26 June 2017
A Coptic villager in Upper Egypt checks his cell phone while transporting crops across town. This image is part of a photo essay by Msgr. Kozar which was honored last week with a First Place Award from the Catholic Press Association. Visit this link to see more of his prize-winning photos.
(photo: John E. Kozar)
26 June 2017
In this image from 21 June, a woman weeps during a rally held in support of Detroit’s Chaldean Christian community outside the federal courthouse. Dozens of Chaldean Christians and others were scheduled to be deported to Iraq, but late last week, a district court judge halted the deportation. (photo: CNS/Jim West)
Judge halts deportations of Chaldean Christians to Iraq (CNA) A district court judge on Thursday halted the deportation of more than 100 Iraqis, including many Chaldean Christians, who were recently picked up by immigration officers and detained. “We are thankful and relieved that our clients will not be immediately sent to Iraq, where they face grave danger of persecution, torture or death,” Michael Steinberg, legal director of the ACLU of Michigan, which represented the Iraqi nationals, stated in response to the ruling...
Fighting intensifies in Syrian Golan Heights (Al Jazeera) Fighting between government forces and opposition fighters has intensified in the Quneitra province in Syria’s south, situated in the roughly 30 percent of the Golan Heights under Syrian control. More than a dozen people were killed, including both pro-government forces and opposition fighters, in the latest uptick in fighting in the countryside of al-Baath city and near the town of Khan Arnab, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) said on Sunday...
Egyptian university presents bill against those who use religion to justify violence (Fides) The scholars of the University of al Azhar, the main theological-academic center of Sunni Islam, submitted the text of a bill to the offices of the president of the Egyptian Republic to counter violence and sectarian hate propaganda justified in the name of religion...
Report: malnutrition on the rise in parts of Ethiopia (Doctors Without Borders) An acute humanitarian emergency is unfolding in Doolo zone, in Ethiopia’s Somali region, as malnutrition reaches alarming levels, warns Médecins Sans Frontières [Doctors Without Borders] (MSF), whose teams are working in Doolo zone, the worst affected area. “The numbers of young children with severe acute malnutrition in Doolo zone are the highest ever seen in this area by our teams in the 10 years we have worked in the region,” says Saskia van der Kam, MSF nutritional advisor...
Pope uses relics to foster relations with Orthodox (CNA) Common veneration of relics is one of the tools Pope Francis is using to foster ecumenical relations with the Eastern Orthodox Churches...
One million people have visited relics of St. Nicholas in Moscow (AP) Over a million people have visited the relics of Saint Nicholas, one of the Russian Orthodox Church's most revered figures, since they were brought to Moscow last month. A total of 1,021,500 people have paid their respects to the holy remains, according to data published Saturday on an official website for the relics. The queue to see the fragments of the saint's bones on display has regularly extended several miles from Moscow’s Cathedral of Christ the Savior since the 23 May beginning of public viewings...
23 June 2017
A Palestinian family harvests olives in a valley east of the West Bank city of Nablus. To learn more about the life of a Palestinian olive farmer, check out Olive Offerings, from the January 2009 issue of ONE. (photo: Ahikam Seri)
23 June 2017
Tags: Palestine Village life Farming/Agriculture Palestinians
Palestinians buy clothing, shoes and games in a market in the Gaza Strip ahead of Eid ul Fitr, a three-day holiday marking the end of the holy month of Ramadan. (photo: Majdi Fathi/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Resilience, resourcefulness help Gazans cope with daily hardships (CNS) Gazans demonstrate an “inspiring” resilience and resourcefulness and more importantly, a sense of hope, despite the daily hardships they face, said the regional director for Palestine and Israel of the Catholic Near East Welfare Association. The hardships are many, ranging from a lack of dependable electrical service to a shortage of potable water at times. Through it all, people persist, going about their lives as best as they can, CNEWA’s Sami El-Yousef told Catholic News Service. “It shows you how you can live on so little and still continue to have a ray of hope that life will get better. It is inspiring,” said El-Yousef, who was in Gaza at the end of May…
The picturesque Palestinian village that doubles as an Israeli Army firing zone (Haaretz) Almost all Aqaba’s lands have been expropriated and turned into I.D.F. firing zones — hardly anything is left for shepherds and farmers. Only 300 people remain in the village, 400 others having left because of the land grabs. But no subject disturbs village council chief Sami Sadeq more than the army’s training exercises in the village. Maybe it’s because of his personal tragedy — a gunshot wound that has left him wheelchair bound since 1971 — or maybe it’s the simple truth that army troops really have no cause to be in this quiet place, other than to use it for training…
Trump administration faces pressure not to deport detained Iraqi Christians (NPR) Immigration authorities have rounded up nearly 200 Iraqis in recent weeks, and the Trump administration is now under heavy pressure to hold off moves to deport them. Many of those currently detained are from the minority Assyro-Chaldean Christian community, which faces severe persecution in Iraq. U.S. immigration authorities say the detained Iraqis have criminal records, but their families and supporters say many have already served time or paid their fines and that they would face persecution if sent back…
Race is on to save Chaldean Christian culture from ISIS (AINA) The dwindling number of Chaldean Christians in Iraq has raised concerns about the need to preserve the culture of the once thriving religion which the Islamic State is bent on wiping out. Dr. Shawqi Talia, a lecturer on Semitic and Egyptian Languages and Literatures at the Catholic University of America, is on the quest to preserve the history and culture of Chaldeans Catholics before it completely vanishes, so that their meaning can be passed on to the succeeding generations. This he does by asking the community to share their memories and descriptions through the rich Middle Eastern tradition of storytelling delivered in their own native Arabic and Neo-Aramaic languages — some of them singing and speaking the same language Christ himself used…
Catholic Church supports separate Gorkha homeland in India (CNS) Church leaders have expressed solidarity with the Gorkha people — a Nepali ethnic group in India — who are on an indefinite strike protesting for a separate homeland in the Darjeeling area of eastern India. Since 8 June, Darjeeling district in West Bengal state has witnessed clashes between local residents and police. Street protests, stone throwing as well as violence from both sides has intensified since 12 June, when the popular local organization Gorkha Janmukti Morcha called for an indefinite strike demanding the creation of a separate homeland — Gorkhaland — for ethnic Gorkha people. “The church is not directly involved in the protest. But the church is with the people,” said Bishop Stephen Lepcha of Darjeeling. He explained that local people are demanding the right of self-governance because West Bengal state officials do not attend to their needs…
The mica children: Fighting for survival in India’s deadly mines (Der Spiegel) Badku Marandi was 6 years old the first time he crept into the tunnels that had been dug deep into the hard earth. During the dry months before the monsoon season begins, there is only one source of income for the poor here in the state of Jharkhand in India’s impoverished northeast. It’s why they leave their villages, day after day, to try to try their luck in the forested hills. The ground here is full of mica — shimmering minerals. The deeper you dig, the bigger the mica fragments become. But with every meter and every strike of the hammer, the danger of being buried alive underground also increases for people like Badku. From lipstick by L’Oréal to automobile paint for BMW and Volkswagen, many large companies and their suppliers purchase mica from Jharkand and Bihar for use their products. The reporters of this story interviewed more than a dozen companies that purchase mica from India about their supply chain. They all had the same statement: They are aware of child labor in the mica mines and they are working to improve the situation…
22 June 2017
Tags: India Gaza Strip/West Bank Children Iraqi Christians Chaldeans
Georgian Orthodox Christians employ a unique style of chant believed to have been developed between the seventh and tenth centuries in the historical region of Tao-Klarjeti, now part of Turkey. Read more about the preservation and practice of Georgian chant in A Renaissance in Georgia, from the January 2011 edition of ONE, or click the image for an audio sample. (photo: Molly Corso)
22 June 2017
Tags: Cultural Identity Georgia Art Georgian Orthodox Church
Bishop Joseph Absi, pictured in an undated photo, was elected the new Melkite Greek Catholic patriarch of Antioch, Alexandria, Jerusalem and All the East on 21 June. (photo: CNS/courtesy Melkite Catholic Patriarchate)
Melkite Greek Catholic Church elects new patriarch, a native of Syria (Catholic Register) Bishop Joseph Absi was elected the new Melkite Greek Catholic patriarch of Antioch, Alexandria, Jerusalem and All the East during the church’s synod at Ain-Traz, Lebanon. Melkite leaders elected their new leader on 21 June, one day after his 71st birthday. A native of Damascus, Syria, he has served as patriarchal vicar in the Archeparchy of Damascus since 2007. On 6 May, Pope Francis accepted the resignation of Patriarch Gregorios III, 83, who had served in the position since 2000…
Chaldean Church expresses pain and sadness over destruction of the Great Mosque in Mosul (Fides) In solidarity with its Muslim neighbors, the Chaldean Catholic Church expressed sadness for the destruction of the Al Nuri Mosque in Mosul, and reaffirmed its grief for the victims of the bombings and for all the people who continue to suffer from thirst, hunger and lack of medicine. An official statement issued by the Chaldean Patriarchate also expressed the hope that, in the face of today’s suffering, the hearts of the Iraqis will lead them to the desire to build together peaceful and fruitful coexistence…
U.S.C.C.B. officials urge Homeland Security to defer deportation of Chaldeans (CNS) The president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and the chairmen of the bishops’ migration and international policy committees urged Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly to defer deportation of Chaldean Christians and others arrested 11 June…
Egyptian church raided, chained off by police to prevent worship (AINA) Authorities in Egypt reportedly raided a church-owned building that was being used by a local Coptic Christian community for worship and chained down the doors so that Christians could no longer enter the building. According to a press release shared with The Christian Post by the human rights and religious freedom advocacy group International Christian Concern, police broke into the three-story building situated in the village of Saft al Kharsa in the Beni Suef governorate last Friday. After police removed furniture, Christian iconography and other items from the building, they closed down the building using chains, an unnamed Christian villager told ICC…
Pope: The churches of the East are alive, despite persecution and terrorism (AsiaNews) “Let us not forget that in the East even today, Christians — no matter whether Catholics, Orthodox, or Protestants — spill their blood as a seal of their witness,” said Pope Francis today, while receiving participants at the ROACO (“Reunion of Aid Agencies for the Oriental Churches”) summit…
Private solar power systems catch on in Gaza (Al Monitor) The National Economy Ministry in Gaza announced on 27 May that it was lifting all fees, import taxes and customs duties on equipment for generating electricity, including solar power systems. This decision comes as the electricity crisis in the enclave reaches a new plateau, with Gaza’s only power station unable to operate at full capacity amid the political dispute between the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah and Hamas in Gaza…
Russia claims it has confirmed death of ISIS leader Al Baghdadi (Haaretz) The Russian foreign minister said that they can confirm with a high degree of certainty that ISIS leader Al Baghdadi is dead, according to a Reuters report Thursday. Russia’s Defense Ministry made the same claim last week, after investigating a May airstrike near the Syrian city of Raqqa. Washington said it could not corroborate the death and Western and Iraqi officials were skeptical…
Europe dismantles Ukraine’s ‘paper curtain’ (New York Times) Starting 11 June, 30 European countries began waiving short-stay visa requirements for Ukrainians as an incentive for Kiev to pursue further reforms. Since then, tens of thousands of Ukrainians have flocked to those nations. More than 20,000 Ukrainians have already seized on the rule change, some stepping out of airports at their destinations pumping their fists to celebrate putting the bureaucratic headache of visas behind them. On peak days, Ukraine’s border service says, about 5,000 of its citizens leave for the European countries. Petro O. Poroshenko, the Ukrainian president, called it the collapse of the “paper curtain”…
Catholic cathedral vandalized in northeastern Indian state of Assam (AsiaNews) The Catholic cathedral in Bongaigaon, in the northeastern Indian state of Assam, was vandalized by persons unknown overnight on 20 June, according to the Assam Christian Forum. Among other damages, the attackers broke the tabernacle. For diocesan authorities, it seems to be a case of theft. The thieves, they said, “stole the intention box, which might have been mistaken for the donation box…&rdquo
21 June 2017
Tags: Syria India Iraq Pope Francis Ukraine
A woman roasts coffee beans with her son on their farm outside Bonga, Ethiopia. The Kaffa region is known for its coffee production, grown in high altitudes. This region is thought to be the original home of the coffee plant, but recent reports suggest climate change could spell disaster for this traditional industry. To learn more about Ethiopia’s connection to coffee, read Brewed to Perfection, from the November 2011 edition of ONE. (photo: Per-Anders Pettersson/Corbis News/Getty Images)
21 June 2017
Tags: Ethiopia Farming/Agriculture Climate change
An Iraqi fighter stands on the Iraq-Syria border in Nineveh, Iraq. (photo: Martyn Aim/Getty Images)
Recapture of Iraq-Syria border point heralds new regional reality (Al Monitor) Regional governments are shifting their focus from national borders in consideration of the interests of the wider axis to which they belong. One manifestation of this was reflected in the celebratory mood of media as Iraqi and Syrian forces jointly secured the Syrian-Iraqi border crossing on 9 June…
Why I’m trying to stop mass deportation of Detroit Assyro-Chaldeans (AINA) “Over the past week, many have asked why I became so involved in the recent immigration sweep of mostly Chaldeans that took place here in metro Detroit. Now that the dust has settled and my schedule has returned to somewhat normal, I want to share why…”
Church of the East patriarch visits Tel Kaif, meets with Christian defenders (Fides) Mar Gewargis III, catholicos-patriarch of the Church of the East, visited the territories of the Nineveh Plain, liberated from the occupation of ISIS. During his visit on Saturday, 17 June, the primate of the Assyrian church met with Ryan al Keldani, in Tel Kaif, head of the so-called “Babylonian Brigades,” a militia who in recent months sought to carve out a Christian role in the anti-jihadist military operations…
In Fatima, Maronite patriarch to consecrate Middle East to the Immaculate Heart of Mary (Fides) Maronite Patriarch Bechara Peter I will travel to the Portuguese Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima to consecrate Lebanon and the Middle East to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. The act of consecration will take place during the Divine Liturgy that the Maronite Church leader will celebrate in the shrine on 25 June…
20 June 2017
Tags: Syria Iraq Lebanon Church of the East
Samir and Nevine Deshto, Iraqi refugees, stand with their newborn daughter in the Italian Hospital in Amman. Read more about how they and other refugees are Finding Sanctuary in Jordan in the Spring 2015 edition of ONE. (photo: Nader Daoud)
Today is World Refugee Day, when the United Nations draws attention to those who, seeking safety from violence and persecution, are forced to flee their homes. To mark the occasion, the U.N.’s refugee agency released its annual Global Trends Report, and the picture it paints is grim. Last year, the number of forcibly displaced people around the globe topped 65.6 million. Some of the countries that Catholic Near East Welfare Association serves are among the biggest sources of refugees:
- Iraq: 4.2 million people displaced
- Syria: 12 million displaced
- Ukraine: 2.1 million displaced
What can we do about the tragedy of forced migration? As Christians, we’re called by Scripture to welcome the strangers in our midst. In a time when our culture seems to be growing more suspicious and hostile, our challenge is to see Jesus in the refugee and to respond to His suffering with mercy and compassion. Here are four suggestions for this World Refugee Day:
Pray. You can use this prayer from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops: “Teach us, Lord, the ways of hospitality. Give us the spirit of joyful welcome and the sensitivity to help people on the move feel they belong. Grant that our tables at home may draw our new neighbors from other lands into a loving community and that the Eucharistic tables in our parishes may prefigure the banquet in heaven where all are one with You, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.”
Learn. Educate yourself about the issue of forced migration. Understand the magnitude of the problem by looking at the new U.N. report. Read what Pope Francis said to the World Congress for the Pastoral Care of Migrants. Familiarize yourself with how CNEWA and our local partners are ministering to refugees’ humanitarian and spiritual needs.
Reach out. For refugees who’ve lost everything and who struggle to meet even the most basic needs, it can feel like the world has abandoned and forgotten them. Let them know they’re not alone. Share some of the resources that God has given you with your refugee sisters and brothers by making a gift to CNEWA.
Share. Once you’ve prayed, learned and reached out to refugees, invite your friends and family to join you. You can share this blog post on Facebook or Twitter and let everyone know what you’ve done. Maybe you’ll be an inspiration to others who are looking for an opportunity to do good.
Thank you for taking action on this World Refugee Day — and blessings and prayers of gratitude from all of us at CNEWA!
20 June 2017
A woman holds a sign and cross as members of the local Chaldean community demonstrate on 16 June outside the Patrick V. McNamara Federal Building to protest the arrest and detention of more than 100 Chaldean Christians from the Detroit area. (photo: CNS/Jim West)
The organizer of a 16 June protest in Detroit against federal agents’ rounding up more than 100 Iraqi-American immigrants told local media that those who were detained had no prior warning that Immigration and Customs Enforcement would be arresting them the morning of 11 June.
Joined by U.S. Democratic Reps. Sander Levin and Brenda Lawrence of Michigan, members of the Chaldean Christian community gathered in front of the Patrick V. McNamara Federal Building. They held up signs, crosses and American flags, venting their frustration against federal authorities who detained their father, brothers and uncles, many of whom have been in the community for decades.
Martin Manna, president of the Chaldean Chamber of Commerce, organized the demonstration.
“I represent a rich cove of the Iraqi-Chaldean community, and when I called Martin Manna, I got here quickly,” Lawrence said. “Chaldeans are our friends, our neighbors.
“Why did ICE decide to target and round up Iraqi-Americans? Where is the written policy?” Lawrence asked, referring to the “verbal agreement” U.S. President Donald Trump had with the Iraqi government regarding accepting deportees from the United States.
Levin and five others from the Michigan delegation to the U.S. House of Representatives wrote a letter to U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly, requesting a copy of the U.S. government’s agreement with Iraq so it can be subject to congressional oversight and to hold off on sending the detainees to Iraq until their safety can be guaranteed.
“We are here on behalf of the Chaldean community, proclaiming this as not only a Chaldean issue, but an American issue,” Levin said. “We’re saying to ICE, let there be time for justice. Sec. Kelly said, ‘we’re only going after the ‘worst of the worst.&rsquo There arrests have been made without regard to what crime has been committed, or what sentences have already been served.
“This is a country that believes in due process for everybody, even for immigrants,” he continued. “America is more than just numbers, but the human lives behind them. I ask my colleagues, delay deportation. We're here together for the Chaldean community.”
Family members of those who have been detained shared their stories, stating how many were preparing to attend Sunday Mass when ICE officials knocked on their doors, asking to go with them to the Iraqi Consulate; some were promised they would be returned to their homes.
“We’ve heard stories of an 80-year old man, who was carried away by ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) in chains,” said Nidal Zawaideh of Bloomfield Hills, who showed up to protest to support her fellow Chaldeans. “They talk about the crimes they’ve committed. This man hit his wife 50 years ago, had the police called. But that was 50 years ago; these people are not a threat to society.”
After the roundup, ICE officials would not confirm the number taken into custody but said those arrested had criminal convictions, including for murder, rape, assault, burglary, weapons violations and drug trafficking. They said the action was the result of recent negotiations between the U.S. and Iraq, which had agreed “to take back Iraqi nationals convicted of crimes.”
WJBK-TV reported that an ICE spokesperson said that “each of these individuals received full and fair immigration proceedings, after which a federal immigration judge found them ineligible for any form of relief under U.S. law and ordered them removed.”
Father Anthony Kathawa, parochial vicar of St. Thomas Chaldean Catholic Church in West Bloomfield, said many in the parish and surrounding Chaldean parishes have called, asking for help and not receiving many answers.
“There is a lot of pain, confusion, with them asking questions and getting now answers,” Father Kathawa told The Michigan Catholic, newspaper of the Detroit Archdiocese. “We have to lean on our faith, because there are so many questions.”
He said that Bishop Francis Y. Kalabat, who heads the Chaldean Catholic Eparchy of St. Thomas the Apostle, based in Southfield, “has requested every parish celebrate a special Mass and maintain a Holy Hour at every Chaldean parish in the area.”
Father Kathawa couldn’t confirm how many of his parishioners have been detained, saying there have been many.
“The people that are detained ... I never guessed they’d have a criminal background,” Father Kathawa said. “They are really involved in their parishes; they’ve brought great change to the community. Those who were convicted of crimes, they’ve paid their debt. Part of Christianity is believing in redemption, believing in forgiveness.”