18 February 2014
In this image from last October, Pope Francis poses with cardinal advisers during a meeting at the Vatican. The cardinals are meeting with him this week to discuss possible reforms. Pictured from left are: Chilean Cardinal Francisco Javier Errazuriz Ossa, Italian Bishop Marcello Semeraro, secretary to the Council of Cardinals, Indian Cardinal Oswald Gracias, German Cardinal Reinhard Marx, Pope Francis, Honduran Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga, Italian Cardinal Giuseppe Bertello, U.S. Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley, Australian Cardinal George Pell and Congolese Cardinal Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya. (photo: CNS/L’Osservatore Romano via Reuters)
Pope, cardinal advisers study Vatican financial, administrative reform (CNS) Pope Francis met for the third time in late February with his international Council of Cardinals, an eight-member group advising him on the reform of the Vatican bureaucracy and other issues. The meetings focused on financial and bureaucratic matters even as the council was rumored to be working on a draft of an apostolic constitution that would reorganize the church’s central administration, the Roman Curia...
Syria talks stall (The Wall Street Journal) The Obama administration, exasperated by stalled talks over Syria and seeking ways to pressure the regime and its Russian allies, plans to revisit options ranging from expanding efforts to train and equip moderate rebels to setting up no-fly zones, according to officials briefed on the deliberations. The move means the administration again will consider military, diplomatic and intelligence options that previously were presented to the White House but set aside in favor of pursuing international talks...
Mayhem grips Kiev (The New York Times) Mayhem gripped the center of the Ukrainian capital on Tuesday as riot police broke through barricades on the outer rim of a protest encampment and, pelted with rocks and fireworks, massed on the edge of Independence Square, the focal point of more than two months of protests against President Viktor F. Yanukovych. There were unconfirmed reports that three protesters had been killed...
Archbishop Chullikatt speaks of widespread persecution of Christians (Vatican Radio) Archbishop Francis A. Chullikatt, the Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, last week spoke to a United States Congressional hearing on largely underreported assaults on the religious freedoms of Christians around the globe. “Flagrant and widespread persecution of Christians rages in the Middle East even as we meet,” the Archbishop said. “No Christian is exempt, whether or not he or she is Arab. Arab Christians, a small but significant community, find themselves the target of constant harassment for no reason other than their religious faith. This tragedy is all the more egregious when one pauses to consider that these men and women of faith are loyal sons and daughters of the countries in which they are full citizens and in which they have been living at peace with their neighbors and fellow citizens for untold generations...”
Suicide bomber attacks pilgrims in Egypt (Reuters) The Islamist militant group Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis said on Tuesday the bombing of a tourist bus in Egypt’s Sinai that killed two South Koreans and the Egyptian driver on Sunday was a suicide attack carried out by one of its fighters, and threatened more strikes against economic targets. The attack on the bus, which was travelling to Israel from St. Catherine’s Monastery, a popular tourist destination in the south Sinai, was the first assault on tourists since President Mohamed Mursi's ouster spurred an Islamist insurgency...
A visit to “Ethiopia’s Lourdes" (CNN) rance has Lourdes, India has the Ganges. Ethiopia, meanwhile, has Gondar. Situated about 450 miles north of Addis Ababa, encapsulated by hills and tall trees, and dotted with 17th-century relics from the city’s glory days (when it was the country’s capital), Gondar today can seem somewhat remote. During the religious festival of “Timket,” however, the city is inundated with pilgrims who come to re-enact the baptism of Jesus in the River Jordan, and take a dip in the holy waters at the historical Fasilides Bath...
14 February 2014
Pope Francis holds a rose and chocolates thrown by a person in the crowd as he arrives for an audience for engaged couples in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican on 14 February, Valentine’s Day. (photo: CNS/Paul Haring)
Pope Francis offered some words of advice to engaged couples today to mark Valentine’s Day:
Greeting thousands of engaged couples on the feast of St. Valentine, Pope Francis told them not to be afraid of building a permanent and loving relationship in a culture where everything is disposable and fleeting.
The secrets to a loving and lasting union, he said, include treating each other with respect, kindness and gratitude, and never letting daily struggles and squabbles sabotage making peace and saying, “I’m sorry.”
“The perfect family doesn’t exist, nor is there a perfect husband or a perfect wife, and let’s not talk about the perfect mother-in-law!” he said to laughter and applause.
“It’s just us sinners,” he said. But “if we learn to say we’re sorry and ask forgiveness, the marriage will last.”
14 February 2014
Pope Francis greets Stanley Bergman, president of the American Jewish Committee, during a meeting at the Vatican on 13 February. The pope said the modern relationship between Jews and Catholics has a “theological foundation” and is “not simply an expression of our desire for reciprocal respect and esteem.” (photo: CNS/L’Osservatore Romano via Reuters)
Maronite patriarch: negotiations for release of nuns have “stumbled” (ByzCath.org) The patriarch of the Maronite Catholic Church said that the release of a dozen kidnapped Syrian nuns appeared imminent until recently. In December, Syrian rebel forces abducted the nuns from the Greek Orthodox monastery of Mar Taqla in the historic Christian village of Ma’loula, whose residents still speak Aramaic...
UN urged to act on humanitarian aid to Syria (New York Times) The hard-won humanitarian cease-fire in the Syrian city of Homs — the sole success that occurred during the peace talks in Geneva — cannot be considered “progress,” the United Nations’ top official for emergency operations said Thursday evening as she urged the Security Council to ensure that aid reach those who need it and aid workers can do their work without getting shot...
Peace talks continue in Geneva over Syria (Reuters) Warning that “failure” was staring him in the face, the Syria peace talks mediator said on Thursday that the United States and Russia had promised renewed support to keep their rival Syrian allies talking. U.N. diplomat Lakhdar Brahimi met senior diplomats from Washington and Moscow in Geneva, hoping the co-sponsors of the three-week-old negotiating process could bury their own deep differences over Syria and prevail respectively on the opposition and government to move ahead and compromise...
Pope Francis meets with American Jewish leaders, asks for prayers ahead of trip to Holy Land (CNS) Pope Francis asked leaders of the American Jewish Committee to pray for his May trip to Jerusalem, “so that this pilgrimage may bring forth the fruits of communion, hope and peace.” The modern relationship between Jews and Catholics, he said on 13 February, has a “theological foundation” and is “not simply an expression of our desire for reciprocal respect and esteem.” Pope Francis noted that in 2015, the Catholic Church will mark the 50th anniversary of “Nostra Aetate,” the Second Vatican Council’s declaration on relations with other religions. The document, the pope said, is “the sure point of reference for relations with our ‘elder brothers.’”...
Alcoholism, crime on the rise in Kerala (ABC.net) The southern Indian state of Kerala, often referred to as God’s own country, has the best socio-economic indicators in the country. But its alarming alcohol addiction is earning the state a name for all the wrong reasons as the crime rate there also increases. The god of choice here is Bacchus, the Roman deity of wine. Alcoholism, among all age groups, is on the rise and it’s taking a toll on the state’s 33 million-strong population. In fact, Kerala has earned the tag of India’s “booziest state”, with the highest per capita consumption of liquor in the country...
Ethiopia’s church forests threatened (California Academy of Sciences) Northern Ethiopia is hardly known for its forests. Less than 5 percent of what once stood here remains, and what’s left is under constant threat. As in so many developing countries, much of Ethiopia’s natural landscape has been cleared for agriculture, and for harvesting timber and firewood. Fortunately, there are still hundreds of notable exceptions: bright green patches of forest surrounding the country’s churches. Protected as sacred sanctuaries, some of these forests are over fifteen hundred years old. They range in size from just five acres to more than 1,000. A direct result of the Orthodox Church’s mission to retain a green necklace around the place of worship — a veritable “home for all God’s creatures” — these forests have become the centerpiece in the struggle to conserve what remains of northern Ethiopia’s biodiversity...
12 February 2014
In this image from 2012, a mother and child in India who are Dalits, members of the so-called “untouchables,” look forward to moving into a new home being built through a combined effort of CNEWA, the Indian government and parish outreach. Read more about the Dalits in India’s Christian Untouchables from the November 2012 issue of ONE. And visit this page to learn more about supporting CNEWA’s work in India. (photo: John E. Kozar)
12 February 2014
Tags: India Indian Christians ONE magazine Homes/housing Dalits
In this image from September 2013, children sit along a damaged street filled with debris in the besieged area of Homs, Syria. (photo: CNS/Yazan Homsy, Reuters)
Witnessing Syria’s war through the eyes of its children (PBS) Nearly three years into the fighting, more than 10,000 children have been killed, 3 million have been displaced from their homes, and another 1.1 million now live as refugees, according to a recent United Nations report. Amid such turmoil, the notion of a normal childhood has all but disappeared for the young bystanders of war featured in last night’s FRONTLINE investigation, Children of Aleppo…
Patriach headed to Vatican for talks (iloubnan.info) Maronite Patriarch Bechara Peter left Beirut on Tuesday morning, bound for the Vatican, where he will be staying for two weeks for talks with the Supreme Pontiff and to take part in the papal committees’ meetings. “I have one wish which I insist to express: If a cabinet were to be formed, it should not pave the way for a new crisis,” he said in a statement he had delivered prior to his departure…
Islamic extremists slaughter 15 soldiers in Northern Iraq (New York Times) Fighters from a Sunni extremist group attacked an army unit in a northern Iraqi city on Tuesday, killing 15 soldiers in a rampage of beheadings, shootings and a hanging, security officials said. The strike on the army unit in Mosul by members of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, showed how the group has moved beyond Anbar province, west of Baghdad, where it controls Falluja and parts of Ramadi, and extended its reach into territory throughout the country…
Governor of Basra vows to help Iraqi Christians return home (AsiaNews) Shiite leader Majid al Nasrawi, governor of Basra met with Chaldean Patriarch Louis Raphael I and vowed: “We will help Christians to return to the province, giving them a piece of land to cultivate and creating job opportunities and development for those who have fled in the past because of violence and insecurity…”
Russian church to be consecrated in Antarctica (Interfax) An expedition is traveling from Moscow to Antarctica to conduct a consecration of the southernmost Russian Orthodox church on earth…
11 February 2014
Tags: Syrian Civil War Children Russian Orthodox Church Maronite Patriarch Bechara Peter Chaldean Patriarch Louis Raphael I
It was one year ago today — 11 February 2013 — that Pope Benedict made history by announcing his resignation, which led to the election of a new bishop of Rome, Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, who chose the name Francis. In this image from January, the new medallion of Pope Francis is seen next to one of Pope Benedict XVI on the upper wall of the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls in Rome. The basilica contains medallions depicting every pope. (photo: CNS/Paul Haring)
10 February 2014
Tags: Pope Francis Pope Benedict XVI Vatican Catholic Pope
Franciscan Sisters of the Heart of Jesus care for orphans at the Kidane Mehret Children’s Home in Addis Ababa. (photo: Petterik Wiggers)
The Winter issue of ONE features an interview with Sister Lutgarda Camilleri, who is doing remarkable work caring for the children of Kidane Mehret Children’s Home in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Here, she describes how it all started:
ONE: What was Kidane Mehret like when your community took it over in 1996?
SL: It had absolutely nothing. We couldn’t find anything we could use. Nothing. Not even a drop of oil. Oil is a very precious thing for Ethiopians; most food is cooked with oil. But God’s providence never, ever failed us.
So, we cooked pasta. The children stood in line and the queue never stopped. Why? Because the children thought it would be the first and last meal we would serve. They would take the meal, hide it in a plastic bag and come back!
ONE: How did you develop the original children’s home into the complex that exists today?
SL: Back in the beginning, the original building was made of mud. It was in ruins. There were holes in the roof. The children had no proper beds, no mattresses, no sheets and no blankets. We started saying: “How can we continue to stay here?”
The police would come with babies. I would say: “No, we can’t take babies. How can you take a baby into a place in this condition?” Then, a visiting brother from the Archdiocese of Cologne, Germany, encouraged me to write a funding proposal. Once I did, I sent it to him and to CNEWA, and that is when we got funds to build the new orphanage building.
First, the funds came from CNEWA, then from Germany. After that, the lion’s share came from Caritas. CNEWA gave us $25,000 initially and then another $25,000 to help finish the building. The new orphanage building finally opened in 2002.
ONE: How many staff members work at the orphanage currently?
SL: We have 38 paid workers in the children’s home: people caring for babies, matrons for the older children, laundry and kitchen staff, a secretary, an assistant manager and a driver. And then there are the volunteers.
ONE: Tell us about your volunteers.
SL: We work mostly with Project Abroad. It is an English organization, but it works all over the world, and they help connect us with volunteers. Many of them are very good with babies. At the moment, one of them is giving instruction in computers, another is teaching an English class and another, a math class. Then, we have other volunteers that apply directly to us through our web site.
There’s much more. Read it all.
And to play a part in Sister Lutgarda’s work, drop by our Ethiopia giving page to learn how you can help.
7 February 2014
Pope Francis looks at a life-size replica of himself made entirely out of chocolate in Paul VI Hall at the Vatican on 5 February. Made of 1.5 tons of cocoa, the chocolate image was given to the pontiff during his general audience, according to Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano. (photo: CNS/L’Osservatore Romano via Reuters)
6 February 2014
Tags: Pope Francis Vatican Art Cuisine
In this image from 2010, Sister Shubba Poovattil visits with an elderly resident in Malayatoor, India, at a home devoted to caring for the “poorest of the poor.” Read more about the work she and other sisters are undertaking in Fearless Grace. (photo: Peter Lemieux)
This week Pope Francis released his first message for Lent, which begins on 5 March. The message focuses on the needs of the poor, taking for its starting point this verse from St. Paul’s letter to the Corinthians: “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich” (2 Cor 8:9).
In imitation of our Master, we Christians are called to confront the poverty of our brothers and sisters, to touch it, to make it our own and to take practical steps to alleviate it. Destitution is not the same as poverty: destitution is poverty without faith, without support, without hope. There are three types of destitution: material, moral and spiritual. Material destitution is what is normally called poverty, and affects those living in conditions opposed to human dignity: those who lack basic rights and needs such as food, water, hygiene, work and the opportunity to develop and grow culturally. In response to this destitution, the Church offers her help, her diakonia, in meeting these needs and binding these wounds which disfigure the face of humanity. In the poor and outcast we see Christ’s face; by loving and helping the poor, we love and serve Christ. Our efforts are also directed to ending violations of human dignity, discrimination and abuse in the world, for these are so often the cause of destitution. When power, luxury and money become idols, they take priority over the need for a fair distribution of wealth. Our consciences thus need to be converted to justice, equality, simplicity and sharing.
No less a concern is moral destitution, which consists in slavery to vice and sin. How much pain is caused in families because one of their members — often a young person — is in thrall to alcohol, drugs, gambling or pornography! How many people no longer see meaning in life or prospects for the future, how many have lost hope! And how many are plunged into this destitution by unjust social conditions, by unemployment, which takes away their dignity as breadwinners, and by lack of equal access to education and health care. In such cases, moral destitution can be considered impending suicide. This type of destitution, which also causes financial ruin, is invariably linked to the spiritual destitution which we experience when we turn away from God and reject his love. If we think we don’t need God who reaches out to us through Christ, because we believe we can make do on our own, we are headed for a fall. God alone can truly save and free us.
Read the full message here.
And if you want to offer your support to women like sister Shubba Poovattil in India, visit this page to find out how.
4 February 2014
Tags: India Pope Francis Sisters Poor/Poverty Caring for the Elderly
Altar server Andriy Palchak, 14, holds a candelabra in a tradition known as the “Great Blessing of Water” during the Divine Liturgy celebrated for the feast of Theophany at St. Mary’s Assumption Ukrainian Catholic Church in St. Louis on 12 January. (photo: CNS/Lisa Johnston, St. Louis Review)
As the crisis in Ukraine continues to unfold, churches around the world are offering prayers of support. Catholic News Service recently carried a story profiling one church in St. Louis, Missouri:
Olga Shulga said her father has never lived in fear. So when she learned he had joined the protesters in Independence Square in Kiev, Ukraine, she wasn’t all that surprised.
Shulga and her husband, Alex, members of St. Mary’s Assumption Ukrainian Catholic Parish in St. Louis, are among those prayerfully watching as the unrest continues to unfold in Ukraine.
“My father will fight with everything he has, because we were raised Ukrainians,” said Olga Shulga. But the 37-year-old, who came to the United States from Kiev almost 15 years ago, worries about her family members who have frequently been bringing food and other necessities to protesters or stand with them in solidarity.
The ongoing protests started last fall after Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych withdrew from a promised trade deal with the European Union. The situation has brought together members of St. Mary’s Assumption to support one another and their homeland as they watch from afar. In mid-January, parishioners took up a collection to be sent to support protesters.
Many of the parish’s 30 households are recent immigrants and some came after the downfall of the Soviet Union in 1991, said the parish’s administrator, Deacon Eugene Logusch.
“The people in Ukraine have no fear,” he said. “They are prepared to stand up and they want change. They don’t want the country to continue in this way and the government was completely shocked” at the reaction.
Shulga said that while her heart is with her family, she’s grateful for the opportunities she’s had in the United States. In Ukraine, “there’s no future there. That’s why I left. It’s a fight for every person to build a new life for you and your family,” she told the St. Louis Review, newspaper of the archdiocese of St. Louis.
Tags: Ukraine United States Ukrainian Catholic