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Spring, 2017
Volume 43, Number 1
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

22 May 2013
J.D. Conor Mauro

Novices of the Bethany community pray in their chapel near Kottayam, India. (photo: Sean Sprague)

Yesterday, CNEWA President Msgr. John E. Kozar met with Mother Benjamin, S.I.C., superior of the Syro-Malankara Catholic Sisters of the Imitation of Christ, better known as the Bethany Sisters. In our magazine, we’ve discussed the history and work of these sisters at length:

[T]he Sisters of the Imitation of Christ, commonly called the Bethany Sisters, were founded “to follow Christ in an Indian way.”

Although such a purpose appears progressive, this religious community, which is paired with a community for men, was founded more than 75 years ago by one of the most gifted men of the 20th century church — Mar Ivanios, the first Syro-Malankara Catholic Archbishop of Trivandrum. While less than a century old, Bethany reflects the joys and sorrows borne for nearly 2,000 years by the Indian Church. …

Resistance to the Portuguese, explained Cyril Mar Baselios, O.I.C., the present Syro-Malankara Catholic Archbishop of Trivandrum, culminated in Cochin in 1653 with the historic Coonan Cross Oath.

A kind man whose gentle face hides a formidable intellect, Mar Baselios recounted that all who touched the cross and a long cord attached to it cast their vote to depart from the Latinized church. …

After this great schism of the Indian Church, there were at least four unsuccessful attempts to reestablish full communion between the Malankara Syrian Orthodox Church and the Church of Rome. …

[Newly elevated Bishop Ivanios] challenged the bishops, priests and laity of the Malankara Syrian Orthodox Church to “bring all the Syrian Christians of Kerala, who formed one church formerly, into true union once again so that the biblical ideal of ‘one fold and one pastor’ may become a reality.”

Several months later, Mar Ivanios received the vows of three women, thus instituting the Bethany Sisters and completing his vision of a monastic community of men and women in the service of renewal. …

On 20 September 1930, Mar Ivanios and Mar Theophilos, Bishop of Tiruvalla — along with two Bethany monks and a layman — were received into the Catholic Church. After a prayerful but painful period of reflection, the entire community of Bethany Sisters affirmed their communion with the Church of Rome. The properties on which Bethany was founded, however, were lost; the newly constituted Syro-Malankara Catholic Church began penniless.

The charism of Bethany, however, and its spirit of renewal carried Mar Ivanios and his small flock through some difficult times.

To learn more, read Following Christ in an Indian Way.

Tags: India Sisters Cultural Identity Indian Christians Syro-Malankara Catholic Church

22 May 2013
J.D. Conor Mauro

Relatives carry the coffin of an Iraqi police officer killed by militants, during a funeral in Najaf, Iraq, 20 May. The patriarch of the Chaldean Church denounced a recent series of car bombings and shootings in Iraqi cities that left at least 54 people dead and dozens more injured. (photo: CNS/Haider Ala, Reuters)

Chaldean patriarch warns surge in violence will divide Iraq (CNS) The patriarch of the Chaldean Catholic Church in Baghdad denounced a recent series of car bombings and shootings in Iraqi cities that left at least 54 people dead and dozens more injured. Patriarch Louis Raphael told Catholic News Service in a 20 May email that the current violence is between minority Sunni and majority Shiite Muslims, who also run the Iraqi government. Christians are not being directly targeted, he said. “But they are afraid and their exodus continues nevertheless…”

Christians around the world pray for kidnapped Orthodox archbishops (Various) One full month has passed since the kidnapping of Syriac Orthodox Metropolitan Yohanna Ibrahim and Greek Orthodox Metropolitan Boulos Yazigi, archbishops of Aleppo. From America to Amman, from India to the Vatican, — and, of course, in Aleppo itself — Christians join in prayer for the their safety and return…

Syrian Orthodox archbishop speaks on the situation of Christians in Syria (AINA) On Saturday, 18 May, Syrian Orthodox Archbishop Eustatius Matta Roham met activists of the newly formed European Christian Relief Organization (ECRO) in Munich, where he came to visit the White Fathers and other Catholic organizations asking for support for the Syriac Christians — such as Assyrean and Chaldean Christians. The archbishop was accompanied by the Syrian Orthodox Bishop Selwanos of Homs, who reported on the tragic situation of the displaced Christians in his city…

Turkey foils alleged attacks on Syrian refugees (Daily Star Lebanon) A Turkish official says authorities have detained six people suspected of plotting attacks against Syrian refugee camps near the Syrian border. Celalettin Lekesiz, the governor for border province of Hatay, said Wednesday the suspects were allegedly planning to bomb camps and kidnap refugees. Some 200,000 Syrian refugees are registered in Turkey…

Archbishop Chullikatt speaks on the scourge of human trafficking (Vatican Radio) “Trafficking in persons constitutes a shameful crime against human dignity and a grave violation of fundamental human rights. Those who commit such crimes debase themselves and poison human solidarity,” said Archbishop Francis Chullikatt, permanent observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, in a speech before the U.N…

Tags: Iraq Refugees Middle East Christians Syrian Civil War human trafficking

21 May 2013
Greg Kandra

CNEWA’s president Msgr. John E. Kozar pays a visit to the children of St. Anne’s Orphanage in Trichur, India. The children and Carmelite Sisters who run St. Anne receive support from CNEWA.
(photo: CNEWA)

In the current issue of ONE, Msgr. John E. Kozar reflects on the importance of religious sisters:

Sometimes, they are the first evangelizers who share the Good News of Jesus; sometimes they are the mother figure a child has never known; sometimes they are a nurse at a clinic, not only dispensing medicine and bandages, but healthy measures of tender loving care; sometimes they offer a cup of rice to a starving mother and child; sometimes they welcome a refugee. And always, they are present. In the midst of war, famine, insurrection, terrorism, ignorance, abandonment or any form of persecution or oppression, the sisters offer their heroic witness. Make no mistake: They are heroes.

If you want to know how you can help those heroes, visit this page. Your gift today will be doubled with a dollar-for-dollar match, ensuring that the good work of these good women continues!

Tags: India CNEWA

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