21 June 2019
An Israeli border policeman stands guard near Ramallah, West Bank, on 17 May 2019, as Palestinians make their way to attend Friday prayer at Al Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem’s Old City. (photo: CNS/Raneen Sawafta, Reuters)
Jerusalem’s Old City: How Palestine’s past is being slowly erased (Middle East Eye) The Old City has huge historic, economic, religious and now national symbolism for both Palestinians and Israelis, particularly because of the Al-Aqsa compound, known as Haram al-Sharif to Muslims and Temple Mount to Jews. This is the most explosive issue in an already incendiary conflict…
Iraqi envoy to Vatican urges international help for Christians to return home (Crux) Speaking outside the program at an event in Rome on migration, the newly arrived ambassador from Iraq to the Vatican said Wednesday that the country’s Christian community is at risk after violence perpetrated by ISIS, but people who fled now want to go back…
20 June 2019
Tags: Iraq Jerusalem Palestine Iraqi Christians
Msgr. John E. Kozar poses for a snapshot at Alphonsa Balika Bhavan, an institute in Trivandrum, while on a 2015 pastoral visit to India. (photo: CNEWA)
The Catholic Press Association Thursday afternoon honored CNEWA’s President Msgr. John E. Kozar with the prestigious Bishop John England Award. The award was presented at the Catholic Media Conference now underway in St. Petersburg, Florida.
The Bishop England Award— named for the bishop who founded the first Catholic newspaper in the United States, the Catholic Miscellany in 1822 — honors a publisher who has been a staunch defender of press freedom.
As the nominating criteria puts it: “The recipient of the Bishop John England Award should clearly have acted in defense of the publication or used their publication, in accordance with its mission, to defend the First Amendment rights of the publisher, the institution owning the publication, and/or the Catholic Church as a whole.”
The nomination for Msgr. Kozar described his achievements in communications:
“During his eight years as president of Catholic Near East Welfare Association and as publisher of CNEWA’s magazine, ONE, Msgr. John E. Kozar has been a champion of journalism, promoting accountability and transparency in reporting, affirming a commitment to excellence, and promoting the church’s evangelical witness throughout the world — especially in some of its most embattled corners.
More than a publisher, he is in his bones a journalist who relishes getting a good story and sharing it. A photographer and essayist, he has used his considerable skills as a photojournalist — skills he first developed in high school — to take readers to far-flung corners of the globe to show the Gospel at work.
John Kozar has also redefined how CNEWA tells the story of its own mission, challenging the CNEWA staff to articulate the association’s work with clarity, optimism and zeal — emphasizing our work of ‘accompaniment’ and encouraging a spirit of invitation. The result has been a dynamic approach to communications that has attracted new readers in all media.
He has accomplished this with an ethic and spirit of transparency and accountability that sets the standard for every publisher. Through his essays, videos, emails and reports, Msgr. Kozar has kept readers informed and engaged, bolstering CNEWA’s credibility and winning readers’ loyalty and trust.”
Previous winners include Bishop Gerald F. Kicanas, Cardinal Francis George, Greg Erlandson and Cardinal John O’Connor.
We at CNEWA could not be prouder, and can’t think of anyone more deserving. On behalf of all of us: congratulations, Msgr. Kozar!
CNEWA’s Director of Communications Michael La Civita accepted the Bishop John England award on behalf of Msgr. Kozar, who was unable to attend the conference in Florida. (photo: CNEWA)
18 June 2019
Tags: CNEWA Catholic Press
Muhammad Morsi announces his victory at a press conference on 18 June 2012, following the second round of Egypt’s presidential elections. (photo: Jonathan Rashad via Wikimedia Commons)
Egypt’s ex-President Muhammad Morsi buried in Cairo (Al Jazeera) Egypt’s former President Muhammad Morsi was buried on Tuesday in eastern Cairo, his son said. Mr. Morsi had collapsed in court on Monday and died shortly after. He was buried at dawn alongside other senior figures of the Muslim Brotherhood, his son, Ahmed Morsi, said on his Facebook page…
Five years later, Mosul’s Christians slowly rebuild (Christian Today) Yesterday, 17 June marked the fifth anniversary of one of the darkest moments for Mosul’s Christians — the day they were told by ISIS to “convert, pay or die.” The ultimatum for Christians to convert to Islam, pay a “protection tax” or face death triggered a mass exodus out of the city. Up to half a million residents, including around 3,000 Christian families, made the painful decision to leave their homes and their livelihoods in search of safety elsewhere. Many of them went to the city of Erbil in the Kurdish region of northern Iraq…
Syria clashes kill 45 fighters (Daily Star Lebanon) Clashes between pro-government forces and extremist-led groups that control Syria’s northwest killed at least 45 combatants Tuesday, a war monitor said. The fighting flared on the edge of the Hama province when extremist group Hay’at Tahrir al Sham (formerly Al Nusra Front) launched a dawn attack on government positions, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said…
Free chickens for Syria’s struggling farmers (Al Monitor) The Syrian government will distribute free chickens and feed to farmers to support rural areas ravaged by years of conflict, an agriculture ministry official told AFP on Tuesday. A cabinet statement said 1 billion Syrian pounds ($2.3 million) has been allocated to the initiative, which aims to provide 15 egg-laying chickens and 50 kilograms (110 pounds) of feed to each family…
Iran will not wage war against any nation, says Hassan Rouhani (The Guardian) Iran has declared it “will not wage war against any nation” after the U.S. announced that a further 1,000 troops are to be sent to the Middle East amid rising tensions…
17 June 2019
Tags: Syria Iraq Egypt Iran
Maronite Catholic bishops from around the world met in Lebanon last week for their annual synod at Bkerke, the patriarchal seat north of Beirut.
(photo: CNS/Mychel Akl for Maronite Catholic Patriarchate)
Maronite Catholic bishops from around the world, meeting in Lebanon, called for unity among politicians and the international community to facilitate the return of Syrian refugees.
Returning the refugees to their homeland, the bishops said in their synod final statement, would lift Lebanon from the “heavy burden” it faces in hosting them, which they noted is recognized by international authorities as “exceeding Lebanon’s potential.”
It also would encourage the preservation of Syria’s history, heritage and culture, the bishops said.
With an existing population of around 4 million, Lebanon has absorbed more than 1.5 million refugees from neighboring Syria. This has inflicted humanitarian and socio-economic strains on the tiny country, about two thirds the size of Connecticut. Lebanon has the world’s highest number of refugees per capita.
The Maronite prelates also pointed to Lebanon’s housing crisis, calling on government officials to revive housing loans, which were suspended due to a weakening of the central bank’s capacities. The stagnation, the bishops said, is forcing young couples to abandon marriage and plans for a family and a future. The bishops stressed that the housing sector is vital to the country’s economic growth, trade and production.
The bishops also looked at Maronite dioceses in other countries and addressed the “growing needs they face, due to an accumulation of crises.”
Maronite Bishop Antoine-Charbel Tarabay of Australia told Catholic News Service his parishes have not been directly affected by the approximate 18,000 refugees from Syria and Iraq that have settled in Australia.
However, he said, Lebanon’s refugee crisis is of great concern to the Lebanese diaspora in Australia who have family in their ancestral homeland. The Maronite diocese of Australia has 15 parishes and six missions, or Mass centers, serving more than 200,000 Maronites.
“Whenever we’re talking to the faithful that have relatives in Lebanon, they are conveying to us the suffering of their relatives” due to the country’s economic slump exacerbated by the refugee crisis. Increasingly, their relatives in Lebanon are facing unemployment, unable to meet basic livelihood needs and slipping further into poverty, he said. Many have lost their jobs to Syrian refugees.
Bishop Tarabay relayed his flock’s distress: “They’re asking, ‘What can be done to help the Lebanese people?’“
The Maronite bishops concluded their synod statement with the confidence that Mary “will help us to guide the world’s leaders to work to stop the wars in the Middle East and the world and to bring about a just, comprehensive and lasting peace and the return of all displaced and abducted people to their lands and homelands.”
The 10-15 June synod took place at the patriarchal seat of Bkerke, north of Beirut. It was preceded by a spiritual retreat.
17 June 2019
Tags: Lebanon Maronite Maronite Catholic
Surrounded by buildings braced to prevent them from falling, Pope Francis celebrates Mass on 16 June 2019, in the square outside the cathedral in Camerino, Italy. The cathedral is still closed to the public almost three years after it suffered heavy damage from an earthquake. After Mass, the pope voiced concern over tensions in the Middle East. (photo: CNS/Vatican Media)
Pope calls attention to Middle East after Sunday Mass (Vatican News) Before reciting the Angelus after Mass, Pope Francis voiced his concern over “increasing tensions in the Persian Gulf.” ”I call on everyone”, he said, “to use the instruments of diplomacy to resolve the complex problems of the conflicts in the Middle East. I also renew to the international community my heartfelt appeal for every possible effort to be made to promote dialogue and peace…”
Tensions continue to rise in Gulf (Vatican News) Tensions continued to rise in the region, with Saudi Arabia joining the United States in pointing the finger of blame at Iran for the recent attacks on oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman. Iran has described accusations as unfounded. Both ships were struck at dawn last Thursday by what U.S. military officials believe were mines. On Sunday, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said his country would not hesitate to tackle any threats…
Indian poverty linked to religion and caste (UCANews.com) A new report by Oxfam, a confederation of 20 developmental organizations, points to a strong correlation between poverty and social identity. The report released this month, titled “Mind the Gap: The State of Employment in India 2019,” stresses that India’s poor are most likely to be Dalits, other so-called lower castes, tribal people and Muslims. A central finding is that the poor are still discriminated against on the basis of their religion or caste…
Interreligious group meets with pope (Vatican News) The leaders of six religions in Hong Kong are in Rome this week to mark the 40th anniversary of an organization dedicated to improving inter religious ties…
Russian Orthodox Church backs down in church dispute (Radio Free Europe) The Russian Orthodox Church says it has rejected “the right” to build a cathedral at a disputed site in the Urals city of Yekaterinburg. In a statement released on 16 June, Metropolitan Kirill of Yekaterinburg and Verkhoturye said that in an “atmosphere of total lies and deceit” building the church on the site would still be potential cause for discord. Metropolitan Kirill said he does not want to “give the devil that opportunity...”
14 June 2019
Tags: India Middle East Russian Orthodox
Claudio Di Segni, a tenor and director of the choir at Rome's main synagogue, performs with the choir on 13 June 2019, during a concert at the synagogue marking the 25th anniversary of formal diplomatic ties between Israel and the Holy See. (photo: CNS/Robert Duncan)
Plaintive pleas and rousing, rhythmic recognitions of God’s goodness filled the air at Rome’s main synagogue as Israeli and Vatican officials celebrated 25 years of formal diplomatic relations.
“A concert of sacred Jewish music in a highly symbolic place like the major synagogue of Rome highlights our special bond that is founded in our common root: the Bible,” Oren David, the Israeli ambassador to the Holy See, told Catholic News Service.
“Songs from the Psalms show that we have a common heritage, which is reflected in the biblical values that we share, and we want to bring attention to the special and unique bond between us,” said David, who hosted the concert on 13 June.
Nathan Lam, the cantor of Stephen Wise Temple in Los Angeles, was one of four cantors to perform at the concert. He said the singers, who are ordained for service and can preside at weddings and funerals, purposefully chose songs with texts common to Jews and Christians for the celebration.
Jews and Christians will interpret those texts differently, he said, “but the fact that we share them is a very important commonality.”
“I hope this leads to more and more dialogue, to more and more celebrations of relationships that are productive and good,” Lam said.
Celebrating 25 years of formal Vatican-Israeli diplomatic relations is not only about the relationship of two states. The ties were built on decades of Catholic-Jewish dialogue, which first focused on healing a relationship wounded by anti-Jewish church teaching and then moved on to common religious and moral teachings.
Celebrating what has been accomplished does not mean ignoring the sticky issues that remain on a diplomatic, political and religious level: for example, diplomats on both sides continue to try to negotiate an agreement governing church property ownership and taxation issues; the Vatican continues to call for international guarantees of Jerusalem’s status as a city sacred to Jews, Christian and Muslims; and Jewish religious leaders continue to press Catholic theologians involved in dialogue to discuss the religious significance of the land of Israel.
The Israeli ambassador and Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state, mentioned the three issues in their remarks before the concert. But they both also insisted there was much more to celebrate than to worry about.
“In our relations, political and religious issues are intertwined, this is why they are so special,” the ambassador told CNS.
For Catholics, the “special” relationship includes recognizing that Jesus was a Jew, the apostles were Jews and that Christianity not only recognized the Hebrew Scriptures -- the Old Testament -- as part of God’s revelation, but Catholics adopted and adapted Jewish liturgy, including the chanting and singing of the Psalms.
“Our liturgy stems from the liturgy of the Jewish people,” said the Rev. Norbert Hofmann, secretary of the Vatican Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews. “For example, reading texts, interpreting texts, giving sermons on texts -- that already can be found in Judaism, in Jewish liturgy and practice.”
“Jews and Christians are praying with the same texts,” he said, “but with a different interpretation” because Christians would read those texts in the light of their faith in Jesus.
Lam, the “chazzan” or cantor, prayed that those differing understandings would not overshadow the basic shared faith in one God, the creator of all, and -- to a lesser degree -- in the power of music to carry prayer and to touch hearts.
Like Christian sacred music, Jewish sacred music includes many styles influenced by the cultures the Jews were living in when the music was written. The cantor and choir of the Rome synagogue, who also performed 13 June, had a unique sound and style reflecting what the program described as the Jewish “Roman rite.”
The songs are sacred not because of their style, Lam said, but because the texts are the word of God, and the music upholds, reflects and emphasizes its content.
For Jews and for Christians, the Psalms have a special connection to liturgical music and not just because
they are written in a poetic form that makes it natural to chant or sing them.
Lam, who has been the cantor at Stephen Wise Temple for 43 years, said the Psalms seem to be growing in importance for both Jews and Christians “because the Psalms are a great source of comfort, knowledge, joy and wisdom.”
The central piece of the anniversary concert fittingly was Psalm 122 with its prayer for the peace of Jerusalem, peace in the world and, finally a personal, “I pray for your good.”
You can watch a related video from CNS below:
14 June 2019
Tags: Vatican Jewish-Catholic relations
The United States is insisting that Thursday's attack on two tankers in the Gulf of Oman was carried out by Iran. (video: CBS News/YouTube)
Trump insists Iran is behind tanker attack (The Washington Post) President Trump rejected Iran’s denials Friday that it attacked two tankers in the Gulf of Oman, insisting in a television interview that “Iran did do it” and pointing to a video released by the U.S. Central Command purporting to show Iranian vessels retrieving an unexploded mine from one of the damaged ships. Iran called the U.S. allegations against it “alarming…”
‘Russians are getting sick of church’ (Foreign Policy) A recent opinion poll recorded that 79 percent of Russians think of themselves as Orthodox Christians. But the church does not command obedience. The Yekaterinburg protests were much angrier, the views of the protesters much more passionately held, than the other big recent social protest in Russia’s regions against a planned landfill site in the northern city of Arkhangelsk…
Ration challenge: thousands of Americans plan to live on same diet as Syrian refugees (Newsweek) Starting this Sunday, more than 14,000 people across the country will get a small taste of what it’s like to live as a refugee, with thousands planning to take part in the “Ration Challenge”—a global fundraising effort that asks participants to live on the same rations provided to Syrian refugees in Jordan for the duration of World Refugee Week…
Dome of the Rock missing from Temple Mount drawing (Haaretz) The Jerusalem municipality removed the Dome of the Rock from a drawing of the Temple Mount displayed at a an event attended by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Leon on Thursday. The Al-Aqsa Mosque, the gates of the Temple Mount and the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer are prominently placed in the image, however the dome is conspicuously absent. Despite the dome being one of the most recognizable elements of the Jerusalem skyline, the designers depicted only the building’s base…
13 June 2019
Tags: Refugees Jerusalem Russia Iran
Filipino children demonstrate on 12 June 2019, near Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's house in Jerusalem. (photo: CNS/Debbie Hill)
A group of Philippine mothers and children facing imminent deportation from Israel are finding some solace in their faith, with weekly prayer meetings and counseling from their parish priest and nuns.
Most of the mothers arrived legally in Israel to work as caretakers for the elderly, but remained in the country even after their work visas had expired and have lived in Israel for up to 20 or more years. They have created a life for themselves in Israel, which they believe is better than they could have in the Philippines.
Sister Regina Cobrador of Our Lady of Valor Parish for migrant workers and asylum-seekers in Tel Aviv said several of the mothers who have deportation orders belong to the parish, and they have been coming every Wednesday to the church, where a special group prayer is held for them.
“My heart goes out to them, but sometimes I don’t know what to counsel them. They speak of their fears and concerns for their children who know only the Israeli culture, and the fear about their difficult economic situation,” Sister Cobrador said. “But I also tell them that, from the legal laws of Israel, their children can’t get citizenship, even if they were born here. Israel is very small, so if they would take all the migrant workers who are living here, it would be very difficult.”
Most of the Filipinas are Catholic, and the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem has created a Vicariate for Migrants and Asylum Seekers to see to their pastoral needs.
The Rev. Rafic Nahara said the vicariate is trying to be available to those with deportation orders to counsel them about their concerns. However, they are in the country illegally, so there is little more the vicariate can do but help them prepare to return if they are deported, he said.
“(Israel) does have the right to do this. The mothers stayed illegally because they needed work. It is a very complex situation. Of course, people are asking for help, but it will hardly change the Israeli decision,” he said.
He noted that, previously, the Israeli government had reached an agreement allowing children under the age of 5 who were born in Israel to remain, with the understanding that no other such agreement would be forthcoming.
On 11 June, some 50 mothers and children demonstrated in front of the Israeli prime minister’s house, calling on him to halt the order and allow their children to stay, at least until they finish high school.
The children at the demonstration held up signs declaring their love for Israel, calling the country their home and asking not to be deported. They also sang Hebrew songs, including the Israeli national anthem.
“We wanted a better future for our children,” said Margie, a Catholic and one of 20 mothers facing deportation in July, with her 9-year-old son and 4-year-old daughter. She asked that her last name not be used.
“The Philippines is a good country, but it is safer here,” she said. “The good schools are very expensive there, and there are drugs and crime and the children end up in the streets. In the Philippines, it is hard.”
Migrant workers from less-developed economies such as the Philippines and Thailand come to Israel to work and earn money to send home. Most are in Israel on five-year work visas, but a good number have risked deportation by staying even after their visas have expired, because the salaries they earn allow them to send their children in the Philippines to study at universities and to build a home there, but also because of the higher quality of life in Israel.
Margie, who is separated from her husband, said even though she is trained as a teacher, she would have to work a whole month in the Philippines to earn the same amount of money as she does in one day cleaning houses in Israel.
According to media reports, there are 1,500 Filipino children in the Israeli educational system, and the deportation orders were coordinated so they would be able to complete the school year.
The Israel Immigration Authority says it is enforcing Israeli immigration law against residents who are living in the country illegally.
Margie, who worships at Our Lady of Valor Parish, said she came to Israel 14 years ago to work as a caregiver for the elderly. She said she was like a family member to the Israeli families for whom she worked.
Her visa was cut short when she became pregnant with her daughter; she was told she would need to take her children to the Philippines if she wanted to remain in Israel to work.
She has been getting strength from prayer and speaking with the parish priest, she said, and going to confession.
“When I pray to God, I ask him to give us more strength,” she said. “We love Israel. My kids’ lives are here.”
Neither of her children speak Tagalog; they have never been to the Philippines and do not know the culture there, she said.
“I like my friends and my school here,” her son, Anton, said in Hebrew. He said he wants to go into the Israeli army when he turns 18 and be a soldier like his friends.
“I am an Israeli in every way. I don’t know what it will be like in the Philippines. I don’t want to leave,” he said.
Margie said she has tried to prepare her children for the possibility of leaving the only home they have ever known by talking about the places where she grew up and showing them pictures of the country.
Ellen, who came to Israel as a caretaker 14 years ago, is preparing to leave in July with her 10-year-old son, Umit. His father, who was from Turkey, died when Umit was 5.
Ellen overstayed her visa by nine years and has been working as a nanny and housecleaner to send back money for her four other children in the Philippines.
“It is very hard to find work there, and you make very little money, and I am not young,” said Ellen, who is Catholic. She has already started to pack, she said.
“I pray to God for his help because no one else can help me. I have to be strong for my son. I don’t know what I will do there, but we have no choice.”
Umit, who has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder because of several incidents when the immigration police entered their apartment, said he has slowly come to terms with the fact that he and his mother will be leaving once school ends.
“It is good for me here. I have lots of friends. I feel Israeli, but what can I do? Life will be harder there,” he said.
13 June 2019
Tags: Israel Migrants
Archbishop Rino Fisichella, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelization, holds the Spanish version of Pope Francis' message for the 17 November World Day of the Poor, during its release at the Vatican. (photo: CNS/Paul Haring)
Ignoring the poor falsifies the Gospel, pope says in message (CNS) Christians must not underestimate the importance of embracing and assisting the poor, oppressed and outcast, Pope Francis said. Not only did Jesus entrust his disciples with the task of continuing his ministry on earth by giving hope to the poor, but “the credibility of our proclamation and the witness of Christians depends on it,” the pope said in a message for the World Day of the Poor…
U.S. Says ‘highly likely’ Iran behind attack on tankers in Gulf of Oman (CBS News) Two tankers were attacked Thursday near the strategic Strait of Hormuz, leaving one ablaze and adrift as sailors were evacuated from both. It was the second time in a month that tankers have been seriously damaged in the region, and again U.S. officials were quick to point the finger of blame at Iran…
Five years later, calls for accountability over fall of Mosul (Al-Monitor) With much of it still in ruins amid struggles to restore its basic infrastructure, Mosul is marking the fifth anniversary of its dramatic fall to the Islamic State. On 11 June, Ayad Allawi, the head of Wataniya Alliance, called for a full investigation of the June 2014 fall of Mosul...
Indian police raid Jesuit’s residence, charge him with sedition for defending tribal peoples (UCANews.com) Police in India have for the second time in less than a year raided an octogenarian Jesuit charged over allegedly seditious links to Maoist rebels. A police team, including officers from Maharashtra state in western India, raided the residence of 83-year-old Rev. Stanislaus Lourdusamy on the outskirts of Ranchi, capital of eastern Jharkhand state…
12 June 2019
Tags: India Iraq Pope Francis Iran
Pilgrims from northern Kerala visit the St. Thomas Pontifical Shrine in Azhikode. Read more about this historically important corner of India in Kerala’s Spice Coast in the May 2012 edition of ONE. (photo: Peter Lemieux)
Tags: India Thomas Christians