Current Issue
December, 2018
Volume 44, Number 4
16 May 2018
Greg Kandra

Pope Francis passes a crucifix as he walks down steps during his general audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican 16 May. During his audience, the pope called for efforts to stop the “spiral of violence” in the Middle East. (photo: CNS/Paul Haring)

Pope issues plea for peace in Middle East (Vatican News) Pope Francis on Wednesday once more expressed his deep concern at the worsening violence in the Middle East. ”I am very concerned at the escalation of tension in the Holy Land and in the Middle East, and the spiral of violence that is moving away further from the path of peace, dialogue and negotiation,” he said at the end of his general audience in Rome’s St. Peter’s Square…

Syrian rebels leave last besieged area (Reuters) The remaining fighters started to withdraw from the last rebel-held enclave in central Syria on Wednesday, state television reported, sealing the government’s control over the area and opening a major stretch of the country’s most important highway…

Lebanon’s president: country will not wait for a political solution on refugees (Middle East Monitor) Lebanese President Michel Aoun said that his country refuses to wait for a political solution before returning the Syrian refugees to their homeland. “We are surprised by the position of some parties which obstruct this return or do not encourage it,” Aoun said during a meeting with foreign delegations in the presidential palace. “Lebanon faces many challenges with 1.8 million displaced people on its territory since 2015,” he said…

Shi’ite cleric’s win puts Iran to the test in Iraq (Reuters) Already pressured by the U.S. withdrawal from the nuclear deal, Iran faces a major test in managing Shi’ite cleric Moqtada al Sadr, a formidable opponent who beat Tehran’s longtime allies to achieve a shock victory in Iraq’s parliamentary election…

Pope meets with Buddhists, Hindus, others at Vatican (Vatican News) Pope Francis on Wednesday briefly met a delegation of Buddhists, Hindus, Jains and Sikhs who participated in a one-day conference in the Vatican, and another group of Buddhist monks from Thailand...

Tags: Iraq Lebanon Pope Francis Middle East

15 May 2018
Greg Kandra

Mourners carry the body of 8-month-old Palestinian Laila al Ghandour, who died after inhaling tear gas at the Israel-Gaza border during a 15 May protest against the U.S embassy move to Jerusalem. (photo: CNS/Mohammed Salem, Reuters)

As the world witnesses “another outburst of hatred and violence, which is once again bleeding all over the Holy Land,” the head of Jerusalem’s Latin Patriarchate called for prayers for peace.

“We need to pray more for peace and our conversion and for all,” said Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa, apostolic administrator of the patriarchate, or diocese.

The Associated Press reported that the same day the United States was inaugurating its embassy in Jerusalem, Israeli forces shot and killed 57 Palestinians and injured more than 2,700 during mass protests along the Gaza border 14 May. In addition, a baby died from tear gas inhalation, the Gaza Health Ministry said, bringing the death toll to 58.

“The lives of so many young people have once again been shut down and hundreds of families are mourning their loved ones, dead or wounded,” said the statement from Archbishop Pizzaballa. “As in a kind of vicious circle, we must condemn all forms of violence, any cynical use of human lives and disproportionate violence. Once again we are forced by circumstances to plead and cry out for justice and peace!”

He announced that 19 May, the eve of Pentecost, the church would hold a prayer vigil at the Church of St. Stephen at L’Ecole Biblique. He asked the entire diocese to dedicate a day of prayer and fasting for the peace of Jerusalem and that the liturgy on Pentecost be dedicated to prayer for peace.

“We must truly pray to the Spirit to change our hearts to better understand his will and to give us the strength to continue to work for justice and peace,” the archbishop said.

Palestinians claim Jerusalem as their capital and now feel that, with its embassy there, the U.S. cannot be a fair broker in the peace process with Israel.

Many Israelis see opening the embassy as the long-awaited official recognition of Jerusalem as their capital and the fulfillment of a promise made by numerous U.S. presidents to move the building from Tel Aviv.

Tags: Gaza Strip/West Bank Palestine Israel Holy Land Israeli-Palestinian conflict

15 May 2018
Greg Kandra

In the video above, ambulances in Cairo carry caskets with the remains of martyred Egyptian Copts. They were executed by ISIS on a beach in Libya in 2015. (video: Al Jazeera/YouTube)

Remains of Egyptian Copts executed by ISIS arrive in Egypt (Libya Herald) The remains of 20 Egyptian Copts ceremoniously murdered while being recorded on video by the terrorist organization ISIL during its control of Sirte, were returned to Egypt yesterday. Their remains were flown from Misrata airport after completion of the relevant procedures by Libyan authorities, Libyan state news agency LANA reports…

Uneasy calm falls over Gaza after Monday violence (The New York Times) Gaza awoke on Tuesday to a grim agenda: Funerals for protesters killed along the fence bordering Israel, including one for an 8-month-old baby girl overcome by tear gas; and still-frenzied work treating the thousands of people wounded, in hospitals so overrun with patients that tents were set up in their courtyards. There was also uncertainty about whether the demonstrations would grow, fade, or give way to an outright armed conflict. The death toll in the protests reached 60 overnight…

Delhi archbishop launches election prayer campaign ( Delhi Archdiocese has started a year-long prayer campaign ahead of federal elections, saying India faces a turbulent political future that threatens the country’s democracy. In a pastoral letter read out on 13 May in all the national capital’s parishes, Archbishop Anil Couto of Delhi called on Catholics in his archdiocese to start a campaign of prayer and Friday fasting ahead of elections in due in April 2019…

Modi’s party claims victory in crucial Indian state election ( Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s party emerged wining more seats in a crucial election in the southern Indian state of Karnataka in a major setback to their rival Congress party, setting the tone for national elections early next year…

Syria’s lost generation: school kids who can’t go to school (Haaretz) Syria’s Education Ministry recently published detailed directives on finding and punishing students who have forged diplomas — another action by which the regime seeks to show that the areas under its control are being properly run. Actually, these directives are meaningless. The real details on the number of forgers are unavailable, and the need to forge documents stems not only from a desire to cheat, but from the loss of documents during the war, documents students need to get jobs or complete their studies…

Tags: India Egypt Gaza Strip/West Bank ISIS

14 May 2018
Greg Kandra

Archbishop Kuriakose Bharanikulangara visited CNEWA’s New York offices Monday morning. (photo: CNEWA)

This morning, we were privileged to welcome to CNEWA’s New York offices Archbishop Kuriakose Bharanikulangara, who heads the Syro-Malabar Eparchy of Faridabad in India.

It’s not a small job.

His eparchy stretches across six states in the “great north” of India, bordering Nepal — ”at 19,000 feet, it’s the highest diocese in the world,” Msgr. John E. Kozar, CNEWA’s president, explained by way of introduction. The territory embraces about one million square kilometers (just under 400,000 square miles) and counts a population of 120 million people — nearly all of them non-Christian.

But into this vast territory, he is bringing the Gospel — and with the help of CNEWA and our generous donors, helping the message of Jesus to be heard.

As he told the CNEWA staff during a meeting this morning, his main focus at the moment is Punjab, a region on the northern border of India with a culture and a government that are tolerant. Unlike many other parts of India, Punjab does not have an “anti-conversion bill” on the books — that is, a law whereby anyone who is converted without the knowledge and approval of civil authorities can be arrested. Punjab permits Christianity to be taught and practiced, and Archbishop Kuriakose is helping lead the way.

With CNEWA’s support, he has just established the 19th mission in the area. He described how these missions work.

“We rent out a building,” he explained, adding that conditions are, by Western standards, primitive. “In many houses, priests do not even have running water. They have to take a bucket, collect water, come to the mission house where they live. Often, in the work, they are helped by catechists. Priests do not always master the language, so we have one or two paid full-time catechists. Then I have a seminary student who is an intern. All these go to the villages and they make a presence. They have singing, they spend time with them, praying with them.”

There is also great effort to attract vocations.

“To go to such a primitive, remote area, to work in such conditions, you need dedicated priests,” he told us. “This is my blessing. I have young people who are eager. We are promoting a kind of priestly adventure. ‘Come here,’ we say. ‘Live here three years.’ And they are coming.”

“What he is doing is wonderful,” Msgr. Kozar said of the archbishop’s work. “He’s using the resources of the south, by inviting them on this ‘priestly adventure,’ to come and learn about a whole new dimension of the church in India, a church that is hungry for people to know Jesus, and to form the local church up in the ‘great north.’

“This is really the model for what evangelization is supposed to be.”

Archbishhop Kuriakose Bharanikulangara and Msgr. John E. Kozar. (photo: CNEWA)

Tags: India CNEWA Evangelization

14 May 2018
Greg Kandra

Palestinians carry a demonstrator injured during clashes with Israeli forces near the border between the Gaza strip and Israel east of Gaza City on 14 May 2018. Dozens were killed in the latest protests ahead of the controversial opening of the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem. (photo: Thomas Coex/AFP/Getty Images)

Gaza: 52 Palestinians killed on deadliest day since 2014 (BBC) At least 52 Palestinians have been killed and 2,400 wounded by Israeli troops, Palestinian officials say, on the deadliest day of violence since the 2014 Gaza war. Palestinians have been protesting for weeks but deaths soared on the day the US opened its embassy in Jerusalem.Palestinians see this as clear US backing for Israeli rule over the whole city, whose eastern part they claim…

Vatican and Jordanian institute underscore dignity of human life (Vatican News) The Vatican and a Jordanian institute dedicated to inter-faith studies have issued a statement urging for the protection of and respect for human life, especially that of migrants, refugees and victims of human trafficking. The call came from the delegates of the Royal Institute for Inter-Faith Studies and the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, who held their fifth colloquium in the Jordanian capital Amman, 9-10 May, on the theme, “Religions and the Dignity of Life: Christian and Muslim Viewpoints”…

India’s government accused of blocking Christian judge ( The collegium of India’s Supreme Court has met to reconsider its recommendation to elevate a Christian judge to the top court amid allegations that the pro-Hindu federal government had rejected him for ideological reasons. The collegium of judges met on 11 May to consider its January recommendation to elevate Chief Justice K.M. Joseph of Uttarakhand High Court to the Supreme Court, local reports said…

Mideast faith leaders say life influences how people deal with the environment (CNS) It’s hard to discuss detrimental environmental effects of using the diesel fuel needed to run generators in Gaza when people only have three hours of government-provided electricity a day, said Tahani Abu Daqqa, former Palestinian Minister of Culture. Daqqa participated in an interfaith conference aimed at bringing religion into play for the environment — not an easy task in a region where religion has often been a force for separation rather than cooperation and where many people live under poverty and hardship…

Tags: India Palestine Vatican

11 May 2018
Greg Kandra

One of the great resources published in ONE magazine was a comprehensive series on the Eastern churches. The driving force behind it — and the author of the series — was the magazine’s editor and CNEWA’s director of communications, Michael J.L. LaCivita.

When the series concluded in 2012, he reflected on the wide world he’d written about and offered some thoughts on the Eastern churches CNEWA is privileged to serve.

You can find the entire series here.

But check out his video below.

Tags: Christianity Eastern Christianity Eastern Churches

11 May 2018
Greg Kandra

Awatef Youssef, from Qaraqosh, stands with her husband, Amir Marzina, and son, Manuel, in their temporary home in northern Iraq. They are among the thousands who fled ISIS in 2014 and are now trying to start over. A religious sister writes about her experience ministering to these displaced families in A Letter From Iraq in the current edition of ONE. (photo: Raed Rafei)

Tags: Iraq Iraqi Christians

11 May 2018
Greg Kandra

Pope Francis exchanges gifts with Metropolitan Rastislav, primate of the Orthodox Church in the Czech and Slovak Republics, during a meeting in the Apostolic Palace at the Vatican 11 May. In an address at the meeting, the pope said seeking Christian unity is more urgent than ever because of the ongoing persecution of Christians. (photo: CNS/Vatican Media)

Iran condemns wave of Israeli air strikes in Syria (BBC) Iran has backed Syria’s “right to defend itself” after Israel launched strikes on what it said was Iranian military infrastructure inside Syria. In the first comments by Iran since Thursday’s wave of strikes, the foreign ministry condemned the “blatant violation of Syria’s sovereignty”. The strikes were the heaviest carried out by Israel on Syria in decades…

Pope meets primate of Orthodox Church in Czech, Slovak republics (Vatican News) Pope Francis met on Friday with Metropolitan Rastislav, head of the Orthodox Church in the Czech and Slovak Republics. It was the first encounter between the pontiff and the primate, who was elected in January 2014. In his words to the Holy Father, Metropolitan Rastislav compared the two church leaders to the disciples on the road to Emmaus, who only recognized Jesus when he broke bread with them…

India’s bishops condemn letter defaming Church (Vatican News) India’s Catholic bishops have condemned a malicious fake letter making the rounds on the social media, that is designed to defame the Catholic Church and arouse communal tension for political gain in the run-up to the crucial assembly election on Saturday in the southern state of Karnataka. The fake letter claims that Indian Church officials in collusion with representatives of the Holy See in New Delhi, support demands made by Karnataka’s Lingayat community to be recognized as a separate minority religion in order to convert them…

Catholic Church accused of ‘playing politics’ in Goa, India ( Villagers in India’s Goa state have started a hunger strike against environmental policies amid accusations that the Catholic Church supports such protests. They started the hunger strike on 9 May as part of their opposition to the Planning and Development Authority, which they claim is implementing a regional plan to take over farmland and water bodies in several villages to develop tourism projects threatening the environment…

Egypt celebrates 50th anniversary of Coptic-approved Marian apparition (Egypt Today) On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the great apparition of Virgin Mary in in Egypt, Pope Tawadros II of Alexandria said that the historical event was a message of love from God to Egyptians…

Tags: Syria India Israel Iran Czech Republic

9 May 2018
Greg Kandra

Toddler Joao Bento wears a pope outfit during the general audience in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican on 9 May. (photo: CNS/Claudio Peri, EPA)

Tags: Children

9 May 2018
Greg Kandra

In the video above, Pope Francis blesses a bus driven by Syrian refugees who will travel through Poland seeking to publicize the plight of Syria. During his general audience Wednesday, the pope called for prayers for peace in Syria and the world. (video: Rome Reports/YouTube)

During audience, Pope calls for prayers for Syria (Vatican News) Pope Francis has urged for prayers for peace in Syria and in the world. His call came during his weekly general audience of Wednesday, where he greeted Arab-speaking pilgrims. “I invite you to cultivate the devotion to the Mother of God with the daily recitation of the rosary, praying in a special way for peace in Syria and in the entire world,” the pope said in Italian…

Israel attacked Syria an hour after Trump ended Iran deal, says report (Time) Syrian state-run media said Israel struck a military outpost near the capital Damascus on Tuesday, saying its air defenses intercepted and destroyed two of the incoming missiles. The reported attack came an hour after President Donald Trump announced he was withdrawing from the Iran nuclear deal, calling Tehran a main exporter of terrorism in the region. Israel’s military said Tuesday its forces were on high alert near its border with Syria, and were urging civilians in the Golan Heights near Syria to prepare bomb shelters…

Christian leaders in Jerusalem respond to vandalism (CNA) Church leaders are defending the need for a Christian presence in the Old City of Jerusalem, as some report increased vandalism, verbal abuse, and aggressive property acquisition by Jewish settlers. “Today the church faces a most severe threat at the hands of certain settler groups. The settlers are persistent in their attempts to erode the presence of the Christian community in Jerusalem,” said the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem, Theophilos III, in an interview with the Guardian…

Taboo puts pregnant women at risk in India ( “It is still considered a taboo in our village to visit a doctor during pregnancy. We are told to work and eat a normal diet even when pregnancy is detected. This is how it has been going on here for years,” said Rubeena Bano, 33, of Pulwama district. Close to 25 percent of women like Bano, who live in village areas of this Muslim-dominated region, believe that supplements like folic acid, iron and calcium tablets are unnecessary during pregnancy, a study found last year. The study by the Food Science Research Journal found village women did not have adequate awareness of the benefits of dietary supplements…

Leader of Armenia’s ‘velvet revolution’ takes power (NPR) On Tuesday, half a month after Serzh Sargsyan stepped down under popular pressure, Armenian lawmakers elected rough-hewn protest leader, Nikol Pashinyan, 42, to be the country’s next prime minister…

Tags: Syria India Israel Armenia Iran

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