4 June 2019
The video above shows Syrian forces bombing hospitals in Idlib in May. (video: Sky News/YouTube)
In Syria, even the hospitals aren’t safe (The New York Times) After eight brutal years, it is hard to find anything shocking about the Syrian civil war. But somehow, the government forces under President Bashar al-Assad always find a way. On 15 May, Syrian bombs destroyed the Tarmala Maternity and Children’s Hospital in Idlib, the 19th medical facility attacked since late April…
Leprosy patients receive help and hope at center in India (UCANews.com) Some 160 families now live in Leprosy Care Center center with their children and grandchildren. With the third generation growing up here, the place has become their home. All the older residents fled their homes and villages following severe social exclusion…
Westminster Abbey denies Ethiopian Christians permission to pray with relic (Times of Israel) Westminster Abbey has been accused of cultural insensitivity after it turned down a request from Ethiopian Christians to pray beside a tablet that the Ethiopian church considers sacred…
New Ukrainian Catholic archbishop faces challenge of renewal among faithful (The Philadelphia Inquirer) On Tuesday, Borys Gudziak, a native of Syracuse, N.Y., and the son of immigrant parents, will be installed as the metropolitan archbishop of the Ukrainian Catholic Archeparchy, or archdiocese, of Philadelphia, making him the titular head of the faith in the United States. Gudziak, 58, who has helped fuel a resurgence in the church in Ukraine, will work to inspire a similar renewal in this country of a faith — with fewer than 100,000 adherents — that has faced many of the same struggles as other Christian denominations…
Record turnout for Eid prayers in Ethiopian capital (Andalou Agency) More than one million people gathered in and around the Addis Ababa stadium for Eid al-Fitr prayers on Tuesday. The Muslim festival of Eid al-Fitr was celebrated across Ethiopia — a country hosting the largest Muslim community in Sub-Sahara Africa after Nigeria. Muslims account for 34% of Ethiopia’s more than 100 million population…
3 June 2019
Tags: Syria India Ethiopia Muslim
Pope Francis gives a blessing as he meets with members of the Roma community, sometimes called gypsies, in Blaj, Romania, on 2 June 2019. (photo: CNS/Vatican Media)
On his final stop before departing Romania for Rome, Pope Francis visited members of the Roma community living in the neighborhood of Barbu Lautaru. According to the Vatican, a newly erected church and pastoral center were built to assist the Roma community to fully integrated within the social fabric of the city of Blaj.
“In the church of Christ, there is room for everyone,” the pope told members of the community, “otherwise it would not be the church of Christ.”
The pope told the Roma community that his heart was heavy due to “the many experiences of discrimination, segregation and mistreatment experienced by your communities,” inflicted upon them, including by members of the Catholic Church.
He asked forgiveness to them “for those times in history when we have discriminated, mistreated or looked askance at you” instead of defending them in their “uniqueness.”
Waiting for the pope Razaila Vasile Dorin, a 16-year-old, told reporters, “We are proud he is coming here in our community -- a person like the pope! I don’t know what to say. It’s a great honor.”
Asked about discrimination, Dorin, speaking English, said, “In every country there is racism. When we go out everyone looks, ‘Look, look, a Roma, a Gypsy.’“ But, he said, the Roma are “proud to be Gypsies.”
“Whenever anyone is left behind, the human family cannot move forward. Deep down, we are not Christians, and not even good human beings, unless we are able to see the person before his or her actions, before our own judgments and prejudices,” the pope said.
According to the Jesuit journal Civilta Cattolica, a 2011 census estimated that there are more than 620,000 Roma people in Romania. However, the figure may not reflect the actual numbers because many do not declare their ethnicity out of fear of discrimination.
Despite the trials they have endured, the pope encouraged them to not go down the path of vengeance and instead to choose the “way of Jesus” which brings peace and can heal the wounds of injustice.
“May we not let ourselves be dragged along by the hurts we nurse within us; let there be no room for anger. For one evil never corrects another evil, no vendetta ever satisfies an injustice, no resentment is ever good for the heart and no rejection will ever bring us closer to others,” he said.
3 June 2019
Tags: Romania Roma
Pope Francis beatified seven Romanian Catholic martyrs during his visit to Romania last weekend. (video: CNS/YouTube)
Pope praises, beatifies martyred Romanian bishops (CNS) The memory and witness of Romania’s martyred bishops are a reminder that Christians are called to stand firm against ideologies that seek to stifle and suppress their cultural and religious traditions, Pope Francis said. On the last leg of his visit to Romania, the pope on 2 June celebrated a Divine Liturgy during which seven Eastern-rite Catholic bishops, who died during a fierce anti-religious campaign waged by the communist regime in Romania, were beatified…
Pope Francis says he is strengthened by talks with Benedict (CNS) Pope Francis said that he continues to visit retired Pope Benedict XVI, 92, who is like a grandfather who continues to encourage him and give him strength. ”I take his hand and let him speak. He speaks little, at his own pace, but with the same profoundness as always. Benedict’s problem are his knees, not his mind. He has a great lucidity,” the pope told journalists on 2 June on his return flight from Romania…
Some Syrian refugees being welcomed home with arrest and interrogation (The Washington Post) Hundreds of Syrian refugees have been arrested after returning home as the war they fled winds down — then interrogated, forced to inform on close family members and in some cases tortured, say returnees and human rights monitors. Many more who weathered the conflict in rebel-held territory now retaken by government forces are meeting a similar fate as President Bashar al-Assad’s regime deepens its longtime dependence on informers and surveillance…
Ethnic violence has displaced nearly 3 million Ethiopians (The Los Angeles Times) About 700,000 people have been displaced by the Gedeo-Guji dispute, according to the United Nations. Yet it is just one of many inter-ethnic conflicts raging in Ethiopia that have given the country an unenviable distinction: Last year more people fled their homes there than in any other nation on Earth. In total, 2.9 million people had been displaced by December 2018, more than those dislodged in Syria, Yemen, Somalia and Afghanistan combined, according to estimates published this month…
India faces demand for Hindu temple on site of mosque (UCANews.com) Less than a week after the Hindu nationalist Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) won a landslide victory in India’s general elections, Hindu groups stepped up demands to build a temple in Ayodhya, claimed to be the birthplace of revered Hindu god Lord Ram…
31 May 2019
Tags: Syria India Pope Francis Ethiopia Romanian Catholic Church
In this image from March, Metropolitan-Archbishop Borys Gudziak is pictured in the Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Philadelphia.
(photo: CNS/courtesy Archeparchy of Philadelphia)
In what promises to be one of the most impressive liturgical ceremonies in recent Philadelphia memory, an estimated 50 bishops will be present 4 June in Philadelphia for the enthronement of Metropolitan-Archbishop Borys Gudziak as head of the Ukrainian Catholic Archeparchy of Philadelphia.
The Divine Liturgy and enthronement ceremony for the prelate will take place at the Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. He will be the seventh metropolitan-archbishop of the archeparchy and as such, he will be the spiritual leader of the Ukrainian Catholic Church in the United States.
He succeeds Metropolitan-Archbishop Stefan Soroka who resigned for health reasons in April 2018. Since then, the archeparchy has been led by Bishop Andriy Rabiy, an auxiliary of the archeparchy, as apostolic administrator.
The appointment of Archbishop Gudziak, the 58-year-old native of Syracuse, New York, by Pope Francis was announced 18 February following the recommendation by a synod of Ukrainian Catholic bishops held in September 2018.
The Ukrainian Catholic Church worldwide is the largest of the Eastern Catholic churches that have distinctly different liturgies than the Latin Catholic Church but are nevertheless in full communion with Rome.
The enthronement and the inauguration of Archbishop Gudziak’s ministry is really the centerpiece of a weeklong celebration, according to the Rev. John Fields, an archpriest of the archeparchy who is its communications director.
The celebration begins 2 June and centers on the theme “From Heart to Heart.” Participants will include clergy, religious and lay faithful and young people from the Philadelphia archeparchy and other U.S. and international eparchies.
Among the events is the opening that first day of an art exhibit titled “Icons on Ammo Boxes” at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. That evening, also at the cathedral, well-known book author, columnist and commentator George Weigel delivers a lecture “Twentieth and Twenty-First Century Mission: Eastern Catholics and the Universal Church.”
On 4 June. there will be a 10 a.m. liturgical procession, which will include bishops from the Ukrainian Catholic Church, other Eastern Catholic churches, the Latin Catholic Church and the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, as well as 125 priests, 11 deacons and 70 members of religious orders.
In the cathedral, Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk, patriarch of the Ukrainian Catholic Church worldwide will preside at the Divine Liturgy, along with Archbishop Christophe Pierre, the papal nuncio to the United States.
Archbishop Pierre will also present greetings from the Holy Father and present the papal bull, the document confirming Archbishop Gudziak’s appointment.
Among the concelebrants of the liturgy will be Archbishop Gudziak, Philadelphia Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, New York Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan, Archbishop Soroka and other archbishops and bishops.
Archbishop Gudziak, who is the son of immigrants to the United States from Ukraine, received his bachelor’s degree from Syracuse University in 1980 with further studies at the Pontifical Urban University in Rome, at Harvard University and the Pontifical Oriental Institute. He returned to Ukraine, his ancestral homeland, in 1992 where he served in various position, mostly in the field of theological education and he is credited as the founder of the Ukrainian Catholic University in Lviv. He was ordained to the priesthood in 1998.
He was ordained to the episcopacy in December 2012, and the following month appointed bishop for a newly formed eparchy covering France, Switzerland and Benelux, which is a region that includes Belgium, Netherlands and Luxembourg.
His work especially in his Ukraine years did not go unnoticed in the wider world. In early May, the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana, announced that Archbishop Gudziak will receive its prestigious Notre Dame Award at a ceremony in Lviv on 29 June.
He joins such other distinguished past recipients as former U.S. President Jimmy Carter with his wife, Rosalyn, St. Teresa of Kolkata and John Hume of Northern Ireland.
“In the face of innumerable challenges, Archbishop Gudziak has made the Ukrainian Catholic University a center for cultural thought, Christian witness and the formation of a Ukrainian society based on human dignity,” said Holy Cross Father John Jenkins, Notre Dame’s president, at the time of the announcement.
31 May 2019
Tags: Ukrainian Catholic Church
Pope Francis meets with Romanian Orthodox Patriarch Daniel at the patriarchal palace in Bucharest, Romania, 31 May 2019. The pope is making a three-day visit to Romania.
(photo: CNS/Vatican Media)
Pope Francis arrives in Romania, says he comes as a ‘pilgrim of brotherhood’ (Vatican News) In his address to the Permanent Synod of the Romanian Orthodox Church, the Pope spoke of the Lord’s resurrection, as being at “the very heart of the apostolic preaching handed down and preserved by our Churches.” He noted that in Romania, as in so many other places nowadays, many had experienced the passover of death and resurrection in the form of persecution…
Wave of civilians flee bombing in Syria (The New York Times) Syrian doctors and humanitarian workers voiced growing alarm at the plight of civilians in northwestern Syria this week, as fighting intensified in the nation’s last rebel-held province and hundreds of thousands of people fled north toward the Turkish border…
How Ukraine’s Orthodox split threatens Russia (European Council on Foreign Relations) An average Westerner may well have overlooked the potentially seismic geopolitical event of 6 January 2019. On that snowy Sunday — Epiphany in western Christianity; Christmas Eve in Ukraine — the 39-year-old Metropolitan of Kiev, Epiphanius, received tomos from the Constantinople Patriarchate. This document bestowed autocephalous (self-governing) status on what was now the newly formed Orthodox Church of Ukraine. The event was historic not just for Ukraine, but for Russia and the whole Orthodox world too...
World ignores plight of Indian refugee boat lost at sea (UCANews.com) Somewhere in the Indian Ocean, a boat laden with asylum seekers has gone missing. All souls are feared lost and a sore point with those who have followed the plight of the Daya Mata is that barely no one outside the subcontinent has even noticed. The sad episode began last year when people smugglers set about touting their wares among refugee families living in India whose relatives had already been resettled in Australia…
Caritas elects Aloysius John new secretary general (Vatican News) Aloysius John’s election came at the end of the confederation’s 31st General Assembly during which Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle was reconfirmed as President. John succeeds Michel Roy who finishes his two-term mandate this year. He is no stranger to the Rome headquarters of Caritas Internationalis where he has been heading the Institutional Development and Capacity Strengthening of the network…
29 May 2019
Tags: Syria India Pope Francis Romania
A painting of the Virgin Mary hangs on the wall of Our Lady of Zion Church in Aksum, Ethiopia. May is the month traditionally dedicated to Mary. (photo: Sean Sprague)
29 May 2019
Tags: Ethiopia Mary
The United Nations yesterday denounced inaction that has led to more death and destruction in Syria — particularly among civilians. (video: Al Jazeera/YouTube)
Civilians killed in Syria attack (Al Jazeera) More than 20 civilians were killed on Tuesday as the Syrian government continued its relentless bombardment against the last rebel stronghold in the country’s northwest. The latest attacks came as the United Nations denounced world powers for doing nothing to halt the bloodshed and destruction…
Russian Orthodox official compares protests to Romanov executions (The Moscow Times) Recent mass protests against plans to replace a city park in central Russia with an Orthodox cathedral are akin to the execution of the country’s last royal family, the head of Yekaterinburg’s diocese said. Protests erupted in Russia’s fourth-largest city this month after fencing went up around a riverside park ahead of the church’s construction, resulting in arrests and clashes with vigilantes and riot police. Yekaterinburg is also the site of the 1918 shooting by Bolshevik revolutionaries of Tsar Nicholas II, his wife and five children. The church canonized them as martyrs in 2000...
Kerala police form anti-terror squad (The Hindu) The Kerala police will form an anti-terrorism squad (ATS) to crack down on extremist activity. The move comes against the backdrop of what the State police perceive as the rising danger of religious fundamentalism, Maoist insurgency and far-right fanaticism in south India…
Indian archbishop calls for action against cow vigilantes (UCANews.com) A fresh attack by so-called cow vigilantes has brought a call by a Catholic archbishop for stringent action to ensure peace in India’s multifaith society. Police in Seoni district of the central state of Madhya Pradesh detained five people on 25 May for assaulting three people including a woman who were suspected of transporting 140 kilograms of beef. The meat has been sent for laboratory verification…
Jerusalem sees rise in secular population (The Jewish Press) The Jerusalem Institute for Policy Research (JIPR) on Wednesday issued its annual report, ahead of Sunday’s Jerusalem Day, showing that Israel’s capital has crossed the 900,000-resident mark, with 62 percent Jews and 32 percent Arabs. Of the Jewish population, 22 percent are secular, which is more than back in 2009…
28 May 2019
Tags: Syria India Jerusalem Russian Orthodox Church
Pope Francis places a picture of his parents onto the “Share the Journey” photo mosaic during an audience with delegates attending the general assembly of Caritas Internationalis, at the Vatican on 27 May 2019. At right is Philippine Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila, president of Caritas Internationalis. The pope called for charity to be given with heart and soul.
(photo: CNS/Vatican Media)
Charity should be given freely and lived humbly with the poor, never letting it become hypocrisy, a slick business or a way to soothe a troubled conscience, Pope Francis said.
“Not only does charity that doesn’t ‘reach the wallet’ end up being fake charity, so does charity that doesn’t involve the heart, soul and our whole being,” he said on 27 May during an audience at the Vatican with delegates attending the general assembly of Caritas Internationalis.
The Vatican-based confederation of more than 160 Catholic national charities was holding its 21st general assembly in Rome, electing new officials, reviewing polices and focusing on the theme, “One Human Family, One Common Home.”
The pope thanked delegates for working to help those “left on the margins” and for building up in the world God’s kingdom where justice, love and peace reign.
He said charity, integral development and ecclesial communion were three key elements in Caritas’ mission.
“Charity is not a sterile service or a simple donation to hand over to put our conscience at ease,” he said.
“Charity is God our Father’s embrace of every person, particularly of the least and those who suffer.”
The church is not a humanitarian organization, the pope said. It is something so much bigger: “In Christ, it is the sign and instrument of God’s love for humanity and for creation.”
The pope urged the Caritas representatives to live out this charity freely, humbly and with a spirit of poverty.
“One cannot live charity without having a personal relationship with the poor — to live with the poor and for the poor” so as to learn from them how charity is sharing.
“It is necessary to always be careful not to fall into the temptation of living a hypocritical or deceptive charity, identified with almsgiving” or fundraising or used as a “sedative” to relieve an uneasy conscience, the pope said.
“This is why one must avoid equating charitable activity with philanthropic strength or with well-planned efficiency or with over-the-top and flamboyant organization,” he said.
Pope Francis told the delegates that of all the ways people could best imitate God, the most desirable virtue is charity.
This is why it is “scandalous” to see people working in charitable organizations become bureaucrats, executives or businessmen, he said. “They speak a lot about charity, but they live in luxury” or wasteful extravagance or else “they organize forums on charity and unnecessarily waste a lot of money.”
“That is why I would like to reemphasize that charity is not an idea or a pious sentiment,” but it is a real encounter with Christ, and it is wanting to live with the heart of God, the pope said.
28 May 2019
In this image from 2017, people walk inside the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. A new agreement between three churches will begin a multi-million dollar renovation of the foundations and flooring of the structure. (photo: CNS/Debbie Hill)
Churches strike deal to restore Jerusalem site (AP) The three churches in charge of Jerusalem’s holiest Christian site say they have reached an agreement to begin a multi-million dollar renovation of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Leaders of the Greek Orthodox, Catholic and Armenian churches issued a statement Monday announcing the project to restore the foundations and flooring of the church, where many Christians believe Jesus was crucified, entombed and resurrected…
Pope releases message on migrants, refugees (Vatican News) Pope Francis released his message on Monday for the 105th World Day of Migrants and Refugees, which will be commemorated on 29 September. As the Vatican’s Migrants and Refugees Section announced in March, the theme is “It is not just about migrants”…
Pope names new head of Council for Interreligious Dialogue (Vatican News) Bishop Miguel Ayuso Guixot succeeds the late Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, who died in July 2018, as the President of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue. He has been serving as Secretary of the Vatican dicastery…
Catholic bishops lament setbacks for peace in Holy Land (CNA)Peace, mutual equality, and respect must be the foundation of progress in Israeli-Palestinian relations, despite continued setbacks, the Assembly of Catholic Ordinaries of the Holy Land said last week. Continuing difficulties in Palestine and Israel have caused many people to question “whether international diplomacy and the peace process were ever actually based on justice and good will,” the ordinaries said in a 20 May message...
Kerala on alert over ISIS warning (Economic Times) Kerala Coastal Police have been placed on alert after intelligence inputs about ISIS affiliates setting off towards Lakshadweep and Minicoy Island from Sri Lanka, police sources said on Sunday. According to highly-placed sources aware of the matter, as many as 15 ISIS affiliates have set-off in a white boat from Sri Lanka towards Indian islands of Lakshadweep and Minicoy….
24 May 2019
Tags: India Pope Francis Jerusalem Migrants Holy Sepulchre
Pope Francis talks with Archbishop Stefan of Skopje, spiritual head of the Macedonian Orthodox Church, at the Vatican on 24 May 2019. (photo: CNS/Andrew Medichini, pool via Reuters)