23 December 2015
The Christmas tree and Nativity scene decorate St. Peter’s Square during a lighting ceremony at the Vatican on 18 December. (photo: CNS/Paul Haring)
22 December 2015
Tags: Vatican Christian
In this image from 2004, four young carolers pose in their home-made costumes in front of Holy Trinity Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church in Kosmach, Ukraine. To learn more about the seasonal traditions and history of Christians nestled in the Carpathian Mountains, read “Faith and Tradition” from the November 2004 edition of ONE. (photo: Petro Didula)
21 December 2015
As part of a pre-Christmas tradition, children bring figurines of the baby Jesus to be blessed in St. Peter’s Square as Pope Francis leads the Angelus on 20 December. (photo: Vatican Radio)
18 December 2015
The Rev. Francis Eluvathingal performs a wedding ceremony at the Jyotis Care Center in Navi Mumbai. To learn more about the growing church in Mumbai, read A Church of Their Own from the January 2012 edition of ONE. (photo: Peter Lemieux)
17 December 2015
Tags: India Indian Christians Mumbai
Pope Francis blows out the candle on a birthday cake presented by a young member of the Italian branch of Catholic Action during an audience with the group at the Vatican on 17 December. (photo: CNS/L’Osservatore Romano, handout)
Today marks the pope’s 79th birthday — and celebrating with him are young members of Catholic Action, a lay organization:
To follow a path toward Christ, one must follow the good path of forgiveness, peace and solidarity, and avoid following the evil path of vengeance, war and selfishness, Pope Francis told hundreds of Italian children.
The members of Catholic Action’s children’s section, parish-based groups of young people from 4 to 14 years of age, spent the year on various projects that aided migrants in the Italian diocese of Agrigento.
Upon the pope’s arrival, the youth sang “Happy Birthday” and presented him with a cake for his 79th birthday Dec. 17 during his traditional pre-Christmas audience with them.
The pope blessed and thanked the youth for their work with migrants, saying that they welcome in an exemplary way “so many brothers and sisters who arrive full of hope, but are also wounded and in desperate need of so much, including peace and bread.”
“You can offer a special contribution to this initiative with your enthusiasm and prayer, which I advise you to accompany with a small sacrifice, to share their essentials with others who do not have them,” he said.
Departing from his prepared speech, the pope asked the youth what would they do if they had two candies and their friend had none. “I’ll give him one,” a child responded.
“And if you have one candy and your friend has none, what do you do?” he asked. “Half!” another child exclaimed.
“Yes, half. Very good! Go forward this way,” the pope said.
After thanking the leaders of Catholic Action’s Italian branch, Pope Francis led the group in praying the “Hail Mary” and thanked them for their “commitment and dedication to Christian education.”
16 December 2015
Tags: Pope Francis Catholic Migrants Youth
People attend the lighting of the Christmas tree on Manger Square in Bethlehem, West Bank, 5 December. In a message released today, Latin Patriarch Fouad Twal urged a more spiritual celebration of Christmas this year and called for an end to the arms trade.
(photo: CNS/Abed Al Hashlamoun, EPA)
Latin Patriarch Fouad Twal urged moderate celebrations of Christmas this year because of the current political situation, but he also called for an end to the arms trade.
In his 16 December Christmas message, he urged a more spiritual holiday celebration and also encouraged all parishes to turn off the Christmas tree lights for five minutes in solidarity with all the victims of violence and terrorism. In Bethlehem, West Bank, the Christmas Mass will be offered for the victims and their families, he said, “that they take to heart the participation in the joy and peace of Christmas.”
At the local level, he urged Palestinian and Israeli leaders to have the courage to work toward a just peace, rather than war and violence.
“Enough of stalling, reluctance and false pretenses,” he admonished. “Respect international resolutions. Listen to the voice of your people who aspire for peace, act in their best interest. Each of the two peoples of the Holy Land, Israelis and Palestinians, have the right to dignity, to an independent state and sustainable security.”
“What suffering it is, to once again see our beloved Holy Land caught in the vicious cycle of bloody violence. What pain to see anew, hatred prevail over reason and dialogue. The anguish of the people of this land is ours, which we cannot ignore or disregard. Enough! We are tired of this conflict as we see the Holy Land sullied with blood,” he added.
He called for the creation of a Palestinian state alongside Israel, and for the two to exist in “peace and tranquility.”
Without naming specific groups, he said the situation in the Holy Land is a reflection of what is happening around the world, which is “facing an unprecedented terrorist threat.”
He said that though recent attacks have taken place against France, Lebanon, Russia and the United States, people in Iraq and Syria have been suffering for years from the war. Syria is at the center of the crisis, he said.
“The future of the Middle East depends on the resolution of this conflict,” he said.
He also condemned and called for an end to the weapon trade, which he said is perpetuating the conflict. He blamed “several international powers” for the continuation of a situation of “total absurdity and duplicity.”
“On the one side, some speak of dialogue, justice and peace, while on the other hand promote the sale of arms to the belligerents,” he said in his message. “We call to conversion these unscrupulous arm dealers who may be without conscience, to make amends. Great is your responsibility in these devastating tragedies, and you will answer before God for the blood of your brothers.”
He urged world leaders to find the roots and cause of “this scourge.”
“We must combat poverty and injustice, which may constitute a breeding ground for terrorism. Similarly we must promote education on tolerance and acceptance of the other,” he said.
In response to a journalist’s question, the patriarch said that while he welcomed current international attention and solidarity with the plight of Christians in the Middle East in light of the fighting, he lamented that it is only when their own interests are affected that they have finally begun to take notice of the Christians of the Middle East.
“There have been thousands and thousands of Iraqis and Syrians who are suffering,” he said.
He noted the importance of the 50th anniversary of “Nostra Aetate,” the Declaration on the Relationship of the Church to Non-Christian Religions, and its role as the foundation for dialogue.
“Here in the Holy Land, this dialogue is of paramount importance where difficulties exist, but it is necessary to continue to hope all the more, to the viability of a Jewish-Christian-Muslim dialogue,” he said.
He invited pilgrims to continue visiting the Holy Land, despite the current tense situation, and said they would find three doors designated as Doors of Mercy during the Year of Mercy.
“The pilgrim route is safe and they (pilgrims) are respected and appreciate by all sectors in the Holy Land,” he said.
15 December 2015
Sister Liza Mundamattom plays with a child in a village in Bastar, India. To learn more about the courageous work these sisters are doing in a dangerous corner of India, read Serving in the Red in the Summer 2015 edition of ONE. (photo: Jose Jacob)
14 December 2015
Meron Getachew learns tailoring at a church-run training course in Ethiopia. To learn more about how the church is training young people to develop new skills, read “Bright Lights, Big Problems” in the Autumn edition of ONE. (photo: Petterik Wiggers)
11 December 2015
Armenian archbishops from France, Ukraine, Russia and Nagorno-Karabakh concelebrate the blessing of chrism at Etchmiadzin in 1996. To learn more about Armenia’s spiritual core, read “Where God Descended” in the May 2008 edition of ONE. (photo: Armineh Johannes)
10 December 2015
An Indian boy puts his school books out to dry as floodwaters recede in Chennai on 7 December 2015. Residents in India’s southern Tamil Nadu state were grappling with the aftermath of devastating floods as authorities stepped up relief work following the worst deluge in decades that killed over 250 people. (photo: STR/AFP/Getty Images)
As India struggles to recover from devastating floods, the Catholic Church is stepping in to help:
The Catholic Church in India has expressed solidarity with the victims of Tamil Nadu floods and appealed to the people to come forward and make voluntary donations for the relief and rehabilitation of the affected.
“The need of the hour calls us to express solidarity with the flood affected suffering families and communities and to contribute our mite for their relief and rehabilitation,” Cardinal Baselios Cleemis, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI) said in a statement.
Two days of heavy rains through 2 December brought double the normal rainfall the Tamil Nadu state capital normally receives during its entire two-month rainy season.
The deluge has affected Cuddalore, Kanchipuram, Tiruvallur, Villupuram and Tanjavur districts with the state capital Chennai being the worst hit.