23 March 2016
Bishop Paul Hinder, apostolic vicar of southern Arabia, greets community members in the garden of St. Joseph Catholic Cathedral in Abu Dhabi. (photo: Don Duncan)
In the Spring 2016 edition of ONE, reporter Don Duncan speaks with Bishop Paul Hinder in Abu Dhabi, who describes the challenges of the Catholic community in the Persian Gulf:
ONE: Do you find working in an Arab monarchical system different from your previous work experience in Switzerland and Rome?
Bishop Paul Hinder: I come from Switzerland, a democratic culture with participation of the people, a reliable legal system and so on. In a monarchy, you suddenly have to go to the court, to the palace or to the ruler or the ruler’s representative if you need things done. That is something very strange to my heart — or it was when I started. In the meantime, I had to learn how to work within that system. What I had to learn, and I am still learning, is that living here requires patience — patience in the relationship you cannot establish in five minutes; to be seen to take care of friendships without selling your soul; to show you understand the problems in building the nation. We have to keep in mind that within the last 50 years, they were catapulted from the Bedouin lifestyle to a highly modern and technologically advanced situation, so the locals are also adapting.
ONE: The Gulf States are becoming more tolerant of Christian migrants. The number of churches is increasing. And yet, Christian religious activity is limited to defined spaces. Does this present any problems?
PH: It’s complex. We have limited space and there’s simply too much to do. What we are doing is taking the five loaves and two fish and distributing them, knowing it’s not sufficient but hoping that it will somehow multiply on the ground. The parish priest of St. Mary’s in Dubai was here a few minutes ago. He said that during nine Masses before Christmas, they had 10,000-12,000 Filipinos every evening. How do you deal with so many people? You can’t take them all for confession. On one end, it’s a pastoral opportunity, but you cannot establish individual relationships. This is one of the challenges: to meet the needs, knowing we lack the means, the manpower and the infrastructure to answer them all.
ONE: Some Catholics have mentioned that the lack of space has led to an opportunity for other churches to proselytize and convert. Is this happening?
PH: Sometimes, not having enough space means some people may prefer to go where they can move more easily: the Pentecostal community, the Anglicans, the Orthodox. There is also proselytism. Here on the compound parking area, Pentecostals or the “born-again” Christians distribute leaflets and so on. Never would I have this idea; we accept converts if they come to us freely, but we do not actively propagate Catholicism among the Protestants or the Orthodox.
Read the full interview here.
23 March 2016
A man places flowers on a street memorial 23 March following bomb attacks in Brussels. Three nearly simultaneous attacks on 22 March claimed the lives of dozens and injured more than 200.
(photo: CNS/Francois Lenoir, Reuters)
Pope Francis appeals for condemnation of terrorism (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Wednesday said it was with an “aching heart” that he followed the news of the terrorist attacks in Brussels on Tuesday which killed at least 34 people and injured hundreds of others...
Syrian archbishop: Europe is reaping what has been sown in Syria and Iraq (Fides) In the massacres in Brussels, after those in Paris, “unfortunately innocent people reap what European powers have sown in Syria and Iraq in the last few years.” This is the bitter reflection regarding the tragic events of the Belgian capital from the Syrian Catholic Archbishop Jacques Behnan Hindo...
Syria troops reach outskirts of Palmyra (BBC) Syrian government forces are reported to have reached the outskirts of the ancient city of Palmyra, after driving back Islamic State (ISIS) militants. The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that troops were now only 2km (1.2 miles) south of the Unesco World Heritage-listed ruins. ISIS militants seized the site and the adjoining modern town in May...
Church officials dismiss reports kidnapped priest will be crucified (CNS) Church officials dismissed rumors of social media messages that said an Indian Salesian priest kidnapped by suspected Islamic terrorists in Yemen 4 March is being tortured and will be crucified on Good Friday. “We have absolutely no information” on the Rev. Tom Uzhunnalil, said the Rev. Mathew Valarkot, spokesman for the Salesians’ Bangalore province, to which the kidnapped priest belongs. His remarks were reported by ucanews.com. Suspected Islamic terrorists took away the priest after they attacked a home for the elderly operated by the Missionaries of Charity in Aden and gunned down some 16 people, including four nuns...
Most water in Gaza is unfit to drink (Gulf News.com) Drinking water in the Gaza Strip does not meet international standards, the Palestinian National Authority said on Tuesday. The announcement, which corresponded with World Water Day, said that 97 percent of the drinking water in Gaza is not drinkable...
22 March 2016
Sister Christian Molidor, R.S.M. was a talented and generous part of CNEWA’s family
for many years. (photo: CNEWA)
Many of the heroes we’ll be spotlighting over the next few months are extraordinary women who have given their time and talent to make a difference in CNEWA’s world. One of those women in Sister Christian Molidor, R.S.M., who worked for CNEWA for many years and made invaluable contributions to our magazine.
When she died in 2013, Michael J.L. La Civita wrote:
Tens of thousands of friends and benefactors grew to know Mercy Sister Christian Molidor from her weekly emails she wrote until her retirement in 2011. But Christian’s work at Catholic Near East Welfare Association began long before the internet; in her self-deprecating style, she would say she joined CNEWA before the alphabet was invented. According to Christian, she arrived one day in 1984. Msgr. John Nolan, then the head of CNEWA, had no idea what to do with the Libertyville, Illinois, native, so he sent her “packing,” she recalled some years ago.
She went to India, where she visited orphans, catechists, priests, senior citizens, the handicapped and her beloved religious sisters. She helped cook and clean. She did the wash and hung the laundry. And she photographed. She took thousands of pictures of smiling children, sisters laughing and patients praying. She collected their stories, wrote them down, squirreled them away in her head and shared them for decades.
Christian held many positions at CNEWA — everything from communications director to associate secretary general to special assistant to the president — but she loved most documenting the stories and taking the portraits of the people she loved to serve. Christian’s love for and faith in Jesus, and his presence in the lowly, the poor and the marginalized, fueled her being. And she shared this love and faith with everyone she encountered. Everyone!
Read on to discover Sister Christian’s final, heartfelt message. And take a moment to view some of her beautiful photographs, and hear more about her life, in the video below:
22 March 2016
Rahel Zewde, 13, is one of the many students at the St. Michael School in Awo, Ethiopia, who benefit from a daily feeding program, a program necessitated by the country’s worsening drought. Today marks the United Nations’ World Water Day, calling attention to water-related issues around the globe. Learn more about the plight of Ethiopians facing hunger and drought When Rain Fails in the Spring 2016 edition of ONE. (photo: Petterik Wiggers)
22 March 2016
Women walk through a camp populated by displaced Christians, victims of ISIS, in the Erbil neighborhood of Ain Kawa in Kurdistan. (photo: Raed Rafei)
Ordinary people are not powerless to resist anti-Christian genocide (Crux) Now that the United States officially has joined most of the rest of the world in declaring that the violence unleashed by ISIS on Christians and other minorities constitutes genocide, attention shifts to what to do about it...
Record number of Gaza Christians receive permits to celebrate Easter (ICN) While thousands of foreign pilgrims visit the Holy Land every Easter, this year, 850 indigenous Christians Palestinians from the Gaza Strip are also being allowed to travel to Bethlehem and occupied East Jerusalem, after the Israeli authorities agreed to grant them permits, a Palestinian Authority official said on Saturday. A spokesman for the Palestinian Ministry of Civil Affairs, told Ma’an news agency the permits were the result of “dedicated efforts” by Minister of Civil Affairs Hussein al-Sheikh in order to enable hundreds of Christians to celebrate the holidays within a span of 45 days. This is the first time such a large number of Christians from Gaza received permits to travel to the West Bank and Jerusalem, he added...
Indian, Pakistan Muslim religious leaders call for peace (Vatican Radio) A group of Muslim clerics from India and Pakistan said terrorism in South Asia can be combated successfully if the two traditional rival neighbors respect each other and combat religious extremism...
New Syriac bishop wants to make Canada a home for the faithful (Catholic Register) Canada’s first Syriac Catholic bishop says his immediate challenge is to minister to refugees from the Middle East and at the same time move forward with plans for evangelization in his vast new Canadian diocese as he prepares for the demands of the Easter season...
Pope to celebrate Holy Thursday with young refugees (CNS) Pope Francis will celebrate the Holy Thursday Mass of the Lord’s Supper with young refugees in Castelnuovo di Porto, about 15 miles north of Rome. “Washing the feet of the refugees, Pope Francis is asking for respect for each one of them,” wrote Archbishop Rino Fisichella, the main organizer of the Vatican’s Year of Mercy initiatives...
21 March 2016
Children of the Good Samaritan Home in El Fayum, Egypt, play on a swing.
(photo: John E. Kozar)
Spring has officially arrived — and so has the Spring 2016 edition of ONE, which features a fascinating photo essay by Msgr. John E. Kozar, from his recent trip to Egypt. The image here is just one of the delights to be found in the magazine. Check out more in our digital edition.
And take a moment, too, to watch this video preview of ONE from Msgr. Kozar.
21 March 2016
In the video above, Pope Francis in his Palm Sunday homily denounces the indifference with which the world treats refugees. (video: Rome Reports)
Aleppo bishop: Most Christians have left Syria (AFP) Two-thirds of Syria’s Christians have left the country, an Aleppo bishop said Wednesday, blaming violence and insecurity spread by extremist groups and insisting most Christians still support the Syrian president. Chaldean Catholic bishop Antoine Audo said there were about 1.5 million Christians in the country before the start of the conflict in March 2011. “I think now there are maybe 500,000. Two-thirds have left mainly due to the insecurity,” he told reporters in Geneva...
Pope Francis issues plea for refugees during Palm Sunday homily (Catholic Herald) Too many countries and individuals want someone else to care for refugees fleeing violence and migrants seeking a better life, Pope Francis has said. Preaching about the story of Jesus’s passion and death on Palm Sunday, 20 March, the Pope said that in addition to betrayal and injustice, Jesus experienced indifference as the crowds who had hailed his entry into Jerusalem, Herod, Pilate and even his own disciples washed their hands of him...
Christians concerned with Israeli restrictions during Holy Week, Easter (CNS) Israeli restrictions on reaching the Church of the Holy Sepulcher for Holy Week and Easter are part of the current Israeli government’s policy of making Jerusalem an exclusively Jewish city, said Yusef Daher, secretary-general of the Jerusalem Interchurch Center...
Christians in India call for security during Easter (Fides) Christians in India are asking the government for the protection of churches and safety, in view of the Easter celebrations. As reported, in a statement sent to Fides, the Global Council of Indian Christians, say that “protection is necessary during Holy Week,” given that “violence against individual Christians and churches continues unabated in different parts of India...”
Ethiopia: Israel’s cancelled plan on Ethiopian Jews prompts rally (AllAfrica.com) Hundreds of Ethiopian Israelis marched in Jerusalem after the government cancelled plans to allow their relatives to emigrate from the African nation, calling the move discrimination. Police and organisers estimated the crowd at up to 2,000 people for Sunday’s march, which ended outside Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office...
Gold dome raised atop new Russian Orthodox cathedral in Paris (AP) A huge golden dome has been hoisted atop a new Russian Orthodox cathedral in the heart of Paris, in a ceremony to inaugurate a controversial project championed by Vladimir Putin. Dignitaries attended Saturday’s special blessing of The Saint Trinity church built on the site of the former headquarters of France’s national weather forecasting service — near the Seine River and the Eiffel Tower...
18 March 2016
Students socialize on the campus of Ukrainian Catholic University in Lviv. In the nation some regard as the most corrupt in Europe, U.C.U. distinguishes itself by fostering values of service and integrity. Read more about this institution in the Spring 2016 edition of ONE. (photo: Petro Zadorozhnyy)
18 March 2016
Tags: Ukraine Education Catholic education
People gather in Minya, Egypt, on 16 February for the funeral of Coptic Christians kidnapped and killed by ISIS rebels in Libya. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said atrocities carried out by ISIS against Yazidis, Christians and other minorities constitute genocide. (photo: CNS/Alaa Elkamhawia, EPA)
U.S. declares ISIS atrocities ‘genocide’ (Los Angeles Times) The Obama administration declared Thursday that rapes, killings and repression of minorities in Iraq and Syria by ISIS militants constitute genocide. Secretary of State John F. Kerry said the region’s Christians, Yazidis and Shiite Muslims were victims of genocide — the deliberate and systematic elimination of a group — and ethnic cleansing…
Armenians, Assyrians praise John Kerry for ISIS genocide statement (AINA) After months of pressure from lawmakers, clergy and organizations, Secretary of State John Kerry used the word “genocide” Thursday to describe atrocities committed by ISIS not only toward Yazidis, but also on Christians and other ethnic minorities who live in the Middle East. Kerry’s announcement likely won’t affect policy, lawmakers said. But by calling the Islamic State’s actions a genocide against Christians symbolizes a change within the Obama administration, members of Southern California’s Armenian and Assyrian organizations noted…
Syriac Catholic archbishop: U.S. declaration of genocide fueled by political interests (Fides) Syriac Catholic Archbishop Jacques Behnan Hindo of Hassaké-Nisibis says the path that led the U.S. administration to recognize ISIS’ violence as genocidal is “a geopolitical operation” that “exploits the category of genocide for their own interests.” The church leader says: “The proclamation of genocide is accomplished by pointing the spotlight on [ISIS] and censoring all the complicity and historical and political processes that led to the creation of the jihadist monster,” adding that the move represents an attempt to regain lost credibility in the region…
Papal visit to Armenia under consideration (Vatican Radio) The director of the Holy See’s press office, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, said the possibility of a visit by Pope Francis to Armenia in the second half of June is being studied…
Ethiopian prime minister appeals to world: Don’t forget us (Newsweek) Ethiopia’s prime minister has urged the international community to increase its support towards the Horn of Africa state as ten million people face going hungry. The country is currently in the midst of its worst drought in around 50 years, exacerbated by the El Niño weather pattern…
Christians and Muslims face rising persecution by Hindu extremists in India (VICE News) Violent attacks on religious minorities in India averaged one attack per day last year, a rising number that has led a coalition of U.S. Congress members to plead with India’s leaders to condemn the violence. According to the Catholic Secular Forum, attacks rose more than 20 percent from 2014 to 2015. There have been 36 attacks on Christians so far this year, ranging from churches being destroyed to priests, sisters, and parishioners being beaten, according to the Christian human rights group International Christian Concern, as well as four murders of Muslim men by Hindu mobs over their consumption of beef…
16 March 2016
Tags: India Ethiopia Armenia United States ISIS
Elsa stands in her home in Mai-Aini refugee camp in Ethiopia. (photo: Petterik Wiggers)
In the summer of 2014, Fanuel Abebe, project director for Jesuit Refugee Service (J.R.S.) described his encounter with one of his clients, a refugee from Eritrea named Elsa. CNEWA partners with J.R.S., which works in the Mai-Aini Refugee Camp, assisting in the provision of services to those seeking shelter there. It was an inspirational visit that serves to remind us of the everyday heroism of people who dare to dream of a better life in a troubled world:
As we entered the mud house, we were welcomed with a warm smile by Jerry, whose mother, Elsa, is a client of Jesuit Refugee Service.
Elsa was lying down, exhausted. Her daughter was working on the dough for ambasha, a local variety of Ethiopian bread. The hut contained little — just a few cooking materials and two beds made of mud attached to the mud floor.
Though tired from her rigorous daily routine — which includes collecting firewood every day for cooking in an ongoing struggle to keep her three daughters fed — Elsa warmly welcomed us, insisting on offering us coffee.
As we talked over our coffee, we were surprised at her optimism. We were also delighted at the work J.R.S. had done in keeping Elsa’s spirits high despite her very difficult life as a refugee.
Elsa’s face brightened as she told us about Jerry’s performance at a J.R.S. program for music and the performing arts at the camp. From an early age, Elsa told us, Jerry had proven to be a talented dancer and performer.
Now in her mid-30’s, Elsa explains that she herself had a great passion for music and dance when she was young, and is delighted to see her daughter share that passion. This was one of the reasons behind Elsa’s determination to hang on to life — J.R.S. has helped her keep her hopes alive.
Elsa’s daughter Jerry is one of the many young people living in the Mai-Aini Refugee Camp taking classes at the J.R.S. program for music and the performing arts. Besides music, J.R.S. is also engaged in providing five other types of psychosocial support for children. These programs, which benefit not only the children, but the extended families living in the camp, include counseling, sports and recreational activities, theater and library services.
In spite of the desolation in Mai-Aini, Elsa dreams of a better life for her children.
Read more about Elsa’s Dream in the Summer 2014 edition of ONE.