6 August 2019
In this image from February, Syriac Catholic Archbishop Yohanna Moshe of Mosul, Iraq, center, concelebrates the liturgy at St. Thomas Syriac Catholic Church in the old city of Mosul. Five years after the invasion of ISIS, many Iraqis are still struggling to recover and rebuild their homes and their churches. (photo: CNS/Khalid al-Mousily, Reuters)
Today, 6 August, marks the five-year anniversary of the assault of ISIS on the Nineveh Plain. Thousands of Iraqi Christians were displaced — many literally running for their lives.
Last fall, we published a letter from one woman, describing the challenges she and her family faced:
I have to admit that, spiritually, I have passed through some difficult times. I questioned God many times, wondering, “How is it possible that he has abandoned us?” But after all those moments of fear, I have finally surrendered my life and my fate to God.
My mother taught me how to live my faith, how to face crises and adapt to change. She taught me how to synchronize my hands and my mind to achieve my goals. Thanks to the image of my mother and her encouraging whispers that have accompanied and guided me in such difficult times, my hope in God has become so strong that now I live it in every single detail of my life. And now, again, I take this opportunity and this experience to pass it on to my children.
Following our return to our homes in a liberated Qaraqosh in September 2017, our joy was mixed with pain and bitterness. Our beloved home was gutted by fire and our fields were destroyed, but yet our joy was unbelievable; we were home! We were back in the home of our forefathers, our pride!
But the initial excitement subsided as the brutal reality hit us. At the beginning, Qaraqosh — once a city of 50,000 inhabitants — was like a ghost town, very few people returned to live amid the destruction. It was hard to walk around and see the ruins everywhere. The path of destruction included schools, churches, hospitals, factories and houses. But we thought it was necessary to return home, where we could work and support ourselves. Since our house is uninhabitable, we have rented an apartment. My husband and his brothers have returned to the fields to revive them for planting. As for me, I found a temporary job in the power company and in the evenings I provide tutoring for extra income to help my husband and my family to rebuild our home.
The situation is improving now, and life is returning, but slowly. The return of the churches, of our priests and sisters, and the opening of our schools is encouraging us to have some confidence and hope for a better future.
It is a future many fervently await and pray for. June’s installation of a Syriac Catholic Auxiliary Bishop, Nizar Semaan, was seen as a significant step for the people of Iraq:
While touring Qaraqosh before his installation, the new bishop said he was struck by how, in two years, the community was able to rebuild again, citing as evidence numerous homes, shops and restaurants.
“It’s kind of like a miracle,” he said. “This is a sign of hope, really.”
Hope is often hard to come by in an Iraq where people still struggle to rebuild their homes and churches. But they are blessed with an abundant faith and deep love for their homeland — along with the support of many around the world who will not let them be forgotten.
Please remember the people of Iraq in your prayers as they continue their long journey back.
6 August 2019
Tags: Iraq Iraqi Christians ISIS
Parts of India are coping with massive flooding, and Catholic charities have opened churches and institutions to help. (video: India Today/YouTube)
Catholic charities in India open churches for flood victims (UCANews.com) Catholic dioceses in flood-hit Mumbai have opened their churches and institutions to accommodate thousands of people stranded in the city by heavy rain and flooded streets. Cardinal Oswald Gracias of Bombay and Bishop Thomas Elavanal of Kalyan Diocese asked their parish priests on 5 August to help stranded and homeless people as heavy rain continued in western India...
Syrian army resumes bombardment in Idlib (Al Jazeera) The Syrian army has resumed operations against armed rebels in Idlib, scrapping a ceasefire in the last opposition-held stronghold. In a statement carried by state media on Monday, the army accused the rebels of violating the truce that was brokered last week during talks in Kazakhstan following a three-month campaign supported by Russia…
Charity calls for rights to be respected after Gulf tanker seizures (Vatican News) The Catholic charity Apostleship of the Sea, has voiced concern for the safety of seafarers navigating vessels in the Gulf. It comes after a second tanker and its seven crew was seized north of the Strait of Hormuz for allegedly smuggling fuel…
Extreme water shortages affect a quarter of the world’s population (Vatican News) A quarter of the world’s population across 17 countries are living in regions of extremely high water stress, a measure of the level of competition over water resources, a new report reveals. Experts at the World Resources Institute (WRI) warn that increasing water stress could lead to more of what is called “day zero” — a term that gained popularity in 2018 as Cape Town in South Africa came dangerously close to running out of water…
Kerala tourism rebounds (Economic Times) Tourism, a top revenue earner for Kerala, has rebounded to the pre-floods level with tourist footfalls registering a growth of 14.81 percent in the second quarter of 2019 from a year ago. There was an increase of 639,271 tourists (both domestic and foreign) during April-June this year as compared with same period last year.…
5 August 2019
Tags: Syria India Kerala
Children play on the grounds of the Fratelli School in Lebanon. Read more about Fratelli, Where Education Is Alive, in the July 2019 edition of ONE. (photo: Tamara Abdul Hadi)
5 August 2019
In this image from 2018, Syrian schoolchildren walk as U.S. troops patrol in Hassakeh, Syria. The Holy See has called for efforts to help children involved in armed conflicts.
(photo: CNS/Rodi Said, Reuters)
Holy See calls for efforts to save children from war (Vatican News) The Holy See is decrying the violence and rights abuse that children suffer in various ways in conflict situations and is urging the international community to increase efforts especially to release child soldiers and help the reintegration of young victims of other grave violations. Archbishop Bernardito Auza, the Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations in New York, made the appeal on Friday at a Security Council open debate on children in armed conflict…
U.S. launches last-ditch effort to stop Turkish invasion of Syria (The Washington Post) The Trump administration has launched a last-ditch effort to head off a Turkish invasion of northeast Syria that it expects will come within the next two weeks. With tens of thousands of Turkish troops massed near the border, a high-level Defense Department delegation plans to present what U.S. officials describe as a final offer to address Turkey’s concerns at a meeting Monday in Ankara…
One Syrian refugee’s mission to take Jordan to the world (The National) A group of budding entrepreneurs in Jordan watch avidly as Ehab Kahwati, 26, demonstrates how the colorful array of gadgets and wires laid out in front of them can be used to create remotely controlled technology. Kahwati is a Syrian refugee living in Amman who has chosen to dedicate his time to empowering young people who aspire to enter the tech industry, while simultaneously pursuing his own entrepreneurial dreams…
Pope Tawadros II offers Eid al-Adha greetings to Egypt’s Grand Imam (Egypt Independent) The Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Ahmed al-Tayyeb received on Sunday the Pope of Egypt’s Coptic Orthodox Church Tawadros II, who offered felicitation for the occasion of Eid al-Adha and for the Imam’s return to his homeland following a successful therapeutic trip to Europe. Tayyeb thanked Tawadros, asserting that the relationship between Al-Azhar and the Coptic Orthodox Church is a model for shared values and noble morals…
2 August 2019
Tags: Syria Egypt Muslim Holy See
Martina Isaac, 18, studies at her home in the Zabbaleen quarter of Manshiyat Naser, Cairo. In the current edition of ONE, read how her life is changing, thanks to a religious school where teachers are Reclaiming Lives among the poor. (photo: Hanaa Habib)
2 August 2019
Late Thursday, Syria agreed to a cease-fire in the northwestern corner of the country.
Syria agrees to cease-fire (AP) Syria’s government said it has agreed to a conditional cease-fire starting late Thursday in northwestern Syria, according to state media. Government troops and allied Russia warplanes have been carrying out a three-month offensive against the rebel’s last stronghold, which has displaced hundreds of thousands and has targeted health facilities and other infrastructure…
Interreligious summit in Lebanon seeks national unity (Fides) The Lebanese national unit represents an indispensable guarantee to build a better future for Lebanon, and the coexistence among the different components of the population must be preserved from any threat connected to the resurgence of sectarian impulses and conflicts. This is the most significant emphasis contained in the final declaration of the interreligious spiritual summit convened on Tuesday 30 July in Beirut, at the “House of Druze communities”…
Dilemma for Indian Church as idea of Hindu nationhood grows (UCANews.com) On 11 July, ten Congress lawmakers in Goa, eight of them Catholics, defected to the Hindu nationalist party — the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Ordinarily, defections and horse-trading are not new to a state like Goa where politics is controlled by corrupt casino operators and mining barons. But the move by Catholic lawmakers has shocked Christian voters as well as a section of the Church...
In Jerusalem, a deeper divide in a divided city (Newsweek) Silwan [is] a bitterly contested piece of real estate, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in microcosm. Both Jews and Arabs say they were here first and both accuse the other of trying to rewrite history. Israelis and Palestinians in Jerusalem have few interactions that are not transactional, despite living side-by-side. Fear and suspicion are part of everyday life. And several contested archaeological digs in East Jerusalem, supported by Israeli groups and opposed by Palestinians, together with an influx of Jewish settlers and a boom in tourism, have heightened the tensions in Silwan…
1,900-year-old tomb discovered at Christian pilgrimage site in Turkey (Daily Sabah) Excavation works have revealed a rock tomb believed to date back to the second century A.D. in an ancient Christian pilgrimage site in northern Turkey’s Karabük province in the western Black Sea region. Birthplace of the Saint Alypius the Stylite, the ancient city of Hadrianopolis was an important site of pilgrimage for early Christians until the city lost its importance in eighth century A.D. It is also known as the Zeugma of Turkey’s Black Sea region due to the mosaics have been found in the area…
1 August 2019
Tags: Syria India Lebanon Turkey
CNEWA Regional Director Argaw Fantu, left, meets with Bishop Lisane-Christos Matheos Semahun of Bahir Dar, Ethiopia. Read about the growth of vocations in CNEWA’s world, especially among the laity, in the July 2019 edition of ONE. (photo: John E. Kozar/CNEWA)
1 August 2019
Tags: Ethiopia Vocations (religious)
Conditions in the Rukban camp in Syria — shown in this 2018 video — have been described as "catastrophic." (video: TRT/YouTube)
Thousands trapped in a desert settlement in Syria (CNN) Shukri Shehab and his wife have not slept in two nights. Their three-week-old granddaughter will not stop crying. She needs simple medicine for bloating, Shehab says, but it is nearly impossible for them to find. Shehab lives in Rukban, an informal settlement for Syria’s displaced people in a US-protected zone in southern Syria, roughly 10 miles away from an American military base. Shehab has been communicating with CNN over the last four months. For more than 1,200 days, Shehab says he and his family have lived in this cluster of shelters sprinkled along a stretch of desert on the Syrian-Jordanian border. Activists dubbed it the “Triangle of Death.” The United Nations called conditions “desperate,” “catastrophic” and “no place for a child”…
Catholic bishops say India’s government ignores Christians (UCANews.com) Catholic bishops have proposed a series of changes in a draft education policy prepared by the Indian government, criticizing its silence on the rights and contributions of Christians…
Indian leader says government should invite Pope Francis to visit (UCANews.com) The Indian government should invite Pope Francis to come to the populous nation as vast numbers of people were anxiously hoping for such a visit, according to an Opposition Congress Party Member of Parliament. Kodikunnil Suresh told the lower house that a papal visit would enhance the nation’s reputation for honoring individuals who enhance communal tolerance and understanding…
Religious sisters take lead against human trafficking (CNS) A worldwide network of 2,000 Catholic religious sisters marked the 10th anniversary of its efforts to combat human trafficking and slavery on 29 July. Speakers from the Talitha Kum organization headlined a United Nations panel on the eve of the U.N. annual observance of the World Day Against Trafficking in Persons. “Human trafficking is one of the darkest and most revolting realities in the world today, ensnaring 41 million men and women, boys and girls,” said the Rev. David Charters, second secretary of the Vatican’s permanent observer mission to the United Nations…
More than 500 congregations join Orthodox Church of Ukraine (The Christian Post) More than 500 congregations have joined the newly created Orthodox Church of Ukraine in the past seven months after leaving the Russian-affiliated church. Ukrainian Orthodox officials reported that in three months since the church was granted autocephaly, or leadership that does not need to answer to a higher ranked bishop, about 300 churches joined. In the four months after that, another 220 joined…
Archeologists say they have found Church of the Apostles (CNN) An ancient church long-rumored to be built over the house where the apostles Peter and Andrew lived has been found near the Sea of Galilee in Israel. A group of excavators — affiliated with Kinneret College in Israel, Nyack College in New York and the Center for the Study of Ancient Judaism and Christian Origins — said they made the discovery in June…
31 July 2019
Tags: Syria India Refugee Camps Galilee
The exclusive video above shows some of the remarkable work being done at the St. Clare Oral School for the Deaf in India. (video: CNEWA)
In the current edition of ONE, Anubha George writes about how children with hearing impairments are getting A Sound Education at a school in Kerala. But, as she writes below, sometimes it isn’t just the students who leave the school having learned a thing or two.
The visit to St. Clare Oral School for the Deaf in the southern Indian state of Kerala brought back memories. It was four years ago. A niece of mine was born premature, at 34 weeks. The neonatologist suggested tests pretty much every week, for her eyes and her hearing. Premature babies are more at risk of auditory problems.
Thankfully, there was no problem with her hearing. My visit to St. Clare reminded me of that time. Yet, it also taught me many things that I’m embarrassed to confess — things I had been judgemental about before. We felt relieved when my niece passed that audiometry test because we saw hearing impairment as a disability that would stop her from leading a “normal” life. But I met children at this school who lead fulfilling and happy lives. Some were partially hearing impaired, some fully. But there wasn’t a hint of self pity or a sense that something was lacking in their lives.
I often hear people describe a child with hearing impairment as “deaf and dumb.” Sister Abhaya, the principal in charge at the school, told me that was incorrect on so many levels. She gave me an example. I’m an Indian. Let’s say I go to Germany for a visit. I know not a word of German. If I’m in a group where everybody is speaking German, I wouldn’t be able to understand a thing or contribute to the conversation. I would be “dumb.” Any one of us can be “dumb” in certain circumstances. But these children have their own language to communicate — one I don’t know, sign language.
I’ve made a promise to myself: I’ll never again use the word “dumb.”
I also came to realize — to my embarassment — that some things I disparage can change lives.
I’m not a fan of smart phones, for the way they can sometimes take over everything we do. But at St. Clare Oral School for the Deaf, I found that smart phones are crucial. They offer the students a lifeline. When the students use video to make a call, they can see people — they can read lips and communicate. On a video call, they can chat and share with their friends in sign language; they can see faces and read emotions.
My visit to the school was a revelation — and helped me discover that sometimes a school offers lessons not only to those in its classrooms, but to visitors from outside, as well.
Read more about the St. Clare Oral School for the Deaf in the July 2019 edition of ONE.
31 July 2019
Students participate enthusiastically at the Rosary Sisters School, where Sister Nabila Saleh is principal. Read her account of life as a teacher in A Letter from Gaza in the July 2019 edition of ONE. (photo: Ali Hassan)
Tags: Gaza Strip/West Bank