21 September 2016
Moscow and the Syrian government have denied they carried out a deadly air strike on an aid convoy in Syria. (video: Al Jazeera English)
Russia and Syria deny striking U.N. aid convoy in Aleppo (Al Jazeera) “The air forces of Russia and Syria did not conduct any strikes against the U.N. aid convoy in the southwestern outskirts of Aleppo,” said Russian defense ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov on Tuesday, as outrage mounted over an attack that some called a war crime. The Red Cross said at least 20 people were killed in the attack on trucks carrying desperately needed humanitarian relief to thousands of Syrians. Ban Ki-moon, U.N. secretary-general, speaking at the General Assembly in New York, called those who attacked the convoy “cowards.” He continued: “Powerful patrons that keep feeding the war machine also have blood on their hands…”
Caritas: Syrian people are the ‘ball’ in the cruel game of the powerful (AsiaNews) In Syria, major world powers are playing “a football game” in which the Syrian people have become the ball, wrote Sandra Awad of Caritas Syria, in an appeal letter for International Day of Peace. “Unfortunately, what is happening during this game is that the players are destroying with their big shoes … the infrastructure, buildings, factories, and are crushing the Syrian people, especially the poor ones who became the majority…”
Egypt migrant boat capsize: At least 29 people killed (BBC) At least 29 people have drowned after a migrant boat capsized off the Egyptian coast, officials say. The boat was carrying about 600 passengers, of which about 150 have been rescued, state media reported. The capsize took place off the coast of Kafr al Sheikh, officials say…
Interreligious peace rally held in Miao Diocese (Vatican Radio) The Miao Diocese in Arunachal Pradesh — the Indian state furthest northeast — organized an interreligious peace rally in Neotan village, in response to Pope Francis’ call to pray for peace on 20 September. “Amidst growing religious intolerance in India and all around, this inter-religious peace rally is a great step to promote mutual respect and peace among the people of all faiths,” said the Venerable Narinda Bhikkhu Mahathero, head monk in Miao’s Buddhist monastery…
Signs of panic and rebellion in the heart of Islamic State’s territory (Washington Post) The graffiti that appeared on a wall near the mosque in Mosul where the Islamic State leader declared his caliphate two years ago was a small but symbolic act of rebellion. The spray-painted letter “m” — for the Arabic word mukawama, meaning resistance — was part of a campaign by Kitaeb al Mosul, an underground opposition group in the northern Iraqi city that released a video detailing their efforts this month. In recent months, the Islamic State has carried out more arrests and executions such as these in a sign of desperation as it faces the prospect of losing Mosul, according to reports from inside the city…
20 September 2016
Tags: Syria India Iraq Egypt Migrants
The Autumn 2016 edition of ONE magazine is now online!
This special issue shines a spotlight on the churches of the East in a way ONE has never done before:
Pope Pius XI founded Catholic Near East Welfare Association in 1926 to support the people served by the Eastern churches, especially the Catholic Eastern churches. …
This journey has been a story of perseverance and purpose, one that has left us humbled and enriched. It is the story of sisters caring for the victims of war; of seminarians preparing to serve the people of God; of faithful from all walks of life reaching out to the poorest of the poor, and seeing in one another God’s abundant grace at work. To experience this again and again is to realize there is a larger story unfolding in these churches: It is the story of Easter. …
In the pages that follow, you will meet some of the men and women who are living this story every day, and doing it with enthusiasm, fervor and zeal. We focus on what we consider the five families of the Eastern churches — Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, Jerusalem and Armenia — rooted in the ancient lands where the apostles first planted the Gospel. The one church’s “family tree” is complex and elaborate, with many entwined branches, and we will also help trace this tree’s sometimes meandering roots.
We hope you’ll enjoy this journey to the roots, to say nothing of the fascinating people you’ll meet along the way. Just click the link above to get started.
You can also hear a few words from CNEWA President Msgr. John E. Kozar on this exciting new edition below:
20 September 2016
Tags: CNEWA Eastern Christianity Eastern Churches ONE magazine
Imad Abou Jaoude poses for a “selfie” with another CNEWA hero, Sister Maria Hannah, O.P., during a visit to Iraq. (photo: CNEWA)
Imad Abou Jaoude, a young civil engineer, joined CNEWA in our Beirut office in January 2000 as a part-time project coordinator when CNEWA was assisting the displaced population of Lebanon, mainly Christians. They had been forced to flee from their villages during the Lebanese civil war between 1975 and 2000. With his engineering background, Imad mainly worked on technical issues related to the implementation of infrastructure projects.
Year after year, and with time, the mandate and the priority of the office were changing enormously, especially after the eruption of the war in Syria and the catastrophe of Iraq in 2014. This young enthusiastic engineer, Imad, feeling the importance of CNEWA’s presence to this vulnerable population, decided to join us full time and dedicate all his efforts and knowledge to helping us.
In 2014, only three weeks after the brutal offensive against the Christians and Yazidis in Iraq, and despite all danger encountered, Imad was very excited to join me in my first trip to Iraq. I still remember how we flew over Mosul only a few thousand feet above ISIS militants, within range of their rockets. For security reasons, our plane had to circle Erbil’s airport for almost an hour before we were allowed to land.
Thanks to Imad’s efforts, CNEWA is playing a leading role in responding to the needs of more than 150,000 displaced persons. With his engineering expertise, he effectively helped establish dispensaries and schools; with his very human touch he conveyed to all who needed it a spirit of solidarity and hope — truly a hero to many.
20 September 2016
Tags: Syria Lebanon Refugees CNEWA Relief
Good Shepherd Sister Odile, a Coptic Catholic, cares for children at her order’s orphanage in Suez, Egypt. For thousands of years, ethnic Christians — or Copts — have formed a major constituency of the Church of Alexandria, which in Africa includes a number of other Eastern churches, Catholic and Orthodox. Learn more about the Church of Alexandria in the pages of the Autumn 2016 special edition of ONE. (photo: David Degner)
19 September 2016
Tags: Egypt Africa Eastern Christianity Horn of Africa
Oxfam workers organize life jackets collected from the beaches of Chios, Greece, and used by adults and children, on display at the Brooklyn Bridge park last Friday, ahead of this week’s U.N. Summit for Refugees and Migrants. (photo: Kena Betancur/AFP/Getty Images)
Leaders at U.N. summit adopt plan to protect refugees and migrants (U.N. News Center) With more people forced to flee their homes than at any time since World War II, world leaders came together at the United Nations today to adopt the New York Declaration, which expresses their political will to protect the rights of refugees and migrants, to save lives and share responsibility for large movements on a global scale…
U.S. and Russian-led Syria talks begin in New York (Daily Star Lebanon) United States Secretary of State John Kerry and Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov opened a meeting of their key international counterparts Tuesday after a week-old ceasefire in Syria’s civil war collapsed…
Catholic and Hindu students on a pilgrimage to the Marian shrine (Fides) As part of an effort to promote interreligious dialogue, St. Andrew’s School in Bandra, Mumbai, organized an inter-Jubilee pilgrimage, carried out by more than 400 students of all religions — only 70 of whom are Catholics — to a Marian shrine…
Ordinations suggest a tentative rebirth for Christianity in Iraq (Crux) Just a few miles away from war and genocide, two ordinations last Friday in Iraqi Kurdistan, and the celebrations they triggered, suggest a surprising narrative of not only survival but also rebirth for Christianity in the Middle East. Two young men were ordained Catholic priests last Friday in Ain Kawa, Erbil, the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan, for the Chaldean Catholic Church. Patriarch Louis Raphael I performed the rite and for his church called it “a great sign of hope in a time of great crisis…”
Pope: War is shameful, prayers to ‘God of peace’ in Assisi (Vatican Radio) The world needs to go “beyond the divisions of religions,” and feel the “shame” of war, without turning a “deaf ear” to the cries of those who are suffering: that’s what Pope Francis said in his Homily at Mass at Santa Marta Tuesday morning. The Holy Father was speaking just hours before he was to leave for the Umbrian hill town of Assisi where he was to take part 20 September 2016 in the closing ceremony of an international summit of interfaith leaders to pray for world peace. The first such gathering in Assisi was convened by Pope St. John Paul II in 1986…
19 September 2016
Tags: Syria India Interreligious United Nations Chaldean Church
Carpatho-Rusyn Greek Catholic villagers gather to celebrate Theophany, the commemoration of Jesus’ baptism, in Jakubany, Slovakia. Carpatho-Rusyn Greek Catholics comprise a small part of the perhaps 200,000,000 Christians throughout the world who participate in the life of the Church of Constantinople, the existence of which is tied to the actions of one Roman emperor. Learn more about the Church of Constantinople in the pages of the Autumn 2016 special edition of ONE. (photo: Father Damian Saraka)
19 September 2016
Tags: Eastern Christianity Eastern Churches Byzantium
Syrians stand in the doorway of their home in the rebel-held town of Talbisseh on the northern outskirts of Homs as a Red Cross vehicle carrying aid drives past. (photo: Getty/AFP/Mahmoud Taha)
Moscow says strikes on Syria army threaten U.S.-Russia ceasefire plan (Christian Science Monitor) Moscow stepped up its war of words with Washington on Sunday, saying air strikes by a U.S.-led coalition on the Syrian army threatened the implementation of a U.S.-Russian ceasefire plan for Syria and bordered on connivance with Islamic State. The Russian Defense Ministry said on Saturday that U.S. jets had killed more than 60 Syrian soldiers in the eastern Syrian city of Deir Ezzor in four air strikes coming from the direction of Iraq…
Syria declares ceasefire over; U.S., Russia seek extension (Daily Star Lebanon) Syria’s military declared a week-long cease-fire over on Monday and vowed to continue fighting, even as officials from the United States and Russia met behind closed doors in Geneva to try to extend it. What is likely to be the final attempt by the U.S. administration of President Barack Obama to find a negotiated solution to the five year old civil war appeared close to collapse…
Long-awaited church construction law in Egypt disappoints activists (France24) Egypt recently issued a long-anticipated law governing the building of churches. Christians in the country had hoped its passage would help alleviate sectarian violence, but observers say the legislation falls dismally short. Human Rights Watch went so far as to call the measure discriminatory…
Roma flee to California as Europe turns more hostile (Bloomberg) When Viorel Romanescu last year fled his Romanian village, he didn’t follow the well-trod path to Western Europe like his fellow Roma. Instead, he sold his pig and horse, and bought a plane ticket to Mexico. This year, almost 1,800 Romanians have been apprehended at the southern U.S. border, up from fewer than 400 in all of last year and just a few dozen in 2008, according to government statistics. They are propelled by an anti-immigrant wave sweeping Europe and pushing the Roma across the Atlantic Ocean. The traditionally itinerant group, persecuted for centuries, is facing less-tolerant governments as more than a million migrants and refugees from Syria and other countries overwhelm the region. A resurgence of neo-Nazism from Romania to Italy has seen their camps demolished, businesses firebombed, neighborhoods walled off and children beaten…
Bombs, stones thrown at church in Lakhimpur Kheri (Indian Express) Vandals threw stones and homemade bombs into a church in Lakhimpur Kheri district of the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh on Saturday night, police said. Men on bikes hurled the weapons at Christ Church in Kotwali, damaging windows and furniture…
16 September 2016
Tags: Syria India Egypt War Roma
In this 2014 photo, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople embraces Pope Francis during a liturgy in the Patriarchal Church of St. George in Istanbul. This year, as we commemorate the 90th anniversary of Catholic Near East Welfare Association, we are reminded again and again of the word that is literally our middle name: East. Our April 2016 special edition of ONE focuses on what we consider the five families of the Eastern churches — Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, Jerusalem and Armenia — rooted in the ancient lands where the apostles first planted the Gospel. (photo: CNS/Paul Haring)
16 September 2016
Tags: Eastern Christianity Eastern Churches ONE magazine
The damaged interior of the Khan al Wazir market in the government-held side of Aleppo stands deserted in the silence of the cease-fire. (photo: Getty/AFP/Youssef Karwashan)
Streets and skies suddenly quiet, Syrians watch cease-fire with unease (New York Times) They are getting used to fewer explosions, and to fewer ambulances racing through their war-ravaged cities. Now, under a tentative cease-fire across Syria, people have more time to think about longer-term concerns. Government supporters and opponents alike share a sense of misgiving, as the cease-fire was negotiated between Russia and the United States, over their heads. They do not know its details, and they do not know if anyone has their interests in mind. “I hope this cease-fire is real, and not a chance for the armed groups to rearm,” said a police officer in a government-held Christian village near Homs…
Christian refugees celebrate the Holy Cross (Fides) The week of liturgical and community celebrations on the occasion of the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross in Ain Kawa, a predominantly Christian suburb in Erbil, ended on Tuesday, 13 September with a long procession, accompanied by songs and prayers, and with a ceremony at a local stadium…
Sectarian clashes in Minya; Coptic Bishop visits the wounded (Fides) New tensions and sectarian clashes have affected the province of Minya in Upper Egypt. Yet another violent incident occurred in the village of Assem, about 150 miles south of Cairo, on 12 September. According to local church sources, a fight broke out between young Muslims and Christians leaving at least two people in need of intensive care in two different hospitals in Minya…
Pope Francis: Mary is our mother, who defends us (Vatican Radio) In a “world that suffers the crisis of a great orphanhood,” we have a mother that accompanies and defends us. That was the message of Pope Francis during the morning Mass at the Casa Santa Marta on the feast of Our Lady of Sorrows…
Hungary aims to help persecuted Christians worldwide (AINA) A new government office aimed at helping the millions of Christians around the world who face persecution has been established in Hungary. “In 81 countries around the world Christians are persecuted and 200 million Christians live in areas where they are discriminated against. Millions of Christian lives are threatened by followers of radical religious ideologies,” says Zoltan Balog, the Hungarian Minister for Human Capacities…
Chaldean patriarch: Help us remove mines from Nineveh (Fides) “Before returning to reviving our beloved city of the Nineveh Plain,” Chaldean Patriarch Louis Raphael says remaining threats must be removed — including live explosives buried just out of sight. “The jihadists of [ISIS], even when they pull back, they continue to sow death with mines and explosive devices.” The church leader has already approached Fraternité en Irak in July — a French organization committed to supporting the Iraqi religious minorities — to take charge of the de-mining of the first two villages in the Nineveh Plain that had been freed…
15 September 2016
Tags: Syria Iraq Egypt Pope Francis Hungary
The Rev. David Mickiewicz of Oneonta, New York, has been a generous CNEWA donor for close to 25 years. (photo: courtesy David Mickiewicz)
Many of CNEWA’s most ardent supporters are priests and religious — and a lot of them, we’ve discovered, have been donors for many years. We met one such donor earlier this year, when we made a parish visit to St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Oneonta, New York to speak about CNEWA’s work on behalf of persecuted Christians in the Middle East.
The pastor, Rev. David Mickiewicz, mentioned that he had been a longtime donor, and that he had a deep love and affinity for the Eastern churches. I sent him an email recently and asked him to share some of his thoughts with our readers. He wrote back:
The Mohawk and Hudson Rivers were my backyard, north of Albany, where I was raised in Waterford, New York, and where my mother and brother still reside. What attracted me to CNEWA, I expect, has roots that go back to Saint Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church and Saint Peter and Paul Ukrainian Catholic Church, places that I had to pass to arrive at Saint Michael, my Polish Roman Catholic parish. Onion-shaped domes and multiple crosses, Slavic choral music and the spirituality of the icon seduced me into the Eastern Christian experience — broadening and allowing me to more fully breathe in my Roman tradition.
Father Paul Pascavage introduced me to the Byzantine Rite and I started singing Old Slavonic with the choir for Divine Liturgy. Two Christmases and Easters! What a joy. This nascent initiation led to other Eastern Christian experiences throughout my life, which included serving for a few years in the Syriac tradition at Saint Anne Maronite Catholic Church in Troy, New York. Experiencing, participating in and teaching about Easter Christianity have become staples of my life, with the assistance of CNEWA. It must be close to 25 years that I have been receiving the CNEWA publication ONE and financially supporting the association. The magazine and its website reporting on Eastern Christians — so little known or acknowledged in the West — and the ecumenical and interfaith efforts to better the lives of all people really drew me to support them.
What is most challenging and humbling about my support of CNEWA is that, while Eastern Christians are paying a heavy price — as refugees, living in poverty, experiencing discrimination and violence, even to the giving of their lives for believing in Jesus — my following the faith over the last 60 years has cost me nothing. Growing up in a predominantly Catholic area and living in a country that, even as religion is pushed further and further from the public square, still bears a Christian veneer, I am insulated. CNEWA, through its publications and works, regularly reminds me of my responsibility to that part of the Body of Christ that is crucified. I have had to grapple with this question: what part of the experience of the Body of Christ do I embody for my suffering sisters and brothers?
Might you consider your own situation in relationship to our sisters and brothers? This needs to be more than just charity; charity in the long run must also change us.
Father David exemplifies so many of the committed men and women who are unsung heroes in our world — priests, sisters, religious whose generous and prayerful support makes so much possible.
To all of them: Thank you!