6 February 2019
The video above shows highlights of Pope Francis' historic trip to the UAE.
(video: Vatican Media/YouTube)
Pope confers honor on Imam’s former councillor (Vatican News) Pope Francis has conferred the ‘Commenda con Placca dell’Ordine Piano’ upon Dr. Mohamed Mahmoud Abdel Salam, former councillor of the Grand Imam of al-Azhar, in gratitude for his work in strengthening relations between al-Azhar and the Catholic Church…
Iraq cardinal calls for end to persecution (The National) The mistreatment of Christians in the Middle East remains one of Pope Francis’ primary concerns, especially as the region remains engulfed in conflicts from Iraq to Syria and Yemen, according to the head of Iraq’s Catholic Church. Cardinal Louis Raphael Sako, Patriarch of Babylon of the Chaldeans and head of the Chaldean Catholic Church, told The National that Pope Francis is seeking to turn a page in Christian-Muslim relations…
Politics suspected in burning of Marian statue in India (UCANews.com) A Marian statue was set on fire in India’s Madhya Pradesh state in the latest attack against Christians amid reports that more than 1,000 such attacks have occurred in the past year. Church leaders suspect the attack could have political undertones ahead of the national election due to take place in two months…
School in India celebrates Don Bosco (Vatican News) A Catholic school in extreme north-east India celebrated the feast of Don Bosco with an exhibition to promote and strengthen friendship with the created world. The Light of the World School (LWS) in Miao Diocese in Changlang district of Arunachal Pradesh organized the exhibition on the theme, ‘Peace with Nature’ on the occasion of the 31 January feast of Don Bosco…
The Syrian-Armenian refugee jewelers of Yerevan (Al Jazeera) Vahe Hovhannesian is one of tens of thousands of Christian Armenians who have returned in the wake of Syria’s civil war. Two years ago, he was living in Aleppo, dodging snipers on his way to work…
5 February 2019
Tags: Syria India Iraq Pope Francis Arabs
The Rev. Boulos Nassif teaches a class for deaf and hearing-impaired Egyptians in Minya. To learn more about the people Father Nassif serves, read Signs of Hope in the December 2018 edition of ONE. (photo: Roger Anis)
5 February 2019
Tags: Egypt Education Catholic Disabilities
People wait for Pope Francis’ arrival to celebrate Mass at Zayed Sports City Stadium in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, 5 February 2019. (photo: CNS/Paul Haring)
Pope Francis, amid Abu Dhabi’s opulence, celebrates Mass for its migrants (New York Times) The opulence of Abu Dhabi is not subtle. Bentleys line the roads, glass skyscrapers rise like blades over corporate business parks, a multibillion dollar hotel once used jewels as ornaments, and the presidential palace gleams with marble and sparkles with crystal chandeliers. But valeting those cars, cleaning those hotel rooms, servicing those high-rise elevators and preparing watermelon appetizers for guests in the presidential palace are millions of migrants, many of whom are Catholics from India, the Philippines and South America. On Tuesday, the last day of his 40-hour visit to the United Arab Emirates, Pope Francis came to speak to them directly…
Vicar of Aleppo says pope and imam deliver ‘Magna Carta’ for Islamic-Christian relations (AsiaNews) The document signed yesterday by Pope Francis and the great imam of Al Azhar, Ahmad Muhammad al Tayyib, in the context of the pope’s trip to the Emirates “may represent the new Magna Carta” in Christian-Muslim relations. Bishop Georges Abou Khazen, apostolic vicar of Aleppo, commented to AsiaNews on the “historic visit not only for the East, but for the whole world” from a political and religious point of view…
‘Zero tolerance towards sexual assault’: Kerala Catholic Bishops’ body issues guidelines (UCAN-India) Reporting sexual offence cases to concerned authorities, cooperating in the investigation, avoiding inappropriate physical contact with minors and abstaining from taking overnight trips with them, are some of the key guidelines issued by the Kerala Catholic Bishops’ Council to church personnel in the backdrop of sexual assault cases tumbling out from within the community…
Iran ready to help rebuild Syria, says foreign minister (Al Monitor) Iran is ready to help rebuild Syria, the Islamic republic’s top diplomat said Tuesday as he hosted his Syrian counterpart in Tehran. Mohammad Javad Zarif, whose country has been a staunch ally to Damascus throughout Syria’s devastating war, met Walid Mouallem for closed-door talks at the Islamic republic’s foreign ministry. Damascus and Tehran signed a string of deals late last month, including a long-term economic cooperation agreement…
Search for Iraq’s stolen artifacts gets serious (AINA) Before Islamic State militants were forced from Iraq in 2017, they stole thousands of ancient artifacts. Most are still missing. Now, an international team of archaeologists is working to recover as many of the stolen national treasures as possible. Bruno Deslandes is an expert on historic buildings at UNESCO, the United Nations cultural agency. “We’re trying to recover a lot of artifacts and need all local and international resources to work. Iraq cannot do this on its own,” he said…
C.R.S. steps up as millions in Ethiopia displaced by flooding, ethnic violence (Crux) With millions of Ethiopians forced out of their homes, Catholic Relief Services is working with the local Catholic Church to offer immediate relief and to address the root causes of their displacement. Some 2.7 million people have fled their homes in Ethiopia in the last year, uprooted by devastating floods and violent land disputes between the Gedeo and Guji comminutes in the Oromia region of the country…
4 February 2019
Tags: Syria India Iraq Pope Francis Arabian Peninsula
CNEWA President Msgr. John E. Kozar pays a pastoral visit to the Cremisan Valley in the West Bank in December 2017. To read more about the broad view of “accompaniment” that informs the mission of CNEWA, read his column in the pages of the December 2018 edition of ONE. (photo: John E. Kozar)
4 February 2019
Tags: CNEWA Palestine Catholicism
Pope Francis and Sheik Ahmad el Tayeb, grand imam of Egypt’s Al Azhar mosque and university, arrive for an interreligious meeting at the Founder’s Memorial in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, 4 February 2019. (photo: CNS/Paul Haring)
In heart of Muslim world, pope calls for true religious freedom (Crux) Opening his historic visit to the heart of the Muslim word, Pope Francis on Monday pulled no punches in the United Arab Emirates, calling for true religious freedom while condemning the use of the name of God to justify violence…
Pope Francis seeks dialogue on first trip to UAE (Al Jazeera) Pope Francis started a three-day visit to the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the first for a leader of the Roman Catholic Church in the Arabian Peninsula. Along with Saudi Arabia, the UAE is heavily involved in the war in Yemen — dubbed the world’s worst humanitarian crisis — and has a problematic human rights record. The UAE has also imposed an air, land, and sea blockade on Qatar, which has severely affected relations among Gulf countries over the past two years. Whether Pope Francis will address these issues is not clear, but expectations run high that the pope may do so in private talks with the UAE’s leadership…
U.N. chief hopes for new agreement after Israel concludes international observation mission (U.N. News) Noting a joint statement issued by the Foreign Ministers of the TIPH’s contributing countries — Italy, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and Turkey — the Secretary-General conveyed his hope on Friday “that an agreement can be found by the parties to preserve the TIPH’s long-standing and valuable contribution to conflict prevention and the protection of Palestinians in Hebron”…
To fight trafficking, Indian groups turn to the experts: survivors (Christian Science Monitor) Nearly eight million people in India live in modern slavery, according to estimates from the Global Slavery Index, many of whom were trafficked. Nearly 20,000 women and children were victims of trafficking in 2016, according to Indian government data, with the highest number in Bijoya’s state of West Bengal, along the border with Bangladesh. Victims’ advocates warn that the actual number is likely far higher. But even when trafficking victims escape, they face a new set of challenges. Survivors’ perspectives are rarely used to design prevention, rehabilitation, and advocacy processes, their advocates say — and that’s something a survivor group is hoping to change…
U.S. to leave nuclear arms treaty with Russia (Vatican News) The United States says it will stop complying with a nuclear pact with Russia of the Cold War era, raising fears of a new nuclear arms race between the two powers. The announcement comes after last-ditch negotiations to end the standoff collapsed…
1 February 2019
Tags: India Pope Francis human trafficking Arabian Peninsula
The corridors at the Rosary Sisters School used to be open to the cold and rain. (photo: CNEWA)
We received the following good news from Laura Schau-Tarazi in our Jerusalem office:
Every winter, students and teachers of the Rosary Sisters School in Bethlehem had to brave the harsh conditions of the second and third floor corridors, which were open to the rain and covered with large puddles due to the lack of windows. Many classes are held on both floors and hundreds of students and teachers use the corridor daily in order to get to and from class. All of the students and teachers needed to wear winter coats, hats and gloves every day for the entire season. Teachers complained that the open corridors created cold, damp conditions in the classrooms, putting everyone at risk for contracting viruses, colds and the flu. The school building is well over 100 years old and the need for rehabilitation work continues to be a serious issue, especially since the building must meet modern safety codes.
The sisters appealed to CNEWA to help the school enclose the corridors with panels containing large aluminum windows. With a generous grant from the Representative Office of Germany in Ramallah, we were able to procure and install the windows that sealed off both corridors.
CNEWA helped provide a grant to enclose the corridors. (photo: CNEWA)
Plaster and paint were also applied to the problem areas. Additionally, the project hired three local laborers as well as a local engineer who inspected the work.
The work was completed during the Christmas break, allowing students and teachers to return to a warmer, dryer school!
Now the students and their teachers are able to walk the corridors without worrying about the weather. (photo: CNEWA)
1 February 2019
Tags: Education Bethlehem
Caritas nurse Maria Batychko pays a visit to Kateryna Babich at her home in Ukraine. Learn more about how the people of Caritas are serving as Windows to the World for the elderly poor in the December 2018 edition of ONE. (photo: Ivan Chernichkin)
1 February 2019
Pope Francis on 1 February met with members of the Joint International Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Catholic Church and Oriental Orthodox Churches. (photo: Vatican Media)
Pope thanks God for dialogue with Oriental Orthodox Churches (Vatican News) Pope Francis quoted the Second Vatican Council document, Unitatis Redintegratio, when he affirmed that this dialogue expresses well how, between East and West, the “various theological expressions are to be considered often as mutually complementary rather than conflicting.” At the conclusion of this sixteenth session of the Commission’s work, he said, “we can together thank the Lord for the fruits already gathered along the way…”
UAE leader hails pope’s visit as a milestone (Vatican News) When Pope Francis arrives in Abu Dhabi next week, it will be the first ever papal visit to the Arabian Gulf. While this represents a milestone event in its own right, it is also a powerful testament to the longstanding values of acceptance, coexistence, inclusivity, tolerance and humanity that are embedded in the very core of the United Arab Emirates…
India mourns former seminarian who became defense minister (UCANews.com) India’s prime minister and president were among a coterie of high-ranking officials who expressed their condolences this week at the death of George Fernandes, a former Catholic seminarian who rose to become India’s defense minister. Fernandes, India’s best-known trade union leader, died on 29 January at the age of 88 at his New Delhi residence. He had not been actively involved in politics since 2012, after being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease...
Turkey in a pickle over Syrian olives (BBC) Kurds in Turkey and the Syrian region of Afrin, which Turkey now controls, have accused Turkish forces of stealing the region’s olive crops. ”After this area fell to the Turkish occupation, thousands of olive trees have been cut down. It has since emerged that they have been stealing the olives,” said a commentary in the Turkish Kurdish newspaper Yeni Ozgur Politika last week…
31 January 2019
Tags: Syria Pope Francis Muslim Oriental Orthodox
In this image from 2016, Pope Francis greets a Buddhist monk during a an audience with religious leaders at the Vatican. (photo: CNS/L'Osservatore Romano)
On Friday 1 February, the UN begins the observance of Interfaith Harmony Week. No one knows better than CNEWA how important interfaith harmony is and how difficult it is to achieve. Many of the places where we work are the scene of discrimination and outright persecution, not only of Christians but of other believers. In Iraq and parts of Syria Christians, Yazidis, Shabak and others have been massacred by the Islamic State. Egypt is the scene of ongoing sporadic violence against all types of Coptic Christians. In India there has been an increase in violence against Christians. There has, of course, been a long tradition of violence between Christians and Muslims in northern India.
Over the years, the Pew Research Center has documented persecution of and discrimination against all faith groups. The situation throughout the world is not getting better. One of the more disturbing findings is that most of the persecution and discrimination occurs in countries with some type of religious marker in their self-identification. Looked at in the broadest of terms, Pew’s record of religious persecution and discrimination is a record of one religious group behaving badly against another religious group.
It is very important to avoid two extremes here. One extreme would blame religion for all the persecution and conflict in the word. The other extreme is for religions to excuse themselves and to declare that their members who are acting violently against others are “politically” motivated and not really good believers. This is becoming increasingly untenable morally. Very few conflicts are purely political, purely economic or purely religious. Most often, they are a mixture of all three. However, it has been shown that conflicts that have a religious element tend to be more intractable and more difficult to solve than those lacking a religious element. Religions can provide powerful symbols which can demonize the other and rend compromise something akin to apostasy.
No religion is free of these tendencies to discriminate or even persecute. In Muslim majority countries, we find violence by Muslims against religious minorities. The Muslim Rohingyas of Burma are suffering greatly at the hand of Burmese Buddhists, a religion which supposedly values non-violence. In India Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs and Christians are often involved in persecution and conflict. In Russia, non-Orthodox Christians are legally discriminated against by fellow Christians who are orthodox.
On 31 March 2005, at the opening of the Exhibit of the World’s Religions at Santa Clara University in California, the famous German theologian Hans Küng made a statement which has been repeated hundreds of times and which perfectly encapsulates the meaning and importance of World Interfaith Harmony Week: “There will be no peace among the nations without peace among the nations.”
This is a truth which CNEWA experiences every day in the places where we work. Interfaith dialogue leading to interfaith understanding, harmony and cooperation has also been a constant teaching of popes since the Second Vatican Council. St. John Paul II even made interfaith dialogue a key part of his very first encyclical, Redemptor Hominis, (The Redeemer of Man), when he wrote about the legacy of Vatican II in 1979:
“The Fathers of the Church rightly saw in the various religions as it were so many reflections of the one truth, ‘seeds of the Word,’ attesting that, though the routes taken may be different, there is but a single goal to which is directed the deepest aspiration of the human spirit as expressed in its quest for God and also in its quest, through its tending towards God, for the full dimension of its humanity, or in other words for the full meaning of human life. The Council gave particular attention to the Jewish religion, recalling the great spiritual heritage common to Christians and Jews. It also expressed its esteem for the believers of Islam, whose faith also looks to Abraham.”
We need to take these words to heart; they help remind us that working for interfaith harmony is part of what it means to be a Catholic in the 21st century.
31 January 2019
Tags: Muslim Jews Interfaith
Ethiopian Orthodox and Catholic Christians share the same Ga’ez liturgical traditions. Read about one priest’s experience ministering to the faithful in a diverse corner of his country in A Letter from Ethiopia in the current edition of ONE. (photo: Petterik Wiggers)