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Current Issue
Spring, 2017
Volume 43, Number 1
  
6 March 2017
Greg Kandra




Displaced Syrian children, who fled their hometowns due to clashes between regime forces and ISIS, walk in a field in Kharufiyah, on 4 March 2017. (photo: Delil Souleiman/AFP/Getty Images)

U.N. says 66,000 displaced in Syria (AP) Five months of multi-sided clashes in Syria’s crowded northern battlefield have displaced some 66,000 people, a U.N. humanitarian agency said Sunday, a day after the U.S. bolstered Kurdish-led forces with a deployment of armored vehicles amid preparations for a push toward the Islamic State group’s de facto capital...

Patriarchate releases statement on Patriarch Gregoire III (Fides) A note released by the communications office of the Patriarchate of Antioch of the Greek-Melkite reports that Grègoire Patriarch Laham III continues to carry out his role, is preparing to launch “new projects” and plans to “double his efforts at local and international levels,” to “alleviate the suffering of the population in the ongoing crisis, especially in Syria, Iraq and Palestine.” The statement makes explicit reference to articles published in the local media, containing hints of the possible resignation of the Patriarch, and reprimands media representatives to publish news only after checking the reliability...

Egypt’s Christians are being driven out; will the world notice? (CNA) A spike in attacks on Coptic Christians in Egypt, spurred by a video threat from ISIS, has drawn the prayers and concern of advocates, who are urging global leaders to take notice...

Egyptian professor says defending churches against attack is part of Islam’s doctrine (Fides) Attacks on churches are comparable to “attacks on mosques,” and the defense of Christians and their churches “is part of the doctrine of the Muslim faith,” according to Professor Mohamed Mokthtar Gomaa, Minister of Awqaf, citing the teachings of Ibn Hazm, the Arab theologian in the Andalusian period, leading proponent and codifier of the Zahiri school of Islamic thought...

Kerala as an example of ‘interfaith peace and harmony’ (AL.com) Birmingham psychiatrist Dr. N.S. Xavier believes the world would have less religious strife if people of all faiths learned the lessons of a region in India where Hindus, Christians, Muslims and Jews co-existed peacefully for centuries...

A visit to Ethiopia reveals Biblical mysteries (Winnipeg Free Press) In 2017, Protestants are marking the 500th anniversary of Reformation. It seems like a big deal until you visit Ethiopia and meet members of a church that traces its origins as far back as 2,000 years ago...



3 March 2017
Greg Kandra




Siblings Lourdes, 10 (left), Weaver, 6 (center), and Lucien, 7 (right) — children of Iraqi refugee Azhar George Matti — play at their home in Amman, Jordan. To learn more about the lives of Iraqi Christians in Jordan, read Welcoming the Stranger in the current edition of ONE.
(photo: Tamara Abdul Hadi)




2 March 2017
Greg Kandra




Displaced Egyptian Christian families, who used to live in the north of the Sinai Peninsula, sit near their belongings after arriving 24 February at a church in Ismailia. Catholic churches in Ismailia, with help from Caritas, have helped Coptic Orthodox fleeing Islamic State attacks in North Sinai.
(photo: CNS/EPA)


Coptic Christians flee Sinai after killings (Al Jazeera) Hundreds of members of Egypt’s Coptic Christian minority have fled the Sinai Peninsula to Ismailia city, northeast of the capital Cairo, following a series of killings by a local armed group. The assailants have shot and killed at least seven Christians in separate attacks in Sinai’s El Arish city in February. At least 90 families have reached the Ismailia governorate, according to an official of the Coptic Orthodox Church...

Egyptian president meets with Patriarchs (Fides) Religious leaders, in the current historical phase, have a key role in spreading the principle of citizenship in all Arab countries, and reject false interpretations of holy books and religious teachings used by extremist and terrorist organizations as ideological tools. This is how Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al Sisi expressed his view on the need to “renew religious discourse” in the Middle East...

Situation for Iraqi refugees in Jordan ‘critical and dangerous’ (CNS) Catholic leaders have expressed concern for tens of thousands of Iraqi Christian refugees sheltering in Jordan as access to international aid tightens with crises deepening in the Middle East and elsewhere. “The situation of Iraqi Christians refugees is critical and dangerous,” Father Khalil Jaar told Catholic News Service on the sidelines of a conference hosted by the Vatican Embassy in Amman and the Catholic charity, Caritas Jordan...

Prayers planned for kidnapped Indian Salesian (CNS) The Salesians have organized a special prayer meeting to mark the one-year anniversary of the kidnapping of Indian Salesian Father Tom Uzhunnalil. The priest was kidnapped in Aden, Yemen, 4 March 2016, in an attack in which four Missionaries of Charity and at least 12 others were killed...

Russian Catholics hope for a new springtime for small Byzantine church (CNS) One of the smallest Eastern Catholic churches in the world, the Russian Catholic Church, faces some big issues, including its survival. That’s the issue that will be front and center at a Congress of Russian Catholic delegates from around the world meeting in northern Italy in June. It has been organized by an Australian-based Russian Catholic priest, Father Lawrence Cross, a retired lecturer in theology at Australian Catholic University...



2 March 2017
Greg Kandra




In the video above, Pope Francis announces his prayer intention for March: to help persecuted Christians. (video: The Vatican/YouTube)

Pope’s prayer intention for March: Support for persecuted Christians (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis’ prayer intention for March is Support for Persecuted Christians: That persecuted Christians may be supported by the prayers and material help of the whole Church...

UN: Both sides committed war crimes in Syria (Al Jazeera) Both sides in last year’s battle for Syria’s Aleppo city committed war crimes, including a “deliberate” bombing of a humanitarian convoy by the Syrian government, according to a new United Nations investigation. The UN Commission of Inquiry’s report released on Wednesday said Syrian government and allied Russian forces “pervasively used” unguided munitions to bomb densely populated areas in rebel-held eastern Aleppo between July and its fall on 22 December, amounting to the war crime of indiscriminate attacks...

Iraqi forces fight ISIS counterattack (Reuters) Islamic State fighters launched a counter-attack against advancing U.S.-backed Iraqi forces in western Mosul during an overnight storm, as the battle for control of the militants’ last major urban stronghold in Iraq intensified. Explosions and gun fire rang out across the city’s southwestern districts in the early hours of Thursday. The fighting eased in the late morning, although a Reuters correspondent saw an air strike and rebel mortar fire...

Kerala facing worst drought in a century (Deccan Chronicle) Revenue minister E. Chandrasekharan has painted a grim picture of the drought situation in the state. He said that already 30,353.06 hectares of agricultural land have been destroyed by drought, which according to him could be the “worst in the century”...

Head of Russian Orthodox church slams social media “disease” (Calvert Journal) Yesterday Patriarch Kirill, head of the Russian Orthodox Church, showed worshipers at Moscow’s Epiphany Cathedral that he might be more tech-savvy than we give him credit for, decrying Russian young people’s obsession with social media. According to Patriarch Kirill, young people desperate for approval on social media are suffering from a “real disease.” Russia’s Interfax news agency reported that the religious leader sees this issue as rooted in vanity...



1 March 2017
Michael J.L. La Civita




Four times a year St. Mary Protector, a Byzantine Catholic parish church in Kingston, PA, holds a peroghi sale. About 30 volunteers spend two days making 4,000 potato peroghi.
(photo: Cody Christopulos)


Monday marked the beginning of Lent for the Eastern churches. Today marks the beginning of Lent for the Roman Catholic Church.

Growing up in western Pennsylvania, the Lenten gruel was lightened by Friday parish fish fries and peroghi — stuffed with onions or potatoes, cheese or cabbage, and smothered in sour cream. For the Slavic parish churches that peppered the landscape, peroghi making was a community and family affair. Generations of parish volunteers combined the ingredients, rolled out and cut the dough, stuffed and pinched the pockets of dough, and dropped them in the large vats of boiling water. And generations of eager peroghi eaters traveled to their favorite spots, for each community varied the recipe.

Today, many of those parishes — Carpatho-Rusyn, Polish, Russian and Ukrainian — have dwindled in size, but they continue to survive thanks to a culinary tradition that bore fruit in Lent.

To read about a parish in eastern Pennsylvania that continues the tradition, check out Ruthenian Lenten Fare from the January 2005 edition of ONE.

Lenten blessings!



1 March 2017
Michael J.L. La Civita




CNEWA’s Msgr. John Kozar visits Father Mario da Silva and the religious who live and work in Gaza during a pastoral visit in 2016. (photo: CNEWA)

Attacks on Copts ‘a message from ISIS’ (Al Jazeera) The latest string of attacks in northern Sinai’s El Arish against Coptic Christians were indirect attempts by armed groups to undermine the government, according to Egyptian experts and analysts…

Judaism and Christianity have a history marked by violence (Agenzia Fides) Even “Judaism and Christianity have a history of violence,” and all religions have been complicite in acts of violence and murder. This is how Sheikh Ahmed al Tayyib, grand imam of Al Azhar, wanted to highlight that the connection between religion and violence not only marks the history of Islam, but also characterized the historical paths of the two other “Religions of the Book”…

Bitter Lent for the Syrian churches, many priests have fled (Agenzia Fides) The Christians of Syria are preparing to live a “bitter Lent,” and among the many factors of suffering and sorrow afflicting the churches of Syria there is the fact that many priests who during the years of civil war left the country, depriving the remaining faithful of their pastoral comfort…

For Gaza priest, a forgotten people sees hope (AsiaNews) People in Gaza “live day by day” in a situation that “is becoming more desperate.” Many residents, including Christians, have been forced “to borrow” to buy some food and electricity,” this according to the Rev. Mario da Silva, a Brazilian priest who heads the Latin Catholic Holy Family Church, the only one in the Strip…



28 February 2017
Michael J.L. La Civita




In this image from 2006, Msgr. Robert L. Stern meets in his office with Bishop Abune Menghesteab Tesfamariam, M.C.C.I., of Asmara in Eritrea. (photo: Erin Edwards)

Where do I begin? “Think small,” Deacon Greg, our multimedia editor, suggested. “Don’t overthink this.”

I laughed. The subject of this 90/90 is not a wall flower, nor is he just an average Joe. He’s a man who hired me, formed me professionally, transformed a sleepy organization into a thoughtful instrument of the church, and buried my father. He’s a man who can’t think small, and no doubt thinks through everything. Most importantly, he’s a good and kind priest who understands that to understand the other, one must place him or herself in that person’s shoes — and listen.

Reared in the Bronx, son of an Irish Catholic mother and a Jewish father, Bob Stern wanted to be a physicist, and he enrolled in Amherst College to do just that. But, he could not ignore a gnawing call to serve the Lord and his church as a priest. Eventually, he entered St. Joseph Seminary in Dunwoodie, N.Y., studied canon law in Rome and assisted as a young priest during Vatican II. It was there, as the fathers of the council sought to take on the challenges of the world by engaging in dialogue with it, that the young priest internalized this renewal of the church known as aggiornamento, and made it his own.

It is a process he has instituted in all of his services to the church, from his 25-plus years in parish and community renewal in the African-American and Hispanic apostolates to his 26 years in leadership of CNEWA. For Msgr. Stern, this call for aggiornamento is a process not just for the sake of process, but one to help the church open the way to the Lord.

“We take for granted freedom of religion and respect for conscience,” he wrote in CNEWA’s magazine in September 1990, soon after visiting the U.S.S.R. “Pluralism is our way of life.” He continued: “We speak...of the servant church that is a sacrament or sign of intimate union with God and of the unity of the whole human family.

“When we ask the Catholic churches of the Soviet Union what help they need, we may be thinking of the buildings, equipment and tools we’re used to; they may be more concerned for vestments, prayer books and rosaries. Our pastoral goal may be how best to support all believers, Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant; theirs may be the repossession of their confiscated churches and the defense of their rights.

“The challenge of their future is aggiornamento, to be caught up in the great renewal of the church launched by the Vatican Council,” he concluded.

“Their challenge is to transform their heroic faith of resistance into the faith that plunges into the open, unknown future with the same confidence in the Lord who promises, ‘I am with you always, until the end of the age.’ ”

Thank you Msgr. Stern for your service to the church and the world, especially in waking us up to see all that unites rather than what divides us.



28 February 2017
Greg Kandra




A displaced Iraqi girl holds a lamb in a safe area in Mosul on 28 February. Iraqi troops were engaged in difficult fighting with ISIS forces in northern Iraq in an effort to reclaim land held by the militant group. (photo: CNS/Alaa Al-Marjani, Reuters)



28 February 2017
Greg Kandra




Several Melkite bishops boycotted the bishops’ synod last June, demanding the resignation of Patriarch Gregoire III Laham, pictured at the Vatican in 2015. The Melkite synod will resume later this year. (photo: CNS/Paul Haring)

Reconciliation marks Melkite synod (CNS) The Melkite Catholic Church resumed its Synod of Bishops after nearly an eight-month interruption. The bishops thanked “the divine redeemer for the spirit of reconciliation and renewed commitment to walk together in partnership to restore peace in the church” in a statement released at the conclusion of the three-day meeting on 23 February at the patriarchate in Rebweh, Lebanon...

Iraq army seizes key Mosul bridge (CNN) The Iraqi army says it has recaptured a bridge across the Tigris River in west Mosul, where fierce battles are ongoing to oust ISIS from its last bastion in Iraq...

Pope: Catholics and Anglicans are brothers and sisters in Christ (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Sunday visited the Anglican Parish of All Saints in Rome. Speaking at the Church the Pope said, “today, with gratitude to God, we recognize one another as we truly are: brothers and sisters in Christ, through our common baptism. As friends and pilgrims we wish to walk the path together, to follow our Lord Jesus Christ together...”

India’s home minister honors Catholic priest (Vatican Radio) India’s home minister has honoured a Catholic priest on the occasion of Arunachal Pradesh’s 31st statehood day. Salesian Father Cyriac Pulinthanathumalayil of Dimapur province received a state award Gold Medal for Excellence in Youth work from home minister Minister Rajanath Signh at a function on 20 February in the state capital of Itanagar...

Living history in Ethiopia (Huffington Post) The chanting of the two boys sitting under the tree reminded me of my Bar Mitzvah class over 60 years ago. The language was different — Amharic, not Hebrew — as was the religion — Ethiopian Orthodox, not Jewish — and the boys bore little resemblance to the pudgy, pasty pre-adolescent friends of my youth, but the sounds were eerily similar...

How the Oscars put Syria in the spotlight (The Washington Post) Sitting 7,000 miles from the fuss and frills of Sunday’s Academy Awards, it was Raed Saleh, dressed in a simple T-shirt, who delivered one of the most powerful messages of the night. In a short acceptance speech — posted online after a documentary about his Syrian White Helmets rescue force won an Oscar — the former electrical equipment salesman appealed to governments around the world “to stop the bloodshed of the Syrian people...”



27 February 2017
Greg Kandra




Debora Stonitsch organized CNEWA’s trip to the L.A. Religious Education Congress, which was held in Anaheim from 24 to 26 February. (photo: Greg Kandra)

As I write, our CNEWA team is headed home from Anaheim, after three whirlwind days at the legendary Los Angeles Religious Education Congress — the largest annual gathering of Catholics in the United States. An estimated 40,000 people attend this extravaganza every year.

The LA Religious Ed Congress takes place inside the Anaheim Convention Center in California (photo: Greg Kandra)

For the first time, CNEWA was invited to appear as an exhibitor, hosting a booth — along with some 250 other organizations — in the massive exhibit hall in the Anaheim Convention Center. It was a wonderful opportunity for us to catch up with old friends and make some new ones.

CNEWA’s multimedia editor Deacon Greg Kandra had a chance to say hello to an old friend, Father Brian Escobedo, who hosted CNEWA for a parish visit last fall. (photo: Greg Kandra)

Debora Stonitsch of CNEWA’s development office answered questions and introduced attendees to the work CNEWA is doing around the world. (photo: Greg Kandra)

Many of those we met hadn’t heard of CNEWA — and a few were a little confused about the Catholic Eastern churches. We were happy to answer questions, pass out copies of our magazine and offer information about our work and those we serve — as our display proclaimed, “Accompanying the Eastern Catholic Churches.”

The Rev. Elias Mallon, S.A., Ph.D., shared his expertise on Islam and the Arab world. (photo: Greg Kandra)

There was great interest in our work among persecuted minorities in Iraq — and a lot of people who stopped by our booth took home small pins depicting “ن” (the Arabic letter “N”), recalling the way ISIS branded the homes of Christians for persecution.

These pins attracted a lot of attention to our visit, and many people took home several for friends. (photo: Greg Kandra)

It was a rewarding weekend in so many ways, and I know Father Elias, Debora Stonitsch and I all look forward to making a return visit next year.

If you couldn’t make it to Anaheim, we’d be happy to visit your corner of the country to share our story at your parish or diocesan event. Just drop a line to our development director Norma Intriago: nintriago@cnewa.org.



Tags: CNEWA Education United States





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