25 June 2015
The pastor of St. Elias Melkite Greek Catholic Church in Ezraa points out the Roman-era foundation of the sixth-century church. To learn more about the ancient Christian communities of the volcanic plains south of Damascus known as the Houran — now threatened by the approach of militants — read From Dust to Life, from the March 2008 issue of ONE. To lend support to Christians and their neighbors affected by war in Syria, click here. (photo: Mitchell Prothero)
24 June 2015
Tags: Syria Middle East Christians Cultural Identity Village life Architecture
Students play basketball at San Joe Puram in the Faridabad district of the northern Indian state of Haryana. To learn more about the important work of this Syro-Malabar Catholic Church institution, read A Place of Promise — and Providence in the Winter edition of ONE. (photo: John Mathew)
23 June 2015
Tags: India Education Syro-Malabar Catholic Church Catholic education Youth
Elderly Roma men sit and chat together in Hodasz, 240 miles east of Budapest, Hungary. Citing a recent Harvard University study, NPR reports “the Roma minority in that Central European country face an unprecedented amount of violence and discrimination.” To learn more about this community, check out Our Town in the March 2008 issue of ONE. (photo: Balazs Gardi/VII Network)
22 June 2015
Tags: Cultural Identity Village life Hungary Roma Discrimination
Retired Latin Patriarch Michel Sabbah of Jerusalem speaks to parishioners and visitors about religious co-existence and forgiveness during a prayer service at the Benedictine Church of the Multiplication in Tabgha, Israel on 21 June. (CNS photo/Mary Knight)
Following last week’s attack on a holy site in Galilee — which authorities suspect was carried out by Jewish extremists — people of many faiths gathered Sunday to pray and protest:
Thousands of Christians held a protest rally in the Galilee on Sunday, near the Christian church that suffered serious damage following a suspected arson attack last week.
The event was held in the compound of the Church of the Multiplication of the Loaves and Fishes, in Tabgha, near Tiberias. Although it had been planned as a quiet prayer rally, the mood quickly became more aggressive.
Hundreds of youths carrying crosses of various sizes and waving Vatican flags blocked the access road to the church and chanted in honor of Jesus and Mary. Inside the church, a mass was led by former Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem Michel Sabbah and Bishop Giacinto-Boulos Marcuzzo.
U.S. Deputy Chief of Mission William Grant attended the mass, telling Haaretz he wanted to express his condemnation and disgust with the alleged attack, which he described as a hate crime like last week’s attack on the church in Charleston, South Carolina, that left nine African Americans dead.
19 June 2015
Men attend the first Friday prayers of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan at the East London Mosque on 19 June in London. In a message for Ramadan, a cardinal at the Vatican has called on Christians and Muslims to pray for those who have “deviated from the true path of life.”
(photo: Rob Stothard/Getty Images)
In his annual message to Muslims, the cardinal who heads the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue is condemning violence in the name of religion, according to CNS:
Christians and Muslims should pray for those who have “deviated from the true path of life” and kill in the name of religion, said Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran.
“Our prayer is much needed: for justice, for peace and security in the world,” as well as for those who “commit violence in the name of religion, so as to return to God and change (their) life,” said the cardinal, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue.
Cardinal Tauran’s annual message to Muslims for Eid al-Fitr, the feast marking the end of the month long Ramadan fast, was published by the Vatican on 19 June. Ramadan will end on or around 17 July this year.
The message was titled, “Christians and Muslims: Together to counter violence perpetrated in the name of religion,” and it called for renewed efforts, especially in education and law enforcement, to foster respect for human life and protect people’s rights.
Unfortunately, many ethnic and religious communities around the world, he said, have had to face killings, rapes, enslavement, forced emigration and trafficking, even of human organs and cadavers.
“We are all aware of the gravity of these crimes in themselves,” he said. But what “makes them even more heinous” is the attempt to justify such barbarity in the name of religion. “It is a clear manifestation of instrumentalizing religion for gaining power and richness,” he said.
Nations and communities have a duty to protect their residents and their property “from the blind violence of terrorists,” he said.
Read more at the CNS link.
17 June 2015
Seminarians pose for a picture at the Capuchin seminary in Eritrea. (photo: CNEWA)
This week, representatives from ROACO — aid agencies (including CNEWA) working with the Congregation of the Eastern Churches — are gathering in Rome. Today, those at ROACO welcomed Archbishop Menghesteab Tesfamariam, metropolitan archbishop of the newly created Eritrea Catholic church joining 23 Eastern churches in full communion with Rome.
CNEWA Canada’s National Director Carl Hétu notes:
Archbishop Tesfamariam gave us a general overview of his new church challanges. His church has four eparchies with a population of 164,480 parishoners in this small country of five million just north of Ethiopia, in the Horn of Africa.
The church works in difficult condition,s since most of its population lives poor rural areas. They have developed many pastoral programs to attend to their needs, in particular helping women who are left to raise the children alone.
The archbishop implored the aid agencies not to forget about them and to help the church grow and keep its seminary program alive. There are now 45 seminarians in formation for the priesthood, and the novitiate has consecrated over 350 women religious, who are playing an important pastoral role all over the country.
Also speaking to ROACO today were representatives from the Ethiopian Catholic Church: the newly named Cardinal Berhaneyesus Souraphiel and the Bishop Conference Secretary General, the Reverand Hagos Hayish.
Ethiopia’s Cardinal Berhaneyesus Souraphiel speaks to the ROACO. (photo: CNEWA)
As with its neighbor, Eritrea, Ethiopia is predominantly rural and poor. This small church, which represents less than 2 percent of the Ethiopian population, is certainly among the most dynamic. It is renowned for its pastoral and humanitarian programs that, through Catholic schools, form young Ethiopians into a workforce based on Christian values. There are also efforts underway to improve the agriculture system, so farmers can improve their way of life.
Also the Ethiopian Catholic Church has responded with an impressive program for refugees, welcoming more than 600,000 refugees from Sudan, Somalia and Eritrea. Ethiopia has the most refugees of any African country-posing social and economic challenges.
Much needs to be done. The church is appealing to aid agencies to continue their support, particularly in lay formation, university chaplaincy and education.
To learn more about the churches in the Horn of Africa, read our profiles of the The Eritrean Catholic Church and The Ethiopian Catholic Church. CNEWA president Msgr. John E. Kozar wrote about his own journey to the region in 2012. You can read those reports here.
Finally, to support CNEWA’s efforts on that part of the world, please visit this giving page.
17 June 2015
Pope Francis meets with Russian Orthodox Metropolitan Hilarion Alfeyev of Volokolamsk, director of foreign relations for the Moscow patriarchate, during a private meeting at the Vatican
on 15 June. (photo: CNS/L'Osservatore Romano via Reuters)
16 June 2015
Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, center, celebrates Mass for the ROACO participants. Others joining him include, from the left, Archbishop Cyril Vasil, Congregation Secretary; Menghisteab Tesfamariam, Metropolitan Archbishop of Asmara, Eritrea; and on the far right, Cardinal Berhaneysus Souraphiel, Metropolitan Archbishop of Addis Ababa. (photo: CNEWA)
The annual meeting of the ROACO opened this morning with a Mass celebrated at the St. Stefano Degli Abissini Church in the Vatican Gardens. CNEWA Canada’s national director Carl Hétu notes that the main celebrant was Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, Prefect for the Congregation of Eastern Churches:
In his homily, he reminded the ROACO participants that “we are gathered here this week following the instructions of Pope Francis that we need to listen and to serve the Eastern Catholic churches which are too often victims of modern marthyrdom, and thus witness a sign of hope as they persevere in practicing their faith despite extreme violence done against and around them.”
15 June 2015
In this image from 2007, an 11-year-old girl named Mira pauses during a game at the Pokrov day care center in Sofia, Bulgaria. To learn more about how the center has worked to reinvigorate Bulgarian Orthodoxy, read “Under Mary’s Mantle” in the January 2007 edition of ONE.
(photo: Sean Sprague)
12 June 2015
In Cairo, a young zabbaleen, or garbage picker, transports by a donkey cart his day’s scavenging to be sorted and sifted for anything useful. (photo: John E. Kozar)
The newspaper for the Archdiocese of New York, Catholic New York, features this week an interview with CNEWA’s president, Msgr. John E. Kozar, reflecting on his recent trip to Iraq and Egypt:
Msgr. Kozar said he found the same strong faith among the Christians in Egypt. They face a different, but no less worrisome range of problems, including the perception by their Muslim neighbors that they were supportive of, if not complicit in, the military overthrow of the elected Muslim Brotherhood government of Mohamed Morsi nearly two years ago.
In the aftermath of that coup, mobs attacked Christians and burned their churches.
“About 55 church compounds were burned, destroyed, and I visited four or five of these,” Msgr. Kozar said. “And although there is a great improvement in having this government, we feel more protected but by no means are we free of violence or free of danger.”
Unlike other parts of the Middle East where better-educated Christians are at least better financially positioned, Christians in Egypt are often at the bottom of the social strata.
Part of the reason Msgr. Kozar visited Egypt was to show CNEWA’s solidarity for this marginalized, impoverished community. On the outskirts of Cairo is a municipal dump and on the fringes of that dump live 900,000 people in a squalid shantytown. They make their living picking through the garbage. These “garbage pickers” are overwhelmingly Christian. There are no public utilities and no water, no sewers and no electricity. You won’t find the shantytown on any government map.
“They collect garbage in donkey carts or on their backs and they hand-sort it,” Msgr. Kozar explained. “Food they can’t eat, they give to the pigs. And they sort out plastic. They have crude, hand-cranked machines to mulch plastic for recycling, same thing with aluminum.”
Read more and check out additional photos at Catholic New York.
And to learn more about the plight of the garbage pickers of Egypt, read “Salvaging Dignity” in the September 2012 edition of ONE.