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17 October 2012
J.D. Conor Mauro




In this 2005 photo, a man surveys his banana plantation — part of the small farm he went on to run after completing Navachaithanya’s detoxification program. (photo: Cody Christopulos)

Drug and alcohol abuse and addiction are serious problems all over the world, and India is no exception. According to a literature review published in the Indian Journal of Psychiatry, a 2009 study found that 14.2% of the population surveyed in southern, rural India indicated a hazardous level of alcohol use on the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT).

To help people suffering from addiction in Kerala, in 1991 the Syro-Malabar Catholic Eparchy of Irinjalakuda established Navachaithanya, a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center.

“Alcohol has always been a problem here, it’s not just recently,” said Syro-Malabar Bishop James Pazhayattil of the Eparchy of Irinjalakuda. “Several years ago, people approached me about the problem in our community and we started Navachaithanya.” Since then, the center has treated more than 8,000 men for alcoholism or drug addiction, though alcohol is by far the area’s larger problem. ...

The Navachaithanya compound is up a slight hill, off the main road in the town of Aloor, and includes a seminary and a convent as well as the detoxification center. The accommodations are ascetic. During their stay the men sleep in bunks with thin mattresses, in crowded rooms where the heat can be stifling. There is no air-conditioning and little shade to be found in the central courtyard.

The campers receive medical treatment at a nearby clinic. Dr. V. J. Paul, who runs the clinic, treats campers with a combination of the classic Western detoxification cocktail — such as thiamin hydrochloride and sodium valproate — and local herbs and oils common to the local practice of Ayurvedic medicine. (Dr. Paul employs a different regimen to treat smokers.) Ayurvedic medicine, a holistic system of healing that originated in India some 3,000 to 5,000 years ago, remains popular throughout India. Shops containing herbal and other plant extracts are more common than modern pharmacies.

Throughout the day, campers participate in discussions and exercise groups as well as prayer sessions. Most of the campers are Christians, but Hindus and Muslims also take part and are not compelled to join in the Catholic services.

“I have no problems being here,” said Razia, a 25-year-old Muslim camper who is trying to quit smoking. “My father told me about this place and sent me here. I’ve been here for three days, and I’ve never been made to feel uncomfortable for being Muslim.”

Read more in Paul Wachter’s One Day at a Time in Kerala, from the July 2005 issue of ONE.



Tags: India Health Care Multiculturalism Alcoholism

17 October 2012
Greg Kandra




In this 3 March 2010 photo, Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, greets Ahmad Mohamed al Tayeb, president of Al Azhar University in Cairo, Egypt, as they arrive for a press conference at National Cathedral in Washington. The Catholic and Sunni leaders were among religious representatives participating in a three-day international summit for peace and reconciliation. (photo: CNS/Nancy Wiechec)

Vatican sends delegation to Syria (Salt + Light) The Holy See will send a delegation of cardinals to Syria in the next few days to witness the suffering of Syrians in Damascus. The announcement was made on 16 October during the afternoon session of the Synod of Bishops on the New Evangelization for the transmission of the faith. The delegation will be made up of seven prelates, including Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, and Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of New York and CNEWA's chair and treasurer.

Cardinal Tauran expresses solidarity with Syrians (Vatican Radio) Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, as part of the above delegation, is expected to travel to Syria next week. Making the announcement of the visit on Tuesday, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, secretary of state, said the group was being sent by the Holy Father in order to express solidarity with the Syrian population. Speaking from the synod on Wednesday, Cardinal Tauran said the delegation’s trip to Damascus will have three dimensions. First, there will be an expression of “human solidarity towards people who are suffering — we think for example the elderly … the sick, the poor.” The second dimension is spiritual solidarity with families who are suffering, as well as “those who are rejoicing in this moment of great trial for the Catholic and the Christians in general in Syria.”

Vandals deface Orthodox church in Geneva (The Moscow Times) Vandals smudged red and purple paint on a Russian Orthodox cathedral in Geneva and wrote slogans including, “social peace is corrupted” and “revolution solidarity” on the pavement nearby, the Geneva and West European Diocese said. The attack was carried out early Monday morning on the Cathedral of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, which is affiliated with the Russian Orthodox Church, following a string of assaults on Russian Orthodox churches in recent weeks in Russia and Ukraine.

“Deep concern” over anti-Christian discrimination in Russia (Fides) The Presidency of the Council of the European Episcopal Conferences (C.C.E.E.), today sent a letter to Metropolitan Hilarion, President of the Department for External Relations of the Patriarchate of Moscow, expressing his “deep concern for the numerous and increasing manifestations of discrimination against Christians in various countries, and the spread of anti-Christian feelings and against the Church, especially in the Russian Federation over the past months.”

Leader of Jewish women’s group arrested for ‘singing’ at Western Wall (Haaretz) Jerusalem police arrested the leader of a Jewish women’s group fighting for the right to read from the Torah at the Western Wall on Tuesday evening, with members of the Women of the Wall group claiming that she was detained for singing at the holy site. Yizhar Hess, head of the Masorti Movement, said that the women detained by police “didn’t steal, hit, threaten, or even go over the speed limit. They just sang.” He added: “But, apparently only men can sing near the Western Wall.” In August, four women, two of whom were members of the women’s group were arrested and detained for “behavior that endangers the public peace” and wearing prayer shawls.

Israeli Defense Force beginning to draft ultra-Orthodox (Jerusalem Post) With the invalidation of the Tal Law, which allowed draft deferrals for ultra-Orthodox Jews, Defense Minister Ehud Barak said on Monday that the standard processes to draft recruits have been initiated among haredi youth 16 to 19 years old over the past few weeks. Speaking at a hearing of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, Barak said that although the procedures targeted at haredi teens are ongoing and increasing, he is refraining from drafting current yeshiva students until after the elections.



Tags: Syria Violence against Christians Israel Russian Orthodox Church Women

16 October 2012
J.D. Conor Mauro




Students receive a well-rounded education in St. Joseph’s School in the village of
Welkite, Ethiopia. (photo: John Kozar)


Education has always been a priority of the Catholic Church, and some of the greatest minds in the world have benefited from this dedication — such as philosopher René Descartes, who famously studied under Jesuits.

On his pastoral visit to Ethiopia in April, CNEWA President Msgr. John Kozar remarked on the continued importance of Catholic schools to the nation:

Historically, the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church (the rites and traditions of which are shared with Ge’ez Catholics) accounts for about half of the Ethiopian population. But evangelical Protestants are making significant inroads among Ethiopia’s Orthodox Christians; their numbers have tripled in the last 15 years and now account for about 17 percent of the population. Muslims make up about a 30 percent. So, the Catholic Church here is extremely small.

But what the Catholic Church lacks in numbers it more than makes up in terms of social service outreach. Hundreds of Catholic schools — which are open to Catholic, Orthodox and Muslims students — are found everywhere and contribute greatly to the moral fiber and educational achievements of this great country. Although the Catholic Church (Latin and Ge’ez) is not formally recognized by the government as a religious entity, it nonetheless receives great respect at every level. The government has donated land to the church to open schools, clinics and hospitals, and contributes to the salaries of teachers.

You can read his full blog post here.



16 October 2012
Greg Kandra




In Jerusalem’s Church of the Holy Sepulchre on 18 March 2012, a priest lights a candle in front of a picture of Coptic Orthodox Pope Shenouda III of Alexandria, Egypt. After serving as patriarch of the Coptic Orthodox Church for 41 years, he died on 17 March at the age of 88. (photo: CNS/Ammar Awad, Reuters)

Egypt’s Coptic Orthodox Church announces candidates to succeed Pope Shenouda III (Egypt Independent) In a surprise move, several powerful figures within the Coptic Orthodox Church have been barred from running in the next papal elections by the papal election committee, while only five senior clergymen have been selected to run. Bishop Pachomius, the acting patriarch, said in a press conference broadcast by Al Jazeera Mubasher Misr, that that only five candidates are running in the election to succeed Pope Shenouda III and be enthroned as the 118th Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa on the Holy Apostolic See of Saint Mark the Evangelist. The candidates include two bishops: Bishop Tawadros, who holds the title of auxiliary bishop for the Holy Metropolis of Beheira, and Bishop Raphael, who holds the title of assistant bishop for Central Cairo. The other three candidates are all monks: Raphael Ava Mina, Pachomius al-Soriany and Saravim al-Soriany.

New concerns over European Muslims hoping to fight in Syria (Associated Press) European governments have been among the most vocal supporters of Syria’s rebels — to a point: Last week, Muslims in Britain and France accused of trying to join the fight against the regime were detained. For security officials, the fear is that extremists with European passports who are alienated and newly trained to wage war will ultimately take skills learned in Syria and use them back home. In France, where an Islamic extremist trained in Pakistan attacked a Jewish school and a group of soldiers earlier this year, the fear is particularly acute.

Egyptian Catholics promoting political training courses (Fides) In the coming weeks the Egyptian Catholic communities will promote social and political training courses. The initiative aims to revive the pilot experience already inspired by the Coptic Catholic Patriarchate after the end of the Mubarak regime. Botros Fahim Awad Hanna, Coptic Catholic auxiliary bishop of Alexandria, explains: “[T]he pastoral Council of the Catholic Church in Egypt recommended enhancing this work of formation, indicating it as a priority for all the Egyptian Catholic communities of different rite. ... We are waiting for the new Constitution. One makes choices designed to affect our individual lives and community. When the first draft of laws come out, we need to have the tools to be able to analyze, to know how to express a clear opinion, so one can say yes or no to the new Constitution in a reasonable manner.”

Remembering Canada’s Bishop Roman Danylak (Catholic Register) Roman Danylak, retired bishop of the Ukrainian Catholic eparchy of Toronto, was remembered for never turning away a person in need. “He was very much a pastor,” said his sister Olga Danylak. “He was very much a people person.” The bishop passed away at age 81 on 7 October. He was laid to rest at St. Volodymyr Cemetery in Oakville, Ontario, on 11 October following a funeral service at St. Jospahat’s the same day.



Tags: Egypt Syrian Civil War Muslim Canada Coptic Orthodox Church

15 October 2012
Judith Sudilovsky




Head cook Eva Soudah, left, and dietician Susan Coopersmith discuss the menu in the kitchen of Jerusalem's St. Louis Hospital. (photo: Debbie Hill)

Judith Sudilovsky, a freelance journalist based in Jerusalem, continues to share her experiences reporting on the St. Louis hospital for the September 2012 issue of ONE magazine:

“There’s borscht in the kitchen today!” dietician Susan Coopersmith called out gaily to a colleague as she swept through the wide halls of the 130-year-old Catholic St. Louis Hospital, located on the outskirts of Jerusalem’s Old City. “I hope the patients like it!”

It was not exactly the kind of announcement I would have expected at a Catholic hospital, but upon reflection, slipping in a bit of Jewish culinary tradition onto the menu of the 50-bed hospice and chronic care hospital run by the congregation of Sisters of St. Joseph of the Apparition fits right in with their mission to minister loving end-of-life care to all residents of the city — Jews, Christians and Muslims alike.

So, while the traditional Jewish-Russian beet soup may seem out of place in most Catholic institutions in the region, its inclusion in the lunch on that day should not have surprised me. After all, after having spent several days visiting I already knew that the most striking thing about St. Louis hospital was how effortlessly they meld so many different cultures, traditions and religions in everything thing do — not always an easy feat in a city so wrought with divisions.

But if in the halls of this hospital, ultra-orthodox Jewish women and Muslim women, with their hair covered in the distinctive style of their religion, walk side by side with habit-wearing nuns and secular Israelis in sleeveless blouses and jeans as they all visit ill or aged loved ones, then why shouldn’t borscht share center stage in the same kitchen with traditional Arabic dishes such as stuffed vegetables?

“We have people here from so many backgrounds it is important to give them foods they like and are familiar with,” explained Coopersmith, a recent Jewish immigrant to Israel from Chicago. Many of the patients in the hospice’s oncology ward are from Russia, she added.

“The food is almost as important as medicine, especially for cancer patients,” she told me. “With chemotherapy treatment they lost much of their sense of taste and can’t eat much. It is very hard to get them to eat.”

Over the past few months, Coopersmith and Palestinian Catholic head cook Eva Soudah, — who oversees the hospital’s kosher kitchen, following Jewish dietary restrictions such as not mixing milk with meat — have been working together along with the Palestinian Muslim assistant cooks to revamp the hospital menu and introduce some new dishes.

Some — stuffed vegetables, ratatouille and spaghetti with tomato sauce — passed the patient’s scrutiny with flying colors, Coopersmith noted. Sweet potatoes and turkey did not. But now it was time for the real test. Would their borscht pass the muster of the discerning Russian patients?

In typical St. Louis fashion, the creation of the soup was a joint collaborative effort involving Jews, Christians and Muslims. I found myself thinking: If only Israeli and Palestinians political leaders could also learn to cooperate just as well for the benefit of others!

The recipe for the soup was provided in Hebrew by the hospital’s Jewish activity director, originally from the Ukraine. Since Soudah speaks only a little bit of Hebrew, the hospital physiotherapist, Basel Baddour, a Greek Orthodox Palestinian who speaks Hebrew, translated the recipe for the Muslim kitchen staff.

I was just as eager as Soudah to see how the patients received her efforts, and I trailed behind Soudah as she brought the lunch cart to the hospice care ward.

“It was not very difficult to make the soup. Just something different,” Soudah smiled, pushing the cart. “There was meat, cabbage onions, carrots, tomato sauce. Now I want to see how the patients inside, the Russians, like it. I want to see if it passes their test.”

“Shalom,” Soudah greeted one of the patients in Hebrew. “How is the soup? We made borscht.”

Dutifully, the woman sipped a spoonful of the hot liquid.

But alas, it seems something got lost in the translation and the main ingredient, the hearty beet that gives the soup its distinctive ruby red color, was missing from the soup.

Still, the patient soothingly told Soudah as she took another taste of the soup: “This is good soup, it just isn’t borscht.”

Once Soudah understood what the missing ingredient was she said, “If you have a recipe you like, bring it to me.”

Undaunted, Soudah told me she will try again next week.



Tags: Jerusalem Unity Health Care Interreligious Multiculturalism

15 October 2012
J.D. Conor Mauro




The exterior of the restored Cathedral of Christ the Redeemer is as impressive as the original.
(photo: courtesy of the cathedral's official site)


It started as a convent. Then, Tsar Alexander I decreed that it should be taken down and built back up as a grand cathedral. The Cathedral of Christ the Redeemer would not be completed until the coronation of his great nephew. Under the rule of Josef Stalin, it was destroyed with dynamite, and fragments of the architecture were later repurposed to help build Moscow’s subway. In its place, Stalin sought to build a Palace of the Soviets. Then World War II interrupted its progress.

Then it became the site of a large, outdoor swimming pool, heated to a constant 80 degrees.

Following the fall of the Soviet Union, the Cathedral of Christ the Redeemer was finally rebuilt. Despite its importance to the Russian people, as a sign of both national and spiritual identity, its rebuilding was not without controversy:

This cathedral is a virtual replica of the first. But whereas the first one took 44 years to build, the new one, thanks to modern construction techniques and seemingly unlimited funds, was built in three. It is said to have cost well in excess of $1 billion.

“The rebuilding of Christ the Redeemer was of particular importance to us at the turn of the new millennium,” said the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Alexei II. “It symbolizes both the rebirth of the Orthodox faith and the rebirth of the Russian nation.”

On the other hand, Father Gleb Yakunin, an outspoken Orthodox priest and former Duma deputy, opposed the project from the start.

“Now is not the time to build this cathedral,” he said. “It is wrong to spend so much money on a church when people are so poor.”

The statistics of the new building are as mind-boggling as the original: The cathedral stands 330 feet high, the cupola measures 100 feet in diameter and more than 800,000 square feet of marble and granite were brought from all over Russia or imported from throughout the world.

The white marble iconostasis, an icon screen separating the nave from the sanctuary, is shaped in the form of a chapel and stands four stories high with its own gold cupola 80 feet across and a marble surface of 7,000 square feet.

“Worthwhile things don’t just appear,” said sculptor Zurab Tseratelli, who designed the massive bronze doors at the front of the cathedral.

“This cathedral is the affirmation of the faith that was stolen from the people of Russia. I believe its rebuilding is the wisest decision.”

Read the full, remarkable story in Cathedral Heralds Rebirth of a Nation, in the August 2003 issue of ONE.



Tags: Russia Russian Orthodox Church Architecture Soviet Union Church

15 October 2012
Greg Kandra




Pope Benedict XVI greets Maronite Catholic Patriarch Bechara at the start of Mass on the waterfront in Beirut on 16 September. (photo: CNS/Paul Haring)

Patriarch of Antioch: catechists and missionaries are “special envoys” for Year of Faith (Fides) More than 700 priests, nuns, lay people, educators, leaders and catechists received a solemn “missionary mandate” for the Year of Faith by His Beatitude Bechara, Maronite patriarch of Antioch and all the East and president of the Assembly of Catholic Patriarchs and Bishops in Lebanon.

At Istanbul World Forum: religion can be a catalyst for peace (Vatican Radio) The secretary of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, Father Miguel Angel Ayuso Guixot says the pope’s remarks on justice and religious freedom on his recent trip to Lebanon inspired his discourse to participants at the Istanbul World Forum on 13-14 October. The theme of the forum was “Justice and the Construction of a New Global Order.”

Coptic Christians in Egypt living in fear (Haaretz) After a long history of persecution as a minority in Egypt, in these days the nonetheless resilient Copts face a dire moment.

Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre meets in Tulsa (Tulsa World) Eight hundred knights and ladies of a 1,000-year-old Catholic order devoted to supporting Christianity in Israel and the Palestinian territories are meeting this weekend in Tulsa.

Patriarch Kirill arrives in Minsk, praises common past and future (Belarusian Telegraph Agency) The people of Belarus, Russia and Ukraine have a shared heritage and destiny, Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia said at a dedication ceremony for the memorial to Patriarch Alexy II at the Church of all Saints in Minsk on 14 October. “Belarus, Russia and Ukraine are three brotherly nations united by the common fate, common past and, I am confident, have a common future,” the patriarch said.

Vatican marks International Day of Rural Women (Vatican Radio) On 15 October, we observe the International Day of Rural Women. Established by the United Nations in 2008, it recognizes “the critical role and contribution of rural women, including indigenous women, in enhancing agricultural and rural development, improving food security and eradicating rural poverty.” Rural women play a critical role in the rural economies of both developed and developing countries.



Tags: Lebanon Ukraine Pope Benedict XVI Russia Maronite Patriarch Bechara Peter

12 October 2012
Greg Kandra




In this image from 2010, seminarians from Jordan work in the computer room at the Latin Patriarchal Seminary in Beit Jala, West Bank. (photo: Debbie Hill)

If you want to keep up with what’s happening in CNEWA’s world, some of the best resources are literally at your fingertips.

Here are five invaluable web sites that can help you keep track of developments in some of the places we serve:

  1. News.va. This is a relatively new site, but it’s quickly become a daily must-read. The site, run by the Holy See, offers translations of papal homilies and audiences, along with breaking news and announcements from the Vatican and editorials from L’Osservatore Romano. There are also links to its Facebook and YouTube pages. There’s also a special page for the Year of Faith.
  2. Catholic News Service. This site is operated by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and includes not lonely the latest news and information from Rome, but also movie reviews, videos and news briefs from around the world. Its Twitter feed is a great way to keep up with Catholic news.
  3. Byzcath.org. Looking for any news from the Byzantine world? Look no further. The site promises: “Here you will find news and general information about the Byzantine Catholic (Greek Catholic) and other Eastern Christian Churches.” It doesn’t disappoint. If you want, you can even find a parish.
  4. OCA.org. Like Byzcath, OCA is a terrific destination for all things related to one particular faith — in this case, Orthodoxy. For those who are curious, there’s a very good primer on the site that describes what Orthodoxy is, including some saints and common prayers.
  5. One-to-One. You’re here! Every day, we scan the wires for headlines from the places CNEWA serves, to bring you the latest and most interesting “Page One” items that we think will be useful to our readers. Be sure to bookmark our page and come back often! Check out our CNEWA homepage, too, which is updated with news items and links every day.



Tags: CNEWA Vatican Orthodox Byzantium

12 October 2012
Annie Grunow




The Pontifical Mission promotes education by supporting community libraries in Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Nazareth and Amman. Shown here, girls discuss reading material with Filipino Teresian Amabel Sibug at the Pontifical Mission Library in Amman. (photo: Tanya Habjouqa)

To read more about the Pontifical Mission libraries, click here.



Tags: Middle East Jerusalem Jordan Bethlehem Pontifical Mission for Palestine

12 October 2012
Greg Kandra




Pope Benedict XVI exchanges the sign of peace with Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew during a Mass in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican on 11 October to mark the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council. The Mass also opened the Year of Faith.
(CNS photo/Paul Haring)


Mass celebrating Vatican II highlight’s council’s openness to world (Catholic News Service) Celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council with a Mass outdoors was a reminder of the fact that the council called the Catholic Church to live and work in the world, said Bishop Gerald F. Kicanas of Tucson, Ariz. “One of the things that was beautiful today was that we were outdoors, outside the beautiful Basilica of St. Peter, which is what I think John XXIII really wanted: to open the doors, to have the church in the world and transforming the world,” the bishop said Oct. 11. Cardinal Oswald Gracias of Mumbai told Catholic News Service that for Catholics in India the council’s teaching on interreligious dialogue “was extremely important and gave us a whole new perspective on how to deal with everybody else,” recognizing “that everybody is searching for the truth; we are brothers and sisters on the same journey.”

Holy See to participate in Istanbul World Forum this weekend (Vatican Radio) Within the phenomena of the Arab Revolutions, there is a meaningful and active search for justice, equality, representation and dignity. The Istanbul World Forum this weekend will address this issue of justice under various themes focusing on “Justice and the Construction of a New Global Order.” The Forum will take place in the Turkish capitol on October 13-14, 2012, gathering together political as well as religious leaders, academics and business persons, artists and media representatives to present Justice in the light of their particular professions delineated in 6 different thematic areas: Justice and the Global Order, Justice and Politics, Justice and History, Justice and Economy, Justice and Art, and Justice and Religion.

India court affirms freedom to pray at home (Fides) The freedom to carry out prayer meetings in private homes, of any religion, cannot be prevented, according to a ruling by the High Court of Madras, capital of the state of Tamil Nadu in South India.

U.S. stamp for Christmas shows Holy Family fleeing to Egypt (Catholic News Service) The U.S. Postal Service Oct. 10 released a Christmas stamp featuring an image of the Holy Family fleeing to Egypt. A ceremony to celebrate the first day of issue of the stamp took place at the Washington National Cathedral of the Episcopal Church. The portrayal of the Holy Family is a change from the traditional image of Madonna and child used almost every year since the first Christmas stamp was issued in 1962.



Tags: India Egypt Pope Benedict XVI Vatican Turkey





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