5 February 2018
Pope Francis talks with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan during a private meeting on 5 February at the Vatican. (photo: CNS/Alessandro Di Meo via Reuters)
Pope Francis welcomed Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to the Vatican on 5 February for a private discussion that included the status of Jerusalem and the need to achieve peace in the Middle East through dialogue and respect for human rights.
During a 50-minute meeting, the two leaders discussed the current situation in Turkey, “the condition of the Catholic community, efforts in the reception of the many refugees and the challenges linked to this,” the Vatican said in a statement.
Aided by interpreters, Pope Francis and Erdogan also focused on “the situation in the Middle East, with particular reference to the status of Jerusalem, highlighting the need to promote peace and stability in the region through dialogue and negotiation, with respect for human rights and international law.”
The same topics were brought up during Erdogan’s separate meeting with Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state, and Archbishop Paul Gallagher, Vatican foreign minister.
Erdogan arrived in Rome amid heavy security measures for a two-day visit that was to include meetings with Italian authorities and business leaders. More than 3,000 police officers had been deployed for the visit, according to Agence France-Presse, and demonstrations had been banned in Rome’s center for 24 hours.
Exchanging gifts, Erdogan gave Pope Francis a boxed collection of works by Jalal al Din Muhammad Rumi, the 13th-century Muslim mystic, philosopher and poet.
“Ah, matters of the mystics,” the pope replied, according to a pool report.
The Turkish president also gave the pope a large panoramic image of the city of Istanbul hand-painted on ceramic tiles.
Pope Francis then gave Erdogan a large bronze medallion of an “angel of peace,” who, the pope said, “strangles the demon of war.”
“This is a symbol of a world founded on peace and justice,” the pope continued.
The pope also gave the president a copy of his encyclical letter, “Laudato Si’“ on the care of creation, his 2018 message for the World Day of Peace and an engraving of what St. Peter’s Basilica and the square looked like in the 17th century.
Speaking to reporters at Istanbul’s airport prior to his departure for Rome, Erdogan said his visit to the Vatican to see the pope — the first by a Turkish president in 59 years — was “a significant opportunity to draw attention to common human values.”
He said he planned to discuss the status of Jerusalem, the situation in Palestine, Syria and Iraq, as well as “counterterrorism, refugee issues and humanitarian aid,” according to Anadolu Agency, the state-run news service. The rise of Islamophobia in the West and “cultural racism” were also topics he planned to bring up, the agency reported.
Erdogan had telephoned the pope in December to discuss his concern over the status of Jerusalem after U.S. President Donald Trump announced on 6 December that he was formally recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
Pope Francis has repeatedly upheld Vatican calls for a special, internationally guaranteed statute on the status of Jerusalem as the only way to preserve its unique identity as a place considered holy by Christians, Jews and Muslims.
The pope has publicly appealed for respect for the “status quo” of Jerusalem and prayed that “wisdom and prudence would prevail to avoid adding new elements of tension in a world already shaken and scarred by many cruel conflicts.”
5 February 2018
Tags: Pope Francis Jerusalem Turkey
Indian Cardinal Oswald Gracias, shown in this file photo from 2015, on Sunday encouraged bishops in India to urge the faithful to become fully Indian and Christian. (photo: CNS/Anto Akkara)
Church in India urges faithful to become fully Indian, Christian (DaijiWorld.com) Inaugurating the 30th Plenary Assembly of the Conference of Catholic Bishops of India (C.C.B.I.) of the Latin Church, here on Sunday 4 February, Cardinal Oswald Gracias, president of Conference of Catholic Bishops of India and archbishop of Mumbai, exhorted the bishops in India to urge the faithful to become fully Indian and fully Christian…
Palestinians slam Jerusalem move to end tax breaks for churches, UN properties (Times of Israel) Palestinians on Sunday strongly denounced an Israeli decision to collect taxes from churches and United Nations agencies in Jerusalem, saying the move was aimed at “emptying” the city of its Arab residents and Christian holy sites…
Ethiopia launches job creation project for refugees, returnees (Ethiopian News Agency) A job creation project, which aims at supporting Ethiopian returnees and Eritrean refugees, was launched by the European Union Trust Fund for Africa and Ethiopian Government. The two-year project benefits 1,500 potential returnees and 200 Eritrean refugees. The project areas in Addis Ababa are Arada, Addis Ketema, Kirkos, and Yeka sub-cities, while the value chain areas are leather construction and metal, it was indicated…
Kurds express shock over ‘mutilated’ female fighter video (Vatican News) In one of the most gruesome episodes of the conflict, Kurds in Syria have accused Turkish-backed rebels of mutilating the body of a female Kurdish fighter, then posting the footage online. The victim, a member of the Kurdish People’s Protection Unit — known as YPG — has been identified as Barin Kobani. She took part in a recent operation to drive the so-called Islamic State from areas in northern Syria…
Eagles fans in Jerusalem flying high after Super Bowl win (The Jerusalem Post) As is the tradition, American sports fans congregated at, Mike’s Place, in the heart of the capital, which hosted several hundred diehard sports fans for Super Bowl LII…
2 February 2018
The video above illustrates some of the challenges in the marriage between a Lebanese man and a Syrian woman. (video: Raed Rafei)
This week, we end with a love story, and a video about the marriage between a Lebanese man and a Syrian woman in Lebanon.
To learn more about how refugees are faring in Lebanon, often under very difficult circumstances, read Hardship and Hospitality in the June 2017 edition of ONE.
2 February 2018
Children practice their penmanship at the Our Lady of Armenia center in Tashir, Armenia. Read about the efforts to help Armenia’s Children, Left Behind in the Summer 2016 edition of ONE.
(photo: Nazik Armenakyan)
2 February 2018
A man prays amid destroyed buildings after several airstrikes on 9 January in Hamoria, Syria. The U.S. has accused the Syrian government of using chemical weapons against its people.
(photo: CNS/Mohammed Badra, EPA)
U.S. accuses Syria of chemical weapons use (Al Jazeera) The United States has accused the Syrian government of using chemical weapons against its people. U.S. State Department spokesman Heather Nauert said on Thursday that reports of chlorine gas being used against civilians in Eastern Ghouta were “very concerning”...
Letter in India calls for the government to stop hate crimes against minorities (Fides) In an open letter, public officials, personalities from Indian culture and intellectuals have expressed “Deep concern for the continuous episodes of senseless violence in the country, especially those that target minorities,” and also “for the weak response of law enforcement agencies and institutions”...
Ethiopia lifts ban on domestic workers moving overseas (AFP) Ethiopia has lifted a ban on domestic workers moving overseas after passing a new law to guard against ill-treatment, a government official said Thursday. Africa’s second-most populous country instituted the ban five years ago following reports of abuse, and complaints that employment agencies lured Ethiopians into working abroad in illegal and appalling conditions...
Middle East Council of Churches appoints acting Secretary General (Fides) The Executive Committee of the Middle East Council of Churches has appointed Professor Souraya Bechealany as Acting Secretary General of the ecumenical body. Souraya Bechealany takes the place of Father Michel Jalkh, who was appointed Rector of Antonine University. The choice, approved unanimously, was announced at the end of the meeting of the Executive Committee hosted in Lebanon by Antonine University, in the district of Baabda in the southern part of Beirut...
Church celebrates World Day of Consecrated Life (Vatican News) Pope Francis celebrates the liturgy in St Peter’s Basilica on Friday with thousands of religious and members of Societies of Apostolic life. The announcement for this event contained the following reflection from the Holy Father: “A vocation is a gift we have received from the Lord, who fixed his gaze on us and called us, calling us to follow him in the consecrated life”...
1 February 2018
The Didos family of Lviv — displaced after shelling destroyed their neighborhood in the Donetsk region of Ukraine — share a moment of happiness on a cold Sunday on their way home from church. Read about the plight of The Displaced from Ukraine in the March 2017 edition of ONE.
(photo: Ivan Chernichkin)
1 February 2018
A Syrian child uses a stainless-steel pot to bale out water from her tent at a refugee camp on the outskirts of Zahle in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley on 26 January 2018.
(photo: Joseph Eid, AFP/Getty Images)
Winter’s tragic toll on Lebanon’s Syrian refugees (Voice of America) Following a few months of relatively mild weather, the recent storm came as a bitter reminder of how harsh winters can be in Lebanon’s highlands. And with some Syrians spending their seventh year in camps, it is proving ever-harder to cope with such conditions...
6900 Syrians win permission to stay in U.S. For now (The New York Times) Nearly 7,000 Syrians who were granted temporary permission to live and work in the United States as a civil war devoured their country will be allowed to stay for at least another 18 months, the Trump administration announced on Wednesday, in an acknowledgment that Syria continues to be rattled by conflict...
Gaza faces ‘unprecedented’ humanitarian crisis (Al Jazeera) Palestinians in the Gaza Strip have entered their 11th year under a crippling siege imposed by Israel and Egypt, and are in dire need of international aid. Gaza Palestinian economic experts are warning that even if help is given immediately, a humanitarian disaster might be unavoidable...
Human Rights Watch slams India’s treatment of minorities (UCANews.com) Civil society groups in India have backed a Human Rights Watch report that condemns the unabated violence that religious minorities suffer at the hands of right-wing Hindu groups. India’s federal government led by the pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has failed to contain rights violations on several fronts, according to the New York-based group’s 2018 World Report. “The government failed to promptly or credibly investigate the attacks, while many senior BJP leaders publicly promoted Hindu supremacy and ultra-nationalism, which encouraged further violence,” said the Human Rights Watch report...
Reject intolerance, teach respect for other religions, speakers say (CNS) A rigorous defense of religious freedom around the globe must be accompanied by the efforts of religious communities and governments to teach people to respect other faiths and to see diversity within a society as a value, not a threat, said a Vatican cardinal and a top British government official. “The struggle for the affirmation of religious liberty is far from being won,” Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, prefect of the Congregation for Eastern Churches, told an audience at Rome’s Pontifical Gregorian University on 30 January...
Trip to Syria shows wars can be most dangerous when they’re coming to an end (The Independent) It’s easy to think the war is over. Until mortars from el-Ghouta swish over Damascus and explode in the old Christian area of Bab el-Roma with its grocery shops and restaurants. Six dead. Or when an army officer comes and says quite casually to you: “Remember Captain Walid? He was martyred four days ago.” I’ve always felt uneasy about the word “martyred” — about any soldier, or civilian, anywhere...
31 January 2018
Sister Simone Abdel Malek, who leads the Daughters of Charity in Alexandria, Egypt, takes a call while meeting with patients at her order’s dispensary. Learn more about the extraordinary work of these religious sisters in Charity’s Daughters in the current edition of ONE. (photo: Roger Anis)
31 January 2018
Syrian refugees arrive at Rome’s Fiumicino airport as part of a program sponsored by the Community of Sant’ Egidio. (photo: Vatican News/Facebook)
Syrian refugees arrive in Rome (Vatican News) A group of Syrian refugees were welcomed at Rome’s Fiumicino airport on Tuesday as part of a humanitarian corridors program. The initiative is being promoted by the Community of Sant’ Egidio and aided by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of the Interior...
Apostolic nuncio speaks on conditions in Ukraine (Vatican News) In the wake of Pope Francis’ visit to a Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church on Sunday, the Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Claudio Gugerotti to Ukraine is speaking out about the situation in the eastern European nation...
Lebanon overwhelmed with lingering Syrian refugee crisis (National Catholic Register) As Lebanon enters its seventh year of hosting Syrian refugees, the country is slipping further into an economic and social crisis. About two-thirds the size of Connecticut, with a local population of about 4 million, Lebanon has the highest per capita refugee population in the world. Lebanon has absorbed more than 1 million refugees from neighboring Syria, a figure which refers only to those who are registered with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)...
Hamas leader dies in Gaza (Andalou Agency) Senior Hamas leader Imad al-Alami, who was injured by gunfire earlier this month, passed away in the Gaza Strip on Tuesday, a Hamas leader said. In a Twitter post, Bassim Naim confirmed that al-Alami had died, giving no further details. Al-Alami was seriously injured three weeks ago when a bullet reportedly hit his head as he was checking his personal weapon at his home...
30 January 2018
Tags: Syria Lebanon Ukraine Refugees Gaza Strip/West Bank
The Rev. Ihor Hrishchenko celebrates the Divine Liturgy inside an abandoned facility once used to develop grain seeds. (photo: Ivan Chernichkin)
In the current edition of ONE, writer Mark Raczkiewycz takes us to Ukraine for a look at how the church there is seeking to grow — often under daunting circumstances:
Despite decades of official atheism, Christian symbolism is compellingly strong in central and eastern Ukraine, which is why many are cautious to enter dwellings where Greek Catholics worship: The buildings often lack the proper symbols and icons.
In the 700-strong village of Mala Vilshanka, the Rev. Ihor Hrishchenko...is blessed with two enormous rooms inside an abandoned, run-down Soviet-era facility once used to develop new grain seeds.
He celebrates the sacraments regularly with about a dozen parishioners — although as large a group as half the village comes out on Epiphany to bless water in January — yet the small community “wants something of its own,” he says.
“The parish and I want an appropriate religious atmosphere here,” Father Hrishchenko says. “You don’t want to go to a random café; you want something of your own. But we have no money to build one.”
Still, the parish has the luxury of a separate room for social events and gatherings crucial to building a parish community. Father Hrishchenko uses the space for screening films, putting on plays and inviting guest lecturers to speak on such topics as marriage, ethics and holidays.
“Even though there is the internet and people can instantly access information, it’s more useful to have a ‘human library,’ an expert to talk about the Holy Scripture and other topics,” he says.
The 35-year-old priest also leads another parish in neighboring Bila Tserkva, comprised of some 40 faithful who gather inside a dilapidated Soviet-era household goods store — a brick building with a crumbling façade.
For two years, when he had no car, Father Hrishchenko would take the bus to the village parish and then hitchhike back to the district center in every kind of weather.
Such concessions are necessary when resources are tight. The average Ukrainian monthly salary barely reaches $200, and diminishes as one moves farther away from urban centers.
“It would take 20 or 30 years’ worth of donations to build a church on what we get in our donation boxes, which hardly covers expenses for liturgy — bread, charcoal, candles and wine.”
Read more about how Catholics are Planting Seeds, Nurturing Faith in Ukraine in the December 2017 edition of ONE.