22 May 2018
Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa, apostolic administrator of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, speaks during a special prayer service for peace in the Holy Land on 19 May at the Church of St. Stephen in Jerusalem. (photo: CNS/Debbie Hill)
Syrian military retakes control of Damascus (NPR) Syria’s military announced Monday that it cleared Damascus and its suburbs of the last elements of the Islamic state militant group, ISIS. According to government reports, the Syrian army had driven ISIS out of the rebel group’s last remaining strongholds in southern Damascus; this marks the first time that President Bashar al Assad’s government has total control of the capital since the rebellion began in 2011…
Archbishop to Mideast Christians: turn to prayer in times of despair (CNS) Even in times of violence and despair, the power of joint prayer for peace can be felt, said Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa, apostolic administrator of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem. Local Palestinians, religious and foreign worshippers gathered at the Dominican Church of St. Stephen May 19, answering the archbishop’s call for a joint peace prayer in the face of 16 May violence along the Gaza-Israeli border, in which 62 Palestinians were killed and more than 2,000 were injured…
New Chaldean cardinal praised as a ‘courageous voice’ (CNS) Pope Francis’ naming of Chaldean Patriarch Louis Raphael I Sako as cardinal is a gift to the Chaldean Catholic church, which has been struggling in the face of terrorism, said an Iraqi archbishop. Chaldean Archbishop Yousif Thomas Mirkis of Kirkuk and Sulaimaniyah called Cardinal-designate Sako a “courageous voice…”
India’s Christian leaders pledge to support parties that promise to protect them from discrimination (UCANews.com) Six months ahead of elections in three northern Indian states, Christian leaders have pledged to vote for political parties assuring protection of their communities from discrimination and abuse. Ecumenical Christian group Sarva Isai Mahasangh (All Christian Forum) has resolved not to support parties in upcoming federal and state elections that work against religious minorities…
Coptic Christian family feeding hundreds during Ramadan (The New Arab) A Christian Egyptian family is organising daily feasts for hundreds of people marking the holy month of Ramadan, when Muslims fast from dawn to dusk. The Agaybi family, from the southern city of Luxor, have set up two large communal tables in the street for the observant to break their fast, local news website al-Masry al-Youm reported on Saturday…
Muslims in parts of Ethiopia fast, pray for rain (Andalou Agency) People in northeastern Ethiopia’s Afar region are currently facing the hottest season in years due to severe drought-like conditions, but still Muslims like Mohammed Utban are continuing to fast in the holy month of Ramadan. Utban, who lives in a small tent-like house with his family in a drought-affected area, says his prayers these days are mostly for rains in the area, which would help his family and the people of his community from the drought. ”I beg Allah for his paradise in Ramadan. I pray to almighty to send us rain,” he said…
Teaching refugees how to map their world could have huge benefits (Smithsonian) Like many other refugee camps, Zaatari developed quickly in response to a humanitarian emergency. In rapid onset emergencies, mapping often isn’t as high of a priority as basic necessities like food, water and shelter. However, my research shows that maps can be an invaluable tool in a natural disaster or humanitarian crisis. Modern digital mapping tools have been essential for locating resources and making decisions in a number of crises, from the 2010 earthquake in Haiti to the refugee influx in Rwanda…
21 May 2018
Tags: Syria India Egypt Chaldean Patriarch Louis Raphael I
A Franciscan Missionary of Mary listens to a lay person share his insights during one of their regular catechetical meetings in Amman. (photo: Nader Daoud)
In the current edition of ONE, writer Dale Gavlak offers an inspiring glimpse at how the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary are helping spread the faith in Jordan, particularly among refugees:
In myriad ways, large and small, through spiritual formation and fostering a sense of companionship, the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary have provided displaced Iraqis — and many others still — with a measure of healing.
The Synod of Bishops’ Special Assembly for the Middle East, called by Pope Benedict XVI in 2010, declared that “catechesis is meant to make the faith known and lived. Young people and adults, each individual and entire communities of believers, should be properly catechized.”
It further said that, “since young people live in places characterized by all kinds of conflicts, they are to be catechized, strengthened in their faith and enlightened by the commandment of love, so that they can make a positive contribution.”
“Catechesis in our life is not solely for teaching or knowing faith, but also a call to live what one knows,” says Ra’ed Bahou, CNEWA’s regional director in Amman, of the sisters’ vital ministry.
“It aims to enrich one’s life to live as Christ did, promote moral formation, teach how to pray with Christ, and prepare Christians to live in a community and participate actively in the life and mission of the church,” he says.
“For me, the basis of my spirituality was formed in Iraq,” says Rami Wa’ed, a 25-year-old Syriac Catholic from Mosul and one of the youth group’s leaders.
“I have always loved being in the church: listening to the sermons, being part of the youth meetings, participating in many ways — first in Mosul, then in other places in Iraq and now here,” he says.
“No matter how much we partake of the spiritual experiences, we feel we need more,” he adds, his eyes alight with excitement. “Spiritual expertise is what we and others need to develop in our lives.”
Read more about Inspiring the Faithful in Jordan in the March 2018 edition of ONE. And check out the video below for another glimpse at the sisters’ ministry.
21 May 2018
Tags: Jordan Sisters Iraqi Refugees Amman
Pope Francis greets Chaldean Catholic Patriarch Louis Raphael of Baghdad during a meeting with Chaldean Catholics at the Church of St. Simon the Tanner in Tbilisi, Georgia, in this 2016 file photo. Patriarch Louis Raphael was one of 14 new cardinals named by the pope 20 May. (photo: CNS/Paul Haring)
Pope to create 14 new cardinals; list includes the Chaldean patriarch in Iraq (CNS) Pope Francis announced he would make 14 new cardinals 29 June, giving the red cardinal’s hat to the papal almoner, the Iraq-based patriarch of the Chaldean Catholic Church and the archbishop of Karachi, Pakistan, among others. Announcing his choices 20 May, the pope said that coming from 11 nations, the new cardinals “express the universality of the church, which continues to proclaim the merciful love of God to all people of the earth…”
Report: explosions near Iranian facility south of Damascus (Haaretz) Heavy explosions were heard Sunday overnight south of Damascus in Syria in an area which holds a security facility used by Iranian forces, Sky News in Arabic reported. There is no confirmation from other sources. The alleged blasts came days after explosions were heard near Hama airport in Syria last week. The U.K-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights group said the series of explosions were near Hama’s military airport and had been heard in Hama city, killing at least 11 government soldiers and allied fighters…
Patriarch invites Catholicos for talks in India (The Hindu) In what appears to be a dramatic turn of events in the more-than-a-century-old fratricidal war in the Malankara Church, Patriarch of Antioch Ignatius Aphrem II has invited Catholicos of the East Baselios Mar Thoma Paulose II, head of the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church, for peace talks during his five-day visit to India which begins next week…
Palestinian sets himself on fire to protest dire living conditions in Gaza (The Independent) A 20-year-old Palestinian is in a critical condition after setting himself on fire in what is believed to have been a protest over the horrific living conditions in the blockaded Gaza Strip. Fathi Herb reportedly shouted “damn Hamas” before dousing himself in petrol and setting it alight in Sheikh Radwan on Saturday night…
Gunmen attack church in Chechnya (The New York Times) Four gunmen stormed a church in Russia’s predominantly Muslim region of Chechnya on Saturday, killing at least one churchgoer and two police officers, according to authorities. All the attackers were killed in an exchange of gunfire with the police at the Archangel Michael Church in the center of Grozny, the capital, according to the Investigative Committee of Russia, an internal security agency…
Caritas provides help for survivors of 2001 earthquake (UCANews.com) Bena Ben survived one of the most devastating earthquakes in India by grabbing her kids and fleeing her traditional mud house seconds before it collapsed. Lives were saved but the disaster left her family homeless. That was 17 years ago. She now lives in a concrete home like many others in Nadapa village in Gujarat state’s Bhuj region, helped by a Catholic Church agency that continues to do charitable work in the area…
How a Coptic Christian is battling prejudice in sports (AFP) Mina Bendary dreamed of becoming a professional footballer in Egypt, but found his Coptic Christian name was an insurmountable barrier in the Muslim-majority country. Such discrimination prompted him to hang up his boots and instead establish an academy to protect the rights of Christian footballers…
Pope to canonize Paul VI, Oscar Romero on 14 October (CNS) Pope Francis will declare Blesseds Oscar Romero, Paul VI and four others saints Oct. 14 at the Vatican during the meeting of the world Synod of Bishops, an institution Blessed Paul revived. The date was announced 19 May during an “ordinary public consistory,” a meeting of the pope, cardinals and promoters of sainthood causes that formally ends the sainthood process...
18 May 2018
Tags: Syria India Egypt Pope Francis Chaldean Patriarch Louis Raphael I
This week, we revisit Izbet Chokor, a village of Christians and Muslims about 60 miles southwest of Cairo. The village, with about 1,500 people, is home to two mosques and three Coptic churches. And, as journalist and videographer Don Duncan put it in his story from 2016, “Its residents coexist in peace, living and working closely together.”
How do they do it? The video below offers one explanation. And as one resident said, “The sense of community here is very good. The relationship between Christians and Muslims has been excellent for many decades here, even after the revolution.”
This week, Egypt marked a sad homecoming, as the remains of Coptic Christians beheaded by ISIS in Libya three years ago were finally returned to Cairo for a proper burial. This video about the village of Izbet Chokor reminds us that peace and harmony are not impossible to achieve in that troubled part of the world — but there is still much work to do.
18 May 2018
Tags: Egypt Interreligious Christian-Muslim relations
Palestinians pray at Noble Sanctuary in Jerusalem's Old City on 18 May. Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, said that a competitive attitude between Christians and Muslims fosters the belief that religions are a source of tension and violence, not peace. (photo: CNS/Ammar Awad, Reuters)
A competitive attitude between Christians and Muslims fosters the belief that religions are a source of tension and violence, not peace, said Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran.
“It is important that we Christians and Muslims recall the religious and moral values that we share, while acknowledging our differences,” said the cardinal, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue.
“By recognizing what we hold in common and by showing respect for our legitimate differences, we can more firmly establish a solid foundation for peaceful relations, moving from competition and confrontation to an effective cooperation for the common good,” he said in a message to Muslims.
The annual message was for Ramadan, which began 16 May, and Eid ul Fitr, the feast marking the end of the monthlong fast, which will be on or around 15 June this year. The Vatican published the message 18 May.
Titled, “Christians and Muslims: From Competition to Collaboration,” the message expressed appreciation for “the great effort by the Muslims throughout the world to fast, pray and share the Almighty’s gifts with the poor.”
The importance of the month was an opportunity to share some thoughts about relations between Christians and Muslims and the need to move from competition to collaboration, the cardinal wrote.
“A spirit of competition has too often marked past relations between Christians and Muslims,” he said, adding that “the negative consequences of which are evident: jealousy, recriminations and tensions.”
“In some cases, these have led to violent confrontations, especially where religion has been instrumentalized, above all due to self-interest and political motives,” the message said.
This kind of “interreligious competition” hurts the image of religions and their followers, “and it fosters the view that religions are not sources of peace, but of tension and violence,” it said.
To prevent and overcome such negative consequences, the cardinal wrote, it is key for Christians and Muslims to recognize what values they share and show respect concerning legitimate differences.
Working together for the common good should include assisting those most in need, allowing both sides “to offer a credible witness to the Almighty’s love for the whole of humanity,” the message said.
“So that we may further peaceful and fraternal relations, let us work together and honor each another,” Cardinal Tauran wrote. “In this way we will give glory to the Almighty and promote harmony in society, which is becoming increasingly multi-ethnic, multireligious and multicultural.”
18 May 2018
Tags: Interreligious Middle East Peace Process Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran
Archbishop Ivan Jurkovic, the Holy See’s Permanent Observer to the U.N. in Geneva, has called for dialogue and encounter to bring peace to the Middle East. (photo: Vatican Media)
Holy See urges dialogue, encounter to bring peace in Holy Land (Vatican News) Amidst worsening violence in the Holy Land and the Middle East, the Holy See on Friday urged the use of dialogue and encounter to bring peace, and called for the recognition of Jerusalem as the city sacred to Christians and Muslims. Archbishop Ivan Jurkovic, the Holy See’s Permanent Observer to the United Nations in Geneva made the call on Friday at a special session of the Human Rights Council on the deteriorating rights situation in the region…
Putin tells Assad all ‘foreign forces’ to leave Syria (CNN) Russian President Vladimir Putin told Syrian President Bashar al Assad Thursday that “foreign armed forces” would leave Syria, according to Syria’s state-run news agency, SANA. He and his counterpart hailed the beginning of the “political process” in Syria amid an ongoing “fight against terrorism”…
More countries plan to move embassies to Jerusalem (CNBC) On Wednesday, Guatemala joined the U.S. in moving its embassy to Jerusalem. More countries are preparing to make the leap. Paraguay’s Foreign Ministry announced that its embassy will also relocate to Jerusalem, while the Czech Republic, Romania and Honduras reportedly considering the move…
Vatican message for Ramadan: ’Move from competition to collaboration’ (Vatican News) The Vatican is urging Christians and Muslims to “move from competition to collaboration,” saying rivalry between them has had negative consequences. The Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue made the exhortation in a message released on Friday on the occasion of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan and its conclusion, Eid ul Fitr…
Wealthy Indian Christian donates mosque to his workers for Ramadan (Daily Sabah) A wealthy Christian Indian businessman gave his workers in the United Arab Emirates a generous gift for Ramadan: a mosque. When Saji Cheriyan, an Indian expat, said he decided to build a mosque for the Muslim workers to whom he rents accommodation after noticing that they had to take a taxi to a nearby mosque to worship…
17 May 2018
Tags: Syria India Holy Land Holy See
A new feast to honor Mary as Mother of the Church will be observed the Monday after Pentecost. Marian devotion is widespread among Christians around the world. Here, an altar server prepares for the liturgy near a statue of Mary in a Syriac Catholic church in Stockholm, Sweden. (photo: Magnus Aronson)
On 8 March this year Pope Francis initiated a new feast to honor the Virgin Mary, mother of Jesus. The feast — which will be observed on the Monday after Pentecost Sunday — will honor Mary as Mother of the Church. Monday 21 May 2018 will be the first observance of this feast in the Catholic Church.
The number of titles given to Mary in the Roman Catholic Church almost goes beyond counting. Some, like Mother of God (Greek: theotokos) are extremely ancient, while others like Mother of the Church seem more recent. In a sense,”Mary, Mother of the Church” is a title both ancient and recent.
Looking back, we find that mention of ”Mary, Mother of the Church” is rare in Catholic history. In 1895, Pope Leo XIII in his encyclical ”Adjutricem populi” (“Helper of the People”) referred to Mary as “Mother of the Church and Queen of the Apostles.” But we rarely hear mention of that title again until the Second Vatican Council.
There, it appears in the Vatican II document ”Lumen Gentium” (the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, 21 November 1964). After dealing with the church from almost every aspect, the bishops at the Council decided to add a chapter (VIII) on “Our Lady.” Although the Council does not give him credit, the German theologian Hugo Rahner in 1944 showed that Ambrose (ca. 340-397), bishop of Milan and a Church Father, saw in Mary a type/image of the church. The Council refers to Ambrose and this teaching and develops it.
The title ”Mary, Mother of the Church,” as understood by Vatican II, is extremely important. The church at the same Council committed itself, among other things, to ecumenism — to the work of restoring unity to Christians. The Council was aware that there have been and continue to be different attitudes towards Mary among Christians. Protestant Christians have sometimes disapproved of Marian devotion, seeing it as taking away from the unique role of Christ. Some have even seen the devotion as idolatrous.
Vatican II was aware not only of the deep importance of devotion to Mary, but also aware of some of the excesses that had grown up over the centuries. The Council “strongly urges theologians and preachers … to be careful to refrain as much from all false exaggeration as from too summary an attitude in considering the special dignity of the Mother of God” (LG par. 67). It reminds the faithful “that true devotion consists neither in sterile or transitory affection, nor in a certain vain credulity, but proceeds from true faith.” (ibid.)
This title recognizes that faith, and recognizes Mary as the mother of all Christians. Her maternal embrace enfolds all under mantel. Modern popes have used the term repeatedly; since 1964, the title ”Mary, Mother of the Church” has been used by every pope since Pope John XXIII.
But it wasn’t until now, with this new feast, that Pope Francis has given it expression in the devotional life of the church.
Byzantine and Eastern Orthodox Christians — people with whom CNEWA works closely — have a great devotion to Mary. However, it is a devotion that is different — though no less intense — from that of Roman Catholics. We’ll explore more of that in the coming weeks.
It would be easy to believe that Pope Francis has just added another Marian feast to a liturgical calendar that is perhaps already overburdened with such feasts (a cursory reading of the liturgical calendar shows 15 Marian feasts a year). However, that is not the case. In fact, by instituting this feast, Pope Francis has countered a certain centrifugal force in Catholic Marian devotion. This centrifugal force can unmoor Mary from Christ, placing emphasis on specific geographical locations, acculturations, etc., which have at times occurred. ”Mary, Mother of the Church” focuses attention on Mary and her role within the church (very similar to the theology of Ambrose) and links her closely — indeed, inseparably — to Christ.
In the next two weeks we will look at how two ancient traditions — Catholic in the west and Orthodox in the east — revere and honor Mary, Mother of the Lord and Mother of the Church. Each tradition can enrich and also act as a corrective to the veneration of Mary among Christians.
17 May 2018
Tags: Catholic Mary
Pope Francis greets new ambassadors to the Holy See during an audience in the Apostolic Palace at the Vatican on 17 May. Welcoming new ambassadors from seven countries, the pope said that migration “has an intrinsically ethical dimension.” (photo: CNS/Vatican Media)
Diplomats have a duty to uphold human rights for all people, especially those fleeing their countries due to war, poverty and environmental challenges, Pope Francis told new ambassadors to the Vatican.
The issue of migration “has an intrinsically ethical dimension that transcends national borders and narrow conceptions of security and self-interest,” the pope said on 17 May.
“None of us can ignore our moral responsibility to challenge the ‘globalization of indifference’ that all too often looks the other way in the face of tragic situations of injustice calling for an immediate humanitarian response,” he said.
The pope’s comments came in a speech welcoming new ambassadors to the Vatican from Tanzania, Lesotho, Pakistan, Mongolia, Denmark, Ethiopia and Finland.
Speaking to the group of diplomats, the pope said the work of international diplomacy “is grounded in the shared conviction” of the unity and dignity of all men and women.
The United Nation’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights, he said, is a call for solidarity with “those suffering the scourge of poverty, disease and oppression.”
“Among the most pressing of the humanitarian issues facing the international community at present is the need to welcome, protect, promote and integrate all those fleeing from war and hunger, or forced by discrimination, persecution, poverty and environmental degradation to leave their homelands,” the pope said.
While acknowledging the “complexity and delicacy of the political and social issues involved,” Pope Francis called on the international community work toward crafting decisions and policies “marked above all by compassion foresight and courage.”
“For her part, the church, convinced of our responsibility for one another, promotes every effort to cooperate, without violence and without deceit, in building up the world in a spirit of genuine brotherhood and peace,” the pope said.
17 May 2018
Tags: Pope Francis Migrants
Palestinians run for cover from Israeli fire and tear gas at the Israel-Gaza border during a protest against the U.S. embassy move to Jerusalem on 14 May. (photo: CNS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa, Reuters)
Europe’s bishops lend their support to calls for peace in Middle East (Vatican News) Europe’s Catholic bishops on Wednesday lent their support to the appeal of the Catholic Church in the Holy Land for peace in region, stressing the urgency of protecting life at all costs …
U.N. report says chronic hunger on the rise around the world (Vatican News) The report by the United Nations World Food Program (W.F.P.) examines these “spreading and intensifying” food crises around the world. Entitled “World Food Assistance, Preventing Food Crises,” the new report by the W.F.P. warns that chronic hunger is increasing around the world and food crises are spreading and intensifying. It asks what causes these crises to break out, what determines their scale and how they might be prevented…
Hindus oppose Muslims praying in India’s public places (UCANews.com) Hindu groups’ opposition to Muslims using public places for congregational prayers is creating tension in India, with some suspecting there is a hidden agenda afoot linked to the national elections expected early next year. An amalgam of 22 leading pro-Hindu groups have intensified their calls for a total ban on the country’s 172 million Muslims conducting congregational prayers on public grounds and some roads…
Byzantine prayer app now available (ByzCath.org) A new and unique daily prayer app is now available from Eastern Christian Publications for iOS and Android devices. The app is titled “ECPubs” and is available for free download from either the Apple Store or Google Play. This is the only Byzantine Catholic app available in English with all the changeable prayer texts included for the Daily Office…
16 May 2018
Tags: India Middle East Hunger Hindu
Little Mariam visited CNEWA’s office in Amman just two months after she was born. (photo: CNEWA)
The CNEWA team in Amman, Jordan, was happily surprised recently by a small visitor — one who owes her life, in no small part, to CNEWA’s donors. We’d like you to meet one of our success stories, 2-month-old Mariam.
Before Mariam was born, her parents came to CNEWA, looking for help. The mother was older, and it was clear she needed a Caesarean delivery. The CNEWA staff directed the family to the Italian Hospital, supported by CNEWA in Amman, and helped pay for the surgery.
The delivery went well, but the doctors discovered that Mariam has a small hole in her heart. She is being treated with drugs and, in time, it is hoped the hole will close and Mariam will have a long life.
What a blessing to see Mariam alive and well — and to see the joy on her parents’ faces.
So often, we at CNEWA start to feel a bond with those we serve, especially refugees in need of help. It’s not just a matter of providing food or milk or health care. It is a matter of love — as Jesus commanded us, “Love one another, as I have loved you.”
Mariam and her parents stopped by CNEWA’s Amman office to express their gratitude. (photo: CNEWA)
Tags: CNEWA Jordan Amman