29 July 2016
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
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
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
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.
27 July 2016
A policeman reacts as he secures a position in front of city hall after two assailants killed 85-year-old Father Jacques Hamel and took five people hostage during a weekday morning Mass at the church in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray, France, near Rouen on 26 July.
(photo: CNS/Pascal Rossignol/Reuters)
Muslims denounce attack on priest in French church (The Local) France’s Muslim leaders have denounced Tuesday’s apparent terror attack at a church, and called for the country’s Muslims to band together in support. The nationwide French Council of the Muslim Faith (Conseil français du culte musulman or CFCM) denounced the attack as a “terrifying and horrifying act” and expressing its solidarity with “all Catholics of France...”
French president calls Pope Francis after priest is killed (Vatican Radio) French president Francois Hollande telephoned Pope Francis on Tuesday following the death of the elderly priest The Rev. Jacques Hamel, 85, who was killed when two Islamic assailants entered his Church in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray as he was celebrating Mass. Hollande said “that when a priest is attacked, all of France is wounded,” according to a statement. He assured the Pope that everything would be done to protect Churches and places of worship...
Dozens dead in Syrian bomb blast (The Guardian) A twin bombing has struck a crowd in a predominantly Kurdish town in northern Syria, killing 44 people and wounding dozens more, Syria’s state-run news agency and Kurdish media have reported. Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack...
Thousands of Russian Orthodox gather in Kiev despite threats (AP) Thousands of Russian Orthodox Christian pilgrims have reached the center of Ukraine’s capital to finish their procession to the city’s most revered monastery after their march was disrupted on Tuesday...
For many Christians in the Middle East, intimidation or worse (The Wall Street Journal) The attack on a French church signals the arrival in Europe of a type of intimidation long familiar to Christians in the Middle East, whether from religious extremists, other armed groups or even secular governments. In areas of Syria and Iraq under its control, Islamic State has seized churches, dismantling crucifixes and vandalizing paintings depicting scenes out of the Bible — considered to be idolatry in their hard-line interpretation of Islam. Many Christians flee when the militants sweep their areas; thousands escaped from northern Iraq when Islamic State took over in summer 2014...
Phoenix eparchy’s new bishop says world needs ‘witness of Christ’s unconditional mercy’ (CNS) n 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...
26 July 2016
Archbishop Michel Sabbah served as the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem from 1987 to 2008, working tirelessly to promote peace and justice in the Holy Land. (photo: CNEWA archives)
When he was named Archbishop and Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem in 1987, Michel Sabbah made history. He was the first non-Italian to hold the position. But he knew the region intimately, growing up in a Palestinian Christian family in the hometown of Jesus, Nazareth.
He became a tireless advocate for peace, reconciliation and justice in the Holy Land — themes he echoed in 1989 when, breaking from tradition, he delivered a stirring and eloquent homily during Midnight Mass in Bethlehem:
We pray for peace and justice in our Holy Land which has been bathed in the blood and the torment of its children for many years, but particularly in these last two years.
First, we address our children in Bethlehem — all the Palestinian people. We say to them: We are living your ordeal and we understand your torment. We understand why you ask us how it is that we can celebrate Christmas, its joy, its message of salvation, in the midst of this humiliating ordeal, of ransacked homes, of children who are killed and imprisoned?
To you we say: In spite of this ordeal, your dark night, and in fact because of it, we will continue to announce to you the joy of the Savior who has been born for the salvation of all.
We invite you to contemplate the Savior to reflect on God and his eternal Word. We invite you to gaze upon the spirit, which is the revelation of the kindness and love of God, in order to renew your faith in God and in mankind. In spite of all misfortune which surrounds you, there are men of goodwill, there is goodness in humanity and in all people. This goodness will finally overcome evil.
We also say to you who are suffering this ordeal and this dark night, to prepare yourselves for love and for forgiveness.
The love in your hearts will save you and render you just — the love for God and for those who cause you torment. For it is when each one discovers the face of God in his adversary that justice and peace will be established.
During his years as patriarch, he served for a time as International President of Pax Christi, spoke out in support of Palestinian rights and called for an end to Israeli occupation. His efforts on behalf of peace and justice in the Holy Land have continued after his retirement in 2008. He works closely with the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem and in 2009 launched Kairo Palestine, a movement advocating for the end of Israeli occupation and a just solution to the crisis in his homeland.
His concern and love for all those who suffer in the land we call “holy” marks Michel Sabbah as a kindred spirit and close collaborator of CNEWA — and, indeed, one of our heroes.
26 July 2016
Asmeret, a young mother from the Horn of Africa, helps care for children at Our Lady Woman of Valor Pastoral Center in Israel. She’s one of many immigrants seeking a new life in Israel. Learn how she and others are Surviving Without a Country in the Promised Land in the Summer 2016 edition of ONE. (photo: CNEWA)
26 July 2016
Syrians carry a wounded man away from the rubble of a building that was destroyed during a barrel bomb attack on 26 July 2016. Syrian government forces seized a rebel-held neighborhood on the northwest outskirts of Aleppo, tightening their siege of the opposition-controlled parts of the city, a monitor said. (photo: Karam Al-Masri/AFP/Getty Images)
Syrian troops tighten hold on Aleppo (AP) Syrian government forces on Tuesday captured new ground on the northwestern edge of the city of Aleppo, tightening the siege on rebel-held parts of the metropolis where some 300,000 people live, activists said. The Syrian army also called on the opposition fighters to drop their weapons and give themselves up to authorities...
Yazidis living in fear on Mt. Sinjar (Al Jazeera) Thousands of Yazidis who fled ISIS are living in a sprawling mass of tents made or amended with old tarps, carpets, blankets, wood and corrugated iron in the valleys below the peak. Outside many are in the vehicles their owners escaped in: ubiquitous Opel saloons, rusted tractors, and battered mopeds. Others still litter the steep road leading up from the town’s northern edge, abandoned when they could go no further...
Report says detainees in Turkey subjected to torture, rape (NPR) Turkey has detained thousands of people in the wake of a failed coup attempt earlier this month. Now, Amnesty International reports that it has evidence that some detainees in Istanbul and the capital Ankara have been subjected to torture and rape...
Indian author who put ‘God’ in book title attacked in Kerala (The Times of India) Writer PJimshar (26), whose debut collection of short stories titled ‘Padachonte Chitrapradarshanam’ is scheduled to be released on 5 August, was badly beaten up by four unidentified people here on Sunday night. He has been admitted to the hospital. ‘Padachon’ is colloquially used to refer to ‘god, the creator,’ and the writer had received threat calls and messages on WhatsApp ever since he announced his new book...
Bishop speaks out against attacks on Copts (Independent Catholic News) Bishop Angaelos, General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom, issued a statement on 25 July concerning increased attacks against Egypt’s Christian community...
Ethiopia becomes tourist destination (CNN) “Tourism was on the back burner for a long time,” says Solomon Tadesse, CEO of the Ethiopian Tourism Organization (ETO). “The country was going through major changes and the government’s priorities were health, education, communication.” Not to mention drought, famine and revolution. “There were fundamental reasons why tourism infrastructure was not in place.” According to Tadesse, the government finally decided in 2013 that tourism could generate jobs, income and wealth just like any other economic sector...
25 July 2016
Cardinal Timothy Dolan comforts a woman during his visit to a camp for displaced Iraqis in Ain Kawa, Erbil, last spring. (photo: Courtesy of Chaldean Archeparchy of Erbil)
The Summer 2016 edition of ONE contains a powerful glimpse at Cardinal Timothy Dolan’s recent visit to Iraqi Kurdistan:
“I was raised with a high value on visiting people, especially when there was adversity,” wrote Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of New York, upon his return from Iraqi Kurdistan in April. “A neighbor a block over had a fire; the next day we visited to see how they were doing and if they needed anything. Uncle Ed had eye surgery; we visited to make sure he was recovering. After my grandpa’s death, we visited my grandma a lot.”
The cardinal visited Iraqi Kurdistan “because,” he continued, “the Christian community there is family, a family in a lot of trouble, with much adversity, and to visit them is a very good thing.”
From 8 to 12 April, the cardinal, who chairs Catholic Near East Welfare Association, led a pastoral visit to Iraqi Kurdistan to be with the families displaced from their homes in northern Iraq’s Nineveh Plain since August 2014.
Just miles from the demarcation line separating these families from the forces of hate that have engulfed the region in a whirlwind of bloodshed, the cardinal and his delegation — which included CNEWA board member Bishop William Murphy of Rockville Centre and CNEWA’s president, Msgr. John Kozar — demonstrated CNEWA’s solidarity with the displaced and those committed to their care.
Read more and see a gallery of images in the Summer edition of the magazine.
25 July 2016
In the video above, the Vatican’s Secretary of State expresses his concern for Christians in Turkey, where a failed coup attempt has resulted in a three-month state of emergency and a government crackdown on educational and health-care institutions. (video: Rome Reports)
Turkey seizes more than 2,200 institutions in crackdown (The Washington Post) In a new tactic against suspected coup plotters, Turkey on Saturday announced it had seized more than 2,250 social, educational or health-care institutions and facilities that it claims pose a threat to national security...
Doctors raise concern over Internet restrictions in Ethiopia (Fides) “Since the Ethiopian government restricted access to the Internet it has become impossible for us to obtain scientific information on the web or discuss cases of serious illnesses which we are unable to manage.” This testimony comes from a Spanish pediatrician coordinator of a hospital for children in Meki, Oromia, Ethiopia...
Report: 250,000 Syrian refugee children in Lebanon are unable to attend school (Fides) More than half the 500,000 school-age refugee children from Syria, registered in Lebanon cannot attend school because of limited availability of resources and strict Lebanese government residence policies. This was reported by Human Rights Watch in a recent survey. The same report also highlighted positive steps towards giving access to free schooling for Syrian children refugees...
Families of Gaza war victims protest lack of aid (Al Jazeera) Hundreds of Palestinians in Gaza have taken to the streets this month — some even setting up tents to sleep in the protest camp overnight — to demand payment from the Palestinian Authority (PA). Amid a dire economic crisis in the Gaza Strip, thousands of residents have not received their monthly allowances from the PA, making it increasingly difficult for them to survive...
ISIS slaughter moves singer to focus on refugees (Catholic Register) It was February 2015 and American singer-songwriter Audrey Assad was working with fellow Catholic artist Matt Maher on his new album. She was sitting in Maher’s backyard when she came across the shocking video online. Twenty-one Egyptian Coptic Christian men were about to be beheaded by the Islamic State on a Libyan beach. Assad watched in horror as the men whispered prayers in Arabic. “I watched most of the video and I was horrified,” Assad told The Catholic Register. “I just remember feeling this overwhelming emotion and this need to make something good out of that feeling...”