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March, 2018
Volume 44, Number 1
  
29 December 2016
Greg Kandra




Sister Hanne, one of the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary, sits with Lucien, a 7-year-old refugee from Qaraqosh, in his residence in Amman. Learn more about the work these sisters are doing with refugees in Welcoming the Stranger in the Winter 2016 edition of ONE.
(photo: Tamara Abdul Hadi)




29 December 2016
Greg Kandra




Women light candles before attending Christmas Eve Mass at the Melkite Catholic Cathedral in Damascus, Syria. The Syrian government has announced a cease-fire agreement on Thursday, a potential turning point in the war. (photo: CNS/Youssef Badawi, EPA)

Syrian government announces truce (The New York Times) The Syrian government and its most important ally, Russia, announced on Thursday that they had reached a cease-fire agreement with Syrian rebels and with Turkey — a potential turning point in a civil war that has lasted nearly six years and claimed hundreds of thousands of lives...

Winter moves in across Lebanon and refugees struggle (UNHCR) There are just over one million Syrian refugees in Lebanon. One-in-two live in substandard shelters like tents, garages, warehouses, unfinished buildings and animal sheds. They require continuous support to maintain their shelters, especially during winter, which can be bitter and long in Lebanon. More rain and snowstorms are forecast for the coming weeks. Some high-altitude towns in the Bekaa Valley and northern Lebanon have already been blanketed in snow...

Iraqi units resume offensive in Mosul (The Washington Post) Iraqi army, police and elite counterterrorism forces launched a combined assault on eastern Mosul after a two-week break, the military announced Thursday...

Kerry’s blunt words for Israel draw criticism (The New York Times) Secretary of State John Kerry’s rebuke of the Israeli government on Wednesday set off a wave of criticism from lawmakers in both parties. Republicans denounced what they said was the Obama administration’s harsh treatment of a steadfast ally and Democrats signaled that they were uneasy with Mr. Kerry’s pressure on Israel, even as they praised the effort to promote Middle East peace...

Palestinian family celebrates first Christmas together in 26 years (CNS) For the first time in 26 years, Lilian and Nadeem Aqleh had all six of their children with them to celebrate Christmas. “This is the happiest day of my life,” said Lilian, 70, who is Catholic, as she celebrated the holiday with her children and grandchildren, some of who traveled from the United States and Canada. “It is hard having your children so far away. I want my children with me. At Christmas we remember the birth of Christ and the meaning of Christmas is to share it with family...”



28 December 2016
Greg Kandra




Abraham George, an Ethiopian Catholic, carries the cross during the Sunday Divine Liturgy in Bahir Dar. Read more about how Ethiopians are spreading the Gospel in Ethiopia’s Sleeping Giant in the Winter 2016 edition of ONE. (photo: James Jeffrey)



28 December 2016
Greg Kandra




Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa, apostolic administrator of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, celebrates Christmas Mass at the Church of the Nativity in the West Bank town of Bethlehem.
(photo: CNS/Musa Al Shaer, pool via EPA)


In Christmas messages, patriarchs plead for peace (CNS) Lamenting the exodus of Christians from their ancestral homelands, Catholic patriarchs of the Middle East pleaded for peace and security in their annual Christmas messages. In separate statements, the prelates shared their anguish regarding the persecution and uprooting of Christians from the region...

Pope asks for love, prayers for persecuted Christians (CNS) Despite increased persecution and attacks against Christians, the faithful must strengthen their courage and joyful desire to follow Christ no matter the cost, Pope Francis said...

Israel postpones vote on new settlements (BBC) An Israeli committee has postponed a vote to authorize construction of almost 500 new homes in Jewish settlements in occupied East Jerusalem. The move apparently follows a request from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office. It also comes ahead of a speech on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. On Friday, the U.S. chose not to veto a UN Security Council resolution calling for an end to settlement construction...

Turkey, Russia discuss cease-fire plan for Syria (AP) Turkish and Russian officials are discussing the contours of a cease-fire for Syria, Syrian opposition factions said, building on cooperation between the two countries following a deal they brokered for the evacuation of opposition fighters from the northern city of Aleppo earlier this month...

Russian Orthodox metropolitan sends Christmas greetings to Pope Francis (Moscow Patriarchate) Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate’s Department for External Church Relations, sent Christmas greeting to Pope Francis, Archbishop Justin Welby of Canterbury, Bishop Heinrich Bedford-Strom, chairman of the Council of the EKD, and heads of other non-Orthodox Churches...



27 December 2016
Greg Kandra




Pope Francis greets the crowd after delivering his Christmas message and blessing “urbi et orbi” (to the city and the world) from the central balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican
on 25 December. (photo: CNS/L’Osservatore Romano)


Pope: World scarred by war, greed must welcome Prince of Peace (CNS) The song of the angels that heralded the birth of Christ urges men and women to seek peace in a world divided by war, terrorism and greed, Pope Francis said. “Today this message goes out to the ends of the earth to reach all peoples, especially those scarred by war and harsh conflicts that seem stronger than the yearning for peace,” the pope said on 25 December...

Pope prays for victims of Russian plane crash (Vatican Radio) After the Angelus prayer in St. Peter’s Square on the Feast of Saint Stephen, Pope Francis expressed his condolences to the Russian people and the families of victims of the Christmas day plane crash that took the lives of 92 people near Sochi...

Vulnerable Ukrainians receive aid from Pope (Vatican Radio) Thanks to Pope Francis over 2 million people affected by the humanitarian crisis in eastern Ukraine will receive a first installment of much needed aid in time for Christmas...

Iraqi forces to resume assault on Mosul (Reuters) Iraqi forces will resume their push against the Islamic State militant group (ISIS) inside Mosul in the coming days, a U.S. battlefield commander has told Reuters. The move would be a new phase of the two-month-old operation that will see American troops deployed closer to the front line in the city...

Abducted Kerala priest appeals to Pope Francis for freedom (Indian Express) In a video posted on social media platforms, a Catholic priest from Kerala, who was abducted in Yemen in March this year, has appealed to the central government and Pope Francis to secure his release. He has alleged that not enough efforts were being made to free him because, as an Indian, he was “not considered of much value...”



22 December 2016
Greg Kandra





As a seminarian from Ukraine, Oleksandr Bohomaz told us in 2014, “I want to be a witness of God’s greatness.” (photo: courtesy Seminary of the Three Hierarchs, Kiev)

In 2014, in the wake of the upheavals in Kiev, Antin Sloboda from CNEWA’s office in Canada interviewed a seminarian in Ukraine, Oleksandr Bohomaz, who described his background, his vocation and his faith:

I aspire to bring people closer to God. Our people are very poor, materially and spiritually. Soviet rule wounded spiritual life in Ukraine, and now it is strongly needed. Many people struggle with addiction — families are broken.

My family has been also touched by the problem of alcoholism. I believe only Jesus can help us to overcome these challenges and that he calls me to dedicate my life to proclaiming his love to all people. …

The Lord has used the recent events in Ukraine to strengthen the faith of our people. First of all, Ukrainians, who for centuries were dominated by others, finally have realized they are one nation. Since November 2013, our priests have actively supported the aspirations of the Ukrainian people to fight for their dignity and justice. More people now trust the church, even those who previously identified themselves as atheists.

On the Maidan Square in Kiev, I had a chance to pray with people who have never prayed before. People asked me to teach them how to pray and how to live a life of a Christian. This is indeed wonderful! Being able to speak with such people is an incredible experience of God's love in action. The recent events in the country have strengthened my faith and the faith of my neighbors.

And he offered this beautiful testimony:

I hope I will successfully complete the seminary and that I will become a faithful and humble priest. I want to be a witness of God’s greatness, and I want to proclaim his Gospel. I already see how God gives us a chance to become authentic Christians. I hope we will become the people who provide care for the marginalized and the weak. …

When I realize someone on the other side of the planet is praying for me, it is very encouraging and a source of support. It’s wonderful to realize that through the prayer we are united, regardless of where we live.

Since that interview, Oleksandr has been ordained to the priesthood. He now serves in the town of Melitopol is southeastern Ukraine, not far from Crimea.

Pray for more heroic young men to answer the call to the priesthood-and please help support us in our mission to support them. Visit this page to learn more.



Tags: Ukraine Seminarians Ukrainian Catholic

22 December 2016
Greg Kandra




Christmas decorations hang from a balcony in Aleppo, Syria, on 12 December.
(photo: CNS/Khalil Ashawi, Reuters)




22 December 2016
Greg Kandra




Syrians children play in the snow at a tent city in the Azaz neighborhood of Aleppo, Syria, on 21 December. (photo: Mustafa Sultan/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

U.N. to create team to investigate Syria war crimes (Al Jazeera) The United Nations General Assembly has voted to establish a special team to “collect, consolidate, preserve and analyze evidence” as well as to prepare cases on war crimes and human rights abuses committed during the conflict in Syria. The General Assembly adopted a Liechtenstein-drafted resolution to establish the independent team with 105 in favor, 15 against and 52 abstentions. The team will work in coordination with the U.N. Syria Commission of Inquiry…

Three car bombings strike Mosul (AP) Three car bombs ripped through an outdoor market in Mosul on Thursday, killing at least 15 civilians and eight policemen, the Iraqi Defense Ministry said in a statement. The attack occurred in the eastern district of Gogjali, which Iraqi forces retook from Islamic State militants weeks ago as part of a massive operation to drive them from Mosul, the brief statement said. It did not say whether the explosions were caused by suicide attackers…

Indian Christians in Orissa seek protection for Christmas (Fides) A few days before Christmas, the Christians of Kandhamal district in the Indian state of Orissa, the epicenter of the anti-Christian massacres of 2008, have called for a Christmas free from all violence. “We want to celebrate Christmas in peace and serenity,” says the Rev. Pradosh Chandra Nayak, pastor of Our Lady of Charity Church in Raikia in Kandhamal. The pastor submitted a written request to the local police station in Raikia to ask protection for churches and Christian villages during the Christmas celebrations…

Israeli university defends Christmas tree against criticism (RNS) Administrators at the Technion, a public research university in Haifa, are rushing to defend the presence of a Christmas tree in the campus’ student union building. Their statement of support is part of a larger pushback against Jewish religious authorities who hold that such decorations have no place in public settings in predominantly Jewish areas in Israel…

Christmas thrives in Lebanon (CNS) Amid the turmoil in the Middle East and persecution of Christians in surrounding countries, the Christmas spirit is evident in Lebanon: sparkling lights, decorated trees and even mangers in public places. “Wherever you go you can find Christmas decorations,” even in the cities and the places where the residents are Muslim, the Rev. Joseph Soueid told Catholic News Service…



Tags: Syria Iraq India Lebanon Israel

21 December 2016
Greg Kandra




Sister Guadalupe Rodrigo, who has lived in the Middle East for nearly 20 years and is one of the last Christians left in Aleppo, says Muslims in Syria fear for their country without Christians.
(video: Rome Reports)


Russia, Iran, Turkey meet for Syria talks (The New York Times) Russia, Iran and Turkey met in Moscow on Tuesday to work toward a political accord to end Syria’s nearly six-year war, leaving the United States on the sidelines as the countries sought to drive the conflict in ways that serve their interests. Secretary of State John Kerry was not invited. Nor was the United Nations consulted...

ISIS in Mosul reportedly targeting civilians as it retreats (AP) Islamic State militants in Mosul are deliberately targeting civilians who refuse to join them as they retreat ahead of advancing Iraqi forces involved in a large-scale government operation to retake the militant-held city, an international watchdog said on Wednesday...

Catholic Church in Ethiopia promoting peace and tolerance (Vatican Radio) he Catholic Church in Ethiopia has joined other religious leaders and the government to promote peaceful coexistence in communities in conflict. The head of the Justice and Peace Department of the bishops’ conference says in the past year the Church managed to bring together disputing ethnic groups in different parts of the country. Conflicts have arisen in some parts of the vast nation due disputes over grazing land and the stealing of herds...

Pope prays for Russia after attack (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has expressed his condolences to the family of the Russian ambassador to Turkey who was shot dead by a police officer at an art exhibition. In a message sent by the Holy See’s Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, to Russian president Vladimir Putin, the Pope said he was “saddened to learn of the violent attack in Ankara, which resulted in the death of Ambassador Andrei Karlov.” He assured the people of the Russian Federation of his prayers and “spiritual solidarity” at this time...

Catholic University receives donation of Ethiopian manuscripts (CUA.edu) The Catholic University of America is now home to one of North America’s most important collections of Ethiopian religious manuscripts, thanks to a generous donation from Chicago collectors Gerald and Barbara Weiner. The handmade manuscripts, which originate from Ethiopia and which date back to the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, include more than 125 Christian manuscripts, 215 Islamic manuscripts, and 350 “magic” scrolls. With this donation, which is valued at over $1 million, Catholic University is now the holder of the fifth largest collection of Ethiopian Christian manuscripts in the United States and the largest collection of Ethiopian Islamic manuscripts outside of Ethiopia...

Salt + Light moves to new headquarters (Catholic Register) It has been 14 years since the tiny digital television service launched on a shoestring in the afterglow of Toronto’s 2002 World Youth Day. For 2017, the TV station which strives “to give the flavor of the Gospel and the light of Christ to a world that is steeped in darkness and tastelessness at times” has acquired the tools and the space to do the job. On 9 December, Salt + Light moved from its century-old building at the corner of Richmond and Jarvis in Toronto into new space at Davisville and Mt. Pleasant in mid-town. The broadcaster has added a real studio — a broadcast theatre big enough to stage event broadcasts — and nearly tripled its floor space from 8,500 square feet (790 square meters) to 22,000 (2,044 square meters)...



20 December 2016
Greg Kandra




Ani Kaloust helps families in need through a CNEWA partner, Caritas Lebanon.
(photo: Dalia Khamissy)


In 2015, we introduced readers to a powerhouse: Ani Kaloust, a 65-year-old Lebanese Armenian Catholic who lives in Beirut and works for Caritas, a CNEWA partner and charity of the Lebanese Catholic churches.

She described some of her work to journalist Don Duncan:

I have been with Caritas for more than 25 years, working in Geitawi, receiving and helping families in need. We give them money and food aid. Besides that, we have families struggling with illness — even cancer. We help them however we can.

My other job is with the Armenian Catholic Patriarchate, as a member of their charity arm. I’ve been with them for 40 years. In order to help the people of the area, you need to have someone who knows the families, right? Well, I know all the families in this community: rich, middle class and the poor. In the patriarchate, when people come knocking on the door asking for help, they say: “Go see Madam Ani.” I do a little interview to see what they need, and the patriarchate helps them if able.

ONE: How did you become so deeply involved in charity work? Isn’t it all overwhelming?

AK: Since my childhood, I liked to help people. I was small and I worked in a dispensary beside our house. I liked that. I was in my 20’s during the civil war here in Lebanon and I helped everyone. I spent the whole war in this neighborhood. I didn’t leave it even for one day.

I am no longer a young girl, but I work more than a young girl does! And people say: “Oh, I’m tired.” Me, I can’t say that; I don’t get tired!

One story of hers left an indelible impression:

In 1978, when the Syrians attacked us with the bombs, I was pregnant. I was taking shelter in the basement under our building and I could feel that I was going to give birth. I couldn’t breathe. I said I must go to the hospital, or will I have to give birth before 400 people! My brother came to take me there, and I was sure either I’d die or my baby would. I went to the hospital in a car of a Christian militiaman. I arrived with the baby’s head already coming out and I gave birth on the bathroom floor in about five minutes. Then a sister said: “You must leave. The hospital is burning.” I took my baby and she was black from the dirt. There was no water. About 10 or 15 minutes after having given birth, I was running through the streets with the baby to get back to the shelter. I arrived and could see my husband and kids across the street, but couldn’t cross because the bombs were falling so heavily. Finally, I got back to safety. Two hours later, there was a cease-fire.

ONE: Did such experiences — or indeed, does your charitable work — change you spiritually?

AK: No. I was a student of the Armenian Sisters of the Immaculate Conception and I have had my faith since I was a child. Every day, when I wake up, before leaving the house, I have a picture of Jesus and I say to him: “I am leaving the house and I leave it to you. It’s up to you to decide if I make mistakes or not and you’ll always be with me.”

But prayers help me when life is tough. Without prayers, how do you live? Prayers are our protection. God stays with us when we pray and he doesn’t let us go astray.

For her tireless work on behalf of the poor — and her fearlessness in the face of hardship and war — we consider Ani Kaloust a true CNEWA hero, one who embodies so much of our own mission and vision.







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