26 July 2018
A clergyman and altar servers process during Mass in 2014 at St. Joseph Chaldean Catholic Church in Baghdad, Iraq. The upcoming synod for the Iraqi Chaldean Catholic Church in Baghdad is expected to discuss issues vital for the church's future both in Iraq and among its diaspora community. (photo: CNS/Ahmed Saad, Reuters)
The upcoming synod for the Iraqi Chaldean Catholic Church in Baghdad in August is expected to discuss issues vital for the church’s future both in Iraq and among its diaspora community.
Chaldean Archbishop Yousif Thomas Mirkis of Kirkuk, Iraq, told Catholic News Service that the clergymen also will discuss during meetings from 7-13 August the election of new bishops as several Iraqi clergy are nearing retirement age. Proposals will be made for potential candidates.
Another concern, Archbishop Mirkis said, is the question of “vocations because there are presently only 15 seminarians in preparation to serve five Chaldean Catholic dioceses.”
Liturgical discussions will focus on the new translation of the Mass and developments to “adapt the Mass to the new communities living in the diaspora,” he said of Chaldeans now found in Australia, Canada, France and the United States.
The role of the deacon in Mass and the sacraments as well as the use of liturgical music are on the agenda as well.
Archbishop Mirkis said the situation of each Chaldean Catholic diocese in the Middle East and abroad will be examined. The Chaldean leaders are seeking ways to augment the spiritual formation of the Chaldean community to increase its vibrancy and vitality in the face of challenges, he explained.
Observers believe that 400,000 to 500,000 Christians now live in Iraq, compared to 1.5 million before the fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime in 2003.
Chaldeans are the indigenous people of Iraq, whose roots trace back thousands of years.
Read more about the Chaldean Catholic Church in this profile from ONE.
25 July 2018
Tags: Iraq Chaldean Church
A woman participates in an outdoor prayer session at the Trippadam Center for Women. To learn more about this institution and the women it benefits, read A Refuge to Mend and Grow, from the June 2018 edition of ONE. (photo: Meenakshi Soman)
23 July 2018
Tags: India Sisters Health Care Women
In this 2016 photo, the Al Ahli Arab Hospital provides care in Gaza. ONE magazine published a letter from the hospital’s director in the pages of its Summer 2016 edition. (photo: CNEWA)
Writing for National Catholic Reporter, Patrick Whelan, a pediatric specialist at UCLA, and lecturer at the Keck School of Medicine, describes the medical crisis he witnessed on a recent visit to Gaza:
Traveling to Tel Aviv, I sought out a pharmacy to obtain for my son, Olivier, some melatonin, a natural supplement that helps with jet lag and is widely available without a prescription in the United States. I discovered that, though it has no adverse side effects, melatonin requires a prescription in Israel that must come from an Israeli doctor; the pharmacist would not provide it to a physician like me from abroad.
This level of concern for our own health stands in stark contrast to the devastating health effects I observed during a June 7-8 visit to Gaza where residents have been living under severe Israeli economic sanctions for the past 11 years.
It is only with extreme difficulty that residents can enter or leave Gaza, and only with the permission of the Israeli government. The Erez Crossing is a looming building that once processed thousands of people traveling every day to work in Israel. But when my son and I arrived just before 9 a.m. on a Thursday, for an hour-long trip through Israeli customs, the terminal was virtually deserted.
Later, some Israeli friends told us that Palestinians had been replaced with other day laborers — Filipina women staffing hospitals and nursing homes; Romanian and Chinese workers staffing numerous construction sites; and Thai farmworkers being brought in to pick crops. Meanwhile, unemployment in Gaza is more than 40 percent, with 80 percent of the population receiving some kind of international economic assistance.
The Gaza side of the Erez Crossing was very bleak, with high concrete walls topped by barbed wire. We were bussed from the crossing to a security checkpoint with uniformed men from the Palestinian Authority. There we met our host, Nahed Wehaidi, the Gaza director of American Near East Refugee Aid — a relief organization founded after the 1967 Arab-Israeli War to provide aid for refugees in the Middle East. His negotiations allowed us through a third checkpoint, maintained just a few yards away by Hamas, the political party that is the de facto government of Gaza.
The purpose of our visit was to tour four hospitals and clinics, accompanied by a group of seven public health doctors and aid workers from American Near East Refugee Aid.
The first visit was Al Ahli Arab Hospital — the only Christian hospital in Gaza — first built in 1882 and operated for 30 years until 1982 by the Southern Baptist Convention in the U.S. The hospital and its clinics are currently sponsored by the Anglican Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem.
The head of Ahli Arab, Suhaila Tarazi, who is from South Carolina, along with Jehad al Hesi, chief of pediatrics, spent an hour telling us about the malnutrition and related illnesses that they had been treating. The halls were packed with mothers and children. The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East estimates that the number of daily medical consultations at their own 22 facilities across Gaza is 113 patients per doctor per day.
Every provider we met seemed overwhelmed. Their distress is in part a result of a January decision by the Trump administration to withhold $65 million of a $125 million contribution to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East. According to Tarazi, Ahli Arab recently had to drop the number of patient beds from 80 to 50 because of a lack of resources.
We visited an outpatient clinic in Gaza City — sponsored by the Middle East Council of Churches — that focuses on prenatal care, family planning and early childhood development. It was packed with women in dark-colored abayat and veils. Issa Tarazi, the executive director, took us to meet a group of girls who were in a program to help diminish the psychosocial impact of post-traumatic stress related to the conflicts. Thirty smiling teenagers insisted on performing a dance for us, to very loud music, proudly showing off their preparation.
The children of Gaza, Tarazi told us, are still suffering the consequences of the 2014 Israel-Gaza conflict that, according to UNICEF, killed more than 500 children and injured almost 3,400 — nearly a third with permanent disability. More than 1,500 children were orphaned. Tarazi said things got worse during two months of weekly protests that began in March against the Israeli blockade, with at least 125 people killed and thousands more injured. The Israeli Defense Forces have publicly stated that they are shooting to wound rather than to kill. A June 9 story in the Los Angeles Times documented the wave of lower extremity amputations of young people as a result of gunshot wounds to the legs that had overwhelmed medical facilities — which lack the kind of vascular surgery capability to which gunshot victims have access in most trauma centers in the United States.
At the Ard El Insan Clinic, the chief of pediatrics, Adnan al Wahaidi, said he had evaluated two children just that morning with rickets, a form of malnutrition almost never seen today in the U.S. He introduced me to one of the children — Jamal, a 2-year-old boy with the worst bowed legs of vitamin D deficiency that I had ever seen. Jamal waddled around one of the exam rooms, kicking a ball to the best of his ability, which al Wahaidi artfully returned.
One of the doctors told me they had seen many children with bullet wounds to their lower extremities — with treatment limited to cleansing the wounds, sterile bandages, antibiotics and only ibuprofen and Tylenol for pain relief. One couldn’t help but notice bullet holes on the walls of the clinic, which doctors described as being “on the front lines” during the Israeli Defense Forces’ invasions of December 2008 and July 2014.
At Al Quds Hospital, a major trauma unit run by the Palestine Red Crescent Society, we were ushered into the palatial office of hospital chief Khalil Abou Foul, a trauma surgeon trained in Libya. A delegation of their doctors sat with us while he explained what the hospital was up against.
He took us into the operating areas and we all donned surgical boots for a visit to the cardiac catheterization laboratory. The doctors were very proud of all their equipment and the chief of interventional cardiology came out of a procedure to shake hands and tell us about their clinical capabilities — for people with insurance. He said they sometimes had to plan a month in advance for certain procedures in order to procure the necessary supplies; he had recently missed an international meeting because he could not get an exit pass in time.
Our last stop was to 1,600-year-old Orthodox St. Porphyrius Church, named for a fourth century bishop who demolished pagan temples and introduced Christianity. The caretaker of the church showed us a baptismal font made of white stone that dated to the construction of the church around the year 402, in which generations of his own family had been baptized. But the number of Christians has been falling as the level of distress in Gaza has been rising, he said.
Gaza City was itself a prosperous port in the spice trade, dating long before the time of Jesus. Now, with no functioning stoplights, hundreds of horse and donkey-drawn carriages driven by children, and only four to six hours of electricity available every day, there was a sense of disorder and economic desperation everywhere we went.
The most striking thing to me was the lack of hostility toward Israel in our conversations with the doctors, nurses, and the staff of that ancient church. Contemplating our visit, reconciliation seemed not only possible but essential.
For now, my inability to obtain melatonin from an Israeli pharmacy pales in comparison with all the reasons that Palestinian parents in Gaza have for losing sleep at night.
An infant receives a checkup at the Al Ahli Arab Hospital. (photo: CNEWA)
20 July 2018
In the town of Aiga, Ethiopia, children receive nutritionally dense biscuits from a school meal program. Read more about how CNEWA is serving others — and serving the Gospel — in Msgr. John E. Kozar’s ‘Focus’ feature in the current edition of ONE.(photo: John E. Kozar)
19 July 2018
An Orthodox woman holds a portrait of Czar Nicholas II during a 2012 gathering in Moscow. The secretary-general of the Russian bishops' conference urged Catholics to remember the 1918 murder of Nicholas II and his family with "penance and reflection," while suggesting Catholics could participate in future commemorations. (photo: CNS/Maxim Shemetov, Reuters)
The secretary-general of the Russian bishops’ conference urged Catholics to remember the 1918 murder of Czar Nicholas II and his family with “penance and reflection,” while suggesting Catholics could participate in future commemorations.
“The killing of this family was one of the first steps on a path of mass murder, forced labor, religious persecution and genocide which led on through the Stalinist period,” said Msgr. Igor Kovalevsky, secretary-general.
“Although not officially engaged in these centenary events, the Catholic Church must do something -- so the best is to reflect deeply, in a spirit of penance, on all those tragic times.”
The priest spoke after 100,000 people — led by Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill — attended a pilgrimage and religious observances in Yekaterinburg.
In a 19 July Catholic News Service interview, Msgr. Kovalevsky said the country’s million-strong Catholic Church had not been involved in past commemorations of the czar and his family, nor in their canonization by the Orthodox Church.
However, he added that Nicholas II’s murdered entourage had included at least one Catholic, the Latvian-born footman Alexei Yegorovich Trupp, and said he believed members of Yekaterinburg’s Catholic parish had taken part in the 12-17 July events.
“We should remember Nicholas II had voluntarily given up his throne the previous year, so it’s more historically accurate to mourn the killing of a family than the death of a czar,” Msgr. Kovalevsky said.
“We also follow quite different procedures when it comes to proclaiming saints, so the Orthodox Church’s approach to these matters is its own internal affair.”
Nicholas II, who abdicated in February 1917, was shot by Bolshevik captors in a basement while under house arrest at Yekaterinburg in the early hours of 17 July 1918. The empress and five children also were killed.
The victims, finished off with bayonets, were burned and doused with acid before being dumped in a pit at Ganina Yama, 14 miles from the city, where their presumed remains were exhumed in 1991.
All seven were later reinterred in St. Petersburg’s Sts. Peter and Paul Orthodox Cathedral and canonized as martyrs by the Russian Orthodox Church in August 2000.
An Orthodox church was dedicated in 2004 on the site of the Ipatiev House, where the killings took place.
18 July 2018
Tags: Russia Russian Orthodox Church
Angella Bourudjian and her children, Christian and Carl, sit in their current home in Bourj Hammoud, Beirut, Lebanon. Read about their efforts to start a new life after fleeing Syria in A Letter from Lebanon in the June 2018 edition of ONE. (photo: Tamara Hadi)
17 July 2018
Tags: Syria Lebanon
A man walks next to a destroyed building in Aleppo, Syria. Carmelite nuns are bringing a message of hope to Syrians. (photo: CNS/Ghith Sy, EPA)
Amid the destruction in war-torn Syria, a community of Discalced Carmelites in Aleppo perseveres in its mission of continuous prayer and help to families in need.
The Carmelite nuns, four of whom are Syrian and two French, are in their quiet demeanor “a message of peace and a spiritual message of hope,” said the provincial of the Discalced Carmelite Fathers in Lebanon, the Rev. Raymond Abdo, who visited the convent 5-7 July.
The nuns’ convent on the outskirts of Aleppo, in an area that has often been a focal point of the fighting, once had a missile land in the yard. In seven years of civil war, the convent has suffered many food, water and electricity shortages, seen its windows shattered and a surrounding wall destroyed.
The sisters in the northern Syrian city are living a “very heroic situation, even if it’s difficult,” Father Abdo told Catholic News Service.
At one point, the nuns were hosting four uprooted Muslim families, who lived in a building adjoining the convent.
The nuns shared their food and the bounty from their vegetable gardens. Three families have since been resettled, and the convent is still supporting a family with 10 children.
Yet, the sisters have not lost their way of contemplative life, a structured routine that begins with silent prayer and includes Mass, working together in silence and more periods of prayer throughout the day and evening, Father Abdo said.
“They give a good example of real Christianity, because they don’t distinguish between Muslims and Christians,” he said.
A sister told Father Abdo how the head of one of the families who was sheltering at the convent approached her and asked, “Why do you help us?” The Muslim man then followed up with his observation, telling the religious, “You help us without asking anything in return. You Christians are very humble.”
“Giving this possibility to the Muslim people and other people to know the heart of Christianity” offers “real hope,” the priest said.
On the road from Homs to Aleppo, Father Abdo passed leveled villages, desolate and barren with “no sign of life anywhere.”
As well as destroying homes, war “destroys people, families, culture, social life, relationships, the economy -- everything,” he said.
Some reconstruction is happening in Aleppo, with new roads being built, Father Abdo said, noting that the city’s residents “are trying to make a normal life.”
While walking outside the convent on the evening before his return to neighboring Lebanon, the priest heard a missile, “whooshing like a big plane overhead, heading in the direction of the Turkish area north of Aleppo.” Bombs could also be heard in the distance.
The sisters and other residents of Aleppo told Father Abdo that such activity is normal.
“Getting used to living like that means the people have suffered so much,” he said. “Still, they have the courage to go on.”
11 July 2018
Tags: Syria Carmelite Sisters
Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, in back, and Eritrean President Isaias Afwerk embrace 9 July at the peace declaration signing in Asmara, Eritrea. Ethiopian Catholic Cardinal Berhaneyesus Souraphiel has commended the two governments for the peace pact. (photo: CNS/Ghideon Musa Aron VISAFRIC handout via Reuters)
Ethiopia’s Catholic Cardinal Berhaneyesus Souraphiel commended the Ethiopian and Eritrean governments for signing a peace accord.
Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki signed the peace pact in the Eritrean capital, Asmara, on 9 July.
Cardinal Souraphiel told Catholic News Service on 10 July: “This is a historic step taken by the prime minister of Ethiopia within the first 100 days since he took office. The joyous reception of Eritreans to the Ethiopian prime minister and his delegation shows that this has been the prayers of the people. It is very pleasing to the Catholic Church that the prayers of the people of both countries have been answered.”
For decades, the two countries have been at loggerheads on issues that include the border. An estimated 80,000 people are believed to have been killed between 1998-2000 over a fierce border conflict. However, after the two countries signed a U.N.-brokered border agreement in 2000, they failed to implement it.
Cardinal Souraphiel said the “steps taken so far by both governments prove that Africans have the wisdom to solve their problems themselves. The Catholic Church will continue to pray both for Ethiopia and Eritrea.”
On 26 June, speaking in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, as Eritrean government officials arrived in the country, Cardinal Souraphiel noted that Catholics had been praying for peace since the conflict started.
“Even though it was not easy, the Assembly of Catholic Bishops of Ethiopia and Eritrea continued to meet and exchange notes on the pastoral concerns of the two conflicting countries,” he said.
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres also praised the leaders on the signing of the peace pact.
The reconciliation was “illustrative of a new wind of hope blowing across Africa,” he told reporters in the African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa, stressing that sanctions imposed on Eritrea might become obsolete after the deal.
10 July 2018
Tags: Ethiopia Eritrea
In Zahleh, Lebanon, refugees pass the time, awaiting the chance to either return home or settle abroad. (photo: John E. Kozar)Caption
In the current edition of ONE, CNEWA’s president Msgr. John E. Kozar writes about some of the inspiring ways that CNEWA evangelizes:
The good works of the church, which form a major plank in the platform of evangelization, give witness of how Jesus would have us live and how he would have us respond to the needs of others. The recipients of these works often recognize there is something unique about what we do, and especially why we do it. Unlike governmental or secular programs of aid, the church — and CNEWA accompanying her — reaches out to those in need because we are compelled in faith to do so.
We exercise our baptismal mandate to live the Gospel of Jesus and to share his Good News with everyone. To be more concrete: CNEWA supports, through your generous contributions, many clinics and dispensaries, which serve everyone in need. Oftentimes these people are welcomed, embraced and tended to by the loving care of religious sisters and devoted lay associates.
For some patients, of whatever religious background or faith, this might be the only expression of love and human dignity they experience. And whether spoken or unspoken, it is done in the name of Jesus.
Read more in the magazine. And watch the video below for additional insight.
9 July 2018
Tags: Middle East Msgr. John E. Kozar Evangelization
Sister Darsana chats with residents while completing her rounds at The Trippadam Psychosocial Rehabilitation Center for Women in northern Kerala. The Bethany Sisters are doing remarkable and inspiring work with forgotten and abandoned women. Learn how they have created A Refuge to Mend and Grow in the June 2018 edition of ONE. (photo: Meenakshi Soman)