5 July 2016
Suhaila Tarazi, left, meets with patients at the Al Ahli Arab Hospital. (photo: John E. Kozar)
The Summer edition of ONE features a powerful Letter From Gaza written by Suhaila Tarzai, director of the Al Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza. She describes the challenges of living in a land decimated by war:
The war has greatly harmed Gaza’s vulnerable health system, which had not functioned well beforehand. Many services and specialized treatments are not available to Palestinians inside Gaza. There is a lack of medicine for cancer treatment, drugs for cardiovascular diseases, life-saving antibiotics and kidney dialysis products.
Working in such dire conditions is too much for any human to cope with. Hundreds of the displaced were taking refuge in safer areas and we had our share of them at the hospital. They filled whatever little space we could find; they sat in the gardens and slept in the open. Our staff spared no effort in alleviating their suffering; I even hired extra help to give some staff a break. We offered them meals and water and blankets. (I have to record here my deepest gratitude to all of our donors, including CNEWA, for their support and generosity. Without them, we would not have succeeded.)
...A year and a half has elapsed since the war ended. And little of the money pledged from donor countries to rebuild Gaza has been received. The suffering in what many call the world’s largest open-air prison continues and it seems the rights of Gazans do not matter. According to several reports issued by the United Nations, Gaza will be “uninhabitable” by 2020.
For us Christians, all this suffering, depression, melancholy and despair should not sadden us, but render us more mature to confront the horror of the occupation and serve the needy. When I look into the eyes of our children wandering in the rubble, or when I see their stare on television screens, expressing their angry feelings to reporters, I know that nonetheless there is hope. Palestine will never be forgotten; it will remain deeply anchored in the conscience of the world. ... I pray that justice will eventually be done.
Read more of the Letter From Gaza. And check out the short video below, for another glimpse at life in the hospital.
5 July 2016
In the video above, released Tuesday, Pope Francis urges a political solution to the war in Syria.
(video: Caritas Internationalis/YouTube)
Death toll from attack in Baghdad reaches 175 (Associated Press) As Iraqis mourned in shock and disbelief, more dead bodies were recovered Tuesday from the site of a massive Islamic State suicide bombing this weekend in central Baghdad, bringing the death toll to 175, officials said. The staggering figure — one the worst bombings in 13 years of war in Iraq — has cast a pall on the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan and which begins Wednesday in Iraq...
Pope supports ‘Peace is possible’ campaign for Syria (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis is urging governments to find a political solution to the war in Syria. In a video message released on Tuesday in support of a new Caritas Internationalis campaign, “Syria: Peace is Possible,” the Pope reiterates his belief that “there is no military solution for Syria, only a political one...”
Holy See: Peace is possible in Israeli-Palestinian conflict (Vatican Radio) The Permanent Observer to United Nations Archbishop Ivan Jurkovič has offered an intervention at the United Nations International Conference in Support of Israeli-Palestinian Peace. “The Holy See believes that the peace process between Israelis and Palestinians can move forward only if it is directly negotiated between the Parties,” Archbishop Jurkovic said, with the strong support of the international community, as this international conference is meant to catalyze...”
Patriarch Twal: ‘My mission continues’ (Fides) “I have reached the end of my mission as Patriarch, however my mission as a priest, friend and citizen continues,” says the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Fouad Twal, who has reached the age limit of 75 years and is about to retire. In an interview published on the website of the Latin Patriarchate, the patriarch also talks about the legacy that he now leaves in the hands of the new Apostolic Administrator, the Rev. Pierbattista Pizzaballa: “Among the assets that the new Administrator can count is the fact that he served for 12 years as Custos of the Holy Land and was the Vicar of the Latin Patriarch for the Hebrew speaking Catholic community. He knows very well the challenges and problems of the Church in the Holy Land...”
Ethiopian cardinal celebrates 40th anniversary of ordination (Vatican Radio) Ethiopia’s Cardinal Berhaneyesus Souraphiel, C.M., celebrated his 40th anniversary of priestly ordination Monday 4 July 2016. He used the occasion to recall the harsh reality of time in Ethiopia when citizens professing religious belief were persecuted. As a young priest, the Cardinal was himself arrested and isolated in a dark room for one month. On this 40th anniversary, the Cardinal says he thanks God for the protection bestowed on him...
1 July 2016
Faithful process to celebrate the liturgy in a camp for people displaced by war in Ain Kawa, northern Iraq. (photo: Paul Jeffrey)
The Summer 2016 edition of ONE features a riveting photo essay, chronicling the recent trip CNEWA’s chair, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, made to Iraq:
In the midst of evil, how does one offer love? Being with those in need is a start.
“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.
Read more and see additional pictures here. Below, photojournalist Paul Jeffrey, who covered the trip, describes some of what he saw and experienced.
1 July 2016
Airport employees mourn for their colleagues during a 30 June ceremony for victims of the suicide attacks at Istanbul’s Ataturk airport in Turkey. Officials now say a Chechen extremist was behind the attacks. (photo: CNS/Murad Sezer, Reuters)
U.S. Congressman says a Chechen extremist masterminded Istanbul suicide bombing (Associated Press) A Chechen extremist masterminded the triple suicide bombing at Istanbul’s busiest airport that killed at least 44 people, a U.S. congressman said Friday. Rep. Michael McCaul, chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, told CNN that Akhmed Chatayev directed Tuesday night’s attack at Ataturk Airport, one of the world’s busiest, which also wounded more than 230. Turkish and Swedish media have also identified Chatayev as the organizer, although Turkish authorities have not confirmed his involvement...
Stranded refugees face a world without food or medicine (The New York Times) For a week, since a suicide bomber blew himself up, killing seven Jordanian security officials, the refugees, now numbering at least 60,000, have not had access to food or medicine, as they had in previous months. Only three times since then have water trucks reached them, carrying what the medical aid group Doctors Without Borders estimated to be equivalent to a 1.5-liter bottle of water a day...
UNICEF says millions of children in Iraq are at risk (ABC Australia) UNICEF is calling for urgent action to protect children’s rights in Iraq after a report found escalating conflict in the country is putting a whole generation at risk. UNICEF’s A Heavy Price for Children report found one in five (3.6 million) children in Iraq are at serious risk of death, injury, sexual violence, abduction and recruitment into armed groups...
Gospel music in Ethiopia (MusicInAfrica.net) The Ethiopian Orthodox church, with a followership of about 44% of Ethiopia’s population, has a long tradition of gospel music. However, over the years its dominance has been challenged by the emergence of various other religious factions. Today Muslims make up an estimated 34% of the population and Protestants an estimated 18%. Nevertheless, any keen listener will notice that the music of the Ethiopian Orthodox church has an influence on most Christian music in the country...
30 June 2016
Sister Wardeh Kayrouz, right, works in Lebanon, offering support to refugees who have fled
Iraq and Syria. (photo: Amal Morcos)
For decades, Sister Wardeh Kayrouz has been a voice for the voiceless — offering hope and help to countless refugees seeking sanctuary. She began her long relationship with CNEWA working in our Amman regional office. Today, she continues to partner with CNEWA in Lebanon, aiding so many who are fleeing violence, terror and war.
From a 2008 profile:
Sister Wardeh and her community, the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary, have dedicated their lives to helping families secure food, housing, work and other basics. In 2002 the sisters stepped up their efforts and forged a partnership with CNEWA’s operating agency in the Middle East, the Pontifical Mission.
An energetic woman with large, round wire-rimmed spectacles, she counsels a growing number of Iraqi families, administers a convent school and teaches catechism classes.
“When they live the word of God, they strengthen their faith, helping them better handle the bad situations they have here,” Sister Wardeh said.
...A social worker by training, Sister Wardeh counsels families struggling with domestic violence and the pain associated with it. Families have come to trust her and rely on her for guidance. She often finds herself at their homes, listening to their fears, holding their hands and helping them cope with their situations.
“Poverty brings out every type of problem between children and their parents. They have no money to go anywhere or do anything. There is no work. Women and their husbands argue over whether they should have left Iraq. They are home all day long, all the time,” Sister Wardeh said.
We revisited her two years ago, for a fresh look at Sister Wardeh’s world, and reported on retreats she is offering for refugees as a way to help them heal from the wounds of war:
It was her own experience with war in Lebanon that led her to her vocation. Born and reared in the town of Bcharri, the legendary mountainous stronghold of Lebanon’s Maronite Catholics, she completed a degree in sociology and became a teacher and a principal in her village.
In 1976, just as Lebanon’s civil war set in, Bcharri became a flash point for fighting between Maronite and Palestinian militias. During the war she met a religious sister named Beatrice who transported the dead and wounded with her car.
“Sister Beatrice used to say, ‘It is not I who am doing this, but God is doing it through me,’ and I was greatly affected by this.” Sister Wardeh eventually took her vows at age 27.
“My family lost everything in the war,” she says.
“My father and mother used to pray and they came back to the church and were able to cope with their loss and move on with their lives.
“The disaster did not tear us apart, it united us,” she continues. “I want everyone to know that you can lose everything, but you can still have hope in life.”
To lend your support to the heroic work of Sister Wardeh and others in Jordan, visit this giving page.
30 June 2016
Nirmala Dasi Sister Lovely Kattumattam assists a resident at Ashraya, an elderly care center on the outskirts of Mumbai. To learn more about religious communities facing new challenges in India, read On a Mission from God in the Summer edition of ONE. (photo: Peter Lemieux)
30 June 2016
A relative of a victim killed at Istanbul’s Ataturk airport in Turkey is seen during a funeral in the capital on 29 June. (photo: CNS/Sedat Suna, EPA)
Turkish police make arrests in connection with airport bombing (NBC News) Turkish police arrested 13 people in connection with the deadly attack on Istanbul’s airport, officials said Thursday. More than 40 people died and over 200 were injured when assailants with guns and explosives hit the airport on Tuesday. Officials have said the coordinated assault on Ataturk airport bore the hallmarks of ISIS, but there has been no official claim of responsibility...
U.S. bishops speak out against Turkey attack (CNS) Following the June 28 terrorist attack on Istanbul’s Ataturk airport in Turkey, the president of the U.S. bishops’ conference and Chicago’s archbishop issued statements emphasizing the need to find comfort in faith and show support the suffering with prayer and generosity. The attack left over 40 people dead and over 230 injured. “Evil tests our humanity. It tempts us to linger in the terror of Istanbul, Paris, Brussels, San Bernardino (and) Orlando,” said Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky, who is president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops...
Report: Airstrikes hit convoys carrying militants out of Falluja (CNN) Coalition airstrikes targeted two ISIS convoys leaving Falluja over two days, destroying about 175 vehicles carrying militants out of the city, the spokesman for the U.S. coalition said Thursday. Col. Chris Garver said Iraqi security forces destroyed other vehicles...
Refugees encounter a foreign word: welcome (The New York Times) Across Canada, ordinary citizens, distressed by news reports of drowning children and the shunning of desperate migrants, are intervening in one of the world’s most pressing problems. Their country allows them a rare power and responsibility: They can band together in small groups and personally resettle — essentially adopt — a refugee family. In Toronto alone, hockey moms, dog-walking friends, book club members, poker buddies and lawyers have formed circles to take in Syrian families. The Canadian government says sponsors officially number in the thousands, but the groups have many more extended members...
Coptic priest shot dead in North Sinai (Middle East Online) The Egyptian branch of ISIS claimed responsibility for a shooting attack that killed a Coptic priest in the Sinai Peninsula on Thursday. The jihadist group said a “squad” of its gunmen killed the 46-year-old priest for “combating Islam,” in a statement posted on social media accounts. At least one unidentified gunman killed an Egyptian priest in a city in North Sinai on Thursday where authorities are battling a jihadist insurgency, security officials and the Coptic Church said...
Ethiopian drought: ‘Life is very difficult... I’ve lost everything’ (Irish Independent) The unforgiving effect of El Nino has resulted in over 10.2 million people in Ethiopia in need of food aid. The country is experiencing the worst drought in three decades. Those who were already vulnerable before the climate change phenomenon are the worst affected. When crops failed last year, only those who could afford it had reserves. Leaving many people with nothing. Especially those who rely on working on farms for income...
In Syria, starving instead of fasting (The New York Times) Among the litany of calamities incubated by the Syrian civil war — the rise of the Islamic State, a refugee crisis that spans the world, a death toll of about 400,000 — the international community seems to consider the slow grind of life behind a blockade a second-order problem. But starving civilians to gain a military advantage is a war crime under the Geneva Conventions, and wasting away under siege can be just as traumatic as barrel bomb attacks and public beheadings...
29 June 2016
School food programs in Ethiopia provide students with nutritionally dense biscuits daily.
(photo: John E. Kozar)
In the Summer 2016 edition of ONE, CNEWA’s President Msgr. John E. Kozar reflects on a recent visit to drought-ridden Ethiopia:
Most of my visit was concentrated in the extreme northern reaches of the country bordering Eritrea. This is a vast mountainous area that has very challenging “roads” to reach remote villages; in many instances there are no roads at all, only dangerous mountain footpaths.
After a tortuous two-hour, nail-biting trip in a four-wheel-drive vehicle, our director of programs, Thomas Varghese, and I arrived in a remote village named Aiga, where we stopped at the humble parish school of St. Michael. There, the children warmly greeted us with songs and prayers and welcomed us lovingly into their classrooms, which have only the barest hint of outside natural light for the classes.
After visiting with each of the classes, we went outside the school, where they lined up to receive their “CNEWA” biscuits: a two-biscuit pack that would sustain them as the school day went on and would give them enough energy to walk home to their mountain dwellings. Most of the children walked over steep mountain trails for two or three hours each way to come to school. This simple nutritional supplement means the difference between these beautiful children coming to school or staying at home.
There were two very touching moments for me as they were enjoying their biscuits. The first came when I saw many children only eating one biscuit and wrapping up the other one to take home to be shared with others in their family; and the second was when a little girl offered me one of her biscuits. Tears came to my eyes at this gesture of kindness and generosity. What a demonstration of the Christian values that they learn in school and practice in their humble homes.
Read more in the magazine. And watch the video below for more of Msgr. Kozar’s impressions from that trip. If you’d like to support CNEWA’s work in Ethiopia, and help the hungry hold on to life, visit this giving page.
29 June 2016
Relatives of one of the victims of the 28 June suicide attack at Istanbul's Ataturk Airport mourn on 29 June in front of a morgue in Istanbul. The bombings killed dozens and wounded more than 200 as Turkish officials blamed the carnage at the international terminal on three suspected Islamic State group militants. (photo: CNS/Osman Orsal, Reuters)
Pope prays for victims of Istanbul attack (CNS) Pope Francis led pilgrims in praying for peace and for the victims of a terrorist attack at Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport in Turkey. “Yesterday evening in Istanbul, a heinous terrorist attack was made that has killed and wounded many people. Let us pray for the victims, their families and for the dear Turkish people,” the pope said 29 June after reciting the Angelus prayer with visitors in St. Peter’s Square...
Pope Francis: Saints Peter and Paul link East to West (Vatican Radio) The Church of Rome was founded on the faith of Saints Peter and Paul, the two Apostles from the Holy Land whose feast day is celebrated 29 June: that’s what Pope Francis recalled during his midday Angelus address on this Rome holiday. The entire universal Church, he said, considers the two patron saints of Rome “two pillars and two great lights which shine not only in the Rome sky, but in the hearts of believers of the Orient and the West...”
Patriarch issues statement after assassination attempt (AINA) Patriarch Ignatius Aphrem II Karim of the Syriac Orthodox Church issued a statement on the assassination attempt on his life last week. On 19 June, while the Patriarch was leading a commemoration service for the Turkish genocide of Assyrians in World War One, a suicide bomber attacked the service but was stopped by the Assyrian Sutoro military forces in Qamishli, Syria...
Lebanese army raids refugee camps after suicide bombings (The Wall Street Journal) Lebanon’s army raided Syrian refugee camps and politicians called for a border clampdown, a day after a series of suicide bombings in the predominantly Christian border town of Qaa. Lebanese forces descended on camps in the northeast on Tuesday, arresting more than 100 people for not having legal papers and confiscating motorcycles, state media said. Several bombers had arrived in Qaa on such vehicles on Monday...
Patriarch urges longterm repatriation for solution in Middle East (CNS) Poor, destitute refugees now comprise half the people living in Lebanon, according to Cardinal Bechara Rai, patriarch of the Maronite Catholic Church. They are attractive targets for terrorist recruiting, and their continued presence threatens to drown Lebanon’s identity, he said. A permanent solution to the refugee crises throughout the Middle East requires lasting peace and the repatriation of refugees, not resettlement to third countries, he added...
Patriarch Rai: To save the Middle East, save Lebanon (Aleteia) Look to the Lebanese model for solutions to the turmoil in the Middle East, says the head of the Maronite Church. Cardinal Bechara Boutros Rai, the Lebanon-based Patriarch of Antioch for the Maronites, spoke with Aleteia Monday while on a pastoral visit to the United States...
Kerala diocese introduces blood donation as an offering (The News Minute) A Latin Catholic Diocese in Thiruvananthapuram district has introduced blood donation as an offering in church. The diocese made the announcement on 14 June, World Blood Donation Day. “Blood donation is one of the greatest offerings, so we decided to introduce it,” said Father Valsalan Jose, parish priest of Kochupally church Kamukincode, Neyyattinkara...
28 June 2016
Bechara Peter Cardinal Rai, the Maronite Catholic Patriarch of Antioch, has been an outspoken advocate for reconciliation in his homeland. (photo: John E. Kozar)
During a time of turmoil and violence in his homeland, Lebanon’s Bechara Peter Cardinal Rai — Maronite Catholic Patriarch of Antioch — has been a heroic voice calling for reconciliation. It was a subject he addressed during his visit to CNEWA yesterday, and it’s one he’s made a hallmark of his ministry to the people of Lebanon.
He was enthroned as Patriarch of Antioch and all the East on 25 March 2011, the Feast of the Annunciation. Fittingly, his name “Bechara” means “annunciation.” That day, he served as a kind of herald to the people of Lebanon, both Christian and Muslim, announcing a message of “communion and love,” the very words he chose for his patriarchal motto.
In his homily, the patriarch did something bold for a Catholic leader, quoting from the Quran and its account of the annunciation. He noted the esteem in which Muslims hold Mary, and he sought common ground:
For the sake of “communion and love” we work together in the countries of the Middle East and with you the representatives of the leaders of our brother and sister countries, and we work to preserve and strengthen our relations of solidarity with the Arab world, and to establish a sincere and complete dialogue with our Muslim brothers and sisters and build together a future in common life and cooperation. For one single destiny links Muslims and Christians in Lebanon and the countries of the region in which, a culture particular to all of us, was built up by the diverse civilizations which passed one after another in our lands and thus we have a common patrimony in which we all shared in its creation and now work at its cultural development. We accompany with anxiety the uprisings and protests which are taking place here and there in our Arab countries. We regret the victims and the wounded and we pray for stability and peace.
As an emissary of hope and healing in the world CNEWA serves, the patriarch has been a great supporter of our shared mission to uplift those who are suffering and to accompany those in need. In Lebanon today, that includes an overwhelming number of refugees, many fleeing war and terror in Iraq and Syria; they now make up roughly half the country’s population.
Visting Syria three years ago, the patriarch issued a passionate plea for peace:
“Here in Damascus we say together: ’Enough of war and violence! Enough of the killing and destruction of homes and landmarks! Enough uprooting and suffering inflicted on innocent citizens! … We preach together the Gospel of peace, we work hand in hand for reconciliation, the promotion of human rights and dignity. … Every drop of innocent blood that is shed is a tear from the eyes of Christ.”
To assist the patriarch and support the work of CNEWA in Lebanon, visit this page.