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Spring, 2014
Volume 40, Number 1
imageofweek From the Archive
In this 1996 image, children attend a festival in New York celebrating Greek heritage. (photo: Karen Lagerquist)
  
23 April 2014
J.D. Conor Mauro




As Pope Francis’ newly appointed second secretary, Msgr. Yoannis Lahzi Gaid will assist with such tasks as translating and answering personal correspondences in the pope’s name. (video: Rome Reports)

Pope Francis names Coptic priest second personal secretary (National Catholic Register) Msgr. Yoannis Lahzi Gaid, a priest of the Coptic Patriarchate of Alexandria, has been made second personal secretary to Pope Francis. The position is among the pope’s closest collaborators, and this marks the first time that an Eastern Catholic priest has been appointed to the position…

Statement on the anniversary of the Syrian bishops’ abduction (Assembly of Orthodox Bishops of North and Central America) “We … express our grave concern over the escalation of unrest and ongoing violence in countries throughout the Middle East, especially in Egypt, Iraq and Syria. … One year ago, on 22 April 2013, Greek Orthodox Metropolitan Boulos Yazigi and Syriac Orthodox Archbishop Yohanna Ibrahim, were kidnapped by Islamist extremists during a joint philanthropic mission in the region. … For the safety of Metropolitan Paul and Archbishop John and for their return to their communities, let us pray to the Lord…”

More rockets hit Bekaa Valley towns (Daily Star Lebanon) Rockets from Syria hit two Bekaa Valley villages early Wednesday shortly after a Syrian warplane raided the outskirts of a border town known for its support for Syrian opposition fighters. A Lebanese army statement said a Syrian jet fired three rockets into the barren terrain surrounding Arsal shortly before midnight. Less than 20 minutes later, three rockets fired from the mountains targeted the Bekaa towns of Labweh and Nabi Othman, the statement added…

Palestinian factions announce deal on unity government (New York Times) The two main Palestinian factions announced an agreement on Wednesday to heal a seven-year schism and form a unity government within five weeks that would prepare for Palestinian elections six months later. The two groups — the Palestine Liberation Organization, which runs the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, and Hamas, the militant Islamist group that controls the Gaza Strip — have reached similar accords before that were never carried out…

Tilt towards military unbalances Egypt’s ultra-conservative Salafists (Christian Science Monitor) When Egyptian military leader Abdel Fattah al Sisi made a televised address last July to announce the overthrow of President Muhammad Morsi, he was flanked by a coterie of the country’s most powerful religious figures. To his right sat the pope of the Coptic Church and the grand sheikh of Al Azhar, Sunni Islam’s highest seat of learning. Neither was a surprise to Egyptians. Less expected was the third religious leader: Galal el Morra, a prominent member of Egypt’s Salafist movement, which espouses a puritanical vision of Islam. This appearance may have been the high tide mark for the Salafists, who have been fractured and dislocated by the post-Morsi political shakedown…



Tags: Lebanon Pope Francis Refugees Palestine Coptic Catholic Church
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22 April 2014
Greg Kandra




Pope Francis carries a candle as he arrives to celebrate the Easter Vigil in St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican on 19 April. (photo: CNS/Paul Haring)



Tags: Pope Francis Vatican Easter Rome
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22 April 2014
J.D. Conor Mauro




In this 14 January photo, Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros II receives Egypt’s minister of Irrigation and Water Resources to discuss the Ethiopian dam project and its impact on the relationship between the two nations. (photo: Coptic Orthodox Church)

Coptic pope advises Ethiopian patriarch to postpone visit (Daily Sabah) Patriarch Abune Mathias of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church has indefinitely postponed a visit he was scheduled to pay to Cairo on Friday upon a request from the Coptic Orthodox Church, a source with the Egyptian church said Monday. According to the source, who asked not to be named, Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros II had advised his Ethiopian counterpart to postpone the visit due to concerns stemming from the dispute over Ethiopia’s controversial multibillion-dollar hydroelectric dam on the Nile River…

Aleppo’s children struggle to stay in school (Al Monitor) An unofficial survey conducted by a group of activists from civil society organizations in Aleppo determined that half of the schools in the city and surrounding countryside were badly damaged or destroyed. The damage has come mostly from Syrian regime shelling against armed opposition groups that used some schools close to military front lines as headquarters…

Syria: Rebels resist in Homs, Christians commemorate abductions (Vatican Radio) Syrian rebels are making their last desperate stand in the city of Homs, as government forces loyal to President Bashar al Assad make their strongest push yet to dislodge them from their positions in the city that was an early and important hub of unrest…

Maronite patriarch calls on international community to end war (SANA) Maronite Patriarch Bechara Peter of Antioch and All the East reiterated his call on international community “to stop the terrorist war in Syria.” In a speech after the Divine Liturgy in Bkerke, the patriarch said: “Its time for U.N. to shoulder its responsibility…”

Fight brews between Israeli settlers and army (Al Jazeera) In two weeks, the residents of the settlement of Yitzhar, known as one of the West Bank’s most ideological and uncompromising, will vote on whether it’s acceptable to fight the army that is assigned to protect them. Perched on a hill outside of the Palestinian city of Nablus, this small town of about 1,100 people has developed an oversized reputation. In 2011, it earned the distinction of carrying out more attacks on Palestinians than any other settlement in the occupied West Bank — one out of every six incidents documented by the United Nations that year involved a resident of Yitzhar…

In Iraq, gangs seize homes of fleeing Christians (AINA) Gangs in Baghdad are seizing homes left vacant by Christian families who have been forced to flee from sectarian violence, according to Barnabas Aid. Iraq’s Christians are most at risk of having their homes seized as they lack the tribal affiliations that protect their Arab Muslim neighbors…



Tags: Egypt Syrian Civil War Iraq Violence against Christians Israeli-Palestinian conflict
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17 April 2014
Greg Kandra




In this image from 2008, early morning sunshine fills St. Basil the Great Church in Krajné Cierno in Slovakia. The region is noted for its historic wooden churches. To learn more, read Rooted in Wood from the May 2008 issue of ONE. (photo: Andrej Bán)



Tags: Cultural Identity Eastern Churches Architecture Church Slovakia
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17 April 2014
J.D. Conor Mauro




Terrorism expands from Sinai to Cairo (Al Monitor) The violence in Egypt has taken a marked geographical shift in recent months from the remote areas of the Sinai Peninsula and the Suez Canal to the metropolises of Cairo and the Nile Delta. Analysts have two divergent opinions to explain this shift. Some analysts believe that the move by armed extremists toward the capital did not happen voluntarily and was not a planned strategy, but rather a shift enforced on these groups due to security measures and army operations in the Sinai Peninsula. The second opinion argues this was a premeditated step taken by armed groups, to extend the war against the post-Muslim Brotherhood regime…

Ukrainian security forces kill three pro-Russian protesters (New York Times) Ukrainian security forces killed three pro-Russian protesters, wounded 13 and took 63 captive in a firefight overnight in the eastern city of Mariupol, the interim Ukrainian interior minister said on Thursday. The clash was the most lethal so far in the east of the country…

Ukrainian civilians take up arms (Der Spiegel) It remains unclear what Russia might have in store for eastern Ukraine, but nationalist groups are preparing for the worst. In terms of their numbers, right-wing groups were only a minority during the Maidan protests, but they formed the backbone of the revolt against the Yanukovych government…

Syrian war takes heavy toll at a crossroad of cultures (New York Times) At the first-century Temple of Bel, one of the best-preserved buildings in the ancient city of Palmyra, a prominent column bears a new scar. A mortar shell left a telltale splash mark on the stone, without budging a structure that has stood for 2,000 years. Elsewhere, two other columns have collapsed, officials said, and bullets have pockmarked walls. But compared with the wholesale destruction that was feared, the damage, for now, is minimal. Yet the war has left deeper, less obvious wounds. Illegal digging, long a problem at the many sprawling archaeological sites in Syria, has accelerated during three years of conflict. Grave robbers, some crude, others professional, have stolen numerous objects from Palmyra’s tombs, museum officials say, sometimes sawing funeral friezes in two to make them easier to carry…

Report: Journalist killings in Syria likely to go unpunished (Al Jazeera) A spike in targeted murders of journalists in Syria landed the war-shattered country for the first time on the Committee to Protect Journalists’ annual Impunity Index, joining a list of countries where journalist killings are most likely to go unpunished, the international watchdog said Wednesday. More than 60 journalists have been killed by crossfire in the past three years, according to C.P.J. At least 61 were kidnapped in Syria in 2013, most by rebel forces, it said. Some of the journalists have since escaped or been released…



Tags: Egypt Syria Ukraine Cultural Identity Russia
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16 April 2014
Greg Kandra




In this image from 2000, pilgrims follow the Way of the Cross along the Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem. (photo: George Martin)

This time of year is especially busy in Jerusalem, when Passover coincides with Holy Week. Christian pilgrims in the city for Easter often follow the tradition of walking the Via Dolorosa, (or “Way of Sorrows”), the winding route through Jerusalem that is marked by the Stations of the Cross, the traditional path of Christ’s journey to Calvary.

Writer George Martin followed that journey for our magazine in 2000:

The Via Dolorosa begins in the Muslim Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem and winds its way through alleys that become progressively narrower and more crowded. Shops line the alleys, offering everything from tourist trinkets to shanks of lamb, from underwear to icons. Young boys hawk postcards; pickpockets and beggars ply their trades. Scattered between the shops are signs and bas-relief sculptures that identify the stations. At some spots one can enter chapels to pray; at others, Jesus’ passion must be commemorated on the street.

Pilgrimage groups stop to pray at a station and shops and passengers are blocked, at least partially. Those who must use the street push through: Hassidic Jews on their way to pray at the Western Wall; Muslim women carrying bundles on their heads; tourists with video cameras. The sights, the sounds and the smells are nothing like the quiet in which we pray the stations back home.

I always try to prepare the pilgrims by telling them we will follow the stations through a living city, like the Jerusalem of Jesus’ passion. Most of those living in Jerusalem at that time were neither his disciples nor his enemies; they were simply going about their lives as he was led to death. How many shopkeepers watched him pass, shook their heads at his misfortune and returned to selling their wares?

Crucifixion in ancient times was a public spectacle, a display of cruelty meant to subdue those harboring seditious thoughts. Jesus’ executioners did not have a religious event in mind. Although we meditate on some horrible scenes while praying the stations, we usually do so in the hushed surroundings of our churches, shielded from the reality of a man sentenced to death. Praying the stations in Jerusalem strips away some of that protective veil. The sacred and the profane collide on the Via Dolorosa.

Read more about walking In His Footsteps from the March-April 2000 issue of our magazine.



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16 April 2014
J.D. Conor Mauro




Police officers stand guard at the entrance to the new Azraq Syrian refugee camp, which is under construction east of Amman, Jordan, 25 March. Azraq Refugee Camp will open on 30 April, according to a U.N. official. (photo: CNS/Muhammad Hamed, Reuters)

Syria refugees face growing challenges in Jordan urban areas (Daily Star Lebanon) Syrian refugees in urban areas of Jordan are struggling to cope with inadequate housing, high debts, rising costs and educational challenges for their children, a global relief agency said Wednesday. CARE International said a household assessment of more than 2,200 Syrian refugees showed 90 percent of them were living in debt to relatives, landlords, shopkeepers and neighbors. Jordan is home to more than 500,000 Syrian refugees…

Syria fighting leaves Maaloula, a historic Christian town, in ruins (Los Angeles Times) On Tuesday, Syrian forces were targeting the remnants of a rebel force in this historic town, long a center of Christian worship and pilgrimage. Though most insurgents had long fled, a determined few remained well concealed in buildings and within the rubble, moving through tunnels and blasted-out passages. But they faced overwhelming force. Russian-made tanks pounded their positions while automatic-weapons fire rained down on them. Snipers posted on the bare hillsides trained their rifles on remaining rebel redoubts…

Palestinians wounded in clashes with Israeli police at al Aqsa mosque (The Guardian) Dozens of Palestinians were wounded in clashes with Israeli police that erupted when the al Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem was opened to Jewish visitors. A police spokesman, Micky Rosenfeld, told AFP that Palestinians threw stones and firecrackers at police when they opened the walled compound’s gates on Wednesday…

All eyes on Russia as Ukraine begins offensive in East (Der Spiegel) Russia has repeatedly denied that it is mobilizing its forces on the Ukrainian border and dismissed satellite photos released by NATO last week — designed to prove the contrary — as being out of date. On Tuesday, Moscow said claims that some Russian troops were in eastern Ukraine were “absurd.” Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said he hopes that Kiev has “enough brains” to prevent a further escalation…

United against Moscow (The Tablet) The Easter season will be an uncertain one for the embattled people of Ukraine, but what is sure is that it will not herald improved relations between the region’s churches. Since Moscow’s creeping occupation of Crimea began in late February, the Russian Orthodox Church has echoed the line of President Vladimir Putin with an obsequiousness recalling the worst days of Soviet rule. Its stance has provoked resentment among local Catholics and forced Orthodox Ukrainians to make hard choices between spiritual and national loyalties. Recent efforts by Catholic leaders in Europe to cooperate with Russian Orthodoxy can hardly be sustained when such sharp differences emerge over freedom…



Tags: Syria Refugees Ukraine Refugee Camps Palestinians
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15 April 2014
Greg Kandra




In Ethiopia, cows and oxen are used to stomp on the harvested teff. To learn more about the country’s agricultural industry — and how it’s moving into the modern era — check out Farming a Brighter Future from the January 2010 issue of ONE. (photo: Peter Lemieux)



Tags: Ethiopia
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15 April 2014
J.D. Conor Mauro




Debris chokes a badly damaged church in the Monastery of Mar Sarkis in Maaloula after the Syrian government reclaimed it from rebel fighters on 14 April. (photo: CNS/Khaled al Hariri, Reuters)

Syrian army seizes ancient Christian town near Lebanon border (Reuters) Syrian soldiers backed by Hezbollah fighters recaptured the town of Maaloula, north of Damascus, on Monday, military sources and state television said, further squeezing rebels’ supply routes through the Qalamoun mountains into Lebanon. Islamist fighters, some from the al Qaeda-linked Nusra Front, had taken over part of the ancient Christian town in December and held several nuns captive until releasing them in March in a prisoner-exchange deal. Government forces have recaptured several rebel-held areas and border towns in recent months, closing off supply routes from Lebanon and securing the main highway leading north from Damascus toward central Syria, Homs and the Mediterranean…

Missile strikes an Armenian Catholic school (Fides) A child died and 61 people were injured when a missile hit an Armenian Catholic school in Damascus, in the district of Bab Tuma. “Rescuers arrived immediately and the injured were taken to three hospitals in the area,” said the Rev. George Bahi, a priest of the Armenian Catholic Patriarchal Exarchate of Damascus. “We are all shocked by what happened…”

Syria’s graffiti revolution (Al Monitor) Syrian graffiti artists seek to reclaim the spirit of the revolution by taking on both the Assad government and radical Islamists. “This [graffiti] is an opportunity to gain back the public space that was stolen from us by the militias, formerly occupied by the regime with the pictures of Bashar and Hafez al Assad, and now taken by Quranic verses [of ISIS],” says Syrian activist Amer Mattar. Amer is a member of Shera’ (Arabic for “the street”), a group of young activists in the northern Syrian town of Kafr Nabl who are using graffiti as a way to reclaim a revolution they feel has gone horribly astray…

Ecumenical patriarch calls for peace in Ukraine (Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople) “We believe that the good will of the Ukrainian people will succeed in bringing healing and ultimate reconciliation. … It is our wholehearted hope and prayer that, by that time, all divisions may be healed for the sake of the unity of the Ukrainian people,” Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I said…

Ukraine says it has begun military operation in east (New York Times) After days of failing to enforce its own ultimatums, the Ukrainian government on Tuesday began what the president called a military operation to confront pro-Russian militants in the east of the country. The first indication that the operation represented more than just words this time was a modest Ukrainian military checkpoint established on a highway north of the town of Slovyansk, which has been controlled by militants since Saturday…

Russia warns of encroaching Ukrainian civil war (Al Jazeera) Ukraine’s government said Tuesday that an “anti-terrorist operation” to oust pro-Russian rebels from occupied buildings in the east had begun, but attempts to wrest back control appeared sluggish amid warnings from Russia over the risk of civil war. “Blood has once again been spilt in Ukraine. The country is on the brink of civil war,” Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev wrote on his Facebook page Tuesday, referring to at least two deaths on Sunday when Kyiv unsuccessfully tried to regain control in Slovyansk, one of about ten towns and cities where the rebels have seized buildings…



Tags: Syria Ukraine Violence against Christians Russia Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I
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14 April 2014
Greg Kandra




With Passover beginning tonight, we offer once again the video below, first produced in 2013, in which CNEWA’s external affairs officer, Rev. Elias Mallon, S.A., Ph.D., discusses the significance of these two holidays and their proximity to one another:



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