15 March 2019
Nathalie Piraino, right, embraces Atli Moges, a financial technical adviser at Catholic Relief Services headquarters in Baltimore, following a 14 March 2019, memorial Mass honoring their four colleagues who died in the 10 March crash of Ethiopian Airlines flight 302. Moges spent three years working in Ethiopia, and knew the four. (photo: CNS/Kevin J. Parks, Catholic Review)
Approximately 480 men and women work at the Baltimore headquarters of Catholic Relief Services, the overseas aid and development agency of U.S. Catholics.
None were more affected than Yishak “Isaac” Affin and Atli Moges by the 10 March Ethiopian Airlines crash that took the lives of all 157 on board -- including four who were not just colleagues, but their fellow countrymen and women.
Affin and Moges were part of the standing-room-only gathering at the CRS chapel 14 March, when Baltimore Archbishop William E. Lori offered a memorial Mass. His concelebrants included a majority of the 14 bishops who serve on the CRS board of directors, in town for meetings.
Like the four who perished, Moges and Affin are natives of Ethiopia, which has approximately 100 million residents. Almost half lack access to clean water.
Trying to better themselves so that they could better their country, the four CRS administrators were en route to a training session in Nairobi, Kenya, when their flight crashed minutes after takeoff from Addis Ababa, the capital of the east African nation that sits in a region wracked by famine.
“They do their work from their hearts,” Moges told the Catholic Review, Baltimore’s archdiocesan news outlet. “They were the kind of people who stayed in the office until midnight or worked Saturday if that was necessary.”
She speaks from experience.
A senior adviser for CRS in financial technical support, Moges came to Baltimore in 1988, but from August 2015 to March 2018 served in Ethiopia as the deputy country representative for operations.
Managing administration, finance, human resources and IT for a staff of approximately 200 during her time in Ethiopia, Moges said she worked with the four deceased staffers “very closely.”
They were typical of the 7,000 people employed by CRS, which prioritizes hiring and training local people in the nations it serves.
Moges said that Mulusew Alemu, a senior finance officer, was devoted to his Ethiopian Orthodox faith and “a delightful person, very respectful and hard-working.”
Despite his low-key demeanor, she said, Sintayehu Aymeku had “wonderful leadership skills.” A procurement manager who had lived for a time in the United States, Aymeku left behind a wife and three daughters.
“I had high hopes for him,” Moges said.
Sara Chalachew, who once spent three weeks in Baltimore on temporary duty, was promoted last December to senior project officer for grants. Moges said she was always smiling, and “got along with everyone on staff.”
Getnet Alemayehu was a senior procurement officer, known for being patient and persistent while navigating shipments.
Before Affin, a senior accountant, came to Baltimore in 2003, he worked as an auditor in Addis Ababa, where he knew Alemayehu as a driver, albeit one “studying at university.”
As Moges got emotional remembering the four after the Mass, Affin placed his right hand on her left shoulder.
The Mass included a choir comprised of CRS staff based in Baltimore.
Bishop Gregory J. Mansour of the Eparchy of St. Maron of Brooklyn, New York, who is chairman of the CRS board of directors, welcomed Archbishop Lori, who had made a short walk from the Catholic Center, headquarters of the Archdiocese of Baltimore, to CRS.
“Sorrow shared,” Bishop Mansour said, “is sorrow lessened.”
“Why were such good colleagues taken from us?” Archbishop Lori said in his homily. “A tragic moment such as this, and the season of Lent itself, tests and probes the depth of our faith,” he said.
“It highlights the kind of faith, hope and love -- coupled with courage -- that undergirds the many risks you and your colleagues take each day to advance the kingdom of justice, peace and love in this world.”
Archbishop Lori said the four employees “died in pursuit of their mission to bring a measure of food security to regions of the world that are habitually plagued by famine. They met the Lord as they were dedicating themselves and their lives to the golden rule.”
15 March 2019
An injured man is loaded into an ambulance following a shooting at the Al Noor Mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand, 15 March 2019. New Zealand's Catholic bishops expressed their horror and distress at terrorist attacks on two mosques in Christchurch; at least 49 were people killed. (photo: CNS/Martin Hunter, Reuters)
New Zealand’s bishops tell Muslims ’We hold you in prayer’ after attack (CNS) New Zealand’s Catholic bishops have expressed their horror and distress at a terrorist attack in two mosques in Christchurch which saw at least 49 people killed. The shootings took place at or near the Al Noor Mosque, where 41 people were killed, and at the Linwood Mosque, where 7 were killed. One more person subsequently died at Christchurch Hospital. Muslims had gathered at the mosques for Friday prayers. Some of those killed were children, it has been reported…
Pope sends condolences to victims of New Zealand attack (Vatican News) His Holiness Pope Francis was deeply saddened to learn of the injury and loss of life caused by the senseless acts of violence at two Mosques in Christchurch, and he assures all New Zealanders, and in particular the Muslim community, of his heartfelt solidarity in the wake of these attacks…
Report: Kerala has more than 20,000 mothers under the age of 19 (India Today) Kerala, known for its high literacy rate, also has a large number of mothers aged below 19 years: 22,552. The shocking statistics reveal the prevalence of child marriage in the state…
Archbishop of Erbil: Iraq’s Christians need to thrive, not just survive (Rudaw.net) Speaking to Rudaw on Wednesday at the Cathedral of Mar Yousif, Ankawa, Archbishop Warda explained how the church has supported families like those living above Neshtiman Bazaar and what donors can do to help rehouse them…
Eight years of war in Syria (Vatican News) Eight years of war in Syria have led millions of Syrians into hunger and poverty. War has displaced and forced them to find shelter where possible. Many are now trying to return to their homes but find their homes uninhabitable…
14 March 2019
Tags: Syria India Iraqi Christians Kerala Muslim
Christians and Muslims of Dalit origin protesting in New Delhi on 12 March to demand the government provide them with the social welfare benefits enjoyed by their Hindu counterparts but denied to them. (photo: Bijay Kumar Minj/ucanews.com)
Hundreds of Dalit Christians and Muslims took to the streets yesterday in India's capital, demanding welfare benefits they say are being denied to them.
The story below comes from UCA News:
Some 500 Christians and Muslims who belong to former untouchable communities came together in New Delhi on 12 March, two days after the schedule for the April-May general elections were announced.
“The country is in election mood. We want to put across our demands to the government that they consider the rights of our Dalit Christian and Muslim brethren,” said Father Devasagaya Raj, secretary of the Indian bishops’ office for Dalit and socially disadvantaged people at the gathering.
Christians and Muslims of Dalit origin demand that they be given social welfare benefits meant for the uplift of Dalit people. Both communities have been denied these benefits since 1950 because the government says their religions do not follow the caste system.
“Six decades is not a small period [that] we have been suffering this injustice,” said Father Raj. “There is a limit for everything. We have decided that we will support a political party who will put our demands in their election manifesto.”
The 1950 presidential order said only Dalit people of the Hindu religion can enjoy constitutional benefits such as reservations in government jobs, education institutions and financial help with studies. The order was amended twice to include Sikhs in 1956 and Buddhists in 1990.
Both Buddhism and Sikhism also do not approve of the caste system, but they were included after the government accepted their argument that a mere change of religion does not change a person’s socio-economic situation.
But the same argument put forward by Dalit Christians and Muslims has not been successful in having another amendment applied. Christian leaders say political parties fear doing so because it could antagonize their majority Hindu voters.
“Most of the political parties have promised to consider our demand but no one has kept their word when they come to power. We want a firm promise now,” Father Raj said.
Delegates from most Indian states attended the rally which was organized by the National Council of Dalit Christians with support of Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India and the protestant National Council of Churches in India.
An estimated 30 percent of India’s 28 million Christians have a Dalit background. They are scatted across different Indian states, and speak different languages making coordination difficult, said leader like M. Mary John, founder member of National Council of Dalit Christians.
14 March 2019
Tags: India Dalits Mumbai
In this image from 2018, An Indian farmer sits on a dry field outside Chhatarpur. The Catholic Church agency Caritas has launched a campaign against malnutrition for Lent.
(photo: CNS/Harish Tyagi, EPA)
Caritas India launches campaign against malnutrition (Vatican News) Caritas India, the charitable arm of the Catholic Church of India, has launched a Lenten campaign against hunger by creating an awareness among people regarding solidarity, food security, medical care and a dignified life for all citizens. The theme of the Lenten campaign 2019, launched last month, is, “Nutrition: our right.” It aims at fighting the scourge of malnutrition, which it regards as a “painful and shameful for humanity”…
New Ukraine church endures inter-Orthodox feud, but offers Catholics hope (NCR) With Russian Orthodox leaders rejecting the new church and cold-shouldering the ecumenical patriarchate for approving its creation, the feud looks set to continue and intensify in the run-up to Ukraine’s crucial presidential elections on 31 March. Yet Catholics in Ukraine and Eastern Europe remain optimistic that the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, once up and running, could herald a turn for the better in ecumenical relations…
Deadly plane crash a setback for Ethiopia’s rise (AP) The crown jewel in Ethiopia’s transformation to a continental power in recent years has been its state-owned airline that calls itself “the new spirit of Africa.” Sunday’s crash of an Ethiopian Airlines jet that killed 157 people has set back those grand designs that were undertaken by a reformist new leader who has vowed to hold free and fair elections next year. Now, Africa is mourning not only the victims of the aviation disaster but also a symbol of the continent’s rise…
World ‘affirms commitment’ to Lebanon on refugees (The Daily Star) The international community voiced its commitment to helping Lebanon cope with the Syrian refugee crisis during a conference in Brussels, a member of the Lebanese delegation to the conference told The Daily Star. ”Everybody is still committed to helping Lebanon cope with the crisis through all programs that support Syrian refugees,” Social Affairs Minister Richard Kouyoumjian said over the phone from the Brussels conference, being held to discuss the future of Syria and the region…
13 March 2019
Tags: India Lebanon Ukraine Russian Orthodox Church
A Chinese man mourns a victim of the Ethiopian Airlines crash during a commemoration ceremony on 13 March 2019, near Bishoftu, Ethiopia. (photo: CNS/Baz Ratner, Reuters)
13 March 2019
Pope Francis is seen Sunday during the Lenten retreat for the Roman Curia in Ariccia, Italy. Wednesday 13 March marks the 6th anniversary of his election as pope. (photo: CNS/Vatican Media)
Curia officials celebrate anniversary of pope’s election (Vatican News) Some 65 officials of the Roman Curia who are on their annual Lenten spiritual exercises along with Pope Francis, Wednesday morning greeted the Holy Father on the 6th anniversary of his election as the head of the Roman Catholic Church…
Thousands surrender as ISIS group nears defeat in Syria (France 24) Around 3,000 Islamic State members have surrendered from the group’s last holdout in Syria, Kurdish-led forces said Tuesday, as air raids and shelling resumed after a brief lull. A ragged tent encampment in the eastern Syrian village of Baghouz is all that remains of a once-sprawling IS group’s “caliphate” declared in 2014 across large swathes of Syria and neighboring Iraq…
In Ethiopia, deep grief for crash victims (Al Jazeera) Some 50 people sat in tense silence underneath a white tent outside a gated house on the southern outskirts of Ethiopia’s capital. The women were dressed in plain mourning black; the men mostly in white. But the lull did not last long. A chorus of loud wails soon pierced the air, as the women started rocking back and forth, their hands covering their faces. Nearby, the men stared blankly at the concrete floor…
Catholics attack Indian bishop in land dispute (UCANews.com) A Catholic bishop had to be hospitalized after a group of parishioners attacked him, a security guard and a priest in a five-decade-old land dispute in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu. Salesian Bishop Jerome Dhas Varuvel of Kuzhithurai left hospital on 12 March two days after he was attacked by a crowd of about 130 Catholic men and women. The guard remains in hospital after suffering serious injuries in his attempt to protect the bishop, diocesan chancellor Father Russel Raj told ucanews.com. The Rev. Augustine Ponnaian, the diocesan financial administrator, only suffered minor injuries and was not hospitalized…
Israel seeks to quell Temple Mount tensions (Haaretz) Despite the hurling of a firebomb at a police position and the forces’ subsequent decision to close all entrances to the Temple Mount, what was most apparent in Jerusalem on Tuesday was the joint effort to contain the conflict. Israel, with Jordanian assistance, seeks to prevent a flare-up at the Jerusalem site, partly in light of the latest events in the Gaza Strip…
12 March 2019
Tags: Pope Francis Ethiopia ISIS Indian Catholics
Worshippers pray at the Shrine of Blessed Mariam Thresia Chiramel Mankidiyan in Kuzhikkattussery, India, on 18 February 2019. Blessed Thresia has been approved for canonization.
(photo: CNS/Anto Akkara)
For the nearly 2,000 sisters and 200 women in formation who make up the Congregation of the Holy Family, the long wait is over.
Since 2012, members of the order based in Kerala state in southern India have observed strict fasts and engaged in earnest prayer awaiting recognition from the Vatican of a second miracle attributed to the order’s founder, Blessed Mariam Thresia Chiramel Mankidiyan.
Pope Francis recognized the miracle on 12 February, clearing the way for the canonization of the religious leader popularly known as the “patroness of families.”
“We are thrilled now. Our joy has no bounds as the pope has approved the canonization of our foundress,” Sister Udaya Punneliparambil, the congregation’s superior general, told Catholic News Service.
“Mother’s life has been a life of prayer and fasting. So, we have been following her model,” Sister Punneliparambil said.
“We are happy our prayers have been heard. Now we are awaiting the announcement of the date of the canonization,” she added.
Blessed Thresia was born 26 April 1876, the third of five children to Thanda and Thoma Chiramel Mankidiyan in Puthenchira, 21 miles south of Thrissur. She founded the Congregation of the Holy Family in 1914 and died 8 June 1926.
Devout and prayerful, young Thresia resisted her parents’ plan to have her married at age 10, as per tradition. Instead, she chose to lead a life of simplicity and austerity, despite belonging to a wealthy farming family. For instance, she slept on the gravel floor of her family’s home rather than in her bed.
“I cannot sleep comfortably on a bed when Jesus is hanging on the cross on three nails,” Thresia is seen telling her mother in an hourlong documentary, “Blessed Mariam Thresia -- the Patroness of Families,” produced by the congregation.
The film depicts her interest in family ministry and desire to share Jesus’ love by caring for poor, sick and dying people. It re-enacts some of her practices as recorded by her spiritual director and congregation co-founder, Father Joseph Vithayathil, whose cause for sainthood is underway, and her contemporaries.
In 1909, while under the spiritual care of Father Vithayathil, Blessed Thresia experienced stigmata. The bishop ordered that an exorcism be performed as her situation became public.
Undaunted by the setbacks, Blessed Thresia continued with her austere prayer life and dedicated herself to serving families in the community.
Father Vithayathil, under direction of the bishop in 1913, erected a “house of solitude” where Blessed Thresia could go to pray. Three friends joined her in the house.
In May 1914, she received canonical permission to launch the Congregation of the Holy Family in Puthenchira, which today is in the Diocese of Irinjalakuda.
In 1922, she moved to Kuzhikkattussery, a short distance from her native village, where she had been given eight acres by a Catholic family to launch a convent.
Struggling for funds and material to build the convent, Blessed Thresia took a 31-mile journey with another sister on foot and by boat to a Hindu king’s palace near Cochin. She planned to ask the king for funds to complete construction. Told the king was bedridden with a serious illness, Blessed Thresia made a potion from plants and instructed his assistants to apply it. The king was healed and sent word to bring the two women religious to him. He offered them high-quality teak from forests more than 90 miles away to complete the convent.
“All this wood is given by the king,” Sister Pushpa, vicar general of the congregation, told CNS while pointing to the roof of the sprawling 24-room convent, completed in 1922.
True to the charism of the order’s foundress, the convent includes a Family Retreat Center, where couples can attend a four-day retreat, offered twice a month.
“Even couples living separately for years and on the verge of divorces have gone back happily from here,” Sister Pushpa said.
Since 1987, the congregation has operated the Family Apostolate Training and Research Institute, where nearly 200 women religious, laypeople and priests are trained annually.
Blessed Thresia was declared venerable in 1999 and was beatified in 2000.
Father Vithayathil, who is buried in the same chapel with Blessed Thresia, was named venerable by Pope Francis in December 2015.
12 March 2019
Tags: Kerala Syro-Malabar Catholic Church Indian Catholics
A parish priest in Raigarh Diocese leads a procession to his village church to start a prayer chain launched by Catholics in two dioceses of India’s Chhattisgarh state.
(photo: Raigarh Diocese/UCANews)
Marathon prayers in India ahead of election (UCANews.com) Ahead of national elections in India, Catholics in two dioceses of Chhattisgarh state have launched a marathon prayer program, encouraged by the result of a similar program during a state election last year. The all-night prayer program has been designed to cover all 96 parishes of Jashpur and Raigarh dioceses…
Report: Iran preparing for role in Syria’s reconstruction (VOA) Iranian construction companies are to build thousands of residential units in the suburbs of Syria’s capital, Damascus, an Iranian state-run news agency has reported. Iranian Students News Agency (ISNA) recently quoted a business official with the country’s investment association, who announced that Iran would build 200,000 residential units near Damascus…
Christians condemn acquittal of suspected vandals in Jerusalem (AP) Christian authorities in Jerusalem are denouncing the acquittal of two Jewish youths suspected of vandalizing a famous monastery. Wadie Abunassar, an adviser to church leaders in the Holy Land, said on Tuesday that an Israeli court’s decision to acquit those suspecting of sprawling anti-Christian graffiti on the Dormition Abbey several years ago is “unacceptable”…
Study finds discrimination in Kerala flood relief (Times of India) Flood-affected people belonging to the scheduled caste/scheduled tribe and Dalit Christian communities faced discrimination after the deluge, a ”fact sheet” released by an NGO reported last week…
Gaza women walk thin line between hope and despair (The Jerusalem Post) More than 2 million Palestinians live in the narrow Gaza Strip, which shares borders with Israel and Egypt. Israel maintains tight control of Gaza’s land and sea borders, citing security concerns emanating from Hamas, the Islamist terrorist group which controls the coastal territory. Egypt also restricts movement in and out of Gaza on its border. Those restrictions have devastated Gaza’s economy and left many of its women struggling to find work after graduating from college…
11 March 2019
Tags: Syria India Jerusalem Iran
People watch a tractor excavate Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET 302 plane crash on 10 March 2019, near Bishoftu, Ethiopia. Among the dead were four Catholic Relief Services staffers: Getnet Alemayehu, Mulusew Alemu, Sintayehu Aymeku and Sara Chalachew.
(photo: CNS/Maheder Haileselassie, Reuters)
This morning, Catholic Relief Services issued a statement regarding the tragedy this weekend in Ethiopia:
“It is with heavy hearts that we share the news that four members of our staff were killed when Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 crashed just after take-off Sunday morning. Their names are: Sara Chalachew, Getnet Alemayehu, Sintayehu Aymeku, and Mulusew Alemu. All four individuals were Ethiopian nationals traveling to Nairobi to attend a training on our behalf.
Although we are in mourning, we celebrate the lives of these colleagues and the selfless contributions they made to our mission, despite the risks and sacrifices that humanitarian work can often entail. Our thoughts and prayers are with their families and all of those who lost loved ones as a result of this tragedy.”
There are further details at the CRS website.
We at CNEWA share in the sorrow and loss, and offer our deepest sympathies and prayers to our friends at CRS.
Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May their souls and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.
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.
Tags: Pope Jewish-Catholic relations anti-Semitism