Instructions are being given to school children on how to behave if approached by fanatic settlers whose new motto is “Death to Arabs”; or approached by jittery police officers who suspect that these students may have a knife in their pocket or in their school bag. “Keep your hands out of your pockets and do not run away from any scene even if you are frightened or attacked” were my own instructions to my 14-year-old son as he was heading to school last Monday.
I feel sorry for yet another generation of Palestinians whose childhood is being lost as they confront increased extremism and radicalized hatred. In this regard, all Palestinian schools in Jerusalem have been shut down since early this week as a precautionary measure, and it is hoped that they will return to classes by Saturday.
The international community must exert pressure to end the occupation, as nothing short of freedom for the Palestinians will end the vicious cycles of conflict. Even though the reasons change every time violence erupts, the common denominator — the occupation, remains the same. Unless the root cause is dealt with and resolved, then this will go down in history as part of another cycle that will eventually end, but will be followed by more cycles in the future that will be more deadly, and more vicious.
On a more practical note, one needs to highlight the continued important work carried out by Christian institutions working in education, health and social services that continue to provide safe havens and quality services with Christian values at heart. The value of Christian institutions shines brightest during times like these — of crisis, killing, hopelessness and despair. The message of peace, respect, tolerance, forgiveness and acceptance continues to filter through, seeking to make a positive contribution in the societies where CNEWA operates. The poor and the weak become more desperate during times of crisis and this is when we need to intensify our efforts to ensure that faith and hope are not lost.
Please continue to keep us in your prayers.
Sami El-Yousef is CNEWA’s regional director for Palestine and Israel.
16 October 2015
Tags: Gaza Strip/West Bank Palestine Israel Jerusalem Israeli-Palestinian conflict
Friday 16 October marks World Food Day. In this photo taken in 2005, Sister Winifred Doherty, a Good Shepherd sister, enjoys lunch with children at The Good Shepherd school in
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. (photo: Sean Sprague)
16 October 2015
Israeli and border police stand guard on 9 October near a gate to the compound known by Muslims as the Haram al-Sharif and by Jews as the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.
(photo: CNS/Jim Hollander, EPA)
Palestinians torch Jewish shrine (Vatican Radio) Palestinians set fire to a Jewish shrine in the West Bank on Friday as the Islamist group Hamas called for a day of rage against Israel. Israeli military officials say about 100 people converged on the tomb of the biblical patriarch Joseph, which is located in the Palestinian city of Nablus. They were pushed back by Palestinian security forces who arrived on site, but not in time to stop rebels setting parts of it on fire...
Holy site at center of increased tensions in Jerusalem (CNS) It has been painful to watch as violence has taken over Jerusalem once again, especially along the Via Dolorosa, where Jesus suffered in order to dissuade the use of violence, said Auxiliary Bishop William Shomali, Latin Patriarchate chancellor. This violence goes against Jerusalem’s vocation as a holy city, which should be open to all people of faith, he said. “We are shocked at what is happening,” Bishop Shomali told Catholic News Service in mid-October, after two weeks of unrest. “Violence does not help. We do not accept violence by any side...”
Syrian refugees encountering racism, but also kindness (AP) For the Syrian refugee family, one reprieve from crushing boredom in the asylum centre is short walks to a lake. But in a town teeming with neo-Nazis, the excursions can bring more distress than relief: A man recently stormed out of a coffee shop and screamed at two women of the Habashieh family to take off their hijabs “because we’re in Europe!” Another time, people inside a car yelled: “Auslaender raus!!” — Foreigners out!! Fear and frustration, however, have been tempered by kindness. A volunteer from nearby Dresden has befriended the Habashiehs, who fled Syria’s civil war and are now living in a temporary facility in the eastern town of Heidenau after arriving in Germany last month, following a perilous journey from Damascus. The experience mirrors the mixture of hostility and generosity that has greeted hundreds of thousands of migrants streaming into Europe this year...
Pontifical council issues document on human trafficking (Vatican Radio) The Pontifical Council of Migrant and Itinerant People’s has issued a final document following an international symposium on the Pastoral Care of the Road. The document and plan of action offers reflections and recommendations highlighting the scurge of human trafficking and calls on states and governments to “protect with all legal measures children and women earning a living or living on roads and streets, who are often victims of socio-economic inconsistencies and/or human trafficking...”
Christians kidnapped by ISIS released (VIS) At least 50 Christians in Qaryatayn taken hostage last August by jihadists of the Islamic State were released on Sunday 11 October, and were able to return to the villages of Zaydal and Fairuzeh in an area controlled by the Syrian government army. Their release, confirmed by the media linked to the Assyrian community, took place a few hours after the release of Syrian priest Jacques Murad, Prior of the Monastery of Mar Elian, who was carrying out negotiations to restore freedom to more than 200 Christians and Muslims in Qaryatayn still under the control of the jihadists of Daesh...
Pentecostal pastor killed in India (UCANews) A Christian minister was shot dead in eastern India, an act a church leader said points to a trend of terrorizing Christians in the tribal-dominated Jharkhand state. Chamu Hasda Purty, 54, of the Independent Pentecostal Church, was shot dead 12 October in Sandhi village of the state’s Khunti district. Police officials said they are unsure of the motives for the murder and that the attackers are on the run...
15 October 2015
Tags: Syria Refugees Palestine Israel Jerusalem
Dedicated to the Dormition of Mary, this Greek Catholic church in the village of Ieud, in the Maramures district of Transylvania, was returned to the Romanian Greek Catholic Church in 1991.
(photo: George Martin)
The two weeks before Christmas 1989 were more frenzied than usual for Romanians. Fueled by the fall of the Berlin Wall, rallies in the Romanian city of Timisoara, first held to protest the ouster of a popular Protestant pastor, László Tőkés, became anti-Communist marches. Ruthlessly, the Romanian regime’s dreaded secret police, the Securitate, responded by firing on the crowds, killing hundreds. Riots spread to other Romanian cities, including the capital of Bucharest, where civil war soon erupted.
By Christmas morning, the violence had ended as quickly as it had begun: The nation’s dictator, Nicolae Ceauşescu, lay in a pool of blood with his wife, Elena. Both were executed after caught fleeing the capital. A provisional government restored order and began a new chapter in the life of the country, including abrogating orders of the former regime dissolving the Romanian Greek Catholic Church (also called the Romanian Church United With Rome) 41 years earlier.
Greek Catholics prepare to receive the Eucharist in the parish church in Sisesti, a village in the historic Maramures region of Romania. (photo: Daniel Mihailescu/AFP/Getty Images)
Until Ceausescu’s spectacular fall, Romania’s surviving Greek Catholics rarely revealed their faith. Their last known bishops, jailed as “class enemies,” died in prison or under house arrest. Churches, schools and other assets were seized and turned over to the Romanian Orthodox Church, which had absorbed most of the clergy and laity after a government-sponsored synod of Romanian Greek Catholic priests severed ties with Rome in 1948. Now suddenly, in less than a fortnight, the nightmare for Romania’s Greek Catholics had ended, ironically beginning a painful process of regrouping and rebuilding, for which they were ill-prepared.
Who are Romania’s Greek Catholics? And what is the Romanian Church United With Rome? These questions are some of the most controversial in Central Europe. For what motivates this community of faith — who share the Byzantine legacy with their Romanian Orthodox brethren — is their ardor for their nation, which they helped nurture into being, and their union with Rome, itself prompted by their quest for civil rights.
Read a full account of Romania’s Greek Catholics here.
15 October 2015
Pope Francis accepts an icon of the Holy Family fleeing to Egypt from Coptic Orthodox Metropolitan Bishoy of Damiette, Kafr El-Sheikh, and Bararya, all in Egypt, before a session of the Synod of Bishops on the family at the Vatican on 15 October. CNEWA has launched an urgent appeal to support Egypt's Christians. Visit this web page to learn more. (photo: CNS/Paul Haring)
15 October 2015
A 7-year-old Syrian girl, nostalgic for home and friends, describes her journey from Syria to the Greek island of Lesbos. Interview courtesy UNICEF. (video: AJ+)
Greek island out of migrant burial space (Vatican Radio) The authorities on the Greek island of Lesbos fear that the island’s main cemetery could be running out of space for the bodies of Middle Eastern migrants who die trying to make the sea crossing from Turkey. So far this year a staggering 450,000 migrants and refugees have crossed from Turkey over to the Greek islands…
ISIS retreating in Syria; Russian jets strike 32 facilities overnight (FARS News) Russian warplanes have destroyed a surface-to-air missile launcher that the ISIS terrorist group previously captured from the Syrian Army, the Russian Defense Ministry reports…
Iraqi forces in major push against ISIS (Daily Star Lebanon) Iraqi forces battled ISIS militants on separate fronts Thursday, ramping up operations to retake Baiji and Ramadi, two of the conflict’s worst flash-points. The Baiji area has seen almost uninterrupted fighting since ISIS swept across Iraq last year, but top officers said Thursday that the Baiji refinery, the country’s largest, was almost secure…
Hindu extremists demand an anti-conversion law in Jharkhand (Fides) Hindu extremist groups have begun a campaign to promote the adoption of a new “anti-conversion law” in the Indian state of Jharkhand, in north central India, after the news of the conversion of 300 tribal people to Christianity in the district of Gumla…
To be Christian in Gaza: Interview with Father Mario da Silva (Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem) “Our church is the only place where Christians may get to know their identity and that of the Christian culture. At times,” Father da Silva says, “Christians would attend three Masses — Orthodox, Catholic and Protestant — each Sunday…”
Jerusalem grows more grim and polarized with clampdown (New York Times) Israelis were in little mood for browsing after more than two dozen attacks, most by young Palestinians armed with knives, that have killed seven Israelis this month, five of them in Jerusalem. At least 12 suspects in the attacks have been fatally shot by Israeli security forces and citizens at the scenes. Some Palestinians said they were scared of being mistaken for an assailant. New Israeli security measures introduced Wednesday included roadblocks and checkpoints at entrances of some Palestinian neighborhoods of East Jerusalem, and the deployment of reserve soldiers to bolster police forces…
14 October 2015
Tags: Syria Iraq India Refugees Gaza Strip/West Bank
CNEWA’s Parish Outreach program has been keeping us busy recently, and this past weekend was no different. I had the pleasure of traveling with my colleagues Norma Intriago and Deacon Greg Kandra to St. John the Evangelist Church in Altoona, PA. The pastor, Msgr. Michael Becker, a longtime friend of CNEWA, invited us to visit and share the agency’s work in the Middle East.
After a ride over the George Washington Bridge and into the fall foliage-covered mountains of Pennsylvania, we arrived at St. John’s for the three weekend Masses, at which Deacon Greg served and preached. His homily focused on the work of the incredible sisters CNEWA is blessed to partner with, and he shared the stories of their work with Christians in the Middle East. He also mentioned that every gift we received that weekend — and until All Saints’ Day — would be doubled, thanks to the wonderful matching gift we received a few weeks ago from a generous donor in California.
CNEWA’s Multimedia Editor, Deacon Greg Kandra, served and preached at all Masses at
St. John the Evangelist Church in Altoona, PA. (photo: CNEWA)
The CNEWA table in the vestibule also proved to be quite popular before and after each Mass. Parishioners came by to learn more about our work and sign up for a subscription to ONE Magazine. The parish also graciously put out a collection box for us.
Msgr. Michael Becker, pastor, pauses between Masses with Norma Intriago, CNEWA’s Development Director, Deacon Greg Kandra and Chris Kennedy, Development Associate.
We also had the opportunity to speak to the faith formation classes between the Sunday Masses. Norma and I met with the adult faith formation class (and sampled some delicious pumpkin streusel!) while Deacon Greg spoke to the middle and high school students. In addition to answering questions about the current situation in the Middle East, we shared stories about our work in Ethiopia, where Msgr. Becker and Norma had visited on a CNEWA-sponsored trip in 2009.
Parishioners gathered in the parish cafeteria between Masses to learn more about CNEWA’s work in the Middle East. (photo: CNEWA)
It was a wonderful weekend, and a great chance to meet so many generous, caring people. Most notably, it was gratifying to talk to people who had heard of the plight of Christians in the Middle East, and weren’t sure how to help them — until now.
Finally, before we got back on the road to New York, we presented Msgr. Becker with a piece of artwork done by a student at the Pontifical Mission Summer Bible Camp in Zerqa, Jordan. Over 350 Iraqi Christian refugees and Jordanians attended the camp, sponsored by CNEWA and staffed by the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary.
Msgr. Becker shows off his unique piece of artwork, created by a student in Jordan.
We’re always looking for new parishes to visit and spread our message. If you and your parish are interested in having us, simply contact Norma Intriago at email@example.com.
14 October 2015
An Egyptian boy plays with a toy camera he found in the garbage. Cairo’s “Zabbaleen,” or “garbage people” earn a meager living hauling trash and make up a significant part of the city’s underclass. Read about them in “Salvaging Dignity” from the September 2012 edition of ONE.
(photo: Dana Smillie)
14 October 2015
Palestinian university students shout slogans during a rally to express their solidarity with Palestinians clashing with Israeli security forces in the West Bank and Jerusalem,
on 14 October 2015 in Gaza City. (photo: Mohammed Abed/AFP/Getty Images)
Israel sends more forces to West Bank (The Jerusalem Post) The IDF has deployed two additional battalions to its Judea and Samria Division, three companies to the Jerusalem-West Bank perimeter area, and two reinforcement battalions to the Gaza border, to deal with disturbances along the security fence there...
Director of Caritas Jerusalem criticizes new checkpoints (Fides) “The imposition of Israeli checkpoints in Palestinian areas of Jerusalem represents a ‘safety measure’ that provides no security, but on the contrary increases anger and frustration, and thus feeds feelings of revenge.” This is how the Rev. Raed Abusahliah, Director General of Caritas Jerusalem evaluates the potential negative effects of the closure of areas of East Jerusalem, where attacks by Palestinian suicide bombers in recent days have caused the deaths of several Israeli citizens. “In my opinion,” said Father Raed, “they can impose all the blocks they want, but this will not ensure safety. The only way to achieve security and stability for all is to restore freedom to the Palestinian people”...
Kidnapped priest freed in Syria (AFP) A Syrian priest who was kidnapped in May in the central province of Homs is free and on Sunday conducted his first Mass since his abduction, a church source said. “Father (Jacques) Mourad is free. He is currently in the village of Zaydal,” about five kilometres (three miles) from the city of Homs, the source told AFP. The priest of the Syriac Catholic Church “celebrated mass this morning in Zaydal,” the source added, without providing details on how he gained his freedom, citing security reasons...
Iranian troops reportedly preparing for offensive in Syria (Reuters) Thousands of Iranian troops have arrived in Syria to join the regime’s military forces and Hizbollah allies to launch a ground attack against insurgents in Aleppo, two senior regional officials have said. Control of Aleppo city and the surrounding province in the area near the Turkish border is divided among the Syrian government, insurgent groups fighting Syrian president Bashar al-Assad and ISIS that controls some rural areas near the city...
Syrian refugees in Jersey City are among few to start new life in the U.S. (The New York Times) After four years of fleeing and 15 hours of flying, Hussam Al Roustom walked off the plane at Newark Liberty International Airport, only to feel as if he had stepped into an American movie. “It was like an action film in the sense that this hero had lost everyone dear to him, and then he finds himself safe — but he has nothing else to lose,” Mr. Al Roustom said in Arabic, through an interpreter. “That’s how I felt.” Mr. Al Roustom is a refugee from Syria. Since arriving in June, he, his wife, their 3-year-old daughter and their 7-year-old son have been living in an apartment atop the Kwick Discount Center grocery store in Jersey City. Their journey ended even as four million Syrians were still looking for a home, throwing Europe and the Middle East into a humanitarian crisis. Mr. Al Roustom was one of only 1,682 Syrian refugees admitted to the United States since 1 October, 2014, and among 78 resettled in the New York metropolitan area...
Church has built strong interreligious ties since ‘Nostra Aetate’ (CNS) The scene in Foundation Hall of the National September 11 Memorial and Museum during Pope Francis’ visit spoke volumes about the Catholic Church and interreligious relations. On the platform with Pope Francis 25 September were representatives of the Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh, Jewish, Muslim religions as well as Christian religions. All equal. All offering prayers for peace and words of inspiration from their sacred texts. The event symbolized the strengthening relations and solidarity that the Catholic Church has with non-Christian religions as envisioned by “Nostra Aetate” (“In Our Time”), the Vatican II declaration that addressed the relations of the Catholic Church with other religions, said Father John W. Crossin, executive director of the Secretariat for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops...
13 October 2015
A Carpatho-Rusyn Greek Catholic seminarian prays before the morning liturgy
in Uzhorod, Ukraine. (photo: Oleg Grigroyev)
For more than a millennium, Central Europe’s Carpatho-Rusyns have been engulfed in a violent whirl of Magyar, Germanic and Slavic antagonism. Always subjugated, Rusyn peasants toiled soil, kept livestock or cut timber for their Hungarian, Austrian or Polish masters. Such conditions, coupled with centuries of serfdom and forced assimilation, hardly favored the development of a distinct Rusyn identity. Nevertheless, among the Rusyns such an identity did develop, sowed by their distinct Slavic language, nurtured by their Byzantine Christianity — which they received from Sts. Cyril and Methodius in the late ninth century — and reinforced by their full communion with the church of Rome.
Today, fewer than 900,000 Rusyn Greek Catholics are scattered throughout Croatia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, North America, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia and Ukraine. A unified church, gathering them all under one mantle, does not exist. Rusyn Greek Catholics — also called Ruthenians — make up three distinct churches that, while sharing the same origins, traditions and culture, remain independent of each other.
- In the United States, the Metropolitan Byzantine Archeparchy of Pittsburgh, with its three dependent eparchies of Parma, Passaic and Phoenix, is a particular or sui iuris church. It includes about 82,000 members.
- The Eparchy of Mukacevo in Subcarpathian Ukraine, which numbers about 320,000 people, is dependent directly on the Holy See.
- The Apostolic Exarchate for Byzantine Catholics in the Czech Republic is also dependent on the Holy See and counts 170,000 members.
Parishioners of St. Mary Protector, a Rusyn Greek Catholic church in Kingston, Pennsylvania, make and sell 4,000 peroghi a year to support the church. (photo: Cody Christopulos)
Rusyn Greek Catholics also belong to various jurisdictions of the Greek Catholic churches of Hungary, Romania, Slovakia, Ukraine and the former Yugoslavia. Complicating matters further, substantial numbers of Rusyns, all formerly Greek Catholic, have created communities within various Orthodox churches in North America, Poland and the Czech and Slovak republics. However, with the exception of the American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Greek Catholic Church — an eparchy formed in Pittsburgh in 1939 under the jurisdiction of the ecumenical patriarchate in Constantinople — their Rusyn identity has largely eroded.
While a unified church may not yet exist, European and North American Rusyn Greek Catholics work together, assisting one another with financial and human resources. This mutual support is not limited to the Greek Catholic community alone. Guided by the ecumenical movement and encouraged by the foundation of nonpartisan societies dedicated to the study of Carpatho-Rusyn genealogy, history, literature and religion, relations among Rusyns of all faiths press forward.
Read a full account of the Carpatho-Rusyn Greek Catholic churches here.