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March, 2018
Volume 44, Number 1
2 November 2012
Greg Kandra

Harold Scott uses a flashlight during an early morning All Saints’ Day Mass at Sts. Philip & James Church in St. James, N.Y., on 1 November. St. James was one of many communities on Long Island that remained without electricity three days after Hurricane Sandy swept through the region. (photo: CNS/Gregory A. Shemitz)

As many of you probably heard, we had some stormy weather here in New York this week.

Our CNEWA offices have just reopened, and we’re finally picking up the pieces and getting back to work. Our corner of the city was relatively unscathed. But not far from here, it’s a different story. Much of lower Manhattan is still without power or subway service. Train stations are flooded. Fuel supplies are running low. Thousands of people in the region are homeless or seeking shelter. The devastation around so much of the greater New York area has been — in the words of one New York priest — “almost overwhelming”:

The damage from the wind, rain and flooding brought by Hurricane Sandy “is almost overwhelming,” said Msgr. Kevin Sullivan, executive director of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York. “We’re reaching out to parishes and getting them to directly assist those in critical need — they know their own people and their neighborhoods,” he told Catholic News Service. Several Catholic agencies and religious communities have stepped forward to address the greatest needs of victims of the super storm. “Reaching out to parishes and other communities and neighborhoods is imperative at this point,” Msgr. Sullivan explained. “The response on the parish level has been tremendous. We’re also working very, very closely with several municipal, state and private agencies, including Red Cross, to figure out the best way to respond to this disaster.” When New York state and New York City were preparing for Sandy’s unprecedented onslaught, emergency responders had met with Msgr. Sullivan and Catholic Charities to plan how to best utilize its resources and personnel after the storm. “We’ve been in conversation with dozens of governmental agencies and made sure we put our staff in place. We have a lot of social work case managers who are trained to deal with emergencies like this,” the priest said. “They know how to get greater access to available services to those in need,” he said. “Many people suffering through disasters fall through the gaps. Our staff is in place to make sure that doesn’t happen. We found this is the best way to work with victims in this situation.”

On Wednesday Cardinal Timothy Dolan, New York archbishop and CNEWA chair, spoke about this disaster in a network interview:

The road back will be a long one. Catholic Charities has set up a special web page for those who want to help. Meantime, please keep all those affected by this calamity in your thoughts and prayers.


25 October 2012
Greg Kandra

Children play soccer amid destroyed buildings in the streets of Homs, Syria, 23 October. (photo: CNS/Yazan Homsy, Reuters)

Envoy announces temporary cease-fire in Syria during Muslim holiday (New York Times) Lakhdar Brahimi, the envoy trying to broker a peace deal in Syria, on Wednesday announced a seemingly unlikely cease-fire between the two sides to mark a major Muslim holiday: Eid al Adha, the Feast of Sacrifice. The United Nations Security Council unanimously endorsed his effort...

Kidnapped Greek Orthodox priest found dead near Damascus (Fides) The body of the Greek Orthodox priest Father Fadi Jamil Haddad, pastor of the church of St. Elias in Qatana, was found today in the Jaramana neighborhood, north of Damascus — not far from the place where he was kidnapped on 19 October…

Cardinal-designate on Syria, Lebanon and freedom of conscience (Vatican Radio) Maronite Patriarch Bechara Peter of Lebanon is one of six church leaders to be made cardinal in the November consistory. Tracey McClure caught up with the cardinal-elect at the end of Wednesday’s session of the Synod for the New Evangelization. In a wide-ranging interview, the patriarch speaks of the announcement that a papal delegation will be sent to Syria in coming days. The discussion also turns to the tension in Lebanon following last week’s assassination of a high ranking security official in a Beirut bombing that killed 3 people and wounded more than 80 others…

India’s new cardinal comes from a church that “does a lot for evangelization” (Fides) Joy, congratulations and hope are expressed by the Indian cardinals for the appointment of His Beatitude Baselios Cleemis Thottunkal, major archbishop of Trivandrum of the Syro-Malankara Catholic Church, who will be elevated to cardinal by Pope Benedict XVI in the consistory to be held on 24 November…

Cossacks, Russian Orthodox leaders demand ban on Halloween celebrations (RIA Novosti) Cossacks and Russian Orthodox Church leaders in South Russia’s Stavropol Territory demanded on Thursday cancellation of Halloween celebrations organized by a local city administration. Authorities of the resort city of Pyatigorsk announced they would organize a “Halloween party” at a city square to give young people an opportunity to learn the history and traditions of the holiday…

Pilgrimage to Rome for the Year of Faith (VIS) Three thousand knights and ladies of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem — a tenth of its total membership — will make a pilgrimage to Rome in 2013 for the Year of Faith. The event, which is due to take place from 13 to 15 September, will coincide with the general assembly of the order and will conclude with a celebration of the Eucharist presided by the Holy Father in St. Peter’s Basilica…

Tags: Syrian Civil War Russia Maronite Patriarch Bechara Peter Priests Syro-Malankara Catholic Church

24 October 2012
Greg Kandra

Syrian children who fled the violence in Homs, Syria, sit outside a tent in the hillside town of Arsal, Lebanon. (photo: CNS/Mohamed Azakir, Reuters)

The refugee crisis in Syria continues to grow. This week, CNEWA’s regional director for Lebanon, Syria and Egypt, Issam Bishara, filed a report that helps explain the impact of this crisis:

As of 30 September 2012, the United Nations has estimated that 300,000 Syrians have fled to neighboring countries, while a further 1.5 million Syrians have fled their homes to find refuge in other towns and districts within Syria.

Accordingly, Christians have taken the same course to save their lives, but none of the Christian displaced families have fled to a refugee camp either in Turkey or in Jordan. Some of them have found temporary havens among families and communities, both within Syria and Lebanon, with whom they have cross-border connections and shared histories. However, as the host families’ ability to host becomes strained and refugees can no longer afford even the most basic rents, they will become more visible as a refugee population in need of immediate aid.

Read the full report here.

Tags: Syria Lebanon Refugees Syrian Civil War Refugee Camps

24 October 2012
Greg Kandra

Maronite Patriarch Bechara Peter, left, walks with Msgr. John Kozar, president of CNEWA, at the patriarchal seat of the Maronite Catholic Church in Bkerke, Lebanon, on 13 September. (photo: CNS/courtesy of Maronite Patriarchate)

Lebanon’s Maronite patriarch, Syro-Malankara archbishop among six new cardinals (Catholic News Service) Pope Benedict XVI surprised pilgrims in St. Peter’s Square on 24 October by announcing he would create six new cardinals, including 63-year-old U.S. Archbishop James M. Harvey, prefect of the papal household. The pope said the consistory to create the new cardinals, who come from six countries, would take place on 24 November, the feast of Christ the King. It will be the smallest group of cardinals created since the 1977 consistory when Pope Benedict XVI, then Archbishop Joseph Ratzinger, received his red hat from Pope Paul VI along with three other churchmen. The new cardinals also will include: Lebanon’s Maronite Patriarch Bechara Peter, 72; Archbishop Baselios Cleemis Thottunkal, 53, head of the Syro-Malankara Catholic Church; Nigerian Archbishop John Olorunfemi Onaiyekan of Abuja, 68; Colombian Archbishop Ruben Salazar Gomez of Bogota, 70; and Philippine Archbishop Luis Tagle of Manila, 55...

Archbishop Shevchuck addresses Synod of Bishops (Vatican Radio) Finding new ways to preach the Gospel, especially in lands that have already received it, and to cultures that have been penetrated and formed by it, is one of the central points of focus for the fathers of the XIII Ordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops. This is a special and particular concern for the major archbishop of the Ukrainian Catholic Church, Sviatoslav Shevchuk of Kyiv-Galicia, who, at 42 years of age, is also the youngest of the synod fathers…

Russian Orthodox Church concerned about persecution of Christians in Syria (Voice of Russia) The Russian Orthodox Church is concerned about persecution of Christians in Syria and other Arab countries which suffered a rapid regime change. This statement was made by the head of the Synodal Department for External Church Relations, Metropolitan of Volokolamsk Hilarion, speaking Tuesday at a meeting of the United Nations General Assembly committee…

Orthodox bishops in America release pastoral letter marking anniversary of Emancipation Proclamation ( On Tuesday, 23 October 2012, the Holy Synod of Bishops of the Orthodox Church in America released a pastoral letter marking the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation. Expressing concern for human trafficking and related issues today, the members of the Holy Synod note that, “as the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation draws near, Orthodox Christians in the United States understand that our freedom in Christ compels us to come closer to the world that we are to serve, protect, heal and transfigure. The Church cannot ignore God’s world — God’s creation. She cannot ignore God’s people, especially those deprived of their freedom…”

Planning underway for Egyptian Catholic TV network (Fides) Its name will be “Salam,” which in Arabic means “peace.” It will see the light of day within 2013, but the planning phase has already begun. It will be the first Egyptian Catholic television network…

Tags: Violence against Christians Pope Benedict XVI Maronite Patriarch Bechara Peter Syro-Malankara Catholic Church Egypt's Christians

23 October 2012
Greg Kandra

The image above shows some of the girls of St. Anne’s Orphanage in Trichur, India. St. Anne’s Charitable Institute, founded by Father John Kizhakudem about 85 years ago, is administered today by the Nirmala Dasi Sisters. Read more about their work in The Orphans of Trichur from the May-June 2000 issue of the magazine. (photo: Sean Sprague)

Tags: India Orphans/Orphanages

23 October 2012
Greg Kandra

In this image from 2010, part of the separation wall can be seen near Jerusalem.
(photo: Kevin Unger)

The following press release was issued today from Jerusalem:

The Assembly of Catholic Ordinaries of the Holy Land condemns the planned route of the separation wall in Cremisan valley. The issued seizure orders affect Al Walaja village and 58 Christian families from Beit Jala whose livelihood depends on this land. Furthermore, the two local Salesian congregations located there would be negatively affected in their Mission work towards the local community.

Separated from Cremisan valley, the local community will lose one of its last big agricultural and recreational areas as well as a crucial water sources for farmers. In fact, Cremisan green area is the main lung through which the population of Bethlehem can breathe. Besides, the 450 children attending the Salesian Sisters School will have to go to a prison-like school, surrounded by military barriers and check-points.

On July 9, 2004, the International Court of Justice found the separation wall illegal under international law. The Assembly of Catholic Bishops has the same stand. We therefore instructed St. Yves Society to file a case against the Military Authorities.

The planned construction of the wall will put more pressure on the remaining Christians living in Bethlehem. Without an income and a future for their children, more people will make the decision to leave the Holy Land.

The Catholic Ordinaries deny the existence of any explicit or implicit agreement between the Vatican, the local church and Israeli authorities regarding the construction of this illegal wall and therefore strongly call on the State of Israel to restrain from its plan to separate Cremisan valley from Bethlehem.

Tags: Palestine Israel Jerusalem Holy Land West Bank

23 October 2012
Greg Kandra

Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone (left), Vatican secretary of state, talks with his predecessor, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, dean of the College of Cardinals, before a meeting of the Synod of Bishops on the new evangelization at the Vatican on 9 October. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Cardinal Bertone discusses Syria mission (Vatican Radio) Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B. today addressed the Synodal assembly on the subject of the recent decision to send a delegation of Synod Fathers to Damascus, Syria. “Speaking before this assembly last Tuesday”, he said, “I announced the Holy Father’s decision to send a delegation to Damascus to express his solidarity and that of the Synod with the people of Syria who, unfortunately, have for some time been experiencing a tragic situation of suffering. The intention was also to express our spiritual closeness to our Christian brothers and sisters in that country, and to encourage those committed to seeking a solution respectful of the rights and duties of all. The initiative raised wide interest and received a positive welcome, not only in Rome and Syria, but also at the international level...”

Violence in Lebanon over Syria loyalties (Reuters) Four people were killed and 15 wounded in overnight gun battles in the Lebanese city of Tripoli in a second night of fighting between Sunni and Alawite gunmen loyal to different sides in the war in neighboring Syria, a military source said on Tuesday. In the capital Beirut, tension eased after troops fanned out across the city to clear the streets of gunmen who had clashed on Sunday night. The violence flared after Friday’s assassination in central Beirut of senior Lebanese security official Wissam al Hassan, who was opposed to the Syrian leadership...

Orthodox cleric threatened after condemning Golden Dawn (Ekathimerini) A Greek Orthodox cleric has been receiving threatening phone calls after speaking against the country's increasingly popular neo-fascist party, according to press reports. A verger at the Aghios Dimitrios church in West Macedonia has reported that an unknown person recently called and said: “We shall burn that commie.” The church has reportedly received numerous complaints and warnings from what appear to be supporters of Golden Dawn and nationalist activists. Metropolitan Pavlos of Siatista last week criticized Golden Dawn after members of the Greek far-right party protested against the premiere of Terrence McNally’s Corpus Christi in Athens...

Ethiopian Muslim Council election marred by violence (The Africa Report) The Muslim Council election in Ethiopia was marred by violence with two protesters reported to have been killed on Sunday. The incident occurred in the town of Gerba in the Amhara regional state of Ethiopia. Sources say that other civilians were also injured during the clash, and there are unconfirmed reports of the death of one federal police in the clash. The run up to the elections has been characterized by widespread protests by the Muslim community in the past few months. Protesters accused the government of interfering in religious affairs, a charge which has been denied.

Tags: Syria Lebanon Ethiopia Muslim Orthodox

22 October 2012
Greg Kandra

In this 2007 image, Father Giorgi Getiashvili, a priest at the Kvashveti Cathedral in Tbilisi, lights a candle at the Bodbe Church in Bodbe, Kakheti. While the church is honored now as the final resting place of St.Nino, it was used as a hospital during the Soviet era. Read more about A Georgian Revival in the May 2007 issue of ONE. (photo: Molly Corso)

Tags: Orthodox Church Georgia Communism/Communist Georgian Orthodox Church

22 October 2012
Greg Kandra

In this image from October 2011, Maronite Patriarch Bechara addresses the media during a news conference at CNEWA headquarters in New York, attended by CNEWA President John Kozar, seen in the background. Pope Benedict XVI sent the patriarch a telegram of condolence this weekend, following the deadly attack Friday in Beirut. (photo: CNS/Gregory A. Schemitz)

Vatican: Syria mission trip still being planned (VIS) Holy See Press Office Director Fr. Federico Lombardi today made the following statement: “The announced mission to Syria by representatives of the Holy See and the Synod of Bishops is still in the course of being studied and prepared, in order to be put into effect as soon as possible, and to respond effectively to its intended aims of solidarity, peace and reconciliation despite the very serious incidents that have taken place in the region recently”...

Pope sends telegram of condolence for Beirut bombing (Vatican Radio) “Having learned of the terrible attack in Beirut, killing many, His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI prayerfully participates in the pain of the bereaved families and, in the sadness of all the Lebanese people...”

Maronite Archbishop of Damascus addresses fears of Christians in Syria (Fides) in a note sent to Fides Agency, the Maronite Archbishop of Damascus, Samir Nassar stresses the first reactions recorded among the Christians of the Syrian capital after a car bomb exploded in the Christian area of the Old Town causing 13 deaths and dozens of wounded. Archbishop Nassar describes scenes of panic he witnessed, with parents running distressed “to look for their children in schools,” while the sirens of ambulances accentuate the unbearable feeling of living in an apocalyptic time...

Headscarf debate highlights Russian Muslim’s grievances (Reuters) A ban on girls wearing the Islamic headscarf to a school in southern Russia has angered Muslims and forced President Vladimir Putin, who has robustly defended the Orthodox Church, to affirm that Russia is a secular state. Muslims in the town of Kara Tyube in the Stavropol region say the ban on the hijab at School No. 12 forces their children to choose between their religion and a state education...

Russian Orthodox Church seeks land to build in India (Russia & India Times) The Russian Orthodox Church is on the lookout for land to build its first ever shrine in India, IANS said on Sunday. The church has been conducting services within the compound of the Russian Embassy in New Delhi since last year...

In Ethiopia, a pilgrimage to Mount Zeqwala (EthiopSports) Meanwhile, after reaching the top of the mountain, an old woman in her 60s, kissed the ground. After kissing the ground, she sat down solemnly. Trying to catch her breath, she looked down on the mountainous route she had followed. The scorching sunlight of the semi-desert mountainous terrain is a struggle for a couple of hours. One might feel like being roasted on a frying pan. And the reason for the gathering is that every year Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahdo followers celebrate Saint Abune Gebre Menfes Kidus’ Day on Tikimit 5 (15 October) on the mountain...

For the future of new evangelization, look to Ukraine (National Catholic Reporter) Back in 1974, music writer John Landau achieved immortality after attending a set in the Harvard Square Theatre by a then-obscure act out of New Jersey, and declaring: “I have seen the future of rock and roll, and its name is Bruce Springsteen.” In a similar vein, let me say here and now: “I have seen the future of the new evangelization, and its name is the Ukrainian Catholic University...”

Tags: Syria India Lebanon Ethiopia Russian Orthodox

19 October 2012
Greg Kandra

This year, for the first time, we’ve posted our consolidated Annual Report as an interactive multimedia feature online. If you visit this link to explore the report, here are a few things you’ll find:

  • Videos. If you can’t afford the plane fare to India, no problem. We’ll take you there. In a series of brief videos, CNEWA President Msgr. John E. Kozar offers personal impressions from some of the places we serve, and he shares some of his own pictures from his travels. The result helps bring to life, as never before, stories of the people and places we serve.
  • Images. ONE magazine has long had a reputation for publishing some of the most beautiful and compelling photography in all of Catholic media. We’re pleased to share some of those memorable images in this year’s report.
  • Facts and figures. It wouldn’t be an Annual Report without crunching some numbers. You’ll discover just where and how CNEWA uses your generous donations, and get a real feel for how lives are being changed because of you. Churches are being restored, seminarians are being trained, orphans are being nourished and cared for — and that’s just for starters.
  • Our wide world. CNEWA touches lives in every corner of the globe, and our 2011 consolidated Annual Report makes that abundantly clear. Grants and subsidies extend from Brooklyn to Beirut, from Geneva to Jerusalem. You may be amazed at our reach.
  • Pentecost. Msgr. Kozar mentions in one of his videos that “Pentecost is alive!” You discover that again and again through the work outlined in the report. The work of CNEWA is imbued with a sense of possibility and hope — of good being done, lives being changed, problems being solved, hearts being touched. That is what we’re about. It really is keeping the spirit of Pentecost alive.

You can find much more, of course, in our 2011 consolidated Annual Report. But for a preview, check out the brief introductory video below.


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