20 April 2018
In this image from 2016, Syrian refugees stand in snow outside their tents in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley. Lebanon continues to bear the brunt of absorbing massive numbers of refugees. A leading international rights group now reports that the refugees are being evicted from towns in Lebanon. (photo: CNS/Lucie Parsaghian, EPA)
Rights group says Lebanon is “evicting” Syrian refugees (AP) A leading international rights group says Syrian refugees are increasingly being evicted from towns in Lebanon without any legal basis. Human Rights Watch says local officials have been sending the Syrians eviction notices and using the police to intimidate them into leaving to other towns…
New terrorist group emerging in Syria (Business Insider) With up to 90% of its territory lost, ISIS appears effectively defeated as a conventional foe. But while the black flag of ISIS is being lowered, another may soon take its place — the white flag of Hay’at Tahrir al Sham. A new report in the Wall Street Journal details H.T.S.’s rise as it consolidates power in northwest Syria. Led by a former Al Qaeda militant, H.T.S. is mostly based in Syria’s Idlib Governorate and has taken advantage of the U.S.-led coalition’s focus on ISIS in the East, as well as the Syrian government and Russia’s focus on other parts of the country…
Gaza youth dies after protest near border (AP) The Health Ministry says the 24-year-old was killed in a border area in northern Gaza on Friday. Earlier in the day, a 25-year-old man was shot and killed in the same area. It says 40 protesters were wounded by gunfire or overcome by tear gas fired by Israeli troops from across the border fence…
New photos show destruction to ancient site in Syria (The Guardian) French archaeologists have been excavating at Mari since 1933, the most recent expedition running until 2010 when the Arab Spring and growing unrest made the site inaccessible. In light of the level of damage now evident, perhaps it’s worth sparing a moment to look at why Mari matters to archaeologists, historians and the cultural heritage of Syria…
19 April 2018
Tags: Syria Lebanon Gaza Strip/West Bank Historical site/city
CNEWA’s chair Cardinal Timothy Dolan wrapped up his trip to Lebanon Wednesday and sent along this heartfelt tribute to the country and its people — describing how Lebanon represents both Good Friday and Easter Sunday.
“There’s a lot of suffering here, the tears of refugees and the memories of war,” he says, “but there’s also hope, confidence, joy, and life! God bless Lebanon, God bless America, and God bless the Catholic Near East Welfare Association!”
We are humbled and privileged to have been able to share a few days with the cardinal — and to share with him, as well, some of the great work our donors are making possible.
Take a look.
19 April 2018
Tags: Lebanon CNEWA Middle East Christians
Members of the St. Paul Prison Chaplaincy of the Archeparchy of Addis Ababa, a lay organization that ministers to prisoners, travel to a facility outside of the Ethiopian capital. (photo: Don Duncan)
Last week our blog dealt with the “formation” of the clergy and members of religious orders and communities. This week we are going to look at the formation of the laity.
We focus on the subject of formation in the current edition of ONE, with stories throwing a spotlight on priests and religious sisters. But we also tell the stories of the laity.
First, we need to ask: who are they?
Vatican II defines the laity as those who are not clergy or religious (“Lumen Gentium,” par. 51). Last week, we noted that CNEWA does not directly engage in the formation of the clergy; rather CNEWA helps those who do the formation by providing them with the necessary resources to accomplish their task. It is the same with formation of the laity. CNEWA does not itself maintain any programs of lay formation. Nevertheless, wherever CNEWA is present, it supports such programs.
The Second Vatican Council attempted to make the church and its mission more effective in the modern world. Three documents published at Vatican II are extremely important for understanding the role of lay people in the church: “Lumen Gentium,” or the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church (21 November 1964); “Gaudium et spes,” or the Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World (7 December 1965); and “Apostolicam actuositatem,” or the Decree on the Apostolate of Lay People (18 November 1965). If, in the past, Councils had dealt primarily with questions/problems of dogma — with great emphasis placed on the Magisterium or teaching office of the church and those who carry it out — viz., the clergy — Vatican II took a different approach. Vatican II spent little or no time dealing with dogmatic or theological controversies. Rather, it looked at the church as it was (in 1965) and asked how it could be more effective in its mission — how it could use its resources better for the Kingdom of God.
Key among those resources, of course, is the laity — the ordinary people in the pews to make up the greatest part of the Body of Christ.
In a sense, Vatican II “rediscovered” the laity. While lay people were all too often defined by what they were not — not clergy, not religious — Vatican II sees lay people as those “incorporated into Christ … and [who] in their own way share in the priestly, prophetic and kingly office of Christ and … carry on the mission of the whole Christian people in the church and in the world” (“Lumen Gentium,” par. 31). The role of the laity is: “to make the church present and fruitful in those places and circumstances where it is only through them [the laity] that she [the church] can become the salt of the earth” (par. 33).
The laity form a crucial and indeed indispensable part of the church’s mission. It is at this point that the formation of the laity is recognized as central to the life of the church. If people are crushed by dehumanizing poverty, by lack of education, oppression, war and debilitating yet curable diseases, there is no way they can carry out the mission entrusted to them by Christ. It is very hard for the sick, the poor and uneducated to be the leaders the church needs.
The first step of the formation of the laity, therefore, is to help them achieve a standard of living which promotes their human dignity as members of the Body of Christ. Working with local churches, CNEWA supports programs that help people recover their dignity and their futures. Wherever we work, CNEWA supports programs that promote the health, education and dignity of those whom we serve. Programs, for example, which teach people — especially women — a trade allow these people to rise above subsistence living and to begin to influence a wider world: their family, their village, their church. It helps empower them to go out spread the Gospel and change the world.
However, raising people’s standard of living and educating them for work is only a part of what the formation of the laity means.
Vatican II sees the life of lay person in the world as a life of witness and service. As people are trained, for example, to run small businesses, they need also be trained to behave as witnesses to the Gospel in the world in which they live and work. Perhaps the most important part of the formation of the laity is teaching them that their role in life is not merely to earn a living and support their family but to witness to Christ and transform the world in which they live and work into the Kingdom of God.
19 April 2018
Archbishop J. Michael Miller of Vancouver, British Columbia, meets with Iraqi Christian refugees on 14 April in Beirut. Refugee families, who fled Iraq in 2014 when Islamic State took over their village, are waiting to immigrate to Canada or any country that would welcome them. Archbishop Miller was part of a delegation from CNEWA visiting Lebanon this week with CNEWA’s chair, Cardinal Timothy Dolan. Read more about the trip and watch videos of it here, here and here. (photo: Carl Hetu/CNEWA)
19 April 2018
Tags: Lebanon Refugees CNEWA Canada
On 19 April, Indian students in Amritsar join in protests calling for justice for rape victims and an end to sexual predation. (photo: Narinder Nanu/AFP/Getty Images)
Protesters march against India’s rape crisis (UCANews.com) Priests, nuns and lay Catholics were among thousands of people who joined a candlelight march in India to express solidarity with the nationwide outrage over gang rape and murders, especially of minor girls. About 1,500 people including children and the elderly from various religions marched through Bhopal, the capital of Madhya Pradesh state, on 16 April…
How Lebanon is teaching refugees to thrive (The National) Grassroots activists are doing what they can to ease the most crushing impacts of poverty and prepare Syrians in Lebanon for the future. One such organization is Maps (Multi-Aid Programs), run by an inspirational 33-year-old neurosurgeon, Dr Fadi Alhalabi. Having fled Damascus himself in 2013, he knows all too well the difficulties facing his compatriots as they attempt to rebuild lives shattered by war…
Ukraine moves to split church from Russia as elections approach (Reuters) Ukraine’s Orthodox church could become independent of Moscow under the terms of a presidential initiative lawmakers approved on Thursday, a move that President Petro Poroshenko said would make it harder for Russia to meddle in Ukrainian affairs. The Moscow Patriarchate is part of the Russian Orthodox Church and has a sizeable following in Ukraine…
Archbishop says special Mass for Christians in the Middle East (CNS) As a sign of solidarity with religious minorities who have been victims of Islamic State-led genocide, Archbishop Leonard P. Blair of Hartford celebrated a special Mass for persecuted Middle Eastern Christians on 15 April at St. Mary Church. He welcomed Bishop Bawai Soro, who heads the Chaldean Catholic Eparchy of Mar Addai of Toronto and is a native of Iraq. He delivered the homily and also proclaimed the Gospel in Aramaic, the language spoken by Jesus…
Child marriage doubles among Syrian refugees in Jordan (Middle East Monitor) Child marriage among Syrian refugees has more than doubled in the last four years according to new data released by Jordan’s court system. War, poverty and economic instability have been major factors in the increase in under age marriage throughout the Middle East…
18 April 2018
Tags: India Ukraine Middle East Christians Ukrainian Orthodox Church Women in India
In the video above, Cardinal Timothy Dolan meets with refugee families, many from Iraq, in Lebanon. (video: Archdiocese of New York/CNEWA)
The remarkable video above comes to us from the CNEWA team traveling to Lebanon with our chair, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, and offers a powerful look at what so many in that corner of the world are living with — and how CNEWA is seeking to lift them up from despair to hope.
CNEWA’s Michael J.L. LaCivita passed along more pictures and this brief dispatch:
Archbishop Michael Miller of Vancouver meets with refugees. (photo: Michael J.L. LaCivita)
Imagine one night, at dinner, you receive a phone call that you have five minutes to take your family and gather some clothes and flee. For thousands of families in northern Iraq, this is precisely what happened on 6 August 2014.
The next day, their villages fell to ISIS. And while this band of nihilists and criminals has been defeated since, the nightmare for these families remains reality.
Many now live in exile and poverty — in Beirut and Amman and further afield. In some cases, the only help they receive is from the church and organizations such as CNEWA.
Today, our delegation encountered the fear and the desperation these parents feel, as they desperately want to come to America and Canada.
Pictured are some of the children Cardinal Dolan met during a visit to a school in Lebanon. (photo: Michael J.L. LaCivita)
They do not understand why we have closed our arms to them.
“We try to prevent them from falling into despair,” said Syriac Catholic Patriarch Ignatius Joseph III, “but we must rely on the generosity of others.”
Syriac Patriarch Ignatius Joseph III struggles to keep up the spirits of his people during this difficult period. (photo: Michael J.L. LaCivita)
Lebanese President Michel Aoun, who received us this morning thanked the cardinal, the delegation and CNEWA for our many years in Lebanon, and our work here, “especially during the darkest years,” during the last years of the civil war.
Pray for the Middle East. Pray for Lebanon. Resources are low. And time is running out.
Late yesterday, we also received this video, which shows the exceptional faith and charity of the Melkite Catholics in Zahleh, Lebanon. Check it out.
18 April 2018
Tags: Lebanon Refugees CNEWA
Part of the program in Sagar, India, taught young women basic sewing skills, to help them find better-paying jobs. (photo: CNEWA)
We recently received this update on a wonderful program CNEWA support from our regional director in India, M.L. Thomas:
The project aimed to educate poor and destitute children living in low-income urban areas of Sagar, India, helping them to learn basic skills — such as tailoring and dressmaking — to generate income for poor women and widows.
The program took place in seven urban neighborhoods and one village, benefiting some 200 children. Seven lay teachers were given the task to instruct the children and others, and did so with great talent and commitment.
Each class consisted of four hours of training in the morning.
A religious sister meets with some of the women. (photo: CNEWA)
The program, supported by CNEWA, has provided a platform for the sisters and priests of the diocese to meet the parents personally and provide counseling. The parents and teachers also met together in groups, which has helped them understand the value of education for their children and encourage them to go to school.
We could see that 83 children living in poverty were mainstreamed to government schools. Their attitude toward life will be better once they leave the slums, with a greater sense of responsibility toward their families and the community. Most of the teachers involved in the project were women; some came from poor families but were immensely dedicated.
The children showed great interest and enthusiasm to learn. The project not only helped the children to learn, but also reduced their stress and depression.
The results have been very promising! It was observed that these children see possibility and hope in their lives. They are not among those who go out begging or pursuing child labor, and they are not involved in drug abuse or addiction. Government authorities and the general public all appreciated the efforts through this project.
18 April 2018
Tags: India CNEWA Education Poor/Poverty Women
A group of lay people supported by the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary in Jordan gathers for one of its regular meetings in Amman. Discover how the sisters are Inspiring the Faithful in Jordan in the current edition of ONE. (photo: Nader Daoud)
18 April 2018
Tags: Jordan Sisters
Pope Francis speaks during his general audience in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican on 18 April. He encouraged those taking part in the World Bank meeting in Washington to promote the life of the poor. (photo: CNS/Paul Haring)
Pope urges economic leaders to favor inclusion and promote the lives of the poor (Vatican News) Pope Francis expressed hope that the upcoming World Bank Meeting may yield positive results that favor “an authentic integral development that is respectful of human dignity.” Speaking on Wednesday at the conclusion of the General Audience in St. Peter’s Square, the pope mentioned Saturday’s World Bank Spring Meeting in Washington and encouraged participants to make “efforts for financial inclusion that aim to promote the life of the poor…”
Caste plays vital role in Indian election (UCANews.com) Dust plumes waft above poorly maintained roads as legions of motorists head to Ranebennur township in the state of Karnataka in southern India in April ahead of the upcoming polls, where not only religion but caste, too, is expected to take center stage…
OPCW issues statement on Syrian fact-finding mission status (OPCW) “The United Nations Department of Safety and Security (U.N.D.S.S.) has made the necessary arrangements with the Syrian authorities to escort the team to a certain point and then for the escort to be taken over by the Russian Military Police,” the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons clarified today, regarding the investigation of alleged chemical weapon use in Douma. The statement continued: “However, the U.N.D.S.S. preferred to first conduct a reconnaissance visit to the sites, which took place yesterday,” during which a reconnaissance team came under “small arms fire,” it said. “At present, we do not know when the [fact-finding mission] team can be deployed to Douma. Of course, I shall only consider such deployment following approval by the U.N.D.S.S., and provided that our team can have unhindered access to the sites…”
Christian pilgrims to Holy Land get tattoos (CNS) Three generations of the Razzouk family busily attended to Christian pilgrims and tourists packed into a tiny shop to get Christian tattoos to mark their pilgrimages to the Holy Land. The Razzouk family has been tattooing Christian pilgrims in the Holy Land for 500 years — and 200 years before that in Egypt. One of their ancestors, Jeruis, was a Coptic pilgrim to the Holy Land five centuries ago; he fell in love with the land and decided to stay and used his tattooing skills to make a living. The art of tattooing was passed down through the generations, with the methods adapting themselves to the times…
Disabled Palestinian refugee plans to climb Mt. Everest (Al Jazeera) Jarah al Hawamdeh, a Palestinian refugee in Jordan who lost one of his legs to cancer, has vowed to reach the summit of Mount Everest in hopes of saving his cash-strapped school. Al Hawamdeh, 22, who has lost one of his legs to bone cancer, is climbing the world’s tallest mountain to raise funding for the school that gave him an education…
17 April 2018
Tags: Syria India Pope Francis Palestinians
Cardinal Timothy Dolan shares a joyful moment with displaced Syrian children in Lebanon. (photo: Michael J.L. LaCivita)
CNEWA’s Michael J.L. LaCivita, traveling with our contingent in Lebanon, filed these wonderful images today. He wrote:
Cardinal Dolan greets young children in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley. (photo: Michael J.L. LaCivita)
Retired Bishop William Murphy meets young people in Lebanon. (photo: Michael J.L. LaCivita)
Today, in the city of Zahle in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley — the Jerusalem of the Greek Melkite Catholic world — members of CNEWA’s board of trustees visited more Syrian families displaced by war.
Archbishop Issam Darwich mingles with his flock. (photo: Michael J.L. LaCivita)
The bishops also met with members of the local community, whose lives have been upended by the arrival of “cheap unskilled labor,” who have taken their jobs.
But Zahle’s “pope,” Greek Melkite Archbishop Issam Darwhich, leads by example, and has reached out to Christian and Muslim refugees alike, bringing with him hundreds of volunteers to help feed, clothe and house these innocents.
The proof is in the pudding — as these pictures illustrate. Devout Muslim families have opened their hearts and homes to the cries of “Abuna!” (Father!) and “Sayydna! (Excellency!), Regardless of the crosses around their necks.
You can follow more of the cardinal’s trip here and here.
Tags: Lebanon CNEWA