28 September 2012
Smoke rises from buildings after a Syrian fighter jet launched missiles in Aleppo, Syria, on 4 September. (photo: CNS/Youssef Boudlal, Reuters)
In Syria: “The atmosphere is very tense” (Fides) “The atmosphere is very tense,” explained Fr. Jules Baghdassarians, Greek-Catholic priest in Aleppo and National Director of the Pontifical Mission Societies (PMS) in Syria, as opposition forces announced the beginning of the “final battle in Aleppo.” Fr. Baghdassarians said: “This morning armed rebel groups entered the neighborhood of Sheik Maqsoud, in Aleppo, home to many Kurds and Christians and there is intense fighting. In our Christian area in Suleimanye I counted 18 loud explosions. Groups of rebels entered in other Christian areas such as Jabrie and therefore life for the civilian population, in the crossfire, is in serious danger.”
Indian authorities say offensive scenes in Bollywood movie will be cut (Fides) The scenes considered “blasphemous” concerning people and symbols of the Christian faith in the Bollywood film “Kamaal Dhamaal Malamaal” will be eliminated before the movie is released in cinemas, according to the “Censor Board.”
Coptic Christians flee Sinai (Associated Press) Coptic Christian families have fled their homes in a town in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, fearing for their lives after receiving death threats from suspected Islamic militants, a local priest said Thursday. Father Youssef Sobhi said that Islamic militants dropped leaflets on the doorsteps of shops owned by Copts in the city of Rafah near the border with Gaza and Israel, ordering them to leave town within 48 hours and making an implicit warning of violence if they failed to do so. Two days later, masked militants on a motorcycle opened fire on one of the shops before speeding off, Sobhi said. No one was hurt in the shooting.
Patriarch Kirill defends ties to Kremlin (Reuters) The head of the Russian Orthodox Church on Friday rejected criticism of his increasingly strong relationship with President Vladimir Putin, saying that close ties between the church and state were good for society.
Christian-Muslim meeting in Istanbul this weekend (Vatican Radio) A two-day symposium on Muslim-Christian dialogue takes place in the Turkish capital of Istanbul this weekend, exploring the theme of “Being a foreigner and dialogue with the other.”
27 September 2012
Tags: Jerusalem Unity Health Care Multiculturalism
A Benedictine priest — in Rome recently for a gathering of monastic communities — spoke with Catholic News Service and suggested that one important lesson may lie in how to pray.
Check out the CNS video below:
27 September 2012
Tags: Unity Interreligious Muslim Christian-Muslim relations Prayers/Hymns/Saints
CNEWA’s Msgr. John Kozar was in Canada earlier this week for the meeting of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, and he sat down for an interview with the Salt + Light TV network. He talked about his experience being in Lebanon for the papal visit, and shared some of his own thoughts about the plight of Christians in the Middle East.
His interview begins at the 5:30 mark below.
27 September 2012
Tags: Lebanon CNEWA Middle East Pope Benedict XVI Canada
Asela orphanage alumnus Matheas Hussein studies music at Addis Ababa University. (photo: Petterik Wiggers)
Four years ago, ONE took a look at a remarkable school in Ethiopia that cares for hundreds of orphaned boys with special needs and gives them training that can help transform their lives:
Asela’s orphanage school owes a good deal of its recent success to Father Renato Saudelli, I.M.C., who was appointed its director in 1991. An ardent advocate for sustainable development, Father Saudelli has integrated vocational skills training with the school’s academic curriculum so every student has a better chance at succeeding once they enter the work force.
Father Saudelli’s legacy, however, has been his work with the fine arts and music programs at the school. Thanks to his tireless efforts, these programs have thrived in recent years.
An artist himself, the Italian-born priest threw his weight behind the school’s art program the moment he assumed leadership responsibilities. With honest effort, patience, individual attention and, of course, the best available art materials, Father Saudelli believes all children can discover the joy of, as well as their unique talent for, creating art. For this reason, he encourages the disabled children to take advantage of the art program. Artistic expression using one’s hands, he believes, can help instill a sense of pride, particularly in those who may be physically handicapped in other ways.
The school’s music program, which Father Saudelli vigorously supports in tandem with the fine arts program, has also come into its own under the priest’s direction. A growing number of alumni have chosen to pursue careers in music, and many more have found inspiration through their musical training. …
A prospective graduate of the Yared Music School at Addis Ababa University, Matheas Hussein plays part-time in a local band, Harlem Jazz, which enjoys some celebrity in Addis Ababa. After graduating from the Consolata Fathers’ school, Mr. Hussein was recruited by a private college. His passion for music, however, led him to the Yared Music School. He persistently applied for admission, never losing hope. Finally, after three years, he was accepted to the program.
Read more on Revealing Hidden Talent.
27 September 2012
Tags: Ethiopia Education
A damaged building is seen after heavy shelling in Aleppo, Syria, on 26 September.
Saving the lives of Syria’s refugees (Washington Post) If you need a measure of how desperate Syria’s refugees are, contemplate this: Many are fleeing to Iraq. It’s astonishing that Iraq, once the refugee equivalent of the Titanic, has become a lifeboat. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (U.N.H.C.R.) reports that there are 15,096 Syrian refugees in Iraq, and that they are among 100,000 Syrians who have fled to Jordan, Turkey, and beyond since Bashar al-Assad’s regime began fighting with opponents in March 2011. Who are these refugees? Children and families make up a huge number. At Jordan’s Za’atri refugee camp, according to a U.N.H.C.R. spokesperson, children accounted for 60 percent of new arrivals in one week. Syrian troops recently killed a 6-year-old boy fleeing to Jordan.
Jordan’s King warns against attempts to erase Jerusalem’s Muslim, Christian identity (Jordan Times) His Majesty King Abdullah warned against attempts to erase the Arab, Muslim, or Christian identity of Jerusalem or invade Al Aqsa Mosque. Delivering an address at the plenary session of the 67th U.N. General Assembly in New York on Tuesday, the king urged the international community to send a clear message that any such transgressions will not be tolerated. “We are extremely concerned by threats to Jerusalem and the sanctity of its Muslim and Christian holy sites,” he said, according to a transcript of the speech.
Coptic, Islamic scholars agree on new Egyptian constitution (Fides) Representatives of Egyptian political parties, Al-Azhar and the Coptic Church met at the Shura Council of Parliament to resolve disputes over eight articles in the new constitution. In particular, the participants agreed to keep Article Two as it was in the 1971 Constitution, which states: “Islam is the religion of the state, Arabic is its official language and the principles of Islamic Shari’a are a main source legislation.”
Church leaders blast Indian film as blasphemous (Fides) The Bollywood film “Kamaal Dhamaal Malamaal” (”Laugh, be happy”), to be released tomorrow, 28 September, “is blasphemous, an offense against Christian faith and the faithful’s feelings.” For this reason, Father Domic D’Abrio, spokesman for the Catholic Episcopal Conference of India, told Fides, “the Indian bishops are offended and saddened by the failure to report the competent bodies in charge of controlling films destined for the general public. … They deplore the producers’ irresponsible behavior [and ask civil authorities] to ensure full respect for the symbols and content of the Christian faith in India.”
Ethiopians celebrate Demera procession (ENA via Ethiopsorts) Demera, the bonfire traditionally burnt on eve of the Finding of the True Cross (Meskel) upon which Jesus Christ was crucified, was celebrated on Wednesday throughout the country. In the capital, the day was celebrated in the presence of tens of thousands of residents of the Addis Ababa City, members of the diplomatic community and foreign tourists, as well as senior government officials. Deacons, priests and students of Sunday schools garbed in white, traditional clothing played religious songs and hymns that added color to the holiday.
Muslim prayer room welcomed at Canadian Catholic school (Catholic Register) Concerns that the establishment of a prayer room, requested by Muslim students, at a London, Ontario, Catholic high school will water down the school’s Catholic faith are just plain wrong, says the school board’s education director. “First of all, it’s a prayer room; it’s not named after a particular faith,” said Wilma de Rond, director of education for the London District Catholic School Board (L.D.C.S.B.). “When a request comes from another faith there is no request for us to provide any sort of accommodation for them that in some way impacts our faith.”
Russian Patriarch calls for victory in sports (Voice of Russia Radio) Patriarch Kirill, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, met with Russia’s best athletes on Wednesday. “A victory in sports is a real feat,” His Holiness said. “Among other components, a victory in sports has a strong spiritual component.”
26 September 2012
Tags: Egypt Refugees Syrian Civil War Jordan Christian-Muslim relations
In this image from 9 September, Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk, major archbishop of the Ukrainian Catholic Church, celebrates the Divine Liturgy at Sts. Volodymyr and Olha Cathedral in Winnipeg, Manitoba. (photo: CNS/David Lipnowski)
Yesterday, the head of the Ukrainian Catholic Church spoke to Canada’s bishops, and had some harsh words about the threat from secularism in the West.
From Catholic News Service:
“The current economic crisis is merely the symptom of a much deeper spiritual and cultural crisis,” Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk told the annual plenary of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops on 25 September. “As Western society rejects old moral structures and values, it finds that its moral GPS has no fixed and stationary points of reference.”
Archbishop Shevchuk said the church must find “new courage” to proclaim the truth of the Gospel to contemporary society to provide “an anchor and compass.”
”We live in societies where virtue and goodness are frequently a veneer for religious intolerance, personal gratification and moral decay,” he said. “Secularism would like us to be closed in a little box of Sunday worship.”
The former Soviet Union used that approach to religion, he said.
”Separation of church and state has become separation of faith values from society, yet our mission is to preach the word of God to all and to be a constant sign of God’s loving presence through social ministry,” he said.
26 September 2012
Tags: Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church Canada Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk
Altar servers assist a liturgy at the Armenian Cathedral of the Assumption of Mary in Lviv. (photo: Petro Didula)
In the September issue of ONE, read how Armenians are practicing their faith in western Ukraine in the story Restoring Faith.
26 September 2012
Tags: Ukraine Eastern Christianity Armenian Apostolic Church
Pope Benedict XVI greets Melkite Patriarch Gregorios III during his visit to St. Paul's Basilica in Harissa, Lebanon on 14 September. (photo: CNS/Paul Haring)
Patriarch Gregorios III receives representatives of European Union (Byzcath.org) The day after Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to Lebanon, which was a constantly reiterated call for peace, His Beatitude Gregorios III, patriarch of Antioch and All the East, of Alexandria and of Jerusalem, tenaciously pursued his efforts and appeals for a cessation of hostilities in Syria. On Thursday 20 September, the patriarch received representatives of Austria, Belgium, Czechia, France, Germany, Greece and Poland, as well as a representative of Canada, in the patriarchal residence of Rabweh, Lebanon.
Hostages released in Syria (Fides) Bells ring in celebration, hugs are shared among family members reunited, a Mass of Thanksgiving and a solemn interfaith ceremony of reconciliation are celebrated: this all happened yesterday in the village of Rableh, in the region of Homs, on the border with Lebanon. The joyous city commemorated the release of about 240 Christians, mostly Greek Catholic faithful, recently taken hostage by armed groups while working in the fields.
Christian, Muslim leaders reflect on pope’s Lebanon visit (Fides) Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to Lebanon is increasingly shaping up to be the beginning of a new season for Lebanon. This is confirmed by the summit of the heads of the local religious communities and their representatives held yesterday at the headquarters of Maronite Catholic Patriarch Bechara in Bkerke.
Middle Eastern speakers in Rome denounce Western interference (Catholic News Service) Western nations need to respect the people of the Middle East and trust them to solve their own problems, said an Iraqi diplomat, an Iraqi archbishop and a Syrian-born representative of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church. The two religious leaders also called for an end to foreign military intervention and other interference in the region that they said only foment strife and hinder their citizens’ desire for peace. Their comments came during an event sponsored by the Iraqi Embassy to the Vatican on 24 September. Ali Nashmi, a Muslim professor and historian spoke on the contribution by Iraqi Christians throughout history to the preservation of both Eastern and Western cultures.
Russian lawmakers call for jail for “blasphemous acts” (Reuters) Russian lawmakers are calling for jail sentences for people guilty of offending religious feelings, in a move that could tighten the bonds between President Vladimir Putin and the resurgent Orthodox Church.
Hasidic Jews experience a slow rebirth in Russia (NPR) About a dozen men prayed recently at Darkei Shalom, a Hasidic Jewish synagogue in the working-class neighborhood of Otradnoye in northern Moscow. Except for the Star of David on its squat tower, the building is as plain and utilitarian as the linoleum on the floor. It sits — along with a Russian Orthodox church and a mosque — on a leafy stretch of land surrounded by towering apartment blocks. Dovid Karpov has been the rabbi here since the synagogue was built 15 years ago. He says he’s fairly typical of the people who form this community: Jews who grew up in Soviet times with little connection to their religious roots.
25 September 2012
Tags: Syria Lebanon Iraqi Christians Pope Benedict XVI Russian Orthodox Church
In this image from 2003, a poor family struggles to survive in Ethiopia. (photo: Peter Lemieux)
Several years ago, writer and photographer Peter Lemieux visited Ethiopia and documented the efforts to help children orphaned by AIDS:
Selecting needy children in a country as poor as Ethiopia may seem an easy task. In almost any direction, blight, poverty and despair are visible. Ethiopia has the third largest number of H.I.V.-positive people in the world after India and South Africa.
Spiritan Father Brendan Cogavin, director of CNEWA’s needy child program in Ethiopia, said, “If you look at the files, they show case histories of children who are genuinely orphaned. The father and mother have died from AIDS or AIDS-related illnesses. They are desperately poor. If you don’t work, you don’t eat, and you don’t get any education either, because the government doesn’t provide it for free. So without sponsorship, many of these kids wouldn’t have any education at all.”
While need is everywhere, the sisters take seriously the task of selecting the neediest children for the program. Working closely with the local municipality, the sisters survey the community for families and individuals who appear to meet their criteria. Orphaned children, children of single mothers, children between 3 and 6 years of age and children from low-income families receive the highest priority.
Orthodox? Muslim? Catholic? Religion does not matter. “We see the person, not the religion,” said Sister Enatnesh Eshetu, who is on the selection committee for the Good Shepherd Day Care Center, the congregation’s other day care center in Addis Ababa.
Continue reading A Flicker of Candlelight Amid the Darkness from the September 2003 issue of the magazine.
And to explore ways to support the work that we do in places like Ethiopia, visit our Ways to Give page.
25 September 2012
Tags: Ethiopia Unity Orphans/Orphanages HIV/AIDS
Choir members sing during Mass at St. Michael's Chaldean Catholic Church in El Cajon, California, in this June 2010 photo. (photo: CNS/David Maung)
A recent conference in Ohio brought together hundreds of Eastern Catholics, expressing their love for their faith and their hope that their numbers will grow.
From Catholic News Service:
The message hit Patrick Keegan loud and clear: He’s a leader in his Byzantine Catholic parish just as much as his pastor.
A catechist at St. Nicholas Byzantine Catholic Church in Barberton, outside of Akron, Keegan said he wants to assume a greater leadership role in his parish and in the wider community by living out his faith.
“You have to make yourself known. You have to listen at the feet of Jesus, but you can’t just stay at the feet of Jesus. You have to go out,” Keegan told Catholic News Service during a break at Encounter 2012 near Cleveland Sept. 22 sponsored by the Eastern Catholic churches.
“I can’t teach what I don’t live and to know what I have to live I have to read Scripture,” Keegan continued. “I have to read the church fathers. I have to pick a side of the fence, so to say. I either live for Christ or I don’t.
“It’s tough. It’s really tough.”
Keegan, who joined St. Nicholas after years in the Latin Catholic Church, said he travels 60-mile round trip from his home in Wooster, Ohio, to his parish once or twice a week to teach the faith to young people. He said he hopes his example inspires others.
He was one of 200 laypeople and 85 Eastern Catholic clergy to attend the conference on 20-23 September.
Conference organizers hoped the events featuring well-known speakers mixed with a healthy dose of worship and prayer will inspire and reinvigorate lay members and clergy to collaborate in evangelization, invite newcomers to check out their churches and to raise the profile of the Eastern churches in their communities.
The Eastern churches are diverse, encompassing cultures from Eastern Europe, throughout the Middle East and India. Among the churches participating in the conference were the Armenian, Chaldean, Syro-Malankara, Syro-Malabar, Maronite, Melkite, Romanian, Russian, Ruthenian Byzantine, Syriac, Ukrainian Byzantine and Ukrainian Catholic churches. The Slovaks of the Byzantine Rite of Canada also participated in the conference. All are in communion with the Roman Catholic Church.
Many attendees described the Eastern Catholic churches as the “best-kept secret” of the North American Catholic Church and expressed hope that the conference series will be the start of a major effort to boost membership in their not-very-well-known parishes. Several said collaboration — especially in religious education, Bible study, cultural programming and prayer — is vital.
“We need this. We need people from our churches to interact with people of our faith,” said Mary Snell, a member of Nativity of Mother of God Slovak Byzantine Church in Toronto. “Our churches are empty and we need to get people back in.”
And for more on the Eastern Christian Churches, check out Ronald G. Roberson’s book and profiles of the different churches that have appeared in the magazine over the last several years.
Tags: United States Eastern Churches Chaldean Church Eastern Catholics