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Volume 42, Number 4
  
12 February 2013
Greg Kandra




Pope Benedict XVI announces his resignation yesterday at the Vatican. (photo: CNS/L'Osservatore Romano via Reuters)

After Pope Benedict XVI’s historic announcement yesterday, the world has been asking a lot of questions about what the days ahead will bring.

John Allen of the National Catholic Reporter has posted a very good Q&A primer, which includes some speculation about how a former pontiff might spend his time:

What will Benedict’s role being in the election of his successor?

To hear [Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico] Lombardi and others tell it, he won’t have any role at all.

“Benedict XVI will surely say absolutely nothing about the process of election,” Lombardi told the media. “He will be retired and will not interfere in any way in the process. You can be assured that the cardinals will be completely autonomous in their decision.”

That said, Benedict’s imprint is nevertheless destined to be on the conclave in two ways.

First, he has by now appointed the majority of the cardinals who will elect his successor (67 out of 117 who will be under 80 when the sede vacante begins and thus hold the right to vote). In that sense, one can expect these are men who mostly share his outlook on things.

Second, because he’s still alive, at least some cardinals may feel special pressure not to do anything that would be perceived as a repudiation of Benedict’s papacy, or that they suspect would cause him consternation. How that might translate into choices inside the conclave isn’t entirely clear, but it’s a piece of the puzzle worth considering.

What will Benedict do after the new pope is on the job?

Here we’re really in the realm of the hypothetical, because the only honest answer is that we just don’t know.

It’s reasonable to think that after some period of near-complete withdrawal to make it clear that the new pope is fully in charge, Benedict might want to resume writing on the scholarly and spiritual topics that have always been his passion.

Lombardi hinted at that possibility Tuesday, saying Benedict’s long-awaited encyclical on faith (timed to coincide with the Year of Faith, and completing a triptych with his earlier works on love and hope) would not be ready to go before he steps down. He left open the possibility, however, that Benedict might be able to make use of this material in another form in a private capacity.

Whether Benedict will publish writings while he’s still alive, however, or whether he’ll take appointments, appear at Vatican events, or otherwise play some sort of public role, is all apparently still being pondered.

What are the implications of all this for future popes?

Once again, Vatican officials have been at pains to say that Benedict’s is an “absolutely personal” choice, and that because every situation is different, it’s impossible to say what future popes might do.

Lombardi made a special point today of stressing that Benedict wouldn’t do anything to tie his successor’s hands. He said, for instance, that while Benedict clearly wants a pope to be present at World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro in July, it will be up the next pontiff to freely decide if he wants to go or not.

Read it all at the NCR link.



Tags: Pope Benedict XVI Vatican Pope Papacy Holy See

12 February 2013
Greg Kandra




Pope Benedict XVI has made many travels during his pontificate, including a historic trip to Lebanon in September, to deliver his apostolic exhortation. In this image, he is welcomed to Bkerke by Maronite Patriarch Bechara Peter. Click here to read the full text of the exhortation. You can also read analysis of the document by Father Elias Mallon in the November 2012 issue of ONE. (photo: John E. Kozar)



Tags: Lebanon Pope Benedict XVI Ecumenism Christian Unity Exhortation

12 February 2013
J.D. Conor Mauro




Matt Lauer and New York Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan appear on NBC’s Today Show in New York in this handout photo taken on 11 February. The cardinal talked about Pope Benedict XVI’s announcement earlier that morning that he will resign as pope at the end of the month. (photo: CNS/Peter Kramer, NBC via Reuters)

Cardinal Dolan: Papacy of Pope Benedict XVI both pastoral and scholarly (U.S.C.C.B.) Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, issued this statement moments after learning of the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI on 11 February 2013: “The Holy Father brought the tender heart of a pastor, the incisive mind of a scholar and the confidence of a soul united with His God in all he did. His resignation is but another sign of his great care for the Church. We are sad that he will be resigning but grateful for his eight years of selfless leadership as successor of St. Peter. Though 78 when he elected pope in 2005, he set out to meet his people — and they were of all faiths — all over the world. He visited the religiously threatened — Jews, Christians and Muslims in the war-torn Middle East, the desperately poor in Africa, and the world’s youth gathered to meet him in Australia, Germany, and Spain. ... Pope Benedict often cited the significance of eternal truths and he warned of a dictatorship of relativism. Some values, such as human life, stand out above all others, he taught again and again. It is a message for eternity”…

E.U. to scrutinize products from Israeli settlements (Der Spiegel) Israeli settlers living in the Palestinian territories often deceptively give their products a “Made in Israel” label. The international community has never recognized Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, the West Bank or other contested areas, and the Geneva Convention outlaws the establishment of settlements within occupied territories. Nevertheless, successive Israeli governments have allowed colonies to be built up within them and, today, some 650,000 Israeli settlers live in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. This has prompted the European Union officials to move forward with planning that will put them on a confrontation course with Israel. At a meeting in December, the foreign ministers of the E.U.’s 27 member states reiterated their “commitment to ensure continued, full and effective implementation of existing European Union legislation and bilateral arrangements applicable to settlement products.” In other words, they intend to prohibit the sale of goods produced in the occupied territories — or at least as long as they are falsely labeled…

Palestinian landowners and Catholic convent challenge West Bank wall (Al Jazeera) A court in Israel is due to hear final arguments on the construction of a separation wall in a pristine valley in the West Bank. Lawyers representing Palestinian landowners and a convent say if the wall is built they will lose their land and the convent will be surrounded; over 50 families will be cut off from their property. In the embedded video, Al Jazeera’s Nicole Johnston reports from the Cremisan Valley in the Occupied West Bank. This news follows the announcement that Israel has approved 90 new settler homes in the West Bank…

Maronite patriarch prays for peace in Syria (Reuters) The head of Lebanon’s Maronite Church, Patriarch Bechara Peter, prayed in an old Damascus church on Saturday for an end to Syria’s civil war. The patriarch, whose church has 900,000 members in Lebanon — a quarter of the country’s population — is on the first visit to Syria by a Maronite patriarch since the independence of neighboring Lebanon in 1943. His visit comes at a time when Christians in the region feel under threat from the rise of political Islam. “[I pray] that the consciences of local, regional and international leaders are inspired to put an immediate end to the war in dear Syria ... and bring peace through dialogue,” he told dozens of worshippers inside the church. Lebanon’s Maronite leaders have had tense relations with Syria and led calls for an end to its military presence in Lebanon in 2005. But since the civil war flared, Christians have been uneasy about supporting rebels against Assad’s secular Baathists who ensured freedom of belief for minority faiths. Patriarch Bechara Peter himself has been careful not to be seen supporting either side in the Syrian conflict but has adopted a position close to Assad’s by saying reforms should not be imposed from outside…

Serbian patriarch prays that Serbs and Albanians will reconcile (b92) Serbian Orthodox Patriarch Irinej stated in Prizren on Thursday that he hopes that Serbs and Albanians “will reconcile soon and live together as brothers.” The patriarch celebrated the Divine Liturgy in the St. George Church in Prizren together with bishops and clergy of the Rasla-Prizren Diocese. The liturgy was attended by a few dozens of believers. Addressing them after the service, the Patriarch said that he came together with the bishops to encourage people to stay but also to get encouragement from them, as they were “brave people who remain and persevere in the territory of Kosovo and Metohija.” A regular session of the Serbian Orthodox Church Holy Synod and the Kosovo and Metohija Committee will be held in Prizren on Thursday, the Raska-Prizren Diocese released in a statement. This meeting will discuss the problems that the Church is facing in the territory of Kosovo and the measures that the Church should take in order to ensure better protection of people, holy sites and heritage…



Tags: Syrian Civil War Pope Benedict XVI Israeli-Palestinian conflict Maronite Patriarch Bechara Peter Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan

11 February 2013
Greg Kandra




In this photo from the Vatican taken last June, CNEWA’s President Msgr. John E. Kozar shares a moment with Pope Benedict XVI. The Holy Father met Msgr. Kozar during the 85th annual ROACO (Assembly of aid Agencies for the Eastern Churches) in Rome. (photo: L’Osservatore Romano)



11 February 2013
Greg Kandra




Pope Benedict XVI uses a handrail as he walks down stairs of the main altar after giving a talk in St. Peter’s Basilica at the conclusion of a Mass for the Knights of Malta on 9 February.
(photo: CNS/Paul Haring)


Pope Benedict XVI on Monday said he will resign the papal office on 28 February. The text of his announcement is below.

Dear Brothers,

I have convoked you to this Consistory, not only for the three canonizations, but also to communicate to you a decision of great importance for the life of the Church. After having repeatedly examined my conscience before God, I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry. I am well aware that this ministry, due to its essential spiritual nature, must be carried out not only with words and deeds, but no less with prayer and suffering. However, in today’s world, subject to so many rapid changes and shaken by questions of deep relevance for the life of faith, in order to govern the bark of Saint Peter and proclaim the Gospel, both strength of mind and body are necessary, strength which in the last few months, has deteriorated in me to the extent that I have had to recognize my incapacity to adequately fulfill the ministry entrusted to me. For this reason, and well aware of the seriousness of this act, with full freedom I declare that I renounce the ministry of Bishop of Rome, Successor of Saint Peter, entrusted to me by the Cardinals on 19 April 2005, in such a way, that as from 28 February 2013, at 20:00 hours, the See of Rome, the See of Saint Peter, will be vacant and a Conclave to elect the new Supreme Pontiff will have to be convoked by those whose competence it is.Dear Brothers, I thank you most sincerely for all the love and work with which you have supported me in my ministry and I ask pardon for all my defects. And now, let us entrust the Holy Church to the care of Our Supreme Pastor, Our Lord Jesus Christ, and implore his holy Mother Mary, so that she may assist the Cardinal Fathers with her maternal solicitude, in electing a new Supreme Pontiff. With regard to myself, I wish to also devotedly serve the Holy Church of God in the future through a life dedicated to prayer.

From the Vatican, 10 February 2013

There is a recording of the Holy Father making the announcement today in Latin at the Vatican news site.

CNS has additional details:

Jesuit Father Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, told journalists at a briefing that the pope’s decision was not prompted by any medical illness, but was due to a natural “decline of strength” associated with old age.

Even though the announcement had caught almost everybody by surprise, it was not a snap decision, but rather one that “had matured over the past few months,” Father Lombardi said.

The pope made his announcement in Latin from a pre-written text during a morning ordinary public consistory where a large number of cardinals were present.

When he delivered his announcement, the pope seemed very “composed, concentrated” and read “in a solemn manner” in keeping with the importance of what he was saying, Father Lombardi said.

Fulfilling the canonical requirement, Pope Benedict solemnly declared to the cardinals, “Well aware of the seriousness of this act, with full freedom I declare that I renounce the ministry of Bishop of Rome, Successor of St. Peter, entrusted to me by the cardinals on 19 April 2005, in such a way, that as from 28 February 2013, at 20:00 hours, the See of Rome, the See of St. Peter, will be vacant and a conclave to elect the new supreme pontiff will have to be convoked by those whose competence it is.”

It is up to the dean of the College of Cardinals, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, to make preparations for a conclave to elect a new pope.

Father Lombardi said after the pope steps down, he will move to the papal villa in Castel Gandolfo outside of Rome. He will stay there until the renovation is completed of a cloister, set up by Blessed John Paul II, which is located inside the Vatican Gardens, he said.

The pope will then live in the cloister, called the Mater Ecclesia monastery, and dedicate his time to prayer and reflection, the Vatican spokesman said.

It was likely the pope would keep writing, he added, since the pope has mentioned many times that he has wanted to spend more time dedicated to study and prayer.

When asked if there would be any confusion over leadership or a schism were a possibility, Father Lombardi said he believes the pope “had no fear of this” happening because he clearly demonstrated his desire to step down and no longer be pope or retain any papal authority.

There is additional context from Rome Reports in the video below, explaining what happens next.



8 February 2013
Greg Kandra




Parishioners, clutching rosaries, attend a liturgy in the Catholic village of Azadan. (photo: Armineh Johannes)

A continuing theme in many of our stories is how faith survives — often under seemingly impossible circumstances.

In 2006, for example, we took a look at the resilient faith of the people of Armenia:

Under the Communists, and particularly under Josef Stalin, all religions in the Armenian Soviet Socialist Republic were vigorously suppressed. Eventually, some accommodations were made with the Armenian Apostolic Church. But Armenian Catholics — which today number 220,000 of Armenia’s 2.9 million citizens — were not given the same allowances.

Ruzanna Amiraghian, 27, was reared during a more tolerant period of Communist rule, but she grew up with the horrible tales of her forebears.

The family matriarch, Ruzanna’s great-grandmother, Hripsime Avakaian, had two sons. One, Hovannes, entered the seminary and became a priest; the other, Ashot, joined the Communist Party. Mrs. Avakaian arranged for her son, Hovannes, to baptize secretly her grandchildren in one of the churches closed by the Communists. On the way to the church, however, Ashot intervened, saying it would put the family in jeopardy.

A few years later, Father Hovannes was arrested. He disappeared and, for more than 60 years, the family knew nothing of his fate. But 10 years ago, a family member gained access to an archive previously sealed. The records revealed Father Hovannes was executed the same day he was arrested.

Under such conditions — closed churches, disappearing priests, forbidden religious practice — it is no wonder faith was tested. What is surprising is how many Armenian Catholics maintained it even while it was outlawed.

Read more about A New Start for Armenia’s Catholics in the January 2006 issue of ONE.



Tags: Armenia Armenian Apostolic Church Armenian Catholic Church Communism/Communist

8 February 2013
J.D. Conor Mauro




Many churches in Ras al Ayn, Syria, have been vandalized as a result of the ongoing civil war. (photo: OCP Media Network)

Christian symbols under fire in Ras al Ayn, Syria (OCP) Seventy-five year old Constantine Junan, a native of Ras al Ayn, Syria, insisted he stay in his home even after ten weeks of intense fighting in the city. This week, he was finally forced out by rebels. The rebels came to him after midnight and threatened his life and the life of his son, Junan, who had stayed with his father as others fled the city. Constantine was convinced that the men were intending to kill him and his son unless he obeyed their orders. He asked them to allow him to stay until sunrise, promising to leave then. In the morning, Constantine and Junan went into the church to pray and to receive the blessings of St. Thomas from the icon there. They were very sad to see that many of the metal, wood and stone crosses inside the church were broken. Constantine knew that the rebels forced him to leave his hometown so that he would not be an eyewitness to what was to happen there in the coming period. Constantine left Ras al Ayn on 27th Sunday morning. The photos of churches were taken after the Kurdish forces were able to free the Street of Churches in Ras al Ayn from rebel control. These 38 attached photos express the current situation in the little town, and show the extent of damage done to Christian symbols at the hands of one group of rebels, namely the Suqoor Al-Sunna (which means “The Eagles of al Sunna”)…

Syria’s Druze minority increasingly supports opposition (Washington Post) Members of Syria’s Druze community, a small but significant religious minority, are joining the opposition in bigger numbers, ramping up pressure on the beleaguered government of President Bashar al Assad, according to opposition activists and rebel military commanders. As the Syrian conflict has devolved into a bloody sectarian war, with many Sunni Muslims backing the opposition, some of the country’s minorities, including the Druze and Christians, have largely sat on the sidelines. The Druze community in Syria only numbers around 700,000, out of a total population of some 21 million, and has a history of rebelling under authoritarian leaders, rising up during the rule of the Ottomans as well as the French. Although communities are scattered across the country, the bulk of the Druze, whose secretive religion is an offshoot of Islam, live in the mountainous region of southeast Syria. In the past couple of months, according to opposition activists, there have been more than half a dozen anti-government protests in Sweida province, the ancestral homeland of the Druze in the southeast that had remained relatively quiet since the uprising began nearly two years ago. And in mid-December, rebel fighters announced the formation of the first revolutionary military council for Sweida province. The council coordinated the most significant battle in the Druze region since the conflict began…

Maronite patriarch to celebrate St. Maroun Day in Tripoli (Daily Star Lebanon) Maronite Patriarch Bechara Peter arrived Friday in the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli to hold an afternoon Mass in celebration of St. Maroun’s Day. Upon the patriarch’s arrival around 3:30 p.m., church bells in the city tolled, welcoming the prelate as hundreds gathered to greet the head of the Maronite Church. Patriarch Bechara Peter, who was recently appointed cardinal by Pope Benedict XVI, held a private meeting with Tripoli’s bishops. The liturgy will be held at St. Maroun Church in the country’s second-largest city…

Cyprus gives Palestinians full diplomatic status (Daily Star Lebanon) Cyprus said on Friday it has upgraded its relations with the Palestinians to full diplomatic mission status, one of just eight European Union countries to do so. The decision was announced by Foreign Minister Erato Kozakou-Marcoullis during an official visit by Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al Malki. “I informed my Palestinian counterpart of the decision of the government to upgrade the status of the Palestinian diplomatic representation in Cyprus from that of a Diplomatic Mission to that of an Embassy of the State of Palestine,” Marcoullis told reporters. She said this “important decision” was in line with the recognition of the Palestinian State in 1988 by Cyprus, and follows seven other E.U. members that have recognized a Palestinian State — Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Malta, Poland, Romania and Slovakia…

Bombings across Iraq kill at least 26 (New York Times) A series of explosions across Iraq killed at least 26 people on Friday, continuing a spate of violence that has marked recent political turmoil and witnessed bombings now on seven consecutive Fridays. The bombings come amid worsening sectarian tensions, with Sunnis and others saying that Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al Maliki and his political bloc are seeking to monopolize power before provincial elections in April. In a bird market in Khadumiya north of Baghdad the Shiite majority city, twin car bombs exploded, killing 16 people killed and wounding 45 others, according to security and medical sources. That blasts fit the pattern of deadly attacks on markets on Fridays, when they are typically crowded with people…



Tags: Syria Iraq Syrian Civil War Violence against Christians Palestine

7 February 2013
Bob Pape




CNEWA has long worked through local institutions to assist children in need — such as those pictured above, in Ethiopia. (photo: CNEWA)

Bob Pape is the director of major gifts at CNEWA in New York.

A few weeks ago, I received a phone call from a benefactor of CNEWA. Her name is Helen, and she lives on Long Island. I asked her how she had weathered Hurricane Sandy, which I knew had devastated her hometown when it hit shortly before Thanksgiving. Helen told me her house survived the flood. I was relieved to hear it. But then she added: “It burned down because of downed electrical lines.”

What could I say? As I fumbled for words, Helen asked if I could help her. I said of course! She then explained that she supports CNEWA’s efforts to care for needy children, and the hurricane had caused her to fall behind in her regular support. She was worried about the little ones and their caretakers who depend on her. She did not want to abandon them.

I was speechless. We are talking about children whom Helen has never met, in places she may never see. Yet she was more concerned about them than with her own immediate and dire needs. All I could think of is what Bing Crosby’s Father O’Malley says to Ingrid Bergman’s Sister Benedict in “The Bells of St. Mary’s”:

“Oh, woman, great is thy faith.”

Helen’s example continues to inspire me in my work at CNEWA, serving the churches and the poor in the lands where Jesus walked and his disciples preached. If her story touches your heart, too, please consider contributing some of your own faith and generosity.

All of us at CNEWA are most grateful to you for your continued prayers and support. May God bless you and keep you always.



Tags: CNEWA Children Education Donors Orphans/Orphanages

7 February 2013
Greg Kandra




The girls being cared for at St. Joseph's in Kerala look forward to a brighter future. (photo: Cody Christopulos)

When is an orphanage not a home for orphans? The answer, we found in 2005, can be found in one haven for young girls in India:

Most of the girls at St. Joseph’s Orphanage in Pulincunnoo, Kerala, are not orphans at all. They have parents and, in most cases, remain in touch with them. A few of the 32 girls at St. Joseph’s come from broken homes, but most come from poor, intact families. And it is the poverty of the parents, combined with knowing that St. Joseph’s offers their children a better future, that explains the girls’ presence in Pulincunnoo, a small town beside a small river in central Kerala.

The orphanage was built in 1973, next to a primary school and high school, all of which are run by the Congregation of the Mother of Carmel. The primary school, 100 years old, serves the area’s boys and girls, while the high school, built in 1975, is only for girls. The orphans attend classes with the girls and boys of Pulincunnoo.

“I was scared at first to come here,” said 9-year-old Nivia, who recently moved into the orphanage. “But now I prefer it here. I had friends back home [in Aleppy], but I have more here. And I have more opportunities to play and study.”

Sister Flower Mary, 61, runs the orphanage and enforces a strict schedule. The girls rise at 5 a.m., attend liturgy at 6:15 and study until breakfast at 8:30. From 9:30 a.m. until 4 p.m. they attend school, with a one-hour lunch break. After school, the girls play until 5:30, then study for two hours before prayer and dinner. Afterward, it is another hour of study. Bedtime is at 10 p.m. The girls are ambitious. Neethu, a 15-year-old basketball player, hopes to become a sister, following in the footsteps of Sister Flower Mary. Sister Ancid Maria, 15, was enrolled at St. Joseph’s when she was 3 and entered the community’s novitiate earlier this year.

“From a very early time, I knew I wanted to do social work and help out,” she said. “And I thought the best way to do that would be to become a sister like my teachers.”

Read more about St. Joseph’s ‘Orphans’ in the September 2005 issue of ONE.



Tags: India Children Education Kerala Orphans/Orphanages

7 February 2013
J.D. Conor Mauro




His Beatitude Louis Raphael I of Kirkuk, newly elected patriarch of the Chaldean Church, is seen during a liturgy in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican on 4 February.(photo: CNS/Paul Haring)

Chaldean patriarch interview: On forming a ‘bridge’ of interreligious dialogue (AsiaNews) The Chaldean Church must remain a “bridge” to promote and strengthen the dialogue between Christians and Muslims in Iraq, between citizens of different ethnic groups as well as between institutions and politics. This is Pope Benedict XVI’s invitation to the new Chaldean patriarch, as told in a lengthy interview with AsiaNews. Mar Louis Raphael I was appointed on 31 January to succeed Cardinal Emmanuel Delly III, who resigned for reasons of age. Patriarch Louis Raphael I confirms that his goals will be “unity and cooperation” between the Chaldean bishops, the necessary condition to find a point of contact and dialogue with Iraqi leaders, both religious and political…

Relations strained between Orthodox and Greek Catholics in Ukraine (InterFax) The Russian Orthodox Church does not entirely share the optimism of the Vatican’s representative to Russia, Archbishop Ivan Yurkovich, about improving relations between Orthodox believers and Eastern Catholics in Ukraine. “In many ways, we managed to overcome difficulties in relations between Orthodox and Greek-Catholics in Ukraine that existed in early 1990-s, but we have to accept that today we face new challenges,” said Archpriest Dimitry Sizonenko, secretary for inter-Christian relations of the Synodal Department for External Church Relations. According to the apostolic nuncio, “those difficulties of the early 90’s today have been overcome in many ways and today there are many contacts, especially of personal and informal character, between the two Churches.” The Moscow Patriarchate representative says that the primate of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church “is concerned with the attempts of the Greek Catholic Church to set up and develop its structures in regions where Orthodox believers make a majority”…

Egyptian opposition grows more radical with emergence of ‘Black Bloc’ (Der Spiegel) Protests against Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood are becoming increasingly violent. One factor behind this is the founding of the “Black Bloc,” a loosely organized group of activists that is not afraid to clash with the government. “The media represents us as thugs,” says one. “They say we’re killing policemen and setting the country on fire, but we are just defending ourselves. The real aggressor is sitting in the presidential palace.” Violence is increasing in the capital, but also in Alexandria, and everywhere else President Mohammed Morsi declared a state of emergency on Sunday of last week: Ismailia, Suez and Port Said. More than 60 people have been killed since 24 January, and hundreds have been injured. Supporters of the deposed regime of Hosni Mubarak have reportedly mixed in with the masked men, government officials claim. Others accuse the government itself of being behind the Black Bloc, using it as a tool to discredit the opposition. But many demonstrators say the organization is simply an answer to the violence exercised by the Muslim Brotherhood and its thugs…

Ecumenical leaders call for immigration reform (U.S.C.C.B.) Christian leaders representing the breadth of Christian churches and denominations in the United States issued a strong and urgent call on 1 February for fundamental immigration reform. The annual meeting of Christian Churches Together (C.C.T.) released this statement at the close of their four-day gathering in Austin, Texas. Bishop Joe S. Vasquez of Austin hosted the meeting and presided over the opening worship service at Saint Mary’s Cathedral. The C.C.T. meeting, planned a year ago, focused on the challenge of immigration reform, hearing from a variety of immigrants and experts on immigration issues. Its statement comes as the nation’s political leadership has turned its attention to this challenge. “Each day in our congregations and communities, we bear witness to the effects of a system that continues the separation of families and the exploitation, abuse, and deaths of migrants. This suffering must end,” the statement said…

Report describes child sexual abuse in India ‘rampant’ (New York Times) Child sexual abuse continues to be “disturbingly common” in India, despite widespread awareness of the problem, because of “social stigma and negligence,” Human Rights Watch said in a report issued Thursday. In interviews with more than 100 people, including victims and their families, lawyers, counselors and police officials, the rights group found that the police, government officials and doctors were unprepared to deal with child sexual abuse cases, and in fact often made the situation worse. Most cases go unreported, and when children do report abuse, the government and police reaction is inadequate, the report said. “The process is so traumatic that in some cases the children are better off not reporting” abuse, Meenakshi Ganguly, the director of Human Rights Watch in South Asia, said in an interview. Only 3 percent of child abuse cases in India are reported to the police, a 2007 study found…

Egyptians protest against sexual violence (Al Jazeera) Thousands of men and women have marched in Egypt against the sexual harassment of female protesters. More than 20 women were sexually assaulted last month during the second anniversary of the so-called “Arab Spring” protests that led to the downfall of Hosni Mubarak, former president. But sexual violence is nothing new in Egypt, one study estimates that more than 80 percent of women have experienced it at least once…



Tags: India Egypt Ukraine Children Ecumenism





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