19 February 2013
In this image from 2006, Pope Benedict XVI and Mustafa Cagrici, the grand mufti of Istanbul, pray in the Blue Mosque in Istanbul. In trying to help people understand how belief in God is a natural part of life and provides grounding for the values that protect human dignity and peaceful coexistence, Pope Benedict saw Muslims and Jews as natural allies. (photo: CNS/Patrick Hertzog, Pool via Reuters)
During his papacy, Pope Benedict XVI has encouraged Christian-Muslim dialogue. He mentioned that prominently in his apostolic exhortation, delivered during his trip to Lebanon last September:
“May this region demonstrate that coexistence is not a utopia, and that distrust and prejudice are not a foregone conclusion. Religions can join one another in service to the common good and contribute to the development of each person and the building of society. The Christians of the Middle East have experienced for centuries the dialogue between Islam and Christianity. For them it means the dialogue of and in daily life. They know its rich possibilities and its limitations.”
15 February 2013
Tags: Pope Benedict XVI Unity Turkey Muslim Christian-Muslim relations
In this image from 2009, Pope Benedict XVI takes in the panoramic view from Mount Nebo in Madaba, Jordan. The place where Moses glimpsed the Promised Land before dying is marked by a modern sculpture of the prophet’s serpentine staff. (photo: CNS/Ali Jarekji, Reuters)
During his trip to the Holy Land in 2009, Pope Benedict XVI visited Mount Nebo in Jordan, the spot where tradition holds that Moses saw the Promised Land.
In a message that seems today both poignant and prophetic, the Holy Father said at the time:
In the footsteps of the prophets, the apostles and the saints, we are called to walk with the Lord, to carry on his mission, to bear witness to the Gospel of God’s universal love and mercy.
We are called to welcome the coming of Christ’s kingdom by our charity, our service to the poor and our efforts to be a leaven of reconciliation, forgiveness and peace in the world around us.
We know that, like Moses, we may not see the complete fulfillment of God’s plan in our lifetime. Yet we trust that, by doing our small part, in fidelity to the vocation each of us has received, we will help to make straight the paths of the Lord and welcome the dawn of his kingdom.
The full text of his remarks can be found here.
You can read more on the pope’s trip from the July 2009 issue of ONE.
14 February 2013
Tags: Pope Benedict XVI Jordan Pilgrimage/pilgrims
Pope Benedict XVI prays at the Western Wall, Judaism’s holiest prayer site, in the Old City of Jerusalem on 12 May 2009. The pope left a written prayer in a crevice of the wall. It appealed to God to bring “your peace upon this Holy Land, upon the Middle East, upon the entire human family.” (photo: CNS/Catholic Press Photo)
Like his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI has spent much of his time as pontiff traveling the world. In 2009, he made a historic pilgrimage to the Holy Land, praying at sites sacred to Christians, Muslims and Jews. He said at the time:
My friends: Jerusalem, which has long been a crossroads for peoples of many different origins, is a city that affords Jews, Christians and Muslims both the duty and the privilege to bear witness together to the peaceful coexistence long desired by worshipers of the one God; to lay bare the Almighty’s plan for the unity of the human family announced to Abraham; and to proclaim the true nature of man as a seeker of God. Let us resolve to ensure that through the teaching and guidance of our respective communities we shall assist them to be true to who they are as believers, ever aware of the infinite goodness of God, the inviolable dignity of every human being and the unity of the entire human family.
You can read more of his remarks from his journey in the July 2009 issue of ONE.
13 February 2013
Tags: Middle East Jerusalem Pope Benedict XVI Holy Land Prayers/Hymns/Saints
Pope Benedict XVI receives ashes from Cardinal Angelo Comastri, archpriest of St. Peter's Basilica, during Ash Wednesday Mass at the Vatican on 13 February. The service is expected to be the last large liturgical event of Pope Benedict's papacy, following his announced resignation. (photo: CNS/Paul Haring)
12 February 2013
Tags: Pope Benedict XVI Vatican Pope
Pope Benedict XVI has made many travels during his pontificate, including a historic trip to Lebanon in September, to deliver his apostolic exhortation. In this image, he is welcomed to Bkerke by Maronite Patriarch Bechara Peter. Click here to read the full text of the exhortation. You can also read analysis of the document by Father Elias Mallon in the November 2012 issue of ONE. (photo: John E. Kozar)
11 February 2013
Tags: Lebanon Pope Benedict XVI Ecumenism Christian Unity Exhortation
In this photo from the Vatican taken last June, CNEWA’s President Msgr. John E. Kozar shares a moment with Pope Benedict XVI. The Holy Father met Msgr. Kozar during the 85th annual ROACO (Assembly of aid Agencies for the Eastern Churches) in Rome. (photo: L’Osservatore Romano)
8 February 2013
Parishioners, clutching rosaries, attend a liturgy in the Catholic village of Azadan. (photo: Armineh Johannes)
A continuing theme in many of our stories is how faith survives — often under seemingly impossible circumstances.
In 2006, for example, we took a look at the resilient faith of the people of Armenia:
Under the Communists, and particularly under Josef Stalin, all religions in the Armenian Soviet Socialist Republic were vigorously suppressed. Eventually, some accommodations were made with the Armenian Apostolic Church. But Armenian Catholics — which today number 220,000 of Armenia’s 2.9 million citizens — were not given the same allowances.
Ruzanna Amiraghian, 27, was reared during a more tolerant period of Communist rule, but she grew up with the horrible tales of her forebears.
The family matriarch, Ruzanna’s great-grandmother, Hripsime Avakaian, had two sons. One, Hovannes, entered the seminary and became a priest; the other, Ashot, joined the Communist Party. Mrs. Avakaian arranged for her son, Hovannes, to baptize secretly her grandchildren in one of the churches closed by the Communists. On the way to the church, however, Ashot intervened, saying it would put the family in jeopardy.
A few years later, Father Hovannes was arrested. He disappeared and, for more than 60 years, the family knew nothing of his fate. But 10 years ago, a family member gained access to an archive previously sealed. The records revealed Father Hovannes was executed the same day he was arrested.
Under such conditions — closed churches, disappearing priests, forbidden religious practice — it is no wonder faith was tested. What is surprising is how many Armenian Catholics maintained it even while it was outlawed.
Read more about A New Start for Armenia’s Catholics in the January 2006 issue of ONE.
7 February 2013
Tags: Armenia Armenian Apostolic Church Armenian Catholic Church Communism/Communist
The girls being cared for at St. Joseph's in Kerala look forward to a brighter future. (photo: Cody Christopulos)
When is an orphanage not a home for orphans? The answer, we found in 2005, can be found in one haven for young girls in India:
Most of the girls at St. Joseph’s Orphanage in Pulincunnoo, Kerala, are not orphans at all. They have parents and, in most cases, remain in touch with them. A few of the 32 girls at St. Joseph’s come from broken homes, but most come from poor, intact families. And it is the poverty of the parents, combined with knowing that St. Joseph’s offers their children a better future, that explains the girls’ presence in Pulincunnoo, a small town beside a small river in central Kerala.
The orphanage was built in 1973, next to a primary school and high school, all of which are run by the Congregation of the Mother of Carmel. The primary school, 100 years old, serves the area’s boys and girls, while the high school, built in 1975, is only for girls. The orphans attend classes with the girls and boys of Pulincunnoo.
“I was scared at first to come here,” said 9-year-old Nivia, who recently moved into the orphanage. “But now I prefer it here. I had friends back home [in Aleppy], but I have more here. And I have more opportunities to play and study.”
Sister Flower Mary, 61, runs the orphanage and enforces a strict schedule. The girls rise at 5 a.m., attend liturgy at 6:15 and study until breakfast at 8:30. From 9:30 a.m. until 4 p.m. they attend school, with a one-hour lunch break. After school, the girls play until 5:30, then study for two hours before prayer and dinner. Afterward, it is another hour of study. Bedtime is at 10 p.m. The girls are ambitious. Neethu, a 15-year-old basketball player, hopes to become a sister, following in the footsteps of Sister Flower Mary. Sister Ancid Maria, 15, was enrolled at St. Joseph’s when she was 3 and entered the community’s novitiate earlier this year.
“From a very early time, I knew I wanted to do social work and help out,” she said. “And I thought the best way to do that would be to become a sister like my teachers.”
Read more about St. Joseph’s ‘Orphans’ in the September 2005 issue of ONE.
6 February 2013
Tags: India Children Education Kerala Orphans/Orphanages
Cooks attend Pope Benedict XVI’s general audience in Paul VI Hall at the Vatican on 6 February. Read more about the pope’s audience and his remarks here. Hungry? See what’s cooking in Lebanon and check out these recipes for pomegranates. (photo: CNS/Paul Haring)
5 February 2013
Tags: Pope Benedict XVI Cultural Identity
Father Edison visits with one of the parishioners in a nearby village. (photo: Cody Christopulos)
Being a priest in India brings with it special challenges, as we reported in 2005:
Sitting in the foyer of their simple rectory, a small concrete house, the priests sipped coconut water and prepared for Sunday liturgy at their compound in the town of Vattakarickam. Services would be held at St. Mary Syro-Malankara Catholic Church, the largest of the compound’s three buildings.
This Sunday’s duties were a welcome respite from the heavy travel of most Sundays, when they celebrate six liturgies — three each — driving 20 miles of winding dirt roads between churches. All told, about 1,000 people attend the priests’ Sunday liturgies.
But about once a month, Father Edison and Father John concelebrate at St. Mary’s, host a feast and arrange classes for children. About 200 parishioners attend and the festivities end in the late afternoon. And this Sunday, they would be joined by Father Abraham Parappallil, a catechist.
Fathers Edison and John live in relative isolation, far from the bustle of Trivandrum, the state capital and the seat of the Syro-Malankara Catholic Church, where both spent 10 years at St. Mary’s Seminary.
Life is ascetic. There are no sizable towns nearby, just farmland and small, poor low-caste communities.
Both priests rarely see their families, who live between 30 and 60 miles away, an imposing distance by dirt roads especially during the rainy season.
“When I first came here four years ago, I was bored,” said Father Edison, who like Father John had an urban, middle-class upbringing. “I am an energetic person. But now, I feel that the nature that surrounds us has something to tell me. When the sun rises through the forest each morning, it puts me in a meditative mood.”
In the morning, before the faithful arrived, Father Edison visited some of the villages in the area. The villages are poor, typically a collection of huts clustered around a well.
“There are mainly low-caste Hindus in the area,” Father Edison said.
Read more on Village Priests in the November 2005 issue of ONE.
Tags: India Poor/Poverty Indian Christians Syro-Malankara Catholic Church Indian Catholics