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.
12 March 2015
Tamás Fekete stands in his paprika field in Homokmégy, Hungary. (photo: Jacqueline Ruyak)
A few years back, we took readers on a culinary tour of Hungary and discovered a flavorful part of the country’s national character paprika:
Paprika is synonymous with Hungarian cuisine, yet it is a comparative latecomer to the country’s long, richly flavored food culture. Columbus gets the credit for first bringing Capsicum, and other members of the Solanaceae, to Europe from the New World. Called Indian pepper, it was regarded as an ornamental plant with possible medicinal uses. In the 16th century, it was used as a seasoning, mixed with other spices, on the Iberian Peninsula. Elsewhere it was a prized garden ornamental and naturalized, as such, both across Europe and the Turkish empire. In Hungary, it appeared in aristocratic gardens around 1570 as a rare exotic called red Turkish pepper.
The first recorded use of paprika, a Bulgarian diminutive of the Latin piper (pepper), was in a 1775 garden book by Josef Csapo who wrote that peasants ground paprika pods into powder and flavored their food with it — so did fishermen and shepherds. In the late 18th century, Ubaldus, a Capuchin from Austria, wrote of the Kalocsa area: “The spice in their food is a red beast called paprika that burns like the devil.” In the 1820’s, recipes using paprika first appeared in Hungarian cookbooks. By the mid-1800’s, the peasant spice, with its characteristic color, aroma and flavor, had taken over Hungarian cuisine and, eventually, the cuisine of Central and Eastern Europe.
In Homokmegy, a village about six miles from Kalocsa, it was almost harvest time for Tamás and Katalin Fekete, Tony’s parents. Retired farmers, they still plant about three-fifths of an acre of paprika each year. Row after row of the low bushy paprika plants was covered with fiery red conical fruit. Compounds called capsantin and capsorubin give Capsicum varieties their red color when ripe; another, called capsaicin, gives them their characteristic hot taste. Paprika is either sweet (mild) or hot. Tony’s parents grow the sweet paprika for which Kalocsa is famous.
Read more and discover some recipes in Red Gold & Spicy from the September 2005 edition of ONE.
12 March 2015
Displaced Assyrians, who had fled their hometowns due to Islamic State attacks against their communities, take part in a prayer at the Ibrahim al Khalil Melkite Greek Catholic Church on the outskirts of Damascus on 1 March. (photo: Louai Beshara/AFP/Getty Images)
15 March 2015: A day of fasting, prayer for war-torn Syria (Catholic News Agency) As the fourth anniversary of the beginning of the Syrian civil war approaches, the head of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church has called for a world day of prayer and fasting for peace in his country. “Lent is a way of the cross, and we are in the fifth year of the way of the cross of our Arab countries, especially in Syria, Iraq and Palestine, but also in Lebanon, which is influenced in a dramatic way by the wars that have flared up around it,” wrote Melkite Greek Catholic Patriarch Gregory III of Antioch…
U.N. urges support to pull Syrians out of ‘nightmare of suffering’ (U.N. News Center) As the Syria conflict enters its fifth year, the United Nations is urging for greater support to help the millions of refugees, including millions of children, across the region caught up in alarmingly deteriorating conditions and facing an even bleaker future than initially thought…
Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew visits refugee camp (Serbian Orthodox Church) Last week, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew visited refugees from Iraq on the northeast Turkish border of Yalova, near the east coast of the Sea of Marmara…
Lebanon struggles to aid Iraqi refugees (AINA) Iraqis have been leaving their country following the expansion of the Islamic State into their areas. Approximately 30,000 Iraqis, of all Christian and Muslim denominations, have arrived in Lebanon since July, according to Chaldean Archbishop in Lebanon Michel Kassarji. Of this number, 7,000 are registered with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)…
11 March 2015
Tags: Syria Lebanon Refugees Iraqi Refugees Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I
Catechumens greet CNEWA’s president Msgr. John Kozar on his recent pastoral visit to India. To learn more about his trip, and see more photos, read Reaching the Unreached in India in the Winter 2014 edition of ONE. (photo: John E. Kozar)
11 March 2015
Tags: India Indian Christians Indian Catholics
A Sunni woman weeps after fleeing her village near the city of Tikrit, Iraq, on 8 March. (photo: Ahmad Al-Rubaye/AFP/Getty Images)
Iraqis in Tikrit feel trapped by war (USA Today) Omer al Juburi could have left Tikrit a few weeks ago, but he stayed because he didn’t want to abandon his home and grocery store or force his wife and three children to become refugees. He and many others have been trapped, as Iraqi Shiite militias and government forces wage a pitched battle to wrest back control of Saddam Hussein’s hometown from the radical Islamic State group…
Iraq: Islamic State ‘destroys historical church’ in Mosul (Anadolu Agency) An Iraqi government representative has accused the Islamic State of destroying a historical church early Monday in Mosul. Dureid Hikmat Tobia, a Nineveh province official, says the militant group blew up St. Markourkas Church — a tenth-century Chaldean Catholic building…
Syrian rebels’ march on Damascus becomes fight for their survival (Christian Science Monitor) With the Syrian crisis entering its fifth year, a months-long campaign by the largest antigovernment militia in the south to march on Damascus and turn the tide of the war has become a bitter fight for its very survival…
Pope to wash feet of prisoners on Holy Thursday (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis will visit inmates and staff of a Rome prison on Holy Thursday, 2 April. The Prefecture of the Papal Household reports that the pope will visit the new complex of the Casa Circondariale Rebibbia in the Rome suburbs, where he will wash the feet of a group of male prisoners and female inmates from the nearby women’s penitentiary…
10 March 2015
Tags: Syria Iraq Pope Francis Refugees Iraqi Refugees
Cardinal Edward Egan, 1932–2015 (photo: John E. Kozar)
We join our prayers today with so many others being offered for the repose of New York’s retired archbishop, Cardinal Edward Egan. Many will be gathering at St. Patrick’s Cathedral for his funeral this afternoon.
Cardinal Egan was a devoted and passionate friend of Catholic Near East Welfare Association. He was proud to serve as CNEWA’s president during his tenure as archbishop. An enthusiastic supporter of our work around the world, Cardinal Egan gave selflessly of his time, his insight, his attention and his prayers as we worked to further CNEWA’s mission in the Middle East, Africa, India and so many other places in need.
Long after he retired, he remained a loyal reader of our magazine, ONE, and never failed to offer his encouragement, friendship and prayers whenever and wherever it was needed. I’ll always cherish and remember fondly the personal expressions of support he offered to me on so many occasions after I joined CNEWA.
As we pray for him, we hope he will continue to pray for us — and that his love and fervor will accompany us as we continue to accompany so many of our brothers and sisters who are seeking healing, consolation and hope.
Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him. May his soul and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.
10 March 2015
Tags: CNEWA Priests
An Assyrian woman prays at a church in Damascus on 1 March during a special liturgy for Assyrian Christians abducted by Islamic State fighters. (photo: CNS/Omar Sanadiki, Reuters)
Christian leaders again called for help for Assyrian Christians as Islamic State militants stepped up their attacks against their towns in northern Syria. Catholic News Service reports:
Syria’s northeast Hassake province is emerging as the new battlefield in the fight against the extremist group. Analysts say Hassake province, which extends like a thumb into neighboring Iraq and Turkey, could become the fault line of a new multi-front and lengthy war between Islamic State militants and Christians allied with Kurdish fighters.
“This is a very dangerous situation,” said Bassam Ishak, president of the Syriac National Council of Syria, warning of the major new offensive
on Christian villages along the Khabur River. “The villages on the south side of the river are in the hands of Islamic State militants,” Ishak told CNS. “They took Tal Nasri, which is very close to Tal Tamar,” Ishak explained. Tal Tamar “is at the crossroads of many highways to Aleppo, Syria’s second biggest city; to Qamishli, to Hassake and Ras al Ain.”
The March attacks follow a raid by Islamic State militants on a cluster of villages along the Khabur River on 23 February. More than 220 Assyrian Christians residents and other minorities were abducted then. About 20 Assyrian Christians were later released. Meanwhile, the apostolic nuncio to Syria, Archbishop Mario Zenari, told the Rome-based missionary news agency AsiaNews that Islamic State militants released 52 abducted Assyrian Christian families without ransom payment on 5 and 6 March.
“The 52 families who were held for days by the jihadists” are now safe, the archbishop told AsiaNews 9 March. “The militia still holds 16 people. Half of them are Christians; the other half is made up of Kurds.”
No Assyrian or other organizations reported similar information to confirm the news.
A statement issued by the Syriac National Council of Syria, the European Syriac Union, and the Christian Coalition for Syria said Islamic State militants seized “all villages on the south bank of the Khabur and several villages on the north bank.”
Catholic News Service obtained a copy of the statement, which warned that the extremist group will “try to cross the Khabur with large numbers of fighters and heavy weapons — vastly stronger than the lightly armed self-defense forces of both Christians and Kurds in the area.
Read the rest of the report.
Please continue to keep the people of Syria in your prayers. To learn how you can support them in this time of urgent need, please visit this giving page.
Tags: Syria Violence against Christians War