Current Issue
December, 2018
Volume 44, Number 4
8 November 2018
Greg Kandra

Youth of a Mishing community, an indigenous tribal group in India, put on a performance in their village. (photo: John E. Kozar)

Tags: India

8 November 2018
Greg Kandra

Egyptian Christians mourn during a 3 November funeral at Prince Tadros Orthodox Church in Minya. Gunmen killed seven pilgrims as they headed to a monastery on 2 November. Survivors have begun describing details of the attack. (photo: CNS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany, Reuters)

Russian military distributes food near Aleppo (TASS) Members of the Russian military have carried out a humanitarian mission, distributing 450 food sets to residents in a village in Syria’s Aleppo Province, Lieutenant General Vladimir Savchenko, chief of the Russian center for reconciliation of conflicting sides in Syria, told reporters on Wednesday…

Egypt’s Coptic monastery survivors describe bus attack (Arab News) Survivors from an attack on a convoy of Coptic Christian pilgrims have told Arab News of the horrific moments when extremists opened fire killing seven. The survivors included 7-year-old Mina Basem who lost his mother Reham Milad Yusuf in the attack. His older brother Fadi is recovering from his injuries. ”We visited the monastery and spent a wonderful time but on our way back we were attacked by two cars who fired on us,” Mina said. “I don’t remember anything after that.”A member of his family said Mina hid under the bus seats to avoid the bullets…

UN: ISIS left 200 mass graves in Iraq (BBC) More than 200 mass graves containing thousands of bodies have been found in areas of Iraq that were once controlled by the Islamic State (IS) group, a UN investigation has found. The graves were found in the north and western governorates of Nineveh, Kirkuk, Salahuddin and Anbar. They could contain as many as 12,000 victims, the UN report said.

Ethiopian Jews mark holiday in Jerusalem (Jewish Telegraphic Agency) On a national holiday for Ethiopian Jews, before a crowd of tens of thousands, the president of Israel vowed that the citizens of his country will not discriminate on the basis of skin color. “We are brothers and sisters, and anyone who tries to undermine that has no place amongst the tribes of Israel,” Reuven Rivlin said in his address Wednesday to mark Sigd, a state holiday since 2008 that marks the Ethiopians’ yearning to return to Jerusalem and Zion…

Schools opt for cleaner air during Diwali (Vatican News) As Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights approaches panic grips the Indian capital and its surroundings, with thick smog hanging in the air. Experts have warned that the air quality is expected to deteriorate drastically with the use of firecrackers in the run-up mark Diwali, which this year fell on Wednesday, 7 November. In a move against the annual threat, 12 Catholic schools in the national capital opted for a pollution-free Diwali this year…

Tags: Syria India Iraq Egypt

7 November 2018
Greg Kandra

Palestinian children receiving treatment are seen in early September at Augusta Victoria Hospital in East Jerusalem. U.S. Christian leaders expressed "grave concern" about the Trump administration's decision to stop financial assistance to six East Jerusalem hospitals.
(photo: CNS/Ammar Awad, Reuters)

U.S. completes food distribution at Syria camp near Jordan (Reuters) The United Nations has finished distribution of aid to thousands of Syrians, mostly women and children, stranded in the desert close to the border with Jordan, an aid official said on Wednesday. A U.N-led convoy of more than 70 trucks arrived on Saturday under Russian army protection after months of delay in the first such first aid delivery from inside Syria to the rebel-held camp that has over 50,000 people…

Christian leaders urge U.S. to restore aid to East Jerusalem hospitals (CNS) U.S. Christian leaders expressed “grave concern” about the Trump administration’s decision to stop financial assistance to six East Jerusalem hospitals. Israeli doctors from most of Israel’s major hospitals called the decision a blow to the health of the city…

Anger erupts in Egypt after massacre of Christian pilgrims (RNS) The Coptic bishop of this city south of Cairo, Anba Makarios, spent the weekend trying to comfort mourners after two buses carrying Coptic Christians were ambushed Friday as they left a monastery here, killing seven of the pilgrims and wounding 19. The Islamic State in Egypt claimed responsibility for the attack. But during Makarios’ appearance at Prince Tadros Church, as the bishop thanked provincial officials for issuing the necessary permits to conduct public funerals, the congregation erupted in anger…

Ethiopian Catholic Church pleased about first woman president (Vatican News) The Ethiopian Catholic Church says it is pleased that women in Ethiopia are getting their rightful place in the development of the country. According to a statement from the Ethiopian Catholic Secretariat, it is a blessing to see that Ethiopians are recognising the invaluable talent women have to offer to the integral development of the nation…

A political power struggle for the soul of the Orthodox church (Financial Times) I’m in a 17th-century monastery at the edge of Moscow’s Gorky Park, having a conversation that transports me several more centuries back in time. I’ve come to talk to Russian church officials about a new schism in the Orthodox church, a rupture that piqued my interest for its geopolitical dimension — and, in a small part, a personal one. I was raised Orthodox. “Any schism is bad,” Vladimir Legoida, a church official, tells me, as we look back to the Great Schism of 1054, the split between the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches. “That’s a wound on the body of Christianity. We grieve it as a tragedy…”

Vatican sends ’cordial greetings’ to mark Deepavali (Vatican News) On 6 and 7 November, millions of people throughout the world will celebrate the Festival of Lights, or Deepavali. Rooted in the Hindu culture, Deepavali celebrates the triumph of good over evil. As is customary, the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue issued a message on 31 October entitled “Christians and Hindus: In Defense of the Vulnerable of Society”…

Tags: India Ethiopia Palestine Jerusalem Hindu

6 November 2018
Greg Kandra

Entertainers captivate children of all ages at Marie Doty Park in Bethlehem. (photo: CNEWA)

We were pleased to receive this update today on a project CNEWA has long supported in Bethlehem. Laura Schau-Tarazi in our Jerusalem office writes:

Marie Doty Park continues to be a beautiful green space for Bethlehem children and families. Our project coordinator, Gabi Kando, made a recent visit to the park to follow up on our work where two local area schools were holding activities.

Thanks to the Doty Foundation, work has been conducted during the year on various sections of the park including installing an alarm system and safety fence around the parameter of the park, new ventilators and new door for the multipurpose hall, games, rehabilitation of the water cistern and the procurement of new agricultural equipment. During this year, there has also been 16 children’s activities conducted so far, reaching 4,600 children. Additionally, the park hosted 38 different governmental and private schools and NGOs benefiting 2,500 children, as well as four summer camps for 500 children.

Some background on Marie Doty, from our magazine:

Over the years, Mrs. Doty, her husband, George, and their children have selflessly and generously supported CNEWA’s mission with their time, energy and financial resources.

Mrs. Doty played an active role in many agency works, including the restoration of the dome of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem and the development of the first recreational parks in Palestine. On a visit there more than a decade ago, she quietly observed, “The children have no place to play.”

Determined to remedy the situation, Marie and George Doty provided CNEWA with the funds to build and equip playgrounds and related facilities in Bethlehem, Gaza and Ramallah. In addition to swings and slides, handball and basketball courts, the parks feature fountains and green lawns, “luxuries” Palestinian children once associated with Israeli settlements.

Marie Doty entered eternal life in 2008 — but clearly, she left the children of Palestine a legacy of joy that endures to this day.

Marie Doty Park remains a peaceful oasis for children in Bethelehem. (photo: CNEWA)

Tags: Bethlehem Donors

6 November 2018
Greg Kandra

Dalit villagers gather for a prayer service in Bhikkawala, India. Christian Dalits across India will mark Dalit Liberation Sunday this weekend. (photo: John Matthew)

Fight against last vestige of ISIS stalls (The New York Times) An American-backed military offensive has stalled against the Islamic State’s last vestige in eastern Syria — in part because of the enemy that the allied fighting force had expected, and other threats that it very much had not…

Indian Christians to celebrate Dalit Liberation Sunday (Vatican News) Christians of various denominations in India are joining hands in jointly observing the Dalit Liberation Sunday (DLS) on Sunday. The Office for Scheduled Castes/Backward Classes (SC/BC) of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI), and the National Council of Churches in India (NCCI), that comprises Protestant and Orthodox Churches, are marking the day on 11 November…

Is another Gaza war imminent? (Al Jazeera) Recently, rockets were fired into Israel from Gaza and three Palestinian children were killed in an Israeli air raid. Is another full-scale Israeli attack on the strip inevitable? Donald MacIntyre, former Jerusalem correspondent for The Independent and author of the book, “Gaza: Preparing for Dawn,” describes it as “a very fragile and dangerous situation”…

For one Moscow church, schism may spell end of unique status (Radio Free Europe) Tucked behind a Stalin-era skyscraper a short walk from Red Square, St. Nicetas is an “embassy church”, or metochi, of Mount Athos, the male-only monastic community in Greece that the world’s Orthodox Christians consider a spiritual home. While it belongs to the Russian Orthodox Church, St. Nicetas is symbolically tied to the mother church of Eastern Orthodoxy, the Constantinople Patriarchate, under whose jurisdiction Athos falls. ”On paper we’re part of the Moscow Patriarchate, but spiritually we represent Athos,” says Father Pyotr, a St. Nicetas clergyman who withheld his last name because he is not authorized to speak on the church’s behalf.

Is this how they built the pyramids? (CNN) Archeologists have spent centuries wondering how the towering pyramids of Giza were constructed thousands of years ago. Now, the discovery of a sophisticated ramp system has put them one step closer to solving the mystery. The remains of the 4,500-year-old ramp was found at an alabaster quarry -- of the same period -- in an Egyptian desert by a team of researchers from the University of Liverpool, UK, and Cairo’s French Institute for Oriental Archaeology…

Tags: Syria India Egypt Gaza Strip/West Bank

5 November 2018
Greg Kandra

The video above offers details of the deadly attack on Coptic Christians near a monastery in Minya, Egypt. (video: France 24/YouTube)

Pope Francis: ’A Christian cannot be an anti-Semite’ (Vatican News) Pope Francis on Monday held a meeting with representatives of the World Congress of Mountain Jews. It is the first time that a delegation from this community, which dates back to the 5th Century, has travelled to meet a Pope…

Egypt police kill 19 suspected in Coptic Christian attack (BBC) Nineteen Islamist militants accused of carrying out a deadly attack on Christians in Egypt have been killed by police, the interior ministry says. They died in a shoot-out after police pursued “fugitive terrorist elements” into the desert area west of Minya province, the statement said. Seven Coptic Christians were killed in an attack on two buses near a monastery in Minya on Friday…

Bishops in Holy Land speak out on Israel’s Nation State Law (Vatican News) It is out of a “spirit of dialogue” that the Catholic Bishops of the Holy Land speak out in a statement responding to the “issue of the Nation State Law passed by the Israeli Knesset on 19 July 2018. The legislation at issue limits the promotion and protection offered by the State of Israel to “Jewish citizens of the State of Israel”…

Missionaries of Charity agree to resume adoption service in India ( The Missionaries of Charity (MC) congregation has agreed to resume its service of giving children for adoption. The congregation founded by St. Teresa of Kolkata, commonly known as Mother Teresa, discontinued giving babies from their orphanages for adoption in October 2015 after disagreeing with a new federal law that allowed single and divorced woman to adopt children…

Luxury city could show future of Syria (AP) Marota City, as Syria’s largest investment project is known, is seen as setting the blueprint for how the government will undertake the ambitious rebuilding of areas devastated in the nearly eight-year civil war. The government is using controversial new property laws to create zones where partnerships of the government and businessmen take ownership of neighborhoods and redevelop them. Officials say the projects aim at re-planning slums and destroyed areas and attracting private investors to join the massively expensive task of reconstruction…

The soul of Russian Orthodox church bells (Al Jazeera) An automated future where the robots have stolen human jobs is a widespread modern concern. Even the most traditional of professions can be vulnerable, for example, church bell ringing in Russia…

Tags: Syria Egypt Israel Russian Orthodox Church Jews

2 November 2018
Greg Kandra

Pope Francis embraces Argentine Rabbi Abraham Skorka after praying at the Western Wall in Jerusalem in 2014. Looking on is Omar Abboud, Muslim leader from Argentina. CNEWA works on behalf of the Holy Father to help build bridges and heal wounds of division.
(photo: CNS/Paul Haring)

You don’t need a post-graduate degree to notice our world right now is torn apart — and hatred and division are a big part of it.

Whether it’s violence in Pittsburgh or vandalism in the Holy Land or threats of military action against migrants, we find ourselves living in a world increasingly on edge — wary, angry, suspicious of anyone considered to be “The Other.” Whether they are Muslims fleeing war or Jews trying to worship in peace, they too often find themselves to be targets of brutality and hate.

And in this troubled world stands CNEWA.

One of the things that has struck me during my time with CNEWA is how faithfully, even courageously, this association has worked not only to build bridges with those of other faiths and traditions, but to try and heal the wounds brought about by hate, war and persecution.

It is intrinsic to who we are.

From our earliest days, Catholic Near East Welfare Association has worked to “create and sustain a friendly interest in the religious and moral life” of those we serve — and to promote unity. It is written into the name of our magazine, ONE, seeking to create a sense of unity with those who also dwell in our broken world.

More than that, we have also enthusiastically engaged in dialogue with “The Other” — whoever that may be. While we always work through the local church, the local church reaches out to the many, Christian or not.

But this is who we are.

We see in the faces of those who are poor, abandoned, hungry and rejected the face of Christ.

We see in them fellow children of Abraham, our brothers and sisters made in the image of God.

We see in those who are forgotten the people we need to remember — the battered person left by the side of the road, the wounded neighbor we can’t ignore. We can’t forget the words Jesus spoke when he told the lesson of the Good Samaritan, the foreigner who treated a stranger with love: “Now go and do likewise.”

When I visit parishes around the country to talk about CNEWA, I often tell the story of the Dominican Sister of St. Catherine of Siena in Iraq. During the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, her convent offered shelter to her terrified Muslim neighbors in Mosul. She summed up her work plainly but powerfully. “We don’t help them because they’re Christian,” she said. “We help them because we are.”

This is who we are. This is part of our mandate and mission.

We are the ones who journey with those who have been brutalized, victimized, neglected, persecuted.

As I read the stories of all the troubles afflicting our world right now — and they fill the headlines again and again and again — I take solace and hope from the work CNEWA is doing. Work of healing. Work of hope.

It is work that sees beyond barriers and boundaries, beyond even personal beliefs and creeds. It is work that proclaims the Gospel and that lives it by remembering Christ’s commandment to “love one another as I have loved you.”

It is a commandment that is so often lost in our world right now.

It shouldn’t be. We need to reclaim it, and proclaim it. It is so essential to the times in which we live.

And CNEWA is a vital part of that. This is a subtle but enduring part of who we are and how we work — an urgent reminder to a dispirited, broken and downcast world that dialogue is possible, that hope endures, that love can transcend hate.

What a privilege to know that, to speak that, to believe that, and to be a part of that.

This is who we are.

We are CNEWA.


2 November 2018
Greg Kandra

Indian homeless children watch a movie on a cellphone on the roadside in Mumbai, India. The final document from the recent Synod of Bishops on young people, the faith and vocational discernment called for the church to meet young people in the digital sphere.
(photo: CNS/Divyakant Solanki, EPA)

Tags: India

2 November 2018
Greg Kandra

Bishop Theodore Mascarenhas spoke to an interfaith gathering in New Delhi last week and called for unity as a way to end religious violence in India (photo: AsiaNews).

U.S. Accuses Russia of blocking aid to Syrian refugee camp (CNN) The US military accused Russia on Thursday of blocking the delivery of critical aid to the Rukban refugee camp in Syria, a desert camp that the United Nations has described for months as in a “desperate” situation. ”Russia has again refused to support a UN delivery of humanitarian assistance from Damascus to the Rukban internally displaced persons camp despite US security guarantees,” US Navy Capt. Bill Urban, a spokesman for US Central Command, told CNN in a statement…

Indian bishop calls for unity to end religious violence ( An Indian bishop has asked religious leaders to come together to foster peace amid increasing religion-based violence, especially against religious minorities and weaker groups. Bishop Theodore Mascarenhas, secretary-general of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India, was speaking at a 27 October interreligious gathering in New Delhi marking the 300th anniversary of the death of Sikh religious leader and social worker Bhai Kanhaiya (1648-1718)…

Lebanon’s forgotten refugee camp (The World) The Dbayeh refugee camp in Dbayeh town is a Palestinian Christian camp established in 1951, when Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat rented the area prior to Lebanese government restrictions on Palestinian land rights. Currently, the camp is home to around 520 families. Fifty of those families are Syrians who came to Lebanon after the civil war broke out in their country in 2012…

Untold story of Kerala flood: a deluge of digital volunteers ( While rains were lashing Kerala in August, submerging many parts of the state in the worst such incident in nearly a century, a largely untapped trait of Keralites was surging above the waters — an outpouring of voluntarism in the digital domain…

Ethiopia swears in first woman Supreme Court chief (NPR) Ethiopia swore in its first female Supreme Court chief on Thursday, part of a wave of appointments of women to top government positions backed by Ethiopia’s new Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed…

Tags: India Lebanon Ethiopia Palestine

30 October 2018
Greg Kandra

A group of Sikhs gathers for a candlelight vigil in the Queens borough of New York on 29 October to pray for the victims of the mass shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh.
(photo: CNS photo/Jeenah Moon, Reuters)

Tags: India Jews

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