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Current Issue
September, 2018
Volume 44, Number 3
  
15 June 2018
J.D. Conor Mauro




In recent message, Pope Francis urges justice, solidarity and compassion regardless of migration status. (video: Rome Reports)

What is the current state of the migration crisis in Europe? (The Guardian) Three years after Europe’s biggest influx of migrants and refugees since the Second World War, tensions between E.U. member states over how to handle irregular immigration from outside the bloc — mainly from the Middle East and Africa — are rising again…

Trauma forms the invisible ruins ISIS left behind on the Nineveh Plain (Crux) After the Islamic State was driven out of the Nineveh Plains in northern Iraq in 2017, the scale of destruction left behind in a chain of historically Christian villages was staggering…

Iraq to rebuild Yazidi shrines in Sinjar (AINA) Iraq’s Ministry of Construction and Housing is rebuilding Yazidi shrines, administrative headquarters, and roads in Nineveh Province’s city of Sinjar, in what the ministry called a ‘major campaign,’ on Thursday…

Syria’s not waiting for peace to rebuild, and Iran wants to help (Al Monitor) Taking full control of the capital city of Damascus and the surrounding area for the first time since the civil war broke out in 2011 has given the Syrian government new impetus. That success also allows it to approach reconstruction of infrastructure and cities…

Church in Orissa prepares to commemorate anti-Christian massacres (Fides) The Catholic Church in the Indian state of Orissa, in eastern India, is preparing to celebrate the solemn commemoration of the victims of the anti-Christian massacres of 2008…



Tags: Syria India Iraq Migrants Yazidi

14 June 2018
J.D. Conor Mauro




In this 2017 photo, Syrian refugee children play on the grounds of the Fratelli Association in Rmeileh village, which provides refugees with educational services. (photo: Philip Eubanks)

Lebanon witnesses rise in Syrian refugee child labor over past year (Daily Star Lebanon) Aid groups say more and more Syrian children are joining the workforce as poverty intensifies among about a million refugees living in Lebanon — roughly a quarter of the country’s population…

In Iraqi Christian village, ‘In God we trust’ isn’t just a slogan (Crux) Once a thriving Chaldean Catholic community, Qaramlesh today is the shadow of what it used to be, but many are working against the clock to make it what it was before summer ends…

Egypt sees rise in disappearances of Coptic Christian women (Christian Today) The disappearance of a number of Coptic Christian women in Egypt in recent months has sparked fears that they are being targeted for human trafficking…

U.N. slams ‘excessive’ Israeli force against Palestinians in Gaza (Al Jazeera) The U.N. General Assembly on Wednesday condemned Israel for excessive use of force against Palestinian civilians, in a resolution adopted by a strong majority of 120 countries. The 193-member world body rejected the United States’ efforts to blame Gaza’s Hamas rulers for the violence that has killed more than 120 Palestinians in the past two and half months…

U.N. condemns European countries’ refusal to take in migrants (Vatican News) The chief of the United Nations refugee agency UNHCR says a bitter dispute over which European country should take in a rescue boat carrying hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean “profoundly shameful” for the European Union…

Christians in the Nineveh Plain host evening meal with Muslim neighbors (Fides) On Tuesday, a community iftar was hosted in the city of Bartella, about ten miles from Mosul, at the local community center of the Syriac Orthodox Church. This evening meal interrupts the daily fasting Muslims undertake during Ramadan…

Ukraine’s Greek Catholic chief sees ‘no choice’ but dialogue with Russia (Crux) “For us, for the simple people, for the Christians, reconciliation means not only prayer for reconciliation, but also effective acts of reconciliation, because that is how we construct a peace for the next generation,” said Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuck, leader of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, in an interview with a small group of reporters…



Tags: Lebanon Ukraine Refugees Iraqi Christians Palestinians

13 June 2018
J.D. Conor Mauro




In this August 2017 photo, a man shovels the road in Qaraqosh’s main commercial street, heavily destroyed by fighting between Islamic State militants and Iraqi coalition forces. (photo: Raed Rafei)

In post-ISIS Christian town, heroism and paradox both abound (Crux) Over the centuries, the Middle East has always been a land where expectations tend to experience especially tough collisions with reality, so it probably should be no surprise that a massive effort to rebuild the Christian village which was the epicenter of a brutal ISIS onslaught in 2014 has, at its heart, three grand paradoxes. Qaraqosh — or “Baghdeda” to Christians, who make up 96 percent of the population and prefer to use the city’s Aramaic name to reclaim their Christian identity — was the largest Christian community on the Nineveh Plains, a swath of land that overlaps the border between Iraq and Kurdish-controlled territory…

Georgian Prime Minister Kvirikashvili resigns (The Daily Star) Georgia’s Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili resigned on Wednesday amid a disagreement with the leader of the ruling party, Bidzina Ivanishvili, who is a former prime minister and the ex-Soviet country’s richest man. “We’ve had some disagreements with the leader of the ruling party,” Kvirikashvili said in a televised statement. “I think there is a moment now when the leader of the (ruling) party should be given an opportunity to staff a new cabinet.” Kvirikashvili, 50, has been prime minister since 2015…

U.N. votes on condemning Israel over Gaza violence (Al Monitor) The United Nations General Assembly will vote Wednesday on condemning Israel for Palestinian deaths in Gaza in a resolution fiercely opposed by the United States. At least 129 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire during protests near the border with Gaza that began at the end of March…

Can Jordan’s new prime minister reform the government? (Washington Post) Last week, Jordan’s King Abdullah II appointed former education minister Omar Razzaz as the new prime minister after protests rocked the country. And Razzaz has already made several concessions to the protesters over taxes. But more interesting is that Razzaz said a “new social contract” will be a top item on his government’s agenda…



Tags: Iraq Gaza Strip/West Bank Jordan Georgia

12 June 2018
J.D. Conor Mauro




A man pushes a cart loaded with lunch boxes through a flooded street after heavy rain in Mumbai on 9 June 2018. (photo: Punit Paranjpe/AFP/Getty Images)

Caritas India offers climate change survival classes (UCAN India) As India continues to be struck by natural disasters and extreme weather conditions, a church group is pitching in with others to help prepare villagers for when calamity strikes. Since April, dust storms and rains across the northern and eastern part of the country have killed 278 people, 223 of them in the first fortnight of May…

Iraqi shepherd determined that Christianity not only survive, but thrive (Crux) Officially speaking, there’s no index of the moral heroes of Catholicism in our time. There would be plenty of candidates, clergy and religious lay men and women, all over the world who put their lives on the line in every imaginable way to serve the planet’s most marginalized and suffering people. Somewhere near the top of the list, however, would have to be Archbishop Bashar Warda, leader of the Chaldean Catholic Church in Erbil, Iraq…

Iraq’s favorite lake dries up in sign of worse to come (Al Monitor) Karbala’s Lake Milh hasn’t seen a lot of visitors in the last few years. Once a popular picnic destination for Karbala residents, the lake’s water has dwindled, leaving most of it a desert with nothing but derelict fishing boats and dead animals…

Debunking four myths surrounding the Palestinian protests (Vice) Over the past ten weeks, tens of thousands of Palestinians in Gaza have participated in the “March of Return,” mass nonviolent demonstrations to protest Israel’s illegal siege. Throughout, Israel has responded with violent force. In order to legitimize its resort to overwhelming force, Israel has sought to cast doubt on the popular character of the demonstrations in Gaza and to present them as a threat to its security. A number of myths about the Gaza protests have consequently gained widespread traction…

Noah’s Ark and the Assyrian relief (AINA) A team of archaeologists is searching Turkey’s Mount Cudi (also called Judi Dagh) for the resting place of Noah’s Ark. While their investigations have not turned up any new evidence of the fabled ship, they have discovered an ancient Assyrian relief, carved into the stone of the mountain…

Hungary & Ukraine inaugurate orphanage amid concerns (Vatican News) Anita Herczegh, the wife of Hungarian President János Áder, and Ukrainian First Lady Marina Poroshenko came to the St. Michael Center in Rativci with a mission: They want to ensure that orphans in what is Ukraine’s Transcarpathia region can grow up in family homes at a time when Ukraine faces war and hardship…



Tags: India Chaldean Church Palestinians Hungary

11 June 2018
Greg Kandra




In this image from 2015, Ukrainian Catholic Archbishop Stefan Soroka of Philadelphia presides at a liturgy during the annual Knights of Columbus convention in Philadelphia. Hundreds turned out to pay tribute to him this weekend as he plans to retire. (photo: CNS /Knights of Columbus)

Syrian orphans who fled war find new home (AP) Nearly 50 children orphaned by the Syrian war escaped the hell that was their hometown of Aleppo after they appeared in a distressing video and appealed for their lives as government forces moved in under a hail of fire. In the year and half since, the children and their instructors have been uprooted twice more: once to escape similar bombardment in another rebel stronghold and again when they fled a town that has been overwhelmed by people seeking shelter from Syria’s war…

Gaza students do well at Catholic-run school (CNS) Though it can be “devastating” to hear about the situation along the border, the Rosary School students interviewed — all Muslims, as are the majority of the students at the school — said it was clear to them they can help the Palestinian cause by getting an education and contributing to society in the future…

Hundreds turn out to bid farewell to retiring Ukrainian Catholic archbishop (Philly.com) For 17 years, [Archbishop] Stefan Soroka has presided over a 100,000-member national church in transition. He has led the nation’s Ukrainian Catholics as membership has declined and immigrants from Ukraine have helped to replenish the pews, all while coping with health challenges that include a heart condition and cancer. Earlier this year, he decided to follow his doctor’s advice and resign from his duties. On Sunday, a crowd of more than 600 filled the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Northern Liberties to honor him and say goodbye…

Lebanon installs electronic gates at refugee camp (Middle East Monitor) The Lebanese army has installed electronic gates at the entrances to the Palestinian Ain al-Hilweh refugee camp in southern Lebanon, residents say according to a report by The New Arab. The gates, which are placed at four main entrances and smaller exit points, are the latest measure to ramp up security at the Palestinian refugee camp…



Tags: Syria Gaza Strip/West Bank Ukrainian Catholic

8 June 2018
Greg Kandra




Msgr. John Kozar visits St. Anne’s Orphanage in Trichur, India. (photo: John E. Kozar/CNEWA)



Tags: India Sisters

8 June 2018
Greg Kandra




Russian planes have reportedly attacked the rebel-held province of Idlib in Syria. The video above shows how some displaced Syrians are living in the region after settling in makeshift camps. (video: Doctors Without Borders/YouTube)

Pope names two new bishops for India (Vatican News) Pope Francis on Friday made two appointments in India. He nominated the Rev. Fulgence Aloysius Tigga as Bishop of Raiganj Diocese in the eastern state of West Bengal, and the Rev. Dennis Panipitchai has been appointed Auxiliary Bishop of Miao Diocese, in Arunachal Pradesh state, northeast India…

Syria: Russian warplanes bomb rebel-held area, dozens dead (Al Jazeera) Air attacks believed to have been carried out by Russia on a village in Syria’s rebel-held Idlib province killed at least 44 people overnight, inflicting the highest death toll in a single attack on the region this year, a monitoring group said on Friday…

Putin: Russia has no plans to pull out of Syria (Al Jazeera) President Vladimir Putin says Russia has no plans to pull its military out of Syria, but isn’t building permanent facilities there. The troops “will stay there for as long as it is to Russia’s advantage, and to fulfill our international responsibilities,” Putin said during his annual televised call-in show on Thursday…

Gaza anti-blockade protest on ’Jerusalem Day’ (AP) Palestinians burned tires and Israeli troops fired heavy volleys of tear gas Friday to push back large Gaza crowds from the area of the fence separating the blockaded territory from Israel. It was the latest in a series of protests against the decade-long blockade of Gaza by Israel and Egypt. Friday’s march also coincided with the annual “Jerusalem Day,” instituted by Iran to protest against Israeli rule of the holy city. Israel and Iran have been arch enemies since Tehran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution…



Tags: Syria India Russia Indian Bishops

7 June 2018
Elias D. Mallon, S.A., Ph.D.




Pope John XXIII visits Regina Coeli jail on 26 December 1958. (photo: Archivio Cameraphoto Epoche/Getty Images)

In many of the places where CNEWA works, there are prisons. Most have appalling conditions; many are places where hope is in short supply. The March 2018 issue of ONE, CNEWA’s magazine, chronicles the work of prison chaplains in Ethiopia who are seeking to change that. While this story is, of course, unique, it is replicated by committed Christians all over CNEWA’s world — and, in fact, the whole world — who are responding to the Gospel mandate to visit the imprisoned.

This story offers us an opportunity to reflect on where that mandate originates, and why it matters so much.

To begin with, prisons appear several times in the Bible. In the New Testament, John the Baptist is imprisoned and ultimately executed by Herod. In the Acts of the Apostles, Peter and John are imprisoned several times as is Paul. In fact, in his letter to the Ephesians Paul describes himself twice as a “prisoner of the Lord.” However, perhaps the most important appearance of prison is in Matthew 25. In his description of the Last Judgment, Jesus harshly condemns those who are “on the left side of the Son of Man.” He condemns them: “Go away from me, with your curse upon you, to the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matt 25:41). This is one of the harshest statements of Jesus in all the Gospels. When he explains why these people are cursed, he notes they did not feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, welcome the stranger, clothe the naked and visit the sick. These are actions which we would expect of a follower of Jesus, especially after he makes them quite literally the linchpins of salvation. What is interesting is that Jesus not only includes visiting the sick but also visiting the imprisoned. The seriousness of this cannot be overlooked. Visiting the imprisoned is for Jesus here a condition for salvation.

Since the time of Jesus, prisons have evolved — though, to be honest, rarely improved. In the ancient world, a prison was basically the place where criminals where held until they we executed, sold into slavery, etc. Imprisonment itself was not the punishment but merely the place where one was held before punishment.

In the Middle Ages, imprisonment itself became a punishment. The ability to execute and imprison people was a sign of power and authority and many a nobleman had a dungeon in his castle where people were held in the most degrading conditions. In the 18th and 19th centuries in England and among the Quakers in Pennsylvania a new concept of the prison evolved. These reformers saw imprisonment not merely as a punishment but as rehabilitation. Prisons became “correction facilities,” where the criminal would repent, reform and return to society as a productive, law-abiding citizen. While a noble idea, it didn’t get very far; centuries later, prisons are horrible places where a “correction facility” far too often releases people who arefrequently no better — and often worse — than when they were initially incarcerated.

Recent popes have been increasingly concerned with the plight of the imprisoned. After years as “prisoner of the Vatican,” the first pope to leave the Vatican was Pope John XXIII. On 26 December 1958 the pope’s first excursion out of Vatican City was a Christmas visit to the prisoners at Regina Cœli, the notorious Roman prison on the Gianicolo. Since that time, popes have regularly visited the imprisoned. Pope Francis has made Holy Thursday the traditional day for such a trip, traveling outside the Vatican to celebrate the Holy Thursday liturgy and wash the feet of prisoners. He is modeling for us what Christ taught — and embodying in a powerful and modern way the very message of Matthew 25.

We are privileged to follow that example in our own work. Supported by CNEWA, prison ministers — very often lay people — are bringing hope and a future to people who otherwise would not have it. Based on a deep conviction that people can change, that grace is more powerful than sin and goodness more powerful than evil, prison ministers help the imprisoned turn their lives around and ultimately return to society.



Tags: Ethiopia Pope

7 June 2018
Greg Kandra




Deacon Kevin Mundackal recites prayers during his 5 May ordination to the priesthood at St. Thomas Syro-Malabar Catholic Forane Church in Somerset, N.J. He is the first U.S.-born priest to be ordained for the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church. (photo: CNS/Ed Koskey Jr., The Catholic Spirit)



Tags: Syro-Malabar Catholic Church

7 June 2018
Greg Kandra




Archbishop Bernadito Auza underscored the importance of faith-based organizations in helping migrants. He addressed an event at the UN on 4 June. (photo: Vatican News)

Holy See commends service of faith-based organizations to migrants (Vatican News) The Holy See has underscored the importance of faith-based organizations in providing protection and integration to migrants. Their efforts, alongside those of other key stakeholders, are essential in helping implement the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM), the first intergovernmental agreement coordinated by the United Nations that will cover all dimensions of international migration…

To go or not to go: Syrians’ dilemma in Lebanon (Gulf News) With the Syrian regime seemingly on the path to winning the war, there have been growing calls in host countries for the refugees to go back. Nowhere else has this been more pronounced than in Lebanon…

Rights group: Gaza children on brink of mental health crisis (Al Jazeera) A generation of children in the besieged Gaza Strip are on the brink of a mental health crisis, a children rights group said. ”A whole generation of children in Gaza is balancing on a knife edge where one more shock could have devastating life-long consequences,” Marcia Brophy, a senior health adviser at Save the Children, said in a statement..

Tensions rise between Ukraine and Russia in territorial waters (Newsweek) kraine’s navy is in a state of heightened alert in the Sea of Azov, a body of water shared by the Eastern European nation and Russia. ”The security service said: ’Watch closely, the Russians are preparing countermeasures. They are planning seizures and hijackings of Ukrainian ships,’” a Ukrainian shipowner told Radio Free Europe in a video published on Wednesday…

Soccer match canceled over Jerusalem (The New York Times) A decision by Argentina’s national soccer team to cancel a World Cup warm-up match against Israel after protests by Palestinian activists has set off hand-wringing and recrimination here in a nation obsessed with the sport and geopolitics…



Tags: Syria Gaza Strip/West Bank Vatican





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