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

A man prays amid destroyed buildings after several airstrikes on 9 January in Hamoria, Syria. The U.S. has accused the Syrian government of using chemical weapons against its people.
(photo: CNS/Mohammed Badra, EPA)

U.S. accuses Syria of chemical weapons use (Al Jazeera) The United States has accused the Syrian government of using chemical weapons against its people. U.S. State Department spokesman Heather Nauert said on Thursday that reports of chlorine gas being used against civilians in Eastern Ghouta were “very concerning”...

Letter in India calls for the government to stop hate crimes against minorities (Fides) In an open letter, public officials, personalities from Indian culture and intellectuals have expressed “Deep concern for the continuous episodes of senseless violence in the country, especially those that target minorities,” and also “for the weak response of law enforcement agencies and institutions”...

Ethiopia lifts ban on domestic workers moving overseas (AFP) Ethiopia has lifted a ban on domestic workers moving overseas after passing a new law to guard against ill-treatment, a government official said Thursday. Africa’s second-most populous country instituted the ban five years ago following reports of abuse, and complaints that employment agencies lured Ethiopians into working abroad in illegal and appalling conditions...

Middle East Council of Churches appoints acting Secretary General (Fides) The Executive Committee of the Middle East Council of Churches has appointed Professor Souraya Bechealany as Acting Secretary General of the ecumenical body. Souraya Bechealany takes the place of Father Michel Jalkh, who was appointed Rector of Antonine University. The choice, approved unanimously, was announced at the end of the meeting of the Executive Committee hosted in Lebanon by Antonine University, in the district of Baabda in the southern part of Beirut...

Church celebrates World Day of Consecrated Life (Vatican News) Pope Francis celebrates the liturgy in St Peter’s Basilica on Friday with thousands of religious and members of Societies of Apostolic life. The announcement for this event contained the following reflection from the Holy Father: “A vocation is a gift we have received from the Lord, who fixed his gaze on us and called us, calling us to follow him in the consecrated life”...

1 February 2018
Greg Kandra

The Didos family of Lviv — displaced after shelling destroyed their neighborhood in the Donetsk region of Ukraine — share a moment of happiness on a cold Sunday on their way home from church. Read about the plight of The Displaced from Ukraine in the March 2017 edition of ONE.
(photo: Ivan Chernichkin)

1 February 2018
Greg Kandra

Embed from Getty Images
A Syrian child uses a stainless-steel pot to bale out water from her tent at a refugee camp on the outskirts of Zahle in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley on 26 January 2018.
(photo: Joseph Eid, AFP/Getty Images)

Winter’s tragic toll on Lebanon’s Syrian refugees (Voice of America) Following a few months of relatively mild weather, the recent storm came as a bitter reminder of how harsh winters can be in Lebanon’s highlands. And with some Syrians spending their seventh year in camps, it is proving ever-harder to cope with such conditions...

6900 Syrians win permission to stay in U.S. For now (The New York Times) Nearly 7,000 Syrians who were granted temporary permission to live and work in the United States as a civil war devoured their country will be allowed to stay for at least another 18 months, the Trump administration announced on Wednesday, in an acknowledgment that Syria continues to be rattled by conflict...

Gaza faces ‘unprecedented’ humanitarian crisis (Al Jazeera) Palestinians in the Gaza Strip have entered their 11th year under a crippling siege imposed by Israel and Egypt, and are in dire need of international aid. Gaza Palestinian economic experts are warning that even if help is given immediately, a humanitarian disaster might be unavoidable...

Human Rights Watch slams India’s treatment of minorities ( Civil society groups in India have backed a Human Rights Watch report that condemns the unabated violence that religious minorities suffer at the hands of right-wing Hindu groups. India’s federal government led by the pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has failed to contain rights violations on several fronts, according to the New York-based group’s 2018 World Report. “The government failed to promptly or credibly investigate the attacks, while many senior BJP leaders publicly promoted Hindu supremacy and ultra-nationalism, which encouraged further violence,” said the Human Rights Watch report...

Reject intolerance, teach respect for other religions, speakers say (CNS) A rigorous defense of religious freedom around the globe must be accompanied by the efforts of religious communities and governments to teach people to respect other faiths and to see diversity within a society as a value, not a threat, said a Vatican cardinal and a top British government official. “The struggle for the affirmation of religious liberty is far from being won,” Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, prefect of the Congregation for Eastern Churches, told an audience at Rome’s Pontifical Gregorian University on 30 January...

Trip to Syria shows wars can be most dangerous when they’re coming to an end (The Independent) It’s easy to think the war is over. Until mortars from el-Ghouta swish over Damascus and explode in the old Christian area of Bab el-Roma with its grocery shops and restaurants. Six dead. Or when an army officer comes and says quite casually to you: “Remember Captain Walid? He was martyred four days ago.” I’ve always felt uneasy about the word “martyred” — about any soldier, or civilian, anywhere...

31 January 2018
Greg Kandra

Sister Simone Abdel Malek, who leads the Daughters of Charity in Alexandria, Egypt, takes a call while meeting with patients at her order’s dispensary. Learn more about the extraordinary work of these religious sisters in Charity’s Daughters in the current edition of ONE. (photo: Roger Anis)

31 January 2018
Greg Kandra

Syrian refugees arrive at Rome’s Fiumicino airport as part of a program sponsored by the Community of Sant’ Egidio. (photo: Vatican News/Facebook)

Syrian refugees arrive in Rome (Vatican News) A group of Syrian refugees were welcomed at Rome’s Fiumicino airport on Tuesday as part of a humanitarian corridors program. The initiative is being promoted by the Community of Sant’ Egidio and aided by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of the Interior...

Apostolic nuncio speaks on conditions in Ukraine (Vatican News) In the wake of Pope Francis’ visit to a Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church on Sunday, the Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Claudio Gugerotti to Ukraine is speaking out about the situation in the eastern European nation...

Lebanon overwhelmed with lingering Syrian refugee crisis (National Catholic Register) As Lebanon enters its seventh year of hosting Syrian refugees, the country is slipping further into an economic and social crisis. About two-thirds the size of Connecticut, with a local population of about 4 million, Lebanon has the highest per capita refugee population in the world. Lebanon has absorbed more than 1 million refugees from neighboring Syria, a figure which refers only to those who are registered with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)...

Hamas leader dies in Gaza (Andalou Agency) Senior Hamas leader Imad al-Alami, who was injured by gunfire earlier this month, passed away in the Gaza Strip on Tuesday, a Hamas leader said. In a Twitter post, Bassim Naim confirmed that al-Alami had died, giving no further details. Al-Alami was seriously injured three weeks ago when a bullet reportedly hit his head as he was checking his personal weapon at his home...

Tags: Syria Lebanon Ukraine Refugees Gaza Strip/West Bank

30 January 2018
Greg Kandra

The Rev. Ihor Hrishchenko celebrates the Divine Liturgy inside an abandoned facility once used to develop grain seeds. (photo: Ivan Chernichkin)

In the current edition of ONE, writer Mark Raczkiewycz takes us to Ukraine for a look at how the church there is seeking to grow — often under daunting circumstances:

Despite decades of official atheism, Christian symbolism is compellingly strong in central and eastern Ukraine, which is why many are cautious to enter dwellings where Greek Catholics worship: The buildings often lack the proper symbols and icons.

In the 700-strong village of Mala Vilshanka, the Rev. Ihor blessed with two enormous rooms inside an abandoned, run-down Soviet-era facility once used to develop new grain seeds.

He celebrates the sacraments regularly with about a dozen parishioners — although as large a group as half the village comes out on Epiphany to bless water in January — yet the small community “wants something of its own,” he says.

“The parish and I want an appropriate religious atmosphere here,” Father Hrishchenko says. “You don’t want to go to a random café; you want something of your own. But we have no money to build one.”

Still, the parish has the luxury of a separate room for social events and gatherings crucial to building a parish community. Father Hrishchenko uses the space for screening films, putting on plays and inviting guest lecturers to speak on such topics as marriage, ethics and holidays.

“Even though there is the internet and people can instantly access information, it’s more useful to have a ‘human library,’ an expert to talk about the Holy Scripture and other topics,” he says.

The 35-year-old priest also leads another parish in neighboring Bila Tserkva, comprised of some 40 faithful who gather inside a dilapidated Soviet-era household goods store — a brick building with a crumbling façade.

For two years, when he had no car, Father Hrishchenko would take the bus to the village parish and then hitchhike back to the district center in every kind of weather.

Such concessions are necessary when resources are tight. The average Ukrainian monthly salary barely reaches $200, and diminishes as one moves farther away from urban centers.

“It would take 20 or 30 years’ worth of donations to build a church on what we get in our donation boxes, which hardly covers expenses for liturgy — bread, charcoal, candles and wine.”

Read more about how Catholics are Planting Seeds, Nurturing Faith in Ukraine in the December 2017 edition of ONE.

30 January 2018
Greg Kandra

Embed from Getty Images
In this image from 17 January, residents walk through the Burj al-Barajneh refugee camp. Many have expressed fears over their future after the U.S. cut aid to the U.N. agency that supports them.
(photo: Joseph Eid, AFP/Getty Images)

Fears in Syrian camp for Palestinian refugees (Reuters) In Burj al-Barajneh camp, Amira Nassar fears for the future after the United States cut aid to the U.N. agency that helps her and many others among the estimated 170,000 Palestinian refugees in Lebanon. Sitting in an old people’s center, talk turns to the impact on their healthcare...

Big changes are reshaping Jerusalem (Bloomberg) The number of employed east Jerusalem Arabs is rising, salary gaps with the city’s Jewish population are narrowing, more are learning Hebrew — 6,000 currently study the language in classes — and registration at higher education institutions in the western sector is up. City Hall has established an employment center in east Jerusalem and plans a second one. There are even growing applications for citizenship, said Ben Avrahami, the mayor’s adviser for east Jerusalem affairs. This from a population of permanent residents that can file for social security benefits but doesn’t have the right to vote in national elections...

A journey into Iraqi Kurdistan (The New York Times) The Mar Mattai monastery clings to the side of a steep mountain, and on a clear day a visitor can stand against its fortresslike walls and discern far below the winsome farmlands of Upper Mesopotamia. Here, in the cradle of civilization, the building is one of the oldest Christian monasteries in the world. From this peaceful perch, it is difficult to imagine the horror...

Syrian carpenter rebuilds life in Homs (Xinhua) It wasn’t easy for the 43-year-old Rabea Sahloul to start his life from scratch alone in his shattered neighborhood in Homs city, as his neighbors and friends he grew up with are no longer there. People say that feeling lonely or as a stranger is not only when you lose a home, but when the loved ones are no longer there such as friends and neighbors, those who give life a taste and a meaning...

Man arrested for looting Byzantine-era coins from archaeological sites (The Jerusalem Post) A resident of the Negev’s Beduin village of Bir Hadaj was arrested Sunday for looting more than 150 Byzantine-era coins from numerous nearby archaeological sites, the Antiquities Authority said Monday. According to the Authority’s Robbery Prevention Unit, a call was received Sunday afternoon reporting that an unidentified suspect in his 50’s was walking around the ruins of the city Halutza with a metal detector...

29 January 2018
Greg Kandra

Religious sisters pray inside St. Thomas Church in Palakkad, India. Read about the priest who serves the parish in A Day in the Life of a Priest in Kerala in the December 2017 edition of ONE.
(photo: Don Duncan)

29 January 2018
Greg Kandra

Pope Francis embraces Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk of Kiev-Halych, head of the Ukrainian Catholic Church, during a meeting with the Ukrainian Catholic community at the Basilica of Santa Sophia in Rome on 28 January. (photo: CNS/Remo Casilli, Reuters)

Pope visits Ukrainian Basilica in Rome (Vatican Radio) On Sunday afternoon Pope Francis paid a visit to the Basilica of Santa Sofia, home to Rome’s Greek Catholic Community of Ukrainians. The Pope exchanged greetings with the Major Archbishop of Kiev, Sviatoslav Shevchuk, and in his address the Pontiff recalled the great models of Cardinal Josyp Slipyi, Salesian Ukrainian Bishop Stepan Czmil, and Cardinal Lubomyr Husar, former Major Archbishop of the Greek Catholic Church of Ukraine...

Jordan’s King: ‘Jordan will remain a protector of Jerusalem’s shrines’ (The Jordan Times) His Majesty King Abdullah on Sunday met with the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland Minister Derek Browning, a Royal Court statement said. During the meeting, attended by HRH Prince Ghazi, the King’s special adviser for religious and cultural affairs, the King and the minister stressed the importance of enhancing dialogue, tolerance and co-existence among followers of various religions...

New bishop for Ahmedabad, India (Vatican Radio) The Holy Father, Pope Francis has appointed The Rev. Athanasius Rethna Swamy Swamiadian, the new Bishop for the Diocese of Ahmedabad, India. Currently Father Athanasius was serving as the Rector of Vianney Vihar, the Interdiocesan Major Seminary in Baroda...

Gaza hospital forced to close over power crisis (Andalou Agency) A hospital in the northern Gaza Strip has shut down over an acute power shortage plaguing the Israeli-blockaded Palestinian enclave, the Palestinian Health Ministry said Monday. In a statement, the Ministry said the Beit Hanoun hospital had suspended health services over the shortage. “Patients will be transferred to other governmental hospitals,” it said...

Russian Orthodox leader criticizes bitcoin craze (RT) Bitcoin mania makes people lose their minds and lose everything they have, according to the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill. “People are losing their minds. Everyone says: What am I waiting for? I have to act, I have to buy these bitcoins. And then they are buying, pawning property, selling their homes. Then, bitcoin collapses within two weeks, and people understand that they did not win anything, but lost, they lost everything they had,” the patriarch said, speaking before Russia’s Federation Council...

26 January 2018
Greg Kandra

How can the church reach out to help children in families coping with alcoholism or abuse? Check out the video above to see what’s being done in Kerala, India. (video: by Don Duncan)

This Friday, we’re introducing a new feature on the blog, “Friday Film Festival.” It’s a chance for us to revisit some of our video reports from the last few years and introduce them to a new audience.

These videos, archived at our YouTube channel, offer a rich and varied glimpse into CNEWA’s world, with a chance to see and hear some of those we serve in a way that’s intimate — and sometimes surprising — but always inspiring.

To kick off our feature, we have a video from last year, produced by Don Duncan, showing efforts to save children from families tainted by alcoholism and abuse.

You can read more in our magazine about how the church is Breaking the Cycle among the young in Kerala.

Meantime, click on the video above and watch.

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