31 August 2012
Religious leaders hold oil lamps during the gathering for peace outside the Basilica of St. Francis in Assisi last October. (photo: CNS/Paul Haring)
Not long ago, we received a letter from a reader who was concerned about all the attention CNEWA gives to ecumenism — that is, the efforts to increase understanding and promote unity with other churches and communities. Aside from being a part of CNEWA’s original mandate from the Holy Father, working toward the unity of Christians is woven intricately into the fabric of Catholic teaching. We asked Father Elias D. Mallon, CNEWA’s external affairs officer, to address that in this week’s “Take Five.”
- Vatican II (11 October 1962 — 8 December 1965) issued the Decree on Ecumenism (Unitatis Redintegratio) on 21 November 1965. In the decree the council stated: “The restoration of unity among all Christians is one of the principle concerns of the Second Vatican Council” (par. 1). This decree made ecumenism an integral part of the work of the Catholic Church.
- Regarding other churches, the council stated: “Moreover, some and even very many of the significant elements and endowments which together go to build up and give life to the church itself, can exist outside the visible boundaries of the Catholic Church...” and “the separated churches and communities as such, though we believe them to be deficient in some respects, have been by no means deprived of significance and importance in the mystery of salvation. For the Spirit of Christ has not refrained from using them as means of salvation which derive their efficacy from the very fullness of grace and truth entrusted to the church” (par. 3)
- Thirty years later, in his encyclical Ut Unum Sint (That They May Be One) of 25 May 1995, Blessed John Paul II declared: “Thus it is absolutely clear that ecumenism, the movement promoting Christian Unity, is not just some sort of ‘appendix’ [the Holy Father’s emphasis] which is added to the church’s traditional activity. Rather, ecumenism is an organic part of her life and work, and consequently must pervade all she is and does...” (par. 20)
- The Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity is part of the Roman Curia and is responsible for maintaining relations with non-Catholic churches and communities and for sponsoring dialogues with them. Its current president is Cardinal Kurt Koch, former bishop of Basel, Switzerland.
- The Joint Working Group between the Catholic Church and the World Council of Churches (Geneva, Switzerland) engages in discussions with Orthodox and Protestant Christians who are members of the World Council of Churches. Among other things, the Joint Working Group helps prepare the theme and text for the annual observance of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (18-25 January). The Week of Prayer is observed by Christians all over the world. The observance of this week was started in 1908 by the Rev. Paul Wattson (d. 1940), founder of the Friars of the Atonement and influential in the founding of The Catholic Near East Welfare Association.
Many dioceses throughout the world have an ecumenical officer who is responsible for local relations with other Christians. This includes local dialogues, prayer services and common community activities. In recent years, the ecumenical officer is also responsible for relations with non-Christians.
31 August 2012
Tags: Vatican Ecumenism Christian Unity Pope John Paul II
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.
30 August 2012
Tags: Syria Iraq Refugees Middle East War
Patriarch Twal: Pope's trip to Lebanon is for entire region (Vatican Radio)
Clerics call on Christians to stay in Syria (Hurriyet Daily News)
Patriarch releases statement on Daraya attacks (ByzCath.org)
Russians to raise security at places of worship (Voice of Russia)
A Maronite revival in Israel (Jerusalem Post)
In Kerala, feasting and splurging during Onam (New York Times)
29 August 2012
Tags: Syria Lebanon Israel Kerala Russia
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.
29 August 2012
Tags: Children Middle East Jordan Health Care
Terrorist attack at Christian funeral in Damascus (Fides)
Syrian women, children caught in situation they never imagined (Catholic Register)
Relics of Orthodox saints stolen from St. Petersburg cathedral (The Moscow Times)
Coptic Christian defends accepting role as advisor to Egypt's president (Ahram)
Kerala Catholic bishops calls for celebrating Onam without liquor (The Asian Age)
28 August 2012
Tags: Violence against Christians Coptic Christians Indian Bishops Saints Damascus
Father Francisco Salvador, a descendant of Palestine immigrants, performs a wedding between a Catholic bride and an Orthodox groom at St. Mary’s Orthodox Church in Santiago, Chile. (photo: Tomas Munita)
Upon leaving their homes and families, there was a common sentiment among Palestinian immigrants that they would one day return. Considering the tumultuous circumstances at home that never seemed to abate, it’s understandable that few ever did.
Interestingly, Chile was not as foreign as they might have imagined. To be sure, there were pronounced differences in language, food and religion. However, there were more than a few similarities.
The equatorial climate was ideal for growing many of the same fruits and vegetables common to the Middle East. Although the most famous story to make its way back to Palestine during the late 1800s was the myth of three men named Jorge who made a fortune as merchants, many other Palestinian immigrants in Chile settled in as farmers.
Before Palestinians crossed the Andes Mountains into Chile, 800 years of Arab influence in Spain had already made its way to Chile with the arrival of Andalucían immigrants. Literally dozens of Arab words were tweaked to fit the Spanish language, such as ojalá, which translates as “God willing.” Even the traditional Chilean folk dance, called the Cueca, is of Andalucían-Arab origin.
When it came to the church, however, that is where similarities to home ended. Chile’s constitution officially recognized only the Roman Catholic Church and until a new constitution was written in 1925 separating church and state, any religion other than Roman Catholic had to practice its faith behind closed doors, or at least out of plain sight.
In the capitol of Santiago, Patronato was the commercial hub and neighborhood of the country’s largest Palestinian community. Naturally, Patronato was pegged as the site for the first Orthodox cathedral.
Saint George’s Cathedral was inaugurated in 1917, six years before the 1925 constitution was passed into law, and so the church had to be concealed. To solve this problem the cathedral was built off the street, tucked in by buildings on both sides, a condition in which Chile’s longest-standing and most famous Orthodox Church can still be found today.
28 August 2012
Tags: Orthodox Farming/Agriculture Palestinians Arabs Church
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.
28 August 2012
Tags: Ethiopia Children War Africa Eritrea
Greek Catholic archbishop flees Syria for Lebanon (Radio Free Europe)
Lebanon trip could be a papal high-wire act (National Catholic Reporter)
Egyptian president appoints women, Christians to advisory board (Associated Press via Washington Post)
Group claims responsibility for desecrating Russian Orthodox crosses (The Moscow Times)
Ukrainian Catholic leader reaches out to Russian Orthodox (Catholic News Service)
27 August 2012
Bishop Boris Gudziak was ordained yesterday at St. George’s Cathedral in Lviv, Ukraine.
(photo: Press Office of Ukrainian Catholic University)
On Sunday 26 August, Father Boris Gudziak, a long-time friend of CNEWA and former professor of mine, was ordained a bishop for the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church.
Bishop Boris was born in 1960 in Syracuse, New York. After completing his Ph.D. in Slavic and Byzantine History at Harvard University, he went to Ukraine and in 1992 founded the Institute of Church History. He played a key role in reestablishing the Lviv Theological Academy, which in 2002 became the Ukrainian Catholic University, the only Catholic university in the former Soviet Union. From 2002 to 2012, he was the university's rector.
Bishop Boris’s consecration took place at St. George’s Cathedral in Lviv, Ukraine, and his Principal Consecrator was His Beatitude Sviatoslav Shevchuk, the Head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church. The new bishop is appointed as the Apostolic Exarch for the Ukrainian Greek Catholics of France, Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg and Switzerland.
Two weeks from now, Bishop Boris, along with all other bishops of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, will participate in the Church’s Synod in Winnipeg, Canada.
Tags: Ukraine Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church Canada