Current Issue
December, 2017
Volume 43, Number 4
9 February 2018
Greg Kandra

The video above shows a typical day for workers operating a mobile clinic in Iraqi Kurdistan.
(video: Raed Raphei)

This week, we take you on a remarkable road trip, in a mobile clinic providing physician and pharmacy services to displaced families in Iraqi Kurdistan.

As we reported in 2016:

Funded by CNEWA, the mobile clinic is an initiative of the Rev. Yousif Jamil Haddad, the pastor of the Virgin Mary Syriac Catholic Church in Zakho, a bustling city close to Turkey and a commercial hub for the export of oil from Kurdistan.

“Many refugees are staying in poor, remote villages where they have no access to medical care,” says Father Haddad, explaining the motivations behind the project that began its operations last June.

Today, the mobile clinic visits 22 villages scattered throughout the hilly northern edges of Kurdistan, serving a population of roughly 15,000 internally displaced Christian, Muslim and Yazidi families. Staffed by a doctor, a pharmacist, an administrator and a driver, the van departs from Zakho around 9 a.m., five days a week. Each morning, the van is loaded with supplies stored on the premises of the Syriac Catholic parish. It then makes its way to one or two villages where, typically, the clinic’s doctor provides medical consultation to some 140 patients.

In the daily efforts of this small operation, displaced from all walks of life have found a lifeline — enabling many of the region’s most vulnerable people to reclaim health and hope.

Check out the video above for an up close and personal view.

9 February 2018
Greg Kandra

Girls from San Joe Puram Children’s Village in northern India practice basketball. The complex of schools and facilities is proving to be A Place of Promise and Providence for kids with a variety of physical challenges. Read about it in the Winter 2014 edition of ONE. (photo: John Mathew)

9 February 2018
Greg Kandra

Cardinal Vincent Nichols, shown in this photo from 2016, has urged churches and business leaders to do more to tackle the problem of human trafficking. (photo: CNS/Mohammed Saber, EPA)

Cardinal Nichols: step up efforts to stop human trafficking (Vatican News) Churches, governments, police and business leaders must do more to tackle the growing phenomenon of human trafficking. That’s the view of English Cardinal Vincent Nichols of Westminster, who is in the Vatican this week for a meeting of the ‘Santa Marta’ group on combatting modern slavery and trafficking...

Trump: recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital was high point of presidency (Haaretz) In an interview for an Israeli newspaper, President Donald Trump said that his 6 December declaration recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital was the high point of his time in office. In the Hebrew-language translation of an excerpt from Trump’s interview with Israel Hayom editor-in-chief Boaz Bismuth, Trump said that both Israel and the Palestinians would need to compromise significantly to achieve peace. Trump said this in replying to Bismuth’s question on whether Israel would have to give something in return for the declaration...

New Russian police chief enlists Orthodox priests, churches to help stamp out crime in the force (The Moscow Times) A new police chief in southern Russia has reportedly ordered for his subordinates to visit churches in an effort to stamp out crime within the force’s ranks. The unorthodox orders came after Rostov-on-Don police officers were arrested for starting a drunken fight, causing a car accident and accepting a bribe in the past week, the local news website reported Thursday...

Iraq seeks $100 billion for reconstruction (Reuters) Iraq is seeking around $100 billion in foreign investment in transport, energy and agriculture as part of a plan to rebuild parts of the country and revive the economy after a three-year war on ISIS...

Ethiopia to free hundreds of prisoners (Reuters) Ethiopia will release 746 more prisoners, including a journalist and a senior opposition official who were jailed for conspiracy to commit terrorist acts, the attorney general’s office said Thursday. The decision follows a series of changes announced by the government to try to reduce tension in Ethiopia, which has been hit by unrest since 2015...

Cardinal Gracias elected new president of Indian Bishops’ Conference (Vatican News) Almost 200 bishops are attending the 33rd General Body Meeting of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI), which is taking place at St. John’s National Academy of Health Sciences in Koramangala, Bengaluru...

8 February 2018
Elias D. Mallon, S.A., Ph.D.

The video above offered a preview of the interfaith gathering at Assisi in 2011, with context and history about what the meetings there have meant. (video: Rome Reports/YouTube)

The promulgation of Nostra Ætate (The Declaration on the Relation of the Church to non-Christian Religions) on 28 October 1965 committed the Catholic Church to dialogue with the great religious traditions in the world. The declaration was groundbreaking, in that the Catholic Church declared that it “rejects nothing of what is true and holy in these {non-Christian} religions” and called Catholics to “enter...into discussion and collaboration with members of other religions.”

It’s worth looking at how that “discussion and collaboration” came out — and how it is being carried out to this day.

On Pentecost Sunday 1964, a year before the promulgation of Nostra Ætate, Pope Paul VI set up the Secretariat for Non-Christians whose work was “to promote mutual understanding, respect and collaboration between Catholics and the followers of other religious traditions.” In the decades since, that work has only deepened. As the Catholic Church became more sophisticated and deeply engaged in this dialogue, Pope John Paul II in 1988 restructured the Roman Curia (the central administration of the Catholic Church), creating the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue (PCID).

This stressed the importance of dialogue with other religions and expressed it more positively. As a result, no longer does the Catholic Church express its relationship to other religions as “non-Christians,” but sees the endeavor as more broadly conceived, attempting to understand the religions of the world on their own terms and not merely as “not us.”

In addition to maintaining bi-lateral dialogues with the great religious traditions of the world, the PCID encourages and promotes local dialogues. Three times a year it publishes Pro Dialogo, containing articles on theological topics related to inter religious dialogue; it also reports on the work of local dialogues throughout the year.

This work has entailed not only words, but also concrete actions. Three popes — John Paul II, Benedict XVI and Francis — have hosted major interfaith events in Assisi. At these gatherings, religious leaders from around the world gathered to reflect on the values they hold in common and on how they might work together for a more just add peaceful world. In addition, every year the Holy See sends out greetings to members of other religions — including Hindus, on the Feast of Diwali (the festival of lights) in November and Muslims on ‘Eid ul-Fitr the end of Ramadan, the Muslim holy month of fasting. Other religious traditions are included throughout the year, as well.

The PCID also has a special committee for relations with Muslims. The proximity of the two faiths and their often unfortunate histories together convinced the Church to pay special attention to Islam. While the Holy See maintains diplomatic relations with many different Muslim majority countries, the PCID focuses primarily on religious issues. Recently, relations between the Catholic Church and al-Azhar University, perhaps the premier Sunni Muslim university in the world, were resumed with the hope of increased cooperation between Muslim and Catholic theologians and thinkers.

While the work of the PCID may seem remote to Catholics in general and also to CNEWA, nothing could be further from the truth. Catholics all over the world are increasingly encountering members of other religions. More and more, they are our neighbors. In the U.S., Europe and elsewhere mosques, Hindu mandirs (temples), Buddhist sanghas (religious communities), Sikh gurudwara (temples/centers) are becoming familiar fixtures in urban — and even rural — landscapes.

CNEWA works in the Middle East and southern India. In both regions, Christians are a minority surrounded by much larger religious communities — Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism. Good relations with these faiths in imperative. Often, members of these religions benefit from programs which CNEWA maintains.

Over the years the popes have stressed the importance of interreligious dialogue for the survival of the planet. The Catholic Church recognizes that centuries of interreligious conflict must be replaced by interreligious dialogue and understanding. Again and again popes have stressed that this not something added on to Catholicism but part and parcel of what it means to be Catholic.

8 February 2018
Greg Kandra

These are some of the students who attend classes at the St. Joseph’s Home for Children in Pallanad, India — a place that is Breaking the Cycle of family life scarred by alcoholism and abuse. Read more about the remarkable work the school is doing in the March 2017 edition of ONE.
(photo: Don Duncan)

8 February 2018
Greg Kandra

Embed from Getty Images
A picture taken on 8 February 2018 shows the exterior of the Mariamite Cathedral of Damascus, one of the oldest Greek Orthodox churches in the Syrian capital, reflected on the glass pane of a window that was broken after rebel mortar bombardment that struck the eastern Bab Touma neighborhood.
(photo: Louai Beshara/AFP/Getty Images)

Syrian Orthodox Patriarchate hit by gunfire (Fides) Mortar fire from armed groups still in control of the eastern outskirts of the city has hit central Damascus and in particular the area of the Syrian Orthodox Patriarchate in the Bab Tuma neighborhood, at least two dead and three wounded. The shooting took place on 5 February and reached the border area of the Syrian Orthodox Cathedral St. George where a group of Russian volunteers had recently distributed aid packages to the local population...

U.S. bombs government forces in Syria (BBC) The US has carried out rare air strikes on Syrian pro-government forces after what it called an “unprovoked attack” on allied Kurdish and Arab fighters. US officials estimated that 100 pro-government fighters were killed in the incident on Wednesday...

UAE donates money to avoid shutdown of Gaza hospitals (Times of Israel) The United Arab Emirates has donated $2 million to help keep United Nations medical services in Gaza afloat amid a severe fuel shortage, the UAE’s Foreign Ministry said on Thursday...

Cardinal calls Church the great driver in Indian society (Herald Malaysia) For Charles Bo, Archbishop of Yangon, the Catholic Church is “a great driver of the social sectors” in India where millions of people are touched by the “service offered by an army of volunteers.” Indeed, Catholics “are the face of the compassionate Jesus to the poor and the broken.” The cardinal made these comments at the Plenary Assembly of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI) currently underway in Bengaluru, Karnataka (2-9 February) where he is the guest of honor...

Jerusalem plans promenade to link settlements (Haaretz) The city of Jerusalem and Jerusalem Development Authority are advancing a plan to build a promenade in the Mount of Olives connecting the two Jewish residential compounds in the Palestinian A-Tur neighborhood. A proposal for a visitors’ center on the Mount of Olives is also being advanced...

7 February 2018
Greg Kandra

Children attend a summer camp at a Catholic church in Ader, Jordan. Learn more about how Jordan’s Christian Shepherds are leading the flock in that corner of the world in the September 2017 edition of ONE. (photo: Nader Daoud)

Tags: Middle East Christians Jordan Holy Land Christians

7 February 2018
Greg Kandra

Pope Francis speaks as he leads his general audience in Paul VI hall at the Vatican on 7 February. (photo: CNS/Paul Haring)

Pope appeals for action against human trafficking (Vatican News) Pope Francis has appealed for concerted action against human trafficking as we prepare to mark the Day of Prayer and Awareness against this terrible scourge. “I invite everyone, citizens and institutions, to join forces to prevent the slave trade and to guarantee protection and assistance for the victims” he said during the weekly General Audience in the Vatican…

Israel strikes Damascus complex (BBC) Israeli warplanes have fired missiles at a Syrian military position near the capital, Damascus, Syrian media report. A Syrian military statement said its air defense systems blocked most of the missiles, but gave no further details…

UN warns Gaza it has just 10 days of emergency fuel left (Al Jazeera) The United Nations has warned that Gaza’s emergency fuel supplies will run dry in 10 days unless it receives immediate donor support. In a statement published on Wednesday, officials said $6.5 million was needed to buy generator fuel and stave off the collapse of “critical services…”

Churches accuse Jerusalem mayor of violating agreements on taxes (Haaretz) Church representatives have accused Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat of breaching international treaties after the municipality said it planned to collect 650 million shekels ($186 million) in back taxes owed by churches and international bodies with property in the city…

Pope emeritus Benedict: ‘I am on a pilgrimage towards Home’ (Vatican News) Pope emeritus Benedict has sent a short letter to the editor of the Italian news daily Il Corriere della Sera. The pope emeritus was responding to the many inquiries from readers as to how he is spending “this last period of his life.” Noting the “slow decline” of his “physical strength,” Benedict says: “interiorly, I am on a pilgrimage towards Home.” The former pontiff admits that “this last stretch of the road” is “at times difficult,” but says, “It is a great grace for me to be surrounded by a love and goodness that I could not have imagined…”

Tags: Syria Israel Pope Benedict XVI Jerusalem human trafficking

6 February 2018
Emeline Wuilbercq

A young woman hones her culinary skills during a cooking class at the Kidist Mariam Center in
Meki, Ethiopia. (photo: Petterik Wiggers)

In the current edition of ONE, Emeline Wuilbercq takes us to the Kidist Mariam Center in Ethiopia and discovers how it is offering skills to young Ethiopians and helping them stay in their homeland. Here, she offers some additional impressions.

Throughout my reporting career in Ethiopia, I have met hundreds of passionate people. I have been reporting mostly on politics, especially on the crackdown on protests in some parts of the country. I believe journalists have a duty to voice people’s concerns. But I strongly believe it is also our duty to deliver more than just sad news. Practicing “solutions journalism” is a good way of doing it.

Instead of writing about the problems, those who practice “solutions journalism” strive to write about how people can address those problems and offer solutions. In the end, the reader understands that, despite the challenges, there is hope. I’m not used to writing these kinds of “positive stories” but I’m convinced they offer another valuable perspective beyond most of the articles we read daily in the media. And I’m quite sure this journalism is just as rigorous and compelling as any other.

I experienced this kind of journalism when I reported at the Kidist Mariam Center. Visiting this training center — operated by the Community of St. Paul, in the Ethiopian town of Meki, about 80 miles south of the capital Addis Ababa — was both touching and delightful. It was touching because I met young and poor girls exposed to the danger of migration. They used to work abroad as housemaids to support their families. They were having hard times living abroad, with the fear of being beaten, sexually harassed, or facing other forms of exploitation and mistreatment. But it was also delightful because this center allowed them to foresee a better future in their hometown.

I spent a day there interviewing many of them and had no qualms disturbing them during their training. I was very impressed by one of them: Serkalem Keder, the aspiring pastry chef. She had been taking cooking classes at Kidist Mariam Center for the last seven months. Her shy smile betrayed her happiness, a feeling she had forgotten while she was out of her country. She had been through hard times in Saudi Arabia, but she keeps it for herself. When I met her, the only thing that mattered is how she is improving her cooking skills so that she can get a decent job and make a better living in her own country.

I met many Serkalems, whose lives changed thanks to the center. I felt humbled in front of those strong women who were almost my age. I was also happy to be able to share this story with readers who could help support the center, enabling it to train more young people and give them hope.

Discover more in the December 2017 edition of ONE.

6 February 2018
Greg Kandra

Workers repair a Syriac Christian church in southern Turkey. After years in exile, more Christians are returning to their homeland. To learn more, read Coming Home in the Winter 2015 edition of ONE.
(photo: Don Duncan)

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