9 November 2015
A refugee family from Mosul rests in their home, a hut at the Bahirka Tent City in Erbil, Iraq,
29 October 2015. (photo: Yunus Keles/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
U.N. prepares for refugee exodus in Iraq (Voice of America) The United Nations is expecting huge numbers of civilians to flee when Iraqi forces mount an offensive to retake the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants. It is not clear when Iraqi forces will be ready to attack the northern city. The much anticipated counter-offensive has been repeatedly postponed because Iraqi forces are unprepared and bogged down in battle elsewhere...
Confirmation of attack on Russian jet could strengthen Putin’s resolve (The New York Times) The main bell in St. Isaac’s Cathedral in St. Petersburg tolled 224 times on Sunday, once for each victim of the destruction of a Russian charter flight in Egypt a week ago. Although President Vladimir V. Putin and his aides at first indignantly dismissed suspicions of a terrorist act, the Kremlin has since then clearly come to grips with the idea that a bomb was probably involved in the crash: Late Friday it suspended all travel by Russians to Egypt, and initiated an emergency airlift that by Sunday had repatriated 11,000 Russians, by government count. Should an attack be confirmed — and particularly if the Islamic State’s claim that it bombed the plane in revenge for Russia’s intervention in Syria turns out to be true — analysts and other experts expect that it will only strengthen Mr. Putin’s resolve to become more deeply involved in the Middle East...
Dialogue council sends message to Hindus (Vatican Radio) The Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue has sent a Message to all people professing the Hindu religion, who are preparing to celebrate the festival of Deepavali (Diwali). The theme of the Message this year is our common duty to care for creation and work to build and develop an authentic “human ecology”...
Eritreans risk deadly odyssey to reach Europe (Al Jazeera) In addition to armed groups from Sudan to Sinai who seek to abduct them for ransom, and a treacherous Mediterranean Sea crossing that has killed more than 3,000 people this year, Eritreans now face a new peril — Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also knows as ISIS) gunmen who have caught and executed scores of African Christian refugees as they crossed Libya...
Oldest Ukrainian Catholic parish in the U.S. getting a makeover (ByzCath.org) Usually there isn’t scaffolding in the middle of the pews at this church in Shenandoah, but St. Michael’s Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church is getting some needed repairs. For years, the domes at the church have been leaking and the lighting wasn’t energy efficient but that“s changing. “We had to start first with our roof and our domes because that’s where most of the water leakage was coming from,” explained Msgr. Myron Grabowsky...
6 November 2015
Carpatho-Rusyn Greek Catholic seminarians in Urzhorod, Ukraine, take time in between study and prayer for some gardening and fun. A new generation of seminarians is helping breathe new life into the seminary and the Greek Catholic Church. Read more in “Out From Underground” in the Autumn 2015 edition of ONE. (photo: Oleg Grigoryev)
5 November 2015
Parishioners process for the feast of the Virgin Mary in Kondolpoga, northern Russia.
(photo: George Martin)
Almost 25 years since the unraveling of the Soviet Union, the concerns that once plagued its Communist leaders — apathy, corruption, crime, cynicism, depopulation and underemployment, as well as the deterioration of industry — continue to scourge its political and spiritual heirs.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, having consolidated his hold on Russia’s central government, has enlisted the assistance of the Orthodox Church to address some of these issues. This alliance of church and state — which except for a violent gap of some 70 years dates to the origins of the Russian state — has been cemented as Russian patriotism surges in defiance of sanctions imposed by the West for Putin’s involvement in Ukraine. So intimate is this link between state and church, it is difficult to determine which came first.
Russians, Belarussians, Rusyns and Ukrainians claim descent from the Eastern Slavs of Central Europe and the Varangians of Scandinavia. Collectively known as the Rus’, these peoples intermarried and, from their center in Kiev (now the capital of Ukraine) on the banks of the Dnieper River, they asserted control of the trade routes from the Baltic to the Black seas, establishing Kievan Rus’ as a regional force by the ninth century.
A Russian Orthodox believer marks Epiphany by bathing in the icy water of Saint Petersburg’s Neva River. (photo: Alexander Koryakov/Kommersant/Getty Images)
The rapid development of Byzantine Christianity among the Rus’ — which Grand Prince Vladimir of Kiev pursued with vigor throughout his reign — coincided with the rise of the Kievan state. Vladimir and his successors consolidated their authority and augmented their dominion. They built important churches; promulgated the first code of law of the Eastern Slavs; supported monasticism, theological learning and the arts. Using Bulgaria’s church as a model, Yaroslav the Wise (978-1054) achieved some independence from Constantinople for the church of Kiev, overseeing the installation of a metropolitan archbishop in 1037.
Eventually, Rus’ natives dominated the episcopacy, whose sees were centered in various regional centers governed by the family of the grand prince, such as Chernigov, Novgorod and Smolensk.
Very little remains from this period. The Mongols, a nomadic people from central Asia, swept through the dominions of the Rus’ in the early 13th century, burning and sacking its cities, including Kiev. They killed much of the population and enslaved most of the rest.
The Mongol invasions merely accelerated the demise of Kievan Rus’, which began to disintegrate when the family of the grand prince challenged his authority. Without a communications network, rival cities — Novgorod, Vladimir and Suzdal in the northeast, Polotsk and Smolensk in the northwest, Halych in the southwest and even nearby Chernigov — grew more autonomous, fracturing the unity of Kievan Rus’, making it susceptible to invasion and subjugation. For over two centuries these communities lived as vassals under the Mongols.
With the decline of princes, church leaders quickly filled their roles, patronizing the building of churches and monasteries far removed from the centers of Mongol power. The Rus’ of Kiev sought refuge in the north, migrating in succession to Rostov, Suzdal and, finally, Vladimir. The effective leader of all the Rus’, the metropolitan archbishop of Kiev, left the devastated city for Vladimir in 1300. Eventually, Rostov, Suzdal and Vladimir all fell under the influence of Moscow, a minor principality led by ambitious princes. Just eight years after the move to Vladimir, the metropolitan archbishop of Kiev-Vladimir moved his court to the city of Moscow. Bolstered by a “golden ring” of fortified monasteries and towns, Moscow grew wealthy.
Click here to read more about church and state in Moscow, and the forging of a modern Russian alliance.
5 November 2015
Tags: Russia Russian Orthodox Church Eastern Churches
A construction worker examines the remaining damage to St. Sebastian’s Church in Dilshad Garden, New Delhi. To learn more about the trend of vandalization and violence against the church of India, read ‘There Will Be More Martyrs,’ from the Autumn 2015 edition of ONE. (photo: Jose Jacob)
5 November 2015
Tags: India Violence against Christians Indian Christians Indian Catholics
Refugee and migrant children, living in a field on the Greek island of Lesbos, wait to register with refugee services on 4 November. (photo: Aris Messinis/AFP/Getty Images)
Greek island struggles to provide medical care to refugees (Al Jazeera) Tragedy has struck the island of Lesbos, in the eastern Aegean Sea, repeatedly in the past year, and October was the worst month yet. Lesbos received 125,000 refugees, double the number in August. It saw dozens of shipwrecks, with at least 35 people killed on 28 October alone. Despite the worsening weather, people keep on coming — about 6,000 per day. Overwhelmed, Lesbos now faces serious gaps in emergency medical care…
U.N. calls for access to vulnerable communities in eastern Ukraine (U.N. News Center) The United Nations humanitarian chief today concluded a three-day visit to Ukraine, calling for sustained and unimpeded access to the vulnerable communities caught in the middle of the crisis and who urgently need humanitarian aid…
Christians demonstrate in Erbil against law on conversion of minors (Fides) On Wednesday, hundreds of people belonging to the non-Islamic components of Iraqi society demonstrated in front of United Nations representatives in Erbil to protest against the law that allows the automatic change of children to the Islamic religion when one of the parents convert to Islam. The demonstration saw the participation of various political and civil society organizations and groups of Christians, Yazidis and Mandaeans…
Children’s photo exhibit brings plight of Syrian refugees to Washington (Al Monitor) UNICEF and a Lebanese nongovernmental organization are putting on an exhibit of photos taken by some 500 children between the ages of 7 and 12 in more than 200 informal settlements throughout Lebanon. For this project, the shots were taken in 2013 and 2014 by disposable cameras made available by UNICEF and ZAKIRA (“memory” in Arabic) in an effort to empower the children and help them overcome the trauma of war…
Moscow calls for agreement on opposition groups in Syria (AINA) “[The] U.S.-led coalition’s intervention in Syria lacks legitimacy since it is an action against democratically elected president and government; United States sought in Syria to lead a war of attrition and destroying Syrian infrastructure,” said a Russian spokesperson. Moscow now states it has arranged “working coordination groups” with “opposition representatives” aimed toward bolstering the fight against ISIS…
Egyptian naval fire kills Gaza fisherman, says official (Daily Star Lebanon) An Egyptian naval patrol shot and killed a Palestinian fisherman and wounded another Thursday off the coast near the border between Gaza and Egypt, a Gaza health ministry spokesman said. The victim was identified as Faris Meqdad, 18, ministry spokesman Ashraf al Qudra said. Egyptian forces have previously opened fire on Gazans they accused of crossing the maritime border between Egypt and the Palestinian enclave…
4 November 2015
Tags: Syria Iraq Ukraine Gaza Strip/West Bank Greece
It’s been an extraordinary year in so much of the world that CNEWA serves — and nothing sums it up better than our Annual Report.
We’re pleased to present this year’s chronicle of CNEWA’s work in the Middle East, the Horn of Africa, India and parts of Eastern Europe. It’s now available online. In many ways, it is a great tribute to the generosity, sacrifice and love of our donors — you are the ones who make it all possible.
As CNEWA’s President, Msgr. John E. Kozar, notes in his introduction:
Because of you, CNEWA has been able to extend the loving hand of Christ to the poor and displaced...because of you, many are coming to know and recognize the face of Christ in those reaching out to them in their need.
Visit this link to read it all.
And check out the video preview below.
4 November 2015
Women prepare sweets as part of an income-generating program in the eastern Beirut neighborhood of Geitawi. A Lebanese-Armenian Catholic named Ani Kaloust discusses this program and much more — including her extraordinary life — in the Autumn 2015 edition of ONE.
(photo: Dalia Khamissy)
4 November 2015
In the video above, the U.N. warns that the stakes are getting higher for refugees fleeing Iraq and Syria, because of the weather. CNEWA is partnering with the Vatican to raise funds to help Syria’s refugees survive the cold. Click here to learn how. (video: Rome Reports)
Ukraine prosecutor survives apparent assassination attempt (SkyNews) Ukraine’s top prosecutor has survived what could have been an assassination attempt after a sniper fired shots at his window. Prosecutor-General Viktor Shokin’s life was saved by the bulletproof glass at his office in Kiev when the three shots were fired. No injuries have been reported...
Rough seas, falling temperatures fail to halt tide of refugees heading to Europe (The New York Times) The great flood of humanity pouring out of Turkey from Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq and other roiling nations shows little sign of stopping, despite the plummeting temperatures, the increasingly turbulent seas and the rising number of drownings along the coast...
Copts, women make big gains in Egypt election (Ahram.org) On top of the biggest winners of the first stage of Egypt’s parliamentary elections, held between 17 and 28 October in 14 governorates, are Copts and women. Official statistics show that out of 110 running as independents and party-based candidates in the first stage, 32 women have succeeded in securing seats in the coming parliament. Statistics also indicate that 16 Egyptian Copts have also won seats...
Holy See: we must see the “human face of migration” (Vatican Radio) The Holy See delegation to the United Nations on Tuesday said “Racism, racial discrimination and xenophobia are a serious affront to human dignity and are inexcusable impediments to building an international community committed to the promotion of human rights...”
Pope: help persecuted Christians in Middle East (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Wednesday gave his support to the work of Aid to the Church in Need, which offers help to persecuted Christians around the world. The Church in Poland is marking on Sunday a “Day of Solidarity with the Persecuted Church,” which is promoted by Aid to the Church in Need in collaboration with the Polish Bishops’ Conference...
UN says climate change a major threat to food security (Vatican Radio) On November 30th a major international conference on climate change will open in Paris in an attempt to agree a legally-binding deal which will keep rises in global temperatures to below 2 degrees Celsius. But less than a month before the summit begins the UN special rapporteur on the right to food has sounded the alarm, saying climate change is a big threat to food security...
3 November 2015
Tags: Syria Iraq Egypt Ukraine Copts
A Greek Catholic priest hears confession at Protection of the Virgin Mary Church
in Nyíracsád, Hungary. (photo: Balazs Gardi)
For centuries, Hungary dominated the culture, geography and socioeconomic life of Central Europe. Its defeat in World War I, however, cost the nation three-quarters of its territory, all of its coastline, a third of its population and much of its diverse demography. Today, Hungary is a landlocked and largely homogeneous country — a shadow of its former self.
In Hungary’s rural northeast — near its borders with Slovakia, Ukraine and Romania — one small community of faith offers a glimpse of Hungary’s multiethnic past. Sheltered by the Carpathian Mountains, some 290,000 people — ethnic Hungarians (Magyars), Gypsies (Roma), Romanians, Rusyns and Slovaks — make up the Hungarian Greek Catholic Church.
While each of these ethnic groups maintains its own proud history and traditions, they together have forged a dynamic church authentically Hungarian, Byzantine and Catholic.
Hungary’s Greek Catholics were spared the persecutions suffered by Greek Catholics in Romania and Ukraine during the Soviet-dominated era. Though religious communities were closed, priests and religious dispersed, schools shuttered, catechesis limited and non-liturgical activities monitored, the church survived. In 1950, Bishop Miklós Dudás, O.S.B.M., established a seminary within the walls of his residence in the town of Nyíregyháza. While youth programs and sodalities were prohibited, parish pilgrimages to Máriapócs, a little Greek Catholic village famous for its miraculous icon of the Virgin Mary, continued with great enthusiasm.
Crucifix in front of the Protection of the Virgin Marcy Church in Nyíracsád, Hungary. (photo: Balazs Gardi)
With the collapse of the Iron Curtain, Hungary’s Greek Catholic Church surged to fill the void left after a half-century of despotic rule. Led by Bishop Szilárd Keresztes, Hungary’s Greek Catholic community collected icons, liturgical books, vestments and other sacramentals. These the bishop immediately offered to the once banned Greek Catholic churches in Romania and Ukraine.
Because of its central location, Bishop Keresztes suggested that his seminary — dedicated to St. Athanasius — should play a key role in the revival of Europe’s Greek Catholic churches. In 1990, he opened it to Romanians, Rusyns, Slovaks and Ukrainians interested in the priesthood. To improve the quality of the education offered there, the bishop invited an impressive number of foreign educated professors. As a result, the theological faculty became an affiliate of the Pontifical Oriental Institute in Rome in 1995.
Formation of lay catechists also figured prominently in the life of the church and in 1992 the bishop signed an agreement with the Teachers Training College in Nyíregyháza and set up a corresponding department at the seminary for the formation of teachers.
The Hungarian Greek Catholic Church, which Pope Francis reorganized in March as a metropolitan church led by an archbishop, shares in the socioeconomic challenges affecting the country. Even as birthrates continue to fall, driving down the number of men and women entering priesthood and religious, the demands placed upon the church grow. Increasingly, Greek Catholic priests are working to diffuse tensions between Hungary’s growing Roma minority and ethnic Magyars. And the depopulation of Hungary’s eastern rural villages, the traditional center of the Greek Catholic Church, is affecting family and parish life.
Read a full account of the Hungarian Greek Catholic Church here.
3 November 2015
A Franciscan Sister of the Cross greets a child in Deir el Kamar, Lebanon. In the Autumn 2015 edition of ONE, Msgr. John E. Kozar reflects on how CNEWA and Pope Francis are bringing the message of God's love to those most in need. (photo: John E. Kozar)