Current Issue
June, 2017
Volume 43, Number 2
12 June 2017
Greg Kandra

Pope Francis greets Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, as he meets with members, consultors and guests of the council 9 June at the Vatican. (photo: CNS/L’Osservatore Romano)

Pope urges Council for Interreligious Dialogue to uphold women’s dignity (CNS) The more women are involved in and contribute to communities, politics, economics and the church, the more positive changes will come about, Pope Francis said. “Women are fully entitled to actively take part in all settings, and their rights must be affirmed and protected, including through legal instruments wherever it may prove necessary,” he said 9 June. The pope was speaking to members, consultors and guests of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, which was holding its plenary assembly in Rome 7-9 June. Participants had discussed the role of women in teaching universal fraternity. “We cannot truly call on God, the father of all, if we refuse to treat (others) in a brotherly way,” Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran told the pope, quoting from “Nostra Aetate,” the Vatican II declaration that addressed the Catholic Church’s relations with other religions...

Holy See denounces retention of migrant children (Vatican Radio) The Holy See has called on the international community to protect the rights of unaccompanied migrant children and condemned their detention as a “grave error.” The Vatican’s Permanent Observer to the UN in Geneva, Archbishop Ivan Jurkovic, made the remarks to the Human Rights Council panel discussion on the rights of unaccompanied migrant children and adolescents…

Refugee families in Lebanon return to Syria (Latin American Herald Tribune) Some 50 Syrian families who had found refuge in Lebanon have returned to their homes in a village located near the border, escorted by military units and members of the Lebanese intelligence services, according to the Lebanese Armed Forces on Saturday. The armed forces said that the families were transferred to Assal al-Ward village in civilian vehicles through Arsal Mountains in northeastern Lebanon to the border with Syria...

Family rejoices over returned of Christian girl kidnapped in Iraq (Fides) Christina Kader Ebada is the name of a Christian girl from Qaraqosh who has been returned to her family after being abducted three years ago by militia of the Islamic State group. The girl, now six years old, was united with her parents last Friday 9 June...

Mosul woman, 84, survives under rubble for a week ( After seven days of entrapment under the rubble of a house destroyed by coalition warplanes in west Mosul, an elderly woman, whose family had held her funeral, was miraculously found alive. Niama Mohammed, 84, had been caught along with another 34 people by ISIS as they tried to escape. They were used as human shield in a house. The house was one day bombed when a group of the militants had fought against the advancing Iraqi troops on the rooftop. The house was bombed by the coalition warplanes. Of the 35, only Niama survived both the bombing and hunger and thirst for a week...

Indian priest fights to end discrimination against children whose parents have HIV (CNS) A priest in the north Indian state of Rajasthan is fighting to end discrimination against children whose parents live with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. Father Jerish Antony is funding the education of 218 children whose parents have HIV as part of a program run by the Diocese of Ajmer...

Syrian refugee builds life as a surfer in Lebanon (AFP) Ali Kassem had never seen the sea before he fled his home in Syria for Lebanon, but now he’s a regular in the waves and dreams of his own surf school. Dressed in a purple wet suit, the 17-year-old confidently coats his board with wax and smears sunscreen on his face before dashing into the sea...

9 June 2017
J.D. Conor Mauro

Sister Femily Jose of the Sisters of the Destitute leads a self-help group in a village in eastern Kerala. To learn about some of the efforts of the church to provide social support in this region, read Breaking the Cycle in the March 2017 edition of ONE. (photo: Don Duncan)

Tags: India Sisters Village life

9 June 2017
J.D. Conor Mauro

Coptic Orthodox Christians celebrate the Divine Liturgy in the Minya region, south of Cairo, on 27 May. (photo: Mohamed El-Shahed/AFP/Getty Images)

Egyptian minister warns Christians of church security risks (Fides) Egyptian Interior Minister Magdi Abdel Ghaffar said, in an 8 June meeting, that Egypt is under attack by forces wishing to destabilize the country, and advises Christians to reduce visits and celebrations in churches and monasteries, stating that conspicuous crowds at places of worship could be targeted. In his speech, reported by the Egyptian media, Mr. Ghaffar confirmed that churches and monasteries will be at the center of appropriate security measures currently managed in coordination with local communities and ecclesial authorities…

Pope Francis sends condolences to Tehran attack victims (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Friday sent his condolences for the victims of Wednesday’s terrorist attack in Tehran, Iran, saying he “laments this senseless and grave act of violence.” The Holy Father’s words were conveyed in a telegram sent by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin…

Ecumenical patriarch discusses importance of environmentalism (Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople) “For more than twenty-five years, the exacerbation of the ecological crisis, along with its attendant social and financial inequalities, have created unusual concern and vigilance for the Ecumenical Patriarchate,” said Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople, adding that environmental destruction is always “accompanied by social and economic decline, unemployment and diminished quality of life…”

Iraq’s Kurds say ‘no turning back’ on independence vote (Daily Star Lebanon) Iraq’s Kurds said on Friday a referendum on independence will go ahead despite warnings internationally that a vote in favor of secession could trigger conflict with Baghdad at a time when the fight against ISIS is not yet won…

Kerala challenges Modi: No to beef ban (AsiaNews) Kerala is the first state in India to rebuke to the ban on cow meat imposed by central government of Narendra Modi. With a resolution adopted yesterday, the state’s legislators have rejected the measure…

Tags: Iraq India Egypt Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I Iran

8 June 2017
J.D. Conor Mauro

Cairo protesters gather outside St. Mark’s Coptic Orthodox Cathedral after a bomb attack on 11 December. To learn more about how Christians are keeping the faith in Egypt, often under difficult circumstances, read Anxiety in Cairo in the March 2017 edition of ONE. (photo: David Degner)

Tags: Egypt Violence against Christians Coptic Orthodox Church Coptic Christians Coptic

8 June 2017
J.D. Conor Mauro

Palestinian friends and family mourn during the funeral of Fadi al Najjar, 25, in Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip on 7 June. Al Najjar was killed by Israeli fire in the Gaza Strip the previous day. (photo: Majdi Fathi/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Half a century after the Six-Day War, some Israelis wonder if it was a victory (Los Angeles Times) Hundreds of guests and dignitaries gathered at the Knesset, the Israeli parliament, for a special session Tuesday marking the 1967 Six-Day War. It was a celebration of Israel’s lightning military victory over Arab armies in the Sinai Peninsula, Golan Heights, West Bank and East Jerusalem that forever changed the landscape of the Middle East. Absent from the parliamentary party, however, were legislators from Israel’s pro-peace Meretz party. Not enough attention, they said, was being paid to the consequences of Israel’s unending control over millions of Palestinians who live in the lands occupied 50 years ago this week…

Iraqi Kurds to hold September independence referendum (Fides) Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdish region will hold a referendum on independence on 25 September. The decision, aimed at provoking a negative reaction from the central government in Baghdad was announced last night, 7 June, during a summit between President Masud Barzani and members of the government of the autonomous region…

Iraqi forces liberate important crossing into Syria (AINA) Pro-government popular mobilization units (Hashd al Sha’abi) liberated the Safouk border crossing into the Syrian province of Hassake. The P.M.U. was able to take control of Safouk after launching a surprise assault, tonight, from the recently liberated town of Ba’aj, east of the Syrian border…

Indian farmers protest against debt-related suicides (AsiaNews) Millions of farmers have halted production in Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh. In Maharashtra, many took to the streets on 1 June to demand the government cancel farm loan debts. In a desperate attempt to put the spotlight on their tragic conditions, they destroyed the product of their hard work in the fields, throwing onions, potatoes and milk in the streets. From there, the protest spread to Madhya Pradesh, where five people died in clashes with the police…

Kerala Catholics urged to spread the ‘message’ of Kandhamal (Vatican Radio) Catholics in southern India’s Kerala state have been urged to show solidarity with the suffering Christians of Odisha state and spread the message of their exemplary witness. Cardinal George Alencherry, major archbishop of Ernakulam-Angamaly who heads the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church, made the appeal on 6 June while releasing the Malayalam version of a book by rights advocate and journalist Anto Akkara that details the atrocities of the 2008 anti-Christian violence in Odisha’s Kandhamal district…

Kerala government announces new liquor policy, 700 bars to reopen ( In a major move, the Kerala government on Thursday approved a new liquor policy that will see more than 700 closed down bars in three- and four-star hotels, allowed to reopen. Church leaders and anti-liquor activists staged a protest in front of the Kerala Assembly on Thursday against the change in policy…

Tags: Syria Iraq India Palestine Israeli-Palestinian conflict

7 June 2017
Elias D. Mallon, S.A., Ph.D.

Palestinian girls stand in front the Dome of the Rock as they attend the first Friday prayers of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan at Jerusalem’s Al Aqsa Mosque compound on 2 June 2017. (photo: Ahmad Gharabli/AFP/Getty Images)

As Muslims around the world observe Ramadan, the holy month of fasting, the Pew Research Center has released its report “Muslims and Islam: Key Findings in the U.N. and around the world.” Originally published on 7 December 2016, the report has been updated and released again on 26 May 2017.

As is the case with most Pew Reports, it is detailed yet easy to read and understand. It provides a great deal of information about the number of Muslims in the world as well as in Europe and North America. Not surprisingly, Islam is the fastest growing religion on the planet.

The report also investigates how Muslims feel about certain issues and how different non-Muslim groups feel about Muslims. It is noted that attitudes toward Muslims in the United States, for example, differ according to one’s party affiliation and that southern Europeans generally have a more negative attitude toward Muslims than do northern Europeans. An interesting study contrasts how Muslims in Islamic-dominated countries characterize the West and how non-Muslims in the West characterize Muslims. These provide important areas for dialogue and growth in mutual understanding.

Two other important issues are treated, though not equally well, in the report. The first issue is how Muslims feel about “groups like ISIS.” The overwhelming majority of Muslims both in and outside Muslim majority countries do not approve of violent extremism. This is extremely important to note.

Less satisfactory, however, is the section on “Support for Sharia.” Questions about sharia are often used by people who fear it becoming the law in more secular countries. In an unintended way, the section on “Support for Sharia” might seem to verify these fears as large majorities in Southeast Asia, South Asia, the Middle East and North Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa “favor making sharia the official law in their country.”

There are many problems with this. The report describes sharia as “a legal code based on the Quran and other Islamic scripture.” The first thing to note is that there is no “other Islamic scripture” other than the Quran; and secondly in no sense of the word is sharia a “legal code.”

“Sharia” is not a univocal term and Muslims — even those who favor making it the law of their land — have very different understandings of what that might mean. In addition, “sharia” is a religiously charged term. Few Muslims, if any, would spontaneously be against sharia even if they had little or no understanding of what it might actually mean historically and practically. As a result “sharia” with no qualifications is generally speaking not a helpful category when researching Muslim opinions.

Nevertheless, the Pew Foundation has once again provided valuable and much needed information about Islam, a religion that is misunderstood.

Tags: Muslim Islam Ramadan Religious Differences

7 June 2017
J.D. Conor Mauro

Young Muslim volunteers from the Al Arabi neighborhood of Mosul clean and repair the city’s Monastery of St. George, saying “Mosul is yours as it’s ours.” (photo: Mohammed al Zakaria via This Is Christian Iraq)

Muslims and Christians unite to rebuild Mosul monastery (Crux) Young Muslims joined Christians in repairing and cleaning the Monastery of St. George in Mosul, after ISIS militants vandalized it by smashing windows, damaging the church’s dome, and discarding its cross. The monastery belongs to the Chaldean Catholic Church…

U.S. House of Representatives approves law expanding intervention in Syria and Iraq (Fides) On Tuesday, 6 June, the United States House of Representatives unanimously approved the Iraq and Syria Genocide Emergency Relief Accountability Act of 2017, which authorizes, among other things, targeted interventions in favor of ethnic-religious minorities persecuted by ISIS. The text of the law puts Christians at the top of the list of beneficiary groups of authorized assistance and rescue measures…

At remote desert garrison in Syria, a U.S.-Iran confrontation is brewing (Christian Science Monitor) U.S.-backed forces announced Tuesday that they had begun the long-awaited assault on the northeastern Syrian city of Raqqa, ISIS’ main stronghold in the country and its self-declared capital. But some 170 miles to the south, in a remote corner of Syria’s southeastern desert, another clash is brewing that is pitting the strategic objectives of the United States against those of Iran. Both U.S. and Russian warplanes have been deployed, and some shots have already been fired, including by U.S.-backed coalition forces on Tuesday…

Syria: As airstrikes hit Raqqa, U.N. sounds alarm over plight of civilians (U.N. News Center) The United Nations humanitarian wing today said it is deeply concerned for the safety and protection of more than 400,000 civilians “who continue to be exposed to daily fighting and airstrikes” in Syria’s Raqqa Governorate. “The humanitarian situation in Al-Raqqa governorate remains dire, with the majority of the population reportedly facing critical problems in meeting their immediate needs,” Alessandra Vellucci, director of the U.N. Nations Information Service in Geneva…

Mankind responsible for protection of nature: Mar Chrysostom (The New Indian Express) Syro-Malabar Catholic Metropolitan Philipose Mar Chrysostom spoke out about the critical importance of care for the environment at a function organized by the Kerala Catholic Bishops Council to honor him. “You become true humans only when you see God in others. If a person is starving, it is the God who is starving. God first created man, then nature. So, it is the responsibility of the mankind to protect nature,” said the church leader, who turned 100 this year…

Palestine in Motion (Al Jazeera) Al Jazeera presents “stories of loss, love, trauma, hope, and ultimately, of what it means to be Palestinian,” with each of the rotating photos linking to a separate profile…

Tags: Syria Iraq Christian-Muslim relations Palestinians Indian Bishops

6 June 2017
J.D. Conor Mauro

Youth from 14 parishes receive lunch at a summer program in Alitena, Ethiopia. Meal programs in schools, camps and other venues are a crucial, successful element of the Ethiopian Catholic Church’s efforts to support local communities throughout Ethiopia — efforts CNEWA is proud to assist. In March, we published a letter from Abune Tesfaselassie Medhin, bishop of the Ethiopian Catholic Eparchy of Adigrat, describing the challenges facing currently facing both church and country. You can read this and more in the March 2017 edition of ONE. (photo: CNEWA)

Tags: Ethiopia Hunger Ethiopian Catholic Church Youth

6 June 2017
J.D. Conor Mauro

In this photograph taken on 26 December, an Indian worker labors on a loom in a textile factory near Surat, some 180 miles south of Ahmedabad. (photo: Sam Panthaky/AFP/Getty Images)

India doubles compensation for textile loom worker deaths (Vatican Radio) India has doubled the compensation for the death of power loom workers in its textile industry as part of a benefits scheme to weed out problems plaguing the labor-intensive sector. India is one of the largest fabric producers in the world and has traditionally been a cornerstone of the Indian economy in terms of foreign exchange earnings and employment. A single person, working 12 hours or more, often tends to six to nine looms inside cramped spaces, exposing them to loud noise and injuries from the shuttle that moves at a high speed across the loom…

Syriac Orthodox Patriarchate to start television network (Fides) The Syriac Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch, from its headquarters in Damascus, announced the future birth of its own television channel, designed to support the pastoral care of Syriac Christians through its programs. The channel will be called Suboro TV, from the Syriac word that indicates the Annunciation of the angel to Mary. Programming is scheduled for to begin on 25 March 2018 at the feast of the Annunciation, a Christian holiday celebrated in the Middle East — especially in Lebanon — and observed also by many Muslims…

U.S. coalition begins ‘long and difficult’ battle for Islamic State’s Raqqa stronghold (Washington Post) U.S.-backed forces have begun the “long and difficult” battle to capture the northern Syrian city of Raqqa, the Islamic State’s de facto capital, the U.S.-led coalition fighting the extremist group said Tuesday. Kurdish-led militants began laying the groundwork for the offensive in November, edging through the surrounding province and cutting supply lines into the city. But a showdown for the city itself will prove a major test for the coalition, with the potential for high civilian casualties…

Iraq: Lives of 100,000 children ‘on the line’ as fighting continues in west Mosul (U.N. News Center) Some 100,000 children remain in extremely dangerous conditions in western sections of Iraq’s Mosul as fighting between government and terrorist forces continues, the United Nations children’s agency today reported, warning that “children’s lives are on the line…”

Pan-Orthodox conference to discuss gender in the diaconate (St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Seminary) A Pan-Orthodox Conference — dedicated to examining diaconal ministry in the Orthodox Church — will include presentations on the present state of the diaconate; ways men and women are engaged in diaconal ministry today; opportunities to engage with both clergy and faithful on the rejuvenation of the male and female diaconate; and current challenges and future possibilities of the diaconate for the building up of the body of Christ…

Tags: Iraq India Orthodox Church United Nations Women (rights/issues)

5 June 2017
Michael J.L. La Civita

Clergy lead the funeral procession of Ukrainian Cardinal Lubomyr Husar for his 5 June funeral liturgy at the Patriarchal Cathedral of the Resurrection of Christ in Kiev. (photo: CNS/Valentyn Ogirenko, Reuters)

“Today, we join the millions of men, women and children worldwide mourning the death of Cardinal Lubomyr Husar, friend, teacher, pastor, father of his people,” said CNEWA’s president Msgr. John E. Kozar of the major archbishop emeritus of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, who died 31 May near the Ukrainian capital of Kiev.

“As the universal church today commits his body to the ground and his soul to Almighty God, we remember a man who served the people of God with joy and humor, with passion and love, with kindness and gentleness. We remember a wise man who, despite having lost his eye sight, could discern with humility and grace the ways of the Lord.”

CNEWA’s national director in Canada, Carl Hétu, remembered a man who, “with firm conviction, peace and faith” advocated for the construction in Kiev of a cathedral dedicated to the Resurrection of Christ to mark the resurrection of the Greek Catholic Church in Ukraine. Despite the initial skepticism that greeted the cardinal, “he knew that the building of the cathedral would rally Ukrainians and all people of good will” to put to rest the Soviet oppression of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church.

“The cardinal’s impassioned plea, added, Mr. Hétu, rallied financial and moral support worldwide.”

In a letter to the cardinal’s successor as archbishop of Kiev-Halych, Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk, Msgr. Kozar extended his condolences and prayers “for the repose of the soul of Cardinal Lubomyr Husar, and for those he had lovingly shepherded.

“Never did the cardinal cease in his faith of the Lord’s abiding love, despite great personal and public pain, nor in his firm commitment to witness the Gospel on behalf of the one church. This constancy of faith and love is what perhaps has resounded most clearly, as millions today mourn his death and passing into eternal life.

“This constancy is His Beatitude’s legacy, and it is a legacy he has entrusted to you as his successor as major archbishop of Kiev-Halych, in your service to Ukrainian Greek Catholics in Ukraine and beyond, and to the church universal.”

May his memory be eternal.

Tags: Ukraine Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church

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