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Current Issue
September, 2017
Volume 43, Number 3
  
27 September 2017
J.D. Conor Mauro




Returning residents of Tel Eskof, in Iraq’s Nineveh Plain, sign up to receive aid packages through the local authorities. (photo: Raed Rafei)

Iraqi governor: More than 1,400 Christian families have returned to Nineveh (Fides) More than 1,400 Christian families have already returned to their homes and villages scattered in the Nineveh Plain, which they had abandoned in the summer of 2014 due to the advance of ISIS, says Governor Nawfal al Akoub of the Nineveh province. Indirect confirmation of this can be seen in provisions suspending housing programs established in Iraqi Kurdistan in 2014 by the Chaldean Archdiocese of Erbil, which were designed to help displaced families…

Kurdish independence referendum passes (Daily Star Lebanon) Iraq’s Kurds announced a massive “yes” vote for independence Wednesday following a referendum that has incensed Baghdad and sparked international concern. Longtime Iraqi Kurd leader Massud Barzani said the vote would not lead to an immediate declaration of independence and should instead open the door to negotiations…

Satna mission seminary completes 25 years (UCAN India) St. Ephrem’s Theological College in Satna will commemorate its 25 years of operation with a series of programs on 3 and 4 October, seminary officials said. The seminary of the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church — the only one outside of Kerala — focuses on preparing priests for the northern Indian missions. Cardinal George Alencherry, the major archbishop of the Syro-Malabar Church, will preside over the Divine Liturgy on 4 October…

‘Share the journey,’ embrace migrants, refugees, pope says (CNS) Christ calls believers to welcome migrants and refugees “with arms wide open, ready to give a sincere, affectionate, enveloping embrace,” Pope Francis said, launching the “Share the Journey” campaign of Catholic charities around the world. Christians’ embrace of people fleeing war or poverty should be “a bit like the colonnade of St. Peter’s Square, which represents the mother church who embraces all in sharing a common journey,” the pope said at the end of his weekly general audience on 27 September…

Holy Land Christians frustrated by lack of legal action against vandals (CNS) Christians in the Holy Land, including Catholic leaders, have expressed frustration with lack of legal action against cases of desecration and vandalism of sacred places. Even as the Assembly of Catholic Ordinaries of the Holy Land issued a statement condemning the 20 September desecration and vandalism of a Catholic shrine in Israel, some people criticized the statement’s “weak language”…

In Aleppo, faith overwhelms fear and violence (AsiaNews) Despite difficulties and the possibility of emigrating, Rania Salouji, a 40-year-old Christian, and her family stayed. Neither the violence of war and fear for an increasingly uncertain future; nor her husband’s abduction and months of captivity at the hands of an extremist group; nor what she calls her “most difficult time,” the death of a child, who was killed by a rocket, were able to drive them out. Rania, is married to Grigor. They have two children: Michael, 17, and Hovik, 14. They have stayed in their city to overcome fear and contribute to the reconstruction of a future of peace and hope in Syria’s largest northern city, once the country’s business capital, as to that of Syria, its history and its people…



Tags: Iraq India Holy Land Migrants Aleppo

26 September 2017
J.D. Conor Mauro




Ismaeel Maiatah, a Bedouin Christian, grazes his sheep on the outskirts of Ader, Jordan. Read more about the deep roots of this community in Jordan’s Christian Shepherds, in the September 2017 edition of ONE. (photo: Nader Daoud)



Tags: Middle East Christians Jordan Cultural Identity Holy Land Christians Bedouin

26 September 2017
J.D. Conor Mauro




Embed from Getty Images
Palestinian children gather outside their homes in a southern neighborhood of Gaza on 21 September. (photo: Majdi Fathi/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Gaza: Children suffer from war trauma three years on (Al Jazeera) As Gaza marks three years since the Israeli assault that devastated the Strip and left more than 2,200 Palestinians killed, the psychological effects of the violence linger on. Children were among the most affected groups; in the 50-day onslaught, the Israeli army killed 500 children. The bombing campaign, which started in July and ended in late August 2014, caused outrage and spurred international protests as images of dead children flooded social media…

Egypt’s Christian, Muslim institutions join efforts to advance women’s issues (Al Monitor) Muslim female preachers and Christian nuns attended an awareness course at Assiut University on 13 to 14 September. This came as part of the training they have been receiving in the Door to Door campaign, led by Egypt’s National Council for Women, in cooperation with the Ministry of Religious Endowments and the Egyptian Coptic Orthodox Church to promote Egyptian women’s issues…

Ranchi: 5,000 protest against the anti-conversion law and the lands (AsiaNews) About 5,000 faithful of various confessions gathered in Ranchi, the capital of the Indian state of Jharkhand, to protest the anti-conversion law approved by the Jharkhand State Assembly and the land law amendments that the local government approved to dispose of tribal property to the highest bidder…

A cultural center named after Armenian Patriarch Mesrob II (Fides) A cultural center named after Armenian Apostolic Patriarch Mesrob Mutafyan of Constantinople was inaugurated in an Armenian church in Istanbul. Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople, along with the Chief Rabbi Isak Haleva of Istanbul and Hayati Yazici, Turkey’s minister of Customs and Trade, took part in the inauguration on Wednesday, 20 September. The patriarch’s mother, Mari Mutafyan, was present at the event and was visibly moved…

Syria rejects Iraqi Kurdish independence referendum (AINA) The Syrian government rejects the independence referendum organized by the Kurdistan Regional Government in northern Iraq, Syria’s foreign minister has said. “We in Syria only recognize a united Iraq and reject any procedure that leads to the fragmentation of Iraq,” Foreign Minister Walid al Moualem was cited as saying by Syrian state news agency SANA. Kurdish-led regions in Syria held elections for community leaders on Friday, the first in a three-phase vote that will culminate in the election of a parliament and the establishment of a federal system of government. Syrian Kurds insist independence is not their aim and they want to remain part of a decentralized Syria…



Tags: Syria Iraq India Gaza Strip/West Bank Turkey

25 September 2017
J.D. Conor Mauro




Sister Luma Khudher reflects near the stoup of the damaged Church of Sts. Behnam and Sarah in Qaraqosh. Read more about Iraqi Christians returning to rebuild their homes in the Nineveh Plain — and contemplating their identity and future — in Hard Choices, in the September 2017 edition of ONE. (photo: Raed Rafei)



Tags: Iraq Iraqi Christians Cultural Identity Iraqi

25 September 2017
J.D. Conor Mauro




Embed from Getty Images
Kurds vote in a referendum to decide on independence from Iraq and the establishment of Kurdistan as a state on 25 September 2017 in Kirkuk, Iraq.(photo: Martyn Aim/Corbis via Getty Images)

Iraqi Kurds vote in independence referendum (Al Jazeera) Polls open in northern Iraq as Kurds cast ballots in referendum on whether to support independence from Baghdad…

Christians divided on the Kurdish independence referendum (Fides) The Chaldean Church, in a recent statement, made clear that “is not responsible” for the positions expressed by parties, organizations and armed factions led by members of local Christian communities, regarding the situation of Iraq and its current problems, according to a recent statement from the patriarchate. Some Christian spokespersons have thanked Masud Barzani, president of the autonomous region of Iraqi Kurdistan, for having met their demands regarding the future administrative autonomy to be guaranteed to the areas of historic settlement of Christian communities. The Assyrian Democratic Movement, on the other hand, reiterates that the promises contained in the independence referendum’s primary document are not sufficient to ensure the real protection of the rights of the various religious and ethnic components…

Ethnically divided Iraqi town fears fresh conflict after Kurds’ independence vote (AINA) On the eve of the historic referendum on independence, Kurds across the region were celebrating. Young people honked their horns and shot celebratory gunfire into the air of major cities. But not in Tuz Khurmatu, an Iraqi town of more than 100,000 that is violently split among Kurds and Shi’ite Turkmen, who oppose Monday’s referendum. “I hope the referendum will be canceled,” said Luay, a Turkman shopkeeper in Tuz. “If they don’t, the Kurds will take over by force and there won’t be any Turkmen or Arabs left…”

Kurdish referendum is not for Yazidis, says supreme Yazidi leader (AINA) Yazidi Supreme Spiritual leader Baba Sheikh Khurto Hajji Ismail and the leader of the recently declared autonomous Yazidi enclave of Ezidkhan in northwestern Iraq, Prime Minister Waheed Mandoo Hammo, have issued a joint communiqué clarifying and affirming Ezidkhan’s position vis-à-vis the Kurdish Regional Government’s unilateral decision to conduct a referendum on Kurdish independence on 25 September 2017. Their terse communiqué reads: “Ezidkhan’s policy toward Kurdistan and Iraq is and remains one of strict neutrality. The Kurdish referendum is not for Yezidis, but for Kurds only to decide. Yezidis have their own autonomous nation…”

Government seals off Catholic mission in central India (UCAN India) Government officials in a remote area of central Indian Madhya Pradesh state have impounded the property of a Catholic mission and forced its priest out of the premises. Father Kidangan said government officials acted under pressure from members of hardline Hindu groups who are opposed to the mission’s work and accuse it of trying to secure religious conversions. The mission aims to help poor villagers by coordinating several welfare projects…

Syro-Malankara Catholic Church holds reunion meet (UCAN India) The 87th anniversary of reunion of Syro-Malankara Church with Catholic Church was celebrated from 19 to 21 September at Mar Ivanios Nagar in Adoor in Pathanamthitta district. The three-day meet commemorated the reunion of a faction of Malankara Christians with the Catholic Church following its split from the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church in 1930…

In Orissa, the first university for 27,000 indigenous students (Fides) The Kalinga Institute of Social Sciences is the first-ever social science university geared toward India’s indigenous Adivasi population. Destined for families who cannot bear the cost of education, the school aims at eradicating poverty through quality education for the poorest students in the country…

Ethiopia police vows to ensure security of Meskel festival celebrations (News Ghana) The Ethiopia Federal Police Commission said on Monday it is ready to ensure the two-day Meskel religious festival is conducted peacefully. Meskel, which falls on Sept. 26-27 this year, is an annual religious festival commemorating the discovery of the True Cross celebrated by the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church at the end of September, with a public bonfire and religious procession…

Persecuted in Egypt, these Christians fight for a better life in York (York Daily Record) Coptic Orthodox Christian Ragaa Thabet and her husband, Hany Thomas, moved from Egypt to York, Pennsylvania, in 2009. They are not alone; rather, they count among the 60 or so families of Coptic Christians who moved to York County to escape religious persecution in Egypt. The migration is part of a broader movement of Copts that began at urban centers in places such as New Jersey and Southern California. Since then, Copts have established churches in most states…



Tags: Iraq India Ethiopia United States Coptic

22 September 2017
Greg Kandra




Students join hands to perform the dabke, a folk dance native to the Levant, at the Father Roberts Institute for Deaf Children north of Beirut. Check out the September 2017 edition of ONE to learn how CNEWA is Reaching the Margins and helping those most in need in Lebanon. (photo: Don Duncan)



Tags: Lebanon Education Disabilities Caring for the Elderly

22 September 2017
Greg Kandra




Syriac Catholic Patriarch Ignatius Joseph III, shown in a 2014 file photo, addressed Catholic leaders in India and spoke of the persecution Christians are facing around the world. (photo: CNS/Tyler Osburn)

Patriarch: Christians facing attacks (The Hindu) The West and East Asian countries have been witnessing selective gory attacks and massacres of Christians, Syriac Catholic Patriarch Ignatius Joseph III has said. The patriarch was addressing a gathering at the 87th anniversary of the reunion of the Syro-Malankara Church at Mar Ivanios Nagar (Green Valley Convention Centre) at Adoor on Wednesday…

Civilians evacuate eastern Syria (Reuters) Hundreds of civilians left a besieged ISIS enclave in central Syria after the Syrian government and ISIS reached an evacuation deal, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Friday…

Mosul’s children return to school (ABC News) Since Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al Abadi declared victory over ISIS in Mosul in July, a sense of normalcy has returned. In West Mosul, 110 schools have reopened to welcome nearly 81,000 children, about 36,000 of them girls, Laila Ali, a media officer with UNICEF in Iraq, told ABC News…

Ethiopia: 55,000 displaced over ethnic clashes (AP) More than 55,000 ethnic Oromos have been displaced from Ethiopia’s Somali region after a week of clashes with Somalis in which dozens were killed, the regional government of Ethiopia’s restive Oromia region said…

Trump’s call for refugee resettlement causes stir in Lebanon (The National) Lebanon’s politicians have been quick to respond to Donald Trump’s comments at the U.N. General Assembly that the United States would “seek to host refugees as close to their home country as possible.” The issue is a sensitive one for Lebanon, where as many as 1.5 million Syrian refugees have fled since civil war broke out in their country in 2011. Lebanon now hosts more refugees per capita than any other country, and ranks third in the world for overall number of refugees…



Tags: Syria Iraq Lebanon Ethiopia

21 September 2017
Elias D. Mallon, S.A., Ph.D.




Jews around the world mark their holiest day of the year next week, Yom Kippur. The painting above, dating from 1878, is entitled ‘Jews Praying in the Synagogue on Yom Kippur’
by Maurycy Gottleib. (photo: Wikimedia Commons)


Our Jewish friends and neighbors are marking Rosh Hashanah today, but another great holy day comes just next week.

Starting on Friday evening, 29 September, Jews around the world will observe Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, the holiest day in the Jewish calendar. In the 10 days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, Jews take stock of their spiritual and moral lives and begin the process of asking God for forgiveness.

What does this entail?

The ritual for the duties of the High Priest (hakkohen haggadôl) for the Day of Atonement is laid out in detail in chapter 16 of the Book of Leviticus. On the Day of Atonement the high priest is to purify himself and the people through animal sacrifices and ablutions. On the Day of Atonement the high priests enters into the Holy of Holies in the Temple and intercedes for the people asking God for forgiveness. It the chapter there is instruction about the Scape Goat. A goat is chosen and “Aaron must lay his hands on its head and confess all the faults of the Sons of Israel, all their transgressions and sins, and lay them to its charge. Having thus laid them on the goat’s head, he shall send it into the desert…and the goat will bear all their faults away with it into a desert place.” (Leviticus 16:21-22).

For modern Jews, the Day of Atonement is a day of prayer and fasting. The number of services in the synagogue on the Day of Atonement is five instead of the normal three. Synagogue attendance is usually very high on this day. Jewish tradition suggests a festive meal before sundown on the day before Yom Kippur. Since the day for Jews begins and ends at sunset, from the beginning of the Day of Atonement Jews begin a period of abstinence: no eating and drinking, no bathing, no using perfume or make up and no sexual activity.

At the end of the services for Yom Kippur comes a prayer for the High Priest. Jews recall the Temple of Jerusalem, the first of which was destroyed in 587 BC and the second of which was destroyed in 70 AD. Even in the absence of a temple, Jews throughout the world fast and pray for God’s forgiveness and for the same purification which was once achieved through the ministry of the High Priest in the ancient Temple of Jerusalem.

More than just another holy day, the Day of Atonement is a day for profound prayer and reflection — a time for taking stock. It is the day when Jews reflect on their lives, their commitment to God and the Covenant and, in seeking forgiveness from God, renew that covenant for the year to come.



21 September 2017
Christopher Kennedy




Last weekend, students and clergy from the Church of St. Rosalie in Hampton Bays, New York presented CNEWA with a big check for a big amount. (photo: CNEWA)

I had the privilege this past weekend to return to the cheerful Church of St. Rosalie in Hampton Bays, New York. For the third year in a row, CCD students collected funds for CNEWA and other charities, as part of their Lenten “Mite Box” activity, which was arranged by Religious Formation Director Eileen McPhelin and Marion Boden of the parish’s Committee of the Common Good (Marion gets a special thank you for greeting me with a hot cup of coffee after my long train ride from Penn Station!) During the 9:30 Mass, I gratefully received a check for $1,000 and was able to briefly thank the CCD students who made this all possible.

The funds will go to our work in the Middle East, especially for refugees in the region. The children for whom our partners are providing healthcare and education, I noted, are the same age as the students who raised this extraordinary amount.

Special thanks also to the pastor, the Rev. Edward Sheridan for his support each year, and the Rev. John Wachowicz, the newly-ordained assistant pastor, who I knew when we were both students at Fordham. (Go Rams!)

If your parish would like to make an impact for children and families in the Middle East and beyond, let me know. You can reach me directly at ckennedy@cnewa.org.



21 September 2017
Greg Kandra




Syrian Christians celebrate the Divine Liturgy at Jesus the King Chaldean Catholic Church in Hassake, in late May. (photo: Nidal Abdel Massih Thomas)

The new edition of ONE features a Letter from Syria by the Rev. Nidal Abdel Massih Thomas, a priest of the Chaldean Church. He describes the challenges his people are facing today — and the deep faith that sustains them:

I have vowed to stay with my parish and those displaced from other areas. I have struggled. However, with the support of the patriarch and my bishop, Antoine Audo, S.J., of Aleppo, who has helped provide material, medical and humanitarian support, we are helping to provide, as much as possible, the basic needs for the displaced Christian families remaining in our part of Syria.

Beyond those necessities of food, health care and shelter, our presence as priests and religious helps give hope to the people of God, where it is lacking. As shepherds — men and women who have left everything and followed Christ — our faith and trust in Christ binds us to the people. We have reopened education centers and provided recreational and pastoral activities for children in the summer.

We are still here.

Jesus Christ remains our inspiration. We are strengthened by his grace. Despite the circumstances, we celebrate the Divine Liturgy, honor the Virgin Mary and pray to Christ, asking for peace from the King of Peace. As a priest, I have given my life to serve the Lord and his people. Some have become martyrs in order to free their homeland. Yet, we continue to live in hope. As Jesus Christ said: “Take courage, I have overcome the world.”

Read more and see more images in the September 2017 edition of ONE.







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