28 February 2017
Several Melkite bishops boycotted the bishops’ synod last June, demanding the resignation of Patriarch Gregoire III Laham, pictured at the Vatican in 2015. The Melkite synod will resume later this year. (photo: CNS/Paul Haring)
Reconciliation marks Melkite synod (CNS) The Melkite Catholic Church resumed its Synod of Bishops after nearly an eight-month interruption. The bishops thanked “the divine redeemer for the spirit of reconciliation and renewed commitment to walk together in partnership to restore peace in the church” in a statement released at the conclusion of the three-day meeting on 23 February at the patriarchate in Rebweh, Lebanon...
Iraq army seizes key Mosul bridge (CNN) The Iraqi army says it has recaptured a bridge across the Tigris River in west Mosul, where fierce battles are ongoing to oust ISIS from its last bastion in Iraq...
Pope: Catholics and Anglicans are brothers and sisters in Christ (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Sunday visited the Anglican Parish of All Saints in Rome. Speaking at the Church the Pope said, “today, with gratitude to God, we recognize one another as we truly are: brothers and sisters in Christ, through our common baptism. As friends and pilgrims we wish to walk the path together, to follow our Lord Jesus Christ together...”
India’s home minister honors Catholic priest (Vatican Radio) India’s home minister has honoured a Catholic priest on the occasion of Arunachal Pradesh’s 31st statehood day. Salesian Father Cyriac Pulinthanathumalayil of Dimapur province received a state award Gold Medal for Excellence in Youth work from home minister Minister Rajanath Signh at a function on 20 February in the state capital of Itanagar...
Living history in Ethiopia (Huffington Post) The chanting of the two boys sitting under the tree reminded me of my Bar Mitzvah class over 60 years ago. The language was different — Amharic, not Hebrew — as was the religion — Ethiopian Orthodox, not Jewish — and the boys bore little resemblance to the pudgy, pasty pre-adolescent friends of my youth, but the sounds were eerily similar...
How the Oscars put Syria in the spotlight (The Washington Post) Sitting 7,000 miles from the fuss and frills of Sunday’s Academy Awards, it was Raed Saleh, dressed in a simple T-shirt, who delivered one of the most powerful messages of the night. In a short acceptance speech — posted online after a documentary about his Syrian White Helmets rescue force won an Oscar — the former electrical equipment salesman appealed to governments around the world “to stop the bloodshed of the Syrian people...”
27 February 2017
Debora Stonitsch organized CNEWA’s trip to the L.A. Religious Education Congress, which was held in Anaheim from 24 to 26 February. (photo: Greg Kandra)
As I write, our CNEWA team is headed home from Anaheim, after three whirlwind days at the legendary Los Angeles Religious Education Congress — the largest annual gathering of Catholics in the United States. An estimated 40,000 people attend this extravaganza every year.
The LA Religious Ed Congress takes place inside the Anaheim Convention Center in California (photo: Greg Kandra)
For the first time, CNEWA was invited to appear as an exhibitor, hosting a booth — along with some 250 other organizations — in the massive exhibit hall in the Anaheim Convention Center. It was a wonderful opportunity for us to catch up with old friends and make some new ones.
CNEWA’s multimedia editor Deacon Greg Kandra had a chance to say hello to an old friend, Father Brian Escobedo, who hosted CNEWA for a parish visit last fall. (photo: Greg Kandra)
Debora Stonitsch of CNEWA’s development office answered questions and introduced attendees to the work CNEWA is doing around the world. (photo: Greg Kandra)
Many of those we met hadn’t heard of CNEWA — and a few were a little confused about the Catholic Eastern churches. We were happy to answer questions, pass out copies of our magazine and offer information about our work and those we serve — as our display proclaimed, “Accompanying the Eastern Catholic Churches.”
The Rev. Elias Mallon, S.A., Ph.D., shared his expertise on Islam and the Arab world. (photo: Greg Kandra)
There was great interest in our work among persecuted minorities in Iraq — and a lot of people who stopped by our booth took home small pins depicting “ن” (the Arabic letter “N”), recalling the way ISIS branded the homes of Christians for persecution.
These pins attracted a lot of attention to our visit, and many people took home several for friends. (photo: Greg Kandra)
It was a rewarding weekend in so many ways, and I know Father Elias, Debora Stonitsch and I all look forward to making a return visit next year.
If you couldn’t make it to Anaheim, we’d be happy to visit your corner of the country to share our story at your parish or diocesan event. Just drop a line to our development director Norma Intriago: firstname.lastname@example.org.
24 February 2017
Tags: CNEWA Education United States
CNEWA is participating in the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress in Anaheim, California — billed as the largest gathering of Catholics in North America.
Join our external affairs officer, Rev. Elias D. Mallon, S.A., Ph.D., development associate Debora Stonitsch, and me today through Sunday at booth #780.
Stop by and say hello!
23 February 2017
In this image from 2015, people pray March 15 during the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress. CNEWA will be participating in the congress this weekend, for the first time.
(photo: CNS/Victor Aleman, Vida Nueva)
This weekend, CNEWA heads west: for the first time. We’ll be hosting a booth at the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress in Anaheim, California — billed as the largest gathering of Roman Catholics in the United States.
While most of the attendees are from California and the western U.S., the annual event attracts an estimated 40,000 people from as far away as the United Kingdom and Australia. The congress features speakers, liturgies, workshops and over 200 exhibitors — including this year, CNEWA.
Among other things, it’s a great opportunity to just get out and meet folks — and help introduce people to CNEWA and our work around the world.
We will be at the congress from Friday through Sunday, at booth #780. I’ll be there, along with our development associate Debora Stonitsch and our external affairs officer, Rev. Elias D. Mallon, S.A., Ph.D.
Stop by and say hello!
22 February 2017
A study group of teenagers meets on evenings in the courtyard of the St. Paul Service Center in Izbet Chokor, Egypt. The village of Christians and Muslims is notable for the way in which its residents coexist in peace. Learn more about how they are Finding Common Ground in the current edition of ONE. (photo: Don Duncan)
22 February 2017
Refugees from Eritrea tell Pope Francis about their journey to safety during a meeting 21 February at the Vatican with participants in the VI International Forum on Migration and Peace.
(photo: CNS/L’Osservatore Romano)
Pope: Protection of migrants is a moral duty (Vatican Radio) Speaking to participants of an International Forum on Migration and Peace taking place in Rome, whom he received in the Vatican, the Pope said the political community, civil society and the Church must offer a shared response to the complexities of the phenomenon of migration today . “Our shared response, he said, may be articulated by four verbs: to welcome, to protect, to promote and to integrate...”
750,000 people trapped in Mosul ‘on brink of starvation’ (The Telegraph) Many of the 750,000 civilians trapped inside Mosul are on “the brink of starvation” as Iraqi forces fight their way into the western half of the city, aid groups have warned. Backed by Western airpower and special forces, Iraqi troops and Shia milita fighters are preparing to storm Mosul’s airport and begin the final phase of liberating the city. The offensive to drive Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil) from Iraq’s second largest city began in October and civilian food supplies are running low after four months of siege...
ISIS threatens to eliminate Egypt’s Christians (ARA News) The radical group of Islamic State (ISIS) on Sunday released a new propaganda video, threatening to eliminate Egypt’s Christians and vowing to “liberate Cairo.” The video also shows the last statement of a man it said was responsible for the deadly bombing of a Coptic cathedral in Cairo on 11 December, that killed at least 28 people, mostly women and children...
Gaza is outwardly rebuilding, but inwardly fearful (The New York Times) Gaza seems at a loss for what might be next. After so many years of isolation, residents of Gaza find themselves ever further from Palestinians in the West Bank, their future clouded by rising doubts that they could ever unite and work toward a lasting peace...
U.N. boosts aid for Ethiopia, Somalia to head off famine (Voice of America) U.N. aid agencies are appealing to international donors to provide money to scale up lifesaving operations in drought-stricken Ethiopia and Somalia, where millions of hungry people are at risk of death and illness...
Historic Kerala church renovated (The Hindu) The Koonan Kurishu Church (Church of the Leaning Cross) in Mattancherry has undergone a transformation worthy of its remarkable place in history. The church, built in 1751, commemorates the January 1653 vow taken by the Malankara Nazranis or Christians against Portuguese and Roman Catholic Church attempts to dominate their spiritual and ritual affairs. The 1751 church underwent major renovation in 1974. Now, it has been renovated by retaining the original structure except in places where it had deteriorated badly...
21 February 2017
Tags: Iraq Pope Francis Ethiopia Kerala ISIS
Refugee Agnan Adnidihad fled Iraq and settled in Jordan, but hopes one day to join his daughter in the United States. (photo: Greg Kandra)
One of the heroic figures I’ve met during my time at CNEWA is this gentleman: Agnan Adnidihad, a 62-year-old former auto mechanic from Mosul, Iraq. I met him at the Italian Hospital in Amman, Jordan — a facility supported by CNEWA — in the spring of 2015, just a few months after he had fled Iraq. He had barely escaped with his life as ISIS swept in and took over.
As the translator explained when I spoke with Agnan: “They gave him three choices: convert, pay a tax, or be killed.” Agnan ran away, but was caught. They took everything he owned, all his money and papers, but he managed to escape and eventually made his way to Jordan.
When I met him, he was being treated for heart trouble and high blood pressure. The invasion and his escape had taken a terrible toll on him. He was looking to begin his life over somewhere else. “There is no hope for the future in Iraq,” he said. “They destroyed our homes, our work, everything.” His dream was to live with his daughter in the United States.
The one thing that sustained him, he told me, was his faith.
“Faith helps. I pray all the time. I pray to our Father in heaven and offer prayers for our Lady,” he said.
His story, of course, is just one of many. There are countless other refugees and displaced persons like Agnan Adnidihad around the world, fleeing persecution and even death.
I often tell people about Agnan when I visit parishes to talk about CNEWA’s work among refugees in the Middle East. We need to remember and pray for him and so many others like him — unsung heroes of our time who never give up hoping and praying. Despite everything, they still hold fast to their faith. It’s hard not to leave encounters with these people without feeling inspired and grateful — and deeply humbled.
You can watch my interview with Agnan Adnidihad here.
21 February 2017
The depiction of Titus’ Sack of Jerusalem includes a menorah being taken in the Arch of Titus in Rome. (photo: Creative Commons/Damian Entwistle)
The Vatican and Rome’s Jewish Museum are launching a unique exhibition later this year that is making history — and headlines.
From The New York Times:
This much is known: In 70 AD the Romans destroyed Jerusalem, looted the temple of its treasure — including a seven-branched solid gold menorah — and brought at least some of the artifacts back to Rome in a triumphant procession. Depictions of the victorious Roman army and its booty are carved on the Arch of Titus, near the Colosseum, built about a decade later to commemorate that military triumph.
What later happened to the menorah has been the object of intense speculation for centuries, giving rise to various, sometimes colorful, legends and scholarly hypotheses over its whereabouts.
Now, Rome’s Jewish community and the Vatican have teamed up to produce an exhaustive exhibition on the menorah, which in time became an enduring symbol of Jewish culture and religion, in a collaboration that leaders of the two communities described as a further step in solidifying their ties.
“This is a historic event,” Ruth Dureghello, the president of Rome’s Jewish community, said at a news conference on Monday. The menorah has connections to Rome, she added, “so such an important exhibit could only start here.”
Jews and Catholics have a long history of mutual suspicion and conflict, but relations between the two religions have been increasingly positive. In 1965, the Vatican issued “Nostra Aetate,” a landmark document that condemned anti-Semitism. Pope John Paul II, the first modern pope to pray in a synagogue, made an effort to improve the relationship, as have his successors, Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis.
The exhibit, “Menorah: Worship, History, Legend,” which includes about 130 artifacts, will open in May and will be presented at the Vatican Museums and at Rome’s Jewish Museum. The collaboration between the two institutions will finally transform longstanding dialogue into something “concrete,” Ms. Dureghello said.
21 February 2017
In the video above, Iraqi refugees who have settled in Lebanon explain how persecution has strengthened their faith. (video: Rome Reports)
Troops advance on western Mosul (Al Jazeera) Iraqi forces advanced into the southern outskirts of Mosul on the second day of a push to drive ISIL from the city’s western half, as the visiting U.S. defense secretary met officials to discuss the fight against the armed group. With aerial support from the US-led coalition, Iraqi police and army troops launched the offensive on Sunday, part of a 100-day-old campaign that has already driven the fighters from the eastern half of the city...
Eastern Ukraine ceasefire begins (CNN) A ceasefire aimed at ending the bloody fight between Ukrainian forces and Russian-backed separatists started Monday — but is already on shaky ground. The ceasefire is a renewed attempt to enforce the Minsk peace protocol — an agreement that has repeatedly failed since it was first partially implemented two years ago...
Some Copts seek asylum in Australia (ABC.net) Military vehicles run over Coptic protesters, dismembering and mangling 27 people in the worst massacre of Christians in the country’s history. Firebrand preachers shout incensed anti-Christian messages from the pulpit and mobs attack Coptic churches, businesses and homes. This is now a daily routine for Egypt’s Coptic Christians, the largest Christian minority in the Middle East...
Refugee family shares story of fleeing persecution (CNS) The Sharifs were living contentedly in Pakistan when life turned into a nightmare in 2012. An al Qaida-related group called BLA targeted Amir Sharif, a Catholic and a well-known professor at a university in Quetta. He was told to embrace Islam or leave the country...
More refugees looking to Canada for asylum (Catholic Register) Canada can expect to see more asylum seekers crossing its border with the United States as enforcement toughens at the U.S.-Mexican border and President Donald Trump continues to issue executive orders to restrain refugee arrivals, Catholic refugee advocates have told The Catholic Register...
16 February 2017
A family poses inside their home in an Indian slum neighborhood served by the Sisters of the Destitute. To learn more, read ‘My Great Hope Is the Sisters’ in the current edition of ONE.
(photo: John Mathew)