18 May 2012
Miriam Ishak, a 25-year-old Coptic woman, says she experiences harassment and discrimination in her hometown of Samalut, Egypt, because she is Christian. (photo: Holly Pickett)
Independent Catholic News recently reported about a Parliament meeting that focused on the plight of Christian women in Pakistan and Egypt:
At a well-attended meeting in Parliament on Tuesday evening, chaired by Lord Alton of Liverpool, Peers and MPs heard first-hand accounts about the plight of the persecuted church in Pakistan and Egypt — and in particular about the plight of Christian women, whom Lord Alton said faced “double persecution — both on account of their beliefs and their gender.”
The charity Aid To The Church In Need presented parliamentarians with copies of their new report: Christians and the Struggle for Religious Freedom, looking at persecution of Christians in 13 countries, with an introduction asserting the importance of religious freedom; and with copies of Christian Women in Pakistan and Egypt: A Briefing. The speakers included Mrs Asiya Nasir, a Christian woman who is a member of Pakistan’s National Assembly. The meeting also heard from a Pakistani Catholic woman and two Archbishops.
To learn more about the plight of Coptic women in Egypt, read Spotlight: Coptic Women from the September 2011 issue of ONE. Photographer Holly Pickett shared with us some of the difficulties faced by these women, such as Miriam Ishak (pictured above):
Miriam Ishak, a 25-year-old Coptic woman, says she experiences harassment and discrimination in her hometown of Samalut, Egypt, because she is Christian. She says she and her fiance will move to Kuwait after they get married. As members of a religious minority, Coptic women in Egypt often face discrimination. Because of the Coptic Church’s strict divorce laws, some Coptic men and women convert to Islam in order to divorce their spouses, a decision that has far-reaching social and legal consequences on the family and sometimes the entire community. In numerous instances, a Coptic woman’s conversion to Islam has sparked sectarian violence.
16 May 2012
Tags: Egypt Africa Coptic Orthodox Church Women (rights/issues) Discrimination
From left, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Msgr. John Kozar and Msgr. Robert Stern spoke to CNEWA staff members yesterday at a luncheon. (photo: Erin Edwards)
Yesterday, CNEWA staff members had a chance to catch up with an old friend: Msgr. Robert Stern, CNEWA’s president emeritus. He joined us for a luncheon for the CNEWA family hosted by CNEWA’s President Msgr. John Kozar — and he was there to greet another familiar face who dropped by, CNEWA’s chair, Cardinal Timothy Dolan.
Msgr. Stern spoke a bit about what he’s been up to since he retired last fall — sorting through his many papers, traveling and getting used to life away from the office — and offered his continued prayers and heartfelt warm wishes to all of his extended CNEWA family.
15 May 2012
Pictures of the Virgin Mary are ubiquitous in the village of Hodasz, Hungary. Above, an image of Mary adorns the wall of a home. (photo:Balazs Gardi/VII Network)
Earlier this month, we wrote about how during the month of May, Catholics around the world are honoring Mary. The Catholic News Service drew attention to how Catholics in Rome pay tribute to the mother of Jesus this month.
In CNEWA’s world, the Virgin Mary is revered in various ways. Images of the Virgin Mary, like the one above, appear in almost every house in Hodasz, a Hungarian village that is home to a large Romany community. To learn more about this community, check out Our Town in the March 2008 issue of ONE.
14 May 2012
Tags: Icons Hungary Greek Catholic Church Gypsy
A Muslim mother receives care for her newborn at the Mother of Mercy Clinic in Zerqa, Jordan, which is run by the Dominican Sisters of St. Catherine of Siena. (photo: John E. Kozar )
Yesterday, many of us in the U.S. celebrated the mothers in our lives for Mother’s Day.
With the help of CNEWA, one place where mothers are getting a lot of support is Jordan. At the Mother of Mercy Clinic in Zerqa, Jordan, mothers receive care both before and after their children are born. The clinic, run by the Dominican Sisters of St. Catherine of Siena, serves predominantly Muslim patients. It’s here where young women get the help they need in taking the first steps to begin motherhood. CNEWA has supported the clinic for many years. In 2011, the clinic saw an increase of 4,159 new patients.
To learn more about the clinic, check out Mothering Mercies, an article from the May 2009 issue of ONE.
11 May 2012
Tags: Children Jordan Health Care CNEWA Pontifical Mission
Mother Teresa speaks to CNEWA staff members during a visit in October 1970. The late Bishop John G. Nolan, who led CNEWA until 1987, can be seen standing behind her.
(photo: CNEWA Archive )
Earlier today, our archivist Annie Grunow, shared some little-known facts about our agency revealed through items in our archive, which she maintains. One of those “little-known facts ” was about our agency’s early ties to the Blessed Mother Teresa, who visited our New York headquarters and met staff members over 40 years ago.
10 May 2012
At the Galilee Retreat Center outside Addis Ababa, a sister enjoys a traditional Ethiopian meal with the country’s staple starch, injera bread. (photo: John E. Kozar)
Last month, CNEWA President Msgr. John Kozar visited Ethiopia. While there, he had the opportunity to meet with many local church leaders and religious, like the sisters he encountered at the Galilee Retreat Center:
Today, we headed about one hour out of Addis Ababa to the Galilee Retreat Center located on a cliff overlooking a beautiful crater lake. The setting is idyllic and filled with peace. I was privileged to concelebrate Mass with the Jesuit who directs this center, Father Joseph Pollicino, S.J., a Maltese national who has worked here and in Sudan for many years. A special treat was to be in the presence of about 20 sisters who were finishing their weekend retreat. Mass was particularly stimulating with the devotion of the sisters, their lovely singing and the peaceful manner of Father Joe. Coupled with this ambience was the captivating rhythm of the drumbeats of the young sister who put her whole heart into her percussion instrument, a beautifully decorated native drum. People come from all over to seek the tranquility of this retreat center. Many different types of spiritual programs are offered for youth, for religious men and women, for priests, for bishops and lay groups and interreligious groups.
After Mass, we enjoyed a wonderful meal with Father Joe and all the sisters.
Read more about Msgr. Kozar’s visit to Ethiopia in his blog series, “An Ethiopian Odyssey.”
9 May 2012
Tags: Ethiopia Sisters Africa Cuisine
A Syrian family arrives at an army checkpoint in northern Lebanon on 27 March.
(photo: CNS/Afif Diab, Reuters)
Over the last several weeks, we’ve brought you stories about the struggles of Syria’s Christians and the ongoing efforts to help them.
We’ve been gratified and moved by the amazing show of support from our readers and donors. Thank you! You can learn more about what CNEWA is doing in partnership with local churches in this recent update from Issam Bishara, our regional director in Lebanon.
But the need is still great. This report from the BBC shows what some people are facing — and why so many are fleeing:
Homs, a lively Syrian city once regarded as a place of peaceful co-existence, has borne the brunt of violence in Syria’s 14-month long uprising.
The neighbourhood of Baba Amr was its biggest target in a city activists now call the “capital of the revolution”.
Not a single building seems to have escaped the government’s ferocious assault. Structures still standing are peppered with shrapnel, blackened by fire, fingers of concrete.
Indiscriminate bombing ripped away entire floors of large residential blocks.
“No government likes to shell its own people,” says Homs Governor Ghassan Abdulal. “We had no choice. The armed groups were firing from civilian areas.”
Visit our website to learn how you can help provide lifesaving aid such as food and medicine to Syrian refugees.
8 May 2012
Tags: Lebanon Refugees Middle East Christians CNEWA Relief
At Mar Bishoi Church in Port Said, Egypt, a parishioner touches the patronal icon. (photo: Sean Sprague)
It was recently announced that the Coptic Orthodox Church will begin the process for electing a new pope. This comes after a 40-day mourning period for Pope Shenouda III of Alexandria, Egypt, who served as pope for 41 years. Pope Shenouda III died on 17 March. The process for selecting his successor may be foreign to many:
His Grace Bishop Angaelos, General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom has issued a detailed explanation of the papal selection process, along with a timeline which identifies key stages of the process, saying the following:
“This is an experience with which many will not have been involved in their lifetime, so it was important to provide a simplified explanation, allowing engagement at every level. Within these steps we find a robust process that includes: nominations from peers within the Holy Synod, nominations from laity through the General Lay Council, systematic scrutiny with a process of challenges and appeals, representative democratic election, and above all, the Altar Ballot that encompasses this whole process with a spirit of prayer and trustful submission to the will of God.”
You can read more about the process and the timeline here. CNEWA President, Msgr. John Kozar, wrote about a memorial service for Pope Shenouda III he attended back in March.
7 May 2012
Tags: Egypt Africa Pope Coptic Orthodox Church Coptic Orthodox Pope Shenouda III of Alexandria
An artist works on a painting of the Kremlin of Rostov Veliky, Russia. (photo: Sean Sprague)
Today, Vladimir Putin was sworn in for a third term as Russia’s president. The controversy surrounding his return to leadership has erupted in mass protests throughout the country.
The images of Putin being sworn in at the Kremlin in Moscow reminded us of our September 2008 story about Russia’s kremlins, Russia’s Fortified Tabernacles:
For many Westerners, the Kremlin calls to mind aggression, conspiracy, deception, espionage, oppression and imminent nuclear holocaust — haunting fears that remain indelibly marked on the consciences of those who came of age from the late 1940’s to the late 1980’s.
Yet kremlin — from the Russian kreml, meaning castle or fortress — refers to any fortified citadel in historic Russia, not just the seat of government in the Russian capital of Moscow. These fortifications, most of which date from the 11th to the 17th centuries, protected not just princes, palaces and treasuries, but monastic communities, cathedrals and shrines. In effect, Russia’s kremlins functioned as fortified tabernacles, sheltering the most sacred relics of the Russian people from their very real enemies.
Read more about Russia’s kremlins on our website. Take a look at the multimedia feature that accompanied the story, “Journey through Russia’s Kremlins”.
4 May 2012
Tags: Russia Russian Orthodox Church Eastern Europe
Many orphaned children, like the one shown above, are cared for at the Kidane Mehret Children’s Home in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. (photo: John E. Kozar)
Msgr. John Kozar, CNEWA’s president, recently returned from a pastoral visit to Ethiopia. As usual, he returned with many beautiful images of the people and places he visited. One of those places is the Kidane Mehret Children’s Home in Addis Ababa:
The director is Sister Lutgarda Camilleri of the Franciscan Sisters of the Heart of Jesus, a Maltese national who has worked either at the orphanage or at the school next door for more than forty years. She is a dynamo: a combination of a grandmother that everyone would cherish and a religious sister who commands tremendous respect and can bring anyone to attention with a glance or a word of admonition. She also strikes me as a person with great savvy with the government authorities. You know the type: Give them a little grandmotherly charm and, if that does not work, look right into their eyes and tell them they are wrong. Case closed.
Sister Lutgarda and her crew of two other sisters, dedicated staff members and a rotating crew of volunteers provide amazing loving care to children as young as a few months and up to the age of 16. Many of those in her charge are street children brought here by police or child welfare officials. Sometimes, the officials show up at her doorstep with more than 20 at one time. Exasperated a little, but never overwhelmed, Sister Lutgarda welcomes them into the family.
For a closer look at Msgr. Kozar’s experience in Ethiopia, check out his series of blog posts from his trip, “An Ethiopian Odyssey.”
Tags: Ethiopia Children Africa Orphans/Orphanages