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Winter, 2016
Volume 42, Number 4
  
4 December 2015
Greg Kandra




People gather in front of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin on 3 December 2015 to demonstrate against the deployment of German armed forces to fight against ISIS in Syria. Germany’s parliament Friday voted to send military support to Syria.
(photo: Tobias Schwarz/AFP/Getty Images)


Mass graves discovered in Iraq (AP) The U.N. human rights office in Iraq said on Friday that it has received reports of 16 mass graves discovered near the town of Sinjar after it was liberated from the Islamic State group last month. The reports were the latest among many instances of mass graves being uncovered in territory wrested from IS militants in Iraq and Syria — thousands of people have been killed in summary and extrajudicial killings by the Sunni militants and the graves have been a dark testimony to the group’s brutality...

Germany approves military action against ISIS (BBC) Germany’s parliament has voted to send military support to the US-led coalition fighting Islamic State (IS) militants in Syria. MPs approved the plan for a German non-combat role by 445 votes to 146. Tornado jets — for reconnaissance — a naval frigate and 1,200 soldiers will be sent to the region. The vote comes after a French request following last month’s Paris attacks. Ministers believe Germany is now an IS target too...

Egypt reopens Gaza border (AP) Egypt has reopened its border with the Gaza Strip in both directions for the first time in months. Thousands of Palestinians lined up Thursday at the Rafah crossing in hopes of leaving the isolated enclave. Gaza’s borders are largely sealed by an Israeli and Egyptian blockade. It’s unclear if the two-day opening is tied to an agreement the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank reached with Egypt last month to reopen the border crossing...

Friend of Syria’s Assad could become next Lebanese president (Fides) The vacant Lebanese presidency could be filled by Suleiman Franjieh, a Maronite Christian politician, a childhood friend of Syrian President Bashar Assad...

In a first, Kerala church offers Mass in Hindi for migrant workers (The Times of India) The famed St Antony’s church at Kaloor here has started offering Sunday prayers in Hindi, to cater to the spiritual needs of Christians among the migrant workforce. Ernakulam is home to migrant labourers and this is for the first time that a church is offering regular holy Mass in Hindi in the city limits. The Mass in Hindi will be offered every Sunday at 3 pm...



3 December 2015
Michael J.L. La Civita




Parishioners from the Mon Valley of Pittsburgh light candles at Homestead’s
Church of St. Nicholas. (photo: Lisa Kyle)


An Eastern Slavic people akin to Belarussians, Russians and Ukrainians, the Rusyns — whose homeland lies south of the Carpathian Mountains in the heart of central Europe — have always lived under the governance of another people. They toiled the soil, kept livestock or cut timber, usually as serfs or tenant laborers of their Hungarian, German or Polish masters, landholders who eagerly imposed their identity on their subjects.

An estimated 200,000 Rusyns immigrated to the United States, beginning in the late 19th century, settling in the industrialized areas of Pennsylvania, New York, Ohio, New Jersey, Connecticut, West Virginia and Indiana. Lured by employment agents of the mines and mills, they quarried coal and forged steel, enriching their employers while building a nation. And though working conditions were wretched, many Rusyn immigrants, once married, believed they lacked nothing except a church in which they could worship God in keeping with the traditions of their forebears.

The desire of Rusyn-Americans to maintain their Eastern Christian faith, or stara vira (old faith), and the privileges and rites associated with it, would eventually split the community. Yet this resolve would also hinder its assimilation. The American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Greek Catholic Church, an eparchy (diocese) of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, echoes this Rusyn-American fidelity to faith and forebears.


Father Matthias blesses the congregation with incense at Sts. Cyril and Methodios Church in Mercer, Pennsylvania. (photo: Lisa Kyle)

Concerned for the erosion of their traditions and identity, after decades of conflict with Roman Catholic ordinaries in the United States, an assembly of priests and laity, led by Father Orestes Chornock (1883-1977), met in Pittsburgh in November 1937. After repealing the union with the bishop of Rome that bound their ancestral church of Mukačevo to Rome made nearly 300 years earlier, the assembly elected Father Chornock bishop.

Fearing further loss of identity should they enter the Russian Orthodox Church, the group established itself as an eparchy, petitioned the ecumenical patriarch based in Constantinople, Benjamin I, to receive it into the Orthodox Church and requested Father Chornock’s ordination to the episcopacy. Nearly a year later, in September, the ecumenical patriarch consecrated Father Chornock bishop and formally erected the American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Greek Catholic Eparchy as a diocese of the ecumenical patriarchate.

Soon after, Bishop Orestes set up a seminary in New York City, but he eventually moved it to Johnstown, Pennsylvania, where in 1950 the Cathedral of Christ the Savior was founded. Johnstown remains the seat of the eparchy.

Of the estimated 75 parishes and missions that make up the American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Church (numbering some 50,000 people), nearly half are located in Pennsylvania. Most of the remaining parishes are scattered throughout the rest of the Rust Belt. The churches of these parishes, many of them simple structures garnished with onion domes and three-bar crosses, stand as relics of a bygone age when Slavs carved coal from the earth or fueled furnaces that belched soot and fashioned steel.

Following waves of north-to-south migration, which has emptied once-thriving communities throughout the Northeast, the now deceased Metropolitan Nicholas of Amissos (elected in 1985) erected parishes and missions in Florida, Georgia, Maryland and Virginia. While Rusyn-Americans make up the majority of these communities, they are not ethnically homogeneous.

Read a full account of the churches development here.



3 December 2015
Greg Kandra




The Alslivi children — who moved from Mosul, Iraq, to Sweden — brave a harsh winter’s day to do some grocery shopping. To learn more about Iraqi refugees in Sweden, read “A Nordic Refuge No More” in the May 2011 edition of ONE. (photo: Magnus Aronson)



3 December 2015
Greg Kandra




Indian residents carry children as they walk through floodwaters in Chennai on 3 December 2015. More than 40,000 people have been rescued in recent days after record rains lashed the coastal state, worsening weeks of flooding that has killed more than 270 people.
(photo: STRDEL/AFP/Getty Images)


British jets strike ISIS targets in Syria (Vatican Radio) British fighter jets based in Cyprus have carried out the first UK air strikes on targets belonging to the so-called Islamic State in Syria. Britain had already been involved in attacks against the Islamist group in Iraq...

Caritas India rushes emergency aid to flood-ravaged Tamil Nadu (Vatican Radio) Caritas India, the aid agency of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India, has dispatched some 2.5 million rupees as emergency fund to Tamil Nadu, a southern Indian state battered by the century’s worst floods. Amrit Sangma, Caritas India communication officer, told Matters India on 2 December that they will provide food, wash kits and clothes to affected people with the support of its four local partners. Hundreds of thousands of people have been stranded in Tamil Nadu following incessant rains for the past two days. Meteorological Department in the state has predicted heavy rains in the coming four days. More than 270 have been killed in flood and rain related incidents, local newspapers report...

Anguish, shock in Muslim community after San Bernardino shootings (The Los Angeles Times) When Mahmoud Tarifi learned the name of a suspect in Wednesday’s San Bernardino shooting, his heart sank. He said he knew the man may have been Muslim. Tarifi, a leader at the Islamic Center of Claremont, was not alone. After officials announced that a man named Syed Farook was a suspect, members of the faith’s community shared their sense of grief and concern. Tarifi said American Muslims are accustomed to being targeted and scapegoated whenever violent Islamic extremists commit attacks. “Every Muslim worries about being victimized,” he said. “It’s how we felt after 9/11 and after the Paris attacks”...

In Iraq, new Catholic University to open next week (Fides) 8 December is the date chosen for the opening of a new Catholic University, Erbil Campus, CUE in Iraq. The Chaldean Catholic Archdiocese of Erbil has warmly invited everyone to take part in the inauguration of this important centre of studies. In a statement sent also to Fides, people are encouraged to be part of “a path of education which will lead many to a future of prosperity and peace”...

Radio Maria to begin broadcasting in Arabic (Fides) Radio Maria, an Italian Catholic radio station established in 1982 at Arcellasco d’Erba which today broadcasts in more than 50 countries and in as many languages, will begin programmes in Arabic via web on 8 December to mark the Feast of the Immaculate Conception and the opening day of the Holy Year of Divine Mercy...

Caritas seeks to raise awareness about “hidden war” in Ukraine (Vatican Radio) Civil war in Ukraine has left some 3 million people in need of humanitarian assistance. Caritas Internationalis is working to raise awareness about what is increasingly becoming a “hidden war”...



Tags: Syria Iraq India Muslim Islam

2 December 2015
Greg Kandra




Although the Feast of St. Nicholas doesn’t come until 6 December, the saint made an early appearance at the pope’s General Audience on Wednesday. Wolfgang Georg Kimmig-Liebe of Germany, dressed as St. Nicholas, stands among the crowd before Pope Francis arrives for his weekly audience in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican on 2 December.
(photo: CNS/Alessandro Bianchi, Reuters)




2 December 2015
Greg Kandra




Hatice Akdal, a Syrian refugee woman, sits on the floor in a room in Reyhanli district of Hatay, southern Turkey, on 1 December 2015. Many Syrians had to leave their homes after the recent Russian airstrikes. (photo: Cem Genco/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Russia claims it has proof Turkey involved in ISIS oil trade (Reuters) Russia’s defense ministry said on Wednesday it had proof that Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and his family were benefiting from the illegal smuggling of oil from Islamic State-held territory in Syria and Iraq. Moscow and Ankara have been locked in a war of words since last week when a Turkish air force jet shot down a Russian warplane near the Syrian-Turkish border, the most serious incident between Russia and a NATO state in half a century...

U.K. Parliament to vote on bombing ISIS in Syria (CNN) After the November 13 terror attacks in Paris, France asked its allies to bump up their military offensive against ISIS. Now Britain and Germany will decide whether they will. The parliaments of both countries are debating their leaders’ requests for greater military commitment against the terror group. And the measures are expected to be approved...

As many as 50,000 refugees, most from Syria, may enter Canada (The Globe and Mail) As many as 50,000 refugees — at least 70 per cent from Syria — could arrive in Canada by the end of next year, Immigration Minister John McCallum says, adding the federal government is anxious to prevent a backlash from Canadians against this massive influx of newcomers. This rate of intake would be the greatest since 1979-1980 when 60,000 Indochinese boat people found a new home in Canada...

Coptic Church denies claims of normalization with Israel (Middle East Monitor) Egypt’s Coptic Church has refused claims of normalising ties with Israel and affirmed that Pope Tawadros II did not meet with any Israeli officials during his brief visit to Jerusalem, according to a statement released today. Anadolu news agency reported that Tawadros II travelled to Jerusalem in order to pay tribute to Jerusalem Archbishop Anba Abraham who died last Wednesday. The statement said that the Coptic Pope arranged his entrance to Jerusalem with the Palestinian Authority without obtaining an Israeli visa...

Children find calm, order inside Gaza’s only ballet school (Reuters) The group of girls, ponytailed and dressed in pink, stretched their arms out to the sides and pivoted onto their toes, trying desperately to hold still. Eagle-eyed, the instructor surveyed Gaza’s latest crop of would-be ballerinas. Fifty girls aged five to eight are now enrolled in the ballet school at the Al-Qattan Center for Children in Gaza, making it one of the most popular classes the arts institute runs, under the watchful eye of a Ukrainian teacher. Amid the chaos and destruction that has shattered Gaza so often over the past five years, with repeated wars between Israel and Hamas, the school is a haven of calm and order, one many parents are eager for their children to enjoy...



Tags: Syria Gaza Strip/West Bank Turkey Russia Coptic

1 December 2015
CNEWA staff




In this image from May, Iraqi refugees gather outside their temporary dwellings in Erbil.
(photo: John E. Kozar/CNEWA)


As winter approaches, CNEWA’s president, Msgr. John E. Kozar, has just authorized the release of another $300,000 to aid Christians in the Middle East. These funds represent the third portion of CNEWA’s allocation from a collection authorized by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops — totaling $1,835,200 — taken up last autumn in parishes across the country. The funds will be disbursed in early January 2016.

“The funds,” said Msgr. Kozar, “are part of CNEWA’s ongoing commitment to the region’s churches and their humanitarian and pastoral activities, which address a broad spectrum of needs in a theater that remains fluid.”

As always, programs are administered by CNEWA’s personnel in the region, who partner with the local churches and their priests, sisters and lay professionals. Support includes:

$25,000 to support Christian safe houses for impoverished Christian children in Egypt. Some of Egypt’s poorest citizens are Christians from the rural south. Unable to care for their families, or simply broken by their poverty, some parents place their children in orphanages. State-sponsored institutions impose Muslim identities.

$20,000 to help the Daughters of the Sacred Heart care for the elderly and infirmed in Iraqi Kurdistan. A Chaldean Catholic community, the sisters administer in Erbil a home for the care of elderly and disabled women, many displaced by ISIS. Funds help the sisters maintain a warm and caring home.

$20,000 to support Holy Family Home in Erbil. A safe house for displaced girls in the Christian neighborhood of Ain Kawa, Holy Family is administered by the Dominican Sisters of St. Catherine of Siena, CNEWA’s primary partners in Iraqi Kurdistan.

$50,000 to supply winter kits, milk and diapers for displaced Iraqi Christian children. The Dominican Sisters of St. Catherine of Siena, and other church partners in Iraqi Kurdistan, know well the needs of young families exiled by ISIS. Funds will provide coats, blankets, milk and diapers for the healthy development of children.

$55,000 to provide food and milk for exiled Iraqi Christian families in Jordan. The Franciscan Missionaries of Mary have been earmarked monies for food coupons for displaced families ($35K) and for nursing formula and milk for children up to 3 years of age ($20K).

$40,000 to assist the Italian Hospital’s clinic for refugees in Amman. Administered by the Dominican Sisters of the Presentation of Mary, the hospital is known for its outreach to the poor. Funds support a clinic offering Iraqi and Syrian refugees free medical care.

$10,000 to host Bible camps for impoverished children. Run by parishes and religious communities in Jordan, Bible camps offer refugee children (Syrian and Iraqi) as well as impoverished Jordanian Christian children a respite from the drudgery of poverty. Camps, which will be held in the summer, provide counseling, catechesis, formation and fun.

$30,000 to assist the Good Shepherd Sisters’ St. Anthony Clinic in Jdeideh, Lebanon. The influx of more than a million Syrian and Iraqi refugees is crushing the country’s health care network. Many Christian refugees are seeking medical assistance for not just chronic illnesses, but other conditions brought about by their violent displacement from their homes.

$25,000 to launch the Cremisan Family Fund in the West Bank of Palestine. Some 59 families, almost all Christian, have had their very livelihoods uprooted. Last September, Israeli bulldozers uprooted their olive trees for the construction of the separation border that will be built through their olive groves in the Cremisan Valley near Bethlehem. Use of this seed money will be coordinated with the parishes ministering there to benefit the affected families.

$25,000 to provide medical care for internally displaced Christians in Syria. Funds will help the Good Shepherd Sisters, the Sisters of Charity of Besançon and other religious communities in their health care initiatives for those families hunkered down within Syria.

CNEWA has made an initial commitment of $4.7 million in support of the peoples and churches of the Middle East for 2016. This program includes basic support for displaced Iraqi and Syrian families; formation programs for seminarians in Egypt, Iraq and Lebanon; youth formation initiatives in Egypt, Jordan, Palestine and Syria; health care support across the region, especially pre- and post-natal care; and various social service efforts for the poor and the indigent.



1 December 2015
Greg Kandra




A sister feeds a resident at Asha Bhavan, a home for the elderly and destitute in Kerala, India.
(photo: Jose Jacob)


Today marks #GivingTuesday, a global event to encourage the spirit of giving during the holiday season. As we noted last week:

On #Giving Tuesday, CNEWA will raise funds to ease hunger. Nutrition is a challenge for every initiative we support. In hospitals, mother-and-child clinics, orphanages, schools and Bible camps — and every facility that helps refugees — everyone needs to eat.

#Giving Tuesday will let us help churches and religious sisters provide healthy formula for infants. Lunches for school children. Hot meals for the elderly and sick. As Pope Francis noted, “We are in front of a global scandal, one billion people who still suffer from hunger today. We cannot look the other way and pretend this does not exist.”

To give on #Giving Tuesday — or even in advance — use your computer, smart phone or tablet. To make donating easy, we’re harnessing the power of CrowdRise. One of America’s most highly-regarded funding web sites, it’s an online giving hub that brings together ordinary people, diverse charities and companies. All to support important causes.

Read more about this special event and how you can help us help others.



1 December 2015
Michael J.L. La Civita




Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew Constantinople receives Pope Francis, Bishop of Rome, at the Phanar, Istanbul, in November 2014. (photo: Filippo Monteforte/AFP/Getty Images)

The Patriarchal Church of Constantinople — the Ecumenical Patriarchate — ranks as primus inter pares, “first among equals,” in the worldwide Orthodox communion of churches. The present incumbent, Bartholomew I, Archbishop of Constantinople, New Rome and Ecumenical Patriarch, exercises no authority over other Orthodox churches or patriarchs. Yet his prerogatives include second in honor after Rome among the ancient sees of the church; the right to hear appeals between clergy if invited; and the right to ordain bishops outside defined canonical boundaries.

Not all accept this status. Some canonists, particularly those associated with the powerful Orthodox Patriarchate of Moscow, challenge the ecumenical patriarch’s leadership. They assert the medieval claim that “Two Romes have fallen. A third — Moscow — yet stands. A fourth there shall not be.” The Turkish government rejects any global role of the ecumenical patriarch, citing only his leadership for the few thousand Orthodox Christians who remain in Turkey; most live in the city that is today called Istanbul.


The Great Church dedicated to the Holy Wisdom of God, Hagia Sophia, was the seat of the ecumenical patriarch until its conversion to a mosque in 1453. Today it serves as a museum. (photo: Bulent Kilic/AFP/Getty Images)

Bartholomew I, nevertheless, enjoys international stature. He exercises varying degrees of authority over some 3.5 million Orthodox Christians in Turkey, northern Greece and those scattered beyond the traditional canonical boundaries of the ancient patriarchates, including the Americas, Oceania and Western Europe. And environmentalists have nicknamed him the “Green Pope” for his advocacy of and commitment to environmental conservation.

Tradition attributes the apostle Andrew as the founder of the church of Constantinople, which is commemorated every 30 November, the feast of St. Andrew, with liturgies in the humble patriarchal church of St. George in the Phanar neighborhood of Istanbul. But the see’s eventual link to the Roman caesar would catapult it to prominence within Christendom, rivaling even Rome.

Click here to read the complete profile.



1 December 2015
Greg Kandra




In this image from 5 November, Palestinian protesters throw stones at Israeli soldiers during clashes in Hebron. Escalating violence has moved the Palestinian Authority to request that municipalities tone down their public Christmas celebrations this year.
(photo: CNS/Abed Al Hashlamoun, EPA)


Palestinian Authority limits Christmas celebrations in West Bank (RNS) The Palestinian Authority has asked municipalities to tone down their public Christmas celebrations this year amid escalating violence between Palestinians and Israelis. Hana Amireh, who heads a government committee on churches in the West Bank, confirmed the Palestinian Authority is requesting “a certain decrease’ in festivities following the deaths of dozens of Palestinians since mid-September. The majority of them were killed during clashes with Israeli forces or carrying out terrorist attacks, according to the Israeli government...

Poll: only small fraction of Syrian refugees want to come to U.S. (The Washington Post) According to a new Gallup poll, a tiny fraction of would-be Syrian refugees say their desired home lies in the United States or Canada. The survey, which was conducted in January through face-to-face interviews, found that only 6 percent of Syrians who said they were contemplating leaving their country imagined North America as their chosen destination...

Pope sends message to Patriarch Bartholomew for Feast of St. Andrew (Vatican Radio) In a message marking the feast of the apostle Andrew, patron saint of the Orthodox world, Pope Francis urges Catholics and Orthodox to offer a “credible and effective witness” to the Christian values of trust, respect, charity and reconciliation. The message was hand delivered to the Orthodox leader in Istanbul by the head of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, Cardinal Kurt Koch, who led a delegation to the Patriarchal Church of St George for the feast of St Andrew on Monday 30 November. By consigning “painful memories to oblivion”, Pope Francis writes, and restoring a “relationship of love and fraternity”, there is no longer “any impediment to Eucharistic communion which cannot be overcome through prayer, the purification of hearts, dialogue and the affirmation of truth...”

Ethiopia faces power cuts while drought dries dams (Bloomberg) Ethiopia may face further power shortages because of low water levels at dams after a poor rainy season, an official said, following two days of sporadic cuts caused by technical faults at hydropower plants...

Sister stresses education among predominantly Muslim populations (Fides) In Pakistan and India, nuns carry out a great job among the population, almost entirely Muslim, in favor of education and the promotion of interreligious dialogue. This is what Sister Monica Joseph, Superior General of the Religious of Jesus and Mary, R.J.M. stresses to Agenzia Fides. Sister Monica is participating at the XIX Plenary Assembly of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples. She also highlights the great efforts of her congregation in favor of children, young people, boys and girls, the poor and abandoned...



Tags: Syria India Refugees Ethiopia Gaza Strip/West Bank





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