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Spring, 2015
Volume 41, Number 1
  
30 June 2015
Greg Kandra




Pope Francis chats with retired Pope Benedict XVI during a meeting at the Vatican on 30 June.
(photo: CNS/L’Osservatore Romano via Reuters)


Francis stopped by to visit Benedict this morning. Details, from Vatican Radio:

Pope Francis on Tuesday morning visited Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI at his residence, the former Convent Mater Ecclesiae, in the Vatican, to greet him and wish him a pleasant stay in Castel Gandolfo in the Roman hills. The meeting lasted about half and hour.

The director of the Vatican Press Office, Father Federico Lombardi said the Pope Emeritus transferred to the summer retreat earlier today and will remain there for the next two weeks. He is scheduled to return on 14 July.



30 June 2015
Greg Kandra




In this image from last autumn, Syrian Christians pray in a church in Qamishli, Syria. The city has now become a haven for thousands of families fleeing ISIS. (photo: Eddie Gerald/Getty Images)

Thousands of Syrians fleeing Hassakè (Fides) Fighting it taking place in the Syrian city of Hassakè, the largest town in the northeastern province of Jazira, after the jihadist militants of ISIS managed last Thursday, to enter some neighborhoods, causing the mass exodus of at least 120,000 people. Nearly 4,000 Christian families belonging to various churches were among the first to flee, and have largely taken refuge in the nearby urban area of Qamishli...

Fighting in Ukraine continues, despite ceasefire (The Guardian) “This doesn’t smell like peace to me,” said the Monk, sighing heavily in his makeshift control centre, a former chandelier shop in the basement of a block of flats, near the remains of what not long ago was Donetsk international airport. “There is shooting all the time,” he said. A 47-year-old former policeman from Donetsk whose real name is Oleg Gorlenko, he was given his nom de guerre, he said, because he never cheated on his wife. He has been fighting the Ukrainian army for more than a year and does not believe in the current ceasefire. “Often it’s hard to tell who is shooting at whom. Nobody knows what anyone else is doing. But it definitely isn’t a ceasefire”...

Pope Francis: Christians and Jews, brothers and friends (Vatican Radio) This week members of the International Council of Christians and Jews have been meeting to discuss “The 50th Anniversary of Nostra Aetate: The Past, Present and Future of the Christian-Jewish Relationship,” and it was on this theme that Pope Francis addressed the participants on Tuesday in the Clementine Hall in the Vatican...

Buddhists, Catholics call for closer cooperation on shared values (Vatican Radio) Buddhist and Catholic leaders from the United States have concluded a meeting in Rome calling for closer cooperation on key environmental and social justice initiatives. A joint statement at the end of the meeting, which was held from 23-27 June on the theme of “Suffering, Liberation and Fraternity,” said the dialogue “strengthened mutual understanding” about these issues and “deepened relationships as a basis for interreligious cooperation based on shared values”...



Tags: Syria Ukraine Jews

29 June 2015
Greg Kandra





We’re pleased and proud to report that CNEWA’s multimedia magazine ONE took home top honors at the Catholic Press Association awards dinner Friday. The magazine won 12 awards — including First Place for General Excellence — at the Catholic Media Conference in Buffalo, New York.

The panel of judges — comprised of journalism professors from Spring Hill College and Marquette University — wrote:

“First rate journalism. Consistently strong reporting and research, not simply quotes and descriptions. Any one of the news features in a given issue could easily have been a cover story. Great job of putting the reader in far-flung places. … Outstanding.

The editors of ONE raise the bar for every publication that wants to use strong photos in a large format magazine. Compelling photos dominate the spreads and pull a reader into the well crafted text of stories with a distinctive hook for each theme. The magazine also includes well edited news stories about the world of Catholic Near East [Welfare] Association.”

Here’s a complete list of ONE’s awards:

First Place:

General Excellence (Mission Magazine)
ONE

Best Feature Article, Mission Magazine
“Caste Aside” by Jose Kavi

Best Online Content Not Published in Print
“Iraq Updates” by Michel Constantin — e.g.:

Second Place

Best Single Photo Originating with Magazine or Newsletter, Black & White
“Sister with Iraqi Refugees” by Don Duncan

Best Feature Article, Mission Magazine
“Sister Wardeh’s World” by Amal Marcos

Individual Excellence: Graphic Artist/Designer
Paul Grillo

Third Place

Individual Excellence: Editor
J.D. Conor Mauro

Best Electronic Newsletter
“Discover ONE Online” by Staff

Best Online Content Not Published in Print
“Survivors of the Exodus” by Don Duncan

Honorable Mention

Best Photo Story Originating with a Magazine or Newsletter, Feature
“Reaching the Unreached in India” by John E. Kozar

Best Single Photo Originating with a Magazine or Newsletter, Color
“Siblings in Mai-Aini refugee camp” by Petterik Wiggers

Best Essay Originating with a Magazine or Newsletter, Mission Magazine
“Prayer and Protest” by Borys Gudziak



29 June 2015
Greg Kandra




Archbishop Mieczyslaw Mokrzycki of Lviv, Ukraine, and Father Andriy Lehovych show Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and Msgr. J. Brian Bransfield, USCCB associate general secretary, the poor conditions of a Ukrainian seminary in Lviv on 22 June. The building was confiscated by the former Soviet regime, but only a small chapel in the structure was returned to Roman Catholic officials after Ukraine gained its independence in 1991. Read more about the bishops’ visit to Ukraine at this link.
(photo: CNS/Markiian Lyseiko)




22 June 2015
Greg Kandra




Retired Latin Patriarch Michel Sabbah of Jerusalem speaks to parishioners and visitors about religious co-existence and forgiveness during a prayer service at the Benedictine Church of the Multiplication in Tabgha, Israel on 21 June. (CNS photo/Mary Knight)

Following last week’s attack on a holy site in Galilee — which authorities suspect was carried out by Jewish extremists — people of many faiths gathered Sunday to pray and protest:

Thousands of Christians held a protest rally in the Galilee on Sunday, near the Christian church that suffered serious damage following a suspected arson attack last week.

The event was held in the compound of the Church of the Multiplication of the Loaves and Fishes, in Tabgha, near Tiberias. Although it had been planned as a quiet prayer rally, the mood quickly became more aggressive.

Hundreds of youths carrying crosses of various sizes and waving Vatican flags blocked the access road to the church and chanted in honor of Jesus and Mary. Inside the church, a mass was led by former Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem Michel Sabbah and Bishop Giacinto-Boulos Marcuzzo.

U.S. Deputy Chief of Mission William Grant attended the mass, telling Haaretz he wanted to express his condemnation and disgust with the alleged attack, which he described as a hate crime like last week’s attack on the church in Charleston, South Carolina, that left nine African Americans dead.

Read more.



22 June 2015
Greg Kandra




In the video above, analysts note that every minute another 30 people in the world flee their homes because of war or persecution. This, as the UN reports that the most dangerous country in the world is, for the second year in a row, Iraq — where war and persecution are having a devastating effect on Christians and other minorities. (video: Rome Reports)

Church reopens after arson attack attributed to Jewish extremists (Fides) Thousands of Christians in Galilee gathered on Sunday, 21 June at the Church of the Miracle of the Multiplication of the Loaves and Fishes in Tabgha. Arsonists, believed to be Jewish extremists, attacked the church Thursday. Sunday’s gathering marked the reopening of the church for Sunday Mass. Hundreds of young people protested, blocked the roads carrying crosses and white and yellow flags of the Vatican, and the singers sang in honor of Jesus and Mary...

UN report on Gaza finds evidence of war crimes (The New York Times) A United Nations investigation found “serious violations of international humanitarian law” that “may amount to war crimes” by both Israel and Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip during their bloody battle last summer, according to a report released on Monday in Geneva. The report by a commission of the United Nations Human Rights Council said that “impunity prevails across the board” regarding the actions of Israeli forces in Gaza, and it called on Israel to “break with its recent lamentable track record in holding wrongdoers accountable”...

Holy See to UN: victims’ needs are a priority for humanitarian efforts (Vatican Radio) “The priority of any humanitarian response are the needs of the victims,” according to the Holy See’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations in Geneva. Archbishop Silvano Tomasi was speaking at the 2015 Humanitarian Segment of the Economic and Social Council on Friday. The theme of the segment was “The future of humanitarian affairs: towards greater inclusiveness, coordination, interoperability, and effectiveness.” In his address, Archbishop Tomasi focused on the need to make the best use of available resources in responding to greater and more protracted humanitarian crises...

Report: Iraq most dangerous place in the world to live (RT) Iraq is the most dangerous place in the world for civilians to live, according to new figures from the UK based monitoring group Action on Armed Violence (AOAV). Syria, Gaza, Nigeria and Pakistan round out the top five. Unenviably occupying the top spot for most civilian fatalities and injuries, Iraq has seen a renewed surge in violence since the rise of ISIS. More than 10,000 civilians have been killed or injured by explosive devices, including car bombs, roadside bombs and other IED’s, making Iraq the most dangerous nation on the planet for the second year running...

EU extends sanctions against Russia (CNN) European Union foreign ministers meeting Monday in Luxembourg extended sanctions against Russia imposed because of the country’s actions in Crimea and eastern Ukraine, an EU spokeswoman has told CNN. The sanctions were imposed a year ago to punish Russia for its annexation of the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea and its military support for separatists in the eastern regions of Ukraine, which border Russia. The sanctions consist of asset freezes on some Russian companies and people as well as travel bans against certain officials...

Nun sexually assaulted in India (Voice of America) A 47-year-old nun working as a nurse at a medical center run by Christian missionaries in the central Indian city of Raipur was sexually assaulted by unidentified men Saturday. After a medical investigation, police in Raipur’s Chhattisgarh state said the nun from Kerala had not actually been raped, with police calling it a case of “attempt to rape.” Police say some suspects have been detained for questioning...



Tags: Iraq India Gaza Strip/West Bank Israel Russia

19 June 2015
Greg Kandra




Men attend the first Friday prayers of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan at the East London Mosque on 19 June in London. In a message for Ramadan, a cardinal at the Vatican has called on Christians and Muslims to pray for those who have “deviated from the true path of life.”
(photo: Rob Stothard/Getty Images)


In his annual message to Muslims, the cardinal who heads the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue is condemning violence in the name of religion, according to CNS:

Christians and Muslims should pray for those who have “deviated from the true path of life” and kill in the name of religion, said Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran.

“Our prayer is much needed: for justice, for peace and security in the world,” as well as for those who “commit violence in the name of religion, so as to return to God and change (their) life,” said the cardinal, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue.

Cardinal Tauran’s annual message to Muslims for Eid al-Fitr, the feast marking the end of the month long Ramadan fast, was published by the Vatican on 19 June. Ramadan will end on or around 17 July this year.

The message was titled, “Christians and Muslims: Together to counter violence perpetrated in the name of religion,” and it called for renewed efforts, especially in education and law enforcement, to foster respect for human life and protect people’s rights.

Unfortunately, many ethnic and religious communities around the world, he said, have had to face killings, rapes, enslavement, forced emigration and trafficking, even of human organs and cadavers.

“We are all aware of the gravity of these crimes in themselves,” he said. But what “makes them even more heinous” is the attempt to justify such barbarity in the name of religion. “It is a clear manifestation of instrumentalizing religion for gaining power and richness,” he said.

Nations and communities have a duty to protect their residents and their property “from the blind violence of terrorists,” he said.

Read more at the CNS link.



19 June 2015
Greg Kandra




In this image from last year, Mor Ignatius Aphram II, Patriarch of the Syrian Orthodox Church (right), arrives to vote at a polling station in Damascus. He visited the Vatican today to meet
with Pope Francis. (photo: Louai Beshara/Getty Images)


Pope Francis welcomes Syrian Orthodox Patriarch to Vatican (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis welcomed the Patriarch of the Syrian Orthodox Church, Mor Ignatius Aphram II, to the Vatican on Friday. In his address to the Patriarch, Pope Francis spoke about the “bonds of unity and fraternity” that unite the Church of Rome to the Church of Antioch, recalling the meetings between Patriarch Mor Ignatius Jacob II and Pope Paul VI in Rome, and between Pope Saint John Paul II and Patriarch Mor Ignatius Zakka Iwas in Rome and Damascus...

Pontifical Council sends greetings for Ramadan (Vatican Radio) For the Islamic Month of Ramadan and the feast of Eid al-Fitr, the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue has published a Message to Muslims entitled “Christians and Muslims: Together to counter violence perpetrated in the name of religion.” In the Message, Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, the President of the Council, offers best wishes to Muslims “for a peaceful and joyful celebration of Eid al-Fitr, the celebration that marks the end of Ramadan...

Gaza flotilla to set sail (Al Jazeera) At least three boats carrying pro-Palestine activists are preparing to set sail to Gaza in the latest attempt to break Israel’s blockade against the territory. Members of the Freedom Flotilla Coalition in Palermo, Sicily, have told Al Jazeera that final preparations are under way, with the boats aiming to reach Gaza before the end of June. Activist Kalle Ohlsson said the flotilla’s main objective was not to bring aid, but to open Gaza’s port to allow freedom of movement and trade...

Evangelicals and Orthodox grow closer in Ethiopia (Christianity Today) Roughly two-thirds of Ethiopians are Christians. The majority of these belong to the ancient Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church; the rest primarily to Protestant denominations such as the Ethiopian Evangelical Church Makane Yesus (which recently broke ties with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America over theological concerns). The Orthodox and Protestants have long had in common the search for a better life. Increasingly, they share even more. Veteran SIM missionary Howard Brant celebrates that “the two groups are coming closer and closer together” in Ethiopia, which he calls “one of the great success stories of evangelical Christianity...”

Kerala church to observe Yoga Day Sunday (Business Standard) Observing that yoga practice was not against Christian faith, a Malankara Marthoma church in Kerala today said it will be observing the International Yoga Day on 21 June after the Holy Communion...Bishops Conference of India, apex body of the Catholic priests in the country, had earlier expressed displeasure over government’s decision to organise Yoga day on 21 June, saying Sundays are “sacred day” for Christians in the country. CBCI President and Syro-Malankara Major Archbishop Cardinal Baselios Cleemis, had made it clear that the Church was not against yoga, which was described as “anti-Islam” by certain Muslim bodies, including All India Muslim Personal Law Board...



18 June 2015
Greg Kandra




In this image from November, Pope Francis and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople greet a small crowd after delivering a blessing in Istanbul.
(photo: CNS/Paul Haring)


The Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I — dubbed “The Green Patriarch” — has written an eloquent and impassioned response to the new encyclical by Pope Francis, Laudato Si’ in an exclusive essay for TIME magazine:

In a series of seminars organized between 1994 and 1998 on the island of Halki off the coast of Istanbul in Turkey, we drew attention to the close connection between ecology and economy. Both terms share the Greek root oikos, which signifies “home.” It therefore came as no surprise to us that our beloved brother Francis of Rome opens his encyclical, which is being released today in the New Synod Hall of the Vatican, with a reference to God’s creation as “our common home.”

Nor again did it come as a surprise to us that Pope Francis underlined the ecumenical dimension of creation care — the term “ecumenism” also shares the same etymological origin as the words “ecology” and “economy.” The truth is that, above any doctrinal differences that may characterize the various Christian confessions and beyond any religious disagreements that may separate the various faith communities, the earth unites us in a unique and extraordinary manner. All of us ultimately share the earth beneath our feet and breathe the same air of our planet’s atmosphere. Even if we do not do enjoy the world’s resources fairly or justly, nevertheless all of us are responsible for its protection and preservation. This is precisely why today’s papal encyclical speaks of the need for “a new dialogue,” “a process of education” and “urgent action.”

...In the third year of our brother Pope Francis’s blessed ministry, we count it as a true blessing that we are able to share a common concern and a common vision for God’s creation.

Read more.



18 June 2015
Greg Kandra




Fire damaged the historic Church of the Multiplication of Loaves and Fish in northern Israel.
(photo: Israel Fire and Rescue Services/Haaretz)


A fire overnight did serious damage to a church built at the site where tradition holds that Jesus fed 5,000 in the miracle of the loaves and fish:

A fire broke out late Wednesday night at the historic Church of the Multiplication of the Loaves and Fish at Tabgha, located on the Sea of Galilee in northern Israel. Sixteen yeshiva students were arrested Thursday morning over suspected involvement in the arson.

The detained youths reportedly are residents of the West Bank and are being represented by the right-wing Honenu legal rights organization.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered the head of Israel’s Shin Bet security service, Yoram Cohen, to conduct an accelerated investigation into the incident, his office announced.

“The shocking torching of a church is an attack on all of us,” Netanyahu said. “Freedom of worship in Israel is one of the foundation stones of our values and is protected by law. We will exercise the full weight of the law with those responsible for this criminal act. Hate and intolerance have no place in our society.”

Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan denounced the attack as an “act of lowly cowardice which I fiercely condemn.” He ordered the northern district police to make investigation of this incident a top priority, adding: “We will not let anyone disrupt the coexistence between religions and ethnicities in Israel. Harming the principle of tolerance between religions is a blow to the most crucial values in Israel, and we will show zero tolerance for act like these.”

The Catholic Church in Israel told Haaretz that they saw this attack as a continuation of the aggression against holy Christian sites over the last few years, which it said the Israeli government and authorities have failed to deal with accordingly. A report on the matter has been given to the Vatican, the sources said.

Read the rest.







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