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Current Issue
September, 2018
Volume 44, Number 3
  
11 June 2018
Greg Kandra




In this image from 2015, Ukrainian Catholic Archbishop Stefan Soroka of Philadelphia presides at a liturgy during the annual Knights of Columbus convention in Philadelphia. Hundreds turned out to pay tribute to him this weekend as he plans to retire. (photo: CNS /Knights of Columbus)

Syrian orphans who fled war find new home (AP) Nearly 50 children orphaned by the Syrian war escaped the hell that was their hometown of Aleppo after they appeared in a distressing video and appealed for their lives as government forces moved in under a hail of fire. In the year and half since, the children and their instructors have been uprooted twice more: once to escape similar bombardment in another rebel stronghold and again when they fled a town that has been overwhelmed by people seeking shelter from Syria’s war…

Gaza students do well at Catholic-run school (CNS) Though it can be “devastating” to hear about the situation along the border, the Rosary School students interviewed — all Muslims, as are the majority of the students at the school — said it was clear to them they can help the Palestinian cause by getting an education and contributing to society in the future…

Hundreds turn out to bid farewell to retiring Ukrainian Catholic archbishop (Philly.com) For 17 years, [Archbishop] Stefan Soroka has presided over a 100,000-member national church in transition. He has led the nation’s Ukrainian Catholics as membership has declined and immigrants from Ukraine have helped to replenish the pews, all while coping with health challenges that include a heart condition and cancer. Earlier this year, he decided to follow his doctor’s advice and resign from his duties. On Sunday, a crowd of more than 600 filled the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Northern Liberties to honor him and say goodbye…

Lebanon installs electronic gates at refugee camp (Middle East Monitor) The Lebanese army has installed electronic gates at the entrances to the Palestinian Ain al-Hilweh refugee camp in southern Lebanon, residents say according to a report by The New Arab. The gates, which are placed at four main entrances and smaller exit points, are the latest measure to ramp up security at the Palestinian refugee camp…



Tags: Syria Gaza Strip/West Bank Ukrainian Catholic

8 June 2018
Greg Kandra




Msgr. John Kozar visits St. Anne’s Orphanage in Trichur, India. (photo: John E. Kozar/CNEWA)



Tags: India Sisters

8 June 2018
Greg Kandra




Russian planes have reportedly attacked the rebel-held province of Idlib in Syria. The video above shows how some displaced Syrians are living in the region after settling in makeshift camps. (video: Doctors Without Borders/YouTube)

Pope names two new bishops for India (Vatican News) Pope Francis on Friday made two appointments in India. He nominated the Rev. Fulgence Aloysius Tigga as Bishop of Raiganj Diocese in the eastern state of West Bengal, and the Rev. Dennis Panipitchai has been appointed Auxiliary Bishop of Miao Diocese, in Arunachal Pradesh state, northeast India…

Syria: Russian warplanes bomb rebel-held area, dozens dead (Al Jazeera) Air attacks believed to have been carried out by Russia on a village in Syria’s rebel-held Idlib province killed at least 44 people overnight, inflicting the highest death toll in a single attack on the region this year, a monitoring group said on Friday…

Putin: Russia has no plans to pull out of Syria (Al Jazeera) President Vladimir Putin says Russia has no plans to pull its military out of Syria, but isn’t building permanent facilities there. The troops “will stay there for as long as it is to Russia’s advantage, and to fulfill our international responsibilities,” Putin said during his annual televised call-in show on Thursday…

Gaza anti-blockade protest on ’Jerusalem Day’ (AP) Palestinians burned tires and Israeli troops fired heavy volleys of tear gas Friday to push back large Gaza crowds from the area of the fence separating the blockaded territory from Israel. It was the latest in a series of protests against the decade-long blockade of Gaza by Israel and Egypt. Friday’s march also coincided with the annual “Jerusalem Day,” instituted by Iran to protest against Israeli rule of the holy city. Israel and Iran have been arch enemies since Tehran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution…



Tags: Syria India Russia Indian Bishops

7 June 2018
Elias D. Mallon, S.A., Ph.D.




Pope John XXIII visits Regina Coeli jail on 26 December 1958. (photo: Archivio Cameraphoto Epoche/Getty Images)

In many of the places where CNEWA works, there are prisons. Most have appalling conditions; many are places where hope is in short supply. The March 2018 issue of ONE, CNEWA’s magazine, chronicles the work of prison chaplains in Ethiopia who are seeking to change that. While this story is, of course, unique, it is replicated by committed Christians all over CNEWA’s world — and, in fact, the whole world — who are responding to the Gospel mandate to visit the imprisoned.

This story offers us an opportunity to reflect on where that mandate originates, and why it matters so much.

To begin with, prisons appear several times in the Bible. In the New Testament, John the Baptist is imprisoned and ultimately executed by Herod. In the Acts of the Apostles, Peter and John are imprisoned several times as is Paul. In fact, in his letter to the Ephesians Paul describes himself twice as a “prisoner of the Lord.” However, perhaps the most important appearance of prison is in Matthew 25. In his description of the Last Judgment, Jesus harshly condemns those who are “on the left side of the Son of Man.” He condemns them: “Go away from me, with your curse upon you, to the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matt 25:41). This is one of the harshest statements of Jesus in all the Gospels. When he explains why these people are cursed, he notes they did not feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, welcome the stranger, clothe the naked and visit the sick. These are actions which we would expect of a follower of Jesus, especially after he makes them quite literally the linchpins of salvation. What is interesting is that Jesus not only includes visiting the sick but also visiting the imprisoned. The seriousness of this cannot be overlooked. Visiting the imprisoned is for Jesus here a condition for salvation.

Since the time of Jesus, prisons have evolved — though, to be honest, rarely improved. In the ancient world, a prison was basically the place where criminals where held until they we executed, sold into slavery, etc. Imprisonment itself was not the punishment but merely the place where one was held before punishment.

In the Middle Ages, imprisonment itself became a punishment. The ability to execute and imprison people was a sign of power and authority and many a nobleman had a dungeon in his castle where people were held in the most degrading conditions. In the 18th and 19th centuries in England and among the Quakers in Pennsylvania a new concept of the prison evolved. These reformers saw imprisonment not merely as a punishment but as rehabilitation. Prisons became “correction facilities,” where the criminal would repent, reform and return to society as a productive, law-abiding citizen. While a noble idea, it didn’t get very far; centuries later, prisons are horrible places where a “correction facility” far too often releases people who arefrequently no better — and often worse — than when they were initially incarcerated.

Recent popes have been increasingly concerned with the plight of the imprisoned. After years as “prisoner of the Vatican,” the first pope to leave the Vatican was Pope John XXIII. On 26 December 1958 the pope’s first excursion out of Vatican City was a Christmas visit to the prisoners at Regina Cœli, the notorious Roman prison on the Gianicolo. Since that time, popes have regularly visited the imprisoned. Pope Francis has made Holy Thursday the traditional day for such a trip, traveling outside the Vatican to celebrate the Holy Thursday liturgy and wash the feet of prisoners. He is modeling for us what Christ taught — and embodying in a powerful and modern way the very message of Matthew 25.

We are privileged to follow that example in our own work. Supported by CNEWA, prison ministers — very often lay people — are bringing hope and a future to people who otherwise would not have it. Based on a deep conviction that people can change, that grace is more powerful than sin and goodness more powerful than evil, prison ministers help the imprisoned turn their lives around and ultimately return to society.



Tags: Ethiopia Pope

7 June 2018
Greg Kandra




Deacon Kevin Mundackal recites prayers during his 5 May ordination to the priesthood at St. Thomas Syro-Malabar Catholic Forane Church in Somerset, N.J. He is the first U.S.-born priest to be ordained for the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church. (photo: CNS/Ed Koskey Jr., The Catholic Spirit)



Tags: Syro-Malabar Catholic Church

7 June 2018
Greg Kandra




Archbishop Bernadito Auza underscored the importance of faith-based organizations in helping migrants. He addressed an event at the UN on 4 June. (photo: Vatican News)

Holy See commends service of faith-based organizations to migrants (Vatican News) The Holy See has underscored the importance of faith-based organizations in providing protection and integration to migrants. Their efforts, alongside those of other key stakeholders, are essential in helping implement the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM), the first intergovernmental agreement coordinated by the United Nations that will cover all dimensions of international migration…

To go or not to go: Syrians’ dilemma in Lebanon (Gulf News) With the Syrian regime seemingly on the path to winning the war, there have been growing calls in host countries for the refugees to go back. Nowhere else has this been more pronounced than in Lebanon…

Rights group: Gaza children on brink of mental health crisis (Al Jazeera) A generation of children in the besieged Gaza Strip are on the brink of a mental health crisis, a children rights group said. ”A whole generation of children in Gaza is balancing on a knife edge where one more shock could have devastating life-long consequences,” Marcia Brophy, a senior health adviser at Save the Children, said in a statement..

Tensions rise between Ukraine and Russia in territorial waters (Newsweek) kraine’s navy is in a state of heightened alert in the Sea of Azov, a body of water shared by the Eastern European nation and Russia. ”The security service said: ’Watch closely, the Russians are preparing countermeasures. They are planning seizures and hijackings of Ukrainian ships,’” a Ukrainian shipowner told Radio Free Europe in a video published on Wednesday…

Soccer match canceled over Jerusalem (The New York Times) A decision by Argentina’s national soccer team to cancel a World Cup warm-up match against Israel after protests by Palestinian activists has set off hand-wringing and recrimination here in a nation obsessed with the sport and geopolitics…



Tags: Syria Gaza Strip/West Bank Vatican

6 June 2018
Greg Kandra




Sister Frehiwot Chisha greets a class in Rosa Gatorno Kindergarten in Ethiopia. Discover how young religious sisters are being formed to lead and teach in Ethiopia in The Habit of Learning in the current edition of ONE. (photo: Don Duncan)



Tags: Ethiopia

6 June 2018
Greg Kandra




A Franciscan priest in the video above describes his efforts to help rebuild a devastated Syria. (video: Rome Reports/YouTube)

Lebanon leader says Iran, Hezbollah forces to remain in Syria until it is ’liberated’ (Reuters) Lebanese Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri said Iranian and Hezbollah forces will not withdraw from Syria until the country is “liberated” and its “territorial integrity is restored,” Russia’s RIA news agency reported on Wednesday…

Street protests continuing in Jordan (Vatican News) King Abdullah II says he wants a review of a draft income tax law, after days of protests against new austerity measures which led to the resignation of the prime minister. Several thousand protesters gathered in Amman soon after premier Hani Mulki stepped down…

Ethiopia says it will ‘fully accept’ Eritrea peace deal from 2000 (The New York Times) Ethiopia announced Tuesday that it would accept a 2000 peace agreement with Eritrea over their disputed border, potentially a major step toward resolving one of post-colonial Africa’s bloodiest and most protracted conflicts. A statement by the governing party of Ethiopia, the second-most populous country in Africa, said it would “fully accept and implement” the agreement with Eritrea, a former province of Ethiopia, which was signed but never honored…

Lebanon presses UNHCR on refugee return strategy (The Daily Star) Lebanon Tuesday gave the UNHCR a fortnight to respond to a request to develop a strategy to facilitate the return of Syrian refugees to safe zones in their homeland. The Foreign Ministry’s political affairs director, Ghady al-Khoury, met with the body’s Lebanon representative to voice Lebanon’s reservations over the UNHCR policy on the Syrian refugee crisis in Lebanon, a statement from the ministry said…

Italy calls on Israel not to demolish Bedouin village in Jerusalem (Middle East Monitor) The Italian foreign ministry has called on Israeli occupation authorities not to demolish a Bedouin village and an Italian-funded school in eastern Jerusalem, expressing concern that such a step threatens the two-state solution and the establishment of an independent Palestinian state…



Tags: Syria Ethiopia Jordan

5 June 2018
Greg Kandra




Archbishop Joseph Jbara, center, visited CNEWA’s staff in Amman, Jordan, on 31 May. (photo: CNEWA)

We recently received the following email and accompanying photograph from Ra’ed Bahou, CNEWA’s regional director in Amman:

Earlier this year 2018, Pope Francis approved the proposal presented by the Synod of the Melkite Roman Catholics to transfer Bishop Joseph Jbara from the Diocese of Our Lady of Paradise in Sao Paulo to the Greek Melkite Catholic Archeparchy of Petra and Philadelphia. He thus became an archbishop.

Archbishop Jbara visited CNEWA’s office on 31 May. His visit was a gesture of love and thanks to all who attended his installation ceremony in April. I briefed him on all our projects and programs involving the Melkite churches and parishioners, and was privileged to give him a tour at our community center.



Tags: CNEWA Jordan Melkite

5 June 2018
Greg Kandra




The Rev. Rajeev Philip, ordained on 2 June 2018 at a ceremony in Tampa, Florida, is pictured meeting with Pope Francis in 2017. He has become the first U.S.-born priest to be ordained for the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church. (photo: CNS/courtesy Syro-Malabar Diocese of St. Thomas)

First U.S.-born Syro-Malbar priest ordained (CNS) In a 2 June ceremony in Tampa, Florida, the Rev. Rajeev Philip became the first U.S.-born priest to be ordained for the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church…

U.S.-backed forces withdraw from Syrian border town (AP) The United States says the Syrian town of Manbij will be governed by “locals” who are “mutually agreeable” to the U.S. and Turkey following the withdrawal of U.S.-backed Syrian Kurdish forces from the city…

Syria tells Lebanon it wants refugees to return (Voice of America) Syria has told Lebanon it wants refugees to return to help rebuild the country, its envoy to Lebanon said on Monday, after Beirut expressed concern that a new land redevelopment law could discourage them from going home. Lebanon, which is hosting about a million registered Syrian refugees, wrote to the Syrian government last month over “Law 10,” which aid and rights groups fear could result in Syrian refugees losing their property in the country…

Refugee agency recommits to serving Syrians (CNS) The Jesuit Refugee Service pledged to continue supporting some of the 11 million displaced Syrians as the U.S. government’s response to the world’s worst humanitarian crisis since World War II is in “retreat”…

India’s bishops support strike by desperate farmers (UCANews.com) Millions of farmers across India’s seven major states have launched a ten-day strike demanding higher prices for their produce and loan waivers with rights activist and church groups pledging support to their struggle. Days after beginning on 1 June, the strike has begun to affect urban areas of central and northern India where farmers are refusing to provide produce to markets resulting in soaring food prices…

Jerusalem artist wants to give Prince William a tattoo during his visit (Haaretz) The Duke of Cambridge is preparing for a solo Middle East tour in late June, when he is set to visit Israel, Jordan and the West Bank…



Tags: Syria India Lebanon Jerusalem Syro-Malabar Catholic Church





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