2 December 2015
Hatice Akdal, a Syrian refugee woman, sits on the floor in a room in Reyhanli district of Hatay, southern Turkey, on 1 December 2015. Many Syrians had to leave their homes after the recent Russian airstrikes. (photo: Cem Genco/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Russia claims it has proof Turkey involved in ISIS oil trade (Reuters) Russia’s defense ministry said on Wednesday it had proof that Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and his family were benefiting from the illegal smuggling of oil from Islamic State-held territory in Syria and Iraq. Moscow and Ankara have been locked in a war of words since last week when a Turkish air force jet shot down a Russian warplane near the Syrian-Turkish border, the most serious incident between Russia and a NATO state in half a century...
U.K. Parliament to vote on bombing ISIS in Syria (CNN) After the November 13 terror attacks in Paris, France asked its allies to bump up their military offensive against ISIS. Now Britain and Germany will decide whether they will. The parliaments of both countries are debating their leaders’ requests for greater military commitment against the terror group. And the measures are expected to be approved...
As many as 50,000 refugees, most from Syria, may enter Canada (The Globe and Mail) As many as 50,000 refugees — at least 70 per cent from Syria — could arrive in Canada by the end of next year, Immigration Minister John McCallum says, adding the federal government is anxious to prevent a backlash from Canadians against this massive influx of newcomers. This rate of intake would be the greatest since 1979-1980 when 60,000 Indochinese boat people found a new home in Canada...
Coptic Church denies claims of normalization with Israel (Middle East Monitor) Egypt’s Coptic Church has refused claims of normalising ties with Israel and affirmed that Pope Tawadros II did not meet with any Israeli officials during his brief visit to Jerusalem, according to a statement released today. Anadolu news agency reported that Tawadros II travelled to Jerusalem in order to pay tribute to Jerusalem Archbishop Anba Abraham who died last Wednesday. The statement said that the Coptic Pope arranged his entrance to Jerusalem with the Palestinian Authority without obtaining an Israeli visa...
Children find calm, order inside Gaza’s only ballet school (Reuters) The group of girls, ponytailed and dressed in pink, stretched their arms out to the sides and pivoted onto their toes, trying desperately to hold still. Eagle-eyed, the instructor surveyed Gaza’s latest crop of would-be ballerinas. Fifty girls aged five to eight are now enrolled in the ballet school at the Al-Qattan Center for Children in Gaza, making it one of the most popular classes the arts institute runs, under the watchful eye of a Ukrainian teacher. Amid the chaos and destruction that has shattered Gaza so often over the past five years, with repeated wars between Israel and Hamas, the school is a haven of calm and order, one many parents are eager for their children to enjoy...
1 December 2015
Tags: Syria Gaza Strip/West Bank Turkey Russia Coptic
In this image from May, Iraqi refugees gather outside their temporary dwellings in Erbil.
(photo: John E. Kozar/CNEWA)
As winter approaches, CNEWA’s president, Msgr. John E. Kozar, has just authorized the release of another $300,000 to aid Christians in the Middle East. These funds represent the third portion of CNEWA’s allocation from a collection authorized by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops — totaling $1,835,200 — taken up last autumn in parishes across the country. The funds will be disbursed in early January 2016.
“The funds,” said Msgr. Kozar, “are part of CNEWA’s ongoing commitment to the region’s churches and their humanitarian and pastoral activities, which address a broad spectrum of needs in a theater that remains fluid.”
As always, programs are administered by CNEWA’s personnel in the region, who partner with the local churches and their priests, sisters and lay professionals. Support includes:
$25,000 to support Christian safe houses for impoverished Christian children in Egypt. Some of Egypt’s poorest citizens are Christians from the rural south. Unable to care for their families, or simply broken by their poverty, some parents place their children in orphanages. State-sponsored institutions impose Muslim identities.
$20,000 to help the Daughters of the Sacred Heart care for the elderly and infirmed in Iraqi Kurdistan. A Chaldean Catholic community, the sisters administer in Erbil a home for the care of elderly and disabled women, many displaced by ISIS. Funds help the sisters maintain a warm and caring home.
$20,000 to support Holy Family Home in Erbil. A safe house for displaced girls in the Christian neighborhood of Ain Kawa, Holy Family is administered by the Dominican Sisters of
St. Catherine of Siena, CNEWA’s primary partners in Iraqi Kurdistan.
$50,000 to supply winter kits, milk and diapers for displaced Iraqi Christian children. The Dominican Sisters of St. Catherine of Siena, and other church partners in Iraqi Kurdistan, know well the needs of young families exiled by ISIS. Funds will provide coats, blankets, milk and diapers for the healthy development of children.
$55,000 to provide food and milk for exiled Iraqi Christian families in Jordan. The Franciscan Missionaries of Mary have been earmarked monies for food coupons for displaced families ($35K) and for nursing formula and milk for children up to 3 years of age ($20K).
$40,000 to assist the Italian Hospital’s clinic for refugees in Amman. Administered by the Dominican Sisters of the Presentation of Mary, the hospital is known for its outreach to the poor. Funds support a clinic offering Iraqi and Syrian refugees free medical care.
$10,000 to host Bible camps for impoverished children. Run by parishes and religious communities in Jordan, Bible camps offer refugee children (Syrian and Iraqi) as well as impoverished Jordanian Christian children a respite from the drudgery of poverty. Camps, which will be held in the summer, provide counseling, catechesis, formation and fun.
$30,000 to assist the Good Shepherd Sisters’ St. Anthony Clinic in Jdeideh, Lebanon. The influx of more than a million Syrian and Iraqi refugees is crushing the country’s health care network. Many Christian refugees are seeking medical assistance for not just chronic illnesses, but other conditions brought about by their violent displacement from their homes.
$25,000 to launch the Cremisan Family Fund in the West Bank of Palestine. Some 59 families, almost all Christian, have had their very livelihoods uprooted. Last September, Israeli bulldozers uprooted their olive trees for the construction of the separation border that will be built through their olive groves in the Cremisan Valley near Bethlehem. Use of this seed money will be coordinated with the parishes ministering there to benefit the affected families.
$25,000 to provide medical care for internally displaced Christians in Syria. Funds will help the Good Shepherd Sisters, the Sisters of Charity of Besançon and other religious communities in their health care initiatives for those families hunkered down within Syria.
CNEWA has made an initial commitment of $4.7 million in support of the peoples and churches of the Middle East for 2016. This program includes basic support for displaced Iraqi and Syrian families; formation programs for seminarians in Egypt, Iraq and Lebanon; youth formation initiatives in Egypt, Jordan, Palestine and Syria; health care support across the region, especially pre- and post-natal care; and various social service efforts for the poor and the indigent.
1 December 2015
A sister feeds a resident at Asha Bhavan, a home for the elderly and destitute in Kerala, India.
(photo: Jose Jacob)
Today marks #GivingTuesday, a global event to encourage the spirit of giving during the holiday season. As we noted last week:
On #Giving Tuesday, CNEWA will raise funds to ease hunger. Nutrition is a challenge for every initiative we support. In hospitals, mother-and-child clinics, orphanages, schools and Bible camps — and every facility that helps refugees — everyone needs to eat.
#Giving Tuesday will let us help churches and religious sisters provide healthy formula for infants. Lunches for school children. Hot meals for the elderly and sick. As Pope Francis noted, “We are in front of a global scandal, one billion people who still suffer from hunger today. We cannot look the other way and pretend this does not exist.”
To give on #Giving Tuesday — or even in advance — use your computer, smart phone or tablet. To make donating easy, we’re harnessing the power of CrowdRise. One of America’s most highly-regarded funding web sites, it’s an online giving hub that brings together ordinary people, diverse charities and companies. All to support important causes.
Read more about this special event and how you can help us help others.
1 December 2015
Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew Constantinople receives Pope Francis, Bishop of Rome, at the Phanar, Istanbul, in November 2014. (photo: Filippo Monteforte/AFP/Getty Images)
The Patriarchal Church of Constantinople — the Ecumenical Patriarchate — ranks as primus inter pares, “first among equals,” in the worldwide Orthodox communion of churches. The present incumbent, Bartholomew I, Archbishop of Constantinople, New Rome and Ecumenical Patriarch, exercises no authority over other Orthodox churches or patriarchs. Yet his prerogatives include second in honor after Rome among the ancient sees of the church; the right to hear appeals between clergy if invited; and the right to ordain bishops outside defined canonical boundaries.
Not all accept this status. Some canonists, particularly those associated with the powerful Orthodox Patriarchate of Moscow, challenge the ecumenical patriarch’s leadership. They assert the medieval claim that “Two Romes have fallen. A third — Moscow — yet stands. A fourth there shall not be.” The Turkish government rejects any global role of the ecumenical patriarch, citing only his leadership for the few thousand Orthodox Christians who remain in Turkey; most live in the city that is today called Istanbul.
The Great Church dedicated to the Holy Wisdom of God, Hagia Sophia, was the seat of the ecumenical patriarch until its conversion to a mosque in 1453. Today it serves as a museum. (photo: Bulent Kilic/AFP/Getty Images)
Bartholomew I, nevertheless, enjoys international stature. He exercises varying degrees of authority over some 3.5 million Orthodox Christians in Turkey, northern Greece and those scattered beyond the traditional canonical boundaries of the ancient patriarchates, including the Americas, Oceania and Western Europe. And environmentalists have nicknamed him the “Green Pope” for his advocacy of and commitment to environmental conservation.
Tradition attributes the apostle Andrew as the founder of the church of Constantinople, which is commemorated every 30 November, the feast of St. Andrew, with liturgies in the humble patriarchal church of St. George in the Phanar neighborhood of Istanbul. But the see’s eventual link to the Roman caesar would catapult it to prominence within Christendom, rivaling even Rome.
Click here to read the complete profile.
1 December 2015
In this image from 5 November, Palestinian protesters throw stones at Israeli soldiers during clashes in Hebron. Escalating violence has moved the Palestinian Authority to request that municipalities tone down their public Christmas celebrations this year.
(photo: CNS/Abed Al Hashlamoun, EPA)
Palestinian Authority limits Christmas celebrations in West Bank (RNS) The Palestinian Authority has asked municipalities to tone down their public Christmas celebrations this year amid escalating violence between Palestinians and Israelis. Hana Amireh, who heads a government committee on churches in the West Bank, confirmed the Palestinian Authority is requesting “a certain decrease’ in festivities following the deaths of dozens of Palestinians since mid-September. The majority of them were killed during clashes with Israeli forces or carrying out terrorist attacks, according to the Israeli government...
Poll: only small fraction of Syrian refugees want to come to U.S. (The Washington Post) According to a new Gallup poll, a tiny fraction of would-be Syrian refugees say their desired home lies in the United States or Canada. The survey, which was conducted in January through face-to-face interviews, found that only 6 percent of Syrians who said they were contemplating leaving their country imagined North America as their chosen destination...
Pope sends message to Patriarch Bartholomew for Feast of St. Andrew (Vatican Radio) In a message marking the feast of the apostle Andrew, patron saint of the Orthodox world, Pope Francis urges Catholics and Orthodox to offer a “credible and effective witness” to the Christian values of trust, respect, charity and reconciliation. The message was hand delivered to the Orthodox leader in Istanbul by the head of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, Cardinal Kurt Koch, who led a delegation to the Patriarchal Church of St George for the feast of St Andrew on Monday 30 November. By consigning “painful memories to oblivion”, Pope Francis writes, and restoring a “relationship of love and fraternity”, there is no longer “any impediment to Eucharistic communion which cannot be overcome through prayer, the purification of hearts, dialogue and the affirmation of truth...”
Ethiopia faces power cuts while drought dries dams (Bloomberg) Ethiopia may face further power shortages because of low water levels at dams after a poor rainy season, an official said, following two days of sporadic cuts caused by technical faults at hydropower plants...
Sister stresses education among predominantly Muslim populations (Fides) In Pakistan and India, nuns carry out a great job among the population, almost entirely Muslim, in favor of education and the promotion of interreligious dialogue. This is what Sister Monica Joseph, Superior General of the Religious of Jesus and Mary, R.J.M. stresses to Agenzia Fides. Sister Monica is participating at the XIX Plenary Assembly of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples. She also highlights the great efforts of her congregation in favor of children, young people, boys and girls, the poor and abandoned...
30 November 2015
Tags: Syria India Ethiopia Refugees Gaza Strip/West Bank
Pope Tawadros II (C) arrives for the funeral of Archbishop Anba Abraham, the head of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the Holy Land, on 28 November 2015 at the Coptic Patriarchate of Jerusalem, adjacent to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem’s Old City.
(photo: Gali Tibbon/AFP/Getty Images)
His Eminence Metropolitan Archbishop Dr. Anba Abraham passed away in Jerusalem on Wednesday 25 November 2015 and was laid to rest on the grounds of the Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate in the Old City of Jerusalem on Saturday 28 November 2015. In a surprise move, Coptic Pope Tawadros II presided over the ceremonies; a Coptic pope has not visited Jerusalem in 35 years and, in fact, there is a ban on Copts visiting Jerusalem and the holy sites as long as it is under Israeli occupation.
The visit was very low key and limited to the funeral services. No official meetings or contacts were made with Israeli officials. Several times, the pope reiterated the private nature of this particular visit and emphasized that it does not in any way break from the existing ban.
During the funeral services, Pope Tawadros spoke eloquently about his close relationship with the late Archbishop Anba Abraham and recalled the various stages of his life. He highlighted that, in the Coptic hierarchy, the archbishop of Jerusalem is the second most important figure after the Pope and the first among equals in the synod of bishops. He further urged all present to live a faithful life full of good deeds and service to others, always upholding Christian values.
In addition to Pope Tawadros, a delegation of 10 other Coptic bishops from around the Coptic world joined him. Representatives of all the churches of Jerusalem representing the varied landscape were all in attendance, including Latin Patriarch Fouad Twal, Apostolic Delegate to Jerusalem Giuseppe Lazzarotto as well as Bishops representing the Greek Orthodox, Armenian Apostolic, Assysrian, Anglican, Lutheran, as well as all the Oriental Catholic churches. Representatives of both the Palestinian Authority as well as Israel were also present, joining several hundred people who came to bid him farewell.
Archbishop Anba Abraham was born in Sohag, Egypt, in 1943 and received undergraduate and graduate degrees in theology in 1967 and 1971 respectively. He held a doctoral degree in medicinal plants, graduating from Ein Shams University in Cairo in 1976. He became a monk in 1983; in 1991, he was called to become the archbishop of Jerusalem by Pope Shenouda III. He was highly respected within the local community for his humility.
CNEWA’s President Msgr. John E. Kozar meets with Coptic Archbishop Anba Abraham in Jerusalem in 2013. (photo: CNEWA)
In Jerusalem, CNEWA-Pontifical Mission for Palestine has maintained a very close relationship with the Coptic Orthodox Church. CNEWA has provided numerous grants to its institutions, supported services in education through the two Coptic schools operating in the Old City of Jerusalem, and funded renovations to a Coptic convent in Bethlehem.
Our prayers are with our Coptic brothers and sisters who are grieving this loss. May he rest in eternal peace.
30 November 2015
Migrants from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan arrive at the transit and registration camp in the town of Presevo, southern Serbia, on 24 November. The extensive vetting process that all refugees undergo before arriving in the United States, “screens out any possible threat of terrorism,” said the executive director of the U.S. bishops’ Migration and Refugee Services. Read more. To help Syrian Christians still in the Middle East survive the winter, please visit this giving page.
(photo: CNS/Djordje Savic, EPA)
30 November 2015
Pope Francis sits next to Imam Tidiani Moussa Naibi during a meeting with the Muslim community at the Koudoukou mosque in Bangui, Central African Republic on 30 November.
(photo: CNS/Paul Haring)
Pope visits Grand Mosque (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Monday morning visited the Grand Mosque of Koudoukou in Bangui, the capital of the Central African Republic, meeting with the city’s Muslim community. The Holy Father was welcomed to the mosque by the Grand Imam Nehedi Tidjani, along with four other Imam, who accompanied him to the podium. In his address, Pope Francis recalled the recent violence which has rocked the country, saying “Christians and Muslims are brothers and sisters...”
Michigan plans to resettle more Syrian refugees (Mlive.com) Washtenaw County is home to approximately 16 refugees from the violence in Syria, and more could be on their way despite Governor Snyder’s call for a resettlement “pause.” Representatives from Jewish Family Services — the only refugee resettlement agency in the county — said they have families in the pipeline waiting for final clearance to make their way to Ann Arbor...
Chaldean Patriarch: let us pray for the liberation of Mosul (Fides) In all the Chaldean churches in the world, during Advent and during the daily celebrations, the faithful will pray to invoke the gift of liberation of Mosul and the entire Nineveh Plain, and ask for the rights of religious minorities living in Iraq to be guaranteed. These are the two prayer intentions that Chaldean Patriarch Louis Raphael I suggested to Chaldean Catholics in Iraq and those in the scattered communities in the diaspora, with a message issued on the first Sunday of Advent...
Ukraine remembers victims of Stalin-era famine (AFP) Ukraine on Saturday held a day of mourning for the millions of victims of a Soviet-era famine, with President Petro Poroshenko describing it as an episode in the “war waged by Russia against Ukraine.” Poroshenko, accompanied by Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk and hundreds of Ukrainians, laid symbolic wheat ears and lit candles before the Holodomor — or “death by hunger” — monument in central Kiev...
The biggest African refugee camp no one talks about (AllAfrica.com) On a sunny November day in Addis Ababa the courtyard of the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) centre is packed with people — some attend a United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees reception clinic, others get essential supplies, while students attend classes, and many simply play volleyball, table football or dominoes to pass the time. Now in its 20th year, the JRS compound resembles a microcosm of Africa’s — and even the Middle East’s — troubles, hosting refugees from South Sudan, Congo, Uganda, Somalia, Eritrea, Yemen, Burundi and more. It aims to assist 1,700 people in 2015...
Multi-purpose room completed at Catholic parish in Gaza (Fides) A multipurpose room has been completed in the Catholic parish in Gaza, which now can be used as space equipped to meet the diverse needs of the local community. The room, equipped with a large stage, can accommodate theater shows, conferences, meetings, weddings and social events of all kinds. The multipurpose space also has a game room, a library, a computer lab and a fitness facility. The inauguration of the new facility — report official media of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem — took place on 25 November in the presence of parishioners and many workers of the teams that worked on the project. The construction of the social space was done thanks to the financial support of the Pontifical Mission for Palestine...
India launches program for Jubilee of Mercy (Fides) “When we are nourished by the Eucharist we can nourish others” is the appeal launched by Abram Viruthakulangara, Archbishop of Nagpur, for the Jubilee Year of Mercy. As reported to Fides, in the diocese, located in the state of Maharashtra, the local community intends to live the time of the Jubilee highlighting the importance of reaching out to others: “Jesus has a two-point programme: love of God and love of one’s neighbor. Where there is love, God reigns”, the Archbishop said, adding, “the Kingdom of Jesus has no boundaries just like love has no boundaries...
25 November 2015
Tags: Iraq Pope Francis Ethiopia Ukraine Islam
More than half the refugees in Jordan are children.
(photo: Jeffrey Bruno/Vision Vocation Network)
Writer Jennifer Tomshack at the Vision Vocation Network traveled recently to Jordan and had the good fortune to see up close some of the work CNEWA (as it is known in the Middle East, the Pontifical Mission) is doing on behalf of refugees.
Take a look:
While the West is increasingly closing its doors to desperate families who are fleeing violence with nowhere to go, there’s simply no denying there are untold numbers of decent people in dire need. I know because I met them. And I met remarkable people doing something about it.
The Pontifical Mission, along with many religious orders and local Catholic and Orthodox parishes, are working to address the crush of needs in Jordan, which has borne the brunt of this humanitarian crisis.
Jordan’s population has risen to more than 11 million from around 8 million in the last two years, largely because of refugees, taxing this poor nation, which lacks oil, and pushing its unemployment rate up to 25 percent. This predominantly Muslim country, a model of stability and religious tolerance in the region, has offered safe haven to refugees of all faiths. “For Jordanians, caring for those in need is a moral duty and part of our national character,” King Abdullah II of Jordan wrote in an op-ed piece in the Austrian newspaper Der Standard. “However, today’s refugee burden is pushing us to the limits of our resources.”
I recently had the unique opportunity to visit Jordan on a media trip. One of my objectives was to bear witness to the suffering of refugees there.
I met the dedicated regional director of the Pontifical Mission, Ra’ed Bahou, the son of refugees himself. I met the women who help run the center, Amabel Sibug and Elisa Estrada, lay Teresians from the Philippines who have given decades of their lives to this place.
I met brave, scared parents. They’re educated, middle-class professionals, just like me. Their talents and ability to contribute to society are squandered while they wait to resume their lives.
Read on for more details about what CNEWA is doing.
Want to help out this holiday season? Visit this page to learn how you can make a difference in the lives of refugees in the Middle East.
25 November 2015
Tags: Refugees CNEWA Middle East Jordan
Under police protection, workers rebuild St. Sebastian Church in Dilshad Garden, New Delhi. In response to a rash of anti-Christian violence, officers have been assigned to guard churches within the city. To learn more, read ‘There Will Be More Martyrs’, from ONE’s Autumn 2015 edition. (photo: Jose Jacob)
Tags: India Violence against Christians Indian Christians Indian Catholics