Current Issue
September, 2019
Volume 45, Number 3
23 August 2019
Greg Kandra

Monsoons have caused flooding that has destroyed homes and farmland throughout India.
(video: Al Jazeera/YouTube)

Monsoons batter India, destroying homes, farmland (Al Jazeera) Thousands of people in the southern Indian state of Kerala have lost their homes and livelihoods after weeks of heavy rain. The monsoon rains triggered floods and landslides across India…

Turkey vows not to quit army post surrounded in Syria (AFP) Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Friday that Turkish troops will not quit a military observation post in northwestern Syria where they are surrounded by government forces. ”We are there, not because we can’t leave but because we don’t want to leave,” he told a news conference in Lebanon, denying that Turkish troops had been “cut off” by a government advance into the jihadist-ruled Idlib region…

Archbishop says Christians are close to Muslims in Indian Kashmir (AsiaNews) Archbishop Sebastian Shaw of Lahore released a video message saying that Pakistan’s religious minorities are “praying for the people of Indian Kashmir.” The prelate was reacting to the decision by the Indian government to scrap Jammu and Kashmir’s special autonomy, which sparked renewed tensions between India and Pakistan…

Israel encouraging Gaza residents to emigrate (Irish Times) Palestinians have reacted angrily after Israeli officials confirmed that efforts have been made to encourage residents of the Gaza Strip to emigrate. Israeli officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed that the security cabinet held at least five discussions on the plan, which involved providing financial assistance to residents of Gaza who wanted to leave and allowing them to depart via an airport in southern Israel…

Tags: India Gaza Strip/West Bank Turkey

22 August 2019
Elias D. Mallon, S.A., Ph.D.

In this image from 2017, Pope Francis meets Nadia Murad Basee Taha, who escaped from ISIS slavery in Iraq. She is now a human rights activist and is a UN goodwill ambassador for its office that fights human trafficking. (photo: CNS/L’Osservatore Romano, handout)

Slavery is a permanent stain on the soul of humanity. As a reminder, on Friday 23 August the United Nations (UNESCO) observes the International Day of Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition.

It is an observance; it is not a celebration — and one that resonates deeply today, especially in the world CNEWA serves.

The roots of slavery are sunk deep into human history and its bitter fruits are still present. In the ancient world, the economies of almost every great empire were built on slavery. Those slaves could be prisoners of war, criminals, poor people forced to sell themselves into slavery and those born into slavery. Slavery was taken for granted and, while the Bible makes some modifications, even it simply accepts slavery as it is. In Exodus, we find laws about slaves. Hebrew slaves are to be freed in the seventh year of their servitude. However, if the owner “gives him [the slave] a wife and she bears him sons and daughters, wife and children shall belong to the master, and the man must leave alone” (Exodus 21:4). The inhumanity of the law is overwhelming in our contemporary world.

Scholars estimate that the economy of the Roman Empire during the time of Jesus was built almost entirely on slave labor. Some estimates set the number of slaves in Italy around the time of Christ to be about two million, or one slave for every three free people. In his work On Mercy 1:24 Seneca (65 AD) wrote “It was once proposed in the Senate that slaves should be distinguished from free people by their dress, but then it was realized how great a danger this would be, if our slaves began to count us.”

The Greek word doulos, “slave,” appears 127 times in the New Testament. The word diakonos, often translated “minister” or even “deacon,” refers sometimes to a slave of a higher class, perhaps a slave entrusted with running the household of his own. Paul’s letter Philemon throws an often-overlooked harsh light on the ethos of the time. Paul writes to Philemon, a Christian whose slave, Onesimus, has run away and whom Paul is now sending back to his master. While Paul does ask Philemon to take Onesimos back as a brother (Phil 16), he does not ask him to free him. It is fair to say that for the Bible (and for millennia thereafter) slavery was considered part of the natural order.

Slavery is a social and economic reality. Until the middle of the 19th century the economies of the United States and other countries were heavily dependent upon save labor. For thousands of years this was seen as “natural.” Slavery, however, is also a moral and spiritual reality. It is built on the belief that God has created some to be slaves and some to be free. Changing the title of a film (later play) by Hesper Anderson and Mark Medoff, slaves are “Lesser Children of God,” often lesser in every way than the “free” children of God.

It is difficult to pinpoint precisely when slavery as an institution began to unravel (at least in some places). The United States was one of the last countries in the European-based world to abolish slavery, which began in Virginia in 1619 — exactly 400 years ago — and was ended by the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863.

While slavery has been made illegal and dismantled in many parts of the world, it is far from gone as a social and economic reality. The UN and the Catholic Church often speak of “contemporary forms of slavery.” These include trafficking human beings for labor or for the sex trade. This is still a frightening reality, even in countries where slavery is illegal. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNDOC) has studied thousands of case of trafficking and slavery throughout the world. Social and economic slavery in modern dress still stalks our world, preying on women, children, the weak and the poor.

Slavery persists, as well, as a moral and spiritual reality. It is still alive in far too many places, where it can be more subtle and even more poisonous. The belief that some people (any people) are somehow of less value and less deserving of dignity and freedom can bring about that racism, that crippling of the soul that affects almost all of us. Racism is a shape-shifting chimera, born of the belief that some people are “naturally” lesser; it is capable of taking many forms. Some of those forms are crude and open. Other forms are more subtle and even genteel. In any case, all forms are toxins for the soul.

Racism can be the subconscious underpinning of so much in society. What should be, for example, the equal access to resources such as health care and education is often limited by racial foundations which are tolerated as being “the way things are.” Inequalities and lack of access to resources — once they become “normalized” — are little more than an updated version of the ancient belief that some people were created by nature to be slaves and underlings.

Slavery must be abolished on all levels — social, economic, and moral/spiritual.

It is something CNEWA can never forget. CNEWA works among the poorest of the poor and the weakest of the weak on our planet. The people we serve are constantly threatened by all forms of contemporary slavery. The UN Day of Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition is a challenge and perhaps, even, an indictment. Slavery —and its hateful spawn, racism — are alive and well in our world. As followers of Jesus we are obliged to make Paul’s words a reality: “In Christ there is no Jew or Greek, slave or free person…you are one in Christ” (Gal. 3:28) and “when Christ freed us, he meant us to remain free” (5:1).

Tags: Iraq

22 August 2019
Catholic News Service

In this image from 2018, the Rev. John Szada, chaplain of the Carmel of Jesus, Mary and Joseph in Elysburg, Pennsylvania, distributes Communion during an annual Marian pilgrimage at Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Ukrainian Catholic Church. This year’s pilgrimage will be held on Sunday. (photo: CNS/Chris Heisey, The Catholic Witness)

With the mass shootings that have taken place in this country in recent weeks and “the state of our society in our big cities and small towns,” this is a time “when we all need to turn to God,” said the pastor of a historic Ukrainian Catholic church in Pennsylvania.

The Rev. Michael Hutsko, pastor of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Ukrainian Catholic Church in Centralia, made the comments in an interview with SSPTV of Hazelton, Pennsylvania, ahead of the annual Call to Prayer Marian Pilgrimage set to take place at the church on 25 August.

The white church, with its distinctive three onion-shaped blue domes, sits on a hill to the north of the town, which has been almost entirely condemned as a result of underground mine fires that have undermined the stability of the ground.

“People are coming from all over the East Coast (to) make their way here to pray,” Father Hutsko said. “It truly is a day of prayer and we try to keep the property as peaceful and calm as possible, not to turn it into a reunion or a picnic. It’s a place to experience to God and this mountain is conducive to that.”

The fact the church sits high above the town, escaping the underground mine fires is “something providential, “ the priest added. “Only God knew it would be a place to call people and remind people of his presence.”

Today, while the town is a memory, the church still serves a thriving parish family, with congregants driving to the hilltop on Sundays and holy days from communities throughout the area.

This year’s annual Marian pilgrimage will feature five bishops who will concelebrate the Divine Liturgy: Metropolitan-Archbishop Borys Gudziak of the Ukrainian Catholic Archeparchy of Philadelphia; Bishop Paul P. Chomnycky of the Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of Stamford, Connecticut; Bishop Ronald W. Gainer of the Latin-rite Diocese of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; Bishop Alfred A. Schlert of the Latin-rite Diocese of Allentown, Pennsylvania; and Auxiliary Bishop John Bura of the Ukrainian Catholic Archeparchy of Philadelphia.

Metropolitan-Archbishop Gudziak will be the homilist. Father Deacon Paul Spotts will serve as deacon. Responses to the Divine Liturgy will be congregational singing led by Dennis Hardock, cantors from local parishes, members of St. Nicholas Choir in Minersville, Pennsylvania, and Holy Family Ukrainian National Shrine Choir in Washington.

After the Divine Liturgy, a procession from the church will take the Icon of Our Lady of Pochaiv to the outside chapel where the icon will be placed for veneration.

Priests will be available for much of the day offering the sacrament of reconciliation for pilgrims at various locations on the church grounds.

A living rosary will be prayed in the afternoon before the Icon of Our Lady of Pochaiv. Afterward the Akafist Prayer to the Dormition (Assumption) of Mary will be sung.

The schedule also will include a 5 p.m. a candlelight procession with the icon from the Pochaiv Chapel to the church for the celebration of a “moleben,” or prayer of (prayer of supplication) to the Mother of God. At the conclusion of the moleben, prayers for healing and the anointing with holy oils for the healing of soul and body will take place.

“During this Marian pilgrimage, as we are called to prayer,” Father Hutsko said, to ask that Mary “extend her mantle of protection over us and lead our nation toward a spiritual conversion of mind, heart and soul.”

The first pilgrimage to the Centralia church was held in 2016 and the story of this unique pilgrimage site has been told throughout the world. It was the cover story for the Christmas 2018 edition of Reader’s Digest and BBC News did a feature story in February 2018.

During a 2015 visit, Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk of Kyiv-Halych, Ukraine, the head of the worldwide Ukrainian Catholic Church, marveled at the continuing presence of the church in Centralia. He also noted how this coal region parish fostered vocations of four men to the priesthood and three sisters to religious life.

With the visit of Major Archbishop Shevchuk and the encouragement of now-retired Metropolitan-Archbishop Stefan Soroka of the Ukrainian Catholic Archeparchy of Philadelphia, the place was designated a holy site of pilgrimage.

Tags: Ukrainian Catholic Church

22 August 2019
Greg Kandra

Dozens of houses have been destroyed by landslides caused by massive rain and flooding in parts of Kerala. CNEWA has received urgent requests for aid, and is launching an appeal to support those whose homes and livelihoods have been wiped out. (photo: CNEWA)

CNEWA launches emergency appeal for flood-ravaged Kerala (CNEWA) Catholic Near East Welfare Association has received urgent requests for aid from partners in flood-ravaged Kerala in southern India. The Syro-Malabar Catholic Eparchy (diocese) of Palghat reports that torrential rains have triggered landslides in the hilly areas of the Palakkad District, burying houses, people, livestock and patches of agricultural lands in mud several feet deep. CNEWA’s regional director in Kerala, M.L. Thomas, adds that flash floods have ravaged the lower regions of the district, destroying houses and fields located along its rivers and streams. ”Raging floodwaters have caused massive mudslides in the hilly areas,” he writes. “Farm lands have been wiped out and houses have disappeared. It is heartbreaking to watch…”

Caritas India responds to monsoon disaster (Vatican News) Caritas India, the relief and development arm of the Catholic Church in the country, is collaborating with its local partners in various dioceses to bring relief to millions of people affected by the floods and landslides caused by heavy monsoon rains…

Syria opening ’humanitarian corridor’ (Al Jazeera) Syria’s Foreign Ministry has said it is opening a “humanitarian corridor” for civilians to leave the rebel-held northwestern region of Idlib and northern Hama, where the army has advanced against armed fighters with fierce air and ground attacks…

How geopolitics tore apart the Orthodox Church (Financial Times) The Russian church severed ties with Constantinople, creating one of the biggest rifts in Christianity since the Great Schism of 1054, when the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches divided. Far from being an arcane squabble over centuries-old church doctrine, Patriarch Bartholomew’s decision had geopolitical significance. The fallout has affected the lives of priests and politicians, of ordinary worshippers and oligarchs…

Tags: Syria India Kerala Russian Orthodox Church

21 August 2019

Flash floods in Kerala have wiped out houses, leaving many families homeless and in desperate need. (photo: CNEWA)

Catholic Near East Welfare Association has received urgent requests for aid from partners in flood-ravaged Kerala in southern India.

The Syro-Malabar Catholic Eparchy (diocese) of Palghat reports that torrential rains have triggered landslides in the hilly areas of the Palakkad District, burying houses, people, livestock and patches of agricultural lands in mud several feet deep. CNEWA’s regional director in Kerala, M.L. Thomas, adds that flash floods have ravaged the lower regions of the district, destroying houses and fields located along its rivers and streams.

“Raging floodwaters have caused massive mudslides in the hilly areas,” he writes. “Farm lands have been wiped out and houses have disappeared. It is heartbreaking to watch.”

Bishop Jacob Manathodath of Palghat and the bishops in the neighboring eparchies of Mananthavady and Thamarassery have asked CNEWA for monies to help clean and restore homes for the poorest families affected by the flooding and landslides, as well as funds to help subsistence farmers clear their devastated plots — most of which are smaller than 2 acres — and reclaim them for vegetable cultivation and the keeping of livestock, such as pigs and goats and chickens.

CNEWA is asking our generous donors to help our suffering brothers and sisters in southern India in their hour of need.

Many residents of Kerala depend on livestock and agriculture for their livelihood — and these have been wiped out by the flooding. (photo: CNEWA)

“Their livelihoods have been shattered,” Mr. Thomas writes, “and measures need to be taken to restore their lives as soon as possible.”

Click here to help people affected by floods in Kerala.

In the United States, urgent donations can be made online at; by phone at 800 442 6392; or by mail, CNEWA, 1011 First Avenue, New York, NY 10022 4195.

In Canada, visit; write a cheque to CNEWA Canada and send to 1247 Kilborn Place, Ottawa, Ontario K1H 6K9; or call toll-free at 1 866 322 4441.

Since the torrential rains began on 8 August, more than a quarter of a million people have been displaced and housed in temporary shelters, including in parish community centers. As priests and sisters visit the hardest hit families, parishes are mobilizing relief supplies for those who remain displaced and living in camps. The death toll continues to climb — at least 200 by several accounts — as bodies are recovered from homes buried in mud.

The flood devastation has left many Kerala residents trying to salvage whatever they can of their homes. (video: CNEWA)

“While we are not an emergency relief organization,” says CNEWA’s president, Msgr. John Kozar, “I urge our friends and benefactors to do what they can to help us as we accompany the churches of Kerala respond to these real human tragedies.

“Helping the poorest of the poor — right now through the eparchies of Palghat, Mananthavady and Thamarassery — is a beautiful expression of how we stand in solidarity with the Eastern Catholic churches.”

An agency of the Holy See, CNEWA works throughout the subcontinent of India, the Middle East, Northeast Africa and Eastern Europe. On behalf of the pope, CNEWA works for, through and with the Eastern churches, rushing aid to displaced families; providing maternity and health care for the poorest of the poor; assisting initiatives for the marginalized, especially the children, elderly and disabled; and offering formation and supporting the education of seminarians, religious novices and lay leaders.

CNEWA is a registered charity in the United States by the State of New York and in Canada. All contributions are tax deductible and tax receipts are issued.

Tags: CNEWA Kerala

21 August 2019
Catholic News Service

A statue of Our Lady of Consolation is surrounded by pilgrims during a candlelight procession and vigil Mass outside the Basilica and National Shrine of Our Lady of Consolation in Carey, Ohio on 14 August 2019. (photo: CNS/Katie Rutter)

With its one stoplight and surrounding cornfields, the small Ohio village of Carey seems an unlikely travel destination. Yet, once a year, an estimated 5,000 visitors swell the town population to more than double.

For nine days, climaxing on the evening of 14 August, scores of charter buses drop off pilgrims, most of whom are Iraqi Christians. Hundreds of families fill a five-acre plot with tents, recreational vehicles, Middle Eastern food and music.

“We feel that we’re like in our old village back home. Like when I walk around I know a lot of people,” said Khalid Markos, who is now a resident of Sterling Heights, Michigan, but was born in Alanish, Iraq.

His family, like most of the pilgrims, fled from war and persecution in their home country. Now exiled refugees, they have found consolation by celebrating their faith and traditions at the aptly named Basilica and National Shrine of Our Lady of Consolation in Carey.

“We love our faith a lot and as you may know, we left our country because we didn’t want to deny our faith,” Conventual Franciscan Friar Raad Eshoo told Catholic News Service, “and it’s sad that we see a lot of people here and in Iraq there are few Christians, Chaldean Christians.”

The Chaldean Catholic Church, based in Iraq, is one of the 22 Eastern Catholic churches in full communion with Rome. Chaldean Catholics trace their faith back to the second century and still speak Aramaic, the language of Jesus.

In recent decades, however, war and terrorism has caused hundreds of thousands of these Christians to flee their homeland.

The Chaldean American Chamber of Commerce estimates that 160,000 Chaldeans now reside in the Detroit metropolitan area.

“My mother says, ‘Even if someone paid me a million dollars, I wouldn’t go back,’” said Martha Yousif, niece of Markos, whose parents fled Iraq in 1997.

“You can’t guarantee (you will) come back safe,” she related.

“Many things I faced -- bombing. In front of my clinic, even,” said Syrian Orthodox Christian Nawar Awbawyvalsheikh, a physician and native of Mosul, Iraq.

“Terrorists. They came to our building to kill us and American soldiers saved us,” she recalled.

These exiled Christians began traveling two hours from Detroit to the Carey shrine about two decades ago. Many were drawn by stories of miraculous healings, others by a devotion to Mary. All are reliving an Iraqi tradition of visiting shrines and holy sites for pious practices and celebration.

“We have a lot of feasts we call them ‘shera,’ (with) a lot of people camping, music, dancing, food, and we end it with Mass and procession,” said Friar Raad, who was born in Mosul.

“When I’m here, I feel like home,” he said.

The nine days of celebration in Carey are marked by a constant line for confessions, regular blessings by clergy and several Masses daily, often in Aramaic.

At dusk on 14 August, the pilgrims carried candles and processed with a statue of Our Lady of Consolation from the basilica to an open field, called Shrine Park. There Bishop Daniel E. Thomas of Toledo presided over an outdoor Mass for the vigil of the feast of the Assumption.

“It breathes a lot of new life into me and I think the friars that come here love to do this,” said the Rev. Father Thomas Merrill, a Conventual Franciscan, the shrine’s rector. He was joined by dozens of fellow Conventual Franciscans to help care for the spiritual needs of the pilgrims.

“The people are so hungry for anything that is faith-based and so hungry to practice their Catholic faith and receive the sacraments,” Father Thomas said.

The National Shrine of Our Lady of Consolation was established in 1875 by a priest from Luxembourg and has welcomed regular waves of pilgrims, often immigrants.

The lower church contains three display cases full of crutches and mementos left by those healed or those who want to thank Our Lady of Consolation for a favor received.

“(The Chaldean people have) suffered a lot. They go through a lot of problems. God and the Virgin Mary saved them to come over here and live peacefully,” Markos told CNS.

“Anytime you’re in need of something, you ask for it, she always (provides), especially here,” said Rafa Kattoula, whose family has made a pilgrimage to the shrine for over 40 years.

Expressing gratitude for Mary’s intercession, Kattoula concluded: “We’ve asked and we come and we receive from her.”

Watch a video of the procession below.

Thousands of Iraqi Chaldean Catholics and other pilgrims converge on the National Shrine of Our Lady of Consolation in Carey, Ohio, for a vigil and procession to honor Mary.
(video: Katie Rutter/CNS/YouTube)

Tags: Iraqi Christians Chaldeans

21 August 2019
Greg Kandra

Kerala continues to struggle to recover from the devastating monsoons that have afflicted the country. (video: Al Jazeera/YouTube)

India’s monsoon season on track to become deadliest ever (The Express) India’s monsoon season runs from June to September and is dominated by stifling humidity and relentless rain. According to the Times of India, more than 1,000 people throughout India have been killed as a result of the weather since May. Last year, the death toll was 1,211, setting 2019 monsoon season on course to become one of the deadliest in India’s history…

Catholic pilgrims attacked on way to Marian shrine in India ( Indian police have arrested six suspected members of a hard-line Hindu group for attacking 40 Catholics taking part in a 280-mile pilgrimage to a Marian shrine in Velankanni town in Tamil Nadu state. The attackers were accused of blocking the pilgrims on a public road on 18 August, beating them up and verbally abusing them, said Santhalingam, an inspector at Natrampalli police station in Vellore district. A Marian statue the pilgrims were carrying in a decorated hand-pulled cart was destroyed in the attack, he told on 21 August...

What ‘victory’ looks like: a journey through shattered Syria (The New York Times) Picking our way around the ruins of the Damascus suburb of Douma, it took a little while to realize what was missing. There were women carrying groceries, old men droning by on motorbikes and skinny children heaving jugs of water home. But there were few young men…

Religious sisters are painting icons, the light of Christ, in Ukraine (National Catholic Reporter) With God’s help and the support of many people, it was possible to build the monastery church by 2014, where there was a wonderful opportunity for me to test the theory of the need to “paint with the heart.” We sisters decided to use our own talents and skills to paint the church, and I was given the responsibility of directing the painting of icons in our monastery church. I will not say that the responsibility was easy — but it was a ministry to which God called me…

In a first, women to drive Kerala government vehicles (Gulf News) Gone are the days when the post of a driver in Kerala state government departments and state owned public sector undertakings could be filled only by a male. The state cabinet, on Wednesday, decided to open this post for women also…

Egypt will reopen historic Cairo palace after $6 million restoration (CNN) Egypt is just months away from reopening the Baron Empain Palace after a $6m restoration project on the historic Cairo building. The Baron Empain Palace, also known as “Le Palais Hindou” or the Hindu palace, was built by Belgian millionaire Baron Edward Empain in 1911, in the Heliopolis district of the Egyptian capital...

Tags: India Egypt Ukraine Ukrainian Catholic Church

20 August 2019
Haimdat Sawh

We got to meet some of the eager students at Meki Catholic School in Ethiopia, who are fortunate to receive a quality education, thanks to the generosity of CNEWA’s donors.
(photo: Haimdat Sawh/CNEWA)

A highlight of our visit to Ethiopia was the Meki Catholic School.

Meki Catholic School is located in the east-central region of Ethiopia, about 92 miles south of Addis Ababa. My CNEWA colleagues Argaw Fantu, Christopher Kennedy and I met with Abba Yisehak Gebrekirstosin, a 2007 alumnus of Meki High School who now serves as the school director. Argaw commented that the “fruit of the land (Abba Yisehak) is now serving others.” What a testament to the quality of education of the Meki Catholic School! After completing his minor seminary at the Catholic Apostolic Vicariate of Meki, Abba Yisehak was a seminarian at Capuchin Franciscan Institute of Philosophy and Theology in Addis Ababa. However, as he walked us through the school grounds, he declared that being director of the Meki Catholic School was his greatest honor and challenge thus far.

Serving students from kindergarten through high school, the school had recently moved to new grounds to accommodate a growing student body of 2,628 students. Most of the students were in kindergarten through eighth grade, and less than half of them seemed able to make it to high school. However, the students in grades 10 to 12 work hard on completing their studies and taking the National Exam. Almost 200 students were preparing to go to university, a challenging feat from those often coming from families with limited resources and funds. Even about a dozen students were attending the minor seminary, which Abba Yisehak fondly recounted was his own pathway more than a decade ago.

In order to attend Meki Catholic School, students take an entrance exam during the summer, and those who qualify are accepted — which was about 10 percent of students taking the exam for entry into all grade levels. However, as is common in Ethiopia, Meki Catholic School is not free, a challenge for many students who excel academically. Recent long-standing droughts have devastated crop yields in Meki, a region that relies heavily on agriculture. Through community organizers and outreach, Meki Catholic School tries to reach these students to provide them with assistance for education and nutrition. In particular, CNEWA directly assists 108 of these students, though many more could use help in this impoverished region. Ultimately, Meki relies on donor support to offer access to education to the children of low-income families — children who have the potential to succeed and bring development to their region and help break it out of the cycle of poverty and missed opportunities.

Haimdat Sawh and Christopher Kennedy meet with Abba Yisehak Gebrekirstos, director of Meki Catholic School, Ethiopia. (photo: Haimdat Sawh/CNEWA)

Abba Yisehak thanked the team from CNEWA for our generous support. I felt much gratitude for the kindness and hospitality of our host. Indeed, throughout the entire trip, I experienced the incredible friendliness of the Ethiopian people and their beautiful and sincere expressions of faith. I saw throughout my journey not only the poverty and suffering, but also the joy and hope of these strong-willed people.

How can I sum up my thoughts at the end of all this? I knew that coming here, I would face many surprises, but I have had my horizons stretched far more than expected.

God never calls us to stay in our comfort zone!

Tags: Ethiopia

20 August 2019
Greg Kandra

An Indian family tries to salvage what is left of their home, as floodwaters sweep through Kerala. The country is continuing to be battered by heavy rains, causing severe flooding and landslides.(photo: CNEWA)

Tags: India Kerala

20 August 2019
Greg Kandra

In this image from 2018, a damaged church in the old city of Mosul, Iraq, is marked as unsafe because of the danger of unexploded ordnance and improvised explosive devices. This portion of the city was heavily damaged in 2016 and 2017 when Iraqi forces combated ISIS fighters. Reports indicate ISIS is gathering new strength in Iraq and Syria. (photo: CNS/Paul Jeffrey)

ISIS is regaining strength in Iraq, Syria (The New York Times) Five months after American-backed forces ousted the Islamic State from its last shard of territory in Syria, the terrorist group is gathering new strength, conducting guerrilla attacks across Iraq and Syria, retooling its financial networks and targeting new recruits at an allied-run tent camp, American and Iraqi military and intelligence officers said. Though President Trump hailed a total defeat of ISIS this year, defense officials in the region see things differently, acknowledging that what remains of the terrorist group is here to stay…

India expels nun who worked with the poor ( The Indian government has refused to renew the visa of an elderly Spanish nun who had worked for the country’s poor for five decades. Sister Enedina, 86, from the Daughters of Charity congregation, had her visa renewal refused on 11 August and was then told she had 10 days to leave the country. The nun, who trained as a medical doctor, had helped poor people in the country’s east since the mid-1960s. She flew out from New Delhi on 20 August on a flight to Spain…

Kerala struggling to recover from floods (Al Jazeera) More heavy rain is expected in many parts of India, bringing a threat of floods. Monsoon rains have been falling for weeks. More than 270 people have been killed and approximately half of the victims were in the southern state of Kerala…

Former Greek Orthodox patriarch wants to go home (Haaretz) In a spacious private room at Saint Joseph Hospital in East Jerusalem, an 80-year-old man lies tethered to an oxygen tank, handicapped and very ill. For a short time, he was one of the most important and powerful people in Jerusalem, but he will be remembered as the tragic protagonist of a scandal that has yet to die down, nearly a decade and a half after it first came to light. The man is Irenaeus I, the 140th Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem, who was ousted from his position 14 years ago when he reportedly sold strategic church properties to the Ateret Cohanim settler organization…

Tags: Syria India Iraq ISIS

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