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Volume 44, Number 1
  
11 December 2015
Greg Kandra




An aerial view from an Indian relief helicopter shows flood affected areas of Chennai.
(photo: STR/AFP/Getty Images)


Some India Catholic churches to cancel Christmas celebrations after flooding (Vatican Radio) Catholic churches in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu are cancelling Christmas in order to divert funds to help victims of flooding in Chennai — the worst in more than a century that are being blamed on climate change. Dozens were killed and thousands were left homeless as Chennai — the fifth most populous city in India — suffered the worst November rainfall in more than 20 years and the wettest December day in over a century when more than 12 inches fell on 1 December...

Canada’s prime minister welcomes Syrian refugees (BBC) The first military plane carrying Syrian refugees to be resettled in Canada has arrived in the country. Welcoming the 163 refugees, new Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said his country was “showing the world how to open our hearts”. The newly elected Liberal government has pledged to take in 25,000 refugees by the end of February. Canada’s stance on the issue differs sharply to that of the US, which has been reluctant to take in migrants. Another plane is due in Montreal on Saturday...

Studying Hebrew in Gaza: Bridging two peoples (Haaretz) At the small mixed-gender training room of the Nafha center for Hebrew and Israeli studies, six students of various ages have gathered. “Me’ayin is the Hebrew word for ‘from where,’” the teacher, Ahmed Alfaleet, explains. Alfaleet, the head of the center, was once a prisoner in Israeli jails. The 42-year-old was one of the more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners exchanged for abducted soldier Gilad Shalit in 2011; after he was freed, he decided to take on the challenge of spreading the Hebrew language in Gaza...

Analysis: Jews and Catholics must implement new interfaith partnership (Vatican Radio) The new Vatican document on the Catholic Church’s changed relationship with the Jewish world will only be effective if it is shared “on the streets, in the pulpits, in the pews of our churches and synagogues”. That’s the view of Dr. Edward Kessler, founding director of the interfaith Woolf Institute in Cambridge and one of the two Jewish speakers at a press conference presenting the new Vatican document on Thursday...



Tags: Syria India Gaza Strip/West Bank Jews

10 December 2015
Greg Kandra




An Indian boy puts his school books out to dry as floodwaters recede in Chennai on 7 December 2015. Residents in India’s southern Tamil Nadu state were grappling with the aftermath of devastating floods as authorities stepped up relief work following the worst deluge in decades that killed over 250 people. (photo: STR/AFP/Getty Images)

As India struggles to recover from devastating floods, the Catholic Church is stepping in to help:

The Catholic Church in India has expressed solidarity with the victims of Tamil Nadu floods and appealed to the people to come forward and make voluntary donations for the relief and rehabilitation of the affected.

“The need of the hour calls us to express solidarity with the flood affected suffering families and communities and to contribute our mite for their relief and rehabilitation,” Cardinal Baselios Cleemis, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI) said in a statement.

Two days of heavy rains through 2 December brought double the normal rainfall the Tamil Nadu state capital normally receives during its entire two-month rainy season.

The deluge has affected Cuddalore, Kanchipuram, Tiruvallur, Villupuram and Tanjavur districts with the state capital Chennai being the worst hit.

Read more.



10 December 2015
Greg Kandra




People gather on 20 November outside the Washington State capitol in Olympia to urge the United States’ acceptance of Syrian refugees. (photo: CNS/David Ryder, Reuters)

25 Christian hostages freed in Syria (Fides) On Wednesday, 9 December the jihadists affiliated to the self-styled Islamic State released other 25 Assyrian Christians, who were part of the large group of hostages kidnapped by them on 23 February, when the jihadi militias had unleashed an offensive against the predominantly Christian Assyrian villages scattered along the valley of the river Khabur, in the northeastern Syrian province of Hassake. According to reports from local sources, and re-launched by the Assyrian International News Agengy , the group of hostages freed includes men, boys and two children under ten years of age, who after their release reached the town of Tel Tamar...

Faith leaders, senators say U.S. must not “pause” refugee resettlement (CNS) A coalition of religious leaders joined three U.S. senators on Capitol Hill 8 December to say “enough is enough” to those who want to bar Muslim refugees from Syria and other Middle East trouble spots from the U.S. after terrorist attacks in Paris and Southern California...

First planes of Syrian refugees set to arrive in Canada (Reuters) The first two government flights carrying Syrian refugees to Canada will arrive this week, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Wednesday. His immigration minister noted with pride that Canada’s welcoming attitude contrasts with the wary stance of many in the United States. The first flight will arrive in Toronto on Thursday evening and another will land in Montreal on Saturday, Trudeau said in Parliament. The planes, both military aircraft, will carry a total of 300 Syrian refugees...

Orthodox rabbis urge partnership between Christians and Jews (The Jewish Press) A group of Orthodox Jewish rabbis are advocating for increased partnership between Christians and Jews. More than 25 Orthodox rabbis from Israel, the United States and Europe released the statement titled “To Do the Will of Our Father in Heaven: Toward a Partnership between Jews and Christians” on the Center for Jewish-Christian Understanding and Cooperation (CJCUC) website...

Vatican issues new document on Christian-Jewish dialogue (Vatican Radio) The Vatican’s Commission for Religious Relations with Jews has released a new document exploring the unresolved theological questions at the heart of Christian-Jewish dialogue. The new document, entitled ‘The Gifts and Calling of God are irrevocable’, marks the 50th anniversary of the ground-breaking declaration ‘Nostra Aetate’...

Archbishop: “The pope has profoundly marked the Muslim community” (Fides) “The Pope came as a pilgrim to invite us to peace. Now we must become pilgrims of peace in our own country”, says Dieudonné Nzapalainga, Archbishop of Bangui, capital of the Central African Republic, explaining his gesture to walk the Muslims’ PK5 neighborhood, after tensions in recent days due to the exclusion of former President Francois Bozize’s candidacy in the presidential elections...



9 December 2015
Greg Kandra




Pope Francis presents a rose at an icon of Mary and the child Jesus — known as “Doors of Mercy” — as he begins his general audience in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican on 9 December.
(photo: CNS/Paul Haring)


Pope Francis requested the ancient Ukrainian icon “Doors of Mercy” to be brought to the Vatican for the opening of the Jubilee Year of Mercy. Vatican Radio has details:

This icon, which combines both Western and Eastern traditions, is particularly symbolic and encourages all Christians to unity and peace for the sake of charity.

The Icon was met at the airport by the Ambassador of Ukraine to the Holy See, Tatyana Izhevska; and Ambassador of Poland to the Holy See, Piotr Nowina-Konopka; and representatives from the Vatican.

The image of the Virgin Mary and Jesus Christ, which dates from the seventeenth century, comes from the cathedral of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church in the Polish city of Jaroslaw. The icon, which takes its name from the Byzantine Lenten liturgical text, “Open the Doors of Mercy to me, O Mother of God.” is considered miraculous and was given a crown by St. John Paul II in 1996.

A copy of of the icon is also found in the Argentinian church belonging to Pope Francis’ former spiritual director, Ukrainian Catholic priest Father Stephan Chmil, who was later made a bishop.



9 December 2015
Greg Kandra




Lebanese Cardinal Bechara Peter Rai, patriarch of the Maronite Catholic Church, greets people after celebrating Mass on 7 December at Our Lady of the Annunciation Cathedral in Tartus, Syria. He urged Syrian Christians to hold onto their faith amid the country’s conflict, now in its fifth year.
(photo: CNS/Mychel Akl for Bkerke, Maronite patriarchate)


Syrian rebels begin leaving Homs (AFP) Hundreds of Syrian rebels and civilians began evacuating the last opposition-held district in the central city of Homs Wednesday under a local ceasefire deal reached with President Bashar al-Assad’s regime. The deal agreed at the start December, a rare agreement between the regime and rebel forces, will leave the city once dubbed the “capital” of Syria’s revolution fully under government control. Some 2,000 rebels and their families will abandon the Waer district in Homs to travel to other opposition-held areas, after years of siege and heavy shelling...

Lebanese cardinal visits Syria, urges Christians to hold on to their faith (CNS) Lebanese Cardinal Bechara Peter Rai, visiting Syria, urged Christians to hold onto their faith. “Withstand with your faith and values, hold on to your unity. God doesn’t accept injustice, and our God is the God of peace and justice,” he said from the courtyard of Our Lady of the Sea on 7 December in the Syrian coastal town of Tartus. The governor of the coastal town declared a public holiday in honor of the visit of the cardinal, who is patriarch of Maronite Catholics...

Syrian refugees settling across U.S. despite resistance (CBS News) In at least two states where governors had demanded no Syrian refugees be allowed to settle, families from that war-torn country have begun arriving, despite the resistance. The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Indianapolis also said Tuesday it has brought a Syrian refugee family into the state despite Republican Gov. Mike Pence’s request that it not do so. Archbishop Joseph Tobin said the family arrived safely in Indianapolis Monday night...

Report: Ethiopian drought leaves “10 million without food” (BBC) Ethiopia’s government has increased to 10.1 million the estimated number of people who desperately need food aid because of a drought. More than half of them are children, Save the Children says. The drought, blamed on the El Nino weather phenomenon caused by Pacific Ocean warming, was the worst in 50 years, the charity added...

Bartholomew sends a gift to Pope Francis (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis today received a gift from the Orthodox leader, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew 1st to recall the signing of a Joint Declaration between their predecessors exactly 50 years ago. On 7 December 1965, on the eve of the conclusion of the Second Vatican Council, Pope Paul VI and Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras, lifted the mutual excommunications which had been imposed following the great schism of 1054...

Ukrainian icon “Doors of Mercy” brought to Vatican for Jubilee (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis requested the ancient Ukrainian icon “Doors of Mercy” to be brought to the Vatican for the opening of the Jubilee Year of Mercy. This icon, which combines both Western and Eastern traditions, is particularly symbolic and encourages all Christians to unity and peace for the sake of charity...



Tags: Syria Lebanon Pope Francis Refugees Ethiopia

7 December 2015
Greg Kandra




Young members of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church rest during a traditional celebration. To learn more about this ancient branch of Christianity, read our profile in the May 2010
edition of ONE. (photo: Cody Christopulos)




7 December 2015
Greg Kandra




In the video above, officials describe efforts to tighten security in Rome ahead of the Holy Year, which begins on Tuesday 8 December. (video: Reuters)

Rome on alert as Jubilee approaches (The New York Times) On a recent morning on St. Peter’s Square, alongside the bustling priests and nuns, would-be tour guides and vendors hawking cheap umbrellas, military police officers stood guard with submachine guns. But that is just the beginning. On Tuesday — the start of what Pope Francis has declared a holy year, or Jubilee of Mercy, that is expected to draw millions of visitors — anyone entering the square will be subjected to airport-style screening, including metal detectors and X-ray machines. Pilgrims and tourists take note: Expect long lines...

Egypt reports jihadist threats to Coptic monasteries (Fides) In the last hours, according to Egyptian sources consulted by Agenzia Fides, jihadist threats were directed in particular against the Coptic Orthodox Monastery of al Baramos, dedicated to the Virgin Mary. The threats have been accompanied by information about the location and structure of the monastery, already subjected to considerable protection measures by the Egyptian police...

Poll shows Americans favor sending ground troops to Iraq, Syria (The Boston Globe) A poll released Sunday said that a majority of Americans should send ground troops to Iraq and/or Syria to combat the Islamic State group. The CNN/ORC poll, released shortly before President Obama’s Oval Office speech, showed that 53 percent of Americans favored using ground troops to combat the Islamic State. It’s the first time that a majority has favored such an action in an CNN poll, the network said...

Knesset to host first-ever Reform-Conservative Hanukkah event (Haaretz) A first-of-its-kind Hanukkah candle-lighting ceremony that will include representatives of the Conservative and Reform movements in Israel will be held at the Knesset this week. The ceremony, to be held Tuesday afternoon in one of the main halls of the parliament, is the initiative of MK Michal Rozin (Meretz), head of the Knesset lobby for pluralism and civil equality. Among the candle-lighters will be men, women, religious and secular activists, as well as Ethiopian Jewish clergy. The event is meant to coincide with International Human Rights day, which falls this week...

Gaza selling perfumes in bottles shaped like daggers (The Jerusalem Post) The latest perfume trend in Gaza is a new scent being sold in a bottle shaped like a dagger, the Palestinian symbol of resistance in the latest wave of terror to strike Israel in recent months, according to reports by Alkahleej, a United Arab Emirates based media site...

Russian Orthodox priests pose with cats for calendar (Australia Broadcasting Company) In a rare venture into popular culture, bearded Russian Orthodox priests have posed as models for a glossy 2016 calendar — cuddling their pet cats. The calendar put together by an Orthodox news website sees 12 smiling priests in dark robes relaxing with their cats — sitting side-by-side on the sofa, or having the pet sprawled on their chest or draped round their shoulder...



Tags: Syria Iraq Egypt Gaza Strip/West Bank Russian Orthodox

4 December 2015
Greg Kandra




The bells of Holy Cross Cathedral call together Uzhorod’s Carpatho-Rusyn Greek Catholic community. Read more about the church coming “Out From Underground” in the Autumn
edition of ONE. (photo: Oleg Grigoryev)




4 December 2015
Greg Kandra




People gather in front of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin on 3 December 2015 to demonstrate against the deployment of German armed forces to fight against ISIS in Syria. Germany’s parliament Friday voted to send military support to Syria.
(photo: Tobias Schwarz/AFP/Getty Images)


Mass graves discovered in Iraq (AP) The U.N. human rights office in Iraq said on Friday that it has received reports of 16 mass graves discovered near the town of Sinjar after it was liberated from the Islamic State group last month. The reports were the latest among many instances of mass graves being uncovered in territory wrested from IS militants in Iraq and Syria — thousands of people have been killed in summary and extrajudicial killings by the Sunni militants and the graves have been a dark testimony to the group’s brutality...

Germany approves military action against ISIS (BBC) Germany’s parliament has voted to send military support to the US-led coalition fighting Islamic State (IS) militants in Syria. MPs approved the plan for a German non-combat role by 445 votes to 146. Tornado jets — for reconnaissance — a naval frigate and 1,200 soldiers will be sent to the region. The vote comes after a French request following last month’s Paris attacks. Ministers believe Germany is now an IS target too...

Egypt reopens Gaza border (AP) Egypt has reopened its border with the Gaza Strip in both directions for the first time in months. Thousands of Palestinians lined up Thursday at the Rafah crossing in hopes of leaving the isolated enclave. Gaza’s borders are largely sealed by an Israeli and Egyptian blockade. It’s unclear if the two-day opening is tied to an agreement the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank reached with Egypt last month to reopen the border crossing...

Friend of Syria’s Assad could become next Lebanese president (Fides) The vacant Lebanese presidency could be filled by Suleiman Franjieh, a Maronite Christian politician, a childhood friend of Syrian President Bashar Assad...

In a first, Kerala church offers Mass in Hindi for migrant workers (The Times of India) The famed St Antony’s church at Kaloor here has started offering Sunday prayers in Hindi, to cater to the spiritual needs of Christians among the migrant workforce. Ernakulam is home to migrant labourers and this is for the first time that a church is offering regular holy Mass in Hindi in the city limits. The Mass in Hindi will be offered every Sunday at 3 pm...



3 December 2015
Greg Kandra




The Alslivi children — who moved from Mosul, Iraq, to Sweden — brave a harsh winter’s day to do some grocery shopping. To learn more about Iraqi refugees in Sweden, read “A Nordic Refuge No More” in the May 2011 edition of ONE. (photo: Magnus Aronson)







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