25 August 2016
A framed picture lies amid rubble in Damascus, Syria, on 27 July. Christian patriarchs residing in Damascus urged the international community to “stop the siege of the Syrian people” and to lift international sanctions, which they say are deepening the suffering.
(photo: CNS/Bassam Khabieh, Reuters)
Christian patriarchs residing in Damascus urged the international community to “stop the siege of the Syrian people” and to lift international sanctions, which they say are deepening the suffering.
The three Christian leaders — Melkite Catholic Patriarch Gregoire III Laham; Syriac Orthodox Patriarch Ignatius Aphrem II and Greek Orthodox Patriarch John X — directed their 23 August appeal to “the international conscience and the concerned countries.”
Although “the main goals of imposing these sanctions are political,” the patriarchs said, they have affected all Syrian people, “especially the poor and working class, whose ability to provide their basic daily needs such as food and medical care are greatly affected.”
“Despite the resolution of the Syrian people in the face of the crisis, the social situation is getting worse and the poverty and suffering of the Syrian people are constantly increasing,” the patriarchs said.
In their statement, the patriarchs pointed to specific consequences that are crippling the country and isolating it from the rest of the world. Those include the absence of new investments, a ban on international flights to Syria, reduced exports to the country and the placing of some Syrian companies on the blacklist for international trade, all of which the patriarchs said “are considered to be economic measures toward the isolation of Syria from the international community.”
They criticized most Western countries for closing their embassies and said a ban on international banking transactions with Syria “puts the people in a financial difficulty.”
The patriarchs said that in addition to helping to improve the dire living conditions in Syria, lifting the sanctions would facilitate efforts of church and humanitarian groups in providing aid, thus reducing exploitation of the suffering Syrian people.
“We hope that the international community responds to the humanitarian appeal of the Syrians: ‘Stop the siege on the Syrian people! Lift the international sanctions on Syria and allow this people to live in dignity, which is a basic right to all the peoples of the world.’”
A day earlier, in a meeting with Russian Ambassador to Syria Alexander Kinshchak, Patriarch Aphrem requested Russia’s help for the release of two kidnapped archbishops of Aleppo. Syriac Orthodox Metropolitan Gregorios Yohanna and Greek Orthodox Metropolitan Paul, brother of Patriarch John, were kidnapped in April 2013 in northern Syria while on a humanitarian mission.
24 August 2016
In this image from 2001, Mar Varkey Vithayathil ordains Mar Jacob Angadiath as bishop of the Eparchy of St. Thomas. To learn more about the rich history of the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church, check out our profile of this Eastern church in the January 2007 edition of ONE.
(photo: Christian Molidor, R.S.M.)
23 August 2016
Maronite Patriarch Bechara Peter greets faithful at the Korean Martyrs Shrine in Seoul, South Korea on 22 August. (photo: CNS/courtesy Mychel Akl for Bkerke)
Lebanese Cardinal and Maronite Patriarch Bechara Peter, visiting the South Korean capital of Seoul, urged the international community to end the wars raging in the Middle East “fueled by foreign countries.”
The church leader also said that terrorist organizations “working for the destruction of the Middle East do not represent Islam or Muslim.”
Such groups, he said in an address during the Forum for Peace on the Korean Peninsula that met 18-21 August, work to destroy “a moderate and open Islam, resulting from coexistence with Christians.
Patriarch Bechara Peter addressed the forum under an invitation of Seoul Cardinal Andrew Yeom Soo-jung.
He implored the international community “to speed up the solutions and impose a halt to the wars, fueled by foreign countries, raging in the Middle East.”
Stressing the need for a “series of reforms” in the Arab states, the patriarch called for the separation of state and religion, the development of democracy and “respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms.”
He also called on the international community to “help the rapprochement between Iran and Saudi Arabia” which he said would reduce sectarian tension in the region.
Lebanon, the patriarch lamented, is “paying the price of all these political-religious conflicts to the point that it is without a president for more than two years.” According to the Lebanese system, the presidential office is reserved for a Maronite Catholic.
Yet, the Maronite leader stressed, “the Lebanese formula still remains unique, and our constitution is a model to be imitated by other states on the basis of civic equality and cultural community” within the same country.
The cardinal also called for world leaders to work toward the establishment of a Palestinian state, which would facilitate the return of all Palestinians expelled from their land, and for the enforcement of all resolutions of the Security Council.
In addition to some 2 million Syrian refugees that have swelled Lebanon’s existing population of about 4 million, Lebanon also is home to more than 400,000 Palestinian refugees.
Patriarch Bechara Peter celebrated the Divine Liturgy on 22 August at the Korean Martyrs’ Shrine in Seoul. In his homily, he prayed that “peace would reign in countries that are torn by wars, including Korea and the Middle East.”
22 August 2016
Tags: War Middle East Peace Process Maronite Patriarch Bechara Peter Maronite Church
In this image from 2012, Ukrainian Catholic Bishop Richard S. Seminack of the Chicago-based Eparchy of St. Nicholas, left, is seen at the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls in Rome.
(photo: CNS/Paul Haring)
Late last week, it was announced that a prominent figure in the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church had died:
His Grace Bishop Richard Stephen (Seminack) 74 fell asleep in the Lord 16 August 2016.
After a prolonged battle with cancer, he died at Alden Poplar Creek Rehabilitation Center in Hoffman Estates, IL.
The priests, deacons and the staff of the Saint Nicholas Eparchy extend condolences to his family, friends, parishioners and all whose life he touched!
Please remember Bishop Richard in your prayers.
May his memory be eternal!
From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:
“He was an exceptional pastor,” said Stefan Soroka of the Ukrainian Archeparchy of Philadelphia. “He was loved by his people.”
Bishop Seminack oversaw a small flock of about 10,000 in 46 parishes and missions in a territory stretching from Michigan to the Pacific. Ukrainian Catholics follow the Byzantine rites used by Orthodox Christians but are also loyal to papal authority and Catholic dogma.
Going from a beloved parish priest to taking on the administrative duties of a bishop was challenging at times, Archbishop Soroka said.
He had to navigate questions of how much to maintain Ukrainian language and culture in the parishes and how much to use English, adapt to American culture and reach out to the wider public.
“You’re never going to win on that one,” Archbishop Soroka said. “Someone’s going to be upset.” But “if somebody criticized him, he just listened. He didn’t hold malice.”
Richard Stephen Seminack was born in Philadelphia on 3 March 1942, the son of Raymond and Anna Seminack and the grandson of immigrants from Ukraine. The oldest of seven children, he attended Catholic schools and earned degrees from the Catholic University of America and the Pontifical Oriental Institute for Eastern Christian Studies in Rome, studying canon law in both places.
He served at numerous parishes and other settings in eastern Pennsylvania and Florida before serving at Holy Trinity in Carnegie from 1984 to 2003.
“He was just a nice man, a down-to-earth gentleman,” Mr. Zorey said.
Mr. Zorey recalled that at events such as his daughter’s wedding and father-in-law’s funeral, then-Rev. Seminack listened closely to learn about those involved and worked those details into his homilies.
After being appointed as bishop, Rev. Seminack told the Post-Gazette: “My ministry has always been one of openness and accountability. I have said from the first day that I was ordained that I have lived in Macy’s window. Everybody’s problem was my problem and my problem was everybody else’s problem.”
For funeral details, check this link.
“Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him…”
19 August 2016
Tags: United States Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church
In this image from 2006, a priest presides at the Blessing of the Grapes, an ancient festival celebrated every August at the St. James Armenian Apostolic Church in Watertown, Massachusetts. Learn more about this busy community in A Taste of Little Armenia in the July 2006 edition of ONE. (photo: Ilene Perlman)
18 August 2016
Tags: United States Armenian Apostolic Church
A 5-year-old Syrian boy named Omran Daqneesh sits alone in the back of the ambulance after he was rescued from the Qaterji neighbourhood of Aleppo on 17 August 2016. (photo: Mahmud Rslan/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
This image has caused a sensation in social media, capturing the heartbreak and terror of what is happening in Aleppo. As The New York Times reported:
In the images, he sits alone, a small boy coated with gray dust and encrusted blood. His little feet barely extend beyond his seat. He stares, bewildered, shocked and, above all, weary, as if channeling the mood of Syria.
The boy, identified by medical workers as Omran Daqneesh, 5, was pulled from a damaged building after a Syrian government or Russian airstrike in the northern city of Aleppo. He was one of 12 children under the age of 15 treated on Wednesday, not a particularly unusual figure, at one of the hospitals in the city’s rebel-held eastern section, according to doctors there.
But some images strike a particular nerve, for reasons both obvious and unknowable, jarring even a public numbed to disaster. Omran’s is one.
Within minutes of being posted by witnesses and journalists, a photograph and a video of Omran began rocketing around the world on social media. Unwittingly, Omran — like Alan Kurdi, the Syrian toddler who drowned last September and whose lifeless body washed up on a Turkish beach — is bringing new attention to the thousands upon thousands of children killed and injured during five years of war and the inability or unwillingness of global powers to stop the carnage.
Maybe it was his haircut, long and floppy up top; or his rumpled T-shirt showing the Nickelodeon cartoon character CatDog; or his tentative, confused movements in a widely circulated video — gestures familiar to anyone who has loved a child. Or the instant and inescapable question of whether a parent was left alive to give him a hug.
Watch a video of the boy’s rescue below.
17 August 2016
Tags: Syria Children War Aleppo
Sister Ferdos Zora teaches students in a preschool in Erbil run by the Dominican Sisters of St. Catherine of Siena. (photo: Paul Jeffrey)
With summer nearing an end, a lot of kids are heading back to school. This image, from the Summer edition of ONE, shows schoolchildren in Erbil: displaced young Iraqis who fled ISIS, beginning life over in Kurdistan. CNEWA President Msgr. John E. Kozar visited the region last spring with a delegation that included CNEWA’s chair, Cardinal Timothy Dolan:
Pastoral visits included stops to the Martha Schmouny Clinic in the Ain Kawa area of Erbil; Al Bishara School in Erbil, where the Dominican Sisters of St. Catherine of Siena now teach more than 680 displaced students; a youth center in Ain Kawa for a “town hall” conversation with families and community elders; St. Peter’s Seminary, which forms priests for the Chaldean Church; a clinic in Dohuk offering care to hundreds of displaced persons each day; and a visit to displaced families hunkered down in the remote village of Inishke.
With each visit, the delegation made time to listen, to counsel and to offer comfort.
United in faith, the displaced and the delegation together offered prayers and celebrated the Eucharist in the Chaldean and Syriac Catholic traditions.
The pastoral visit highlighted the efforts of parishioners, religious sisters, parish priests and bishops who have partnered with CNEWA in setting up nurseries, schools and clinics, apostolates of the church that not only heal and educate, but provide a source of hope.
“One of my hopes for this pastoral visit,” said CNEWA’s Msgr. Kozar, “was to highlight CNEWA’s unique role in coordinating worldwide Catholic aid, on behalf of the Holy Father, and deploying that aid through the local church to those most in need.”
Want to help children such as these? Visit this giving page to learn what you can do.
16 August 2016
Tags: Iraq Children Iraqi Christians Sisters Education
Children flash victory signs as they play in Manbij, following its liberation from ISIS. (photo: Reuters/Rodi Said)
Friday, the northern Syria city of Manbij was liberated from ISIS, and residents celebrated by doing things that the militant group had forbidden.
From the BBC:
They have poured into the streets enjoying basic rights they had been denied for two years, including shaving off their beards and smoking.
US-backed Kurdish and Arab fighters fought 73 days to drive IS out of Manbij, close to the Turkish border.
About 2,000 civilians being used as human shields were also freed.
Reuters news agency spoke to a resident of Manbij who described a spot where people were beheaded. “For anything or using the excuse that he did not believe [in God], they put him and cut his head off.
“It is all injustice,” he said.
“I feel joy and [it is like a] dream I am dreaming. I cannot believe it, I cannot believe it. Things I saw no one saw,” a woman said screaming and fainting, according to Reuters.
Another woman thanked the fighters that had set them free: “You are our children, you are our heroes, you are the blood of our hearts, you are our eyes. Go out, Daesh [Arabic name for IS]!”
The Washington Post noted:
Under the Islamic State, women were forced to cover their faces. But on Friday, some of them were photographed with lifted veils.
One woman set fire to a niqab, a veil that covers all of a woman’s face except the area around her eyes.
Below is a video report on the liberation of Manbij:
12 August 2016
Tags: Syria ISIS
In this image from May, Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, left is seen Sheik Ahmad el-Tayeb, grand imam of al-Azhar mosque and university, and Archbishop Georg Gaenswein at the Vatican. The French cardinal said terrorists want to make peace-loving Christians and Muslims believe that it is impossible for them to live side by side; it is up to Christians and Muslims to prove them wrong.
(photo: CNS/Reuters pool via EPA)
Terrorists want to make peace-loving Christians and Muslims believe that it is impossible for them to live side by side; it is up to Christians and Muslims to prove them wrong, said French Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran.
The cardinal, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, said he was in France 26 July when 85-year-old Father Jacques Hamel was brutally murdered in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray near Rouen. The Islamic State group later claimed responsibility for the murder.
Writing 12 August in the Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, Cardinal Tauran said, “Obviously, these crimes threaten the credibility of interreligious dialogue, but we must continue to meet, to speak and to work together when possible so hatred does not prevail.”
In a multicultural, multireligious society, ignorance breeds problems, he said. “In order to live together we must look at those who are different from us with esteem, friendly curiosity and a desire to walk together.”
When tensions arise or outrageous acts are perpetrated, the cardinal wrote, they must be studied as “providential lessons from which people must draw the necessary wisdom to open more reasonable and more courageous paths.”
As now-retired Pope Benedict XVI taught, he said, dialogue deepens only when both dialogue partners know and practice their own faith and are willing to try to explain it to the other.
“Dialogue cannot be based on ambiguity,” the cardinal said, so “an event like that of 26 July 2016, pushes us to deepen our spiritual life and nourish it with prayer and study.”
Christians and Muslims, he wrote, “can — rather, we must — work together and promote religious instruction,” especially in societies that appear to be trying to drive religious faith to the margins of social life.
“By killing Father Jacques, those who conceived of this despicable act had one precise goal: to demonstrate that peaceful coexistence among Muslims and Christians is impossible,” Cardinal Tauran said. “But we have demonstrated and we believe that we must join forces in the name of God to work together for harmony and unity in a spirit of sincerity and mutual trust.”
11 August 2016
Arpine Ghazaryan cuts her son’s hair. She lives with her two boys in Gyumri, Armenia — just one of many families in the country who are now fatherless. Discover why, and what is being done to help them, in Armenia’s Children, Left Behind in the Summer edition of ONE.
(photo: Nazik Armenakyan)