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December, 2018
Volume 44, Number 4
7 May 2013
Greg Kandra

A little boy looks on in the southern Egyptian village of Qenna, where the church remains the focus of the Christian community. (photo: David Degner)

Recent headlines have told again and again of Copts fleeing Egypt for other countries. In the Spring 2013 issue of ONE, writer Sarah Topol and photographer David Degner look at those who have chosen to stay and are trying to build a future:

With the growing influence of radical Islam, more and more Christians are considering their options. Atef Gamil knows many Christians who have already emigrated. He wants his 21-year-old son, Bishoy, to move to England when the young man finishes his medical degree in three years. But Bishoy Gamil has other ideas. He does not want to leave Egypt.

Discussions about migration are playing out across the Coptic community, says the Rev. Shenouda Andraos, the rector of the Coptic Catholic Seminary of St. Leo the Great in the Cairo suburb of Maadi. Father Andraos says the church leadership continues to tell its flock emigration is not the solution.

“The church is trying to raise awareness that we must have a positive and effective role and we cannot leave the country — this is our homeland and we have to participate in building it. It is important we don’t become terrorized, that we continue to have hope in the future.”

Read more about The Men Who Stayed in the Spring 2013 issue of ONE.

Tags: Egypt Emigration Coptic Christians Copts Coptic Church

7 May 2013
J.D. Conor Mauro

In this August 2012 photo, Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill and Polish Archbishop Jozef Michalik, president of the Catholic bishops’ conference of Poland, sign a joint message of reconciliation during ceremony at Royal Castle in Warsaw. (photo: CNS/Kacper Pempel, Reuters)

Patriarch Kirill has high hopes for unity with the Catholic Church (Interfax) “We are open to dialogue, cooperation and development of such interaction, and we have no indication that the incumbent Pope is not open to the same,” said Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill. “The time of our disorder and confusion in assessing socially important problems should end,” he said…

U.N. investigator suggests Syrian rebels may have used chemical weapons (Christian Science Monitor) The leader of the United Nations investigation into possible chemical weapon use in Syria said yesterday that witness and victim testimonies indicate that Syrian rebels likely used chemical weapons such as the nerve gas sarin. The commission she leads, however, tempered her comments with a statement today announcing that it had not yet reached “conclusive findings.” Rebel forces denied the claims…

Palestinian Christians struggle under occupation (Al Monitor) “To be a Christian from the land of Jesus Christ is a blessing that not many can claim to share. But this blessing brings with it a daily struggle to preserve our traditions and uphold Christian practices. Faith has not disappeared, hope still guides our lives, but the lack of response to our plight makes many in our community wonder whether the world really cares about us.” Father Johnny Abu Khalil, a Catholic priest from Nablus, recounts the challenges faced by Palestinian Christians…

No justice for Christian victims of Orissa massacres (Fides) Five years after the anti-Christian massacres that shocked Kandhamal district in the Indian state of Orissa, justice remains unserved. In the “pogrom” of 2008, over 400 villages were “cleansed” of all Christians. More than 5,600 houses and 296 churches were burned. There were many human casualties, and 56,000 men, women and children became homeless. As Catholic activist John Dayal reports to Fides, the investigation was carried out late and in a superficial manner…

Gunman attacks Armenian church in Istanbul ( An unknown assailant opened fire into the air outside a small Armenian church in Istanbul on Sunday while an Orthodox sermon was being held inside, according to Turkish media…

U.N. peacekeepers seized near Syrian border (Al Jazeera) Four United Nations peacekeepers are being held in the ceasefire line between Syria and the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, where neither Israeli nor Syrian forces can operate. Josephine Guerrero, spokeswoman for the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF), said on Tuesday the four were “detained today by an unidentified armed group while they were patrolling” near Al Jamlah in the so-called Area of Limitation…

Tags: Middle East Christians Armenia United Nations Palestinians Patriarch Kirill

6 May 2013
Greg Kandra

Yesterday, churches that follow the Julian calendar marked Easter. In this image from 2004, a man shows off some Easter eggs at St. Clement Church in Ohrid, Macedonia. Eggs are dyed red to symbolize the blood of Christ. To read more about the Byzantine traditions of Ohrid, check out Answering the Macedonian Question in the July-August 2004 issue of ONE.
(photo: Sean Sprague)

Tags: Macedonia

6 May 2013
J.D. Conor Mauro

In this video, Father Thomas Rosica interviews Ukrainian Greek Catholic Major Archbishop Shevchuck during his recent visit to Canada. Before being elected head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church on 23 March 2011, Archbishop Shevchuk served as bishop of the Eparchy of Buenos Aires, Argentina, where he considered Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio — now Pope Francis — a mentor. (video: Salt + Light TV)

Witness: Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuck (Salt + Light TV) The Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, having long suffered under Communist persecution, flourished once the Iron Curtain finally fell. The strength of this Eastern-rite church extends to the growing Ukrainian diaspora, particularly in Canada. In 2011, when the Ukrainian bishops needed to elect a new leader for their growing church, they turned to the youngest member from among their ranks: Sviatoslav Shevchuk, then only 40 years old. Father Thomas Rosica sat down with Archbishop Shevchuck during his recent visit to Canada…

Salesians ‘deplore’ Israel’s decision to proceed with separation wall (Vatican Radio) The Salesian province of the Middle East issued a press release Friday saying it “strongly deplores the verdict” of an Israeli tribunal, which has upheld the completion of a separation wall that will cut off a Salesian convent from direct access to its agricultural land and the community it serves. The lives within two Salesian monasteries a few miles from Bethlehem and the people of the nearby Palestinian community of Beit Jala will change dramatically once a nearly 20-foot concrete separation wall is completed as planned. The Salesians recently lost their seven-year battle to stop Israeli authorities from building of the wall through their property…

Young Iraqi Christians organize markets to pay for World Youth Day trip (Fides) On 1 May, at the Chaldean Church of St. Joseph in Baghdad, young Christians organized an open-air market in order to find funds to support the expenses of the trip to Rio de Janeiro, where they hope to travel in July to participate in the next World Youth Day. The original fund-raising initiative could represent a pilot project to be re-launched in other churches scattered throughout the country. On the pavilions of the small fair, which saw right from the beginning a strong turnout of buyers, one could find groceries, clothes and electronic products…

Israel seeks de-escalation after launching airstrike on Syria (Christian Science Monitor) A day after it launched an airstrike outside of Damascus, killing scores of Syrian soldiers, Israel sought to play down the attack as a strike against regime-ally Hezbollah, not President Bashar al Assad. Reuters reports that Israel has made several soothing overtures to its war-racked northern neighbor after launching airstrikes in Syria on Friday and Sunday. Tzachi Hanegbi, a confidante of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, told Israeli radio on Monday that Mr. Netanyahu aimed to avoid “an increase in tension with Syria by making clear that if there is activity, it is only against Hezbollah, not against the Syrian regime”…

Bishop Audo: Easter in the tears of our Orthodox brothers (Fides) Chaldean Bishop of Aleppo Antoine Audo describes the celebration of Easter in Syria: “They sang ‘Christ is risen,’ and while repeating those words of joy and victory, they all had tears in their eyes. All their prayers mingled with their tears.” In addition to the suffering the civil war inflicts on all the people, there is also apprehension for the archbishops who are in the hands of unidentified kidnappers…

U.N.: No clear proof of Syrian chemical weapons (Al Jazeera) A United Nations team of investigators into rights abuses in Syria has stressed there is no conclusive proof of either side in the conflict using chemical weapons, despite a team member’s claims to the contrary. “The Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic wishes to clarify that it has not reached conclusive findings as to the use of chemical weapons in Syria by any parties to the conflict,” the commission said in a statement on Monday…

Tags: Syrian Civil War Violence against Christians Iraqi Christians Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk Separation Barrier

3 May 2013
Michael J.L. La Civita

Important stories and vibrant photography mark the newest issue of ONE — coming soon to a mailbox near you!

OK folks, so it took a little while longer for the editorial staff to churn out this latest edition of the magazine.

We hope you agree that our new and improved look in print was worth the wait.

“In print?!”

Yep, the trim size of our print edition is larger, the type is larger, the graphics are enhanced and we have made it easier to connect the story to what CNEWA does and how you can help.

“But I only read it online!”

Great — there’s more online with additional interviews, slide shows, short films and other multimedia features. But for just $24 a year, you can receive our quarterly in glorious color.

As part of the evolution of ONE magazine, we are also in the planning stages of enhancing our digital edition, as well as the entire web site.

Stay tuned! And tell us how you feel about the new look!

Michael La Civita is CNEWA’s chief communications officer.

Tags: CNEWA ONE magazine CNEWA Canada CNEWA Pontifical Mission

3 May 2013
Greg Kandra

Haghia Sophia is known the world over for its complex and beautiful domed architecture. In this photo, a fish-eye lens lends a sense of scale to the structure. (photo: Ilene Perlman)

Yesterday’s New York Times brought some news about controversial plans for one of the most famous and historically significant church structures in the world, the Church of Haghia Sophia in Istanbul, Turkey:

In 1921 an ecumenical service was held in six languages at St. John the Divine, New York City’s Episcopal cathedral, to call for the return of Byzantium’s most important monument to the Orthodox Church. Days after his 1453 conquest of Constantinople, today’s Istanbul, Mehmet II decided to turn the 6th century basilica of St. Sophia into a mosque. Some 500 years later, with the city under Allied occupation, Christendom wanted the building back.

Its prayers were never answered. As the Turkish Republic emerged from the ashes of empire, the new nation’s founding president, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, ruled that a building over which two faiths squabbled should be made accessible to all: St. Sophia was turned into the Ayasofya Museum.

That solution not only silenced self-righteous voices in the West; it also helped establish Turkey’s credentials as a worthy custodian for its cultural heritage. Since restoration work in the 1930s, St. Sophia’s stunning mosaics of the Virgin Mary and Jesus have sat beside huge panels of Islamic calligraphy.

For some time, Turkey’s religious and nationalist right has demanded that Ayasofya be converted into a mosque again. Now a parliamentary commission is taking the request seriously.

Why this is a problem is easily illustrated by the restoration of St. Sergius and Bacchus, a 6th century church in Istanbul, after an earthquake in 1999. The undertaking should have been an occasion for scholarly investigation, but instead the floors were ripped up, the walls painted over and a dome added on top — without any consultation with conservationists.

The transformation of historical buildings invariably means finding subtle solutions to delicate problems: how to temporarily cover up figurative Christian art or provide all-weather protection to an open-air ruin. But the priority of the General Directorate of Foundations is to put buildings back into circulation, not to protect or extract their secrets.

You can read more at the Times.

Several years ago, we took readers to this legendary landmark for a closer look at its history and importance:

The Church of Haghia Sophia in Istanbul, Turkey has had a lasting impact on faith and worship. It is often simply called “the Great Church” because of its grandeur and its important role in the Byzantine Christianity.

An engineering marvel of late antiquity, Haghia Sophia stood unsurpassed in size and splendor for a thousand years. Even today it dominates the skyline of modern Istanbul -formerly Constantinople — which from 330 to 1453 was the capital of the Eastern Roman, or Byzantine, Empire. Time has faded Haghia Sophia’s splendor, but not diminished the majestic soar of its arches and domes.

Read more about The Great Church from the July 1997 issue of the magazine.

Tags: Turkey Eastern Christianity Islam Byzantium Haghia Sophia

3 May 2013
Greg Kandra

Metropolitan Mor Cyril Aphram Karim of the Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch, Archdiocese of the Eastern United States, is greeted by Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York at the end of Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York on 2 May. (photo: CNS/Gregory A. Shemitz)

Cardinal Dolan prays for kidnapped Orthodox clergy (CNS) Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan challenged all in attendance to hold onto hope and to pray for the safety and well-being of two Orthodox archbishops kidnapped in Syria in late April while carrying out a humanitarian mission. “Our prayers are singularly fervent this spring morning as I invite all of us to unite in supplication,” Cardinal Dolan said during Mass on 2 May in St. Patrick’s Cathedral for Greek Orthodox Metropolitan Paul of Aleppo and Syriac Orthodox Metropolitan Gregorios Yohanna of Aleppo…

Pope meets president of Lebanon (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis expressed hopes for the formation of a new government in Lebanon Friday “that will have to face the important challenges in the national arena as well as in the international sphere.” This is according to a statement released by the Secretariat of State following the Holy Father’s private audience with Lebanese President Michel Sleiman…

Vatican sends annual message to Buddhists (VIS) Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran and Father Miguel Angel Ayuso Guixot, M.C.C.I., respectively president and secretary of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, signed the message that, on the occasion of the feast of Vesakh, the dicastery annually sends to the followers of Buddhism. Vesakh is a major Buddhist holy day that commemorates the birth, enlightenment, and death of Gautama Buddha. According to tradition, the historical Buddha was born, achieved enlightenment and passed away during the full moon of the month of May, thus Vesakh is a mobile feast, which this year falls on 24 or 25 May, depending on the country it is celebrated in. On those days, Buddhists visit local temples to offer the monks food and to hear the teachings of the Buddha, taking special care to meditate and to observe the eight precepts of Buddhism. This year’s message is entitled: “Christians and Buddhists: Loving, Defending, and Promoting Human Life”…

Russian Orthodox observe Holy Friday (Voice of Russia) Orthodox Christians are observing Holy Friday, the most sorrowful date of the Christian calendar commemorating the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. On this day, Orthodox believers observe a particularly rigorous period of fasting in commemoration of Jesus’ sufferings and his death on the cross. They abstain from every kind of food subsisting on bread and water. Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia will lead Great Vespers with the rank of removal of the shroud and matins with the rank of burials at the Cathedral of Christ the Savior in Moscow…

Historic Alaskan village destroyed by fire ( In a report dated 30 April 2013, KTUU Channel 2 News announced that the abandoned Belkofski village on the Alaska Peninsula had been destroyed by fire. Founded in 1824 by the Russian-American Company, Belkofski was home to Holy Resurrection Orthodox Church. The parish’s first church building was erected in 1843. In 1880, a new church was constructed. The structure, which had been placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1980, subsequently collapsed. What was left of the church burned in the fire, along with the parish cemetery…

Tags: Pope Francis Violence against Christians Russian Orthodox Church Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran

2 May 2013
Greg Kandra

The helicopter carrying Pope Benedict XVI passes the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica as the retired pope returns to the Vatican on 2 May. The pope will live in a monastery in the Vatican Gardens. (photo: CNS/Paul Haring)

Today CNS shares an unprecedented moment:

For the first time in history, the Vatican is home to a pope and a retired pope.

Pope Francis welcomed his predecessor, retired Pope Benedict XVI, to the Vatican May 2 outside the convent remodeled for the 86-year-old retired pontiff and five aides. Pope Francis and Pope Benedict entered the convent’s chapel together “for a brief moment of prayer,” said Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman.

Pope Benedict had been staying at the papal summer villa in Castel Gandolfo since retiring on 28 February. Pope Francis traveled to the villa 10 days after his election to visit, pray and have lunch with Pope Benedict; the new pope also has telephoned his predecessor on at least two occasions.

In response to questions about the fact that Pope Benedict seemed to be much frailer than he was two months ago, Father Lombardi told reporters, “He’s an elderly man, weakened by age, but he is not suffering from any illness.”

In the last year of his pontificate, Pope Benedict was seen walking with a cane on more and more public occasions; after Pope Benedict retired, Father Lombardi confirmed that he had had a pacemaker inserted before becoming pope in 2005 and had undergone a brief procedure in November to replace the battery.

While the Vatican is now home to a pope and his predecessor, neither lives in the papal apartments of the Apostolic Palace. Pope Francis continues to live in the Domus Sanctae Marthae, the Vatican guesthouse just south of St. Peter’s Basilica where the cardinals stayed during the conclave; the Mater Ecclesiae Monastery where Pope Benedict is living is just to the north of the basilica.

Read more here.

Tags: Pope Francis Pope Benedict XVI Vatican Catholic Pope

2 May 2013
J.D. Conor Mauro

In this video, Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos III celebrates Holy Thursday by washing the feet of his clergy in the courtyard of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem’s Old City. (video: THV 11)

Greek Orthodox patriarch washes the feet of bishops (THV 11) Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos III washed the feet of 12 of his clergymen in the courtyard of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem’s Old City on Thursday, 2 May, in a traditional ceremony that takes place three days ahead of Easter. According to Christian faith, Jesus washed the feet of his twelve disciples prior to the Last Supper before he was crucified. Christian churches commemorate this event as part of Easter Holy Week celebrations, with Orthodox ceremonies taking place in accordance to the Eastern (Julian) calendar…

A prayer for the Chaldean Synod (Fides) The first Synod of the Chaldean Church convened by the new Patriarch Louis Raphael, who was elected last January 31, will begin in Baghdad on 5 June. The agenda of the synodal assembly includes challenging topics, including the appointment of bishops in several Chaldean bishoprics left vacant in the Middle East and Western countries, the formation of priests, the final draft of a law of the Chaldean Church to be submitted to the consent of the Apostolic See, updating and harmonization of the liturgical rites celebrated unevenly in the various dioceses and the study of concrete measures to curb the phenomenon of emigration and encourage Christians to remain in — or return to — their homeland…

An interview with a Jesuit ecumenist (Catholic World Report) Catholic World Report recently asked Archimandrite Robert Taft, S.J., for his perspective on current Orthodox-Catholic relations. Father Taft has devoted his life to preserving the liturgical treasury of the East and building bridges between Orthodox and Catholic Christians, and describes a vision of Catholic-Orthodox communion: “what it would look like is not a ‘reunion’ with [Orthodox churches] ‘returning to Rome,’ to which they never belonged anyway; nor us being incorporated by them, since we are all ancient apostolic ‘sister churches’ with a valid episcopate and priesthood and the full panoply of sacraments needed to minister salvation to our respective faithful…”

Turkey investigates use of chemical weapons in Syria (Daily Star Lebanon) Turkey is testing blood samples taken from Syrian casualties brought over the border from fighting in recent days to determine whether they were victims of a chemical weapons attack, local government and health officials said on Wednesday. The samples were sent to Turkey’s forensic medicine institute after several Syrians with breathing difficulties were brought to a Turkish hospital on Monday in the town of Reyhanli in Hatay province along the Syrian border. “We are taking the necessary precautions as we have received unconfirmed information on the use of chemical weapons,” Reyhanli Mayor Huseyin Sanverdi told Reuters…

Lebanon border region caught in Syrian conflict (L.A. Times) Kidnapping, smuggling and tribal feuds have long been a reality of the Lebanese landscape, but the conflict next door between the longtime Shiite-linked government of President Bashar al Assad and fragmented, largely Sunni, opposition forces has upped the ante. These days, nothing seems to transpire in northern Lebanon without the Syrian conflict coloring the exchange…

Tags: Syrian Civil War Ecumenism Chaldean Church Orthodox Church of the Holy Sepulchre

1 May 2013
Elias D. Mallon, S.A., Ph.D.

This photo, taken in March, shows the property of the Cremisan Salesian Fathers and Sisters. Visible in the distance is the settlement of Gilo, built on land formerly part of Beit Jala. The plan is to expand the settlement of Gilo into the valley and connect it to another settlement called Har Gilo on the other side of the Cremisan property. CNEWA is a long-time supporter of the Salesian Sisters’ School, located on the premises. (photo: CNEWA)

A legal decision announced on Friday by an Israeli court has far-reaching implications for Palestinian farmers who own and work their lands near the West Bank city of Bethlehem. It also directly impacts Catholic religious institutions nestled in a region known as the Cremisan Valley.

The Cremisan Valley is a green, fertile stretch of land on the outskirts of Bethlehem. It is estimated that there are more than 50 families, most of them Christians, who own and farm the land. Although the valley is well within the borders of the Palestinian West Bank — i.e., not on the Israeli side of the Green Line or the 1967 demarcation dividing Israel proper from the West Bank — the Israeli government is planning to continue its Security Barrier through the Cremisan, in effect splitting the valley in two.

The United Nations estimates that the barrier stretches some 440 miles, more than twice the length of the 198-mile-long Green Line. Most of the barrier, about 70 percent, is either completed or under construction. The largest portion (about 85 percent) will run inside the West Bank, and cuts off almost 10 percent of Palestinian land from Palestinian control. About 6,500 Palestinians who live between the barrier and the Green Line are caught in what is called a “Seam Zone.” Therefore, those Palestinians over the age of 16 must obtain “permanent resident” permits to stay on land where they and their families have lived for centuries.

In addition to the farming families in the Cremisan Valley, there are two religious institutions on the land, run by the priests and sisters of the Salesians of Don Bosco. The priests came to the valley about 1870 when the area was still under the control of the Ottoman Empire. They opened the Cremisan Cellars, using the fertile hillsides to grow grapes and produce wines — including the sacramental wines used by Catholics in the Holy Land. In 1960, the Salesian sisters opened a school in the valley; today, it enrolls an estimated 450 students. CNEWA’s operating agency in the Middle East, the Pontifical Mission for Palestine, has provided grants to the sisters’ school to support the staff and install solar panels to provide electricity.

If the security barrier is constructed, Palestinian Christian farmers will be separated from their fields. Although there will be “agricultural gates” to allow farmers entry, similar openings already built elsewhere provide only limited access to the fields for short periods of time, making it virtually impossible for farmers to prune their olive trees or fertilize their crops and keep them properly maintained for successful farming.

The barrier will also separate the two Salesian communities. The priests will be isolated from the West Bank and will live in the Israeli-controlled “Seam Zone.” The sisters will be on the Palestinian side although the barrier will be erected around three sides of the property, creating a situation that the Assembly of Catholic Ordinaries in the Holy Land describes as “prison-like … surrounded by military barriers and check-points.”

Recognizing the already precarious position of Christians in the region, the Assembly of Catholic Ordinaries in the Holy Land, the Society of St. Yves — the legal and human rights office of the Latin Patriarchate — and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops have expressed their opposition to the extension of the security barrier through the Cremisan Valley as it will further deteriorate the situation of Palestinian Christians, whose emigration from the Holy Land has hastened since 2000.

Tags: Middle East Christians Palestine Israeli-Palestinian conflict Farming/Agriculture Separation Barrier

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