24 April 2013
Catechism and Bible study are priorities for Indian-American Christian communities. (photo: Maria Bastone)
Indian Christians can be a rare sight in the United States — and several years ago, we looked at the ways many struggle to fit in:
Ask an Indian Christian how Americans react to this particular combination of nationality and religion and almost everyone has a story. Most stories are benign, some even comical with Americans’ inquiries ranging from curious to clueless.
“Many people want to know when I converted,” said Father Saji George, a 35-year-old Syro-Malankara Catholic priest in Hempstead, New York, explaining that most Indian Christians, particularly those from the southern state of Kerala, were born into the faith.
Susamma Seeley, a 29-year-old Syro-Malankara Catholic from Elmont, New York, is always a little shocked and amused when “people ask what tribe I’m from.”
Because most of India’s one billion people are Hindu, the country is internationally regarded as such. As a result, an Indian man named Samuel Abraham or an Indian woman dressed in a colorful sari carrying a Bible may elicit surprise among Americans.
Like other immigrants, Indian Christians have to work at establishing new homes for their faith and culture — much as Italian-Americans created Little Italy, observed patronal feasts and danced the tarantella at weddings.
Read more about the New World Children of St. Thomas in the May-June 2003 issue of our magazine.
23 April 2013
Tags: Cultural Identity United States Indian Christians Syro-Malankara Catholic Church Immigration
This icon of St. George, from a 14th century Constantinople workshop, is exhibited in the Byzantine and Christian Museum in Athens. (photo: Wikipedia)
At the Vatican today, Pope Francis celebrated Mass for the Feast of St. George, for whom he was named. The saint is a figure honored not only by Catholics and Anglicans — he’s the patron of England — but also by the Orthodox and even some Muslims. Little is known about St. George beyond the fact that he was a Greek who lived in Palestine shortly before the time of Constantine and that he was martyred for being a Christian.
In his homily, the pope spoke of suffering and persecution in the early days of the Church:
And so the Church goes forward, as one saint says — I do not remember which one, here — “amid the persecutions of the world and the consolations of the Lord.” And thus is the life of the Church. If we want to travel a little along the road of worldliness, negotiating with the world — as did the Maccabees, who were tempted, at that time — we will never have the consolation of the Lord. And if we seek only consolation, it will be a superficial consolation, not that of the Lord: a human consolation. The Church’s journey always takes place between the Cross and the Resurrection, amid the persecutions and the consolations of the Lord. And this is the path: those who go down this road are not mistaken.
You can read the full text of the pope’s homily today at this link.
23 April 2013
Tags: Pope Francis Orthodox Byzantium
In the video above from October 2012, one of the two hierarchs kidnapped by gunmen yesterday — the Syriac Orthodox archbishop of Aleppo, Yohanna Ibrahim — says religion can play a positive role in Syria. (video: Huffington Post)
Pope Francis offers prayers for kidnapped Syrian bishops (Vatican Radio) The Director of the Vatican Press Office on Tuesday released a statement on the kidnapping of the Orthodox bishops in Syria...
Prayers requested for kidnapped Syrian hierarchs (OCA.org) In a portion of a letter dated 22 April 2013 and signed by His Grace, Bishop Basil, Secretary of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of North and Central America to all member hierarchs, prayers were requested for two Syrian hierarchs who had been abducted earlier that day...
Israel: Syria used chemical weapons against its own people (CNN) The Syrian government is using chemical weapons against rebel forces, the head of the Israel Defense Forces’ intelligence research departments said Tuesday. “In all likelihood they used sarin gas,” Brig. Gen. Itai Brun said Tuesday in a speech at a conference in Tel Aviv. This comes as a civil war between the government and rebels rages across Syria — which borders Israel. Analysts believe the Syrian government may have one of the largest stockpiles of chemical weapons in the world...
Egypt’s street children, victims of political instability (Middle East Voices) Egypt’s street children had a lot to gain from the country’s revolution. However, change has come slowly if at all, and in many ways, their cause has been pushed off course. Increasing poverty, a growing shadow economy, and continued political instability, have proven challenges to the safety of these children...
On his feast, remembering St. George in Turkey (Catholic Herald) In fact George is not just Catholic, but also catholic in the widest sense: he is also revered by the Orthodox. He is even honored by some Muslims...
22 April 2013
Tags: Syria Egypt Turkey Orthodox
A protester opposed to Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi holds up a crucifix and the Quran as demonstrators chant slogans against the political leader near Cairo’s Tahrir Square on 19 April. Many Coptic Christians have left the unrest in Egypt and sought refuge in the United States.
(photo: CNS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany, Reuters)
Activists report record number of bodies found in Syria (CNN) The bodies of at least 566 people who were killed over a six-day period across Syria were found Sunday, according to Local Coordination Committees in Syria, an opposition group based in the country. That is the highest number of victims discovered in a single day since the war began in March 2011, LCC spokeswoman Rafif Jouejati said. At least 450 bodies were found in the Damascus suburb of Jadidat al-Fadel, LCC activist Abu Aasy said Sunday...
In Jordan, tensions rise between Syrian refugees and host community (Washington Post) More than 500,000 Syrians have fled to Jordan since the onset of the conflict in their country more than two years ago, according to the Amman government and the United Nations — a figure equal to nearly one-tenth of Jordan’s population. While 160,000 are housed in refu gee camps, the vast majority have been living in cities, where their presence is stoking tensions with an increasingly resentful host community and posing what Jordanian officials call one of the greatest crises the country has faced in decades...
Chaldean patriarch expresses hope during Iraqi voting (Vatican Radio) Iraqis went to the polls Saturday in their first provincial elections since the United States withdrew its military presence. Despite weeks of violence and bloodshed leading up to the elections, voting in 12 of Iraq’s 18 provinces took place in a state of relative stability and amid tight security. Reports of scattered violence during the first several hours of voting did not prove deadly and seemed not to dissuade voters. The Chaldean Patriarch of Babylon, Archbishop Louis Raphael of Baghdad, said interest among Iraqi citizens in exercising their right to vote was good. “I think the situation is much better today because of the security, and the police and the army are controlling the city of Baghdad in which we are living,” he said...
Chechnya casts long shadow over bombings in Boston (The Telegraph) The publication of the images of suspects by the US authorities, followed by a shoot-out, man-hunt and the lockdown of parts of Boston during Friday were accompanied by revelations that the two suspected bombers — the brothers Jokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev — were of Chechen origin. Attention quickly turned to the restive Southern Russian republic of Chechnya, and the Islamist regional insurgency led by veteran fighter, Doku Umarov, in an attempt find motives for the marathon bombing. But what motivated two young men who had spent most of their lives in the US to attack a marathon in Boston? Did the bombers really have any direct connections to Chechnya, why did they decide to launch such a deadly attack, and how were they radicalized?...
In New York, finding refuge from the unrest in Egypt (New York Times) Ever since the 2011 revolution that toppled President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt and ushered in the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood, Copts — Egypt’s Orthodox Christian minority — have been flooding out of the country and into the United States. The New York area has been a major gateway for these new arrivals, and churches in Brooklyn, Queens and Jersey City have had their rosters swell accordingly. Within a few months of the revolution, so many people had arrived from Egypt that the membership of St. Mary and St. Antonios had doubled, to about 1,000 families, and the church has not been quite the same since...
Indian bishops speak out against abuse of children (Fides) “What is the value of human life? What meaning does it have?” From this question one must start to seek answers to the sad phenomenon of violence and sexual abuse on minors, which in India reached a record of 48,338 cases in the last decade. This was stated to Fides Agency by the spokesman for the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India, commenting on the latest case of a 5-year-old girl in Delhi, kidnapped and raped repeatedly for 48 hours by two torturers, who were arrested by the police...
18 April 2013
Tags: Syria Iraq India Egypt Copts
An elderly couple dance at an event organized by a local social club in the Slovak village of Jakubany. To read how the village is holding on to its Greek Catholic heritage, check out Those Who Remain Behind in the January 2009 issue of ONE. (photo: Andrej Bán)
17 April 2013
Tags: Cultural Identity Village life Greek Catholic Church Slovakia
Sisters who belong to India’s Daughters of St. Thomas process at the beginning of the liturgy at their novitiate near Palai. The sisters, based in Kerala, have done extraordinary work in a region that is only about 20 percent Christian. Read more about them in Kerala’s Daughters from the November 2004 issue of ONE. To learn how you can help sisters like these, visit this page to support the good work of sisters. (photo: Sean Sprague)
17 April 2013
Tags: India Sisters Kerala
Pope Francis kisses a young child as he arrives for his general audience in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican on 17 April. During his audience, the pope expressed solidarity with the victims of yesterday’s earthquake that struck Iran and Pakistan. (photo: CNS/Paul Haring)
Rockets from Sinai fired into Israel (AP) At least two rockets were fired at Israel’s southern resort city of Eilat from Egypt’s Sinai peninsula on Wednesday, the Israeli military said. Nobody was hurt in the attack, police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said, adding that the remains of two rockets had been found and police were looking for more. Islamic militants have gained strength in the Sinai desert since the ouster of former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in 2011. Radical Islamic groups have launched rockets at Eilat in the past, most recently last year from Sinai when militants fired one but caused no injuries…
Pope appeals for solidarity with Iran and Pakistan (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis appealed for solidarity with those affected by the earthquake that struck Iran and Pakistan on Tuesday afternoon. In his appeal, which came during the course of the weekly General Audience on Wednesday in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican, Pope Francis said that he had “learned with sadness of the violent earthquake that has struck the peoples of Iran and Pakistan, bringing death, suffering and destruction…”
Iraq elections reserve three posts for Christians (Fides) At the upcoming provincial elections, scheduled for 20 April, the seats up for grabs in the different provinces are 447, and only nine of them are reserved to all the ethnic and religious minorities in the country. The seats reserved for Christians in particular are three, distributed in the local Councils of Baghdad, Nineveh and Basra…
In India, complaints accuse Christians of “conversion of children” (Fides) Police in Srinagar, capital of Indian Kashmir, rejected as “false and misleading,” a complaint by some mullahs who accused the Christians of “conversion of children.” As sources of Fides report, the complaint stated that the foreign staff that arrived at Agape House, a social and educational center run by Christians, “were trying to convert Muslim children to Christianity.” The local police, after investigating, dismissed the complaint…
Kerala marks “the mother of all festivals” (New India Express) Trichur Pooram, billed as the “mother of all festivals” in Kerala, begins Monday. The grand finale, however, will be days later, with the fireworks display on Sunday. The participating temples include the Vadakunnathan temple, where the pooram (festival) is held, and two other temples, the Krishna temple at Thiruvambadi and the Devi temple at Paramekkavu. The Trichur Pooram sees the active participation of Muslims and Christians too…
16 April 2013
Tags: Iraq India Egypt Pope Francis Israel
People comfort each other after explosions went off at the Boston Marathon on 15 April. (photo: CNS/Jessica Rinaldi, Reuters)
In the wake of yesterday’s bombing, Pope Francis sent a telegram today through his secretary of state to express solidarity and sympathy with the people of Boston.
The Vatican text:
His Eminence Cardinal Sean O’Malley
Archbishop of Boston
Deeply grieved by news of the loss of life and grave injuries caused by the act of violence perpetrated last evening in Boston, His Holiness Pope Francis wishes me to assure you of his sympathy and closeness in prayer. In the aftermath of this senseless tragedy, His Holiness invokes God’s peace upon the dead, his consolation upon the suffering and his strength upon all those engaged in the continuing work of relief and response. At this time of mourning the Holy Father prays that all Bostonians will be united in a resolve not to be overcome by evil, but to combat evil with good (cf. Rom 12:21), working together to build an ever more just, free and secure society for generations yet to come.
Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone
Secretary of State
Yesterday, Boston’s Cardinal Sean O’Malley, traveling in the Holy Land, sent his own message:
The Archdiocese of Boston joins all people of good will in expressing deep sorrow following the senseless acts of violence perpetrated at the Boston Marathon today. Our prayers and concern are with so many who experienced the trauma of these acts, most especially the loved ones of those who lives were lost and those who were injured, and the injured themselves.
The citizens of the City of Boston and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts are blessed by the bravery and heroism of many, particularly the men and women of the police and fire departments and emergency services who responded within moments of these tragic events. Governor Patrick, Mayor Menino and Police Commissioner Davis are providing the leadership that will see us through this most difficult time and ensure that proper procedures are followed to protect the public safety.
In the midst of the darkness of this tragedy we turn to the light of Jesus Christ, the light that was evident in the lives of people who immediately turned to help those in need today. We stand in solidarity with our ecumenical and interfaith colleagues in the commitment to witness the greater power of good in our society and to work together for healing.
Cardinal Timothy Dolan, archbishop of New York and chair of CNEWA, posted the following statement on his blog:
While we wait for additional details, my thoughts and prayers are certainly with those who died, with the families who lost loved ones, and with those who are injured. Our Lady of Mercy, pray for us!
We join our prayers with those of the world, and ask God’s mercy on all the suffering, the grieving, and the deceased.
16 April 2013
Tags: Pope Francis United States Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan
In this image from 2010, Jesuit Father David Neuhaus, vicar for Hebrew- and Russian-speaking Catholics for the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, speaks with reporters at the Vatican. Father Neuhaus is a papally-appointed voting member of the Synod of Bishops for the Middle East. (photo: CNS/Paul Haring)
Hopes for Pope Francis as a Middle East bridge builder (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis’ “deep relationship with Jews in Buenos Aires” and his close contact with communities of Middle Eastern immigrants to Argentina have given the new pontiff a clear understanding of the urgent issues facing the Holy Land today. That’s the view of Jesuit Father David Neuhaus, patriarchal vicar for Hebrew-speaking Catholic communities in Israel, who hopes the Holy Father will be able to build bridges of mutual respect between all the different faith communities in the region…
Pope Francis offers prayers, condolences to Boston (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has sent his “sympathy and closeness in prayer” to the people of Boston in a telegram sent on his behalf…
U.N. agencies call for an end to the ‘cruelty and carnage’ of Syria (Al Jazeera) Leaders of five U.N. agencies have appealed to the international community to stop the “cruelty and carnage” in Syria, warning they may soon be forced to suspend humanitarian aid to the war-torn country. The U.N. leaders said on Monday that their “capacity to do more was diminishing, due to security and other practical limitations within Syria as well as funding constraints. … We are precariously close, perhaps within weeks, to suspending some humanitarian support,” the U.N. leaders said…
Pope Francis sends wishes Benedict on his birthday (Vatican Radio) On the occasion of Benedict XVI’s 86th birthday, the Holy Father, Pope Francis, began the celebration of Mass in the chapel of the Domus Santa Maria by inviting all present to pray for the pope emeritus. “Today is the birthday of Benedict XVI,” he said. “Let us offer Mass for him, that the Lord might be with him, comfort him, and give him much consolation…”
Orthodox bishop in Chicago steps down (Chicago Tribune) Unable to overcome the disgrace of a sexual misconduct accusation, Bishop Matthias, head of the local diocese for the Orthodox Church of America, has announced he will step down Monday, leaving a vacancy in Chicago just weeks before Orthodox Christians celebrate Easter on 5 May…
15 April 2013
Tags: Pope Francis Syrian Civil War Pope Benedict XVI Jerusalem Orthodox
An Egyptian girl wants a closer look at Verbo Encarnado Sister Maria de la Santa Faz. Sister belongs to the Verbo Encarnado (“Incarnate Word”) Congregation, serving Egypt’s neediest children. Read more about the great work they’re doing in Building a Brighter Future from the November 2004 issue of ONE. (photo: Mohammed El-Dakhakhny)
Tags: Egypt Children Sisters Education Poor/Poverty