24 April 2015
People lay flowers at the Tsitsernakaberd Armenian Genocide Memorial in Yerevan, commemorating 100 years since the massacre took the lives of 1.5 million Armenians. (photo: Karen Minasyan/AFP/Getty Images)
Armenians around the world are remembering today the genocide 100 years ago of Armenians by Ottoman Turks:
The annual 24 April commemorations mark the day when the mass killings started. An estimated 1.5 million died in massacres, deportations and forced marches that began in 1915 as Ottoman officials worried that the Christian Armenians would side with Russia, its enemy in World War I.
Turkey denies the deaths constituted genocide, saying the toll has been inflated and that those killed were victims of civil war and unrest. …
In Beirut, tens of thousands of Lebanese of Armenian descent marched the stretch of several miles from an Armenian church in northern Beirut to a soccer field where the commemoration service took place. Many waved Armenian and Lebanese flags and scores wore caps with “I remember and I demand” printed on them in Arabic. Lebanon has one of the largest Armenian communities in the world outside Armenia itself — mostly descendants of people who fled their homes in 1915. Experts estimate the community to number about 150,000 people today.
Among those attending the Beirut service was Agop Djizmedjian, a 52-year-old supermarket employee who brought his 5-year-old son George. “I brought George today to tell him that our ancestors were killed in this genocide,” Djizmedjian said. “When I die, my son will teach his children until we get our rights.”
In Beirut’s predominantly Armenian district of Burj Hammoud, most of the shops were closed and balconies were decorated with the red, blue and orange Armenian flags.
In Jerusalem’s Old City, Armenian priests held a Mass at St. James Cathedral, their chants rising to the sky in the cavernous century-old church adorned with hundreds of metal lamps as light filtered from the dome windows.
Pope Francis spoke of the slaughter of the Armenian people on 12 April, and draw parallels to the plight of Christians today:
Commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Armenian genocide, Pope Francis said atrocities from the past have to be recognized — not hidden or denied — for true reconciliation and healing to come to the world.
However, Turkey’s top government officials criticized the pope’s use of the term “genocide” — citing a 2001 joint statement by St. John Paul II and the head of the Armenian Apostolic Church — in reference to the deaths of an estimated 1.5 million Armenians during their forced evacuation by Ottoman Turks in 1915-18.
Turkey rejects the accusation of genocide, and the government called its ambassador to the Holy See back to Turkey “for consultations” on 12 April, the same day Pope Francis made his statement. The government also summoned Archbishop Antonio Lucibello, nuncio to Turkey, to lodge a complaint.
Before concelebrating the Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica on Divine Mercy Sunday, Pope Francis greeted the many Armenian faithful who were present, including Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan.
The pope lamented the continued forced expulsions and atrocious killings of Christians in the world saying, “Today, too, we are experiencing a kind of genocide created by general and collective indifference” and “complicit silence.”
Humanity has lived through “three massive and unprecedented tragedies the past century: the first, which is generally considered ‘the first genocide of the 20th century,’ ” struck the Armenian people, he said, quoting a joint declaration signed in 2001 by St. John Paul and Catholicos Karekin II of Etchmiadzin, patriarch of the Armenian Apostolic Church.
The other two 20th-century tragedies were those “perpetrated by Nazism and Stalinism,” while more recently “other mass exterminations” have been seen in Cambodia, Rwanda, Burundi and Bosnia, Pope Francis said.
“It seems that the human family refuses to learn from its mistakes caused by the law of terror, so that there are still today those who try to eliminate their own kind with the help of some and with the complicit silence of others who act as bystanders,” he said.
Addressing Armenian Christians, the pope said that recalling “that tragic event, that immense and senseless slaughter, which your forebears cruelly endured,” was necessary and “indeed a duty” to honor their memory “because wherever memory does not exist, it means that evil still keeps the wound open.”
“Concealing or denying evil is like letting a wound keep bleeding without treating it,” he said.
To learn more about Armenia, read our profiles of the Armenian Apostolic Church and the Armenian Catholic Church in the pages of ONE. Also, check out our blog series on the Journey Through the South Caucasus, for an intimate look at life in Armenia today.
23 April 2015
Tags: Pope Francis Armenia Turkey
Coptic Christians gather in the shell of a church in Minya burned in August 2013. The faithful in Egypt are trying to rebuild their churches and institutions after the violence of 2013. To learn more about their efforts, read “Out of the Ashes” in the Spring 2015 edition of ONE.
(photo: David Degner)
22 April 2015
Students take a break from their studies at a school run by the Daughters of Charity in Bahir Dar, Ethiopia. Read the moving first person account of one of the Daughters of Charity in “A Letter from Ethiopia” in the Spring 2015 edition of ONE. (photo: Petterik Wiggers)
21 April 2015
Mother Jeanette Abou Abdullah comforts one of the hundreds receiving care in the Franciscan Sisters of the Cross’ hospital in Deir el Kamar, Lebanon. To learn more about challenges facing Lebanon today, check out “Lebanon on the Brink” in the Spring edition of ONE,
now available online. (photo: John E. Kozar/CNEWA)
20 April 2015
Iraqis flee the ISIS onslaught, summer 2014. (photo: CNS/Rodi Said, Reuters)
CNEWA’s recent disbursement of aid to the Middle East was spotlighted in a recent article by John L. Allen Jr. for The Boston Globe:
“Two-thirds of the world’s 2.3 billion Christians live in the developing world, where they’re often convenient targets for anti-Western rage — even though their churches have deeper roots in those places than most of their persecutors,” writes Allen, who has covered the Vatican beat for the National Catholic Reporter, CNN and now The Globe. “Christians are also disproportionately likely to belong to ethnic and linguistic minorities, putting them doubly or triply in jeopardy.
“All that has been true for some time, but the religious cleansing campaigns carried out by ISIS and its self-described ‘caliphate’ has made anti-Christian hatred an utterly inescapable fact of life.
“The question is no longer whether it’s real, but what to do about it.
“That’s where outfits such as the Catholic Near East Welfare Association (CNEWA) step in. ...
“CNEWA’s mandate is to support the Eastern churches in Catholicism, meaning the Catholic communities scattered across the Middle East, Northeast Africa, India, and Eastern Europe that draw on Eastern Orthodox traditions. In recent years, that’s made CNEWA a prime mover in delivering aid to persecuted Christians in some of the world’s leading hot spots.
“Today, CNEWA is among the largest providers of aid to Middle Eastern Christians anywhere in the world.”
To read more, visit The Globe’s Catholic portal, Crux. And to join in CNEWA’s work to help the Christians of the Middle East, click here.
17 April 2015
Young residents sit down for a meal at the Mother Mary Home for Girls, an orphanage run by Syro-Malabar Catholic Missionary Sisters of Mary Immaculate in Kerala. (photo: Sean Sprague)
The Economic Times recently reported that fewer and fewer women in Kerala are choosing to become religious sisters:
Shrinking family sizes and expanding career opportunities for women are posing a problem for the church. In Kerala … fewer women are now taking vows to renounce worldly pursuits and devote themselves fully to religious life. … Social activists say greater empowerment and the fact that churches are still male bastions are also making women look away from the cloistered life of convents. One of the problems this could pose to the church is in the running of institutions such as hospitals, schools and charity organizations that are managed by priests and nuns. …
In Kerala, “there is a 70-75 percent drop in the number of women who were joining convents to be nuns,” says Sebastian Adayanthrath, the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church’s auxiliary bishop for Ernakulum-Angamaly.
The peak was in the mid-1960’s, when there were as many as two dozen newly admitted nuns every year in each province. It lasted for about a decade, and then, started to decline to about 20 by 1985 and 10 in the past decade, he says. …
Interestingly, there is no decline in the number of men who come forward to become priests. Church spokesmen say this may be because the priest’s job is more visible. He has a social standing because of the functions that he has to do, they said.
Apart from Kerala, the states that have historically sent large number of women to become nuns are Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh.
Though Kerala still sends more women than any other state to convents, the northern states are catching up.
In early 2010, we shined a spotlight on Kerala’s decline in vocations:
In this fast-changing southeastern Indian state, literacy is nearly universal; education reigns king. Not long ago, conversation among villagers centered on crop rotation and seasonal rains. Today, rural and urban Keralites are preoccupied by which colleges their children will attend and which professions offer lucrative careers. No longer confined to rearing children and managing the household, women set their sights on horizons filled with diverse possibilities. …
This shift in the social landscape has impacted the Syro-Malabar and Syro-Malankara Catholic churches, especially their ability to recruit men and women to serve as priests and religious, respectively. Observers sense an imminent decline in the ranks of vocations among these churches, which are centered in the state.
They point out that today’s candidates no longer come from wealthy or upper middle-class backgrounds, nor do they represent the highest performing students. Many lack the emotional maturity of their predecessors. …
For the first time in centuries, Kerala’s Syro-Malabar and Syro-Malankara churches are thinking twice about the recruitment and formation processes of their priests and religious as the culture around them changes.
Read more about Keeping Up With the Times in India, in the January 2010 issue of ONE.
16 April 2015
Tags: India Sisters Kerala Catholic Vocations (religious)
At the Mar Shemmon Bar Sabbae Chaldean Catholic Church in Tbilisi, 18-year-old Keti works to master the ancient art of cloisonné enamel (or minankari in Georgian). To learn about the revival of this age-old technique, and how it is improving the lives of Georgian youth, read Crafting a Future from the Winter 2014 issue of ONE. (photo: Molly Corso)
15 April 2015
Tags: Education Cultural Identity Georgia Art Youth
Girls tend to plants at San Joe Puram in the Faridabad district of the northern Indian state of Haryana. To learn more about the important work of this Syro-Malabar Catholic Church institution, read A Place of Promise — and Providence in the Winter edition of ONE. (photo: John Mathew)
14 April 2015
Tags: India Children Education Syro-Malabar Catholic Church Disabilities
Marseille, 13 years old and autistic, has made friends and grown more comfortable socializing since coming to school at the Good Samaritan Orphanage. It is not uncommon in Egypt for children with special needs to be hidden at home out of fear that the community will stigmatize the family. To learn more about the work of this institution, read Egypt’s Good Samaritans, in the Winter 2014 issue of ONE. (photo: Amal Morcos)
13 April 2015
Tags: Egypt Children Orphans/Orphanages ONE magazine
Altar servers spread incense as Pope Francis celebrates a 12 April liturgy in St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican to mark the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide. To learn more about the history of the churches of Armenia, and how they developed in the wake of the World War I-era massacre, read the profiles of the Armenian Apostolic Church and the Armenian Catholic Church in ONE. (photo: CNS/Cristian Gennari)
Tags: Pope Francis Armenia Turkey Armenian Apostolic Church Armenian Catholic Church