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Current Issue
September, 2018
Volume 44, Number 3
  
18 April 2017
Greg Kandra




A Christian worshiper lights candles in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem on Easter Sunday. (photo: CNS/Ammar Awad, Reuters)

Pope Francis prays for persecuted Christian communities (Vatican Radio) On Easter Monday Pope Francis greeted pilgrims and visitors gathered in St. Peter’s Square, praying especially for Christians who are persecuted for their faith…

Pope Francis offers message to city and the world (Vatican Radio) “Jesus is risen!” — “He is truly risen, as he said!” Those were Pope Francis’ words as he delivered his traditional Urbi et Orbi (“to the city and the world”) message from the central loggia of St Peter’s Basilica on a sunny Easter Sunday…

Report: U.S. strike hit Syrian mosque (CNN) A new report suggests American forces failed to take necessary precautions to avoid dropping a pair of bombs on a Northern Syria mosque full of hundreds of worshipers. Syrians said the U.S. airstrikes hit a western Aleppo mosque on 16 March, killing at least 40 worshipers and injuring dozens more. The U.S. said the bombings targeted a meeting hall hosting Al Qaeda terrorists…

Mideast church leaders affirm Christian presence at Easter (CNS) In Easter messages, Catholic patriarchs in the Middle East deplored the widespread carnage and suffering, yet affirmed the presence of Christians in the region by calling upon their faithful to carry on with hope…

What life is like for Iraqis fleeing Mosul (Al Jazeera) As the Iraqi government’s military offensive against ISIS rages on, hundreds of thousands of civilians have been forced to flee their homes. Since the push to regain control of the western half of Mosul began on 19 February, the Iraqi government estimates that more than 220,000 people have been displaced. About 70 percent of these people are living in overstretched, underdeveloped refugee camps, according to the United Nations…

Coptic Christians mark Easter in the shadow of ISIS (AP) As Christians around the world celebrate Easter Sunday, eight million of them will be praying alongside security checkpoints, police guards and the threat of religious violence. This is the fate of the Coptic Christians of Egypt — an ancient religious minority whose persecution today is “the worst it has ever been,” according to analysts…

Orthodox and Catholics celebrate Easter on same day (RT) This year, followers of the Orthodox and Catholic churches are celebrating Easter on the same day. The next time the two churches will share Easter celebrations won’t be until 2025…



Tags: Syria Iraq Egypt Pope Francis Easter

13 April 2017
Greg Kandra




Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa, apostolic administrator of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, dries the feet of a clergyman during the foot-washing ceremony on Holy Thursday in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem’s Old City. The ritual reflects the call to imitate Christ by serving one another. (photo: CNS/Ammar Awad, Reuters)



13 April 2017
Greg Kandra




Pope Francis raises the Book of the Gospels as he celebrates Holy Thursday chrism Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican on 13 April. He will celebrate a special liturgy in memory of “new martyrs” next weekend. (photo: CNS/Paul Haring)

Pope to celebrate liturgy for ‘new martyrs’ (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis will celebrate a special Liturgy of the Word in memory of the “New Martyrs” of the 20th and 21st centuries on Saturday, 22 April. A communique from the Holy See Press Office said the prayer will take place in the Basilica of St. Bartholomew on the Tiberian Island, which is located in the heart of Rome on the Tiber River...

U.S. strike on Syria raises moral questions (CNS) The U.S. cruise missile strike on a Syrian air base days after chemical weapons were dropped on civilians in rebel-controlled territory further endangers innocent people, observers familiar with the just-war theory said. If anything, the observers told Catholic News Service, the unilateral U.S. response could embolden Syrian President Bashar Assad to undertake future attacks, exposing more lives to harm — including those of people fleeing the violence...

Confronting suffering and hope in Syria (CNS/CNEWA) Fifteen Franciscan friars continue to live and work in Syria; two of the friars minister in towns controlled by Islamic State forces. The Rev. Michael Perry, minister general of the Franciscans, visited most of the friars the first week of April, but he could not enter areas controlled by Islamic State or by forces opposed to the government of President Bashar Assad...

Egypt names suicide bomber at Coptic church (Reuters) Egypt has named the suicide bomber who attacked a cathedral in Alexandria, describing him as a fugitive with links to militant cells that carried out previous strikes in the country. Mahmoud Hassan Mubarak Abdullah detonated his explosives at the entrance to Saint Mark’s Cathedral, the historic seat of the Coptic Pope, on Palm Sunday, killing 17 people as mass was being conducted...

Packed Iraq morgue reveals toll of Mosul conflict (Reuters) The stench hits you long before you reach the morgue where the latest casualties of war between Islamic State militants and Iraqi forces are kept. Doctor Mansour Maarouf dons a surgical mask as he approaches the morgue refrigerator and pauses before pulling open the door to an icy blast. “In the name of God,” he says out of respect for the dead. Inside, around two dozen corpses lie on the floor: some in body bags, several wrapped in blankets and a few so torn to pieces they come in sacks...

Christians prepare for Easter in Russia (Asia News) This year Russian Catholics and Orthodox Christians are preparing together in Easter services. As happens every five or six years, in 2017 the date of Easter coincides for all Christian denominations. The Great and Holy Week — as it is called in the Byzantine Rite (also the title of “Authentic Week” or “Passion”) — began three days ago with crowds of faithful gathered with the willow branches (the olive tree does not grow in Russia) in procession around the Orthodox churches, but also Catholic ones (about 300 across the country)...



12 April 2017
Greg Kandra




In this image from 2016, Chaldean Catholic Patriarch Louis Sako of Baghdad is greeted by an elderly Iraqi woman after a prayer service at the Church of our Lady of Perpetual Help in Ainkawa. The patriarch this week released his Easter message to the Iraqi people.
(photo: CNS/Amel Pain, EPA)


Chaldean patriarch: Let the Easter flame not be turned off in your hearts (Vatican Radio) The Chaldean patriarch in his Easter message released on 9 April in Baghdad highlights the suffering and daily grief endured by Christians in Iraq and the world. The Chaldean Catholic Church has dedicated 2017 as the Year of Peace. For the patriarch, Holy Week culminating in the Easter celebration offers a fresh hope to breathe new life into prayer and reflection, reconciliation and dialogue...

Coptic patriarch: The massacres on Palm Sunday “were a test for the faith of Egypt’s Christians” (Fides) Pope Tawadros is sorrowful and deeply saddened, it is not easy to speak with him. This was how Patriarch Ibrahim Isaac Sidrak, Primate of the Copt Catholic Church expressed to Fides the feelings of many baptized Egyptians, after the carnage perpetrated last Sunday by suicide bombers in two Coptic Orthodox churches...

Holy Week for Copts will never be the same (Al Jazeera) Immediately following the twin bombings in Egypt that killed at least 40 Christians last Palm Sunday, the country’s president Abdel Fattah El Sisi released a statement saying “the attack ... will only harden the determination (of the Egyptian people) to move forward on their trajectory to realise security, stability and comprehensive development.” But just four months ago, another attack in Cairo’s Coptic Cathedral that killed at least 25 Christians did not bring Egyptians closer to security or stability...

Syrian nun honored by State Department says U.S. bombing is step back (CNS) Two weeks after the U.S. State Department honored her as a Woman of Courage, a Salesian sister from Syria told reporters President Donald Trump’s decision to bomb a Syrian air base is another step back from peace...

Easter plight of India’s Christians (Herald Malaysia Online) Even on Palm Sunday and Holy Week before Easter, there are reports of incidents of violence, intimidation and harassment against Christians in India, a discriminated minority oppressed by the majority Hindus...

Russian cosmonaut says he has taken relics of saints into space (AP) A Russian cosmonaut who has returned to Earth after a mission on the International Space Station said on Wednesday he had taken a relic of a Russian Orthodox saint with him. Astronauts and cosmonauts routinely take small items such as their children’s toys or CD’s with them as reminders of home. Sergei Ryzhikov told Russian news agencies that he would give the tiny relic of St. Serafim of Sarov’s body, which he received from its home monastery last year, to an Orthodox church in Star City outside Moscow, home to the cosmonaut training center...



11 April 2017
Greg Kandra




Security personnel investigate the scene of the 9 April bomb explosion outside the Cathedral of St. Mark in Alexandria, Egypt. (photo: CNS/EPA)

Coptic bombing victims to be honored at vigil (Vatican Radio) The Community of Sant’Egidio will hold their annual ecumenical prayer vigil on Tuesday, remembering especially the Coptic Christian martyrs and all those who are persecuted and killed for their faith...

Grief and desperation in Coptic community after Palm Sunday attack (CNN) Egypt’s Coptic Christians have spoken of their sadness — and their fears for the future — a day after terrorists targeted two churches packed with parishioners celebrating Palm Sunday. At least 49 people were killed in bombings at two churches in Tanta and Alexandria, the latest sectarian attacks one of the country’s most imperiled religious minorities. “We feel more angry today than we ever did before, and we feel desperate,” says Coptic Egyptian rights activist Mina Thabet. “Nothing is changing. The Copts feel very vulnerable and that no one cares about them...”

Clashes rock Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon (BBC) At least six people have been killed and 35 others wounded in clashes inside a Palestinian refugee camp in southern Lebanon since Friday, medics say. The fighting erupted when a joint security force deployed by the main Palestinian factions in Ein el-Hilweh came under fire from radical Islamists...

Fire destroys migrant camp in France (Vatican Radio) On Monday near Dunkirk in northern France, a large fire engulfed the Grande-Synthe migrant camp, which housed between 1,000 and 1,500 people in tightly-packed wooden cabins. French officials say the fire was caused by a fight that broke out between the Afghans and the Kurds living in the camp on Monday afternoon. Ten people were injured, including six who sustained wounds from the fight. Reports say riot police intervened and clashed with 100 or 150 migrants...

Winner of Rome marathon grew up in a Catholic mission in Ethiopia (Fides) Rahma Chota Tusa has won the Rome female Marathon for two years running. Rahma was born in Kofale, Ethiopia, where she grew up and trained at the Catholic Mission Sports Centre in Kofale, until she moved to the athletics team in Adama. “Rahma is one of 25 international level athletes who come from our breeding ground, she grew up with us and now lives in Addis Ababa,” said Fayisa Gameda, who works in the office of Kofale Catholic Mission...

Byzantine monk and nun debut cooking show (Aleteia.org) At a time when Christians are supposed to be “giving up stuff,” what are a monk and a nun doing in the kitchen cooking tasty meals? All Lent long, the two religious have been producing weekly cooking programs, tempting viewers to think about food rather than encouraging them to practice self-denial. But there’s more to their web-based program, Eastern Hospitality, than meets the palate...



10 April 2017
Greg Kandra




Mourners attend the 10 April funeral for victims of a bomb attack the previous day at the Orthodox Church of St. George in Tanta, Egypt. Also 9 April, an explosion went off outside the Cathedral of St. Mark in Alexandria where Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros II was presiding over the Palm Sunday service. (photo: CNS/Mohamed Hossam, EPA)



10 April 2017
Greg Kandra




Security personnel investigate the scene of a bomb explosion on 9 April inside the Orthodox Church of St. George in Tanta, Egypt. That same day an explosion went off outside the Cathedral of St. Mark in Alexandria where Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros II was presiding over the Palm Sunday service. (photo: CNS/Khaled Elfiqi, EPA)

Pope condemns Cairo terror attack (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis condemned the terror attack on a Coptic church dedicated to St. George — Mar Girgis — in the city of Tanta, north of Cairo, which killed upward of two dozen people and injured nearly 60 others...

Vatican official: Egypt attacks won’t stop pope’s visit (CNS) Despite recent and repeated terrorist attacks against Egypt’s minority Christian communities, Pope Francis will not cancel his visit to Egypt. “The pope’s trip to Egypt proceeds as scheduled,” Greg Burke, Vatican spokesman, told Catholic News Service by email 10 April. The pope is scheduled to meet governmental and interfaith leaders during a 28-29 April visit to Cairo...

Christians and Muslims in Iraq march together for peace (Vatican Radio) This Holy Week in Iraq, Christians and Muslims will walk for 140 km [87 miles] through the Nineveh Plain in the name of peace and the end of violence in a once mostly Christian inhabited area. The peace march is supported by the Chaldean Patriarchate, which declared 2017 as “the Year of Peace...”

Christian worshipers flock to Jerusalem for Palm Sunday (Haaretz) Crowds of faithful gathered at Jerusalem’s Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the traditional site of Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection. Many waved palm fronds to symbolize how worshipers greeted Jesus over 2,000 years ago as he triumphantly entered Jerusalem...

Christians in Kerala welcome Palm Sunday (Mathrubhumi.com) The Christian community in Kerala observed Palm Sunday with prayer meetings and processions with palm leaves...

In managing drought, Ethiopia serves as a model (The National) The Horn of Africa is suffering its worst drought in decades, with devastating humanitarian consequences. Two districts in South Sudan are officially in famine. Areas of Somalia and Yemen are on the brink. Hundreds of thousands of people are at risk of death, while millions face severe disruption to their lives and livelihoods. The drought has affected Ethiopia too. In 2015, it experienced its most severe dry spell in 50 years, and there are fears that 2017’s rains will fail too. But in this East African country, once the poster child for poverty in Africa, no one is talking about famine. Unlike Somalia and South Sudan, Ethiopia is doing something right...



6 April 2017
Greg Kandra




Michal Kozlowski, left, and Nick Sinopoli are among the high school students organizing Project Syria LIVE, a fundraiser for CNEWA being held in Sleepy Hollow, New York on 28 April.
(photo: Greg Kandra)


At a time when a lot of teenagers are planning for the prom or looking forward to summer break, one group from New York is planning a big fundraiser to help the people of Syria.

“It started at World Youth Day in Krakow,” says Michal Kozlowski, a junior at Regis High School in New York City. “One of my friends I met there is from Syria and he started telling me about his brother, who lives under ISIS. He was speaking from the heart about what he had to do just to survive. Then Pope Francis spoke to us and said, ‘The leaders of today dream in their comfy couches but they don’t get out of that couch and make that dream a reality.’ The crowd roared and I thought: ‘I’ve got to do something.”

That “something” is a charity called Relief United, a consortium of 10 public and private schools in the greater New York area that will host a fundraiser called Project Syria LIVE for CNEWA on 28 April:

The fundraiser for refugees will take place at Kingsland Point Park in Sleepy Hollow, NY from 5:30pm — 10:00pm and will provide a fun night for the community which will include a “Battle of Bands” comprised of local bands and other talented youth from local high schools along with special guests such as “Voice” finalist, Amanda Ayala. The evening will also feature speakers and exhibits highlighting the plight of the displaced, with a special focus on teenaged refugees. Admission is $15 and can be purchased at Relief United’s online Eventbrite, reliefunited.org. Tickets at the door will cost $20. A variety of food trucks will also be onsite to ensure a fun, well fed evening. 100 percent of donations and profits will go directly to CNEWA.

You can read more about the project here.

“Hopefully,” Michal says, “this can have an impact similar to what I had at World Youth Day. We want to organize energetic youth under a common, good goal to do something good.”

“This is something we feel passionate about,” adds Nick Sinopoli, another junior from Regis working with Michal on the project. “It’s something we can do to make a real difference in the world.”

It’s a remarkable undertaking, and CNEWA is privileged to be a part of it — and grateful to the young people who are putting it together to help our brothers and sisters in need.

To learn more, visit the Relief United website, or check out the organization’s GoFundMe page.



6 April 2017
Greg Kandra




A volunteer works to clean the Chaldean Catholic church of Mar Addai in Iraq. Finally liberated from ISIS, the church will celebrate Palm Sunday for the first time in three years.
(photo: Paul Thabit Mekko/Facebook)


Some wonderful news from Iraq:

“We will celebrate Palm Sunday in Karamles, one of the towns in the Nineveh plain” occupied and devastated by the Islamic State (ISIS). The function will be held “in the church of Mar Addai, we’ve cleaned it up these days” (see photo) and “it will be broadcast live on Facebook,” says the Rev. Paul Thabit Mekko. The 41-year-old Chaldean priest from Mosul can barely hide his “enthusiasm, but also emotion” just days before the first celebration in the Christian town for three years now. “It will be a community celebration,” he adds, a community that meets again just at the eve of Passover. A real resurrection, but also the first Easter of liberation "from Daesh [Arabic acronym for the IS, or ISIS].

“I will concelebrate together with the Karamles,” says the Chaldean priest. He continues, “at least 10 buses are scheduled to leave from Erbil, for a total number of about 400 people.” These are people originally from “Karamles, who still live in shelters and rented homes” in the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan. Added to these are “dozens people who come in private cars and means of transport.”

Father Paul is responsible for the refugee camp “Eyes of Erbil,” on the outskirts of the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan, where hundreds of thousands of Christians (along with Muslims and Yazidis) in time have found shelter following the rise of the ISIS. There still 140 families, about 700 people in all, with 46 mini-apartments in the camp and an area for the collection and distribution of aid, a nursery for toddlers as well as a kindergarten and a secondary school. Many of these refugees are from Karamles.

“In the last few weeks,” says Father Paul, “many people come to the town every day to fix up their houses, trying to make the area new, although it is currently not possible to predict a date for for the return.” In Karamles, adds, “the situation is still difficult. We have about 800 homes, 200 of which are burned, then another 90 have been completely destroyed; hundreds more are damaged for various reasons. The destruction is everywhere.”

Read more.

Also, to watch the Palm Sunday liturgy on Facebook, visit this link.

Meanwhile, for more on the plight of Christians in Iraq, read “God Wants Me Here,” a web exclusive story in the March 2017 edition of ONE.



6 April 2017
Greg Kandra




Students attend classes taught by the Daughters of Mary at St. Joseph’s Home for Children in Pallanad, India. The church is working to help children victimized by alcoholism and abuse in their families. Read more about efforts at Breaking the Cycle in the current edition of ONE.
(photo: Don Duncan)








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