18 September 2018
Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, second from left, conveyed the pope's good wishes to a congregation of Armenian monks on Sunday. (photo: Vatican Media)
Pope Francis on Sunday praised the Armenian Mekhitarist Congregation for their tradition of ecumenical openness and urged them to continue to provide witness.
From Vatican News:
The Congregation of Benedictine monks is widely recognized for its contribution to the renaissance of Armenian philology, literature, and culture early in the 19th century and for the publication of old Armenian Christian manuscripts, a tradition that Pope Francis described as a “beneficial gift for the ecumenical journey, which increasingly reveals itself as a sign of the times” in our effort to meet the Lord’s request to his disciples “to be one”.
In a letter addressed to Archbishop Boghos Levon Zekiyan, apostolic administrator of the Armenian Mekhitarist Congregation, the Pope said the congregation “is called to preserve and deepen its charism for the good of all Armenian people.”
Francis’ message was read in the presence of Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, Prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches during celebrations of the Divine Liturgy on the Island of San Lazzaro in Venice.
The ceremony took place on Sunday evening to the mark the third centenary of the foundation of the Armenian Mekhitarist Congregation.
Read the full story.
18 September 2018
Men prepare a Syrian revolution flag prior to protests on 14 September in the war-torn city of Idlib. (photo: CNS/EPA)
Indian diocese gathering evidence on martyrs (Vatican News) The Archdiocese of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar in eastern India’s Odisha state is currently gathering information and evidence on the martyrdom of some 100 people who were killed in the brutal anti-Christian violence that erupted in the state on 25 August 2008…
Christian aid group says Idlib civilians fear offensive by Syrian forces (CNS) Christians and other civilians inside Idlib, Syria, are fearful of an impending, all-out offensive by their government and its Russian and Iranian backers on the northwestern province, the last rebel stronghold and presumed endgame in Syria’s more than seven-year-old war. ”A Franciscan father told us that the situation in Idlib is really bad, the people are very scared. They don’t know what will happen and it’s unclear what is actually taking place,” Andrea Avveduto, communications chief for Pro Terra Sancta, told Catholic News Service on 17 September. The association, based in Jerusalem and Milan, supports the Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land…
More EU aid for flood-hit Kerala (The Hindu) he European Union has allocated an additional 1 million euros in emergency aid for flood-devastated Kerala, an EU delegation to India said on Tuesday. According to a statement, this comes on top of the initial assistance of 190,000 euros announced last month and channelled through the Indian Red Cross…
In Ethiopia, violence targeting minorities leaves at least 23 dead (Business Day) At least 23 people were killed in a weekend of violence targeting minorities in the ethnic Oromo heartland near Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, police said. It is a blow to new reformist Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s efforts at reconciliation…
Yom Kippur 2018: what you need to know about the holiest day of the Jewish new year (The Independent) Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the Jewish year, takes place in 2018 on the evening of Tuesday 18 September. Following Rosh Hashanah — the faith’s new year — Jews observe the Ten Days of Repentance, an opportunity to reflect on their sins and transgressions over the past 12 months…
17 September 2018
Tags: Syria India Ethiopia Jews Saints
Portland’s Archbishop Alexander Sample, center, recently met with CNEWA development team members Thomas Moore (l) and Philip Eubanks (r). Archbishop Sample is a member of CNEWA’s board and was eager to hear about some of our work around the world. (photo: CNEWA)
From time to time, CNEWA takes to the road to visit with our family of donors and local parishes who are helping to support those in need in the places where CNEWA works. It’s just one special way CNEWA can connect with those who share our mission — and invite others to be a part of it. For many, it is their first introduction to CNEWA, so it’s a welcome opportunity to help tell our story.
Recently, we were privileged to visit with some friends in Oregon, in the greater Portland area. Archbishop Alexander K. Sample, a member of CNEWA’s board, generously took time from his busy schedule to meet with us. We got to hear about the work of the church in Portland — and we had a chance to share with the archbishop more about the work CNEWA is doing around the world, thanks to the generosity of the Archdiocese of Portland and the many members of our faithful donor family who have partnered with us.
If you would be interested in bringing CNEWA to your parish for a visit, just drop a line to our development associate, Christopher Kennedy: firstname.lastname@example.org.
17 September 2018
In the video above, leaders from Eritrea and Ethiopia are shown signing a peace deal at a summit in Saudi Arabia on Sunday. (video: CGTN/YouTube)
Ethiopia, Eritrea sign peace accord at Saudi summit (Al Jazeera) Ethiopia and Eritrea signed an agreement at a summit in Saudi Arabia, bolstering an historic peace accord between the two former Horn of Africa enemies, officials said. Authorities did not reveal exact details of the new deal signed on Sunday in Jeddah, but sources close to the Saudi government said it would help strengthen the truce and enhance security in the wider region…
Indian government reaches out to others for help in rebuilding Kerala after flood (The Times of India) One month into the deluge which displaced people and left a trail of destruction, the state government has opened itself to welcoming support from anybody who can contribute to Rebuilding Kerala. Reaching out to financial institutions, central agencies and well-wishers in the country and abroad, the state government now plans to use mult-ipronged strategies to address the issues of livelihood and rehabilitation of affected families…
Hundreds of refugees in Lebanon plan to return to Syria (The Daily Star) Hundreds of refugees gathered in locations across Lebanon Monday morning in the latest return initiative organized by Lebanon’s General Security, in cooperation with the Syrian government. According to the state-run National News Agency, more than 200 refugees, the majority of whom will head to Syria’s Aleppo, gathered at Camille Chamoun Sports City Stadium in Beirut’s Al-Tariq al-Jadideh neighborhood. The refugees will be transported on six buses through the Masnaa border crossing under the supervision of Laura Almirall, the head of the United Nations refugee agency UNHCR’s Mount Lebanon Field Office…
U.S.-backed Syrian forces launch offensive against last ISIS stronghold (The Jerusalem Post) A major offensive launched by U.S.-backed Syrian forces in the country’s east will likely lead to the downfall of Islamic State’s last major stronghold, but will not spell the end of the extremist group, analysts believe…
Architects slam planned cable car to Western Wall in Jerusalem (Haaretz) Prominent architects, including Moshe Safdie, have sounded an alarm over a plan to build a cable car near the Western Wall area, warning that the project will damage the Old City skyline and will fail to solve traffic problems in the area…
14 September 2018
Tags: Syria India Ethiopia Eritrea
In the video above, Msgr. Richard Lopez from the Archdiocese of Atlanta calls for more support for suffering Christians in the Middle East. (video: courtesy, Msgr. Lopez)
For several years, CNEWA has been fortunate to be in partnership with a priest in Atlanta, Georgia — Msgr. Richard Lopez, whose heart grew big for the Middle East after he taught Chaldean students at St. Pius X Catholic High School.
Over the course of the last two years, Msgr. Lopez has traveled from parish to parish across the Archdiocese of Atlanta to share stories of people living the Middle East affected by violence and war — and he’s been promoting the good work CNEWA makes possible through the generosity and love of our donors.
Through his efforts, CNEWA has raised over $40,000 to help our partners in places such as Iraq where the Dominican Sisters of St. Catherine of Siena, beloved by Msgr. Lopez, have stood by the people, offering education and hope. Now, Msgr. Lopez wants to take that message to a wider audience with a video that can be shared on social media, inviting people to be in prayer, to share the message, and to support this important work.
Watch the video above — and please visit this page to help continue this mission and support our suffering brothers and sisters in the Middle East.
On behalf of Msgr. Lopez and so many others: thank you!
14 September 2018
Tags: Iraq Chaldeans
Pope Francis meets on 14 September with 150 participants at a Vatican meeting to coordinate Catholic humanitarian and reconstruction aid for the people of Syria and Iraq. The aid, Pope Francis said, is "a source of light in the present and a seed of hope that will bear fruit in the future." (photo: CNS/Vatican Media)
The way Catholics and Catholic organizations listen and respond to pleas for help from people trapped in or forced to flee war zones “is a source of light in the present and a seed of hope that will bear fruit in the future,” Pope Francis said.
Meeting on 14 September with 150 representatives of Catholic agencies and others assisting victims of the wars in Syria and Iraq, Pope Francis said that each day he places before the Lord “the sufferings and the needs of the churches and people of those beloved lands as well as those who work to assist them. This is true. Every day.”
The pope repeated his plea to the international community to help find a way to restore peace throughout Syria and to guarantee the conditions that will allow the millions of people displaced by the fighting in Syria and Iraq to return home.
The September gathering at the Vatican was the sixth formal meeting designed to coordinate Catholic aid to the region.
In preparation for the meeting, a Vatican study estimated that in 2018 more than 3.9 million Syrians and Iraqis would benefit from more than $229 million of aid and reconstruction efforts funded by the Catholic Church and its members.
The Vatican Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development surveyed 84 Catholic organizations, agencies, bishops’ conferences, dioceses and religious orders involved in providing assistance to Syrians and Iraqis in their homelands or in neighboring countries.
“Although in Syria the conflict is continuing in some areas of the country -- where basic needs still have to be met -- the survey shows how for the first time we are looking toward the future, including in crisis response activities, with the end of the acute phase of the emergency in most sectors of intervention and a transition to the early recovery phase,” the report said. In 2014, the largest sector of spending was on food aid, while for 2019 the priorities are education, livelihood and jobs, health and psycho-social support.
The Catholic aid comprises both humanitarian assistance -- offered to anyone in need -- and support for the local Christian communities and their return and rebuilding efforts, the dicastery said.
Because of “the real risk that the Christian presence may disappear” from the region, Pope Francis said all Catholics should be offering prayers for and concrete charity to support their brothers and sisters in Syria and Iraq, encouraging them “not to give in to the darkness of violence and to keep alive the light of hope.”
The Catholic response, he said, reminds him of passages from the prayer attributed to St. Francis of Assisi: “Where there is hatred, let me bring love. ... Where there is despair, let me bring hope. Where there is sadness, let me bring joy.”
14 September 2018
Tags: Syria Iraq
A displaced family is seen on 11 September at a camp in Idlib, Syria. Efforts are reportedly underway to negotiate a ceasefire in the region, to avert a humanitarian disaster.
(photo: CNS /Khalil Ashawi, Reuters)
Turkey says it is working on ceasefire in Syria (Reuters) Turkey is working to achieve a ceasefire in Syria’s rebel-held northwest and is ready for cooperation to fight terrorist groups in the Idlib area, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Friday…
Jordan ambassador addresses plight of refugees (Vatican News) The refugee situation in Jordan was highlighted this week at the Festival of Mediterranean Journalists taking place in the Italian city of Otranto. Participating at the festival’s 10th edition was the Ambassador of the Kingdom of Jordan, to Italy, Fayiz Khouri, who explained that today the country, home to 21 percent of Syrian refugees, is experiencing a complicated situation…
Iraqi Christians having a hard time entering the U.S. (NBC News) Despite vowing to help vulnerable Christians around the world, the Trump administration is making it harder for Christian refugees to enter the U.S. The number of Christian refugees granted entry into the U.S. has dropped by more than 40 percent over the past year, a decline of almost 11,000 refugees. They have been caught in the wider net of President Donald Trump’s tough stance on immigration and refugees, which has lowered overall refugee admissions by the same percentage…
U.N. report links India’s ruling party with violence (UCANews.com) A new United Nations report has linked India’s pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) with violence and inflammatory speeches against religious minorities. U.N. special rapporteur Tendayi Achiume, an independent human rights expert appointed by the U.N. Human Rights Council, on 12 September submitted a report on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance…
Ukraine’s president discusses Russian aggression, his wish for sanctions on Moscow (The Washington Post) When Ukrainians took to the streets in the 2014 Maidan revolution, they ousted President Viktor Yanukovych and selected Petro Poroshenko as his successor to begin a period of reform. Poroshenko is up for reelection next spring, and polls show that Ukrainians are disappointed with him, particularly for what they see as his failure to clean up corruption. In a rare interview, Poroshenko discussed persistent Russian aggression, his wish for more international sanctions on Moscow, and the Trump administration’s sale of weapons to his country, which the Obama administration had blocked. Edited excerpts follow…
13 September 2018
Tags: Syria Iraq Ukraine Refugees Jordan
In this image from August, Muslim pilgrims touch Kaaba's wall and pray at the Grand Mosque in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. (photo: CNS/Sedat Suna, EPA)
In countries where CNEWA serves, there are sizable—often majority—Muslim communities. And, of course, in the Holy Land, there is a majority Jewish community.
But in a rare coincidence, both Islam and Judaism are observing their respective New Years this week.
On 10 September, Jews around the world celebrated Rosh Hashanah, literally “the head of the year,” and the following day Muslims observed the first of Muharram, the New Year in the Muslim calendar. Although Muslims and Jews (to some extent also Christians) follow a lunar calendar of twenty-nine days, Jews and Christians in different ways “correct” the lunar calendar to keep it in line with the 365-day solar calendar. Muslims, however, do not and the Muslim calendar year is 10-11 days shorter than the “corrected” calendar used by Jews and Christians. As a result, festivals like Ramadan, the Breaking of the Fast and New Year move “backwards” through the calendar commonly used. Thus 1 Muharram fell on 14 October in 2015 and will fall on 10 August in 2021. It is unusual, therefore, that 1 Muharram and Rosh Hashanah occur so close to each other.
There is some interesting history behind all this. The Islamic calendar — and hence, New Year — is calculated from the Hijra or emigration/flight of Muhammad and the Muslim community in 622 from a hostile Mecca to Medina where the community would thrive. After enduring more than a decade of often violent persecution in Mecca, Muhammad and his community were invited by the people of Medina, an oasis city over 200 miles north of Mecca, to move there and for Muhammad to govern the city. The story of the Hijra is tense and thrilling. As the Muslims were leaving the city, Ali ibn Abi Talib, the Prophet’s son-in-law, disguised himself as Muhammad in the Prophet’s bed to throw off those who were trying to kill him. Muhammad and his faithful companion Abu Bakr hid from the pursuers in a cave for three days before finally beginning the trip and arriving safely in Medina.
It is important to understand the relationship between the Hijra and the Muslim New Year. It is estimated that the Hijra took place in June of 622. The 1 Muharram after the Hijra is the beginning of the Muslim calendar, which is abbreviated AH (anno hegira). One of the four “sacred months” in the Muslim calendar, Muharram is second in holiness only to the month of Ramadan. Muharram is traditionally a time of non-violence. War, fighting and even hunting is forbidden during the sacred month.
The 10th day of Muharram is Ashura, which for Shi’ite Muslims is a day of great mourning, recalling the murder of Hussein ibn Ali, the Prophet’s grandson, in 680. Ashura is extremely important for Shi’ites who observe the martyrdom of Hussein with re-enactments of his death and mourning rituals. Sunnis do not observe Ashura in this way and in some parts of the world this leads to conflict between the Shi’ite and Sunni communities.
Both Judaism and Islam observe their particular New Years in different ways, with different ceremonies, with rich and varied meanings for those communities. However, the New Year is always a time for looking back and looking forwards — the Roman god Janus, for whom January is named, is portrayed with two faces, one looking forward, the other backwards.
It is a time for remembering the past and correcting what needs to be corrected and a time for looking forward in faith and hope for the year to come.
13 September 2018
Tags: Muslim Islam Jews
Religious sisters, and the children in their care, greet Msgr. Kozar during a visit to India. (photo: John E. Kozar)
A few years ago, CNEWA’s president Msgr. John E. Kozar offered this heartfelt tribute to religious sisters:
Sometimes, they are the first evangelizers who share the Good News of Jesus; sometimes they are the mother figure a child has never known; sometimes they are a nurse at a clinic, not only dispensing medicine and bandages, but healthy measures of tender loving care; sometimes they offer a cup of rice to a starving mother and child; sometimes they welcome a refugee. And always, they are present. In the midst of war, famine, insurrection, terrorism, ignorance, abandonment or any form of persecution or oppression, the sisters offer their heroic witness. Make no mistake: They are heroes.
Read more about these heroes in the Spring 2013 edition of ONE.
13 September 2018
Tags: India Sisters
Syrians have begun to flee Idlib, fearing an anticipated attack, as the UN reports the country is facing unprecedented levels of displacement. (video: Al Jazeera/YouTube)
UN: Syria facing unprecedented levels of displacement (Al Jazeera) Syria has witnessed unprecedented levels of internal displacement not seen throughout the seven-year conflict with more than one million forced to flee, a UN report said on Wednesday. The 24-page report by the UN Commission of Inquiry detailed the ordeal many Syrians have faced in the first six months of 2018…
Syrian refugees facing harsh winter (UNHCR) Overall, there are more than 5.6 million Syrian refugees registered across the region — 2.6 million of whom are children — driven from their homes by a conflict now in its eighth year. And the needs of families are great. Without support people resort to desperate measures such as going without adequate shelter, healthcare or education…
Violent protests hit Basra, Iraq (Reuters) Violent protests in the Iraqi city of Basra have all but ended U.S.-backed Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi’s chances of winning a second term and shattered Washington’s hopes of shaping the next government. Fifteen people have been killed protesting against power cuts, polluted water, poor services and perceived corruption in Iraq’s second city, many of them in clashes with security forces…
Economic losses from Kerala floods top $4 billion (Asia Insurance Review) Total economic losses from floods in the southern state of Kerala have been tentatively estimated at upwards of INR300bn ($4.25bn), as direct damage and business interruption costs are still being assessed, according to an Aon catastrophe report..
As a new leader rises in Ethiopia, the diaspora dares to dream (The Washington Post) Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has lifted a long-standing state of emergency, ended a decades-old conflict with neighboring Eritrea and called for Ethiopia to transition into a multiparty democracy. For the many Ethiopians who fled the country during the long years of autocracy, the reforms have revived a dream they once thought impossible: going home…
Tags: Syria Iraq Ethiopia Refugees