Current Issue
March, 2018
Volume 44, Number 1
14 November 2012
Greg Kandra

Smoke rises over the Syrian town of Ras al Ain after an airstrike, as seen from the border town of Ceylanpinar, Turkey, on 13 November. International aid officials met in Lebanon in early November to discuss the situation of Syrians fleeing the violence in their country. (photo: CNS/Osman Orsal, Reuters)

Papal envoy appeals for negotiations in Syria (Vatican Radio) Cardinal Robert Sarah paints a dramatic picture of the situation of refugees fleeing war in Syria. He says the Pope’s $1 million donation in support of the church’s humanitarian response to the crisis is highly appreciated. Reporting on his recently concluded mission as special papal envoy, Cardinal Sarah, president of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum, speaks of the predicament of the refugees in Lebanon and of his hopes for a speedy solution to the crisis...

Car bomb explodes outside church in Syria (Fides) A car bomb exploded in front of the Orthodox Church of the Annunciation, in the city of Raqqah, in northeastern Syria, causing two deaths and injuring a woman. All victims were civilians. As confirmed by Fides sources in the local Christian community, the car bomb damaged the church building, spreading terror throughout the population…

Archbishop Tikhon elected Metropolitan of All America and Canada ( Archbishop Tikhon of Philadelphia and Eastern Pennsylvania was elected primate of the Orthodox Church in America during the 17th All-American Council of the Orthodox Church in America at Holy Trinity Church on Tuesday, 13 November 2012. Six hundred and sixty-three hierarchs, clergy and lay delegates, along with observers representing O.C.A. parishes across the United States, Canada, Mexico, and Alaska, participated in the Council…

Onion domes on the Seine: proposed Orthodox cathedral in Paris sparks controversy (Radio Free Europe) Orthodox cathedrals with their trademark golden onion domes are a familiar sight across Russia. And one may soon become part of Paris’s famed skyline, near the Eiffel Tower. French President Francois Hollande has just weeks to decide on a controversial plan to build a massive Russian Orthodox spiritual and cultural center in downtown Paris on the banks of the Seine River, on a UNESCO-protected world heritage site…

Eastern Catholics explain tradition of married priests (CNS) In Eastern Christianity — among both Catholics and Orthodox — a dual vocation to marriage and priesthood are seen as a call “to love more” and to broaden the boundaries of what a priest considers to be his family, said Russian Catholic Father Lawrence Cross. Father Cross, a professor at the Australian Catholic University in Melbourne, was one of the speakers at the Chrysostom Seminar in Rome on 13 November, a seminar focused on the history and present practice of married priests in the Eastern churches. The Code of Canons of the Eastern Catholic Churches insist that “in the way they lead their family life and educate their children, married clergy are to show an outstanding example to other Christian faithful” …

Tags: Syrian Civil War Violence against Christians United States Orthodox Church Eastern Churches

13 November 2012
Greg Kandra

A Syrian family is seen after crossing from the northern Syrian town of Ras al Ain into the border town of Ceylanpinar, Turkey, on 10 November. International aid officials met in Lebanon in early November to discuss the situation of Syrians fleeing the violence in their country. (photo: CNS/Murad Sezer, Reuters)

Health emergency: bubonic plague reported in Homs (Fides) The health situation in Homs is critical, and now there have been reports of cases of bubonic plague. As reported to Fides, civilians in the city center, including a pharmacist, indicate the serious dangers: corpses buried under the ruins, dust and dirt and stray animals, some of whom are visibly ill, have produced infections in people in the region, and pose the risk of epidemic…

Historic church in Aleppo destroyed (Fides) The historic Arabic Evangelical Church of Aleppo, in the Jdeideh district, was blown up “by armed men, for pure sectarian hatred.” This is what Ibrahim Nasir, spiritual leader of the Arabic Evangelical Church in Aleppo says, in a statement sent to Fides, referring to the explosion that occurred two days ago. Rev. Ibrahim Nasir expressed “bitterness and sadness of all Syrian citizens” for an act that makes Christians “inconsolable”...

Aid groups gather in Beirut to discuss refugee crisis (CNS) Representatives of 26 humanitarian agencies gathered in Beirut to discuss and coordinate efforts to address the increasing Syrian refugee crisis. Cardinal Robert Sarah, president of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum, who visited with Syrian refugees in the Bekaa Valley, presided over the 9 November meeting. During the cardinal’s visit, he also met with Lebanese President Michel Sleiman and participated in the monthly meeting of the council of Maronite Catholic bishops in Bkerke…

Bishop asks for U.S. Leadership to defuse Israeli-Palestinian tensions (CNS) In a 8 November letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on International Justice and Peace took both Israel and Palestine to task for actions that he said undermined the possibility of a two-state solution in the Holy Land. The situation, said Bishop Richard E. Pates of Des Moines, Iowa, calls for “strong U.S. leadership that holds both parties accountable for building a just and lasting peace”…

Russian Orthodox patriarch visits Bethlehem (AFP) Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill visited the Church of Nativity in Bethlehem on Saturday and met with Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas, on the second day of his Holy Land trip. After his visit to the Bethlehem church, built over the site where Christians believe Mary gave birth to Jesus in a stable, Kirill met with the Palestinian president at his office in the West Bank city…

Pennsylvania professor discusses building bridges with Ethiopian Christians (Lancaster Online) In 1910, 82 percent of the Christians in the world lived above the equator. By 2010, 60 percent lived below it. Today, the Lancaster Conference of the Mennonite Church USA has about 15,000 members, while the Meserete Kristos Church, the Mennonite Church in Ethiopia, has well over 200,000. Anne Marie Stoner-Eby, associate professor of history at Messiah College with a research specialty in African history, and her husband, Scott Stoner-Eby, who teaches sociology at Millersville University, sat down recently at Addisu’s Ethiopian Restaurant, 1027 Dillerville Road, to talk about the dramatic shift of Christians to the global south. “This is one of the biggest questions we should be grappling with,” she says, asking: “What does it mean?” To the Stoner-Ebys, who worship at Blossom Hill Mennonite Church and reside with their sons Samuel, 11, and Luke, 7, in Lancaster city, it means building relationships across the divide…

Tags: Refugees Syrian Civil War Health Care Beirut Ethiopian Christianity

9 November 2012
Greg Kandra

A Syrian child is pictured at a refugee camp near the Syrian-Turkish border.
(photo: CNS/Abdalghne Karoof, Reuters)

With the situation in Syria deteriorating by the day — a report this morning indicated there could be half a million refugees by next spring — we thought it would be a good time to look at some of the relief efforts underway.

In March, through the Pontifical Mission, our operating agency in the Middle East, CNEWA launched an appeal to help the church provide emergency relief to families forced from their homes.

Here are five specific ways CNEWA is involved:

  1. We’re working with the Sisters of the Good Shepherd to assist people displaced from Homs, helping to provide food rations for over 400 families.

  2. CNEWA’s partnering with the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate to aid over 1,000 needy children displaced with their families to Wadi al Nasarah and villages in areas outside the city of Homs.

  3. We’re raising funds for Winter Survival Kits, offering warm clothes and heating oil to help some 2,000 vulnerable Christian families.

  4. In Aleppo, we have partnered with Father Jules Baghdassarian, the national director of Oeuvre Pontificale Missionaire, who has registered around 1,450 needy displaced families from all confessions, and launched a food distribution program in the basement of a church that so far has helped about 300 families.

  5. Also in Aleppo, we’re working with the Jesuit Refugee Services (JRS) under the leadership of Jesuit Father Mourad Abou Seif and his team.

For the latest, check out this report by Issam Bishara, who runs our program in Lebanon and Syria.

Also, visit our Syria page, which has details on how you can help.

Tags: Syria CNEWA

9 November 2012
Greg Kandra

A man kisses the hands of Bulgarian Orthodox Patriarch Maxim during a memorial ceremony at St. Nedelya Cathedral in Sofia Nov. 8. Patriarch Maxim, who led Bulgaria’s Orthodox Christians for 41 years, died on 6 November at the age of 98. A highlight in Orthodox-Catholic relations came when he received Blessed John Paul II during the pope’s 2002 trip to Bulgaria.
(photo: CNS/Stoyan Nenov, Reuters)

Bulgarians bid farewell to Patriarch Maxim (Associated Press) Thousands of people have joined funeral proceedings in Sofia for Patriarch Maxim, who was at the helm of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church for more than four decades. The 98-year-old patriarch died Tuesday of heart failure at a Sofia hospital. The government has declared Friday a day of mourning...

Refugees in Syria may reach half a million next year (Fides) The number of Syrian refugees who have found refuge in Jordan has reached the threshold of 250 thousand. And if the conflict between Assad’s government loyalists and rebels remains unresolved, it may reach half a million by April 2013...

Kidnappings in Syria now number more than 1,700 (Fides) Austin Tice, American reporter kidnapped in Syria on 13 August and collaborator of the “Washington Post” and “McClatchy Newspapers” group, is one of the most famous victims, but the scourge of kidnapping in the Syrian conflict has currently caused at least 1,753 victims, nearly all civilians. Kidnappings are used by armed groups present in the galaxy of the Syrian opposition or by infiltrated groups, to obtain ransom, revenge, or exchange of prisoners...

Patriarch Kirill makes first official visit to Holy Land (AFP) Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill on Friday will make his first visit to the Holy Land since becoming head of the powerful church in 2009, in a trip which underlines his global influence as a religious leader. Kirill’s first official visit to Israel and the Palestinian territories will be held “under the sign of peace,” spokesman of the Russian Orthodox Church, Father Alexander Volkov, told AFP. The visit will see Kirill meeting with Israeli President Shimon Peres, the Palestinian Authority president Mahmud Abbas and King Abdullah II of Jordan in a new sign of his importance as a global religious figure. His trip “is the most important (religious) visit (to Israel) since that of the Pope Benedict XVI” in 2009, Israel’s foreign ministry said...

Tags: Syria Russian Orthodox Bulgarian Orthodox

8 November 2012
Greg Kandra

Cardinal Robert Sarah, president of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum, has been sent by Pope Benedict XVI on a mission to Lebanon. (2011 photo: CNS/Paul Haring)

Cardinal Sarah begins mission to Lebanon (Fides) Yesterday, 7 November, the Cardinal was received by the President of the Republic of Lebanon, the Maronite Catholic Michel Suleiman. Then he met the Maronite Synod of Bishops — taking part in their monthly meeting — and visited the Armenian Catholic Patriarch Nerses Bedros XIX Tarmouni. There was also a “surprise” meeting with the old Orthodox Patriarch, who was born 91 years ago in a Syrian village near Hama...

Hindus and Christians must form peace-makers (Vatican Radio) In his message for Hindus on the feast of Deepavali (known as the “festival of lights” or Diwali), the President of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, explored the responsibility that Hindus, Christians and others have in doing everything possible to form all people, especially the young generation, into peace-makers...

Church working to free kidnapped Christians in Syria (Fides) There is an effort underway on behalf of the Church to try to free ten Christians who were kidnapped in recent days by an armed group while they were on a bus from Aleppo to Beirut...

Tags: Syria India Lebanon

7 November 2012
Greg Kandra

A worker and young visitor begin olive processing. (photo: John E. Kozar)

Last December, Monsignor John Kozar visited olive processing mill in Kobayat, Lebanon during his pastoral visit to the Middle East. You can read about his visit to this mill and other sites in Lebanon in his blog post:

Our first stop…was the olive processing mill that was running at full tilt, even though the olive season has just about ended. We were warmly greeted by the president of the cooperative association that oversees the pooled efforts of hundreds of farmers as well as by friends and coworkers. As the machinery hummed along, our hosts took us on a simple tour. They demonstrated how bags of olives brought in from outlying farms were sent through a series of machines and ended up a high quality olive oil. Needless to say, we had to each try a sample of the work.

Check out more on his Journey to the Holy Land.

Tags: Lebanon CNEWA Msgr. John E. Kozar Maronite Catholic

7 November 2012
Greg Kandra

President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden react to the crowd following the president’s victory speech in Chicago. Pope Benedict XVI and U.S. Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan congratulated Obama on his re-election. Cardinal Dolan, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and chair of CNEWA, said in his letter that the U.S. bishops pray that “you will exercise your office to pursue the common good.” (photo: CNS/Jason Reed, Reuters)

Pope Benedict sends congratulatory message to President Obama (VIS) Benedict XVI, through the apostolic nunciature in Washington, U.S.A., has sent a message to Barack Obama, congratulating him on his re-election as president of the United States of America. In his message the Holy Father expresses his best wishes to the president on his new mandate, and gives assurances of his prayers to God to help him carry out his serious responsibilities, both in his own country and within the international community. The Pope also speaks of his hope that the ideals of freedom and justice, which guided the founding fathers of the Unites States of America, may continue to shine out as the nation progresses...

Pope sends $1 million in aid to Syria, along with small delegation (CNS) Instability and increasing violence in Syria have prompted Pope Benedict XVI to cancel the planned visit to the war-torn nation by a delegation of cardinals and bishops. Instead, the pope announced Nov. 7, he has sent a smaller group to Lebanon to deliver a $1 million donation and boost the church’s humanitarian response to the crisis. The pope also appealed for dialogue to end the Syrian conflict, saying: “We have to do everything possible because one day it could be too late.” “I renew my invitation to the parties in conflict, and to all those who have the good of Syria at heart, to spare no effort in the search for peace and to pursue through dialogue the path to a just coexistence, in view of a suitable political solution of the conflict,” Pope Benedict said at the end of his general audience in St. Peter’s Square...

Patriarch Kirill shows growing might as leader (AFP) Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill is a close ally of President Vladimir Putin who survived Communist repression and made the church into one of the more powerful institutions of the post-Soviet state. The 65-year-old native of Putin’s Saint Petersburg has also faced his share of controversy since being selected for the high post in 2009 and embarking on a campaign to spread the Russian faith both inside the country and abroad...

Tags: Syria Middle East Pope Benedict XVI Russian Orthodox

6 November 2012
Greg Kandra

Children drink water from a well at their school in Kunkuri, Madhya Pradesh, India. (photo: Sean Sprague)

We’ve reported extensively on efforts to bring clean drinking water to people in CNEWA’s world. You can learn more in Rain Rich, Water Poor, and discover more about Madhya Pradesh in the September 1996 article Sons and Daughters of the Land.

Tags: India CNEWA Farming/Agriculture Water

6 November 2012
Greg Kandra

In this 9 January 2001 photo, then-Archbishop Leonardo Sandri meets with Bulgarian Orthodox Patriarch Maxim in Sofia, Bulgaria. (photo: CNS from Reuters)

Patriarch Maxim of Bulgaria dies at age 98 (ABC News) Patriarch Maxim of Bulgaria, who weathered a revolt over his communist-era ties to lead the Balkan country’s Orthodox Christians for more than 40 years, has died. He was 98. The patriarch died of heart failure early Tuesday at a Sofia hospital where he had been for a month, the Holy Synod said in a statement. The Holy Synod of 13 senior clergy will meet to make funeral arrangements and choose an interim patriarch until a larger Church Council is held within the next four months to pick Maxim’s successor, church officials said. Orthodox Christianity is Bulgaria’s dominant religion, followed by more than 80 percent of the country’s 7.4 million people…

Egypt’s Coptic pope says he will reject constitution imposing religious state (AFP) Egypt’s new Coptic Christian Pope Tawadros II has said he would reject a constitution still in the making if it imposed a religious state in the Muslim-majority country, newspapers reported on Tuesday. The Coptic pope, whose minority community has become increasingly fearful of the rise of Islamists to power in Egypt, also urged Christians not to leave the country, stressing that they have coexisted with Muslims for centuries. “A constitution that hints at imposing a religious state in Egypt is absolutely rejected,” he told journalists on Monday, a day after he was chosen pope, the independent al Watan newspaper reported…

Christians seek release of kidnapped Armenian and others in Syria (Fides) Sam Ghannoum is a 28-year-old Christian Armenian songwriter. He comes from an Armenian family that lives in a suburb of Aleppo. He is known in the community for his eastern classical compositions and for songs that present the Christian message of love and peace. Sam is also one of the young Syrians who recently criticized the government on Facebook, voicing support for the original ideals of the Syrian revolution: democracy, freedom and human rights. He received threats in response. About twenty days ago, on 15 October, Sam was abducted by the Syrian secret services. According to the group “Syrian Non-Violence Movement,” his family is in pain and in fear for his life. They reaffirm “the good faith and the purity of Sam’s ideals” and ask for his immediate release…

Catholic groups in India expand presence on web (Times of India) Recently, the pope had asked all clergymen to expand their presence in the virtual world to reach out to youth who have been found to stray away from the path of the church. Further decision on the synod’s deliberations would be taken only after the pope prepares the ‘apostolic exhortation’ on the topic, a compilation of all the deliberations. “Many priests are already active in the cyber world. Once the apostolic exhortation comes, we will have motivational workshops and other deliberations on this topic. It is through these measures that the church can be one of today,” said Archbishop Francis Kallarakkal of the Latin Church. The synod of 260 bishops from around the world was deliberating on ‘new evangelisation,’ to stem the hemorrhaging of the faithful...

Tags: Syrian Civil War Violence against Christians Indian Christians Patriarchs Coptic Orthodox Church

5 November 2012
Greg Kandra

This photograph of the interior of Kevork Church in Aleppo was captured after clashes between Free Syrian Army fighters and forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad on 30 October. (photo: CNS/George Ourfalian, Reuters)

Bishops’ delegation to Middle East warns of Syrian refugee crisis (U.S.C.C.B.) In a press conference on 1 November, members of a U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (U.S.C.C.B.) delegation to the Middle East warned of a worsening Syrian refugee crisis and urged more international support for Syrian refugees in the region. “Without more international support, the humanitarian situation, both inside and outside Syria, could reach a breaking point in the not so distant future,” said Bishop Anthony Taylor of Little Rock, Arkansas, a member of the U.S.C.C.B. Committee on Migration and head of the delegation. “The international community, led by the United States, must do more to provide assistance to the refugees in order to avert a humanitarian crisis,” he added.

Egypt’s Coptic Christians choose a new pope (Wall Street Journal) Egypt’s Coptic Orthodox Church chose a new pope Sunday, in a ceremony that will mark a new chapter in the relationship between the Arab world’s largest Christian minority and the country’s new Islamist leadership. The name of Bishop Tawadros, bishop of the Nile River delta region of El Beheira, was drawn by a blindfolded young boy from a crystal chalice containing the names of three candidates. The ceremony unfolded in front of a cheering crowd at Egypt’s main Coptic cathedral in downtown Cairo.

Egyptian Catholics welcome election of new Coptic pope (Fides) The election of Patriarch Tawadros II, new head of the Coptic Orthodox Church, is stirring reactions of joy and enthusiasm in the Catholic community in Egypt. “We are all delighted,” says Anba Kirillos William, Coptic Catholic bishop of the Diocese of Assiut. According to the current vicar of the Coptic Catholic Church in Egypt: “The three candidates for the succession of Pope Shenouda III were all worthy people. But with regards to ecumenical relations and cooperation between the Christian churches, we hoped that Bishop Tawadros would be elected — an open-minded and balanced person.”

Holy Sepulchre bank account blocked over water bill (Associated Press) A clergyman from the church built on the site where Jesus Christ is said to have been crucified said Friday that its bank account has been frozen as the result of a long-standing dispute with an Israeli water company. Greek Orthodox priest Isidoros Fakitsas said that the move has impaired the Church of the Holy Sepulchre to pay bills and salaries. As a result, the church is considering closing for a day in protest, shutting the doors to one of Christianity’s most popular pilgrimage sites.

Church in India cautious about reports of crucifix dripping with blood (Fides) “The Catholic Church has never claimed that the phenomenon of droplets of blood or water found on the crucifix in Irla is a miracle. In these cases, the church is always prudent. Every special event is carefully studied, expert advice is asked and strict standards before delivering a judgment is observed.” So says an official statement sent to Fides Agency by the Archdiocese of Bombay, where a phenomenon known as “supernatural” is making a stir in the Christian and civil community.

Tags: Egypt Syrian Civil War Indian Christians Patriarchs Coptic Orthodox Church

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | 24 | 25 | 26 | 27 | 28 | 29 | 30 | 31 | 32 | 33 | 34 | 35 | 36 | 37 | 38 | 39 | 40 | 41 | 42 | 43 | 44 | 45 | 46 | 47 | 48 | 49 | 50 | 51 | 52 | 53 | 54 | 55 | 56 | 57 | 58 | 59 | 60 | 61 | 62 | 63 | 64 | 65 | 66 | 67 | 68 | 69 | 70 | 71 | 72 | 73 | 74 | 75 | 76 | 77 | 78 | 79 | 80 | 81 | 82 | 83 | 84 | 85 | 86 | 87 | 88 | 89 | 90 | 91 | 92 | 93 | 94 | 95 | 96 | 97 | 98 | 99 | 100 | 101 | 102 | 103 | 104 | 105 | 106 | 107 | 108 | 109 | 110 | 111 | 112 | 113 | 114 | 115 | 116 | 117 | 118 | 119 | 120 | 121 | 122 | 123 | 124 | 125 | 126 | 127 | 128 | 129 | 130 | 131 | 132 | 133 | 134 | 135 | 136 | 137 | 138 | 139 | 140 | 141 | 142 | 143 | 144 | 145 | 146 | 147 | 148 | 149 | 150 | 151 | 152 | 153 | 154 | 155 | 156 | 157 | 158 | 159 | 160 | 161 | 162 | 163 | 164 | 165 | 166 | 167 | 168 | 169 | 170 | 171 | 172 | 173 | 174 | 175 | 176 | 177 | 178 | 179 | 180 | 181 | 182 | 183 | 184 | 185 | 186 | 187 | 188 | 189 | 190 | 191 | 192 | 193 | 194 | 195 | 196 | 197 | 198 | 199 | 200 | 201 | 202 | 203 | 204 | 205 | 206 | 207 | 208 | 209 | 210 | 211 | 212 | 213 | 214 |