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Volume 44, Number 2
  
3 February 2014
Greg Kandra




Kostas Patitas sits in his apartment in Kipseli, Athens. (photo: Don Duncan)

The Winter issue of ONE offers a powerful look at how the people of Greece are coping with their country’s ongoing economic crisis:

Kostas Patitsas, 59, who lives in the working-class Athens neighborhood of Kipseli, regularly takes advantage of his local parish’s food aid. Mr. Patitsas’s case is a classic example of Greek recession misfortune: In February 2012, his position was made redundant before he reached retirement age. Now he finds himself without a pension in an anemic job market that has become increasingly discriminatory against mature applicants as the recession deepens. He depends on his brother and other family members to pay the property tax on his small apartment and his electricity bills. He needs about $135 a month for cigarettes and tea. For food, he lives on the fare from his local parish, Hagia Zoni Church.

“I am quite optimistic by nature,” he says in the yard of the church as he lines up for food. “And I believe growth will return in 2014.” All the people lined up around him burst into laughter. He is quoting the much-maligned Greek Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras, who uses this phrase as a boilerplate response to any interrogation regarding the future. It becomes clear that for Kostas Patitsas, and for many others, humor is a coping mechanism.

Some 300 people have come to the soup kitchen at Hagia Zoni. They joke and laugh, but it is a heavy, trudging humor. Before long, they have all departed with their food to eat at home alone.

Mr. Patitsas eats his food on a small table in a communal garden outside the back door of his ground-floor apartment, which is dark, damp and shabby.

Along with humor, he says, his other big coping mechanism is his faith.

“I go to church every Sunday,” he says, “and when I feel low and hopeless, it fills my soul.”

Read more about A Greek Tragedy in the Winter 2013 issue of ONE.



31 January 2014
J.D. Conor Mauro




In this 2007 photo, a 3-year-old orphan helps a nun wash the dishes at the Antiochene Orthodox Monastery of St. Thecla in Maaloula, Syria. Greek Orthodox Patriarch Youhanna X of Antioch recently announced that the sisters are still alive and well, though efforts are still underway to secure their release from the Islamist fighters who abducted them a month ago. To learn more about life in this monastery before the war, read Echoes of Jesus From Syria’s Mountains or An Antiochene Legacy, from the May 2008 and January-February 1999 issues of the magazine, respectively. (photo: Mitchell Prothero/Polaris)



Tags: Syria Violence against Christians Sisters Monastery Nuns

30 January 2014
J.D. Conor Mauro




A Coptic farmer walks through his field near Minya, Egypt. To learn more about the lives and struggles of Coptic farmers, read Seeds of Survival, from the Winter 2013 issue of ONE. To view this issue in its full graphical layout, click the image. (photo: David Degner)



Tags: Egypt Violence against Christians Farming/Agriculture Copts Coptic

29 January 2014
J.D. Conor Mauro




A large drawing of Pope Francis depicting him as a superhero is seen on a wall near the Vatican on 29 January. The Argentine pope is shown taking off into the air with his right fist clenched in classic Superman style. In addition to this super-heroic rendering, the pope also also recently received a “rockstar” treatment as the subject of Rolling Stone magazine’s cover story. (photo: CNS/Robert Duncan)



Tags: Pope Francis Vatican Art Rome Media

28 January 2014
J.D. Conor Mauro




Antranig Chakerian transformed the walls of his house in Anjar, Lebanon, into a canvas for icons, images and poems dedicated to his ancestral homeland: historic Armenia. Click the image to read more. (photo: Dalia Khamissy)

Today, Lebanon’s interim minister of communications unveiled a new stamp in honor of those Armenians who perished in the Turkish mass-killings of nearly a century ago:

Caretaker Minister of Telecommunications Nicolas Sehnaoui announced Tuesday the commission of a stamp to honor the martyrs of the Armenian Genocide in 1915.

Lebanon has a large and vocal Armenian community with around 200,000 Lebanese of Armenian origin in the country, a result of forced displacement after the partition of the Ottoman Empire at the end of the World War I.

While Turkey still resolutely denies genocide took place, last April saw over 10,000 Armenians rallying in downtown Beirut on the 98th anniversary of the genocide.

The stamp depicts a drawing of a statue honoring Armenian martyrs found in Bikfaya.

The stamp will be in circulation in a month’s time.

In the Winter 2013 issue of ONE, Doug Duncan shined a spotlight on people of Armenian descent in Lebanon, focusing specifically on Syrian Armenians displaced across Syria’s southwestern border:

A peaceful, pretty town, Anjar is itself a product of Armenian displacement. It was founded to house Armenians who left the Syrian region of Hatay when Turkey annexed it in 1939. The town’s population is normally around 2,500, but the recent influx of refugees from the war in Syria has doubled that number.

“That puts big pressure on the municipality,” says Nazareth Andakian, a municipal lawyer in Anjar. “We don’t have any more empty houses; all are full. On top of that, because there is currently no government in Lebanon, public funds are not being released to us from Beirut, so the village is going into debt to manage the situation.”

This dilemma is playing out all across Lebanon, in both Armenian and non-Armenian domains. This small country of just four million people has had to bear the brunt of the Syrian displacement crisis; to date more than a million Syrian refugees have fled to the country, according to the United Nations. And the flow shows no signs of stopping.

Before the war, there were between 100,000 and 150,000 Armenians in Syria. Of this population, some 20,000 have already fled to Lebanon, while others have fled north, to Armenia, or to Jordan in the south. …

Bourj Hammoud, a densely populated Armenian enclave, has seen its capacity stretched to bursting since the Syrian crisis began in March 2011.

“There have been many problems, but we manage,” says Sarkis Joukhjoukhian, a Lebanese Armenian who sells thyme-covered bread snacks called manoushe from his small store in the heart of Bourj Hammoud.

“We help them whether they are family or not, because when we had war here in Lebanon we often left to Syria, and they helped us then.”

You can read the rest online, either in a plaintext layout or complete with the full magazine graphics.



Tags: Lebanon Refugees Syrian Civil War Armenia ONE magazine

27 January 2014
J.D. Conor Mauro




The Rev. Manolis Nirakis of Hagia Zoni Church Greek Orthodox Church in Athens overlooks the activity at the church’s soup kitchen. To learn more about the difficulties the people of Greece face under the ongoing economic crisis, and what churches and charities are doing to help, read A Greek Tragedy in the latest issue of ONE. You can also click the image above to browse the issue graphically. (photo: Don Duncan)



Tags: ONE magazine Greece Economic hardships Greek Catholic Church Orthodox Church of Greece

24 January 2014
Greg Kandra




In this photo from 11 January, Pope Francis greets participants in the annual meeting of the Catholic Committee for Cultural Collaboration. Those in attendance included CNEWA president Msgr. John E. Kozar, shown in the first row, fifth from the left. (photo: The Holy See)

Earlier this month, Pope Francis took part in a remarkable gathering of Christians — a foreshadowing, in some ways, of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, which concludes tomorrow. Vatican Radio had details:

The audience was attended by Cardinal Kurt Koch, president of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity, who provided the opening remarks. Also present were members of the management committee of the board which comprises the principle benefactors and scholarship students who are studying in Rome.

“The path of reconciliation and renewed fraternity between the churches,” said the pope in his address, “required the experience of friendship and sharing that arises from the mutual understanding between members of different churches, and in particular the young people initiated into sacred ministry.”

He went on to praise the work of the committee, and thanked the many benefactors who have supported its work. He assured those present that he would remember them in prayer, and asked for their prayers in exchange.

The Catholic Committee for Cultural Collaboration was established on 27 July 1964 by Pope Paul VI as one of the initiatives aimed at “reestablishing fraternal ties between the Catholic Church and the venerable Eastern churches.”

The committee promotes the exchange of students between the Catholic Church, Orthodox churches of the Byzantine tradition and Eastern Orthodox churches, who wish to study theology or other ecclesiastical disciplines at Catholic or Orthodox institutions.

Read more.



Tags: Pope Francis Unity Ecumenism Interreligious Christian Unity

23 January 2014
Greg Kandra




A Syrian refugee boy carries wood in the Al Yamdiyeh refugee camp near the Syrian-Turkish border in Latakia province on 10 January. (photo: CNS/Khattab Abdulaa, Reuters)

Pope Francis has issued another plea for peace in Syria. From CNS:

As world leaders gathered in the hopes of finding a peaceful solution to Syria’s three-year-long brutal conflict, Pope Francis asked that they spare no effort in bringing an end to the violence.

The pope also urged the people of Syria to rebuild their nation and see in the other “not an enemy, a rival, but a brother or sister to welcome and embrace.”

The pope made the appeal at the end of his general audience in St. Peter’s Square on 22 January, the day a major peace summit, dubbed “Geneva II” began in Switzerland.

The U.N.-sponsored talks — scheduled to run at least until Jan. 24 — were to bring world leaders together to help forge a solution to the crisis and bring representatives of the Syrian government and major opposition figures together for direct talks for the first time.

A two-person Vatican delegation, led by Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, the Vatican observer to U.N. agencies in Geneva, was also invited to attend the peace summit.

In his appeal to summit participants, Pope Francis said he was praying that “the Lord touch the hearts of everyone so that, by exclusively seeking the greater good of the Syria people, who have been greatly tried, they spare no effort in urgently bringing an end to the violence and conflict, which already has caused too much suffering.”

The pope said he also was praying that the people of Syria would begin a journey of reconciliation and peace “with determination.” He asked that the country be rebuilt “with the participation of all citizens,” so that everyone would see each other as family and not as rivals.

Read more.

And visit our Syria emergency relief page to learn how you can help.



Tags: Pope Francis Refugees Syrian Civil War United Nations Middle East Peace Process

22 January 2014
Greg Kandra




Godmothers in Palayur, India, get ready for group baptism on the ‘First Sunday.’ (photo: Jose Jacob)

The winter issue of ONE is now online. Our cover story focuses on the thriving faith of Palayur, India, where St. Thomas is believed to have introduced Christianity some 2,000 years ago. Celebrations on the First Sunday of every month continue to pass on the faith:

One of the most important events on the First Sunday is the celebration of baptism at the Thaliya Kulam. Families arrive from all across Kerala. Godmothers sit with the children in their laps, with godfathers, parents and relatives standing behind. From the baptismal font in the pond, Father Koonamplackal invites godparents to bring the candidates up one by one. …

From across Kerala, others continue to be drawn to the site, called by a spiritual allure they cannot quite put into words. The sacristan says some parishioners who had left Palayur now feel something is missing. They tell him they want to come back.

Professor Menachery says such testimonies are part of Palayur’s power — and a testament to the deep and enduring faith it inspires, which has truly stood the test of time. That, he explains, is part of what makes Palayur unique.

“It is doubtful,” he says, “whether there are many places in the world that could claim a similar continuous Christian presence for nearly two millennia.”

Read more about Palayur in 2,000 Years and Counting from the Winter issue of ONE.



Tags: India Kerala Indian Christians ONE magazine Thomas Christians

21 January 2014
Greg Kandra




In this image from last March, Pope Francis walks with Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople at the Vatican. (photo: CNS photo/L’Osservatore Romano via Catholic Press Photo)

This week marks the annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. Pope Francis spoke about the subject on Friday:

Pope Francis said the evangelization of secular society requires focusing on the essentials of Christianity in collaboration with other Christian churches.

The pope made his remarks on 17 January at a meeting with representatives of the Lutheran Church in Finland, who were making their annual ecumenical pilgrimage to Rome on the feast of Finland’s patron, St. Henry. The meeting occurred one day before the start of the annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.

Pope Francis told the group that ecumenical relations lately have been undergoing “significant changes, owing above all to the fact that we find ourselves professing our faith in the context of societies and cultures every day more lacking in reference to God and all that recalls the transcendent dimension of life.”

“For this very reason, our witness must concentrate on the center of our faith, on the announcement of the love of God made manifest in Christ his son,” the pope said. “Here we find space to grow in communion and in unity, promoting spiritual ecumenism.”

Pope Francis quoted the Second Vatican Council’s decree on ecumenism, which described “spiritual ecumenism” as consisting of “conversion of heart and holiness of life, together with private and public prayer for Christian unity,” which form the “soul of the whole ecumenical movement.”

In the Summer issue of ONE, the Rev. Elias Mallon wrote about ecumenism:

It has been almost 50 years since the publication of the Decree on Ecumenism. It would be a mistake to underestimate the tremendous progress that has been made as Christians come to a deeper understanding of what we believe as we work toward the unity willed by Christ. That is not, however, a call to self-satisfaction.

As recently as the General Audience of 18 January 2012, the first day of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, Pope Benedict XVI said “the ecumenical task is a responsibility of the entire church and of all the baptized.”

He recognized that “since the birth of the ecumenical movement more than a century ago, there has always been a clear awareness that the lack of unity among Christians is an obstacle to a more effective proclamation of the Gospel.” But, the pope added: “The fundamental truths of the faith unite us more than they divide us.”

A long and challenging road lies ahead to complete Christian unity. But it is a road Pope Francis seems eager to travel. In addressing the delegation of the ecumenical patriarchate in Rome for the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul in late June, Pope Francis stressed that “the search for unity among Christians is an urgent task — you have said that ‘it is not a luxury, but an imperative’ — that, today more than ever, we cannot put aside.”

Read more on the issue of ecumenism in the Summer 2013 issue of ONE.



Tags: Pope Francis Ecumenism Christian Unity Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I





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