’s Addis Ababa Airport 6 minutes prior to the fatal crash, which took the lives of all 159 people on board…
U.S. Ukrainian Catholic bishops meet with new metropolitan archbishop (CNS) The Ukrainian Catholic bishops of the United States met and prayed 5-6 March with Metropolitan-Archbishop Borys Gudziak, newly appointed by Pope Francis to head the Ukrainian Catholic Archeparchy of Philadelphia. During a daylong meeting 6 March, the bishops discussed plans for the week of prayerful events 2-9 June in conjunction with a Divine Liturgy and enthronement ceremony of the new archbishop 4 June at the Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Philadelphia…
Syria’s future remains buried under millions of tons of rubble (CBS News) Five years after the Syrian army liberated Homs, this city is still trapped. CBS News asked architect and author Marwa al-Sabouni if she has faith in the government to rebuild. ”No, the short answer is no,” she said…
Tensions remain over ’Gate of Mercy’ in Jerusalem (The Jerusalem Post) Hundreds of police were deployed around the Old City on Friday as thousands gathered for Friday prayers at Al-Aqsa mosque. The prayers came amid heightened tensions over Muslim prayers inside the Gate of Mercy and calls by Islamic leaders to protest on the Temple Mount…
8 March 2019
Tags: Syria Ethiopia Ukrainian Catholic Church
Natalie plays with her doll at the St. Barbara Mother and Child Care Center in Tbilisi, Georgia, which assists women and their children in a variety of ways. You can read more about this center and the people it serves in the pages of the September 2018 edition of ONE. (photo: Molly Corso)
8 March 2019
Tags: Children Georgia Women Caritas
Armenian Apostolic Patriarch Mesrob II of Constantinople and All of Turkey, center, meets with a delegation of visitors, including former CNEWA President Msgr. Robert Stern, left, in August 2005. (photo: CNEWA)
Armenian patriarch in Turkey, Mesrob II, dies at 62 (Daily Star Lebanon) Patriarch Mesrob II, the leader of the Armenian Apostolic Church in Turkey, has died. He was 62. Turkey’s state-run Anadolu Agency said the 84th Armenian patriarch of Constantinople died Friday at Istanbul’s Armenian Surp Pirgic hospital. He had been incapacitated since 2008 due to early onset Alzheimer’s disease…
India’s tribal people pledge to fight for forest rights (UCAN India) Indigenous communities in India are fighting against a Supreme Court of India order that threatens to evict millions of their people from their natural habitat. Hundreds of Dalits and Adivasis blocked trains and road traffic in several cities across India on 5 March as they held a shutdown protesting the court’s move and the federal government’s inability to overrule it…
Syrian Orthodox priest: Negotiations under way for release of archbishop (Fides) Syrian Orthodox priest Samuel Gümüs, engaged in the pastoral care of the Syriac Orthodox communities present in Germany, declared that the Syriac Orthodox metropolitan of Aleppo, Mar Gregorios Youhanna Ibrahim, is being held prisoner by ISIS in the Baghuz area of eastern Syria, and “negotiations” for his release are under way…
India’s alarming air pollution crisis (Vatican News) India has an alarming air pollution problem, containing 22 of the 30 most air-polluted cities worldwide, according to a new study…
7 March 2019
Tags: Syria India Armenian Apostolic Church Dalits
Syriac Catholic Patriarch Ignace Joseph III Younan meets injured people in Douma, Syria, on 6 March 2019. (photo: CNS/courtesy Syriac Catholic Patriarchate)
Catholic prelates in Syria, accompanied by Philippine Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, president of Caritas Internationalis, visited the eastern Ghouta region outside of Damascus and saw “unspeakable suffering.”
“In every face, mostly the children,” was a “very confused” expression, Syriac Catholic Patriarch Ignace Joseph III Younan told Catholic News Service. The 6 March visit was part of the annual session of the Council of Heads of Catholic Churches in Syria.
Patriarch Younan said the overall reaction of the prelates while visiting Douma, the major city of eastern Ghouta, “was deep sadness and repulsion” in seeing “the horrible destruction of that region, held hostage for such a long time by radical Muslims.”
Patriarch Younan noted that “evidently, this visit had an impact on Cardinal Tagle, who expressed his deep grief in front of so much suffering,” adding that the cardinal compared the scenes to an earthquake or typhoon.
“Besides the humanitarian assistance so much needed and the urgent help to rebuild their city, it is mostly and, first of all, hope and dignity that this courageous community was looking for,” the patriarch added.
In addition to Patriarch Younan and Cardinal Tagle, participants in the meeting and the Ghouta outreach included Cardinal Mario Zenari, apostolic nuncio to Syria; Melkite Catholic Patriarch Joseph Absi, who hosted the March 4-6 council session at the patriarchate in Damascus; and Catholic bishops of Syria.
Ghouta, the last rebel bastion east of the capital city of Damascus, was secured by the Syrian government in April 2018. At one point, some 400,000 people were under siege in Ghouta, according to the United Nations. It was the site of alleged chemical attacks.
Patriarch Younan characterized the suffering in the city as “unspeakable.”
“It is shameful that the so-called free world was accomplice to that disaster for no reason than satisfying the greed and opportunism of its politicians. All fake news of the agglomerate media, like the show play of chemical attacks attributed to the Syrian soldiers, were based on lies, in order to keep the fighting going on,” Patriarch Younan said.
“Less than a quarter of the population could return without any harassment and managed to find lodging, despite the destruction and the harsh winter,” he said of the situation. The patriarch pointed out that in Douma, there had been 50 schools. To date, the government has rehabilitated 20 of them.
The elementary school the prelates visited “was packed” with 1,800 children, he recounted. “It will take a long time for the children to heal from the trauma they lived.”
“The youth we encountered, though hesitant and confused, were looking to start their life again,” Patriarch Younan said. “We saw a number of them responding to the draft in the military service, judging it as a best try to restart.”
Patriarch Younan said he, Cardinal Tagle and Patriarch Absi “assured the people of our prayer and solidarity and planted three olive trees on the school grounds, as a symbol of revitalized life.”
In their 6 March statement at the conclusion of their meeting, the Council of Heads of Catholic Churches in Syria said they addressed the “difficult humanitarian and social situation facing the Syrian people as a result of the conflict taking place in their homeland and the sanctions imposed on them from abroad.”
The prelates urged the international community and international organizations to lift sanctions, noting that the poorest are affected.
The council pointed to their Ghouta visit “to express their care and closeness to their suffering and destitute Syrian brothers,” noting that they spoke and listened to the people as an expression “of their love and solidarity.”
The council expressed “satisfaction at the security and stability achieved by the Syrian state and the Syrian army in most areas of Syria thanks to their great sacrifices and wise policies.”
It also thanked “all those with goodwill who are working to show the true picture of the Syrian crisis and lend a helping hand to the Syrian people.”
7 March 2019
Tags: Syria Syriac Catholic Patriarch Ignatius Joseph III Younan
In this image from 2014, Syrian President Bashar Assad looks at destroyed religious artwork with a member of the clergy during a visit to the ancient Christian town of Maaloula, Syria. Syrian refugees who fled to Jordan have begun a bid to have Assad tried for war crimes.
(photo: CNS/Syria's national news agency handout via Reuters)
Syrian refugees launch bid to try Assad for war crimes (The Independent) Syrian refugees who fled to Jordan after being tortured and witnessing massacres have submitted dossiers of evidence to the international criminal court in a novel attempt to prosecute President Bashar al-Assad. Although Syria is not a signatory to the court, based in The Hague, lawyers in London are relying on a precedent set by the ICC in extending jurisdiction to the crime of forcible population transfers…
India’s alarming air pollution crisis (Vatican News) India has an alarming air pollution problem with 22 of the world’s 30 worst cities in the country, according to a new study. The 2018 World Air Quality Report by Greenpeace and Air Visual Analysis, released on 5 March, showed Delhi continuing to rank first among the world’s 62 worst capitals. Dhaka (Bangladesh) and Kabul (Afghanistan) are among other Asian capitals with polluted air…
Indian tribal people pledge to fight forest rights (UCANews.com) Tribal people in India are on the warpath against a Supreme Court of India order that threatens to evict millions of them from their natural habitat. Hundreds of socially poor Dalit and tribal people blocked trains and road traffic in several cities across India on March 5 as they held a shutdown protesting the court’s move and the federal government’s inability to overrule it…
Five years after ’Maidan,” Ukraine’s small successes are its real revolution (The Guardian) As we ponder the impact of the momentous events we have experienced, we rarely pay attention to the “smaller” stories. Such as this one from the region of Zhytomyr: under a new decentralization law, local communities have united into a single entity to control their budget and finance priority projects they’ve chosen themselves. They have been able to set up a local fire station — something the state had for years failed to provide…
6 March 2019
Tags: Syria India Ethiopia Dalits
St. Mary’s parishioners in Kingston, Pennsylvania, make peroghi, an Eastern European staple during Lent. (photo: Cody Christopulos.)
Today, Christians around the world mark Ash Wednesday — the start of the penitential season of Lent, notable for fasting, alms-giving and prayer.
But in many traditions, Lent is also notable for something else: food.
Jacqueline Ruyak wrote about this phenomenon in our magazine a few years ago, describing the way Eastern Europeans became masters at the art of making peroghi:
Traditionally, women made peroghi early in the morning to take to the men working the fields and forests for their midday meal. It is a time-consuming dish to prepare, so these days they are made on special occasions.
Along with the peroghi, I learned to make halusky with sauerkraut with the help of Anna Kosca. As good as it was, I was more impressed by her raka, a delicious caraway soup. It is a simple dish: a small onion sautéed in butter, flour to make a roux, caraway seeds, a dash of salt and paprika, and some water. Mrs. Kosca added some small dumplings to put in the soup. Another woman made a fragrant dill soup. And on the dreary, wet morning that we left Tichy Potok, Anna Kiktava and her sister Maria made a bean soup of kidney beans, diced carrots, kohlrabi, celeriac and potatoes.
In the early 20th century many Ruthenian immigrants came from villages in Slovakia, Poland and Ukraine to work in the coal mines of Pennsylvania. St. Mary Protector, a Byzantine Catholic church in Kingston, near Wilkes-Barre, was founded to serve these immigrants, whose descendants have stayed in the area long after the mines shut down.
Four times a year St. Mary’s holds a peroghi sale, twice during the 40-day Filipovka fast before Christmas and twice during the 40-day Great Fast before Easter.
For each sale, about 30 volunteers spend two days making 4,000 potato peroghi. Church fund-raisers selling Ruthenian food are common in most parts of Pennsylvania, including my hometown of Bethlehem. (The regional popularity of peroghi is such that Pittsburgh is called the “peroghi capital of the world.”) The language and many of the traditions of the old country may fade, but its foods bind the generations together. Such is the American “melting pot.”
Conversation at St. Mary’s peroghi sale inevitably turns to food. Just as in Eastern Europe, the parishioners once slaughtered their pigs around Christmas, curing the meat to last throughout the following year. For Lent, people made do with “a barrel of cabbage and a bin of potatoes,” I was told.
While some Byzantine Catholics (as Greek Catholics are called in the United States) observe a strict lenten fast, many just abstain from meat and dairy products on alternating days. As in Tichy Potok, older people tend to be more observant. Father Theodore Krepp, pastor of St. Mary’s, acknowledged the unevenness of the fasting. “We’re all working on perfection so there’s no expectation that we are perfect. Part of being a Christian is to keep working on it.”
Want to make your own? The recipe, below:
4 medium cooked potatoes, mashed
2 oz. sharp cheese, grated
Mix cheese and potatoes; let cool.
2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp. salt
Mix flour and salt. Add the egg, sour cream, shortening and enough water to make a medium-soft dough. Knead well. Divide into two portions. Roll one portion out until thin. Using the open end of a glass, cut out circles. Place about one teaspoon of filling on each circle, fold over and pinch edges firmly. Place the peroghi on a floured board, then cover with a tea towel. Repeat with the rest of the dough. To cook, drop several peroghi into a pot of boiling salted water. When the peroghi float to the top, after about five minutes, remove from the pot and drain. Spread on a board to keep from sticking. Continue cooking the rest of the peroghi.
Peroghi are usually served with melted butter, onions browned in butter or sour cream. For browned onions, slice half of a medium onion and cook in about three tbs. of butter. Pour over the peroghi and toss so that they are covered and do not stick.
6 March 2019
Tags: Greek Catholic Church Slovakia Ruthenians
Hundreds of ISIS militants are leaving a besieged enclave in Syria. (video: ITV/YouTube)
Hundreds limp out of besieged Syria militant enclave (AFP) Veiled women carrying babies and wounded men on crutches hobbled out of Baghouz on Wednesday after US-backed forces pummeled the last militant village in eastern Syria. The Syrian Democratic Forces leading the assault expected more fighters to surrender with their families in tow before moving deeper in the Islamic State group’s last redoubt…
Patriarch Kirill to visit North Korea (AsiaNews) Moscow Orthodox Patriarch Kirill will visit North Korea at the invitation of President Kim Jong-un. The Patriarchal exarch for Southeast Asia, the 45-year-old metropolitan of Singapore Sergij (Chashin) revealed the news on 3 March, meeting with journalists in Bangkok. He added “in Pyongyang they always welcome us very cordially, we carry out our service there and I am recognized as the legitimate bishop…”
New Lebanon minister makes return of Syrian refugees a priority (Al Jazeera) Thousands of Syrians who fled to neighboring Lebanon when the war began are going back home. The new minister in charge of Lebanon’s millions of refugees, Saleh Gharib, is an outspoken supporter of the Syrian government. Gharib’s first act in the job was to visit Damascus, where he has vowed to make the return of refugees a priority…
Man arrested for alleged connection to rape of Indian nuns in 1998 (UCANews.com) A man has been arrested for his alleged involvement in the mass rape of four Catholic nuns that occurred more than two decades ago in central India. Police Superintendent Vineet Jain told ucanews.com that they arrested Kalu Limji on 5 March over his alleged involvement in the 1998 mass rape of nuns from the Foreign Missionary Sisters…
U.S. helping Ethiopia build capacity for disaster response (AfricaNews.com) Ethiopia’s National Disaster Risk Management Center (NDRMC) conducted a natural disaster simulation exercise to improve Ethiopia’s response to emergencies. The exercise was the first of its kind and provided a test run for NDRMC’s emergency operations center staff to coordinate a timely response to a simulated flood of the Awash River and areas around Lake Tana. This activity is part of an ongoing program supported by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to help Ethiopia to strengthen its National Incident Management System…
5 March 2019
Tags: Syria India Ethiopia Russian Orthodox
In this image from 2017, displaced Iraqi Christian boys serve Mass at a Catholic church in Amman, Jordan. Archbishop Ivan Jurkovic, the Vatican observer to U.N. agencies in Geneva, said on 5 March that violating religious freedom harms not only the individuals being persecuted, it also damages communities and often opens the door to further violence.
(photo: CNS/Muhammad Hamed, Reuters)
Violating religious freedom harms not only the individuals being persecuted, it also damages communities and often opens the door to further violence, a Vatican representative said.
Archbishop Ivan Jurkovic, the Vatican observer to U.N. agencies in Geneva, also insisted governments should make sure laws allow for conscientious objection, so people can “act freely, in accordance with their deepest conviction.”
The archbishop spoke on 5 March during a session of the Human Rights Council devoted to a report on freedom of religion or belief. The Vatican press office released the archbishop’s remarks the same day.
“The right to religious freedom blossoms or withers together with all human rights,” he said.
Despite decades of progress in putting the freedom of religion and belief alongside the right of freedom of expression “as one of the center pillars of the architecture of human rights,” he said “recent reports on the abuse of this right are astonishing.”
“They are worrisome,” he said, “for the predicament of victims who, in so many parts of the world, courageously face discrimination, intolerance, aggression, imprisonment and even death for staying faithful to their conscience.”
It is also worrisome for the future because when people and communities “are not allowed to live and celebrate in coherence with their deepest convictions, the bonds that keep society together dissolve and the violation of rights often turns into a violent crisis,” he said.
Another aspect of freedom of religion that “should be given due consideration,” he said, is the freedom from any form of coercion to act contrary to one’s faith, he said.
With so many more people of different cultures, religions and beliefs living side by side, it is “vital and sensible to incorporate into legislation, with due prudence and wisdom, options that allow everyone, when faced with a problem of conscience, to act freely, in accordance with their deepest conviction.”
Archbishop Jurkovic lamented increasing calls to restrict the right of conscientious objection.
Quoting a statement by Archbishop Paul Gallagher, the Vatican’s foreign minister, to the Human Rights
Council on 25 February, he said the desire for such restrictions “show how some politicians and even some quarters of international agencies, forgetting their nature and acting without a mandate, are still uncomfortable with the right of freedom of conscience and belief.”
5 March 2019
Tags: Iraqi Christians Vatican Persecution
The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) are struggling to take over the last ISIS-held area of Syria. The Kurdish-led group has slowed down its offensive after ISIS resorted to using civilians as human shields. (video: Al Jazeera/YouTube)
ISIS members ‘surrendering in large numbers’ in Syria (Al Jazeera) Thousands of people, including armed fighters, have left the last area held by ISIS in Syria, a spokesperson for the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) said. Mostafa Bali of the SDF tweeted that about 3,000 people had come out of the village of Baghouz in eastern Syria on Monday through a humanitarian corridor established by the Kurdish-led group for those who want to leave or surrender…
US: Gulf countries helped ease conflict between India and Pakistan (Voice of America) The United States says it used its allies across the world, particularly those in the Gulf, to help defuse tensions between India and Pakistan, after military skirmishes between the nuclear-armed neighbors last week raised fears of a war…
India sees rise in lynchings of Christians (Catholic News Agency) Violent attacks including public lynchings against Christians in India are reportedly becoming increasingly common, with international NGOs and the country’s Catholic bishops raising their voices in protest against mob violence. ”The common man of the country is feeling insecurity in his own country due to the increasing cases of mob lynching,” Archbishop Leo Cornelio of Bhopal wrote on 27 February…
U.S. closes Jerusalem consulate that gave Palestinians a link to Washington (NPR) The U.S. officially shut down its Jerusalem Consulate General on Monday, severing a connection that for decades served as a direct link between Palestinians and Washington. The consulate’s work is being folded into the new U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem — a move Palestinian officials have condemned…
A decade on, anti-Christian riots inspire the Indian Church (UCANews.com) More than a decade after the worst anti-Christian persecution in the history of India, victims and their families are turning out to be biggest witnesses and inspiration of the Christian faith in the country, church leaders told the 22 February gathering in Bengaluru (formerly Bangalore) city. ”When Christians die for their faith, it is a time for the Church to remember that martyrdom is like a seed,” said Archbishop Peter Machado of Bangalore. Martyrdom helps faith grow more quickly than can be achieved by theology or the Bible, he said…
Tags: Syria India Jerusalem Palestinians Persecution