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Current Issue
Winter, 2016
Volume 42, Number 4
  
25 February 2016
Greg Kandra




A refugee woman from Syria carries food while other displaced people sit near a border gate in Kilis, Turkey, on 9 February. (photo: CNS/Sedat Suna, EPA)

Iraqi Christians move to have greater representation of minorities in government (Fides) In recent days, members of Christians present in the Parliamentary Assembly of Iraq have called for greater representation of minorities in the government of technocrats led by Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, at least in part to stem the marginalization suffered by Christians and other minorities...

UN says aid drop to Syria failed (BBC) The UN’s first aid-drop over the Syrian city of Deir al-Zour, part of which is under siege by Islamic State militants, may have been off-target. Wednesday’s operation “faced technical difficulties” and “adjustments” were needed, the World Food Programme said. It added that it would try again when possible to deliver aid to the 200,000 civilians who have been trapped in a government-held area since March 2014...

Report: Turkish troops engaged in covert battle against ISIS (The Telegraph) Turkish troops are locked in a covert fight against ISIS in north Iraq, the Telegraph has learned, despite Baghdad’s insistence that they leave the country. Just nine miles northeast of the Isil stronghold of Mosul a number of tanks overlook the sprawling Nineveh plains, where they have been positioned for months. With their barrels trained on the city, Ankara’s ground forces are engaged in shelling Isil, according to a Kurdish Peshmerga general...

The science behind Ethiopia’s hunger crisis (Mother Jones) Tens of millions of people are facing a hunger crisis as a widespread drought is decimating crops and livestock in Ethiopia and southern Africa. The drought — which has received far less US media coverage California’s dry spell — could prove to be one of the most devastating consequences of the ongoing El Niño event that is wreaking havoc on global weather...

Secondhand clothes from Israel prove popular in Gaza (AP) The clothes were faded and worn out, and came from an unlikely place: Israel. But that didn't bother the Palestinian women rummaging through piles of tattered jeans, shirts, jackets and baby clothing at the weekly flea market in a refugee camp in central Gaza. Demand for the garments has become a barometer for the economic situation in Gaza, where after nearly a decade of rule by the Hamas militant group, poverty and unemployment levels are higher than ever, and the market for used clothing is buoyant...

Ukraine agrees to resume truck transit back to Russia (TASS) Ukraine’s cabinet of ministers approved the proposal of the ministry of infrastructure to unlock Russia’s motor freight transit in its territory on Wednesday. “We are ready to put back temporary permits from midnight of 25 February and return transit actually blocked for the last ten days to Ukraine’s territory,” minister of infrastructure Andrei Pivovarsky said...



Tags: Syria Iraq Ethiopia Gaza Strip/West Bank Turkey

24 February 2016
Chris Kennedy




Among the many joyful aspects of working for CNEWA, one of my favorites has been helping to expand our Parish Awareness Program. This role has taken me, along with my colleagues Deacon Greg Kandra and the Rev. Elias Mallon, across the country to a variety of parishes, in order to share our mission and work.

This past weekend, Deacon Greg and I took CNEWA’s message of hope from coast to coast — literally — as we traveled to St. William’s Parish in Atascadero, California, about 30 miles north of San Luis Obispo.

CNEWA’s team visited St. William’s Parish in Atascadero, California last weekend. (photo: CNEWA)

Deacon Greg preached at the weekend masses, connecting CNEWA’s work to the theme of “light” present throughout Sunday’s readings. Across the Middle East and beyond, he explained, Christians’ light of hope is flickering, and in danger of going out. Through our regional partners, including the Dominican Sisters of St. Catherine of Siena in Erbil, Iraq, CNEWA is helping to ensure that Christians and other persecuted minorities have the resources — and the hope — to sustain themselves through hardships that few of us could imagine.


CNEWA’s multimedia editor, Deacon Greg Kandra, preached at all the Masses. (photo: CNEWA)

After the masses, we greeted parishioners at a table we set up outside, under the warm California sunshine. There, parishioners were able to learn more about our work and sign up for a subscription to our magazine, ONE. Many people I spoke with expressed a sentiment I hear often: “We’ve heard about the struggles of our Christian brothers and sisters, and we’re so grateful for the chance to help!”

We’re especially grateful to a few wonderful people at St. William’s for making our visit such a success. Deacon Rick Minton, the parish’s Pastoral Associate, and his wife, Debbie, made sure we were well-fed and well-rested. The pastor, the Rev. Edwin Limpiado, welcomed us warmly and gregariously. It quickly became clear that he is well-loved by his flock! We also met Gabriel Okafor, a seminarian of the Diocese of Monterey who is doing his pastoral year under Father Edwin.

Chris Kennedy and Deacon Greg visit with pastor Father Edwin Limpiado and Deacon Rick Minton. (photo: CNEWA)

Overall, it was a wonderful visit, and, as I am at every parish visit, I was touched by the large number of people who stopped by to make a donation and learn more about us. It’s gratifying to meet such engaged, caring people who want to make a difference, and it’s an honor to welcome them to the CNEWA family!

If you’re interested in having CNEWA visit your parish, and spread our mission of hope, please do not hesitate to contact Norma Intriago, Director of Development, at nintriago@cnewa.org.



24 February 2016
Antin Sloboda




The photo above, from November 2015, shows a memorial in Kiev, Ukraine. This week, Ukrainians are commemorating victims who died during December 2013 — February 2014 protests in downtown Kiev. At that time, about 100 peaceful protesters were killed by the pro-presidential security forces. In addition to ordinary Ukrainian citizens, victims included citizens of Belarus and Georgia. You can read a first-hand account of the protests in the Spring 2014
edition of ONE. (photo: Carl Hétu)




24 February 2016
Greg Kandra




Pope Francis and Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill of Moscow sign a joint declaration during a meeting at Jose Marti International Airport in Havana on 12 February. Standing in front of Cuba’s flag is Cuban President Raul Castro. (photo: CNS/Paul Haring)

Relations between Vatican and Russian Orthodox expected to develop further (Sputnik News) Relations between the Russian Orthodox and the Roman Catholic churches will positively develop further following the historic meeting of their two religious leaders, the Russian Patriarch’s press secretary said Wednesday...

ISIS losing ground (Vox) Libyan fighters are celebrating a major victory on Tuesday: They’ve driven ISIS out of parts of Benghazi, eastern Libya’s largest city, building on advances in and around the city on Sunday. ISIS isn’t just losing in Benghazi. In its home base in Syria and Iraq, it’s lost up to 30 percent of its territory from its peak in August 2014. And it’s tried expanding abroad, officially declaring a wilayat — which literally means “province” and refers to ISIS’s foreign franchises — in roughly a dozen countries...

Health care professionals visit Gaza (The Des Moines Register) In mid-January of this year, 13 health care professionals — including two physicians from Des Moines, myself and Maria Filippone — joined a medical delegation to Gaza, organized by Washington Physicians for Social Responsibility. This was the 11th medical delegation sponsored by WPSR since 2009...

Indian archbishop urges action over Christian unemployment (UCANews) An Indian archbishop is urging the government to take steps to reverse a rising unemployment rate among Christians. “Unemployment among Christians is really a problem,” said Archbishop Leo Cornelio of Bhopal. The government should formulate “measures to eradicate” unemployment among Christians so “that the trust and confidence can be formed among the (religious) minority community,” he said in a 24 February statement...

Head of Ukrainian Catholic Church consoled by pope’s words (CNS) The head of the Ukrainian Catholic Church said he was consoled by Pope Francis’ words of understanding and tenderness after he expressed the disappointment of Ukrainians with a joint declaration signed by the pope and the Russian Orthodox patriarch. The pope’s remarks were “truly the opening of the doors of mercy,” said Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk of Kiev-Halych, head of the Ukrainian Catholic Church...

Turkish mayor vows to build biggest statue of Mary in the world (Fides) Turkish Mayor Zeynel Bakici, at the head of the town of Selcuk — where there is the archaeological site of the ancient city of Ephesus — has relauched plans to build the tallest statue in the world dedicated to the Virgin Mary at the foot of Bulbul Dagi . Selcuk — said the mayor according to Turkish sources consulted by Agenzia Fides — has applied to host the 2017 edition of the international Symposium on religious tourism and pilgrimages, and in this circumstance conventioneers may already find the imposing statue of the Mother of Christ...



Tags: Syria India Lebanon Gaza Strip/West Bank Russian Orthodox

23 February 2016
Greg Kandra




Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia visited the Bellingshausen Station on Waterloo Island in Antarctica on 17 February, and got to spend a little quality time with some of the local residents. To learn more about his visit, check out this link. (photo: Moscow Patriarchate)



23 February 2016
Greg Kandra




A Syrian man walks past a poster bearing a portrait of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on a street in the capital Damascus on 23 February, 2016, a day after a ceasefire deal was announced.
(photo: Louai Beshara/AFP/Getty Images)


Syria agrees to truce (CBS News) The Syrian government said Tuesday that it had accepted a proposed truce in the country, adding that operations would nevertheless continue against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and al Qaeda’s branch in Syria. A Foreign Ministry statement on Tuesday said government forces would have the right to respond to any violation carried out by insurgents...

Assyrian hostages released (Vatican Radio) The Islamic State has released 43 Christians who were taken captive during a February 2015 military offensive in northeastern Syria, according to the Assyrian Church of the East Relief Organization (ACERO)...

Mobs in Ukraine attack Russian banks (The New York Times) The branch offices of three Russian banks were firebombed or looted over the weekend, and some of the attacks were the work of Ukrainian nationalists. Petroleum bombs were thrown at three branches of the Russian state banks Sberbank and VTB in the western city of Lviv early on Monday, destroying one in a burst of flames and damaging the other two. Also on Monday, attackers hurled stones at a Sberbank branch in Mariupol, in a government-controlled area of eastern Ukraine...

Canada on track to resettle 25,000 Syrian refugees (NPR) Canada is on the verge of hitting its goal of resettling 25,000 Syrian refugees before the end of this month. That’s notable because the country only started accepting these migrants less than four months ago. The government in Canada has relied on private citizens to help carry the load...

Bishop challenges Catholics to combat “ugly tide of anti-Islamic bigotry” (CNS) San Diego Bishop Robert W. McElroy is challenging U.S. Catholics to take an active role in combating “the scourge of anti-Islamic prejudice.” “We are witnessing in the United States a new nativism, which the American Catholic community must reject and label for the religious bigotry which it is,” he said in a keynote address delivered on 17 February in the University of San Diego’s Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice...

In Gaza, bicycles are a battleground for women who dare to ride (The New York Times) Many Palestinians frown at the idea of women bicycling in public because men might inappropriately leer at their legs moving up and down or ogle their bottoms. Female cyclists are a fairly unusual sight throughout the Arab world, though women participate in group rides in Cairo and Amman, and in Beirut, women pedal rented bikes on the Corniche, the pedestrian strip along the Mediterranean...



Tags: Syria Ukraine Gaza Strip/West Bank Russia Muslim

22 February 2016
Timothy McCarthy




Fleeing the violence in Syria — which has taken on sectarian overtones — refugee children scream as they sit in front of Macedonian riot police at the Greek-Macedonian border last summer. CNEWA’s own Elias Mallon, S.A., shares his thoughts on challenges to religious liberty worldwide in America Magazine. (photo: CNS/Yannis Behrakis, Reuters)



22 February 2016
J.D. Conor Mauro




Syrian government forces remove an ISIS flag and replace it with a Syrian flag at after retaking control of an area near Aleppo. (photo: George Ourfalian/AFP/Getty Images)

Syrian army retakes 18 villages from ISIS near Aleppo (Haaretz) Syria’s army and allies, backed by Russian air strikes, recaptured 18 villages from Islamic State fighters in eastern Aleppo province on Saturday, a monitoring group said. The advance extended their control of parts of a road running towards the jihadist group’s stronghold of Raqqa, and built on gains made in assaults that intensified sharply earlier this month…

Syria war: Blasts kill 129 in Damascus and Homs (Al Jazeera) A series of suicide bombs near a Shiite shrine in Damascus and in Homs have killed at least 129 people on a day the United States and Russia claimed progress in securing a ceasefire to end the Syrian conflict. ISIS claimed that it was behind Sunday’s attacks, which killed at least 63 in Damascus and 46 in Homs. Some sources put the death toll higher…

Iraq: U.N. relief official calls for relocation of civilians to safer areas (U.N. News Center) The top United Nations humanitarian official in Iraq has said she is deeply worried about thousands of civilians who are trapped in Fallujah city and in Sinjar district and are unable to access aid, calling on Government officials to redouble efforts to relocate civilians to safer areas before the situation deteriorates further…

Iraqi premier: Government does not discriminate based on religion (Fides) The Iraqi government does not discriminate its citizens based on their religious affiliation; it considers Christians as a genuine part of Iraq’s national identity, and will do everything possible to prevent their emigration, said Iraqi Prime Minister Haydar al Abadi…

The surprisingly early history of Christianity in India (Smithsonian Magazine) Modern Christians of Kerala believe that the Apostle Thomas — the one who so famously questioned Jesus — visited here in the year 52 and baptized their forefathers. Historians surmise that the diverse, rich trading center of Kerala may well have drawn this Palestinian Jew of the Roman Empire who wished to preach the Gospel. Thousands of churches today bear his name, their rituals and theology derived from Eastern Christian traditions in the liturgical language Syriac, a formation of Aramaic, the dialect Jesus — and Thomas — spoke…



Tags: Syria Iraq War Indian Christians

19 February 2016
Greg Kandra




CNEWA is able to accompany the churches and peoples of the Middle East, northeast Africa, India and Eastern Europe because of the loving support of donors such as Ms. Hafeli. (photo: CNEWA)

Greetings from southern California! I’m here with Chris Kennedy, from CNEWA’s development team, to meet with some longtime donors and visit a parish in the Diocese of Monterey this weekend.

Before we hit the trail this Friday, I wanted to share with you the story of Anna Hafeli, who lives in Santa Monica, just a few blocks from the beach. Anna is a marvel: a 97-years-young powerhouse who exudes such joy, you can’t help but be uplifted in her presence. She has been contributing to CNEWA for decades — supporting our seminarian programs and work in the Middle East and the Horn of Africa. She also has four annuities through CNEWA.

Touched that we took the time to drop by, she shared with us stories of her journey from her youth in Switzerland, to Canada, and then finally to California, where she worked a variety of odd jobs — mostly as a waitress — to make ends meet. We updated her on some of our programs and projects and gave her an olive wood cross from the Holy Land, along with a special blessing.

Deacon Greg Kandra and Chris Kennedy visit Anna Hafeli at her home in California. (photo: CNEWA)

To me, Anna represents the heart and soul of what CNEWA is about: faithful, committed people who quietly and selflessly give whatever they can to help those in need. Their generous spirit so often goes unnoticed. But today, I’d like you to notice Anna Hafeli. Thank you, Anna, for all you’ve done to make a difference in the lives of so many.

Visit this page to learn more about CNEWA’s annuity program and other options for planned giving — one of a variety of ways to join CNEWA on its worldwide mission. Or, to make an immediate Lenten gift, click here.

We’ll be visiting St. William’s Parish in Atascadero this weekend. I’ll be preaching at all the Masses. If you’re in the neighborhood, stop by and say hello.



Tags: CNEWA Middle East United States Donors Horn of Africa

19 February 2016
J.D. Conor Mauro




Ambili Elias, a teacher with Ashabhavan, helps three students with their daily lessons. To learn more about how this institution changes the lives of children with special needs, read Kerala’s House of Hope, appearing in the Winter 2015 edition of ONE. (photo: Jose Jacob)



Tags: India Children Sisters Education Disabilities





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