5 June 2017
Christians pray during the Easter liturgy in the Church of St. Porphyrius in Gaza City, on 16 April. (photo: Mustafa Hassona/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Sami El-Yousef, CNEWA’s regional director for Palestine and Israel, recently visited Gaza to provide a status update. His report is now available on our site.
One noteworthy detail concerned the state of institutional growth — especially among Christian initiatives:
On my field visits to partner institutions, we were overwhelmed with news of expansion projects which will undoubtedly translate into better public services for the population. For instance, construction started a few weeks ago on a new building at the Rosary Sisters School. The building will consist of a large indoor auditorium, more classroom space and science labs, expanding the school and student body to the Tawjihi (11th and 12th grade) level. N.E.C.C.’s [vocational training center] in Qarrarah will soon have a new program in the electrical department that trains electricians in installation and maintenance of photovoltaic solar panel systems as there is a greater demand for these systems in Gaza. Currently, this training program is the first and only specialized training program in this sector in the Gaza Strip. Another local partner, the Holy Family School, will construct an additional floor to expand and enhance its academic program. The Latin Patriarchate School is planning to offer a literary Tawjihi stream once the renovation of the school complex is complete. The Orthodox Cultural Center secured a grant to fully furnish and equip the first floor and complete construction of the second floor that will include conference halls and meeting rooms equipped with state-of the-art equipment. I also visited new institutions to explore other potential new projects (specifically Nawa for Culture and Arts Association through St. George Monastery in Deir Al Balah; and Qattan Foundation in Gaza City) which was encouraging given the number of children and youth activities at these institutions. Thus, the institutional presence in Gaza is flourishing despite the general conditions and misery of Gaza which is truly inspirational and unmatched anywhere I have visited in Palestine and Israel. Doing so much with so little is something we all need to learn from our brothers and sisters in Gaza.
Read the full report here.
5 June 2017
Women pray over the casket of Ukrainian Cardinal Lubomyr Husar during his 5 June funeral liturgy at the Patriarchal Cathedral of the Resurrection of Christ in Kiev. Cardinal Husar died 31 May at the age of 84. (photo: CNS/Valentyn Ogirenko, Reuters)
5 June 2017
Tags: Ukraine Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church
Iraqi Christians attend the Divine Liturgy in Erbil, the capital of the autonomous Kurdish region of northern Iraq, on 31 May. (photo: Safin Hamed/AFP/Getty Images)
ISIS victims face discrimination in Kurdistan (AINA) A new report explains how religious minorities in Northern Iraq — Yazidis, Christians, Shabak, and Turkmen — fled the ISIS onslaught in 2014 into Kurdistan. However, despite the freedom of religion of these minorities being “comparatively robust” in Kurdistan to other areas in the region, they still face discrimination, violence, and restrictions upon their movement there, the report alleges…
Dialogue with Muslims, defend human dignity, pope tells missionaries (CNS) Missionaries are entrusted with bringing hope to poor Christian communities while building bridges with Muslims and protecting human rights, Pope Francis told a group of men and women missionaries. Meeting with members of the Consolata Missionaries at the Vatican on 5 June, the pope also encouraged them to push the boundaries of their missionary activity, especially in “defending the dignity of women and family values…”
Pope sends second, personal note of condolence to Ukrainians (CNS) Saying he was moved by reports of tens of thousands of people gathering for a funeral procession for Ukrainian Cardinal Lubomyr Husar, who died on 31 May, Pope Francis sent a second message of condolence to the cardinal’s successor. Being grateful for Cardinal Husar’s “unique, religious and social presence in the history of Ukraine, I invite all of you to be faithful to his constant teaching and total abandonment to providence,” the pope wrote on 5 June, the day of the cardinal’s funeral in Kiev and two days after the massive procession in Lviv…
Divided by victory, Israelis still grapple with 1967 war (New York Times) The six days of the 1967 war were the most important in modern Israeli history. But after 50 years, Israel is still struggling with them. The accidental war and stunning victory also made Israelis occupiers. For with that land — the urban villages of East Jerusalem, the sprawling hills and metropolises of the West Bank, the concrete density of the Gaza Strip — came people: Palestinians now numbering more than 4.5 million. As the 50th anniversary of that war is marked in a series of events this week, Palestinians, of course, will mourn rather than celebrate what they call the “naksa,” or displacement. But even among Israeli Jews, the milestone does not seem a moment for national outpouring, despite the increasing power of the political right wing…
Syrians in Egypt demand clearer work regulations (Al Monitor) Syrians who fled their country and settled in Egypt have so far contributed to the Egyptian economy with more than $800 million, but they have yet to get their papers in order…
Ethiopian domestic worker commits suicide (Daily Star Lebanon) A domestic worker hung herself in the south Lebanon border town of Blida in Marjayoun, a security source told The Daily Star on Monday. The Ethiopian woman was found hung on the branch of a tree near her employers’ home with a small chair beside her. A coroner examined the body and declared the death a suicide. LBCI reported that she began working at the house three months ago…
2 June 2017
Tags: Lebanon Iraqi Christians Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church Migrants Catholic-Muslim relations
Ukrainian Cardinal Lubomyr Husar, pictured in 2014, “was the spiritual father of the Ukrainian people” for decades. (photo: CNS/Petro Didula, Ukrainian Catholic University)
VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Ukrainian Cardinal Lubomyr Husar, known for his “velvety baritone” when chanting the Divine Liturgy or making one of his regular appearances on television or radio programs, died May 31 near Kiev at the age of 84.
Like many Ukrainian Catholics around the world, he knew what it meant to be a refugee, to spend time in a displaced persons’ camp, to immigrate and to start all over again.
But the experience also helped him become fluent in five languages, “and he could joke in all of them,” said Ukrainian Bishop Borys Gudziak of Paris.
And in a post-Soviet Ukraine, where leadership often meant “a compulsive passion” for money and power, “he lived in exemplary simplicity,” Bishop Gudziak told Catholic News Service on 1 June.
“In Ukrainian folklore, a blind elder is considered a sage,” the bishop said. “He was the wise man of the country, a real father whose embrace, word, warm smile and sense of humor — often self-deprecating — gave people a sense of joy and peace.”
Cardinal Husar also was an avid blogger and published his last piece on 1 May, a blog about politicians who show their loyalty to a church only to gain votes.
He saw a lack of ethical behavior and declining moral standards as a major problem at home and abroad, one that required a creative pastoral response.
“Addressing the problem of morality is not a matter of reciting rules, rules, rules, but of helping people to do God’s will,” he said in an interview with CNS in 2005.
Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk, who was only 40 years old in 2011 when he succeeded Cardinal Husar as archbishop of Kiev-Halych and head of the Ukrainian Catholic Church, cried as he spoke to reporters on 1 June about the cardinal’s death.
“He was the spiritual father of the Ukrainian people, and today, in one moment, we became orphans,” Archbishop Shevchuk told the press. The cardinal was a “great man, great pastor, great Ukrainian.”
One of the first questions reporters asked was when the process for Cardinal Husar’s beatification would begin. Archbishop Shevchuk replied that everyone who met the cardinal saw the beauty of his holiness, but the formal sainthood process requires prayer and time. Standard Vatican rules require a waiting period of five years from the time of a person’s death before the process can begin.
In a condolence message to Archbishop Shevchuk, Pope Francis recalled the cardinal’s “tenacious fidelity to Christ despite the deprivations and persecutions” suffered by the Ukrainian Catholic Church, which was forced into the underground by the communists.
“His fruitful apostolic activity to promote the organization of Greek Catholic faithful who were descendants of those forcibly transferred from Western Ukraine” and, simultaneously, his efforts to promote “dialogue and collaboration” with the Orthodox also were noted by the pope.
The cardinal’s body was being driven to Lviv, his hometown, on 1 June for two days of memorial services there. His funeral was scheduled for 5 June in Kiev.
Born 26 February 1933, Lubomyr Husar fled Ukraine with his parents in 1944 ahead of the advancing Soviet army. He spent the early post-World War II years among Ukrainian refugees in a displaced persons’ camp near Salzburg, Austria. In 1949, he immigrated with his family to the United States, eventually becoming a U.S. citizen.
From 1950 to 1954, he studied at St. Basil’s College Seminary in Stamford, Connecticut. He continued his studies at The Catholic University of America in Washington and at Fordham University in New York. He was ordained a priest of the Ukrainian Diocese of Stamford in 1958.
For the next 11 years, he taught at the Ukrainian seminary in Stamford and served in parish ministry. Sent to Rome, he earned a doctorate in dogmatic theology from the Pontifical Urbanian University in 1972 and joined the Ukrainian Studite monastic community.
He was ordained a bishop by Cardinal Josyf Slipyj in 1977 while the church in Ukraine was still illegal and operating from exile in Rome.
When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, he returned to his native country and served as spiritual director of the newly re-established Holy Spirit Seminary in Lviv.
The synod of Ukrainian bishops elected him exarch of Kiev-Vyshhorod, a position he took up in 1996. Several months later, the synod elected him an auxiliary bishop with special delegated authority to assist Cardinal Myroslav Lubachivsky, the major archbishop of Lviv.
Cardinal Lubachivsky died in December 2000, and in January 2001 the synod elected then-Bishop Husar to succeed him as head of the Ukrainian Catholic Church. St. John Paul II made him a cardinal a month later.
Under his leadership and despite strong protests from the Russian Orthodox Church, in August 2005 Cardinal Husar established the major archiepiscopal see of Kiev-Halych and transferred the main church offices to Ukraine’s capital.
Cardinal Husar’s death leaves the College of Cardinals with 221 members, although Pope Francis is scheduled to create five new cardinals in late June.
2 June 2017
Tags: Ukraine Eastern Catholics Ukrainian Catholic Church
A child receives a checkup at a clinic run by the Near East Council of Churches in Shajaia, a neighborhood of Gaza City. Read more about Where Hope Is Kindled in the March 2017 edition of ONE. (photo: Tamara Abdul Hadi)
2 June 2017
Tags: Gaza Strip/West Bank Children Middle East Health Care
Pope Francis declares his prayer intention for the month of June: to end the arms trade. (video: Rome Reports)
Vatican’s ‘prayerful solidarity’ for Muslims during Ramadan (AsiaNews.it) The Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue has extended “prayerful solidarity” and greetings of “serenity, joy and abundant spiritual gifts” to Muslims for this Ramadan. Ramadan is the month of daily prayer and fasting broken only at night for a festive dinner (Iftar) and ends with the feast of Eid ul Fitr. This year the month began on 27 May and ends on 24 June…
Israelis join Palestinians in peaceful Hebron protest (Al Monitor) Long before the 1987 Palestinian intifada, the Arabic term sumud (meaning “steadfastness”) best reflected the form of resistance undertaken by Palestinians in the occupied territories. It reflected the important act of staying put on one’s land and refusing to budge no matter what. This is the term that Palestinians, Israelis and diaspora Jews recently applied to their unique act of nonviolent resistance in the largely abandoned village of Sarura, located south of Hebron. On 18 May, activists arrived in Sarura to support the villagers who have been harassed and intimidated to leave their homes by Jewish settlers and the Israeli army. In a span of 12 days, the Israeli army came to the camp and tried to break it up three times, without making any arrests. The Israeli army brought bulldozers and demolished all the established structures on 29 May. It seized all tents, mattresses and even a car…
ISIS militants battered Syria’s ancient Palmyra, but signs of splendor remain (Los Angeles Times) The once-resplendent Temple of Bel, dedicated to the principal deity of the ancient metropolis of Palmyra, has been reduced to a single sculpted arch rising gracefully from a jagged pile of tumbled columns and monumental stone blocks etched with grape vines and acanthus leaves. Also leveled are the Temple of Baalshamin, a Semitic god of the heavens, and the Arch of Triumph, an iconic assemblage whose image is stamped on Syria’s £10 coin. Still standing, however, are most of the stately colonnades lined up for nearly a mile along the main boulevard…
Following discrimination claims, Egypt’s Al Azhar enrolls Christian medical resident (Al Monitor) Al Azhar University is considered a beacon of centrist, moderate Islam in Egypt. But the university is still vulnerable to criticism and responds to any critiques with an eye on its public image. That may have been the case on 17 May, when the dean of Al Azhar’s Faculty of Dentistry in Assiut, Khalid Siddiq, accepted Abanoub Guirguis Naeem, a Christian student, for a residency training program — the first known case of a Christian student enrolling at the university…
1 June 2017
Tags: Syria Egypt Pope Francis Palestine Ramadan
Relatives of Copts killed during a bus attack attend their funeral service at Ava Samuel Monastery in Minya, Egypt, last Friday. (photo: Ibrahim Ezzat/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Coptic Christians describe bus attack in Egypt: ‘Even the little children were targets’ (Washington Post) The passengers on the bus heard a noise and thought a tire had exploded. One young man got up to see what had happened, and why there was so much smoke. But before he could open the door, a bullet smashed the glass and hit him in the head. Several gunmen dressed in military-style uniforms then sprayed the bus with gunfire. “In a second, they [the gunmen] got inside and shot at every living and moving object they could see,” said the driver, Boshra Kamel, 56, who was shot several times but survived by playing dead. “Even the little children were targets to them.” The passengers — a group of Coptic Christians — were on their way to a monastery in the Minya region, 150 miles south of Cairo, when the gunmen attacked last Friday, killing at least 30 people and wounding 26. It was the latest incident in rising violence targeting the country’s minority Christians, who make up 10 percent of the population…
ISIS fighters seal off Mosul mosque preparing for last stand (Daily Star Lebanon) ISIS militants have closed the streets around Mosul’s Grand al Nuri Mosque, residents said, apparently in preparation for a final showdown in the battle over their last major stronghold in Iraq…
Iraqis demand compensation from U.S. for bombing that killed more than 100 civilians (Christian Science Monitor) On 17 March, United States forces reportedly targeted two ISIS snipers in a single building, which set off a series of explosives in the house that killed many civilians. Iraqi officials, however, say that there were only civilians killed in the blast, and that there were no hidden munitions…
For Syrian refugees in Jordan, a path to financial independence (Christian Science Monitor) As part of a new initiative spearheaded by the World Food Program, the United Nations is giving educated Syrians and Jordanians training in business and IT skills, equipping and encouraging them to open their own start-ups in Jordan…
What I’ve seen in 30 years of reporting on the Israeli occupation (Haaretz) I began to write about the occupation almost by chance. Dedi Zucker, at that time a Knesset member, suggested that we go see a few olive trees that had been uprooted in the grove of an elderly Palestinian, who was living in the West Bank. That was the beginning, gradual and not planned, of exactly three decades of coverage of the crimes of the occupation. Most Israelis didn’t want to hear about it and still don’t want to hear about it. In the eyes of many citizens, the very act of covering this subject in the media is a transgression…
Protests break out after India bans cattle slaughter (Vatican Radio) Church leaders in India say the government’s ban on sale of cattle for slaughter across the country is a violation of human rights. The nationwide ban has alarmed minority groups and led to protests in several states. Beef is a cheap source of protein for Muslims and Christians who together form 20 percent of India’s population, as well as Adivasi and Dalit people…
24 May 2017
Tags: India Iraq Egypt Violence against Christians Israel
Orthodox believers venerate St. Nicholas’ relics at the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour.
(photo: Valery Sharifulin/TASS via Getty Images)
The relics of a beloved saint have left Italy for the first time.
Thousands of people lined up for hours in Moscow on Monday to venerate the relics of Saint Nicholas, believed by Orthodox Christians to have miraculous powers, after his remains were sent to Russia on loan from their permanent home in Italy.
The remains of Saint Nicholas had never previously left the Italian city of Bari in the 930 years since they were brought there. After arriving by plane on Sunday, they were installed in Moscow’s gold-domed Christ the Saviour Cathedral, and put on public display.
The loan was agreed during last year’s historic meeting between Russian Patriarch Kirill and Roman Catholic Pope Francis. It was the first time a pontiff and head of the Russian Orthodox church had met since the Eastern and Western branches of Christianity split apart nearly 1,000 years ago.
The line of people queuing to see the relics stretched for several kilometers from the cathedral along the embankment of the Moskva river.
“I want to touch the relics, to ask for health for my children, for my relatives,” said one woman in the queue, who gave her name as Natalia and said she was from Ukraine. “I want health and peace on earth. Nothing else.”
Saint Nicholas, who lived in the fourth century in what is modern-day Turkey, is one of the most revered saints in Russian Orthodoxy. Numerous churches and cathedrals bear his name in Russia, and Nikolai is a popular name in the country.
And for more on St. Nicholas, check out this story from our magazine: Bari’s Borrowed Wonder Worker.
24 May 2017
Tags: Russia Russian Orthodox
The Most Rev. Peter Remigius, Bishop of Kottar, speaks to a gathering of Caritas India in April. Pope Francis has just accepted his resignation. (photo: Caritas India)
Pope, President Trump discuss peace, dialogue, support for immigrants (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis and U.S. President Donald Trump met in the Vatican on Wednesday, discussing issues of peace, interfaith dialogue and religious freedom, as well as the role of the American Church in education, healthcare and support for immigrants...
Bishop of Kottar resigns, successor appointed (Fides) On 20 May 2017, the Holy Father accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the diocese of Kottar, India, presented by His Excellency Peter Remigius. The Pope appointed as bishop of the diocese of Kottar, India, the Rev. Nazarene Soosai, Pastor of the Our Lady of Ransom parish of Kanyakumari in Kottar...
Official: Jordan cannot deal with more Syrian refugees (Middle East Monitor) Jordan has reached breaking point and can no longer accept more Syrian refugees, a senior minister told officials at the World Economic Forum. According to the country’s official news agency, Petra, Minister of Planning and International Cooperation, Imad Fakhoury, said the number of refugees currently in the country have put more economic and social burdens on the budget, infrastructure, services, education, health and water, especially in the northern and central areas...
Syrian army says senior ISIS militant killed (Reuters) The Syrian army said on Wednesday it had killed Islamic State’s military commander in Syria during operations in the north of the country, where the Russian-backed government forces are seizing more territory back from the jihadist group. If confirmed, this would represent a major blow against ISIS ahead of an attack which the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) — an alliance of Kurdish and Arab fighters — are expected to launch against the jihadists in their stronghold of Raqqa city...
23 May 2017
Tags: Syria India Pope Francis Jordan
In this image from 2016, a migrant tries to open a border fence at a makeshift camp at the Greek-Macedonian border near the village of Idomeni, Greece.
(photo: CNS/Marko Djurica, Reuters)
The United Nations is not the fastest moving body in the world. It often takes decades for new ideas to become part and parcel of the UN agenda and worldview.
But yesterday, it appears that something new is happening — and it could have significance for millions, particularly in the parts of the world CNEWA serves.
It happened at a side event hosted by the Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See, the International Catholic Migration Commission, Caritas Internationalis and the Center for Migration Studies. The event was for “ensuring the right of all to remain in dignity, peace and security in their countries of origin.” The concept emerging that is new and which kept surfacing at the event was the Right to Remain.
In sum: the event participants recognized that most refugees and migrants do not want to leave their homes and, when forced to, want to return as soon as possible. What results is the Right to Remain — which, the event stated, precedes the Right to Migrate. While migration is and remains a right, migration is often the less desirable solution. Thus it is recognized that for most migrants migration is not a free choice but is forced upon them by what the event called “Drivers of Forced Migration.” The major “drivers of forced migration” are: climate change, economic underdevelopment and internal conflicts.The Right to Remain stresses that people have the right to have these drivers removed, so they can remain in the native countries.
Clearly the issue of refugees and migrants has been a major concern at the UN. It is estimated that over 65 million people on the planet are in one way or another refugees or migrants (in what follows, the words migrant and migration will include refugees). The flow of these people from Africa and the Middle East has put European and other countries under tremendous economic, political and social pressures. In some areas the migration problem has bred nativist, xenophobic and often racist reactions which manifest themselves in different ways in different countries. For example, the rise of ethno-nationalist and rightist populist groups — political and otherwise — has been a concern for many.
The UN and Pope Francis have been consistent in calling for programs to help and accept people who are fleeing from their homes. The UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) is responding to a situation of mass migration that has not been seen for at least a hundred years. While continuing to defend the right of people to migrate, however, the event recognized that migration must be: 1) sustainable, 2) manageable and 3) a choice, indicating that at present it is too often none of these. This recognizes not only the legitimate issues of the migrants but also of the receiving countries.
Recognizing the priority of the Right to Remain, the Holy See and its colleagues did not in any way question the right to migrate. However, it laid great emphasis on the fact that migration must be a free choice and that people have the right to have problems solved which are drivers of forced migration in their own countries.
Clearly at this point the Right to Remain does not enjoy the same legal standing in international humanitarian law as does the Right to Migrate. However, there is the recognition that migration must be sustainable, manageable and a free choice together with the indication and that such is not the case at present. This is leading to the the gradual emergence of a Right to Remain.
And, as I noted: this is something new and significant. It recognizes the rights of both migrants and receiving countries. And it provides a significant impulse towards making a Right to Remain one of the basic human rights.
Helping people to achieve a standard of living that is sustainable and human has been one of the major efforts of CNEWA. While CNEWA has not spoken of the Right to Remain or the Drivers of Forced Migration, in fact, almost all of our programs are geared to make it possible for people to remain in their homes in dignity, peace and security.