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Spring, 2015
Volume 41, Number 1
  
30 December 2014
J.D. Conor Mauro




A sister of the Congregation of the Mother of Carmel, one of CNEWA’s partner organizations in India, feeds ducks in Aluva, India. (photo: Sean Sprague)



Tags: India Sisters Indian Catholics

30 December 2014
J.D. Conor Mauro




A Syrian child who fled the clashes in his country rides his bicycle in mud around tents in Aleppo on 25 December. (photo: Orhan Cicek/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Aleppo’s shelters become underground schools (Al Monitor) In defiance of the grinding war that has been raging in Syria for nearly four years, underground shelters have been turned into schools. Students in rebel-held areas of Aleppo have returned to studying after most of the schools were destroyed…

Middle Eastern Christians flee violence for ancient homeland (National Geographic) On most afternoons, Mor Barsaumo, a honey-colored, fifth-century stone church nestled in a warren of slanted streets of Midyat, Turkey, draws a crowd. In the narrow courtyard, old men smoke cigarettes and drink coffee, while children kick a soccer ball across the stone floor. In a darkened classroom, empty except for a few desks, a teacher gives private lessons in Syriac, derived from Aramaic, the language of Christ. And now, the refugees also come. Advised by relatives or other refugees, newcomers to Midyat often make the steps of the church their first stop. Midyat and its environs — known in Syriac as Tur Abdin, “mountain of the servants of God” — are the historical heartland of the Middle East’s widely dispersed Syriac Orthodox Christian community. Now the region has become a haven as the fighting in Syria and Iraq has forced Christians to flee their homes…

Cardinal protests against forced conversions to Hinduism (Catholic Herald) The president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India has criticized forced conversions of Christians to Hinduism. Cardinal Baselios Cleemis Thottunkal, major archbishop of the Syro-Malankara Catholic Church, said that he was gravely concerned that “conversion events are being held under the label of ‘homecoming…’ ”

Israeli soldier kills Palestinian teen in “cold blood,’ injures 3 others (Al Akhbar) A single bullet to the heart fired by an Israeli soldier was enough to kill 17-year-old Imam Jamil Ahmed Dweikat, a Palestinian teen from the town of Beita south of Nablus. Nael Talat Thiab, who was walking alongside Imam in their home village, was also shot in the leg by Israeli Occupation Forces. Lying in a hospital bed, the 17-year-old teen told Ma’an news agency that his friend was killed in “cold blood.” An Israeli spokeswoman claimed that the two youth were “hurling stones at a nearby road…”



Tags: India Middle East Christians Israeli-Palestinian conflict Syro-Malankara Catholic Church Aleppo

29 December 2014
J.D. Conor Mauro




Four young carolers pose in their home-made costumes in front of Holy Trinity Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church in Kosmach, Ukraine. To learn more about how the Hutsuls of the Carpathian Mountains celebrate the holidays, read Faith and Tradition, from the November 2004 issue of ONE.(photo: Petro Didula)



Tags: Ukraine Cultural Identity Village life Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church Eastern Europe

29 December 2014
J.D. Conor Mauro




People gather in Manger Square and the Church of Nativity on Christmas Eve in Bethlehem, West Bank. (photo: CNS/Debbie Hill)

Muslims join Christians for Christmas celebrations in Gaza (Al Monitor) “We have a Christmas tree that I bought years back. We are buying new ornaments. All I wish for is to raise my daughter to be loving and tolerant. This is why we are celebrating the occasion with Christians,” Bissan al Qishawi, a Muslim, told Al Monitor on Christmas Eve. Her two daughters, Ilaa and Salma, wake up the following morning to their gifts under the tree. “I want them to forget the gloominess of war and its traumatic memory,” she said. The Qishawis are not an exception; many Muslim families in Gaza celebrate Christmas…

Palestine pushes for U.N. resolution to end Israeli occupation (Christian Science Monitor) The U.N. Security Council is expected to vote this week on a resolution that would end Israel’s 47-year occupation of Palestine within three years. The current draft of the resolution, which the United States has the power to veto, is not expected to pass…

Ukraine: Hundreds released in massive prisoner exchange (Vatican Radio) Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has met some of hundreds of freed prisoners, who were exchanged with pro-Russian separatists in the east of the country. Buses hoisting Ukrainian flags drove them home in time for the New Year. At least 145 captured Ukrainian government soldiers and 222 detained pro-Russian rebels have been exchanged between the warring factions in eastern Ukraine…

Security measures strengthened for Coptic Christmas celebrations (Fides) Egypt’s security forces developed strategies to ensure security for the upcoming Christmas celebrations for Copts at a meeting on Sunday, 28 December. Egyptian Interior Minister Mohammed Ibrahim praised the efforts to ensure tranquility to the Christian communities and thwart aggression and intimidation against Coptic Christians who celebrate Christmas on 7 January…

Peshmerga regains control in parts of Nineveh (Fars News) Iraqi Kurdistan’s Peshmerga forces regained control over two new areas in western Mosul, the capital of Nineveh province. “The Peshmerga, supported by protection force of Sinjar city, regained control over Sarray and Suq areas in Sinjar district of Western Mosul,” said Esmat Rajab, a member of the Democratic Kurdistani Party, on Sunday…



Tags: Egypt Ukraine Middle East Christians Gaza Strip/West Bank Holy Land Christians

23 December 2014
Greg Kandra




On 26 December 2004, tens of thousands of lives in India were changed forever by one of the deadliest earthquakes and tsunamis in history. More than 200,000 people lost their lives throughout Indonesia.

CNEWA’s program director Thomas Varghese, now based in New York, was working in India at the time. In the video below, he describes what he experienced and saw — and how CNEWA responded to this humanitarian disaster.



Tags: India Tsunami

23 December 2014
Greg Kandra




Fadi Hazboun, 20, takes a selfie of with his Catholic family from Nazareth in front of the Christmas tree in Manger Square outside the Church of Nativity in Bethlehem, West Bank, on 21 December. Pictured with him are his father, Afif; mother, Nardin; and his 8-year-old brother, Jowan. (photo: CNS/Debbie Hill)



Tags: Holy Land Bethlehem Palestinians West Bank

23 December 2014
Greg Kandra




Syrian refugees walk at the Zaatari refugee camp in the Jordanian city of Mafraq, near the border with Syria, on 7 December. Pope Francis Tuesday wrote a pre-Christmas letter to the suffering Christians of the Middle East. (photo: CNS photo/Muhammad Hamed, Reuters)

Pope Francis writes letter to Christians in the Middle East (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has written a pre-Christmas letter to the Christians of the Middle East to express his closeness to them at a time of “afflictions and tribulations” due to “the continuing hostilities in the region, but especially because of the work of a newer and disturbing terrorist organization.” Though the Pope does not refer to the organization by name, Islamic State militants in recent months have forced hundreds of thousands of Christians, Yazidis and other minorities from their homes and villages in Iraq. The Pope, who says he follows daily reports of the “enormous suffering endured by many people in the Middle East,” describes the organization “of previously unimaginable dimensions,” responsible for “all kinds of abuses and inhuman acts.” Christians were “brutally driven out of their native lands,” he observes, where they “have been present since apostolic times…”

Israeli who joined ISIS may have citizenship revoked (The Jerusalem Post) Interior Minister Gilad Erdan is considering if he will revoke the citizenship of an Israeli minor who joined joined Islamic State in Syria or Iraq and is now trying to come back home for medical treatment. Erdan said, in an interview with Channel 2 on Monday, that he is waiting for Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman’s recommendation in order to decide how to proceed in revoking the citizenship of Marwan Haldi, a Nazareth resident, before he can return to Israel. “This is someone who was most likely trained to kill as part of the most brutal terror organizations in the world,” Erdan said in a statement to The Jerusalem Post. “It’s up to me to seriously reconsider his return to Israel as well as his continuing to be a citizen…”

Churches burned in Egypt last year are still in ruins (Global Post) Exactly 16 months ago here, as news flowed in of the bloody dispersal of sit-ins in Cairo that left more than 800 supporters of ousted Muslim Brotherhood President Muhammad Morsi dead, angry mobs in this Upper Egyptian city took to the street and attacked churches, shops and other Christian-run establishments. The churches, which the army promised to fix more than a year ago, still stand half-built as Minya’s Copts prepare for another drafty Christmas…

Winter could be a weapon of war in Ukraine (USA Today) A deteriorating humanitarian situation amid the hardship of an approaching winter in east Ukraine is giving the Ukrainian national government an opening to turn the local population against Russian-backed separatists…

Churches in India increase security for Christmas (Times of India) At 178 years, St James Church is Delhi’s oldest. Yet, this Christmas, it will be chary of welcoming visitors after morning service on Thursday due to security concerns and might even not allow anyone in after the ceremony. Other churches in the city are, meanwhile, making arrangements for additional security alongside Christmas preparations…

South African mosque hosts Christmas dinner for Christians (IOL News) The Open Mosque in Wynberg has not suffered a backlash after hosting a Christmas dinner for about 100 Christian guests, says its founder, Dr. Taj Hargey. Dr. Hargey described the dinner on Sunday as a “historic occasion that has never been [seen] anywhere in the world before…”



Tags: Egypt Ukraine Middle East Israel Copts

22 December 2014
CNEWA staff




Several weeks ago, CNEWA visited a school in Gaza to hear how young people were coping after the war.

The haunting video below captures some of what was seen and heard.

To support the people of Gaza, visit this page. And please keep them in your prayers.



22 December 2014
D.E. Hedges




CNEWA President Msgr. John E. Kozar and Norma Intriago, director of development, collect a tray of handwritten special intentions, all mailed in by donors during CNEWA’s 2014 Christmas fundraising campaign. Msgr. Kozar will celebrate Christmas Midnight Mass at the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, and will include the special intentions in his prayers. To contribute to the campaign, click here. (photo: CNEWA)



22 December 2014
Greg Kandra




The Christmas tree and Nativity scene decorate St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican after a lighting ceremony on 19 December. New LED lighting was also unveiled on the facade and dome of the basilica during the ceremony. (photo: CNS/Paul Haring)







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