16 April 2013
In this image from 2010, Jesuit Father David Neuhaus, vicar for Hebrew- and Russian-speaking Catholics for the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, speaks with reporters at the Vatican. Father Neuhaus is a papally-appointed voting member of the Synod of Bishops for the Middle East. (photo: CNS/Paul Haring)
Hopes for Pope Francis as a Middle East bridge builder (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis’ “deep relationship with Jews in Buenos Aires” and his close contact with communities of Middle Eastern immigrants to Argentina have given the new pontiff a clear understanding of the urgent issues facing the Holy Land today. That’s the view of Jesuit Father David Neuhaus, patriarchal vicar for Hebrew-speaking Catholic communities in Israel, who hopes the Holy Father will be able to build bridges of mutual respect between all the different faith communities in the region…
Pope Francis offers prayers, condolences to Boston (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has sent his “sympathy and closeness in prayer” to the people of Boston in a telegram sent on his behalf…
U.N. agencies call for an end to the ‘cruelty and carnage’ of Syria (Al Jazeera) Leaders of five U.N. agencies have appealed to the international community to stop the “cruelty and carnage” in Syria, warning they may soon be forced to suspend humanitarian aid to the war-torn country. The U.N. leaders said on Monday that their “capacity to do more was diminishing, due to security and other practical limitations within Syria as well as funding constraints. … We are precariously close, perhaps within weeks, to suspending some humanitarian support,” the U.N. leaders said…
Pope Francis sends wishes Benedict on his birthday (Vatican Radio) On the occasion of Benedict XVI’s 86th birthday, the Holy Father, Pope Francis, began the celebration of Mass in the chapel of the Domus Santa Maria by inviting all present to pray for the pope emeritus. “Today is the birthday of Benedict XVI,” he said. “Let us offer Mass for him, that the Lord might be with him, comfort him, and give him much consolation…”
Orthodox bishop in Chicago steps down (Chicago Tribune) Unable to overcome the disgrace of a sexual misconduct accusation, Bishop Matthias, head of the local diocese for the Orthodox Church of America, has announced he will step down Monday, leaving a vacancy in Chicago just weeks before Orthodox Christians celebrate Easter on 5 May…
15 April 2013
Tags: Pope Francis Syrian Civil War Pope Benedict XVI Jerusalem Orthodox
An Egyptian girl wants a closer look at Verbo Encarnado Sister Maria de la Santa Faz. Sister belongs to the Verbo Encarnado (“Incarnate Word”) Congregation, serving Egypt’s neediest children. Read more about the great work they’re doing in Building a Brighter Future from the November 2004 issue of ONE. (photo: Mohammed El-Dakhakhny)
15 April 2013
Tags: Egypt Children Sisters Education Poor/Poverty
Metropolitan Geevarghese Mar Ivanios of the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church
1940 – 2013
(photo: Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church, via theorthodoxchurch.info)
Kottayam Metropolitan Mar Ivanios passes away (Indian Orthodox Herald) Malankara Orthodox Metropolitan Geevarghese Mar Ivanios of Kottayam, India, passed away on Friday, 12 April 2013, after a long battle with illness. He was 72 years old. His legacy as an advocate of Orthodox spirituality and monasticism is embodied in the monastery he founded — St. Baselios Dayara Monastery at Njaliyakuzhi, Kottayam, where he used to live. Catholicos Emeritus Baselios Didymos I and the reigning Catholicos of the East and Malankara Metropolitan Baselios Paulose II presided over his funeral. Members of the Holy Episcopal Synod, priests and faithful from all over the church attended the function…
Maronite archbishop discusses Syrian Christians’ dilemma (Fides) Christians in Syria “must choose between two bitter chalices: to die or leave.” Maronite Archbishop Samir Nassar of Damascus outlines the many ways in which this dilemma seizes the lives of millions of defenseless civilians, Christians and Muslims, in the war-ravaged Syria: bombs, car bombs, snipers, lack of medical care — 223 hospitals were closed and all doctors are fleeing, explains Archbishop Nassar — malnutrition and lack of adequate food for diabetics, heart patients and nursing…
Coptic pope to meet Khosous victims’ families (Ahram Online) For the first time since last week’s sectarian violence in Al Khosous, Egypt’s Coptic Pope Tawadros II will lead the Divine Liturgy in Saint Mark’s Cathedral in Abbasiya, announced his secretary. Pope Tawadros has been secluded since Tuesday at the St. Bishoy Monastery in Wadi al Natrun, near the coastal town of Alexandria, following the violence outside of the funeral service of four slain Copts at the Cathedral on Sunday, 7 April. Today, Tawadros is also set to meet with the families of those Copts who died as a result of the violence that began on 5 April and continued for two days…
Blast at Palestinian refugee camp, no casualties (Daily Star Lebanon) A bomb exploded Monday at the Palestinian refugee camp of Ain al Hilweh, near the southern coastal city of Sidon, security sources said, adding that there were no reported casualties or material damage. The sources, who spoke to The Daily Star on condition of anonymity, said the relatively small bomb went off near the headquarters of the Palestinian Unions Confederation…
Pope Francis meets with Latin patriarch of Jerusalem (Vatican Radio) The Holy Father met this morning with Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem Fouad Twal and official delegation from the patriarchate. This audience gave Pope Francis an opportunity to become more acquainted with the church in Jerusalem and its pastoral problems. Patriarch Twal said Pope Francis was very well informed about the situation of Christians who have fled the Middle East. The patriarch noted that many Christians who have left the region had settled in Latin America; some in Argentina were under the pastoral care of then-Cardinal Bergoglio…
12 April 2013
Tags: India Pope Francis Refugee Camps Coptic Orthodox Church Maronite Church
Palestinian children look out from the window of their home in Dheisheh refugee camp. To learn more about the lives of these children, check out Growing up Under Occupation in the January 2006 issue of ONE. (photo: Steve Sabella)
12 April 2013
Tags: Children Israeli-Palestinian conflict Refugee Camps Palestinians Occupation
A boy rides his bicycle past damaged buildings in Deir al Zor, Syria, on 3 April. (photo: CNS/Khalil Ashawi, Reuters)
Turkey building new refugee camps for Christians, Kurds (Daily Star Lebanon) On Wednesday, a Turkish government official announced the nation's plan to build two camps along its far southeastern border with Syria to house a growing number of refugees from Syrian minority groups — mainly Assyrian Christians as well as ethnic Kurds. More than 250,000 Syrians fleeing civil war in their homeland have registered in Turkey, with most staying in 17 camps along the 560-mile border, although Turkish leaders say the total number of refugees is closer to 400,000. Those who have fled are predominantly ethnic Arabs from Syria’s Sunni Muslim majority, most of whom largely support the rebels fighting to overthrow President Bashar al Assad…
Percentage of Christians in Palestinian territories drops by half (Fides) The percentage of Christians in the population of the Palestinian territories has been cut in half since the year 2000, from 2% to 1% over the last 13 years. And in Jerusalem, home to 27,000 Christians in 1948, today counts only 5,000. This is some of the data collected by the Hanna Issa, professor of international law…
After cathedral clash, Copts doubt future in Egypt (Reuters) After days of fighting at the cathedral and a town outside Cairo killing eight — the worst sectarian strife since Islamist President Mohamed Morsi was elected in June — many Copts now question whether they have a future in Egypt. An angry young fringe of a community that has lived in Egypt since the earliest days of Christianity may also be turning to violence…
Russian Catholics concerned over raids on churches, charities (CNS) Russia’s Catholic Church expressed surprise and concern after a wave of raids on its parishes and charities, part of a government clampdown on organizations with foreign links. “The Catholic Church is classified as an organization benefitting from foreign funds,” explained Father Kirill Gulbunov, spokesman for the Moscow Archdiocese, who added: “We can’t help feeling surprised that associations linked with our church are viewed as possible sources of extremism or terrorist activity…”
11 April 2013
Tags: Syrian Civil War Violence against Christians Turkey Holy Land Christians Russian Catholic Church
Retired priests at St. Joseph’s Home in Chalakudy make time for recreational activities. (photo: Peter Lemieux)
The Syro-Malabar Catholic Church in India has taken a pro-active approach to caring for its retired priests, as we first reported in 2009:
The church has invested in facilities for its aging priests, building modern and well-equipped residences, such as St. Paul’s Home, and phasing out deteriorating ones, such as St. Joseph’s Home in the Eparchy of Irinjalakuda, which will be replaced by the Vianney Home in Puliuilakunnu.
The new residences provide retirees with modern amenities, comfortable living quarters, community support and various recreational activities. These retirement homes have even launched web sites. In caring for its elders, the church has made its position clear: retired clergy deserve the same dignity and respect they earned and enjoyed during their lifetime of service to the community and to the church.
Read more about Redefining Retirement in the March 2009 issue of ONE.
11 April 2013
Tags: India Syro-Malabar Catholic Church Caring for the Elderly
A groom and bride hold hands on their wedding day. (photo: CNS/Jon L. Hendricks)
The Vatican is taking a closer look at the challenges facing couples from different faiths who marry:
Catholics need to know that marrying someone from a different Christian community or, even more so, from a different religion will create extra challenges in their marriage, but church leaders also must learn how to help people in mixed marriages meet those challenges, a Vatican official said.
“We can express a positive judgment only when the conditions are met for a family life where the values and purposes of marriage are respected, and where a common faith in God helps the spouses to weave together an authentic communion of life and love,” said Bishop Jean Laffitte. …
He was commenting, in part, on a research project conducted by the Catholic bishops of Lebanon, which looked at the realities and challenges of marriages between Christians of different traditions and between a Catholic and a Muslim.
In an interview for the family council’s website — www.family.va — Lebanese Cardinal Bechara Peter, the Maronite patriarch, said Lebanon “is a mixed society: in schools, universities, towns and cities. We all live together,” and, naturally, that has given birth to many mixed marriages.
The study said there are positive experiences of marriages between a Christian and a Muslim in countries like Lebanon, where followers of the two faiths have lived side by side for centuries. The diversity of the country is one of its riches, which is reflected in the number of mixed marriages and strengthened by them as members of the communities grow closer, the study said. However, it also found that different understandings of the family, conjugal life and the roles of men and women can make Catholic-Muslim marriages a challenge.
The cardinal said that in Lebanon, “the judgment about mixed marriages is positive,” because they contribute to peaceful coexistence, including on a social and political level.
However, he also said, “we try not to encourage mixed marriages in order to preserve the faith and traditions” of the various communities, because studies show that often couples handle belonging to different faith communities by one or both of them limiting or eliminating their involvement in the community.
11 April 2013
Tags: Lebanon Unity Interreligious Maronite Patriarch Bechara Peter Interfaith
Pope Francis greets U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon during a meeting at the Vatican
on 9 April. (photo: CNS/Vincenzo Pinto, pool via Reuters)
Pope meets with UN head, discusses crisis in Syria (CNS) Each recognizing the important role the other plays on the global stage, Pope Francis and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon met at the Vatican 9 April, discussing common efforts to promote peace and protect human dignity. “The United Nations and the Holy See share common goals and ideals,” the U.N. secretary-general told the pope as the two sat across from each other at a desk in the papal library. Reporters were ushered out of the room at that point. The two spoke specifically about “situations of conflict and serious humanitarian emergencies, especially in Syria,” but also about the ongoing tensions on the Korean peninsula and in several African countries “where peace and stability are threatened,” said a statement from the Vatican press office…
Patriarch expresses concern about Christians in Syria (Christian Post) Maronite Patriarch Bechara Peter expressed concern on the situation of Christians in Syria and the increasing number of displaced Syrians living in Lebanon. During his meeting with French President Francois Hollande at the Elysee Palace in Paris Tuesday, the patriarch said a large number of Orthodox Christians — about 60 percent of those displaced — had left Syria, and that the solution there must be political. He stressed that President Bashar al Assad is not worse than those who are fighting in Syria…
Kerala Muslim man receives gift of life from Catholic priest (Indian Express) Diagnosed with chronic kidney disease a year-and-a-half ago, 30-year-old Rasad Muhammad’s hope of living had sunk with each passing day as a donor remained elusive. Until last month, when his saviour appeared suddenly — in the form of a Christian priest he had never met before. Father Kidangathazhe Sebastian, 41, will donate one of his kidneys to Rasad so he can live. Preparations are under way, and the transplant surgery is likely to be performed next month…
‘Pacem en Terris’ 50 years later (Vatican Radio) Thursday, 11 April, marks half a century since Blessed John XXIII published his encyclical “Pacem in Terris.” This encyclical, which as the Latin title indicates focuses on peace on earth, called for social and international peace. With this document which can be perceived as Pope John XXIII’s last testament, published as it was only a couple of months before his death, he broke new ground…
10 April 2013
Tags: Kerala United Nations Maronite Patriarch Bechara Peter Patriarch Kirill
The Soorp Badarak, or Divine Liturgy, is celebrated daily by the Mekhitarist community of Armenian Catholic monks. A seminary is now flourishing in a land that suffered under decades of Communist oppression. Read more about it here. (photo: Onnik Krikorian)
10 April 2013
Tags: Armenia Armenian Catholic Church Communism/Communist Monasticism
In this video, Al Jazeera’s Nisreen El-Shamayleh reports from Ramtha, near the Syria-Jordan border, on the state of refugees. An estimated two-thirds of the 477,000 Syrians who have fled their homeland live outside of the camps set up for them in Jordan. Many are forced to crowd together in abandoned buildings, and all those outside the camps face the added challenges resulting from a smaller allocation of humanitarian aid. (video: Al Jazeera)
Rising cases of lice and scabies among Syrian refugees in Lebanon (Daily Star Lebanon) Lebanon’s Health Ministry said Wednesday cases of scabies and lice have increased among Syrian refugees and urged citizens to take precautionary measures. “The Health Ministry has recorded an increase in the number of scabies and lice cases, as a result of overpopulation and bad personal hygiene in locations where Syrian refugees reside,” the ministry said in a statement. The ministry affirmed that these diseases were “not dangerous” and could be treated easily with medication that is available without any cost for citizens…
Chaldean bishop: Aleppo is starving (Fides) “One lives day by day. I have the impression that people are more and more exhausted. They have all become poor and everyone is always looking for something to eat for himself and his family. In the streets of Aleppo you can see the people that run endlessly with bags in their hand, trying to find a bit of bread,” said Chaldean Bishop Antoine Audo. Bishop Audo, who is also the president of Caritas Syria, outlined a vivid image of the daily condition of a city that was among the most prosperous and dynamic in the Middle East, and which now appears hopelessly scarred by the civil war. The latest emergency that closely involves the churches in Aleppo is that of hundreds of Christian families forced to flee from the neighborhood of Cheikh Maksoud, conquered in the last days by the anti-Assad militias…
Unexploded devices pose hazard to Gaza children (Al Monitor) The Landmine and Cluster Munition Monitor mentions that the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories are “contaminated with mines and explosive remnants of war. The precise scope, scale and impact of the contamination is not known, but encompasses minefields, military-training zones and areas of confrontation where many explosive devices are left behind.” The presence of unexploded ordnances (UXOs) continues to pose a high risk to civilians, particularly children, in the Gaza Strip. Following Israel’s 23-day assault on Gaza in 2008-2009, which resulted in more than 1,500 Palestinians killed and over 5,300 injured, the risk of UXOs became significantly higher. A United Nations report released back in August 2009 shows than within only six months of the end of the deadly Israeli assault, 12 civilians were killed in UXO incidents, six of whom were children, and another 24 were injured, including four children. Four years later, such incidents have not ceased. In fact, they have notably increased…
Cardinal Tauran discusses interreligious dialogue (Chicago Tribune) Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, has given many lectures, speeches and homilies during his years of Vatican diplomatic service. Tribune religion reporter Manya A. Brachear sat down with him to reflect on this and other matters. “You have to remember,” the cardinal says, “that interreligious dialogue is not dialogue between religions. It’s dialogue between believers. It’s not [merely] a theological, philosophical exercise…”
Tags: Refugees Syrian Civil War Israeli-Palestinian conflict Refugee Camps Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran