29 November 2018
In this image from May, Pope Francis greets Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople during a meeting in the Apostolic Palace at the Vatican. (photo: CNS/Paul Haring)
The last day of November holds a special significance for many Christians — and serves to remind us of the much-desired unity for which CNEWA and so much of the Christian world ardently pray.
In his encyclical Ut Unum Sint (That They May Be One) of 25 May 1995, Pope John Paul II wrote of the necessity of the church living and breathing with its “two lungs.” By that he was referring to the Catholic Church including Catholics not only of the Latin Rite but also the many different Orthodox Churches who were not in communion with Rome.
Historically it seemed that once Christians stopped being persecuted, they started arguing with each other. Churches broke relations (communion) with each other starting in the 4th century and continued to do so throughout the centuries. Some of the breaks were not that noticeable; others such as the Great Schism between the Eastern and Western Church in 1054 and the Protestant Reformation which started in 1517 were nothing short of tectonic and impacted major parts of the Christian world.
At the opening of the 20th century, Christianity found itself seriously divided and it seemed that those divisions were incurable. However, there were stirrings of the Spirit among some broad minded Christians, leading them to believe not only that divisions among Christians were wrong but also that they could be healed. The Ecumenical Movement was born.
With Vatican II (1962-65) the Catholic Church formally committed itself to this movement and to work for Christian unity by engaging in dialogue with other Christians. One of the most dramatic ecumenical events to occur took place during the council. Pope Paul VI visited the Holy Land—the first pope to do it since St. Peter. While there, he met with Athenagoras, the Orthodox Patriarch of Constantinople in January of 1964. Although the role of the Patriarch of Constantinople among the Orthodox Churches is quite different than that of the pope in the Catholic Church, he is, nevertheless, the “first among equals” and the Ecumenical Patriarch.
The historic meeting ultimately resulted in the lifting of the mutual excommunications which had been promulgated by the two churches in 1054; it also brought about the commitment to engage in dialogue and the pledge of regular visits between the Phanar (the cathedral of the Patriarch of Constantinople) and the Holy See. It was decided that the patriarch would visit or send a delegation to the Holy See every year on 29 June, the Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, the patron saints of Rome. The Holy See would return the visit every year on 30 November, the feast of St. Andrew, patron saint of Byzantium.
The initial meetings were cordial, ceremonial and, of course, very important. Sometimes the patriarch himself came to Rome and the pope went to the Phanar in Istanbul. More often, high level delegation exchanged visits to celebrate the feast of the other church.
Over the decades what had begun as a cordial and ceremonial—though important—event has evolved into the meeting of friends and brothers. The small steps of rapprochement made by Pope Paul and Patriarch Athenagoras in the Holy Land, have evolved into a deep friendship and cooperation between Pope Francis and Patriarch Bartholomew and the Catholic and Orthodox Churches.
When the representatives of Pope Francis celebrate the Feast of St. Andrew tomorrow in Istanbul, they are representing two friends—Francis and Bartholomew—who have not only met several times but have worked together in issues such as the environment, world peace and the plight of refugees.
CNEWA’s world is deeply rooted in places where Orthodox Christians are in the majority. The yearly meetings between the pope and patriarch are signs to us that in a world of nationalism, xenophobia—if not downright hatred of “the Other”—and division, the “two lungs of the church” are working together to breathe new life in the two major Christian traditions of the world.
29 November 2018
Tags: Pope Francis Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople
A nun and patients pray during Mass in the St. Louis Hospital chapel in Jerusalem. Read about how this place has become An Oasis of Compassion in the September 2012 edition of ONE.
(photo: Debbie Hill)
29 November 2018
Archbishop Leo Cornelio of Bhopal speaks to media outside a polling station on 28 November, after he says he was denied the right vote in the Madhya Pradesh state election. (photo: UCANews.com)
Ukraine urges NATO to deploy ships amid escalating standoff with Russia (AP) The Ukrainian president has urged NATO to deploy naval ships to the Sea of Azov amid a standoff with Russia. President Petro Poroshenko made the call in an interview with the German daily Bild published Thursday, saying that “Germany is one of our closest allies and we hope that states within NATO are now ready to relocate naval ships to the Sea of Azov in order to assist Ukraine and provide security…”
Report: Christians denied vote in Indian election (UCANews.com) Hundreds of Christians, including a Catholic archbishop, were turned away from polling booths in India’s Madhya Pradesh state because their names were not on the voter list. Christian leaders claimed there was foul play in the 28 November poll. Archbishop Leo Cornelio of Bhopal, the state capital, and hundreds of other Christians, had to return home without exercising their franchise to elect 230 legislators…
Syrian abuses reportedly slowing return of refugees from Lebanon (AP) Some refugees who have gone back to Syria from Lebanon have been killed, detained or forced to join the military, abuses that deter others from returning, a Lebanese Cabinet minister said Tuesday…
Dutch church holds non-stop service to prevent Armenians from being deported (ABC.net) A Dutch church service that began a month ago has maintained a 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-per-week service for over a month to protect an Armenian refugee family from being deported. The Tamrazyans, a family of five, have lived in the Netherlands for nearly nine years, but are facing expulsion after a court rejected their appeals to stay in the country…
Vatican discusses Global Compact on Migration (Vatican News) In December, the international community will adopt two international agreements: The Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration — at an Intergovernmental Conference in Marrakesh and the Global Compact on refugees at the United Nations in New York. One of the key partners in drawing up the Compact is the Vatican’s migrant and Refugees Section of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development. The Rev. Michael Czerny, S.J., Co-Under-Secretary of the Migrant and Refugees Section, spoke to Vatican News about the Vatican’s role and stance on this global compact…
28 November 2018
Tags: India Lebanon Ukraine Armenia Migrants
Among the skills children learn at the Assisi School is how to create jewelry with beads.
This week, we received a report from our regional director in India, M.L. Thomas, updating us on a program CNEWA is supporting:
Kaleketty is a remote forest village in the diocese of Kanjirappally in Kerala. CNEWA stretched its hands to help 50 visually impaired children at a school for the blind run by the Congregation of Assisi Sisters of Mary Immaculate.
To help these children develop skills, the sisters conduct academic classes, and also give them training in music, dance, and physical education. They are also trained in rehab programs—making umbrellas, working with rattan and bamboo, or creating jewelry with beads.
CNEWA’s support bought musical instruments, along with mosquito nets, mats, mattresses, medicine and day-to-day living items.
The Assisi Sisters of Mary immaculate (ASMI) which is a Franciscan Congregation of the Syro-Malabar Church, was established in 1949. The congregation was founded to radiate God’s compassionate love to the most rejected of the society — including leprosy patients, the blind, and the mentally handicapped.
The Assisi School for the Blind is a residential school. They have 50 blind children this year studying in 10 grades. Up to grade 7, the students are taught in state syllabus with the help of Braille books. For higher secondary studies, the students stay in the school’s hostel and go to another nearby facility. Proper training, knowledge and encouragement enable them to overcome their disabilities and exceed in life.
We sincerely thank our generous donors for supporting this project. You have not seen these young people, and they cannot see you, but they do visualize you with their hearts. Be assured, they pray for you!
28 November 2018
In Ukraine, seminarians share duties in tending the greenhouse at the academy in Uzhorod. Learn more about how young men are answering the call to the priesthood in Ukraine and coming Out From Underground in the Autumn 2015 edition of ONE. (photo: Oleg Grigoryev)
28 November 2018
Tags: Ukraine Vocations (religious)
In this image from last spring, internally displaced Syrians wait in line for food at a camp outside Damascus. Pope Francis has written a letter to Franciscan friars in Syria, expressing his closeness to the "martyred land." (photo: CNS/Ali Hashisho, Reuters)
Pope expresses closeness to ‘martyred land of Syria’ (Vatican News) In a letter sent to Franciscan friars in Syria, Pope Francis expressed his closeness to the “martyred land of Syria.” “I wish to share in your sufferings and tell you that I am close to you and to the Christian communities which are so tried by the pain experienced in their faith in Christ Jesus…”
Russia warns Ukraine of escalation (Vatican News) Russia’s security service has released controversial statements by three captured Ukrainians after Russian ships fired on also, seized three Ukrainian boats off the coast of Russian-annexed Crimea. One of the men, Volodymyr Lisovyi, said he was aware of the “provocative nature” of the Ukrainian action. Ukraine’s navy commander said the men had been forced to lie under duress…
Benedict affirms Christians are called to ‘dialogue’ with Jews (Vatican News) In a “correction” sent to the German monthly Herder Korrespondenz, Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict XVI affirmed that Christians are called to a “dialogue” with the Jews, rather than a “mission.” The Pope emeritus was responding to an article by theologian Michael Böhnke of Wuppertal. In the September issue of the journal, Böhnke had commented disapprovingly on statements made by Benedict concerning the relationship between Jews and Christians…
New study examines link between Kerala floods and climate change (The Wire) The frequency and intensity of extreme weather events in India appears to be on the rise, as projected by various scientific assessments on climate change. But it may not be right to connect every such event with climate change. This is what a new study on the recent Kerala floods highlights…
Ethiopia plans first census in a decade (Bloomberg) Ethiopia will hold its first population census in more than a decade, a step that could have far-reaching consequences for the Horn of Africa nation that’s grappling with multi-ethnic representation and rippling demands for self-determination…
27 November 2018
Tags: Syria Ukraine Ethiopia Kerala Jews
#GivingTuesday is an annual worldwide event encouraging charitable giving — and here at CNEWA, that means a chance to share with others the priceless gift of hope. (video: CNEWA)
Today is #GivingTuesday, a worldwide event now in its seventh year, created to encourage charitable donations during the holiday season.
Coming after the rush of Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday, today offers a chance for all of us to care for our brothers and sisters in some of the world’s most troubled places.
#GivingTuesday donations, among making many other small miracles possible, will help us:
Bring medical care for war-displaced families in Lebanon and Jordan
Offer nourishment for young drought victims in Ethiopia
Deliver meals, clothes, blankets and first aid kits for flood survivors in India
Rush winter clothes and milk for displaced Iraqi and Syrian kids for colder months ahead
Secure food and heating fuel for families and elderly in Armenia
Will you share this season’s peace, hope and joy with those that might otherwise have none? You can donate here.
Meanwhile, check out our #GivingTuesday video above, created by our interns from Regis High School here in New York City. Please share it with anyone who might want to know more about how to help!
If you aren’t able to give, we still hope you will connect with CNEWA by sharing this video on Facebook or Twitter, or by gifting someone with a subscription of our award-winning magazine, ONE.
27 November 2018
Workers decorate the Christmas tree in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican on 26 November. The tree comes from the northern Italian region of Veneto. (photo: CNS/Paul Haring)
27 November 2018
Pope Francis welcomes members of the Maronite Foundation to the Vatican and expresses his gratitude for Lebanon accepting so many refugees. (photo: Vatican Media)
Ukraine declares martial law (NPR) Ukraine’s parliament has agreed to impose martial law in 10 of its provinces to combat “growing aggression from Russia,” after a weekend confrontation in waters off the disputed Crimean Peninsula led Russia to seize three Ukrainian navy vessels...
Report: Islamic extremism spreading with defeat of ISIS (CNS) The threat to religious freedom from Muslim fundamentalists is rapidly becoming a global phenomenon following the military defeat of Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, said a new report…
Pope Francis thanks Lebanon for welcoming refugees (Vatican News) Pope Francis addressed the Maronite Foundation and a delegation of authorities from Lebanon. In brief remarks, Pope Francis jokingly compared the numerous groups of people visiting to the “multiplication of the loaves,” as they were more than he had anticipated…
Thousands of Syrian refugees remain trapped in no man’s land (The New Yorker) Rukban lies in a thirty-five-mile-wide internationally-recognized demilitarized zone created by the United States and Russia, though neither Washington nor Moscow takes responsibility for it. It is populated by Syrians who fled the violence of both the Bashar al-Assad regime and isis, and, until the recent delivery, the Syrian government had refused to allow aid convoys to pass through its territory to reach the camp…
Indian activist bemoans anti-Christian hostility (AsiaNews) In India “hostility against the Christian faith is increasing,” said Sajan K George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC). Speaking to AsiaNews, he cited the latest two incidents to illustrate the anti-Christian trend in two separate states, Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra. In his view, the fact that the cases occurred on the same day is no coincidence but “a sign of the growing hostility”…
How Kerala tourism is on the road to recovery after flood (TheNewsMinute.com) It’s been over 100 days since the devastating floods hit Kerala, and caused heavy destruction to human lives and property across the state. Among the various sectors that were hit hard due to the deluge, was the tourism sector, which is the backbone of Kerala’s economy. But it was not just the floods that wreaked havoc in the state…
26 November 2018
Tags: Lebanon Ukraine Kerala ISIS
In the video above, Amir Maher tells about his decision to become a priest in Egypt.
(video: Roger Anis)
The current edition of ONE features a compelling profile of a seminarian in Egypt:
Amir Maher, 28, remembers when he first started to think seriously about entering religious life. It all started at a youth conference in Cairo in 2008, when the young man was still in college. Jesuit Father Henri Boulad was giving a talk.
“I don’t remember the topic,” Mr. Maher says today, “but I remember clearly my feeling at that moment: I felt that I wanted to be like this man.” Is it possible, he wondered, that he was called to be a priest?
He tried to put such thoughts out of his mind. He returned from the conference to Al Wasta, his town in Assiut, thinking that it was just a passing whim.
He now realizes, however, that it was something more.
“What happened that day was like a seed thrown into the earth, which then disappeared,” he says. “I went on in my life and forgot about it. But after a while the seed started to grow and the call became clearer.”
He adds: “I was trying to reject the idea, saying that it was just an outburst of youth. I was telling myself, ‘When I get a job and have money I will forget it.’ “
But he did not; the seed had taken root.
Check out the video above for a more personal glimpse at the life of this young man as he journeys toward the priesthood. And read more about Amir’s Choice in the September 2018 edition of ONE.
Tags: Egypt Vocations (religious)