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June, 2018
Volume 44, Number 2
  
29 November 2016
Greg Kandra




Syrian families, fleeing from various eastern districts of Aleppo, queue to get onto government buses before heading to government-controlled western Aleppo. The Syrian government offensive to recapture rebel-held Aleppo has prompted an exodus of civilians.
(photo: George Ourfalian/AFP/Getty Images)


‘Deeply alarming’: Thousands fleeing Aleppo (BBC) Up to 16,000 civilians have been displaced by the Syrian government’s advance into besieged rebel-held areas of the city of Aleppo, the UN says. Humanitarian chief Stephen O’Brien said thousands more were likely to flee if the fighting continued to spread and intensify in the coming days. He expressed concern about their fate, calling the situation deeply alarming...

Iraqi leader predicts ISIS collapse in Mosul (AP) Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi says Islamic State group fighters lack the courage to put up long-term resistance in Mosul, despite unleashing hundreds of car bombs that have killed and maimed Iraqi soldiers and civilians as the fight for Iraq’s second-largest city appears set to extend well into next year...

How ISIS recruiters found fertile ground in Kerala (The Guardian) India’s Muslim population, the third largest in the world, has so far contributed negligible numbers to ISIS — fewer than 90 people, according to most estimates. “More have gone from Britain, even from the Maldives, than India,” says Vikram Sood, a former chief of India’s foreign spy agency. But growing concern over the group’s influence was made official this month, when the US embassy in Delhi issued its first Isis-related warning, of an “increased threat to places in India frequented by Westerners, such as religious sites, markets and festival venues”...

15 arrested over burning Coptic guest house (Egypt Independent) The public prosecution ordered the remanding of 15 persons into custody over the burning of a Coptic community guest house in Naghameesh village, Sohag province, in the wake of rumors that the place had been turned into a church. All of the accused will be held for four days pending investigations, while another 13 persons were cleared and released...

‘My week living like a refugee’ (Catholic Register) From 14-17 November, I participated in an event called Life of a Mesopotamian Refugee. Students from the Assyrian Chaldean Syriac Student Union (ACSSU) wanted to reach two goals: to educate McMaster, Ryerson and York University students about refugees and to fundraise $30,000 to send to Iraq and Syria through the Catholic Near East Welfare Association (CNEWA). This year is the third time I tried to emulate the life of a refugee today, placing strong emphasis on the word “tried”...

VIDEO: Rebuilding a Greek Orthodox church in New York destroyed on 9/11 (The New York Times) Construction of the St. Nicholas National Shrine is underway...



28 November 2016
Greg Kandra




In the video above, experts raise concerns about the rising number of missing and exploited refugee children in Europe. (video: Rome Reports)

A third of Aleppo now taken by Syrian forces (BBC) Syrian government forces have captured a third of the rebel-held territory in eastern Aleppo, monitors say. The advance, after heavy bombing from the air, is a major blow for the armed opponents of President Bashar al-Assad...

Winter closes in on Iraqi refugees fleeing Mosul (Reuters) The United Nations is asking donors to fund winter kits for 1.2 million people — preparing for a worst case scenario that much of the city’s population may have to flee. Seventy-two thousand have fled so far, and winter has brought freezing temperatures. The Kurdish authorities are requiring fleeing civilians to stay in camps even if they have family outside, so that males can be checked for ties to Islamic State. Relatives crowded out front, bringing blankets and pillows...

Gaza risks becoming an ‘easy launch pad’ for ISIS (The Jerusalem Post) Palestinian infighting and years of an Israeli blockade could turn the impoverished Gaza Strip into an easy “launching pad” for Islamic State recruiters, Qatar's foreign minister says.

African ant colonies pose threat around Christian churches (CNBC) The ant colonies are in the forests that surround Orthodox Christian churches in Ethiopia, which are some of the last natural forests in the country. Ethiopian Christians have long surrounded their churches with woodland. Some of these forests are more than a thousand years old, and are unusually rich areas of biodiversity in areas otherwise barren or deforested for agriculture.

Iconography classes attract non-Orthodox (RNS) Anna Schalk finds herself weeping each time she enters an Orthodox church and gazes at the flat, colorful icons of Jesus and the Virgin Mary. The impressionistic painter had long been drawn to spiritual images but this year she took a big step beyond her own artistic and religious traditions. At a summer workshop, she created an icon of her own, alongside other students who spent a week together with the same mission. “It’s like a meditative experience,” said the retired pediatric occupational therapist, a Roman Catholic, comparing her work on the icon to partaking in Communion...



23 November 2016
Greg Kandra




At St. Mary’s, a Byzantine Catholic church in Kingston, Pennsylvania, parishioners make peroghi. (photo: Cody Christopulos).

As families in the United States gather together for Thanksgiving Day — and abundant feasting — we’re reminded of other cultures that have their own celebrated food traditions. In 2005, we took a look at some Eastern European delicacies in a corner of Pennsylvania:

In the early 20th century many Ruthenian immigrants came from villages in Slovakia, Poland and Ukraine to work in the coal mines of Pennsylvania. St. Mary Protector, a Byzantine Catholic church in Kingston, near Wilkes-Barre, was founded to serve these immigrants, whose descendants have stayed in the area long after the mines shut down.

Four times a year St. Mary’s holds a peroghi sale, twice during the 40-day Filipovka fast before Christmas and twice during the 40-day Great Fast before Easter.

For each sale, about 30 volunteers spend two days making 4,000 potato peroghi. Church fund-raisers selling Ruthenian food are common in most parts of Pennsylvania, including my hometown of Bethlehem. (The regional popularity of peroghi is such that Pittsburgh is called the “peroghi capital of the world.”) The language and many of the traditions of the old country may fade, but its foods bind the generations together. Such is the American “melting pot.”

Read more from the January 2005 edition of ONE.



Tags: Cultural Identity United States Eastern Europe Cuisine

23 November 2016
Greg Kandra




Metropolitan Justinus Boulos Safar, the Syriac Orthodox patriarchal vicar of Zahle and Bekaa [editor’s note: mistakenly referred to as “Syriac Orthodox patriarch of Antioch” in narration], says Christian refugees have been a blessing and an opportunity to put the faith into practice. (video: Rome Reports)

Mosul completely surrounded by Iraqi troops (CNN) The city of Mosul is now entirely surrounded by Iraqi-led forces, an alliance of paramilitary groups said Wednesday, more than a month since the operation was launched to seize control of the key city from ISIS militants. The Popular Mobilization Units made the announcement in a statement that was also distributed by the Iraqi Joint Operations Command…

Christianity returns to the Nineveh Plain (CNA) Two years after the sound of church bells was replaced by the sound of explosives in Bashiqa, Iraq, just north of Mosul, Christians are again celebrating the Divine Liturgy after forcing the Islamic State out of their homeland...

Single male refugees face hardships in Lebanon (Huffington Post) A study of single, male refugees in Lebanon by the International Rescue Committee, published earlier this year, paints an alarming picture of men struggling to access aid and vulnerable to exploitation. Among the 500 men interviewed, 53 percent did not register with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, due to access restraints and misconceptions about their eligibility. While 19 percent was not able to reach one of the centers, at least 30 percent believed unmarried men are automatically ineligible to register and 8 percent believed they would not get aid even if they registered…

Pope meets with Islamic culture group (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis met in the Vatican on Wednesday with participants at a colloquium organized by the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue and the Islamic Culture and Relations Organization from Tehran…

Maronite bishop named chairman of board of C.R.S. (U.S.C.C.B.) Bishop Gregory John Mansour of the Maronite Eparchy of St. Maron of Brooklyn has been appointed chairman of Catholic Relief Services (C.R.S.) Board of Directors by Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. The cardinal made the announcement on 22 November. The C.R.S. appointment is effective for a three-year term…

Activist: Three years after uprising, life in Ukraine ‘considerably worse’ (Sputnik) The Ukrainian leadership has failed to salvage the economy, tackle corruption and improve the lives of the people two and a half years after the protests in central Kiev, which became known as Euromaidan, led to a coup, activist and blogger Dennis Schedrivy told Radio Sputnik, painting a grim picture of what life is like in Ukraine these days…



Tags: Iraq Lebanon Ukraine Refugees Pope

22 November 2016
Greg Kandra




A glimpse inside the wooden church in Ladomirova, Slovakia. To learn more about these remarkable churches, read Rooted in Wood from the May 2008 edition of ONE.
(photo: Andrej Bán )




22 November 2016
Greg Kandra




In this image from 18 November, a boy comforts a child waiting for medical treatment at a makeshift hospital in Douma, Syria. The U.N. reports health services in Syria have been devastated by the ongoing conflict in the country. (photo: Abd Doumany/AFP/Getty Images)

UN: Syria health services ‘devastated’ by war (VOA) Top United Nations aid officials warned Monday that health care services in Syria have been devastated by bombings and the nearly six-year-old conflict. “Over half the country’s public hospitals and primary health care centers are either closed or only partially functioning,” the World Health Organization’s representative in Syria, Elizabeth Hoff, told a meeting of the U.N. Security Council via a video link from Damascus. “Almost two-thirds of all health professionals have left the country; domestic production of medicines has dropped by two-thirds and vaccination coverage rates have dropped by half,” she said...

U.S. strike destroys bridge, restricts ISIS (Reuters) U.S. forces backing Iraqi troops retaking Mosul from Islamic State carried out an air strike on a bridge spanning the Tigris river, restricting militant movements between western and eastern parts of the city, a U.S. official said on Tuesday...

In Jordan, a Syrian refugee camp withers (Reuters) Mohammad Othman’s bicycle route through the marketplace in the Syrian refugee camp of Zaatari was once a struggle against a tide of people. Now it’s an easy ride. So many residents have left for the West, or been forced back to Syria by Jordanian authorities, that Zaatari, once the fastest-growing refugee camp in the Middle East, has gone quiet...

Chaldean bishop: ‘Speak up about Middle Eastern Christians’ (CUA.edu) The perilous state of Christianity in the Middle East was the topic of discussion on 17 November as Chaldean Bishop Francis Y. Kalabat, eparch of the Chaldean Catholic Diocese of Detroit, addressed members of the Catholic University community. Speaking as part of a panel discussion organized by the School of Theology and Religious Studies (STRS), Bishop Kalabat explained the complexities of keeping Christianity alive in the Middle East, and the struggles of Christians who live there...

Coptic patriarch visits Kuwait (Herald Malaysia) The Patriarch Ibrahim Isaac, the spiritual leader of the Catholic Copts, the largest Egyptian Catholic community, made his first pastoral visit to Kuwait last week. Upon arriving at the airport, the patriarch said he was very happy to visit the country for the first time. “Thousands of different nationalities and faiths live in this state, known for its religious tolerance,” he said. “The Egyptian community is very well received in Kuwait. For many of them, it is a second home country...”

Awakening to the religious divide in Kerala (Asia Times) ”What was it like growing up? Did you ever sense a divide between the Muslims and Hindus?” My editorial assistant, a Kashmiri Pundit woman half my age, wanted to know. The truth is I had no sense of religion as I grew up. In Avadi, the ordnance factory township in southern India, religion took a backseat to national spirit. Every morning at school we took a pledge: “India is my country and all Indians are my brothers and sisters...”



21 November 2016
Greg Kandra




Children gather for religion class taught by the Rev. Androwas Bahus at St. Andrea the Apostle Melkite Catholic Church in Israel. To learn more, check out A Day in the Life of an Israeli Priest from the Winter 2015 edition of ONE. (photo: Ilene Perlman)



21 November 2016
Greg Kandra




An event organized by the University of Edinburgh asked people around the world to light candles as a show of solidarity with the war-torn city of Aleppo. Over the weekend, the city was pounded by what has been described as the “heaviest bombardment” since the war began.
(video: Rome Reports)


Aleppo pounded by ‘heaviest bombardment’ since war began (CNN) Syrian regime forces pounded eastern Aleppo with airstrikes for a sixth straight day Sunday, bringing the death toll to almost 300 in the most intense bombing since the war began five years ago, rescuers say. Among the latest reported violence: a suspected chemical attack that killed four children and their parents. Two activist groups — the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human rights and Aleppo Media Center — said a barrage of barrel bombs struck their neighborhood, al-Sakhour...

Civilian exodus slows Iraq’s push to take control of Mosul (AP) Iraqi troops on Sunday fortified their positions in Mosul neighborhoods retaken from ISIS as their advance toward the city center was slowed by sniper fire and suicide bombings, as well as concern over the safety of civilians. The troops laid siege Sunday to the Al-Zohour neighborhood, about 5 miles from the city center. The arrival of the troops at the neighborhood’s fringes prompted hundreds of civilians to emerge from their homes waving white flags. The special forces later drove ISIS from two other neighborhoods...

Salesians remain in Syria, promoting reconciliation and forgiveness (CNA) Father Alejandro León is a Salesian missionary who has lived more than 13 years in the Middle East, and in Syria since 2011 — precisely when its civil war began. He has said that being there during the war is “a sign of mercy and the love of God,” even though it involves risking his own life and often being close to death...

Patriarch Kirill: ‘Western laws clash with moral nature of man’ (RT) In an exclusive interview with RT, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill, shared his ideas on the difficult situations of Christians in the Middle East, the US presidential election, and European multiculturalism...

Indian bishops express sorrow over victims of train crash (Vatican Radio) “We are very saddened by this tragic incident,” says Bishop Theodore Mascarenhas, secretary general of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference (CBCI) commenting on Sunday’s train disaster near Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh. The Indore-Patna train early Sunday Morning, derailed, perhaps due to a crack in the rails, killing at least 143 and injuring around 180...

At close of Year of Mercy, Pope issues new Apostolic Letter on mercy (Vatican Radio) Although the Extraordinary Jubilee Year has concluded, we are still living in a “time of mercy.” That was the message of Pope Francis in a lengthy Apostolic Letter, entitled Misericordia et misera, (“Mercy and Misery”), issued on Monday following the close of the Year of Mercy...

Christian refugees: When success means just being seen and heard and remembered (Aleteia) In Amman, we met Christian refugees from Iraq, and among them were doctors, and lawyers, and highly-trained professionals who, afforded a safe place to live, had discovered that a refugee’s reality is one stripped of a sense of purpose. To be together with their families, away from the threats of the murderous Islamic State is a blessing, to be sure, but the days can hang heavy, and you can lose sight of yourself — and of hope — when you have no way to work at your life’s calling...



18 November 2016
Greg Kandra





Our CNEWA team hits the road again this weekend: I’ll be visiting Sacred Heart Catholic Church and St. Mary Mother of the Redeemer Church in Groton, Connecticut, accompanied by our development associate, Christopher Kennedy. Check the websites for Mass times.

I’ll be preaching at all the Masses this weekend, sharing the latest news about CNEWA’s vitally important work among the suffering displaced people of Iraq and Syria. How can you help your persecuted brothers and sisters in the Middle East? Join us this weekend and find out.

Hope to see you there!



18 November 2016
Greg Kandra




Mothers in a remote village in India bring their children forward for a blessing from Archbishop Kuriakose Bharanikulangara and Msgr. John E. Kozar. Read more about Msgr. Kozar’s visit and see some of his stunning photographs in Reaching the Unreached in India in the Winter 2014 edition of ONE. (photo: John E. Kozar)







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