9 September 2016
In this image from 2015, Pope Francis stands between Jewish and Muslim religious leaders during a prayer service at the ground zero 9/11 Memorial Museum in New York.
(photo: CNS/Paul Haring)
As we mark the 15th anniversary of the terror attacks this Sunday, CNEWA’s external affairs officer, the Rev. Elias. D. Mallon, S.A., Ph.D., reflects on their legacy.
His thoughts appear in the current edition of the National Catholic Reporter:
On 11 September 2001, no one could have foreseen the Middle East of 2016, in which Iraq is close to being a failed nation; Syria is engaged in a suicidal civil war; and ISIS controls large swaths of Iraq and Syria, massacring Christians, Yazidis, Shabaks, as well as Sunni Muslims who don’t agree with them. The Islamic State’s self-proclaimed caliphate under the so-called Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has brought wanton destruction on a scale that has not been seen since the Mongol invasions of the 13th century.
Self-described jihadis have carried off murderous attacks in the U.K., Spain, France, Belgium and Germany, bringing terror to countries that had not previously experienced it. Many European countries are being inundated with refugees. The world of September 2016 has little in common with that of September 2001.
While there are very few hopeful signs, there are, nonetheless, some important things that are happening and are often overlooked. In the Middle East, where Christians often simply ignored each other, there is now a new recognition of what the pope calls the “ecumenism of blood.” Threatened with extinction, many Christian churches are now working together, finding they have much in common that they may have overlooked before. The crisis in the Middle East, especially the refugee crisis, has brought an encouraging new era of cooperation between Francis and Greek Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew.
Although it has unfortunately not received the coverage it deserves, the Muslim world has also reacted with shock and horror at what is being done in its name. Muslim leaders from Iraq to Morocco to France to Indonesia have been gathering to ask themselves what is happening to Islam and condemning the violence.
Perhaps the most impressive action on the part of scholars from every tradition in Islam was “A Common Word.” Addressed to all Christian leaders, the letter, published in 2007, calls Christians and Muslims to work together for peace. In a most powerful statement, the Muslim scholars proclaimed “our very eternal souls are all also at stake if we fail to sincerely make every effort to make peace and come together in harmony.”
There’s much more. Read it all at the NCR link.
9 September 2016
Some of the children who attend the new Saint Rachel Center in Jerusalem show off their handiwork. The center — supported in part by CNEWA — cares for the children of migrants in Israel. Read more about it here. And for a deeper look into the lives of migrants in Israel, check out Surviving Without a Country in the Promised Land in the Summer 2016 edition of ONE.
(photo: St. James Vicariate)
9 September 2016
Patriarch Gregorios III addresses the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Patriarchal Synod which opened yesterday in Liviv. (photo: ByzCath.org)
Kerry and Lavrov hold talks on Syria ceasefire (Al Jazeera) US Secretary of State John Kerry and his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov are meeting in the Swiss city of Geneva to discuss a ceasefire deal for Syria. During the snap meeting, the two diplomats will hold talks on how to put an end to fighting in the wartorn country and further humanitarian aid for the Syrian people, according to the US State Department...
Ukrainian Greek Catholic Synod opens (ByzCath.org) The Ukrainian Greek Catholic Patriarchal Synod opened today with a celebration of the Divine Liturgy at the historic St. George’s Sobor in Lviv. His Beatitude Sviatoslav, father and head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church was the main celebrant. Forty bishops of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church from Ukraine, Western and Central Europe, North and South America and Australia were joined by His Beatitude Gregory III, the Melkite Greek Catholic Patriarch of Antioch and All the East, of Alexandria and of Jerusalem...
Group looks for ways to protect Middle East Christians (CNS) It’s becoming increasingly difficult for Chicagoan Mary Jennett to see and hear daily about the hardship and persecution Christians face, especially in the Middle East. So Jennett decided to do something about it by attending a convention in Washington on 7-9 September organized by In Defense of Christians, a group trying to find solutions to the persecution of Christians in the Middle East and the preservation of Christianity in areas of conflict around the world...
Indian government to amend Christian divorce law (Indian Express) With most states on board, the Union law ministry has cleared a proposal to amend a 147-year-old legal provision that compels Christian couples to wait for at least two years for divorce. The period of separation is one year for other religions. The ministry has decided to reduce the waiting period from two years to one year in cases of divorce by mutual consent of Christian couples after taking note of a clutch of cases in the Supreme Court and high courts challenging the discriminatory provision in the Divorce Act, 1869...
World Vision lays off contractors in Gaza (Reuters) Christian aid group World Vision has laid off about 120 contractors in the Gaza Strip following allegations by Israel that the agency’s operations manager in the territory had diverted funds to the Islamist group Hamas...
8 September 2016
Since 1971, the Sisters of Saint Dorothy have been spreading the love of Christ to hearing impaired children at the Pope Paul VI Ephpheta School in Bethlehem. (photo: Steve Sabella)
Some heroes we have known do work that we can only describe as miraculous.
Consider the Sisters of Saint Dorothy, who have been gently but persistently breaking through the sound of silence. For nearly half a century, they have run the Pope Paul VI Ephpheta School for the Hearing Impaired in Bethlehem — a facility that takes its name, Ephpheta, from the miracle Jesus performed on a man who could not hear.
Today, not far from where that famous event occurred, the miracles continue. And the Sisters of Saint Dorothy are helping to make them happen.
Ephpheta was founded at the request of Blessed Pope Paul VI after his visit to the Holy Land in 1964. Supported almost entirely by CNEWA, Ephpheta admits children on the basis of need, not their parents’ ability to pay.
We described it all in our magazine in 1996:
Ephpheta is run by the Sisters of Saint Dorothy, a largely Italian community dedicated to spreading the love of Christ through fostering human and Christian development. Although engaged in many types of educational and social work, the sisters have specialized in educating the deaf.
...The first step began before Ephpheta opened its doors in 1971. The Sisters of Saint Dorothy have more than 100 years of experience educating the deaf. They have developed their own methods for teaching the deaf how to speak. But before Italian sisters could teach Palestinian children how to speak their native Arabic, these sisters had to learn Arabic themselves.
This was no small hurdle: Arabic ranks among the most difficult of languages and it contains guttural sounds not found in Western languages. Europeans and Americans who learn Arabic as adults usually have great difficulty mastering these sounds. Imagine having to master them well enough to teach them to a deaf child! But that is one of the accomplishments of the Sisters of Saint Dorothy.
Other than their hearing disability, the children served by Ephpheta are healthy children. Most are deaf from birth.
Ephpheta begins working with children when they are 18 months old, or as soon as their hearing disability is diagnosed. They come with their parents to Ephpheta once or twice a week for a preadmission program of testing and counseling.
Ephpheta’s formal program begins at age three. There are three kindergarten classes for three-to five-year-olds, followed by six primary grade levels. Each class has a maximum size of 12 to 14 children, so that each child may receive individual attention. Teaching a deaf child to speak and lip-read requires a huge investment of individual attention and care.
...One classroom contained musical instruments, and I wondered whether the deaf could be taught music. “A deaf child can be taught everything,” Sister Francesca told me, “even music.” I listened as one of the older girls played a tune on a small organ, reading from sheet music. “Learning music is important because it teaches a sense of rhythm,” Sister Francesca went on, “and normal speech is rhythmic speech.” Even if this deaf girl could not hear the music she was playing, her mastery of the rhythm of its short notes and long notes would help her perfect the rhythm of short syllables and long syllables in speaking.
The aim of Ephpheta is to prepare a deaf child for integration into normal schools and normal society. Consequently, Ephpheta does not teach sign language. Sign language only allows a person to communicate with others who know sign language. Ephpheta teaches speaking and lipreading so that a deaf child will be able to communicate with everyone and lead as normal a life as possible. The ultimate goal is to help each child develop his or her maximum potential.
CNEWA is proud to support the work of the Sisters of Saint Dorothy, and to salute these determined heroes who are making what seemed impossible possible, one child at a time.
8 September 2016
In this image from November 2015, CNEWA President Msgr. John E. Kozar poses for a snapshot with young ladies at Alphonsa Balika Bhavan, a religious institute in Trivandrum in India.
8 September 2016
Children of migrants are cared for at the new Saint Rachel Center in Jerusalem, which opened Monday. (photo: Saint James Vicariate)
Saint Rachel Center opens in Jerusalem to serve migrants (Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem) On Monday 5 September 2016, activities were initiated at the Saint Rachel Center in Jerusalem, a new center for babies, children and youth in the Talbieh neighborhood in Jerusalem. The center is run by the Saint James Vicariate for Hebrew Speaking Catholics to respond to one of the most dramatic needs of the migrant population in Israel, which is for safe, healthy and nurturing day care for their small children...
Christians, Muslims discuss hate crimes in India (Vatican Radio) A consultation was organized by National Council of Churches, the umbrella organization of around 30 Protestant and Orthodox Churches in India, in New Delhi, India on 5-6 September, bringing Christians and Muslim leaders together seeking ways to check increasing violence against religious minorities in India...
Young Ethiopian chosen to head Christian movement (Vatican Radio) Berhanu Sinamo, is a 29-year-old teacher in Ethiopia. He is a Catholic. Berhanu has just been elected President of the International Coordinating Young Christian Workers (ICYCW) making him the first African to lead the movement. Berhanu was elected at the 9th ICYCW Congress that was held in Seoul, South Korea between 19 August — 1 September 2016...>
Muslim leader in Egypt seeks to build a new church to honor late Coptic pope (Christian Today) A Muslim MP in Egypt has submitted the first request to build a new church under a controversial law passed last week by the country’s parliament. The law, aimed at liberalizing church building and renovation, was hotly debated and received Church support only at the last minute amid fears it conceded too much to local opposition forces. The independent MP for the Assiut region in Upper Egypt, El-Badri Ahmed Deif, said he wanted to build the church in the village of Salam, which translates as ‘Peace,’ the birthplace of the late Coptic Orthodox Pope Shenouda III...
7 September 2016
Children of the Zabbaleen, or “garbage pickers,” greet visitors in Cairo. To see more images of this remarkable and faith-filled group of Egyptians, check out Msgr. John E. Kozar‘s photo essay from the Spring 2016 edition of ONE. You can also read about how they are Salvaging Dignity
from a 2012 profile. (photo: John E. Kozar)
7 September 2016
A Syrian man suffering from breathing difficulties is treated at a make-shift hospital in Aleppo after regime helicopters dropped barrel bombs on a rebel-held neighboorhod
on 6 September 2016. (photo: Thaer Mohammed/AFP/Getty Images)
Doctors in Syria tend to victims of suspected gas attack (The New York Times) As rebel negotiators unveiled a new plan on Wednesday for a political transition in Syria, doctors in the city of Aleppo were still treating people in intensive care after an attack believed to involve the use of chlorine gas sickened more than 120 people, including 10 women and 37 children...
Syrian refugees cling to survival in Jordan (The Los Angeles Times) Of the 670,000 Syrians registered with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Jordan, the vast majority — around 85 percent — live outside the relative security of refugee camps, where they don’t have to worry about paying for rent or utilities. Instead, they’ve found assorted housing in cities and towns, often in squalid conditions...
Egypt’s Christians say they are at a ‘breaking point’ (The New York Times) Once again, Egyptian Christians are feeling under siege, at least in Minya, a city on the banks of the Nile where about 40 percent of the population is Christian. And once again, Christian leaders are divided over how to respond. At the highest levels of the Coptic Orthodox Church, there is an effort to not make waves and to work with the central government to present an image of unity and calm. After a series of attacks on Copts this summer, the Coptic pope, Tawadros II, pleaded with his followers in the United States not to go ahead with planned demonstrations outside the White House intended to bring international attention to the violence...
At summit of churches in Amman: ‘We struggle against the rulers of darkness’ (Fides) The struggle involving the Christians of the Middle East, in this tragic phase of their history, is “not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly place,” said Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos III, who currently heads the Middle East Council of Churches...
India dedicates ‘St. Mother Teresa Road’ (Fides) Eastern India’s Odisha state, that was the theatre of one of the most atrocious anti-Christian violence in the nation’s history, commemorated the sainthood of Mother Teresa of Calcutta on Sunday by naming a new road after her in the state capital, Bhubaneshwar...
6 September 2016
Father Palathingal holds a young HIV patient named Christy, who never leaves the priest’s side.
(photo: K.L. Simon)
Several years ago, ONE took readers to a hospice in India offering care to AIDS patients.
That was when many readers first got to know a priest who worked with CNEWA for several years to support many of the unfortunate poor in India: the Rev. Varghese Palathingal.
He is known for his selfless and dedicated service to humanity, especially the marginalized.
His 25 years of service for the less fortunate, the abandoned, H.I.V.-positive patients and the homeless poor are remarkable and truly heroic.
To begin with, Father Palathingal founded the first community care and support center for the H.I.V./AIDS patients in South India, the Mar Kundukulam Memorial Research and Rehabilitation Complex.
He was able to help nearly 2,000 H.I.V.-positive patients, including children. The effort and risks taken by him had a significant impact. He gave peace and shelter to the patients who were about to die or had attempted suicide.
He not only cared for these persons but also provided rehabilitation for those who were regaining their health after treatment.
Father Palathingal educated the innocent children of the H.I.V./AIDS patients, those who were rejected from the regular school academies. He cared for these children in different ways.
First, he introduced prayer as therapy. He found this therapy is very useful for the patients to share their feelings and emotions; it brought them peace.
He also gave tremendous care to those who are mentally handicapped.Since 1987 he has been the Director and Principal of Pope Paul Mercy Home, a residential training center for those living with mental handicaps.
Every year nearly 500 mentally handicapped students get training from this special school without any discrimination. Father Palathingal introduced the practice of teaching these student in a natural, home-like setting. Through such specialized
training, the students were given a chance to improve themselves and be independent.At present, more than 6,000 persons have received training.
He also began new self employment opportunities for these disabled children. More than 500 boys and girls are employed in such fields as horticulture, masonry, gardening, cooking and printing, among others.
Father Palathingal is also a father figure for the destitute who cannot afford even one meal a day and who have no place to stay. Through a Noon Meal Program under a charitable society called Abhayam, started in 1996, he has been able to provide meals for almost 200 needy people every day in and around Thrissur. Now he chairs the organization. Through Abhayam, Father Varghese has been able to feed close to 480,000 hungry children so far.
Through the center for persons living with H.I.V./AIDS, Father Varghese Palathingal has worked to reduce the number of suicides among the patients, prolonging their lifespan. Usually these patients are rejected from the hospitals after first aid treatment.
But thanks to Father Palathingal, more patients are finding healing and hope. As he noted a few years ago:
“Most of them have attempted suicide. But after reaching the hospice, we find all of them yearn for life. They live happily though death awaits them. Our aim and motto is to give them a respectful and peaceful death.”
Read more about his work in Hoping Against Hope from the July-August 2004 edition of ONE.
6 September 2016
Students at the Al Bishara School in Ain Kawa, Iraq, near Erbil, get ready for class. The school serves children who were displaced by ISIS in 2014. (photo: John E. Kozar)