23 September 2016
Sami El-Yousef visits the the Lighthouse School the Zeitun neighborhood of Gaza City. (photo: CNEWA)
Yesterday, in its Vatican Insider section, the Italian daily newspaper La Stampa published an interview with Sami El-Yousef, CNEWA’s regional director for Palestine and Israel. The discussion focused chiefly on the many challenges facing Gaza, and efforts of the Pontifical Mission for Palestine — CNEWA’s operating agency in the region — to provide support for its people through parishes and church institutions:
You were just a few days ago in Gaza. How is the situation there and what is PMP doing to support the population, in particular concerning the creation of job positions?
Indeed I am a frequent visitor to Gaza as I make approximately six visits per year consistently since I joined the Mission in 2009. Our work is concentrated in Gaza through providing services to the community at large with no distinction to religion, color, race, or gender. Such work is done through a number of partners in Gaza including the Latin Parish and its institutions including the Holy Family School, the Latin Patriarchate School, and other operations of the Sisters of the Incarnate Word. Additionally our partners include the Ahli Arab Hospital being the only Christian hospital in Gaza; the Near East Council of Churches clinics and vocational training centers; the Rosary Sisters School; and the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA), among others. The variety of support included humanitarian support during wars, renovation of premises, equipment and furniture grants, programmatic support where needed such as malnourishment programs and psycho-social support, scholarship support, youth sector support, pastoral programs, and capacity building and job creation. A star project will be launched soon that will provide 16 unemployed Christian youth with employment for 12 months in one of our partner institutions. This will undoubtedly help our Christian youth building their experience and at the same time bring some much-needed income. It is noteworthy to mention that the unemployment rate of Gaza is about 45%, the highest in the world.
Read the rest at La Stampa.
To accompany the people of Gaza as they endure through one of the most afflicted economic, political and social climates in the world, click here.
23 September 2016
Tags: CNEWA Gaza Strip/West Bank CNEWA Pontifical Mission Pontifical Mission for Palestine
Parishioners light votive candles at St. Hripsime Church, built in the year 618 in Vagharshapat, Armenia — the city also known as Etchmiadzin, the seat of the Armenian Apostolic Church. The Armenians, whose ancient homeland now encompasses parts of Asia Minor, the Caucasus and northwestern Iran, have endured for more than 3,000 years, outlasting more powerful neighbors in Asia and Europe who have repeatedly and relentlessly sought to subjugate and even obliterate them. Learn more about the Church of Armenia in the pages of the Autumn 2016 special edition of ONE. (photo: Armineh Johannes)
23 September 2016
Tags: Armenia Eastern Christianity Eastern Churches ONE magazine Etchmiadzin
Cardinal Pietro Parolin, secretary of state of the Holy See addresses the 71st session of the United Nations General Assembly at the U.N. headquarters in New York on 22 September. (photo: Dominick Reuters/AFP/Getty Images)
Vatican ratifies U.N. Convention against Corruption (Vatican Radio) The Holy See has deposited the instrument of ratification of the United Nations Convention against Corruption at United Nations headquarters in New York. Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican Secretary of State, made the formal deposition on 19 September 2016, both for the Holy See, and on behalf of the Vatican City State…
Catholic-Orthodox commission approves statement on authority (CNS) Catholics and Orthodox need to explore ways authority can be understood and exercised so that is not an obstacle to unity, a group of top-level theologians said. Members of the official Joint International Commission for the Theological Dialogue Between the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church met near Chieti, Italy, 16 to 21 September and approved a document reflecting a mutual understanding of primacy and synodality. “Primacy” refers to the authority of the lead bishop or pope, and “synodality” refers to the authority exercised collegially by the College of Bishops in the West or a synod of bishops in the Eastern churches. While Orthodox patriarchs are recognized spiritual leaders and exercise authority over some areas of church life, they do not have the kind of jurisdiction the pope has over the Catholic Church and especially over its Latin-rite dioceses…
Iraqi Catholic church in U.S. torn by immigration efforts (Wall Street Journal) The backyard gathering was part Catholic liturgy, part rebellion. The priest, an Iraqi immigrant, had been kicked out of the local church. Parishioners had been warned by local church leaders not to worship with him. Yet 50 people sat in makeshift pews behind a home east of San Diego in a show of opposition to church officials urging Christians to stay in Iraq, where their numbers are dwindling. “There is no future for Christians in Iraq,” said Bahaa Gandor, a 31-year-old who fled the country in 2010. “We have to bring them here…”
‘A massacre is inevitable’: Siege drags on for two Shiite villages in Syria (Los Angeles Times) A punishing siege imposed by Islamist rebels has cut off the two sister towns of Fua and Kefraya in northwest Syria for the last 18 months, leaving them at the mercy of truck bombs, mortar barrages, and the terrifying staccato of sniper fire. The two towns lie in Idlib province, a predominantly Sunni Muslim region southwest of Aleppo. In March 2015, the entire province was overrun by a powerful jihadist coalition known as the Army of Conquest. The exception was Fua and Kefraya, two Shiite villages whose roughly 17,000 residents have remained, even under a devastating blockade, loyal to the government. For most, there has seemed to be little choice: Shiite Muslims are seen as apostates by Islamist hard-liners, and the Army of Conquest has threatened to wipe them out…
Protecting cultural heritage from combatants promotes human rights and universal values (U.N. News Center) Safeguarding cultural property that combatants aim to damage encompasses part of larger endeavors to defend human rights and universal values, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today, calling on the international community to intensify efforts to protect such treasures and end their illicit trafficking…
22 September 2016
Tags: Syria Iraqi Christians United States United Nations Catholic-Orthodox relations
A CNEWA poster from 1926 features Greek Catholic Bishop George Calavassy. (photo: CNEWA)
When Bishop John Gavin Nolan, former secretary general of CNEWA, documented the origins of the association, he began Chapter I with the following words:
On 10 April 1917, four days after the United States entered World War I, Father George Calavassy, a bearded, 36-year-old Greek Catholic priest from Constantinople, dropped an envelope in the mail. Its contents, three pages painstakingly handwritten in English on plain paper at the Jesuit college of St. Francis Xavier in New York City, were addressed to James Cardinal Gibbons in Baltimore, the dean of the American hierarchy. After reviewing the origin and purposes of the tiny Greek Catholic Exarchate (diocese) that the Holy See had established in Constantinople in 1911, Father Calavassy reminded the cardinal of his promise, made in Baltimore two months earlier, to present to the American bishops at their next meeting the needs of the exarchate — viz., $500,000 for a seminary, two schools and a “large” church, presumably a cathedral.
For 25 years, Cardinal Gibbons had lent his name to American Protestants to raise funds for the Armenians in Turkey, but it seems that he did not give Father Calavassy’s letter so much as the favor of a reply. The letter is important, however; it explains clearly in Father Calavassy’s own words the Holy See’s attitude and strategy vis-a-vis the Orthodox before Vatican Council II made ecumenism a household word. Further, it was due to the contacts Father Calavassy made with Catholics in America during the war, and to the correspondence he maintained with them afterward, that the Catholic Near East Welfare Association was founded in Philadelphia in 1924.
Indeed, though the work of CNEWA’s founding would involve such colorful characters as the Rev. Paul Wattson, S.A.; Msgr. Richard Barry-Doyle; the Rev. Edmund A. Walsh, S.J.; and ultimately Pope Pius XI, George Calavassy’s efforts to support his flock served as the spark that set the work in motion.
Born to Catholic parents in 1881 at Ano-Siros, on the Cyclades island of Siros — “the island of the pope,” in the words of Jesuit and Capuchin missionaries — Calavassy joined the priesthood early in life, building a reputation as an apologist for Catholicism and strong advocate for ecumenism, long before the latter had come into its own as a modern movement.
Above all, he went to every imaginable length to secure the safety and continuity of his community. In his profile on Greece’s Eastern Catholic Church, Michael La Civita wrote:
If not for the humanitarian and pastoral works of one of its leaders, Bishop George Calavassy (1920-57), this church would barely merit a footnote in the annals of church history. …
In 1911, Pope Pius X erected an ordinariate, later an exarchate, for this nascent church and named Father Isaias Papadopoulos as its first bishop. Called to Rome during the waning days of World War I, he was succeeded in 1920 by Bishop George Calavassy, who witnessed firsthand the horrors of a country at war with outsiders and with its own Christian minorities.
By 1920, an estimated million refugees had swarmed Constantinople. Hundreds of thousands of them were Greeks. Fleeing the excesses of the Bolsheviks, some 100,000 penniless Russians engulfed the former Byzantine capital. Scores of Armenians, Assyrians and Chaldeans fled their homesteads during and after the war; many more died in the struggle to defend them.
Among the first to minister to the needs of the dispossessed was Bishop George. Overwhelmed by the refugee crisis — especially after his requests for funding in Europe and the United States went unanswered — the bishop appealed to Father Paul Wattson.
The resulting efforts would prove a lifeline to his church in its most difficult time — sustaining orphans, students, parishioners and seminarians alike, and supporting the small church’s monumental relief efforts. And the rest, as they say, is history.
To continue the work that began with Bishop George Calavassy’s appeal for help, click here.
22 September 2016
Tags: Refugees CNEWA Relief Greek Catholic Church
Greek Orthodox Patriarch Diodoros I of Jerusalem leads the procession out of Church of Holy Sepulchre on Palm Sunday, 1988. The Orthodox Patriarchal Church of Jerusalem accounts for about a third of the 400,000 Christians who participate in the life of the Church of Jerusalem, at the birthplace of the faith. Learn more about the Church of Jerusalem in the pages of the Autumn 2016 special edition of ONE. (photo: Paul Souders)
22 September 2016
Tags: Jerusalem Eastern Christianity Eastern Churches ONE magazine
Egyptians stand on the shore in the Egyptian port city of Rosetta, waiting for the results of a search operation after a boat carrying migrants capsized in the Mediterranean on 21 September 2016. (photo: Mohamed El Shahed/AFP/Getty Images)
Egypt migrant boat capsize: Hundreds feared dead (BBC) Survivors from a boat which capsized off the Egyptian coast on Wednesday have told the BBC that hundreds of people may have drowned. The boat was carrying about 550 migrants when it capsized eight miles off the coast, they say. Authorities have rescued 163 people and recovered 42 bodies so far off the port city of Rosetta. Four crew members have been arrested in connection with incident, Egyptian officials said…
Church committed to support for Dalits against rising violence (Fides) Violence against Dalits (the “untouchables”) in India have increased in recent years, according to the National Crime Record Board. “It is a matter of concern to note: Since the Bharatiya Janata Party of Prime Minister Narendra Modi have been ruling, atrocities on Dalits have increased” says Jesuit A. Xavier John Bosco, director of the Jesuit Social Centre, based in Secunderabad, Andhra Pradesh…
Jerusalem archbishop: Christian unity, Middle East situation are priorities (CNS) The new apostolic administrator of the Latin Patriarchate, Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa, said he would focus on listening to the priests and people of the diocese to better understand the pastoral issues. In a 21 September news conference before his official entrance into Jerusalem, the archbishop told journalists the diocese faces many challenges similar to those of the church in other parts of the world, including divisions within family life, young people’s disenchantment with the church. But he said the local church also is concerned with the influx of refugees, foreign workers and migrants in Jordan and Israel, many of whom are Christian, as well as issues of family reunification and an acute shortage of housing…
Syrian archbishop: ‘A bullet narrowly missed my head’ (AINA) Christians in Syria are being targeted by Kurdish militias according to a senior Christian leader in the region. Syriac Catholic Archbishop Jacques Behnan Hindo says Kurds in Hassake, a city in northeast Syria, and surrounding areas are responsible for “acts of violence and intimidation” against Christians. He said he had a narrow escape himself when shots were fired through the window of his house and a bullet narrowly missed his head. “At that moment, the area was presided over by Kurdish militias, and there were no other armed persons nearby…”
Christian and Muslim religious leaders pray for peace in the name of Mary in Beirut (AsiaNews) Representatives of all of Lebanon’s faith communities gathered on Tuesday for an interfaith prayer for peace at Marian shrine in Harissa, north of Beirut. The group met in response to a call made by Pope Francis, who asked that all the dioceses in the world hold prayer ceremonies, at the same time as the one in Assisi, the city of St. Francis, which brought together prominent figures of faith and culture…
21 September 2016
Tags: Syria Egypt Lebanon Jerusalem
A child attends the Divine Liturgy in the Melkite Greek Catholic Church of Sts. Peter and Paul in Shefa-‘Amr, a small city in the Galilee. The Melkite Greek Catholic Church is one of ten distinct churches that together form the richly diverse Church of Antioch. Learn more about the Church of Antioch in the pages of the Autumn 2016 special edition of ONE. (photo: Ilene Perlman)
21 September 2016
Tags: Eastern Christianity Eastern Churches Melkite Greek Catholic Church Antiochene church Antioch
Moscow and the Syrian government have denied they carried out a deadly air strike on an aid convoy in Syria. (video: Al Jazeera English)
Russia and Syria deny striking U.N. aid convoy in Aleppo (Al Jazeera) “The air forces of Russia and Syria did not conduct any strikes against the U.N. aid convoy in the southwestern outskirts of Aleppo,” said Russian defense ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov on Tuesday, as outrage mounted over an attack that some called a war crime. The Red Cross said at least 20 people were killed in the attack on trucks carrying desperately needed humanitarian relief to thousands of Syrians. Ban Ki-moon, U.N. secretary-general, speaking at the General Assembly in New York, called those who attacked the convoy “cowards.” He continued: “Powerful patrons that keep feeding the war machine also have blood on their hands…”
Caritas: Syrian people are the ‘ball’ in the cruel game of the powerful (AsiaNews) In Syria, major world powers are playing “a football game” in which the Syrian people have become the ball, wrote Sandra Awad of Caritas Syria, in an appeal letter for International Day of Peace. “Unfortunately, what is happening during this game is that the players are destroying with their big shoes … the infrastructure, buildings, factories, and are crushing the Syrian people, especially the poor ones who became the majority…”
Egypt migrant boat capsize: At least 29 people killed (BBC) At least 29 people have drowned after a migrant boat capsized off the Egyptian coast, officials say. The boat was carrying about 600 passengers, of which about 150 have been rescued, state media reported. The capsize took place off the coast of Kafr al Sheikh, officials say…
Interreligious peace rally held in Miao Diocese (Vatican Radio) The Miao Diocese in Arunachal Pradesh — the Indian state furthest northeast — organized an interreligious peace rally in Neotan village, in response to Pope Francis’ call to pray for peace on 20 September. “Amidst growing religious intolerance in India and all around, this inter-religious peace rally is a great step to promote mutual respect and peace among the people of all faiths,” said the Venerable Narinda Bhikkhu Mahathero, head monk in Miao’s Buddhist monastery…
Signs of panic and rebellion in the heart of Islamic State’s territory (Washington Post) The graffiti that appeared on a wall near the mosque in Mosul where the Islamic State leader declared his caliphate two years ago was a small but symbolic act of rebellion. The spray-painted letter “m” — for the Arabic word mukawama, meaning resistance — was part of a campaign by Kitaeb al Mosul, an underground opposition group in the northern Iraqi city that released a video detailing their efforts this month. In recent months, the Islamic State has carried out more arrests and executions such as these in a sign of desperation as it faces the prospect of losing Mosul, according to reports from inside the city…
20 September 2016
Tags: Syria Iraq India Egypt Migrants
The Autumn 2016 edition of ONE magazine is now online!
This special issue shines a spotlight on the churches of the East in a way ONE has never done before:
Pope Pius XI founded Catholic Near East Welfare Association in 1926 to support the people served by the Eastern churches, especially the Catholic Eastern churches. …
This journey has been a story of perseverance and purpose, one that has left us humbled and enriched. It is the story of sisters caring for the victims of war; of seminarians preparing to serve the people of God; of faithful from all walks of life reaching out to the poorest of the poor, and seeing in one another God’s abundant grace at work. To experience this again and again is to realize there is a larger story unfolding in these churches: It is the story of Easter. …
In the pages that follow, you will meet some of the men and women who are living this story every day, and doing it with enthusiasm, fervor and zeal. We focus on what we consider the five families of the Eastern churches — Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, Jerusalem and Armenia — rooted in the ancient lands where the apostles first planted the Gospel. The one church’s “family tree” is complex and elaborate, with many entwined branches, and we will also help trace this tree’s sometimes meandering roots.
We hope you’ll enjoy this journey to the roots, to say nothing of the fascinating people you’ll meet along the way. Just click the link above to get started.
You can also hear a few words from CNEWA President Msgr. John E. Kozar on this exciting new edition below:
20 September 2016
Tags: CNEWA Eastern Christianity Eastern Churches ONE magazine
Imad Abou Jaoude poses for a “selfie” with another CNEWA hero, Sister Maria Hannah, O.P., during a visit to Iraq. (photo: CNEWA)
Imad Abou Jaoude, a young civil engineer, joined CNEWA in our Beirut office in January 2000 as a part-time project coordinator when CNEWA was assisting the displaced population of Lebanon, mainly Christians. They had been forced to flee from their villages during the Lebanese civil war between 1975 and 2000. With his engineering background, Imad mainly worked on technical issues related to the implementation of infrastructure projects.
Year after year, and with time, the mandate and the priority of the office were changing enormously, especially after the eruption of the war in Syria and the catastrophe of Iraq in 2014. This young enthusiastic engineer, Imad, feeling the importance of CNEWA’s presence to this vulnerable population, decided to join us full time and dedicate all his efforts and knowledge to helping us.
In 2014, only three weeks after the brutal offensive against the Christians and Yazidis in Iraq, and despite all danger encountered, Imad was very excited to join me in my first trip to Iraq. I still remember how we flew over Mosul only a few thousand feet above ISIS militants, within range of their rockets. For security reasons, our plane had to circle Erbil’s airport for almost an hour before we were allowed to land.
Thanks to Imad’s efforts, CNEWA is playing a leading role in responding to the needs of more than 150,000 displaced persons. With his engineering expertise, he effectively helped establish dispensaries and schools; with his very human touch he conveyed to all who needed it a spirit of solidarity and hope — truly a hero to many.
Tags: Syria Lebanon Refugees CNEWA Relief