3 May 2013
Metropolitan Mor Cyril Aphram Karim of the Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch, Archdiocese of the Eastern United States, is greeted by Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York at the end of Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York on 2 May. (photo: CNS/Gregory A. Shemitz)
Cardinal Dolan prays for kidnapped Orthodox clergy (CNS) Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan challenged all in attendance to hold onto hope and to pray for the safety and well-being of two Orthodox archbishops kidnapped in Syria in late April while carrying out a humanitarian mission. “Our prayers are singularly fervent this spring morning as I invite all of us to unite in supplication,” Cardinal Dolan said during Mass on 2 May in St. Patrick’s Cathedral for Greek Orthodox Metropolitan Paul of Aleppo and Syriac Orthodox Metropolitan Gregorios Yohanna of Aleppo…
Pope meets president of Lebanon (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis expressed hopes for the formation of a new government in Lebanon Friday “that will have to face the important challenges in the national arena as well as in the international sphere.” This is according to a statement released by the Secretariat of State following the Holy Father’s private audience with Lebanese President Michel Sleiman…
Vatican sends annual message to Buddhists (VIS) Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran and Father Miguel Angel Ayuso Guixot, M.C.C.I., respectively president and secretary of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, signed the message that, on the occasion of the feast of Vesakh, the dicastery annually sends to the followers of Buddhism. Vesakh is a major Buddhist holy day that commemorates the birth, enlightenment, and death of Gautama Buddha. According to tradition, the historical Buddha was born, achieved enlightenment and passed away during the full moon of the month of May, thus Vesakh is a mobile feast, which this year falls on 24 or 25 May, depending on the country it is celebrated in. On those days, Buddhists visit local temples to offer the monks food and to hear the teachings of the Buddha, taking special care to meditate and to observe the eight precepts of Buddhism. This year’s message is entitled: “Christians and Buddhists: Loving, Defending, and Promoting Human Life”…
Russian Orthodox observe Holy Friday (Voice of Russia) Orthodox Christians are observing Holy Friday, the most sorrowful date of the Christian calendar commemorating the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. On this day, Orthodox believers observe a particularly rigorous period of fasting in commemoration of Jesus’ sufferings and his death on the cross. They abstain from every kind of food subsisting on bread and water. Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia will lead Great Vespers with the rank of removal of the shroud and matins with the rank of burials at the Cathedral of Christ the Savior in Moscow…
Historic Alaskan village destroyed by fire (OCA.org) In a report dated 30 April 2013, KTUU Channel 2 News announced that the abandoned Belkofski village on the Alaska Peninsula had been destroyed by fire. Founded in 1824 by the Russian-American Company, Belkofski was home to Holy Resurrection Orthodox Church. The parish’s first church building was erected in 1843. In 1880, a new church was constructed. The structure, which had been placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1980, subsequently collapsed. What was left of the church burned in the fire, along with the parish cemetery…
2 May 2013
Tags: Pope Francis Violence against Christians Russian Orthodox Church Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran
The helicopter carrying Pope Benedict XVI passes the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica as the retired pope returns to the Vatican on 2 May. The pope will live in a monastery in the Vatican Gardens. (photo: CNS/Paul Haring)
Today CNS shares an unprecedented moment:
For the first time in history, the Vatican is home to a pope and a retired pope.
Pope Francis welcomed his predecessor, retired Pope Benedict XVI, to the Vatican May 2 outside the convent remodeled for the 86-year-old retired pontiff and five aides. Pope Francis and Pope Benedict entered the convent’s chapel together “for a brief moment of prayer,” said Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman.
Pope Benedict had been staying at the papal summer villa in Castel Gandolfo since retiring on 28 February. Pope Francis traveled to the villa 10 days after his election to visit, pray and have lunch with Pope Benedict; the new pope also has telephoned his predecessor on at least two occasions.
In response to questions about the fact that Pope Benedict seemed to be much frailer than he was two months ago, Father Lombardi told reporters, “He’s an elderly man, weakened by age, but he is not suffering from any illness.”
In the last year of his pontificate, Pope Benedict was seen walking with a cane on more and more public occasions; after Pope Benedict retired, Father Lombardi confirmed that he had had a pacemaker inserted before becoming pope in 2005 and had undergone a brief procedure in November to replace the battery.
While the Vatican is now home to a pope and his predecessor, neither lives in the papal apartments of the Apostolic Palace. Pope Francis continues to live in the Domus Sanctae Marthae, the Vatican guesthouse just south of St. Peter’s Basilica where the cardinals stayed during the conclave; the Mater Ecclesiae Monastery where Pope Benedict is living is just to the north of the basilica.
Read more here.
2 May 2013
Tags: Pope Francis Pope Benedict XVI Vatican Catholic Pope
In this video, Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos III celebrates Holy Thursday by washing the feet of his clergy in the courtyard of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem’s Old City. (video: THV 11)
Greek Orthodox patriarch washes the feet of bishops (THV 11) Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos III washed the feet of 12 of his clergymen in the courtyard of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem’s Old City on Thursday, 2 May, in a traditional ceremony that takes place three days ahead of Easter. According to Christian faith, Jesus washed the feet of his twelve disciples prior to the Last Supper before he was crucified. Christian churches commemorate this event as part of Easter Holy Week celebrations, with Orthodox ceremonies taking place in accordance to the Eastern (Julian) calendar…
A prayer for the Chaldean Synod (Fides) The first Synod of the Chaldean Church convened by the new Patriarch Louis Raphael, who was elected last January 31, will begin in Baghdad on 5 June. The agenda of the synodal assembly includes challenging topics, including the appointment of bishops in several Chaldean bishoprics left vacant in the Middle East and Western countries, the formation of priests, the final draft of a law of the Chaldean Church to be submitted to the consent of the Apostolic See, updating and harmonization of the liturgical rites celebrated unevenly in the various dioceses and the study of concrete measures to curb the phenomenon of emigration and encourage Christians to remain in — or return to — their homeland…
An interview with a Jesuit ecumenist (Catholic World Report) Catholic World Report recently asked Archimandrite Robert Taft, S.J., for his perspective on current Orthodox-Catholic relations. Father Taft has devoted his life to preserving the liturgical treasury of the East and building bridges between Orthodox and Catholic Christians, and describes a vision of Catholic-Orthodox communion: “what it would look like is not a ‘reunion’ with [Orthodox churches] ‘returning to Rome,’ to which they never belonged anyway; nor us being incorporated by them, since we are all ancient apostolic ‘sister churches’ with a valid episcopate and priesthood and the full panoply of sacraments needed to minister salvation to our respective faithful…”
Turkey investigates use of chemical weapons in Syria (Daily Star Lebanon) Turkey is testing blood samples taken from Syrian casualties brought over the border from fighting in recent days to determine whether they were victims of a chemical weapons attack, local government and health officials said on Wednesday. The samples were sent to Turkey’s forensic medicine institute after several Syrians with breathing difficulties were brought to a Turkish hospital on Monday in the town of Reyhanli in Hatay province along the Syrian border. “We are taking the necessary precautions as we have received unconfirmed information on the use of chemical weapons,” Reyhanli Mayor Huseyin Sanverdi told Reuters…
Lebanon border region caught in Syrian conflict (L.A. Times) Kidnapping, smuggling and tribal feuds have long been a reality of the Lebanese landscape, but the conflict next door between the longtime Shiite-linked government of President Bashar al Assad and fragmented, largely Sunni, opposition forces has upped the ante. These days, nothing seems to transpire in northern Lebanon without the Syrian conflict coloring the exchange…
1 May 2013
Tags: Syrian Civil War Ecumenism Chaldean Church Orthodox Church of the Holy Sepulchre
This photo, taken in March, shows the property of the Cremisan Salesian Fathers and Sisters. Visible in the distance is the settlement of Gilo, built on land formerly part of Beit Jala. The plan is to expand the settlement of Gilo into the valley and connect it to another settlement called Har Gilo on the other side of the Cremisan property. CNEWA is a long-time supporter of the Salesian Sisters’ School, located on the premises. (photo: CNEWA)
A legal decision announced on Friday by an Israeli court has far-reaching implications for Palestinian farmers who own and work their lands near the West Bank city of Bethlehem. It also directly impacts Catholic religious institutions nestled in a region known as the Cremisan Valley.
The Cremisan Valley is a green, fertile stretch of land on the outskirts of Bethlehem. It is estimated that there are more than 50 families, most of them Christians, who own and farm the land. Although the valley is well within the borders of the Palestinian West Bank — i.e., not on the Israeli side of the Green Line or the 1967 demarcation dividing Israel proper from the West Bank — the Israeli government is planning to continue its Security Barrier through the Cremisan, in effect splitting the valley in two.
The United Nations estimates that the barrier stretches some 440 miles, more than twice the length of the 198-mile-long Green Line. Most of the barrier, about 70 percent, is either completed or under construction. The largest portion (about 85 percent) will run inside the West Bank, and cuts off almost 10 percent of Palestinian land from Palestinian control. About 6,500 Palestinians who live between the barrier and the Green Line are caught in what is called a “Seam Zone.” Therefore, those Palestinians over the age of 16 must obtain “permanent resident” permits to stay on land where they and their families have lived for centuries.
In addition to the farming families in the Cremisan Valley, there are two religious institutions on the land, run by the priests and sisters of the Salesians of Don Bosco. The priests came to the valley about 1870 when the area was still under the control of the Ottoman Empire. They opened the Cremisan Cellars, using the fertile hillsides to grow grapes and produce wines — including the sacramental wines used by Catholics in the Holy Land. In 1960, the Salesian sisters opened a school in the valley; today, it enrolls an estimated 450 students. CNEWA’s operating agency in the Middle East, the Pontifical Mission for Palestine, has provided grants to the sisters’ school to support the staff and install solar panels to provide electricity.
If the security barrier is constructed, Palestinian Christian farmers will be separated from their fields. Although there will be “agricultural gates” to allow farmers entry, similar openings already built elsewhere provide only limited access to the fields for short periods of time, making it virtually impossible for farmers to prune their olive trees or fertilize their crops and keep them properly maintained for successful farming.
The barrier will also separate the two Salesian communities. The priests will be isolated from the West Bank and will live in the Israeli-controlled “Seam Zone.” The sisters will be on the Palestinian side although the barrier will be erected around three sides of the property, creating a situation that the Assembly of Catholic Ordinaries in the Holy Land describes as “prison-like … surrounded by military barriers and check-points.”
Recognizing the already precarious position of Christians in the region, the Assembly of Catholic Ordinaries in the Holy Land, the Society of St. Yves — the legal and human rights office of the Latin Patriarchate — and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops have expressed their opposition to the extension of the security barrier through the Cremisan Valley as it will further deteriorate the situation of Palestinian Christians, whose emigration from the Holy Land has hastened since 2000.
1 May 2013
Tags: Middle East Christians Palestine Israeli-Palestinian conflict Farming/Agriculture Separation Barrier
May is traditionally the month Catholics devote to Mary. The image above from 2010 shows a statue of the Virgin Mary that graces the Chaldean Church of the Mother of God in Southfield, near Detroit. For more on the Arab-Americans who have settled in that part of Michigan, check out Forging a New Detroit from the January 2010 issue of ONE. (photo: Fabrizio Costantini)
1 May 2013
Tags: Catholic Chaldean Church Arab-Americans Detroit
Despite the war, the Trappist sisters have chosen to stay in Syria at the monastery they established. (photo: Monastery of Valserena)
An Italian news site this week takes a look at a group of Trappist nuns that has established a monastery in Syria. Despite the violence and war around them, they are determined to stay:
We are simply here, open and available, according to our Rule. We will have to see what happens. In the present state of things one cannot make predictions, but it is our intent to stay close to the population and they are grateful for the fact that we have not moved.
Visit Il Sussidiario for the full interview.
Last fall, AsiaNews profiled the sisters and saw them as a “sign of hope” for Syria:
Amid the chaos of the Syrian civil war, when the main noise has been the sound of bombs going off and the screams of those they wounded, there are still some places where the prevailing hatred is held at bay. One of them is a Trappist monastery in the small Maronite village of Azeir, located in western Syria between the cities of Tartous and Homs. Five Italian nuns from the Monastery of Valserena (in Pisa) call it home. Despite the fighting raging around them, they chose to stay in the country. “Despite our Italian nationality,” said Sister Monica, superior of the Mother House, “and the resources we might have because of it, we are part of this community and cannot leave at a time of trial. Its fate is our fate.”
In letters written over the past few months and posted on the monastery’s website, the nuns describe the tragedies of the war and the suffering endured by the residents of the villages that surround them.
For the sisters, the monastery is a tangible sign of hope. “A place where God is worshiped in his real presence, both Eucharistic and Ecclesial, through prayers and brotherly communion, is a blessing for all.”
However, “our neighbours are discouraged,” said one of the letters posted. “Even in our small village, civilians and young conscripts have been killed.”
“The country,” wrote another, “has become a battleground for adversaries that are bigger than Syria, people who came to fight in this land and this people to settle their own conflicts.”
In each post, the Trappist nuns call on all Christians to pray for the Syrian population that welcomed them.
Click here for the rest of the story.
1 May 2013
Tags: Syria Sisters Monastery Monasticism Trappist
In this December 2012 photo, Patriarch Youhanna X of Antioch, accompanied by Melkite Greek Catholic Patriarch Gregory III of Antioch, lights a candle upon his arrival to the Orthodox patriarchate in Damascus, Syria. (photo: CNS/Khaled al Hariri, Reuters)
Syrian patriarch: Violence won’t drive Orthodox away (Pravoslavie.ru) Patriarch of Antioch and All the East Youhanna X has urged the world community to end the violence in Syria and help free the two abducted Orthodox leaders of Aleppo. “I take this opportunity to extend, on your behalf, in the motherlands and abroad, an appeal to the international community, urging it to do everything it can toward the release of hostages whose absence affects us deeply. … Since we are the children of the Resurrection, we are not afraid of whoever takes violence as a way to achieve his purpose. To be killed, or kidnapped, or to have our institutions destroyed, will not change our resolve to uphold our civil life and our coexistence … and to seek the reign of justice and rights in our homelands,” the patriarch said…
Pope Francis issues appeal against slave labor (Vatican Radio) Marking the feast of St. Joseph the Worker and World Labor Day this Wednesday, 1 May, Pope Francis launched an urgent appeal to Christians and men and women of good will worldwide to take decisive steps to end slave labor. “I would like to add a word about another particular work situation that concerns me: I am referring to what we could define as “slave labor”, the work that enslaves. How many people worldwide are victims of this type of slavery, in which the person is at the service of his or her work, while work should offer a service to people so they may have dignity. I ask my brothers and sisters in faith and all men and women of good will for a decisive choice to combat trafficking in persons, which includes slave labor.” Included are an audio report and a transcript of the Holy Father’s audience…
Child labor rising in Gaza (Al Monitor) Child labor has been on the rise due to growing poverty and unemployment among Gaza’s population, more than 80 percent of whose families, according to United Nations reports, depend on humanitarian aid. While it cannot be separated from the political situation and the Israeli occupation, most analysts trace it back to 2006, when Israel started its blockade policy, causing tens of thousands of Palestinian laborers who worked in Israel to lose their jobs due to an inability to commute. Representatives of Palestinian civil society organizations have consistently stressed the need to make every possible effort to curb the widening tide of this phenomenon. However, very few seem to be directly engaged in addressing the problem…
Could water bring Israelis and Palestinians together? (Christian Science Monitor) The Joint Water Committee (J.W.C.), an Israeli-Palestinian group set up in 1995 under the Oslo Accords, was never meant to be a permanent body for managing water resources. Like many other Oslo-era arrangements, it was intended as more of a temporary tent until the Palestinian house could be built. Some 17 years later, with no Palestinian state in sight, the troubled workings of the J.W.C. illustrate the difficulties Israelis and Palestinians face in piecing together a tenuous coexistence under an interim tent tattered by lack of trust. But despite the current challenges, better water management — perhaps more than any of the other five issues to be determined in final-status negotiations — holds the possibility for improved cooperation and trust-building, because the welfare of both peoples is linked by their dependence on this vital shared resource…
Iraq plans to launch satellite to aid water crisis (Al Monitor) As part of an effort to combat water shortages across the country, Iraq is working to build and launch a satellite before the end of the year. The satellite will allow close monitoring of desertification and freshwater reserve losses…
30 April 2013
Tags: Pope Francis Syrian Civil War Children Israeli-Palestinian conflict Water
A boy receives Communion at an Ethiopian Orthodox church in Temple Hills, Maryland. (photo: Erin Edwards)
A few years ago, the magazine visited a thriving community of Ethiopian immigrants in Washington, D.C.:
Ethiopians began immigrating to the District of Columbia and its suburbs in the aftermath of Ethiopia’s “Red Terror,” a violent political campaign in the late 1970’s led by the country’s ruling Marxist junta, or Derg, that led to the deaths of as many as 500,000 people.
The Derg targeted younger educated professionals, many of whom fled to Sudan and Kenya, or to Europe, before finding refuge in the United States in the 1980’s. After 1991, when the Derg collapsed and a transitional government was formed, the flow of people out of Ethiopia slowed. Yet, to this day relatives of former refugees settle in the United States.
Estimates of the number of Ethiopians in the Washington, D.C., area vary widely, with some suggesting as many as 250,000. Dr. Tsehaye Teferra, president of the Arlington-based Ethiopian Community Development Council, puts the number closer to 100,000. The community is scattered, with Ethiopians living in the Virginia cities of Alexandria and Arlington and the Adams Morgan and Shaw neighborhoods of the District of Columbia.
In 2005, the Ethiopian community in Adams Morgan tried unsuccessfully to designate 9th Street NW, between T and U streets, as “Little Ethiopia.” With or without the official designation, a short walk down either 9th or U streets shows that this stretch of the historically African-American neighborhood is unmistakably Ethiopian. Eateries such as Dukem Ethiopian Restaurant, Abiti Ethiopian Cuisine and Queen of Sheba Restaurant serve traditional stews of chopped and marinated beef or lamb, often with peppers, onions and spices, accompanied by — or served atop — injera, a soft, flat, spongy bread, to a diverse clientele.
Read more about this vibrant neighborhood in the March 2009 issue of ONE.
30 April 2013
Tags: Ethiopia Cultural Identity United States Ethiopian Orthodox Church Immigration
Pope Francis shares a light moment with Israeli President Shimon Peres during a private meeting at the Vatican on 30 April. Peres officially invited Pope Francis to Israel and left their meeting saying that “all the people of Israel” are expecting him. (photo: CNS/Ettore Ferrari, pool via Reuters)
Pope meets with Israeli president (Vatican Radio) Today in the Vatican’s Apostolic Palace, Pope Francis received in audience Israeli President Shimon Peres. President Peres went on to meet with Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, S.D.B., and Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, secretary for Relations with States. During the cordial talks, the leaders discussed the political and social situation in the Middle East. A speedy resumption of negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians is hoped for, so that an agreement may be reached that respects the legitimate aspirations of the two peoples, thus decisively contributing to the peace and stability of the region…
Huge explosion rocks Damascus (Al Jazeera) A blast near Syria’s interior ministry has rocked the central Damascus district of Marjeh, killing 13 people and injuring over 70 others, state television said, just a day after the country’s prime minister survived a car bomb attack. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) gave a lower toll, saying nine people were killed in Tuesday’s blast. The group, which relies on a network of activists based in Syria, did not immediately provide details on those reported casualties, but warned that the number of casualties was expected to rise…
Car bombs across Iraq kill at least 22 (L.A. Times) Shiite-dominated areas in southern and central Iraq were rocked Monday by car bomb explosions that killed at least 22 people and fueled fears that the country is sliding into a civil war. The bombings Monday — particularly in the city of Amarah, which has largely avoided such attacks — appeared aimed at jarring the country’s Shiite majority. Car bombs also exploded in a market in the center of Mahmoudiya, just south of Baghdad; a factory area in the southern Shiite shrine city of Karbala; and a restaurant in Diwaniya, also in the south. With the country in crisis, the parliamentary speaker, Usama Nujaifi, called for the government to be dissolved and for a caretaker government to be formed ahead of early elections to save the country from civil war…
European bishops meet to analyze Christian-Muslim relations (VIS) The Council of Bishops’ Conferences of Europe will be meeting in London from 1-3 May to discuss Christian-Muslim relations. Cardinal Jean-Pierre Ricard, archbishop of Bordeaux, will chair the meeting. Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue will be a keynote speaker…
Pope Francis to meet with Coptic pope (Fides) The next visit of the Coptic Orthodox Patriarch Tawadros II to Pope Francis, scheduled for Saturday, 11 May, “could have important and positive results,” says Coptic Catholic Bishop Fahim Awad Hanna. “I also hope that we can resume the thread of theological dialogue and really start to walk towards full communion.” The event will occur 40 years after the meeting in Rome between Pope Paul VI and Shenouda III, the previous Coptic pope. On that occasion a theological dialogue between the two Churches began which in 1988 led to an agreement and a joint declaration on Christology that was to put an end to centuries of misunderstanding and mistrust…
Catholic Church in Ethiopia is a ‘small reality’ appreciated by all (Fides) “We are a small reality but our contribution to the social and spiritual life of the Country is appreciated by all,” says Father Hagos Hayish, secretary general of the Episcopal Conference of Ethiopia. “Catholics in Ethiopia represent about 1 percent of the population, [the rest belonging] to the Ethiopian Orthodox Church or to the Islamic religion,” explains Father Hayish. “The Catholic Church, however, is well regarded by both the population and the authorities for its social activities and its attitude of openness to all, Christians and Muslims.” To promote interfaith dialogue the Interfaith Council of Ethiopia has been created, in which the Catholic Church has been called to play an important role, a sign of respect and trust…
29 April 2013
Tags: Iraq Pope Francis Syrian Civil War Middle East Peace Process Ethiopian Catholic Church
Canadian Senator Anne C. Cools introduces the documentary “Across the Divide” to Christian leaders in a Parliament building in Ottawa. (photo: CNEWA/Antin Sloboda)
On 15 April, CNEWA Canada joined with the office of Senator Anne C. Cools to organize a special event in Ottawa highlighting the situation of Christian communities in the Holy Land.
The Parliament Hill event brought over 30 community leaders representing a variety of Christian faith traditions, including Eastern Christians, Anglicans, Catholics, Mennonites, Presbyterians and others. The highlight of the conference was the screening of a documentary about the Bethlehem University, “Across the Divide.” The film is a production of the Salt + Light Media Foundation. CNEWA Canada sponsored its presentation across many Canadian cities in 2012.
Through Bethlehem University, we can see how the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has had a negative impact on the local Christians, who desire only to live in peace. Besides presenting the challenges these Christians face, the film also offers signs of hope. It shows how the leadership of the university and the students of many faiths together are committed to working for the benefit of all.
After the screening, participants shared their communities’ experiences in promoting peace in the Holy Land. Carl Hétu, national director of CNEWA Canada, moderated the constructive dialogue. The Rev. Thomas Rosica, C.E.O. of Salt and Light Catholic Media Foundation, played an important part in stimulating the discussion as a panelist.
Senator Cools concluded by encouraging leaders of the Ottawa Christian communities to continue working together so one day peace might become a reality for all in the Holy Land and throughout the Middle East.
If you would like to order the film, contact Salt + Light Television.
And to learn how you can support Bethlehem University, click here.
Tags: Middle East Christians Israeli-Palestinian conflict Middle East Peace Process CNEWA Canada Bethlehem University