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July, 2019
Volume 45, Number 2
23 October 2012
Greg Kandra

In this image from 2010, part of the separation wall can be seen near Jerusalem.
(photo: Kevin Unger)

The following press release was issued today from Jerusalem:

The Assembly of Catholic Ordinaries of the Holy Land condemns the planned route of the separation wall in Cremisan valley. The issued seizure orders affect Al Walaja village and 58 Christian families from Beit Jala whose livelihood depends on this land. Furthermore, the two local Salesian congregations located there would be negatively affected in their Mission work towards the local community.

Separated from Cremisan valley, the local community will lose one of its last big agricultural and recreational areas as well as a crucial water sources for farmers. In fact, Cremisan green area is the main lung through which the population of Bethlehem can breathe. Besides, the 450 children attending the Salesian Sisters School will have to go to a prison-like school, surrounded by military barriers and check-points.

On July 9, 2004, the International Court of Justice found the separation wall illegal under international law. The Assembly of Catholic Bishops has the same stand. We therefore instructed St. Yves Society to file a case against the Military Authorities.

The planned construction of the wall will put more pressure on the remaining Christians living in Bethlehem. Without an income and a future for their children, more people will make the decision to leave the Holy Land.

The Catholic Ordinaries deny the existence of any explicit or implicit agreement between the Vatican, the local church and Israeli authorities regarding the construction of this illegal wall and therefore strongly call on the State of Israel to restrain from its plan to separate Cremisan valley from Bethlehem.

Tags: Jerusalem Palestine Israel Holy Land West Bank

23 October 2012
Greg Kandra

Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone (left), Vatican secretary of state, talks with his predecessor, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, dean of the College of Cardinals, before a meeting of the Synod of Bishops on the new evangelization at the Vatican on 9 October. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Cardinal Bertone discusses Syria mission (Vatican Radio) Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B. today addressed the Synodal assembly on the subject of the recent decision to send a delegation of Synod Fathers to Damascus, Syria. “Speaking before this assembly last Tuesday”, he said, “I announced the Holy Father’s decision to send a delegation to Damascus to express his solidarity and that of the Synod with the people of Syria who, unfortunately, have for some time been experiencing a tragic situation of suffering. The intention was also to express our spiritual closeness to our Christian brothers and sisters in that country, and to encourage those committed to seeking a solution respectful of the rights and duties of all. The initiative raised wide interest and received a positive welcome, not only in Rome and Syria, but also at the international level...”

Violence in Lebanon over Syria loyalties (Reuters) Four people were killed and 15 wounded in overnight gun battles in the Lebanese city of Tripoli in a second night of fighting between Sunni and Alawite gunmen loyal to different sides in the war in neighboring Syria, a military source said on Tuesday. In the capital Beirut, tension eased after troops fanned out across the city to clear the streets of gunmen who had clashed on Sunday night. The violence flared after Friday’s assassination in central Beirut of senior Lebanese security official Wissam al Hassan, who was opposed to the Syrian leadership...

Orthodox cleric threatened after condemning Golden Dawn (Ekathimerini) A Greek Orthodox cleric has been receiving threatening phone calls after speaking against the country's increasingly popular neo-fascist party, according to press reports. A verger at the Aghios Dimitrios church in West Macedonia has reported that an unknown person recently called and said: “We shall burn that commie.” The church has reportedly received numerous complaints and warnings from what appear to be supporters of Golden Dawn and nationalist activists. Metropolitan Pavlos of Siatista last week criticized Golden Dawn after members of the Greek far-right party protested against the premiere of Terrence McNally’s Corpus Christi in Athens...

Ethiopian Muslim Council election marred by violence (The Africa Report) The Muslim Council election in Ethiopia was marred by violence with two protesters reported to have been killed on Sunday. The incident occurred in the town of Gerba in the Amhara regional state of Ethiopia. Sources say that other civilians were also injured during the clash, and there are unconfirmed reports of the death of one federal police in the clash. The run up to the elections has been characterized by widespread protests by the Muslim community in the past few months. Protesters accused the government of interfering in religious affairs, a charge which has been denied.

Tags: Syria Lebanon Ethiopia Muslim Orthodox

22 October 2012
Sami El-Yousef

In this image from December of 2011, Msgr. John Kozar, left, meets the Armenian Apostolic Patriarch Torkom, center. On the right are Archbishop Aris Sheverian and Sami El-Yousef.
(photo: CNEWA)

Sami El-Yousef is CNEWA’s regional director for Palestine and Israel.

His Beatitude Torkom II, Patriarch of the Armenian Apostolic Church of Jerusalem, was laid to rest at the Armenian cemetery at Mount Zion just outside the walls of the Old City today. The funeral was attended by many religious leaders, as well as Palestinian and Israeli officials. His Beatitude died on 12 October at the infirmary of the Custody of the Holy Land in the Old City of Jerusalem. The Franciscan friars, who run the infirmary, had been caring for the elderly patriarch since falling into a coma earlier this year.

Patriarch Torkom was born in Iraq on 16 February 1919. In his early years, he moved to Jerusalem to attend the Armenian Seminary of St. James. He was ordained a deacon in 1936 and a priest in 1939. Between 1939 and 1946, he served in various capacities in Jerusalem before moving to Philadelphia to serve the Armenian community there. Since then, he has served in various capacities in the United States and in Jerusalem, including the Armenian Apostolic archdiocese based in New York. In 1990, he was elected the 96th Armenian Apostolic patriarch of Jerusalem.

The patriarchate appointed Bishop Nourhan Manogian as caretaker on 30 January as the patriarch’s health began to fail, and he continues to assume this role until the election of a new patriarch. This will take place after the traditional 40-day mourning period is completed, most likely sometime in December.

I was privileged to visit His Beatitude in December of last year during Msgr. John Kozar’s visit to the Holy Land. Despite the patriarch’s frail health, he received us and reflected on the situation in the Holy Land and the importance of the Christian presence and of closer relations between the various churches. Little did we know that his health would deteriorate dramatically shortly thereafter. He suffered a stroke on Armenian Christmas, which was celebrated on 18 January. The stroke left him paralyzed and in a coma until his death.

May he rest in peace!

Tags: Jerusalem Israel Armenia

22 October 2012
Greg Kandra

In this 2007 image, Father Giorgi Getiashvili, a priest at the Kvashveti Cathedral in Tbilisi, lights a candle at the Bodbe Church in Bodbe, Kakheti. While the church is honored now as the final resting place of St.Nino, it was used as a hospital during the Soviet era. Read more about A Georgian Revival in the May 2007 issue of ONE. (photo: Molly Corso)

Tags: Orthodox Church Georgia Communism/Communist Georgian Orthodox Church

22 October 2012
Greg Kandra

In this image from October 2011, Maronite Patriarch Bechara addresses the media during a news conference at CNEWA headquarters in New York, attended by CNEWA President John Kozar, seen in the background. Pope Benedict XVI sent the patriarch a telegram of condolence this weekend, following the deadly attack Friday in Beirut. (photo: CNS/Gregory A. Schemitz)

Vatican: Syria mission trip still being planned (VIS) Holy See Press Office Director Fr. Federico Lombardi today made the following statement: “The announced mission to Syria by representatives of the Holy See and the Synod of Bishops is still in the course of being studied and prepared, in order to be put into effect as soon as possible, and to respond effectively to its intended aims of solidarity, peace and reconciliation despite the very serious incidents that have taken place in the region recently”...

Pope sends telegram of condolence for Beirut bombing (Vatican Radio) “Having learned of the terrible attack in Beirut, killing many, His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI prayerfully participates in the pain of the bereaved families and, in the sadness of all the Lebanese people...”

Maronite Archbishop of Damascus addresses fears of Christians in Syria (Fides) in a note sent to Fides Agency, the Maronite Archbishop of Damascus, Samir Nassar stresses the first reactions recorded among the Christians of the Syrian capital after a car bomb exploded in the Christian area of the Old Town causing 13 deaths and dozens of wounded. Archbishop Nassar describes scenes of panic he witnessed, with parents running distressed “to look for their children in schools,” while the sirens of ambulances accentuate the unbearable feeling of living in an apocalyptic time...

Headscarf debate highlights Russian Muslim’s grievances (Reuters) A ban on girls wearing the Islamic headscarf to a school in southern Russia has angered Muslims and forced President Vladimir Putin, who has robustly defended the Orthodox Church, to affirm that Russia is a secular state. Muslims in the town of Kara Tyube in the Stavropol region say the ban on the hijab at School No. 12 forces their children to choose between their religion and a state education...

Russian Orthodox Church seeks land to build in India (Russia & India Times) The Russian Orthodox Church is on the lookout for land to build its first ever shrine in India, IANS said on Sunday. The church has been conducting services within the compound of the Russian Embassy in New Delhi since last year...

In Ethiopia, a pilgrimage to Mount Zeqwala (EthiopSports) Meanwhile, after reaching the top of the mountain, an old woman in her 60s, kissed the ground. After kissing the ground, she sat down solemnly. Trying to catch her breath, she looked down on the mountainous route she had followed. The scorching sunlight of the semi-desert mountainous terrain is a struggle for a couple of hours. One might feel like being roasted on a frying pan. And the reason for the gathering is that every year Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahdo followers celebrate Saint Abune Gebre Menfes Kidus’ Day on Tikimit 5 (15 October) on the mountain...

For the future of new evangelization, look to Ukraine (National Catholic Reporter) Back in 1974, music writer John Landau achieved immortality after attending a set in the Harvard Square Theatre by a then-obscure act out of New Jersey, and declaring: “I have seen the future of rock and roll, and its name is Bruce Springsteen.” In a similar vein, let me say here and now: “I have seen the future of the new evangelization, and its name is the Ukrainian Catholic University...”

Tags: Syria India Lebanon Ethiopia Russian Orthodox

19 October 2012
Greg Kandra

This year, for the first time, we’ve posted our consolidated Annual Report as an interactive multimedia feature online. If you visit this link to explore the report, here are a few things you’ll find:

  • Videos. If you can’t afford the plane fare to India, no problem. We’ll take you there. In a series of brief videos, CNEWA President Msgr. John E. Kozar offers personal impressions from some of the places we serve, and he shares some of his own pictures from his travels. The result helps bring to life, as never before, stories of the people and places we serve.
  • Images. ONE magazine has long had a reputation for publishing some of the most beautiful and compelling photography in all of Catholic media. We’re pleased to share some of those memorable images in this year’s report.
  • Facts and figures. It wouldn’t be an Annual Report without crunching some numbers. You’ll discover just where and how CNEWA uses your generous donations, and get a real feel for how lives are being changed because of you. Churches are being restored, seminarians are being trained, orphans are being nourished and cared for — and that’s just for starters.
  • Our wide world. CNEWA touches lives in every corner of the globe, and our 2011 consolidated Annual Report makes that abundantly clear. Grants and subsidies extend from Brooklyn to Beirut, from Geneva to Jerusalem. You may be amazed at our reach.
  • Pentecost. Msgr. Kozar mentions in one of his videos that “Pentecost is alive!” You discover that again and again through the work outlined in the report. The work of CNEWA is imbued with a sense of possibility and hope — of good being done, lives being changed, problems being solved, hearts being touched. That is what we’re about. It really is keeping the spirit of Pentecost alive.

You can find much more, of course, in our 2011 consolidated Annual Report. But for a preview, check out the brief introductory video below.


19 October 2012
Greg Kandra

A woman is helped by a Lebanese soldier following an explosion in central Beirut on 19 October. Ambulances rushed to the scene of the blast near Sassine Square in Ashafriyeh district, a mostly Christian area, during the evening rush hour. (CNS photo/Hasan Shaaban, Reuters)

Tags: Lebanon Middle East

19 October 2012
Greg Kandra

Men walk on a road amid destroyed buildings in Aleppo’s main Saadallah al-Jabari Square. Chaldean Bishop Antoine Audo of Aleppo tells British legislators that the city he “loves so much” has been left in ruins by fighting, and Christians are struggling to survive.
(CNS photo/SANA handout via Reuters)

Beirut bomb blast kills at least eight, wounding 80 (Reuters) A huge car bomb exploded in a street in central Beirut during rush hour on Friday, killing at least eight people and wounding about 80, witnesses and officials said. It was not immediately clear if the explosion targeted any political figure in Lebanon’s divided community but it occurred at a time of heightened tension between Lebanese factions on opposite sides of the Syria conflict. The bomb exploded in the street where the office of the anti-Damascus Christian Phalange Party is located near Sassine Square in Ashafriyeh, a mostly Christian area.

Bishop of Aleppo: “The city I love is in ruins” (Catholic Herald) The Chaldean Catholic Bishop of Aleppo, Syria, has said he is determined to stay with his suffering people even though his city is in ruins and many have already fled. Bishop Antoine Audo told MPs, charity leaders and peers in the Houses of Parliament: “Aleppo, the city I love so much and where I have been bishop this past 20 years, is now devastated — much of it in ruins.”

Egypt’s nuncio says Christian complaints are valid, but there is greater freedom (Catholic News Service) Some of Egypt’s Christians feel uncomfortable with Islamists in power, but there is greater freedom of speech than before the revolution, said the Pope’s ambassador to the Middle Eastern country. “I think there is a greater freedom now, though they accuse the present regime of also clamping down on people, on trying to control the press ... so they say that the president is becoming a pharaoh,” the Vatican nuncio, Archbishop Michael Fitzgerald, told Catholic News Service.

Russian Orthodox missionaries to work in Moscow train stations (The Moscow Times) Russian Orthodox missionaries will descend on Moscow train stations every Friday starting in November. Graduates of an Orthodox missionary course will have a chance to put theory into practice, serving as train station parish consultants, Interfax reported Wednesday. “During rush hour, professionally trained people will be available at train stations to advise anyone regarding the Orthodox faith and to hand out short texts such as leaflets and missionary booklets with further information,” Priest Dmitry, head of the church’s Moscow missions department, was quoted as saying.

Construction begins on Catholic University in Iraq (Fides) On Saturday, October 20 in Ain Kawa, a suburb of Erbil, capital of Iraqi Kurdistan, the first stone of the Catholic University will be placed. The ceremony will be attended by the governor of Erbil, Nawzad Hadi Mawlood, who in the opening speech will underline the support to civil institutions for an academic project considered of great social impact. The enterprise is, in its way, a fruit of the Synodal Assembly on the Middle East held in Rome in October 2010.

Tags: Syria Iraq Egypt Lebanon Russian Orthodox

18 October 2012
J.D. Conor Mauro

Azaduht Babek, right, and Canik Capar harvest tomatoes in Vakifli, Turkey. (photo: Sean Sprague)

The history of Turkey’s Armenian population is dotted with tragedy, particularly in the period from the late 19th century through the early 20th. Of the most atrocious of those years, Sean Sprague writes:

Between 1915 and 1918, as part of their strategy during World War I, Ottoman Turkish forces displaced, incarcerated or exterminated the empire’s Armenian citizens. Churches, monasteries and schools were leveled or appropriated. In less than four years, an estimated 1.5 million Armenians perished at the hands of their own government, though Turkey disputes the events. Survivors fled the country or took refuge in Istanbul.

However, far from gone, Armenians maintain a small but important presence in the nation — especially in and around Istanbul, and the province of Hatay, in the south. Sprague describes Vakifli, the last remaining Armenian village of Hatay:

The village of Vakifli somehow managed to avoid the atrocities that afflicted most Armenian communities a hundred years ago. Yet, by the mid-20th century, the village no longer had adequate pastoral support or an Armenian school, and most families sent their children to Istanbul for their education. Few of these children ever returned, except on holidays.

Today, the bucolic village is largely a tourist destination for Armenians and Turks alike. The local community is largely prosperous, either catering directly to tourists or running lucrative organic farms that struggle to keep up with growing demands for their fresh tomatoes, apricots, plums, citrus fruits and other produce.

Read more in Rising from the Ruins, from the November 2010 issue of ONE.

Tags: Turkey Village life Armenian Apostolic Church Armenian Catholic Church

18 October 2012
Greg Kandra

This church, photographed on 23 September, was damaged by fighting in the Old City of
Homs, Syria. (photo: CNS/Shaam News Network handout via Reuters)

Synod meeting calls for dialogue to resolve Syrian conflict (Fides) At the invitation of Maronite Patriarch Bechara, a meeting was held on Monday, 15 October at the Pontifical Maronite College. Attendees included, among others: Cardinals Timothy Dolan, Leonardo Sandri, Louis Tauran and Pèter Erdo, and Melkite Greek Catholic Patriarch Gregoire III Laham. The meeting provided the opportunity for a debate on the role and status of Christians in Lebanon and in the Middle East. The summary of the meeting, sent to the Fides Agency, says that those present at the meeting unanimously called for a solution to the conflict and the implementation of reforms to be achieved “through dialogue and political and diplomatic negotiation.”

Pope Benedict XVI meets with Metropolitan Hilarion (Vatican Radio) Pope Benedict XVI met on Tuesday with the head of the Russian Orthodox Church’s Department for External Church Relations to discuss common challenges, ecumenical developments and a recent landmark agreement between Moscow and the Polish Catholic Church.

Concerns over tensions at Temple Mount (Foreign Policy) Recent developments in Jerusalem pose a threat to the stability of the city and to the region. The world saw a preview over the recent Jewish holidays, when activists challenged the Israeli-imposed ban on Jewish prayer on the Temple Mount, known to Muslims as al Haram al Sharif. Sensitivities at the site tend to peak during any holiday season; however, these latest challenges cannot be dismissed as routine or benign.

Indian Christian cemetery creates an innovative solution to shortage of space (Express India) New Delhi In a city where residential space is shrinking rapidly, availability of land to rest the dead stands little chance. Most cemeteries in Delhi have been reporting a shortage of space, and now St. Thomas Christian Cemetery in Tughlakabad has taken a step forward to solve the problem. Reversing the idea of vertical highrises to increase housing space, the Tughlakabad cemetery is digging a 50-foot deep pit, with compartments for burial.

Tags: Syria India Middle East Christians Jerusalem Pope Benedict XVI

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