20 March 2015
In this image from 2013, Melkite Catholic Patriarch Gregoire III Laham is pictured visiting a church in Damascus, Syria. (photo: CNS/Youssef Badawi, EPA)
Patriarch rejects calls for outside military intervention in Syria (CNS) The head of the Melkite Catholic Church rejected outright all calls for an international military intervention in Syria and urged Pope Francis and all Christian churches to “promote a concrete and realistic road map” to peace in the beleaguered nation. “It is reckless to think of military interventions, conducted from the outside, to defend Christians in Syria and the Middle East,” said Melkite Patriarch Gregoire III Laham of Damascus, Syria...
Pope reorganizes Hungarian Greek Catholic Church (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has reorganized the Hungarian Greek Catholic Church, and has elevated it to a Metropolitan Church “sui iuris”...
Skirmishes continue along Ukraine’s front line, despite cease fire (NPR) Fighting in eastern Ukraine between Ukrainian forces and pro-Russia separatists has died down after a cease-fire agreement last month, but there are stretches of the front line where shooting has never really stopped. Near the village of Pisky, for instance, you can hear the dull thud of incoming mortar rounds, coming in sporadic waves...
Indian cardinal: protect “not only cows, but human beings” (The Australian) India’s most senior Catholic has appealed to the government to protect “not only cows, but human beings” following the rape of an elderly nun. The call from Cardinal Beselios Cleemis came as a Hindu Right leader claimed the exploitation of nuns was part of “Christian culture”. He flew to West Bengal yesterday for a bedside meeting with the 71-year-old nun attacked on Saturday at the Convent of Jesus and Mary school...
Syrian refugees seek new lives in U.S. (Indiana Public Media) The Brookings Institution says the influx of refugees into Jordan would be comparable to the United States taking in more than 23 million refugees in just two years. As a result of the high demand, other countries, including Germany, Sweden and the U.S., are starting to take in refugees. The U.S. began bringing in Syrian refugees in October and expects to allow in a total of 2,000 by the end of the fiscal year...
19 March 2015
Tags: Syria India Pope Francis Ukraine
In this image from 2005, Vincent Njarekaden and Father Titus Kattuparambil review an anti-drug poster in Kerala. The church has been working to help people in India battle alcohol and drug addiction. To learn how, read “One Day At a Time in Kerala,” from the July 2005 edition of ONE.
(photo: Cody Christopulos)
19 March 2015
In this image from January, displaced Iraqi Yazidi children greet Catholic Relief Service workers and a delegation of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops during a visit to
Shariah Collective, Iraq. (photo: CNS/Dale Gavlak)
UN: ISIS may have committed genocide against Yazidis in Iraq (The Guardian) The United Nations human rights office has said that Islamic State fighters may have committed genocide against the minority Yazidi community in Iraq as well as crimes against humanity and war crimes against civilians including children. In a report based on interviews with more than 100 alleged victims and witnesses, published on Thursday, it urged the UN security council to refer the situation to the international criminal court for prosecution of the perpetrators. The report also said Iraqi government forces and affiliated militias “may have committed some war crimes” while battling the insurgency...
Catholic leader in Israel hopes Netanyahu victory gives impetus to pursue lasting peace (Vatican Radio) As right-wing Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu celebrates his latest election victory, analysts are asking what hopes remain for any peace negotiations with the Palestinians. In the run-up to Tuesday’s vote, the Likud party leader ruled out the creation of a Palestinian state in what he called the current context of rising Islamic extremism and instability in the Middle East. Jesuit Father David Neuhaus is in charge of the small Hebrew-speaking Catholic community in Israel. He wasn’t surprised by Netanyahu’s win in the polls, but he says this election victory may also provide new impetus for the international community to step up its pressure on the Israeli government and provide an alternative vision for lasting peace in the region...
U.S. Allies may send troops to Syria (Reuters) Some U.S. allies in the fight against ISIS militants in Syria may be willing to send troops to accompany and support the Syrian opposition force the coalition is planning to train and send back to Syria, Army General Ray Odierno said Wednesday. Odierno, the U.S. Army chief of staff, told the Senate Armed Services Committee the military was aware the Syrian opposition force would need help and support once it returned home and was studying how best to provide that assistance...
Poland welcomes Ukrainian refugees (BBC) Almost 200 Ukrainians from the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, carrying just one suitcase each, were bussed from the warzone to Kharkiv in north-eastern Ukraine before being flown to a military airfield in northern Poland. To qualify for evacuation they had to have at least one Polish ancestor in the family. Now they are living together in a centre run by Catholic charity Caritas. It sits in a beautiful location on a wooded hillside above a large lake a few kilometres south of the town of Stawiguda...
18 March 2015
Tags: Syria Iraq Ukraine Refugees Israel
A mother from Samalut, Egypt, helps her son with his homework. To learn more about the particular challenges facing women in Egypt, read “Spotlight: Coptic Women” from the September 2011 edition of ONE. (photo: Holly Pickett)
18 March 2015
A Syrian girl looks out from a UNICEF tent in an informal settlement near Amman, Jordan,
on 14 March (photo: CNS/Muhammad Hamed, Reuters)
Netanyahu claims victory in election (CNN) Benjamin Netanyahu appears poised to keep his job as Israel’s Prime Minister, declaring victory Wednesday following a bitter campaign punctuated by his last-minute appeals to right-wing voters...
Vatican: Syrian children risk becoming “lost generation” (CNS) Without family, a legal identity and adequate education, children uprooted by the ongoing violence in Syria and the Middle East “are at risk of becoming a lost generation,” said Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, permanent observer of the Holy See to the United Nations in Geneva. The archbishop noted that “children suffer the brutal consequences” of war and called for a “comprehensive system of protection for children” in these conflict zones...
United States returns looted artifacts to Iraq (NPR) The U.S. returned dozens of artifacts to the Iraqi government Monday. The cultural treasures, some dating back more than 4,000 years, were looted from Iraq and smuggled into the United States...
Egypt announces plans to build a new capital city (The Washington Post) Over the weekend, Egypt unveiled plans to build a wholly new capital. The new city would lie somewhere to Cairo’s east, closer to the Red Sea. It would sprawl across some 150 square miles and potentially be home to as many as 7 million people. Projected to cost $45 billion, it was announced at a summit in the seaside resort of Sharm El-Sheikh aimed at boosting the country’s flagging economy...
16 March 2015
Tags: Syria Iraq Egypt Israel
Greek Catholic seminarians in Hungary prepare the altar for the celebration of the Divine Liturgy.
(photo: Tivadar Domaniczky)
In 2007, we paid a visit to seminarians in northeastern Hungary:
Today’s seminarians are concerned about deteriorating communities, indifference, commercialism and a lack of family and community values. “People are not open enough with each other,” said Gyözö Balogh. “Maybe because they don’t know each other’s values and traditions, they have this fear.”
Gyözö Balogh is one of two Romany (more commonly known as Gypsy) Greek Catholic seminarians and aspires to become the first Romany priest in Hungary. Even as a child, he knew he wanted to be a Greek Catholic priest. “It was strange though when I first talked about it,” he recalled.
Eventually, Gyözö’s family took him seriously and sent him to a Greek Catholic secondary school that opened in 1991.
“Now my friends accept it.”
Read more about what it takes “To Be a Priest” in the March 2007 edition of ONE.
16 March 2015
In this image from October, refugees sit with their belongings after crossing the border from Syria into Turkey near Suruc, Turkey. (photo by Carsten Koall/Getty Images)
Syria’s military on offensive as conflict enters fifth year (Reuters) Syria’s air force carried out air strikes on Sunday on Douma city, an insurgent stronghold northeast of Damascus, with 18 people killed and at least 100 wounded including children and other civilians, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. Overnight, Syria’s military killed dozens of combatants in southern Syria linked to al Qaeda’s Nusra Front including three senior members, state media reported. Four years into the conflict, the military has concentrated its forces in the south, the capital Damascus and areas along the country’s western coast...
Saddam Hussein’s tomb heavily damaged during fighting (Al Jazeera) The tomb of Iraq’s late ruler Saddam Hussein has suffered extensive damage in clashes between fighters from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant group (ISIL) and Iraqi security forces in a fight for control of the city of Tikrit. Fighting intensified to the north and south of Hussein’s hometown on Sunday as Iraqi security forces vowed to reach the centre of Tikrit within 48 hours. Video from the Associated Press news agency from the village of Ouja, just south of Tikrit, shows all that remains of Hussein’s once-lavish tomb are the support columns that held up the roof...
Kerala budget proposes panel for Dalit Christians (The Indian Express) Stung by the recent trend of converted Christians returning to Hinduism, the Kerala budget has made a proposal to set up a new commission to study how Dalit Christians could be brought to mainstream society...
Nun raped in West Bengal, India (Vatican Radio) A 72-year-old Catholic nun was allegedly gang-raped by around eight dacoits at a school-cum-convent in Eastern India’s State of West Bengal, late Friday night. The nun is undergoing surgery; her condition is said to be critical. According to authorities of the Convent of Jesus and Mary, at Ranagath, the accused broke into the convent after 1 am and allegedly raped the ailing nun. After tying three of the five sisters, they entered the principal’s room and ransacked it, destroying property and taking money, a laptop and a mobile phone, Fr. Dominic Gomes, Vicar General of Kolkata Archdiocese, said in a statement...
UN alarmed over plight of children in Ukraine (Vatican Radio) The United Nations has expressed alarm over the impact of Ukraine’s ongoing conflict on children, amid ongoing concerns over a fragile ceasefire and fresh revelations about the downing of a passenger plane last year...
13 March 2015
Tags: Syria Iraq India Kerala ISIS
A young mother takes her child to church, a sign of a new generation taking root in the Armenian Catholic congregation at Sts. Peter and Paul in Tbilisi, Georgia. To learn more about Armenian Catholics in Georgia, read “A Firm Faith” in the Spring 2014 edition of ONE.
(photo: Molly Corso)
13 March 2015
Iraqi Christians attend Mass at a church in Baghdad on 1 March.
(photo: CNS/Ahmed Saad, Reuters)
Holy See draws up declaration supporting Christians in Middle East (Vatican Radio) The Holy See, together with the Russian Federation and Lebanon, has drawn up a declaration in support of Christians and members of other communities in the Middle East who continue to suffer from serious human rights violations. The statement from the Holy See’s Permanent Observer to the United Nations in Geneva will be presented on Friday, 13 March, during the assembly of the 28th Session of the UN’s Human Rights Council in the Palais des Nations...
After four years, Syria’s humanitarian crisis deepens (Vatican Radio) This week will mark the fourth year since the beginning of the uprising in Syria, and a political solution to the crisis continues to be nowhere in sight. The humanitarian situation is growing worse, and fewer and fewer people have adequate access to health care. Before the conflict began, Syria possessed an advanced health care system, but now more than half of all hospitals have been destroyed or severely damaged due to the war...
Iraq’s first Christian brigade set to battle ISIS (Al Arabiya) Iraq’s first Christian-only brigade of regular forces graduated Thursday to help retake the community’s towns and villages from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group. The new brigade will answer to the government of Iraq’s autonomous Kurdish region, whose pesh merga fighters are playing a leading role in the war against the militants...
Gaza exports first produce to Israel since 2007 (AP) Israeli authorities allowed the import of Gaza produce on Thursday for the first time since Hamas seized control of the territory in 2007, a move that will aid Gaza’s battered economy and help pious Jews observe a biblical farming sabbatical. Some 27 tons of tomatoes and five tons of eggplants were cleared to leave Gaza for Israel, Palestinian officials and Gaza merchants said...
12 March 2015
Tannu, blind and confined to a wheelchair, is one of the girls receiving education and care at
San Joe Puram in India (photo: by John Matthew)
Jose Kavi reports on a remarkable village for children in India in the Winter edition of ONE. Here, he offers his impressions of one young resident in particular.
One of the most cheerful persons I have met is Tannu.
The 14-year-old wheelchair-bound girl is a star at San Joe Puram Children’s Village, one of the few institutions in India for inclusive education.
With her withered legs dangling from her chair, Tannu greets everyone with a smiling “Jai Yesu” (“Victory to Jesus”) in Hindi.
There is always a rush around her when she comes out of the chapel or a classroom.
Young and old jostle around her, competing to push her wheelchair to Rani Sadan, one of the seven houses within San Joe Puram. The orphan girl lives there with eight other differently abled and four normal girls under the guidance of four sisters of the Franciscan Clarist Congregation.
“One finds Tannu smiling always,” says Sister Jesmy Paul, a physiotherapist nun who had brought the girl as a three-year-old child from Tihar Jail, India’s largest prison, situated in New Delhi. “We have no details about her parents,” she added.
Tannu says she feels great there. “I hope to walk one day, because Sister Jesmy Paul is giving me physiotherapy,” she said optimistically when I met her.
Sister Paul said Tannu was indeed walking to school when she left San Joe Puram on transfer eight years ago. “We had massaged her legs day in and out from the day she came to our house. She responded well and managed to get up and walk.”
After Sister Paul left, there was no one to continue physiotherapy and Tannu’s condition worsened. So, the nun was called back to resume physiotherapy.
But all this does not worry Tannu.
“I want to be a teacher,” she said. She was quite sure of her future.
She said she could be at the top of her class if she could write a little faster. “In school I find it hard to write, so I am a bit behind,” she said.
Tannu came to talk to me from the TV room, where she was watching the live telecast of the canonization of two Indians at the Vatican.
She could speak Hindi, English and “a little bit” of Malayalam, her mentor’s mother tongue. However her favorite subject is English.
She is sings well—mostly Christians hymns that she picks from the church. After a little persuasion, she sang with a quivering voice: “Lord, come softly and take me into your bosom. Stay with me and give me great happiness. Let peace bloom within me.”
Tannu, who is a Hindu, says her only desire is to be baptized. Her reasons are simple. “Jesus died on the cross for our sins,” she told me. “He loves children a lot.”
On Sundays she goes to the main chapel with others for Mass. She also attends Mass on Thursdays, when it is offered in Rani Sadan.
Tannu said she likes to pray. “I talk to God about whatever comes to my mind. I pray mostly for help in studies. I also pray for my companions and those helping them.”
Like others, she also gets up at five in the morning. “I manage everything myself,” she said. “If I find something difficult to do, I get help from others.”
She does feel sad during vacation, when others go home. “I have nowhere to go. I have an uncle who visits me occasionally. But he does not take me home because his wife does not like me. She scolds me a lot.”
She does not remember her parents. “I was told that I had a brother and my mother gave both of us to different people when we were infants.”
Sister Paul says they are trying their best to make Tannu walk again. “If physiotherapy does not work, we will find if she could be helped through surgery.”
With such an optimistic mentor, perhaps it won’t be long before Tannu is able to walk to her future singing, “Lord, come softly and fill me with peace.”
Read more about “A Place of Promise and Providence” in the Winter edition of ONE.