26 September 2012
Pope Benedict XVI greets Melkite Patriarch Gregorios III during his visit to St. Paul's Basilica in Harissa, Lebanon on 14 September. (photo: CNS/Paul Haring)
Patriarch Gregorios III receives representatives of European Union (Byzcath.org) The day after Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to Lebanon, which was a constantly reiterated call for peace, His Beatitude Gregorios III, patriarch of Antioch and All the East, of Alexandria and of Jerusalem, tenaciously pursued his efforts and appeals for a cessation of hostilities in Syria. On Thursday 20 September, the patriarch received representatives of Austria, Belgium, Czechia, France, Germany, Greece and Poland, as well as a representative of Canada, in the patriarchal residence of Rabweh, Lebanon.
Hostages released in Syria (Fides) Bells ring in celebration, hugs are shared among family members reunited, a Mass of Thanksgiving and a solemn interfaith ceremony of reconciliation are celebrated: this all happened yesterday in the village of Rableh, in the region of Homs, on the border with Lebanon. The joyous city commemorated the release of about 240 Christians, mostly Greek Catholic faithful, recently taken hostage by armed groups while working in the fields.
Christian, Muslim leaders reflect on pope’s Lebanon visit (Fides) Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to Lebanon is increasingly shaping up to be the beginning of a new season for Lebanon. This is confirmed by the summit of the heads of the local religious communities and their representatives held yesterday at the headquarters of Maronite Catholic Patriarch Bechara in Bkerke.
Middle Eastern speakers in Rome denounce Western interference (Catholic News Service) Western nations need to respect the people of the Middle East and trust them to solve their own problems, said an Iraqi diplomat, an Iraqi archbishop and a Syrian-born representative of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church. The two religious leaders also called for an end to foreign military intervention and other interference in the region that they said only foment strife and hinder their citizens’ desire for peace. Their comments came during an event sponsored by the Iraqi Embassy to the Vatican on 24 September. Ali Nashmi, a Muslim professor and historian spoke on the contribution by Iraqi Christians throughout history to the preservation of both Eastern and Western cultures.
Russian lawmakers call for jail for “blasphemous acts” (Reuters) Russian lawmakers are calling for jail sentences for people guilty of offending religious feelings, in a move that could tighten the bonds between President Vladimir Putin and the resurgent Orthodox Church.
Hasidic Jews experience a slow rebirth in Russia (NPR) About a dozen men prayed recently at Darkei Shalom, a Hasidic Jewish synagogue in the working-class neighborhood of Otradnoye in northern Moscow. Except for the Star of David on its squat tower, the building is as plain and utilitarian as the linoleum on the floor. It sits — along with a Russian Orthodox church and a mosque — on a leafy stretch of land surrounded by towering apartment blocks. Dovid Karpov has been the rabbi here since the synagogue was built 15 years ago. He says he’s fairly typical of the people who form this community: Jews who grew up in Soviet times with little connection to their religious roots.
25 September 2012
Tags: Syria Lebanon Iraqi Christians Pope Benedict XVI Russian Orthodox Church
In this image from 2003, a poor family struggles to survive in Ethiopia. (photo: Peter Lemieux)
Several years ago, writer and photographer Peter Lemieux visited Ethiopia and documented the efforts to help children orphaned by AIDS:
Selecting needy children in a country as poor as Ethiopia may seem an easy task. In almost any direction, blight, poverty and despair are visible. Ethiopia has the third largest number of H.I.V.-positive people in the world after India and South Africa.
Spiritan Father Brendan Cogavin, director of CNEWA’s needy child program in Ethiopia, said, “If you look at the files, they show case histories of children who are genuinely orphaned. The father and mother have died from AIDS or AIDS-related illnesses. They are desperately poor. If you don’t work, you don’t eat, and you don’t get any education either, because the government doesn’t provide it for free. So without sponsorship, many of these kids wouldn’t have any education at all.”
While need is everywhere, the sisters take seriously the task of selecting the neediest children for the program. Working closely with the local municipality, the sisters survey the community for families and individuals who appear to meet their criteria. Orphaned children, children of single mothers, children between 3 and 6 years of age and children from low-income families receive the highest priority.
Orthodox? Muslim? Catholic? Religion does not matter. “We see the person, not the religion,” said Sister Enatnesh Eshetu, who is on the selection committee for the Good Shepherd Day Care Center, the congregation’s other day care center in Addis Ababa.
Continue reading A Flicker of Candlelight Amid the Darkness from the September 2003 issue of the magazine.
And to explore ways to support the work that we do in places like Ethiopia, visit our Ways to Give page.
25 September 2012
Tags: Ethiopia Unity Orphans/Orphanages HIV/AIDS
Choir members sing during Mass at St. Michael's Chaldean Catholic Church in El Cajon, California, in this June 2010 photo. (photo: CNS/David Maung)
A recent conference in Ohio brought together hundreds of Eastern Catholics, expressing their love for their faith and their hope that their numbers will grow.
From Catholic News Service:
The message hit Patrick Keegan loud and clear: He’s a leader in his Byzantine Catholic parish just as much as his pastor.
A catechist at St. Nicholas Byzantine Catholic Church in Barberton, outside of Akron, Keegan said he wants to assume a greater leadership role in his parish and in the wider community by living out his faith.
“You have to make yourself known. You have to listen at the feet of Jesus, but you can’t just stay at the feet of Jesus. You have to go out,” Keegan told Catholic News Service during a break at Encounter 2012 near Cleveland Sept. 22 sponsored by the Eastern Catholic churches.
“I can’t teach what I don’t live and to know what I have to live I have to read Scripture,” Keegan continued. “I have to read the church fathers. I have to pick a side of the fence, so to say. I either live for Christ or I don’t.
“It’s tough. It’s really tough.”
Keegan, who joined St. Nicholas after years in the Latin Catholic Church, said he travels 60-mile round trip from his home in Wooster, Ohio, to his parish once or twice a week to teach the faith to young people. He said he hopes his example inspires others.
He was one of 200 laypeople and 85 Eastern Catholic clergy to attend the conference on 20-23 September.
Conference organizers hoped the events featuring well-known speakers mixed with a healthy dose of worship and prayer will inspire and reinvigorate lay members and clergy to collaborate in evangelization, invite newcomers to check out their churches and to raise the profile of the Eastern churches in their communities.
The Eastern churches are diverse, encompassing cultures from Eastern Europe, throughout the Middle East and India. Among the churches participating in the conference were the Armenian, Chaldean, Syro-Malankara, Syro-Malabar, Maronite, Melkite, Romanian, Russian, Ruthenian Byzantine, Syriac, Ukrainian Byzantine and Ukrainian Catholic churches. The Slovaks of the Byzantine Rite of Canada also participated in the conference. All are in communion with the Roman Catholic Church.
Many attendees described the Eastern Catholic churches as the “best-kept secret” of the North American Catholic Church and expressed hope that the conference series will be the start of a major effort to boost membership in their not-very-well-known parishes. Several said collaboration — especially in religious education, Bible study, cultural programming and prayer — is vital.
“We need this. We need people from our churches to interact with people of our faith,” said Mary Snell, a member of Nativity of Mother of God Slovak Byzantine Church in Toronto. “Our churches are empty and we need to get people back in.”
And for more on the Eastern Christian Churches, check out Ronald G. Roberson’s book and profiles of the different churches that have appeared in the magazine over the last several years.
25 September 2012
Tags: United States Eastern Churches Chaldean Church Eastern Catholics
A boy sits in his home, damaged in shelling by forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad, near Homs on 31 August. (photo: CNS/Shaam News Network handout via Reuters)
Greek Catholics kidnapped in Syria (Fides) The kidnapping of 150 Greek Catholic faithful has shocked the Christian community in the village of Rableh, between the Lebanese border and the city of Qusayr, in the province of Homs. Victims include workers and farmers, men, youth and women who were just a few kilometers from the village, working in the fields for the apple harvest — a major livelihood for the local population.
Pope Benedict XVI and the road map of peace (L’Osservatore Romano) Benedict XVI pointed out the way to peace. It is now up to those who have the destiny of the Middle East in their hands to decide whether to take it — and thus put an end to the suffering of the peoples who dwell in that troubled region — or to continue to leave room for violence nurtured by the exploitation of religious convictions that have nothing to do with violence.
Catholics in India angry over depiction in new film (Times of India) Catholics have threatened to stop the screening of a forthcoming Hindi movie directed by Priyadarshan, “Kamaal Dhamaal Malamaal” if certain scenes making a “disrespectful portrayal” of the community and its priests are not deleted, an official said.
24 September 2012
Tags: Syria Violence against Christians Pope Benedict XVI Indian Catholics
Msgr. John Kozar, top center, shares a joyful moment with the Vincentian Fathers of the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church in southern India. (photo: CNEWA)
In the newest issue of the magazine, Msgr. Kozar reflects on his recent visit to India:
Earlier this year, I was blessed to visit with the Syro-Malabar and Syro-Malankara churches in southern India. It was, for me, a Pentecostal experience. Let me explain.
The energy and enthusiasm of these churches takes one back to the celebration of the first Pentecost. The mandate of our Lord to preach and teach the Good News is alive and active with our brothers and sisters in southern India.
The photo above captures a little of the joyful feeling expressed by a group of Vincentian Fathers of the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church, who joined about 10,000 faithful of every age in the culmination of a week-long “Popular Mission.” Imagine this huge crowd of souls who have processed from near and far, gathered in the open air — singing, dancing, shouting their praises to give honor and glory to God and to give witness of their faith to each other. Turn up the decibels, look out at the army of faithful and celebrate that this is what Pentecost is all about.
Read more in the September issue of ONE.
24 September 2012
Tags: India Syro-Malabar Catholic Church Indian Christians Indian Catholics Syro-Malankara Catholic Church
Cardinal Kurt Koch, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, reports that responses to the pope's Lebanon trip have been overwhelmingly positive. This 9 September 2010 photo was taken prior to his elevation to cardinal that year. (photo: CNS/Paul Haring)
Pope’s Lebanon trip promoted unity with the Christian Orthodox churches (L’Osservatore Romano) “A big step forward in achieving unity with the Christian Orthodox churches” — that’s the way that Cardinal Kurt Koch, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, described the most recent visit of Benedict XVI to Lebanon. The cardinal, who participated in the visit as member of the Holy Father’s entourage, analyzed the ecumenical meaning of the visit in an interview with L’Osservatore Romano.
Opposition leader tells pope the Syrian regime is a threat to Christians (Lebanon Daily Star) Syrian Christian opposition leader George Sabra told Pope Benedict XVI that the survival of the Damascus regime poses a threat to the country’s Christians, the Syrian National Council said Sunday. “The survival of the Assad regime is a danger to Christians and Muslims in Syria alike,” Sabra told the pontiff during a visit to the Vatican on Saturday.
Pope to pilgrims: “Continue to pray for Christians in the Middle East” (Fides) After the Angelus prayer at the Apostolic Palace of Castel Gandolfo yesterday, 23 September, the Holy Father addressed the French-speaking pilgrims with these words: “Dear French-speaking pilgrims, I thank you with all my heart for your prayers that accompanied the success of the apostolic trip to Lebanon and the whole Middle East. Continue to pray for Christians in the Middle East, for peace and for peaceful dialogue between religions.”
Orthodox leaders seek European help to stem anti-Christian violence (Byzcath.org) The Orthodox patriarchs of the Holy Land have appealed to the European Union for help in combating a rising tide of anti-Christian violence. In a statement issued this week, four Orthodox leaders remind their European counterparts that their Christian communities have survived for centuries with Muslim neighbors. “However, the recent increasing influence of extreme fundamentalist elements in the region directly jeopardizes the lives of Christians in their ancient cradles,” the statement says.
Consumer group wants Russian Orthodox patriarch defrocked (RT.com) The Society for Consumer Rights’ Protection has addressed the top board of the Russian Orthodox Church with a request to defrock Patriarch Kirill over alleged violations of the church canon.
Meet Bethlehem University’s first female vice president (Catholic News Service) Thirty-five years after the first class graduated from Bethlehem University, one of its members became the first woman and Palestinian to hold the Catholic school’s highest academic position. “No one ever imagined this position not being held by a [Christian] brother,” said Irene Hazou, newly appointed academic vice president.
21 September 2012
Tags: Syrian Civil War Violence against Christians Pope Benedict XVI Unity Ecumenism
Archbishop Foaud Twal with Msgr. John Kozar meets CNEWA’s director of major gifts, Bob Pape.
CNEWA received a visit today from His Beatitude, Archbishop Foaud Twal, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem.
The patriarch — who has responsibility for Latin Catholics in Jerusalem, Palestine, Israel, Jordan and Cyprus — met with Msgr. John Kozar and members of the New York staff. During a wide-ranging interview, he shared some of his thoughts about what his happening in the Middle East.
“I feel more than ever,” he began, “that Jerusalem is not for us alone. It welcomes all the faithful. And it divides the faithful at the sametime. We love it so much that everybody is ready to die for it.”
Living in a land so often torn by violence, he yearns for peace.
“If there is peace in Jerusalem,” he asked, “can we have peace in all the Middle East? I think we can, we can. With its religious dimension, I think Jerusalem is key to peace.
“We must have the courage to look at peace for everybody,” he continued. “The dream, my dream, is a dream of men of good will: when their children and our children can play soccer together and study together and they can eat together.”
The patriarch, who was born in Madaba, Jordan, noted that Christians are a minority in the Holy Land — making up only about two percent of the population — but he believes Christians have a special role to play. “I want the church to be a bridge for peace between people, between Muslims and Jews,” he explained. “Charity does not know any borders, any limits. In this atmosphere of violence, charity is the language that everybody can and must understand.”
The patriarch said he appreciates the value of all the pilgrims who flock to his country every year, and feels they have a message to carry back to the world.
“I ask them, when they go back, to be advocates, to let others know what they have experienced, what they have felt. It must be a point to start again in your life when you come back — enriched by experience, by knowledge, by culture, by love.
“This is our strength,” he said, “We are not alone. We are happy to have the collaboration of the pilgrims and Catholic institutions. I want the American Christian people to be with me, co-responsible for the small Christian community in the Holy Land and the holy places. Holy Land is land AND people.”
The patriarch also stressed the importance of education in achieving understanding and peace. He takes great pride in Jordan’s American University in Madaba that was started two years ago.
“I believe in education. The pope was the one who blessed the cornerstone of the university,” he said. “Now we have about 600 students.”
Speaking of the apostolic exhortation delivered last weekend by the pope, he said the final text was more moderate, more universal, than some of the original proposals that were presented to the Holy Father. The patriarch said it needs to spread to others throughout the region and demands more study.
And he concluded his conversation with us the way he began: by speaking poignantly, and powerfully, about Jerusalem. He will be taking part in the synod on the New Evangelization, and he finds its roots in the very beginnings of the church.
“The Lord is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow,” he said. “We have the same sacraments, same Gospel, same grace, same sin. What is new is the context we have. The mass media. That’s what is new. A good example of first community where they loved each other, where they had a leitmotif where they were disposed to work, to struggle, to sacrifice, that was Jerusalem.”
The key to the New Evangelization?
“We must go back and start again from Jerusalem,” he said.
21 September 2012
Tags: Lebanon Middle East Jordan
Major Archbishop Mar Cleemis, center, consecrates the new cathedral in Pathanamthitta.
It doesn’t happen often, but it happened yesterday in Pathanamthitta — the consecration of a new cathedral, dedicated to St. Peter, for the Syro-Malankara Catholic Eparchy of Pathanamthitta, a mountainous jurisdiction in the southwestern Indian state of Kerala.
This morning, we received an e-mail from our regional director in India, M.L. Thomas:
I attended the new cathedral blessing at Pathanamthitta diocese... invited by His Beatitude, Mar Cleemis, Major Archbishop, and His Excellency, Yoohanon Mar Chrysostom, bishop. His Beatitude, Bechara Peter, Patriarch of Antioch of the Maronites, was the special guest in the ceremony.
The Syro-Malankara Eparchy of Pathanamthitta came into existence on 25 January 2010. The eparchy is relatively small: about 810 square miles, consisting of a little over 30,000 Syro-Malankara Catholics.
Bishop Yoohanon Mar Chrysostom (shown above second from the right) is a familiar face. He paid us a visit in June, stopping by our New York office to meet Msgr. Kozar and discuss the activities in his eparchy.
Patriarch Bechara (shown above, second from the left) may also be familiar to our readers. He made a pastoral visit to the United States last fall and met the press at our New York headquarters.
You can read more about the Syro-Malankara Catholic Church here.
21 September 2012
Tags: Syria Syro-Malankara Catholic Church
The Major Archbishop of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, Sviatoslav Shevchuk, blesses the icon of the Blessed Bishop-Martyr Nykyta Budka, the first Ukrainian Greek Catholic Eparch of Canada. (photo: Carl Hétu)
Last Sunday marked the conclusion of the Synod of Bishops of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church in Winnipeg. So what were all these Ukrainians (whose church is based in Kiev) doing in Canada?
There are a number of reasons. Here are five:
- This year marks the 100th anniversary of when the first bishop of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, Nykyta Budka, arrived in Winnipeg. Bishop Nykyta is considered a model of holiness, a man who sacrificed his life for his people. In 1927, he left Canada and returned to Ukraine; 22 years later, he was arrested for opposing Stalin’s elimination of the church. Bishop Nykyta was sent to a concentration camp in Central Asia, where he was martyred in 1949. Pope John Paul II declared him blessed during a visit to Ukraine in 2001.
- The Ukrainian Greek Catholic See of Winnipeg has become the first metropolitan see of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church outside Ukraine.Over the years, Winnipeg has evolved into one of the most important centers of Ukrainian cultural and religious life. In addition to being the seat of theUkrainian Greek Catholic metropolitan archbishop, the city of Winnipeg is also home to the Ukrainian Orthodox metropolitan archbishop. The close ties between Catholics and Orthodox of the Ukrainian tradition in Canada serve as an example of cooperation and ecumenism. At the synod, the Ukrainian Orthodox metropolitan of Canada, Archbishop Yurij Kalistchuk, participated as an honorary guest.
- Canada is home to more than a million people of Ukrainian descent, most of whom have links to western regions of Ukraine that for centuries were under the care of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church. The synod provided Ukrainian Canadians with a strong reminder that their church leadership cares for them and is serious about addressing their spiritual needs and challenges.
- The year 2012 has been declared by the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church a “Year of the Laity.” Over the last century, members of the church in Canada have helped create a network of civil and faith-based organizations. Over the decades, groups such as the Ukrainian Canadian Women’s League, Ukrainian Catholic Brotherhood of Canada, Ukrainian branches of the Knights of Columbus and the Ukrainian Catholic Youth of Canada have played a crucial role in helping the community and the church to thrive. The synod acknowledged their valuable achievements. The synodal fathers also reflected on the ways this positive experience could benefit the entire church. In particular, they discussed how the Canadian experience could benefit their brothers and sisters in Ukraine who, due to decades of Communist authoritarianism, did not have the opportunity to create similar institutions.
- By holding its executive leadership meetings and synods in various places around the globe, the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church manifests its “catholic,” that is, universal, identity, and that it lives and flourishes around the world. Recently, Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk, who leads this church, emphasized that the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church is not a church of Ukrainians, but first of all a church of Christ following the ancient Byzantine Ukrainian tradition open to all.
CNEWA works closely with many Ukrainian bishops in Canada and Ukraine. And, as an expression of solidarity with the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, CNEWA Canada’s national director, Carl Hétu, participated in the closing liturgies of the synod in Winnipeg and had a chance to greet personally the synod’s participants and members of the Winnipeg Ukrainian community.
21 September 2012
Tags: Ukraine Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church Canada
Residents inspect the damage to buildings in Aleppo, Syria, after being heavily shelled by a jet air strike on 12 September. (photo: CNS photo/Zain Karam, Reuters)
Vicar delegate in Aleppo: Christian volunteers are helping care for refugees (Fides) “There are tens of thousands of displaced families in the metropolitan area of Aleppo, who fled from the neighborhoods where fighting occurs. They find shelter in schools, churches, mosques, public buildings. They must eat, drink, sleep, dress, look after themselves. Many volunteers in our communities are taking care of them, along with other Syrian volunteer groups.” This is what the Franciscan Father Georges Abou Khazen, OFM, Vicar Delegate of the Apostolic Vicariate of Aleppo for the Catholics of the Latin rite says to Fides.
Catholic official in Egypt says tensions remain high in Cairo (Fides) “The tension is high, because protest demonstrations are expected because of the caricatures which appeared on a French satirical newspaper that offended the Prophet Mohammed. The embassy, consulate and French schools in Cairo are closed for fear of accidents. Even the President of the Republic is heavily guarded by police and special forces,” says to Fides Agency Fr. Rafic Greiche, director of communications for the Catholic Church in Egypt.
Two Canadian activists fear for their lives after being wrongly linked to anti-Islam film (Toronto Star) Two Canadian human-rights activists say they fear for their lives after being wrongly linked to an anti-Muslim film that has sparked riots and protests around the world. Nader Fawzy and Jacques Attalla said Thursday they are among a number of Coptic Christians who Egypt has accused of being involved in the production, distribution or promotion of the film, Innocence of Muslims. Both men deny any link to the film. They told The Canadian Press they’d never heard of the amateurish movie until it began sparking violent protests across the Middle East last week.
Russian Orthodox bishop blesses North Pole (Alaska Dispatch) Crew members of Russia’s ongoing Arctic-2012 expedition assisted Orthodox Bishop lakov of Naryan-Mar in the send off a blessed capsule designed to sanctify the region. The capsule bore a plaque reading, “With the blessing of Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All of the Rus, the consecration of the North Pole marks the 1150 years of Russian Statehood.” The ceremony and dedication is considered by some to be part of Russia’s ambitious drive to lead the Arctic in occupation and development.
Tags: Syria Egypt Muslim Russian Orthodox