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31 January 2012
Greg Kandra




In this image from 2005, a recovering alcoholic attends a meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous in Kerala with his daughter. (photo: Cody Christopulos)

From India today comes word that Catholic leaders are considering taking a hard line against drinking, to battle a worsening problem:

Church leaders in Kerala today declared war on liquor consumption, maintaining that alcohol abuse is the root-cause behind many broken families in the southern Indian state.

The Church is planning to list drinking as a cardinal sin that should be confessed, said Father T. James Antony, secretary of the Kerala Catholic Bishops’ Council’s (K.C.B.C.) Temperance Commission.

The commission is drafting a proposal in this regard for the council which should be finalized by June, he said.

People in Kerala are said to be the biggest drinkers in India, drinking three times the national average.

A recent study by the Alcohol and Drug Information Centre revealed that alcohol dependency is even spreading among children aged 10-15.

“Alcoholism is a social menace which is destabilizing families and claiming thousands of lives every year,” Father Antony said.

We reported on Kerala's problem of addiction and the people struggling to recover in 2005:

Each year, the state consumes 2.2 gallons of liquor per capita, about three times the national rate, according to India’s Outlook magazine.

“In Kerala, people tend to start drinking once they are 18 years old, which is the legal age for being able to purchase liquor,” said Father Titus Kattuparambil, a Syro-Malabar priest of the Eparchy of Irinjalakuda and assistant director of Navachaithanya.

“Among the bad cases, you’ll see people who earn about three dollars a day, and they’ll blow two dollars of that on alcohol.”

Both national and local governments have acknowledged the problem of alcoholism, and alcohol advertising is illegal. Kerala’s state government also funds several detoxification centers at public hospitals. But at the same time, Father Titus pointed out, the government in Kerala – as in other Indian states – draws revenue from liquor taxes and therefore has a fiscal disincentive to curb alcohol consumption.

For more, continue reading One Day At a Time in Kerala. For further information on the K.C.B.C. Temperance Council, click here.



Tags: India Kerala Indian Bishops Alcoholism Substance Abuse

31 January 2012
Greg Kandra




Cardinal-designate Timothy Dolan, wearing the cape of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, prays the rosary on steps of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. (photo: Bob Mullen/The Catholic Photographer/NY Daily News)

Just days before he is scheduled to become a cardinal in Rome, Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York is making a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. From the New York Daily News:

Archbishop Timothy Dolan’s swing through Israel took him Monday to one of the most sacred sites in Christianity, the place where Jesus was crucified and buried.

New York’s Catholic leader, a cardinal-designate, bowed his head in prayer and held rosary beads at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem.

Dolan and his entourage also worshiped at Gethsemane Garden Center, where Jesus prayed the night before he was nailed to the cross...

...Dolan, who is in the Holy Land ahead of his trip to Rome to be made cardinal, also visited the Western Wall, one of the holiest spots in Judaism. He’ll be back at the church Tuesday for Mass before heading to Bethlehem.

“One benefit of being the Archbishop of New York is that you become friends with the Jewish community — they have been exceptionally good to us,” he said.

Catholic News Service caught up with him at one stop:

“Just to be here ... at a pivotal moment in your life, a time of transition, (that) you would turn to the Lord in prayer and reflection, this is good,” Cardinal-designate Dolan said at the Pontifical Institute Notre Dame of Jerusalem Center during a brief meeting with a group of Catholic journalists from the United States also visiting Israel.

In the picture shown above, the Cardinal-designate, who also serves as the chairman of CNEWA, is wearing the distinctive cape of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre. We profiled the order and its colorful history in our magazine in 1995:

At the end of the 11th century Pope Urban II, who had proclaimed and enforced the “Truce of God” and the “Peace of God” to limit warfare in Europe, turned his attention to the Holy Land. The Seljuk Turks, who by this time had conquered most of the Middle East, harassed the Christians traveling there as pilgrims. Dismayed by these actions, the Pope proclaimed a crusade to regain access and control of the holy places. In 1099, Godfrey de Bouillon, Duke of Brabant (which is located in modern Belgium), leading a mixed force of noblemen, knights and peasants, conquered Jerusalem.

In an effort to secure the safety of the Holy Sepulchre, the shrine marking the site of Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection, Godfrey established a religious order of knights to protect the holy places and provide security for pilgrims. In 1113, Pope Pascal II approved the rules and constitutions of the order, which had adopted the Rule of St. Augustine.

Following the collapse of the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem in 1189, the knights were exiled to Europe. In exile, their standards of chivalry were directed toward charitable works: some served in hospitals while others cared for the poor and society’s outcasts. As a recognized religious order it survived until the end of the 15th century.

In 1847, Pope Pius IX restored the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, after a hiatus of some 400 years, and he reactivated the order with a mandate to practice “the virtue of charity [by] supporting and aiding the church and the Catholic Religion in the Holy Land.”

The order continues its invaluable work to this day. You can read more here. And Msgr. Robert Stern offered his own perspective on the order in 1996 here.



Tags: CNEWA Jerusalem Holy Land Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan

30 January 2012
Greg Kandra




Sister Cincy Joseph, MSJ, a Medical Sister of St. Joseph, visits with Daisy Choorakattu, a cancer patient in the pain and palliative care center at St. George’s Hospital. Daisy and her family have been forced to sell their home to pay for her treatment, a last resort option for Kerala’s poor. (photo: Peter Lemieux)

Countless cancer patients around the world seek solace and intercession from a special patron, the seventh-century abbess St. Aldegonde (sometimes called Aldegunais), whose feast is 30 January. Aldegonde herself reportedly died from cancer at the age of 54.

Today, those battling this disease find a more earthly kind of help from modern-day religious, like the Medical Sisters of St. Joseph working in Kerala. These sisters work to provide care and comfort, often under difficult circumstances. We told their story in the September 2011 issue of ONE:

With limited resources, the sisters do what they can. These days, the hospital mostly cares for terminally ill cancer patients.

Sister Cincy enters one such patient’s room. She walks to the bed and takes the woman’s hand, checking her vitals. The woman, Daisy John, hardly notices. She is in her final hours. Around the bed stand Mr. John, the couple’s son and extended family members. The room is itself spartan: no sophisticated medical equipment, just an assortment of basic medical supplies. Sister Cincy visits with the family briefly and then exits the room.

“After their treatment elsewhere — chemotherapy and radiation — they suffer a great deal of pain,” Sister Cincy explains. “We give them free accommodations and medication. We try to help relieve their suffering.”

You can read more at this link. And visit this page to learn some of the ways you can help support the work of the church in India.



Tags: India Sisters Poor/Poverty

25 January 2012
Greg Kandra




A man stands amid debris inside Holy Family Syriac Catholic Church in central Kirkuk, Iraq, north of Baghdad, 2 August 2011. A car bomb and two unexploded bombs targeted three churches in northern Iraq in coordinated attacks that wounded more than 20 people in the ethnically and religiously mixed city. (photo: CNS /Ako Rasheed, Reuters)

A couple weeks ago, Pope Benedict XVI turned his attention to the subject of religious freedom. In his annual “State of the World” address, he told a group of diplomats: “In many countries, Christians are deprived of fundamental rights and sidelined from public life. In other countries, they endure violent attacks against their churches and their homes.”

This prompted John Allen of the National Catholic Reporter to take a closer look at the subject of “anti-Christian persecution.” Specifically, he took on five “myths,” including one that is especially widespread: “It’s all about Islam.”

As Allen writes:

Simply identifying anti-Christian persecution with Islam is misleading. There are compelling examples of collaboration between Christians and Muslims in many parts of the world, which is the basis for Pope Benedict XVI’s vision of an “Alliance of Civilizations.” (One of the major political parties in the Philippines, for instance, is the “Christian Muslim Democrats.”) It also should not be forgotten that the most numerous victims of Muslim extremism are, in fact, other Muslims.

Moreover, radical Islam is hardly the only source of anti-Christian animus. Christians suffer from a slew of other forces, including:

  • Ultra-nationalism (as in Turkey, where extreme nationalists tend to be a greater threat than Islamists)
  • Totalitarian states, especially of the Communist variety (China, North Korea)
  • Hindu radicalism (Anti-Christian aggression has become routine in some regions of India. This week, Hindu radicals armed with sticks and iron bars attacked 20 Pentecostal Christians in a private home near Bangalore, an assault that left the pastor missing a finger on his left hand. When Christians reported similar assaults two weeks ago, a member of the state’s official Commission for Minorities, which is under the control of a nationalist Hindu party, shrugged it off: “If you really knew the teachings of Jesus, Christians should not be complaining,” he reportedly said.)
  • Buddhist radicalism (as in Sri Lanka, where, contrary to stereotypes of Buddhist tolerance, mobs led by Buddhist monks attacked Christian churches and other targets across the country in 2009)
  • Corporate interests (as in Brazil’s Amazon region, where Christian activists have been killed for protesting injustices by agri-business conglomerates)
  • Organized crime, narco-traffickers, and petty thugs (For instance, the 1993 murder of Mexican Cardinal Juan Jesús Posadas Ocampo, shot 14 times at the Guadalajara airport by gunmen linked to a drug cartel, or the assassination in the same year of Italian Fr. Giuseppe Puglisi, a bitter critic of the Sicilian mafia.)
  • State-imposed security policies (as in Israel, where checkpoints, visa requirements and other restrictions divide Christian families between East Jerusalem and the West Bank and make it virtually impossible for Christians in one location to worship in the other)
  • Even, believe it or not, Christian radicalism If that last entry seems counter-intuitive, consider what happened this past September in the village of San Rafael Tlanalapan, in the Mexican state of Puebla. Seventy local Protestants were forced to flee after a band of traditionalist Catholics issued a chilling ultimatum: Leave immediately or be “crucified or lynched.”

The point is that extremism and intolerance of whatever stripe, not Islam, is the threat.

There are four other “myths” Allen explores — and you might be surprised at what he concludes. Check it out.



Tags: Middle East Pope Benedict XVI Interreligious Catholic Islam

24 January 2012
Greg Kandra




Pope Benedict XVI greets the crowd after praying the Angelus from the window of his apartment overlooking St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, 22 January. (photo: CNS/Paul Haring)

Following its custom, the Vatican released the pope’s annual message for World Communications Day today — the Memorial of St. Francis de Sales, patron of writers and journalists.

This year, Pope Benedict XVI chose to focus on an important aspect of communication that he says is "often overlooked": silence.

An excerpt:

By remaining silent we allow the other person to speak, to express him or herself; and we avoid being tied simply to our own words and ideas without them being adequately tested. In this way, space is created for mutual listening, and deeper human relationships become possible. It is often in silence, for example, that we observe the most authentic communication taking place between people who are in love: gestures, facial expressions and body language are signs by which they reveal themselves to each other. Joy, anxiety, and suffering can all be communicated in silence — indeed it provides them with a particularly powerful mode of expression. Silence, then, gives rise to even more active communication, requiring sensitivity and a capacity to listen that often makes manifest the true measure and nature of the relationships involved. When messages and information are plentiful, silence becomes essential if we are to distinguish what is important from what is insignificant or secondary. Deeper reflection helps us to discover the links between events that at first sight seem unconnected, to make evaluations, to analyze messages; this makes it possible to share thoughtful and relevant opinions, giving rise to an authentic body of shared knowledge. For this to happen, it is necessary to develop an appropriate environment, a kind of ‘eco-system’ that maintains a just equilibrium between silence, words, images and sounds.

The process of communication nowadays is largely fuelled by questions in search of answers. Search engines and social networks have become the starting point of communication for many people who are seeking advice, ideas, information and answers. In our time, the internet is becoming ever more a forum for questions and answers — indeed, people today are frequently bombarded with answers to questions they have never asked and to needs of which they were unaware. If we are to recognize and focus upon the truly important questions, then silence is a precious commodity that enables us to exercise proper discernment in the face of the surcharge of stimuli and data that we receive. Amid the complexity and diversity of the world of communications, however, many people find themselves confronted with the ultimate questions of human existence: Who am I? What can I know? What ought I to do? What may I hope? It is important to affirm those who ask these questions, and to open up the possibility of a profound dialogue by means of words and interchange, but also through the call to silent reflection, something that is often more eloquent than a hasty answer and permits seekers to reach into the depths of their being and open themselves to the path towards knowledge that God has inscribed in human hearts.

Read the whole message, “Silence and Word: Path of Evangelization,” at the Holy See’s news website.

World Communications Day is celebrated on the Sunday before Pentecost, which this year will be 20 May. It’s the only worldwide celebration called for by the Second Vatican Council. You can find out more about it here.



Tags: Pope Benedict XVI Vatican

12 January 2012
Greg Kandra




A child from the Aida Refugee Camp rides his bike next to the Israeli Barrier Wall seperating Israel and the West Bank. (photo: J Carrier)

Monday, Pope Benedict XVI used his annual State of the World address to express his hopes for a new round of peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians.

Yesterday, the Holy See’s website offered some analysis from someone who knows the situation intimately:

Father David Neuhaus is no newcomer to the problems of a Holy Land in conflict. From a Jewish Israeli family, Father Neuhaus is now a Catholic priest who cares for the Hebrew speaking Catholic community in the Holy Land. He tells Philippa Hitchen Christians must keep up their hope that political leaders will find a solution to the decades-old conflict and that religious leaders and educators should be more aware of their own role in creating a peaceful world.

“We certainly need to be aware of the very important role we can play in speaking responsibly…we are certainly people who are educating other people. What we need to be aware of is that the words that come out of our mouths create worlds. And those words need to be poised, prudent, wise and of course when it comes to us as Christian leaders, evangelical — full of respect and love for others, hope.”

Father Neuhaus also speaks of the growing polarization of Israeli society over the Jewish identity and democracy of the State.

You can hear the interview with Father Neuhaus here.

We’ve reported extensively on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the pages of our magazine. One article, Living in Limbo, describes life in a Palestinian refugee camp in Bethlehem — a camp that CNEWA’s President Msgr. John Kozar visited just last month. Read his account of that visit here.



Tags: Palestine Bethlehem Palestinian Refugees Separation Barrier

11 January 2012
Greg Kandra




CNEWA President John E. Kozar welcomed Cardinal-Designate Timothy M. Dolan to CNEWA’s offices this afternoon for an annual board meeting. The Archbishop of New York, who will become a cardinal at a consistory in Rome next month, is CNEWA’s chair and treasurer. (photo: CNEWA)



Tags: CNEWA Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan

11 January 2012
Greg Kandra




The rooftop prayer service at the Good Samaritan Center in Jerusalem’s Old City.
(photo: J. Carrier)


In November 2009, writer Hannah Foighel described the work of the Elderly Community Support Center, also known as the Good Samaritan Center, in Jerusalem:

The Good Samaritan Center was founded in 2000 and received recognition as a nonprofit three years later. Since 2005, the center has been based in a former hostel owned by the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate in the heart of the Christian Quarter, but Raja Salameh emphasizes that the center does not belong to any one church. Rather, it provides services for all those who live in the city’s ancient Christian Quarter.

“We serve the Lord in a good way,” he says, adding that seven Muslim families who live in the quarter also use the services of the center.

The center receives funding from the Finnish government, CNEWA-Pontifical Mission, international groups and charities....

...The Good Samaritan Center has three floors. The ground floor functions as a club, an entertainment center of sorts with a television, a number of card tables and board games. The second floor houses a clinic-like facility and the center’s administrative offices. A flat roof is the center’s third floor and it is Mr. Salameh’s pride and dream. The roof is at the same level as the lead-covered domes of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, which is just two buildings away. In the distance, one can see the Mount of Olives. Here prayers are conducted each Monday.

“When we started the center, all the churches were a bit skeptical. Now they all want to come here to conduct prayers and celebrate liturgies,” he adds. “A few weeks ago, the former Latin patriarch, Archbishop Michel Sabah, led a prayer service. The Greek Orthodox patriarch has been here and next week we will have a priest from Lebanon.”

To read more, check out Jerusalem’s Good Samaritans.



Tags: Jerusalem Health Care Caring for the Elderly Pensioners

10 January 2012
Greg Kandra




Visitors find refreshment at a drinking fountain at Saint Sergius Monastery, located in the town of Sergiyev Posad, northeast of Moscow. To learn more about some of that country’s most meaningful churches — “Russia's Kremlins” — read Russia’s Fortified Tabernacles from the September 2008 issue of ONE. (photo: Sean Sprague)



Tags: Russia Orthodox

6 January 2012
Greg Kandra




Four young carolers pose in their home-made costumes in front of Holy Trinity Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church in Kosmach. (photo: Petro Didula)

For many Christians around the world, 6 January is celebrated as the Feast of the Epiphany, or Three Kings, when the Magi visited the newborn Jesus in Bethlehem. In some places, it is also the “12th Day of Christmas,” marking the close of the Christmas season.

It has a number of cherished customs in parts of Eastern Europe. As one website describes it:

Beginning with New Years and through January 6, children dressed as the kings, and holding up a large star, go from door to door, caroling and singing a Three Kings’ song. For this they receive money or sweets. Formerly the collected donations went to unemployed craftsmen and veterans, today they go to charities of the church or the Third World.

So, for one last time before the season ends: Merry Christmas!



Tags: Ukraine Greek Catholic Church





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