3 February 2014
Kostas Patitas sits in his apartment in Kipseli, Athens. (photo: Don Duncan)
The Winter issue of ONE offers a powerful look at how the people of Greece are coping with their country’s ongoing economic crisis:
Kostas Patitsas, 59, who lives in the working-class Athens neighborhood of Kipseli, regularly takes advantage of his local parish’s food aid. Mr. Patitsas’s case is a classic example of Greek recession misfortune: In February 2012, his position was made redundant before he reached retirement age. Now he finds himself without a pension in an anemic job market that has become increasingly discriminatory against mature applicants as the recession deepens. He depends on his brother and other family members to pay the property tax on his small apartment and his electricity bills. He needs about $135 a month for cigarettes and tea. For food, he lives on the fare from his local parish, Hagia Zoni Church.
“I am quite optimistic by nature,” he says in the yard of the church as he lines up for food. “And I believe growth will return in 2014.” All the people lined up around him burst into laughter. He is quoting the much-maligned Greek Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras, who uses this phrase as a boilerplate response to any interrogation regarding the future. It becomes clear that for Kostas Patitsas, and for many others, humor is a coping mechanism.
Some 300 people have come to the soup kitchen at Hagia Zoni. They joke and laugh, but it is a heavy, trudging humor. Before long, they have all departed with their food to eat at home alone.
Mr. Patitsas eats his food on a small table in a communal garden outside the back door of his ground-floor apartment, which is dark, damp and shabby.
Along with humor, he says, his other big coping mechanism is his faith.
“I go to church every Sunday,” he says, “and when I feel low and hopeless, it fills my soul.”
Read more about A Greek Tragedy in the Winter 2013 issue of ONE.
3 February 2014
Leave a comment
In this image from 2011, Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill celebrates Christmas liturgy at Christ the Savior Cathedral in Moscow. Last week, he joined Patriarch John X. Yzigi of the Greek Orthodox Church of Antioch in issuing a plea for peace in Syria.
(photo: CNS/Denis Sinyakov, Reuters)
Syria hits areas held by rebels in Aleppo (New York Times) Syrian government aircraft continued to strike rebel-held areas in Aleppo with makeshift bombs on Sunday, killing at least three dozen people, most of them women and children, antigovernment activists said. The bombs were dropped across neighborhoods in the south and east of the country’s largest city, reducing cinder-block apartment buildings to rubble and leaving crowds of men searching the debris for survivors, according to videos posted online...
Russian, Greek Orthodox leaders join in call for peace in Syria (AsiaNews) The Moscow Patriarchate and the Greek Orthodox Church of Antioch have launched a joint appeal for peace and independence of Syria. “The two churches believe that only through open and honest dialogue true peace its independence and territorial integrity be guaranteed in Syria, and equal rights and opportunities for its citizens ensured,” reads the statement issued on 30 January, at the end of Patriarch John X Yazigi’s visit to Moscow...
Protestors fill Kiev’s square as president returns to work (EuroNews) Ukraine’s embattled president has announced that he is returning to work on Monday after four days’ sick leave. It came as thousands of protesters filled Kiev’s main square — demanding that he give up power. Opposition leaders, fresh from meeting European US officials at a conference in Munich, told the crowd that they would secure international aid of they were able to take power. “We have a common understanding with our Western partners about what should be done in Ukraine and how much money it requires,” said Arseniy Yatsenyuk, leader of Ukraine’s opposition Fatherland Party. “But first of all, the question is who will be executing this plan of change for Ukraine, as no one trusts this regime”...
Pope’s first Lenten message to focus on poverty (Catholic News Service) Pope Francis has chosen the theme, “He became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich,” for this year’s Lenten message, said a Vatican statement on 31 January. The theme comes from a verse from St. Paul’s Second Letter to the Corinthians where the apostle is promoting generosity in giving and wishes to “test the genuineness of your love by your concern for others.” The full verse reads: “For you know the gracious act of our Lord Jesus Christ, that for your sake he became poor although he was rich, so that by his poverty you might become rich,” (2 Cor 8:9). The text of the pope’s message for Lent, which begins on 5 March, was to be released at a Vatican news conference on 4 February...
Cyberactivists say dreams of democracy in Middle East unrealized (Catholic News Service) Cyberactivists from Egypt and throughout the Middle East said their dreams of freedom of expression and democracy are unrealized. They are caught in a vise of surveillance and censorship, no matter if the military or Muslim Brotherhood hold the reins of power in the aftermath of the Arab Spring that saw longtime rulers toppled three years ago. “I’m wanted by three different branches by the security forces, mainly because they have their own propaganda about the revolution,” said Marcell Shehwaro, a young Syrian Christian blogger. “I work against it. I was forced to flee my house, my family and my friends” to live in an area under opposition control...
Kerala considers bill to stop lavish weddings (Business Standard) The Kerala government will soon come up with a bill that will prevent ostentatious weddings where people flaunt their wealth, Social Welfare Minister M.K. Muneer said here Monday. Muneer told the state assembly that the situation has reached such a “dangerous level” where weddings only mean flaunting of one’s wealth. “We are working out on how we can prevent this excessive flaunting of wealth on the occasion of weddings and it would be through a new law,” he said.
31 January 2014
Leave a comment
In this 2007 photo, a 3-year-old orphan helps a nun wash the dishes at the Antiochene Orthodox Monastery of St. Thecla in Maaloula, Syria. Greek Orthodox Patriarch Youhanna X of Antioch recently announced that the sisters are still alive and well, though efforts are still underway to secure their release from the Islamist fighters who abducted them a month ago. To learn more about life in this monastery before the war, read Echoes of Jesus From Syria’s Mountains or An Antiochene Legacy, from the May 2008 and January-February 1999 issues of the magazine, respectively. (photo: Mitchell Prothero/Polaris)
31 January 2014
Tags: Syria Sisters Violence against Christians Monastery Nuns
Leave a comment
Ibrahim Fahmy, 18, center, poses for a photo with co-workers on 17 January outside the silver shop where they work in Cairo. Mr. Fahmy says he supports Egypt’s new constitution because he believes it can create the stability needed for foreign tourists to return. (photo: CNS/James Martone)
New Egyptian constitution holds promise for Copts (National Catholic Register) After enduring the worst persecution in centuries, a new constitution gives Coptic Christians renewed hope for civil rights and freedom in Egypt, but a lot of work remains. “It is good — not very good — but it is good,” said the Rev. Rafic Greiche, spokesman for Egypt’s Catholic Conference. “It could not have been better given the context we are living now.” The new constitution’s vision of a pluralistic and inclusive civil state now depends not only on translating it into laws, but also translating it into Egyptian hearts and minds, Father Greiche added…
Gaza youth dream of jobs in Qatar (Al Monitor) On 14 January the Palestinian and Qatari governments signed an agreement for the recruitment of 20,000 professional and specialized Palestinian workers to find employment in Qatar, in addition to the estimated 20,000 Palestinians who have already been working for years in the Gulf state…
Peace plan lets most Jewish settlers remain in West Bank, envoy says (Washington Post) Roughly three-quarters of Jewish settlers in the West Bank would be included in redrawn Israeli borders envisioned under U.S.-backed peace negotiations, the lead U.S. envoy told American Jewish leaders on Thursday…
Church leaders in Ukraine call for national unity (Church Times) At a meeting predominantly of clergy of the Moscow Patriarchate in Odessa (in southern Ukraine on the Black Sea coast, a Russian-speaking area) last Saturday, the call was for moderation, but also national unity: “We especially encourage local elites — political, cultural, intellectual, social — do not rock the boat in which you sit. Do not think that the current conflicts are careless political games. Be aware that we are one family and that we live in the same home: Ukraine…”
U.N. calls for Ukraine torture probe as activist speaks of being ‘crucified’ (Al Jazeera) A Ukrainian anti-government activist who disappeared a week ago during widespread protests in and around Kiev has resurfaced with his face badly beaten and with wounds to his hands, saying his abductors tortured and “crucified” him. “They crucified me, they nailed down my hands. They cut off my ear, they cut my face. There isn’t a spot on my body that hasn’t been beaten,” Bulatov said. “Thank God, I am alive.” He also said he was kept in the dark at all times, and could not identify his captors…
Syria peace talks adjourn with little progress but some hope (Los Angeles Times) The first round of long-awaited Syrian peace talks ended Friday in Geneva with no breakthrough but with both sides planning to meet again and resume negotiations. “Progress is very slow indeed, but the sides have engaged in an acceptable manner,” Lakhdar Brahimi, the chief United Nations negotiator, told reporters in Geneva. “This is a very modest beginning, but it is a beginning on which we can build…”
Mideast cyberactivists say dreams of democracy remain unrealized (CNS) Cyberactivists from Egypt and throughout the Middle East said their dreams of freedom of expression and democracy are unrealized. They are caught in a vise of surveillance and censorship, no matter if the military or Muslim Brotherhood hold the reins of power in the aftermath of the Arab Spring that saw longtime rulers toppled three years ago…
30 January 2014
Tags: Egypt Middle East Unity Ukraine Gaza Strip/West Bank
Leave a comment
A Coptic farmer walks through his field near Minya, Egypt. To learn more about the lives and struggles of Coptic farmers, read Seeds of Survival, from the Winter 2013 issue of ONE. To view this issue in its full graphical layout, click the image. (photo: David Degner)
30 January 2014
Tags: Egypt Violence against Christians Farming/Agriculture Copts Coptic
Leave a comment
The Dutch Rev. Frans van der Lugt, S.J., prays at the residence of the Jesuit fathers in the besieged area of Homs, Syria, on 29 January. The priest recently made an appeal for help in a YouTube video, highlighting severe shortages of food and medicine. The Rev. Ziad Hilal, a fellow Jesuit, made note of Father Van der Lugt’s stalwart presence in his Letter From Syria, published in the Summer 2013 issue of ONE. (photo: CNS/Yazan Homsy, Reuters)
Syria allegedly demolishing neighborhoods to punish residents (The Guardian) The Syrian government has demolished thousands of buildings, in some cases entire neighborhoods, in parts of Damascus and Hama, as part of a collective punishment against residents of rebel-held areas, Human Rights Watch says. Satellite imagery taken over both cities has revealed seven areas where neighborhoods have either been largely destroyed or totally demolished. None of the destruction was caused during combat. Rather, the buildings have been systemically destroyed using bulldozers and explosives placed by troops who first ordered residents to leave and then supervised the demolitions…
Starving to death in Syria’s Yarmouk camp (Al Jazeera) In the Yarmouk refugee camp, more than 55 people have died from hunger and the majority of children are suffering from malnutrition, according to Abdullah al Khatib, a Palestinian activist living there. Most people are consuming soup made from water and spices, Khatib said, and some are reportedly eating grass for survival. Starvation conditions continue despite recent United Nations efforts to get much-needed food through the street battles and checkpoints, and most residents are still searching garbage piles for anything edible, Khatib told Al Jazeera on Monday. Until last week, food aid had not been delivered to the camp since September 2013…
Ukraine tensions high after amnesty laws’ adoption (Vatican Radio) Tensions remain high in Ukraine’s capital after the government approved an amnesty for anti-government protesters, following deadly violence in which as many as five people died. Opposition parties abstained from voting because the legislation contains unacceptable conditions, while the European Union’s top envoy and neighboring countries expressed concern about the situation…
Amid ‘civil war’ talk, Kremlin keeps wary eye on Ukraine (Christian Science Monitor) Russia has offered strong assurances of non-intervention in a fast-unraveling Ukraine. But experts say the Kremlin is watching events in Kiev with mounting concern as central government control grows increasingly tenuous — and warn that Moscow may react badly if the ten-week-old protest movement leads to sweeping constitutional changes in Ukraine. President Vladimir Putin told European Union leaders in Brussels Tuesday that Moscow will not change the terms of its financial-aid package to Ukraine, even if the government in Kiev changes, and will not interfere in the increasingly turbulent political crisis there. He chided European Union officials for what he described as cheerleading for anti-government protesters, and warned against the urge to “mediate” in the struggle for Ukraine’s soul…
The verdict on the wall in the Cremisan Valley has been postponed (Fides) The Supreme Court of Israel has postponed the verdict on the route of the separation wall. Israeli authorities plan to build a security wall in the Cremisan Valley, on the land of 58 Palestinian families in Beit Jala and two Salesian religious communities. The Society of St. Yves, a Catholic human rights, filed the lawsuit against the construction of the wall in the Cremisan Valley. Those in attendance at yesterday’s hearing included Bishop William Shomali, patriarchal vicar of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, several priests of the patriarchate, the mayors of Bethlehem and Beit Jala and the representatives of 13 consulates of foreign countries…
Maronite patriarch: Lebanon needs a president (AsiaNews) Maronite Patriarch Bechara Peter I, in an interview yesterday with Lebanese daily As Safir, said that the election of a new president, national unity and respect for the constitution are some of some of the urgent issues the country must address. The church leader, also a cardinal of the Catholic Church, decried attempts to postpone the presidential elections. “The problem is that everyone wants to divide the country according to his perspective instead of becoming as one…”
Chaldean patriarch reflects on first year leading church, future of church (AsiaNews) In a pastoral letter addressed to the bishops, priests, nuns and faithful on the occasion of the first anniversary of his election as leader of the Chaldean Church, Patriarch Louis Raphael I discussed concerns such as massive emigration, fragmentation, isolation, the revision of the liturgy. “Our church is invited to rebuild what was destroyed and distorted, gather the scattered” and call back those who have fled…
Egypt says charging Al Jazeera journalists with terrorism (Christian Science Monitor) The Egyptian prosecutor’s office today said it had charged 20 journalists working with the Al Jazeera news network, including four foreigners, with various charges including belonging to or aiding a terrorist organization and broadcasting false news. But the prosecutor’s statement did not list the names of the defendants, and it was unclear who had been charged. The terrorism charges send a chilling message to journalists who veer from the government’s view of events in Egypt…
29 January 2014
Tags: Egypt Syria Middle East Ukraine Separation Barrier
Leave a comment
A large drawing of Pope Francis depicting him as a superhero is seen on a wall near the Vatican on 29 January. The Argentine pope is shown taking off into the air with his right fist clenched in classic Superman style. In addition to this super-heroic rendering, the pope also also recently received a “rockstar” treatment as the subject of Rolling Stone magazine’s cover story. (photo: CNS/Robert Duncan)
29 January 2014
Tags: Pope Francis Vatican Art Media Rome
Leave a comment
Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros II of Alexandria visits Egyptian General Fattah al Sisi on 26 January, accompanied by a delegation of Coptic Orthodox Bishops. (photo: Coptic Orthodox Church)
Egyptian Christian leaders pay visit to General al Sisi (Fides) On Sunday, 26 January, the Coptic Pope Tawadros II paid visit to General Abdel Fattah al Sisi, deputy prime minister and commander-in-chief of the Egyptian Armed Forces. During the visit Pope Tawadros expressed his congratulations to the Egyptian Armed Forces on the occasion of the third anniversary since the beginning of the revolution that led to the fall of the regime of Hosni Mubarak. The large delegation that accompanied the patriarch included six other Coptic Orthodox bishops. The following day, similar gestures of appreciation towards the strong man of the Egyptian army — and likely future candidate for the next presidential election — came from Catholic leaders in Egypt, including Coptic Catholic Patriarch Ibrahim Isaac Sidrak…
Patriarch attributes extremism to poor religious education (Interfax) Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia said the best way to prevent extremism and radicalism is to increase the level of religious education. “The religious feelings of people … are now exploited to cause these people to commit radical actions. Many people indeed genuinely take the horrible path of terrorism, thinking that by doing so they serve God,” the patriarch said at the opening ceremony of the Christmas parliamentary sessions in the Federation Council on Tuesday…
Masses and vigils for missing Jesuit in Syria (Fides) On 29 July 2013, the Italian Jesuit Paolo Dall’Oglio was kidnapped in Raqqa, Syria’s largest city controlled by the militia known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. Since then, no word has emerged about his status. Masses and vigils praying for the gift of his release, along with that of others who have been kidnapped in the war-torn nation, have been announced in different cities around the world…
Canada bars Ukraine officials behind crackdown (AFP) Canada will refuse entry to any Ukraine government officials linked to a crackdown on protestors, the immigration minister announced Tuesday, while condemning violence there. “Effective immediately, our government will be restricting the entry to Canada of key officials of the Ukrainian government who are responsible for the oppression of citizens and the opposition as they defiantly and courageously speak out in support of freedom and democracy,” the minister, Chris Alexander, told reporters. The move follows the United States last week revoking of visas of several Ukrainian nationals linked to violence in Kiev…
Syrian government backs away from U.N. plan on humanitarian relief for Homs (Washington Post) Hopes faded Monday for a quick win at peace talks between Syria’s warring factions after the Syrian government declined to authorize a convoy of food to enter a besieged neighborhood in the center of the city of Homs under the terms of an agreement brokered by the United Nations. There was no sign, either, that a promise to allow women and children to leave was moving forward, calling into question whether progress would be possible on the far more momentous issues that will have to be discussed if the conference is to end Syria’s brutal civil war…
Heads of all canonical Orthodox churches to meet (InSerbia) Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I has invited the heads of all canonical Orthodox churches to a meeting in Istanbul on 9 March 2014 for the planning of the organization of the Pan-Orthodox Council for the next year. The meeting is slated to be a serious effort toward the unity of the Christian world and closer cooperation between Orthodox churches…
Georgian authorities to finance another four religions (Interfax) In addition to the Orthodox Church, Georgia will provide funds to the Armenian Church, the Catholic Church and Jewish and Islamic faith communities from the state budget, Georgian Prime Minister Irakly Garibashvili told a government meeting on Monday. “Various statements have recently been made stating that religious conflicts became frequent under our rule. I believe that is not true,” he said. “We respect all religions and the fact that we are now considering the issue of state financing of another four religions in addition to the Orthodox Church confirms that…”
28 January 2014
Tags: Egypt Syria Ukraine Canada Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I
Leave a comment
Antranig Chakerian transformed the walls of his house in Anjar, Lebanon, into a canvas for icons, images and poems dedicated to his ancestral homeland: historic Armenia. Click the image to read more. (photo: Dalia Khamissy)
Today, Lebanon’s interim minister of communications unveiled a new stamp in honor of those Armenians who perished in the Turkish mass-killings of nearly a century ago:
Caretaker Minister of Telecommunications Nicolas Sehnaoui announced Tuesday the commission of a stamp to honor the martyrs of the Armenian Genocide in 1915.
Lebanon has a large and vocal Armenian community with around 200,000 Lebanese of Armenian origin in the country, a result of forced displacement after the partition of the Ottoman Empire at the end of the World War I.
While Turkey still resolutely denies genocide took place, last April saw over 10,000 Armenians rallying in downtown Beirut on the 98th anniversary of the genocide.
The stamp depicts a drawing of a statue honoring Armenian martyrs found in Bikfaya.
The stamp will be in circulation in a month’s time.
In the Winter 2013 issue of ONE, Doug Duncan shined a spotlight on people of Armenian descent in Lebanon, focusing specifically on Syrian Armenians displaced across Syria’s southwestern border:
A peaceful, pretty town, Anjar is itself a product of Armenian displacement. It was founded to house Armenians who left the Syrian region of Hatay when Turkey annexed it in 1939. The town’s population is normally around 2,500, but the recent influx of refugees from the war in Syria has doubled that number.
“That puts big pressure on the municipality,” says Nazareth Andakian, a municipal lawyer in Anjar. “We don’t have any more empty houses; all are full. On top of that, because there is currently no government in Lebanon, public funds are not being released to us from Beirut, so the village is going into debt to manage the situation.”
This dilemma is playing out all across Lebanon, in both Armenian and non-Armenian domains. This small country of just four million people has had to bear the brunt of the Syrian displacement crisis; to date more than a million Syrian refugees have fled to the country, according to the United Nations. And the flow shows no signs of stopping.
Before the war, there were between 100,000 and 150,000 Armenians in Syria. Of this population, some 20,000 have already fled to Lebanon, while others have fled north, to Armenia, or to Jordan in the south. …
Bourj Hammoud, a densely populated Armenian enclave, has seen its capacity stretched to bursting since the Syrian crisis began in March 2011.
“There have been many problems, but we manage,” says Sarkis Joukhjoukhian, a Lebanese Armenian who sells thyme-covered bread snacks called manoushe from his small store in the heart of Bourj Hammoud.
“We help them whether they are family or not, because when we had war here in Lebanon we often left to Syria, and they helped us then.”
You can read the rest online, either in a plaintext layout or complete with the full magazine graphics.
28 January 2014
Tags: Lebanon Syrian Civil War Refugees Armenia ONE magazine
Leave a comment
Syrian refugees move a tent at the Bab al Salam refugee camp in Azaz, near the Syrian-Turkish border on 17 January. Syria's nearly three-year civil war has led to what the U.N. calls the "greatest humanitarian crisis in modern history." (photo: CNS/Mahmoud Hebbo, Reuters)
Patriarch urges West to help suffering Syrian refugees stay in region (Aid to the Church in Need) While sympathizing with refugees who seek a new life in the West, Melkite Greek Catholic Patriarch Gregory III of Antioch urged that aid programs be boosted both within Syria and in neighboring countries to enable them to stay in the region. “Of course, we cannot decide … what response our people should make, the suffering is so great, but the real answer is to provide more help — more relief — on the spot and not outside, which will encourage them to leave. But if they must go, we understand their situation.” He added: “The danger is that if they leave the region of the Middle East, they will never go back. This applies to other groups as well as the Christians…”
Ukraine repeals anti-protest laws; prime minister resigns (Washington Post) There were growing signs Tuesday that Ukraine’s opposition movement was gaining ground in its efforts to remake the country, with the resignation of the prime minister, approval of an amnesty bill for protesters and the repeal of harsh new laws restricting freedom of speech and assembly…
Lebanese cringe as a breakdown in government wafts uphill (New York Times) Since Lebanon’s government resigned 10 months ago, Parliament has scarcely convened, no major laws have been passed and the caretaker cabinet has lacked the political clout to set any important policies. All of this has left the country without a unified approach to the huge influx of refugees fleeing the civil war in neighboring Syria, a spate of bombings that have killed dozens of civilians and gunfights between rival neighborhoods in the northern city of Tripoli…
Jordan’s balancing act on Syria (Al Monitor) For Jordan, one thing is definite about the peace conference on Syria which opened in the Swiss resort of Montreux last week: It proved that relations with the Damascus government have reached a historic low. Since the breakout of the Syrian uprising in March 2011, the Damascus government has been critical of Amman’s alleged role in allowing fighters and weapons to cross into southern Syria. Defenders of the Jordan position say that the country hosts a million Syrian refugees, who pose social and economic challenges. Jordan has more than 186-mile border with Syria, and the neighboring countries have had historic problems. If the Damascus regime survives, Jordan will want to keep its options open…
Censorship and suppression in Belarus (Al Jazeera) Nestled between Russia and Poland sits an autocratic state dubbed “Europe’s last dictatorship.” Artistic directors and founders of The Belarus Free Theatre, Kaliada and Nicolai Khalezin, are also public enemies of their home country. Their crime is setting up an underground company aiming to cast a spotlight on the day-to-day struggles faced by their countrymen and women. They are now living in exile in London. Kaliada said actors and directors who wanted to be part of the Belarus Free Theatre faced losing their jobs and educational opportunities, because of their affiliation with the blacklisted group. They perform in secret locations, from private houses to secluded woodlands…
Egypt’s military rulers face heightened threat from shadowy militant group (Christian Science Monitor) A shadowy militant group based in Egypt’s Sinai peninsula has set its sights on Egypt’s mainland, bringing a building insurgency to the heart of the capital. Ansar Bayt al Maqdis, or Supporters of Jerusalem, claimed responsibility for a powerful car bomb that killed four people in Cairo Friday. Members of the group also appear to have shot down an Egyptian military helicopter in the Sinai Saturday with a shoulder-launched surface-to-air missile. The group, founded in 2011, largely focused attacks on Israel and the northern Sinai until the military deposed former President Mohamed Morsi, previously a Muslim Brotherhood leader, last July…
Tags: Syrian Civil War Ukraine Jordan Melkite Patriarch Gregory III of Antioch Belarus
Leave a comment