19 February 2016
CNEWA is able to accompany the churches and peoples of the Middle East, northeast Africa, India and Eastern Europe because of the loving support of donors such as Ms. Hafeli. (photo: CNEWA)
Greetings from southern California! I’m here with Chris Kennedy, from CNEWA’s development team, to meet with some longtime donors and visit a parish in the Diocese of Monterey this weekend.
Before we hit the trail this Friday, I wanted to share with you the story of Anna Hafeli, who lives in Santa Monica, just a few blocks from the beach. Anna is a marvel: a 97-years-young powerhouse who exudes such joy, you can’t help but be uplifted in her presence. She has been contributing to CNEWA for decades — supporting our seminarian programs and work in the Middle East and the Horn of Africa. She also has four annuities through CNEWA.
Touched that we took the time to drop by, she shared with us stories of her journey from her youth in Switzerland, to Canada, and then finally to California, where she worked a variety of odd jobs — mostly as a waitress — to make ends meet. We updated her on some of our programs and projects and gave her an olive wood cross from the Holy Land, along with a special blessing.
Deacon Greg Kandra and Chris Kennedy visit Anna Hafeli at her home in California. (photo: CNEWA)
To me, Anna represents the heart and soul of what CNEWA is about: faithful, committed people who quietly and selflessly give whatever they can to help those in need. Their generous spirit so often goes unnoticed. But today, I’d like you to notice Anna Hafeli. Thank you, Anna, for all you’ve done to make a difference in the lives of so many.
Visit this page to learn more about CNEWA’s annuity program and other options for planned giving — one of a variety of ways to join CNEWA on its worldwide mission. Or, to make an immediate Lenten gift, click here.
We’ll be visiting St. William’s Parish in Atascadero this weekend. I’ll be preaching at all the Masses. If you’re in the neighborhood, stop by and say hello.
19 February 2016
Tags: CNEWA Middle East United States Donors Horn of Africa
Ambili Elias, a teacher with Ashabhavan, helps three students with their daily lessons. To learn more about how this institution changes the lives of children with special needs, read Kerala’s House of Hope, appearing in the Winter 2015 edition of ONE. (photo: Jose Jacob)
19 February 2016
Tags: India Children Sisters Education Disabilities
The Turkish coast guard rescued 158 refugees after their boat broke en route to Greece through the Aegean Sea. (photo: Hakan Firik/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
U.N. urges saftey measures for those fleeing conflict (U.N. News Center) Two children have drowned every day on average since September 2015 as their families try to cross the eastern Mediterranean, and the number is growing, three United Nations humanitarian agencies said today in a call to enhance the safety of those escaping conflict and despair…
Living as a Christian in the Islamic State (World Watch Monitor) When John, a Syrian Christian, chose to stay in Raqqa after ISIS took control of the city in 2014, he had no idea how he would survive. Thousands abandoned the city, believing it better to save their lives than live at the center of the Islamists’ new “caliphate.” John survived in Raqqa for 18 months before escaping in the middle of the night. He described a life of frequent harassment, weekly executions and the sadness of ordinary Syrians who, after initially welcoming ISIS fighters, grew to regret giving them their support…
Pope Francis: I understand the feelings of Ukrainians (RISU) Pope Francis gave a lengthy press conference on the flight back from Mexico to Rome on Thursday, sharing thoughts on the church in Ukraine and Ukrainian Greek Catholic Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk’s reaction on the joint declaration signed in Cuba. Pope said he understood the concerns expressed by the Ukrainian church leader, adding that he is entitled to his own ideas regarding the conflict in Ukraine. It’s important to take the comments in context, the Pope insists, since Archbishop Sviatoslav also describes the encounter as “a good thing” which he hopes will lead to further dialogue…
Solar power used Latin Patriarchate schools in Jerusalem (Fides) More schools of the Latin Patriarchate in Jerusalem are choosing to use solar panels to produce electricity, say official sources of the Latin Patriarchate. In Palestine, patriarchal schools in Beit Jala, Beit Sahour and Ramallah have already opted for solar panels…
Doha interfaith conference issues final statement (MENAFN.com) The 12th Doha interfaith Conference held on Tuesday and Wednesday brought together Jewish, Christian and Muslim leaders alongside leading thinkers and academics in interfaith relations. After two days of talks and seminars, the conference concluded with final statement that emphasizes the importance of interfaith dialogue, stressing a commitment to the brotherhood of the divine religions in the search for peace, love and stability…
18 February 2016
Tags: Jerusalem United Nations Migrants ISIS Interfaith
A Dominican Sister of St. Catherine of Siena from Iraq visits El Cajon, California, for the ordination of her nephew at St. Peter Chaldean Catholic Cathedral in August 2015. In the midst of a global refugee crisis, ONE recently spotlighted on a thriving Iraqi Christian migrant community in the southwestern United States. Read more about Nineveh, U.S.A. in the Winter 2015 edition of the magazine. (photo: Nancy Wiechec)
18 February 2016
Tags: Iraqi Christians Iraqi Refugees United States Migrants Chaldeans
Workers move sacks of emergency food supplies in and out of Ethiopia’s largest strategic grain reserve depot in Adama. (photo: Colin Cosier/AFP/Getty Images)
UNICEF: El Niño exacerbating malnutrition in eastern and southern Africa (U.N. News Center) Across eastern and southern Africa, millions of children are at risk from malnutrition, hunger, water shortages and disease, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) warned today, citing two years of erratic rain and drought combined with one of the most powerful El Niño events in the past 50 years…
If ISIS is based on religion, why is it so violent? (The Conversation) Observers in the West who want to claim that Islam is to blame for ISIS and use it as further proof that the religion is inherently violent, ignore other root causes of the moment. While it would be incorrect to say that the discourses used by ISIS are un-Islamic, it’s important to note it represents one particular Islamic discourse and that it’s not the mainstream one…
Can Iraq separate religion and state? (Al-Monitor) Several groups appear to be vying to control Iraqis’ social lives and liberties: organized crime, religious factions and even armed security forces. Motives range from money to fundamentalism, but the situation calls for governance where armed parties and factions are no longer allowed to meddle in social affairs…
U.N. to airdrop food to ISIS-besieged city in Syria (Daily Star Lebanon) The United Nations plans to make its first airdrops of food aid in Syria, to Deir Ezzor, an eastern town of 200,000 besieged by ISIS militants, the chair of a U.N. humanitarian task force said Thursday…
Bishops’ commission: Plight of the Palestinians is ‘inhuman’ (Fides) The present situation for the Palestinians in the Holy Land is “inhuman” because of “settlers who occupy, day after day, Palestinian land,” from the poverty suffered by a million and a half inhabitants in the besieged Gaza Strip, the systematic demolition of homes and the humiliation suffered by Israeli soldiers at checkpoints. This is the gloomy picture outlined in the latest report carried out by the Justice and Peace Commission — a body linked to the ordinary Catholic Bishops of the Holy Land — based on the data studied in the last ordinary meeting, which took place in early February…
Arabs and Jews join forces to oppose development on historic Jerusalem hilltop (Haaretz) As the battle lines are drawn in the latest dispute over land in Jerusalem, Jews and Arabs find themselves, for a rare change, on the same side. Residents of Abu Tor, one of the few mixed Jewish-Arab neighborhoods in the city, have in recent weeks begun organizing against plans to build a hotel and luxury apartments on a historic hilltop compound in their midst…
‘Migrant-bashing has dangerously become the norm’ in Europe (U.N. News Center) As the European Union summit starts in Brussels, a United Nations expert on the human rights of migrants warned today that it has become impossible in Europe to have a meaningful discussion about migrant’s rights, diversity, and integration. “In its struggle to maintain control of its borders, [Europe] is being tested on its adherence to human rights. Through slowly stripping away the rights of asylum-seekers and migrants, Europe is creating a scary new ‘normal,’ ” said François Crépeau, the U.N. Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, in a statement…
17 February 2016
Tags: Ethiopia Holy Land United Nations Migrants ISIS
The Coptic churches have not abandoned the Zabbaleen — the garbage people of Cairo. Read more about them in the Winter edition of ONE. To support Egypt’s struggling Christians,
visit this giving page. (photo: John E. Kozar)
17 February 2016
A Red Crescent convoy prepares to leave Damascus to the besieged areas of Madaya and Zabadani, on 17 February 2016 during an operation in cooperation with the UN to deliver aid to thousands of besieged Syrians. Almost half a million people in Syria are in areas under seige, according to the United Nations, after almost five years of civil war between Syria’s government and rebel forces. (photo: Louai Beshara/AFP/Getty Images)
Humanitarian aid convoys readied for starving civilians in Syria (The Guardian) Aid convoys to seven besieged locations in Syria have been loaded with food and medicine to relieve starving civilians and are awaiting instructions to depart for their destinations. The convoys, which were announced by UN special envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, on Tuesday night, are expected to head to the towns of Madaya and Zabadani, whose citizens have been starving to death under a siege imposed by forces loyal to Bashar al-Assad; as well as Fua and Kefraya, which are besieged by rebels. Other convoys are heading to the Damascus suburbs of Moadamiyah and Kafr Batna in Ghouta, which are also besieged by the regime...
Thousands cross from Gaza into Egypt as border opens (Haaretz) More than 2,800 people crossed from the Gaza Strip into Egypt at the Rafah crossing, which was opened on Saturday for the first time since December and closed on Monday, sources in Gaza and Egypt said. The Palestinian border authority also said that the Egyptians had permitted 64 trucks into Gaza carrying cement, gravel and other construction materials, which were transferred by the Qatari government...
Egypt’s military pledges to restore damaged churches (Ecumenical News) More than two years after Coptic Christians in Egypt faced a wave of attacks from Islamist extremists during the one year tenure of President Mohamed Morsi, his ousters are pledging to carry out promises to repair damaged property...
Russian patriarch to celebrate liturgy in Antarctica (Reuters) Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill has flown to the Antarctic to celebrate the liturgy at a scientific research station, a trip aides said was intended to show his church has global reach, Russian media reported on Wednesday. Kirill flew to Russia’s Bellingshausen scientific station on the Island of Waterloo from Chile where he had wrapped up his tour of several Latin American nations, RIA news agency quoted his spokesman Alexander Volkov as saying...
Church in India: Donating blood is an act of mercy (Fides) The Catholic Health Association of India is encouraging the donation of blood as an act of mercy and compassion. Donors receive a general check up on their health, with diabetes screening and other tests, as well as a kit that provides information on topics such as nutrition and hygiene...
16 February 2016
Clergy process into St. Peter Chaldean Catholic Cathedral in El Cajon, California, for a Mass of ordination. To learn more about Iraqi Christians who have settled in the American Southwest, read Nineveh, U.S.A. in the Winter 2015 edition of ONE. (photo: Nancy Wiechec)
16 February 2016
Syrian residents survey the damage from shelling in the Suleimaniyeh area of Aleppo on 14 February 2016. Elias Abiad, a 22-year-old Caritas volunteer, was one of the casualties of the weekend bombing. (photo: George Ourfalian/AFP/Getty Images)
Caritas volunteer killed in Aleppo by a mortar shell (Agenzia Fides) Caritas volunteer killed in Aleppo by a mortar shell
His name was Elias Abiad and was only 22 years old. The young volunteer of Caritas Syria was killed on Saturday, 13 February in Aleppo by mortar shells which fell in the area of Sulaymaniyah...
Egyptian Coptic Orthodox not forgetting beheading of 21 Christians (Vatican Radio) Monday 15 February marked one year since video surfaced of the murder of 21 Orthodox Coptic Christians on a beach in northern Africa. The men were marched in orange suits across the beach, forced to kneel and then were beheaded by militants of the so-called Islamic State....
Boutros Boutros-Ghali, Former U.N. Secretary General, Dies at 93 (New York Times) The scion of a politically active Coptic Christian family, at home in a Bedouin’s tent or a presidential palace, he accompanied Mr. Sadat on his historic olive-branch mission to Jerusalem in 1977, then played a pivotal role in the Camp David accords...
Russian Orthodox Church Blocks Funeral for Last of Romanov Remains (New York Times) Ever since the remains of the last czar, Nicholas II, and most of his family were exhumed 25 years ago from a dirt road in the Urals, investigators, historians and surviving members of the Romanov dynasty have anticipated the day when all the murdered royals would be laid to rest...
The Syriac Catholic Archbishop of Mosul sends a new appeal to Pope Francis and to the world (Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem) Still to this day, Christianity is under attack in Iraq...
12 February 2016
Below, video of Pope Francis and Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill meeting at the Havana’s Jose Marti International Airport on 12 February.
At long last, Pope Francis and Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill of Moscow embraced, kissing each other three times.
“Finally,” the pope told the patriarch on 12 February as they met in a lounge at Havana’s Jose Marti International Airport. “We are brothers,” he told the patriarch.
Amid the clicking of cameras and multiple flashes, Patriarch Kirill was overheard telling the pope, “Things are easier now.”
“It is clearer that this is God’s will,” Pope Francis told him.
A flight of almost 12 hours capped months of intense negotiations and more than two decades of Vatican overtures to bring a pope and a Russian patriarch together for the first time.
Cuban President Raul Castro played host to the pope and patriarch, who was on a visit to Russian Orthodox communities on the island-nation. Pope Francis had a pastoral visit to Mexico planned for months; the stop in Havana was announced only a week before the meeting.
The addition of a stopover in Cuba was widely seen as a sign of Pope Francis’ willingness to go the extra mile to reach out a hand in friendship. At the same time, observers said, it gave those Russian Orthodox opposed to ecumenism a sense that their church is special and that it bowed to no one in agreeing to the meeting.
In a commentary distributed 11 February, Ukrainian Catholic Bishop Borys Gudziak of Paris said: “The pope is demonstrating humility; he is going to the territory of the other. In the eyes of nostalgic Russians, Cuba is almost home territory, a last outpost of a lost Soviet Empire.”
For decades, the Russian Orthodox told the Vatican that a meeting between the patriarch and pope was impossible because of the activities of Latin-rite Catholics in Russia and, especially, the Eastern-rite Catholics in Ukraine.
The Moscow Patriarchate had said that while those problems still exist with the Catholic communities, they take a backseat to the urgency of defending together the rights and very existence of persecuted Christians in the Middle East.
The harsh persecution of Christians and other minorities in Syria, Iraq and other parts of the region has been a cause Pope Francis has pleaded before world leaders and for which he has rallied the prayers of Christians across the globe.
He speaks often of the “ecumenism of blood,” the fact that Christians are killed for believing in Christ with the persecutors not knowing or caring what denomination or church they belong to. Christians are fully united in that suffering and, the pope has said, those who die for their faith are in full communion with each other and with centuries of martyrs now in the presence of God.
But the fate of persecuted Christians was not the pope’s primary motive for meeting Patriarch Kirill. Simply meeting him was the point.
Metropolitan Hilarion Volokolamsk, head of the Moscow Patriarchate’s external affairs department, told reporters a week earlier that Patriarch Kirill chose Havana in the “New World” because Europe, the “Old World,” was the birthplace of Christian division.
Ukrainians, Catholic or not, have expressed concerns about Pope Francis’ meeting with Patriarch Kirill given the patriarch's apparently close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin at a time of ongoing fighting in Eastern Ukraine.
“The topics of discussion will not be explicitly political ones,” Bishop Gudziak wrote. “The gist of the rendezvous will be the encounter of church leaders representing very different experiences, agendas, styles and spiritualities of ecclesial leadership. One can hardly expect revolutionary results.Yet, it is through encounter that spiritual change occurs. Let us pray for good spiritual fruit.”