Current Issue
December, 2017
Volume 43, Number 4
3 February 2015
Greg Kandra

In this image from December, a Yazidi couple, who were forced to flee their home because of Islamic State’s advance, pose for a photograph in their temporary home at a refugee camp near Zakho in Duhok, Iraq. This week, Kurdish forces uncovered a mass grave of Yazidis slaughtered by ISIS. (photo: Matt Cardy/Getty)

Catholics fear wave of attacks in India (The New York Times) A series of episodes at churches over the last two months has prompted Roman Catholics here to worry about a deliberate campaign of violence, and to call on Prime Minister Narendra Modi to speak out against religious intimidation. At least five Catholic churches in and around Delhi have reported various attacks, including suspected arson, burglary, vandalism and stone-throwing. The latest was discovered on Monday morning at St. Alphonsa’s Church in New Delhi, where a parish employee found the church’s front door broken open, ceremonial vessels missing, and communion wafers strewn about...

Mass grave of Yazidis uncovered in Iraq (Al-Arabiya) Iraqi Kurdish forces have uncovered a mass grave containing the remains of about 25 members of the Yazidi minority believed to have been killed by the militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), local officials have said. “Peshmerga forces discovered a mass grave yesterday (Sunday) containing the remains of about 25 people — men, children and women — from the Yazidi (sect) who were killed by” ISIS, Myaser Haji Saleh, a local official responsible for the Sinjar area, told AFP...

Civilians die as battles rage in Ukraine (BBC) Up to 16 civilians have been killed and dozens more injured in the space of 24 hours in fighting in eastern Ukraine. Government officials and representatives of the rebels reported deaths in locations across the Donetsk and Luhansk regions. Ukraine’s army also said five soldiers had died during fierce clashes with the pro-Russian rebels near the strategic town of Debaltseve in eastern Donetsk. Civilian casualties have risen sharply in recent weeks amid a rebel offensive...

Pope Francis, Eritrean priest among nominees for Nobel Prize (Reuters) A Russian newspaper critical of President Vladimir Putin is among the nominations for the 2015 Nobel Peace Prize, along with Edward Snowden, Pope Francis and a priest helping African migrants. Although the committee has marked the last four 10-year anniversaries of the 1945 bombing of Hiroshima by honoring the fight against nuclear proliferation, there was little speculation among Nobel watchers that the trend would continue. Thousands of people, including all members of parliaments, can make nominations, which must be postmarked no later than Feb. 1. The $1.2 million award will be announced in October...

Tags: Iraq India Pope Francis Ukraine Eritrea

2 February 2015
Greg Kandra

Parishioners sing a hymn during evening Mass in the Church of Sts. Simeon and Anne in Jerusalem. The parish is comprised of Catholics who speak Hebrew. Read more about this distinct group in “Hebrew Spoken Here” from the Spring 2013 edition of ONE. (photo: CNS/Paul Haring)

2 February 2015
Greg Kandra

Egyptians who call themselves as ‘Anti-Coup demonstrators’, take part in a protest in Giza on 30 January 2015. (photo: Stringer/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Human rights group accuses Egypt of cover-up (Vatican Radio) Rights group Amnesty International on Sunday accused Egyptian authorities of intimidating witnesses and whitewashing evidence to cover up the role of security forces in the killing of more than two dozen people during protests last week...

Clashes escalate between Armenia and Azerbaijan (The New York Times) Overshadowed by the fighting in Ukraine, another armed conflict in the former Soviet Union — between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh — has escalated with deadly ferocity in recent months, killing dozens of soldiers on each side and pushing the countries perilously close to open war...

India’s Christians encouraged by Obama’s talk on religious liberty (National Catholic Register) Christians took comfort this week from some unexpected “hard talk” in support of religious freedom delivered by visiting U.S. President Barack Obama. Obama’s remarks came two days after Indian President Pranab Mukherjee’s similar remarks, delivered to mark India’s 26 January Republic Day celebration, at which Obama was this year’s chief guest. And to many Christians, both speeches seemed to be directly addressed to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his ruling BJP party...

Gaza music school shines in “Arabs Got Talent” (Reuters) On the hugely popular “Arabs Got Talent” TV show in Beirut last month, five young musicians in chequered black-and-white scarves brought the house down with a traditional Arabic song that left the judges weeping and earned a ticket straight to the finals...

Tags: India Egypt Gaza Strip/West Bank Armenia

30 January 2015
Greg Kandra

Catholic and Orthodox priests join other ministers for an inaugural ceremony for a church made entirely from ice at Balea Lac resort in the Fagaras mountains of Romania on 29 January.
(photo: CNS/Radu Sigheti, Reuters)

30 January 2015
Greg Kandra

Pope Francis poses with members of the Oriental Orthodox dialogue commission.
(photo: L’Osseervatore Romano/Vatican Radio)

Pope Francis meets with Oriental Orthodox (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Friday received the participants in a meeting — this week — of the Joint International Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Oriental Orthodox Churches. The Oriental Orthodox Churches those Orthodox Eastern Christian churches which recognize only the first three ecumenical councils, and rejected the formulae of the Council of Chalcedon, at which certain central Christological doctrines were dogmatically defined, most especially the dual nature — fully divine and fully human, perfectly united though without mixing, blending or alteration — of Christ...

Dozens killed in wave of bombings in Iraq (Daily Mail) The Islamic State jihadist group killed a senior Kurdish commander and five fighters major attack in Iraq’s Kirkuk province today, while bombings elsewhere left a further 27 dead. The assault on areas south and west of the northern city of Kirkuk began at around midnight, sparking fighting with medium and heavy weapons that was still ongoing this morning. Brigadier General Shirko Rauf and five other members of the Kurdish peshmerga forces were killed in clashes and 46 more were wounded, a police officer and a doctor said...

Ukraine battle raging (BBC) Ukrainian troops and pro-Russian rebels are exchanging heavy tank and artillery fire in and around Debaltseve, a strategic town in eastern Ukraine. There are reports — not independently confirmed — that the rebels have seized the nearby town of Vuhlehirsk. Many civilians remain trapped in Debaltseve, while others — including people with shrapnel wounds — have managed to reach the town of Artemivsk. Russian media say shellfire has killed seven people in the city of Donetsk...

India investigating reports of mass “reconversion” of Christians (The Guardian) Reports of a new mass conversion of Christians in India have raised concerns over freedom of worship, days after Barack Obama challenged the country’s record on religious tolerance. Details of the incident are unclear but it was reported that between 50 and 100 Christians from some of the poorest communities in India were “welcomed back” to Hinduism in a “homecoming ceremony” in a remote area in the eastern state of West Bengal on Wednesday...

Pontifical Institute for Arabic and Islamic studies marks 50th anniversary (Vatican Radio) The Pontifical Institute for Arabic and Islamic Studies, known by its Latin or Italian acronym PISAI, is marking 50 years of its presence in Rome. Originally started in Tunisia by the Society of Missionaries of Africa (M.Afr), or the White Fathers after their white habit, the training centre prepared missionaries with a background of Arabic and Muslim culture. Today, PISAI is a study and research centre whose teaching and scientific activities provide the necessary preparation for an informed theological dialogue with Muslims...

Why Kerala drinks most among Indian states (Business Insider) India is surely living up in since the last couple of years. Increased alcohol consumption is the biggest indicator of this. No prizes for guessing the heaviest of drinkers. Among Indian states, the trend of bottom’s up is the highest in Kerala and Andhra Pradesh. Overall statistics is a bit alarming too. According to a survey that was compiled and presented recently, Indian population was studied between 2008 and 2012. The World Health Organization warned showing a startling 11% of the people starting from 15 years of age were among moderate to heavy drinkers...

Tags: Iraq India Ukraine Kerala Orthodox

29 January 2015
Greg Kandra

Zabbaleen workers bundle cardboard waste for resale in Egypt. To read more about how the Zabbaleen, or “garbage people” are making a living in Cairo, read “Salvaging Dignity” from the September 2012 edition of ONE. (photo: Dana Smillie)

28 January 2015
Greg Kandra

A nun at the hospital run by the Sisters of the Cross in Deir el Kamar, Lebanon, interacts with a child on 23 January. (photo: John E. Kozar)

Msgr. John E. Kozar, CNEWA’s president, spent some time recently in Lebanon and Jordan and spoke with CNS about what he saw:

Economically strapped Lebanon is now hosting more than 1.5 million refugees — mostly Syrians — putting a strain on the country’s infrastructure and resources for its existing population of around 4 million people.

“So much of our energy is a crisis intervention status, keeping people from starving, from freezing to death with these cold spells, keeping people from getting very sick and even dying from simple maladies and physical problems that can develop into something serious,” said Msgr. John Kozar, president of Catholic Near East Welfare Association.

“But because of the uncertainty of the (refugee) crises, we have to look at what will be the next level of assistance .... There’s housing issues, educational issues, longer-term health issues, post-traumatic issues,” he said, adding that counseling is needed for children that have been through “horrible” circumstances.

Msgr. Kozar — joined by Carl Hétu, national director of CNEWA Canada, and Bishop Lionel Gendron of Saint-Jean-Longueuil, Quebec, co-treasurer of the Canadian Catholic Conference of Bishops — spoke with Catholic News Service at CNEWA's Beirut office about their 19-23 January visit to Lebanon. Before arriving in Lebanon, they visited Jordan; in both countries, they are helping Syrian and Iraqi refugees and the communities that support them.

...The delegation’s itinerary in Lebanon included visiting a school run by the Good Shepherd Sisters for refugee children in Deir al-Ahmar in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley, near the Syrian border, and meeting refugees in a nearby tent settlement camp. There they experienced firsthand the sisters” witness of God’s love to the mostly Muslim refugee population.

“They just have this radiance of love that’s infectious,” Msgr. Kozar said of the sisters.

Bishop Gendron credited the sisters for the welcoming way the refugees accepted the delegation and invited them into their tents.

“They realized that they are being loved,” he said of the refugees. “And so it opens up all doors.”

Read more.

And to support our suffering brothers and sisters in the Middle East, please visit this link.

26 January 2015
Greg Kandra

Pope Francis greets members of the Pontifical Institute of Arabic and Islamic Studies at the Vatican. (photo: ANSA/Vatican Radio via Facebook)

Pope closes Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (Vatican Radio) Christians are called to follow the example of Jesus in encountering, listening and working together with others to spread the message of the Gospel in the modern world. That was Pope Francis’ message to members of all the different Christian Churches gathered in the Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls on Sunday evening to mark the conclusion of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity...

Pope Francis issues an appeal for peace in Ukraine (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis issued a heartfelt appeal on Sunday for Ukraine saying, “I am following with deep concern the escalation of the fighting in eastern Ukraine, which continues to cause many casualties among the civilian population...

Russian Orthodox head criticizes French magazine’s mockery of Christians (Reuters) The head of Russia’s influential Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill, said on Sunday cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad in the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo were “childish” compared to offences it had dished out to Christians. Charlie Hebdo has regularly offended Muslims, Christians and others with its irreverent cartoons. Gunmen killed 12 people at the Paris office of the weekly this month saying they were avenging the Prophet Mohammad, whom the magazine had depicted in cartoons in defiance of a ban in Islam on representing its founder. Kirill, who has close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin, said in a sermon that he opposed both terrorism and giving offence to religious feelings...

Pope: Listening is essential to interreligious dialogue (Vatican Radio) “If it is assumed that we all belong to human nature, prejudices and falsehoods can be overcome and an understanding of the other according to a new perspective can begin.” These were the words said by Pope Francis to the members of the Pontifical Institute of Arabic and Islamic Studies today. The audience coincided with the 50th anniversary of the Institute’s opening...

Gaza says it will end five-year boycott of Israeli products (Times of Israel). Gaza’s Ministry of Economy announced Monday it will end its 5-year boycott of Israeli products, the Palestinian Ma’an news agency reported. Many factories and processing facilities, which normally provide Gaza residents with food and other goods, were destroyed in this summer’s conflict between Israel and Hamas, and rebuilding has been slow. Additionally, Israel and Egypt have destroyed many of the tunnels that Hamas uses to illegally import goods into the Gaza Strip, and Egypt has set up a buffer zone to further limit Hamas’s smuggling efforts....

Monks scramble to preserve Iraq’s Christian history (NPR) In an unfinished building in the northern Iraqi city of Erbil, displaced Christian children sing a little song about returning to their village. “We’re going back,” they sing, “to our houses, our land, our church.” Right now, they’re living in an open concrete structure. The self-styled Islamic State, or ISIS, took over their home village of Qaraqosh, and the Christians fled in fear, on foot...

Tags: Iraq Pope Francis Ukraine Gaza Strip/West Bank Russian Orthodox

22 January 2015
Greg Kandra

In this image from 2006, two students at the Shashemene School for the Blind in Ethiopia take a break between classes. (photo: Sean Sprague)

Several years ago, we paid a visit to a remarkable school giving remarkable opportunities to children with special needs:

Three days after she was born, Meseret was struck blind. She spent much of her early childhood locked in her room; her parents did not know what to do with her. But a few years ago, Meseret’s family found out about the Shashemene School for the Blind, run by the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul, and decided that Meseret would be happier there than at home.

The school lies within a large, gated compound — a sanctuary in Shashemene, a bustling Ethiopian town of 50,000. It was here that Meseret, now 12, learned Braille. And it was here that she first came to understand that her life, like those of the other 120 blind students enrolled in the school, could be meaningful.

Read more about “Special Attention for Special Needs” in the November 2006 edition of ONE.

22 January 2015
Greg Kandra

In this image from December, an Iraqi Christian prays inside a shrine on the grounds of Mazar Mar Eillia (Mar Elia) Catholic Church which has become home to hundreds of Iraqi Christians who were forced to flee their homes as the Islamic State advanced. The apostolic nuncio hopes Christians who fled northern Iraq can return later this year. (photo: Getty Images)

King Abdullah of Jordan praises pope (Fides) The views expressed by Pope Francis during his recent visit to Asia on the need to reconcile freedom of expression and respect for religions and religious symbols were praised and supported by King Abdullah II of Jordan, during a meeting with the leaders of the Bedouin tribe of Beni Sakhr...

Civilians killed during shelling in Ukraine (CNN) Seven civilians were killed when shells hit a trolley bus station in the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk, the City Council there said Thursday, as the months-long conflict in the country’s east showed little sign of easing. In total, 10 civilians have been killed and 20 injured in shelling of four city districts in the past 24 hours, the Donetsk City Council said on its website. “As of now, the situation remains difficult,” the statement reads...

Nuncio: Christians could return to northern Iraq this year (Catholic Herald) Archbishop Giorgio Lingua, the Apostolic Nuncio to Iraq, has said that Christians may be able to return to their homes in northern Iraq later this year — but only if Islamic State is pushed out first. The archbishop, speaking to Aid to the Church in Need, a charity for persecuted Christians, said that once Mosul and the Nineveh Plains had been retaken the country must undergo a period of “national reconciliation”...

Gaza rebuilding to halt at end of January (Newsweek) A United Nations programme to rebuild Gaza and give aid and shelter to more than 100,000 Gazans made homeless by the 50-day summer war will be suspended at the end of January because world donors have reneged on promises to pay...

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