14 October 2015
Palestinian university students shout slogans during a rally to express their solidarity with Palestinians clashing with Israeli security forces in the West Bank and Jerusalem,
on 14 October 2015 in Gaza City. (photo: Mohammed Abed/AFP/Getty Images)
Israel sends more forces to West Bank (The Jerusalem Post) The IDF has deployed two additional battalions to its Judea and Samria Division, three companies to the Jerusalem-West Bank perimeter area, and two reinforcement battalions to the Gaza border, to deal with disturbances along the security fence there...
Director of Caritas Jerusalem criticizes new checkpoints (Fides) “The imposition of Israeli checkpoints in Palestinian areas of Jerusalem represents a ‘safety measure’ that provides no security, but on the contrary increases anger and frustration, and thus feeds feelings of revenge.” This is how the Rev. Raed Abusahliah, Director General of Caritas Jerusalem evaluates the potential negative effects of the closure of areas of East Jerusalem, where attacks by Palestinian suicide bombers in recent days have caused the deaths of several Israeli citizens. “In my opinion,” said Father Raed, “they can impose all the blocks they want, but this will not ensure safety. The only way to achieve security and stability for all is to restore freedom to the Palestinian people”...
Kidnapped priest freed in Syria (AFP) A Syrian priest who was kidnapped in May in the central province of Homs is free and on Sunday conducted his first Mass since his abduction, a church source said. “Father (Jacques) Mourad is free. He is currently in the village of Zaydal,” about five kilometres (three miles) from the city of Homs, the source told AFP. The priest of the Syriac Catholic Church “celebrated mass this morning in Zaydal,” the source added, without providing details on how he gained his freedom, citing security reasons...
Iranian troops reportedly preparing for offensive in Syria (Reuters) Thousands of Iranian troops have arrived in Syria to join the regime’s military forces and Hizbollah allies to launch a ground attack against insurgents in Aleppo, two senior regional officials have said. Control of Aleppo city and the surrounding province in the area near the Turkish border is divided among the Syrian government, insurgent groups fighting Syrian president Bashar al-Assad and ISIS that controls some rural areas near the city...
Syrian refugees in Jersey City are among few to start new life in the U.S. (The New York Times) After four years of fleeing and 15 hours of flying, Hussam Al Roustom walked off the plane at Newark Liberty International Airport, only to feel as if he had stepped into an American movie. “It was like an action film in the sense that this hero had lost everyone dear to him, and then he finds himself safe — but he has nothing else to lose,” Mr. Al Roustom said in Arabic, through an interpreter. “That’s how I felt.” Mr. Al Roustom is a refugee from Syria. Since arriving in June, he, his wife, their 3-year-old daughter and their 7-year-old son have been living in an apartment atop the Kwick Discount Center grocery store in Jersey City. Their journey ended even as four million Syrians were still looking for a home, throwing Europe and the Middle East into a humanitarian crisis. Mr. Al Roustom was one of only 1,682 Syrian refugees admitted to the United States since 1 October, 2014, and among 78 resettled in the New York metropolitan area...
Church has built strong interreligious ties since ‘Nostra Aetate’ (CNS) The scene in Foundation Hall of the National September 11 Memorial and Museum during Pope Francis’ visit spoke volumes about the Catholic Church and interreligious relations. On the platform with Pope Francis 25 September were representatives of the Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh, Jewish, Muslim religions as well as Christian religions. All equal. All offering prayers for peace and words of inspiration from their sacred texts. The event symbolized the strengthening relations and solidarity that the Catholic Church has with non-Christian religions as envisioned by “Nostra Aetate” (“In Our Time”), the Vatican II declaration that addressed the relations of the Catholic Church with other religions, said Father John W. Crossin, executive director of the Secretariat for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops...
13 October 2015
A Carpatho-Rusyn Greek Catholic seminarian prays before the morning liturgy
in Uzhorod, Ukraine. (photo: Oleg Grigroyev)
For more than a millennium, Central Europe’s Carpatho-Rusyns have been engulfed in a violent whirl of Magyar, Germanic and Slavic antagonism. Always subjugated, Rusyn peasants toiled soil, kept livestock or cut timber for their Hungarian, Austrian or Polish masters. Such conditions, coupled with centuries of serfdom and forced assimilation, hardly favored the development of a distinct Rusyn identity. Nevertheless, among the Rusyns such an identity did develop, sowed by their distinct Slavic language, nurtured by their Byzantine Christianity — which they received from Sts. Cyril and Methodius in the late ninth century — and reinforced by their full communion with the church of Rome.
Today, fewer than 900,000 Rusyn Greek Catholics are scattered throughout Croatia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, North America, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia and Ukraine. A unified church, gathering them all under one mantle, does not exist. Rusyn Greek Catholics — also called Ruthenians — make up three distinct churches that, while sharing the same origins, traditions and culture, remain independent of each other.
- In the United States, the Metropolitan Byzantine Archeparchy of Pittsburgh, with its three dependent eparchies of Parma, Passaic and Phoenix, is a particular or sui iuris church. It includes about 82,000 members.
- The Eparchy of Mukacevo in Subcarpathian Ukraine, which numbers about 320,000 people, is dependent directly on the Holy See.
- The Apostolic Exarchate for Byzantine Catholics in the Czech Republic is also dependent on the Holy See and counts 170,000 members.
Parishioners of St. Mary Protector, a Rusyn Greek Catholic church in Kingston, Pennsylvania, make and sell 4,000 peroghi a year to support the church. (photo: Cody Christopulos)
Rusyn Greek Catholics also belong to various jurisdictions of the Greek Catholic churches of Hungary, Romania, Slovakia, Ukraine and the former Yugoslavia. Complicating matters further, substantial numbers of Rusyns, all formerly Greek Catholic, have created communities within various Orthodox churches in North America, Poland and the Czech and Slovak republics. However, with the exception of the American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Greek Catholic Church — an eparchy formed in Pittsburgh in 1939 under the jurisdiction of the ecumenical patriarchate in Constantinople — their Rusyn identity has largely eroded.
While a unified church may not yet exist, European and North American Rusyn Greek Catholics work together, assisting one another with financial and human resources. This mutual support is not limited to the Greek Catholic community alone. Guided by the ecumenical movement and encouraged by the foundation of nonpartisan societies dedicated to the study of Carpatho-Rusyn genealogy, history, literature and religion, relations among Rusyns of all faiths press forward.
Read a full account of the Carpatho-Rusyn Greek Catholic churches here.
13 October 2015
Eighth-grader E. M. Ebin, a resident of the Malankara Boys’ Home, takes a break from studying.
(photo: Jose Jacob)
In the summer of 2013, we took readers to a home for boys in India that was making a profound difference in many young lives:
The home is steeped in Christian values and Catholic teaching. But as with much of Indian society, it dwells side by side with other faiths — literally. The home is located between two family homes, one Hindu the other, Muslim. D. Vijaya Kumaran, the Hindu neighbor, and Nazim Ibrahim, the Muslim neighbor, have been associated with the home from the beginning, with Mr. Kumaran’s two sons and Mr. Ibrahim serving as tutors for the boys.
Mr. Kumaran, a retired bureaucrat, describes the Malankara Boys’ Home as “one of the best institutions in the area.” Mr. Ibrahim, a Kerala State Transport Corporation official, hails it as a “model” for those trying to help the poorest of the poor.
Mr. Kumaran says he has seen an amazing transformation in the home’s children.
“When they first arrive, they are timid and withdrawn,” he says, noting that such behavior is to some extent culturally instilled in people coming from backgrounds with lower social standing. “But by the time they leave, they are ready to face any challenge in life,” the 69-year-old upper-caste Hindu explains. He commends the home’s priests for giving individual attention to the children.
Read more about “Reaching the Young ‘Untouchables’” in the Summer 2013 edition of ONE. And to learn how you can support this project and so many others in India, please visit our giving page.
13 October 2015
Syrian residents inspect the damaged area after war-crafts belonging to the Syrian army bombed residential areas in Ein Tarma district in Damascus, Syria on 13 October 2015.
(photo: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Survival in Syria: “Things are different” (CNN) Shelled-out apartment blocks, AK-47’s and black flags, tanks and Russian jets: the images we have of Syria, of death and destruction, omit any idea of life. But life goes on. “People are still trying to survive,” said journalist Zaina Erhaim. “They are still getting in love, they’re still getting their children to schools — although now the schools are in basements, although the field hospitals are in basements.” “They’re going on with their lives. They still go to school. They still have shops. But things are different”...
Iraqi refugees volunteer to help others (UNHCR) Childhood friends Hussein and Jaffa fled war ravaged Iraq together, crossing seven borders and the Aegean Sea to seek refuge in Europe. As they seek asylum in Austria, they decided to help those following in their tracks. Donning fluorescent jackets, they volunteer in a makeshift camp on the Austrian side of a bridge to Germany, helping 1,000 or so foot-sore refugees to get hot food, medical care, tents to sleep under and warm clothes to beat the autumn chill. “This is something I want to do here — to help people and to keep busy,” says soft-spoken Jaffa, 23, snatching a moment to chat while interpreting for Arabic speaking refugees headed to Germany — journey’s end for many of them...
Ukraine nuncio reflects on his country’s invasion (Vatican Radio) After four years as Papal Nuncio to Ukraine, Archbishop Thomas Gullickson reflects on the challenges faced by Ukrainians after their country was thrown into turmoil in 2014. The lives of millions of Ukrainians were destabilized, leaving up to two million people “on the run” and “having to find a new homeland,” the Archbishop told Vatican Radio...
Severe drought threatening millions of Ethiopians (RFI) Food insecurity is a sensitive issue in Ethiopia ever since the country was hit by famine in 1984-85 after extreme drought. The problem today is that the drought is affecting a large area — from the eastern Afar region to the southern Somali regions — which is an area that is already quite dry. “One factor of the crisis is that it’s a region that normally thrives on pastoral activities, and because of the drought, livestocks are also dying,” Ahmed Shukri, a senior economist with the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization told RFI...
Indian couple tells synod how interfaith marriage is lived (Vatican Radio) The 14th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on the family, currently taking place in the Vatican 4-25 October, heard from of an Indian couple on Saturday how inter-faith marriage can be lived. Penelope and Ishwarlal Bajaj from Mumbai, who have been married for over 38 years, are among 18 couples from around the world invited to the Synod as auditors. The Indian couple was asked to share the testimony of their marriage and family life at the 6th General Congregation of the synod, Saturday morning...
9 October 2015
Tags: Syria India Iraq Ethiopia Ukraine
CNEWA will be visiting Altoona, Pennsylvania, this weekend. (photo: Wikipedia Commons)
This weekend, once again CNEWA will be hitting the road.
As we did recently in Illinois, we’ll be visiting a parish in Altoona, Pennsylvania: St. John the Evangelist. I’ll be preaching at all the Masses and members of our development team will be on hand to meet parishioners, pass out information about our work and answer questions about how people can support our mission, particularly on behalf of refugees in the Middle East.
If you’re in the neighborhood, stop by!
And if you’d like CNEWA to visit your parish or church group, please just drop a line to our development director, Norma Intriago. email@example.com.
9 October 2015
Alice Zakarian and her husband Apkar, 90, visit the Cathedral of St. James in Jerusalem. The lives of Armenians in Jerusalem are rich and sometimes challenging. Discover more about them in “Living Here is Complicated” in the Winter 2014 edition of ONE. (photo: Ilene Perlman)
9 October 2015
In the video above, Syriac Catholic Patriarch Ignatius Joseph III speaks at the Synod on the Family on families in his homeland facing persecution. (video: Rome Reports)
Pope Francis appeals for peace in Middle East (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis made a prayerful appeal for reconciliation and peace in the Middle East and Africa on Friday, at the opening of the morning session of the Synod assembly in the Vatican. The appeal came as the Holy Father addressed the participants of the XIV Ordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on Friday morning, at the start of their second round of meetings...
Archbishop of Aleppo welcomes Russia strikes (Al-Arabiya) The Melkite Greek Catholic archbishop of Aleppo welcomed Russia’s massive military escalation in Syria, describing it in an interview Thursday with Swiss television as a source of “hope” for the country’s Christians. Archbishop Jean-Clement Jeanbart said the initiative “serves the Christians’ cause,” adding that he nonetheless recognized that Moscow was ultimately protecting its own interests by launching strikes in Syria…
Copts call for investigation into massacre (Fides) Four years after what some have called the massacre of Maspero, the Copts of Egypt Coalition — an independent organization of the Coptic Orthodox Church, but animated by militant lay Copts — has asked President Abdel Fattah al Sisi and the Egyptian Minister of Justice Ahmed al Zind to reopen the investigation regarding this tragic event, in which 27 Copts were killed by ferocious reprisals unleashed by military units against a protest...
Surprising findings from 4,500-year-old Ethiopian (The Los Angeles Times) DNA from a man who lived in Ethiopia about 4,500 years ago is prompting scientists to rethink the history of human migration in Africa...
Divers begin construction of first underwater Russian Orthodox church (The Moscow Times) Divers in Crimea began construction of an underwater Russian Orthodox church, placing a giant cross at the bottom of the Black Sea, Crimean news service Krym.Realii reported Wednesday. The nine-foot cross, styled as a ship anchor, will become the “initial structure, around which the world’s first underwater temple will be built, which will bear the name of St. Nicholas — sailors’ patron saint,” a spokesperson for the Russian Orthodox Church in Crimea was quoted by Krym.Realii as saying...
‘Agreed Statement on Christology’ between Anglicans, Oriental Orthodox (OCP Media Network) Historic agreements have been signed between Anglican and Oriental Orthodox churches helping to heal the oldest continuing division within Christianity. An Agreed Statement on Christology, published in North Wales this week by the Anglican-Oriental Orthodox International Commission, heals the centuries-old split between the Anglican Churches within the family of Chalcedonian churches and the non-Chalcedonian churches over the incarnation of Christ…
8 October 2015
Syrian refugees from Kobane wait at the Turkish-Syrian border to return to their country on 8 October. (photo: Halil Fidan/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Syria launches wide-scale offensive (CNN) The Syrian army, which had appeared earlier this year to be on the ropes, has “launched a wide-scale offensive,” a senior military official said Thursday. The aim is “eliminating the terrorist groups and liberating the areas and towns that have suffered from terrorism and its crime,” said General Ali Abdullah Ayyoub, the Syrian army chief of staff…
Jerusalem mayor calls on civilians to carry firearms (NBC News) The mayor of Jerusalem urged gun owners to carry their weapons at all times on Thursday in the wake of a slew of attacks and unrest in Israel and the West Bank. “Given the current escalation [of violence] in the security situation, those with a licensed firearm who know what to do with it must go out with [their weapon] — it’s an imperative,” Mayor Nir Barkat told Army Radio. “In a way, it’s like military reserve duty…”
Germany faces strains in refugee crisis (The Guardian) The realities of shouldering Europe’s refugee crisis are coming home to Germany, amid daily reports of clashes in asylum seeker homes; bureaucrats overwhelmed by a backlog of registration claims and deep divisions within chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative ranks over how to manage the enormity of the challenge. Just weeks after Merkel responded to the refugee crisis with the declaration: “Wir schaffen es” (“We can do it”), the euphoric mood that dominated has been replaced by a more sober response and a creeping sense of realism that the newcomers are here to stay…
One third of military deaths in Ukraine not related to battle (The Moscow Times) Nearly a third of Ukraine’s military losses over the past two years were non-battle casualties, according to the country’s Defense Ministry figures cited by news reports. In total, 2,027 soldier deaths have been recorded in 2014-2015 so far, according to the Defense Ministry report released Wednesday. Among them, 597 were non-battle casualties, the ministry said. The leading causes of non-battle deaths included suicide, with 171 cases, and road accidents, with 112…
Caritas Jerusalem intervenes to fight child malnutrition in Gaza (Fides) Most of the 1.8 million inhabitants of the Gaza Strip cannot afford adequate food, partly because of higher food prices following the latest Israeli military action. Children and young people, who represent half the population, suffer most. A study carried out by the Palestinian Medical Relief Society revealed that 52 percent of children in the Gaza Strip suffer from anemia and severe phosphorus, calcium and zinc deficiencies, while a significant number of children suffer from respiratory infections. After the last Israeli military action, Caritas Jerusalem has launched a project aimed at improving food standards for children in the Gaza Strip between the ages of 5 and 12, giving them milk and food products specifically to meet their nutritional deficiencies…
8 October 2015
Tags: Syria Refugees Gaza Strip/West Bank Jerusalem Germany
Indian Orthodox women bearing candles return home after attending an evening Divine Liturgy in Akkaparambu, Kerala. (photo: Sean Sprague)
Until the Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama arrived on the shores of southwest India at the close of the 15th century, India’s Christians flourished in a unified church. Referred to as Thomas Christians, they traced their faith to St. Thomas the Apostle, who evangelized the south of India after his arrival in the year 52.
India’s Thomas Christians were joined by 72 Christian families from Mesopotamia, who according to tradition, arrived in the southwestern Indian port of Cranganore in 345. Led by Thomas Knaniya — a merchant who belonged to the Church of the East, a community in Mesopotamia also founded by St. Thomas — these families brought with them a bishop, Mar (a Syriac honorific for “Lord”) Joseph of Edessa, four priests and several deacons.
While Thomas Knaniya’s Mesopotamian community prohibited intermarriage, thus forming a closed community, their priests strengthened relations between the Church of the East and India’s Thomas Christians. The catholicos-patriarch of the Church of the East — which adhered to the most ancient rites of the church, known as East Syriac — regularly dispatched bishops to India to ordain priests and deacons and regulate ecclesial life for both communities. Common commercial interests also deepened the relationship between the two.
Two Indian Orthodox women greet visitors in front of their church in Akkaparambu, India. (photo: Sean Sprague)
In the eighth century, the Church of the East’s catholicos appointed a Mesopotamian cleric as “metropolitan and Gate of All India.” Though exercising considerable authority within the church in India, he typically did not speak the language of the people. Consequently, real power resided with an “archdeacon of All India,” a dynastic office for native Indian clergy.
For nearly 1,500 years, India’s Thomas Christians were fully integrated into south Indian society. While their traditions and liturgical practices reflected their East Syriac roots, other elements of the spirituality and culture of the Thomas Christians — such as their method of praying for the dead, avoidance rituals associated with the caste system and eating customs — revealed their Hindu cultural heritage.
Portuguese colonization of south India, which also included efforts to bind the Thomas Christians to the Church of Rome, shattered their unity. Today, the spiritual sons and daughters of St. Thomas include more than ten million believers divided among seven jurisdictions — Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant. The Indian Orthodox Church is divided into two groups sharing the same Syriac rites and traditions. The largest, the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church, includes some 2.5 million members. Another 1.2 million Orthodox Indians belong to the Malankara Syriac Orthodox Church. Most live on the subcontinent. But recently, thousands of families have settled in North America, Oceania and the Persian Gulf.
To learn more about the Thomas Christians, and the Indian Orthodox Church, click here.
7 October 2015
Tags: India Eastern Churches Indian Christians
In this image from 2007, a young couple is married in Tbilisi, Georgia. To learn more about the resurgent faith of this ancient nation, read “A Georgian Revival” in the March 2007 edition of ONE.
(photo: Molly Corso)