Current Issue
December, 2018
Volume 44, Number 4
18 October 2018
Greg Kandra

Ukraine's parliament on Thursday 18 October voted to hand over St. Andrew's Church in Kiev to the Ecumenical Patriarchate. (photo: Creative Commons/Wikipedia)

Syria says it will re-open borders with Iraq soon (The Independent) Syria will reopen its borders with Iraq ”soon”, the country’s representative to the United Nations has said. Earlier this week the government of Syria’s president, Bashar al-Assad, received a major boost as the country’s commercial gateway with Jordan and a crossing to the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights were reopened…

Ukraine votes to hand landmark Kiev church to Constantinople (AFP) Ukraine’s parliament on Thursday voted to hand over a landmark Kiev church to the Istanbul-based Ecumenical Patriarchate after it agreed to recognize the independence of Ukraine’s Orthodox Church. The move is seen as a step towards the Constantinople Patriarchate granting independence to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church despite protests from Russia. Ukraine’s parliament voted 237 votes to 30 to allow the Ecumenical Patriarchate to use Kiev’s landmark Saint Andrew’s Church “for worship, religious rites (and) ceremonies…”

Syrian refugees in Lebanon weigh risk of returning (The New Arab) The past few months have seen a growing number of refugees in Lebanon returning to Syria, leading Russian envoys to claim that government-controlled areas are now safe for returnees. In July the Syrian regime made its first formal appeal for the return of refugees, opening reception centers to monitor return: a move many interpreted as a bid to regain international legitimacy. However, according to UNHCR, conditions are not yet ready for the return of refugees to Syria, especially while the siege on rebel-held Idlib continues. Even in regions where armed clashes and bombing have reduced, imprisonment, forced conscription, and a lack of basic primary services make safe return for Syrians premature…

Young migrants bring vitality, need support, synod members say (CNS) Helping young migrants hold fast to their cultural and religious identity, especially in situations where they are a minority, was a recurring topic at the Synod of Bishops. Blessed Sacrament Father Robert Stark, director of the Office for Social Ministry for the Diocese of Honolulu and regional coordinator for the Vatican’s Migrant and Refugees Section, offered synod members very practical advice for assisting young people on the move…

Tags: Syria Ukraine Migrants Russian Orthodox

17 October 2018
Greg Kandra

Palestinian Christians and members of the scouts gather outside the Melkite Greek Catholic Church in Bethlehem. Learn more about how they are Defining ’Christian’ in Palestine in the September 2018 edition of ONE. (photo: Samar Hazboun)

Tags: Palestine

17 October 2018
Greg Kandra

Pope Francis greets the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar in the Vatican on 16 October 2018.
(photo: Vatican Media)

At Synod: Young Catholics of India need inspiring priests (Vatican News) Young Catholics of India are like the fragile and sinful men and women disciples of Jesus yearning for His living water. These young people are urging the Church leadership to be an authentic inspiration on living the faith and to provide them opportunities and spaces to build communities and experience the Church’s mission. The call was made by Percival Holt, a young lay Indian, who on Tuesday addressed the ongoing world Synod of Bishops currently taking place in the Vatican…

Pope receives Grand Imam (Vatican News) Pope Francis received the Grand Imam of the prestigious Muslim al-Azhar Mosque of Egypt, Prof. Ahmad Muhammad Al-Tayyib, in a private visit, Tuesday afternoon, at the Casa Santa Marta in the Vatican, the Holy See’s Press Office said in a brief note. The two spiritual leaders have met a few times before, most importantly when the Pope visited Egypt, 28-29 April 2017, on the invitation of the Grand Imam…

War threatens deep divisions in Orthodox Church (CNN) while the Christian population in mostly-Muslim Turkey has dwindled to just a few thousand over the last century, the world’s Orthodox Christians call Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew “first among equals,” and many view him as the spiritual and symbolic leader of their faith. Loosely put, Bartholomew is the Orthodox equivalent of the Pope, though the Catholic Church has a stricter hierarchical structure than its eastern counterpart. ”This is something historic that I think will result in a schism,” says Rev. Alexander Laschuk, a Ukrainian Catholic priest who teaches canon law at the University of Toronto. ”The question is -- is this something short or something that will last centuries?”…

Syria approves UN aid delivery to camp at Jordanian border ( The Syrian government gave approval for the UN to deliver aid next week to thousands of civilians stranded near a US garrison on the Jordanian-Syrian border, aid workers and camp officials said on Wednesday…

Bethlehem mayor to Netanyahu: stop using Christians to ‘whitewash’ occupation (Haaretz) Bethlehem Mayor Anton Salman strongly criticized Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday, calling on the premier to stop “using Christians as a tool to whitewash the occupation.” Salman was responding to comments made by Netanyahu on Sunday at the Christian Media Summit in Jerusalem, a gathering of Christian journalists from around the world…

Can new media revive Christian publishing in India? (La Croix) At a time when the publishing industry has an overarching influence over many aspects of human life, the pressing question is, Has the Indian Church kept pace with the development and progress of the industry? The answer is yes, to a degree, but there is much more is to be done if the Church is to make a big impact on mainstream publications…

Tags: Syria Egypt Islam Russian Orthodox

16 October 2018
Greg Kandra

Children gather for a meal at the Mariam Tsion School in Saesa, Ethiopia. Discover how CNEWA carries out its mission of Remembering the Forgotten in the September 2018 edition of ONE magazine. (photo: John E. Kozar)

Tags: Ethiopia

16 October 2018
Greg Kandra

In a dramatic move, the Russian Orthodox Church has broken its ties with Constantinople, creating a schism. (video: AFP/YouTube)

Russian Orthodox Church breaks ties with Constantinople (AP) The Russian Orthodox Church decided Monday to sever ties with the leader of the worldwide Orthodox community after his decision to grant Ukrainian clerics independence from the Moscow Patriarchate. Metropolitan Hilarion said the Russian church’s Holy Synod resolved to “break the Eucharistic communion” with the Istanbul-based Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople…

Iraqi delegate at Synod says young people need a ‘fast response’ (Vatican News) Mr. Safa al Abbia is a 26-year-old Chaldean Catholic dentist from Iraq. He was invited to the Synod of Bishops on Young People, Faith and Vocational Discernment currently underway in Rome. His plea to the bishops is that the universal Church helps young people in Iraq who are being persecuted for their faith. He explained that the main challenge for youth in Iraq is “peace and stability and their right to live in dignity…”

Syria’s key border crossings to re-open (AP) President Bashar Assad’s government received a major boost Monday as Syria’s commercial gateway with Jordan and a crossing with the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights manned by U.N. peacekeepers were reopened years after the war disrupted their operations…

Hindu group in India seeks to shut down schools belonging to religious minorities ( Muslim and Christian leaders in India see danger in a pro-Hindu group’s demand that the government revoke a policy allowing minority groups to own and manage educational institutions in the country. A report released on 10 October by the Center for Policy Analysis, a think tank of hard-line Hindu group Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, stated that allowing religious minority groups to have institutions for their own people was tantamount to “compartmentalization” that works against the unity of India…

In Ethiopia’s new cabinet, half the ministers are women (Washington Post) Ethiopia’s reformist prime minister announced Tuesday a new cabinet that is half female, in an unprecedented push for gender parity in Africa’s second-most-populous nation…

Tags: Syria India Ethiopia Russian Orthodox Church

15 October 2018
Greg Kandra

Chamsa Hadaya stands surrounded by family members. (photo: Armineh Johannes)

The new edition of ONE magazine features A Letter from Iraq, in which Chamsa Marzina Hadaya describes her family’s efforts to start over after fleeing ISIS and then returning home:

Right after we fled Qaraqosh, we used some of our savings and spent a few days in a cheap motel. We then rented a small apartment for a few months, but we ran out of funds as our stay lengthened from weeks to months to years. We had to quit the apartment and find another place provided by the church that was a prefabricated room in the camp of Ain Kawa — near the city of Erbil in Iraqi Kurdistan. We stayed there for more than 15 months.

Life was unbearable during our stay in the camp. We had no income and we were completely dependent on charity for every single need. We experienced real destitution and we felt weak, humiliated and alone — strangers in a strange land. Nothing but our faith gave us real support: We felt God’s presence in our daily life, and this gave us hope and determination to hang on for a better life.

I cried. I prayed to God and asked him for his help to preserve our dignity — and God heard me! One of the organizations working in the same camp where I lived offered me a job in the kindergarten, and with this income I was able to help support my husband and family.

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.

Read more in the September 2018 edition of ONE.

Tags: Iraq ISIS

15 October 2018
Greg Kandra

Pope Francis on Sunday canonized seven new saints, including Pope Paul VI. (video: CNS/YouTube)

Canonization offers signs and symbols of sanctity (Vatican News) A pope who championed dialogue and mission. An archbishop who was murdered for defending the defenseless. Two priests and two women religious, who dedicated their lives to serving the poorest and most in need. And a layperson who died of bone tuberculosis when he was only 19 years of age. All witnesses to their faith in different ways at different times. All officially recognized by the Church as being worthy of imitation. By formally declaring their sanctity during Mass on Sunday, Pope Francis was acknowledging that their names may be entered in the canon (hence “canonization”) of the saints, churches may be built in their honor, altars dedicated, and prayers directed to them as special patrons…

Russian Orthodox Church holds synod in Minsk over Ukraine issue (Radio Free Europe) Leaders of the Russian Orthodox Church were meeting in the Belarusian capital on 15 October amid a dispute over moves toward independence for the Orthodox Church in Ukraine…

Holy See calls for respect of indigenous rights (Vatican News) Speaking on behalf of the Holy See’s Permanent Observer, Archbishop Bernadito Auza, First Counsellor Monsignor Tomasz Grysa expressed satisfaction over significant progress in promoting and protecting the rights of indigenous peoples, particularly mentioning the adoption of the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. However, he said the environmental, cultural and spiritual patrimony of many indigenous populations remains under significant threat…

India’s female feticide remembered ( Anti-abortion and other groups have joined government efforts to change India’s skewed sex ratio that is caused by large-scale female feticide. According to the Population Research Institute, at least 12.7 million sex-selective abortions were conducted in India between 2000 and 2014. On the eve of the United Nations’ established International Day of the Girl Child, various groups joined a program in a public square in the capital, New Delhi, stressing the importance of protecting girl children…

UN marks International Day of Rural Women (Vatican News) The United Nations chief is calling on the world to ensure the full rights of rural women and girls saying their empowerment will ensure a peaceful future and a healthy planet for all. ”The empowerment of rural women and girls is essential to building a prosperous, equitable and peaceful future for all on a healthy planet,” said UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in a message for the 15 October International Day of Rural Women…

Tags: India Ukraine Russian Orthodox Church Pope

12 October 2018
Greg Kandra

Syrian refugee children greet visitors in the refugee camp of Zahleh, Lebanon, in January 2016. (photo: John E. Kozar)

In the new edition of ONE magazine, arriving in mailboxes this week, CNEWA’s president Msgr. John E. Kozar offers some insight into our association’s mission:

When we communicate with our donors to express our thanks for their generous prayers and financial gifts, we often refer to the gratitude that ultimately comes from the “poor,” those who “suffer” and those who are “persecuted.”

These are broad categories and we might not appreciate the range of these beneficiaries of CNEWA’s good works and support. Let me elaborate a bit.

It is normal to focus on the material needs of the poor. We think of hungry and starving children; mothers desperate to feed or shelter their little ones; an elderly person without a place to call home; or victims of war, floods or other calamities forced to flee, always uncertain what tomorrow might bring.

We especially think of children who have been orphaned, those whose cries and hollow stares penetrate our hearts. We think of children who hunger for education and would give anything to be able to have a formal schooling environment. We think of the elderly, often those most easily forgotten or marginalized. Societies sometimes consider them expendable.

We think of those with special needs who find little or no acceptance in many cultures — those with physical and mental disabilities or social outcasts because of class structures. We think of those victims of religious bigotry or ethnic classification, or those “in the middle” and not accepted by either side. Social and economic exclusion is a reality for so many in our world.

We think of those who are really persecuted, even unto death. They are violated and taken away; they are sometimes killed, but always considered “second class.”

What I am describing is a canvas of the broken, fractured world in which CNEWA is privileged to serve. And in our humble way, with your most generous support and prayerful accompaniment, we do our best to serve those who are poor, those who suffer and those who are persecuted.

I am blessed with vivid memories from my many pastoral visits to those we serve. I’ve seen hungry children being fed and cared for at the hands of religious sisters and church-related programs in areas of conflict and oppression. I have seen the faces of desperate mothers who seek comfort for their ailing children — and find a loving and gentle hand extended by the church.

Check out more in our magazine. And watch the video below, in which Msgr. Kozar shares more of the ways in which CNEWA helps spread the joy of the Gospel to so many who are on the margins.

Tags: CNEWA Msgr. John E. Kozar

12 October 2018
Greg Kandra

Patriarch Filaret, the head of the Kiev Patriarchate, has welcomed a decision to recognize the independence of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. He speaks about it in the video above. (video: Radio Free Europe/YouTube)

Russian Orthodox Church to break with Constantinople (Reuters) The Russian Orthodox Church will have to break eucharistical relations with Constantinople over a split with Ukraine’s Orthodox Church, Alexander Volkov, spokesman for Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill, was quoted as saying by Interfax on Thursday. Earlier on Thursday, the Synod meeting in Istanbul backed Ukraine’s request for an independent, “autocephalous” church and reversed the excommunication of Patriarch Filaret, who hopes to lead the independent church…

UN calls for health care access for refugees near Jordan border (Gulf Times) Some 45,000 Syrians living in a refugee camp in the Syrian desert near the Jordanian border need critical access to basic services as winter months approach, the United Nations warned on Wednesday. UNICEF said there is only one UN-supported clinic near the border inside Jordan providing basic health services for urgent lifesaving cases at Rukban refugee camp…

Time for Christians in India not to turn the other cheek (La Croix) A few years ago, church dealings with law-enforcement agencies were minimal. However, this is not the case now as violence and harassment against Christians have increased in recent times…

Eritrea’s joy becomes Ethiopia’s burden amid huge exodus (The Guardian) Since 11 September, at least 15,000 Eritreans have crossed into Ethiopia, according to local authorities. Many have come to trade and to visit the friends and family from whom they were separated in 1998, when war broke out. The border had been almost impermeable since Ethiopia’s failure to implement a UN peace deal signed in 2000. Most dramatic, though, has been the swell of refugees…

Found: mass grave, evidence of king’s bloody rule in Jerusalem (The Times of Israel) Evidence of a mass slaying, including cruel beheadings, committed during the bloody reign of the Hasmonean king Alexander Jannaeus (103-76 BC) was recently uncovered in a courtyard next to the Jerusalem municipality during excavations of an ancient water cistern…

Tags: Ukraine Ethiopia Jerusalem Russian Orthodox Church

11 October 2018
Greg Kandra

Schoolgirls in Chandigarh, India, wear pink turbans on 11 October to mark International Day of the Girl Child. (photo: CNS/Ajay Verma, Reuters)

Tags: India

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