8 November 2019
A woman reacts during an anti-government protest in Beirut on 5 November 2019. Hundreds of thousands of Lebanese are hitting the streets across the country to demand an end to rampant corruption and poor public services. (photo: CNS/Andres Martinez Casares, Reuters)
Protestors: Lebanon is ‘a beautiful idea’ in need of a reboot (Reuters) From a narrow angle, Beirut looks a picture of elegance and success, its French boutiques, luxury hotels and imported cars blending into Mediterranean skies. Widen the lens, as three weeks of popular anti-government protests have sought to do, and the view that emerges is of a nation struggling against extreme inequality, failing basic services, high unemployment and hardened frustration…
U.S. envoy says not enough was done to avert Turkish attack on Syria (The New York Times) The top American diplomat on the ground in northern Syria has criticized the Trump administration for not trying harder to prevent Turkey’s military offensive there last month — and said Turkish-backed militia fighters committed ”war crimes and ethnic cleansing…”
Pope urges opportunities for prisoners to reform (Vatican News) Pope Francis is urging for a change in the outlook and approach in treating prisoners who, he said, must be offered equal opportunities for reform, development and reintegration. He made the remark to the participants in the international conference on the theme, “Integral Human Development and Catholic Prison Pastoral Care.” The 7-8 November meeting was organized by the Vatican Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development…
Vatican opens clinic for poor (Vatican News) The Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization releases a press statement ahead of the 3rdWorld Day of the Poor, marked on 17 November. The statement says there will be a temporary walk-in-clinic in St. Peter’s Square, just as there was last year. The clinic aims to offer medical attention to those most in need, offering free medical examinations to the poor…
France reopens contested Jewish tomb in East Jerusalem (AP) French authorities reopened one of Jerusalem’s most magnificent ancient tombs to the public for the first time in over a decade, despite a dispute over access to the archaeological-cum-holy site in the city’s volatile eastern half…
7 November 2019
Tags: Pope Francis Lebanon Jerusalem Vatican
Pope Francis meets with members of the Social Justice and Ecology Secretariat of the Society of Jesus in the Vatican's Clementine Hall on 7 November 2019.
(photo: CNS/Vatican Media)
At a time when “situations of injustice and human pain” seem to be growing around the globe, Christians are called to “accompany the victims, to see in their faces the face of our crucified Lord,” Pope Francis said.
The pope spoke about the Gospel call to work for justice on 7 November when he met with about 200 people, Jesuits and their collaborators, celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Jesuits’ Social Justice and Ecology Secretariat.
Listing examples of places where Catholics are called to work for justice and for the safeguarding of creation, Pope Francis spoke about “a Third World War being fought in pieces,” human trafficking, the growing “expressions of xenophobia and the selfish search for national interests,” and the inequality between and within nations, which seem to be “growing without finding a remedy.”
Then there is the fact that “never have we so hurt and mistreated our common home as we have in the last 200 years,” he said, and that environmental destruction impacts the world’s poorest people most of all.
From the beginning, St. Ignatius of Loyola intended the Society of Jesus to defend and spread the faith and to help the poor, Pope Francis said. In establishing the Social Justice and Ecology Secretariat 50 years ago, the Rev. Pedro Arrupe, then superior general, “intended to strengthen it.”
Father Arrupe’s “contact with human pain,” the pope said, convinced him that God was close to those who suffer and was calling all Jesuits to incorporate the quest for justice and peace into their ministries.
For Father Arrupe and for Catholics today, attention to society’s “discarded ones” and the struggle against the “throwaway culture” must be born of prayer and fortified by it, Pope Francis said. “Father Pedro always believed that the service of faith and the promotion of justice could not be separated: they were radically united. For him, all the ministries of the society had to respond, at the same time, to the challenge of proclaiming the faith and promoting justice. What until then had been a commission for some Jesuits should become everyone’s concern.”
Pope Francis said that when contemplating Jesus’ birth, St. Ignatius encouraged people to imagine that they were there as a lowly servant, helping the Holy Family in the poverty of the stable.
“This active contemplation of God, of God excluded, helps us discover the beauty of every marginalized person,” the pope said. “In the poor, you have found a privileged place of encounter with Christ. That is a precious gift in the life of the follower of Jesus: to receive the gift of meeting him among the victims and the impoverished.”
Pope Francis encouraged the Jesuits and their collaborators to continue to see Jesus in the poor and to listen to them humbly and serve them any way they can.
“Our broken and divided world needs to build bridges,” he said, so that people can “discover in the least ones the beautiful face of a brother or sister in whom we recognize ourselves, and whose presence, even without words, demands our care and our solidarity.”
While individual care for the poor is essential, a Christian cannot overlook structural “social evils” that create suffering and keep people poor, he said. “Hence the importance of the slow work of transforming structures through participation in public dialogue where decisions are made.”
“Our world is in need of transformations that protect life that is threatened and defend the weakest,” he said. The task is enormous and can cause people to despair.
But, the pope said, the poor themselves can show the way. They often are the ones who continue to trust and hope and organize to improve their lives and that of their neighbors.
A Catholic social apostolate should try to solve problems, Pope Francis said, but, above all, it should encourage hope and promote “processes that help people and communities to grow, that lead them to be aware of their rights, to use their abilities and to create their own future.”
7 November 2019
Tags: Pope Francis Poor/Poverty
Prisoners discuss scripture as part of a Bible study group at Shano Prison in Ethiopia.
(photo: CNEWA/Don Duncan)
The first three chapters of the Book of Genesis describe the creation of the universe and the disobedience and ultimate expulsion of the first man and woman from the Garden of Eden.
Then, in chapter 4, the first thing human beings do after leaving the Garden is kill — Cain murdering his brother Abel.
It seems that violence and killing are the curse and constant companion of humanity. Every social unit from the family to the empire has had to deal with violence. In many places where CNEWA works, especially most recently in the Middle East, the violence is numbing and seems never to stop. Throughout history, humans have tried to contain violence through punishment—simply put, with more violence.
To say that using violence to prevent further violence has not been successful should be obvious.
Over the centuries, philosophers and theologians have struggled with the notion of justice. By the 21st century one finds three notions of justice: retributive justice, which focuses on punishment; distributive justice, which focuses on the rehabilitation of offenders; and, most recently, restorative justice. Beginning on 17 November, the UN observes International Restorative Justice Week, to focus the world’s attention on this vital and increasingly important concept.
The notion of restorative justice brings together the offender and the victim with the goal of “sharing the experience of what happened, to discuss who was harmed by the crime and how, and to create a consensus for what the offender can do to repair the harm from the offense.” Relatively new to modern systems of justice, restorative justice — whether called by that name or not — has been practiced in many ancient, traditional societies. It has been noted that in some Native American communities in the U.S. and Canada and the Maoris in New Zealand, the response of the communities after a crime is to attempt to restore the societal balance in a community that has been destroyed by violence.
The method of restorative justice in the modern world was most clearly seen in the Truth and Reconciliation Committees which met after the dismantling of the racist apartheid system of government in South Africa.
Archbishop Desmond Tutu was influential in this. He was convinced that there had been great violence and injustice against South African people of color for decades. He was also aware that the perpetrators needed to face the victims and understand the pain and suffering that the system caused. Most importantly, as a proponent of restorative justice, Archbishop Tutu knew that mere retribution or punishment, regardless how understandable or justified, would not heal the deep wounds and divisions in South African society.
The practice and theory of restorative justice is being studied and applied in some places in the world. The Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, based on “the potential benefits of using restorative justice with respect to criminal justice systems,” in 2018 encouraged member nations to consider applying it in local situations.
It is important to note that restorative justice does not minimalize the gravity of the crime or the injustice and suffering in inflicts on its victims. What it does is makes the injustice and suffering personal to both the offender and the victim. It is a process whose goal is to get the offender to recognize the enormity of the crime committed and to recognize the humanity of the victims of the crime and to help victims overcome a sense of powerlessness.
Several popes have spoken about the importance of restorative justice. Pope Benedict XVI in Munus Africæ, the Apostolic Exhortation (19 November 2011) promulgated after the Synod on Africa, wrote of restorative justice. Last year Pope Francis in his address to the 19th Congress of the International Criminal Law Association in Buenos Aires also stressed the importance of this concept.
One of the few signs of hope in the violence-torn Middle East has been the emergence at different times and in different places of the notion of musaliha, “reconciliation.” Although it is difficult to determine exactly when and from whom this emerged, one finds references to it from Franciscans first in Damascus and then in Aleppo. Although it has hardly reached the level of a “movement,” religious leaders in Lebanon have also spoken about the importance of musaliha, which can be seen as an attempt at restorative justice.
Last year in the pages of CNEWA’s magazine, ONE, we reported on efforts by the church in Ethiopia to practice restorative justice, and bring hope and possibility to those behind bars through education, skills training and counseling. As one of the chaplains put it, ”In the heart of each prisoner we come into contact with, we are building love, a love for God and a love for his church.”
In a world of not only unabated violence but also of increasingly available means of mass destruction, the problem of justice is extremely important. However, unless the cycle of violence is broken, there may be retribution but a truly just society still appears an unattainable goal.
Restorative justice may provide a new approach to the problem of violence, a problem which has resisted solution since Cain and Abel.
7 November 2019
Tags: Ethiopia Middle East
A woman shouts during an anti-government protest in Beirut on 5 November 2019. Hundreds of thousands of Lebanese are hitting the streets across the country to demand an end to rampant corruption and poor public services. (photo: CNS/Goran Tomasevic, Reuters)
Lebanese want a changing of the guard (CNS) Hundreds of thousands of Lebanese are hitting the streets across the country to demand an end to rampant corruption and poor public services. Cutting across sectarian lines, they also want the current government of entrenched politicians dating back to Lebanon’s 1975-1990 civil war era to step down. ”There is no trust in the ‘lords of the civil war,’ that’s what we call them. The way they are ruling the country since (dozens) of years, it doesn’t work anymore -- sharing the power on a sectarian basis,” Tarek Serhan, a student at St. Joseph’s University in Beirut, told Catholic News Service…
The catalysts behind the protests in Lebanon (BBC) For weeks, Lebanon has been rocked by anti-government protests, the largest the country has seen in more than a decade. The demonstrations have cut across sectarian lines — a rare phenomenon since the country’s devastating civil war ended — and involved people from all sectors of society…
Caritas Europa: migration can benefit all (Vatican News) Entitled “Common Home: Migration and Development in Europe and Beyond,” Caritas Europa’s just-launched publication highlights the links between migration and development in Europe and in other parts of the world…
Temple devotees ’flex their muscles’ over scarce land in India (UCANews.com) It has unleashed deadly riots and set Hindu against Muslim — now it is for the nation’s top court to end decades of discord and decide who owns the most contested plot in India. At dispute is a scrap of land in Ayodhya, a sleepy temple town in northern India that is a holy site for the nation’s two biggest religions, and emblematic of an increasingly contentious fight over land claimed by temples and other religious entities…
Kerala aims for free internet for every household (LiveMint.com) After 100 percent literacy, Kerala now aims for another milestone -- internet for every household and free internet for every poor household. The state cabinet approved the scheme, one of the flagship projects of the ruling Left Democratic Front (LDF) government in Kerala, late Wednesday…
6 November 2019
Tags: India Lebanon Kerala Migrants
In April 2016, students participated in adoration at the Al Bishara School in Ain Kawa, Iraq.
(photo: John E. Kozar/CNEWA)
6 November 2019
Tags: Iraq Iraqi Christians
The Vatican has announced the Holy Father’s prayer intention for November, and publicized it with the video below.
The full message:
In the Middle East, concord and dialogue among the three monotheistic religions is based on spiritual and historic bonds.
The Good News of Jesus, risen out of love, came to us from these lands.
Today, many Christian communities, together with Jewish and Muslim communities, work here for peace, reconciliation, and forgiveness.
Let us pray that a spirit of dialogue, encounter, and reconciliation emerge in the Middle East.
The Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network of the Apostleship of Prayer developed “The Pope Video” initiative to assist in the worldwide dissemination of monthly intentions of the Holy Father in relation to the challenges facing humanity.
6 November 2019
Tags: Pope Francis Middle East
Protests continue in Lebanon this week, with some focusing on state institutions. In the video above, protestors explain why they are taking to the streets. (video: France 24/YouTube)
Lebanese protesters seek to shut down key institutions (Al Jazeera) Lebanese demonstrators have begun surrounding government institutions in the capital, Beirut, and other cities, as a mass protest movement demanding an overhaul of the country’s political system approaches its fourth week. The move on Wednesday suggests a shift in the focus of protesters from blocking roads and setting up barricades to holding sit-ins at state-affiliated sites as they seek to maintain pressure on the political establishment until their demands for the departure of the ruling elite and an end to chronic economic mismanagement and corruption are met…
Pope: dialogue begins with empathy (CNS) Christians who preach the Gospel must see people who do not know Christ as children of God and not as nonbelievers worthy of hostility and contempt, Pope Francis said. The example of St. Paul’s mission in Greece and his encounter with the pagan culture there serves as a reminder that Christians should “create a bridge to dialogue” with other cultures, the pope said on 6 November during his weekly general audience…
Israel approves controversial cable car plan for Jerusalem (BBC) A controversial plan to build a cable car network in Jerusalem’s Old City to transport visitors to one of Judaism’s holiest sites has been approved by Israel’s housing cabinet. The cable cars will ferry up to 3,000 people an hour about 1.4km (0.9 miles) from West Jerusalem to the Western Wall in occupied East Jerusalem…
Jordan official: Economy buckling under burden of refugees (The Media Line) Jordan’s economy has been suffering due to the presence of some 1.3 million Syrian refugees who have fled that country’s eight-year civil war, according to an official from the Jordanian Planning Ministry. Issam Al-Majali, spokesperson for the ministry charged with overseeing the refugees, told The Media Line that the influx “caused a huge increase in governmental expenses between the years 2011 and 2018 due to the costs involved in responding to the refugees’ needs…”
Why is India’s pollution much worse than China’s? (BBC) As India’s north continues to struggle with extreme pollution levels, the story has put a fresh spotlight on air quality in cities across Asia. Beijing has long been notorious for its smog — but statistics show that India, Pakistan and Bangladesh have worse air by far…
5 November 2019
Tags: Pope Francis Lebanon Jerusalem Jordan
Ethiopian Cardinal Berhaneyesus Souraphiel is seen at the headquarters of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in Washington last month. (photo: CNS/Tyler Orsburn)
Ethiopia is now managing nearly a million refugees from South Sudan, Somalia, Eritrea, Sudan, Yemen and even Syria, said Ethiopian Cardinal Berhaneyesus Souraphiel. Because so many Ethiopians are refugees, those who remain in the country work to make newcomers feel welcome.
The cardinal, who visited Washington in late October, said his country had been “a country of hospitality, a country of open doors to migrants and refugees who suffer in other parts of the world. And if a poor country shares meager resources she has with migrants and refugees, how much more should the richer countries (do). Because one day, you might be a refugee or a migrant yourself.”
“I was surprised when I saw Syrian refugees in Addis Ababa and Ethiopia,” he added. “I don’t know how they arrived, the mothers arrived from Syria, and they have written on their chests in Amharic …’We are Syrians, we have come from Syria, please help us.’“
In separate interviews with Catholic News Service and with Catholic Standard, newspaper of the Archdiocese of Washington, Cardinal Souraphiel told of how the church is helping refugees and how the country’s poverty is forcing you people to emigrate from their homeland.
Souraphiel said the church is his country “is very much open to receive the refugees.” He said besides the Ethiopian Catholic Secretariat, the church works with international agencies such as Jesuit Refugee Service, Catholic Near East Welfare Association, Caritas and affiliated agencies such as the U.S. bishops’ Catholic Relief Services. Sisters of the Missionaries of Charity especially help with trauma counseling, he said.
When refugees arrive, church workers want “to let them know that they are welcomed” and get them registered with the United Nations refugee agency, UNHCR. If refugees register with a parish, they have access to Catholic education and Catholic health services.
“Ethiopians themselves are refugees in other countries in some areas. So they know the need of refugees,” he said. Ethiopians “have sympathy and empathy for refugees and also people on the move.
“They never had grudges with refugees, and that is why I think Ethiopia is blessed by the Lord.”
Part of what drives young people to become refugees is poverty, and that is the biggest challenge facing the church, the cardinal said.
“We live with the poor and we stay with them. Wherever they are, we try to be the voice of the disadvantaged, the displaced people,” he said. The church especially tries to help “abandoned children, and also mothers who suffer because of the big burden of taking care of the family, which they bring with them when they migrate from their own villages to the cities.”
As of May, more than 2.8 million Ethiopians were displaced within their country. As of 2018, Ethiopia’s unemployment rate was more than 19 percent.
Economic growth on the national level “might not trickle down to the poor,” so millions of unemployed young people — including those with college degrees — want “to go abroad, especially to the Arab world and to South Africa and to Europe.”
“Their aspiration is to escape the networks of poverty and change their own individual lives and the lives of their family members,” he said. And although many do, the majority struggle. They may end up abused, and many return home.
Church leaders try to encourage people to have hope, “especially the youth,” and they work with them to try to find employment within the country.
The cardinal said he is disturbed when he hears of Europeans closing their borders.
“This is not biblical; it’s not Christian,” he said.
He noted that the United States also is also a country of migrants and refugees.
“This has been what has made America a special country … to be a home for persecuted persons or for persons who looked for refuge from violence in their own countries,” he said.
He said Christians and Muslims were very moved when, in March, Pope Francis kissed the feet of politicians from South Sudan.
“Each politician whose feet was kissed — behind him are millions of refugees,” he said. The gesture was “to prick their conscience, to say to them, ‘You are responsible for the suffering of millions of mothers and children and elders because of, say, love of wealth and political power.”
“He did that just by bending down and kissing the feet, not by many other words.
“If you ask me to bend down and kiss your feet I might try, but I don’t know if I will get up,” the 71-year-old said, laughing. “He, at 82 years old … they gave him some help … is able to do that.”
Cardinal Berhaneyesus Souraphiel visited the New York offices of CNEWA last week.
5 November 2019
Tags: Ethiopia Refugees
Protests are continuing in parts of Lebanon. The unrest is now having a financial impact, as the central bank asks other banks to raise their capital by up to 20 percent. (video: Al Jazeera/YouTube)
As protests continue, Lebanon’s central bank asks banks to raise capital (Reuters) Lebanon’s central bank has asked banks to raise their capital by up to 20 percent by the end of June 2020, according to a central bank circular seen by Reuters, amid nationwide protests that led the prime minister to resign last week. It also asked banks not to distribute dividends for the 2019 financial year…
‘Defeated’ ISIS finds safe haven in parts of Iraq (NBC News) Just months after the Islamic State militant group lost the last of its territory in Syria, and days after its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, was killed in a U.S.-led raid, the group has found safe haven in a remote, ungoverned space in Iraq, as foreign fighters move across the border from Syria, military officials tell NBC News…
Rising sea levels pose threat to India, but scientist says study is flawed (India Today) This risk for the world is three times higher than the earlier studies’ estimates while Indians would face a seven times higher risk from the rising sea levels than previously believed, a new research shows. But an Indian scientist has challenged their findings and said that the study has flaws…
Russian Orthodox Church criticizes boots carrying cross design (RT) The Russian Orthodox Church is apparently displeased with a boot design deemed sacrilegious due to a cross-like shape on the sole. The scandal is the latest in a seemingly endless list of shoe-related social upheavals. A man in the Siberian city of Barnaul launched a crusade against the offending footwear after his wife spotted them at a department store. Manufactured in China, the artificial leather boots reportedly feature cross-shaped slide-stoppers on their soles…
Photos: world’s largest underground cemetery inaugurated in Jerusalem (Haaretz) A new massive underground burial ground was dedicated on Thursday at Jerusalem’s Har Menuhot cemetery consisting of a number of tunnels that are 1.6 kilometers long (about one mile) and 16 meters (52 feet) high. The tunnels have a total of 24,000 gravesides...
4 November 2019
Tags: Iraq Lebanon Jerusalem Russian Orthodox Church ISIS
A child in Ethiopia peers out from beside a handful of khat, the popular but addictive crop that is causing widespread problems in the country. Read how some families are Breaking Free of the drug, with help from the church, in the current edition of ONE. (photo: Petterik Wiggers)