Current Issue
Autumn, 2015
Volume 41, Number 3
30 October 2015
J.D. Conor Mauro

A Jordanian boy looks on during a protest in solidarity with Palestinian demonstrators following Friday prayers in Amman on 30 October. (photo: Khalil Mazraawi/AFP/Getty Images)

Pilgrims visit Holy Land, despite the violence (Fides) Pilgrimages continue to take place in Holy Land, despite the violence in recent weeks across the territory, according to the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem. “A pilgrimage in difficult times is a real pilgrimage,” wrote Bishop William Shomali in a note thanking visitors and inviting groups to pray for peace in Holy Land…

Coptic Christians targeted for kidnappings in Egypt (Christian Today) Police complacency toward the kidnapping of Coptic Christians in Egypt has fostered a climate of impunity, according to a Christian persecution charity. The phenomenon of kidnapping Coptic Christians for ransom has spread in the Minya province, the latest of which occurred last week…

Project for women and vulnerable children in the Somali region (Fides) The Catholic Church in the Somali region of Ethiopia is engaged in a project assisting women and vulnerable children. The idea, says a local source, was born following the meeting of missionary volunteers with underserved local residents. Most of these vulnerable people live with H.I.V. and other serious health problems…

Photos: 150 rescued from sinking boat off Lesbos (Al Jazeera) Photos of the rescue effort: The craft was one of many to encounter trouble making the crossing from Turkey as waters turn treacherous…

Patriarch Kirill believes in improvement of Russian-U.S. relations (Interfax) Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia believes that problems in Russian-U.S. relations will become history. “I think there is a special need for closer contact when problems arise in the relations between our countries,” the patriarch said in a meeting with U.S. Ambassador John Tefft in Moscow on Friday…

Tags: Egypt Refugees Ethiopia Holy Land Patriarch Kirill

29 October 2015
Michael J.L. La Civita

Easter is celebrated in the Italo-Albanian Catholic village of Piana degli Albanesi, Sicily.
(photo: Marco Di Lauro/Getty Images)

Not all Italian Catholics are Roman Catholics.

In the south of Italy, in the regions of Abruzzo, Basilicata, Calabria and Puglia, the island of Sicily, and even just outside the walls of Rome, there are Italians who follow the Christian rites and traditions of the Byzantine East.

These “Italo-Greeks” or “Italo-Albanians” form a small Catholic church that comprises two eparchies and a monastery, numbering fewer than 65,000 faithful. Although small, “the history of this 1,500-year-old church — with its highs and lows — offers insights into possible models for church unity between the Catholic West and the Orthodox East,” writes Chorbishop John D. Faris in his short history of the church.

To read the full account of this fascinating story of survival, click here.

29 October 2015
Greg Kandra

Iraqi youth attend summer camp in the mountain village of Qartaba, Lebanon. Iraqis who have fled ISIS are facing new challenges in Lebanon. Read “In Limbo in Lebanon” in the
Autumn 2015 edition of ONE. (photo: Tamara Abdul Hadi)

29 October 2015
Greg Kandra

A picture taken on 29 October 2015 shows Syrians inspecting damaged buildings following a reported air strike by Syrian government forces in the rebel-held area of Douma, east of the capital Damascus. (photo: Sameer Al-DoumyAFP/Getty Images)

Kerry seeks end to Syrian civil war “hell” (BBC) The US is intensifying diplomatic efforts to end the “hell” of Syria’s civil war even as it increases support for moderate rebels, US Secretary of State John Kerry has said. Mr. Kerry is travelling to Vienna for talks with foreign ministers on ending the four-and-a-half year conflict...

Cardinal: Only peace will save the Christians of Mesopotamia (Fides) In Iraq and Syria, “without peace, there is no hope for anyone,” and only the end of sectarian conflicts can ensure the survival of the indigenous Christian communities in Mesopotamia. This is how Cardinal Fernando Filoni, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, highlighted the dangers that threaten the present and the future of Christians in vast areas of the Middle East...

Bishop: talks underway about possible meeting between Pope Francis and Patriarch Kiril (Tass) The Russian Orthodox Church and the Vatican are in talks over the possible meeting between Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia, said Bishop Tikhon (Shevkunov) of Yegoryevsk... “The relations [between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church] have varied over the past 20-30 years, at times they were tense. However, it is a different period now — of benevolent attention to each other. The negotiations over such a meeting [between the Pope and the Patriarch] are underway, and it is quite possible that we will learn something specific in the near future,” he said answering a question from a TASS correspondent...

Istanbul churches issue “Basic Principles of Christianity” book ( For the first time after 1,700 years in the Christian world, the leaders of the Greek Orthodox, Armenian Apostolic, Syriac Orthodox, Catholic and Evangelical churches in Turkey came together at the Fener Greek Patriarchate in the Balat neighborhood of Istanbul to release the book “Basic Principles of Christianity” written by a council consisting of members from the churches...

Rastafarians return to Ethiopia (CNN) Two hundred and fifty kilometers from Addis Ababa, Shashamene’s Rastafarians live in 200 hectares of land bequeathed by former Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie I, the country’s leader from 1930 to 1974. A modernizer, he was a strong supporter of pan-Africanism and brought the country into the League of Nations, United Nations and made the capital Addis Ababa the center of the Organization of African Unity — the precursor for the African Union. But for many Rastafarians he was more than just the head of state. In fact the erstwhile duke (“Ras”) Tafari Makonnen gave his name to an entire religion...

28 October 2015
D.E. Hedges

In this image from 2014, Sister Marie-Claude Naddaf, in the blue habit, meets refugees
during a visit to Erbil, Iraq. (photo: CNEWA)

Name: Sister Marie-Claude Naddaf
Order: The Good Shepherd Sisters
Facility: The Provincial Home of the Good Shepherd Sisters
Location: Ain Áar, Metn, Lebanon

During times of peace as well as war, the abuse of wives and daughters is often condoned in many communities across the Middle East. Sister Marie-Claude Naddaf knows she can’t end such widespread, deeply ingrained practices. But at the Provincial Home in Lebanon, she’s having a positive effect on women’s lives just the same.

Like her fellow Good Shepherd Sisters, she views the group home they’ve established for those at-risk as an oasis of compassion. “Our mission is to support women and girls living in violence in their homes,” Sister Marie-Claude explains. “We receive women who have marital problems and they’re sometimes pregnant. We give them food and shelter. We also help children between 2 and 7 years old, and have a boarding home for girls 4 to 18 years old.

Many refugee families now living in Lebanon are also receiving help, either at the Provincial Home or at other facilities run by the greater community of Good Shepherd Sisters.

As Sister Marie Claude points out, “We provide shelter, rehabilitation, education and professional training for young people, women and refugees. There is also an emergency food and hygiene program, a legal support program for women, and psychosocial support for children who have suffered trauma from the war.”

Among the children they’ve assisted is Syrian girl named Hamide. As Sister Marie-Claude explains, “At the age 12, Hamide was taken by a group of terrorists. She was raped several times, but managed to escape and was found in a public garden in Damascus.”

Once she was brought to the Provincial Home, “Hamide became another person. She studied hard and she is now in her complementary level. Hamide is very loving and very sensitive, especially when the sisters receive a new person in our home.”

If Sister Marie-Claude has one frustration, it’s that the Provincial Home is so understaffed, “we are not able to help the sick refugees. We do not have enough time to listen to so many people. We are only three sisters and there are so many requests for help.”

With no solution in sight, Sister Marie Claude admits she’ll simply continue working, as hard as she possibly can. But with so many desperate people to comfort, the sisters need more than dedication to continue their work. It’s why they need your support.

Thousands of sisters. Millions of small miracles.

To support the good work of sisters throughout CNEWA’s world, click here.

Also, for a limited time, you can make your gift go twice as far. A generous benefactor is matching every donation to support the sisters between now and 1 November, All Saints’ Day. Learn more about this great gift here.

28 October 2015
Greg Kandra

The Autumn 2015 edition of ONE is now available online and will be arriving soon in a mailbox near you. You can check it out right here.

We have — appropriately — a cornucopia of inspiring news and information in this edition. Among other stories, our reporters and photographers tell how faith is growing in Ukraine, how Christians in India are standing firm in the face of persecution, and how Ethiopians are learning to adapt to an increasingly urbanized landscape. All this and more, in the new edition of ONE.

Take a look.

And take a moment to watch Msgr. John E. Kozar’s video preview below.

28 October 2015
Greg Kandra

A seminarian prays before the morning liturgy in Uzhorod, Ukraine. A new generation of seminarians is helping breathe new life into the seminary and the Greek Catholic Church. Read more in “Out From Underground” in the Autumn 2015 edition of ONE. (photo: Oleg Grigoryev)

28 October 2015
Greg Kandra

In the video above, Pope Francis marks the 50th anniversary of Nostra Aetate during his
weekly audience. (video: Rome Reports)

Iran accepts invitation to Syria peace talks (Reuters) Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and three of his deputies will attend multilateral talks on Friday in Vienna that seek to resolve the conflict in Syria, the foreign ministry was quoted as saying on Wednesday. It will be the first time that Tehran, the main regional backer of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, attends an international summit on the four-year-long war. Other participants, notably the United States, say Assad can play no part in Syria’s future...

Russians meet with religious leaders in Syria (Fides) A Russian delegation composed of parliamentarians, political and military representatives recently made a visit to Syria for a program of meetings which also includes visits to representatives of churches and local religious communities...

Iraqi parliament rejects law on religious affiliation for children (Fides) Parliament in Iraq rejected the proposal — made by Christian representatives, but supported by parliamentarians belonging to different alliances — to amend the law by which a child is automatically registered as a Muslim, even if only one parent converts to Islam...

Ethiopia experiencing worst drought in 30 years (UN Humanitarian Bulletin) Ethiopia is experiencing its worst drought in 30 years. The impact of the failed spring belg rains was compounded by the arrival of the El Niño weather conditions that weakened summer kiremt rains that feed 80 to 85 per cent of the country. This greatly expanded food insecurity, malnutrition and devastated livelihoods across six affected regions of the country. The level of acute need across virtually all humanitarian sectors has already exceeded levels seen in the Horn of Africa drought of 2011 and is projected to be far more severe throughout an 8-month period in 2016...

Catholic bishops in India ask government to focus on values, inclusiveness (Vatican Radio) The CBCI has proposed the ministry of Human Resource Development to form its new education policy focusing on teaching values and probity in public life without being religion-specific. The Catholic Church which owns the second highest number of education institutions in the country claimed that the present system was deficient in ethical and moral components. Further, the Church said that the new policy should nurture diversity, inclusiveness and secularism as well as divergent and critical thinking among the students...

‘Nostra Aetate’ at 50: the ‘Magna Carta’ of interreligious dialogue (CNS) Representatives of the world’s religions gathered in Rome to commemorate and reflect on the 50th anniversary of “Nostra Aetate,” the Second Vatican Council’s declaration on relations with other religions. Although it is the shortest of the Second Vatican Council’s documents, its influence continues to be felt in the life of the church today, said speakers at an anniversary conference 26-28 October sponsored by the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue and the Pontifical Commission for Religious Relations With the Jews...

Tags: Syria Iraq India Pope Francis Russia

27 October 2015
Carl Hétu

Migrants from Syria walk along a road in the village of Miratovac, Serbia.
(photo: CNS/Marko Djurica, Reuters)

A month after endorsing CNEWA’s campaign to aid refugees, the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) has issued a powerful pastoral letter on the subject entitled “I Was a Stranger and You Welcomed Me.”

Citing both biblical teaching and the recent words of Pope Francis, the bishops state:

The immense and unprecedented refugee crisis today is heart-breaking, moving us to tears and urging us to act. As leaders of the Catholic Church in Canada, we believe that discussion is not enough; this is a time for urgent action. Every single day, desperate people try to cross a vast ocean of indifference. These people are called refugees. They are often treated simply as a problem or a concern, but to us they are our brothers and sisters, fellow human beings who need our help right now.

Among other things, the bishops urge the faithful to provide moral and spiritual support to those in refugee camps; call on the federal government to expand the acceptance of refugees in Canada; and support vital aid organizations — including, most notably, CNEWA.

This is a strong and powerful statement on behalf of our suffering brothers and sisters around the world. It cries out for attention. Please read the entire document and share it. And if you can, prayerfully consider supporting us in our mission — one that can help carry out our call as Christians and truly help the stranger so in need of being welcomed.

If you live in Canada, please visit this page to learn how you can help. Outside of Canada, please check out this giving page.

And thank you!

27 October 2015
Michael J.L. La Civita

Orthodox icons seen in Larnaca, Cyprus. (photo: Hannes Magerstaedt/Getty Images)

By virtue of its dominant Hellenic culture, many consider Cyprus a part of Europe. Yet this eastern Mediterranean island of 1.2 million people — divided into Greek- and Turkish-speaking zones — also figures in the annals of Asian history. Cyprus lies just 45 miles south of Turkey, 63 miles west of Syria and 120 miles northwest of Israel.

The history of Cyprus is riddled with conflict. But one constant factor has maintained the isle’s Hellenic identity into the modern era: the Orthodox Church. This faith community constitutes about 90 percent of the island’s population and has served as a cultural repository and a bastion of faith even as rival Asian and European powers conquered Cyprus.

From its origins in Roman Palestine, Christianity quickly took root among the many Greek-speaking populations of the Roman Empire.

Largely through the evangelical efforts of Sts. Paul and Barnabas, who as described in the Acts of the Apostles first brought the faith to Cyprus, these Greek-speaking Christians formed urban communities that evolved into important Christian centers. Rather than rejecting their Hellenic culture, these churches embraced it, providing philosophical and theological vocabularies that later helped define the teachings of Jesus among the empire’s elite.

Cypriot Christian Orthodox devotees carry a bier depicting Christ’s preparation for burial during a Good Friday procession, at the Ayios Georgios Exorinos Church in the Cypriot Turkish controlled North on 18 April 2014 in Famagusta, Cyprus. (photo: Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/Getty Images)

The church of Cyprus, while linked to the churches of Antioch and Constantinople, flourished and became largely independent. In 488, the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) emperor, Zeno, confirmed this independence and granted the church’s metropolitan archbishop certain privileges that remain to the present day.

While Cyprus was taken in the seventh century by invading Arab Muslims, for nearly 300 years Cyprus was governed jointly by Byzantine and Muslim Arab governors — an arrangement rare in the history of international law. In 988, however, the Byzantines asserted complete control and Christian life in Byzantine Cyprus flourished. Judging by the sophisticated architecture of the era’s churches and the quality of the art, Cyprus maintained close ties to Constantinople and its workshops.

These ties were ruptured, however, when soldiers of the Third Crusade, led by King Richard the Lion-Hearted of England, suddenly took the island in 1191, imprisoning the Byzantine governor. The Latins reduced the power of the island’s Greek-speaking Orthodox hierarchy, exiled the archbishop and expropriated church property. Resistance was dealt with ruthlessly. Latin Catholic missionaries flooded Cyprus and founded monasteries and reordered Byzantine churches for Latin Catholic use.

When Cyprus fell to the Muslim Ottoman Turks in 1570, the island’s Greek-speaking communities (who were considered neither Catholics by the Latins nor Orthodox by mainland Greek Orthodox clerics) greeted the Turks as deliverers. The sultan of the Ottoman Turks — who had taken Constantinople in 1453 and assumed the mantle of its emperors — banished the Latin hierarchy of Cyprus, recognized its long suffering Orthodox community, reconstituted its hierarchy and appointed the metropolitan archbishop as head of the Greek-speaking community, or millet. This reinforced the role of the Orthodox Church as custodian of Cyprus’s Hellenic culture, warden of the isle’s Byzantine identity and spiritual guardian of its Christians. But charging the Orthodox hierarchy of Cyprus with responsibility for governing its own people proved to be a double-edged sword.

Click here to read more.

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