Current Issue
June, 2018
Volume 44, Number 2
6 February 2018
Emeline Wuilbercq

A young woman hones her culinary skills during a cooking class at the Kidist Mariam Center in
Meki, Ethiopia. (photo: Petterik Wiggers)

In the current edition of ONE, Emeline Wuilbercq takes us to the Kidist Mariam Center in Ethiopia and discovers how it is offering skills to young Ethiopians and helping them stay in their homeland. Here, she offers some additional impressions.

Throughout my reporting career in Ethiopia, I have met hundreds of passionate people. I have been reporting mostly on politics, especially on the crackdown on protests in some parts of the country. I believe journalists have a duty to voice people’s concerns. But I strongly believe it is also our duty to deliver more than just sad news. Practicing “solutions journalism” is a good way of doing it.

Instead of writing about the problems, those who practice “solutions journalism” strive to write about how people can address those problems and offer solutions. In the end, the reader understands that, despite the challenges, there is hope. I’m not used to writing these kinds of “positive stories” but I’m convinced they offer another valuable perspective beyond most of the articles we read daily in the media. And I’m quite sure this journalism is just as rigorous and compelling as any other.

I experienced this kind of journalism when I reported at the Kidist Mariam Center. Visiting this training center — operated by the Community of St. Paul, in the Ethiopian town of Meki, about 80 miles south of the capital Addis Ababa — was both touching and delightful. It was touching because I met young and poor girls exposed to the danger of migration. They used to work abroad as housemaids to support their families. They were having hard times living abroad, with the fear of being beaten, sexually harassed, or facing other forms of exploitation and mistreatment. But it was also delightful because this center allowed them to foresee a better future in their hometown.

I spent a day there interviewing many of them and had no qualms disturbing them during their training. I was very impressed by one of them: Serkalem Keder, the aspiring pastry chef. She had been taking cooking classes at Kidist Mariam Center for the last seven months. Her shy smile betrayed her happiness, a feeling she had forgotten while she was out of her country. She had been through hard times in Saudi Arabia, but she keeps it for herself. When I met her, the only thing that mattered is how she is improving her cooking skills so that she can get a decent job and make a better living in her own country.

I met many Serkalems, whose lives changed thanks to the center. I felt humbled in front of those strong women who were almost my age. I was also happy to be able to share this story with readers who could help support the center, enabling it to train more young people and give them hope.

Discover more in the December 2017 edition of ONE.

6 February 2018
Greg Kandra

Workers repair a Syriac Christian church in southern Turkey. After years in exile, more Christians are returning to their homeland. To learn more, read Coming Home in the Winter 2015 edition of ONE.
(photo: Don Duncan)

6 February 2018
Greg Kandra

In this image from 2014, the Rev. M.J. Joseph leads a service for Dalits in a mud hut in Utter Pradesh, India. This week, India’s bishops have been urged to reach out and do more for those once known as “untouchables.” (photo: John Mathew)

Indian bishops told to do more for ‘untouchables’ (Crux) Bishops in India have been told the Church must “move away from being content with doling out some schemes and programs” for Dalits — those at the bottom of Hinduism’s caste system formerly known as “untouchables” — and work to develop “a deeper understanding of the causes and manifestations of deprivation, discrimination and exclusion of Dalit Christians within the Church, by the larger society and by the State.” Jesuit Father A. Maria Arul Raja, a professor of Religious Studies at the Jesuit Theology Centre in Chennai, spoke about the Church and Dalits at the biennial meeting of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India taking place this week in Bangalore...

Iraq official: Iraqi security forces are relocating refugees (Andalou Agency) An Iraqi lawmaker has accused security forces of forcibly relocating displaced civilians to their areas in northern and western Iraq. Speaking to Anadolu Agency on Monday, Raad al-Dahlaki, head of a parliamentary committee on displaced civilians, said the Baghdad Operations Command will close a refugee camp in western Baghdad by mid-February...

Syria, Russia escalate attacks in Syria (Al Jazeera) At least 40 people have been killed in Syrian and Russian air attacks in Eastern Ghouta near the capital, Damascus. Syria’s government has also deployed new anti-aircraft missiles to the front lines in Aleppo and Idlib, where it is battling rebel fighters...

Medical centers in Gaza forced to cease work due to lack of electricity, fuel (Middle East Monitor) The Palestinian Ministry of Health in Gaza yesterday announced the suspension of operations in 16 hospitals and healthcare centers across the Gaza Strip due to the sever lack of electricity and fuel, Quds Press reported. Speaking to the news site, Spokesman of the Ministry of Health Ashraf Al-Qidra said: “Electricity generators in three more healthcare centers in Gaza stopped working; therefore, operations were suspended...”

Archaeologists uncover ancient church in Turkey (Christian Today) What’s believed to be one of the earliest churches in Asia Minor, modern day Turkey, has been discovered during an archaeological dig in the Black Sea province of Karabük’s Eskipazar district. The excavation at the ancient city of Hadrianapolis, which now lies buried beneath Eskipazar, 160km north of Ankara, has uncovered a 1,500-year-old structure which could unlock secrets to monasteries thought to have existed in the town...

U.S., Ethiopia launch program to preserve historic church ( U.S. Ambassador Michael RaynorEthi and Minister for Culture and Tourism, Dr. Hirut Woldemariam, jointly launched a new project for the preservation of Bete Golgotha Mikael Church in Lalibela, on Saturday, 3 February 2018. Since 2003, the U.S Embassy has supported the renovation of nine historical heritages throughout Ethiopia, including most recently the restoration of Bete Gabriel Rafael in Lalibela...

5 February 2018
Greg Kandra

Pope Francis talks with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan during a private meeting on 5 February at the Vatican. (photo: CNS/Alessandro Di Meo via Reuters)

Pope Francis welcomed Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to the Vatican on 5 February for a private discussion that included the status of Jerusalem and the need to achieve peace in the Middle East through dialogue and respect for human rights.

During a 50-minute meeting, the two leaders discussed the current situation in Turkey, “the condition of the Catholic community, efforts in the reception of the many refugees and the challenges linked to this,” the Vatican said in a statement.

Aided by interpreters, Pope Francis and Erdogan also focused on “the situation in the Middle East, with particular reference to the status of Jerusalem, highlighting the need to promote peace and stability in the region through dialogue and negotiation, with respect for human rights and international law.”

The same topics were brought up during Erdogan’s separate meeting with Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state, and Archbishop Paul Gallagher, Vatican foreign minister.

Erdogan arrived in Rome amid heavy security measures for a two-day visit that was to include meetings with Italian authorities and business leaders. More than 3,000 police officers had been deployed for the visit, according to Agence France-Presse, and demonstrations had been banned in Rome’s center for 24 hours.

Exchanging gifts, Erdogan gave Pope Francis a boxed collection of works by Jalal al Din Muhammad Rumi, the 13th-century Muslim mystic, philosopher and poet.

“Ah, matters of the mystics,” the pope replied, according to a pool report.

The Turkish president also gave the pope a large panoramic image of the city of Istanbul hand-painted on ceramic tiles.

Pope Francis then gave Erdogan a large bronze medallion of an “angel of peace,” who, the pope said, “strangles the demon of war.”

“This is a symbol of a world founded on peace and justice,” the pope continued.

The pope also gave the president a copy of his encyclical letter, “Laudato Si’“ on the care of creation, his 2018 message for the World Day of Peace and an engraving of what St. Peter’s Basilica and the square looked like in the 17th century.

Speaking to reporters at Istanbul’s airport prior to his departure for Rome, Erdogan said his visit to the Vatican to see the pope — the first by a Turkish president in 59 years — was “a significant opportunity to draw attention to common human values.”

He said he planned to discuss the status of Jerusalem, the situation in Palestine, Syria and Iraq, as well as “counterterrorism, refugee issues and humanitarian aid,” according to Anadolu Agency, the state-run news service. The rise of Islamophobia in the West and “cultural racism” were also topics he planned to bring up, the agency reported.

Erdogan had telephoned the pope in December to discuss his concern over the status of Jerusalem after U.S. President Donald Trump announced on 6 December that he was formally recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Pope Francis has repeatedly upheld Vatican calls for a special, internationally guaranteed statute on the status of Jerusalem as the only way to preserve its unique identity as a place considered holy by Christians, Jews and Muslims.

The pope has publicly appealed for respect for the “status quo” of Jerusalem and prayed that “wisdom and prudence would prevail to avoid adding new elements of tension in a world already shaken and scarred by many cruel conflicts.”

Tags: Pope Francis Jerusalem Turkey

5 February 2018
Greg Kandra

Indian Cardinal Oswald Gracias, shown in this file photo from 2015, on Sunday encouraged bishops in India to urge the faithful to become fully Indian and Christian. (photo: CNS/Anto Akkara)

Church in India urges faithful to become fully Indian, Christian ( Inaugurating the 30th Plenary Assembly of the Conference of Catholic Bishops of India (C.C.B.I.) of the Latin Church, here on Sunday 4 February, Cardinal Oswald Gracias, president of Conference of Catholic Bishops of India and archbishop of Mumbai, exhorted the bishops in India to urge the faithful to become fully Indian and fully Christian…

Palestinians slam Jerusalem move to end tax breaks for churches, UN properties (Times of Israel) Palestinians on Sunday strongly denounced an Israeli decision to collect taxes from churches and United Nations agencies in Jerusalem, saying the move was aimed at “emptying” the city of its Arab residents and Christian holy sites…

Ethiopia launches job creation project for refugees, returnees (Ethiopian News Agency) A job creation project, which aims at supporting Ethiopian returnees and Eritrean refugees, was launched by the European Union Trust Fund for Africa and Ethiopian Government. The two-year project benefits 1,500 potential returnees and 200 Eritrean refugees. The project areas in Addis Ababa are Arada, Addis Ketema, Kirkos, and Yeka sub-cities, while the value chain areas are leather construction and metal, it was indicated…

Kurds express shock over ‘mutilated’ female fighter video (Vatican News) In one of the most gruesome episodes of the conflict, Kurds in Syria have accused Turkish-backed rebels of mutilating the body of a female Kurdish fighter, then posting the footage online. The victim, a member of the Kurdish People’s Protection Unit — known as YPG — has been identified as Barin Kobani. She took part in a recent operation to drive the so-called Islamic State from areas in northern Syria…

Eagles fans in Jerusalem flying high after Super Bowl win (The Jerusalem Post) As is the tradition, American sports fans congregated at, Mike’s Place, in the heart of the capital, which hosted several hundred diehard sports fans for Super Bowl LII…

2 February 2018
Greg Kandra

The video above illustrates some of the challenges in the marriage between a Lebanese man and a Syrian woman. (video: Raed Rafei)

This week, we end with a love story, and a video about the marriage between a Lebanese man and a Syrian woman in Lebanon.

To learn more about how refugees are faring in Lebanon, often under very difficult circumstances, read Hardship and Hospitality in the June 2017 edition of ONE.

2 February 2018
Catholic News Service

Archbishop Stefan Soroka of Philadelphia, metropolitan of U.S. Ukrainian Catholics, and Bishop Paul P. Chomnycky of Stamford, Connecticut, have placed a culinary wager on the outcome of this weekend’s Super Bowl LII in Minneapolis.
(photos: CNS/Jacqueline Dorme, Republican-Herald and Gregory A. Shemitz)

Two Ukrainian Catholic prelates have placed a culinary wager on the outcome of the 4 February Super Bowl LII in Minneapolis.

Archbishop Stefan Soroka of Philadelphia, metropolitan of U.S. Ukrainian Catholics, is rooting for the Philadelphia Eagles, in their first Super Bowl appearance since 2005. Bishop Paul P. Chomnycky of Stamford, Connecticut, is rooting for the New England Patriots — the returning Super Bowl champions and perennial powerhouse.

To show their confidence in their respective home teams, the bishops announced on 1 February they have placed a friendly wager on the ultimate outcome of the game. The beneficiaries will be either the chancery staff in Philadelphia or the chancery staff in Stamford.

“If the Eagles do not fly high on Sunday,” Archbishop Soroka said, “we will provide a luncheon for the Stamford chancery staff highlighted with Philadelphia cheesesteaks. However, I do not suspect I will have to do so.”

While Bishop Chomnycky and his chancery staff are looking forward to the Philly cheesesteak luncheon, the bishop stated that “if the Eagles fly high and the Patriots experience a rare defeat,” he will provide the Philadelphia chancery staff with a luncheon “with Boston cream pie as the dessert.”

The Ukrainian leaders’ wager came a day after one announced by another Eagles fan, Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Philadelphia, and another New England Patriots supporter, Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley of Boston. The two prelates, who are longtime friends and classmates from their seminary days as young Capuchin Franciscans, are wagering $100 donations to aid the poor in their archdioceses.

The Philly cheesesteak was developed in the early 20th century “by combining frizzled beef, onions and cheese in a small loaf of bread,” according to a 1987 exhibition catalog published by the Library Company of Philadelphia and the Historical Society of Pennsylvania.

Philadelphians Pat and Harry Olivieri are often credited with inventing the sandwich by serving chopped steak on an Italian roll in the early 1930’s.

According to the owners of the Parker House Hotel in Boston, the Boston cream pie was first created at the hotel by an Armenian-French chef, M. Sanzian, in 1856 and originally called a chocolate cream pie. While other custard cakes may have existed at the time, baking chocolate as a coating was a new process, making it unique and a popular choice on the menu.

The name “Boston cream pie” first appeared in the 1872 Methodist Almanac was declared the official dessert of Massachusetts on 12 December 1996.

While both bishops are rooting for their respective home teams, they said they see the big game as an American tradition that brings the nation together on Super Bowl Sunday.

“It is amazing how on this one Sunday, people throughout the nation, indeed throughout the world, come together to watch a game played by grown men. Families, neighbors and organizations have parties and socials to enjoy this American classic. It is a unifying event,” Archbishop Soroka said.

Bishop Chomnycky commented, “While we all hope for an exciting and competitive football game on Sunday, we also look forward to good sportsmanship and camaraderie among the players and fans both on and off the field. For a few hours, we are able to forget about the many problems throughout the world.”

2 February 2018
Greg Kandra

Children practice their penmanship at the Our Lady of Armenia center in Tashir, Armenia. Read about the efforts to help Armenia’s Children, Left Behind in the Summer 2016 edition of ONE.
(photo: Nazik Armenakyan)

2 February 2018
Greg Kandra

A man prays amid destroyed buildings after several airstrikes on 9 January in Hamoria, Syria. The U.S. has accused the Syrian government of using chemical weapons against its people.
(photo: CNS/Mohammed Badra, EPA)

U.S. accuses Syria of chemical weapons use (Al Jazeera) The United States has accused the Syrian government of using chemical weapons against its people. U.S. State Department spokesman Heather Nauert said on Thursday that reports of chlorine gas being used against civilians in Eastern Ghouta were “very concerning”...

Letter in India calls for the government to stop hate crimes against minorities (Fides) In an open letter, public officials, personalities from Indian culture and intellectuals have expressed “Deep concern for the continuous episodes of senseless violence in the country, especially those that target minorities,” and also “for the weak response of law enforcement agencies and institutions”...

Ethiopia lifts ban on domestic workers moving overseas (AFP) Ethiopia has lifted a ban on domestic workers moving overseas after passing a new law to guard against ill-treatment, a government official said Thursday. Africa’s second-most populous country instituted the ban five years ago following reports of abuse, and complaints that employment agencies lured Ethiopians into working abroad in illegal and appalling conditions...

Middle East Council of Churches appoints acting Secretary General (Fides) The Executive Committee of the Middle East Council of Churches has appointed Professor Souraya Bechealany as Acting Secretary General of the ecumenical body. Souraya Bechealany takes the place of Father Michel Jalkh, who was appointed Rector of Antonine University. The choice, approved unanimously, was announced at the end of the meeting of the Executive Committee hosted in Lebanon by Antonine University, in the district of Baabda in the southern part of Beirut...

Church celebrates World Day of Consecrated Life (Vatican News) Pope Francis celebrates the liturgy in St Peter’s Basilica on Friday with thousands of religious and members of Societies of Apostolic life. The announcement for this event contained the following reflection from the Holy Father: “A vocation is a gift we have received from the Lord, who fixed his gaze on us and called us, calling us to follow him in the consecrated life”...

1 February 2018
Elias D. Mallon, S.A., Ph.D.

Pope Francis lights a candle during an interfaith peace gathering outside the Basilica of St. Francis in Assisi, Italy, on 20 September 2016. The pope and other religious leaders were attending a peace gathering marking the 30th anniversary of the first peace encounter. (photo: CNS/Paul Haring)

The United Nations observes World Interfaith Harmony Week every year beginning on 1 February. Although the UN is not a religious organization, its primary concern is for peace in the world — and religion can help bring this about. While the claim that religion is the basis of all conflict in the world is unfair and untrue, neither is it true that religion plays no role in conflicts around the world. The Pew Research Center reports on the state of religions around the world clearly show that almost every part of the globe experiences some kind of conflict that has at very least a religious component. Religions consciously and unconsciously provide powerful symbols that intensify conflicts, demonize the Other and make compromises more difficult for all parties involved. While interfaith harmony would not solve all conflicts in the world, it would greatly alleviate many of them.

Interfaith harmony — and the lack thereof — is something CNEWA experiences every day in the countries where we work. The Middle East, for example, has been an arena for incredible sectarian violence with thousands of people — Christians, Yazidis, Shabak and others — being killed and literally millions being displaced. However, it is also the place where Muslim youths in Mosul helped clean up a Christian church damaged in the battle against ISIS. Both religious harmony and sectarian hatred exist in our world. During this week the UN wishes to remind the world of the importance of interfaith harmony for every person — religious or not — on the planet.

Although there have always been great and open spirits in the Catholic Church who respected and loved people who were not Christians — we need think only of St. Francis meeting with Sultan Malik al-Kamil during the 4th Crusade — the Church committed itself officially to working for interfaith harmony at the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965). On 28 October 1965 the decree Nostra Ætate (“In Our Times”) was promulgated. Officially known as the Declaration on the Relation of the Church to Non-Christian Religions, this short document made extraordinary advances. Noting that all religions attempt to address and provide answers to the great questions of human existence, it went on to declare: “The Catholic Church rejects nothing of what is true and holy in these religions.” Further, it stated, the Church “urges her sons {sic} to enter ...into discussion and collaboration with members of other religions.”

The document speaks with great respect about Hinduism, Islam and Judaism. Recognizing centuries of conflict, vituperation and downright hatred that often existed between Christians, Muslims and Jews, the church called on all to forget the past, to strive for mutual understanding and to work together to “preserve and promote peace, liberty, social justice and moral values.” With the declaration that not “all Jews indiscriminately at that time {the death of Jesus} nor Jews today, can be charged with crimes committed during his {[Christ’s} passion,” the Catholic Church thereby officially rejected the long-held claim that Jews were deicides, i.e. god killers, worthy of persecution and even hatred.

Great strides have been made in promoting interfaith understanding and harmony since that October day in 1965. Dialogues have been set up on international, national and local levels to help believers understand the Other, to promote cooperation and prevent conflict. Almost every Christian Church and every world religion is engaged in some type of dialogue and exchange.

Clearly there is still a great deal more to be done. However, the UN International Interfaith Harmony Week adds a special urgency to the interfaith endeavor. As mentioned earlier, the UN is not a religious organization. But this single week underlines the fact that interfaith harmony is not something which impacts only religious people; it is crucial for the very survival of a planet already wracked with too many conflicts with religious components.

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