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Volume 45, Number 3
31 August 2011
Erin Edwards

Pilgrims from around the world pray to St. Sharbel in the Lebanese village of Annaya, just north of Beirut, and request his intercession. (photo: Sarah Hunter)

Every year, tens of thousands of pilgrims from around the globe visit St. Sharbel’s hermitage and tomb. On the monastery’s grounds, a statue of the saint marks the spot where he was first laid to rest. A few months after his burial, mysterious dazzling lights danced around the grave. Now holes blotch the grassy area around the statue; pilgrims have taken bits of the sacred soil, which they believe to have miraculous powers. As did early Christian pilgrims, many still kiss the ground where Sharbel was once buried.

Learn more about St. Sharbel in the story, A Saint Without Borders, from our July 2009 edition of ONE.

Yesterday the U.N. Security Council extended its peacekeeping mission in Lebanon for another year, the Washington Post reported:

U.N. peacekeepers have been charged with monitoring Lebanon’s southern border with Israel since 1978. The force was boosted to almost 12,000 troops after Israel and Iranian-backed Hezbollah fought a war in 2006.

Read more about the peacekeeping mission on the Washington Post’s web site.

Tags: Lebanon Middle East Christians Middle East

31 August 2011
CNEWA staff

From The Catholic Review:

Pope Benedict XVI appointed Archbishop Edwin F. O’Brien of Baltimore as pro-grand master of the Equestrian Order (Knights) of the Holy Sepulcher of Jerusalem, based in Rome. The appointment was announced simultaneously in Rome and in Washington, Aug. 29.

The order is a fraternal organization dedicated to promoting and defending Christianity in the Holy Land, supporting the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem and responding to the needs of Catholics in the region. Its origins date back to the First Crusade, when its leader, Godfrey de Bouillon, liberated Jerusalem.

In his blog, The Narthex, George P. Matysek Jr. reports that Bishop Denis J. Madden, former Associate Secretary General of CNEWA and Vice President of the Pontifical Mission for Palestine, was optimistic about the appointment. Matysek writes:

Bishop Denis J. Madden knows something about the Holy Land.

From 1994-1996, Bishop Madden was the Director of the Pontifical Mission for Palestine office in Jerusalem before serving as director of the Catholic Near East Welfare Association from 1996-2005.

Among his duties while with the CNEWA, Bishop Madden was the chief negotiator among the three ecclesiastical authorities responsible for repairing the dome of the Church of the Resurrection in Jerusalem. ...

I asked Bishop Madden about the news of Archbishop O’Brien’s appointment and the challenges the archbishop will face in the Holy Land. Bishop Madden praised Archbishop O’Brien for showing courage in addressing difficult challenges in Baltimore. He also described the archbishop as a good fit for the Holy Land. Take a listen to Bishop Madden’s responses below.

The audio can be found at the bottom of the article.

Tags: Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem

30 August 2011
Erin Edwards

Man Praying at Lyon’s Great Mosque in Lyon, France. (photo: Pascal Deloche/Godong/Corbis) Featured on the September 2008 cover of ONE

Today, many Muslims around the world are celebrating Eid al-Fitr, marking the end of Ramadan, the Muslim holy month of fasting.

In the cover story of the September 2008 edition of ONE, Islam’s Many Faces, Archbishop Michael L. Fitzgerald discussed Ramadan and the Eid al-Fitr feast:

Ramadan begins or ends according to the sighting of the moon (though some Muslims follow astronomical calculations). Thus, there can be differences, with one country starting and consequently ending before another. This can even happen in the same area where different groups follow different systems, so one group will still be fasting while the other is already feasting.

With the political upheaval throughout many Muslim communities today’s this year’s feast carries mixed emotions for some, as CNN reports:

There’s joy tempered with concern on Tahrir Square in Egypt, which saw a successful revolution topple President Hosni Mubarak this year. And there’s optimism in Libya, where 42 years of rule by Moammar Gadhafi seem to be coming to an end.

But emotions are much more muted in Syria, where the government is clamping down to prevent the Arab Spring from spreading, and there is a sense of gloom in Pakistan, wracked by violence and natural disasters.

Meanwhile, the Washington Post reports that many prisoners in Egypt were released today in honor of the Muslim holiday:

The prisoners let free for the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan were mostly protesters arrested in Tahrir Square, and had no prior convictions, English language Egyptian daily Al-Ahram reported.

Read more of the CNN and Washington Post stories on their web sites respectively: Muslim festival brings rare joy for some this year, but not all cheer and On Eid al-Fitr, hundreds of prisoners freed in Egypt, UAE, Oman

Tags: Muslim Interreligious Islam Ramadan

29 August 2011
Erin Edwards

Despite the violence that once enveloped them, Iraqi refugee children still find time to play. (photo: Spencer Osberg)

“Christians, of course, are not the only Iraqis whom the war has hit hard. Sunni Muslims, too, have fled targeted violence in disproportionate numbers. Prior to the invasion, Sunni Muslims constituted roughly 35 percent of Iraq’s total population. Today, Sunnis represent by far the majority of refugees, accounting for nearly 60 percent of those registered with UNHCR in Syria.”

In the story, On the Road to Damascus, Spencer Osberg reported the undeniably painful yet hopeful story of Iraqi refugees living in Syria. Read their stories in the November 2008 edition of ONE.

From the New York Times this morning:

A suicide bomber mounted a devastating attack in one of the largest Sunni mosques in Baghdad on Sunday, killing at least 28 people, including a member of Parliament, and wounding dozens more, according to security officials.

The attack and a recent spike in suicide bombings across the country heightened fears among Iraqis that the security situation is deteriorating as the United States prepares to withdraw all of its troops by the end of the year.

Read more of the story on the New York Times' web site.

Tags: Syria Refugees Children Iraqi Christians Muslim

26 August 2011
Erin Edwards

Young parishioners at Holy Cross Church, in the southwest Indian village of Purakkad, take part in perpetual adoration. Of Purakkad’s 6,500 families, some 340 — more than 1,500 individuals in all — belong to Holy Cross parish. (photo: Peter Lemieux)

“Life in Purakkad is serene and simple.

Incense wafts out of the sun-bleached church, built in the early 15th century, accompanied by the muffled sounds of prayerful worship. The parish priest, Father Jose Choolparampil, leads a devout flock, who have packed the church for eucharistic adoration before beginning the Divine Liturgy.”

Read more about the small fishing village, Purakkad, in our May 2009 edition of ONE. To view more of Peter Lemieux’s lovely photos from the village check out the accompanying image gallery.

Tags: India Children Sisters Kerala

25 August 2011
Erin Edwards

An elderly couple dance at an event organized by a local social club in the Eastern Slovakian village, Jakubany. (photo: Andrej Bán)

“Jakubany has a rich cultural heritage, including distinctive folklore, music, dance and dress. Villagers developed traditions in relation to their deep, historical relationship with the forests, pastures and mountains that surround the community.”

Read more about the rich culture and history of the Eastern Slovakian village of Jakubany in the story Those Who Remain Behind from our January 2009 edition of ONE. Writer Jacqueline Ruyak gives more insight into the dynamics of this village in the multimedia feature accompanying this article.

Tags: Eastern Europe Roma Slovak Catholic Church Ruysn

25 August 2011
CNEWA staff

Egyptian protesters in Cairo celebrate after President Mubarak announced his resignation. (photo: Pierre Marsaut/Zuma Press/Corbis)

In the northern Italian city of Rimini, a week-long summit of ideas, art, and culture known as the Rimini Meeting reached its midpoint. Among the multitude of topics in discussion, attention turned to the ongoing revolutionary movements which constitute the so-called "Arab Spring." Vatican Radio notes:

The meaning of the Arab Spring is being discussed at the Rimini Meeting, the annual gathering organized by the lay movement Communion and Liberation. One concern has been the prospect of Islamist radicals gaining influence as autocratic regimes are being overthrown.

Indeed, this is not the first time that the subject has been broached, and it has led some to wonder: Is Islam compatible with democracy? John L. Esposito, Ph. D., the founding director of the Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding at Georgetown University, Washington, D.C., tackled this very question in the July 2011 Issue of ONE magazine. Rev. Dr. Elias Mallon, S.A., CNEWA's Education and Interreligious Affairs Officer, also weighed in on the matter in a connected multimedia feature.

Certainly, those involved remain hopeful. The article concludes:

"There is some difficulty for some Europeans to understand what is going on in the Arab world … because they start from their fears, not reality,” said Wael Farouq, President of Tawasul Cultural Centre in Cairo, and Vice President of the Cairo Meeting.

“What is happening now in Egypt is something that should make all of us – east and west, Christian world and Muslim world – feel safe because for the first time in history the power of noble human principles is winning a war against absolute materialist power. What moved the people in Tahir square, and what people had in Tahir square, was nothing but their faith” he told Vatican Radio during the Rimini Meeting.

“This power of faith, and this success of this faith, to change reality should make all of us feel safe and feel happy, and look in a very positive way toward the future,” he said.

The full radio report can be found beneath the article. A previous speech given by Mr. Farouq to the United Nations in May can be viewed here.

Tags: Islam Arab Spring

24 August 2011
Erin Edwards

Locals living near Kerala’s Idukki Dam, the largest of its kind in Asia, collect water at a well. (photo: Peter Lemieux)

“In Kerala, poor management of natural resources, shortsighted agricultural practices and political inaction are pushing the limits. How is it possible that Kerala — which receives an annual average rainfall of more than ten feet, nearly three times higher than the national average — has the lowest per capita water availability in India, even lower than the northwestern state of Rajasthan, home of the Thar Desert?”

Peter Lemieux’s article, Rain Rich, Water Poor from the May 2010 edition of ONE, was also a part of a package that won a 2nd place Catholic Press Association Award for “Best Multiple Picture Package” among other awards.

To gain even more insight into the water scarcity issue in Kerala, check out our multimedia feature, Water Woes.

Tags: India Kerala Water

23 August 2011
J.D. Conor Mauro

A boy emulates adults at noon prayer in the Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin Mosque in Brunei. (photo: Michael Yamashita/ Corbis)

"The readers of ONE know well many of the differences that exist within Christianity, with its various churches and communities, each with its own rites and customs. They should not be surprised to learn, if they do not know already, about the diversity that exists within the Islamic world: how the interpretation of the five pillars of Islam – the fundamental obligations incumbent on all Muslims – differs among Muslims."

In his article, "Islam's Many Faces," Michael L. Fitzgerald, M.Afr., explores the various sects and traditions which fall under the broad banner of Islam. This and more can be found in the September 2008 issue of ONE magazine.

Islam Sunni Shiite

22 August 2011
CNEWA staff

Worshipers pray at Toronto’s Jami Mosque. Opened in 1968, it is the city’s oldest.
(photo: Ryan Carter) Featured in ONE Magazine, May 2007

As Ramadan enters its final week, the Vatican has released a message commemorating the approaching holiday of Eid ul-Fitr (or Id al-Fitr), which concludes the Muslim holy month of fasting. Here follows an excerpt from the Vatican news site:

This year, we have thought to give priority to the theme of the spiritual dimension of the human person. This concerns a reality that Christians and Muslims consider to be of prime importance, faced as we are with the challenges of materialism and secularization. The relationship that every human person has with the transcendent is not a moment in history, but is part of human nature. We do not believe in fate; we are convinced – moreover it is our experience – that God guides us on our path!

Christians and Muslims, beyond their differences, recognize the dignity of the human person endowed with both rights and duties. They think that intelligence and freedom are indeed gifts which must impel believers to recognize these values which are shared because they rest on the same human nature.

This is why the transmission of such human and moral values to the younger generations constitutes a common concern. It is our duty to help them discover that there is both good and evil, that conscience is a sanctuary to be respected, and that cultivating the spiritual dimension makes us more responsible, more supportive, more available for the common good.

Read the rest of the release at

Tags: Vatican Unity Interreligious Islam

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