14 May 2018
Archbishop Kuriakose Bharanikulangara visited CNEWA’s New York offices Monday morning. (photo: CNEWA)
This morning, we were privileged to welcome to CNEWA’s New York offices Archbishop Kuriakose Bharanikulangara, who heads the Syro-Malabar Eparchy of Faridabad in India.
It’s not a small job.
His eparchy stretches across six states in the “great north” of India, bordering Nepal — ”at 19,000 feet, it’s the highest diocese in the world,” Msgr. John E. Kozar, CNEWA’s president, explained by way of introduction. The territory embraces about one million square kilometers (just under 400,000 square miles) and counts a population of 120 million people — nearly all of them non-Christian.
But into this vast territory, he is bringing the Gospel — and with the help of CNEWA and our generous donors, helping the message of Jesus to be heard.
As he told the CNEWA staff during a meeting this morning, his main focus at the moment is Punjab, a region on the northern border of India with a culture and a government that are tolerant. Unlike many other parts of India, Punjab does not have an “anti-conversion bill” on the books — that is, a law whereby anyone who is converted without the knowledge and approval of civil authorities can be arrested. Punjab permits Christianity to be taught and practiced, and Archbishop Kuriakose is helping lead the way.
With CNEWA’s support, he has just established the 19th mission in the area. He described how these missions work.
“We rent out a building,” he explained, adding that conditions are, by Western standards, primitive. “In many houses, priests do not even have running water. They have to take a bucket, collect water, come to the mission house where they live. Often, in the work, they are helped by catechists. Priests do not always master the language, so we have one or two paid full-time catechists. Then I have a seminary student who is an intern. All these go to the villages and they make a presence. They have singing, they spend time with them, praying with them.”
There is also great effort to attract vocations.
“To go to such a primitive, remote area, to work in such conditions, you need dedicated priests,” he told us. “This is my blessing. I have young people who are eager. We are promoting a kind of priestly adventure. ‘Come here,’ we say. ‘Live here three years.’ And they are coming.”
“What he is doing is wonderful,” Msgr. Kozar said of the archbishop’s work. “He’s using the resources of the south, by inviting them on this ‘priestly adventure,’ to come and learn about a whole new dimension of the church in India, a church that is hungry for people to know Jesus, and to form the local church up in the ‘great north.’
“This is really the model for what evangelization is supposed to be.”
Archbishhop Kuriakose Bharanikulangara and Msgr. John E. Kozar. (photo: CNEWA)
14 May 2018
Tags: India CNEWA Evangelization
Carl Hetu, national director of CNEWA Canada, meets with Ethiopian Catholic Bishop Lesanu-Christos Matheos of Bahir Dar-Dessie. (photo: CNEWA)
Today I had the pleasure of meeting with Ethiopian Catholic Bishop Lesanu-Christos Matheos.
Three years ago he was named the bishop of the Eparchy (Diocese) of Bahir Dar-Dessie, in Ethiopia. It is a new and developing Eparchy that is equivalent in size to Italy.
He was also given, by the Ethiopian Bishops Conference, the responsibility of caring for all Ethiopian Catholics living outside the country. It was for this purpose that he was in Canada and why I had the opportunity to meet with him.
We were happy to meet, as CNEWA has been supporting several of Bishop Matheos’ ministries over the years. A couple of years ago we helped him build a modest church in an isolated part of his Eparchy for the Gumuz tribal people. We also helped in providing Catechesis ministry to this same tribe. He joyfully shared that, last year alone, more than 800 people were baptized through the works of these ministries.
CNEWA has also been supporting his youth ministry initiatives, particularly those on university campuses. This is a ministry that is very important to him, so after our meeting I dropped him off at the headquarters of Catholic Christian Outreach — a university student movement dedicated to evangelization, with a wealth of experience and written materials from which he hopes to draw ideas.
Thank you to CNEWA’s donors who have supported our important work in Ethiopia over the years. If you would like to make a donation towards our Ethiopian program please click here.
For more information on Bishop Matheos Mission with the Gumuz you can visit this blog post.
To support CNEWA’s Ethiopian program please click here.
14 May 2018
Tags: CNEWA Canada Ethiopian Catholic Church
The Rev. Ragheed Aziz Ganni is among four Iraqi clergymen who will be investigated for possible sainthood. They were martyred outside their church in Mosul in 2007. (photo: AsiaNews)
The Vatican has given its permission for the opening of the sainthood cause of an Iraqi priest and three deacons who were murdered by armed gunmen in Mosul.
The Congregation for Saints’ Causes gave the “nihil obstat” (“no objection”), permitting a diocesan bishop to open a local inquiry into a candidate’s sanctity, according to Fides, the news agency of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, 14 May.
Fides confirmed that the Eparchy of St. Thomas the Apostle of Detroit would be handling the process because of the difficult conditions facing the church in Mosul.
Chaldean Father Ragheed Aziz Ganni, his cousin Deacon Basman Yousef Daud, and Deacons Wahid Hanna Isho and Gassan Isam Bidawed were killed on 3 June 2007, in front of the Holy Spirit Church in Mosul. Father Ganni had just finished celebrating Mass for the feast of Pentecost.
The three deacons had been accompanying Father Ganni because of increasing threats against him by militants. According to AsiaNews, armed gunman shot the four men and then booby-trapped their car with explosives to prevent others from safely recovering the bodies.
Father Ganni was born in Mosul in 1972. He graduated in engineering and studied theology from 1996 to 2003 at Rome’s Pontifical Irish College and the Pontifical University of Thomas Aquinas the “Angelicum,” where he received a license in ecumenical theology.
14 May 2018
Tags: Iraq Iraqi Christians Priests
Palestinians carry a demonstrator injured during clashes with Israeli forces near the border between the Gaza strip and Israel east of Gaza City on 14 May 2018. Dozens were killed in the latest protests ahead of the controversial opening of the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem. (photo: Thomas Coex/AFP/Getty Images)
Gaza: 52 Palestinians killed on deadliest day since 2014 (BBC) At least 52 Palestinians have been killed and 2,400 wounded by Israeli troops, Palestinian officials say, on the deadliest day of violence since the 2014 Gaza war. Palestinians have been protesting for weeks but deaths soared on the day the US opened its embassy in Jerusalem.Palestinians see this as clear US backing for Israeli rule over the whole city, whose eastern part they claim…
Vatican and Jordanian institute underscore dignity of human life (Vatican News) The Vatican and a Jordanian institute dedicated to inter-faith studies have issued a statement urging for the protection of and respect for human life, especially that of migrants, refugees and victims of human trafficking. The call came from the delegates of the Royal Institute for Inter-Faith Studies and the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, who held their fifth colloquium in the Jordanian capital Amman, 9-10 May, on the theme, “Religions and the Dignity of Life: Christian and Muslim Viewpoints”…
India’s government accused of blocking Christian judge (UCANews.com) The collegium of India’s Supreme Court has met to reconsider its recommendation to elevate a Christian judge to the top court amid allegations that the pro-Hindu federal government had rejected him for ideological reasons. The collegium of judges met on 11 May to consider its January recommendation to elevate Chief Justice K.M. Joseph of Uttarakhand High Court to the Supreme Court, local reports said…
Mideast faith leaders say life influences how people deal with the environment (CNS) It’s hard to discuss detrimental environmental effects of using the diesel fuel needed to run generators in Gaza when people only have three hours of government-provided electricity a day, said Tahani Abu Daqqa, former Palestinian Minister of Culture. Daqqa participated in an interfaith conference aimed at bringing religion into play for the environment — not an easy task in a region where religion has often been a force for separation rather than cooperation and where many people live under poverty and hardship…
11 May 2018
Tags: India Palestine Vatican
One of the great resources published in ONE magazine was a comprehensive series on the Eastern churches. The driving force behind it — and the author of the series — was the magazine’s editor and CNEWA’s director of communications, Michael J.L. LaCivita.
When the series concluded in 2012, he reflected on the wide world he’d written about and offered some thoughts on the Eastern churches CNEWA is privileged to serve.
You can find the entire series here.
But check out his video below.
11 May 2018
Tags: Christianity Eastern Christianity Eastern Churches
Awatef Youssef, from Qaraqosh, stands with her husband, Amir Marzina, and son, Manuel, in their temporary home in northern Iraq. They are among the thousands who fled ISIS in 2014 and are now trying to start over. A religious sister writes about her experience ministering to these displaced families in A Letter From Iraq in the current edition of ONE. (photo: Raed Rafei)
11 May 2018
Tags: Iraq Iraqi Christians
Pope Francis exchanges gifts with Metropolitan Rastislav, primate of the Orthodox Church in the Czech and Slovak Republics, during a meeting in the Apostolic Palace at the Vatican 11 May. In an address at the meeting, the pope said seeking Christian unity is more urgent than ever because of the ongoing persecution of Christians. (photo: CNS/Vatican Media)
Iran condemns wave of Israeli air strikes in Syria (BBC) Iran has backed Syria’s “right to defend itself” after Israel launched strikes on what it said was Iranian military infrastructure inside Syria. In the first comments by Iran since Thursday’s wave of strikes, the foreign ministry condemned the “blatant violation of Syria’s sovereignty”. The strikes were the heaviest carried out by Israel on Syria in decades…
Pope meets primate of Orthodox Church in Czech, Slovak republics (Vatican News) Pope Francis met on Friday with Metropolitan Rastislav, head of the Orthodox Church in the Czech and Slovak Republics. It was the first encounter between the pontiff and the primate, who was elected in January 2014. In his words to the Holy Father, Metropolitan Rastislav compared the two church leaders to the disciples on the road to Emmaus, who only recognized Jesus when he broke bread with them…
India’s bishops condemn letter defaming Church (Vatican News) India’s Catholic bishops have condemned a malicious fake letter making the rounds on the social media, that is designed to defame the Catholic Church and arouse communal tension for political gain in the run-up to the crucial assembly election on Saturday in the southern state of Karnataka. The fake letter claims that Indian Church officials in collusion with representatives of the Holy See in New Delhi, support demands made by Karnataka’s Lingayat community to be recognized as a separate minority religion in order to convert them…
Catholic Church accused of ‘playing politics’ in Goa, India (UCANews.com) Villagers in India’s Goa state have started a hunger strike against environmental policies amid accusations that the Catholic Church supports such protests. They started the hunger strike on 9 May as part of their opposition to the Planning and Development Authority, which they claim is implementing a regional plan to take over farmland and water bodies in several villages to develop tourism projects threatening the environment…
Egypt celebrates 50th anniversary of Coptic-approved Marian apparition (Egypt Today) On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the great apparition of Virgin Mary in in Egypt, Pope Tawadros II of Alexandria said that the historical event was a message of love from God to Egyptians…
9 May 2018
Tags: Syria India Israel Iran Czech Republic
Seminarians browse the library at St. Francis Theological College in Thellakom, India. (photo: Meenakshi Soman)
In the current edition of ONE, writer Anubha George visits Indian seminaries where future priests are studying. Here, she offers some personal reflections on the assignment.
Long winding roads; the green of the Kerala countryside; tall coconut trees and a flash of backwaters every few miles.
All this crisscrossing led us to three very different but equally important seminaries in Kerala. It is here that future generations of priests in India are being trained to devote their lives to Christ and community.
We had gorgeous weather on our travels. Kerala gets boiling hot and humid come end of February/early March. But the beginning of February is breezy, comfortably warm and the humidity is tolerable. We needn’t have worried though. The seminaries we visited: Mary Matha major seminary in Mannuthy near Trichur; St Thomas Apostolic seminary in Vadavathoor near Kottayam, and St. Francis Theological College in Thellakom had one thing in common — apart from training priests, that is! They all had lots of trees — coconut, banana, banyan, jack fruit, tapioca plants, to name a few. It was cool in these seminaries.
Another thing that struck me over and over again was the wonderfully positive energy in each of these places. They are all beautiful and imposing buildings, away from the maddening sounds of the city. It’s peaceful and quiet here. You can see why the church has chosen to train future priests here. There are no distractions. Just peaceful buildings located in quiet and small communities, where the young men learn how to support and bring people together.
The chapels in all three seminaries made an impression on my heart. It felt like Christ was present here. The Capuchin seminary chapel was designed by the men themselves. It showed the world turned into one single nest through the Divine.
The seminary chapel at St. Francis Theological College uses images of nature and the branches of a tree in its design. (photo: Meenakshi Soman)
The church respects the fact that an understanding of different religions is needed in this day and age of conflict and controversy. Interfaith understanding is encouraged. Brothers are taught about other religions and are trained in how to have fruitful and positive dialogue with people from other faiths.
The pastoral training is tough. It is long and many people quit. But those who stay are determined to make a difference. We met many such brothers and deacons. They are clear in their purpose — to live their live in the way Jesus did; to make parishioners see Christ in them.
All seminaries run programs to help communities, such as providing support to people with AIDS; helping poor and underprivileged do their school and home work; counseling families to sort out their family problems; and organizing retreats for spiritual guidance. Young people from the local communities are especially encouraged to participate in activities organized by the local parishes.
Visitors are always welcomed in the seminaries. At every seminary, we were offered a delicious lunch cooked with organically grown vegetables.
Three days. Three seminaries. Three villages in interior Kerala. Not once did it feel like a chore. We came away feeling refreshed from each of these places.
Read more about The New Priests in the March 2018 edition of ONE.
9 May 2018
Tags: India Catholic Seminarians Vocations (religious)
Toddler Joao Bento wears a pope outfit during the general audience in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican on 9 May. (photo: CNS/Claudio Peri, EPA)
9 May 2018
In the video above, Pope Francis blesses a bus driven by Syrian refugees who will travel through Poland seeking to publicize the plight of Syria. During his general audience Wednesday, the pope called for prayers for peace in Syria and the world. (video: Rome Reports/YouTube)
During audience, Pope calls for prayers for Syria (Vatican News) Pope Francis has urged for prayers for peace in Syria and in the world. His call came during his weekly general audience of Wednesday, where he greeted Arab-speaking pilgrims. “I invite you to cultivate the devotion to the Mother of God with the daily recitation of the rosary, praying in a special way for peace in Syria and in the entire world,” the pope said in Italian…
Israel attacked Syria an hour after Trump ended Iran deal, says report (Time) Syrian state-run media said Israel struck a military outpost near the capital Damascus on Tuesday, saying its air defenses intercepted and destroyed two of the incoming missiles. The reported attack came an hour after President Donald Trump announced he was withdrawing from the Iran nuclear deal, calling Tehran a main exporter of terrorism in the region. Israel’s military said Tuesday its forces were on high alert near its border with Syria, and were urging civilians in the Golan Heights near Syria to prepare bomb shelters…
Christian leaders in Jerusalem respond to vandalism (CNA) Church leaders are defending the need for a Christian presence in the Old City of Jerusalem, as some report increased vandalism, verbal abuse, and aggressive property acquisition by Jewish settlers. “Today the church faces a most severe threat at the hands of certain settler groups. The settlers are persistent in their attempts to erode the presence of the Christian community in Jerusalem,” said the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem, Theophilos III, in an interview with the Guardian…
Taboo puts pregnant women at risk in India (UCANews.com) “It is still considered a taboo in our village to visit a doctor during pregnancy. We are told to work and eat a normal diet even when pregnancy is detected. This is how it has been going on here for years,” said Rubeena Bano, 33, of Pulwama district. Close to 25 percent of women like Bano, who live in village areas of this Muslim-dominated region, believe that supplements like folic acid, iron and calcium tablets are unnecessary during pregnancy, a study found last year. The study by the Food Science Research Journal found village women did not have adequate awareness of the benefits of dietary supplements…
Leader of Armenia’s ‘velvet revolution’ takes power (NPR) On Tuesday, half a month after Serzh Sargsyan stepped down under popular pressure, Armenian lawmakers elected rough-hewn protest leader, Nikol Pashinyan, 42, to be the country’s next prime minister…
Tags: Syria India Israel Armenia Iran