Current Issue
September, 2019
Volume 45, Number 3
6 February 2013
J.D. Conor Mauro

In this November photo, Pope Tawadros II of Alexandria, patriarch of Egypt's Coptic Orthodox Church, conducts an interview at the Wadi Natrun Monastery in Cairo. (photo: CNS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany, Reuters)

Interview: Egypt’s Coptic pope criticizes Islamists (AP) Egypt’s Coptic patriarch delivered a cautious but unusually sharp criticism of the nation’s Islamist leadership in an interview with The Associated Press on Tuesday, dismissing the new constitution as discriminatory and rounds of national dialogues sponsored by the president as meaningless. Pope Tawadros II’s dive into politics came as he tried to energize the spiritual solidarity of a demoralized community with a visit to a historic monastery that no Coptic pontiff has been to in decades because of security tensions in southern Egypt. He joined the black-robed monks in a two-hour pre-dawn prayer at the ancient Virgin Mary chapel in the al Muharraq monastery, said to be on a site where the Virgin Mary took refuge with Jesus and her husband Joseph from Roman persecution. Tawadros has taken an unusually vocal political activist stance since being enthroned in November as the spiritual leader of the Copts, the main community of Egypt’s Christians…

Bulgaria stands by accusations that Hezbollah is behind bombing (Daily Star Lebanon) Bulgaria’s foreign minister defended himself Wednesday against accusations that Sofia lacked the proof to blame Hezbollah for a July bomb attack that killed five Israeli tourists and a Bulgarian. “If Bulgaria did not have enough arguments to announce yesterday that the traces in this attack lead to Hezbollah’s military wing, we would not have done it,” Nikolay Mladenov said on BNT television. Nearly seven months after the bombing of an Israeli tourist bus at the Black Sea airport of Burgas, Sofia on Tuesday had said two Canadian and Australia passport-holders with links to Hezbollah were to blame. This led to renewed calls from the United States, Israel and Canada on the European Union to designate Hezbollah as a “terrorist” organization…

Cairo activists fighting tear gas with tear gas (New York Times) As hundreds fled the advancing armored cars of riot police officers, Mohamed Mokbel ran forward. A veteran of two years of violent street protests, he pulled on his gas mask and charred protective gloves for another long night at his current vocation: throwing tear-gas canisters back at the riot police. “Whenever people lose hope, the clashes grow worse,” Mr. Mokbel, 30, said on a break from the fighting on Friday night outside the presidential palace. “But the people in power are still acting like there is no crisis, still firing more gas,” he said, “so I am going back in.” Two years after the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak, waves of increasingly violent street protests have decimated tourism, slashed foreign investment, increased poverty and dashed hopes of a return to stability. In the last two weeks, more than 50 people have died in the clashes…

Christians of Syria protest kidnappings (Fides) In the province of Jazira, in Syria, the exponential increase in kidnappings — side effect of the Syrian conflict — continues to flog the civilian population even in areas not affected by the fighting between rebels and government troops. Most recently, a Christian pharmacist was kidnapped last Sunday for a ransom of one million Syrian pounds (almost €11,000 euro, or $14,000 U.S. dollars). On Friday, dozens of Christians improvised a roadblock burning tires at an intersection in the city of Hassake to protest against the kidnapping of the rector of the Euphrates University, who was taken in broad daylight by gunmen and released after two hours. In his case, the kidnapping was not inspired by financial reasons, but issues related to the functioning of the university — indicating that now one resorts to criminal practice of kidnapping to resolve conflicts with the abuse of personal and social interest…

Syrian rebels fight close to heart of Damascus (Reuters) Syrian rebels battled Bashar al Assad’s forces on the edge of central Damascus on Wednesday, opposition activists said, seeking to break his grip over districts leading to the heart of the capital. Their offensive aims to break a stalemate in the city of two million people, where artillery and air strikes have prevented opposition fighters entrenched to the east from advancing despite their capture of army fortifications, the activists said. “We have moved the battle to Jobar,” said Captain Islam Alloush of the rebel Islam Brigade, referring to a district which links rebel strongholds in the eastern suburbs with the central Abbasid Square. “The heaviest fighting is taking place in Jobar because it is the key to the heart of Damascus.” Assad, battling to crush a 22-month-old uprising in which 60,000 people have died, has lost control of large parts of the country but his forces, backed by air power, have so far kept rebels on the fringes of the capital…

Tags: Syria Egypt Syrian Civil War Coptic Orthodox Church Bulgaria

5 February 2013
Don Duncan

Pomegranates from Violette Elias’s orchard in Kafarchakna, Lebanon, await squeezing. Some of the juice will be turned into molasses. (photo: Dalia Khamissy)

Journalist Don Duncan wrote about the role of pomegranates in Lebanese culture in the November 2012 issue of ONE. Below, he shares a delicious discovery from his time reporting.

Since I moved to Lebanon in 2009, I’ve come to enjoy learning and practicing Lebanese recipes. The cuisine here is delicious and I was delighted, once I began reporting on the role of pomegranates in Lebanon, to discover Lebanese recipes involving the yummy fruit. Below are four such recipes. Enjoy!

Stuffed Vine Leaves with Pomegranate Molasses

Serves six.

  • 400g (14 oz.) minced lamb
  • 100g (3-4 oz.) rice
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • Salt and black pepper
  • 200g (7 oz.) vine leaves
  • 600g (21 oz.) lamb chops
  • 1 tbsp pomegranate molasses
  • 2 lemons, juiced

Mix the minced meat, rice and butter with a pinch of salt and some cracked black pepper. Boil the vine leaves for a few minutes, then, one by one, lay them flat on a chopping board. Cut off the stems and place a little of the meat mix in the middle. Fold up the sides of the leaves, then roll tightly, so the filling is enclosed within.

In a frying pan, melt a little more butter and gently sauté the chops. Now cover the bottom of another pot with any leftover blanched vine leaves, place the chops on them and lay the stuffed leaves on top in a circular pattern. Add enough water to cover, put a heavy plate on top, bring to a boil and then reduce the heat and cook for an hour and a half.

Mix the molasses with the lemon juice, add a pinch of salt, stir into the pot and cook for half an hour. Invert the pot on to a serving plate and serve.

Eggplant Sandwich with Pomegranate Molasses

Serves four.

  • 500g (17-18 oz.) baby aubergines (eggplant)
  • 200g (7 oz.) Middle Eastern thyme (or arugula)
  • 1 tbsp pomegranate molasses
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 4 wholewheat pita breads
  • 16 black pitted olives
  • A few pomegranate seeds

Cut the aubergines in half, remove the stem, then sauté in a little olive oil until soft. Season with salt. Mix the thyme with the molasses diluted in lemon juice. Cut open the pitas, so they open like a pocket, add the eggplant, thyme, olives and a few pomegranate seeds.

Baked eggs with Pomegranate Molasses

Serves four.

  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 8 eggs
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 tbsp pomegranate molasses, diluted in 2 tbsp water
  • Pomegranate seeds, for decoration

Heat the oil in a baking dish, in a medium-heat oven. Once hot, break in the eggs, add the salt and return to the oven. When almost cooked, add the diluted molasses, and return to the oven until it starts to bubble. Throw a few pomegranate seeds on top, and serve piping hot.

Sweet Pomegranate Salad

Serves four.

  • 6 pomegranates
  • 125ml (½ cup) rosewater (found in Middle Eastern stores)
  • 125ml (½ cup) orange blossom water (found in Middle Eastern stores)
  • 150-200g (⅓-½ oz.) pine nuts
  • 4 tbsp sugar

Peel five of the pomegranates, remove their seeds and set aside. Juice the remaining fruit. Add the rosewater and orange blossom water to the juice, then stir in the reserved seeds. Sprinkle with pine nuts and sugar. Serve cold.

Tags: Lebanon Cultural Identity Farming/Agriculture

5 February 2013
Greg Kandra

Father Edison visits with one of the parishioners in a nearby village. (photo: Cody Christopulos)

Being a priest in India brings with it special challenges, as we reported in 2005:

Sitting in the foyer of their simple rectory, a small concrete house, the priests sipped coconut water and prepared for Sunday liturgy at their compound in the town of Vattakarickam. Services would be held at St. Mary Syro-Malankara Catholic Church, the largest of the compound’s three buildings.

This Sunday’s duties were a welcome respite from the heavy travel of most Sundays, when they celebrate six liturgies — three each — driving 20 miles of winding dirt roads between churches. All told, about 1,000 people attend the priests’ Sunday liturgies.

But about once a month, Father Edison and Father John concelebrate at St. Mary’s, host a feast and arrange classes for children. About 200 parishioners attend and the festivities end in the late afternoon. And this Sunday, they would be joined by Father Abraham Parappallil, a catechist.

Fathers Edison and John live in relative isolation, far from the bustle of Trivandrum, the state capital and the seat of the Syro-Malankara Catholic Church, where both spent 10 years at St. Mary’s Seminary.

Life is ascetic. There are no sizable towns nearby, just farmland and small, poor low-caste communities.

Both priests rarely see their families, who live between 30 and 60 miles away, an imposing distance by dirt roads especially during the rainy season.

“When I first came here four years ago, I was bored,” said Father Edison, who like Father John had an urban, middle-class upbringing. “I am an energetic person. But now, I feel that the nature that surrounds us has something to tell me. When the sun rises through the forest each morning, it puts me in a meditative mood.”

In the morning, before the faithful arrived, Father Edison visited some of the villages in the area. The villages are poor, typically a collection of huts clustered around a well.

“There are mainly low-caste Hindus in the area,” Father Edison said.

Read more on Village Priests in the November 2005 issue of ONE.

Tags: India Poor/Poverty Indian Christians Indian Catholics Syro-Malankara Catholic Church

5 February 2013
J.D. Conor Mauro

His Beatitude Mar Louis Raphael, newly elected patriarch of the Chaldean Church, left, accepts a document from Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, prefect of the Congregation for Eastern Churches, during a 4 February liturgy in St. Peter's Basilica confirming the patriarch's ecclesial communion with the pope. (photo: CNS/Paul Haring)

Syrian bishop optimistic about new Chaldean patriarch (EWTN) A Syrian bishop is happy with the election of His Beatitude Mar Louis Raphael Sako I as patriarch of the Chaldean Catholic Church, as he believes his experience at building dialogue in Iraq could save the lives of many Christians. “He is young and involved in conversations with Muslims so we hope we can achieve this in Syria, too,” said Bishop Antoine Audo, the head of the Diocese of Aleppo in northern Syria. “He knows the situation very well because he was the Archbishop of the Iraqi town Kirkuk for 10 years,” Bishop Audo explained. “But here we will be in communion not just with Muslims, but with all other Christian denominations and everyone around us.” Patriarch Sako told Vatican Radio that Kirkuk does not have any problems with Muslims, and in several mosques imams speak well of Christians for their role in bridging the divide…

Bulgarian Orthodox Church will reveal new patriarch late this month (Novinite) The Bulgarian Orthodox Church will announce its new patriarch on 24 February, local clerics confirmed on Monday. An election of delegates who will elect the church’s new patriarch was held in January. The delegates will convene on 24 February to elect Bulgaria’s new patriarch, out of the three candidacies proposed by the Holy Synod one week ahead. Bulgarian Orthodox Church long-serving Patriarch Maxim passed away of old age on 6 November 2012…

Exploitation, abuse and hard labor for 50,000 children in Jordan (Fides) In Jordan, because of poverty, many children are forced to work to survive. According to the latest census, Jordan has a workforce of 1.2 million, including 33,000 children. Other figures say that there are more than 50,000 young workers. The reports by activists for the protection of human rights and trade unions reported physical, psychological and sexual abuse, as well as inhuman working conditions, such as very tiring and long, underpaid days. The National Center of Forensic Medicine does not officially confirm cases of child victims of abuse in the workplace or make public any figures related to the phenomenon. However, a study conducted by an international expert confirms that 15% of all cases of sexual abuse of children under 18 are connected with the sexual exploitation of children at work or prostitution of girls. Jordanian law is in conformity with international conventions on child labor, which include fines and imprisonment. However, in practice, these laws are often inadequately enforced…

Ethiopian journalist arrested for coverage of Muslim protests (Committee to Protect Journalists) Ethiopian security forces have detained for two weeks without charge the editor of a news magazine and accused him of incitement to terrorism, according to local journalists. The Committee to Protect Journalists calls on authorities to release Solomon Kebede immediately and halt their harassment of journalists affiliated with the weekly Ye Muslimoch Guday (”Muslim Affairs”). Police in Addis Ababa arrested Kebede on 17 January and took him to the Maekelawi federal detention center. Solomon’s health is in poor condition and he has been held without access to a lawyer, the journalists said. A court date has been set for 13 February. Local journalists told CPJ they believed the arrest was linked to Solomon’s columns that had criticized perceived government intrusion in religious affairs…

Combat flares up in Aleppo (Daily Star Lebanon) Fierce battles erupted Tuesday in the city of Aleppo, a northern Syria battleground for the past six months, as rebels fought troops near an army barracks and tanks shelled the area, activists said. In the countryside surrounding Aleppo, once Syria’s thriving commercial capital but now ravaged by war, troops also shelled the rebel-held towns of al Bab and Sfeira, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. “Battles pitting rebels against troops broke out at dawn Tuesday … near the Mahlab army barracks [in Aleppo] … while army tanks shelled the area. Both sides have sustained casualties,” said the Observatory, which relies on a broad network of activists, doctors and lawyers for its information. It gave no further details of the casualties…

Tags: Ethiopia Children Syrian Civil War Jordan Chaldean Church

4 February 2013
Greg Kandra

Mother Elizabeth leads Russian Orthodox novices in prayer at the Martha and Mary Convent
in Russia. (photo: Sean Sprague)

In 2002, we paid a visit to a convent in Russia, where young women were doing what they have done for centuries:

While Russia strives to catch up with the modern world, the work of the Martha and Mary Convent is not so different from what it was before the Soviet Union’s great atheistic experiment.

“People think we are outdated because we keep some traditions from the early 20th century,” said the Mother Superior, named Elizabeth in honor of the convent’s founder, Grand Duchess Elizabeth Romanov.

“We believe her ideas were so much ahead of her time that even now we are awed at her far-reaching concepts for helping the poor.”

The Communists forced the closing of the Martha and Mary Convent in Moscow in 1926, but it reopened in 1992 following the collapse of the Soviet Union. Today, its sisters are carrying on the mission of the founder and now saint, Elizabeth.

Elizabeth, born into the Lutheran noble house of Hesse-Darmstadt, was the granddaughter of Britain’s Queen Victoria, sister of the doomed Tsarina Alexandra and wife of the murdered Grand Duke Sergei who was an uncle of the last Russian tsar — Nicholas II. She founded the convent in 1910, some eight years before the bloody revolution also claimed her as a victim.

After her husband was killed in 1905, she visited his assassin in prison and spoke of forgiveness. Shortly after, she gave away much of her wealth, founded hospitals, opened soup kitchens and in 1909 took vows as a Sister of Love and Mercy.

Even prior to the death of her husband, Elizabeth had brought health reforms to peasant mothers in the countryside near Moscow and began visiting the city’s sick, imprisoned and orphaned.

The Bolsheviks executed Elizabeth on 18 July 1918 along with her loyal assistant, Barbara, and several other Romanov prisoners. A peasant who witnessed the murders said Elizabeth sang hymns and soothed the dying after the group had been thrown down a mineshaft. Elizabeth succumbed only after grenades were hurled in the direction of the singing. The Russian Orthodox Church canonized her in August 2000, along with Barbara.

Mother Elizabeth said the community today, as with the original community, bases many of its guiding principles on the deaconess movement popular in Lutheran religious communities at the end of the 19th century. Although Elizabeth converted to Orthodoxy in 1891, she retained many of the deaconess ideals, including caring for the sick and poor.

Elizabeth dedicated the convent to the values of Martha and Mary in the hope that the community would, in Elizabeth’s words: “combine the lofty destiny of Mary with Martha’s service to Our Lord...”

...As in the old days, the community’s routine combines prayer, study and service. They wake up at 6:30, take breakfast and then pray in a small chapel. At 9 they start school. Lunch is at noon, after which they continue their studies until 4. In the evenings they study theology, music and enjoy some free time. The young women, in their late teens and early 20’s, come from all over Russia and other parts of the former Soviet Union. Their studies and accommodation are paid for, but they must often pay for their trips home.

Inna, a 20-year-old from Latvia, has sparkling eyes, an impish grin and studies at the college.

“My parents are not religious but I used to go to church and Sunday school with my friends; there wasn’t much else to do,” she said.

Read more about the convent in the November 2002 issue of our magazine.

Tags: Sisters Russia Russian Orthodox Nuns

4 February 2013
Greg Kandra

The bishops of the Chaldean Catholic Church have elected Archbishop Louis Sako of Kirkuk to be the new patriarch of the Iraq-based church. The election took place on 31 January and was welcomed by Pope Benedict XVI. Archbishop Sako, pictured in a 2010 file photo, succeeds Cardinal Emmanuel-Karim Delly of Baghdad as patriarch. (photo: CNS /Paul Haring)

Pope writes to new patriarch of Babylon of the Chaldeans (VIS) Benedict XVI has written a letter to His Beatitude Louis Raphael Sako, the new Patriarch of Babylon of the Chaldeans, granting the “Ecclesiastica Communio” requested of him by the Patriarch. In the text the Pope asks the Lord to fill His Beatitude with “every grace and blessing” and that he be enlightened &lquo;in order to tirelessly proclaim the Gospel, following the living tradition that dates back to St. Thomas the Apostle”...

Putin: Russian Orthodox Church has a “significant voice” (Interfax) President Vladimir Putin has credited regular episcopal assemblies of the Russian Orthodox Church with an “invaluable role” in Russian history. “Bishops’ assemblies have always played a great, truly invaluable role in the development of Orthodoxy, and in the many centuries of Russian history. Their decisions and their wise advice and assessments are still significant both for church and for public life,” a statement from the president’s office quoted Putin as saying in a message to a bishops’ assembly that opened in Moscow on Saturday. “The Russian Orthodox Church has a significant voice in asserting ideals of humanism, virtue and mercy, and in bringing up younger generations on the basis of intransient moral values, patriotism and civil spirit,” Putin said...

More in France are converting to Islam (New York Times) The spacious and elegant modern building, in the heart of this middle-class suburb of Paris, is known as “the mosque of the converts.” Every year about 150 Muslim conversion ceremonies are performed in the snow-white structure of the Sahaba mosque in Créteil, with its intricate mosaics and a stunning 81-foot minaret, built in 2008 and a symbol of Islam’s growing presence in France. Among those who come here for Friday Prayer are numerous young former Roman Catholics, wearing the traditional Muslim prayer cap and long robe. While the number of converts remains relatively small in France, yearly conversions to Islam have doubled in the past 25 years, experts say, presenting a growing challenge for France, where government and public attitudes toward Islam are awkward and sometimes hostile...

Detroit Orthodox pastor reflects on turmoil in Syria (Detroit Free Press) Growing up as the youngest of seven children in the historic city of Hama in Syria, George Shalhoub led an idyllic life in which he says Muslims and Christians lived together peacefully. “We lived in a neighborhood that is called the Christian quarter, surrounded by Muslim neighborhoods,” recalled Shalhoub, 63, founder and pastor of St. Mary Antiochian Orthodox Church in Livonia. “We played in their mosques, and they played in the courtyard of our church. We were safe. We visited each other, and were part of each other’s lives. I never once felt discriminated against by the Muslims. “It was the happiest time of my life.” But over the last two years, the civil war has unraveled the threads that bind society in Hama and other places in Syria, leading to sectarian strife and bloodshed. Last month, Shalhoub learned that the daughter, son-in-law and grandson of his 95-year-old hometown priest, Rev. Rafael Basha, were killed. The discovery added another layer of sorrow for Shalhoub, who often prays for reconciliation in his native land. “No one is happy” about the war in Syria, Shalhoub said. “We’re all losing in this battle”...

Indian religious gather for conference (Fides) To be prophets and witnesses in society, but at the same time be “mystical” men and women of prayer: that is the challenge of the congregations and Indian communities that gathered in the “Conference of the Religious of India” on 3 February in Mangalore to celebrate the “World Day for Consecrated Life”...

Tags: Syria India Iraq Islam Russian Orthodox

1 February 2013
Greg Kandra

Lebanon’s Maronite Patriarch Bechara Peter Rai arrives with Pope Benedict XVI for a meeting with young people in the square outside of the Maronite patriarch’s residence in Bkerke, Lebanon, in this 15 September file photo. (photo: CNS/Paul Haring)

Days after asking Cardinal Bechara Peter Rai, the Maronite patriarch of Antioch, to prepare the Way of the Cross for Rome’s Coliseum on Good Friday, Pope Benedict XVI announced the cardinal’s assignments to the Roman Curia.

The Holy Father named him a member of the Congregation for Eastern Churches, the Supreme Court of the Apostolic Signature, the Pontifical Council for Migrants and Travelers and the Pontifical Council for Social Communications.

CNS details the other appointments:

Two months after receiving their red hats, the six newest members of the College of Cardinals have received their assignments as members of Vatican congregations, councils and offices — one of the clearest ways they help Pope Benedict XVI govern the universal church.

While keeping their main jobs, the new assignments allow the cardinals to bring their experience and perspective to bear on the discussions and decisions of the central church offices that assist the pope.

Creating the new cardinals on 24 November, Pope Benedict had told them: “Particularly through the work you do for the dicasteries of the Roman Curia, you will be my valued co-workers, first and foremost in my apostolic ministry for the fullness of catholicity, as pastor of the whole flock of Christ and prime guarantor of its doctrine, discipline and morals.”

The assignments announced by the Vatican on 31 January included:

— For U.S. Cardinal James M. Harvey, archpriest of Rome’s Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls, membership on the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples and on the Administration of the Patrimony of the Holy See, which oversees Vatican property and investments.

— Indian Cardinal Baselio Cleemis Thottunkal, head of the Syro-Malankara Catholic Church, was named a member of the Congregation for Eastern Churches and the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue.

— Nigerian Cardinal John Olorunfemi Onaiyekan of Abuja was named a member of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and the presiding committee of the Pontifical Council for the Family.

— Colombian Cardinal Ruben Salazar Gomez of Bogota was named a member of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America and the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace.

— Philippine Cardinal Luis Tagle of Manila was named a member of presiding committee of the Pontifical Council for the Family and the Pontifical Council for Migrants and Travelers.

Tags: Lebanon Pope Benedict XVI Maronite

1 February 2013
Greg Kandra

Children sing Coptic Orthodox hymns at the Al Karma Center. (photo: Sean Sprague)

While much of the news out of Egypt this week has been grim, it’s good to be reminded that every now and then the desert does bring forth promising flowers of hope.

In 2004, we looked at one of those, a center catering to the needs of isolated Christians in Egypt’s western desert:

Being a minority is never easy; being a minority newly settled in a once inhospitable terrain much less so. But such is the fate of some 40,000 Coptic Orthodox, who face poverty and isolation in the arid land west of the Nile Delta.

Most immigrated to the area from Upper Egypt to escape discrimination from Islamic fundamentalists and economic deprivation. Others came after the government encouraged them to leave the over-populated Nile Valley and settle along the desert highway linking Alexandria and Cairo. With only one church to serve them, all fear their faith and heritage will be lost on younger generations eager to escape the bleak landscape where jobs are few.

A multipurpose religious center near Alexandria, however, is providing this isolated community with an opportunity to bring their children together and strengthen their faith.

“The role of the center is to identify needy children and equip them with the tools and education to live their lives in a Christian way,” said Antoin Nabil, the coordinator of the Al Karma Center in Mariout, a southwestern suburb of the Mediterranean port city.

The center gathers children from across the desert for a three-day program of activities dubbed “Jesus the Child.” Boys and girls, ages 6 to 14, are shuttled to the center in groups of 50 to 60 for an up-close look at the life of the Coptic Church.

“Many of the children who come to the center have never even seen a church before,” said Bishop Tawadros, the center’s founder, “so the opportunity to see priests, bishops, deacons and many Christians together at prayer strengthens their faith.”

Al Karma also provides the children with many of the necessities and basic services their families are unable to secure. Upon arrival, the children are bathed, their hair combed and nails trimmed. A doctor also conducts a routine physical. Clothes, shoes, school bags and books are also provided.

“Some of the children come from extremely remote villages, where there are no schools or medical facilities,” said Bishop Tawadros. “Only about half of them attend school, which is a serious problem, especially for the girls.”

Read more about this Oasis of Hope in the March 2004 issue of our magazine.

Tags: Egypt Coptic Orthodox Church Copts

1 February 2013
Greg Kandra

A Syrian man stands outside his tent at a refugee camp near the Syrian-Turkish border on 29 January. According to the U.N.’s refugee agency, more than 550,000 Syrians have crossed the borders and registered as refugees in neighboring countries. (photo: CNS /Muha mmad Najdet Qadour, Shaam News Network handout via Reuters)

Deadly explosion at U.S. embassy in Turkey (CBS News/AP) A suicide bomber detonated an explosive device at an entrance to the U.S. Embassy in the Turkish capital on Friday, killing himself and one other person, officials said...There was no claim of responsibility, but Kurdish rebels and Islamic militants are active in Turkey. Kurdish rebels, who are fighting for autonomy in the Kurdish-dominated southeast, have dramatically stepped up attacks in Turkey over the last year...

Archbishop Louis Sako elected patriarch of Chaldeans (Vatican Radio) Pope Benedict XVI has granted ecclesiastical communion, in accordance with Canon 76 § 2 of the code of canons of the Eastern Churches to His Beatitude Raphael I Louis Sako, canonically elected Patriarch of Babylon of the Chaldeans in the Synod of Bishops of the Church, held in Rome on 28 January 2013...

Syrian Orthodox church and Christian school destroyed in eastern Syria (Fides) The Syrian Orthodox Church of St. Mary and the Christian school of Al-Wahda were destroyed in Deir Ezzor, a town in eastern Syria, at the center of fighting that has caused an exodus of the civilian population. This was reported to Fides Agency by the Syrian Orthodox Archbishop, Eustathius Matta Roham, Metropolitan of Jazirah and Euphrates, explaining that “it is a very sad day for me and for the whole community...”

Pope’s Lenten message: believing in charity calls forth charity (Vatican Radio) On Friday Pope Benedict XVI’s message for Lent 2013 was published at the Vatican. With less than two weeks to Ash Wednesday, the Holy Father has concentrated his reflections for the 40 days of prayer, penance and almsgiving to “the indissoluble interrelation” between faith and charity. The Pope writes “faith is a gift and response, it helps us know the truth of Christ as the incarnate and crucified Love, full and perfect obedience to the Father’s will and God’s infinite mercy towards helps us enter into the love of God manifest in Christ, and joins us in a personal and existential way to the total and unconditional self-giving of Jesus to the Father and to his brothers and sisters...”

Concern over 50% maternal mortality in Ethiopia (Fides) Every year, about 25,000 women die from complications during childbirth, and another 500 thousand suffer long-term disability due to pregnancy and birth complications. This is what emerges from the estimates of the United Nations Fund for Population Activities (UNFPA). According to a study carried out in 2010, Ethiopia is one of the five countries in the world where there is 50% of maternal mortality. The African country in fact has a very precarious health system and for women this causes complications before, during and after childbirth...

Russian Orthodox Church helps rehabilitate drug addicts ( A derelict village located eight hours northeast of Moscow by car hosts one of the 60 rehabilitation centers for drug addicts that the Russian Orthodox Church has opened since the early 1990s...

Tags: Syria Ethiopia Pope Benedict XVI Orthodox Chaldeans

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