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Volume 43, Number 1
  
29 February 2016
Greg Kandra




Refugees speak to the press on the Greek-Macedonia border on 29 February 2016 in Idomeni, Greece. (photo: Pierre Crom/Getty Images)

Pope prays for refugees, Syria (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Sunday prayed for refugees fleeing wars and what he called “other inhuman situations.” In particular, he drew attention to the migrant crisis in Greece and in other countries that are on the front line in offering aid to those in need which he added, required the cooperation of all nations…

Syria’s cease-fire holding (Time Magazine) A fragile cease-fire remained intact for a third day in parts of Syria on Monday, even as monitoring groups reported renewed Russian airstrikes on areas held by opponents of the Syrian government. The cease-fire applies only to the government and its allies, and a handful of rebel groups…

Canada welcomes 25,000th Syrian refugee (CBC) A plane touched down in Montreal on Saturday night carrying the 25,000th Syrian refugee to arrive in Canada since November. It marks the end of the first phase of the resettlement program launched by the Liberal government shortly after taking office…

Pope Francis to Ethiopian patriarch: Martyrs are the seed of Christian unity (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis urged world leaders to “promote peaceful coexistence” in the face of “a devastating outbreak of violence against Christians” on Monday, when he received the patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, Abune Matthias I, in the Vatican…

U.S. warns of ‘catastrophic failure’ if Mosul dam breaks (CNN) Iraq’s Mosul Dam is facing a “serious and unprecedented risk of catastrophic failure with little warning,” the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad warned on Sunday. “A catastrophic breach of Iraq’s Mosul Dam would result in severe loss of life, mass population displacement, and destruction of the majority of the infrastructure within the path of the projected floodwave,” the U.S. government said in a fact sheet…

After 20 years, Palestinians in Gaza can once again go to the movies (Reuters) Palestinians in the Gaza Strip are enjoying their first night out at the movies since political tensions led to the torching of cinemas in the enclave 20 years ago. Hollywood blockbusters have yet to return and Hamas Islamists, who now rule Gaza, are looking out for anything they consider immodest. Nevertheless, the projectors are rolling again, in a newly opened cinema whose shows have been limited so far to films about the Palestinian struggle for statehood…

Christians protest book claiming Jesus was a Hindu (Christian Today) Indian Christians in Maharashtra state have protested against a book by one of the founders of the right-wing Hindu nationalist political organization Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (R.S.S.) claiming Jesus was a Hindu. First published in 1946 and written by Ganesh Savarkar, Christ Parichay — translated into English as “Jesus was a Tamil Hindu” — claims Jesus was a Brahmin and that Christianity is just a sect of Hinduism…



Tags: Syria Iraq India Ethiopia Gaza Strip/West Bank

26 February 2016
CNEWA staff




In this image from January, a priest gives Communion to a woman during a Mass for Iraqi Christian refugees at Our Lady of Peace Center on the outskirts of the Jordanian capital, Amman.
(photo: CNS/Dale Gavlak)


The current issue of America Magazine features a compelling essay on religious freedom by CNEWA’s external affairs officer, the Rev. Elias D. Mallon, S.A., PhD:

The status of religious freedom in the world is not something to celebrate these days. The situation in the Middle East remains dire. Hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced, and religious minorities are being persecuted and slaughtered. But this sad state of affairs is not unique or limited to that region. South Asia has recently seen a disturbing increase of sectarian violence against Christians and Muslims. Together the Middle East and South Asia are home to most of the major religious traditions of the planet. Not surprisingly, they are also home to many of the violations against religious freedom.

“Freedom of thought, conscience and religion” is guaranteed as a human right in Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, to which most countries of the world have bound themselves by treaty and international law. Nevertheless, the sad fact is that abuses against freedom of religion are probably the most widespread and varied of all abuses. Issues involving the freedom of religion vary from the requirements of the Affordable Care Act in the United States to the genocidal tactics of ISIS in Syria and Iraq. They run the gamut from the legal to the existential.

Read the full essay at the America link. Meantime, check out the Sirius satellite radio interview below, which offers more from Father Elias on the topic.



26 February 2016
Greg Kandra




Father Sharbel Bcheiry plays with his sons Gabriel, 5, and Emmanuel, 3, at his home in suburban Chicago. To read more about the life of a married priest, check out this profile from the
Summer 2015 edition of ONE. (photo: Karen Callaway)




26 February 2016
Greg Kandra




A Syrian boy receives treatment for wounds, sustained following an airstrike, at a make-shift hospital in the rebel-held city of Douma in Eastern Ghouta, on 26 February 2016. Intense fighting has continued, just hours before a midnight deadline for a landmark ceasefire in the country's five-year civil war. (photo: Abd Doumany/AFP/Getty Images)

Syria ceasefire deadline looms, fighting continues (CNN) As the clock races toward the deadline for Syria’s warring parties to declare them in or out of a proposed “cessation of hostilities,” the stakes could hardly be higher — for those groups vying for power, for the Syrian people, for the Middle East, for Europe — and for the world as a whole...

Pope Francis meets with members of ‘Cor Unum’ (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Friday met with participants at an international conference organised by the Pontifical Council “Cor Unum’ to mark the tenth anniversary of Pope Benedict XVI’s first encyclical ‘Deus Caritas Est’. Reflecting on the theme of the conference, “Love will never end’, Pope Francis said the message of the encyclical remains timely, especially in this Jubilee year as we celebrate the central belief of our faith, that God is love...

Cardinal Sandri addresses conference on Christianity in the Middle East (Vatican Radio) Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, Prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches, spoke on Thursday to an international conference organized by the German Episcopal Conference and the University of Munich. The International Conference Between World Society and Regional Transformations: Christians, Christian Churches, and Religion in a Changing Middle East took place in Rome on 24-26 February. Many Catholic and Orthodox leaders from the Middle East took part in the event...

Franciscans in India request 1,000 pardons for inmates (CNS) In honor of the Holy Year of Mercy, Franciscans in India have asked their government to pardon 1,000 prisoners guilty of minor crimes. The men and women religious of the Association of the Franciscan Families of India voted during their national assembly in February to make the request, according to Matters India, a news portal that focuses on religious and social issues in India...

Egyptian court sentences Coptic Christians to five years in prison (Fides) The Egyptian court in Minya issued a heavy sentence against four Coptic students accused of contempt of Islam after mimicking an Islamic State beheading video of a Muslim faithful who was praying...



Tags: Syria India Egypt Pope Francis

25 February 2016
Greg Kandra




The faithful gather to pray at the Church of the Forty Martyrs in Mardin, Turkey. To learn more about Christians who have returned to their homeland, read Coming Home in the Winter 2015 edition of ONE. (photo: Don Duncan)



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)







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