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Summer, 2015
Volume 41, Number 2
13 February 2015
Elias D. Mallon, S.A., Ph.D.

An Iraqi man carrying a cross and a Quran attends Mass at Baghdad’s Mar Girgis Church
on 20 July 2014. (photo: CNS photo/Ahmed Malik, Reuters)

In the Winter 2015 edition of ONE, we’ve just posted an online exclusive, wherein I look at at some of the challenges facing Muslims as they deal with Islamaphobia spreading through the West:

To be honest, the statement that “Islam is a religion of peace” is seen by many as less and less credible. This is not simply due to prejudices in the West, but to the actions of some Muslims themselves. While the West has played a devastating and regrettable role in destabilizing Iraq, in the past 10 years more than a million Christians have suffered; Christians have been killed, their assets have been plundered, and survivors have been forced into exile as refugees by Islamic movements in northwestern Iraq. ISIS’s aim to spread the caliphate around the world characterizes it as a religio-political ideology. Talk of the black flag of ISIS flying over the White House and other Western capitals does nothing to calm xenophobia in Europe and the West. Even paranoids can have real enemies.

Atrocities such as the kidnapping of hundreds of schoolgirls by the Boko Haram in Nigeria and the recent slaughter of more than a 120 students in Peshawar, Pakistan, by the Taliban all have one thing in common: their actions are done in the name of Islam, using the Quran and the Sunna of the Prophet Muhammad as justification and support. ISIS, Boko Haram and the Taliban are not small, isolated, fanatical splinter groups. They are not connected to Hinduism, Buddhism or any indigenous traditions. Rather, they are large and powerful Islamic movements. Their symbols are taken from Islam as is their supposed legal system. Often enough, their reading of the Quran and the Sunna is not weird or idiosyncratic, but straightforward and literal.

It is clear that many — indeed most — Muslims do not approve of such behavior and do not interpret the Quran in such exclusive and violent ways. Often without recognition from the West, Muslim scholars have done a great deal to counteract the ideology of ISIS. I totally agree with those Muslims who hold that these organizations are acting contrary to the values of Islam. However, it comes across as morally disingenuous to then absolve oneself simply by declaring that these movements are not Islamic. At times, some Muslim responses appear half-hearted — as if to avoid deeper, more disturbing questions. One sometimes gets the impression that the argument is: Because it has done these horrible things, ISIS is not Islamic.

There’s much more. Read the full essay in the online Winter edition of ONE.

13 February 2015
Greg Kandra

Young members of Jerusalem’s Armenian community socialize in the courtyard of the Cathedral of St. James. To learn more about this tiny group of Armenian Christians in the heart of the Holy Land, read “Living Here is Complicated” in the Winter 2015 edition of ONE.
(photo: Ilene Perlman)

13 February 2015
Greg Kandra

Ukrainians attend a funeral in Kiev on 2 February for a serviceman killed in the eastern Ukrainian conflict with Russia. (photo: CNS/Sergey Dolzhenko, EPA)

New accord raises hopes for peace in Ukraine (Vatican Radio) The United States and the European Union have expressed caution about a new Ukraine peace agreement reached during talks in Minsk between the Russian, Ukrainian, French and German leaders. Thursday's accord includes a ceasefire starting Sunday, followed by the withdrawal of weapons, the establishment of a demilitarized zone and the exchange of prisoners...

Ukrainian Catholic bishops in the U.S. issue appeal for prayers for peace (Pennsylvania Catholic Conference) The Ukrainian Catholic Bishops in the United States have issued an appeal to clergy, religious and faithful for meditation and fasting for Ukraine. In their letter, the bishops state “The bishops of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church in Ukraine with Patriarch Sviatoslav Shevchuk have asked their faithful to fast and to pray daily for various intentions, among them, for the President and elected officials of Ukraine, for the conversion of the aggressors, for the Ukrainian army, for those who protect citizens, for the souls of the deceased, and for unity and independence of Ukraine. Let us join them in holy prayer and fasting...

AP: High civilian death toll in Gaza strikes (AP) The Associated Press examined 247 airstrikes that — according to witness accounts and site visits — hit residential compounds, out of the some 5,000 Israeli strikes during the conflict. Its reporters compiled a detailed casualty count, determining 844 dead in those strikes. The review found that 508 of those dead — just over 60 percent — were children, women and older men, all presumed to be civilians. Hamas says it did not use women as fighters in the war, and an Israel-based research group tracking militants among the dead said it has no evidence women participated in combat...

Report: Islamic State plans to execute kidnapped Copts (Fides) The 21 Copts kidnapped in Libya in early January are in the hands of the jihadists of the Islamic State, who in an article published online foreshadow their execution by presenting it as a revenge against the alleged “violence” suffered in the past by Egyptian Muslim women on behalf of the Coptic Church...

In Armenia, towns without men as migrants leave to find work (The Washington Post) Winter is wedding season in Lichk because as soon as the snow melts, all the adult men here — and in the nine other towns served by its little church — leave to work in Russia. For years, these villages have been like countless others in former Soviet republics, where able-bodied men are lured to Russia by seasonal work and higher wages. But stiffer laws for foreign workers and Russia’s worsening economy are making many migrant laborers reconsider their annual journey. For the men of Lichk — and other Armenian workers, who as members of the Eurasian Economic Union don’t need special work permits in Russia — it has meant working abroad longer but sending less money home...

Tags: Egypt Ukraine Gaza Strip/West Bank Armenia Copts

12 February 2015
Greg Kandra

Sister Terese Dorias is one of three sisters who helps care for the children at the Good Samaritan Orphanage in Cairo. To learn more about the remarkable work she and other sisters are doing, read ‘Egypt’s Good Samaritans’ in the Winter 2015 edition of ONE. (photo: Amal Morcos)

Tags: Egypt Children Sisters Orphans/Orphanages

12 February 2015
J.D. Conor Mauro

Pope Francis addresses cardinals and bishops at the opening of the papal consistory to discuss the reform of the Roman Curia at the Vatican on 12 February. (photo: Andreas Solaro/AFP/Getty Images)

Pope Francis opens consistory with call to unity (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis says the end goal of the reform of the Roman Curia is to harmonize work among the Vatican offices, to achieve a more effective collaboration and promote collegiality. The pope spoke Thursday morning to the College of Cardinals at the opening session of the extraordinary consistory for the creation of new cardinals on Saturday…

Chaldean bishops rally to defend Christians persecuted in Iraq (AINA) Bishops of the Chaldean Church have agreed to unite and face the rising threat of persecution of Middle East Christians, vowing that the church hierarchy will continue to care for families tormented by violent extremists. At the conclusion of the Special Synod of the Chaldean Church, Baghdad Patriarch Louis Raphael I expressed confidence that the church would be able to weather the challenges it is currently facing…

Two metro Detroit Chaldean priests to be ordained bishops (Detroit Free Press) As Christians increasingly face persecution in Iraq, two Detroit Iraqi-American Catholic priests will be promoted to bishop Friday in Iraq. One will serve in Iraq, where he was kidnapped in 2006…

Metropolitan Onufry of Kiev and All Ukraine calls for end to war ( “On behalf of the 1,000-year-old Ukrainian Orthodox Church, I am urging everyone who calls himself a Christian to stop killing one another immediately. Because dozens of totally innocent civilians, women, elderly people and, most horribly, sinless children become victims of hostilities on a daily basis,” the metropolitan said in an appeal released on the occasion of the anniversary of the events at Maidan Square in Kiev…

Jacobite, Orthodox flocks yearn for peace (Manorama Online) Followers of the Syriac Orthodox Church and the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church are waiting for a new era of peace and cooperation after the ice-breaking statements by their supreme leaders, Patriarch Ignatius Aphrem II and Catholicos Baselios Mar Thoma Paulose II. The disputes between the two factions have a history of more than a century. Despite a short-lived truce the differences led to litigation and humiliating arguments. The followers, however, nursed a dream of peaceful coexistence because they keep the same faith…

Egypt orders release of Al Jazeera reporters (Al Akhbar) An Egyptian court ordered the release of two jailed Al Jazeera journalists on Thursday pending retrial, after they spent 411 days in prison in a case that sparked worldwide outrage. Muhammad Fahmy, a Canadian whose family hoped he would be deported, must meet a bail of 250,000 Egyptian pounds ($33,000), while his colleague, Egyptian national Baher Muhammad, was freed on his own recognizance along with other defendants. The next court session was set for 23 February, the court said…

Tags: Egypt Pope Francis Chaldean Church Syriac Orthodox Church Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church

11 February 2015
Greg Kandra

A little boy in India is featured on the cover of the Winter edition of ONE, now available online.
(photo: John E. Kozar)

It’s here: the Winter edition of ONE is now available online and will be headed to your mailbox soon.

The cover story features an inspiring glimpse at how the church is Reaching the Unreached in India, with some stunning photographs by Msgr. John E. Kozar, CNEWA’s president.

Check out the rest online. Meantime, Msgr. Kozar offers a fuller preview of the Winter edition in the video below.

11 February 2015
J.D. Conor Mauro

A pro-Russian rebel stands next to damaged buses in Donetsk on 11 February. Shelling hit a central bus station in Donetsk and killed at least four people, according to a local official. (photo: Vasily Maximov/AFP/Getty Images)

As leaders gather to discuss Ukraine peace, war intensifies (Washington Post) Pro-Moscow rebels and Ukrainian forces waged intense battles over strategic ground Wednesday as leaders gathered for high-stakes talks seeking to quell the escalating conflict. The leaders of Ukraine, Russia, Germany and France agreed to meet in Minsk, Belarus, after days of preliminary discussions, raising the prospect of a deal with the rebels in eastern Ukraine…

Delhi archbishop: Indian election result ‘a vote for change’ (Catholic Herald) The Archbishop of Delhi has said the Indian government failed to deliver on its promises following the victory of an anti-corruption party in the state elections. Speaking to AsiaNews, Archbishop Anil Joseph Thomas Couto claimed the election had been marred by anti-Catholic violence after churches were vandalised and a peaceful protest was broken up by heavy-handed police…

Ethiopian Orthodox patriarch visits Sudan (Sudan Vision) Patriarch Abune Mathias of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church is in Sudan accompanied by a number of priests and the ambassador of Ethiopia to Sudan. The patriarch was received by the undersecretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Abdalla Hamad al Azraq. The two discussed the situation of the Ethiopian community and churches in Sudan as well as the firm historic ties between the Sudanese and Ethiopian peoples…

Aleppo’s displaced find refuge in Kurdish regions (Al Monitor) Sheikh Maksoud, located in the northwest of Aleppo, is considered a safe haven for the displaced. Arab and Kurdish families alike go there to escape the shelling in the eastern neighborhoods under the opposition’s grip. Hundreds of families from Kobane sought shelter there in the wake of the battles between the Islamic State and the Kurdish forces…

Tags: India Ukraine Ethiopia Aleppo Sudan

10 February 2015
Greg Kandra

Priests celebrate the Divine Liturgy at the Cathedral of Sts. James in the Armenian Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem. To learn more about Jerusalem’s Armenians, and their efforts to maintain their identity, read “Living Here Is Complicated” in the Winter edition of ONE.
(photo: Ilene Perlman)

10 February 2015
Greg Kandra

Ukrainians walk past symbolic crosses set up by protesters in front of the Russian embassy in Kiev, Ukraine, on 1 February (photo: CNS/Sergey Dolzhenko, EPA)

Holy See “following attentively” situation in Ukraine (Vatican Radio) The head of the Holy See Press Office, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, SJ, on Tuesday spoke about the situation in the Ukraine. “The See is following attentively the situations of crisis in various parts of the world, including the eastern regions of Ukraine. In the presence of an escalation of the conflict that has claimed many innocent victims, the Holy Father Francis has renewed his appeal for peace on several occasions,” Father Lombardi said...

Catholic, Orthodox leaders urge “unity against aggression” in Ukraine (CNS) Catholic and Orthodox archbishops in Ukraine appealed for national unity against pro-Russia separatists as calls mounted for the United States to help arm Ukrainian forces. Citing constant danger to Ukraine, the church leaders called the war “a crime against life” that brings “suffering and death, grief and injustice” in a 4 February statement...

Jordan deploys thousands of troops at border with Iraq (NBC News) Jordan has deployed “thousands” of troops at its border with Iraq as it ramps up a campaign against ISIS militants who set a pilot ablaze, two Jordanian government officials told NBC News on Tuesday. The troops were sent to prevent the infiltration of ISIS fighters into Jordan and as a show of force, according to the sources who spoke on condition of anonymity...

Suicides on the rise in Gaza (Al-Monitor) Committing suicide by hanging, poisoning or setting oneself on fire is now more common for those who have completely lost hope. For them, it is the easiest way to find eternal rest and to escape from the political, economic and social injustice they are subject to. The Gaza Strip, besieged for the past eight years and suffering the misfortunes of isolation, is witnessing the new phenomenon of suicide that is plaguing its streets, just like Tunisia and Egypt...

Mumbai Christians protest attacks on churches in Delhi (Times of India) Several hundred Christians led by community NGOs gathered at Azad Maidan Monday afternoon to protest the recent attacks on churches in New Delhi. The speakers held up US president Barack Obama’s recent comments about “growing religious intolerance” in India to express their concerns about the saffron brigade’s ‘ghar wapsi’ programme. However, they denounced the Anti-Conversion Bill which seeks to ban religious conversions by all groups...

Tags: Iraq India Ukraine Gaza Strip/West Bank Jordan

9 February 2015
Michael J.L. La Civita

Syro-Malankara Catholic catechumens process toward a community event in a remote area of central India. To learn more about the growth of the Syro-Malabar and Syro-Malankara Catholic churches in India, check out “Reaching the Unreached in India” in the recent edition
of ONE magazine. (photo: John E. Kozar)

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