20 June 2017
Samir and Nevine Deshto, Iraqi refugees, stand with their newborn daughter in the Italian Hospital in Amman. Read more about how they and other refugees are Finding Sanctuary in Jordan in the Spring 2015 edition of ONE. (photo: Nader Daoud)
Today is World Refugee Day, when the United Nations draws attention to those who, seeking safety from violence and persecution, are forced to flee their homes. To mark the occasion, the U.N.’s refugee agency released its annual Global Trends Report, and the picture it paints is grim. Last year, the number of forcibly displaced people around the globe topped 65.6 million. Some of the countries that Catholic Near East Welfare Association serves are among the biggest sources of refugees:
- Iraq: 4.2 million people displaced
- Syria: 12 million displaced
- Ukraine: 2.1 million displaced
What can we do about the tragedy of forced migration? As Christians, we’re called by Scripture to welcome the strangers in our midst. In a time when our culture seems to be growing more suspicious and hostile, our challenge is to see Jesus in the refugee and to respond to His suffering with mercy and compassion. Here are four suggestions for this World Refugee Day:
Pray. You can use this prayer from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops: “Teach us, Lord, the ways of hospitality. Give us the spirit of joyful welcome and the sensitivity to help people on the move feel they belong. Grant that our tables at home may draw our new neighbors from other lands into a loving community and that the Eucharistic tables in our parishes may prefigure the banquet in heaven where all are one with You, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.”
Learn. Educate yourself about the issue of forced migration. Understand the magnitude of the problem by looking at the new U.N. report. Read what Pope Francis said to the World Congress for the Pastoral Care of Migrants. Familiarize yourself with how CNEWA and our local partners are ministering to refugees’ humanitarian and spiritual needs.
Reach out. For refugees who’ve lost everything and who struggle to meet even the most basic needs, it can feel like the world has abandoned and forgotten them. Let them know they’re not alone. Share some of the resources that God has given you with your refugee sisters and brothers by making a gift to CNEWA.
Share. Once you’ve prayed, learned and reached out to refugees, invite your friends and family to join you. You can share this blog post on Facebook or Twitter and let everyone know what you’ve done. Maybe you’ll be an inspiration to others who are looking for an opportunity to do good.
Thank you for taking action on this World Refugee Day — and blessings and prayers of gratitude from all of us at CNEWA!
20 June 2017
A woman holds a sign and cross as members of the local Chaldean community demonstrate on 16 June outside the Patrick V. McNamara Federal Building to protest the arrest and detention of more than 100 Chaldean Christians from the Detroit area. (photo: CNS/Jim West)
The organizer of a 16 June protest in Detroit against federal agents’ rounding up more than 100 Iraqi-American immigrants told local media that those who were detained had no prior warning that Immigration and Customs Enforcement would be arresting them the morning of 11 June.
Joined by U.S. Democratic Reps. Sander Levin and Brenda Lawrence of Michigan, members of the Chaldean Christian community gathered in front of the Patrick V. McNamara Federal Building. They held up signs, crosses and American flags, venting their frustration against federal authorities who detained their father, brothers and uncles, many of whom have been in the community for decades.
Martin Manna, president of the Chaldean Chamber of Commerce, organized the demonstration.
“I represent a rich cove of the Iraqi-Chaldean community, and when I called Martin Manna, I got here quickly,” Lawrence said. “Chaldeans are our friends, our neighbors.
“Why did ICE decide to target and round up Iraqi-Americans? Where is the written policy?” Lawrence asked, referring to the “verbal agreement” U.S. President Donald Trump had with the Iraqi government regarding accepting deportees from the United States.
Levin and five others from the Michigan delegation to the U.S. House of Representatives wrote a letter to U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly, requesting a copy of the U.S. government’s agreement with Iraq so it can be subject to congressional oversight and to hold off on sending the detainees to Iraq until their safety can be guaranteed.
“We are here on behalf of the Chaldean community, proclaiming this as not only a Chaldean issue, but an American issue,” Levin said. “We’re saying to ICE, let there be time for justice. Sec. Kelly said, ‘we’re only going after the ‘worst of the worst.&rsquo There arrests have been made without regard to what crime has been committed, or what sentences have already been served.
“This is a country that believes in due process for everybody, even for immigrants,” he continued. “America is more than just numbers, but the human lives behind them. I ask my colleagues, delay deportation. We're here together for the Chaldean community.”
Family members of those who have been detained shared their stories, stating how many were preparing to attend Sunday Mass when ICE officials knocked on their doors, asking to go with them to the Iraqi Consulate; some were promised they would be returned to their homes.
“We’ve heard stories of an 80-year old man, who was carried away by ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) in chains,” said Nidal Zawaideh of Bloomfield Hills, who showed up to protest to support her fellow Chaldeans. “They talk about the crimes they’ve committed. This man hit his wife 50 years ago, had the police called. But that was 50 years ago; these people are not a threat to society.”
After the roundup, ICE officials would not confirm the number taken into custody but said those arrested had criminal convictions, including for murder, rape, assault, burglary, weapons violations and drug trafficking. They said the action was the result of recent negotiations between the U.S. and Iraq, which had agreed “to take back Iraqi nationals convicted of crimes.”
WJBK-TV reported that an ICE spokesperson said that “each of these individuals received full and fair immigration proceedings, after which a federal immigration judge found them ineligible for any form of relief under U.S. law and ordered them removed.”
Father Anthony Kathawa, parochial vicar of St. Thomas Chaldean Catholic Church in West Bloomfield, said many in the parish and surrounding Chaldean parishes have called, asking for help and not receiving many answers.
“There is a lot of pain, confusion, with them asking questions and getting now answers,” Father Kathawa told The Michigan Catholic, newspaper of the Detroit Archdiocese. “We have to lean on our faith, because there are so many questions.”
He said that Bishop Francis Y. Kalabat, who heads the Chaldean Catholic Eparchy of St. Thomas the Apostle, based in Southfield, “has requested every parish celebrate a special Mass and maintain a Holy Hour at every Chaldean parish in the area.”
Father Kathawa couldn’t confirm how many of his parishioners have been detained, saying there have been many.
“The people that are detained ... I never guessed they’d have a criminal background,” Father Kathawa said. “They are really involved in their parishes; they’ve brought great change to the community. Those who were convicted of crimes, they’ve paid their debt. Part of Christianity is believing in redemption, believing in forgiveness.”
20 June 2017
Indian Cardinal Ivan Dias died 19 June at age 81 in Rome. (photo: CNS/Kham, Reuters)
Pope offers condolences on death of Indian cardinal (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has expressed his sadness at the death of Indian Cardinal Ivan Dias. The 81-year-old retired prefect of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples and former archbishop Emeritus of Bombay passed away on Monday in Rome. Pope Francis sent a condolence message to the late cardinal’s brother Francis Dias, recalling his service to the Holy See, particularly his efforts in rebuilding the Church in Albania...
Marking World Refugee Day (Vatican Radio) At a time in history in which an unprecedented 65.5 million people around the world have been forced from home, we are witnessing the highest levels of displacement on record. Among them are nearly 22.5 million refugees, over half of which are under the age of 18. World Refugee Day, held each year on 20 June, commemorates the strength, courage and perseverance of millions of men, women and children who are on the move, in search of protection and opportunity...
Holy See calls for international cooperation to aid legal migration (Vatican Radio) The Holy See has called for international cooperation to facilitate safe and legal migration ahead of World Refugee Day. The Rev. Michael Czerny, Undersecretary of the Migrant and Refugee Section of the Holy See, made the appeal on Monday to the United Nations in Geneva...
Australis suspends airstrikes in Syria (AP) Australia on Tuesday suspended its airstrikes against Islamic State targets in Syria as a precaution, after a U.S. fighter jet shot down a Syrian warplane earlier this week and Russia warned the U.S.-led coalition from flying over Syrian army positions west of the Euphrates River. The announcement from Canberra came as a brief, two-day truce collapsed in the southern Syrian city of Dara and nearby areas where government forces have gained ground...
Ethiopia’s coffee farmers are ‘on the front lines of climate change’ (NPR) Ethiopia gave the world Coffea arabica, the species that produces most of the coffee we drink these days. Today, the country is the largest African producer of Arabica coffee. The crop is the backbone of the country’s economy — some 15 million Ethiopians depend on it for a living. But the effects of climate change — higher temperatures and less rainfall — could take a toll on the country’s ability to farm this treasured crop...
19 June 2017
Some children in the Kiev Archeparchy of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church who have benefitted from CNEWA’s support express their appreciation. (photo: CNEWA)
We received these images from Anna Dombrovska, who works on projects for us in Ukraine. She writes:
The Kiev Archeparchy of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church and its parishes pray for all those who donated and supported it through CNEWA. With this special prayer the people of the Kiev Archeparchy would like to thank all its donors for their generous support.
With support from CNEWA, parishes have been helping resettle women, orphans and families from Donbass.
They have been helping those in need and now continue to build a strong church in Ukraine.
We continue to be uplifted and inspired by the generosity of our donors — and grateful for their continued support. We add our voice to those of the good people of Ukraine, to say to our donors, “Thank you and God bless you.” We pray for you!
19 June 2017
In this image from 2016, Syrian refugees arrive at a camp after crossing into the Jordanian side of the northeast Jordan-Syria border near Royashed. The United Nations reports that more people were displaced in 2016 than ever before. (photo: CNS/Jamal Nasrallah, EPA)
UN: More people displaced in 2016 than ever before (The New York Times) The relentless civil war in Syria and a surge of South Sudanese fleeing the collapse of peace efforts in their country helped propel the global population of displaced people to a record in 2016, the United Nations refugee agency said Monday. The agency’s annual Global Trends report, a statistical assessment of refugees, asylum seekers and people forcibly displaced from their homes, reflected a worsening of conflict, mayhem and persecution...
King of Jordan confirms: defense of holy sites a ‘priority’ (Fides) The protection of Jerusalem’s holy Muslim and Christian sites is a “priority” for the Hashimite Monarchy, committed to supporting the birth of an independent Palestinian state that has Gerusalem East as the capital. This is what King Abdallah II of Jordan said to a delegation of religious, Christian and Muslim representatives from Jerusalem on Sunday, 18 June, in Amman...
Synod begins to elect new patriarch (Fides) The Synod of Bishops of the Greek Melkite Church has begun today, Monday, 19 June to elect the new Patriarch. At the beginning of May, Pope Francis announced that he had accepted the resignation of Gregory III Laham from pastoral office...
Pope’s visit to India may be postponed to 2018 (Vatican Radio) It is very likely that the visit of Pope Francis to India and Bangladesh planned for the end of this year, could be postponed to next year, a prominent Indian Catholic Church leader said on Thursday. In an interview to National Catholic Reporter (NCR) on 15 June, Cardinal Oswald Gracias, Archbishop of Bombay said that discussions with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government about a papal visit this year have taken longer than expected...
Archeologists unearth forgotten city in Ethiopia (The Telegraph) British archaeologists in Ethiopia have uncovered a forgotten city dating as far back as 10th century AD that was once believed to be the home of giants. The dig, in Harlaa, unearthed a 12th century mosque, a jeweler’s workshop and evidence of Islamic burials and headstones. Experts from the University of Exeter and Ethiopia’s cultural ministry also found pottery from Madagascar, the Yemen and China, as well as bronze and silver coins from 13th century Egypt...
16 June 2017
The newly renamed Mosque of Maryam, the Mother of Jesus, stands in Abu Dhabi.
The Sheikh Muhammad bin Zayed Mosque in Abu Dhabi has a new name. It is now the Mosque of Maryam (Mary), Mother of Jesus. This gesture of the crown prince of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Muhammad ibn Zayed al-Nahyan, is intended to promote greater understanding and harmony between Christians and Muslims.
In fact, Our Lady plays an important role in Islam. She is the virgin mother of Jesus, although with no connotation of the Incarnation as understood by Christians. She is the one who hears God’s word and believes it. And in the Qur’an, she is the focus of Chapter 19.
When members of the early Muslim community fled to Abyssinia (ancient Ethiopia) to escape persecution, they were required by the king to explain their new faith. When he heard of the devotion they had to Mary, he immediately accepted them as protected refugees.
Two women play a major role in Islam. The first is Fatimah, the daughter of the Prophet Muhammad and wife of Ali bin Abi Talib. The second is Mary, Mother of Jesus. Known among Muslims as Fatimah al-Zahra, “the Illustrious,” the daughter of the Prophet is widely revered in Sunni and especially Shi’ite Islam. While it is common among Shi’ites to have mosques bearing the name of Fatimah, to my knowledge this mosque is Abu Dhabi is the first to be named after the Virgin Mary.
This is not by any means to say that Mary plays no role in the popular piety of Muslims. Although it is seriously frowned upon by the Wahhabi/Salafi theological strain in Sunni Islam, many Muslims visit Marian shrines in Ephesus, Lebanon, Palestine and elsewhere.
The graciousness and breadth of spirit of Sheikh Muhammad bin Zayed al-Nahyan is to be applauded. One can only hope that it is the first of many gestures that Muslims and Christians can make to increase peace and understanding between our communities.
16 June 2017
Altar servers make their way to the Divine Liturgy at the Orthodox cathedral in Antioch. Read more about Turkey’s Melting Pot, and the many faiths that reside there, in the May 2011 edition of ONE. (photo: Sean Sprague)
16 June 2017
An Iraqi soldier escorts civilians in Mosul’s western Al-Shifa district on 15 June 2017, as they flee their homes during the ongoing offensive by Iraqi forces to retake the city from ISIS group fighters. (photo: Mohamed El-Shahed/AFP/Getty Images)
More than 100,000 civilians trapped in Mosul (Reuters) Over 100,000 civilians remain trapped behind Islamic State lines in Mosul with a U.S.-backed government offensive to recapture the Iraqi city entering its ninth month, the United Nations refugee agency UNHCR said on Friday. “These civilians are basically held as human shields in the Old City,” said the presiding UNHCR representative in Iraq, Bruno Geddo, referring to Mosul’s historic district where the militants are besieged by Iraqi government forces...
Iraqi leader meets with Christians (Fides) Masrour Barzani, head of the intelligence in the autonomous Region of Iraqi Kurdistan and President Masud’s son, met with a delegation of representatives of the most rooted Churches in the region, including Redemptorist Bashar Warda, Chaldean Archbishop of Erbil, and Mar Nicodemus Daud Matti Sharaf, Syriac Orthodox Bishop of Mosul on 13 June...
ACLU asks court to stop deportation of Iraqi Christians (Aleteia) The American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan has asked for a temporary restraining order on the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, which is sending hundreds of Iraqi Christians back to a country where, many contend, they are in serious danger of being tortured or killed. The civil liberties organization filed a brief in a federal court in Michigan Thursday, days after ICE arrested a number of Chaldean Christians in and around Detroit as part of President Donald J. Trump’s efforts to enforce immigration laws...
Where an influx of Syrians is remaking Turkey (The New York Times) Turkey built this concrete wall to try to stop the flow of refugees and cut off its connection to the war on the other side. I visited this place to see how some of the three million refugees in Turkey are remaking the region...
UAE names Abu Dhabi mosque after Mary, Mother of Jesus (Newsweek) Authorities have renamed a mosque in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates, after the mother of Jesus Christ. Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince and deputy commander of the Emirati military, said he ordered the change in a bid to build bridges with other religions...
Controversy surrounds bill to ban foreign names for Egyptian babies (Fides) Controversy and sarcasm in Egypt increase with regards to the bill submitted on Tuesday 13 June to the Egyptian Parliament to forbid the conferral of Western and “foreign” names to Egyptian babies...
15 June 2017
In the video above, Pope Francis and religious leaders from many different faiths describe why it is important to reach out to people of other religions. (video: Elijah Interfaith Institute/YouTube)
Reaching out to people of other religions can be both challenging and enriching for individuals and is the only hope for true peace in the world, said a variety of religious leaders, including Pope Francis.
The pope and his friend Rabbi Abraham Skorka appear in a video montage and together in their own video as part of the “Make Friends” initiative coordinated by the Elijah Interfaith Institute, which has offices in Israel and in Dallas.
The video series, posted on YouTube 14 June, also includes Orthodox, Anglican and Lutheran leaders, Jewish rabbis, Sunni and Shiite Muslim clerics, Buddhist monks and nuns, and Hindu and Sikh leaders.
In their video, Pope Francis and Rabbi Skorka talk about how their own religious convictions led them into conversations with each other, and how those conversations not only increased their understanding of God and formed the basis of a television series and book, but also led to true friendship.
Pope Francis and Rabbi Abraham Skorka discuss their friendship in a special video for the Elijah Interfaith Institute. (video: Elijah Interfaith Institute/YouTube)
When sending emails back and forth, “because we still have projects going on,” Rabbi Skorka said, they address each other as “‘Dear brother,’ and it’s not just a saying. We have such open, deep and affectionate conversations. We understand each other.”
As they met and held discussions in Buenos Aires, Argentina, “the friendship grew, always retaining our respective identities,” the pope said. “‘Brother and friend’ — those are my feelings for him.”
Explaining the “Make Friends” initiative, the Elijah Interfaith Institute said, “Friendship and getting to know one another are the antidotes to negativity and divisions in society, enhancing understanding and unity.”
Rabbi Alon Goshen-Gottstein is the founder and director of the institute.
You can read more about the initiative at this website.
15 June 2017
Svetlana Kikadze, 70, receives physical therapy for her rheumatism at the Caritas clinic in Tbilisi, Georgia. The clinic seeks to help elderly pensioners who have fallen through the cracks — those abandoned by family and friends and who are often homeless and displaced. Read more about how the church cares for those who are Penniless, Bruised and Sick in the November 2008 edition of ONE. (photo: Molly Corso)