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December, 2017
Volume 43, Number 4
  
29 February 2016
Greg Kandra




Abune Mathias I, patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, visited Pope Francis today. (video: Rome Reports)

Pope Francis today met with His Holiness Abune Mathias, Patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church:

During the meeting the bishop of Rome emphasized that the patriarch’s visit strengthens the fraternal bonds that already unite both churches. He mentioned as milestones of the common path towards unity His Holiness Abune Paulos’s encountered with St. John Paul II in 1993 and with Pope Benedict XVI in 2009, who invited him to participate in the Synod of Bishops for Africa as was common practice in the early church for representatives to be sent to the synods of other churches. Likewise, a delegation from the Holy See was present at the 2012 funeral of Patriarch Abune Paulos.

Moreover, as Francis explained, since 2004 the Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox churches have deepened their communion through theological dialogue in the International Joint Commission, which over the years has analyzed the fundamental concept of the churches’ communion understood as participation in the communion between Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Many things have been found in common: one faith, one baptism, one Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, and many elements of the monastic traditions and the liturgy. “What unites us,” the pope said, “is greater than what divides us.”

The meeting comes at a time when Ethiopia is facing tremendous challenges. As we’ve reported in our magazine, the country is undergoing rapid urbanization and contending with the worst drought in decades. To learn more about the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church — and its rich history in Africa — check out our profile from the May 2010 edition of ONE.



Tags: Pope Francis Ecumenism Christian Unity Patriarchs Ethiopian Orthodox Church

29 February 2016
Greg Kandra




Refugees speak to the press on the Greek-Macedonia border on 29 February 2016 in Idomeni, Greece. (photo: Pierre Crom/Getty Images)

Pope prays for refugees, Syria (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Sunday prayed for refugees fleeing wars and what he called “other inhuman situations.” In particular, he drew attention to the migrant crisis in Greece and in other countries that are on the front line in offering aid to those in need which he added, required the cooperation of all nations…

Syria’s cease-fire holding (Time Magazine) A fragile cease-fire remained intact for a third day in parts of Syria on Monday, even as monitoring groups reported renewed Russian airstrikes on areas held by opponents of the Syrian government. The cease-fire applies only to the government and its allies, and a handful of rebel groups…

Canada welcomes 25,000th Syrian refugee (CBC) A plane touched down in Montreal on Saturday night carrying the 25,000th Syrian refugee to arrive in Canada since November. It marks the end of the first phase of the resettlement program launched by the Liberal government shortly after taking office…

Pope Francis to Ethiopian patriarch: Martyrs are the seed of Christian unity (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis urged world leaders to “promote peaceful coexistence” in the face of “a devastating outbreak of violence against Christians” on Monday, when he received the patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, Abune Matthias I, in the Vatican…

U.S. warns of ‘catastrophic failure’ if Mosul dam breaks (CNN) Iraq’s Mosul Dam is facing a “serious and unprecedented risk of catastrophic failure with little warning,” the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad warned on Sunday. “A catastrophic breach of Iraq’s Mosul Dam would result in severe loss of life, mass population displacement, and destruction of the majority of the infrastructure within the path of the projected floodwave,” the U.S. government said in a fact sheet…

After 20 years, Palestinians in Gaza can once again go to the movies (Reuters) Palestinians in the Gaza Strip are enjoying their first night out at the movies since political tensions led to the torching of cinemas in the enclave 20 years ago. Hollywood blockbusters have yet to return and Hamas Islamists, who now rule Gaza, are looking out for anything they consider immodest. Nevertheless, the projectors are rolling again, in a newly opened cinema whose shows have been limited so far to films about the Palestinian struggle for statehood…

Christians protest book claiming Jesus was a Hindu (Christian Today) Indian Christians in Maharashtra state have protested against a book by one of the founders of the right-wing Hindu nationalist political organization Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (R.S.S.) claiming Jesus was a Hindu. First published in 1946 and written by Ganesh Savarkar, Christ Parichay — translated into English as “Jesus was a Tamil Hindu” — claims Jesus was a Brahmin and that Christianity is just a sect of Hinduism…



Tags: Syria Iraq India Ethiopia Gaza Strip/West Bank

26 February 2016
Greg Kandra




Father Sharbel Bcheiry plays with his sons Gabriel, 5, and Emmanuel, 3, at his home in suburban Chicago. To read more about the life of a married priest, check out this profile from the
Summer 2015 edition of ONE. (photo: Karen Callaway)




26 February 2016
Greg Kandra




A Syrian boy receives treatment for wounds, sustained following an airstrike, at a make-shift hospital in the rebel-held city of Douma in Eastern Ghouta, on 26 February 2016. Intense fighting has continued, just hours before a midnight deadline for a landmark ceasefire in the country's five-year civil war. (photo: Abd Doumany/AFP/Getty Images)

Syria ceasefire deadline looms, fighting continues (CNN) As the clock races toward the deadline for Syria’s warring parties to declare them in or out of a proposed “cessation of hostilities,” the stakes could hardly be higher — for those groups vying for power, for the Syrian people, for the Middle East, for Europe — and for the world as a whole...

Pope Francis meets with members of ‘Cor Unum’ (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Friday met with participants at an international conference organised by the Pontifical Council “Cor Unum’ to mark the tenth anniversary of Pope Benedict XVI’s first encyclical ‘Deus Caritas Est’. Reflecting on the theme of the conference, “Love will never end’, Pope Francis said the message of the encyclical remains timely, especially in this Jubilee year as we celebrate the central belief of our faith, that God is love...

Cardinal Sandri addresses conference on Christianity in the Middle East (Vatican Radio) Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, Prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches, spoke on Thursday to an international conference organized by the German Episcopal Conference and the University of Munich. The International Conference Between World Society and Regional Transformations: Christians, Christian Churches, and Religion in a Changing Middle East took place in Rome on 24-26 February. Many Catholic and Orthodox leaders from the Middle East took part in the event...

Franciscans in India request 1,000 pardons for inmates (CNS) In honor of the Holy Year of Mercy, Franciscans in India have asked their government to pardon 1,000 prisoners guilty of minor crimes. The men and women religious of the Association of the Franciscan Families of India voted during their national assembly in February to make the request, according to Matters India, a news portal that focuses on religious and social issues in India...

Egyptian court sentences Coptic Christians to five years in prison (Fides) The Egyptian court in Minya issued a heavy sentence against four Coptic students accused of contempt of Islam after mimicking an Islamic State beheading video of a Muslim faithful who was praying...



Tags: Syria India Egypt Pope Francis

25 February 2016
Greg Kandra




The faithful gather to pray at the Church of the Forty Martyrs in Mardin, Turkey. To learn more about Christians who have returned to their homeland, read Coming Home in the Winter 2015 edition of ONE. (photo: Don Duncan)



25 February 2016
Greg Kandra




A refugee woman from Syria carries food while other displaced people sit near a border gate in Kilis, Turkey, on 9 February. (photo: CNS/Sedat Suna, EPA)

Iraqi Christians move to have greater representation of minorities in government (Fides) In recent days, members of Christians present in the Parliamentary Assembly of Iraq have called for greater representation of minorities in the government of technocrats led by Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, at least in part to stem the marginalization suffered by Christians and other minorities...

UN says aid drop to Syria failed (BBC) The UN’s first aid-drop over the Syrian city of Deir al-Zour, part of which is under siege by Islamic State militants, may have been off-target. Wednesday’s operation “faced technical difficulties” and “adjustments” were needed, the World Food Programme said. It added that it would try again when possible to deliver aid to the 200,000 civilians who have been trapped in a government-held area since March 2014...

Report: Turkish troops engaged in covert battle against ISIS (The Telegraph) Turkish troops are locked in a covert fight against ISIS in north Iraq, the Telegraph has learned, despite Baghdad’s insistence that they leave the country. Just nine miles northeast of the Isil stronghold of Mosul a number of tanks overlook the sprawling Nineveh plains, where they have been positioned for months. With their barrels trained on the city, Ankara’s ground forces are engaged in shelling Isil, according to a Kurdish Peshmerga general...

The science behind Ethiopia’s hunger crisis (Mother Jones) Tens of millions of people are facing a hunger crisis as a widespread drought is decimating crops and livestock in Ethiopia and southern Africa. The drought — which has received far less US media coverage California’s dry spell — could prove to be one of the most devastating consequences of the ongoing El Niño event that is wreaking havoc on global weather...

Secondhand clothes from Israel prove popular in Gaza (AP) The clothes were faded and worn out, and came from an unlikely place: Israel. But that didn't bother the Palestinian women rummaging through piles of tattered jeans, shirts, jackets and baby clothing at the weekly flea market in a refugee camp in central Gaza. Demand for the garments has become a barometer for the economic situation in Gaza, where after nearly a decade of rule by the Hamas militant group, poverty and unemployment levels are higher than ever, and the market for used clothing is buoyant...

Ukraine agrees to resume truck transit back to Russia (TASS) Ukraine’s cabinet of ministers approved the proposal of the ministry of infrastructure to unlock Russia’s motor freight transit in its territory on Wednesday. “We are ready to put back temporary permits from midnight of 25 February and return transit actually blocked for the last ten days to Ukraine’s territory,” minister of infrastructure Andrei Pivovarsky said...



Tags: Syria Iraq Ethiopia Gaza Strip/West Bank Turkey

24 February 2016
Greg Kandra




Pope Francis and Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill of Moscow sign a joint declaration during a meeting at Jose Marti International Airport in Havana on 12 February. Standing in front of Cuba’s flag is Cuban President Raul Castro. (photo: CNS/Paul Haring)

Relations between Vatican and Russian Orthodox expected to develop further (Sputnik News) Relations between the Russian Orthodox and the Roman Catholic churches will positively develop further following the historic meeting of their two religious leaders, the Russian Patriarch’s press secretary said Wednesday...

ISIS losing ground (Vox) Libyan fighters are celebrating a major victory on Tuesday: They’ve driven ISIS out of parts of Benghazi, eastern Libya’s largest city, building on advances in and around the city on Sunday. ISIS isn’t just losing in Benghazi. In its home base in Syria and Iraq, it’s lost up to 30 percent of its territory from its peak in August 2014. And it’s tried expanding abroad, officially declaring a wilayat — which literally means “province” and refers to ISIS’s foreign franchises — in roughly a dozen countries...

Health care professionals visit Gaza (The Des Moines Register) In mid-January of this year, 13 health care professionals — including two physicians from Des Moines, myself and Maria Filippone — joined a medical delegation to Gaza, organized by Washington Physicians for Social Responsibility. This was the 11th medical delegation sponsored by WPSR since 2009...

Indian archbishop urges action over Christian unemployment (UCANews) An Indian archbishop is urging the government to take steps to reverse a rising unemployment rate among Christians. “Unemployment among Christians is really a problem,” said Archbishop Leo Cornelio of Bhopal. The government should formulate “measures to eradicate” unemployment among Christians so “that the trust and confidence can be formed among the (religious) minority community,” he said in a 24 February statement...

Head of Ukrainian Catholic Church consoled by pope’s words (CNS) The head of the Ukrainian Catholic Church said he was consoled by Pope Francis’ words of understanding and tenderness after he expressed the disappointment of Ukrainians with a joint declaration signed by the pope and the Russian Orthodox patriarch. The pope’s remarks were “truly the opening of the doors of mercy,” said Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk of Kiev-Halych, head of the Ukrainian Catholic Church...

Turkish mayor vows to build biggest statue of Mary in the world (Fides) Turkish Mayor Zeynel Bakici, at the head of the town of Selcuk — where there is the archaeological site of the ancient city of Ephesus — has relauched plans to build the tallest statue in the world dedicated to the Virgin Mary at the foot of Bulbul Dagi . Selcuk — said the mayor according to Turkish sources consulted by Agenzia Fides — has applied to host the 2017 edition of the international Symposium on religious tourism and pilgrimages, and in this circumstance conventioneers may already find the imposing statue of the Mother of Christ...



Tags: Syria India Lebanon Gaza Strip/West Bank Russian Orthodox

23 February 2016
Greg Kandra




Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia visited the Bellingshausen Station on Waterloo Island in Antarctica on 17 February, and got to spend a little quality time with some of the local residents. To learn more about his visit, check out this link. (photo: Moscow Patriarchate)



23 February 2016
Greg Kandra




A Syrian man walks past a poster bearing a portrait of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on a street in the capital Damascus on 23 February, 2016, a day after a ceasefire deal was announced.
(photo: Louai Beshara/AFP/Getty Images)


Syria agrees to truce (CBS News) The Syrian government said Tuesday that it had accepted a proposed truce in the country, adding that operations would nevertheless continue against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and al Qaeda’s branch in Syria. A Foreign Ministry statement on Tuesday said government forces would have the right to respond to any violation carried out by insurgents...

Assyrian hostages released (Vatican Radio) The Islamic State has released 43 Christians who were taken captive during a February 2015 military offensive in northeastern Syria, according to the Assyrian Church of the East Relief Organization (ACERO)...

Mobs in Ukraine attack Russian banks (The New York Times) The branch offices of three Russian banks were firebombed or looted over the weekend, and some of the attacks were the work of Ukrainian nationalists. Petroleum bombs were thrown at three branches of the Russian state banks Sberbank and VTB in the western city of Lviv early on Monday, destroying one in a burst of flames and damaging the other two. Also on Monday, attackers hurled stones at a Sberbank branch in Mariupol, in a government-controlled area of eastern Ukraine...

Canada on track to resettle 25,000 Syrian refugees (NPR) Canada is on the verge of hitting its goal of resettling 25,000 Syrian refugees before the end of this month. That’s notable because the country only started accepting these migrants less than four months ago. The government in Canada has relied on private citizens to help carry the load...

Bishop challenges Catholics to combat “ugly tide of anti-Islamic bigotry” (CNS) San Diego Bishop Robert W. McElroy is challenging U.S. Catholics to take an active role in combating “the scourge of anti-Islamic prejudice.” “We are witnessing in the United States a new nativism, which the American Catholic community must reject and label for the religious bigotry which it is,” he said in a keynote address delivered on 17 February in the University of San Diego’s Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice...

In Gaza, bicycles are a battleground for women who dare to ride (The New York Times) Many Palestinians frown at the idea of women bicycling in public because men might inappropriately leer at their legs moving up and down or ogle their bottoms. Female cyclists are a fairly unusual sight throughout the Arab world, though women participate in group rides in Cairo and Amman, and in Beirut, women pedal rented bikes on the Corniche, the pedestrian strip along the Mediterranean...



Tags: Syria Ukraine Gaza Strip/West Bank Russia Muslim

19 February 2016
Greg Kandra




CNEWA is able to accompany the churches and peoples of the Middle East, northeast Africa, India and Eastern Europe because of the loving support of donors such as Ms. Hafeli. (photo: CNEWA)

Greetings from southern California! I’m here with Chris Kennedy, from CNEWA’s development team, to meet with some longtime donors and visit a parish in the Diocese of Monterey this weekend.

Before we hit the trail this Friday, I wanted to share with you the story of Anna Hafeli, who lives in Santa Monica, just a few blocks from the beach. Anna is a marvel: a 97-years-young powerhouse who exudes such joy, you can’t help but be uplifted in her presence. She has been contributing to CNEWA for decades — supporting our seminarian programs and work in the Middle East and the Horn of Africa. She also has four annuities through CNEWA.

Touched that we took the time to drop by, she shared with us stories of her journey from her youth in Switzerland, to Canada, and then finally to California, where she worked a variety of odd jobs — mostly as a waitress — to make ends meet. We updated her on some of our programs and projects and gave her an olive wood cross from the Holy Land, along with a special blessing.

Deacon Greg Kandra and Chris Kennedy visit Anna Hafeli at her home in California. (photo: CNEWA)

To me, Anna represents the heart and soul of what CNEWA is about: faithful, committed people who quietly and selflessly give whatever they can to help those in need. Their generous spirit so often goes unnoticed. But today, I’d like you to notice Anna Hafeli. Thank you, Anna, for all you’ve done to make a difference in the lives of so many.

Visit this page to learn more about CNEWA’s annuity program and other options for planned giving — one of a variety of ways to join CNEWA on its worldwide mission. Or, to make an immediate Lenten gift, click here.

We’ll be visiting St. William’s Parish in Atascadero this weekend. I’ll be preaching at all the Masses. If you’re in the neighborhood, stop by and say hello.



Tags: CNEWA Middle East United States Donors Horn of Africa





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