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Current Issue
December, 2018
Volume 44, Number 4
  
7 February 2019
Greg Kandra




ISIS holdouts are continuing to fight, but many are fleeing the last villages they control in Syria. (video: CBS News/YouTube)

Families and fighters flee ISIS’ last village (BBC) Men, women and children, some with serious injuries, others describing running out of food, have been leaving the group’s rapidly shrinking enclave, which the US military on Tuesday said amounted to about 50 sq km (20 sq miles). They have been arriving at the village of Baghuz to surrender to the US-backed Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF)…

Indian court rules change of religion doesn’t alter tribal status (UCANews.com) The high court in India’s Chhattisgarh state has ruled that the tribal status of a person will not alter if they change their religion to Christianity, stressing they can still enjoy state concessions aimed at improving the life of indigenous people…

New hopes for reopening Greek Orthodox seminary on Turkish island (The Washington Post) American presidents, religious freedom advocates, the European Union and Orthodox Christian leaders have for years issued desperate appeals to Turkey’s government to reopen a shuttered Greek Orthodox seminary on an island off Istanbul, but to no avail. Before it was closed in 1971, the Theological School of Halki stood for more than a century as the primary center of scholarship and clerical training for generations of Greek Orthodox leaders. Now, stripped of its educational role, its classrooms — emptied by arguments over politics, nationalism and minority rights — are kept pristine in the stubborn hope the students will someday return…

Does God want religious diversity? Abu Dhabi text raises questions (CNS) That many religions exist in the world is a fact, but what that plurality communicates to believers about God is a question that theologians are still discussing. Pope Francis and Sheik Ahmad el-Tayeb, grand imam of al-Azhar, a leading authority for many Sunni Muslims, stepped into the debate on 4 February when they signed a document on “human fraternity” and improving Christian-Muslim relations…

Orthodox Church changes jurisdictions (AsiaNews) The Russian Orthodox parish of San Remo, whose priest Dionisij Bajkov had been suspended in recent days by the Greek metropolitan of Italy Ghennadios (Zervos), has left the jurisdiction of Constantinople to join the Russian Orthodox Church abroad, the so-called Zarubežnaja. The parish priest with the community members also invited the other parishes of the former Russian archdiocese of Europe to join the new destination…



Tags: Syria India Turkey ISIS

6 February 2019
Greg Kandra




The Rev. Teshome Fikre Woldetensae helps serve the faithful of Holy Savior Church in Addis Ababa. (photo: Petterik Wiggers)

The current edition of ONE features a Letter from Ethiopia, written by the Rev. Teshome Fikre Woldetensae, a priest from the Eparchy of Emdibir in central Ethiopia. He describes with great poignancy what it is like to be a priest in that corner of the world:

I remember with great joy the visit I made when I was a parish priest to an old lady who was gravely ill, who used to live very far from the parish — a three-hour mule ride. It was a very rainy season and access to the village was very difficult. The village catechist and I covered most of the road on foot, since it was difficult to ride on mule. She was not expecting us, due to the weather. When we arrived, she could not believe it; she shouted with joy and felt relieved from her sickness for a time. The joy of that woman, in her final days of her earthly life, was exceptional for me and it touched me deeply.

I also think often about young Bedilu. He was 12 when I met him, living with his mother, Kelemua. Bedilu was born with a degenerative condition. He could not talk, and while he could stand and walk in his younger years, he eventually became bedridden. One day Kelemua came to me from her faraway village and asked me to go with her to visit her beloved son. I asked why, and she cried and cried.

Together, she and I went by car and entered the house where Bedilu was living. Seeing him and the place they lived — a small hut — broke my heart and I could not stop crying. I was very much impressed by the dedication and joy of Kelemua for serving her child.

I gave her what money I had, promising to support her and her son. I immediately wrote a letter to one of my friends in Italy explaining the situation, and before long I received funds to build a decent house for them. We bought a proper bed and other household goods — even a cow, for milk. Within a few months, the life situation of the family changed. Although doctors informed us that his condition could not be reversed, and only palliative care was possible, Bedilu and Kelemua had a greatly improved quality of life for years.

When he died, it was devastating for all of us who were involved in his life. His mother’s heart was broken, and we accompanied her in her grief. Kelemua’s strength and courage will remain with me forever.

Read more of his letter in the December 2018 edition of ONE.



Tags: Ethiopia

6 February 2019
Greg Kandra




The video above shows highlights of Pope Francis' historic trip to the UAE.
(video: Vatican Media/YouTube)


Pope confers honor on Imam’s former councillor (Vatican News) Pope Francis has conferred the ‘Commenda con Placca dell’Ordine Piano’ upon Dr. Mohamed Mahmoud Abdel Salam, former councillor of the Grand Imam of al-Azhar, in gratitude for his work in strengthening relations between al-Azhar and the Catholic Church…

Iraq cardinal calls for end to persecution (The National) The mistreatment of Christians in the Middle East remains one of Pope Francis’ primary concerns, especially as the region remains engulfed in conflicts from Iraq to Syria and Yemen, according to the head of Iraq’s Catholic Church. Cardinal Louis Raphael Sako, Patriarch of Babylon of the Chaldeans and head of the Chaldean Catholic Church, told The National that Pope Francis is seeking to turn a page in Christian-Muslim relations…

Politics suspected in burning of Marian statue in India (UCANews.com) A Marian statue was set on fire in India’s Madhya Pradesh state in the latest attack against Christians amid reports that more than 1,000 such attacks have occurred in the past year. Church leaders suspect the attack could have political undertones ahead of the national election due to take place in two months…

School in India celebrates Don Bosco (Vatican News) A Catholic school in extreme north-east India celebrated the feast of Don Bosco with an exhibition to promote and strengthen friendship with the created world. The Light of the World School (LWS) in Miao Diocese in Changlang district of Arunachal Pradesh organized the exhibition on the theme, ‘Peace with Nature’ on the occasion of the 31 January feast of Don Bosco…

The Syrian-Armenian refugee jewelers of Yerevan (Al Jazeera) Vahe Hovhannesian is one of tens of thousands of Christian Armenians who have returned in the wake of Syria’s civil war. Two years ago, he was living in Aleppo, dodging snipers on his way to work…



Tags: Syria India Iraq Pope Francis Arabs

1 February 2019
Greg Kandra




Caritas nurse Maria Batychko pays a visit to Kateryna Babich at her home in Ukraine. Learn more about how the people of Caritas are serving as Windows to the World for the elderly poor in the December 2018 edition of ONE. (photo: Ivan Chernichkin)



Tags: Ukraine

1 February 2019
Greg Kandra




Pope Francis on 1 February met with members of the Joint International Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Catholic Church and Oriental Orthodox Churches. (photo: Vatican Media)

Pope thanks God for dialogue with Oriental Orthodox Churches (Vatican News) Pope Francis quoted the Second Vatican Council document, Unitatis Redintegratio, when he affirmed that this dialogue expresses well how, between East and West, the “various theological expressions are to be considered often as mutually complementary rather than conflicting.” At the conclusion of this sixteenth session of the Commission’s work, he said, “we can together thank the Lord for the fruits already gathered along the way…”

UAE leader hails pope’s visit as a milestone (Vatican News) When Pope Francis arrives in Abu Dhabi next week, it will be the first ever papal visit to the Arabian Gulf. While this represents a milestone event in its own right, it is also a powerful testament to the longstanding values of acceptance, coexistence, inclusivity, tolerance and humanity that are embedded in the very core of the United Arab Emirates…

India mourns former seminarian who became defense minister (UCANews.com) India’s prime minister and president were among a coterie of high-ranking officials who expressed their condolences this week at the death of George Fernandes, a former Catholic seminarian who rose to become India’s defense minister. Fernandes, India’s best-known trade union leader, died on 29 January at the age of 88 at his New Delhi residence. He had not been actively involved in politics since 2012, after being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease...

Turkey in a pickle over Syrian olives (BBC) Kurds in Turkey and the Syrian region of Afrin, which Turkey now controls, have accused Turkish forces of stealing the region’s olive crops. ”After this area fell to the Turkish occupation, thousands of olive trees have been cut down. It has since emerged that they have been stealing the olives,” said a commentary in the Turkish Kurdish newspaper Yeni Ozgur Politika last week…



Tags: Syria Pope Francis Muslim Oriental Orthodox

31 January 2019
Greg Kandra




Ethiopian Orthodox and Catholic Christians share the same Ga’ez liturgical traditions. Read about one priest’s experience ministering to the faithful in a diverse corner of his country in A Letter from Ethiopia in the current edition of ONE. (photo: Petterik Wiggers)



Tags: Ethiopia

31 January 2019
Greg Kandra




In this image from 2016, Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill of Moscow greets Pope Francis at Jose Marti International Airport in Havana. Marking the 10th anniversary of his enthronement, the patriarch compared Kiev to Jerusalem for its significance to Christianity. (photo: CNS/Paul Haring)

Patriarch compares Kiev to Jerusalem for its significance (TASS) Orthodoxy in Russia began with its Christianization by Prince Vladimir in Kiev, so for Russian believers that city is comparable in terms of its historic importance to the significance of Jerusalem for world Christianity, Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia said at a meeting with delegations of Local Orthodox Churches that arrived in Moscow on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of his enthronement…

Many Syrian refugees in Jordan reluctant to return home (The National) Despite a warming of ties and reopening of borders between Jordan and Syria, security concerns and an absence of a political resolution to the civil war have prevented all but a few thousand Syrian refugees from returning home, raising questions over how long the community will remain in the economically struggling kingdom…

Places of worship for Egyptian Copts closed after protests (Al-Monitor) More disturbing episodes of intimidation against Coptic Christians took place this month in the village of Manshiyet Zaafarana in Minya governorate, 150 miles south of Cairo. On 11 January, Muslim hard-line residents of the village encircled a building used as the Copts’ place of worship, claiming Christians were seeking to turn it into a church without a permit. Subsequently, the place of worship was closed…

In Aleppo, a slow rebuild begins (IRINNews.org) More than two years after the Syrian government won a long and deadly battle for Aleppo, sounds of demolition and construction have replaced the explosions and gunfire that used to echo through the city’s center…

Ethiopia: 3 million internally displaced (Euronews.com) With three million internally displaced people, Ethiopia is going through one of the most severe — and under-reported — humanitarian crises in the world. The topic of refugees and displaced people will head the agenda at the Africa Union summit in Addis Ababa next month…

India’s failing health system hits women hardest (UCANews.com) Recent surveys have highlighted how poor women are on the receiving end of pathetic state-run health services. The latest study was released on 22 January by Oxfam, a confederation of 20 independent charitable organizations focusing on the alleviation of global poverty. It claimed that the poor are denied health care, exposing them to greater risks of lethal diseases…

Vatican urges fight against stigma of leprosy (Vatican News) The Vatican is urging the international community not only to help eliminate Hansen’s disease but also to end the stigma, discrimination and prejudice attached to it by treating those hit by it with love, compassion and solidarity. Cardinal Peter Turkson, the Prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, made the call in a message on the occasion of 66th World Leprosy Day…



Tags: Syria Egypt Russian Orthodox Kiev

30 January 2019
Greg Kandra




A Muslim prays inside Sheikh Zayed Mosque in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Pope Francis is scheduled to visit the mosque during his visit to the United Arab Emirates next month.
(photo: CNS/Ahmed Jadallah, Reuters)


Archbishop: Catholic-Muslim dialogue at heart of pope’s trip to UAE (Crux) Pope Francis will “encourage the Catholics throughout the world to continue to put into practice the teachings of the Church regarding dialogue with Muslims” when he visits the United Arab Emirates, according to one expert on interreligious dialogue. Francis will be the first pope to visit the Arabian Peninsula on his 3-5 February visit to Abu Dhabi, the capital of UAE. During his trip, the pontiff will meet with the international Muslim Council of Elders, participate in an interreligious meeting and celebrate Mass for the local Catholic population, mainly foreign workers…

Al-Qaida advances in northern Syria, threatening truce (Economic Times) It only took a few days for al-Qaida-linked militants to seize more than two dozen towns and villages in northern Syria from rival insurgents earlier this month, expanding and cementing their control over an area the size of neighboring Lebanon. The advance by Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, or the Levant Liberation Committee, was the most serious blow yet to a September cease-fire brokered by Russia and Turkey that averted a major government offensive in Idlib province, the last main stronghold…

Russian Orthodox patriarch calls on religious leaders to help resolve conflict (TASS) Orthodox and Muslim representatives can help politicians to resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia said at a meeting with Sheikh ul-Islam Allahshukur Pashazade, head of the Muslim Board for the Caucasus and co-chair of the CIS Interreligious Council, and Azerbaijan’s delegation…

Yoga guru charges discrimination in award given to Mother Teresa(UCANews.com) Christian leaders have criticized yoga guru Baba Ramdev’s comments that Mother Teresa was awarded India’s highest civilian award because she was Christian. The Bharat Ratna (jewel of India) was awarded to the Catholic nun in 1980 for her humanitarian work among India’s poor. Albanian-born Mother Teresa, who died in 1997 aged 87, became St. Teresa of Kolkata when she was canonized in 2016. Speaking to the media on 26 January Prayag in Uttar Pradesh, Ramdev questioned the government for giving the prestigious award to actors and politicians but not to the seers of the Hindu religion…

Biodiversity thrives around Ethiopia’s church forests (Nature) If you see a forest in Ethiopia, you know there is very likely to be a church in the middle, says Alemayehu Wassie. Wassie, a forest ecologist, has spent the past decade on a mission: preserving, documenting and protecting the unique biodiversity in pockets of forest that surround Ethiopia’s orthodox churches…



Tags: Syria Pope Francis Muslim Orthodox Church

29 January 2019
Greg Kandra




A religious sister walks through a construction site in Beni Suef, Egypt. The planned school under construction will allow students to continue studying with the sisters past grade school. Read more about this and other Signs of Hope in Egypt in the current edition of ONE. (photo: Roger Anis)



Tags: Egypt

29 January 2019
Greg Kandra




Vandals attacked and defaced a synagogue in Jerusalem Monday. (photo: Twitter)

Jerusalem synagogue defaced (Haaretz) A synagogue in Jerusalem was defaced Monday overnight as vandals broke in and damaged its Torah ark, facilities and books. Police has opened an investigation into the matter. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he was “shocked” at the incident, writing on Twitter that “police must find those responsible immediately and ensure they are brought to justice…”

France planning to repatriate ISIS suspects (The Telegraph) France is reportedly planning to repatriate more than 100 French ISIS suspects from Syria amid fears they could lose track of them after US troops withdraw from the war-torn country. Some 130 Islamic State suspects being held in custody by Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in prisons across northern Syria are to be sent back within the next few weeks, according to French channel BFMTV. ”All those who will return to France will be entrusted to the judges. The judge will decide that it will be necessary to put them in prison,” Christophe Castaner, France’s Interior Minister, told BFMTV…

Ethiopia bans street begging by Syrians (AP) Ethiopia is banning street begging by Syrian nationals who have startled people by showing up in growing numbers in recent months. The deputy head of Ethiopia’s immigration office tells The Associated Press that “we have tolerated them for some time but we have now decided to ban the illegal practice...They are becoming a burden…”

Jordan Foreign Minister urges closure of refugee camp (The Jordan Times) Arrangements to deliver humanitarian aid to the Rukban camp are only temporary solutions that do not address the real issue, and the focus must be on the de-establishment of the camp and allowing refugees to return to their hometowns, Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi has said. ”The area in which Rukban exists has never sustained life. Humanitarian supplies are important, but now that the conditions of their return are met, with Daesh pushed out of them, I think all efforts should be focused on achieving that,” Safadi told Sputnik news agency in a recent interview…



Tags: Syria Ethiopia Jerusalem Jews ISIS





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