27 February 2014
Flowers and rosaries are seen at the site in Kiev where people have been killed in recent clashes protesting against Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich. Yanukovich, ousted after bloody street protests, is wanted for mass murder. (photo: CNS/David Mdzinarishvili, Reuters)
Islamic group imposes rules on Christians in Syria under penalty of death (BBC) A jihadist group in Syria has demanded that Christians in the northern city of Raqqa pay a levy in gold and accept curbs on their faith, or face death. The Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) said it would give Christian residents “protection” if they agreed to the list of conditions. The announcement came in a statement posted online...
Tensions mount in Crimea (The Washington Post) With unrest growing in the Crimea over Ukraine’s political transformation, a group of armed men seized the local parliament and the regional government headquarters in Simferopol early Thursday morning, barricaded themselves inside both buildings and raised Russian flags, news services reported. They were reported to be wearing plain uniforms without designating marks. The Interfax news agency quoted a local authority as saying the men were from a Crimean self-defense group...
Ukrainians hope their nation has a new beginning (The Catholic Register) As Toronto’s Ukrainians woke up to news that former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych was on the run in eastern Ukraine after parliament had voted him out of office and that national elections are scheduled for 25 May, they gathered to pray. At Dormition of the Mother of God Ukrainian Catholic Church all three Divine Liturgies on 23 February included special, added prayers for the future of Ukraine.It caps more than a month of prayers for their homeland at the giant Mississauga parish. “We’re all Ukrainians. We do want to show our respect and solidarity with our brothers and sisters,” said Vlodko, a cantor at the church who declined to give his last name. “And in prayer, that’s the best solidarity we can show...”
Maronites to ordain first married man to priesthood in United States (The St. Louis Review) Pope Francis has granted permission for a married deacon to be ordained to the priesthood for the Maronite Catholic Church for the Eparchy of Our Lady of Lebanon. Deacon Wissam Akiki will be ordained 27 February at St. Raymond’s Maronite Cathedral in St. Louis. He is married to Manal Kassab and they have a daughter, Perla. He is the first married man to be ordained for the priesthood for the U.S. Maronite Catholic Church. The Maronite Church is Eastern rite and is among 22 Catholic Churches that are in union with each other and under the authority of the pope in Rome. The spiritual heritage of the Maronite Church is traced to a fourth-century hermit, St. Maron...
26 February 2014
Pope Francis blesses a child dressed as the pontiff as he arrives to lead his general
audience in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican on 26 February.
(photo: CNS/L’Osservatore Romano via Reuters)
26 February 2014
In this image from November, tents of Syrian refugees are seen at a camp at the Lebanese border town of Arsal, in the eastern Bekaa Valley. (photo: CNS/Mohamed Azakir, Reuters)
Syrian refugee crisis intensifying (Vatican Radio) In more than three years of civil war, more than 100 thousand people have been killed, and more than 2.5 million Syrians have fled their homes. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), just over 2.1 million people have sought refuge in Syria’s immediate neighbours: Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq. Others have remained for the time being inside Syria, while fewer than 100 thousand people have declared asylum in Europe...
In rare statement, Benedict denies he was forced to resign (The Telegraph) Former Pope Benedict, in one of the few times he has broken his silence since stepping down a year ago, has branded as ‘absurd’ fresh media speculation that he was forced to quit. n a rare public statement, the 86-year-old former pontiff insisted that he had freely taken the decision to become the first Pope since the Middle Ages to resign the seat of St. Peter, in a move that shocked the Catholic Church and made headlines around the world...
Patriarch appeals for unity in Ukraine (AsiaNews) The Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, Kirill, on Sunday launched an appeal for the unity and peace in Ukraine at the end of the Sunday liturgy, celebrated in the church of San Michele in Troporevo, in the Russian capital. The primate — reports Interfax news agency — knelt at the altar and prayed to God to grant his light to minds “clouded by violence”...
New Israeli law draws fire (AFP) A new Israeli law giving Muslim and Christian Arab citizens separate representation on a national employment commission drew fire from the Palestinians on Tuesday. “This law aims to create a new reality among our people based on religion and not national identity,” Palestine Liberation Organisation executive committee member Hanan Ashrawi said in a statement...
Coptic Church denies it is planning to build first church in Saudi Arabia (Arabian Business) The Coptic Orthodox Church has issued a statement denying reports it has struck an agreement with Saudi Arabian officials to build the first church in the kingdom. The rumours and reports surfaced after His Holiness Pope Tawadros II met with the Saudi Ambassador to Egypt, Ahmed Kattan, in Cairo at the weekend, with the MidEast Christian News agency claiming the possibility of setting up a church had been addressed at the meeting. However, Father Paul Halim, the official spokesman for the Coptic Orthodox Church, told the US Copts Association the reports were “untrue”...
25 February 2014
Mourners carry a large wooden crucifix past a barricade during a memorial procession in Independence Square in Kiev, Ukraine, on 25 February. Dozens of protesters have been killed since November. (photo: CNS/ Yannis Behrakisi, Reuters)
25 February 2014
Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk of Kiev-Halych, major archbishop of the Ukrainian Catholic Church, speaks on 25 February during a Rome news conference on the recent events in the Ukrainian capital. (photo: CNS/Max Rossi, Reuters)
Russia cries “mutiny” over change in Ukraine (The Washington Post) Russian leaders expressed their distrust and dislike of Ukraine’s new government on Monday, saying it came to power through “armed mutiny,” just hours after the authorities here announced a nationwide manhunt for ousted president Viktor Yanukovych on charges of “mass murder of peaceful civilians.” Russia questioned the legitimacy of Ukraine’s interim leadership, charging that it used a peace deal brokered by Europe to make a power grab and to suppress dissent in Russian-speaking regions through “terrorist methods...”
Ukrainian archbishop appeals for solidarity (Vatican Radio) The Major Archbishop of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church has made a heartfelt appeal to European Nations for solidarity and support for the people of Ukraine. Speaking to a press conference held on Tuesday at Vatican Radio, His Beatitude Sviatoslav Shevchuk denounced the fact that the cry of the Maidan protesters went largely unheard and ignored until the explosion of violence last week that left some 100 people dead, and thousands more injured...
Ukraine votes to send fugitive former president to be tried for “serious crimes” (Voice of America) Ukraine’s parliament voted on Tuesday to send fugitive President Viktor Yanukovych to be tried for ‘serious crimes’ by the International Criminal Court once he has been captured. A resolution, overwhelmingly supported by the assembly, linked Yanukovych, who was ousted on Saturday and is now on the run, to police violence against protesters which it said had led to the deaths of more than 100 citizens from Ukraine and other states. The resolution said former interior minister Vitaly Zakharchenko and former prosecutor-general Viktor Pshonka, who are also being sought by the authorities, should also be sent for trial at the ICC, which is based in The Hague...
Israel strikes near Lebanon-Syria border (Aljazeera) Israeli jets have bombarded an area on the Lebanon-Syria border, reportedly hitting a Hezbollah position, a Lebanese security source and a Syrian NGO said, “Two Israeli raids hit a Hezbollah target on the border of Lebanon and Syria,” the source told AFP news agency. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the target was a Hezbollah “missile base”. Lebanon’s state news agency also confirmed the airstrikes, however, there was no immediate confirmation from Lebanese security officials, and the Israeli military declined comment...
Pope Francis: Victims of war deserve mourning, not indifference (CNS) Pope Francis urged people to overcome indifference and to mourn for the innumerable victims of war and conflict around the world. He also condemned those who profit from the manufacturing of weapons and “live large,” lounging in their “parlors” while children in refugee camps starve.In a Mass homily on 25 February, the pope focused on the day’s first reading from St. James and the causes of divisions and conflict. “Where do wars and arguments among you come from,” he asked during his early morning Mass in the Domus Sanctae Marthae, where he lives. “War, hatred and hard feelings, you don’t buy them at a store, they are here in the heart,” emerging out of people’s passions, he said...
24 February 2014
A woman cries during a candlelight vigil at St. George Ukrainian Catholic Church in New York City on 23 February. The service was held to pray for peace in Ukraine.
(CNS photo/Carlo Allegri, Reuters)
24 February 2014
Retired Pope Benedict XVI greets Pope Francis at the conclusion of a consistory at which Pope Francis created 19 new cardinals in St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican on 22 February. Pope Benedict’s presence at the ceremony marked the first time he had joined Pope Francis for a public liturgy. (photo: CNS/Paul Haring)
Pope creates 19 new cardinals, with Pope Benedict present (CNS) On a feast day commemorating the authority Jesus gave to St. Peter and his successors — the popes — Pope Francis created 19 new cardinals in the presence of retired Pope Benedict XVI. To the great surprise of most people present, the retired pope entered St. Peter’s Basilica about 15 minutes before the new cardinals and Pope Francis. Wearing a long white coat and using a cane, he took a seat in the front row next to Lebanese Cardinal Bechara Rai, patriarch of the Maronite Catholic Church. Pope Benedict’s presence at the consistory 22 February, the feast of the Chair of Peter, marked the first time he had joined Pope Francis for a public prayer service in the basilica. Pope Benedict resigned 28 February 2013, becoming the first pope in almost 600 years to do so...
Pope Francis: no divisions between Christians (Vatican Radio) Following the celebration of Mass on Sunday morning with the 19 new Cardinals, Pope Francis greeted the crowds in St. Peter’s Square gathered for the Angelus prayer. In his address to them he urged them to work for Christian unity avoiding all divisions, because he said: “a community does not belong to the preacher, but to Christ...”
Official in Ukraine accuses ex-president of mass murder (The New York Times) Ukraine’s acting interior minister said on Monday that authorities were in pursuit of the ousted president, Viktor F. Yanukovych, who was believed to be in Crimea in the south of the country, and that he would be arrested on charges of mass murder in the killings of dozens of antigovernment protesters last week. The minister, Arsen Avakov, who was appointed by Parliament on Saturday, wrote on his Facebook page that he was personally involved in the manhunt and had traveled to the Crimean city of Sevastopol on Sunday night hoping to intercept Mr. Yanukovych at the airport there, but that the deposed president had not turned up as expected...
In Ukraine, the bitterness behind an upheaval (The Washington Post) Anatoliy Zhalobaha didn’t pay much attention to politics, but he was angry, and growing angrier. That’s what drew him to Kiev on Wednesday, and into the path of a sniper’s bullet on Thursday. The uprising convulsing Ukraine gets much of its strength from places such as Dubliany, a village of 8,000 in the westernmost part of the country. But the driving force behind it is not so much about geography, or differences in language, or ideology, though those are significant factors. For Zhalobaha, it was the raw deal he felt he had gotten in a country where those in power were brazenly helping themselves to as much as they could get their hands on...
Senior al-Qaeda commander killed in Syria (Aljazeera) A Syrian rebel commander, who fought alongside al-Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden and was close to its current chief Ayman al-Zawahiri, was killed by a suicide attack in Aleppo, intensifying in-fighting between rival armed groups. The killing of Abu Khaled al-Suri on Sunday in a suicide bombing in the al-Halq area of Aleppo was confirmed by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights...
Kerala group launches website for cancer survivors (India Today) For the first time in India, a youth movement in Kerala is launching a matrimonial website to find life partners for cancer survivors, bringing solace and hope to those who have successfully battled the disease. The initiative by the St George Orthodox Youth Movement, under the St Mary’s Orthodox Parish church at Kumbanad in Pathanamthitta district, is first of its kind in the country, the sources claimed...
21 February 2014
Two young carolers go out on Christmas Eve in Kosmach, Ukraine. (photo: Petro Didula)
With Ukraine in our thoughts and prayers — and dominating the world’s headlines — we were reminded of this profile of one village 10 years ago:
Tucked into the Carpathian Mountains in southwestern Ukraine, Kosmach is the center of the 500,000-strong Greek Catholic and Orthodox Hutsul community.
The 13th-century Mongol invasion of Kievan Rus — which includes parts of present-day Belarus, Russia and Ukraine — is an essential chapter in Hutsul history. Many of those who survived the ruthless devastation of their homeland, peasants mostly, headed for the hills, seeking refuge in the Carpathians.
The earliest written references identifying these refugees as Hutsuls date to 14th- and early 15th-century Polish documents.
The intensification of serfdom, which bound the peasants to the land, provoked another exodus to the mountains hundreds of years later.
Today, the descendants of these refugees live in an area covering 2,500 square miles in southwestern Ukraine and northern Romania.
“In general, the Hutsuls are conservative,” says Roman Kyrchiv, professor emeritus of philology at the Institute of Ukrainian Studies of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine. “It was difficult for them to accept Christianity. They were attached to their pre-Christian traditions.”
…Caroling remains an important Christmas tradition. “According to legend, God gave gifts to all the countries,” says Father Hunchak, “Ukraine came late and God had nothing left to give except songs. Our Christmas carols are simply gifts from God.”
Read more about Faith and Tradition in Ukraine from the November 2004 issue of ONE.
21 February 2014
Tags: Ukraine Cultural Identity Village life Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church Ukrainian Orthodox Church
Yesterday, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I spoke out against the violence and division in Ukraine. The patriarch also expressed recently his “expectant joy” for his meeting with Pope Francis, planned for May. (photo: Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constinople)
Ecumenical patriarch discusses tragic situation in Ukraine (Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople) “In the wake of the anniversary last year, celebrating 1025 years since Christian faith and civilization was conveyed to the Kievan Rus by our own predecessors in the Church of Constantinople, we are compelled, in the name of the ethos and culture of the freedom granted by God to all people as a divine gift, to condemn the present relentless brutality and insist on a peaceful and reasonable solution to the internal problems of Ukraine…”
Accord signed in Ukraine, amid hopes to end bloodshed (New York Times) Opposition leaders signed an agreement with President Viktor Yanukovych on Friday to try to defuse a deadly political crisis that has left scores of protesters and security officers dead and hundreds injured in Kiev, the capital. The German Foreign Ministry announced in a Twitter message that the leadership council of the Ukrainian protest movement had authorized the signing of the deal, which calls for early presidential elections, a coalition government and the reduction of presidential power through constitutional changes. A spokeswoman for the protest movement told the Associated Press that opposition leaders were headed for the president’s office to discuss the agreement…
Gaza left out of Middle East peace talks (Washington Post) This crowded bit of Mediterranean shore is a long way from the closed-door rooms where Israeli and Palestinian negotiators are holding the first real peace talks in years. But as Secretary of State John F. Kerry prepares to publicly present outlines of a proposed peace deal, the isolated and besieged Palestinian territory called the Gaza Strip is the rarely mentioned elephant in the bargaining room — a huge obstacle to a permanent settlement of the decades-old conflict…
Greek and Turkish Cypriots unite to restore a church and a bond (New York Times) In the days before this island was cleft between Greek and Turkish control, the church of St. Charalambos in this tiny village was a gathering place for all. But after decades of division, and fruitless talks between political leaders, local people grew tired of watching its paint peel and its altar decay. They took matters into their own hands. Like the church, relations between the two communities had crumbled after the island was partitioned after the Turkish military invasion of 1974. But this month, Turkish artisans’ drills buzzed. Greek woodworkers carved flourishes into the altar. After two years of work, craftsmen from both communities hurriedly polished the church in time for a grand rechristening that united nearly 500 Greek and Turkish Cypriots in a celebration under its lofty vaults — the first time the church had been used in 40 years. “After all this time, the people are ready to reconcile,” said Xenios Konteatis, 79, a retired Greek Cypriot who lived in Kontea before the Turkish invasion forced his family into a tearful flight to what is now the Greek-controlled south…
Pope names new members of Congregation for Eastern Churches (National Catholic Reporter) Pope Francis confirmed the top leadership of the Congregation for Eastern Churches and named among its new members Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and Byzantine Archbishop William Skurla of Pittsburgh. The Vatican announced Wednesday that the pope confirmed Argentine Cardinal Leonardo Sandri as prefect and Archbishop Cyril Vasil as secretary of the congregation, which assists the Eastern Catholic churches throughout the world and the Latin-rite Catholic dioceses of the Middle East. The new members also include: Coptic Patriarch Ibrahim Isaac Sidrak of Alexandria, Egypt; Chaldean Patriarch Louis Sako of Baghdad; Cardinal-designate Vincent Nichols of Westminster, England; and Archbishop Denis Hart of Melbourne, Australia…
20 February 2014
Tags: Ukraine Middle East Peace Process Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I Cyprus Congregation for Eastern Churches
Mira Kaldany has been working as a volunteer in our New York headquarters for several weeks. (photo: CNEWA)
Mira Kaldany, a 25-year-old woman from Lebanon, has been volunteering at CNEWA’s New York offices while visiting the United States. As she prepares to return to her homeland, we invited her to write about her background and her experience.
Lebanon was always a country of emigrants, where young people leave in order to find better job opportunities in Europe and in North America. Growing up in Lebanon, you learn to adapt to difficult circumstances and instabilities. You live your day-to-day life without much hope for the future or any long term plans.
Lebanon has always been a host country for large proportions of refugees — from Palestinians to Iraqis, and now Syrians. The Syrian crisis has affected the country socially, economically and politically. Today over one million Syrian refugees live in Lebanon. The support of the international community is absolutely critical for the vitality of this small country.
A little about my background: I was raised Maronite Catholic and have always been committed to my Maronite identity. The Maronites are considered the second-largest Christian community in the Middle East — after the Copts of Egypt — and are the biggest Christian community in Lebanon. In my college years, I studied political science and public administration at Saint Joseph University in Beirut. During my undergraduate studies I was fortunate to work as an intern in several U.N. agencies and international nongovernmental organizations.
After my studies, I worked as a caseworker in Beirut for almost two years with International Catholic Migration Commission, where I used to counsel refugees in order to resettle them to the United States. Case working demands a great deal of patience, tolerance, and compassion. You interact daily with people who have lost everything, from their family to their home to their country. I used to work directly with refugees coming from Iraq, Sudan, Somalia, and Syria. Despite the gratitude of helping the refuges, hearing stories about rape, torture, kidnapping and mass murder also took an emotional toll.
Last summer, I had an opportunity to visit the United States for several months. In January 2014, I was introduced to CNEWA by the chairperson of Education and Opportunities for Lebanon — an organization that sponsors students and school projects in Lebanon, through CNEWA. Shortly after that, I started volunteering at CNEWA’s New York headquarters, working with the fundraising team.
I was particularly interested in volunteering because it is committed to reaching out to those who suffer all over the world. By volunteering with CNEWA, I hope I can make a positive contribution with my humanitarian background and my commitment to helping underserved populations.
My experience with those populations and with refugees has transformed my life. I remember the words of an Iraqi refugee I interviewed many months ago in Lebanon. She said: “Yes, I hope to God I will start a new life. I will never forget my past, or my husband, but I will try to start a new life, without looking back too much.” This woman who lost her husband and home in Iraq still has the strength to keep moving forward.
I am blessed to volunteer for an organization that strives to help people like this every day.
Mira Kaldany holds 3-year-old Fatima, an Iraqi refugee, in the offices of the International Catholic Migration Commission in Beirut. (photo: Mira Kaldany)
Tags: Lebanon CNEWA Maronite Catholic