20 March 2018
Syrian civil defense volunteers search for victims following Syrian government air strikes on the Eastern Ghouta rebel-held enclave of Douma, on 20 March 2018. An air strike has reportedly killed more than a dozen children sheltered in an underground school in the region.
(photo: Hamza Al-Ajweh/AFP/Getty Images)
Syria: air strike kills children at school (BBC) An air strike has reportedly killed 15 children and two women sheltering in an underground school in Syria’s besieged rebel-held Eastern Ghouta region. Rescuers said civilians had been hiding in the school to escape government and Russian raids on the town of Arbin...
Archbishop: young Christians and Muslims are engine to rebuild Iraq (Herald Malaysia) Rebuilding Iraq, after years of wars, extremism, divisions and violence culminating in the rise of the Islamic State, which is down but not yet out, must be based “on the young, who are the basis on which to build the future,” said Mgr. Yousif Thoma Mirkis, archbishop of Kirkuk, northern Iraq. The prelate recently met with a group of students from the University of Mosul who were lodged in his diocese when ISIS controlled the city...
Cardinal invites Christians to ‘Share the Journey’ with migrants this Easter (Vatican News) The President of Caritas Internationalis, the Church’s worldwide humanitarian confederation, has released an Easter message urging men and women of goodwill to join the Caritas “Share the Journey” campaign that aims to reaches out to migrants, tackle prejudice by changing perceptions and help people open their hearts and their minds...
Isaiah the prophet: the archaeological evidence (Haaretz) A 2,700-year-old seal impression on clay unearthed in Jerusalem this February piqued enormous interest, after its finder, the leading Jerusalem archaeologist Dr. Eilat Mazar, said it may have been the personal seal of Isaiah the Prophet himself. Biblical scholars have been quarreling ever since...
Indian Jesuits release book to mark pope’s five years (UCANews.com) Marking Pope Francis' five years in office, two Indian Jesuits have compiled a book collecting reflections of more than 50 church leaders on how they have applied the Jesuit pope’s insights in their own lives. Jesuit Fathers Kuruvilla Pandikattu and Father Vadappur Jose, both professors at the Jesuit-run Papal Seminary in Pune city in western India, edited the book, Francis Effect...
19 March 2018
Villagers gather for a candlelit prayer service outside a house in a small village in Bhikkawala. Learn how “untouchable” Christians are celebrating their faith in spite of hardship in Caste Aside in the Summer 2014 edition of ONE. (photo: John Mathew)
19 March 2018
People sit in a truck with their belongings in Afrin, Syria on 16 March.
(photo: CNS/Khalil Ashawi, Reuters)
Pope Francis appoints new archbishop in India (Vatican News) Pope Francis on Monday appointed a new archbishop in Bangalore, in southern India’s Karnataka state, and a new apostolic nuncio to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). The Pope appointed Bishop Peter Machado of Belgaum as the new Archbishop of Bangalore. At the same time he also accepted the resignation of Archbishop Bernard Blasius Moras who stepped down having reached the retirement age of 75 in 2016...
Turkish flag hoisted over Afrin, Kurd fighters flee (Vatican News) After nearly two months of fighting, Turkish-backed forces have taken complete control of Afrin in the north of Syria, after Kurdish resistance dissolved. In a nationally broadcast statement, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan confirmed the news, adding that most of the Kurdish forces had fled the area...
Palestinians mark 100 days since Trump’s Jerusalem decision with protests (The Lebanon Daily Star) Thousands of Palestinian refugees took part in a Hamas-sponsored event Sunday in south Lebanon’s Sidon marking 100 days since U.S. President Donald Trump recognized occupied Jerusalem as the capital of Israel...
Why Armenia can claim to be the first Christian nation (Herald Times Online) Strange as it may seem to Western Christians, Armenia can claim to be the first kingdom to officially convert to Christianity...
Ethiopian Airlines supports Ghanian Christian pilgrims (Business Ghana) The Ethiopian Airlines, Africa’s largest airline group, has provided Seamless Connections for Ghanaian Christians seeking to go on Holy Pilgrimage to Israel. The Airline has been arranging Pilgrimage packages together with a Pilgrimage Company, One People Travels for Ghanaian Churches and passengers...
16 March 2018
This Friday, we look back at a colorful and poignant visit two members of our staff made to the Caucasus last year. It was a remarkable and revealing trip. They encountered places of great history and faith — but also great need.
Watch the video above for more.
Related: ‘This Is the Only Light’
16 March 2018
A woman prays before an image of the Virgin Mary in Adigrat, Ethiopia. To learn more about the abiding faith of Ethiopian Catholics, read A Letter from Ethiopia by Abune Tesfaselassie Medhin, bishop for the Ethiopian Catholic Eparchy of Adigrat in the March 2017 edition of ONE.
(photo: Petterik Wiggers)
16 March 2018
Civilians fleeing the city of Afrin in northern Syria walk at the mountainous road of al-Ahlam while heading towards the check point in az-Ziyarah, in the government-controlled part of the northern Aleppo province, on 16 March 2018. (photo: George Ourfalian/AFP/Getty Images)
Thousands flee twin offensives in Syria (BBC) As many as 50,000 people have fled separate offensives against rebel forces in northern and southern Syria in recent days, activists say. Russian air strikes reportedly killed 31 people in the Eastern Ghouta outside Damascus on Friday, after 20,000 people left the region...
Human trafficking called one of the ‘darkest, most revolting realities’ (CNS) “Human trafficking is one of the darkest and most revolting realities in the world today,” said Msgr. Tomasz Grysa, Vatican deputy ambassador. Vulnerable rural women and girls suffer “compounded marginalization” and are at a “cumulative disadvantage prior to being trafficked,” he said. “Their dignity and rights are not adequately respected before they’re trafficked, something that makes them more susceptible to much worse violations of their dignity and rights later...”
Palestinians call for ‘day of rage’ over Jerusalem recognition (Times of Israel) Palestinian groups in the West Bank and Gaza are urging mass protests Friday to mark 100 days since US President Donald Trump announced his decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital...
Ethiopian-Israelis decry family separation (AP) Zemenech Bililin has not seen her sisters in more than a decade, since she immigrated to Israel from Ethiopia with part of her family. Now a 19-year-old infantry soldier in Israel’s military, Bililin says she is outraged that she is fulfilling her duties as a citizen but the state is shirking its responsibility to bring her relatives to Israel. Bililin’s family is one of hundreds that have been split between Israel and Ethiopia over what they say is an inconsistent immigration policy, and whose fate hinges on an Israeli government decision over whether to allow for their reunification...
Syrian refugees’ pain over separation from family (BBC) A family resettled in Wales after fleeing Syria have spoken about their pain at being separated from their sick daughter and a seven-year-old grandson...
15 March 2018
Pope Francis kisses the hand of a man during a ceremony in the Hall of Remembrance at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem in this 2014 file photo. (photo: CNS/Abir Sultan, EPA)
Editor’s note: Friday 16 March marks the 20th anniversary of “We Remember: Reflections on the Shoah,” the Vatican document on anti-Semitism and the Holocaust, or Shoah. This commentary on the document was written by Bishop Joseph C. Bambera of Scranton, Pennsylvania, chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs.
It has been 20 years since the Pontifical Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews released the historic document “We Remember: A Reflection on the Shoah”; an important step in the relationship between Catholics and Jews and an act of repentance on behalf the Catholic faithful — clergy and laity alike.
Though reception of the document varied within the Catholic and Jewish communities upon its release, ranging from fierce criticism to felicitous reception, it was recognized for what it was — an advancement for Catholic-Jewish relations through Catholic acknowledgment of the deficiencies of people of faith and cultural ambivalence toward European Jewry during the Second World War. This statement is by no means a final repentance or a complete reconciliation between our two communities, but it is a solid starting point for the growth of Catholic-Jewish spiritual friendship and mutual concern.
The history of Christian-Jewish relations is wrought with tension, demeaning rhetoric and flat out anti-Judaism. However, since the Second Vatican Council and the promulgation of “Nostra Aetate” (Declaration on the Relationship of the Church with non-Christian Religions) with special attention to paragraph 4, the church has been intentional in building friendship based on mutual trust and respect with the Jewish community. For relationships to flourish and dialogue to bear fruit, we, as Catholics and people of faith, must acknowledge the grim reality of our past in the hope of a more fruitful future.
Related: Seeking Interfaith Harmony
Remembering the Holocaust
In 2001, the Secretariat for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, at the then-National Conference of Catholic Bishops, produced a companion teaching tool to the Vatican document titled “Catholic Teaching on the Shoah: Implementing the Holy See’s ‘We Remember.’ ” It was developed to “help Catholic educators begin developing curricula and other educational programs on the Holocaust.” The Shoah’s relevance to Catholic education is and will continue to be integral. It is a difficult subject to speak about, to teach about, and to learn about. It is equally difficult to understand how a Christian culture could perpetrate such atrocities, and what this history means for our current cultural context. However, it is necessary.
“The Gifts and the Calling of God Are Irrevocable” was published in 2015 by the Vatican Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews, to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the promulgation of “Nostra Aetate.” Like “We Remember,” this document is another effort at offering practical insights regarding theological and pastoral progress between Catholics and Jews, outlining the historical and current realities between Christians and Jews.
Though much has been done to enhance Catholic-Jewish relations, it is unacceptable that anti-Semitism is a thread which continues to be woven in American society. The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) recently released its annual report of anti-Semitic incidents in the United States. The report states that there was a 57 percent increase in the number of anti-Semitic incidents, rising from 1,267 in 2016 to 1,986 in 2017.
In our increasingly polarized society where bigotry feeds upon humanity’s basest qualities, we must be diligent in returning to our institutional memory of the Shoah. “We Remember” is a tool to nurture our memory to, in the words of St. John Paul II, “play its necessary part in the process of shaping a future in which the unspeakable iniquity of the Shoah will never be possible again.”
As the church has made major strides in moving beyond the sin of anti-Semitism, I implore all the faithful to take stock of our lives and our relationships with our Jewish brothers and sisters and to reflect upon, learn from and pray for the continued growth of Catholic-Jewish friendship.
May our fervent prayer be that of St. John Paul, offered on the occasion of the promulgation of “We Remember: A Reflection on the Shoah” 20 years ago. “May the Lord of history guide the efforts of Catholics and Jews and all men and women of goodwill as they work together for a world of true respect for the life and dignity of every human being, for all have been created in the image and likeness of God.”
Read the full document “We Remember: Reflections on the Shoah.”
15 March 2018
A child sleeps in a suitcase in Beit Sawa, Syria on 15 March. Today marks the seven-year anniversary of the Syrian civil war. The United Nations estimates that some five million people have fled the country as a result. (photo: CNS/Omar Sanadiki, Reuters)
15 March 2018
The video above, from 2016, shows some of the devastation of the Syrian civil war, with dramatic before and after images. The destruction has only worsened since then. The war reached its seventh year today. (video: Kashif Malik/YouTube)
Pictures show devastation of Syria over seven years (Newsweek) Syria’s devastating civil war reached its seventh year Thursday, with President Bashar al-Assad and his Russian and Iranian allies taking on the last of the insurgents trying to unseat him. Meanwhile, the U.S. is caught in the middle of a new conflict between two of its partners...
Remains of 21 beheaded Copts to be returned to Egypt (Egypt Today) Upon request from Egyptian Attorney General Nabil Sadek, Libyan Attorney General Abdul Qader Juma Radwan on Wednesday agreed to return the remains of the 21 Egyptian Coptic victims who were killed in Sirte by Islamic State (ISIS) terrorists in February 2015. Siddiq Assour, head of investigations at the Libyan Attorney General’s Office, affirmed that the Libyan authorities coordinated with the Egyptian authorities to send the bodies of the victims after DNA samples were delivered...
Poverty drives Syrian refugees in Lebanon to marry off girls early (Voice of America) A growing number of girls among the 1.5 million Syrian refugees who have fled to Lebanon since 2011 are becoming wives amid rising poverty, aid groups said on the eighth anniversary of the conflict. Around 1 in 5 Syrian girls ages 15 to 19 in Lebanon is married, according to the United Nations children’s agency (UNICEF), which fears more young girls will be married off by families that cannot afford food, rent and medicines...
Report: Israel demolished thousands of homes in Jerusalem (Al Jazeera) A new Palestinian report reveals that Israel demolished five thousand homes in Jerusalem since 1967 as well as the demolition of neighborhoods in the eastern part of the city...
Ethiopia appeals for more drought aid to help nearly 8 million people (Andalou Agency) Ethiopia has appealed for $1.6 billion in humanitarian and development assistance for 2018 to help millions of people in desperate need of aid. The appeal was made in capital Addis Ababa on Tuesday at the launch of a Humanitarian Disaster Resilience Plan mapped out by the Ethiopian government in collaboration with international donors...
14 March 2018
An Israeli flag on Mount of Olives flies near the city of Jerusalem on 13 February.
(photo: CNS/Jim Hollander, EPA)
U.S. Christian leaders, including the head of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, wrote government and church leaders in the Holy Land to express opposition to Jerusalem’s plan to tax church properties not used for worship.
The religious leaders urged the Israeli government and the city of Jerusalem not to inhibit the churches’ work in and around Jerusalem. In a separate letter, they told Holy Land church leaders they would continue to press the Israeli government on these issues.
In early February, the Jerusalem Municipality announced it would begin collecting $186.4 million in property taxes from some 887 church-owned properties that were not houses of prayer. The proposal to levy taxes on some properties would run contrary to the unofficial historical tax-exempt status the churches have enjoyed for centuries.
Franciscan Father David Grenier, general secretary of the Custody of the Holy Land, which oversees Catholic religious sites, said bank accounts of some churches, such as the Anglicans and the Assyrians, were frozen in mid-February. He said some churches had been threatened with confiscation of property if the bills went unpaid, and churches were being charged retroactively for seven years.
After the Christian leaders closed the Church of the Holy Sepulcher for three days, the Israeli government set up a negotiating team to resolve the dispute.
A church source in the Holy Land told Catholic News Service 14 March that the committees for the talks had not yet been formed.
Besides Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, USCCB president, signers of the two letters included Bishop Elizabeth A. Eaton, presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America; Armenian Archbishop Vicken Aykazian, ecumenical director and legate of the Armenian Church of America; and Bishop Michael B. Curry, presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church.
“We affirm your protest against the recent efforts to confiscate church lands or tax church properties whose function is integral to the churches’ mission,” the U.S. church leaders told Holy Land Christian leaders. Their letter was sent to Greek Orthodox Patriarch Theophilos III, Armenian Patriarch Nourhan Manougian and Franciscan Father Francesco Patton, custos of the Holy Land.
In their letter to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, the U.S. church leaders noted that the proposed tax measures “would have the effect of creating a situation that jeopardizes the very survival of the Christian community in the Holy Land.”
They said the different activities in which the Holy Land churches are involved — education, health care and pilgrimages — “are integral to the churches’ mission” and also benefit the Jerusalem community beyond the churches.