Current Issue
June, 2018
Volume 44, Number 2
17 April 2013
Greg Kandra

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…

Tags: India Iraq Egypt Pope Francis Israel

16 April 2013
Greg Kandra

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.

Tags: Pope Francis United States Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan

16 April 2013
Greg Kandra

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…

Tags: Pope Francis Syrian Civil War Jerusalem Pope Benedict XVI Orthodox

15 April 2013
Greg Kandra

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

12 April 2013
Greg Kandra

Palestinian children look out from the window of their home in Dheisheh refugee camp. To learn more about the lives of these children, check out Growing up Under Occupation in the January 2006 issue of ONE. (photo: Steve Sabella)

Tags: Children Israeli-Palestinian conflict Refugee Camps Palestinians Occupation

12 April 2013
Greg Kandra

A boy rides his bicycle past damaged buildings in Deir al Zor, Syria, on 3 April. (photo: CNS/Khalil Ashawi, Reuters)

Turkey building new refugee camps for Christians, Kurds (Daily Star Lebanon) On Wednesday, a Turkish government official announced the nation's plan to build two camps along its far southeastern border with Syria to house a growing number of refugees from Syrian minority groups — mainly Assyrian Christians as well as ethnic Kurds. More than 250,000 Syrians fleeing civil war in their homeland have registered in Turkey, with most staying in 17 camps along the 560-mile border, although Turkish leaders say the total number of refugees is closer to 400,000. Those who have fled are predominantly ethnic Arabs from Syria’s Sunni Muslim majority, most of whom largely support the rebels fighting to overthrow President Bashar al Assad…

Percentage of Christians in Palestinian territories drops by half (Fides) The percentage of Christians in the population of the Palestinian territories has been cut in half since the year 2000, from 2% to 1% over the last 13 years. And in Jerusalem, home to 27,000 Christians in 1948, today counts only 5,000. This is some of the data collected by the Hanna Issa, professor of international law…

After cathedral clash, Copts doubt future in Egypt (Reuters) After days of fighting at the cathedral and a town outside Cairo killing eight — the worst sectarian strife since Islamist President Mohamed Morsi was elected in June — many Copts now question whether they have a future in Egypt. An angry young fringe of a community that has lived in Egypt since the earliest days of Christianity may also be turning to violence…

Russian Catholics concerned over raids on churches, charities (CNS) Russia’s Catholic Church expressed surprise and concern after a wave of raids on its parishes and charities, part of a government clampdown on organizations with foreign links. “The Catholic Church is classified as an organization benefitting from foreign funds,” explained Father Kirill Gulbunov, spokesman for the Moscow Archdiocese, who added: “We can’t help feeling surprised that associations linked with our church are viewed as possible sources of extremism or terrorist activity…”

Tags: Syrian Civil War Violence against Christians Turkey Holy Land Christians Russian Catholic Church

11 April 2013
Greg Kandra

Retired priests at St. Joseph’s Home in Chalakudy make time for recreational activities. (photo: Peter Lemieux)

The Syro-Malabar Catholic Church in India has taken a pro-active approach to caring for its retired priests, as we first reported in 2009:

The church has invested in facilities for its aging priests, building modern and well-equipped residences, such as St. Paul’s Home, and phasing out deteriorating ones, such as St. Joseph’s Home in the Eparchy of Irinjalakuda, which will be replaced by the Vianney Home in Puliuilakunnu.

The new residences provide retirees with modern amenities, comfortable living quarters, community support and various recreational activities. These retirement homes have even launched web sites. In caring for its elders, the church has made its position clear: retired clergy deserve the same dignity and respect they earned and enjoyed during their lifetime of service to the community and to the church.

Read more about Redefining Retirement in the March 2009 issue of ONE.

Tags: India Syro-Malabar Catholic Church Caring for the Elderly

11 April 2013
Greg Kandra

A groom and bride hold hands on their wedding day. (photo: CNS/Jon L. Hendricks)

The Vatican is taking a closer look at the challenges facing couples from different faiths who marry:

Catholics need to know that marrying someone from a different Christian community or, even more so, from a different religion will create extra challenges in their marriage, but church leaders also must learn how to help people in mixed marriages meet those challenges, a Vatican official said.

“We can express a positive judgment only when the conditions are met for a family life where the values and purposes of marriage are respected, and where a common faith in God helps the spouses to weave together an authentic communion of life and love,” said Bishop Jean Laffitte. …

He was commenting, in part, on a research project conducted by the Catholic bishops of Lebanon, which looked at the realities and challenges of marriages between Christians of different traditions and between a Catholic and a Muslim.

In an interview for the family council’s website — — Lebanese Cardinal Bechara Peter, the Maronite patriarch, said Lebanon “is a mixed society: in schools, universities, towns and cities. We all live together,” and, naturally, that has given birth to many mixed marriages.

The study said there are positive experiences of marriages between a Christian and a Muslim in countries like Lebanon, where followers of the two faiths have lived side by side for centuries. The diversity of the country is one of its riches, which is reflected in the number of mixed marriages and strengthened by them as members of the communities grow closer, the study said. However, it also found that different understandings of the family, conjugal life and the roles of men and women can make Catholic-Muslim marriages a challenge.

The cardinal said that in Lebanon, “the judgment about mixed marriages is positive,” because they contribute to peaceful coexistence, including on a social and political level.

However, he also said, “we try not to encourage mixed marriages in order to preserve the faith and traditions” of the various communities, because studies show that often couples handle belonging to different faith communities by one or both of them limiting or eliminating their involvement in the community.

Read more.

Tags: Lebanon Unity Interreligious Maronite Patriarch Bechara Peter Interfaith

11 April 2013
Greg Kandra

Pope Francis greets U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon during a meeting at the Vatican
on 9 April. (photo: CNS/Vincenzo Pinto, pool via Reuters)

Pope meets with UN head, discusses crisis in Syria (CNS) Each recognizing the important role the other plays on the global stage, Pope Francis and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon met at the Vatican 9 April, discussing common efforts to promote peace and protect human dignity. “The United Nations and the Holy See share common goals and ideals,” the U.N. secretary-general told the pope as the two sat across from each other at a desk in the papal library. Reporters were ushered out of the room at that point. The two spoke specifically about “situations of conflict and serious humanitarian emergencies, especially in Syria,” but also about the ongoing tensions on the Korean peninsula and in several African countries “where peace and stability are threatened,” said a statement from the Vatican press office…

Patriarch expresses concern about Christians in Syria (Christian Post) Maronite Patriarch Bechara Peter expressed concern on the situation of Christians in Syria and the increasing number of displaced Syrians living in Lebanon. During his meeting with French President Francois Hollande at the Elysee Palace in Paris Tuesday, the patriarch said a large number of Orthodox Christians — about 60 percent of those displaced — had left Syria, and that the solution there must be political. He stressed that President Bashar al Assad is not worse than those who are fighting in Syria…

Kerala Muslim man receives gift of life from Catholic priest (Indian Express) Diagnosed with chronic kidney disease a year-and-a-half ago, 30-year-old Rasad Muhammad’s hope of living had sunk with each passing day as a donor remained elusive. Until last month, when his saviour appeared suddenly — in the form of a Christian priest he had never met before. Father Kidangathazhe Sebastian, 41, will donate one of his kidneys to Rasad so he can live. Preparations are under way, and the transplant surgery is likely to be performed next month…

‘Pacem en Terris’ 50 years later (Vatican Radio) Thursday, 11 April, marks half a century since Blessed John XXIII published his encyclical “Pacem in Terris.” This encyclical, which as the Latin title indicates focuses on peace on earth, called for social and international peace. With this document which can be perceived as Pope John XXIII’s last testament, published as it was only a couple of months before his death, he broke new ground…

Tags: Kerala United Nations Maronite Patriarch Bechara Peter Patriarch Kirill

10 April 2013
Greg Kandra

The Soorp Badarak, or Divine Liturgy, is celebrated daily by the Mekhitarist community of Armenian Catholic monks. A seminary is now flourishing in a land that suffered under decades of Communist oppression. Read more about it here. (photo: Onnik Krikorian)

Tags: Armenia Armenian Catholic Church Communism/Communist Monasticism

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