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Current Issue
September, 2018
Volume 44, Number 3
  
30 October 2018
Greg Kandra




Holy Land church leaders have raised concerns about recent incidents of vandalism in a cemetery adjacent to a Salesian monastery west of Jerusalem. (photo: Crux/Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem)

Holy land cemetery vandalism concerns church leaders (CNS) Holy Land church leaders expressed concern in the wake of two separate incidents involving the Christian community that occurred over a one-week span. Monks of the Salesian Monastery at Beit Jamal west of Jerusalem discovered the evening of 16 October that their cemetery had been vandalized, including broken crosses and damage to tombs…

Thousands of Syrian refugees stranded in desert near Jordan risk starvation (Haaretz) Tens of thousands of Syrians stranded in a desert camp near the Jordanian border are at risk of starvation amid dwindling supplies and the approach of winter, while regional powers trade blame over who is responsible for this latest humanitarian catastrophe in Syria’s civil war. Desperately needed aid deliveries to the besieged Rukban camp have repeatedly failed or been postponed, including a UN convoy which was supposed to go in on Thursday but has now been indefinitely delayed…

How caste discrimination during and after Kerala flooding affected dalits (The News Minute) One would expect that in the face of such a huge disaster, people would come together across communities to fight the forces of nature. However, during the rescue operations itself, there were reported cases of caste discrimination…

Russia vows ’to act’ if Georgia and Ukraine join NATO (The Express) In a clear sign of the country’s unease in the wake of President Donald Trump’s decision to pull out the United States out of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF), Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu voiced concern at what he described as the “militarization of the European continent”…

Pope Francis emphasizes importance of truth in journalism (Vatican Media) Pope Francis has sent a message to the Italian news agency SIR (Servizio Informazione Relgiosa/Religious Information Service) in time for the thirtieth anniversary of its publication. The agency was founded in order to help better communicate information relating to both religious and world affairs to the Italian Catholic Church…



Tags: Syria Jerusalem Kerala Refugee Camps

29 October 2018
Greg Kandra




Pope Francis accepts letters of credential from Seyed Taha Hashemi, Iran's ambassador to the Holy See, during a private audience at the Vatican on 29 October. (photo: CNS/Vatican Media)



Tags: Iran

29 October 2018
Greg Kandra




Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, center, Transportation and Intelligence Minister Yisrael Katz, left, and Cabinet Secretary Tzachi Braverman stand for a moment of silence to honor the victims of a synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh, during the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem on 28 October. Pope Francis at his Sunday Angelus prayed for those affected by the attack inside the Pittsburgh synagogue. (photo: CNS/Oded Balilty, pool via Reuters)

Pope prays for victims of Pittsburgh synagogue shooting (Vatican News) At the Angelus on Sunday, Pope Francis expressed his closeness to the city of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and especially to the Jewish community there. Eleven people were killed, and several others were wounded, on in a shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in the neighborhood of Squirrel Hill. A suspect was taken into custody after the attack…

Jerusalem and Tel Aviv stand with Pittsburgh (The Jerusalem Post) ome 500 Americans and Israelis gathered Sunday night to sing somber songs in Hebrew and English at Jerusalem’s Zion Square in a candle-lit vigil in memory of the 11 victims of Saturday’s massacre at the Tree of Life Congregation in Pittsburgh organized by The Meeting Place Dialogue Group, The Jerusalem Movement and the Hartman Institute Hevruta program…

Anti-Christian violence reaches record highs in parts of India (AsiaNews) Anti-Christian violence is reaching record levels in Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous state, a study by Violence Monitor reveals. According to the monthly survey of anti-minority incidents in India, 25 cases of religious intolerance were reported in September, 20 of which in Jaunpur, the constituency of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, near the sacred city of Varanasi. The high number of cases is worrying, activists say, noting that with more than 200 million inhabitants, Uttar Pradesh is the country’s most populous state…

Synod document: listen to, support, guide young people (CNS) The Catholic Church and all its members must get better at listening to young people, taking their questions seriously, recognizing them as full members of the church, patiently walking with them and offering guidance as they discern the best way to live their faith, the Synod of Bishops said. While the synod’s final document spoke of friendship, affection, sexuality and “sexual inclinations,” those issues were not the center of concern in the lengthy final document, which was released on 27 October...

Amnesty India bank accounts frozen (Vatican News) The bank accounts of human rights watchdog Amnesty International in India have been frozen, effectively stopping its work, after the government’s financial crime investigating agency carried out a 10-hour raid at the group’s Bengaluru office on Thursday…

The revolutionary history of Ethiopia’s Jews (Haaretz) The Jewish community in Ethiopia, labeled in the past as Falasha or Beta Israel, is perceived in Israel as a traditional-religious community which, while in Ethiopia, conducted its life in isolation from its inimical neighbors and from the processes unfolding around it, with all its aspirations focused on immigrating to Israel. A new study, which I conducted, reveals that men and women in this community were political activists and members of Marxist underground movements during the revolutionary years and civil war in that country (from the 1970s until 1991)…



Tags: India Ethiopia Israel Jews

26 October 2018
Greg Kandra




Members of CNEWA’s staff in Jerusalem paid a visit to leaders of the Coptic Orthodox Church to show solidarity and support after yesterday’s clash at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.
(photo: CNEWA)


We first reported on this story Thursday, via the Associated Press:

A scuffle between Israeli police and Coptic priests at a major Christian holy site in Jerusalem on Wednesday drew condemnation from Egypt and churches in the Holy Land.

Police and Coptic priests wrangled outside a contested chapel at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem, where many Christians believe Jesus was crucified, buried and resurrected.

The Copts were protesting the start of restoration work by the Israel Antiquities Authority at the St. Michael the Archangel Chapel, which both the Ethiopian and Egyptian Orthodox churches claim.

Friday morning, our Jerusalem office sent us the photo above with a note:

[CNEWA’s] director and staff, along with the Rev. Ibrahim Faltas and the staff from the Custody of the Holy Land, visited the Coptic Orthodox Church and His Excellency Anba Antonius, to show solidarity with him and his clergy.



26 October 2018
Greg Kandra




A report from the UN says it will cost more than $4 billion to help Kerala recover from the devastating floods of August. The video above chronicles the extent of the damage.
(video: Chavara Media/YouTube)


UN: Kerala will need billions to recover from floods (Business Standard) Kerala will need about Rs 310 billion (about $4 billion) for recovery and reconstruction following the century’s worst floods, according to a UN report presented to the Chief Minister by UN Resident Coordinator in India Yuri Afanasiev…

Heavy rains bring flooding, death to refugee camps (Middle East Monitor) Flooding in Lebanon and Turkey has left refugees dead after heavy rains hit the region and swamped refugee camps. Videos shared by member of the Syrian Negotiations Committee Hadi Albahra, reportedly from refugee camps near the Lebanese border town of Arsal, show the ground completely flooded, with tents and belongings destroyed…

Russian Orthodox leaders concerned about ’provocations’ (The Catholic Herald) Turmoil in the Orthodox world continues with interesting news from Moldova, where, it is reported, Patriarch Kirill is cutting short a planned visit, in case there are ‘provocations’…

Catholic youth in Arabia attend youth congress (Vatican News) As the Synod of Bishops on Young People draws to a close on Sunday, 1,500 Catholic young people living on the Arabian Peninsula are attending the Arab Catholic Youth Congress (ACYC) in Ras Al Khaimah, United Arab Emirates (UAE), from 25-27 October. They have responded to the invitation to ”Stand up, reignite your faith, hope and love and experience Jesus deeper”…

Exhibitions celebrate Syria before the war (The New York Times) A thousand miles southeast of what remains of Syria’s civil war, “Syria Matters,” a major exhibition at the Museum of Islamic Art here, is focused on the history and the soul of the country rather than the images of conflict that have been reflected in headlines and splashed across television screens for the past seven years…



Tags: Syria India Lebanon Refugee Camps

25 October 2018
Greg Kandra




Pope Francis greets Catholicos Karekin II, patriarch of the Armenian Apostolic Church, during a private audience on 24 October at the Vatican.
(photo: CNS/Vatican Media handout via Reuters)




Tags: Armenia

25 October 2018
Elias D. Mallon, S.A., Ph.D.




Archbishop Bernadito Auza serves as the Holy See's Permanent Observer at the United Nations. (photo: Vatican Media)

On 24 October every year the world observes United Nations Day. This week, then, offers us an opportunity reflect on the important work of this body—and the Holy See’s involvement in it. CNEWA, as an agency of the Holy See, has significant interest in what the United Nations does — and it often impacts our work.

The United Nations or the UN was formed in 1945 immediately after World War II. The planet had experienced two major wars within a 30-year period. It has been estimated that up to 80 million people died in both wars; cities were leveled, populations were displaced and there was unimaginable suffering. Although the horror of those wars ominously seems to have faded for many people, the UN was founded precisely to prevent war, which was then rightly seen as the worst of all possibilities for humanity.

The UN consists of three different groupings: the Member States, which includes the General Assembly and the Security Council; UN Agencies such as UNESCO, UNICEF, etc.; and civil societies which consists of Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) who engage in advocacy for causes such as peace, disarmament, human rights, etc.

There are 193 sovereign member states at the UN. Each of these countries maintains a Permanent Mission to the UN in New York and often in Geneva. The head of the mission is the Permanent Representative, who holds the rank of ambassador and is often referred as such and such a country’s “ambassador to the UN.” All of these countries form the UN General Assembly (GA), which meets in plenary session every year in September but can meet at any other time. The GA works on issues that are before it on any number of issues, many of which result in conventions by which member states bind themselves by treaty to follow, maintain and enforce certain issues.

The UN Security Council (SC) consists of five permanent members (the P5): China, France, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom and the United States, each of whom enjoys absolute veto power over measures brought to the Council. Ten member states are elected by the General Assembly to serve on the Council for two-year terms.

In addition to the 193 sovereign member states, the UN recognizes two Permanent Observer Missions: the Holy See and Palestine. The Holy See, which has diplomatic relations with 180 states, was admitted to Permanent Observer status in 1964 and to full Observer Status in 2004. With full Observer Status, the Holy See has all the rights of a member state in the General Assembly except the right to vote.

The Holy See has a Permanent Observer Mission and a Permanent Observer Representative at the UN. The Permanent Representative of the Holy See to the UN is an archbishop with the rank of Nuncio. The Holy See is an active and effective member of the UN community as it advocates for, among other things, peace, disarmament, ecological responsibility, quality of life issues and very many others. One recent example: just last month, on 25 September 2018 Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, the Holy See’s Secretary for Relations with States, addressed the UN General Assembly advocating for the abolition of the death penalty. Although the Holy See is not a full member of the General Assembly, it plays a visible and important role in promoting peace and justice issues, serving in some ways as the conscience of the body.

The present and sixth Permanent Observer Representative is Archbishop Bernadito Auza, who was appointed on 1 July 2014. Archbishop Auza has shown himself to be an expert in increasing the visibility and, hence, effectiveness of the Holy See at the UN, especially through timely, strategic and informative conferences and side events. Through his work, the Holy See is an active participant in the issues affecting the contemporary world.

CNEWA has been accredited as an NGO at the UN for three decades, and I have been working at the UN for over 12 years, seven of which have been for CNEWA. It has been a fruitful and fascinating partnership, as CNEWA works with other NGOs to promote peace and justice in the Middle East — working with topics such as children’s rights, refugees and freedom of religion.

As we mark United Nations Day this week, it is good to recall the vital work the UN undertakes on behalf of the global community — and remember, as well, how all of us in the Christian community are called to work for unity and peace.



Tags: United Nations

25 October 2018
Greg Kandra




Pope Francis greets an Iraqi auditor at the Synod of Bishops. Stories of anti-Christian persecution in Iraq and India, among other places, have stirred the participants at the Synod.
(photo: Vatican Media)


Stories of anti-Christian persecution stir the Synod (Crux) One topic above all stands out, which may be no surprise given that synods are always an education in the realities of the global Church: Anti-Christian persecution. The two most sustained ovations so far have been for an Iraqi youth and an Indian archbishop, both of whom recounted direct stories of suffering and persecution on account of the faith in the 21st century…

Scuffle at Church of the Holy Sepulchre sparks anger (AP) A scuffle between Israeli police and Coptic priests at a major Christian holy site in Jerusalem on Wednesday drew condemnation from Egypt and churches in the Holy Land. Police and Coptic priests wrangled outside a contested chapel at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem, where many Christians believe Jesus was crucified, buried and resurrected…

International Buddhist-Christian gathering for nuns pledges to foster understanding (Vatican News) The First International Buddhist-Christian Dialogue for Nuns that concluded last week in Taiwan pledged to foster mutual understanding and friendship among themselves in order to witness to others and bring hope and healing to those in need…

Ethiopia appoints first female president (The Washington Post) Ethiopia’s Parliament on Thursday approved the East African country’s first female president, Sahle-Work Zewde, a veteran of the United Nations and the diplomatic corps. The position of president is ceremonial in Ethiopia, with executive power vested in the office of the prime minister. But the appointment is deeply symbolic and follows up on last week’s cabinet reshuffle…

Pro-Hindu tribal people take over Indian church (UCANews.com) Pro-Hindu tribal people have removed a cross from a Protestant church and converted the building into their community hall in India’s Jharkhand state in a move that Christian leaders believe is linked to upcoming elections. Some 50 tribal people took down the cross from the Vishwa Vani (voice of the world) church in Khadnga village, 25 kilometers from state capital Ranchi, on 20 October. They also repainted the name as Sarna Bhavan — the house of those following the traditional tribal Sarna religion. They also held a purification ceremony and prayers at the church...



Tags: India Iraq Ethiopia Coptic Christians

24 October 2018
Molly Corso




St. Barbara Mother and Child Care Center provides a safe haven for women facing domestic violence and homelessness. (photo: Molly Corso)

In the current edition of ONE magazine, photojournalist Molly Corso reports on a center in Georgia helping at-risk mothers and their children. Here are some additional reflections on her visit.

I arrived at Caritas Georgia’s St. Barbara Mother and Child Care Center in Tbilisi early one Saturday, curious to see how the five women and seven children living there would spend the weekend.

I don’t really know what I was expecting, but the scene before me in the kitchen was not unusual: a mother balancing her baby on her hip as she went about the business of making breakfast, one hand securely around her child, the other stirring a pot or warming a bottle.

It is a balancing act played out every morning in thousands of kitchens around Georgia, and likely around the world: One eye on the child, one eye on the pot.

That image of the mother balancing her duties and her child stayed with me — in part, because the center itself is a bit of an extension of the country’s own attempts to find a balance.

Georgia is actively seeking to balance he resources of a poor state and the needs of its population. Even more so, it is attempting to find balance between its strong traditions and the painful truths of the modern world.

Everywhere in Georgia today you feel it. It is visible in the tug-of-war between honoring the past and working toward the future; it is palpable in the political debate over how far the government can, or should, go to protect minority rights — or care for women locked in abusive relationships.

Over the past several years, the veils of family honor and shame that traditionally masked domestic abuse have begun to slip. Horrific cases of murder and violence have forced the issue, once hidden, into the spotlight of media attention and political debate.

The good news is that the attention has brought results. The bad news is, as always, that attention to the issue has also underscored its scope: how widespread domestic abuse and violence against women really is in the country — and how hard it is to stop.

All this has forced the government into its own balancing act in terms of whom to help and how much to help them.

For the five mothers living at Caritas Georgia’s St. Barbara Mother and Child Care Center in Tbilisi, how well the government managed that balance had become an issue of immediate importance.

In the women’s own lives, the act of balancing their needs and those of their children had become an everyday process of weighing decisions and consequences that had life or death repercussions.

To remain at home or keep their child? To stay with an abusive partner or seek an uncertain future? To risk a new life alone, or remain locked in a cycle of violence?

For the women and children living at the Caritas center, at least, the act of balancing life and child has gotten much easier.

For one year, those living there are safely buffered from many of the problems that had plagued them. Caritas, in partnership with government programs, provides material care and psychological help for the women and children under their protection. It helps them use the law to defend themselves from abusive partners, find free childcare, get an education for a future job and last, but certainly not least, begin the process of unraveling the years of abuse and shame.

The women are different ages, come from different backgrounds and have different stories. But each shares one common truth: the St. Barbara Mother and Child Care Center is a last resort of sorts, a temporary safe haven to take stock of their lives and attempt to start again, to create a future — still balancing their roles as mother and caregiver but standing on firmer ground.

But at the end of the year, it is time for the women to take another step onto the high wire, balancing their children on one hip and the weight of their responsibilities on the other.

Not all of them make it, but the ones who do — those who have either found peace and security with families ready to accept them (and their children) or have committed to the hard work of surviving as a single parent — are able to because of the year gifted to them by Caritas Georgia.

That time offers a short step back to safe ground to regroup, readjust, and plot a path ahead.

Read Molly Corso’s story about Confronting Abuse of Women in Georgia in the September 2018 edition of ONE.



Tags: Georgia

24 October 2018
Greg Kandra




Children in a rural village greet Msgr. John Kozar on his August 2017 pastoral visit to India.
(photo: John E. Kozar)




Tags: India





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