10 June 2013
Syrian children attend a class at a new school that opened in the Al Zaatri refugee camp in Mafraq, Jordan, on 4 June. Some 500,000 Syrian refugees have sought shelter in Jordan from the civil war between forces loyal to President Bashar al Assad and rebel fighters trying to overthrow him. (photo: CNS/Muhammad Hamed, Reuters)
Cardinal: Lebanon will ‘pay cost’ of Syrian conflict (France24) “Where do the refugees go? The Christians go to Christian homes in Lebanon, the Druze go to Druze homes in Lebanon, the Alawites go to their relatives [in Lebanon],” said Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue. More than 500,000 Syrians fleeing the conflict have sought refuge in Lebanon, which is increasingly being sucked into the war…
U.S. considers taking in Syrian refugees (Los Angeles Times) Two years into a civil war that shows no signs of ending, the Obama administration is considering resettling refugees who have fled Syria, part of an international effort that could bring thousands of Syrians to American cities and towns. A resettlement plan under discussion in Washington and other capitals is aimed at relieving pressure on Middle Eastern countries straining to support 1.6 million refugees, as well as assisting hard-hit Syrian families…
Palestinian descendants start to reclaim village (Al Jazeera) A dream long nurtured by hundreds of thousands of Palestinians made refugees during the establishment of the state of Israel has become a concrete reality at a small makeshift camp atop a windswept hill. Today, all that remains of the village of Iqrit, close to Israel’s border with Lebanon, is a Catholic church on the hill’s brow. But in 1948, the village was home to 600 Christian Palestinians…
Syria troops ‘preparing for Aleppo assault’ (BBC) Syrian government forces are reported to be preparing for a major offensive on rebel-held parts of the northern city of Aleppo and its surroundings. A Syrian security source said it would start “in the coming hours or days.” On Sunday, they retook the last remaining rebel-held villages in the strategically important area, which lies between the Lebanese border and the central city of Homs…
Amman, Christian Arab media discuss peace, justice and human rights (AsiaNews) Today, the Catholic Center for Studies and Media, in collaboration with the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Social Communications, has begun a two-day conference on justice, human rights and the Arab media. Guests include Fouad Twal, the Latin patriarch of Jerusalem…
Cleric fights to save rural Romania from fracking (ENCA) For months, 50-year-old Father Vasile Laiu has been one of the most outspoken opponents to plans by United States energy giant Chevron to drill for shale gas in rural eastern Romania. Clad in his black cassock, Father Laiu has joined thousands of locals in street protests against a project he says “threatens man, nature and future generations”…
7 June 2013
Tags: Refugees Syrian Civil War United States Palestinians Patriarch Fouad Twal
A Lebanese family dances at an engagement party. (photo: Cody Christopulos)
We began this week with a story about Iraqi refugees finding a new home in Toronto. We thought we’d end with another image from that part of our world. Those refugees from Iraq are joining a growing number of people from the Middle East in Canada. In 2004, for example, we visited Lebanese immigrants who had settled in Montreal:
You will find them bowed in churches, whispering praise to “Allah” (God).
You will find them animated in cafes and bars, smoking water pipes and exclaiming “haram” (it’s a shame) over the latest injustice in the Holy Land or some bad call during a European soccer match.
You will find them seated in restaurants before plates of lamb sausages and salads, pounding their fists on tables and crying “mish maouleh” (impossible) in response to some devilishly tall tale.
You will find them frenzied near altars, elbowing their way to capture the perfect photograph of a loved one exchanging marriage vows and begging “lazza choue” (pardon me).
You will find them bellies bared in dance clubs, twisting their torsos and asking “in jeid?” (really) over the reported affection of some member of the opposite sex.
They are everywhere. They are Lebanese and they have found a home in Montréal.
That the most distinct people of the Middle East have found refuge and new life in the most distinct of Canada’s great cities should come as no surprise. The urbane, gregarious and multilingual Lebanese seem a natural fit for Québec’s cosmopolitan center, whose denizens fiercely protect their Francophone patrimony.
Read more about the Lebanese of Montreal from the September 2004 issue of ONE.
7 June 2013
Tags: Lebanon Cultural Identity ONE magazine Canada Immigration
Syrian refugees wait to receive aid and rations at the Al Zaatri refugee camp in Mafraq, Jordan, 4 June. Some 500,000 Syrian refugees have sought shelter in Jordan from the civil war between forces loyal to President Bashar al Assad and rebel fighters trying to overthrow him. (photo: CNS/Muhammad Hamed, Reuters)
U.N. says half of Syria’s population will need aid by end of year (The Guardian) The United Nations has launched the largest emergency appeal in its history — $5 billion — warning that half the population will need humanitarian aid by the end of the year. The civil war in Syria has led to the fastest growing refugee crisis in the world amid a conflict in which hospitals, schools and water and sanitation infrastructure have been targeted. But some fear that the appeal will not be enough, as aid agencies have struggled to keep pace with the three-year crisis that has left more than 80,000 people dead…
Patriarch: Millennium of Russian presence on Mount Athos in 2016 (Interfax-Religion) Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia has proposed rebuilding the Ksilurgu Monastery, the oldest Russian monastery on Mount Athos in Greece, by 2016, when the 1,000 years of the Russian presence on Mount Athos will be celebrated. “In three years, we will celebrate the 1,000 years of the Russian presence on the Holy Mount Athos,” the patriarch said in Ksilurgu, addressing monks…
With Golan fence, Israel closer to surrounding itself with barriers (Washington Post) Fearful that the Syrian civil war, jihadist terrorists or Lebanese Hezbollah fighters will spill into Israel, the country’s military engineers are rushing to complete their latest “smart fence,” this one in the occupied Golan Heights. When the 45-mile fence is finished in the coming months, Israel will have taken another big step in surrounding itself with barriers. But some Israelis worry that the fences are a metaphor for weakness as much as they are for strength and that the barriers have increased a sense of isolation…
Church denies Israeli municipality use of its property for festival (WAFA) The Greek Orthodox Patriarchate in Jerusalem said Tuesday that it would not allow the Israeli municipality of West Jerusalem to use church property in the Old City for a festival of lights because of Israeli police mistreatment of Christians during their holidays. A statement by the church spokesman Issa Musleh said the Greek Orthodox Patriarch Theophilos III has told the municipality of its objections to the use of its property in any way for the festival, which he said “does not reflect in any way the true identity of Jerusalem”…
Egypt-Ethiopia water dispute escalates after threatening remarks (Los Angeles Times) A battle over water has turned into a war of colorful rhetoric between Ethiopia and Egypt over the flow of the Nile, which begins in the African highlands but keeps Egypt from being swallowed entirely by desert. An ambitious Ethiopian dam project is diverting Nile waters that Cairo says will reduce the river’s northward flow. The Egyptians have stumbled into crisis mode: At a meeting hosted by the Egyptian president this week, several politicians, unaware TV cameras were rolling, suggested sabotaging or threatening to bomb the dam…
6 June 2013
Tags: Pope Francis Refugees Syrian Civil War Israel Separation Barrier
The Azar family shares a one-bedroom house with two other Syrian refugee families in the village of Al Qaa in Lebanon. (photo: Tamara Hadi)
The current issue of ONE features a look at refugees from Syria and Iraq, and ongoing efforts to help them. This morning, the Vatican released a document on refugees:
Catholic laity have an obligation to root out traces of xenophobia in their hearts and recognize refugees as their brothers and sisters — children of God whose dignity must be protected, said a new Vatican document.
“Welcoming Christ in Refugees and Forcibly Displaced Persons,” a document of pastoral guidelines for providing material and spiritual assistance to people forced to leave their homes was published June 6 by the Pontifical Council for Migrants and Travelers and the Pontifical Council Cor Unum, which promotes and coordinates Catholic charitable activity.
Since the mid-1980s, the document said, the debate surrounding refugees and other asylum seekers has become “a forum for political and administrative election purposes, which fed hostile and aggressive attitudes among the electorate.”
In effect, countries are focused more on deterring newcomers from reaching their shores than they are on offering protection and a welcome to suffering people fleeing situations that threatened their lives and dignity, Cardinal Antonio Maria Veglio, president of the council for migrants and travelers, told reporters.
From a Catholic point of view, he said at a Vatican news conference, “every policy, initiative or intervention in this area must be inspired by the principle of the centrality and dignity of the human person.”
Cardinal Robert Sarah, president of Cor Unum, said being Christian means trying to meet both the material and spiritual needs of refugees and displaced people, who “ask us for a commitment of love that first of all restores their dignity as persons made in the image and likeness of God.”
“Along with bread, they need love that nourishes their spiritual dimension,” Cardinal Sarah said, and that love is precisely what gives witness to “the love with which Christ loves us and saves us.”
How can you help give witness to “the love with which Christ loves us”? Visit our Syria Emergency Relief page to learn more.
6 June 2013
Tags: Syria Refugees Migrants
In the video above, John Klink, president of the International Catholic Migration Commission, talks to Catholic News Service about Pope Francis’ special awareness of migrants’ problems.
Vatican calls for less restrictive policies toward migrants (Business Ghana) The Catholic Church on Thursday called on the international community to adopt a less restrictive approach on migration and to show more compassion towards the plight of refugees and displaced people. Cardinal Antonio Maria Veglio, the top Vatican official on such matters, lamented that “ever more often, the political debate at national and international level” focuses on “restrictive measures.” “It seems that the issue is mainly about how to keep away asylum-seekers and displaced people. Instead of considering the reasons why they were forced to leave, the sole presence of refugees or deported people is seen as a problem,” Veglio said...
Pontifical council predicts summer will aggravate Syrian crisis (VIS) The Pontifical Council “Cor Unum” called a meeting, from 4-5 June, of the Catholic charitable agencies that are working to combat the crisis in Syria. Testimonials confirm the extent of the tragedy: almost seven million people who need humanitarian assistance, more than 4.5 million forcibly displaced persons, and an ever-increasing number of persons seeking security outside of the country’s borders. A more careful analysis of the needs in this area have revealed that, with the onset of summer, the risk of epidemics in the affected population — with pregnant women, children, the elderly, and the disabled in particular jeopardy — will certainly increase along with shortages of medicines and aid...
Pope warns priest-diplomats against careerism (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Thursday spoke to the members of the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy, which is dedicated to training priests to serve in the diplomatic corps and the Secretariat of State of the Holy See. In his address, the Holy Father reminded the students that they must cultivate a deep spiritual life in order to attain the “inner freedom” that is necessary for their future work. He also warned against ambition, and once again denounced careerism, which he called “a leprosy”...
Chalden Synod begins in Baghdad (Fides) On Wednesday 5 June the Synod of the Chaldean Church convened by the Patriarch of Babylon of the Chaldeans Louis Raphael I Sako began in Baghdad. The beginning of the assembly was also attended by Archbishop Giorgio Lingua, Apostolic Nuncio to Jordan and Iraq...
Tensions surround construction of new dam in Egypt (Fides) The construction of the Grand Renaissance Dam which is currently under construction on the Blue Nile is creating tension between Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia. According to a report published by a committee composed of experts from Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia, in fact, the dam built by Ethiopia will deprive Egyptians of 12 billion cubic meters of water a year...
5 June 2013
Tags: Iraq Egypt Pope Francis Vatican Chaldeans
Msgr. Kozar speaks with Joseph Hester, Esq., of New York City. (photo: CNEWA)
Msgr. John Kozar and the CNEWA staff welcomed local members of the CNEWA family to our New York office this morning.
After celebrating Mass for our guests, Msgr. Kozar hosted a reception that focused on CNEWA’s work in Ethiopia and Eritrea. Msgr. Kozar shared his reflections and stories of his recent trip to the region, and highlighted the agency’s work and goals for the peoples and churches there.
Thank you to everyone who attended this morning — and thank you, especially, for supporting our good works in the Horn of Africa!
Msgr. Kozar shares his reflections of his pastoral visit to the Horn of Africa. (photo: CNEWA)
5 June 2013
Tags: CNEWA Africa Donors CNEWA Canada CNEWA Pontifical Mission
A boy displaced by fighting in Syria attends a class in the governorate of Idlib, Syria, on 27 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)
Pope Francis today spoke poignantly about the ongoing suffering of the people in Syria:
Christians must help the people of Syria because “where there is suffering, Christ is present,” Pope Francis told representatives of Catholic aid agencies working in Syria and with Syrian refugees in neighboring countries.
“How much suffering, how much poverty, how much pain; and it’s Jesus who suffers, who is poor, who is thrown out of his country,” the pope said on 5 June during a meeting with the representatives who were holding a coordinating meeting at the Vatican.
Pope Francis said it is part of “the Christian mystery” that when the faithful see what is going on in Syria, “we see Jesus suffering in the inhabitants of the beloved Syria.”
“We cannot turn our backs on situations of great suffering,” he told participants at the meeting he convoked. “The weapons must be silenced.”
The meeting was held under the auspices of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum, which promotes and coordinates Catholic charitable giving. The pope wanted the aid agencies to “respond to the continuing deterioration of the already serious humanitarian situation in the country and among the refugees,” said Msgr. Giampietro Dal Toso, council secretary.
Visit this page to learn how you can help those suffering in Syria.
5 June 2013
Tags: Pope Francis Refugees Syrian Civil War War Relief
Enthroned in 1999, Armenian Catholic Patriarch Nerses Bedros XIX of Cilicia has been a strong proponent of education and social service. To learn more about the Armenian Catholic Church, which comprises more than half a million people worldwide, see our profile in ONE. (photo: The Armenian Catholic Church)
Pope meets with Armenian Catholic patriarch at the Vatican (Rome Reports) The pope welcomed Armenian Catholic Patriarch Nerses Bedros XIX of Cilicia. He also met with those who manage the Armenian seminary in Rome. As a gift, the patriarch gave the pope a bronze crucifix that actually had to be carried out by two people…
Pope reiterates concerns for Syria, calls for humanitarian action (VIS) “The destiny of the Syrian people,” the pope repeated, “is a concern that is also close to my heart. On Easter Sunday I asked for peace ‘above all for dear Syria, for its people torn by conflict, and for the many refugees who await help and comfort.’ … In the face of ongoing and overwhelming violence, I strongly renew my appeal for peace…”
Cardinal Koch visits Ukraine to deepen Catholic-Orthodox dialogue (Vatican Radio) The head of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, Cardinal Kurt Koch, traveled to Ukraine today for a visit aimed at deepening the dialogue between Catholics and Orthodox in the former Soviet state. The Cardinal will spend two days in the capital, Kiev, meeting with the Greek and Latin Catholic communities there. He’ll also hold talks with the Ukrainian Orthodox leader, Metropolitan Volodymyr of the Moscow Patriarchate, and other representatives of that church…
ROACO will meet this month (Fides) The Reunion of Aid Agencies for the Oriental Churches (ROACO), the committee which unites funding agencies from various countries around the world, will take place from 18 to 21 June in the Vatican. It will focus in particular on the critical conditions experienced by Christians in the Middle East. The summit’s participants will include Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, prefect of the Pontifical Congregation for the Oriental Churches; Chaldean Patriarch Louis Raphael of Babylon; Coptic Catholic Patriarch Ibrahim Isaac of Alexandria; representatives of the Eastern Christian communities of Syria; and Father Pierbattista Pizzaballa, O.F.M., custos of the Holy Land…
Millions in India join pope to pray for the respect of women (Fides) More than 19 million Catholics in India united with the Holy Father in solemn Eucharistic Adoration on 2 June, scattered in parishes, monasteries and other religious institutions across India. During Adoration the “concern for the problems in India, for a more effective mission against poverty and for the dignity of women and against violence” was expressed…
Racist attacks against Arabs on the rise in Israel (Der Spiegel) Arabs are being beaten and insulted in Israel, where the number of racially motivated attacks has risen dramatically. Reportedly fueled by nationalist politicians, these events have been spreading from Palestinian areas into the Israeli heartland. The attacks have no overt connection with militant settlers or an autonomous Palestine, although these conflicts may well be at the back of people’s minds…
4 June 2013
Tags: India Pope Francis Ecumenism Armenian Catholic Church ROACO
Copts mourn after identifying a victim of sectarian and political violence. (photo: David Degner)
In the Spring edition of ONE, journalist Sarah Topol looks at how some of the men staying behind in Egypt are hanging on and seeking support, both economic and spiritual.
Meantime, the turmoil in Egypt is spreading to some unlikely places, according to USA TODAY:
Vendors at Egypt’s pyramids who are desperate to make money in a deepening economic crisis are using aggressive and even violent means to get tourists to give them some business, frequenters of the tourist spot say.
The U.S. Embassy issued a warning about increasing incidents at or near the famous pyramids at Giza about a dozen miles from downtown Cairo. Most of the incidents are due to overly aggressive vendors who in some cases come close to criminal conduct, the embassy says.
“U.S. citizens should elevate their situational awareness when traveling to the pyramids, avoid any late evening or night travel, utilize a recommended or trusted guide, and closely guard valuables,” according to a security message on the embassy’s website last week.
Read the rest here.
4 June 2013
Tags: Egypt Violence against Christians Economic hardships Coptic Christians Copts
In this 2010 photo, Serbian Orthodox Patriarch Irinej speaks with Cardinal Christoph Schonborn in the yard of cardinal’s residence in Vienna, Austria. (photo: CNS/Heinz-Peter Bader, Reuters)
Serbian patriarch: More unites than divides Orthodox and Catholics (b92) Serbian Patriarch Irinej has said that there is “much more that unites us with the Roman Catholic Church,” compared to that which stands in between. “We’ve always been close and lately it is even intensified,” he said, adding that the churches should move past “the moments that keep us apart”…
New Armenian Patriarch Of Jerusalem Enthroned (Eurasia Review) Archbishop Nourhan Manougian was today enthroned the 97th Armenian patriarch of Jerusalem…
Russian church leader receives Greece’s top honor (Interfax Religion) On Monday, Greek President Karolos Papoulias awarded Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia Greece’s highest honor: the Grand Cross of the Order of Honor. “We are brother nations, we share the same faith, and this is the immutable foundation for relations between Greece and the countries making up historical Russia. I mean the Russian Federation, Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova,” Patriarch Kirill said in accepting the award…
Egyptian Presidency, church prepare joint Ethiopia trip (Egypt Independent) Egypt’s presidency and the Coptic Orthodox Church are coordinating for a joint trip to Ethiopia by President Mohamed Morsi and Pope Tawadros II, where they will discuss with Ethiopian officials a means to resolve a dispute over Ethiopia’s Millennium Dam, which could threaten Egypt’s water supply…
Patriarch Daniel attends the European Commission (Basilica News Agency) The patriarch of the Romanian Orthodox Church participated in the annual meeting of the religious leaders of Europe with the presidents of the European Commission, Council and Parliament, as well as with other high officials of the European Union. This year, the discussions were focused on the concept of European citizenship, 20 years after its introduction, through the Maastricht Treaty, and especially in the context of the multiple challenges that the present economic and social climate addresses to the future European project…
Palestinian Christians surprised to receive travel permits (Al Monitor) When Palestinian Christians suddenly received unsolicited three-month travel permits, they and the Catholic leaders were surprised and worried. There has been little information as to what led the Israelis to give hundreds of unsolicited permits to Palestinian Christians. The Reverend William Shomali, the auxiliary bishop and patriarchal vicar for Jerusalem and Palestine, told Al Monitor that he was as surprised as everyone else. “We didn’t ask for these permits, and I don’t like that they are given to a specific group of Palestinians and not to all.” Shomali believes that the entire permit system is a problem and that the right to movement should be made available to all Palestinians…
Syrians continue education in Egypt (Al Jazeera) Schools are accommodating thousands of Syrian refugees in neighboring Egypt. It is one of the few positive developments for the young victims of the war, some of whom have missed two years of classes…
Tags: Refugees Middle East Christians Christian Unity Patriarchs Palestinians