23 August 2016
In this image from the late 1920’s, the Rev. Edmund A. Walsh, center, checks the mail at CNEWA's New York offices. (photo: CNEWA archives)
One of CNEWA’s earliest heroes was a man with a remarkable portfolio, the Rev. Edmund A. Walsh., S.J.:
The life of Edmund A. Walsh, S.J., makes great material for a Jesuit recruiter: founder of the Foreign Service School of Georgetown University; head of the Papal Relief Mission to Russia; first president of Catholic Near East Welfare Association; papal negotiator with the Mexican Government; liaison between the Holy See and the Iraqi Government for the foundation of the Jesuit College in Baghdad; and consultant to Chief Justice Jackson at the Nuremberg Trials.
As the first papal-appointed president of Catholic Near East Welfare Association, Edmund Walsh would secure the new organization’s existence and expand the work of Msgr. Richard Barry-Doyle, the founder of the Association’s prototype.
To help launch the new organization, Father Walsh oversaw a one-time nationwide collection in the United States:
The purpose of this collection was emergency relief. “The wish of the Holy Father,” Walsh stated, “is rather to form a permanent society somewhat like the International Red Cross or the American Near East Relief.”
“It will be a centralized Catholic distributing agency,” Walsh continued, “which can materially assist the Holy See to meet the daily increasing demands made on the Holy Father for assistance in humanitarian works … education … social welfare work … as well as distinctly religious and missionary activities.”
In January 1927, Walsh’s drive tallied more than $1 million. “I had no idea myself,” Cardinal Hayes wrote to a colleague, “that we could get such a response.”
Father Walsh also helped secure CNEWA’s financial future, appealing for donations through the Papal Annual — a publication that only appeared once but which helped explain and dramatize the plight of the poor around the world. “Under God,” he concluded his appeal, “the future lies in your hands.”
Over the years, he gained a reputation as a savvy diplomat, a champion of the Russian people, an advocate for the causes of the Near East, and dedicated Jesuit. In 1931, Father Walsh transferred his presidency to New York’s Cardinal Patrick Hayes, who wrote to him, “I wish to thank you with my whole heart for what you have done for the Catholic Near East Welfare Association and what you have done for the Church of God.”
Edmund A. Walsh died in 1956, but will long be remembered for his tenacity and vision — and for being a hero of CNEWA.
23 August 2016
Tags: CNEWA Eastern Churches Priests
Maronite Patriarch Bechara Peter greets faithful at the Korean Martyrs Shrine in Seoul, South Korea on 22 August. (photo: CNS/courtesy Mychel Akl for Bkerke)
Lebanese Cardinal and Maronite Patriarch Bechara Peter, visiting the South Korean capital of Seoul, urged the international community to end the wars raging in the Middle East “fueled by foreign countries.”
The church leader also said that terrorist organizations “working for the destruction of the Middle East do not represent Islam or Muslim.”
Such groups, he said in an address during the Forum for Peace on the Korean Peninsula that met 18-21 August, work to destroy “a moderate and open Islam, resulting from coexistence with Christians.
Patriarch Bechara Peter addressed the forum under an invitation of Seoul Cardinal Andrew Yeom Soo-jung.
He implored the international community “to speed up the solutions and impose a halt to the wars, fueled by foreign countries, raging in the Middle East.”
Stressing the need for a “series of reforms” in the Arab states, the patriarch called for the separation of state and religion, the development of democracy and “respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms.”
He also called on the international community to “help the rapprochement between Iran and Saudi Arabia” which he said would reduce sectarian tension in the region.
Lebanon, the patriarch lamented, is “paying the price of all these political-religious conflicts to the point that it is without a president for more than two years.” According to the Lebanese system, the presidential office is reserved for a Maronite Catholic.
Yet, the Maronite leader stressed, “the Lebanese formula still remains unique, and our constitution is a model to be imitated by other states on the basis of civic equality and cultural community” within the same country.
The cardinal also called for world leaders to work toward the establishment of a Palestinian state, which would facilitate the return of all Palestinians expelled from their land, and for the enforcement of all resolutions of the Security Council.
In addition to some 2 million Syrian refugees that have swelled Lebanon’s existing population of about 4 million, Lebanon also is home to more than 400,000 Palestinian refugees.
Patriarch Bechara Peter celebrated the Divine Liturgy on 22 August at the Korean Martyrs’ Shrine in Seoul. In his homily, he prayed that “peace would reign in countries that are torn by wars, including Korea and the Middle East.”
23 August 2016
Tags: War Middle East Peace Process Maronite Patriarch Bechara Peter Maronite Church
A photo taken from Turkey shows smoke rising over Syria after the Turkish army shelled ISIS positions on 23 August 2016. (photo: Ensar Ozdemir/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Turkey launches new artillery strike across Syrian border (The New York Times) Turkey’s artillery shelled ISIS targets across the border in Syria for the second consecutive day on Tuesday, a senior Turkish official said, amid reports that Turkey-backed Syrian rebels were preparing an offensive against an ISIS-held border town in northern Syria. The latest developments have thrust the town of Jarablus into center stage in the ongoing war…
Iranian religious leader thanks Pope Francis for comments on Islam (Vatican Radio) A senior Iranian religious scholar has written to Pope Francis, thanking him for his recent remarks that Islam is not equal to terrorism. In his letter, posted on his official website on Sunday, Grand Ayatollah Makarem Shirazi of Qom also stressed that it is necessary for religious leaders to adopt clear stances when it comes to accusing religions of violence…
ISIS using child bombers (Reuters) Saturday’s attack at the wedding in Gaziantep marked not only Turkey’s deadliest this year, but also the first time in Turkey that militants may have deployed a child bomber in a way already used to deadly effect in wars from Africa to Syria…
Lebanon church leader decries terrorism in visit to South Korea (CNS) Maronite Patriarch Bechara Peter, visiting the South Korean capital of Seoul, urged the international community to end the wars raging in the Middle East “fueled by foreign countries…”
Church building law sparks disputes in Egypt (Egypt Streets) Egypt’s Coptic Orthodox Church released a statement objecting to the “complexities and obstacles” in the governmental amendments to a long-awaited bill on church building in the country, privately-owned Al Shorouk reported…
Data shows reconversion of Dalit Christians in Kerala (The New Indian Express) If statistics are any indication, Kerala is witnessing an upward curve in ‘Ghar Wapsi’ — the controversial reconversion drive launched by some Hindutva groups — resulting in the dwindling Dalit Christian population in the state...
22 August 2016
Tags: Syria Egypt Pope Francis Turkey
In this image from 2012, Ukrainian Catholic Bishop Richard S. Seminack of the Chicago-based Eparchy of St. Nicholas, left, is seen at the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls in Rome.
(photo: CNS/Paul Haring)
Late last week, it was announced that a prominent figure in the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church had died:
His Grace Bishop Richard Stephen (Seminack) 74 fell asleep in the Lord 16 August 2016.
After a prolonged battle with cancer, he died at Alden Poplar Creek Rehabilitation Center in Hoffman Estates, IL.
The priests, deacons and the staff of the Saint Nicholas Eparchy extend condolences to his family, friends, parishioners and all whose life he touched!
Please remember Bishop Richard in your prayers.
May his memory be eternal!
From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:
“He was an exceptional pastor,” said Stefan Soroka of the Ukrainian Archeparchy of Philadelphia. “He was loved by his people.”
Bishop Seminack oversaw a small flock of about 10,000 in 46 parishes and missions in a territory stretching from Michigan to the Pacific. Ukrainian Catholics follow the Byzantine rites used by Orthodox Christians but are also loyal to papal authority and Catholic dogma.
Going from a beloved parish priest to taking on the administrative duties of a bishop was challenging at times, Archbishop Soroka said.
He had to navigate questions of how much to maintain Ukrainian language and culture in the parishes and how much to use English, adapt to American culture and reach out to the wider public.
“You’re never going to win on that one,” Archbishop Soroka said. “Someone’s going to be upset.” But “if somebody criticized him, he just listened. He didn’t hold malice.”
Richard Stephen Seminack was born in Philadelphia on 3 March 1942, the son of Raymond and Anna Seminack and the grandson of immigrants from Ukraine. The oldest of seven children, he attended Catholic schools and earned degrees from the Catholic University of America and the Pontifical Oriental Institute for Eastern Christian Studies in Rome, studying canon law in both places.
He served at numerous parishes and other settings in eastern Pennsylvania and Florida before serving at Holy Trinity in Carnegie from 1984 to 2003.
“He was just a nice man, a down-to-earth gentleman,” Mr. Zorey said.
Mr. Zorey recalled that at events such as his daughter’s wedding and father-in-law’s funeral, then-Rev. Seminack listened closely to learn about those involved and worked those details into his homilies.
After being appointed as bishop, Rev. Seminack told the Post-Gazette: “My ministry has always been one of openness and accountability. I have said from the first day that I was ordained that I have lived in Macy’s window. Everybody’s problem was my problem and my problem was everybody else’s problem.”
For funeral details, check this link.
“Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him…”
22 August 2016
Tags: Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church United States
This photo from 14 August shows the damage from shelling in the town of Shyrokyne, in the Donetsk region in eastern Ukraine. (photo: AFP/Aleksey Filippov/Getty Images)
Battles rage in East Ukraine (Vatican Radio) Ukraine’s military and Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine have accused each other of violating a cease-fire agreement amid escalating fighting that has worried international monitors and the West. The latest clashes have also undermined efforts to treat those wounded in a conflict that has killed more than 9,500 people…
Despite ISIS threat, 100 children receive First Communion in Iraqi Kurdistan (AsiaNews.it) The celebration of first Communion in Alqosh was a historic moment” for a “frontier town” that has been under threat from the militants of the ISIS for a long time. Now it can “hope for peace and normalcy” around these hundred children, said Bishop Basil Yaldo of Baghdad, a close associate of the Chaldean Patriarch Louis Raphael…
Iran says Russia has stopped using base for Syria airstrikes (AP) Russia has stopped using an Iranian air base for launching airstrikes on Syria for the time being, Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman said Monday, just hours after the Iranian defense minister criticized Moscow for having “kind of show-off and ungentlemanly” attitude by publicizing their actions…
Journalist: West won’t recognize Christian Middle East exodus (Catholic Register) Middle Eastern Christians have suffered soft, state-sponsored discrimination since the Ottomans ruled and that discrimination has been reinforced over generations by poor, underfunded education systems throughout the region. More recently this evil brew has been stirred into feverish, bigoted campaigns of hate spread by Saudi-funded Wahhabi preachers…
Lost language set to return in India (The New India Express) Consumed by time, Suriyani Malayalam, an early Malayalam dialect wrote in a variant form of Syriac script, might make its electronic debut if Anshuman Pandey’s ambitious project reaches its target. Mr. Pandey, a linguistics professor at the University of California, is in the process of creating a unicode font for the dialect by 2017…
19 August 2016
Tags: India Ukraine Middle East Christians Iraqi Christians
In this image from 2006, a priest presides at the Blessing of the Grapes, an ancient festival celebrated every August at the St. James Armenian Apostolic Church in Watertown, Massachusetts. Learn more about this busy community in A Taste of Little Armenia in the July 2006 edition of ONE. (photo: Ilene Perlman)
19 August 2016
Tags: United States Armenian Apostolic Church
A civilian removes the rubble in front of a damaged shop after an airstrike in the rebel-held Al Saleheen neighborhood of Aleppo. (photo: Reuters/Abdalrhman Ismail)
Russia supports cease-fire in Aleppo (Al Jazeera) Russia has said it would support a 48-hour ceasefire in Syria’s Aleppo, a move the United Nations envoy said would allow aid to reach besieged areas soon, as long as all sides respected the truce. As viral images of a dazed child pulled from rubble in the heavily bombarded rebel-held east of the city captured the plight of its civilians and drew the attention of the world, Moscow said it was ready to start the first “humanitarian pause” next week…
Ukraine president may declare martial law (Vatican Radio) Ukraine’s president has warned of “a full-scale Russian invasion” and says Kiev may have to impose martial law. Petro Poroshenko made the remarks amid reports of ongoing fighting between government forces and Russia-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine…
Israel budget could bring more Jews from Ethiopia (The Times of Israel) Activists campaigning to bring Ethiopia’s Jews to Israel inched closer to their goal during a 21-hour marathon budget approval last Friday, but they are waiting to see what will happen before breaking out the champagne. In the 2017-2018 budget, the Finance Ministry allocated a budget that would enable 1,300 Ethiopians to move to Israel, to be divided among a number of entities, including the Interior Ministry, the Absorption Ministry and the Jewish Agency, among others, according to M.K. David Amsalem (Likud) spokesman Nimrod Eliran Sabbah…
Cardinal urges more subdued celebrations in India (Ucanindia) The head of the Syro-Malabar Church Cardinal George Alencherry has appealed to the faithful to put curbs on church festivities, to reduce noise and pomp, and turn feasts into occasions of simplicity and kindness. The Cardinal said it was time traditional festivals were given a makeover…
Smithsonian, other agencies protect artifacts in Iraq, Syria (The Washington Post) The Smithsonian, better known for museums ringing the Mall, is one of a half-dozen agencies cited in a Government Accountability Office report on the “Protection of Iraqi and Syrian Antiquities.” Smithsonian experts provide cultural property protection training in countries facing war or natural disasters. “To prevent destruction, the Smithsonian and others trained Syrian antiquities professionals to use sandbags and other materials to protect ancient mosaics at a Syrian museum, reportedly resulting in the successful protection of the museum collection when it was bombed,” according to the GAO…
18 August 2016
Tags: Syria Ukraine Israel Historical site/city
The Rev. Francis Eluvathingal ministers to Syro-Malabar Catholic migrants in Mumbai. (photo: Peter Lemieux)
Many of the heroes we have met over the years have possessed a missionary zeal — and that is surely true of the Rev. Francis Eluvathingal. Father Eluvathingal is a Syro-Malabar priest whom we met while he was ministering to the Thomas Christians in Mumbai, many of whom have moved there from Kerala. Since 2015, he’s been the “coordinator general for the Syro-Malabar Migrant Faithful in India Outside the Proper Territory” — in short, he helps migrants stay connected to their faith.
When we caught up with him four years ago, he was a man very much on the move:
Rushing to a wedding ceremony outside the city, the priest jumps into the driver’s seat of his hatchback. He swiftly attaches his phone to the center console, fits the accompanying headset in his ears and backs the car out of the narrow driveway of the bishop’s rectory.
…The priest inserts a cassette tape of devotional hymns into the car’s stereo and waits for an opening. He spots one, slams his foot on the accelerator and speeds into the melee. Once on the road, he races through the traffic, passing another driver one moment, only to slam on the brakes at a sudden standstill the next.
“I’m a fast driver,” says the priest. “There are many things to do and very little time to drive.”
The priest’s dynamism mirrors that of his flock, most of whom have ties to the southwest state of Kerala. They or their parents migrated north to Mumbai, where the majority now prospers…
…“Keralites who migrated to Mumbai had very deep faith,” says Father Eluvathingal. “Once they came here and found jobs — on the railways, in government or in banking — and were happy in terms of their stomach, with bread on the table, they immediately began searching to satisfy their spiritual needs.”
Without a church of their own, the first Thomas Christian migrants joined one of the many local Latin Catholic parishes. Since the 16th century, when Portuguese missionaries settled in Mumbai and the neighboring state of Goa, the Latin Catholic Church has been the predominant church in the region.
… “In Kerala, the church is very strong. It has a political voice and strong influence on society,” Father Eluvathingal continues. “But Christian life in Mumbai is different because we’re very much a minority. We’re not even one percent of the population. The voice of our leaders is not heard or respected. At the same time, we have a very strong sense of Christian identity here because there’s a greater sense of unity and belonging. Our faith has a religious role, but also a social role.”
“I am a very happy priest,” he told us in a video interview several years ago. “The faith and the tradition we live is really rich.” He also has a blog and tries to minister to his growing flock online.
“Whatever time I spare from my vocational duties, I take to the internet and try to be active there. People feel helped, feel that the church is here to give solace to them and listen to their problems. And they find God’s hand in all their problems, in his providence. That kind of spiritual satisfaction has been a great joy for me.”
That joy helps to define a true CNEWA hero: one who gives to others with a generous heart and buoyant spirit, full of love for others and love for the Lord.
Watch an interview with him below.
18 August 2016
Tags: Syro-Malabar Catholic Church Migrants Priests
A 5-year-old Syrian boy named Omran Daqneesh sits alone in the back of the ambulance after he was rescued from the Qaterji neighbourhood of Aleppo on 17 August 2016. (photo: Mahmud Rslan/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
This image has caused a sensation in social media, capturing the heartbreak and terror of what is happening in Aleppo. As The New York Times reported:
In the images, he sits alone, a small boy coated with gray dust and encrusted blood. His little feet barely extend beyond his seat. He stares, bewildered, shocked and, above all, weary, as if channeling the mood of Syria.
The boy, identified by medical workers as Omran Daqneesh, 5, was pulled from a damaged building after a Syrian government or Russian airstrike in the northern city of Aleppo. He was one of 12 children under the age of 15 treated on Wednesday, not a particularly unusual figure, at one of the hospitals in the city’s rebel-held eastern section, according to doctors there.
But some images strike a particular nerve, for reasons both obvious and unknowable, jarring even a public numbed to disaster. Omran’s is one.
Within minutes of being posted by witnesses and journalists, a photograph and a video of Omran began rocketing around the world on social media. Unwittingly, Omran — like Alan Kurdi, the Syrian toddler who drowned last September and whose lifeless body washed up on a Turkish beach — is bringing new attention to the thousands upon thousands of children killed and injured during five years of war and the inability or unwillingness of global powers to stop the carnage.
Maybe it was his haircut, long and floppy up top; or his rumpled T-shirt showing the Nickelodeon cartoon character CatDog; or his tentative, confused movements in a widely circulated video — gestures familiar to anyone who has loved a child. Or the instant and inescapable question of whether a parent was left alive to give him a hug.
Watch a video of the boy’s rescue below.
18 August 2016
Tags: Syria Children War Aleppo
A Syrian priest speaks about the violence against Christians in his country, which he describes as genocidal. (video: Rome Reports)
Christians ‘praying for peace’ amid bitter battle for Aleppo (The Irish Catholic) The apostolic vicar of Aleppo of the Latins has described the situation for the people in his city as “critical” during this time of fierce fighting. Stuck in the Lebanese capital Beirut as the latest stage in the Syrian conflict forces road closures, Bishop Georges Abou Khazen, O.F.M., said that through contact he has managed to make with Christians in the city, it is clear that “people are afraid” of an even greater escalation in the fighting and that trapped Christians and Muslims are now “praying unceasingly for peace”…
Amnesty International: nearly 18,000 have died in Syrian prisons since 2011 (BBC) Nearly 18,000 people have died in government prisons in Syria since the beginning of the uprising in 2011, according to Amnesty International. A new report by the charity, based on interviews with 65 “torture survivors,” details systematic use of rape and beatings by prison guards…
Turkey seizes assets in post-coup crackdown (Reuters) Turkish authorities ordered the detention of nearly 200 people, including leading businessmen, and seized their assets as an investigation into suspects in last month’s failed military rebellion shifted to the private sector. President Tayyip Erdogan has vowed to choke off businesses linked to U.S.-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom he blames for the 15 July coup attempt, describing his schools, firms and charities as “nests of terrorism…”
Catholic bishops appeal for calm in Ethiopia (The Tablet) Catholic bishops made a passionate plea for peace as security forces continue to brutally suppress anti-government protests in Ethiopia. Chaos can never be a way forward, said Cardinal Berhaneyesus, head of the Church in Ethiopia, as Ethiopian police were reported to have killed hundreds of protesters during riots in the regions of Oromia and Amhara in recent weeks. Amnesty International puts the death toll at nearly 100, and other rights groups have suggested the number of dead is higher, although the government disputes these figures...
Lebanon’s tobacco industry booming because of Syrian war (AP) Syria’s conflict has caused hundreds of thousands of refugees to flee to Lebanon, putting a huge strain on the Lebanese economy and its already-crumbling infrastructure. But the five-year Syrian civil war has been a boon for at least one economic sector: the tobacco industry…
Russia says suspected militants killed (Vatican Radio) Russian authorities say six suspected militants have been killed by security forces in two separate incidents in the city of St. Petersburg and near Moscow, the capital. Those killed reportedly included gunmen who were described as Islamic insurgents fighting in Russia’s volatile North Caucasus region…
French president meets with pope to thank him after terrorist attacks (CNS) Pope Francis met privately at the Vatican with French President Francois Hollande, who said he felt it necessary to thank the Pope in person for his words after the slaying of a French priest and other terrorist attacks in France…
Tags: Syria Ethiopia Violence against Christians Turkey Syrian Conflict