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March, 2018
Volume 44, Number 1
  
4 August 2016
Greg Kandra




An Iraqi Christian spruces up his shelter on 24 July with a cross and other Christian symbols at the the Ashti camp for internally displaced Iraqis in Ain Kawa, a Christian enclave of the Kurdish capital, Erbil. (photo: CNS/Dale Gavlak)

Aid agencies brace for Mosul offensive (CNS) The upcoming military offensive to root out Islamic State militants from Mosul and surrounding villages will be a “huge challenge,” the United Nations says, as it expects about 1.5 million people to flee the warfare in a short amount of time…

Fallout from failed coup leaves Syria rebels in a lurch (The Wall Street Journal) Many of the top Turkish military and intelligence officials involved in programs to assist the rebellion, including the commander of Turkey’s 2nd Army responsible for borders with Syria and Iraq, have been detained for alleged involvement in the 15 July putsch…

UN: ISIS genocide of Yazidis is ‘ongoing’ (AP) The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group is still committing genocide and other crimes against the Yazidi minority in Iraq, a United Nations commission investigating human rights abuses in Syria said on Wednesday. The commission’s statement — released on the second anniversary of the initial ISIS attack on the Sinjar area in Iraq — urged action to prevent further death and suffering…

Indian delegation will head to Rome for canonization (UCanIndia) External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj will lead the Indian delegation to the canonisation of Mother Teresa at the Vatican in September, it was announced on Thursday…

Patriarch Kirill backs monument to Ivan the Terrible (The Guardian) The head of the Russian Orthodox church has backed what is planned to be Russia’s first monument to Ivan the Terrible, the controversial ruler who killed his own son…



Tags: Syria Iraq India Turkey Yazidi

3 August 2016
Greg Kandra




In this image from 2003, an Eritrean Orthodox bishop displays two Coptic-style crosses. The hand cross is used for blessings. To discover more about the Orthodox Church in Eritrea, read Ancient Church in a Young Nation from the November-December 2003 edition of the magazine.
(photo: Chris Hellier)




3 August 2016
Greg Kandra




Pallbearers carry the coffin of the Rev. Jacques Hamel on 2 August outside the cathedral in Rouen, France. Father Hamel was killed 26 July in an attack on a church at Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray near Rouen; the attack was carried out by assailants linked to the Islamic State.
(photo: CNS/Jacky Naegelen, Reuters)


Thousands of mourners, including Muslims, turn out for funeral of murdered French priest (CNS) During the 2 August funeral Mass for the Rev. Jacques Hamel, killed a week earlier by men claiming allegiance to the Islamic State, Archbishop Dominique Lebrun of Rouen stressed the need for forgiveness. “As brutal and unfair and horrible as (Father) Jacques’ death was, we have to look deep into our hearts to find the light,” he told the congregation of more than 1,500 at the Notre Dame Cathedral, while hundreds more watched the ceremony on a big screen outside in the rain...

Fighting rages in Aleppo (BBC) Intense fighting has continued around the Syrian city of Aleppo, where a rebel offensive is trying to break a government siege of rebel-held areas. Over the weekend, the rebels tried to reconnect an encircled area in the east with insurgent territory in the west. They set off a huge tunnel bomb underneath army positions in the strategic Ramouseh district. The army has been fighting back with the help of Russian air strikes to stop the rebels breaking through...

British jets bomb Saddam’s palace used by ISIS in Iraq (The Guardian) British fighter jets have bombed a former palace of Saddam Hussein being used as a training centre for Isis recruits in Iraq, according to the UK Ministry of Defense. A pair of RAF Tornados took part as a multinational squadron attacked the headquarters and training centre for foreign terrorist recruits, located close to the Tigris in Mosul...

U.S. will likely reach goal of admitting 10,000 refugees (International Business Times) While the U.S. acceptance rate of Syrian refugees has increased in recent months, the resettlement groups would like to see more done. America’s neighbor to the north has accepted almost 30,000 Syrian refugees since November 2015 and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has made a point of welcoming new arrivals in a public manner...

Aftermath of Turkey coup attempt delays reconciliation with Israel (The Jerusalem Post) Last month’s attempted coup in Turkey and its aftermath have pushed off normalization of Israeli-Turkish ties, since the requisite accord has not yet come before the parliament in Ankara...

Detroit imams send condolences to Archbishop (Archdiocese of Detroit) Detroit Archbishop Allen Vigneron was moved this week to have received correspondences from local Imams on behalf of Michigan Muslims, expressing condolences for the death of Catholic priest Father Jacques Hamel, who was killed by terrorists in Normandy, France, on 26 July. “We are greatly saddened and troubled to hear of his tragic death and wish to express our sadness that so humble a servant of God was called to his Lord in such a cruel and violent manner,” wrote Imam Steve Mustapha Elturk, co-chair of the Imams Council, in a letter sent to Archbishop Vigneron on behalf of the Michigan Muslim Community Council (MMCC)...

Pope Francis meets with refugees during audience (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis met with a group of 65 child refugees from Syria and Eritrea on Wednesday during his General Audience. The children are staying in the small town of Castelnuovo di Porto, north of Rome...



2 August 2016
Greg Kandra




A civilian carries a victim of an attack on the Ansari neighborhood of Aleppo, Syria,
on 31 July 2016. (photo: Ibrahim Ebu Leys/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)


Rescuers say toxic gas dropped on Syrian town (Reuters) A Syrian rescue service operating in rebel-held territory said on Tuesday a helicopter dropped containers of toxic gas overnight on a town close to where a Russian military helicopter was shot down hours earlier. The opposition Syrian National Coalition (SNC) accused President Bashar al Assad of being behind the attack. Assad has denied previous accusations of using chemical weapons...

Aleppo explained by the numbers (CNN) Some neighborhoods in Aleppo have been under fire for more than 80 consecutive days, leaving 6,000 people either dead or injured, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. The UK-based monitoring group said rebel-held areas in the city’s east have faced sustained attack by regime artillery and airstrikes, while rebel and Islamic factions have shelled regime-controlled areas in western neighborhoods...

Muslims and Christians in French town pray old bonds survive priest’s murder (The New York Times) In the wake of Father Hamel’s murder, Muslim and Christian communities around France came together over the weekend to show solidarity by attending each other’s religious services, in churches and mosques alike. But the services in Rouen, and in St.-Étienne-du-Rouvray, a nearby suburb where Father Hamel was killed, took on a special resonance...

Turkey orders arrest of doctors in post-coup crackdown (Middle East Eye) Turkey has issued arrest warrants for 100 staff, including doctors, at the main military hospital in Ankara as part of the investigation into last month’s failed coup, local media reported. Police were searching the Gulhane Military Medical Academy hospital in the capital, private NTV television reported. It was not immediately clear if any suspects had been arrested...

Shrine in India elevated to basilica (Vatican Radio) St. Lawrence Shrine at Attur, Karkala, the Diocese of Udupi, has been elevated to the status of a minor basilica on Monday, 1 August 2016, making it the second Minor Basilica in the Southern Indian state of Karnataka and the 22nd Basilica in the country...

Ancient Russian icon comes to Canada (Globalnews.ca) Saskatoon’s St. Vincent of Lerins Orthodox Church greeted the Kursk-Root Icon Wednesday — an item believers say is capable of miraculous healing. The gold and jewel-laden image depicts the Virgin Mary and the Christ Child. The icon has been viewed by millions, according to Father Florin Soane with the church. “In a visible way, we can say, the Mother of God, the Mother of Church, is coming to us,” Soane said...



1 August 2016
Greg Kandra




In the video above, Muslims attend Mass in France in a show of solidarity and sympathy following the brutal murder of a French priest by two men claiming fidelity to ISIS.
(video: Euronews/YouTube)


Muslims attend Mass in show of solidarity (AP) Muslims in France and Italy flocked to Mass on Sunday, a gesture of interfaith solidarity following a drumbeat of jihadi attacks that threatens to deepen religious divisions across Europe. From the towering Gothic cathedral in Rouen, only a few miles from where 85-year-old Rev. Jacques Hamel was killed Tuesday by two Muslim fanatics, to Paris’ iconic Notre Dame, where the rector of the Mosque of Paris invoked a papal benediction in Latin, many churchgoers were cheered by the Muslims in their midst. Interviewed outside the cathedral in Rouen, Jacqueline Prevot called it “a magnificent gesture.” “Look at this whole Muslim community that attended Mass,” she said. “I find this very heartwarming...”

Pope Francis: it is not right to equate Islam with violence (CNS) An economy that focuses on the God of money, not human beings, is the foundation of terrorism, Pope Francis said. Speaking to journalists aboard his return flight from Krakow, Poland, 31 July, the pope also stressed that violence exists in all religions, including Catholicism, and it cannot be pinned to one single religion. “I do not like to speak of Islamic violence because everyday when I look through the papers, I see violence here in Italy,” the pope told reporters. “And they are baptized Catholics. There are violent Catholics. If I speak of Islamic violence, I also have to speak of Catholic violence,” he added...

Christians paying a price in Turkey (The Express) Turkey, which once boasted two million Christians, has barely 120,000 now, fewer even than Iran. But what shocked people most about July 15’s attacks was how much hatred still remains after almost 10 years. Though it is nominally a secular republic there can be little doubt that the government and Turkey’s 117,000 Sunni imams work together...

Russian helicopter shot down in Syria, killing 5 (AP) A Russian transport helicopter was shot down in opposition rebel territory in northern Syria on Monday and all five crew and officers onboard were killed, the Kremlin said, in the deadliest single incident for the Russian military since its involvement in Syria’s civil war...

Europe losing track of child refugees from Middle East (The Wall Street Journal) European governments are losing track of significant numbers of children who have entered the continent without their parents as refugees from war-torn areas in the Middle East and beyond...

More churches in India push for shroud burial instead of caskets (The Times of India) Space constraint is forcing churches in Mumbai to opt for green solutions for disposing of the dead. In the last six months, the St Blaise Church, Amboli, has had at least 15 shroud burials (body wrapped in cloth and lowered into the grave). The coffin was not used by families voluntarily. Father Franklin Mathias, parish priest, said space constraint, the environmental benefits and economics of a burial without a coffin prompted them to encourage shroud burial. He said the success of such burials depends entirely on the parishioners...



29 July 2016
Greg Kandra




Children greet CNEWA’s president, Msgr. John Kozar, on his pastoral visit to an Ain Kawa camp for displaced Iraqis. See more memorable images from his trip in the Summer 2016
edition of ONE
. (photo: John E. Kozar)




29 July 2016
Greg Kandra




Syrian army soldiers patrol area on the outskirts of Aleppo on 28 July. (photo: AFP/Getty images)

Airstrikes kill dozens in Syria (AP) U.S.-led coalition airstrikes targeting a village in northern Syria held by Islamic State killed 28 civilians, including seven children, Syrian activists said. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said coalition aircraft struck the village of Al-Ghandour on Thursday night...

Trapped, under attack in Aleppo (Doctors Without Borders) The siege on east Aleppo has left an estimated 250,000 people trapped and struggling to survive, with the only road into non-government held areas cut off. Now the population, and crucially the war-wounded and seriously ill, have no way out, while vital food and medical supplies cannot get in. This siege has added more to the already woeful numbers of people living in besieged areas in Syria...

Turkey targets media in crackdown (Time) In recent days the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has issued orders shutting down 131 media organizations, and issued arrest warrants for at least 89 journalists and other media personnel over alleged ties to the coup plot...

Copts look to new law to end religious discrimination (AFP) Egypt’s Copts, the Middle East’s largest Christian minority, have long struggled to obtain official permission to build churches. They are now hoping a new law on building houses of worship — both mosques and churches — will curb discrimination against them...

Patriarch calls political paralysis in Lebanon “shameful” (Fides) “It is shameful that the Lebanese people should have to wait for years while other countries in the region choose who shall be the new President of their country/” This is how Maronite Patriarch Boutros Bechara Rai stigmatized yet again the institutional paralysis and cross vetoes between the national political forces and foreign interference which for more than two years has prevented the election of a new head of state for Lebanon, an institutional post which Lebanon’s complex system reserves for a Maronite Christian...

New app connects Russian Orthodox Church with believers (BBC) The Russian Orthodox Church is to launch a new messaging app in order to help priests to keep in touch with believers. It’s being made by the same designers behind the Church’s dedicated social network, Elitsy, which was launched in 2014. The app, which is currently in development, will “satisfy the needs of the faithful for interaction and continuous contact between parishioners and the Church,” according to Elitsy’s press service, cited by Tass news agency. It adds that the app has the blessing of the Church’s leader, Patriarch Kirill...



28 July 2016
Greg Kandra




Sister Imre serves residents at the St. Macrina Home in Máriapócs, Hungary.
(photo: Tivadar Domaniczky)


Sister Imre Ágota is one of several tireless sisters who have worked to restore the faith in Hungary after the collapse of Communism:

In 1991, 14 surviving Basilian sisters — including Imre Ágota, now mother superior — returned to their monastery in Máriapócs. Today, only 7 remain, and of these only 4 are active.

The community, like other Hungarian Greek Catholic religious communities, has had difficulties recruiting novices. Several women have tried community life, but each one soon left. The sisters hope and pray for more novices, but if none enters, the simple passing of time will accomplish what 40 years of Communist anti-religious policy could not.

In recent years, Hungary’s declining birthrate and aging population have strained the economy, which is still recovering from the transition from a controlled to a free market system. With this in mind, the sisters have devoted themselves to caring for their peers — the elderly — who are poorly served by the state system.

Once they restored their monastery, the sisters went straight to work. In 1992, they bought a building behind the monastery and opened St. Macrina Nursing Home, a 25-room room facility for elderly women.

Despite challenges and setbacks, the sisters have remained hopeful.

“I’m a teacher,” Sister Imre Ágota said, “not an economist.” But, she continued, “we are optimistic because we have always received donations. Slowly, slowly money comes in and things get done.”

“I am retired,” Sister Imre Ágota laughed, describing her typical day of work and prayer, which begins at 5 a.m. and ends as late as 11 p.m.

“It’s just that as mother superior, I’m now busier than I’ve ever been.”

Still, she is already thinking about another project: returning to teaching. “My heart beats for it,” she said.

That tireless spirit of hope renews so many who live and work in CNEWA’s world — and it’s one reason why Sister Imre is a CNEWA hero.



28 July 2016
Greg Kandra




Pope Francis speaks to journalists aboard his flight from Rome to Krakow, Poland, 27 July. The pope is attending World Youth Day in Krakow. (photo: CNS/Paul Haring)

Pope erects new eparchy in Great Britain (Vatican Radio) The Holy Father on Thursday, has erected the Eparchy of Great Britain of the Syro-Malabar Church based in Preston and has appointed the Rev. Joseph (Benny Mathew) Srampickal, a member of the clergy of the Eparchy of Palai, until now Vice-Rector of the Collegio De Propaganda Fide in Rome, as the first bishop of the Eparchy...

Pope Francis: ‘The world is at war’ (CNS) The world, not religion, is waging a war in pieces, Pope Francis said. While it “is not at as organic” as past world wars, “it is organized and it is war,” the pope told journalists 27 July on his flight to Krakow. “Someone may think that I am speaking about a war of religions. No, all religions want peace. Others want war,” the pope said. He spoke one day after the murder of a priest during Mass in a Catholic church in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray, France. Two men, armed with knives, entered the church during Mass. The attackers murdered 85-year-old Father Jacques Hamel, slitting his throat...

Patriarch: displaced Iraqi Catholics losing hope (Crux) The displaced Syriac Catholics of the Iraqi areas of Nineveh and Mosul are fast losing hope that they will ever return home, according to their spiritual leader, Syriac Catholic Patriarch Ignace Joseph III Younan. Some 100,000 Iraqi Christians were forced to flee to the Kurdistan region in the north in the summer of 2014, where they are languishing in expectation of a return that never comes. In an interview with Crux, the Patriarch — spiritual shepherd to some 200,000 Syriac Catholics worldwide — shared something of the despair of his people at what they regard as the foot-dragging of the western nations...

Russia to open ‘exit corridors’ from Aleppo (BBC) Corridors are to open to allow unarmed rebels and civilians to leave besieged areas of the Syrian city of Aleppo, Russia — Syria’s key ally — has said. Three routes would be opened and a fourth for armed rebels, Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said. Syria’s president has also offered an amnesty for rebels laying down arms and surrendering within three months...

Kerala church allows cremation for priests (The Times of India) Across the country, and particularly in Mumbai, the Christian community has been clamoring for more burial grounds. Over the past three years, large morchas were led through civic wards from Goregaon to Dahisar where there is a vast population of Catholics. Now this nationwide shortage of space for burial has prompted the Mar Thoma Church which is headquartered in Kerala to allow cremation for its clergymen. Earlier, laypersons alone could opt for cremation after securing written permission from their bishop. Now that privilege has been extended to priests as well...

Could Gaza become a tourism hub? (The Guardian) Somehow, elements of another Gaza have survived what has been — literally and metaphorically — its darkest decade: stylish, civilised, worthy of a history stretching back five millennia. While few other cities have been more fought over or occupied — by the ancient Egyptians, Romans, Byzantines, Abbasids, Crusaders, Mamluks, Turks, British, Egypt again and Israel — there have also been long periods when Gaza was a centre of culture and learning, as well as a flourishing port and trading center...



27 July 2016
Greg Kandra




Bishop John S. Pazak, center, is the new head of the Holy Protection of Mary Byzantine Eparchy of Phoenix. He was enthroned 20 July during a Divine Liturgy at St. Helen Roman Catholic Church in Glendale, Arizona. (photo: CNS/courtesy Kathleen Slonka, Eparchy of Phoenix)

The American West welcomed a new bishop from the East last week. From CNS:

In a liturgy packed with rich symbolism and ancient tradition, the Holy Protection of Mary Byzantine Eparchy of Phoenix celebrated the enthronement of Bishop John S. Pazak as its fifth bishop.

Archbishop William C. Skurla of the Byzantine Archeparchy of Pittsburgh, and a former bishop of the Phoenix-based eparchy, prayed the words of enthronement over the new bishop during a Divine Liturgy that took place at St. Helen Catholic Church in Glendale 20 July.

The Byzantine Catholic Church is one of the Eastern Catholic churches in full communion with Rome.

Bishop Pazak, who spent the past 15 years as the bishop of the Ss. Cyril and Methodius Byzantine Eparchy in Toronto, processed to the front of the church followed by Archbishop Skurla and Archbishop Christophe Pierre, the apostolic nuncio to the U.S. Bishops and clergy from across the country — including Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted and Bishop Gerald F. Kicanas, who head, respectively, the Latin-rite dioceses of Phoenix and Tucson — also attended along with Catholics from throughout the eparchy.

“I am truly pleased to be with you today,” Archbishop Pierre said after reading the 7 May proclamation appointing Bishop Pazak. “I know that you join with me in offering to him not only our heartfelt congratulations, but also the assurance of our prayerful support as he takes on the very important responsibilities of chief shepherd of this community of faith.”

“Receive this pastoral staff with which you are to watch over Christ’s flock that has been entrusted to your care,” Archbishop Skurla prayed at the enthronement.

The congregation responded with cries of “Axios! Axios!” — Greek words meaning “he is worthy.” Throughout the liturgy, almost entirely chanted, there were echoing refrains of “Lord have mercy” and “God grant him many years.” Archbishop Skurla then escorted Bishop Pazak to the throne, officially taking the reins of the eparchy.

In his homily, the new bishop conveyed a message of mercy:

Society must learn to respect “every single human being who is made in the image and likeness of God” and Christians must act with mercy, he said. “Our world needs the witness of Christ’s unconditional mercy that we proclaim so often in our liturgy. Divine mercy must illuminate our minds, and more importantly, our hearts and our life’s journey.”

[Phoenix] Bishop Olmsted said he was touched by the Byzantine liturgy. “They have different traditions, different prayers, but it’s the same Eucharist, the same sacred Scriptures, the same love for Christ.”

The Scriptures and liturgy come alive for Latin-rite Catholics who attend a Byzantine liturgy, he said, and “I trust they do the same when they come to our sacred liturgies. We help one another grow in an even deeper love for Christ.”

In the Winter 2015 edition of ONE, writer Joyce Coronel and photographer Nancy Wiechec offered a fascinating glimpse into another Church of the East flourishing in the American southwest, the Chaldean Church. Check it out.







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