8 May 2014
Pope Francis embraces the catholicos-patriarch of the Armenian Apostolic Church, Karekin II of Etchmiadzin, during a meeting at the Vatican on 8 May.
(photo: CNS/L’Osservatore Romano via Reuters)
Pope Francis to Armenian Catholicos: blood of martyrs is seed of unity (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis received the Patriarch of the Armenian Apostolic Church, Catholicos Karekin II, on Thursday at the Vatican. The Catholicos is in Rome on a three-day visit that concludes on 9 May. In remarks prepared for the occasion, Pope Francis recalled Pope St. John Paul II’s 2001 visit to Armenia, and the many other visits the Catholicos has made to Rome and to the Popes in the Vatican, especially his 2008 visit to Pope Benedict XVI and his participation in the inauguration of Pope Francis’ own pontificate...
Explosion destroys hotel in Aleppo (BBC) A large explosion in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo has destroyed a hotel and several other buildings, state media and activists report. Rebel fighters are believed to have detonated a bomb placed in a tunnel beneath the Carlton Citadel Hotel, near the city’s medieval citadel and souk. The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said government troops had been based there and at least 14 died...
Report documents "egregious" violations of religious freedom in Syria (National Catholic Register) The U.S. government should designate Syria as a “country of particular concern” due to “particularly severe violations of religious freedom” in its ongoing conflict, a global religious liberty group said. “The existing humanitarian disaster and egregious human rights and religious freedom violations pose a serious danger to Syria’s religious diversity post-conflict,” the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom said in its 2014 report...
American Christians pledge solidarity with persecuted Christians in Iraq and Syria (Fox News) On behalf of the suffering churches of Egypt, Iraq and Syria, a broad array of American Christians, with a degree of unity rarely seen since the Council of Nicaea in 325, have joined together in a “pledge of solidarity and call to action.” Their action results from deepening concern about the “wave of persecution” in the region of Christianity’s roots. Some 200 Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox leaders have signed on — from Catholic Cardinal Wuerl, to National Association of Evangelicals’ chair Leith Anderson, to Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori of the Episcopal Church to Armenian Orthodox Archbishop Oshagan Cholayan...
Special novena organized ahead of pope’s trip to Holy Land (L’Osservatore Romano) Nine days of special prayer have been organized in preparation for Pope Francis’ pastoral visit to the Holy Land from 24 to 26 May. According to the website of the Patriarchate of Jerusalem for Latins, the Jerusalemite Churches and Christian communities from 24-26 May will spiritually prepare and support the Pope’s pilgrimage and his meeting with the Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew, which will take place in the holy city...
7 May 2014
Continuing their pastoral visit to the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Bishop William Murphy and Msgr. John Kozar visited two key holy sites before spending the rest of the day with the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary. They visited the site on the Jordan River where Jesus was baptized, touring the archaeological remains associated with the early church.
They also paused to enjoy the view at Mount Nebo, where tradition holds Moses viewed the Promised Land he was never able to enter himself.
In 2011, we reported in ONE magazine on some of the places they’re visiting in the article On Jordan’s Bank:
Jordan is home to a mosaic of biblical places. For example, near the Zerqa River, Jacob wrestled the angel and received the name Israel. At Mount Nebo, Moses looked upon the Promised Land. The Prophet Elijah ascended to heaven on a chariot of fire from the Jordan River’s eastern bank, which also later served as the center of John the Baptist’s ministry.
These holy places, coupled with the country’s arid landscape, drew thousands of early Christians, such as St. Mary of Egypt, who led lives of penitence and prayer. Their monastic cells, caves, chapels and tombs in turn became important venues of pilgrimage for generations of Christians, who traveled along a well–beaten circuit from one site to the next for much of the first millennia of the Christian era.
Today, these sacred areas draw considerable numbers of pilgrims and tourists each year, but less traffic than one might expect. Most of the locations receive scant publicity and are overshadowed by better–known holy sites in Israel and Palestine. And, until recently, some of the most important sites in Jordan have been long lost or neglected.
The CNEWA team next headed to meet with the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary, who are providing support to Iraqi and Syrian refugee families, especially young women.
More on that part of the visit tomorrow!
Meantime, you can read more about their visit at Cardinal Dolan’s blog and at the blog of Bishop Murphy.
7 May 2014
Bishop Boris Gudziak speaks to a crowd braving the December chill on the Maidan.
(photo: Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, Department of External Relations)
During a recent visit to Toronto, Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk of the Ukraininian Greek Catholic Church spoke of the Ukraine’s struggle for dignity and said, “We want everyone to know that God is with us.”
That sentiment is echoed in the spring edition of ONE, which features a dramatic personal account of the uprisings last winter. It was written by Bishop Boris Gudziak, of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Eparchy in Paris, who describes some of what he experienced in Kiev:
On 20 February, the terrible Thursday of sniper fire, clergy remained on the Maidan despite the mortal danger. They comforted the injured, absolved them of their sins and said prayers over the dying and the dead.
During these months, churches in Ukraine performed the service they had provided in previous ages — protecting people physically and offering refuge from armed attack.
The historic Orthodox Monastery of St. Michael the Archangel welcomed injured students fleeing riot police. Church bells warned of attacks. A small Greek Catholic monastery church and the Greek Catholic Cathedral of the Resurrection, commonly called the sobor, first sheltered as many as 1, 100 protesters at night. Later, the sobor became a hospital for the injured. Orthodox, Roman Catholic and Protestant churches also served as shelters and hospitals.
There have been many conversions on the Maidan and throughout Ukraine. Days on the Maidan continue to begin with an ecumenical prayer service. During the danger of the night, prayers and the singing of the national anthem are held on the hour, every hour. Faith has helped many people endure. Religious sisters distributed thousands of rosaries. Many people learned to pray. Some of those killed were buried with their newly acquired Maidan rosaries in hand.
Read more of his account of Prayer and Protest in the spring edition of ONE.
7 May 2014
In this image from May 2013, Pope Tawadros II of Alexandria, patriarch of the Coptic Orthodox Church, and Pope Francis shake hands after exchanging gifts during a private audience in the pontiff's library at the Vatican. (photo: CNS/Andreas Solaro, pool via Reuters)
Coptic pope to Pope Francis: Let us unify our Easter celebrations (Fides) Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros II sent a letter to Pope Francis on the occasion of the first anniversary of their meeting at the Vatican. Among the topics discussed therein, Pope Tawadros invites the bishop of Rome to find a single date for the Easter celebration in all Christian churches. A papal representative in turn submitted to Pope Tawadros an invitation to send a representative of his church to the next assembly of the Synod of Catholic Bishops, to be held in October and dedicated to the theme of the family...
Separatists in Ukraine wage an information war (Washington Post) Since pro-Russian militants have taken control of several areas in eastern Ukraine, and as a referendum on independence from Ukraine looms, journalists say there has been a systematic campaign to shut down opposing voices and substitute pro-Russian propaganda...
Archbishop: Ukraine’s struggle is for dignity (Catholic Register) Amid the violence and turmoil plaguing Ukraine, Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk said one must remember to love thy neighbour. “As I bring you greetings from a country and a people who are caught, of no fault of their own, in a life-and-death struggle for their own future I want to highlight the importance of a faith perspective amid the leadership class,” said Shevchuk, the head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church. “You should love your neighbour as you love yourself. There is no greater commandment than this.” Shevchuk spoke on 2 May at Toronto’s University of St. Michael’s College...
Lebanon’s migrant workers demand rights (AL Monitor) More than a quarter of a million migrant domestic workers are estimated to work in Lebanon. Most come from Ethiopia, the Philippines, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, among other African and Asian countries. Though there are difficulties for all migrant workers in Lebanon, it is the migrant domestic workers who are most vulnerable. The exclusion of migrant domestic workers under Lebanon’s labor law prevents them from benefiting from general protections afforded to workers in other sectors, such as annual and sick leave, a minimum wage, set working hours, the right to change employers and the ability to create associations, among other things...
Kerala celebrates Pooram (ANI News) Artisans in Kerala are burning midnight oil to weave colourful ornaments and parasols to adorn the tuskers for the last day of the Hindu festival of Pooram in Thrissur district. World famous annual seven-day Hindu temple festival Pooram started with traditional flag hoisting ceremony on 3 May and will conclude on 9 May. “People from all religious groups—the Hindus, the Christians, irrespective of caste and creed, everybody is cooperating. It was started by the famous Keralite ruler Sakthan Thampuran around 200 years back,” said an artisan, Prasar Murlidharan...
6 May 2014
As he began his visit to Jordan yesterday, Cardinal Timothy Dolan paused at a shrine dedicated to the Virgin Mary. The month of May is traditionally dedicated to the Blessed Mother. The cardinal, along with Bishop William Murphy and Msgr. John Kozar, is making a pastoral visit to the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. Follow their Journey to Jordan this week on our blog. (photo: John E. Kozar)
5 May 2014
Tags: Jordan Msgr. John E. Kozar Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan
Some high-profile visitors this week are getting a first-hand look at the work CNEWA is helping support in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.
The chairman of CNEWA’s board, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, and board member Bishop William Murphy are making a pastoral visit to Jordan with CNEWA president Msgr. John E. Kozar.
The team stopped by Mother of Mercy Clinic in Zerqa this morning, where they were welcomed by the Dominican Sisters of St. Catherine of Siena.
After seeing some of the remarkable work being done by the sisters, they headed on to the Italian Hospital in Amman, where they received a tour of the facility operated by the Dominican Sisters of the Presentation and stopped by the ward caring for Jordan’s tiniest patients, newborn infants.
Both these facilities are dealing with some extraordinary challenges right now, as the tidal wave of refugees from the Syrian civil war threatens to overwhelm the country.
Last summer, writer Nicholas Seeley described the serious situation in Jordan in the pages of ONE magazine, in an article entitled Overwhelming Mercy:
Jordan is on the brink of a health care crisis. The tiny kingdom’s aging health infrastructure has long been in need of an overhaul, but recent events in the region have exacerbated an already-difficult situation. The economic boom that Jordan experienced after the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003 has come to a grinding halt. Capital and investment have fled, and jobs are scarce. Economic stress tends to cause people to fall back on public health care services, but the government has been facing a budget crisis of massive proportions. Rounds of austerity measures have increased the price of fuel and basic goods, pounding hard an already weary population. Exacerbating matters, in the past decade Jordan has absorbed massive waves of new refugees — first from Iraq and now Syria.
Since early 2011, more than half a million Syrians have found refuge in a country with a population of barely more than six million. Hundreds of people arrive every day, many of whom come with severe injuries, long-term health issues or both. Many women arrive pregnant — some of whom, married at a young age, are barely more than children themselves.
And many find their way to institutions like the Mother of Mercy Clinic and Italian Hospital, supported by the generous benefactors and donors of CNEWA.
We’ll be hearing more from this Journey to Jordan over the next few days. Meantime, please keep these travelers — and the many good people they will be visiting — in your prayers!
5 May 2014
Fiorentina’s coach Vincenzo Montella, third from left, presents a gift to Pope Francis during a special audience with soccer teams Fiorentina and Napoli at the Vatican on 2 May.
(photo: CNS /L’Osservatore Romano via Reuters)
5 May 2014
Orthodox Metropolitan Emmanuel of France is the coordinator of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew’s pilgrimage to Jerusalem for the meetings with Pope Francis on 25 May.
(photo: CNS/Paul Haring)
Hopes rise that Pope, patriarch meeting renews efforts at unity (CNS) The Orthodox bishop who is co-ordinating the upcoming pilgrimage to Jerusalem by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople said he hopes the patriarch’s 25 May meeting with Pope Francis will give new impetus to efforts for Christian unity. But he also said the two leaders are likely to discuss a range of common concerns, including the predicament of Christians in the Middle East, conservation of the natural environment and defense of the traditional family. “We hope that this will not just be a meeting like others, but we hope that this will give a new horizon for the relations between our two sister Churches,” Orthodox Metropolitan Emmanuel of France told Catholic News Service in Rome. “In a divided world, we need unity...”
Pope issues appeal for Ukraine (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis appealed for peace in Ukraine on Sunday. Speaking to the faithful gathered in St. Peter’s Square for the middayRegina coeli prayer (which replaces the Angelus at Eastertide), The Holy Father said, “I would like to invite you to entrust to Our Lady the situation in Ukraine, where tensions continue unabated.” The Holy Father went on to say, “I pray with you for the victims of recent days, asking that the Lord instill sentiments of peacemaking and brotherhood in the hearts of everyone...”
Report: tens of thousands flee Syrian province (Aljazeera) At least 60,000 people have fled towns in the Deir Ezzor province in eastern Syria which has been the scene of fierce clashes between rival rebel groups, opposition activists say. The al-Qaeda affiliated al-Nusra Front have been battling the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) for four days despite an order from al-Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri to stop fighting, the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Sunday. “Residents of the towns of Busayra, home to 35,000 people, Abriha, home to 12,000 people, and al-Zir, home to 15,000 people, have nearly all been displaced by the fighting in the area,” the Observatory said...
Coptic patriarch: church does not take sides in elections (Fides) Coptic Orthodox Patriarch Tawadros II has explicitly excluded any choice of the Coptic Orthodox Church in favor of one of the two candidates in the Egyptian presidential elections to be held next 26 to 27 May. “I ask every citizen, Christian or Muslim”, said Pope Tawadros in an interview published on Sunday, 4 May in the Egyptian Catholic weekly Hamel el-Resale “to read the electoral program of each candidate and choose who you want as President”. In the same interview, the Coptic Orthodox patriarch wanted to reaffirm the “institutional” nature and not political of the explicit support expressed by the Coptic Church regarding the transition program that led to the removal of President Mohamed Morsi, the promulgation of the new constitution and presidential elections...
Vatican statistics report church growth steady (CNS) The number of Catholics in the world and the number of priests, permanent deacons and religious men all increased in 2012, while the number of women in religious orders continued to decline, according to Vatican statistics. The number of candidates for the priesthood also showed its first global downturn in recent years. The statistics come from a recently published Statistical Yearbook of the Church, which reported worldwide Church figures as of 31 December 2012...
2 May 2014
Alaa, a 7-year-old from Homs, Syria, holds up a drawing depicting events in his hometown. To read about efforts to help these children, check out Syria, Shepherds and Sheep in the Spring edition of ONE. Click on the image to read the story in the full magazine layout. (photo: Tamara Hadi)
2 May 2014
Tags: Syria Lebanon Refugees Children Sisters
In this image from last September, a man walks along a battered street in the besieged area of Homs, Syria. (photo: CNS/Yazan Homsy, Reuters)
Ceasefire in Homs to allow rebel withdrawal (Reuters) Syrian authorities and rebel fighters agreed to a 24-hour cease-fire in the Old City district of Homs on Friday to allow besieged rebels to pull out of their last stronghold in the central Syrian city, a monitoring group and television stations said. A final rebel withdrawal from the city once dubbed the “capital of the revolution” would mark a significant and symbolic military advance by forces loyal to Bashar al Assad, one month before his likely reelection as president…
Russia calls urgent meeting on Ukraine (Voice of Russia) Russia called an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council on Friday to discuss the “serious escalation of violence in Ukraine,” where security forces have clashed with pro-Moscow separatists…
Two helicopters shot down over Ukraine (CNN) Two helicopters were brought down in the flashpoint city of Slavyansk on Friday, Ukraine’s Defense Ministry said, as Ukrainian security forces launched their most intensive effort yet to try to dislodge pro-Russian separatists. Residents of Slavyansk were warned to stay home and avoid windows as the latest phase of the authorities’ “anti-terrorist operation” began…
Pope calls for attitude of ‘evangelical service’ at Vatican (CNS) Pope Francis told his new economic oversight council that it must be “courageous and determined” in its critical role of helping the church not waver from its real mission of bringing the Gospel to the world and helping those most in need. The church has a duty to use its assets and manpower responsibly in promoting its spiritual mandate, and “a new mentality of evangelical service” must take hold throughout the Vatican, the pope said on 2 May…
Tags: Pope Francis Ukraine Syrian Civil War Russia