Current Issue
September, 2019
Volume 45, Number 3
28 October 2016
J.D. Conor Mauro

Celebrations break out in town as Iraqi government forces continue to advance toward Mosul, meeting fierce resistance. (video: Al Jazeera)

ISIS pushed out of town near Mosul as advance continues (Al Jazeera) Kurdish and Iraqi government forces have pushed ISIS out of the northern town of Fadiliya, which lies about two miles away from Mosul, the group’s last major urban bastion in the country…

Chaldean patriarch visits the liberated towns of the Nineveh Plain (Fides) His Beatitude Patriarch Louis Raphael I, accompanied by his auxiliary Bishop Basileo Salim Yado, visited the five Christian towns of the Nineveh Plain already released in the concerted military operations that aim at reconquering Mosul, the northern-Iraqi city that has become since June 2014 a stronghold of ISIS…

The bishops: Pray for corruption-free nation on Diwali (Fides) Catholic bishops in India have invited prayer for a nation free of corruption, violence and division on the occasion of Diwali, the festival of lights which is celebrated on 30 October. In their warmest greetings and felicitations “to the Hindu brethren throughout the world,” the bishops noted that the festival symbolizes the victory of light over darkness and good over evil…

Dozens missing after migrant boat sinks in Mediterranean, says Libyan navy (The Guardian) About 100 people are feared missing after a boat sank off the coast of Libya, amid mounting evidence that already dangerous conditions are worsening for migrants crossing the Mediterranean sea to get to Europe. General Ayoub Qassem, a spokesman for the Libyan navy, said on Thursday that a boat carrying 126 people from the port of Garabulli had sunk after being hit by high waves, and that only 20 people had been rescued…

Syrian rebels launch attack to break Aleppo siege (Daily Star Lebanon) Syrian rebels, including extremists, counterattacked the army and its allies Friday aiming to break a weeks-long siege on eastern Aleppo, insurgents said. The assault, employing heavy shelling and suicide car bombs, was mainly focused on the city’s western edge. It included fighters from Jabhat Fatah al Sham, a former affiliate of Al Qaeda previously known as Al Nusra Front, and groups fighting under the Free Syrian Army banner. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a British-based pro-opposition monitor, said more than 15 civilians had been killed and 100 wounded by rebel shelling of government-held western Aleppo. State media reported that five civilians were killed…

NATO moving thousands of troops amid standoff with Russia (Vatican Radio) The NATO military alliance has finalized plans to deploy thousands of troops and military equipment to the Baltics and Poland in response to what it views as an increasingly aggressive and unpredictable Russia. After two days of talks, NATO defense ministers agreed to send as many as 4,000 troops and equipment into Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland near Russia’s borders, despite warnings by experts that it could add to international tensions…

Tags: Syria Iraq Ukraine Migrants Libya

21 October 2016
J.D. Conor Mauro

In this September 2014 photo, internally displaced Chaldean children prepare to serve the altar in a camp in Erbil. As violence escalates amid renewed efforts to retake Mosul and the Nineveh Plain region from ISIS, refugees continue to eke out an existence in camps. You can read more about the Iraqi Christian Exodus in the Autumn 2014 edition of ONE. (photo: Don Duncan)

Tags: Iraq Iraqi Christians War Iraqi Refugees Chaldean Church

21 October 2016
J.D. Conor Mauro

Iraqi refugees in a camp in Syria’s Hassake province, seen on 19 October, await an end to the war. (photo: Delil Souleiman/AFP/Getty Images)

Refugees want to return to Mosul (Fides) “The people hospitalized in refugee camps in Erbil, in Dibaga and Kirkuk are concerned,” says Mustafa Jabbar, coordinator in Erbil of the Federation of Christian Organizations for International Volunteer Service. “Many have friends and relatives forced to stay in Mosul, but many are relieved because they think that one could, with this new advance, try to go home, even if they do not know what they will find. It is feared that homes, businesses, places of worship have been destroyed…”

Fatal explosions and gunfire rock Kirkuk (Al Jazeera) ISIS fighters have attacked multiple targets in and around the oil-rich city of Kirkuk, in a major assault that appeared aimed at diverting Iraqi and Kurdish forces from a massive push against Mosul, the armed group’s last major stronghold in Iraq…

ISIS attacks police compound, power plant in Kirkuk (Los Angeles Times) With an offensive underway to oust Islamic State from the northern city of Mosul, militants staged a surprise attack early Friday about 95 miles south in Kirkuk…

Christian refugees facing persecution in Germany (AINA) The refugees of Christian descent who fled persecution in places like Syria and Northern Iraq are facing different kinds of attacks in Germany. According to the findings of a new survey from the Christian advocacy group Open Doors USA, religious minorities who seek safe haven in the European nation are finding a general lack of protection. Since February, nearly 800 Christian and Yazidi refugees were attacked by others at the relief centers and camps…

Russia extends ceasefire in Syrian airstrikes (Vatican Radio) Russia says a break in fighting in the Syrian city of Aleppo has been extended for one more day. The announcement came moments after German Chancellor Angela Merkel pressed anew for a long-term ceasefire in the devastated city following her talks with European leaders meeting in Berlin…

At least 1,500 arrests in Ethiopian state of emergency, claims news agency (The Guardian) Ethiopian authorities have arrested more than 1,500 people since declaring a state of emergency less than two weeks ago, according to a statement published by state-controlled news agency Fana. The body set up by authorities to oversee the state of emergency said 1,120 people had been arrested in the towns of Shashemene and West Arsi — south of the capital, Addis Ababa — for “violence and property damage…”

Islamic State threat to Kerala Christians worries leaders (Herald Malaysia Online) The Times of India daily recently reported that Kerala police have busted an ISIS-inspired cell. Interrogations reportedly revealed that the Islamic militant outfit was targeting churches and institutions run by “a denomination of Christians of Syrian lineage.” The report did not specify the denomination, but said they were targeted because their ancestors had killed Muslims during the historical crusades. Those from Syrian traditions form the bulk of Christians in Kerala…

Tags: Syria Iraq Ethiopia Kerala Iraqi Refugees

23 September 2016
J.D. Conor Mauro

Parishioners light votive candles at St. Hripsime Church, built in the year 618 in Vagharshapat, Armenia — the city also known as Etchmiadzin, the seat of the Armenian Apostolic Church. The Armenians, whose ancient homeland now encompasses parts of Asia Minor, the Caucasus and northwestern Iran, have endured for more than 3,000 years, outlasting more powerful neighbors in Asia and Europe who have repeatedly and relentlessly sought to subjugate and even obliterate them. Learn more about the Church of Armenia in the pages of the Autumn 2016 special edition of ONE. (photo: Armineh Johannes)

Tags: Armenia Eastern Christianity Eastern Churches ONE magazine Etchmiadzin

23 September 2016
J.D. Conor Mauro

Cardinal Pietro Parolin, secretary of state of the Holy See addresses the 71st session of the United Nations General Assembly at the U.N. headquarters in New York on 22 September. (photo: Dominick Reuters/AFP/Getty Images)

Vatican ratifies U.N. Convention against Corruption (Vatican Radio) The Holy See has deposited the instrument of ratification of the United Nations Convention against Corruption at United Nations headquarters in New York. Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican Secretary of State, made the formal deposition on 19 September 2016, both for the Holy See, and on behalf of the Vatican City State…

Catholic-Orthodox commission approves statement on authority (CNS) Catholics and Orthodox need to explore ways authority can be understood and exercised so that is not an obstacle to unity, a group of top-level theologians said. Members of the official Joint International Commission for the Theological Dialogue Between the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church met near Chieti, Italy, 16 to 21 September and approved a document reflecting a mutual understanding of primacy and synodality. “Primacy” refers to the authority of the lead bishop or pope, and “synodality” refers to the authority exercised collegially by the College of Bishops in the West or a synod of bishops in the Eastern churches. While Orthodox patriarchs are recognized spiritual leaders and exercise authority over some areas of church life, they do not have the kind of jurisdiction the pope has over the Catholic Church and especially over its Latin-rite dioceses…

Iraqi Catholic church in U.S. torn by immigration efforts (Wall Street Journal) The backyard gathering was part Catholic liturgy, part rebellion. The priest, an Iraqi immigrant, had been kicked out of the local church. Parishioners had been warned by local church leaders not to worship with him. Yet 50 people sat in makeshift pews behind a home east of San Diego in a show of opposition to church officials urging Christians to stay in Iraq, where their numbers are dwindling. “There is no future for Christians in Iraq,” said Bahaa Gandor, a 31-year-old who fled the country in 2010. “We have to bring them here…”

‘A massacre is inevitable’: Siege drags on for two Shiite villages in Syria (Los Angeles Times) A punishing siege imposed by Islamist rebels has cut off the two sister towns of Fua and Kefraya in northwest Syria for the last 18 months, leaving them at the mercy of truck bombs, mortar barrages, and the terrifying staccato of sniper fire. The two towns lie in Idlib province, a predominantly Sunni Muslim region southwest of Aleppo. In March 2015, the entire province was overrun by a powerful jihadist coalition known as the Army of Conquest. The exception was Fua and Kefraya, two Shiite villages whose roughly 17,000 residents have remained, even under a devastating blockade, loyal to the government. For most, there has seemed to be little choice: Shiite Muslims are seen as apostates by Islamist hard-liners, and the Army of Conquest has threatened to wipe them out…

Protecting cultural heritage from combatants promotes human rights and universal values (U.N. News Center) Safeguarding cultural property that combatants aim to damage encompasses part of larger endeavors to defend human rights and universal values, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today, calling on the international community to intensify efforts to protect such treasures and end their illicit trafficking…

Tags: Syria Iraqi Christians United States United Nations Catholic-Orthodox relations

22 September 2016
J.D. Conor Mauro

A CNEWA poster from 1926 features Greek Catholic Bishop George Calavassy. (photo: CNEWA)

When Bishop John Gavin Nolan, former secretary general of CNEWA, documented the origins of the association, he began Chapter I with the following words:

On 10 April 1917, four days after the United States entered World War I, Father George Calavassy, a bearded, 36-year-old Greek Catholic priest from Constantinople, dropped an envelope in the mail. Its contents, three pages painstakingly handwritten in English on plain paper at the Jesuit college of St. Francis Xavier in New York City, were addressed to James Cardinal Gibbons in Baltimore, the dean of the American hierarchy. After reviewing the origin and purposes of the tiny Greek Catholic Exarchate (diocese) that the Holy See had established in Constantinople in 1911, Father Calavassy reminded the cardinal of his promise, made in Baltimore two months earlier, to present to the American bishops at their next meeting the needs of the exarchate — viz., $500,000 for a seminary, two schools and a “large” church, presumably a cathedral.

For 25 years, Cardinal Gibbons had lent his name to American Protestants to raise funds for the Armenians in Turkey, but it seems that he did not give Father Calavassy’s letter so much as the favor of a reply. The letter is important, however; it explains clearly in Father Calavassy’s own words the Holy See’s attitude and strategy vis-a-vis the Orthodox before Vatican Council II made ecumenism a household word. Further, it was due to the contacts Father Calavassy made with Catholics in America during the war, and to the correspondence he maintained with them afterward, that the Catholic Near East Welfare Association was founded in Philadelphia in 1924.

Indeed, though the work of CNEWA’s founding would involve such colorful characters as the Rev. Paul Wattson, S.A.; Msgr. Richard Barry-Doyle; the Rev. Edmund A. Walsh, S.J.; and ultimately Pope Pius XI, George Calavassy’s efforts to support his flock served as the spark that set the work in motion.

Born to Catholic parents in 1881 at Ano-Siros, on the Cyclades island of Siros — “the island of the pope,” in the words of Jesuit and Capuchin missionaries — Calavassy joined the priesthood early in life, building a reputation as an apologist for Catholicism and strong advocate for ecumenism, long before the latter had come into its own as a modern movement.

Above all, he went to every imaginable length to secure the safety and continuity of his community. In his profile on Greece’s Eastern Catholic Church, Michael La Civita wrote:

If not for the humanitarian and pastoral works of one of its leaders, Bishop George Calavassy (1920-57), this church would barely merit a footnote in the annals of church history. …

In 1911, Pope Pius X erected an ordinariate, later an exarchate, for this nascent church and named Father Isaias Papadopoulos as its first bishop. Called to Rome during the waning days of World War I, he was succeeded in 1920 by Bishop George Calavassy, who witnessed firsthand the horrors of a country at war with outsiders and with its own Christian minorities.

By 1920, an estimated million refugees had swarmed Constantinople. Hundreds of thousands of them were Greeks. Fleeing the excesses of the Bolsheviks, some 100,000 penniless Russians engulfed the former Byzantine capital. Scores of Armenians, Assyrians and Chaldeans fled their homesteads during and after the war; many more died in the struggle to defend them.

Among the first to minister to the needs of the dispossessed was Bishop George. Overwhelmed by the refugee crisis — especially after his requests for funding in Europe and the United States went unanswered — the bishop appealed to Father Paul Wattson.

The resulting efforts would prove a lifeline to his church in its most difficult time — sustaining orphans, students, parishioners and seminarians alike, and supporting the small church’s monumental relief efforts. And the rest, as they say, is history.

To continue the work that began with Bishop George Calavassy’s appeal for help, click here.

Tags: Refugees CNEWA Relief Greek Catholic Church

22 September 2016
J.D. Conor Mauro

Greek Orthodox Patriarch Diodoros I of Jerusalem leads the procession out of Church of Holy Sepulchre on Palm Sunday, 1988. The Orthodox Patriarchal Church of Jerusalem accounts for about a third of the 400,000 Christians who participate in the life of the Church of Jerusalem, at the birthplace of the faith. Learn more about the Church of Jerusalem in the pages of the Autumn 2016 special edition of ONE. (photo: Paul Souders)

Tags: Jerusalem Eastern Christianity Eastern Churches ONE magazine

22 September 2016
J.D. Conor Mauro

Egyptians stand on the shore in the Egyptian port city of Rosetta, waiting for the results of a search operation after a boat carrying migrants capsized in the Mediterranean on 21 September 2016. (photo: Mohamed El Shahed/AFP/Getty Images)

Egypt migrant boat capsize: Hundreds feared dead (BBC) Survivors from a boat which capsized off the Egyptian coast on Wednesday have told the BBC that hundreds of people may have drowned. The boat was carrying about 550 migrants when it capsized eight miles off the coast, they say. Authorities have rescued 163 people and recovered 42 bodies so far off the port city of Rosetta. Four crew members have been arrested in connection with incident, Egyptian officials said…

Church committed to support for Dalits against rising violence (Fides) Violence against Dalits (the “untouchables”) in India have increased in recent years, according to the National Crime Record Board. “It is a matter of concern to note: Since the Bharatiya Janata Party of Prime Minister Narendra Modi have been ruling, atrocities on Dalits have increased” says Jesuit A. Xavier John Bosco, director of the Jesuit Social Centre, based in Secunderabad, Andhra Pradesh…

Jerusalem archbishop: Christian unity, Middle East situation are priorities (CNS) The new apostolic administrator of the Latin Patriarchate, Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa, said he would focus on listening to the priests and people of the diocese to better understand the pastoral issues. In a 21 September news conference before his official entrance into Jerusalem, the archbishop told journalists the diocese faces many challenges similar to those of the church in other parts of the world, including divisions within family life, young people’s disenchantment with the church. But he said the local church also is concerned with the influx of refugees, foreign workers and migrants in Jordan and Israel, many of whom are Christian, as well as issues of family reunification and an acute shortage of housing…

Syrian archbishop: ‘A bullet narrowly missed my head’ (AINA) Christians in Syria are being targeted by Kurdish militias according to a senior Christian leader in the region. Syriac Catholic Archbishop Jacques Behnan Hindo says Kurds in Hassake, a city in northeast Syria, and surrounding areas are responsible for “acts of violence and intimidation” against Christians. He said he had a narrow escape himself when shots were fired through the window of his house and a bullet narrowly missed his head. “At that moment, the area was presided over by Kurdish militias, and there were no other armed persons nearby…”

Christian and Muslim religious leaders pray for peace in the name of Mary in Beirut (AsiaNews) Representatives of all of Lebanon’s faith communities gathered on Tuesday for an interfaith prayer for peace at Marian shrine in Harissa, north of Beirut. The group met in response to a call made by Pope Francis, who asked that all the dioceses in the world hold prayer ceremonies, at the same time as the one in Assisi, the city of St. Francis, which brought together prominent figures of faith and culture…

Tags: Syria India Egypt Lebanon Jerusalem

21 September 2016
J.D. Conor Mauro

A child attends the Divine Liturgy in the Melkite Greek Catholic Church of Sts. Peter and Paul in Shefa-‘Amr, a small city in the Galilee. The Melkite Greek Catholic Church is one of ten distinct churches that together form the richly diverse Church of Antioch. Learn more about the Church of Antioch in the pages of the Autumn 2016 special edition of ONE. (photo: Ilene Perlman)

Tags: Eastern Christianity Eastern Churches Melkite Greek Catholic Church Antiochene church Antioch

21 September 2016
J.D. Conor Mauro

Moscow and the Syrian government have denied they carried out a deadly air strike on an aid convoy in Syria. (video: Al Jazeera English)

Russia and Syria deny striking U.N. aid convoy in Aleppo (Al Jazeera) “The air forces of Russia and Syria did not conduct any strikes against the U.N. aid convoy in the southwestern outskirts of Aleppo,” said Russian defense ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov on Tuesday, as outrage mounted over an attack that some called a war crime. The Red Cross said at least 20 people were killed in the attack on trucks carrying desperately needed humanitarian relief to thousands of Syrians. Ban Ki-moon, U.N. secretary-general, speaking at the General Assembly in New York, called those who attacked the convoy “cowards.” He continued: “Powerful patrons that keep feeding the war machine also have blood on their hands…”

Caritas: Syrian people are the ‘ball’ in the cruel game of the powerful (AsiaNews) In Syria, major world powers are playing “a football game” in which the Syrian people have become the ball, wrote Sandra Awad of Caritas Syria, in an appeal letter for International Day of Peace. “Unfortunately, what is happening during this game is that the players are destroying with their big shoes … the infrastructure, buildings, factories, and are crushing the Syrian people, especially the poor ones who became the majority…”

Egypt migrant boat capsize: At least 29 people killed (BBC) At least 29 people have drowned after a migrant boat capsized off the Egyptian coast, officials say. The boat was carrying about 600 passengers, of which about 150 have been rescued, state media reported. The capsize took place off the coast of Kafr al Sheikh, officials say…

Interreligious peace rally held in Miao Diocese (Vatican Radio) The Miao Diocese in Arunachal Pradesh — the Indian state furthest northeast — organized an interreligious peace rally in Neotan village, in response to Pope Francis’ call to pray for peace on 20 September. “Amidst growing religious intolerance in India and all around, this inter-religious peace rally is a great step to promote mutual respect and peace among the people of all faiths,” said the Venerable Narinda Bhikkhu Mahathero, head monk in Miao’s Buddhist monastery…

Signs of panic and rebellion in the heart of Islamic State’s territory (Washington Post) The graffiti that appeared on a wall near the mosque in Mosul where the Islamic State leader declared his caliphate two years ago was a small but symbolic act of rebellion. The spray-painted letter “m” — for the Arabic word mukawama, meaning resistance — was part of a campaign by Kitaeb al Mosul, an underground opposition group in the northern Iraqi city that released a video detailing their efforts this month. In recent months, the Islamic State has carried out more arrests and executions such as these in a sign of desperation as it faces the prospect of losing Mosul, according to reports from inside the city…

Tags: Syria India Iraq Egypt Migrants

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