7 June 2019
In this image from 2015, Pope Francis greets Russian President Vladimir Putin as he arrives for a private meeting at the Vatican. The two will meet again in July, possibly paving the way for a future papal visit to Russia. (photo:CNS/Alexei Nikolsky, RIA Novosti/Kremlin via Reuters)
Putin July trip to Rome could pave way for papal trip to Russia (Reuters) The Vatican said Putin, who will be on a state visit to Italy, will hold talks with the Argentinian-born pope on 4 July. The meeting, their third since Francis was elected in 2013, comes at a time of improving relations between the Vatican and the world’s Orthodox Churches. It also will be their first since Francis and Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill met in 2016, a landmark step in healing the 1,000-year-old rift between the Western and Eastern branches of Christianity…
Lebanon imposes curfew on Syria refugees (Middle East Monitor) Lebanon has restricted the movement of Syrian refugees in the Deir El-Ahmar area until Friday after a fire engine was ambushed yesterday. Governor of Baalbek, Bachir Khodr, imposed the severe restrictions on the refugees after a fireman was hopsitalised in the attack. A Syrian man is reported to have been involved in the attack…
Myths put lives of young Indian women at risk (UCANews.com) In large swathes of rural India, as well as some urban pockets, females are considered impure and segregated when menstruating. They are forced to sleep in separate ”menstruation huts,” which are often cowsheds or barns. Poverty and a general lack of awareness of health issues pushes them even closer to death as they are prone to infections while bleeding, or can be bitten by snakes or other wild animals in the huts, experts say…
Visiting the ’Sistine Chapel of Iran’ shows Christian-Muslim coexistence (B.C. Catholic) Located in the ancient Persian capital of Isfahan, this church is also known as Vank Cathedral (“Vank” is the Armenian word for monastery or convent). An Armenian Orthodox church, this gem is hidden behind walls, a living intersection of Perso-Christian-Islamic culture in one of the world’s oldest civilizations. The church is a part of old Christianity not often seen in that part of the world, a living proof of the harmony that has long existed among Muslims and Christians. In fact, it is one of the best places to observe a coexistence of cultures and religions…
Vatican to launch radio news service in Latin (Vatican News) Starting on Saturday, 8 June, a 5-minute weekly news bulletin in Latin will be broadcast to the world on Vatican Radio frequencies through the Italian language audio channels. Of course you will also be able to follow it on our web portal and listen to it on podcast, and it will soon be available on the English-language audio frequencies as well…
6 June 2019
Tags: Syria India Lebanon Muslim Iran
Former Bishop Geevarghese Mar Timotheos of India died Tuesday at the age of 91.
(photo: Christian Molidor, R.S.M.)
We received some sad news this week from India, regarding a man who was a great champion of the poor:
Geevarghese Mar Timotheos, 91, former bishop of Tiruvalla Diocese of the Syro Malankara Catholic Church, passed away on Tuesday morning. The funeral will be held at St John’s Metropolitan Cathedral on Thursday. He was under treatment at Pushpagiri Medical College Hospital for the past six days due to age-related health problems.
Timotheos started his service as a priest under the Tiruvalla Diocese. He was the administrator of the diocese in 1987. He was elevated as bishop in 1988. He worked for the upgradation of Pushpagiri Hospital as medical college. Many hospitals and charity homes were launched by him when he served as bishop. He retired in 2003. He also served as the secretary of Kerala Catholic Bishop’s Council (KCBC).
He was featured in our magazine in 1995, in a story entitled The Heirs of St. Thomas.
May his memory be eternal.
6 June 2019
Tags: Syro-Malankara Catholic Church Indian Bishops
Pope Francis greets people as he visits Our Lady Queen of Iasi Cathedral in Iasi, Romania on 1 June 2019. During his audience Wednesday, the pope expressed joy at being among the Romanian people last week. (photo: CNS/Vatican Media)
Pope expresses joy at being among Romanian people (Vatican News) During his Catechesis at the Wednesday General Audience, Pope Francis recalled his recent visit to Romania following in the footsteps of Saint John Paul II. The motto of the visit was “Let’s walk together” and the Pope expressed his joy at being able to walk as a pilgrim among the Romanian people. The Pontiff said that the various meetings whilst there “highlighted the value and the need to walk together both among Christians, on the level of faith and charity, and among citizens, on the level of civil commitment…”
Syrian airstrikes kill civilians in Idlib (Al Jazeera)At least five civilians were killed by Russian and Syrian government warplanes that targeted Syria’s northwest as residents marked the holiday of Eid al-Fitr. A local source told Anadolu Agency the five people died on Wednesday in air attacks targeting the town of Kansafra and three villages in Idlib…
Pope to meet Putin before Vatican Ukraine meeting (ABC News) Pope Francis will meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Vatican next month, a day before Catholic leaders from Ukraine gather at the Holy See to discuss the continuing conflict there and the fallout from the schism between the Russian and Ukrainian Orthodox Churches…
Child beggars are the face of poverty in Gaza (Haaretz) There’s a fine line between being a peddler and beggar. The peddlers offer bunches of fresh mint, cookies, gum and tissues. When you refuse, they plead: “Please, give me something.” Many of the peddlers are children, who are up late in any event during Ramadan. They could be seen walking around after 1 A.M. hawking their small supply of wares...
5 June 2019
Tags: Syria Gaza Strip/West Bank Romania
Metropolitan-Archbishop Borys Gudziak speaks to his flock in Philadelphia after his enthronement. (photo: CNEWA)
I had the privilege of representing CNEWA yesterday at the enthronement ceremony of Metropolitan-Archbishop Borys Gudziak, as he became head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Archeparchy of Philadelphia — and, consequently, leader of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church in the United States.
More than 1,000 people from around the world — including CNEWA’s chair, Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York — came to the Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception for this important day.
There was a great atmosphere in the cathedral, and no wonder: Metropolitan Borys has demonstrated in the last 20 years that he is driven by the Holy Spirit to do God’s work. He has inspired so many, in many corners of the world. I am reminded in particular of the remarkable work he has done at the Ukrainian Catholic University, where he was one of the founders.
In his very humble and moving speech after the liturgy, he spoke brilliantly of his vision for the church. He warned people not to be too distracted with all the glory of the celebration, with its fine vestments. Yes, it is a grand day, he said, and we should celebrate. But, he added, the church is about finding Jesus and promoting his teachings.
The metropolitan also asked a good friend in a wheelchair to come and join him for part of his talk. He alluded to the humanitarian and theologian, the recently deceased Jean Vanier, saying that he is a model of what the church should be. He explained how Jesus is found in the poor, in the handicapped, in the marginalized. The church is to serve them, he said, and he invited everyone to join him and the Lord in this great work.
Metropolitan Borys was clearly moved by the day and by the task ahead. I was humbled to be there for this moment. I left the cathedral uplifted and inspired — more committed than ever to continue CNEWA’s work with Ukrainian church leaders such as him in Ukraine, in Canada and in the United States.
For more, read Prayer and Protest, Borys Gudziak’s first-person account of the 2013 Kiev uprising in the Spring 2014 edition of ONE.
5 June 2019
Tags: Ukraine Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church
In this image from 2017, a Dominican sister visits the Church of Sts. Behnam and Sarah in Qaraqosh, Iraq, heavily damaged by ISIS. The United Nations has established 22 August as the Day to Commemorate Victims of Violence Based on Religion. (photo: Raed Rafei)
On 28 May, the U.N. General Assembly adopted a resolution establishing 22 August as the Day to Commemorate Victims of Violence Based on Religion.
The resolution invites all member states, relevant organizations, civil society, individuals and the private sector to observe the international day and show appropriate support for victims of religiously motivated violence.
In the wake of recent religiously motivated terrorist attacks, the resolution notes a serious concern for “continuing acts of intolerance and violence based on religion or belief against individuals, including against persons belonging to religious communities and religious minorities around the world, and at the increasing number and intensity of such incidents.”
Poland initiated work toward the commemorative day, but united with Brazil, Canada, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Nigeria, Pakistan, Poland, and the United States to co-draft the resolution.
Ultimately, 88 U.N. member states voted to co-sponsor the resolution.
“The right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, which is commonly referred to as the right to freedom of religion or belief, is a universal right of every human being and the cornerstone of many other rights,” Polish Minister of Foreign Affairs Jacek Czaputowicz said in his keynote speech before the vote.
In response, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom in Washington issued a statement praising the resolution.
“We applaud the U.N. General Assembly for adopting this resolution, which acknowledges and honors victims of violence based on religion or belief around the world,” said Tenzin Dorjee, chair of the commission. “But we must not stop at condemnation. Like-minded governments must also increasingly work together to hold perpetrators accountable, whether they are state or nonstate actors responsible for the abuses.”
The Vatican, too, commented on the resolution after its adoption in a statement released by its Permanent Observer Mission to the U.N. The statement recalled the recent religiously motivated violence in Sri Lanka, New Zealand, California and Burkina Faso.
“This resolution and the international day it establishes is an opportunity for the international community to focus on the victims and to strengthen efforts to eradicate such violence and acts of terrorism targeting persons because of their religion or belief,” it said.
The Vatican also reminded the U.N. that religion and belief cannot be blamed for these acts. They are, rather, deviations from religious practices and must be condemned.
5 June 2019
Tags: Iraq Iraqi Christians United Nations
Clergy from around the world process for the enthronement of Metropolitan-Archbishop Borys Gudziak as head of the Ukrainian Catholic Archeparchy of Philadelphia at the Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception on 4 June 2019.
(photo: CNS/Jonathan Drake, Reuters)
Ukrainian Catholic Church installs new leader (AP) An Eastern Catholic diocese in Pennsylvania has installed a new leader. The Ukrainian Catholic Archeparchy of Philadelphia has named the Rev. Borys Gudziak as the metropolitan archbishop, which makes him the head of the Ukrainian Catholic Church in the United States. Gudziak is a 58-year-old native of Syracuse, New York. He succeeds Stefan Soroka, who resigned for health reasons last year…
Ethiopian Christians, Muslims clean stadium in show of solidarity for Eid-al-Fitr (NAIJ.com) Ethiopian Christians on Monday, 3 June, joined their Muslim brothers and sisters in a clean up exercise to show solidarity and love ahead of the end of the holy month of Ramadan. Leading the group was Ethiopia’s prime minister Abiy Ahmed who was also spotted sweeping the ground where the celebrations are expected to take place on Wednesday when the Muslim community across the world mark Eid-al-Fitr…
UN: crops and farmland being burned in Syria as a ’weapon of war’ (Al Jazeera) Thousands of hectares of vital crops and farmland have been set on fire by fighters in northwest Syria in a campaign that has turned food supplies into a “weapon of war”, the United Nations World Food Program (WFP) said…
Egypt’s president speaks out on Muslim treatment of Christians (National Review) Sunday Egyptian president Abdel Fatah al-Sisi delivered a speech during a ceremony in Cairo for Laylat al-Qadr, which is one of the odd-numbered nights during the last ten days of Ramadan. Since before the Egyptian revolution in 2011 propelled the country into chaos and till this year, Egypt’s Coptic Christian population has been facing a wave of persecution that some Copts describe as the worst in 700 years. President Sisi’s remarks, however, may be a sign of his efforts imploring peaceful coexistence in Egypt between Muslims and Christians…
4 June 2019
Tags: Syria Ethiopia Muslim Ukrainian Catholic Church
Metropolitan-Archbishop Borys Gudziak displays the papal bull about his appointment during his enthronement as head of the Ukrainian Catholic Archeparchy of Philadelphia at the Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception on 4 June 2019.
(photo: CNS/Jonathan Drake, Reuters)
4 June 2019
Tags: Ukrainian Catholic Church
The video above shows Syrian forces bombing hospitals in Idlib in May. (video: Sky News/YouTube)
In Syria, even the hospitals aren’t safe (The New York Times) After eight brutal years, it is hard to find anything shocking about the Syrian civil war. But somehow, the government forces under President Bashar al-Assad always find a way. On 15 May, Syrian bombs destroyed the Tarmala Maternity and Children’s Hospital in Idlib, the 19th medical facility attacked since late April…
Leprosy patients receive help and hope at center in India (UCANews.com) Some 160 families now live in Leprosy Care Center center with their children and grandchildren. With the third generation growing up here, the place has become their home. All the older residents fled their homes and villages following severe social exclusion…
Westminster Abbey denies Ethiopian Christians permission to pray with relic (Times of Israel) Westminster Abbey has been accused of cultural insensitivity after it turned down a request from Ethiopian Christians to pray beside a tablet that the Ethiopian church considers sacred…
New Ukrainian Catholic archbishop faces challenge of renewal among faithful (The Philadelphia Inquirer) On Tuesday, Borys Gudziak, a native of Syracuse, N.Y., and the son of immigrant parents, will be installed as the metropolitan archbishop of the Ukrainian Catholic Archeparchy, or archdiocese, of Philadelphia, making him the titular head of the faith in the United States. Gudziak, 58, who has helped fuel a resurgence in the church in Ukraine, will work to inspire a similar renewal in this country of a faith — with fewer than 100,000 adherents — that has faced many of the same struggles as other Christian denominations…
Record turnout for Eid prayers in Ethiopian capital (Andalou Agency) More than one million people gathered in and around the Addis Ababa stadium for Eid al-Fitr prayers on Tuesday. The Muslim festival of Eid al-Fitr was celebrated across Ethiopia — a country hosting the largest Muslim community in Sub-Sahara Africa after Nigeria. Muslims account for 34% of Ethiopia’s more than 100 million population…
3 June 2019
Tags: Syria India Ethiopia Muslim
Pope Francis gives a blessing as he meets with members of the Roma community, sometimes called gypsies, in Blaj, Romania, on 2 June 2019. (photo: CNS/Vatican Media)
On his final stop before departing Romania for Rome, Pope Francis visited members of the Roma community living in the neighborhood of Barbu Lautaru. According to the Vatican, a newly erected church and pastoral center were built to assist the Roma community to fully integrated within the social fabric of the city of Blaj.
“In the church of Christ, there is room for everyone,” the pope told members of the community, “otherwise it would not be the church of Christ.”
The pope told the Roma community that his heart was heavy due to “the many experiences of discrimination, segregation and mistreatment experienced by your communities,” inflicted upon them, including by members of the Catholic Church.
He asked forgiveness to them “for those times in history when we have discriminated, mistreated or looked askance at you” instead of defending them in their “uniqueness.”
Waiting for the pope Razaila Vasile Dorin, a 16-year-old, told reporters, “We are proud he is coming here in our community -- a person like the pope! I don’t know what to say. It’s a great honor.”
Asked about discrimination, Dorin, speaking English, said, “In every country there is racism. When we go out everyone looks, ‘Look, look, a Roma, a Gypsy.’“ But, he said, the Roma are “proud to be Gypsies.”
“Whenever anyone is left behind, the human family cannot move forward. Deep down, we are not Christians, and not even good human beings, unless we are able to see the person before his or her actions, before our own judgments and prejudices,” the pope said.
According to the Jesuit journal Civilta Cattolica, a 2011 census estimated that there are more than 620,000 Roma people in Romania. However, the figure may not reflect the actual numbers because many do not declare their ethnicity out of fear of discrimination.
Despite the trials they have endured, the pope encouraged them to not go down the path of vengeance and instead to choose the “way of Jesus” which brings peace and can heal the wounds of injustice.
“May we not let ourselves be dragged along by the hurts we nurse within us; let there be no room for anger. For one evil never corrects another evil, no vendetta ever satisfies an injustice, no resentment is ever good for the heart and no rejection will ever bring us closer to others,” he said.
3 June 2019
Tags: Romania Roma
Pope Francis beatified seven Romanian Catholic martyrs during his visit to Romania last weekend. (video: CNS/YouTube)
Pope praises, beatifies martyred Romanian bishops (CNS) The memory and witness of Romania’s martyred bishops are a reminder that Christians are called to stand firm against ideologies that seek to stifle and suppress their cultural and religious traditions, Pope Francis said. On the last leg of his visit to Romania, the pope on 2 June celebrated a Divine Liturgy during which seven Eastern-rite Catholic bishops, who died during a fierce anti-religious campaign waged by the communist regime in Romania, were beatified…
Pope Francis says he is strengthened by talks with Benedict (CNS) Pope Francis said that he continues to visit retired Pope Benedict XVI, 92, who is like a grandfather who continues to encourage him and give him strength. ”I take his hand and let him speak. He speaks little, at his own pace, but with the same profoundness as always. Benedict’s problem are his knees, not his mind. He has a great lucidity,” the pope told journalists on 2 June on his return flight from Romania…
Some Syrian refugees being welcomed home with arrest and interrogation (The Washington Post) Hundreds of Syrian refugees have been arrested after returning home as the war they fled winds down — then interrogated, forced to inform on close family members and in some cases tortured, say returnees and human rights monitors. Many more who weathered the conflict in rebel-held territory now retaken by government forces are meeting a similar fate as President Bashar al-Assad’s regime deepens its longtime dependence on informers and surveillance…
Ethnic violence has displaced nearly 3 million Ethiopians (The Los Angeles Times) About 700,000 people have been displaced by the Gedeo-Guji dispute, according to the United Nations. Yet it is just one of many inter-ethnic conflicts raging in Ethiopia that have given the country an unenviable distinction: Last year more people fled their homes there than in any other nation on Earth. In total, 2.9 million people had been displaced by December 2018, more than those dislodged in Syria, Yemen, Somalia and Afghanistan combined, according to estimates published this month…
India faces demand for Hindu temple on site of mosque (UCANews.com) Less than a week after the Hindu nationalist Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) won a landslide victory in India’s general elections, Hindu groups stepped up demands to build a temple in Ayodhya, claimed to be the birthplace of revered Hindu god Lord Ram…
Tags: Syria India Pope Francis Ethiopia Romanian Catholic Church