15 July 2019
Clashes continue in Syria, and thousands remain trapped by the ongoing violence, but much of the world is paying scant attention, analysts say. (video: Al Jazeera/YouTube)
Syrians remain trapped as the world looks away (The Washington Post) If the world is watching, it’s not doing all that much. A long-running diplomatic process initiated by the United Nations in Geneva and backed by Washington to find a political solution to the Syrian conflict now appears moribund. A separate set of talks involving Russia, Turkey and Iran will resume in early August, but these, too, seem to underscore the geopolitical complexity that hamstrings Syria’s prospects for peace…
What’s behind Ethiopia’s recent political violence? (The Washington Post) In Ethiopia, a wave of assassinations has renewed fears of political turmoil. On 22 June, gunmen burst into a meeting, killing the president of the Amhara region, Ambachew Mekonnen and two aides. Shortly thereafter, a bodyguard killed the army chief of staff, Gen. Seare Mekonnen, along with retired Gen. Gezai Abera.
Kerala to introduce anti-superstition bill (FirstPost.com) Kerala, which recently witnessed an alarming spurt in the number of black magic cases, is gearing up to bring in a legislation to curb “inhuman” practices and exploitation in the name of superstition. The Kerala Prevention and Eradication of Inhuman Evil Practices, Sorcery and Black Magic Bill, 2019 has been submitted to the CPI(M)-led LDF government for its consideration to pass as legislation…
Shevchuck: Pope wants flourishing Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church (Vatican News) At a press conference on Monday, Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuck, head of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church, said a two-day meeting with Pope Francis and curial leaders represents a “new methodology” for relations between the Holy See and the “sui iuris” Eastern Churches. The unprecedented meeting was called for by Pope Francis himself, with the intention of conveying his closeness to the Ukrainian Church. A statement from the Holy See Press Office said that the Pope, with his collaborators in the Roman Curia, showed “his appreciation for the history of this Church; its spiritual, liturgical, theological and canonical traditions; and its fidelity to communion with the Successor of Peter, confirmed and sealed with the blood of the martyrs…”
Jordan buckling under pressure of growing refugee crisis (Fox News) While the Kingdom has remained afloat as neighboring Syria and Iraq faced civil war and the rise of ISIS, Jordan is on the frontline as millions from across the war-torn region seek refuge in one of the only stable countries they can access. Jordan’s dangerous geopolitical position, surrounded by civil wars and taking in overwhelming amounts of foreigners, could seriously threaten the survival of one of the only stable regimes left in the Middle East…
Mother hopes for a miracle with Indian nun’s canonization (UCANews.com) Jessy Joppy expects to see the miracle of her 5-year-old son walking on 13 October, the day when Pope Francis is to declare an Indian nun, Blessed Mariam Thresia, a saint. The boy, Ebin Joppy, has been unable to sit or walk since birth and medical treatments have failed to correct his condition. However, the intercession of the nun will work a miracle on the day canonization, his mother believes. ”I expect a miracle,” she said as she lifted her son onto her lap as she sat on the veranda of the Mariam Thresia Pilgrim Center in Kuzhikattussery village in Thrissur district of Kerala state…
10 July 2019
Tags: Syria Ethiopia Kerala Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church
Children attend English class at the Fratelli School in Saida, Lebanon. To learn more about how this school helps to bring education to a “lost generation’ of Syrian refugees in Lebanon, read Fratelli, Where Education Is Alive in the July 2019 edition of ONE. (photo: Tamara Abdul Hadi)
10 July 2019
Tags: Lebanon Refugees Children Education Catholic education
An Israeli settler stands beside fences surrounding an Israeli settlement located on the roof in the Arab section of the Old City of Jerusalem on 26 March. (photo: CNS/Debbie Hill)
Israeli settlers take over east Jerusalem home after court battle (Al Monitor) A Palestinian family was evicted from a home in east Jerusalem near the Old City on Wednesday after Israeli settlers won a court battle that stretched more than two decades, activists said. The apartment in the Palestinian neighborhood of Silwan was home to a 53-year-old woman and her four children, according to Israeli NGO Peace Now, which opposes Israeli settlement expansion…
Britain is hoarding a treasure no one is allowed to see (The Atlantic) In a storeroom of the British Museum here sits a collection of 11 wood and stone tablets that nobody is allowed to see. They are Christian plaques, or tabots, that represent the Ark of the Covenant, and they belong — though belong in this case is a contested term — to the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, which believes only its priests should view them. The tabots were seized, along with hundreds of other precious items — processional crosses, gold and silver jewelry, illustrated manuscripts — by the British army in 1868, after it defeated Ethiopian Emperor Tewodros II at the battle of Maqdala. There is hardly a clearer case of officially sanctioned plunder: When Tewodros committed suicide, soldiers ransacked his treasury, then auctioned off their finds among their entourage to pay for the expedition…
Chennai city battles long drought (UCAN India) Chennai, the capital of Tamil Nadu state with a population of nine million, is in the grip of a drought and resulting water crisis. Public water taps are now dry. Most of the city’s middle class and poor wait each day in long queues for tankers to arrive so that they can fill a few plastic buckets with barely enough water for drinking let alone cooking and bathing.
New institutes of Coptic studies founded in Egyptian public universities (Fides) In an unprecedented initiative, Egyptian political institutions have decided to invest resources to support the opening of institutes, centers and departments in public universities dedicated to the study and enhancement of the Coptic language and cultural heritage. The first institute of Coptic Studies was already inaugurated at the University of Alexandria, in collaboration with the Coptic Orthodox Church…
8 July 2019
Tags: India Palestine Ethiopian Orthodox Church Coptic Christians Drought
Pope Francis greets a woman and child during a Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican on 8 July 2019, commemorating the sixth anniversary of his visit to the southern Mediterranean island of Lampedusa. (photo: CNS/Vatican Media)
On Lampedusa anniversary, pope prays for suffering migrants (Crux) At a time when the immigration issue is becoming more contentious across the globe — especially in Europe — Pope Francis offered a Mass on Monday commemorating his visit to Lampedusa six years ago, praying for all migrants who have either died or been abused along their route…
Migrant-rescuing sea captain discusses challenges (Der Spiegel) Carola Rackete saved 53 migrants adrift at sea. In an interview, she discusses the hardships on board, her arrest in Italy and the failure of European immigration policy…
Project helps young Christians in the Gaza Strip find jobs (Fides) Nine months ago, the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, in cooperation of the Holy Family Parish, launched a job-creation and capacity-building program in the Gaza Strip. Today, the 20 Christian youth benefiting from the program are reaping the fruits of their work and seeing new career prospects from this project…
Jobs don’t come easy for India’s poor Christians (UCAN India) Among all religious groupings, Christian males have the highest unemployment rates in India, according to the Periodic Labor Force Survey 2017-18…
127 churches in Egypt receive legal status (Christian Today) Egypt has authorized the legalization of 127 congregations that were previously operating without a government permit in the latest wave of church approvals…
28 June 2019
Tags: India Egypt Gaza Strip/West Bank Migrants Employment
The July 2019 edition of ONE is now online.
Looking for some great reading this summer? The new edition of CNEWA’s award-winning magazine ONE is now online.
In the July 2019 edition, readers can visit a remarkable school in Lebanon; meet Syrians finding a new home with ancient roots in Armenia; discover how some of Egypt’s poorest residents are reclaiming dignity, even when living among garbage; and rediscover how each of us has a vocation.
It’s a rich and inspiring collection of stories and we’re pleased to share them with you this summer.
Check out the video preview from our president, Msgr. John E. Kozar, below. And click here to read more online.
28 June 2019
Tags: ONE magazine
Sister Nabila Saleh oversees the education of all students at the Rosary Sisters School in Gaza. (photo: Ali Hassan)
The new edition of ONE magazine features a letter from Gaza, written by Sister Nabila Saleh, principal of the Rosary Sisters School. She describes her life and mission:
Religious life carries great requirements and obligations: It demands vows of poverty, chastity and obedience; it requires the ability to break with worldly desires in order to pursue union with God. The road before us is quite thorny and fraught with hardships, but I knew then that the way to God is worthwhile if we allow him to work through us as he desires.
My life, heart and soul are enlightened by the existence of the extreme beauty of God. I tell him continually, “take what you have given me, and use me as you wish me to serve you.” I do believe in God’s providence because he has everything and he can do great things through me.
There are three sisters in the convent in Gaza: I am from Egypt; Sister Martina Bader and Sister Bertilla Murj are from Jordan. We dedicate much of our time to prayer, to the Liturgy of the Hours and worship of the Lord in the Eucharist. We have a harmonious relationship despite our respective differences — different backgrounds, cultures and accents. I cannot deny that I found it difficult at first, but our common love of Christ has brought us to work together in an almost perfect communion.
We believe that God has chosen us to work for him in Gaza to spread love by our care and to offer ourselves as a sacrifice to counter evil from wherever it arises. I am convinced our sacred mission is our daily struggle in teaching ethics, virtues and moral values and instilling the spirit of tolerance and mutual respect for all, regardless of race, gender or creed.
Read more of her letter in the July 2019 edition of ONE, now online.
28 June 2019
Tags: Gaza Strip/West Bank Sisters ONE magazine
After a failed coup attempt in Ethiopia, the state-run television says hundreds have been arrested. (video: AfricaNews/YouTube)
Hundreds arrested in Ethiopia after failed coup attempt (Al Jazeera) Nearly 250 people have been arrested in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa and the city of Bahir Dar since a coup attempt was foiled, the state-run Ethiopian Broadcasting Corporation reported on Thursday. The state broadcaster did not give any more details on who was arrested or when. But a party based in the northern region — the National Movement of Amhara (NAMA) — earlier said 56 of its members had been detained in Addis Ababa on Wednesday…
U.S. official: Christians in Iraq face uncertain future (CNA) The security of Christians in Northern Iraq remains “tenuous” and will require close attention in the future, the State Department’s religious freedom ambassador told members of Congress on Thursday…
Christians face new threats of persecution in Modi’s India (UCANews.com) With Prime Minister Narendra Modi starting his second term after leading his pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to victory in India’s recent election, complaints of violence are growing from the country’s persecuted Christians. Christians face a new wave of threats from Hindu groups after the BJP retained its grip on power in May…
Anti-Syrian refugee sentiment rising in Lebanon (Al Jazeera) Anti-Syrian refugee sentiment is on the rise in Lebanon. The country has the highest number of refugees per capita and many blame their presence for its economic crisis. Rights groups say the government is now pressuring Syrians to return home by making it harder to stay...
Egypt’s Coptic Christians claim they are being shut out of football (EuroNews.com) Many call it the People’s Game, but in Egypt there are claims that football is not for everyone. Coptic Christians say they’re being shut out of the sport in the overwhelmingly Muslim country. Football coach Mina Bindari felt so strongly about the issue that he set up his own “Je Suis” football academy for Copts, to provide them with a path to advance in the sport…
27 June 2019
Tags: Ethiopia Iraqi Christians Coptic Christians Persecution
Michael Shami, a seminarian at the Pontifical North American College, is pictured during his ordination as a deacon at the college in Rome on 2 June 2019. Shami was ordained as a deacon using the Antiochene Syriac rite of the Maronite Catholic Church. (photo: CNS/Denis Nakkeeran)
Ancient tones of Syriac chant, columns of incense, ornate oriental vestments and bearded clerics filled the chapel of the Pontifical North American College in early June, creating a rare Middle Eastern atmosphere in the heart of the U.S. church’s flagship seminary in Rome.
The ordination of Michael Shami to the diaconate was the first at the NAC in more than 20 years to use the Antiochene Syriac rite of the Maronite Catholic Church. The new deacon said the ritual underlined the church’s universality for his fellow seminarians and highlighted treasures proper to one of the smallest and most ancient Christian churches.
In the Maronite tradition, “there are no great treatises like in the West with Aquinas,” Deacon Shami explained. “Its strength is in its liturgical contributions.”
For example, he said, in the ordination rite, “when the bishop is imposing his hands upon the candidate, he’s fluttering his hands, and the specific verb used there for the action of the Holy Spirit” is the same verb “used for the Holy Spirit hovering over the primordial waters in Genesis and the descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.”
“Because typology is the primary mode of Syriac theology, it makes a very rich connection between biblical events and historical events and sacramental events and the general life of the believer,” Deacon Shami said.
While most of the altar servers were Latin-rite seminarians of the NAC, who wore their Latin cassocks and albs, many of them had spent three months learning to chant the Syriac prayers and preparing for the demanding liturgy.
“I didn’t see the hodgepodge” of East and West mixing “as an eyesore or lack of uniformity,” Deacon Shami said. “At the same altar, there was a Maronite deacon standing with a Byzantine priest leading him as his sponsor and Latin servers -- it kind of encapsulated the true universalism of the church and it was appropriate that it should happen in Rome.”
Preparing for Maronite ministry at a Latin seminary might be unusual, but Deacon Shami was confident it would help him to be a successful witness to his religious heritage in the United States.
“It provided me with an opportunity to try to communicate to a predominately Latin- or even Protestant-minded United States the value of the Eastern tradition in general, specifically our heavy reliance on patristics and sacramental mystagogy,” he said. “It taught me which idioms were helpful for communicating Eastern theology and which were not.”
Deacon Shami said that he had to put in extra effort to remain faithful to his Eastern spiritual heritage while at the Latin-rite NAC, but even those challenges bore fruit with his confreres.
“I would chant my own Office in my room,” Deacon Shami said, referring to the daily prayers of the Liturgy of the Hours. The other seminarians “hearing my voice, hearing me take such great love in my tradition in worshipping God, they themselves turned and looked more into the Western chant tradition.”
In other areas of life at the NAC, East and West did not mix so well. Fasting — not eating meat or dairy products — is at the heart of Eastern spiritual discipline and there are long periods of fasting throughout the liturgical year.
“It was very difficult to fast at the NAC. I tried my best, though,” he said, and there, too, it became an opportunity to share with the Latin-rite seminarians the idea of fasting as an ascetical practice.
The NAC also asked Deacon Shami not to wear his Eastern-style outer cassock, he said, because it would break up the uniformity of the seminarians’ attire. Other challenges were making time to visit Eastern-rite liturgies in Rome that would often conflict with the NAC’s schedule.
Deacon Shami is among the few young Maronite-rite seminarians in the United States. At 25, he is aware that his choice to remain faithful to the Christian heritage of his ancestors is counter-cultural. His own father, for instance, “Latinized” when he moved to the United States.
Like many U.S. immigrants from Lebanon, where the Maronite church is centered, “my father stopped attending (the Maronite liturgy) and simply started going to the local Latin parish” because it was more convenient.
As an adolescent, Deacon Shami said he took an interest in the Syriac language and developed his skills while an undergraduate at New York University.
“In my parish assignment last summer, I offered a free Syriac class and I had attendance of upward of 25-30 persons,” Deacon Shami said. “Even people of other backgrounds, with Italian last names, were coming” because Syriac is close to “the language Christ spoke.”
Deacon Shami completed his stint at the NAC in June and plans to visit Lebanon before returning to the United States for a parish assignment that will last until his priestly ordination in May 2020. As a new priest, he hopes to help revive Maronite traditions that have been lost.
A recent liturgical reform in the Maronite church “had a lot of simplification and elimination,” he said.
“One of them is when the priest elevates the host as he’s offering it, and he recounts all the great patriarchal sacrifices of old, from Abraham and Noah to David on the Threshing-Floor of Ornan,” Deacon Shami explained.
“The last sacrifice (the priest) mentions in this anamnesis is the sacrifice of the widow who puts the two pence in the treasury vault,” he said. “It really kind of encapsulates this idea that the greatest sacrifice, as St. Aphrahat says, is the sacrifice of the heart, and so the priest is asking that this sacrifice be akin to that sacrifice, the sacrifice of the widow.”
“Those kinds of prayers have been completely eliminated,” Deacon Shami said, because there was an assumption that many of them were “too complex” for people to understand.
“We need to have a reclamation of sorts,” Deacon Shami said.
27 June 2019
Tags: Maronite Catholic
CNEWA-Pontifical Mission marked 70 years of service to the church of Jerusalem with Mass at the chapel of the Notre Dame of Jerusalem Centre. (photo: CNEWA)
On 18 June 2019, our Jerusalem team marked 70 years of service to the peoples of the church of Jerusalem with a celebration of the Eucharist at the chapel of the Notre Dame of Jerusalem Centre. Archbishop Leopoldo Girelli, Apostolic Nuncio to Israel and Cyprus and Apostolic Delegate in Jerusalem and Palestine, presided. The solemn Mass was dedicated to all those who have served CNEWA-Pontifical Mission.
A special assembly was held after the liturgy. Regional Director Joseph Hazboun offered words of welcome to the guests, which included Mar Gabriel Dahho, Syriac Orthodox Bishop of Jerusalem; Bishop Boulos Marcuzzo of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem; Father Francesco Patton, Custos of the Holy Land; representatives of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church in Galilee and Jerusalem and the Syriac Catholic Church; priests, religious sisters, representatives of local Catholic aid organizations; and directors of partner institutions. The program included a short film highlighting the work of CNEWA-Pontifical Mission, a bagpipe performance of the Palestinian National Anthem by the Melkite Greek Catholic Scout Troop in Jerusalem and a Dabke dance performance by Siwar Association for Culture and Arts.
The Melkite Greek Catholic Scout Troop performed the Palestinian National Anthem on bagpipes after the liturgy. (photo: CNEWA)
The event marked, to the day, Pope Pius XII’s establishment of the Pontifical Mission for Palestine, an ad hoc committee founded to coordinate and deliver worldwide Catholic aid for Palestinian refugees displaced by the Arab-Israeli war of 1948. Placed by the pope under the direct administration of CNEWA, the Pontifical Mission’s activities have been expanded under succeeding pontiffs to include care for all those displaced by war and migration throughout the Middle East, as well as the support for the pastoral and humanitarian works of the churches of the region.
In collaboration with local Christian institutions, aid through our Jerusalem office has reached thousands of families, especially the most vulnerable, such as children and youth, the sick and the elderly, all of whom need basic services, especially in areas of the West Bank and Gaza Strip where resources are very limited. Over the years, the agency has also supported programs that help preserve Palestinian culture and heritage, and helped fund educational and formation initiatives for children, especially underserved communities in Palestine and Israel, including the children of migrants from Africa and Asia.
CNEWA-Pontifical Mission’s enduring presence in the Middle East is a tangible sign of the Holy Father’s sincere concern for the needy, the dispossessed, the refugee and the underprivileged.
To learn more about CNEWA-Pontifical Mission’s activities in the Middle East, please visit here.
27 June 2019
Tags: CNEWA Jerusalem CNEWA Pontifical Mission
A Catholic church destroyed by Islamic State militants in Karamdes, Iraq, is examined by a priest following the 2016 liberation of the predominantly Christian town. The U.S. State Department has released a new report detailing continued attacks against religious minorities around the world. (photo: CNS/courtesy Archdiocese of Irbil)
U.S. report documents attacks on religious freedom worldwide (CNS) The State Department’s newly released annual report on international religious freedom shows continued attacks and abuse by governments and societies against religious minorities in their respective countries…
Russian Orthodox Church plans ’Orthodox Vatican’ for Moscow (The Moscow Times) The Russian Orthodox Church has developed plans to construct its own Vatican to the tune of $2 billion in the Moscow region, the Vedomosti business daily reported on Thursday. Church officials have been in talks with officials in the city of Sergiyev Posad to transform it into the capital of Orthodoxy since 2017...
Gaza arson balloons spark 19 fires (The Times of Israel) Incendiary balloons launched from the Gaza Strip started 19 fires in southern Israel on Wednesday, according to authorities. The southern branch of the Fire and Rescue services said the blazes were quickly extinguished and that investigators determined they were started by arson balloons…
Catholics battle human trafficking in India (UCANews.com) The Global Slavery Index estimates that there are some eight million trafficking victims living in India, but the figure can vary according to definitions that are applied. For example, according to Indian government statistics, 8,132 cases of human trafficking were reported in 2016. Nonetheless, even the official figures indicated that the problem is getting worse as this constituted a 20 percent increase on 2015. Caritas-India in 2017 launched the ‘Swaraksha’ (self-defense) anti-human trafficking program near the Indo-Nepal border where most cases are reported…
Canadian-Indian development group with Sisters of St. Joseph offers support in rural India (Catholic Register) After 42 years of digging wells, setting up water purification systems, organizing villagers to demand better education, health care, roads and infrastructure, a little Canadian-Indian development agency estimates it has helped four million people live a better life in rural India…
Attacks threaten Ethiopia’s reforms (Reuters) The attacks, described by the government as part of a coup attempt in Amhara, highlight the dangers Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed faces as he rolls out ambitious reforms in Africa’s second most populous nation — a regional powerhouse whose economic boom is now threatened by deepening ethnic and regional fissures…
Tags: India Gaza Strip/West Bank Russian Orthodox Church Persecution