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Volume 43, Number 1
28 January 2014
J.D. Conor Mauro

Antranig Chakerian transformed the walls of his house in Anjar, Lebanon, into a canvas for icons, images and poems dedicated to his ancestral homeland: historic Armenia. Click the image to read more. (photo: Dalia Khamissy)

Today, Lebanon’s interim minister of communications unveiled a new stamp in honor of those Armenians who perished in the Turkish mass-killings of nearly a century ago:

Caretaker Minister of Telecommunications Nicolas Sehnaoui announced Tuesday the commission of a stamp to honor the martyrs of the Armenian Genocide in 1915.

Lebanon has a large and vocal Armenian community with around 200,000 Lebanese of Armenian origin in the country, a result of forced displacement after the partition of the Ottoman Empire at the end of the World War I.

While Turkey still resolutely denies genocide took place, last April saw over 10,000 Armenians rallying in downtown Beirut on the 98th anniversary of the genocide.

The stamp depicts a drawing of a statue honoring Armenian martyrs found in Bikfaya.

The stamp will be in circulation in a month’s time.

In the Winter 2013 issue of ONE, Doug Duncan shined a spotlight on people of Armenian descent in Lebanon, focusing specifically on Syrian Armenians displaced across Syria’s southwestern border:

A peaceful, pretty town, Anjar is itself a product of Armenian displacement. It was founded to house Armenians who left the Syrian region of Hatay when Turkey annexed it in 1939. The town’s population is normally around 2,500, but the recent influx of refugees from the war in Syria has doubled that number.

“That puts big pressure on the municipality,” says Nazareth Andakian, a municipal lawyer in Anjar. “We don’t have any more empty houses; all are full. On top of that, because there is currently no government in Lebanon, public funds are not being released to us from Beirut, so the village is going into debt to manage the situation.”

This dilemma is playing out all across Lebanon, in both Armenian and non-Armenian domains. This small country of just four million people has had to bear the brunt of the Syrian displacement crisis; to date more than a million Syrian refugees have fled to the country, according to the United Nations. And the flow shows no signs of stopping.

Before the war, there were between 100,000 and 150,000 Armenians in Syria. Of this population, some 20,000 have already fled to Lebanon, while others have fled north, to Armenia, or to Jordan in the south. …

Bourj Hammoud, a densely populated Armenian enclave, has seen its capacity stretched to bursting since the Syrian crisis began in March 2011.

“There have been many problems, but we manage,” says Sarkis Joukhjoukhian, a Lebanese Armenian who sells thyme-covered bread snacks called manoushe from his small store in the heart of Bourj Hammoud.

“We help them whether they are family or not, because when we had war here in Lebanon we often left to Syria, and they helped us then.”

You can read the rest online, either in a plaintext layout or complete with the full magazine graphics.

Tags: Lebanon Refugees Syrian Civil War Armenia ONE magazine

28 January 2014
J.D. Conor Mauro

Syrian refugees move a tent at the Bab al Salam refugee camp in Azaz, near the Syrian-Turkish border on 17 January. Syria's nearly three-year civil war has led to what the U.N. calls the "greatest humanitarian crisis in modern history." (photo: CNS/Mahmoud Hebbo, Reuters)

Patriarch urges West to help suffering Syrian refugees stay in region (Aid to the Church in Need) While sympathizing with refugees who seek a new life in the West, Melkite Greek Catholic Patriarch Gregory III of Antioch urged that aid programs be boosted both within Syria and in neighboring countries to enable them to stay in the region. “Of course, we cannot decide … what response our people should make, the suffering is so great, but the real answer is to provide more help — more relief — on the spot and not outside, which will encourage them to leave. But if they must go, we understand their situation.” He added: “The danger is that if they leave the region of the Middle East, they will never go back. This applies to other groups as well as the Christians…”

Ukraine repeals anti-protest laws; prime minister resigns (Washington Post) There were growing signs Tuesday that Ukraine’s opposition movement was gaining ground in its efforts to remake the country, with the resignation of the prime minister, approval of an amnesty bill for protesters and the repeal of harsh new laws restricting freedom of speech and assembly…

Lebanese cringe as a breakdown in government wafts uphill (New York Times) Since Lebanon’s government resigned 10 months ago, Parliament has scarcely convened, no major laws have been passed and the caretaker cabinet has lacked the political clout to set any important policies. All of this has left the country without a unified approach to the huge influx of refugees fleeing the civil war in neighboring Syria, a spate of bombings that have killed dozens of civilians and gunfights between rival neighborhoods in the northern city of Tripoli…

Jordan’s balancing act on Syria (Al Monitor) For Jordan, one thing is definite about the peace conference on Syria which opened in the Swiss resort of Montreux last week: It proved that relations with the Damascus government have reached a historic low. Since the breakout of the Syrian uprising in March 2011, the Damascus government has been critical of Amman’s alleged role in allowing fighters and weapons to cross into southern Syria. Defenders of the Jordan position say that the country hosts a million Syrian refugees, who pose social and economic challenges. Jordan has more than 186-mile border with Syria, and the neighboring countries have had historic problems. If the Damascus regime survives, Jordan will want to keep its options open…

Censorship and suppression in Belarus (Al Jazeera) Nestled between Russia and Poland sits an autocratic state dubbed “Europe’s last dictatorship.” Artistic directors and founders of The Belarus Free Theatre, Kaliada and Nicolai Khalezin, are also public enemies of their home country. Their crime is setting up an underground company aiming to cast a spotlight on the day-to-day struggles faced by their countrymen and women. They are now living in exile in London. Kaliada said actors and directors who wanted to be part of the Belarus Free Theatre faced losing their jobs and educational opportunities, because of their affiliation with the blacklisted group. They perform in secret locations, from private houses to secluded woodlands…

Egypt’s military rulers face heightened threat from shadowy militant group (Christian Science Monitor) A shadowy militant group based in Egypt’s Sinai peninsula has set its sights on Egypt’s mainland, bringing a building insurgency to the heart of the capital. Ansar Bayt al Maqdis, or Supporters of Jerusalem, claimed responsibility for a powerful car bomb that killed four people in Cairo Friday. Members of the group also appear to have shot down an Egyptian military helicopter in the Sinai Saturday with a shoulder-launched surface-to-air missile. The group, founded in 2011, largely focused attacks on Israel and the northern Sinai until the military deposed former President Mohamed Morsi, previously a Muslim Brotherhood leader, last July…

Tags: Ukraine Syrian Civil War Jordan Melkite Patriarch Gregory III of Antioch Belarus

27 January 2014
J.D. Conor Mauro

The Rev. Manolis Nirakis of Hagia Zoni Church Greek Orthodox Church in Athens overlooks the activity at the church’s soup kitchen. To learn more about the difficulties the people of Greece face under the ongoing economic crisis, and what churches and charities are doing to help, read A Greek Tragedy in the latest issue of ONE. You can also click the image above to browse the issue graphically. (photo: Don Duncan)

Tags: ONE magazine Greece Economic hardships Greek Catholic Church Orthodox Church of Greece

27 January 2014
J.D. Conor Mauro

A pro-European Union protester throws a Molotov cocktail during clashes with riot police in Kiev, Ukraine, on 22 January. The European Union threatened to take action against Ukraine over its handling of anti-government protests after three people died during violent clashes in Kiev. (photo: CNS/Gleb Garanich, Reuters)

Pope: appeal for dialogue in Ukraine (Vatican Radio) On Sunday, Pope Francis appealed for constructive dialogue in Ukraine. Addressing the crowds gathered in St. Peter’s Square for the Angelus Prayer, the pope said he is praying for the people of Ukraine, in particular for those who have lost their lives during the violence of the past days, and for their families. He said he is praying the parties involved will avoid resorting to violent actions, and that the spirit of peace and the quest for common good may prevail…

Ukraine: Justice Ministry seized after day of mourning for slain protester (Al Jazeera) Thousands of Ukrainians chanted “Hero!” and sang the national anthem on Sunday, as a coffin carrying a protester who was killed in last week’s clashes with police was carried through the streets of the capital, underscoring the rising tensions in the country’s two-month political crisis. Mikhail Zhiznevsky, 25, was one of three protesters who died in clashes Wednesday. Protesters seized the Justice Ministry building Sunday night, adding another government building to the several already occupied by the opposition…

Patriarchs Kirill and Yohanna X’s make joint appeal to Geneva II conference (Fides) On Sunday, 26 January Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill and the Greek Orthodox Patriarch Youhanna X of Antioch made a joint appeal to the international conference on the Syrian conflict, which is currently underway in Switzerland, in order to invite all participants at the summit to “reject extremist demonstrations” and to put an end to “intolerance and political ultimatums.” Only free and fraternal dialogue within the Syrian community, say the two patriarchs in the letter, can pave the way to a peaceful solution of the crisis…

Patriarch says nuns seized in Syria are fine (Daily Star Lebanon) The group of nuns seized in the ancient Syrian town of Maaloula last month are doing well, Greek Orthodox Patriarch Youhanna X said Saturday. “The nuns are fine, I personally spoke to them over the phone a few days ago at the patriarchate’s headquarters,” he said. “They are at one of the homes inside Yabroud and they are fine, but it is not enough for us to know they are okay. We hope they will be released with the two kidnapped bishops soon because they carry a message of peace in the service of others…”

Egypt’s Sisi promoted to field marshal, mulls presidential run (Los Angeles Times) Egypt’s top generals gave their blessing to a presidential run by Abdel Fattah al Sisi on Monday, the same day he was also promoted to field marshal. Both actions were viewed as indicators of a near-certain candidacy by Egypt’s most powerful figure. The ranking military official, who led a popularly supported coup nearly seven months ago against the country’s first democratically elected president, has not declared his political intentions, but even before Monday’s endorsement by the top military council, there were growing signs he would do so soon…

Bombings hit several towns across Iraq (Al Jazeera) At least 17 people were killed in a fresh wave of violence across Iraq on Saturday, which included a car bombs and mortar attack on a Shiite Muslim village, police and medical sources said. The deadliest attack took place near the Iraqi city of Baquba, 40 miles northeast of Baghdad, where three mortar bombs killed six people, police said. Violence in Iraq climbed back to its highest level in five years in 2013, when nearly 9,000 people were killed, most of them civilians, according to the United Nations…

Ancient church mosaic with symbol of Jesus uncovered in Israel (Yahoo! News) Archaeologists in Israel have uncovered intricate mosaics on the floor of a 1,500-year-old Byzantine church, including one that bears a Christogram (a monogram or combination of letters that forms an abbreviation for the name of Jesus Christ) surrounded by birds. The ruins were discovered during a salvage excavation ahead of a construction project in Aluma, a village about 30 miles south of Tel Aviv, the Israel Antiquities Authority announced Wednesday. The basilica was part of a local Byzantine settlement, but the archaeologists suspect it also served as a center of Christian worship for neighboring communities because it was next to the main road running between the ancient seaport city of Ashkelon in the west and Beit Guvrin and Jerusalem in the east…

Tags: Syria Egypt Pope Francis Ukraine Greek Orthodox Patriarch Youhanna X of Antioch

24 January 2014
John E. Kozar

Our Winter issue of ONE magazine is now online, and I’m excited to share with you this brief video preview.

Please take a moment to see what we have in store, and then visit our website for the complete issue:

I’d also encourage you to take advantage of an exciting new feature we’re offering: If you go to this link, you can find an online version of ONE that appears exactly as it does in print, complete with our beautiful photographs and layouts. A click of the mouse will turn the page. (You can also read this version by going to the magazine’s homepage and clicking on the Read ONE Online image on the upper right hand side of your screen.)

I think you’ll be inspired by some of the stories in this issue, and gain a new appreciation for the ways we’re able to uplift people in so many places around the world. It’s beautiful work you’re helping to make possible. Thank you!

Tags: Syria Egypt CNEWA ONE magazine Greece

24 January 2014
Greg Kandra

In this photo from 11 January, Pope Francis greets participants in the annual meeting of the Catholic Committee for Cultural Collaboration. Those in attendance included CNEWA president Msgr. John E. Kozar, shown in the first row, fifth from the left. (photo: The Holy See)

Earlier this month, Pope Francis took part in a remarkable gathering of Christians — a foreshadowing, in some ways, of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, which concludes tomorrow. Vatican Radio had details:

The audience was attended by Cardinal Kurt Koch, president of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity, who provided the opening remarks. Also present were members of the management committee of the board which comprises the principle benefactors and scholarship students who are studying in Rome.

“The path of reconciliation and renewed fraternity between the churches,” said the pope in his address, “required the experience of friendship and sharing that arises from the mutual understanding between members of different churches, and in particular the young people initiated into sacred ministry.”

He went on to praise the work of the committee, and thanked the many benefactors who have supported its work. He assured those present that he would remember them in prayer, and asked for their prayers in exchange.

The Catholic Committee for Cultural Collaboration was established on 27 July 1964 by Pope Paul VI as one of the initiatives aimed at “reestablishing fraternal ties between the Catholic Church and the venerable Eastern churches.”

The committee promotes the exchange of students between the Catholic Church, Orthodox churches of the Byzantine tradition and Eastern Orthodox churches, who wish to study theology or other ecclesiastical disciplines at Catholic or Orthodox institutions.

Read more.

Tags: Pope Francis Unity Ecumenism Interreligious Christian Unity

24 January 2014
J.D. Conor Mauro

In this video report from a Turkish border town, Dr. Abdullah Zogby sees much psychological trauma in the refugees he treats — including his own children. All the patients at this privately funded clinic in a Turkish border town have crossed into Turkey illegally, so are not eligible for U.N. or government assistance. (video: Al Jazeera)

Activists say 63 dead from hunger, medical shortages in Damascus camp (Daily Star Lebanon) Syrian activists said Friday it has documented the deaths of 63 people, including women and children, in the besieged Yarmuk Palestinian refugee camp in Damascus due to food and medical shortages. Yarmuk in southern Damascus has been under a choking army siege since June, along with several other opposition-held areas across Syria, mostly around the capital and in the central city of Homs. “The number of people who have died in Yarmuk camp as a result of their poor health and living conditions, and the severe lack of food and medicine has risen to 63,” the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said…

Kiev protesters occupy government building amid uneasy truce (The Guardian) Ukrainian protesters erected more street barricades and occupied a government ministry building on Friday after the failure of crisis talks with President Viktor Yanukovich, pointing to a further weekend of protest. Mr. Yanukovich’s Party of the Regions confirmed reports that two months of anti-government protests were spreading to other parts of the country, particularly the west, where “extremists” had seized regional administration buildings. Protesters broke into the agricultural policy ministry building in central Kiev early on Friday, meeting no resistance…

Ukrainian Orthodox churches break off negotiations (Ukrainian News Agency) Patriarch Filaret of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, Kiev Patriarchate, declared a halt to negotiations on unification of churches with the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, Moscow Patriarchate, and the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church. This came in response to the Russian Orthodox Church forbidding the latter two churches from holding these talks. Patriarch Filaret also noted that that relations with the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church remain good, though no unification talks were being held…

Deadly blasts hit police in Cairo (BBC) Five people have been killed and about 90 wounded after three blasts in the Egyptian capital that appeared to target the police force. The attacks began with a powerful car bomb that exploded outside the police headquarters in central Cairo, killing four people and wounding at least 76. Within hours, two other blasts occurred elsewhere in the city, killing one person and injuring 15. The attacks come on the eve of the third anniversary of the 2011 uprising…

New Maronite exarch to Africa speaks about station, Syria (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has erected the new apostolic exarchate for the Eastern Catholic Maronite faithful in Western and Central Africa, in Ad Ibadan, Nigeria. The Rev. Simon Faddoul was nominated by Pope Francis to be the first apostolic exarch to the region. He currently serves as president of Caritas Lebanon, assisting more than one million Syrian refugees who have flooded across the border to escape the ongoing conflict in their homeland. Father Faddoul was also appointed apostolic visitor for the Maronite faithful resident in Southern Africa. In an interview with Tracey McClure, the priest explains what an apostolic exarchate is, and sheds some light on the Maronite faithful in Africa, many of whom come from Lebanon and Syria…

Bomb explodes near French church in Rome (The Guardian) A small makeshift bomb has exploded in a street in central Rome, causing slight damage to a building belonging to a French religious establishment and three parked cars, police said. There was no immediate word on what was behind the explosion early on Friday morning, which occurred hours before a visit to Pope Francis by French president François Hollande, but security was tight near the Vatican before the meeting…

Tags: Egypt Ukraine Refugees Syrian Civil War Children

23 January 2014
Greg Kandra

Several weeks ago, CNEWA’s Chief Communications Officer Michael J.L. La Civita and and Director for Programs Thomas Varghese visited the South Caucasus — Armenia and Georgia — to assess needs and see how CNEWA might be able to help. Their journey was chronicled in a series of blog posts in late November. Now, we’re pleased to present the video below, which brings this remarkable trip to life in a new way — capturing the spirit, character and faith of the people and their homeland.

Take a few minutes to watch. If you’d like to learn how you can support our brothers and sisters in that part of the world, visit our Eastern Europe giving page.

Tags: Armenia Georgia Eastern Europe Caring for the Elderly Caritas

23 January 2014
Greg Kandra

In this image from 2012, a teenager is seen using an iPad in St. Louis, MO. (photo: CNS/Lisa Johnston, St. Louis Review)

Pope Francis issued his message today for World Communications Day, and focused on digital media:

Like the good Samaritan, who stopped on the road to help a person in need, travelers along today’s communication highways should offer support to those they encounter there, Pope Francis said.

“The digital world can be an environment rich in humanity; a network not of wires but of people,” he said in his message for World Communications Day.

Modern means of communication, especially the Internet, offer “immense possibilities for encounter and solidarity,” he said. Because of that, he said, the Internet is “a gift from God.”

“Communication at the service of an authentic culture of encounter” is the theme of this year’s World Communications Day, which most dioceses will mark 1 June, the Sunday before Pentecost. The message, released 23 January, was dated 23 January, the feast of St. Francis de Sales, the patron saint of journalists.

“Good communication helps us grow closer, to know one another better, and ultimately to grow in unity,” the pope said.

“The walls which divide us can be broken down only if we are prepared to listen and learn from one another,” he said. “A culture of encounter demands that we be ready not only to give, but also to receive.”

Good communicators must take the time necessary to listen to others and, more than just tolerate, truly accept them, he said.

“Engaging in dialogue does not mean renouncing our own ideas and traditions, but the claim that they alone are valid or absolute,” the pope said in his message.

Archbishop Claudio Celli, president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, told reporters that the pope is not proposing “a relativism” of the faith, but is continuing his predecessors’ calls for the church to engage with a multi-cultural and multi-religious world.

“I can’t have an outlook of being the only one and the absolute,” Archbishop Celli said. “I am just a concrete incarnation of that truth that is Jesus Christ and his Gospel,” which people live out in myriad ways in different cultures and traditions across the world.

Read more. And you can read the full message at this link.

Tags: Pope Francis Unity Dialogue

23 January 2014
Greg Kandra

A Syrian refugee boy carries wood in the Al Yamdiyeh refugee camp near the Syrian-Turkish border in Latakia province on 10 January. (photo: CNS/Khattab Abdulaa, Reuters)

Pope Francis has issued another plea for peace in Syria. From CNS:

As world leaders gathered in the hopes of finding a peaceful solution to Syria’s three-year-long brutal conflict, Pope Francis asked that they spare no effort in bringing an end to the violence.

The pope also urged the people of Syria to rebuild their nation and see in the other “not an enemy, a rival, but a brother or sister to welcome and embrace.”

The pope made the appeal at the end of his general audience in St. Peter’s Square on 22 January, the day a major peace summit, dubbed “Geneva II” began in Switzerland.

The U.N.-sponsored talks — scheduled to run at least until Jan. 24 — were to bring world leaders together to help forge a solution to the crisis and bring representatives of the Syrian government and major opposition figures together for direct talks for the first time.

A two-person Vatican delegation, led by Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, the Vatican observer to U.N. agencies in Geneva, was also invited to attend the peace summit.

In his appeal to summit participants, Pope Francis said he was praying that “the Lord touch the hearts of everyone so that, by exclusively seeking the greater good of the Syria people, who have been greatly tried, they spare no effort in urgently bringing an end to the violence and conflict, which already has caused too much suffering.”

The pope said he also was praying that the people of Syria would begin a journey of reconciliation and peace “with determination.” He asked that the country be rebuilt “with the participation of all citizens,” so that everyone would see each other as family and not as rivals.

Read more.

And visit our Syria emergency relief page to learn how you can help.

Tags: Pope Francis Refugees Syrian Civil War United Nations Middle East Peace Process

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