Current Issue
September, 2019
Volume 45, Number 3
14 May 2018
Greg Kandra

Palestinians carry a demonstrator injured during clashes with Israeli forces near the border between the Gaza strip and Israel east of Gaza City on 14 May 2018. Dozens were killed in the latest protests ahead of the controversial opening of the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem. (photo: Thomas Coex/AFP/Getty Images)

Gaza: 52 Palestinians killed on deadliest day since 2014 (BBC) At least 52 Palestinians have been killed and 2,400 wounded by Israeli troops, Palestinian officials say, on the deadliest day of violence since the 2014 Gaza war. Palestinians have been protesting for weeks but deaths soared on the day the US opened its embassy in Jerusalem.Palestinians see this as clear US backing for Israeli rule over the whole city, whose eastern part they claim…

Vatican and Jordanian institute underscore dignity of human life (Vatican News) The Vatican and a Jordanian institute dedicated to inter-faith studies have issued a statement urging for the protection of and respect for human life, especially that of migrants, refugees and victims of human trafficking. The call came from the delegates of the Royal Institute for Inter-Faith Studies and the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, who held their fifth colloquium in the Jordanian capital Amman, 9-10 May, on the theme, “Religions and the Dignity of Life: Christian and Muslim Viewpoints”…

India’s government accused of blocking Christian judge ( The collegium of India’s Supreme Court has met to reconsider its recommendation to elevate a Christian judge to the top court amid allegations that the pro-Hindu federal government had rejected him for ideological reasons. The collegium of judges met on 11 May to consider its January recommendation to elevate Chief Justice K.M. Joseph of Uttarakhand High Court to the Supreme Court, local reports said…

Mideast faith leaders say life influences how people deal with the environment (CNS) It’s hard to discuss detrimental environmental effects of using the diesel fuel needed to run generators in Gaza when people only have three hours of government-provided electricity a day, said Tahani Abu Daqqa, former Palestinian Minister of Culture. Daqqa participated in an interfaith conference aimed at bringing religion into play for the environment — not an easy task in a region where religion has often been a force for separation rather than cooperation and where many people live under poverty and hardship…

Tags: India Palestine Vatican

11 May 2018
Greg Kandra

One of the great resources published in ONE magazine was a comprehensive series on the Eastern churches. The driving force behind it — and the author of the series — was the magazine’s editor and CNEWA’s director of communications, Michael J.L. LaCivita.

When the series concluded in 2012, he reflected on the wide world he’d written about and offered some thoughts on the Eastern churches CNEWA is privileged to serve.

You can find the entire series here.

But check out his video below.

Tags: Christianity Eastern Christianity Eastern Churches

11 May 2018
Greg Kandra

Awatef Youssef, from Qaraqosh, stands with her husband, Amir Marzina, and son, Manuel, in their temporary home in northern Iraq. They are among the thousands who fled ISIS in 2014 and are now trying to start over. A religious sister writes about her experience ministering to these displaced families in A Letter From Iraq in the current edition of ONE. (photo: Raed Rafei)

Tags: Iraq Iraqi Christians

11 May 2018
Greg Kandra

Pope Francis exchanges gifts with Metropolitan Rastislav, primate of the Orthodox Church in the Czech and Slovak Republics, during a meeting in the Apostolic Palace at the Vatican 11 May. In an address at the meeting, the pope said seeking Christian unity is more urgent than ever because of the ongoing persecution of Christians. (photo: CNS/Vatican Media)

Iran condemns wave of Israeli air strikes in Syria (BBC) Iran has backed Syria’s “right to defend itself” after Israel launched strikes on what it said was Iranian military infrastructure inside Syria. In the first comments by Iran since Thursday’s wave of strikes, the foreign ministry condemned the “blatant violation of Syria’s sovereignty”. The strikes were the heaviest carried out by Israel on Syria in decades…

Pope meets primate of Orthodox Church in Czech, Slovak republics (Vatican News) Pope Francis met on Friday with Metropolitan Rastislav, head of the Orthodox Church in the Czech and Slovak Republics. It was the first encounter between the pontiff and the primate, who was elected in January 2014. In his words to the Holy Father, Metropolitan Rastislav compared the two church leaders to the disciples on the road to Emmaus, who only recognized Jesus when he broke bread with them…

India’s bishops condemn letter defaming Church (Vatican News) India’s Catholic bishops have condemned a malicious fake letter making the rounds on the social media, that is designed to defame the Catholic Church and arouse communal tension for political gain in the run-up to the crucial assembly election on Saturday in the southern state of Karnataka. The fake letter claims that Indian Church officials in collusion with representatives of the Holy See in New Delhi, support demands made by Karnataka’s Lingayat community to be recognized as a separate minority religion in order to convert them…

Catholic Church accused of ‘playing politics’ in Goa, India ( Villagers in India’s Goa state have started a hunger strike against environmental policies amid accusations that the Catholic Church supports such protests. They started the hunger strike on 9 May as part of their opposition to the Planning and Development Authority, which they claim is implementing a regional plan to take over farmland and water bodies in several villages to develop tourism projects threatening the environment…

Egypt celebrates 50th anniversary of Coptic-approved Marian apparition (Egypt Today) On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the great apparition of Virgin Mary in in Egypt, Pope Tawadros II of Alexandria said that the historical event was a message of love from God to Egyptians…

Tags: Syria India Israel Iran Czech Republic

9 May 2018
Anubha George

Seminarians browse the library at St. Francis Theological College in Thellakom, India. (photo: Meenakshi Soman)

In the current edition of ONE, writer Anubha George visits Indian seminaries where future priests are studying. Here, she offers some personal reflections on the assignment.

Long winding roads; the green of the Kerala countryside; tall coconut trees and a flash of backwaters every few miles.

All this crisscrossing led us to three very different but equally important seminaries in Kerala. It is here that future generations of priests in India are being trained to devote their lives to Christ and community.

We had gorgeous weather on our travels. Kerala gets boiling hot and humid come end of February/early March. But the beginning of February is breezy, comfortably warm and the humidity is tolerable. We needn’t have worried though. The seminaries we visited: Mary Matha major seminary in Mannuthy near Trichur; St Thomas Apostolic seminary in Vadavathoor near Kottayam, and St. Francis Theological College in Thellakom had one thing in common — apart from training priests, that is! They all had lots of trees — coconut, banana, banyan, jack fruit, tapioca plants, to name a few. It was cool in these seminaries.

Another thing that struck me over and over again was the wonderfully positive energy in each of these places. They are all beautiful and imposing buildings, away from the maddening sounds of the city. It’s peaceful and quiet here. You can see why the church has chosen to train future priests here. There are no distractions. Just peaceful buildings located in quiet and small communities, where the young men learn how to support and bring people together.

The chapels in all three seminaries made an impression on my heart. It felt like Christ was present here. The Capuchin seminary chapel was designed by the men themselves. It showed the world turned into one single nest through the Divine.

The seminary chapel at St. Francis Theological College uses images of nature and the branches of a tree in its design. (photo: Meenakshi Soman)

The church respects the fact that an understanding of different religions is needed in this day and age of conflict and controversy. Interfaith understanding is encouraged. Brothers are taught about other religions and are trained in how to have fruitful and positive dialogue with people from other faiths.

The pastoral training is tough. It is long and many people quit. But those who stay are determined to make a difference. We met many such brothers and deacons. They are clear in their purpose — to live their live in the way Jesus did; to make parishioners see Christ in them.

All seminaries run programs to help communities, such as providing support to people with AIDS; helping poor and underprivileged do their school and home work; counseling families to sort out their family problems; and organizing retreats for spiritual guidance. Young people from the local communities are especially encouraged to participate in activities organized by the local parishes.

Visitors are always welcomed in the seminaries. At every seminary, we were offered a delicious lunch cooked with organically grown vegetables.

Three days. Three seminaries. Three villages in interior Kerala. Not once did it feel like a chore. We came away feeling refreshed from each of these places.

Read more about The New Priests in the March 2018 edition of ONE.

Tags: India Catholic Seminarians Vocations (religious)

9 May 2018
Greg Kandra

Toddler Joao Bento wears a pope outfit during the general audience in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican on 9 May. (photo: CNS/Claudio Peri, EPA)

Tags: Children

9 May 2018
Greg Kandra

In the video above, Pope Francis blesses a bus driven by Syrian refugees who will travel through Poland seeking to publicize the plight of Syria. During his general audience Wednesday, the pope called for prayers for peace in Syria and the world. (video: Rome Reports/YouTube)

During audience, Pope calls for prayers for Syria (Vatican News) Pope Francis has urged for prayers for peace in Syria and in the world. His call came during his weekly general audience of Wednesday, where he greeted Arab-speaking pilgrims. “I invite you to cultivate the devotion to the Mother of God with the daily recitation of the rosary, praying in a special way for peace in Syria and in the entire world,” the pope said in Italian…

Israel attacked Syria an hour after Trump ended Iran deal, says report (Time) Syrian state-run media said Israel struck a military outpost near the capital Damascus on Tuesday, saying its air defenses intercepted and destroyed two of the incoming missiles. The reported attack came an hour after President Donald Trump announced he was withdrawing from the Iran nuclear deal, calling Tehran a main exporter of terrorism in the region. Israel’s military said Tuesday its forces were on high alert near its border with Syria, and were urging civilians in the Golan Heights near Syria to prepare bomb shelters…

Christian leaders in Jerusalem respond to vandalism (CNA) Church leaders are defending the need for a Christian presence in the Old City of Jerusalem, as some report increased vandalism, verbal abuse, and aggressive property acquisition by Jewish settlers. “Today the church faces a most severe threat at the hands of certain settler groups. The settlers are persistent in their attempts to erode the presence of the Christian community in Jerusalem,” said the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem, Theophilos III, in an interview with the Guardian…

Taboo puts pregnant women at risk in India ( “It is still considered a taboo in our village to visit a doctor during pregnancy. We are told to work and eat a normal diet even when pregnancy is detected. This is how it has been going on here for years,” said Rubeena Bano, 33, of Pulwama district. Close to 25 percent of women like Bano, who live in village areas of this Muslim-dominated region, believe that supplements like folic acid, iron and calcium tablets are unnecessary during pregnancy, a study found last year. The study by the Food Science Research Journal found village women did not have adequate awareness of the benefits of dietary supplements…

Leader of Armenia’s ‘velvet revolution’ takes power (NPR) On Tuesday, half a month after Serzh Sargsyan stepped down under popular pressure, Armenian lawmakers elected rough-hewn protest leader, Nikol Pashinyan, 42, to be the country’s next prime minister…

Tags: Syria India Israel Armenia Iran

8 May 2018
CNEWA staff

The Mother of Mercy Clinic provides a wide range of services to as many as 30,000 patients each year, with a special focus on prenatal and postnatal care. It has just been hailed for offering one of the most innovative and successful programs in the world for helping confront the global refugee crisis. (photo: John E. Kozar)

A leading Catholic philanthropic organization, FADICA — Foundations and Donors Interested in Catholic Activities — has released a report citing some of the most innovative and successful programs around the world helping to confront the global refugee crisis.

We are pleased and proud to report that one of CNEWA’s programs — the Mother of Mercy Clinic, run by the Sisters of St. Catherine of Siena and CNEWA in Zerqa, Jordan — was cited.

As we described the clinic’s work in ONE magazine several years ago:

Established in 1982, Mother of Mercy Clinic offers a wide range of general heath care services to thousands of patients…regardless of creed or origin. The clinic, however, specializes in prenatal and postnatal care, giving priority to needy mothers and their infants.

As the clinic’s head doctor, Dr. Ghabeish has treated mothers and infants for years. “People like to come here because they know they will get quality service, that they will be treated in a clean environment run by good administrators,” said the 59-year-old doctor, a Palestinian refugee.

Though only 20 miles northeast of Amman — the increasingly cosmopolitan capital of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan — Zerqa struggles with a multitude of problems: escalating crime rates, insufficient housing, inadequate infrastructure, pollution and poverty.

…“Zerqa’s Christians provide essential social services, such as education, health care, job training and social assistance,” added Ra’ed Bahou, CNEWA’s regional director for Jordan and Iraq. “Christians may be a tiny minority, but their reach is significant.”

FADICA partnered with the Center for Social Innovation at Boston College to put together the report, which identified 64 “innovative and solutions-oriented Catholic ministries globally that are accompanying and aiding refugees and migrants.”

The report went on to describe the “social innovation” of this and other successful programs:

Through the Catholic Social Innovation initiative, FADICA has identified Catholic models, approaches and organizations that are responding to the global refugee crisis by putting their faith into action and harnessing innovation.

Catholic social innovation is not new; Catholic priests, brothers, sisters and lay people have been doing this work for centuries, but often under the radar. This study attempts to change that by spotlighting Catholic innovators and innovations. It also illustrates how Catholic social teaching (sometimes called ones of the church’s “best kept secrets”) informs and inspires innovation in Catholic ministries and organizations.

You can read more in the full report at FADICAs website.

For more on the work of the Dominican Sisters in Jordan, read Finding Sanctuary in Jordan, Overwhelming Mercy and Mothering Mercy In ONE magazine.

We are grateful to FADICA for recognizing the vital and invaluable work of the Dominican Sisters — and we are grateful, especially, to our donors who have made this sort of work possible and successful.

Want to learn how to support these and other programs in Jordan? Visit this page.

Tags: Refugees Jordan Sisters Dominican Sisters

8 May 2018
Dan Russo, Catholic News Service

The Rev. Alan Dietzenbach listens to Adib Kassas, acting imam at the mosque in Dubuque, Iowa, speak about Arabic calligraphy and the decoration around the arch. The artwork was a gift from Catholic parishes in Dubuque to the center as a sign of friendship. (photo: CNS/Dan Russo, The Witness)

Artist Donna Slade had never set foot in a mosque before beginning work on the intricate calligraphy in Arabic that now decorates the arch above the central point in the worship space at the Tri-State Islamic Center.

“I really enjoyed it,” Slade said of the experience. “It was great working with them.”

Slade, a member of Church of the Nativity in Dubuque, collaborated with Fayez Alasmary, a young member of the mosque, and Adib Kassas, a member of the mosque’s advisory board who serves as an imam. The trio perfected the curved lettering that expresses a verse from the Quran, the Muslim holy book.

The artwork was a gift from the Catholic parishes of Dubuque to the Islamic community. Muslims have been present in the city for years, with the first permanent worship space opening in December 2016.

“This is a gift from them expressing their welcome to us, and expressing that they are interested in building a relationship and cooperating together,” said Kassas, a physician who arrived in Dubuque from Syria about 13 years ago. “I really feel it’s a great gesture for them. Muslims have loved this gesture, accepted it and welcomed it.”

Aref Khatib, Islamic Center president, explained that the gift has a deep significance for both communities.

“It means to me bringing everyone together and realizing we should not be discriminating and we should not be judging one another. That’s God’s job, not our job,” Khatib told The Witness, newspaper of the Archdiocese of Dubuque.

“When you look at the universe, everything is different color and different shapes, just like human beings are and that’s the beauty of Allah’s creation. We should embrace the diversity,” he said.

The idea for the gift came from the Rev. Alan Dietzenbach, parochial vicar at St. Raphael Cathedral and St. Patrick Parish.

“I’ve always been inspired by my confirmation saint, St. Francis of Assisi, who during the height of the Crusades, crossed Christian and Muslim battle lines to meet the sultan and seek to be an instrument of peace and understanding in the midst of conflict,” Father Dietzenbach said. “When we look back at the history of Christianity and Islam, we tend to focus on the times of contention and overlook all the times when these two religions coexisted and faithful Christians and Muslims worked and peacefully lived side-by-side.”

The effort grew from the relationships built by John Eby, associate professor of history at Loras College and a member of the cathedral parish, through his work with the Children of Abraham. The organization encourages dialogue among Jews, Christians and Muslims.

“This is a great example of how to love your neighbor as yourself and to show hospitality and inclusion,” Eby said. “An important concept in Islam is ‘ihsan.’ It means to beautify your actions and beautify the world. Not only is this [art] beautifying this space, it’s literally taking this action of hospitality and making it the most beautiful expression of hospitality.”

The verse painted over the archway from the Quran translates in English to read, “Oh, people. We have created you from a male and a female and made you into branches of humanity and different gatherings into nations so that you may come to know each other. Behold the most honored among you in the eye of God is the most deeply conscious of him. Truly, God is all-knowing, all-aware.”

Kassas called the Catholic community’s gift “an example and an application of this verse.”

“What this passage talks about is that we all come from one origin,” he said. “People divide themselves into groups and isolate themselves from others, thinking that they are better than them, but the truth is, God said we have made you into that kind of division to get to know one another.”

Father Dietzenbach hopes the art will serve as a lasting symbol of cooperation between the two groups.

“I hope that this gift is a sign of solidarity and love and a reminder that religious freedom is a right we hold together as we strive to make our own community a place of peace, understanding, and kinship,” he said.

Tags: Muslim United States Muslim Americans

8 May 2018
Greg Kandra

Vladimir Putin is shown during a service at the Moscow Kremlin’s Cathedral of the Annunciation conducted by Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia after being sworn in as President of Russia. (photo: Alexei Nikolsky/TASS/Getty Images)

Rebels leave last besieged enclave in Syria (BBC) Syrian rebels have begun withdrawing from the last big, besieged enclave that they held in the war-torn country. Hundreds of fighters have been boarding buses along with their families in a pocket of territory lying in central Syria, between Homs and Hama…

Putin receives Russian Orthodox blessing after inauguration (The Moscow Times) On 7 May 2018, Vladimir Putin was inaugurated for his fourth term as Russia’s president. Following the official state ceremony, Putin met with Patriarch Kirill, the leader of the Russian Orthodox Church, at the Cathedral of the Annunciation for a prayer service and a blessing…

Hezbollah wins significant gains in Lebanon vote (Reuters) Hizbollah and its political allies made significant gains in Lebanon’s parliamentary election, official results showed, boosting an Iranian-backed movement fiercely opposed to Israel and underlining Teheran’s growing regional clout. The leader of Shi’ite Hezbollah, Mr. Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, called the result a “a very big political, parliamentary and moral victory for the choice of resistance”…

Armenian protest leader wins prime minister vote (BBC) Opposition politician Nikol Pashinyan spearheaded weeks of protests in Armenia that brought an end to 10 years of rule by Serzh Sargsyan. Now he has persuaded a parliament dominated by Mr. Sargsyan’s own party to back him as prime minister, only a week after he lost an initial vote…

Children of conflict: growing up in Gaza (As Jazeera) Around the world, millions of children are the unheard voices of war. And the horrors they witness today will inform the adults they become tomorrow. Will they grow up to be the next leaders, teachers or freedom fighters?…

Charity to offer college education to Syrian refugees in Jordan ( Syrian refugees living in Jordanian refugee camps will be offered university education and vocational training as part of a new programe that was launched in Abu Dhabi on Monday. The initiative is a joint partnership involving Swiss NGO UniRef, The Jordanian Red Crescent and Isra University in Jordan. The signing ceremony for the new project was attended by several dignitaries in the capital including the ambassadors of Jordan, Oman and Afghanistan…

Bogus story about Vatican deal confirms Saudis’ religious freedom headache (Crux) Anyone who’s covered the Vatican for a while knows that a good chunk of the job isn’t so much reporting the actual news, but debunking “fake news” that others have shot out into the ether. We got an example this week, with a bogus story that Saudi Arabia had entered into an agreement with the Vatican to support the construction of Christian churches in the country…

Tags: Syria Lebanon Russia Arabian Peninsula

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