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Current Issue
December, 2017
Volume 43, Number 4
  
6 May 2016
Greg Kandra




In the video above, a Russian orchestra performs for troops and journalists in an ancient Roman amphitheater in Palmyra, Syria. (video: CNN/YouTube)

Air strike on refugee camp could be a war crime (BBC) An air strike on a Syrian refugee camp that reportedly killed at least 28 people could amount to a war crime, a senior UN official has told the BBC. Stephen O’Brien, the UN humanitarian affairs chief, called for an inquiry into the attack on the Kamouna camp in the northern Idlib province. Syrian or Russian forces are suspected. Syria’s military denied involvement in the strike on a rebel-held area...

Russian symphony performs in Palmyra, Syria (The New York Times) Russia has made its mark on Syria with the crash of bombs and the thud of artillery. On Thursday the Russians added gentler sounds: live classical music echoing through an ancient stone theater and into the eerie, empty desert. Extending its soft power into the Syrian conflict, Russia deployed a symphony orchestra led by one of its best-known conductors, Valery Gergiev, and the cellist Sergei P. Roldugin, an old and — according to the Panama Papers documents leaked last month — very wealthy friend of President Vladimir V. Putin. Their performance space was Palmyra, the city of ruins left by Roman and other ancient civilizations and ruined further by the depredations of the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL...

Israel bombs Hamas in worst violence since war in 2014 (The Telegraph) Israel carried out air strikes in the Gaza Strip on Friday during the most serious escalation of hostilities since the last war against Hamas in 2014. The target of the air raids was “Hamas terror infrastructure”, according to an Israeli military statement. The strikes appear to have taken place in Beit Lahia, a suburb of Gaza City, and the southern town of Khuzaa. Both areas suffered severe damage during the 50-day war in July-August 2014...

Jordan’s prince discusses recent meeting at Vatican (Vatican Radio) “Citizenship is a question of pluralism, a question of recognizing the identity of the other on the basis of respect:” That’s what Jordan’s Prince El Hassan bin Talal has told Vatican Radio following an interfaith meeting in the Vatican on the theme “Shared values in Social and Political Life”...

Facing an ugly truth about Christian persecution (Crux) According to watchdog groups, there are 200 million Christians today living under the threat of physical violence, arrest, torture, imprisonment and death. In light of that epidemic, there’s a burning need to raise consciousness about the threats Christians face. At the same time, it’s also important to be scrupulously honest about the nature of those threats, so that fair-minded people don’t come to see this as a PR effort, or an exercise in wedge politics, rather than a genuine human rights calamity. In that spirit of candor, here’s an ugly truth to confront: There are occasions when Christians meet the enemy, and it’s us...

Vatican council: Christians and Buddhists should work together for the environment (Vatican Radio) The Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue has sent a message to the Buddhists of the world to mark the Feast of Vesakh, which commemorates the his birth, enlightenment and death of Gautama Buddha...



4 May 2016
Greg Kandra




A mother brings her child to the Daughters of St. Anne’s clinic in Ethiopia for a checkup. The country is facing its most severe drought into decades, and children in particular are suffering. Read more in When Rain Fails, in the Spring 2016 edition of ONE. (photo: Petterik Wiggers)



4 May 2016
Greg Kandra




In this image from 2015, the Patriarch of the Chaldean Church, Louis Raphael Sako takes part in the Easter liturgy in Baghdad. This week, he called on Iraqi leaders to end the deterioration in his country. (photo: Safin Hamed/AFP/Getty Images)

Patriarch calls for reconciliation in Iraq (CNS) Chaldean Catholic Patriarch Louis Sako of Baghdad urged Iraq’s leaders to put an end to the “institutional, economic and security deterioration” in the country. “We call upon you, with a saddened heart and sorrow because of what is happening in Iraq and because the people are suffering from violence, poverty and misery,” Sako said in a statement...

The sad reality of Syria at war (The New York Times) Declan Walsh recently visited Damascus, the war-weary Syrian capital, and the government-controlled part of the divided city of Aleppo. Here, he answers selected readers’ questions about his reporting trip to Syria, life in devastated parts of the country, and how Syrians view their prospects...

Indian Supreme Court: person can change religion, but not caste (TheCSF.org) In a significant decision, the Supreme Court has ruled that a person can change religion and faith but not the caste to which they belong. The Supreme Court has said that caste has linkage to birth and person changing religion can’t change his caste. The Judgment came in the case of Mohammed Sadique, who had contested election from a constituency reserved for Scheduled Castes in Punjab...

Report: religious freedom deteriorating around the world (RNS) Religious freedom remains under “serious and sustained assault” around the globe, according to a new annual report from the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom. “At best, in most of the countries we cover, religious freedom conditions have failed to improve,” commission chairman Robert P. George said Monday. “At worst, they have spiraled further downward...”

Negotiations continue for release of kidnapped priest (Vatican Radio) Two months after the massacre perpetrated by a terrorist commando in the nursing home in Aden, where four Missionaries of Charity were killed along with 12 other people, there is still no certain news about father Tom Uzhunnalil. In the absence of verified information, rumors continue to circulate on the current negotiations to secure his release...

Azerbaijan says Armenia repeatedly violates cease fire (TASS) The Armenian armed forces have violated the ceasefire 120 times on various sections of the frontline over the past 24 hours using, in particular, 60mm mortars, Azerbaijan’s Defense Ministry said on Wednesday...

Pope greets participants in interfaith meeting (Vatican Radio) Ahead of his General Audience on Wednesday, Pope Francis met with participants of a meeting between the Royal Institute for Interfaith Studies of Amman and the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue. The Fourth meeting between the two institutions had for its main topic the theme: “Shared values in social and political life: citizens and believers...”



3 May 2016
Greg Kandra




Sister Micheline Lattouff stands in her office in Deir el Ahmar, Lebanon. “I believe that even if a person is in a very bad situation,” she says, “my mission is to show him the spark and light it.”
(photo: Tamara Abdul Hadi)


In a corner of the world facing increasing desolation and despair, Sister Micheline Lattouff is a true hero. She has devoted her life to helping provide healing and hope to Syrian refugees in Lebanon:

“There is an ancient saying, ‘The candle that is just smoking, not lighted, still has a life in it, still has hope in it,’ ” says Sister Micheline. “I have no right to turn it off. I believe that even if a person is in a very bad situation, my mission is to show him the spark and light it.”

She began this journey at the age of 17. While on a high school retreat, she met a Lebanese sister of the Good Shepherd who had lived in Sudan and worked with women prisoners.

“These women were in bad shape — no toilets, no sanitary napkins — losing their dignity with no one to help them,” she says. “I was inspired that these were not nuns who just prayed; they were nuns who helped the poor. That is when I decided to become a Good Shepherd sister,” she says. “The mission of the Good Shepherd Sisters is to defend the rights of women, children and families — to help them regain their dignity.”

...She arrived in the Bekaa Valley in 2004, seven years before the war in Syria began, and soon began teaching in nearby Deir el Ahmar.

“I felt this region needed support, like sheep without a shepherd,” says the 44-year-old sister, citing concerns such as high rates of illiteracy. According a 2009 study by the United Nations Development Program, some 16.8 percent of adults in the Bekaa region cannot read — the highest rate in Lebanon. Many students drop out, drifting away from school to focus on farm work. Worse still, many become embroiled in the drug trade, which thrives in the region due to the cultivation of cannabis crops.

“The children were watering the hashish,” she says. “So, I started thinking: ‘What can I do for the children in this area?’ ”

Wasting no time, the nun sought resources — faculty volunteers, a public space and basic materials — and in late 2005 started an after-school program. It opened for just two hours each afternoon, but those two hours allowed for healthy socializing, study and play. It gave students another choice in how to spend their time, and provided an incentive to stay in school.

Read the rest of her story. She summed this up beautifully and reflected on her vocation in a 2015 interview:

ONE: What have been some of your more rewarding moments?

ML: The best moment for me is when I see the children happy, successful in their studies and their life, when I see them able to pass through the difficulties and continue to achieve.

ONE: What have been some of your more difficult moments?

ML: The more difficult moments are when I have nothing to give the refugees. It is so difficult for me.

ONE: What thoughts sustain you during difficult times?

ML: I believe in human beings and God. I believe that God is capable of changing a person, when I see people improving from work, when I see success of people and developing.



3 May 2016
Greg Kandra




An image of Our Lady of Sinj is decorated at St. Jerome Croatian Catholic Church in Chicago. In Catholic tradition, May is the month devoted to Mary. Learn more about the traditions of Balkan emigrants living in Chicago in Sharing Space in an Adopted Home from the May 2004
edition of ONE. (photo: Hryhoriy Prystay)




3 May 2016
Greg Kandra




A child is seen in a hospital bed after being injured in a 10 March bombing near Damascus, Syria. The Syrian army has extended a “regime of calm” around Damascus after a recent resurgence of violence. (photo: CNS/Mohammed Badra, EPA)

Syria extends “regime of calm” (Vatican Radio) The Syrian army confirmed on Monday that a “regime of calm” has been extended for a further 48 hours around Damascus, the country’s capital. This cessation of hostilities in the capital comes after a resurgence of violence in the country’s northern Aleppo region, which has seen more than 250 people killed in the last 9 days, and threatens to destabilize the 9 week truce put in place by UN officials...

Metropolitan offers prayers after fire destroys Serbian cathedral (OCA.org) On Bright Monday, 2 May 2016, His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon, sent a letter to His Grace, Serbian Orthodox Bishop Mitrophan, offering prayers and concern in the wake of a four-alarm fire that engulfed Saint Sava Serbian Orthodox Cathedral near West 25th Street and Broadway in New York City...

Chaldean Patriarchate condemns destruction of church as an attack on Christian memory (Christian Today) The Chaldean Patriarchate has condemned the destruction of the historic Clock Church by the Islamic State (ISIS), saying it was undertaken “to erase Iraq’s Christian memory in favour of a state of strangers who commit terror in the name of Islam.” The iconic Clock Church, a Christian church known for its soaring clock tower which was built in the 1870s, is one of the best known remaining churches in Mosul, Iraq, which was named after its tower and funded by Empress Eugenie, the wife of the last French Emperor Napoleon III...

Syrian women gaining confidence in Turkish refugee camp (Al-Monitor) A Turkish teacher taught the group of 20 Syrian women stitching, embroidery and how to make blankets and mend clothes. The clothes and blankets are sold in shops and bazaars in the city of Gaziantep and inside the camp. Not only did Maysa, [one of the refugees,] earn some extra money, the sewing club gave her something much more valuable...

Ethiopian farmers fighting drought with land restoration (The Guardian) Although the recurrent famine that plagues Ethiopia is too complex to be explained by a single cause, environmental degradation has played a big role. Ethiopia has long been a victim of land degradation, driven by increased human use of land and unsustainable agricultural practices. Grazing of animals and collection of firewood haven’t helped — with less cover and protection against erosion, soil is more easily washed away. Now, Ethiopia is drawing on its business community and public sector to do something about it...

Tribal Christians flee Indian village following threat (UCANews.com) Six families of Gond tribal Christians have fled their village in the central Indian Chhattisgarh state after Hindu neighbors allegedly threatened to kill them if they didn’t convert, their pastor has said. Following a week of harassment and attacks, all 37 Christians fled Katodi village in Kanker district on April 29, Moses Annel told ucanews.com 2 May. They were “beaten up and their houses were destroyed" after they refused the majority Hindu tribal villagers’ “demand to give up their Christian faith,” Annel said...

Jesuits and Rotary partner to help refugees (Vatican Radio) What do millions of refugees — many of them children, adolescents and young adults — who have fled conflict or persecution need to start a new life in host countries? What do they need to be able to go home one day, form a new life and contribute to their communities and to their country? The answer is simple: quality education. Education provides skills, opens the doors to employment, promotes peace and stability...



2 May 2016
Greg Kandra




Celebrating Easter yesterday, a boy looks at a huge traditional egg on 1 May 2016. Some 374 large eggs and 40,000 small ones decorated by Ukrainian artists are displayed at St. Sophia Square in Kiev. To learn more about the delicate art of egg decorating in Ukraine, read The Colors of Easter in the March 2012 edition of ONE. (photo: AFP/Getty Images)



2 May 2016
Greg Kandra




Syrian Greek Orthodox Christians hold candles during the Easter procession in the capital Damascus on 1 May 2016. (photo: Louai Beshara/AFP/Getty Images)

Pope sends Easter greetings to faithful of Eastern churches (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has sent his greetings to the faithful of the Eastern Churches who are celebrating Holy Easter on Sunday, 1 May according to the Julian calendar. Speaking to pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square for the Regina Coeli prayer he said: “May the Risen Lord bring to our brothers of the Eastern Churches all the gifts of His light and His peace. Christos anesti!”...

Pope appeals for peace in Syria (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Sunday reiterated his plea for peace in Syria appealing to all parties involved in the conflict to respect the cessation of hostilities and commit to dialogue...

Protestors leave Iraqi parliament building but vow to return (Voice of America) Baghdad is largely back to normal after it teetered on the edge of political chaos. Anti-government protesters who had taken over the Iraqi parliament building disbanded in a mostly peaceful fashion as loud speaker announcements urged them to leave...

World must respond to ISIS genocide, UN conference told (CNS) While religious freedom in much of the Middle East is under siege and the civil war in Syria seems to have no end in sight, Carl Anderson, CEO of the Knights of Columbus, and others called the United Nations to action...

Bishops of Aleppo: let us participate in the Passion of Christ (Fides) “We are children of the Resurrection, of hope, and we firmly believe that this suffering will not be in vain: following the footsteps of the saints and martyrs, we add them to the Passion of Christ, so they may become sanctified and sanctifying suffering, for peace in Syria and the salvation of our city.” This is what the Catholic bishops of Aleppo said in a message addressed primarily to the faithful, offering words of consolation and hope to the inhabitants of the martyred Syrian city...

Palestinian president: we have a duty to protect presence of Christians in Middle East (Fides) The protection of the Christian presence in Palestine and all the East “is for us a duty and a mission”: this is how Palestinian President Abu Mazen reiterated his commitment to do everything he can to honor this duty, for the common good of the entire Palestinian people. The Arab Head of State confirmed his commitment in the message addressed to Christians at Easter, celebrated yesterday by churches that follow the Julian calendar...

Russian Orthodox “Holy Fire” flown to Russia from Jerusalem (The Jewish Press) A special aircraft carrying a flame of “Holy Fire” from Jerusalem landed at Moscow’s Vnukovo airport Saturday, TASS reported. Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Apostle Andrew the First Called Foundation Vladimir Yakunin delivered a capsule containing the fire to a Moscow Cathedral for the Easter service officiated by Patriarch Kirill, the head of Russia’s Orthodox Church. The Holy Fire is described by Russian Orthodox Christians as a miracle that occurs every year at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem on Great Saturday, or Holy Saturday, the day preceding Russian Orthodox Easter...

Foundation to host major conference on refugees at the Vatican (Vatican Radio) The Centesimus annus — pro Pontifice Foundation has organized a major international conference to take place 12-14 May, to mark the 25th anniversary of Pope St. John Paul II’s watershed encyclical on politics, economics, and society one hundred years after his predecessor, Leo XIII’s seminal social encyclical, Rerum novarum...

Religious leaders call on faithful to sustain peaceful co-existence in Ethiopia (The Ethiopian Herald) Religious fathers of various denominations have conveyed messages in connection with the celebration of the Ethiopian Easter. In their message, they urge the faithful to support efforts of the government in helping drought affected citizens and ensuring peace, stability and good governance and fighting terrorism...



29 April 2016
Greg Kandra




Today, 29 April, marks the feast of St. Catherine of Siena. In the picture above from 2015, Dominican Sisters of St. Catherine of Siena settle in to their makeshift convent in Erbil, Iraq, where they are serving displaced Iraqis fleeing ISIS. Read more about their heroic and selfless work here. (photo: Don Duncan)



29 April 2016
Greg Kandra




In the video above, a Syrian refugee carries the Olympic torch while passing through a refugee camp near Athens. The city of Aleppo, Syria has come under renewed attack recently, with medical facilities being bombed. (video: Rome Reports)

Aleppo rocked by fresh fighting (BBC) Deadly fighting has resumed in Syria’s divided second city of Aleppo, after a brief lull overnight. State media say rebels shelled a mosque in the government-held district of Bab al-Faraj, killing eight people. Rescue workers report that a clinic in rebel-held Marja was targeted in an air strike, the second medical facility to be hit in a week...

Lebanese cardinal calls for EU to help end Mideast conflicts (CNS) Lebanese Cardinal Bechara Rai urged the international community and the European Parliament to stop the wars in the Middle East through dialogue, and he called for a return of the displaced to their countries of origin. In a speech 27 April to the European Parliament in Brussels, the Maronite Catholic patriarch warned that the crisis in the region has direct consequences not only for Christians, but also for the Mediterranean Basin as well as Europe...

Russian Orthodox, Catholics launch joint project to rebuild Syrian churches (CNS) Russia’s Catholic Church has launched a joint project with Russian Orthodox leaders to rebuild churches and monasteries destroyed during the war in Syria. Msgr. Igor Kovalevsky, secretary-general of the Russian bishops’ conference, said the project should be viewed as the “first concrete outcome” of Pope Francis’s February meeting in Cuba with Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill...

Indian bishop kidnapped, released (CNS) A Catholic bishop in southern India was kidnapped and assaulted by unknown attackers demanding money. Bishop Prasad Gallela of Cuddapah was blindfolded, handcuffed and forcibly taken away while he was traveling home after celebrating Mass at Karunagiri Shrine 25 April, reported ucanews.com. He said unidentified kidnappers came in two vehicles and took “me to an undisclosed location.&rdquo: “They hit me and punched me, resulting in injuries all over my body. I did not resist,” Bishop Gallela told ucanews.com. “Police are trying to find those behind the incident.”

Ethiopia “on the edge of a crisis” (The New Internationalist) Ethiopia’s most severe drought for 30 years is currently sweeping across the country. It has triggered prolonged dry spells, delaying the much sought-after rains that allow farmers to harvest their crops and leaving over 10 million people in immediate need of aid assistance. ‘We have to find a way to ration our animal feed during periods of drought,’ says Roba...

Indian Catholics respond to papal mandate on environment (Vatican Radio) Nearly a year after Pope Francis released his encyclical on the environment, dioceses and church agencies across India have launched several projects implementing the spirit of the papal document...







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