6 August 2013
Singers Yana Grigorian and Svitlana Kukharuk take a break during choir practice at the Armenian Cathedral of the Assumption of Mary in Lviv. Read about Armenian efforts to rebuild a sense of church and community in western Ukraine in Restoring Faith in the September 2012 issue of ONE. (photo: Petro Didula)
6 August 2013
Tags: Ukraine Cultural Identity Eastern Christianity Armenian Apostolic Church
A man mourns his father at a Roma funeral in Hodász, Hungary. Located about 240 miles east of Budapest, Hodász is one of the most significant Roma communities in Hungary. Most Roma are Catholic, with a strong tradition of reverence for the Virgin Mary. To learn more, see Jacqueline Ruyak’s Our Town from the March 2008 issue of ONE. (photo: Balazs Gardi/VII Network)
Hungarian men jailed over Roma killings (Al Jazeera) Four Hungarian men have been sentenced to jail after being found guilty of killing six Roma in a wave of racially motivated attacks between 2008 and 2009. A Budapest court on Tuesday handed down life sentences to Arpad Kiss, Istvan Kiss and Zsolt Peto. A fourth defendant, Istvan Csontos, who served as a driver during the crimes, was sentenced to a 13-year prison term. All four men are linked to the neo-Nazi movement. In one of the most gruesome attacks, a Roma father and his 5-year-old son were gunned down as they tried to flee their house, which the gang had set on fire…
Audit of Syrian refugees finds organized crime, child soldiers (AINA) Many Syrians who have escaped their country are now desperate to escape from United Nations refugee camps, where women are not safe and teenage boys are recruited as soldiers to fight in the conflict, according to an internal United Nations report. The report, a self-evaluation of U.N. refugee agency UNHCR, admits the United Nations could have done much better and “a far more substantial and coherent strategy is needed…”
Growing concern over plight of missing Jesuit priest in Syria (Vatican Radio) Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs Emma Bonino says the Italian Jesuit priest missing in Syria has probably been abducted by an Islamic group, telling state television Tuesday that Italy has been working to secure his release. The Jesuits of the Middle East earlier issued a statement expressing their deep concern over the fate of the Rev. Paolo Dall’Oglio, who went missing a week ago in northern Syria. One Jesuit priest based in neighboring Beirut who knows Father Dall’Oglio well is the Rev. Michael Zammit who spoke to Vatican Radio’s Susy Hodges…
Israeli settlements proceed despite peace negotiations (AsiaNews) A week after agreeing to talks with Palestinian leaders, the Israeli government on Sunday added 20 West Bank settlements to a list some 600 Jewish communities prioritized for aid. According to Palestinian official Hanan Ashrawi, such a move will have a “destructive impact” on peace talks. Considered illegal by the international community, the settlements established by Israel are a longstanding stumbling block for diplomacy…
5 August 2013
Tags: Syria Violence against Christians Refugee Camps Hungary Roma
On our pilgrimage to the Holy Land, we made it a point to give our patronage to Christian-owned businesses whenever possible. We felt it was important to show solidarity with Christians in the Holy Land in a tangible way by supporting their livelihoods.
For many Christians, running a local business is a major factor enabling them to stay in the Holy Land and thereby maintain a Christian presence there. Christians comprise less than 2 percent of the population and that number continues to decrease. Many emigrate due to high unemployment and a harsh financial climate.
Tourism plays a vital part in the Holy Land’s economy, and gift shops can grow quite large to accommodate this. (photo: CNEWA)
Some of our support for Christian businesses took the form of visits to gift shops to buy souvenirs. Many of us purchased olive wood holy statues — traditional handicrafts of the Holy Land. We also visited a wine shop run by Salesian Fathers, who have their own winery in the Cremisan Valley.
We stayed at the Ararat Hotel, a new Christian-owned hotel in Bethlehem in the Palestinian Territories. Our other accommodations were at the Mount of the Beatitudes and Stella Maris guesthouses run by religious orders.
We also enjoyed a traditional lunch with Nora Kort, a Christian woman representing the Arab Orthodox Society. The Arab Orthodox Society of East Jerusalem is dedicated to helping Palestinian women help themselves. One of their initiatives is the Melia Art and Training Center — “an organization of women from all over the West Bank” dedicated to preserving traditional Palestinian cross-stitch embroidery.
Catholic Women’s League of Canada members examine embroidery sold through the Melia Art and Training Center. (photo: CNEWA)
One of the most memorable details of our trip to the Holy Land was the food — pita bread with hummus and other dips, kebabs, tabbouleh and more delicacies. We ate at numerous restaurants and really experienced the local culture through its cuisine.
Tour guide Alex, left, breathed life into our excursion by providing historical and biblical context. (photo: CNEWA)
Finally, our tour guide, Alexander (“Iskandar” in Arabic), was a Palestinian Christian. Alex was awesome — he greatly enhanced our experience of the Holy Land. He was not only knowledgeable of the cultural and historical context of the places we visited, but we also saw to the very roots of his deep Christian faith. In every place we visited, he brought out a Bible and we read a passage from Scripture pertaining to the place, treating us to a more complete experience. We also appreciated his patience and his humor. He was a pleasure to be around!
5 August 2013
Tags: CNEWA Catholic Pilgrimage/pilgrims Holy Land Christians CNEWA Canada
Orphans join in prayer at Kidane Mehret Children’s Home in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Read more about the work of the children’s home in Every Child Has a Name from the September 2001 issue of our magazine. (photo: Sean Sprague)
5 August 2013
Tags: Ethiopia Children Orphans/Orphanages
In this 2010 photo, Syriac Orthodox Patriarch Ignatius Zakka I of Antioch and All the East, left, meets with Archbishop Timothy Dolan at the monastery and seminary of St. Ephrem the Syrian, in Damascus. (photo: CNEWA)
Syriac Orthodox Patriarchate to remain in Damascus (Fides) Patriarch Ignatius Zakka of Antioch and All the East denies all rumors that the See of the Patriarchate of Antioch of the Syriac Orthodox Church will move from Damascus. The patriarch puts it simply: “There is no intention to move it to another place.” The Holy Synod of the Syriac Orthodox Church unanimously echoes this position. According to a statement sent to Fides Agency, such a transition would be tantamount to the admission of a danger of “extinction” of the Syriac Orthodox Church and its spiritual heritage…
Jesuits of the Middle East express ‘deep concern’ for priests (Fides) In a recent statement, the Jesuits of the Middle East expressed “deep worry” about the fate of some of their confreres in the Syrian conflict. Along with Father Paolo Dall’Oglio, the Roman Jesuit who has been missing in northern Syria for a week, the Provincial Assouad also refers to the plight of Father Frans van der Lugt and the people with whom he lives in the center of the city of Homs, stranded and isolated by the war…
Metropolitan Tikhon: American Orthodoxy obliged to the Russian (The Voice of Russia) The Russian Orthodox Church can offer a great deal to the modern world, says Metropolitan Tikhon of All America and Canada. The Orthodox Church of America participated in the celebrations dedicated to the 1025th anniversary of the spreading of Christianity to Russia. In an interview with the Voice of Russia, Metropolitan Tikhon shared his impression on his visits to Moscow, Kiev and Minsk. “We’re filled with gratitude to His Holiness Patriarch Kirill for the invitation to come and to pray together with the hierarchs from all the Orthodox churches,” he said…
In Egypt, mounting tension between Islamists and military (Christian Science Monitor) Tens of thousands of the former president’s supporters have spent the last month camped across two locations in eastern Cairo, demanding the reinstatement of Muhammad Morsi, who was ousted by the military and arrested on 3 July. Two early morning attempts by police and military forces to clear the camps have resulted in the deaths of around 140 Morsi supporters. Fears are now growing over the possibility of a third state-led massacre in as many weeks if the security services move in again…
2 August 2013
Tags: Egypt Syrian Civil War Orthodox Church Syriac Orthodox Church
Muslims take part in prayers during the I’tikaf, a spiritual retreat in a mosque that is usually held during the last 10 days of Ramadan, at the Sanusi Dantata Memorial Jummu’at mosque in Abuja, Nigeria on 31 July. (photo: CNS Afolabi Sotunde, Reuters)
The Vatican today released the text of Pope Francis’ message to Muslims at the conclusion of Ramadan. The theme of the message is mutual respect through education. It says, in part:
What we are called to respect in each person is first of all his life, his physical integrity, his dignity and the rights deriving from that dignity, his reputation, his property, his ethnic and cultural identity, his ideas and his political choices. We are therefore called to think, speak and write respectfully of the other, not only in his presence, but always and everywhere, avoiding unfair criticism or defamation. Families, schools, religious teaching and all forms of media have a role to play in achieving this goal.
Turning to mutual respect in interreligious relations, especially between Christians and Muslims, we are called to respect the religion of the other, its teachings, its symbols, its values. Particular respect is due to religious leaders and to places of worship. How painful are attacks on one or other of these!
It is clear that, when we show respect for the religion of our neighbours or when we offer them our good wishes on the occasion of a religious celebration, we simply seek to share their joy, without making reference to the content of their religious convictions.
Regarding the education of Muslim and Christian youth, we have to bring up our young people to think and speak respectfully of other religions and their followers, and to avoid ridiculing or denigrating their convictions and practices.
We all know that mutual respect is fundamental in any human relationship, especially among people who profess religious belief. In this way, sincere and lasting friendship can grow.
Read the entire message here.
For more on the observance of Ramadan, check out this essay from the September 2011 issue of ONE.
2 August 2013
Tags: Pope Francis Interreligious Christian-Muslim relations Interfaith Ramadan
Copts back army but reject violence (The Tablet) Egypt’s Coptic Church hailed mass demonstrations last weekend to back an army and police campaign against “terrorism,” but expressed sorrow after dozens of supporters of the country’s deposed Islamist president were killed in a crackdown by security forces. A recent statement from Pope Tawadros II on Twitter declared, “the life of every Egyptian is precious,” and offered prayers for the dead and wounded — an apparent reference to those slain on Saturday during a demonstration in support of Muhammad Morsi…
The Pope signs message for end of Ramadan (AsiaNews) Pope Francis has sent a message “to Muslims around the world” to mark the end of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan. His greeting focuses on the promotion of “mutual respect always, not only in the presence of the other” and states that “dialogue and cooperation among believers, in particular between Christians and Muslims … must always be reinforced.” The theme of respect through education is emphasized throughout the missive…
A small ‘World Youth Day’ in Aleppo (Fides) On Sunday, 28 July, about 850 young Christians belonging to the various Christian communities of Syria gathered at the Youth Center George and Matilda Salem, run by the Salesian Fathers in the district of Al Sabeel, where they shared a day of reflection, prayer, discussion and entertainment. Four Catholic bishops took part in the day, celebrating Mass and dividing the tasks in the various moments of reflection and prayer. Everything ended with the consecration of the young people of Syria to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. The Armenian Catholic Bishop Boutros Marayati describes his emotion and shared experience with the young people of Aleppo to Fides Agency: “I was amazed to see so many young people without fear, in a city scarred by war…”
Syrian Archbishop: Assad is staying (The Arab American News) Archbishop Louka al Khouri, patriarchal auxiliary of the Syrian Orthodox Church, believes that the Syrian regime will not fall and President Bashar al Assad will stay in power. Khouri criticized rebel groups, saying that those who love their country would more likely work towards its stability and prosperity, rather than destroy Syria. Though the solution may lie in dialogue, “the armed opposition has nothing to talk about,” he said. “They work for a foreign agenda and refuse the negotiations. They take money and hire mercenaries to kill people and bring murderers from all over the world…”
Indian migrants in Holy Land prepare for Marian feast (EWTN) Preparations for the Feast of the Nativity of Mary this September are already underway in the Holy Land, particularly among Indian migrant workers. “Mother Mary is revered with great devotion by the Indian community as a mother and a spiritual figure of maternal protection,” said the Rev. Jayaseellan Pitchaimuthu, O.F.M., head of the Indian Chaplaincy in Holy Land. The friar explained that the Marian feast day is particularly important in the Indian context because of its relation to other faiths. Members of other religions, including Hindus and Muslims, hold Marian devotions in high esteem, said Father Jayaseellan…
1 August 2013
Tags: Syria Pope Francis Indian Christians Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros II Ramadan
A sister with her young friend at the John Paul II Peace Center in India. The center, which is dedicated to the care of people of every age facing severe physical and mental challenges, is part of the Paul VI Mercy Home, a complex of social service modules owned and operated by the Archeparchy of Trichur. (photo: John E. Kozar)
Last year, CNEWA President Msgr. John Kozar visited India. One memorable stop along his way was the Paul VI Mercy Home:
This Mercy Center offers superb educational programs to mentally challenged children. It is directed by the Nirmala Dasi Sisters, who do a marvelous job in serving the needs of these special loved ones. We were welcomed by a marching band and many smiling faces, including very small children, children up to their teens, many sisters serving there and a large contingent of trainees who study there to receive a diploma in working with special needs children. This institution is licensed to offer this diploma, as it has such a good name in its care for the specially challenged.
Read more about the Nirmala Dasi Sisters in House of Blessings, from the March 2007 issue of the magazine.
1 August 2013
Tags: India Children Sisters Msgr. John E. Kozar Nirmala Dasi Sisters
In this photo from our Spring 2013 edition, mourners gather in Cairo’s Cathedral of St. Mark for the funeral liturgy of a Copt killed by troops during a protest march. (photo: David Degner)
Christians fear violence in Egypt (Vatican Radio) Supporters of Egypt’s ousted president Muhammad Morsi continued to hold protests in Cairo on Thursday despite warnings from the country’s interim government. Vatican Radio spoke with the Rev. Rafic Greiche, head of the press office of the Egyptian Catholic Bishops’ Conference, about the latest developments in Egypt. “[Muslim Brotherhood militias] throw Molotovs on the people and sometimes on the churches, they write on the churches very bad words concerning the Pope Tawadros II, also concerning the army. They come to the priests [and call them] traitors. … It is a climate of violence,” said Father Greiche, “and the people are scared…”
Coptic Catholic bishop: Islamists scapegoating Egyptian Christians (Fides) Islamists “emphasize the role of Christians in that uprising also to justify the terrorist attacks being prepared against them,” says Coptic Catholic Bishop Boutros Fahim Awad Hanna. In past days, blogs associated with the Muslim Brotherhood have labeled the interim government following the overthrow of President Muhammad Morsi as the “Military Republic of Tawadros,” indicating Coptic Orthodox Patriarch Tawadros II and his church as the true architects of the popular uprising which led to the end of the Islamist government. “It is obvious that the Muslim Brotherhood wants to explain their political failure by resorting to the theory of ‘Christian conspiracy,’ ” Bishop Boutros says…
Chaldean seminary opens to other Catholic seminarians (Fides) The Chaldean Patriarchal Seminary in Iraq has begun to accept candidates for priesthood belonging to other Catholic churches, starting with the Syrian Catholic Church. The Patriarchate of Babylon of the Chaldeans recently issued a statement announcing this decision, rendered during a 24 July working meeting held at the Patriarchal Curia in Baghdad and presided over by Patriarch Louis Raphael…
Ukrainian Catholic Church leader says priests should not be involved in politics (RISU) Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church spoke recently about why priests should not be involved in politics, the importance of freedom of the church from the government and the need to change the stereotypical notion of power. “The church … must preserve its freedom, otherwise it will become as discredited as the government structures are today,” the church head warns…
Why Lebanon’s Sunnis will stay calm as Syria’s Sunnis wage war (Christian Science Monitor) Once the dominant Islamic sect in Lebanon, over the past two decades the Sunni community has been gradually overshadowed by the political and financial empowerment of the Shiites, led by the powerful Hezbollah. Many Sunnis complain that Hezbollah has infiltrated the apparatus of the Lebanese state, dominating the government and wielding influence over the Lebanese army, deepening their sense of marginalization and victimization. But while outbreaks of further violence are inevitable, a descent into all-out civil war similar to the conflict roiling Syria or the one that blighted Lebanon between 1975 and 1990 is unlikely. Beyond a few cells of radical militants, Lebanese Sunnis are unorganized militarily, and stand little chance in a head-on battle against Hezbollah. And the mainstream moderate leadership, represented by former Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s Future Movement, has rejected violence as a solution…
31 July 2013
Tags: Egypt Lebanon Chaldean Church Copts Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk
Ethan Jacob Ramirez awaits his baptism in the arms of his mother at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Amman. (photo: Tanya Habjouqa)
Two years ago, we visited Jordan and profiled the migrant workers there, many of them Filipino Catholic women:
On Fridays, Mass is standing room only at the English-speaking Sacred Heart Latin Catholic Church in Amman, Jordan. Friday is the Islamic day of rest and it attracts the largest number of parishioners, most of whom work the rest of the week in and around the capital.
The Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem established Sacred Heart parish in 1996 to serve Amman’s swelling Catholic migrant community.
Among the families are a scattering of Europeans and North Americans, most of whom work in the foreign embassies of the posh Jabal Al Weibdeh neighborhood that surrounds the church. A few wear bright salwar kameez, the traditional pajama-like trousers worn by men and women from the Indian subcontinent. The vast majority, however, are Filipino women.
“It was a little strange for me in church at first,” says Father Kevin O’Connell, who has led the parish since its inception 15 years ago. “You’d look out to an entire congregation of women.”
A congenial 67-year-old Jesuit priest from Boston, who wears slacks and sandals under his vestments, Father O’Connell, looks and acts the part of a wise, friendly grandfather.
He helps the choir and he holds the lease on a house where the choir rehearses and other church groups gather. Father O’Connell also oversees the Sacred Heart youth basketball team and helped a group of youngsters from the church secure a space in the Jesuit Fathers’ center where they can breakdance.
Most important, Father O’Connell spends much of his energy responding to the spiritual, emotional and material needs of his predominantly Filipino congregation and other Filipino migrants in the country.
“I understood that the first task was to give people a place where they could be at home,” says Father O’Connell. “For these people, just the ongoing, regular liturgy — with Filipino music, with people reading, with them being able to participate in whatever way they want — gives a strand of consistency and continuity. It’s their home. It’s their place. In most cases, there’s no place else they can gather.”
Though some have jobs at the Philippine Embassy or in international organizations, most are domestic workers. They live in their employers’ homes and work long hours. Many experience intense feelings of loneliness and homesickness. They often have families back home whom they miss desperately.
With few job opportunities in the Philippines and families to support, these women come to the Middle East, where jobs in the “care-giving industry” are plentiful. Motivated by the promise of comparatively high earnings, most of which they intend on sending home to their families, they often accept without complaint long hours, little personal time or freedom and substandard living accommodations.
When the Filipino women attend Mass at Sacred Heart, they make the most of it. Friday’s celebration is usually their only free time all week. They embrace it as a chance to connect with others, speak their native language and openly practice their faith.
The Friday mass in the Catholic church in Amman’s Jabal Al Weibdeh is celebrated by the Sacred Heart English-Language Catholic parish, and the attendees are almost all migrant workers—the vast majority are Filipino women. They come on Friday, the Islamic day of rest, because for many of them that is the only day they are allowed time off.
Read more about Filipinos who are Far From Home in the November 2011 issue of ONE.
Tags: Jordan Catholic Migrants Women