18 April 2019
Bulgarian Orthodox men take part in a Good Friday liturgy at St. Alexander Nevsky Orthodox Cathedral in Sofia on 10 April 2015. Pope Francis will be visiting Bulgaria in early May. (photo: CNS/Stoyan Nenov, Reuters)
India general election: world’s biggest exercise in democracy begins (Vatican News) India’s general election kicked off on Thursday with tens of millions heading to the polls, in what is described as the world’s biggest exercise in democracy. There are some 900 million eligible voters in the world’s biggest democracy — more than the combined population of the United States, the European Union and Australia. Of these, 15 million are young first-time voters. The seven-phase election that began on 11 April, will conclude on 19 May…
Islamic-Christian dialogue in Abu-Dhabi after the Pope’s visit (AsiaNews) Roberto, an Italian engineer who has been in the Emirates for years, says that since the Pope came, his Muslim colleagues — especially Egyptians and Pakistanis — have been bombarding him with questions to understand more about the Christian faith, the rites of Holy Week, the Bible. In short, the pope aroused curiosity and interest in the faith of Christians…
Israeli water pipeline threatens Palestinian agricultural lands (Al Monitor) Some Palestinians in the West Bank governorate of Qalqilya hope to stop construction of a water pipeline Israel plans to build that threatens to destroy agricultural areas there. The residents see the project as an attempt to uproot villagers and seize land…
Bulgarian Orthodox Church expresses ‘deepest support’ for the French people (Sofia Globe) Bulgarian Orthodox Church head Patriarch Neofit on 18 April expressed sorrow over the fire at Paris’s Notre Dame Cathedral — an event representing “a huge impact on the world’s cultural heritage.” In the two-paragraph statement, issued three days after the fire, Neofit said that the Bulgarian Orthodox Church’s Holy Synod expressed its “deepest support” for the French people, wishing that the emblem of the country would be restored soon, and that the upcoming Easter holidays would not be dimmed…
17 April 2019
Tags: India Pope Francis Palestine Bulgarian Orthodox Church Abu Dhabi
Pope Francis arrives for his general audience in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican on 17 April 2019. The Easter Triduum — marking Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday — begins tomorrow. (photo: CNS/Yara Nardi, Reuters)
17 April 2019
Tags: Pope Francis
People attend a vigil near Notre Dame Cathedral on 16 April 2019, a day after a fire destroyed much of the church’s wooden structure. Pope Francis during his Wednesday General Audience thanked the many who risked their lives to salvage the beloved cathedral. (photo: CNS/Paul Haring)
Pope thanks rescuers who risked lives at Notre Dame (Vatican News) Speaking to French pilgrims present at the Wednesday General Audience, Pope Francis thanked the many people who risked their lives to salvage Notre Dame as fire tore through Paris’ Cathedral. ”The gratitude of the whole Church goes to those who did everything they could, even risking their lives, to save the Basilica,” he said…
Fuel lines grow in Syria (Reuters) Syria has suffered oil shortages since an Iranian credit line was halted six months ago and not one oil tanker has reached the country since then, a pro-government newspaper said on Wednesday, as a fuel crisis worsened. Syrians say shortages grew more acute a week ago: hundreds of cars waited in line at one Damascus petrol station on Wednesday, a witness said. State news agency SANA showed a photo of snarled traffic and said Syrians faced an “economic war”…
Christians, Muslims protest vigilante attacks (UCANews.com) Five days after a mob of Hindus beat to death a Catholic man for suspected cow slaughter in India’s Jharkhand state, Christian and Muslim activists joined in New Delhi to protest about violence against minorities. A mob attacked Prakash Lakra and three others on 10 April after suspecting them of slaughtering a cow in Jhurmu village in the eastern state’s Gumla district. Lakra died from his injuries hours after the attack, church sources said.
Sister presents her meditations on the Way of the Cross for Good Friday (Vatican News) Sister Eugenia Bonetti is a Consolata Missionary and President of the Association “Slaves No More.” Pope Francis invited her to prepare the meditations for this year’s Way of the Cross at the Colosseum in Rome on Good Friday. Drawing from her experience in fighting the scourge of human trafficking, Sister Bonetti has highlighted the plight of those who are suffering new forms of crucifixion in society today…
16 April 2019
Tags: Syria India Pope Francis
Pope Francis meets on 15 April 2019 with Archbishop Borys Gudziak, who will be installed on 4 June as the metropolitan-archbishop of the Ukrainian Catholic Archeparchy of Philadelphia.
(CNS photo/Vatican Media)
16 April 2019
Tags: Pope Francis Ukrainian Catholic
Smoke rises around the altar inside Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris as a fire continues to smolder early on 16 April 2019. Officials said the cause was not clear, but that the fire could be linked to renovation work. Pope Francis expressed his solidarity with the people of France.
(photo: CNS/Philippe Wojazer, Reuters)
Pope offers words of solidarity after Notre Dame fire (Vatican News) “Following the fire that ravaged a large part of Notre Dame Cathedral, I join you in your sorrow, as well as that of the faithful of your diocese, the inhabitants of Paris, and all the French people.” Pope Francis sent those words of solidarity to Archbishop Michel Aupetit of Paris on Tuesday. He assured all the people of France of his spiritual closeness and prayers during Holy Week, as the Church recalls Jesus’ passion, death, and resurrection…
Russian Orthodox: Notre Dame blaze is a tragedy for all Christians (RT) The massive fire that had erupted at the iconic Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris is a great tragedy for all Christians and those who value the cultural meaning of the ancient building, the Russian Orthodox Church has said...
Court reinstates Good Friday holiday in part of India (CNS) The Mumbai high court reinstated Good Friday as a holiday after it had been removed from the list of government-approved holidays in an area in western India ruled by the federal government led by the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party. ”We are very happy to inform you that we have won the Good Friday battle in the Mumbai high court,” Auxiliary Bishop Theodore Mascarenhas of Ranchi, secretary general of the Indian Catholic bishops’ conference, said in a statement after the court’s 15 April ruling…
Indian state government to reopen church (UCANews.com) The High Court in India’s Uttar Pradesh state has directed its pro-Hindu party-led government to reopen a church that was closed seven months ago by state officials. Allahabad High Court on 12April ordered the state to reopen the church in Siddharth Nagar district and provide protection to Pastor Satyen Biswakarma and his community in conducting prayers. The church has been closed since last September after some people claiming to be working for government intelligence services barged into the church and recorded a prayer service…
Police to deploy thousands of officers in Jerusalem for Passover (The Jerusalem Post) More than 3,000 police officers will be deployed across the country, with a focus on Jerusalem, in preparation for and during the Passover holiday, which begins Friday at sundown. Superintendent Micky Rosenfeld, Israel Police foreign press spokesman, told The Jerusalem Post that tens of thousands of people are expect to ascend to Jerusalem for the first day of the holiday, as well as more than 100,000 on the second day for the Priestly Blessing prayer service, which will be held at the Western Wall…
15 April 2019
Tags: India Pope Francis Jerusalem Russian Orthodox
We were shocked and saddened, along with so many others around the word this afternoon, when news broke that one of the most beloved churches in the world, the 800-year-old iconic Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris, was burning.
Early reports indicated it was caused by renovations and construction underway in the cathedral.
But images, such as those captured live on the video below, told the story.
As Christians around the globe begin to mark the holiest week of the church calendar — and prepare to remember again Christ’s passion, death and resurrection — we pray for the people of Paris and believers everywhere whose hearts are breaking at the destruction, the ruin and the loss of such a beautiful house of prayer.
This afternoon, CNEWA’s chair, New York’s Cardinal Timothy Dolan, released a statement:
I just went next door to our own beloved Cathedral, Saint Patrick’s, to ask the intercession of Notre Dame, our Lady, for the Cathedral at the heart of Paris, and of civilization, now in flames! God preserve this splendid house of prayer, and protect those battling the blaze.
Mary, Queen of Peace and Help of Christians, pray for us!
15 April 2019
Father Sebastian meets with two survivors of the storm, Joy Kannatt and his son.
(photo: Meenakshi Soman)
In the March 2018 edition of ONE, writer Anubha George describes in vivid detail what happened in Kerala last summer When the Rains Came. Below, she offers some additional impressions:
How do you even begin to take in the devastation that a natural disaster causes? What do you say to someone who has lost family, friends and pets? How do you forget the tears of people who tell you life will never be the same again? I have no answers and perhaps I never will.
Last summer, the southern Indian state of Kerala was affected by severe flooding. At least 400 people died. More than a million people lost their homes and were displaced in relentless monsoon rains. Kerala hasn’t endured anything like it in over a century.
All of us in Kerala were glued to our television sets in that week of mid-August 2018. We saw pictures of landslides that blocked the roads in the hilly areas of Kerala. We watched people crying out for help as the rivers swelled and the water made its way into their homes. We saw the rescue and relief operation that saved lives. We all came together as a community, irrespective of religion or class. We cooked for each other and prayed together.
But none of that prepared me for what I saw when we visited Idukki, a place overwhelmed by landslides caused by excessive rain and flooding. Idukki is beautiful and picturesque. Photographs do not do it justice. The tall green trees right to the top of the highest hills make your heart sing.
But it was the same tall trees that fell on houses in the early hours of a mid-August morning, just before daybreak. The only way I can describe it is this: look up at the sky. Now imagine the sky falling down on you. No matter what you see on television or the videos you watch on social media, that is what it is in a nutshell: it is the sky falling down on you.
But what was heartwarming was the effort — especially of the church — to help those in need. The Rev. Sebastian Kochupurackal, one of the friendliest, kindest, most generous people I have ever met, took us around. He heads the High Range Development Society (HRDS), the social arm of Idukki diocese. He knew every single person by their name. He held hands and consoled. He was ever hopeful and cheery.
We went up the hills to meet parishioners. The stories had one common theme: Thank God, I’m alive and my family is safe. Father Sebastian said in times of natural calamity, we take stock of things. That nothing is permanent. Things can change in the blink of an eye. But we are also supremely grateful for the gift of life.
We spent time with people who had lost everything they owned. In a house down the hill, we found a picture of Jesus in the rubble. The lady who lived there picked it up. It was a miracle that the picture was there, she said. All else had been washed away in the rain and the landslide that followed. The church, she knows, will help her. She cried.
But she was not weeping in sorrow. Those were tears of hope that everything would be alright.
You can read more about the flooding in When the Rains Came.
Also, CNEWA’s regional director in India, M.L. Thomas, shares his own personal account of the storm in the video below.
15 April 2019
Tags: India Kerala
Palestinians and tourists carry palm branches while walking the traditional path that Jesus took on his last entry into Jerusalem during the Palm Sunday Procession on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem on 14 April 2019. (photo: CNS/Debbie Hill)
15 April 2019
The video above shows how Aleppo is slowly coming back to life after years of war. But challenges continue. Just yesterday, rocket attacks on the city killed at least 11 people.
(video: France 24/YouTube)
Rocket attacks kill at least 11 in Aleppo (Al Jazeera) The death toll from rockets fired in the government-held northern city of Aleppo in Syria has risen to at least 11 people, state-run news agency Sana reported on Monday. According to an unnamed police source quoted by Sana, “terrorist groups,” the term used for armed groups in the nearby rebel-held northwestern province of Idlib, launched the attack on Sunday night…
Thousands of pilgrims mark Palm Sunday in Jerusalem (Haaretz) Thousands of Christian pilgrims took part in Palm Sunday celebrations in Jerusalem at the start of the Holy Week. Worshipers carried palm fronds and olive branches and marched from the top of the Mount of Olives to the Old City of Jerusalem. Israeli police say an estimated 15,000 people took part in the procession…
Report predicts long period of one-party dominance in India (UCANews.com) A report prepared for the United States Congress has stated that India’s unfolding national elections could give rise to a long period of dominance by the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. ”Perhaps more crucially, the election pits an unabashedly Hindu nationalist prime minister and ruling party against an array of more secular-minded parties, some focused on the interests of India’s large lower-caste and Muslim minorities,” said the report…
Israeli firefighters battling forest fire in Ethiopia (AfricaNews.com) Israeli firefighters are the latest addition to a growing list of experts in Ethiopia to help authorities deal with a rampaging forest fire that has hit the Semien National Park in the northern Amhara region. Fire have been raging in parts of the historic national park for the past few months but it wasn’t until last week that external intervention was sought for to combat the crisis…
12 April 2019
Tags: Syria India Ethiopia Jerusalem
Pope Francis kisses the feet of South Sudan President Salva Kiir on 11 April 2019, at the conclusion of a two-day retreat at the Vatican for African nation’s political leaders. The pope begged the leaders to give peace a chance. At right is Vice President Riek Machar.
(photo: CNS/Vatican Media via Reuters)
At the end of a highly unusual spiritual retreat for the political leaders of warring factions, Pope Francis knelt at the feet of the leaders of South Sudan, begging them to give peace a chance and to be worthy “fathers of the nation.”
“As a brother, I ask you to remain in peace. I ask you from my heart, let’s go forward. There will be many problems, but do not be afraid,” he told the leaders, speaking without a text at the end of the meeting.
“You have begun a process, may it end well,” he said. “There will be disagreements among you, but may they take place ‘in the office’ while, in front of your people, you hold hands; in this way, you will be transformed from simple citizens to fathers of the nation.”
“The purpose of this retreat is for us to stand together before God and to discern his will,” he said in his formal remarks on 11 April, closing the two-day retreat in the Domus Sanctae Marthae, the Vatican guesthouse where he lives.
The retreat participants included South Sudanese President Salva Kiir and four of the nation’s five designated vice presidents: Riek Machar, James Wani Igga, Taban Deng Gai and Rebecca Nyandeng De Mabior. Under the terms of a peace agreement signed in September, the vice presidents were to take office together on 12 May, sharing power and ending the armed conflict between clans and among communities.
The retreat was the idea of Anglican Archbishop Justin Welby of Canterbury, spiritual leader of the Anglican Communion, who attended the final part of the gathering. He and Pope Francis have been supporting the peace efforts of the South Sudan Council of Churches and, the pope said again on 11 April, they hope to visit South Sudan together when there is peace.
Pope Francis told the politicians and members of the Council of Churches that “peace” was the first word Jesus said to his disciples after the resurrection.
“Peace is the first gift that the Lord brought us, and the first commitment that leaders of nations must pursue,” he told them. “Peace is the fundamental condition for ensuring the rights of each individual and the integral development of an entire people.”
When South Sudan gained its independence from Sudan in 2011 after years of war, the people were filled with hope, the pope said. Too many of them have died or been forced from their homes or face starvation because of five years of civil war.
After “so much death, hunger, hurt and tears,” the pope said, the retreat participants “have clearly heard the cry of the poor and the needy; it rises up to heaven, to the very heart of God our father, who desires to grant them justice and peace.”
“Peace is possible,” the pope told the leaders. They must tap into “a spirit that is noble, upright, strong and courageous to build peace through dialogue, negotiation and forgiveness.”
As leaders of a people, he said, those who govern will have to stand before God and give an account of their actions, especially what they did or didn’t do for the poor and the marginalized.
Pope Francis asked the leaders to linger a moment in the mood of the retreat and sense that “we stand before the gaze of the Lord, who is able to see the truth in us and to lead us fully to that truth.”
The leaders, he said, should recognize how God loves them, wants to forgive them and calls them to build a country at peace.
Jesus, he said, calls all believers to repentance. “We may well have made mistakes, some rather small, others much greater,” but Jesus always is ready to forgive those who repent and return to serving their people.
“Dear brothers and sisters,” he said, “Jesus is also gazing, here and now, upon each one of us. He looks at us with love, he asks something, he forgives something, and he gives us a mission. He has put great trust in us by choosing us to be his co-workers in the creation of a more just world.”
Pope Francis expressed his hope that “hostilities will finally cease -- please, may they cease -- that the armistice will be respected, and that political and ethnic divisions will be surmounted.”
Closing his prepared remarks with a prayer, he asked God “to touch with the power of the Spirit the depths of every human heart, so that enemies will be open to dialogue, adversaries will join hands and peoples will meet in harmony.”
“By your gift, Father, may the whole-hearted search for peace resolve disputes, may love conquer hatred and may revenge be disarmed by forgiveness, so that, relying solely on your mercy, we may find our way back to you,” he prayed.
Tags: Pope Francis Interreligious Africa Interfaith