31 July 2012
CNEWA’s Bob Pape shares with Cardinal George Alencherry a copy of The Long Island Catholic, featuring the prelate’s visit to a parish in the Diocese of Rockville Centre. (photo: Erin Edwards)
Today, CNEWA welcomed to its offices the major archbishop of the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church, Cardinal George Alencherry of Ernakulam-Angamaly, who is visiting the United States on a pastoral trip. The four-million-strong Syro-Malabar Church is one of the 22 Eastern churches in full communion with Rome and, said the engaging prelate, is “a church that goes out” to preach the Good News.
“A church that does not preach, teach and baptize in the name of the Father will be dormant and will eventually die,” he said. We must not be afraid of temporary failures, he continued. “Not even St. Paul was always successful. But if the church lives the Gospel as Christ intended, we will attract even those who hate us.”
A native of Kerala, the cardinal met with CNEWA’s president, Msgr. John Kozar, and CNEWA’s New York-based staff. He spoke eloquently about the growth of the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church in its heartland of southern India, but also throughout the subcontinent and beyond. Despite the presence of hundreds of castes in India, “the Malabar Church holds together” and is “making advances” among the dalits, the suppressed peoples throughout India once called the “untouchables.”
Even as Kerala changes from a rural state to an advanced economy, the cardinal commented on the commitment to the faith made by Syro-Malabar Catholics. “There are different aspects to the growth of the faith,” he said. “There’s a more serious commitment, especially with the concept of charity ... it isn’t just a family tradition anymore.
“At the same time,” he said, “the faithful are going along on their own accord ... internalizing the faith and expressing it” more as individuals and less as parish-centered communities than before. Cardinal Alencherry noted that this change has evolved particularly in the past 20 or 30 years and that it has challenged the “pastoral approaches of our priests.”
Priestly “formation has had to change,” he said, so that Syro-Malabar priests “can adapt and address particular pastoral needs.”
The cardinal spoke about the welcoming environment given to Syro-Malabar Catholics by the church of North America, which includes nearly 100,000 Syro-Malabars in the United States alone. He noted, too, the importance of governing structures to support the church outside its “proper territory.” Prayers, the Eucharist and relationships among Syro-Malabar families in practicing the faith, he said, keep the church alive and are “good for the Latin Church, too. Otherwise, we lose them.”
“Wherever there are conflicts in the church,” he said, “you will find a lack of dialogue, a lack of communication.
“I always tell my bishops and priests that we are called to serve, and to serve means to engage in dialogue with truth and love.”
31 July 2012
Tags: CNEWA Syro-Malabar Catholic Church Indian Christians Urbanization Cardinal George Alencherry of Ernakulam-Angamaly
Combat in Aleppo worsens with increasing aerial firepower (Al Jazeera)
Concerns in Israel about Syrian government's chemical weapons (Spiegel)
670 million without power in second Indian blackout (Reuters)
Audit reveals wasted resources in Iraqi police training program (L.A. Times)
Two car bombs kill 20 in Shiite neighborhood in Iraq (Washington Post)
Israeli West Bank settlements growing rapidly (The Guardian)
One in four refugees in the world is Palestinian (Turkish Weekly)
Relationship between Bulgaria and Israel strained by bus bombing (New York Times)
Egyptian Coptic Christians voice concerns over new leadership (Lincoln Star Ledger)
30 July 2012
Tags: Syria India Iraq Palestine Israel
A resident of St. Anne’s Orphanage in Trichur, Kerala, enjoys playtime. (photo: John E. Kozar)
During his pastoral visit to India in March, Msgr. John Kozar had the opportunity to visit a few of the orphanages and homes for children CNEWA supports. With each visit Msgr. Kozar was welcomed with open arms — St. Anne’s Orphanage in Trichur, Kerala, was no different:
Next on our schedule was St. Anne’s Orphanage, also in Trichur. This is a large institution with about 130 girls, which, like all the other institutions and programs we visited this day, is subsidized by CNEWA. This facility is directed by Father Laurence Thaikkattil and is serviced by the Carmelite Sisters, with Sister Rita Grace, C.M.C., as the superior.
Here, too, we had a surprise welcome of cheers, smiles and raised arms from all the girls lined up in the hidden passageway at the entrance of the orphanage. They certainly made the three of us feel at home.
We headed into a meeting hall where we were formally greeted by Father Laurence and given bouquets of flowers by some of the smallest children in the program. Then we were treated to some amazing dancing by the children. Their intricate steps, coupled with their obvious pride in entertaining, were infectious.
After the program, I was privileged to address — or should I say entertain — all 136 of these sweethearts. They were so happy, their smiles were overwhelming.
For more from Msgr. Kozar’s pastoral visit to India, read his blog series “In the Footsteps of St. Thomas.”
30 July 2012
Tags: India Kerala Orphans/Orphanages Carmelite Sisters
In Syria, conflicting reports over the battle for Aleppo (Al Jazeera)
Lebanese concerned violence could cross the Syrian border (Washington Post)
Pope Benedict XVI appeals for peace in Syria and in Iraq (Vatican Radio)
Ethiopian authorities halt violence between two warring tribes (Washington Post)
Weak monsoon season hurting crops in India (Washington Post)
West Bank's tech sector growing despite checkpoints (New York Times)
Hezbollah releases footage of attack leading to 2006 Lebanon war (The Independent)
Romania's president beats impeachment vote (BBC)
27 July 2012
Tags: Syria Lebanon India Ethiopia Pope Benedict XVI
Satellite dishes cover the rooftops of homes in Aleppo, Syria. (photo: Spencer Osberg)
Syria has been in the news for almost a year now and the news has not been good. The Red Cross has declared that the conflict between the government of Bashar al-Assad and the opposition now amounts to a civil war. Although caught up in a violent struggle for its future, Syria is nonetheless one of the oldest and most interesting cultures in the Middle East, if not the world.
Here are five interesting facts about this country that has very deep religious roots:
Aleppo, Arabic Halab, is one of the world’s oldest continuously inhabited cities and the largest city in Syria. Excavations show that there was a village on the site already 6,000 years before Christ. For over 5,000 years, the city has been at the crossroads for trade between Europe, the Middle East and Asia. For many centuries it was the beginning of the Silk Road to China.
The Hebrew Bible never mentions the word Syria, which is a Greek word, but always refers to the area as Aram. Aramaic, which is perhaps the language spoken by Jesus and which has developed into several dialects, received its name from this part of the world. There are Christian villages in Syria where the people still speak a modern form of Aramaic.
In the Acts of the Apostles 9:10-11 Ananias is instructed in a vision to go to meet Paul at the house of a disciple named Judas who lived on Straight Street. Although most of the streets in the old city of Damascus are not marked, the author was able to find Straight Street, which is a rather long and, yes, unusually straight street that still exists in the old city of Damascus.
The Umayyad Mosque. The Romans constructed a huge temple to Jupiter over a much older Semitic temple. In 391, the Roman Temple of Jupiter was converted into a Christian cathedral, which was ultimately dedicated to St. John the Baptist. According to pious legend, which is continued by Muslims, the head of John was preserved in the cathedral and is still in the present mosque. In 635, the Muslim armies conquered Damascus and from 635 until 706 both Christians and Muslims shared the building for worship. Beginning in 706 the cathedral was demolished and the present mosque was built. One of the minarets is called sayyiduna ‘isa, Our Lord Jesus. Some Muslims believe that at the end of the world Jesus will return to the mosque in Damascus.
Christians comprise about 10 percent of the population of Syria. Some of the oldest Christian communities in the world—some dating back to the time of the Apostles—can be found in Syria. The city of Damascus is the home to three Christian Patriarchs! The Patriarch of the Syriac (before 2000: Syrian) Orthodox Church, the Patriarch of the Greek Orthodox Church of Antioch and the Patriarch of the Melkite Catholic Church all live in Damascus.
27 July 2012
Tags: Syria Middle East
Unemployed women gather at a curb in the neighborhood of American Gibi, on the edge of the large outdoor market in Addis Ababa known as Merkato. Many women come to this area seeking work, often from illegal brokers. (photo: Peter Lemieux)
Yesterday brought news that Ethiopia is banning its citizens from applying for domestic or blue-collar jobs in the United Arab Emirates until an agreement can be reached to protect the workers' rights.
Writer Peter Lemieux explored that problem in the May issue of ONE:
In 2008, Human Rights Watch published an article on the subject, in which it found migrant workers in Lebanon — most of them of Ethiopian nationality — to be dying from unnatural causes at a rate of one per week. Soon after, the Ethiopian government enacted a ban on economic migration to Lebanon.
We knew that illegal trafficking of Ethiopian women to the Middle East had been going on for more than ten years. And with technological advancement in media, we saw a lot of stories of what Ethiopians were going through in the Middle East, explains Yilikal Shiferaw Mesellu, head of R.R.A.D. They were healthy when they left here. But many came back traumatized, mentally ill, sexually abused and having been denied pay. Some were thrown from the third or fourth floor. Some were victims of disease, or hospitalized and deported. We knew there was a big gap both in our knowledge of the situation and the follow-up care needed for these returnees.
Read more about The High Stakes of Leaving in ONE magazine.
27 July 2012
Christians in Middle East call for unity (Turkish Weekly)
In Rome, Syrian groups appeal for cease-fire (Catholic News Service)
More Syrians fleeing into neighboring Lebanon (Spiegel Online)
Patriarch Kirill celebrates prayer service in Kiev (For-ua.com)
New mosque in Brooklyn faces angry local opposition (Salon)
Report: Coptic women facing abductions, forced conversion (Catholic News Agency)
Catholic Church has been leader in reaching out to Indias untouchables (EWTN News)
26 July 2012
Syrian refugees walk outside tents at a refugee camp in the Turkish border town of Boynuegin on 24 March. (photo: CNS/Osman Orsal, Reuters)
The violence in Syria escalates by the day and more and more Syrians are seeking refuge in neighboring countries, such as Turkey. Though Turkey has continued sheltering thousands of Syrians who have fled the conflict, officials are concerned that any increase in refugees will put a significant strain on their efforts:
In the Syria crisis, Ankara has hinted it might act to head off any vast influx of refugees, but has not spelled out what it would do, beyond seeking U.N. Security Council approval or at least support from its NATO allies for any such intervention.
Turkey toughened its military rules of engagement on the frontier after Syria shot down a Turkish jet in disputed circumstances last month, but has not retaliated directly.
“A buffer zone, humanitarian corridors, a safe haven are all vague concepts which will require international resolutions,” said one Turkish official, who asked not to be named.
“Definitely an aggression from Syria might be a turning point, or a massive influx of refugees,” he said. “The other scenario is the total collapse of the regime in Syria. We will reconsider our measures along the borders and protect them.”
For the moment, Turkish leaders seem wary, but more focused on coping better with the refugees they already host.
For more from this story, read Syria Conflict: Turkey Refugee Camps Struggle To Cope With 44,000 Syrians. If you would like to contribute to our Syria emergency fund, please visit our website.
26 July 2012
Tags: Syria Refugees Turkey Refugee Camps
In Syria, battles for Damascus, Aleppo intensify (CNN)
Turkish camps struggle to cope with 44,000 Syrian refugees (Reuters)
Christians in Gaza fear for future of their community (Associated Press)
Ethiopia bans domestic workers from going to UAE, citing reports of abuse (NewsDire)
Bishops conference in India calls for peace in Assam (Vatican Radio)
Topless protestor disrupts visit of Patriarch Kirill to Kiev (Associated Press)
25 July 2012
Tags: Syria Ethiopia Gaza Strip/West Bank Turkey Indian Bishops
In this 2005 photo, a couple admires the late afternoon view of the the King Talal dam on the Zarqa River, the second largest tributary of the Jordan River. The river is heavily polluted and restoration is the Jordanian governments top priority. (photo: Greg Tarczynski)
Tradition and scripture both hold that Jesus was baptized in the Jordan River by John the Baptist. To this day, countless Christians from around the world flock to the river and consider its waters sacred. The Jordan, though, is nothing like it once was. It is polluted and stagnant. The Israeli government hopes to change that:
“It’s five percent of what once flowed,” said Ben Ari, who is one of the rehabilitation project leaders. "You can easily walk across without getting your head wet."
Almost all the water that feeds the river is diverted by Syria, Jordan and Israel before it reaches the south, he explained.
But for the first time, Israel — which is two-thirds arid and has battled drought since its establishment 64 years ago — has a water surplus.
This follows decades of massive investment in the country’s water infrastructure. It re-uses 75 percent of its wastewater, mostly for agriculture, and by next year, 85 percent of drinking water will come from desalination plants.
The Israeli government has chosen to use this bounty to rehabilitate the countrys rivers. The Jordan tops the list.
An average of 150 million cubic meters of water will be returned each year, said Energy and Water Minister Uzi Landau when he announced the plan a few weeks ago.
“That way in ten years, we will erase our debt (to nature),” he said.
For more, read the Reuters article, Israel plans to revive ailing Jordan river. To learn more about the Jordan River, read On Jordan’s Banks in the January 2011 issue of ONE.
Tags: Israel Jordan Revival/restoration Baptism