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Current Issue
December, 2018
Volume 44, Number 4
  
4 October 2018
Greg Kandra




Archbishop Giambattista Diquattro (r), apostolic nuncio of India, speaks at the seminar in New Delhi on 27 September on the theme "Regional Interfaith Dialogue on Child Dignity Online."
(photo: Bijay Kumar Minj/ucanews.com)


Syria’s Assad reaches ‘understanding’ with Arab states (VOA) President Bashar al-Assad told a little-known Kuwaiti newspaper that Syria had reached a “major understanding’’ with Arab states after years of hostility over the country’s civil war. The interview in the Al-Shahed newspaper, published Wednesday, was Assad’s first with a Gulf newspaper since the war began in 2011…

Changes in fishing habits, loss of livelihoods after Kerala flooding (The Indian Express) Eight teams of scientists and researchers were constituted who spread across Kerala to visit major flood-affected areas and make detailed assessments. The key parameters to estimate losses were determined as damage to crafts and gears, livelihood and ecology. ”Many of the fishing gear and accessories were washed away from the stacking sites. The fishing crafts were washed away and damaged by hitting against obstacles,” a CIFT release stated…

When violence flares, Ethiopia turns off the internet (VOA) When dozens of people died in ethnic clashes last month on the outskirts of Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, protesters took to the streets. The government, meanwhile, turned off the internet. Mobile internet service stayed off for about 40 hours. It was the second time this year the internet has gone down in Ethiopia during times of unrest, in addition to a months-long outage that began last year during protests that led to the resignation of former Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn..

India deports Rohingya Muslims (The Washington Post) India deported seven Rohingya Muslims that had fled their native Myanmar back to their country on Thursday, sparking concerns that the move could endanger their lives and violate international laws that protect refugees…

A ’miracle in the Middle East’ (The Washington Post) Imagine 125 million refugees flooding into the United States (population: 328 million). That is what Lebanon has experienced on a per capita basis. Since 2011, this nation of 4 million people has seen an influx of some 1.5 million refugees fleeing the Syrian civil war next door. “I find it a miracle this country hasn’t exploded,” a Western diplomat told me last week. “Most countries would never have allowed this to happen.” This is the dog that didn’t bark — perhaps the most surprising good-news story in the Middle East…

Protecting Indian kids when they go online (UCANews.com) Indian Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Muslim and Sikh leaders are exploring ways to safeguard youngsters utilizing the Internet. Some 50 leaders from these faiths, along with international experts, formulated plans at the ‘Regional Interfaith Dialogue on Child Dignity Online’ held in the capital, New Delhi…



Tags: Syria India Ethiopia Kerala

3 October 2018
Greg Kandra




Kerala is still struggling to clean up after the devastating flooding, and some villages are starting to limp back to life. (video: CNBC/YouTube)

Turkey and Russia work to avoid a bloodbath in Syria (The Los Angeles Times) The best hope for averting a bloodbath in the northwest Syrian province of Idlib — home to 2.6 million people and the last major bastion of rebels fighting the government — depends on cajoling tens of thousands of militants there to lay down their weapons. That job falls to neighboring Turkey, which in an eleventh-hour deal last month brokered with Russia put on hold a Syrian government offensive to take back the province and end the long insurgency…

Kerala flood aftermath: battling snakes and sewage to clean a city (BBC) In the wake of devastating floods in the southern Indian state of Kerala, local volunteers played an integral part clearing the mud and debris. BBC Tamil’s Pramila Krishnan spoke to one woman who spent weeks helping clean up her city…

Russian Orthodox leader urges local churches to discuss ’Ukrainian issue’ (RT) Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Kirill has reportedly sent letters to the heads of all Orthodox Churches, urging them to start discussing the church situation in Ukraine. The Patriarch was quoted as saying that the activities of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople could lead to extremely serious consequences for the unity of world Orthodoxy…

Orthodox leader expresses concern for Greece (Vatican News) In one of his rare public statements, the head of the Greek Orthodox Church, Archbishop Hieronymos II, told a meeting of the Holy Synod here in Athens that he feared the Greek state was rudderless after nearly a decade of wrenching economic crisis, a rising crime rate, crippled health and justice systems, inadequate welfare and what he called a lack of direction in foreign policy…

Syrian refugee challenges stigma of therapy (Reuters) Hana al-Ali broke a stigma when she opened up to a therapist about the strains she faced as a Syrian refugee in Lebanon. Now, she is encouraging other refugees to talk through their problems…



Tags: Syria India Russian Orthodox Church Greece

2 October 2018
Greg Kandra




In this image from 2017, a Russian Orthodox woman lights a candle and prays in an Orthodox parish in St. Petersburg. Russian Catholics hope ties won't be affected by inter-Orthodox tensions.
(photo: CNS/Robert Duncan)


Russian Catholics hope ties won’t be affected by inter-Orthodox tensions (CNS) As plans to establish an independent Ukrainian Orthodox Church encounter complaints from Russia, Catholic leaders hope ecumenical ties will not be affected. Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople, who holds honorary primacy among the world’s 14 main Orthodox churches, plans to grant autocephaly, or independence, to Christians in Ukraine, many of whom have been linked to the Russian Orthodox Church’s Moscow Patriarchate…

An Indian anti-Christian hotspot (UCANews.com) Christians in a tiny northern Indian district suffered at least 12 attacks in September that community leaders say were instigated by false accusations against missioners over the conversion of Hindus. Pastors were beaten up, faithful arrested and Sunday services disrupted in continuing violence allegedly carried out by Hindu groups in Jaunpur district of Uttar Pradesh…

U.N. foreign workers pulled from Gaza over security concerns (Al Jazeera) The UN agency for Palestinian refugees said Monday it was temporarily withdrawing some foreign staff from the Gaza Strip following security concerns linked to job cuts in the coastal enclave. In a statement, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) said it has “decided to temporarily withdraw part of its international staff from Gaza following a series of worrying security incidents affecting its personnel in the strip…”

Autopsy on Coptic Christian monk shows signs of poisoning (BBC) An autopsy on a Coptic Christian monk found dead in central Egypt shows signs of poisoning, officials say. Zeinoun al-Maqari was one of six monks banished from a desert monastery after its abbot was found dead in a pool of blood in July…

Ultra-Orthodox Jews celebrate Simchat Torah holiday in Jerusalem (Channel NewsAsia) Orthodox Jewish men on Monday danced with scrolls of the Torah, celebrating the religious holiday of Simchat Torah (Rejoicing in the Torah) in one of Jerusalem’s oldest neighborhoods…?



Tags: India Egypt Russian Orthodox Coptic

1 October 2018
Greg Kandra




A sister cares for a young patient at Maison du Sacre Coeur, a Catholic institution that serves the needs of specially challenged children in Haifa. (photo: John E. Kozar)

In an address to the participants of the Seminar on Ethics in Health, Pope Francis stressed the importance of forming a bond of humanity between health care workers and their patients. The conference, from 1-5 October, is sponsored by the Pontifical Academy for Life and led by Auxiliary Bishop Alberto Bochatey of La Plata, Argentina, and the Health Consensus Foundation, an Argentina-based organization comprised of local and international health care providers, according to the conference website.

From Vatican Media:

Pope Francis based his speech around 3 key words: miracle, care and trust. These three words are very valuable in a world in which health in general “and particularly in Latin America, is living through an era marked by the economic crisis”, said the Pope.

With regards to the first word, “miracle,” the Pope said, “Those responsible for the institutions will tell me, and rightfully so, that we cannot perform miracles.” But, he explained, a miracle is not doing the impossible. A miracle is looking at an ill, helpless person and seeing a brother.

The Pope explained that, “we are called upon to recognize the immense value of every person’s dignity, as a human being, as a son of God.”

The second word: “care.” Because curing an ill person does not simply involve applying pharmaceuticals. “We know that when someone who is terminally ill is in serene, human company, they perceive this solidarity,” the pope said. “Even in these difficult cases, when the person can feel such love, respect and acceptance, the value of their being becomes their capability to give and receive love, not their productivity.”

The final word is “trust.” Pope Francis’ first example is “the trust the ill person has in themselves, that they will get better.” Of no less importance is the worker, who must be able to work in a serene atmosphere, in trusted surroundings. ”Placing yourself in the hands of someone else, especially when your life is at risk, is very difficult” said Pope Francis.

“We must fight to keep this deeply human bond whole” said Pope Francis. “No aid institution alone can take the place of a human heart, nor that of human compassion,” he said, quoting Pope Saint John Paul II.

Read more.



Tags: Health Care

1 October 2018
Greg Kandra




The video above explains the background behind Iran's attack Monday morning on targets in Syria. (video: France 24/YouTube)

Iran fires missiles at Syria over parade attack (Reuters) Iran fired missiles on Monday at militants in Syria it blamed for an attack in southwestern Iran on 22 September, the Revolutionary Guards said, in what it called a sign of Tehran’s readiness to punish its enemies’ “wickedness…”

Ethnic clashes kill 20, displace thousands in western Ethiopia (Andalou Agency) At least 20 people were killed and 60,000 displaced in ethnic clashes flaring since last week in the western region of Benishangul-Gumuz. A government official said the clashes occurred in the areas of Kamashi zone. ”The number of the deceased could be much higher because some of the clashes occurred in far-off rural areas,” said Negeri Lencho, communication chief of Oromia state which borders the area of conflict, as quoted by Ethiopian Television in its late night bulletin…

Russian Orthodox Church threatens to sever ties with patriarch (Radio Free Europe) The Russian Orthodox Church is threatening to sever ties with the leader of the worldwide Orthodox community if he grants autonomy to Ukraine’s Orthodox Church. The move comes amid a deepening row in Orthodox Christianity over the Ukrainian Church’s bid to formally break away from Russia’s orbit. Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I -- who is considered the “first among equals” of Eastern Orthodox clerics -- has sent two special bishops to Ukraine in what is widely viewed as a step toward declaring ecclesiastical independence for the main Ukrainian Orthodox church that is loyal to Kiev…

Syrian migrant dies in clash at migrant camp (Vatican News) One Syrian migrant was reported killed in what the Greek police called a brawl between Syrian and Afghan migrants in a holding camp near Athens. Several others were injured and taken to hospital. What triggered the fight remains unclear, but it’s almost certainly attributable to cramped and unsanitary conditions inside Greece’s holding camps that contain more than 50,000 refugees and migrants who are barred from going deeper into Europe…

Different religious traditions mark ‘an important part of pre-Synod experience’ (Vatican News) On Wednesday, the Synod of Bishops on Young People, the Faith, and Vocational Discernment begins. Brother Javier Hanson, a Brother of the Christian Schools, was chosen by the US Bishops to participate in the first-ever Pre-Synod Meeting in March, in Rome. Brother Javier was assigned to an interfaith group at this meeting and spoke about this experience during the Spring General Assembly of the US Bishops Conference in June…



Tags: Syria Ethiopia Russian Orthodox Church Iran

28 September 2018
Greg Kandra




A Bedouin family picks cherries in an orchard in Deir El Ahmar. (photo: Laura Boushnak)

In 2012, we visited a corner of Lebanon that was flourishing, thanks to a reservoir and irrigation system CNEWA helped to provide:

The presence of water gave us a means to stay here,” says 65-year-old Hana Habshi, a resident of the Maronite Catholic town of Deir El Ahmar. The once-bustling agricultural hub nestles on the slopes of the fertile Bekaa Valley, about 60 miles northeast of Beirut, where Mr. Habshi has lived and worked since the height of civil war in the 1980’s. But for the past decade, thanks to several irrigation projects, Mr. Habshi has returned to his hometown every summer to farm his family’s ancestral lands. “It helped us come back and live off the land again.”

Lebanon’s civil war — which ravaged the country from 1975 to 1990 — destroyed much of the nation’s infrastructure, including its irrigation systems, and sounded the death knell for the Bekaa Valley’s agricultural economy.

Without reliable sources of water, and subsequent erosion, farmers could no longer cultivate the land that formerly nourished lush fields and bountiful yields. Desperate for work, inhabitants moved to Lebanon’s major coastal cities, such as Beirut, Saida and Tripoli. Some left the country altogether. The few who remained scraped by as sustenance farmers, growing crops that require little water such as wheat, hay and, in some cases, hashish.

Deir El Ahmar, like most settlements in the area, remains but a shadow of its former self. Its many empty homes and crumbling public buildings remind locals and visitors of a more prosperous past. Though municipal authorities register some 10,000 residents, in reality half as many actually live there — and only then in the summer months. In winter, the town’s population plunges to little more than 3,000.

However, in the last ten years, Deir El Ahmar has been slowly but surely bucking the trend. Locals attribute this reversal to one thing — water. Since 1999, when the town installed its first irrigation system drawing on natural spring water, residents such as Mr. Habshi have been trickling back to town and reviving their parched properties and the Christian identity of the town.

“Before it was all just trees and shrubs, but look what happens when water comes,” says Mr. Habshi, pointing to the surrounding hillsides and valley below.

Read more about Springs of Hope in Lebanon in the January 2012 edition of ONE.



Tags: Lebanon

28 September 2018
Greg Kandra




Pope Francis addresses the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity. (photo: Vatican Media)

Pope: Holy Spirit shows path to Christian unity (Vatican News) Pope Francis spoke Friday to participants in the Plenary Assembly of the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity, inviting the Catholic Church to discern the Holy Spirit’s presence in charismatic movements. The theme for the Plenary Assembly was “Pentecostals, Charismatics, and Evangelicals: Impact on the Concept of Unity”. Pope Francis said the growth of these communities is “an important phenomenon, which cannot be overlooked.” He said, “We have the duty to discern and recognize the presence of the Holy Spirit in these communities, seeking to build bonds of authentic solidarity with them…”

Hundreds of refugees set to return to Syria from Lebanon on Saturday (The Daily Star) General Security announced Friday that “hundreds” of refugees will be returning to Syria from different Lebanese regions the next day, in the latest of voluntary returns organized in coordination with the Syrian government…

Relief group says number of Eritrean refugees in Ethiopia rising after border reopens (AfricaNews.com) Eritreans are taking advantage of reopening of border crossing to enter neighbouring Ethiopia. Some to visit relatives, others for trade but also others are there to stay. This is according to ReliefWeb, a leading humanitarian information source on global crises and disasters. It is a specialized digital service for the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). ReliefWeb cited the Shire District administration in the northern Ethiopian Tigray regional state as stating that up to 15,000 Eritreans have arrived in the Ethiopia since borders reopened…

Kerala government to provide aid to those who lost their livelihoods in flood (The Statesman) The Kerala government on Thursday announced it will provide free ration for three months to those who lost their livelihood due to the devastating floods. ”The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act scheme will also be reworked to provide more number of working days to those who suffered due to the floods,” Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan told the media here. He also announced various committees headed by senior officials to formulate policies and to speed up rebuilding efforts in flood-hit state…

India strikes down adultery law (CNN) India’s top court has abolished a colonial-era law criminalizing extramarital sex, in a landmark ruling campaigners have hailed as a victory for women’s rights. Under the 158-year-old adultery law, known as Section 497, a man could be imprisoned for up to five years for engaging in sexual relations with a married woman without the consent of her husband. The Supreme Court struck down the law Thursday, ruling it retrograde and discriminatory toward women…



Tags: India Pope Francis Ethiopia Christian Unity Eritrea

27 September 2018
Greg Kandra




Sister Ayelech Gebeyehu, left, attends 5:30 morning prayer in the chapel of her convent in Bahir Dar, Ethiopia. Read more about the life of this religious sister in A Letter from Ethiopia in the Spring 2015 edition of ONE. (photo: Petterik Wiggers)



Tags: Ethiopia

27 September 2018
Greg Kandra




The video above shows how some Syrian refugees are coping with life in Lebanon. Cardinal Bechara Boutros Rai of Lebanon told Canadian bishops earlier this week that Canada needs to help the Syrian refugees and support their efforts to return home. (video: EuroNews/YouTube)

Indian activists seek unity to protect minority rights (UCANews.com) Rights activists in India have called for more united and coordinated work to ensure the rights of religious minorities, tribal and Dalit people. Activists, lawyers and civil society met in New Delhi to honor Soni Sori, a tribal activist who was chosen by Ireland-based rights organization Front Line Defenders for an award this year…

Patriarch: Canadians must help Syrian refugees who want to return home (Catholic Register) Western nations must support Syrian refugees in Lebanon who want to return home, Cardinal Béchara Boutros Raï told Canada’s Catholic bishops. Lebanon, a country of four million people, has received two million refugees since the Syrian civil war broke out seven years ago, said Raï of Lebanon, the Maronite Catholic Patriarch. He was speaking on 24 September to the annual gathering of more than 80 eparchs and bishops from across Canada...

Thousands gather in Jerusalem for blessing (Reuters) Tens of thousands of worshippers packed Jerusalem’s Western Wall plaza on Wednesday to receive a blessing from members of Judaism’s priestly caste. Holding prayers shawls above their heads and covering their faces, the priests, known as “Kohanim” in Hebrew, began chanting the blessing, which begins: “The Lord bless you and keep you”...

Ethiopians celebrate Meskel (Africa News) On the ground and online, orthodox Christians in Ethiopia and Eritrea are commemorating the Meskel festival, the founding of the true cross on which Jesus was crucified. Reports indicate that the Ethiopian Orthodow Tewahdo Church held a procession at the Meskel Square in Addis Ababa. The colourful and elaborate ceremony was attended by President Mulatu Teshome and deputy mayor of the capital, Takele Uma…

New York museum brings Armenia to the fore (The Art News) Armenia, on the far eastern border of the Western world, has long been overlooked in the history of Christian art. Now an ambitious show at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York aims to rectify that with dazzling displays of illuminated manuscripts, carvings, reliquaries and textiles that testify to a culture’s dogged resilience. Almost all of the objects in the exhibition are on view in the U.S. for the first time…



Tags: Syria Lebanon Ethiopia Armenia

26 September 2018
Greg Kandra




In the video above, the Rev. Nawras Sammour, who runs the Jesuit Refugee Service in Syria and Iraq, speaks of his hopes for his homeland as it seeks to recover from a long and brutal civil war. (video: Rome Reports/YouTube)

Jordan king vows to protect Jerusalem’s Muslim and Christian character (The Jerusalem Post) Jordan will thwart any attempts to change Jerusalem’s Muslim and Christian character, King Abdullah II told the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday. He made an impassioned plea for a two-state resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict based on the 2002 Arab League initiative and warned against a one-state solution to the conflict…

Priest vows Syria will recover (Rome Reports) The Rev. Nawras Sammour runs the Jesuit Refugee Service in Syria and Iraq. Until recently, their main task was to deal with emergencies. However, now they are promoting projects to rebuild the region and be able to start again…

Syria minister vows Idlib will be recovered (Reuters) The Syrian state will recover Idlib through war or peaceful means, a minister was quoted as saying on Tuesday, pointing to the government’s determination to defeat rebels there despite a Russian-Turkish deal that halted an expected army offensive…

World Bank warns Gaza’s economy ’collapsing’ (The Independent) Gaza’s economy is in “free fall” and half the population is living under the poverty line, the World Bank has warned, citing a decade-long blockade by Israel and crippling cuts to funding and aid. The devastating report, released on Tuesday, said the finances of the 25-mile long besieged strip were “collapsing”, liquidity had dried up, and plunging aid flows were no longer able to stimulate growth…

Inside a safe house for Ethiopian women (Pacific Standard) Off one of central Addis Ababa’s many bustling streets—past the vendors selling local fruits and vegetables and the young men shining the shoes of the wealthy—is a secret, self-enclosed village. In that village, women and girls, some as young as 11, have found a refuge. They have given birth to babies conceived from rape and fled bride abduction, early marriage, and other abuses. They have come from across Ethiopia to heal from horrors. Some humanitarian workers suspect increased rates of gender-based violence might be linked to the country’s current drought, its worst in decades…



Tags: Syria Ethiopia Gaza Strip/West Bank Jordan





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