18 March 2015
A Syrian girl looks out from a UNICEF tent in an informal settlement near Amman, Jordan,
on 14 March (photo: CNS/Muhammad Hamed, Reuters)
Netanyahu claims victory in election (CNN) Benjamin Netanyahu appears poised to keep his job as Israel’s Prime Minister, declaring victory Wednesday following a bitter campaign punctuated by his last-minute appeals to right-wing voters...
Vatican: Syrian children risk becoming “lost generation” (CNS) Without family, a legal identity and adequate education, children uprooted by the ongoing violence in Syria and the Middle East “are at risk of becoming a lost generation,” said Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, permanent observer of the Holy See to the United Nations in Geneva. The archbishop noted that “children suffer the brutal consequences” of war and called for a “comprehensive system of protection for children” in these conflict zones...
United States returns looted artifacts to Iraq (NPR) The U.S. returned dozens of artifacts to the Iraqi government Monday. The cultural treasures, some dating back more than 4,000 years, were looted from Iraq and smuggled into the United States...
Egypt announces plans to build a new capital city (The Washington Post) Over the weekend, Egypt unveiled plans to build a wholly new capital. The new city would lie somewhere to Cairo’s east, closer to the Red Sea. It would sprawl across some 150 square miles and potentially be home to as many as 7 million people. Projected to cost $45 billion, it was announced at a summit in the seaside resort of Sharm El-Sheikh aimed at boosting the country’s flagging economy...
16 March 2015
Tags: Syria Iraq Egypt Israel
Greek Catholic seminarians in Hungary prepare the altar for the celebration of the Divine Liturgy.
(photo: Tivadar Domaniczky)
In 2007, we paid a visit to seminarians in northeastern Hungary:
Today’s seminarians are concerned about deteriorating communities, indifference, commercialism and a lack of family and community values. “People are not open enough with each other,” said Gyözö Balogh. “Maybe because they don’t know each other’s values and traditions, they have this fear.”
Gyözö Balogh is one of two Romany (more commonly known as Gypsy) Greek Catholic seminarians and aspires to become the first Romany priest in Hungary. Even as a child, he knew he wanted to be a Greek Catholic priest. “It was strange though when I first talked about it,” he recalled.
Eventually, Gyözö’s family took him seriously and sent him to a Greek Catholic secondary school that opened in 1991.
“Now my friends accept it.”
Read more about what it takes “To Be a Priest” in the March 2007 edition of ONE.
16 March 2015
In this image from October, refugees sit with their belongings after crossing the border from Syria into Turkey near Suruc, Turkey. (photo by Carsten Koall/Getty Images)
Syria’s military on offensive as conflict enters fifth year (Reuters) Syria’s air force carried out air strikes on Sunday on Douma city, an insurgent stronghold northeast of Damascus, with 18 people killed and at least 100 wounded including children and other civilians, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. Overnight, Syria’s military killed dozens of combatants in southern Syria linked to al Qaeda’s Nusra Front including three senior members, state media reported. Four years into the conflict, the military has concentrated its forces in the south, the capital Damascus and areas along the country’s western coast...
Saddam Hussein’s tomb heavily damaged during fighting (Al Jazeera) The tomb of Iraq’s late ruler Saddam Hussein has suffered extensive damage in clashes between fighters from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant group (ISIL) and Iraqi security forces in a fight for control of the city of Tikrit. Fighting intensified to the north and south of Hussein’s hometown on Sunday as Iraqi security forces vowed to reach the centre of Tikrit within 48 hours. Video from the Associated Press news agency from the village of Ouja, just south of Tikrit, shows all that remains of Hussein’s once-lavish tomb are the support columns that held up the roof...
Kerala budget proposes panel for Dalit Christians (The Indian Express) Stung by the recent trend of converted Christians returning to Hinduism, the Kerala budget has made a proposal to set up a new commission to study how Dalit Christians could be brought to mainstream society...
Nun raped in West Bengal, India (Vatican Radio) A 72-year-old Catholic nun was allegedly gang-raped by around eight dacoits at a school-cum-convent in Eastern India’s State of West Bengal, late Friday night. The nun is undergoing surgery; her condition is said to be critical. According to authorities of the Convent of Jesus and Mary, at Ranagath, the accused broke into the convent after 1 am and allegedly raped the ailing nun. After tying three of the five sisters, they entered the principal’s room and ransacked it, destroying property and taking money, a laptop and a mobile phone, Fr. Dominic Gomes, Vicar General of Kolkata Archdiocese, said in a statement...
UN alarmed over plight of children in Ukraine (Vatican Radio) The United Nations has expressed alarm over the impact of Ukraine’s ongoing conflict on children, amid ongoing concerns over a fragile ceasefire and fresh revelations about the downing of a passenger plane last year...
13 March 2015
Tags: Syria India Iraq Kerala ISIS
A young mother takes her child to church, a sign of a new generation taking root in the Armenian Catholic congregation at Sts. Peter and Paul in Tbilisi, Georgia. To learn more about Armenian Catholics in Georgia, read “A Firm Faith” in the Spring 2014 edition of ONE.
(photo: Molly Corso)
13 March 2015
Iraqi Christians attend Mass at a church in Baghdad on 1 March.
(photo: CNS/Ahmed Saad, Reuters)
Holy See draws up declaration supporting Christians in Middle East (Vatican Radio) The Holy See, together with the Russian Federation and Lebanon, has drawn up a declaration in support of Christians and members of other communities in the Middle East who continue to suffer from serious human rights violations. The statement from the Holy See’s Permanent Observer to the United Nations in Geneva will be presented on Friday, 13 March, during the assembly of the 28th Session of the UN’s Human Rights Council in the Palais des Nations...
After four years, Syria’s humanitarian crisis deepens (Vatican Radio) This week will mark the fourth year since the beginning of the uprising in Syria, and a political solution to the crisis continues to be nowhere in sight. The humanitarian situation is growing worse, and fewer and fewer people have adequate access to health care. Before the conflict began, Syria possessed an advanced health care system, but now more than half of all hospitals have been destroyed or severely damaged due to the war...
Iraq’s first Christian brigade set to battle ISIS (Al Arabiya) Iraq’s first Christian-only brigade of regular forces graduated Thursday to help retake the community’s towns and villages from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group. The new brigade will answer to the government of Iraq’s autonomous Kurdish region, whose pesh merga fighters are playing a leading role in the war against the militants...
Gaza exports first produce to Israel since 2007 (AP) Israeli authorities allowed the import of Gaza produce on Thursday for the first time since Hamas seized control of the territory in 2007, a move that will aid Gaza’s battered economy and help pious Jews observe a biblical farming sabbatical. Some 27 tons of tomatoes and five tons of eggplants were cleared to leave Gaza for Israel, Palestinian officials and Gaza merchants said...
12 March 2015
Tamás Fekete stands in his paprika field in Homokmégy, Hungary. (photo: Jacqueline Ruyak)
A few years back, we took readers on a culinary tour of Hungary and discovered a flavorful part of the country’s national character paprika:
Paprika is synonymous with Hungarian cuisine, yet it is a comparative latecomer to the country’s long, richly flavored food culture. Columbus gets the credit for first bringing Capsicum, and other members of the Solanaceae, to Europe from the New World. Called Indian pepper, it was regarded as an ornamental plant with possible medicinal uses. In the 16th century, it was used as a seasoning, mixed with other spices, on the Iberian Peninsula. Elsewhere it was a prized garden ornamental and naturalized, as such, both across Europe and the Turkish empire. In Hungary, it appeared in aristocratic gardens around 1570 as a rare exotic called red Turkish pepper.
The first recorded use of paprika, a Bulgarian diminutive of the Latin piper (pepper), was in a 1775 garden book by Josef Csapo who wrote that peasants ground paprika pods into powder and flavored their food with it — so did fishermen and shepherds. In the late 18th century, Ubaldus, a Capuchin from Austria, wrote of the Kalocsa area: “The spice in their food is a red beast called paprika that burns like the devil.” In the 1820’s, recipes using paprika first appeared in Hungarian cookbooks. By the mid-1800’s, the peasant spice, with its characteristic color, aroma and flavor, had taken over Hungarian cuisine and, eventually, the cuisine of Central and Eastern Europe.
In Homokmegy, a village about six miles from Kalocsa, it was almost harvest time for Tamás and Katalin Fekete, Tony’s parents. Retired farmers, they still plant about three-fifths of an acre of paprika each year. Row after row of the low bushy paprika plants was covered with fiery red conical fruit. Compounds called capsantin and capsorubin give Capsicum varieties their red color when ripe; another, called capsaicin, gives them their characteristic hot taste. Paprika is either sweet (mild) or hot. Tony’s parents grow the sweet paprika for which Kalocsa is famous.
Read more and discover some recipes in Red Gold & Spicy from the September 2005 edition of ONE.
11 March 2015
Catechumens greet CNEWA’s president Msgr. John Kozar on his recent pastoral visit to India. To learn more about his trip, and see more photos, read Reaching the Unreached in India in the Winter 2014 edition of ONE. (photo: John E. Kozar)
10 March 2015
Tags: India Indian Christians Indian Catholics
An Assyrian woman prays at a church in Damascus on 1 March during a special liturgy for Assyrian Christians abducted by Islamic State fighters. (photo: CNS/Omar Sanadiki, Reuters)
Christian leaders again called for help for Assyrian Christians as Islamic State militants stepped up their attacks against their towns in northern Syria. Catholic News Service reports:
Syria’s northeast Hassake province is emerging as the new battlefield in the fight against the extremist group. Analysts say Hassake province, which extends like a thumb into neighboring Iraq and Turkey, could become the fault line of a new multi-front and lengthy war between Islamic State militants and Christians allied with Kurdish fighters.
“This is a very dangerous situation,” said Bassam Ishak, president of the Syriac National Council of Syria, warning of the major new offensive
on Christian villages along the Khabur River. “The villages on the south side of the river are in the hands of Islamic State militants,” Ishak told CNS. “They took Tal Nasri, which is very close to Tal Tamar,” Ishak explained. Tal Tamar “is at the crossroads of many highways to Aleppo, Syria’s second biggest city; to Qamishli, to Hassake and Ras al Ain.”
The March attacks follow a raid by Islamic State militants on a cluster of villages along the Khabur River on 23 February. More than 220 Assyrian Christians residents and other minorities were abducted then. About 20 Assyrian Christians were later released. Meanwhile, the apostolic nuncio to Syria, Archbishop Mario Zenari, told the Rome-based missionary news agency AsiaNews that Islamic State militants released 52 abducted Assyrian Christian families without ransom payment on 5 and 6 March.
“The 52 families who were held for days by the jihadists” are now safe, the archbishop told AsiaNews 9 March. “The militia still holds 16 people. Half of them are Christians; the other half is made up of Kurds.”
No Assyrian or other organizations reported similar information to confirm the news.
A statement issued by the Syriac National Council of Syria, the European Syriac Union, and the Christian Coalition for Syria said Islamic State militants seized “all villages on the south bank of the Khabur and several villages on the north bank.”
Catholic News Service obtained a copy of the statement, which warned that the extremist group will “try to cross the Khabur with large numbers of fighters and heavy weapons — vastly stronger than the lightly armed self-defense forces of both Christians and Kurds in the area.
Read the rest of the report.
Please continue to keep the people of Syria in your prayers. To learn how you can support them in this time of urgent need, please visit this giving page.
5 March 2015
Tags: Syria Violence against Christians War
A baby cries as members of a Palestinian family warm themselves by a fire on 20 February at the remains of their house that witnesses said was destroyed by Israeli shelling during a 50-day war last summer near Gaza City. (photo: CNS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa, Reuters)
The situation in Gaza remains critical six months after the war that devastated the region.
CNS spoke with CNEWA’s regional director for Palestine and Israel, Sami El-Yousef, after his most recent visit to Gaza. He noted that unemployment has hit 70 percent, and much of the region remains in ruins:
“One of the most difficult parts of our trip was seeing how much people have lost hope,” he told Catholic News Service on 2 March. “They really could not see any bright spot at the end of the tunnel; the tunnel does not even exist for them.”
Mr. El-Yousef said Gazans told him they feel the situation today is even worse than it was during the war, because then, at least, they had a bit of hope the war would end and things would get better with aid and reconstruction.
But promised financial aid from some Arab countries has failed to materialize largely due to an internal conflict between the Palestinian Authority’s ruling Fatah party and Hamas, which controls Gaza. Tunnels along the Egyptian border, which were used to smuggle cheap goods and fuel to Gazans, have been destroyed by the Egyptian government, which has labeled Hamas a terrorist organization.
Now all goods reaching Gaza come from Israel, with high Israeli prices, making many basics unaffordable for the local population. People are even resorting to buying basic food necessities on credit, but with no prospects of being able to pay off their debt any time soon, said Mr. El-Yousef.
“The troubles are so widespread, the general atmosphere is one of anger,” he said. “Anger at everyone: at the Palestinian Authority and Hamas for a lack of reconciliation, at Israel for creating the widespread destruction, at the international community for not doing more to support [Gaza] and at other Arab countries for not following through with their financial commitments.”
The level of tension is very high, he said, with the outlook for the future bleak.
Read more at the CNS link. And to find out how you can help the people of Gaza, visit our giving page — and please keep all those who are suffering in your prayers.
5 March 2015
Tags: Gaza Strip/West Bank War Israeli-Palestinian conflict
In the video above, Syrian and Iraqi church leaders discuss how the Islamic State has impacted their region. (video: Rome Reports)
Islamic State claims upper hand in fight for Iraq’s cities (CBS News) The front line in Iraq’s Kirkuk province was as close as CBS News correspondent Holly Williams and her team could get Thursday to the battle for Tikrit. The black flags of the Islamic State flew just 30 yards from Williams’ position with Kurdish peshmerga fighters, and beyond that, in Islamic State territory, was Iraq’s main north-south highway…
Dozens reported killed in mine blast in Ukraine (Vatican Radio) Local officials say at least 24 people have been killed and 9 remain missing after a massive blast at a coal mine in war-torn eastern Ukraine. The announcement came while Kiev accused authorities in rebel-controlled Donetsk of not doing enough to save lives…
War threatens to fracture Russian Orthodox faithful (U.S. News & World Report) One year on, war is threatening to further fracture Orthodoxy in Ukraine. While Orthodoxy has played a role in Ukraine-Russia relations long before the 2013 to 2014 Euromaidan protests and the subsequent conflict in eastern Ukraine, a decades-long divide has found renewed prominence in the past year. From churches being used to store weapons for the rebels to calls from pro-Ukrainian church leadership to send weapons to Kiev, it’s hard to deny that the war has come to the pews…
Israel moves to alleviate water shortage in Gaza (The Jerusalem Post) Israel plans to double the amount of water it sells to the Gaza Strip to help relieve the water crisis there and ease the burden on the overtaxed coastal aquifer. It is the latest in a series of gestures Israel has made recently to the Palestinians there and in the West Bank…
Rebels attack Syrian intelligence office (Associated Press) Rebels of Al Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate and other radical Islamic factions carried out an assault on Wednesday on a government intelligence building in the northern city of Aleppo, blowing up part of it, two activist groups said…
Tags: Syria Iraq Ukraine Gaza Strip/West Bank Israel