7 June 2017
Palestinian girls stand in front the Dome of the Rock as they attend the first Friday prayers of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan at Jerusalem’s Al Aqsa Mosque compound on 2 June 2017. (photo: Ahmad Gharabli/AFP/Getty Images)
As Muslims around the world observe Ramadan, the holy month of fasting, the Pew Research Center has released its report “Muslims and Islam: Key Findings in the U.N. and around the world.” Originally published on 7 December 2016, the report has been updated and released again on 26 May 2017.
As is the case with most Pew Reports, it is detailed yet easy to read and understand. It provides a great deal of information about the number of Muslims in the world as well as in Europe and North America. Not surprisingly, Islam is the fastest growing religion on the planet.
The report also investigates how Muslims feel about certain issues and how different non-Muslim groups feel about Muslims. It is noted that attitudes toward Muslims in the United States, for example, differ according to one’s party affiliation and that southern Europeans generally have a more negative attitude toward Muslims than do northern Europeans. An interesting study contrasts how Muslims in Islamic-dominated countries characterize the West and how non-Muslims in the West characterize Muslims. These provide important areas for dialogue and growth in mutual understanding.
Two other important issues are treated, though not equally well, in the report. The first issue is how Muslims feel about “groups like ISIS.” The overwhelming majority of Muslims both in and outside Muslim majority countries do not approve of violent extremism. This is extremely important to note.
Less satisfactory, however, is the section on “Support for Sharia.” Questions about sharia are often used by people who fear it becoming the law in more secular countries. In an unintended way, the section on “Support for Sharia” might seem to verify these fears as large majorities in Southeast Asia, South Asia, the Middle East and North Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa “favor making sharia the official law in their country.”
There are many problems with this. The report describes sharia as “a legal code based on the Quran and other Islamic scripture.” The first thing to note is that there is no “other Islamic scripture” other than the Quran; and secondly in no sense of the word is sharia a “legal code.”
“Sharia” is not a univocal term and Muslims — even those who favor making it the law of their land — have very different understandings of what that might mean. In addition, “sharia” is a religiously charged term. Few Muslims, if any, would spontaneously be against sharia even if they had little or no understanding of what it might actually mean historically and practically. As a result “sharia” with no qualifications is generally speaking not a helpful category when researching Muslim opinions.
Nevertheless, the Pew Foundation has once again provided valuable and much needed information about Islam, a religion that is misunderstood.
6 June 2017
Tags: Muslim Islam Ramadan Religious Differences
Youth from 14 parishes receive lunch at a summer program in Alitena, Ethiopia. Meal programs in schools, camps and other venues are a crucial, successful element of the Ethiopian Catholic Church’s efforts to support local communities throughout Ethiopia — efforts CNEWA is proud to assist. In March, we published a letter from Abune Tesfaselassie Medhin, bishop of the Ethiopian Catholic Eparchy of Adigrat, describing the challenges facing currently facing both church and country. You can read this and more in the March 2017 edition of ONE. (photo: CNEWA)
5 June 2017
Tags: Ethiopia Hunger Ethiopian Catholic Church Youth
Women pray over the casket of Ukrainian Cardinal Lubomyr Husar during his 5 June funeral liturgy at the Patriarchal Cathedral of the Resurrection of Christ in Kiev. Cardinal Husar died 31 May at the age of 84. (photo: CNS/Valentyn Ogirenko, Reuters)
2 June 2017
Tags: Ukraine Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church
A child receives a checkup at a clinic run by the Near East Council of Churches in Shajaia, a neighborhood of Gaza City. Read more about Where Hope Is Kindled in the March 2017 edition of ONE. (photo: Tamara Abdul Hadi)
24 May 2017
Tags: Gaza Strip/West Bank Children Middle East Health Care
Orthodox believers venerate St. Nicholas’ relics at the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour.
(photo: Valery Sharifulin/TASS via Getty Images)
The relics of a beloved saint have left Italy for the first time.
Thousands of people lined up for hours in Moscow on Monday to venerate the relics of Saint Nicholas, believed by Orthodox Christians to have miraculous powers, after his remains were sent to Russia on loan from their permanent home in Italy.
The remains of Saint Nicholas had never previously left the Italian city of Bari in the 930 years since they were brought there. After arriving by plane on Sunday, they were installed in Moscow’s gold-domed Christ the Saviour Cathedral, and put on public display.
The loan was agreed during last year’s historic meeting between Russian Patriarch Kirill and Roman Catholic Pope Francis. It was the first time a pontiff and head of the Russian Orthodox church had met since the Eastern and Western branches of Christianity split apart nearly 1,000 years ago.
The line of people queuing to see the relics stretched for several kilometers from the cathedral along the embankment of the Moskva river.
“I want to touch the relics, to ask for health for my children, for my relatives,” said one woman in the queue, who gave her name as Natalia and said she was from Ukraine. “I want health and peace on earth. Nothing else.”
Saint Nicholas, who lived in the fourth century in what is modern-day Turkey, is one of the most revered saints in Russian Orthodoxy. Numerous churches and cathedrals bear his name in Russia, and Nikolai is a popular name in the country.
And for more on St. Nicholas, check out this story from our magazine: Bari’s Borrowed Wonder Worker.
23 May 2017
Tags: Russia Russian Orthodox
A little girl prays at the start of the morning assembly at the St. Antony’s English Medium School in Karottukara, India. Read how this school is changing lives with Education as a Common Goal in the September-October 2003 edition of our magazine. (photo: Sean Sprague)
22 May 2017
Clergymen are seen as they wait for the arrival of U.S. President Donald Trump for a welcoming ceremony 22 May at Ben Gurion International Airport in Lod, near Tel Aviv.
(photo: CNS/Amir Cohen, Reuters)
19 May 2017
Pope Francis greets a resident as he arrives to give an Easter blessing to a home in a public housing complex in Ostia, a Rome suburb on the Mediterranean Sea, 19 May. Continuing his Mercy Friday visits, the pope blessed a dozen homes in Ostia.
(photo: CNS/L’Osservatore Romano)
Like parish priests throughout Italy do during the Easter season, Pope Francis spent an afternoon 19 May going door to door and blessing homes.
Continuing the “Mercy Friday” visits he began during the Year of Mercy, Pope Francis chose a public housing complex in Ostia, a Rome suburb on the Mediterranean Sea.
The Vatican press office said Father Plinio Poncina, pastor of Stella Maris parish, put up signs 17 May announcing a priest would be visiting the neighborhood to bless houses. The signs, which indicate a date and give a time frame, are a common site in Italy in the weeks before and after Easter.
“It was a great surprise today when, instead of the pastor, the one ringing the door bells was Pope Francis,” the press office said. “With great simplicity, he interacted with the families, he blessed a dozen apartments” and left rosaries for the residents.
“Joking, he apologized for disturbing people, however he reassured them that he had respected the hour of silence for a nap after lunch in accordance with the sign posted at the entrance to the building,” the press office said.
The pope’s Friday visits to hospitals and hospices, homes for children, rehab centers and other places of care were planned for the Year of Mercy as tangible ways for the pope to practice the corporal and spiritual works of mercy.
Although the Year of Mercy ended in November, the pope restarted making Mercy Friday visits in March when he visited a home and educational center for the blind and visually impaired.
Pope Francis gives an Easter blessing to a home in a public housing complex in Ostia, a Rome suburb on the Mediterranean Sea. (photo: CNS/L’Osservatore Romano)
17 May 2017
Priests and scribes assist Abune Gregorius, Archbishop of Ziway, Ethiopia, as he studies an ancient text near the island church of Debre Zion. To learn more about Ethiopian Orthodoxy at the Crossroads, check out our November 2007 edition of ONE. (photo: Sean Sprague)
16 May 2017
A villager and his horse make their way through downtown Eshtia, Georgia.
(photo: Michael J. La Civita)
CNEWA’s Michael J. La Civita is making a pastoral visit to the Caucasus this week, and sent back these images from the tiny village of Esthia. He noted on Facebook:
The landscape surrounding Eshtia. (photo: Michael J. La Civita)
Eshtia. Once a village of 1,300 families, now home to just 500 families — all Armenian Catholic refugees from the genocide a century ago.
It is a tidy village of birches, daffodils and thieving magpies. CNEWA is proudly supporting Caritas’s work here in helping the youth, who number 300.
While it seems as if time stands still, it does not. Many of the men men have fled to Omsk, Russia, to earn a living — leaving their families behind.
Tags: Georgia Caucasus