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Summer, 2014
Volume 40, Number 2
imageofweek From the Archive
In this 1996 image, children attend a festival in New York celebrating Greek heritage. (photo: Karen Lagerquist)
  
20 June 2014
J.D. Conor Mauro




An icon by Ian Knowles, written directly on concrete, adorns one of the segments of the Israeli separation wall near the Rachel’s Tomb checkpoint in Bethlehem. Read more about Prayers in Paint in the Summer issue of ONE. (photo: Tanya Habjouqa)



Tags: Palestine Bethlehem Art Icons Separation Barrier
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20 June 2014
J.D. Conor Mauro




A woman walks past the site of a car bomb attack on 18 June 18 in Baghdad, Iraq. At least 13 people were killed and 30 others wounded in a car bomb explosion in Baghdad’s mainly Shiite neighborhood of Sadr City, according to police and hospital officials. (photo: CNS/Wissm al Okili, Reuters)

Caritas Iraq: Many Baghdad families fled fearing civil war (Vatican Radio) Nabil Nissan, executive director of Caritas Iraq, says that many of Baghdad’s inhabitants have fled the city for the Kurdish enclave in the north or other areas of Iraq because “they fear a civil war.” He said Caritas Iraq is mobilizing its resources to help care for the tens of thousands of displaced people, including Christians, who were forced to flee their homes in the northern city of Mosul after it fell to the ISIS militants…

Fuel shortages and power cuts dominate ISIS-controlled Mosul (Financial Times) Fuel shortages and power outages are putting pressure on the Islamist insurgents who last week seized control of Iraq’s second-largest city. The reports suggest Isis is either keeping a loose grip to maintain public good will or, as several residents described, has handed over control of the city, at least temporarily, to nationalist Sunni insurgent groups with a different social vision while the hardline group fights for control of other cities and the crucial nearby oil refinery at Baiji. “There is no Isis in Mosul. The ones controlling city are now the clans” or tribal armed groups, said a 58-year-old Mosul travel agency employee. “There are 12 different armed groups, but the power is with the tribes…”

Aleppo fears new ISIS offensive (Al Monitor) The spectacular and shocking offensive in Iraq by ISIS that has seen the extremist terror group take large areas in the west of the country, including its second largest city, Mosul, has the entire region and the world rightly worried. ISIS is said to boast an army of 10,000 fierce fighters, more than $2 billion in assets and huge caches of weapons and equipment seized from the Iraqi army, making it a serious threat to global security. Rebels holed up in Aleppo worry that ISIS’ newfound power and advanced military hardware in Iraq will result in a renewed offensive on Aleppo…

Lebanon car bomb attack kills two, shatters months of relative calm (Los Angeles Times) A suicide car bomb that may have targeted Lebanon’s internal security chief exploded Friday on the Beirut-Damascus highway, killing at least two people and wounding dozens, according to official and media accounts. It was the first such attack after several months of relative calm in Lebanon and raised fears that the sectarian-fueled violence that has lately erupted in Iraq could be reverberating in this vulnerable Middle Eastern nation. Lebanon has long experienced episodes of spillover violence from the war in neighboring Syria…

Lebanon roads locked down over security fears (Daily Star Lebanon) After the news of the bombing spread around the country, security forces took extreme measures in closing off all major roads in the country, fearing further attacks…

Israel seizes political, military opportunity in teens’ disappearance (Electronic Intifada) Since three Israeli youths went missing while hitchhiking in the occupied West Bank on 12 June, Israel has mobilized all its resources “to crush Hamas in the West Bank and destroy the recently formed unity government as well as collectively punish the Palestinian people,” said the rights group Addameer in a fact sheet issued today on Israel’s ongoing West Bank military assault and the Palestinian hunger strike long underway in Israeli prisons…

U.N. says global population of displaced tops 50 million (U.N. News Center) World Refugee Day marks yet another somber milestone in a year of crisis. A new U.N. report reveals that the number of refugees, asylum-seekers and internally displaced people has, for the first time in the post-World War II era, exceeded 50 million people…



Tags: Syrian Civil War Iraq War Israeli-Palestinian conflict United Nations
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19 June 2014
J.D. Conor Mauro




In this photo from 2009, two years before Syria’s civil war, youth in Aleppo participate in a dance workshop hosted by an organization that uses sports to bridge sectarian divides. To learn more about this scene, read Lebanon’s Urban Youth, from the July 2010 issue of ONE. (photo: Spencer Osberg)



Tags: Lebanon Unity Art Dialogue Youth
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19 June 2014
J.D. Conor Mauro




As Islamist militants battle Iraqi security forces for control of towns and cities not far from Baghdad, the capital has taken on the tense feel of a city under siege. (video: CNN)

Assyrians and Christians under attack in Iraq and Syria (AINA) With extremists battling for control of Iraq’s largest oilfield on Tuesday, raising the stakes in a burgeoning war against the central government in Baghdad, Iraq’s Christians once again find themselves at risk. Over the past 10 days, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, a fundamentalist Islamist group, has streamed across the Nineveh plains of northern Iraq from its bases in eastern Syria, capturing a line of towns and cities, including several with large Assyrian and Chaldean Christian populations…

Black flags fly over Iraqi refinery, as U.S. weighs cooperation with Iran (Al Jazeera) ISIL fighters, who want to carve out an Islamic caliphate stretching across Iraq and Syria, have reportedly made progress at Iraq’s largest oil refinery. The rebels hung their black banners on watchtowers at the Baiji refinery, 150 miles north of Baghdad, a witness said Thursday, though a top Iraqi security official said the government still held the facility…

Ukrainian Catholic leader appeals for Christian reconciliation (AsiaNews.it) Against the backdrop of the Ukrainian crisis, tensions are getting worse between local Catholics and the Orthodox Patriarchate of Moscow, which continues to denounce the Greek Catholic Church in Ukraine for its alleged involvement with Western policy vis-à-vis Russia. In making an appeal for reconciliation, Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk hopes Moscow will recognize the dignity of the Ukrainian people and open a sincere dialogue based on truth…

United Nations: ‘Climate of fear’ grips eastern Ukraine (U.N. News Center) With United Nations monitors reporting today that armed separatists have used killings, abductions and torture to instill a “climate of intimidation and fear” in eastern Ukraine, the world body’s human rights chief urged all armed groups to put down their weapons, end the violence and begin the process of long-term reconciliation…

Syrian refugees in Turkey exceed 1 million mark (The Guardian) The number of Syrians in neighboring Turkey has surpassed 1 million, the Turkish deputy prime minister has said. There are more than 20 refugee camps in Turkey near the roughly 500-mile border with Syria housing more than 220,000 people. But the bulk of people who have crossed the border are living in Turkish cities, mostly in the provinces of Hatay, Gaziantep and Sanliurfa. They have taken advantage of the “open border” policy maintained by Turkey, a staunch opponent of the regime in Damascus, towards Syrian refugees…



Tags: Iraq Refugees Ukraine Iraqi Christians United Nations
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18 June 2014
J.D. Conor Mauro




A pilgrim prays in the Church of Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. Recently, pilgrims to this holy site included Pope Francis, who used his visit as an opportunity to invite the presidents of Israel and Palestine, Shimon Peres and Mahmoud Abbas, to participate in a subsequent “invocation for peace” at the Vatican. (photo: Paul Souders)



Tags: Pope Francis Jerusalem Israeli-Palestinian conflict Pilgrimage/pilgrims Church of the Holy Sepulchre
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18 June 2014
J.D. Conor Mauro




Iraqi refugees are seen in a camp near the northern city of Erbil on 12 June. Hundreds of thousands of people who have fled their homes in Mosul are left without access to aid, officials said. Christians from the city say they were targeted long before Iraqi security forces abandoned the major political and economic hub. (photo: CNS/Stringer, EPA)

Pope Francis appeals for concrete help for refugees (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis appealed to institutions to offer concrete help to the hundreds of thousands of refugees who continue to flee conflict and persecution in their homelands…

A country implodes: ISIS pushes Iraq to the brink (Der Spiegel) The militant organization known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria has occupied vast portions of Syria and Iraq in the hopes of establishing a caliphate. The jihadists’ success lays bare Iraq’s disintegration and could ignite yet another civil war between Shiites and Sunnis in the country…

Chaldean archbishop of Mosul: Armed intervention does not solve problems (Fides) “In the villages in the Nineveh plain that accommodated part of the population fleeing from Mosul, the situation is worsening day by day. There has been no water and electricity for two days. Fuel is beginning to run out. And last night, a part of Mosul was bombed, causing a new exodus of civilians,” said Chaldean Archbishop Amel Shamon Nona of Mosul…

ISIS and government forces battle for control of Iraq’s largest oil refinery (Christian Science Monitor) Iraq’s largest oil refinery is under attack by Islamic militants northwest of Baghdad, threatening domestic oil and electricity supplies and signaling the rapid acceleration of the group’s offensive against Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki’s Shiite government…

Ukraine president announces ‘unilateral’ cease-fire plan (Los Angeles Times) Ukraine’s president said Wednesday that government forces will unilaterally cease fire to allow pro-Russian separatists in the east of the country a chance to lay down weapons or leave the country, a potential major development to bring peace to the country…

Syria conflict: Toxic chemicals ‘used systematically’ in attacks (BBC) A team from the world’s chemical weapons watchdog believes toxic chemicals such as chlorine are being used in a “systematic manner” in Syria. The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons sent a fact-finding mission to the country’s north last month to investigate several incidents. The inspectors’ preliminary report says information was gathered that seemed to corroborate the testimony of medics…

Palestinians freed in 2011 Gilad Shalit prisoner-swap back in custody (The Guardian) More than 50 Palestinians released in 2011 as part a high-profile deal to free Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit are back in custody after they were arrested during Israeli military operations to locate three missing teenagers. The overnight arrests — 65 in total — bring the number of Palestinians detained during the military campaign to locate the teenagers to 240, the Israeli Defense Forces confirmed on Wednesday. Gilad Shalit was an Israeli soldier captured in Gaza by Hamas in 2006 and held for five years before being traded for the release of 1,027 Palestinians…



Tags: Syrian Civil War Iraq Refugees Ukraine Iraqi Refugees
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17 June 2014
J.D. Conor Mauro




Students gather in front of St. John’s Lower Primary School, where Archbishop Joseph Kundukulam had his early education. To read about the late archbishop’s many humanitarian initiatives, which continue to provide stability and care to their communities and change lives in India, read Remembering India’s “Father of the Poor,” from the Spring 2014 issue of ONE. (photo: Jose Jacob)



Tags: India Poor/Poverty Indian Christians Indian Bishops
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17 June 2014
J.D. Conor Mauro




Claiming it owes $4.5 billion in unpaid bills, Russia has cut off Ukraine from its gas supply. Ukraine’s prime minister claims the move is intended to destabilize Ukraine. Kim Vinnell reports. (video: Al Jazeera)

Russia halts gas supplies to Ukraine amid clashes (Vatican Radio) Ukraine says neighboring Russia has cut off all natural gas supplies to Kiev, in a major escalation of a dispute over outstanding debt between the two nations. The latest standoff comes after Moscow also expressed anger over a crackdown by Ukrainian government forces on pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine’s troubled east…

The Ecumenical Laboratory of Ukraine (Catholic World Report) In this interview with the Catholic World Report, Cardinal Lubomyr Husar, who led the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church from 2001 until his retirement in 2011, offers his characteristically candid insight into the role of the church in Ukraine’s Maidan movement, the question of ecumenism in Ukraine, and the oftentimes complex relationship between the Catholic and Russian Orthodox churches…

Iraq’s fleeing Christians find safe haven in Kurdistan (France24) Mosul, in northern Iraq, had a substantial Christian population of around 10,000 until Sunni Islamist militants belonging to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria took the city in their lightning offensive last week. Most of them have fled, seeking refuge in nearby Kurdistan, an autonomous Kurdish territory where they feel protected from the hardline Sunni fighters by the local army…

Iraq conflict: Clashes on approaches to Baghdad (BBC) Iraqi government forces are engaged in heavy clashes with Sunni insurgents who have made major advances in the past week. Parts of the city of Baquba — just 37 miles from Baghdad — were briefly taken over by the rebels. Reports say 44 prisoners were killed during fighting at a police station in the city…

Israel considering expelling Hamas leaders from West Bank (The Guardian) Israel is considering expelling Hamas leaders from the West Bank to Gaza as part of its response to the kidnapping of three teenagers, which it has blamed on the Islamist group. The deliberations come as Israel continued to round up members of Hamas in six West Bank towns for the third night running, including senior Palestinian lawmakers, in one of the biggest waves of arrests in recent years…



Tags: Iraq Ukraine Iraqi Christians War Israeli-Palestinian conflict
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16 June 2014
Greg Kandra




In this image from 2004, Sister Nahla tends to a patient at the Al Jamh-Al Zahrawi Hospital
in Mosul. (photo: Philip Toscano-Heighton)


Mosul’s remaining Christians have cleared out, according to news reports, but CNEWA’s partners on the ground, the Dominican Sisters of St. Catherine of Siena, are staying put.

The sisters, who run our maternity clinic in Zerqa, Jordan, and whose various apostolates are supported thanks to our generous benefactors, are safe for now.

A report last week noted:

Following the takeover of the northern Iraqi city of Mosul by Islamic extremists this week, an estimated 500,000 civilians poured out of the city, fleeing bullets and burning wreckage. Yet, in all the chaos, one group remains resolute in its determination to stay in Mosul: the Dominican Sisters of St. Catherine of Siena, a congregation of Iraqi sisters that has witnessed generation upon generation of war and carnage.

Sr. Donna Markham, former prioress of the Dominican Sisters of Adrian, Michigan, spoke with the sisters in Mosul by phone three days after the extremist group ISIS, also known as ISIL, took the city. They told her the militants had left and were marching toward Baghdad, which they had promised to take next.

Still, the sisters are far from safe. In addition to reports that there is no electricity in post-siege Mosul and that water supplies are low, the sisters also face the burden of living in a region that has become increasingly hostile to Christians.

In 2004, we profiled these committed and courageous sisters, as they endured the US-led invasion and its aftermath:

As war approached last spring most Iraqis sealed their windows and stored food and water.

The Dominican Sisters of St. Catherine of Siena also made special housing arrangements and collected necessities, but not for themselves.

As they had done 12 years earlier, the sisters prepared a safety net for the people of the northern Iraqi city of Mosul and surrounding villages, many of whom are still suffering from the fallout of the second war between Saddam Hussein’s Iraq and the United States.

Before the fighting began, the sisters went door-to-door collecting food, which they stored and then distributed during the war to those who came to the convent looking for help. They also distributed food and medicine purchased with help from CNEWA.

The sisters offered refuge to all in village churches, particularly in Kerakush. There, Christians and Muslims slept together as bombs pounded nearby Mosul for several nights in a row, said Sister Shirine Hanoush from the motherhouse in Mosul, where she has served as a sister for 40 years.

“Christian and Muslim families would share the same space. Everyone would pray together,” she said. People came from all over the country, knowing the northern villages were safer than the cities. “This was a very challenging experience for the sisters,” said Sister Shirine, “but it has made us more devoted to our work and faith.”

To read more, check out In the Shadow of War from the January 2004 issue of ONE.

And to help the sisters in their work, and support Iraqis in this hour of need, visit this page.



Tags: Iraq Dominican Sisters
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16 June 2014
Greg Kandra




An Iraqi refugee carries a mattress at a camp near the northern city of Irbil on 12 June. Hundreds of thousands of people who have fled their homes in Mosul are left without access to aid, officials said. Christians from the city say they were targeted long before Iraqi security forces abandoned the major political and economic hub. (photo: CNS/Stringer, EPA)

Pope asks for payers for Iraq (Vatican Radio) “I invite all of you to unite yourselves with my prayer for the dear Iraqi nation, especially for the victims and for those who most suffer the consequences of the growing violence, in particular the many persons, among whom are so many Christians, who have had to leave their homes.” Pope Francis made an appeal for prayers for Iraq on Sunday at his weekly Angelus address. “I am following with lively concern the events of these last days in Iraq,” the Pope said...

Chaldean patriarch calls for fasting and prayer for Iraq (Fides) The Patriarchate of Babylon of the Chaldeans, with a widespread appeal on Sunday 15 June, called on all Chaldean communities in Iraq and the world to “dedicate next Wednesday 18 June to fasting and prayer for the restoration of security and stability in Iraq. “Fasting and Prayer” — reads the statement released to promote the initiative — “are capable to change the hearts of people and encourage them towards dialogue and respecting each other through the blessing of God”...

Bombs kill nearly 30 in Aleppo (AFP) Syrian regime helicopters dropped barrel bombs Monday on opposition-held districts in the northern city of Aleppo, killing at least 30 people including several children, an activist group said. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that a number of people were injured, some of them seriously, in the attacks on the Sukkari and Ashrafiyeh neighborhoods....

Russian Orthodox church to rise in Paris (Bloomberg News) A stone’s throw from the Eiffel Tower and Paris’s famed Alexandre III bridge, Russia’s Vladimir Putin is putting his mark on the French capital. Construction of a new Russian Orthodox church with five golden domes in central Paris gets under way in the next few weeks, with U.S. and European efforts to slam Putin’s Russia for its incursions into Ukraine doing little to halt its progress. The yet-to-be-named church is being built on a plot of land sold in 2010 to Russia by the French state for 73 million euros ($99 million). The deal was sealed by Former President Nicolas Sarkozy. His successor Francois Hollande’s government says it’s “determined” to see the monument erected...



Tags: Syria Pope Francis Iraq Russia Russian Orthodox
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