Current Issue
Winter, 2016
Volume 42, Number 4
30 May 2013
J.D. Conor Mauro

A boy walks on the rubble of buildings damaged by missiles fired by Syrian air force fighter jets in Salqin, Syria, 28 May. The Vatican has reiterated its call for negotiations and putting an end to violence in Syria, saying that children are suffering the most. (photo: CNS/Muzaffar Salman, Reuters)

Vatican: Children suffer most from Syrian violence (CNS) The Vatican has reiterated its call for negotiations to end the violence in Syria, saying that children are suffering the most. “Silencing the guns is the priority,” Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, the Vatican’s permanent observer to U.S. agencies in Geneva, told the Human Rights Council during a 29 May debate on Syria. Calling the violence in Syria “the terrain of the violation of all human rights,” Archbishop Tomasi said the tragedy risks intensifying regional and global conflicts…

W.C.C. issues statement on Middle East Christians ( A World Council of Churches conference has issued a joint statement calling the churches and ecumenical actors to commit themselves to support one another in prayers and actions to support Christian presence and witness in the Middle East. The statement was an outcome of discussions engaging more than a hundred church leaders and representatives of the ecumenical organizations in the Arab world…

Chaldeans embark on journey back to Turkey (Hurriyet Daily News) The European Chaldean community has begun to act on the call of Turkey’s Culture Minister Ömer Çelik to return to Turkey. After a series of negotiations conducted in France and Belgium, it was determined that 27 families would return to Herbole village in southeastern Turkey as part of the first stage of the return process. If the required social and economic conditions are met, the number returning will increase…

Patriarch Kirill to visit Mount Athos (Interfax-Religion) Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia will visit Greece and Mount Athos from 1-7 June. During his trip, the Patriarch will visit churches and monasteries of the Greek Orthodox Church and meet with its head, representatives of the Greek authorities and ethnic Russians living in Greece, as well as will travel to Thessaloniki and Veria, a spokesman for the Synodal Information Department said on Wednesday…

Young Egyptians rekindle revolution with recall petition (AsiaNews) A new movement of young Egyptians have allegedly collected over 7.5 million signatures to demand an end to the government of Mohamed Morsi and the domination of the Muslim Brotherhood over Egypt. The campaign began on 1 May with the aim of 15 million signatures by 30 June, which marks the first anniversary since Egypt’s first Islamist president took office…

Israel to build 1000 new settlement units in east Jerusalem (Al Jazeera) Israel is preparing to build more than 1,000 new settler homes in east Jerusalem as the United States strives to revive dormant Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, according to an non-governmental organization. Danny Seidemann, director of Jerusalem settlement watchdog Terrestrial Jerusalem, said on Wednesday that contracts for 300 homes in the northeastern settlement of Ramot were signed and another 797 plots were to be offered for sale in the southern Jerusalem settlement of Gilo, near the city of Jerusalem. Both are in largely Arab areas of the holy city…

Tags: Egypt Middle East Christians Syrian Civil War Jerusalem Patriarch Kirill

29 May 2013
Greg Kandra

The Azar family prepares dinner in an empty lot in Al Qaa, Lebanon, where they have found refuge from the war in Syria. (photo: Tamara Hadi)

In the Spring issue of ONE, journalist Don Duncan gives a dramatic look at life in Al Quaa, a Lebanese village that has lately become home to Syrian refugees:

Although she has only moved a few miles down the road, Hayat Qarnous wakes up to a world vastly different from the one she knew just a few weeks ago. Back then, she was living in Rableh, a village on the Syrian side of the Syria-Lebanon border and once the center of a quiet farming community. But since the Syrian uprising started in March 2011, it has been anything but peaceful.

“War is like fire,” she says, sitting in her newfound refuge in Al Qaa, a Lebanese village just across the border from Rableh. “A fire eats everything before it. So does war. There is no peace anywhere.”

It is this lack of peace, and its consequences, that have pushed more than a million Syrians to flee their homeland since the beginning of the conflict.

About 320,000 Syrians have fled to neighboring Lebanon and registered with United Nations aid agencies there. But many observers believe equal numbers of Syrians have not registered with the authorities in Lebanon; among these are an estimated 10,000 Christians.

Lebanon, with its relatively large number of Christians — more than 30 percent of the population — is a natural choice for Christian Syrians seeking refuge. Beyond religion, most of the Syrian Christian refugees have chosen Lebanon for more pragmatic reasons. Many have family living in Lebanon, either as citizens or as laborers who have migrated to work in construction or farming since the Lebanese civil war ended in 1990. Others come to Lebanon, as in Mrs. Qarnous’s case, because it is the closest border to cross to safety.

“The journey between Rableh and Al Qaa used to take five to ten minutes before the war,” she says from a makeshift room she and her husband now inhabit in the hall of the Melkite Greek Catholic parish in Al Qaa. “Now it takes four hours.”

The trip is difficult and dangerous. Civilians have to navigate a complex landscape of warring factions, shelling and random attacks in order to arrive safely. Even after that, hunger, poverty and exposure to the elements await many of them in Lebanon.

Read more about Syrians Crossing the Border in the Spring 2013 issue of ONE.

Tags: Syria Lebanon Refugees Syrian Civil War War

29 May 2013
J.D. Conor Mauro

Bishop José Raúl Vera López of Saltillo, Mexico, poses outside the diocesan seminary, where he celebrated the 25th anniversary of becoming a bishop on 5 January. Bishop Vera López, a nominee for last year’s Nobel Peace Prize, will be visiting Syria in June. (photo: CNS/David Agren)

Bishop Vera López prepares for humanitarian mission (Fides) Bishop José Raúl Vera López, O.P., of Saltillo, Mexico, will be part of a delegation of 12 observers who will try to enter Syria to collect data and information on the atrocities and human rights violations taking place in the war-torn country. The Dominican bishop was nominated for the Nobel Prize in 2012 for his commitment to the defense of human rights…

Maronite Bishops condemn joining Syria violence (Daily Star Lebanon) On Monday, the Council of Maronite Bishops condemned direct participation in Syrian violence and voiced concern over clashes in the northern city of Tripoli and the southern city of Sidon. “The bishops condemn the direct participation in the Syrian clashes, from whatever side, and consider what is happening as a clear violation of the National Pact and Baabda Declaration,” said the bishops in a statement issued following their monthly meeting. The council, headed by Maronite Patriarch Bechara Peter, also renewed their condemnation to the kidnapping of two bishops in Syria last month and called for their imminent release…

E.U. split over Syria, growing Islamist movements (AsiaNews) The recent session of the European Parliament on the renewal of the arms ban to Syrian rebels has revealed serious divisions within the European Union. According to E.U. sources, as of late April more than 500 European nationals had joined Islamist groups in Syria. In February, they were only a few dozen. France and Britain have said that they are ready to provide military support to the rebels, but are faced with the opposition of other European Union countries. In response to possible British and French support to the rebels, Russia yesterday announced it was sending new anti-aircraft missiles to the regime of Bashar al Assad…

King Abdullah II and Cardinal Sandri to attend university inauguration (Fides) The official opening of the American University of Madaba, affiliated with the University of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem is scheduled for Thursday afternoon, 30 May. King Abdullah II of Jordan, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem Fouad Twal and Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches, will take part in the inauguration. “Years ago, the early phases of the first school of the Latin Patriarchate … started, in what appeared as a closed and marginal world. Today, that same mission has lead to the creation of a University with high standards … at the service of the people of Jordan, Christians and Muslims together”…

Egypt’s youths feel disenfranchised after revolution (Los Angeles Times) Egypt’s 2011 uprising was often referred to as a youth revolution, but two years after longtime President Hosni Mubarak was forced out of office, many in the younger generation say they feel more politically isolated than ever. Young activists across the political spectrum say they have been sidelined, prevented from participating in the leadership and management of post-Mubarak Egypt by a patriarchal culture that favors the older and supposedly more experienced…

Eritrean refugees protest against the regime in Asmara (Fides) Nearly 3000 Eritrean refugees have started a protest in the camp of Berahle in the Afar region of Ethiopia, a few miles from the border with Eritrea. The protesters aim to draw the attention of the international community on what they call “the genocide committed by the government in Asmara against the minority Afar”…

Tags: Egypt Ethiopia Syrian Civil War Maronite Cardinal Leonardo Sandri

28 May 2013
J.D. Conor Mauro

A Coptic woman prepares a meal in her kitchen in the southern village of Qenna, Egypt. As with many villages in the rural parts of the country, the majority of Qenna is Christian. Sarah Topol discusses the precarious state of Christians in Egypt in The Men Who Stayed, featured in the
latest issue of ONE. (photo: David Degner)

Tags: Egypt ONE magazine Coptic Christians Copts Egypt's Christians

28 May 2013
J.D. Conor Mauro

In this video, Al Jazeera’s Zeina Khodr reports on the growing concerns that Lebanon will be drawn further into the Syrian conflict. Fighting is intensifying around the Syrian border town of Al Qusayr, about 20 miles southwest of Homs, and Syrian rebels say fighters from the Lebanese Shiite group, Hezbollah, are involved. (video: Al Jazeera)

End of embargo raises fears of arms race in Syria (Vatican Radio) Russia confirmed today it was looking into giving the Syrian government more high-powered missiles. The move comes one day after the European Union agreed to lift its arms embargo for Syrian rebels, raising the prospect of a new foreign-fed arms race in the Middle East…

Patriarch: ‘The future of Syria cannot be built on destruction’ (AsiaNews) “The future of Syria cannot be built on destruction. There are no winners with war. The church is for reconciliation and dialogue. We encourage prayer for the success of the conference on 10 June in Geneva so that all parties, government and opposition, can travel the road to peace.” Melkite Greek Catholic Patriarch Gregory III of Antioch all the East said to AsiaNews. The patriarch’s appeal comes after the failed agreement between the European Union countries on the renewal of the ban on the supply of arms to the rebels, which expired last night. This has prompted Britain and France to renew pressure for military support to the rebels…

The role of media for the church’s mission in Serbia (Vatican Radio) The role of the media in the mission of the church is under the spotlight this week during a visit to Serbia by the president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, Archbishop Claudio Celli. The two-day visit to Belgrade includes a meeting with the Serbian Orthodox Patriarch Irinej and with leaders of the Serbian Ministry for Culture and Communications, as well as encounters with journalists and Catholic communications experts…

Orthodoxy in Russia and the courage of women (L’Osservatore Romano) It was thanks to women that, in the Soviet era, the faith was kept in Russia: “They saved its continuity until the time when professing faith in Christ no longer brought with it great risk. It was the myrrhbearing women of our country who maintained the faith.” Patriarch Kirill said this during the Divine Liturgy celebrated on 19 May (the Third Sunday of Easter, according to the Julian Calendar, and the feast of the Holy Myrrh-bearing Women) in the Cathedral of St. Aleksandr Nevskij from the monastery of Novo-Tikhvin, at Ekaterinburg…

Tags: Syrian Civil War Women Patriarch Kirill Melkite Patriarch Gregory III of Antioch Serbian Orthodox Church

24 May 2013
J.D. Conor Mauro

An Iraqi Dominican sister of St. Catherine of Siena administers a checkup to a pregnant, 18-year-old Palestinian refugee at the Mother of Mercy Clinic in Zerqa, Jordan. (photo: Nader Daoud)

In the midst of war, economic crisis and social upheaval, those who call the Middle East home face danger and uncertainty on a daily basis. Against the tumult that touches every aspect of life, knowing that those most vulnerable are receiving the care they need can be a blessing. Enter the Mother of Mercy Clinic in Zerqa, Jordan:

Established in 1982, Mother of Mercy Clinic offers a wide range of general heath care services to thousands of patients — over 26,000 in 2008 — regardless of creed or origin. The clinic, however, specializes in prenatal and postnatal care, giving priority to needy mothers and their infants. …

Generous friends of CNEWA and a few European social service agencies fund the clinic, the annual budget of which runs around $175,000. While the clinic has managed to operate successfully within its budget, it faces its fair share of challenges.

Home to the oldest Palestinian refugee camp in Jordan, Zerqa has long served as host to displaced persons — at the time of the article’s publication in the May 2009 issue of ONE, author Daoud Kuttab noted “most of Zerqa’s residents are refugees.” Since then, the combination of the Syrian civil war and continued strife in Iraq and Palestine has led to an even greater refugee presence, including the recent founding of another refugee camp near Zerqa.

To read more about the history and work of the Mother of Mercy Clinic, read Mothering Mercies. To support their mission in this time of great need, click here.

Tags: Refugees Children Jordan Health Care Refugee Camps

24 May 2013
J.D. Conor Mauro

In this 30 March photo, Latin Patriarch Fouad Twal of Jerusalem walks in a procession during the Easter Vigil in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem's Old City. (photo: CNS/Debbie Hill)

Patriarch: the Palestinian problem is the focus of Middle East conflict (Fides) “There is no doubt that the Palestinian problem is the focus of all conflict in the Middle East for the last one hundred years. This is the truth that we cannot circumvent,” said Latin Patriarch Fouad Twal of Jerusalem in a speech at a conference in Beirut. Unless all parties act truthfully and with good will to bring about peace, “this conflict will continue to feed aggression, oppression, deceit, double standards and occupation…”

Pope recalls tragedy of refugees, urges respect for human dignity (VIS) “Today, the church renews her strong call that the dignity and centrality of each person be always protected, in respect of fundamental rights … rights that she asks be concretely extended to the millions of men and women in every continent whose rights are not recognized. In a world where there is so much talk of rights it seems that the only one to have rights is money. … We live in a world, in a culture ruled by the fetishism of money.” These were the pope's words to the participants in the plenary assembly of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People…

Coptic pope to lead the First Conference of Diaspora Churches (PRWeb) His Holiness Tawadros II, pope and patriarch of the Coptic Orthodox Church, has traveled to Vienna, Austria, to lead the First Conference of Diaspora Churches that will be held later this week. Pope Tawadros will also consecrate new churches and visit Coptic Orthodox Christian communities throughout western Europe. This will be Pope Tawadros’s second overseas visit — following his historic visit to the Vatican to meet Pope Francis — since his enthronement on 18 November…

Cardinal Sandri carries pope’s greeting to Lebanon and Jordan (VIS) Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, prefect of the Congregation for the Eastern Churches, will travel to Lebanon from 24-28 May and continue on to Jordan until 1 June. Cardinal Sandri will meet with the Armenian, Maronite, Melkite and Syrian patriarchs, as well as some religious communities — especially the young volunteers of Caritas Lebanon who, along with other humanitarian organizations, are attempting to deal with the enormous tragedy of refugees fleeing Syria…

Marian devotion overcomes religious barriers in India (Asianews) Marian devotion in India is not bound by religious affiliation; more than 80 percent of pilgrims to Marian sanctuaries are non-Catholics. AsiaNews spoke with Jesuit scriptural scholar Errold Fernandes to better understand the phenomenon. “The mother goddess has always been venerated from the earliest times. Durga and Kali are some examples,” he explained. “[Though] in many cases women are treated as objects rather then persons, Indian tradition has contradictorily held … mother goddesses in high esteem. Mary, the mother of Jesus is also venerated by people of all faiths in many parts of India…”

Tags: Pope Francis Indian Christians Patriarch Fouad Twal human trafficking Cardinal Leonardo Sandri

23 May 2013
Carl Hétu

A man holds an injured child who had just been pulled out from under rubble at a site hit by what activists said was an airstrike in Aleppo, Syria, 30 March. (CNS photo/Abo Oday, Reuters)

On 22 May, the Canadian Council of Churches, whose 24 members include the episcopal conference of Canadian Catholic bishops, released a letter to Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the government of Canada to “respond robustly and generously to the pressures and tensions experienced by both displaced peoples and by the host countries in the [Middle East.] that provide refuge.” Signed by Archbishop Richard Smith of Edmonton and president of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, and Ukrainian Greek Metropolitan Archbishop Lawrence Huculak, O.S.B.M., of Winnipeg, the letter spells out how Canada should “take a lead in the protection of human rights with special attention to the rights of children, women and minority groups; to hold firm to the obligation for all state and non-state actors to respect international law, particularly in situations of armed conflict; and to assist us in our efforts as churches to work with local peacemakers and providers of humanitarian assistance in the region.”

I invite you to read the letter and maybe you too can encourage our Canadian government — indeed all governments — to play a more humanitarian role and play a stronger role to build lasting peace. Be assured that CNEWA, through its offices and church networks in the Middle East, is very much present assisting the best way we can. Visit here to learn how you can help. To read the entire letter, click here.

23 May 2013
J.D. Conor Mauro

A shepherd watches over her flock in Noraduze cemetery, near Sevan, Armenia. In the May 2008 issue of ONE, Paul Rimple discussed the spiritual core of Armenian culture. Click the image to read about Where God Descended. (photo: Armineh Johannes)

Tags: Cultural Identity Armenia Village life Armenian Apostolic Church Armenian Catholic Church

23 May 2013
J.D. Conor Mauro

Father Ibrahim Shomali celebrates an outdoor Mass in an olive grove outside the Salesian Monastery in Beit Jala, West Bank, on 18 January. A planned routing of the Israeli separation barrier will isolate the monastery from the people it serves. (photo: CNS/Debbie Hill)

After a decade, West Bank barrier is nearly complete (NPR) Israel’s barrier has been a source of international criticism, United Nations resolutions and legal cases at the International Court of Justice. It has sparked countless confrontations between Palestinians and the Israeli security forces. Israel started constructing the barrier in 2002…

Ecumenical Patriarchate hosts conference on Edict of Milan ( On Friday, 17 May 2013, the Ecumenical Patriarchate honored the 1700th anniversary of Emperor Constantine the Great’s “Edict of Milan” by hosting an international and interfaith seminar in collaboration with the Council of European Episcopal Churches. The seminar officially opened with a keynote address by His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew. Over the weekend, the Orthodox churches were represented by His Beatitude Ilia II, catholicos and patriarch of all Georgia, as well as hierarchs from the churches of Albania, Alexandria, Antioch, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Georgia, Greece, Jerusalem, Poland, Romania, Russia and Serbia…

KAICIID holding conference series on ‘The Image of the Other’ (Vatican Radio) The King Abdullah International Center for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue, of which the Holy See is a founding observer, is conducting a three-year series of conferences aimed at combatting harmful stereotypes and removing common misconceptions about various world religions…

Georgia: Where does church end and state begin? (Eurasianet) In the aftermath of the 17 May riot in response to a gay-rights march in Tbilisi, public discussion in Tbilisi is focusing on church-state issues, especially the question of whether the Georgian Orthodox Church operates beyond the reach of civil law. With hundreds of years of history behind it and the faith of the overwhelming majority of the country’s 4.4 million residents, the church is a powerful symbol of Georgia’s sovereignty…

Israel to double prayer space at the Western Wall (Washington Post) In a city where three major faiths guard their holy places with quarrelsome zeal and moving a single stone can have deep religious and geopolitical implications, a new proposal to double the area for Jewish prayer along the iconic Western Wall represents dramatic change for a place that does not easily embrace it. Personally tasked by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to restore calm to the Old City site, Natan Sharansky is going for a bold remodel. As he imagines it: “One wall for one people”…

Tags: Israel Interreligious Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I Georgian Orthodox Church Separation Barrier

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