4 September 2012
Coptic Christians grieve during the funeral for seven victims of sectarian violence at Samaan el-Kharaz Church in Cairo, Egypt, last year. Thirteen people died and 140 were wounded in clashes between Christians and Muslims initiated by anger over an arson attack on a church the week before. (photo: CNS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh, Reuters)
In this morning’s “Page One,” we highlighted an essay featured in America Magazine by David Pinault, a professor of religious studies at Santa Clara University. The author described a recent visit to Egypt, his impressions of the country since the “Lotus Revolution,” and the declining number of Copts in Egypt since the onset of conflict. He described a conversation with a Cairo cab driver:
I told him the statistics: in 2011 and 2012, since the revolution’s onset, over 100,000 Copts have fled Egypt. “Well, I’m not going to leave,” Sami insisted. “Christ is testing us. I tell my friends to stay. Christ could end this suffering, this trial, at any time. How will you feel, I tell my friends, if you’re in Canada instead of Egypt when Christ returns?”
I pondered this apocalyptic thought as we skirted Tahrir Square, the scene of recurrent confrontations between demonstrators and Egypt’s military, and passed the blackened ruins of the Institute of Egypt. French scholars had founded the Institute after Napoleon Bonaparte’s invasion in 1798; its archives held centuries-old maps, books and manuscripts — a priceless treasure. But in December 2011, when government forces on nearby rooftops shot at demonstrators in the street, protesters retaliated by throwing firebombs at the soldiers. Some of the projectiles fell short; the resultant fire destroyed most of the building and much of the collection. In January 2012, Sami told me, Muslim and Christian volunteers collaborated in salvaging charred volumes from the ruins.
But what lingered in my mind was the assessment published in the Arabic-language newspaper al-Ahram by the Egyptian poet and commentator Kamal ‘Arafah. He compared the destruction of Cairo’s Napoleonic Institute to the ancient burning of the Library of Alexandria and the Mongols’ obliteration of Baghdad’s learning centers in the 13th century. Labeling Egypt’s fire-bombers “Mongols of chaos,” ‘Arafah added, “I felt pain when I saw in the videos and pictures the cries of Allahu akbar (Allah is great) and La ilaha illa Allah (there is no god except Allah) coming from young men and women while the Institute of Egypt was burning — young men and women who were ignorant of the extent of the loss bleeding from the heart of Egypt.“
When I mentioned ‘Arafah’s commentary to Sami, he said he, too, found disturbing the linkage of religious sloganeering and violence. He returned to what we had been discussing earlier, Salafist persecution of the Copts: “I’m staying. I’m not leaving my country. I’m not going to do what the Salafists want me to do.” He added that in the aftermath of recent attacks on Christian churches, when he and his Coptic friends assemble for prayer, they have the feeling, “We’re ready to be martyrs. We’re ready to be with Christ, to live with Christ.” Not martyrs in any violent sense, he insisted, but in the sense of giving witness.
For more, read Ready To Be Martyrs.
31 August 2012
Tags: Egypt Violence against Christians Africa Coptic Christians
A marching band of special needs young adults welcomed Msgr. Kozar during his visit to the parish of St. Thomas in Kanamala, Kerala, India. (photo: John E. Kozar)
Back in March when Msgr. Kozar visited India, he received such a warm, and often entertaining, welcome from every parish, school or institution he visited. His visit to the parish of St. Thomas in Kanamala was no different:
About an hour later we arrived at the flourishing mountainside parish of St. Thomas, in Kanamala. What an amazing reception: A marching band of beautiful special needs youngsters and young adults, several hundred children, their parents and the elders of the parish, all lined up in a receiving line. There were many huge Indian umbrellas held by the women and hoisted high while twirling them to welcome the three of us. Thomas Varghese, M.L. Thomas and I were swept away by this welcome.
They led us to the beat of the marching band to the church, where we entered to say a prayer, and then on to the humble parish hall, which was packed. The welcoming continued in the form of remarks from Father Matthew, who spoke on behalf of the bishop and expressed profound thanks to CNEWA for the many facets of assistance given to this parish. Then the pastor gave a very emotional welcome to us and also highlighted the many expressions of solidarity from CNEWA from the parish’s beginning. Then came some young people who did some amazing dancing: a combination of intricate classical Indian dances and a little bit of Bollywood. They put their heart and soul into the performance.
For more, read “In the Footsteps of St. Thomas: Riches Among the Poor.”
30 August 2012
Tags: India Kerala Msgr. John E. Kozar
Young Syrian refugees walk through a camp in Anbar province west of Baghdad, Iraq, 19 August.
(photo: CNS/Ali al-Mashhadani, Reuters)
While violence and urest escalate in their homeland, many Syrians are seeking refuge in neighboring countries. Recently the Catholic News Service reported on the plight of women and children fleeing the violence in Syria:
“Families are trying desperately to stay together,” but not always succeeding, [Caroline] Brennan added. Sometimes, men “stay home trying to protect their land, or they’re fighting — or worse, they’ve been kidnapped. The women are left to lead the family. They think: What is happening to the people they love in this world?“
But she also told of a Syrian husband and father named Faizad.
“He came across the border, but his wife and (most of their) children weren’t allowed to make it. But then he has a son he has to care for. He (the son) cries at night, he misses his mom,” Brennan said. Workers can tell from the boy’s drawings that he has seen “people with guns killing innocent people,” she added.
“This is a humanitarian crisis at its heart,” she said.
There are “huge social needs of the people, especially children and mothers,” said Vivian Manneh, a 20-year CRS veteran currently serving as a regional program manager for the Middle East. “Kids are starting to think, ‘What is going to happen to us? Where are we going to be?’ There are lots of psychosocial needs, lots of basic needs such as food, clothing, shelter.”
For more, read Syrian Refugees Flood Neighboring Countries.
29 August 2012
Tags: Syria Iraq Refugees Middle East War
Women and their children sign in at the lobby of the Mother of Mercy Clinic in Zerqa, Jordan. (photo: Greg Tarczynski)
The Mother of Mercy Clinic, run by the Dominican Sisters of St. Catherine of Siena, specializes in prenatal and postnatal care. The clinic offers impoverished mothers and babies health care during a crucial period for mother and child:
In an examining room at the Mother of Mercy Clinic in Zerqa, Jordan, Dr. Ibrahim Ghabeish puzzles over a patient’s condition. Somehow Salah, a 3-day-old infant, has contracted dysentery. The infection is relatively common among adults in Zerqa; usually it is contracted by consuming food that has been contaminated by dirty water. But how could an infant, whose only nourishment is his mother’s milk, get infected? After questioning the child’s 25-year-old mother, Maha, Dr. Ghabeish put together a likely scenario.
“The child’ mother was cutting up carrots washed in contaminated water,” he explained. “When Salah started to cry, she brought him to be nursed without washing her hands. She must have transferred the disease when she prepared to nurse him.”
Established in 1982, Mother of Mercy Clinic offers a wide range of general heath care services to thousands of patients — over 26,000 in 2008 — regardless of creed or origin. The clinic, however, specializes in prenatal and postnatal care, giving priority to needy mothers and their infants.
To learn more about the clinic, read our article in the May 2009 issue of ONE, Mothering Mercies. To learn how you can help support the work of the Mother of Mercy Clinic, visit our website.
28 August 2012
Tags: Children Middle East Jordan Health Care
In this photo taken in 2000, two young girls play at a displaced persons camp outside Delle, Eritrea. (photo: Christian Molidor, R.S.M.)
Back in 2000, Brother Vincent Pelletier, F.S.C., CNEWA’s former regional director for Ethiopia and Eritrea, visited Eritrea following the Eritrean-Ethiopian War. He recorded his observations, which revealed the effects of war on a people:
We visited a camp for the displaced in the village of Delle, about 18 miles west of Barentu. With some 45,000 residents, it is one of the largest camps in Eritrea. More people are expected to enter the camp as those who fled to Sudan during active fighting continue to return. As we walked through the camp we noticed that many inhabitants had set up shop in their tents and were selling everything from soap powder to beer. Under a canvas, a makeshift school had been organized for the children. I was relieved to see that the children in the camp looked healthy. By contrast, some of the children from surrounding villages appeared malnourished. Some of these people have been in the camp for two years.
There was a bit of commotion outside the camp as a good number of Sudanese trucks drove by. We were told that the Eritrean government currently imports a large amount of grain from Sudan.
For more, read Eritrea in War’s Aftermath.
27 August 2012
Tags: Ethiopia Children War Africa Eritrea
A first–year design student takes a break from studying at Notre Dame University in Lebanon. (photo: CNS/Nancy Wiechec)
In the current issue of the magazine, we profile the largest Catholic University in Lebanon, Notre Dame University. The school works to develop scholars and better world citizens:
“Our core mission,” says Dr. Eid, “is based on the premise of forming wise citizens in Lebanon. We need to cultivate certain conditions to provide learners with opportunities and spiritual values.”
”N.D.U. is as diverse as Lebanon,” declares Dr. Eid. Though the main campus’s student body is mostly Christian, the North Lebanon and Shouf campuses enroll significant numbers of Druze and Muslim students.
As part of N.D.U.’s mission, faculty and staff on all campuses promote dialogue among students of different religions and sects.
For more, read Where Dialogue Is on the Curriculum. And, take a look at our interviews with Notre Dame students in the video below!
24 August 2012
Tags: Lebanon Education ONE magazine Dialogue
In this photo from 1998, novices of the Bethany community pray in their chapel near Kottayam, India. (photo: Sean Sprague)
Sisters are often the people on the ground carrying out the work CNEWA supports. With tireless effort and loving dedication, these women give the sick and poor the care they desperately need. Earlier this year, Msgr. John Kozar met a group of dedicated sisters in India — the Bethany Sisters. Sean Sprague also wrote about the Bethany congregation for the May/June 1998 issue of the magazine:
The Bethany Sisters’ motherhouse in Kottayam is a spiritual powerhouse where temporarily professed sisters spend a few years in prayer, study and work before taking their final vows. Pure and virtuous, the sisters are nevertheless wholeheartedly human and very Indian. They are fully aware of the outside world and eager to go and serve the poor and sick.
“Bethany is the church within the church,” Sister Philomena explained. “Its role within the Syro-Malankara Church is like that of the heart in the body. Its charism is the spiritual renovation of the Syro-Malankara Church, particularly through its apostolic activities. One of our main apostolates is education.”
Today the Bethany community operates some 100 lower and upper primary schools, 65 nursery schools, 28 secondary schools, 3 university colleges, a teacher-training college and several other vocational training centers. Mar Ivanios University in Trivandrum is one of the premiere institutions of higher learning in Kerala, educating more than 3,000 students per year.
Ecumenical activities, family visits, catechism, preaching, mission work, care for the sick (the Bethany community runs several hospitals, leprosy eradication projects and preventive health care programs) and care for the handicapped, the elderly and orphaned children are all important apostolates.
For more, read Following Christ in an Indian Way.
23 August 2012
Tags: India Sisters Kerala
In this 2006 image, Patriarch Paulos and bishops assemble during a celebration of the feast of Mary of Zion in Aksum. (photo: Sean Sprague)
Last week we shared the sad news of Ethiopian Orthodox Patriarch Abune Paulos’ death. Today, he was laid to rest in Addis Ababa:
Thousands of Ethiopian Orthodox Christians gathered on Thursday at the St. Trinity Cathedral Church in Addis Ababa to pay their last respects to the late patriarch, Abune Paulos who died last week at 76.
Representatives from various countries, bishops and heads of churches including Coptic Church of Egypt, Syria and India, General Secretary of World Churches, representatives of the Vatican and the Greek Orthodox Church attended the funeral ceremony.
Msgr. John E. Kozar met the patriarch in April and shared his impressions of him on the blog.
22 August 2012
Tags: Ethiopia Africa Ethiopian Orthodox Church Aksum Ethiopian Orthodox Patriarch Abune Paulos
Girls wearing traditional dress participate in an Easter celebration in Jakubany, a village in northern Slovakia. (photo: Father Damian Saraka)
In the current issue of ONE, we profile the Slovak Greek Catholic Church and look at some of its rich religious history.
In the celebration of the sacraments, Slovak Greek Catholic parish communities use Slovak and its Latin alphabet as well as Church Slavonic and its Cyrillic alphabet. And its territory is restricted to parish communities in the Slovak Republic.
Yet the church’s origins and development are synonymous with the various Carpatho-Rusyn Greek Catholic churches of Central Europe. Together, the ancestors of these Catholics received the Christian faith from Sts. Cyril and Methodius in the late ninth century. And they professed their full communion with the bishop of Rome in the chapel of the castle of Uzhorod in April 1646, centuries after the Western (Catholic) and Eastern (Orthodox) churches had drifted apart.
You can get a sense of the tradition and culture that continue to enliven Slovakia in the images below, accompanied by a beautiful Carpathian chant.
21 August 2012
Tags: ONE magazine Greek Catholic Church Eastern Catholics Slovakia Slovak Catholic Church
A resident of a home for girls hugs a sister from the Verbo Encarnado (Incarnate Word) community, which runs the child care facility near Alexandria, Egypt.
(photo: Mohammed El-Dakhakhny)
In the November 2004 edition of ONE, we featured a story about the work of the Verbo Encarnado sisters in the Dekhela neighborhood of Alexandria, Egypt. The sisters established homes for girls escaping turbulent and unstable homes for the comfort and security offered by the congregation:
The national average daily income is just over $10 a day. About 23 percent of the population lives below the poverty line. Due to overpopulation, a weak economy and high unemployment, the challenges facing Egypt’s youth are daunting.
Sister María Guadalupe, the superior of the community in Egypt, says the situation in Dekhela is especially bad. The town is poor; there are few social services.
“These girls were living with their families in one room,” she says. “No bathroom, no kitchen, just one room. Sometimes there would be a bed and that’s all. So the girls were spending all their time in the street.”
For more, read Building a Brighter Future.
Tags: Egypt Middle East Sisters Africa