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September, 2019
Volume 45, Number 3
28 January 2013
Greg Kandra

A Syrian boy stands in front of his family’s refugee camp in the Jordanian city of Mafraq, near the border with Syria, on 25 January. (photo: CNS/Muhammad Hamed/Reuters)

Al Quaeda-linked group claims responsibility for Syria blast (AP) An al-Qaeda-linked group fighting alongside Syrian rebels claimed responsibility Monday for a suicide car bombing that reportedly killed dozens of President Bashar Assad’s loyalists last week. Islamic militants have been the most organized fighters battling government troops in the 22-month-old conflict in which more than 60,000 people have been killed. Their growing prominence has fueled fears that Muslim radicals may try to hijack the revolt, and has contributed to the West’s hesitance to equip the opposition with sophisticated weapons...

Special collection in Lebanon for Syrian refugees (Fides) On Sunday, 27 January in convents, shrines and nearly 1,000 parishes of the Maronite Church, funds were collected for the activities supported by Caritas Lebanon in favor of Syrian refugees who have found precarious refuge in the Lebanese territory. The special day of solidarity was called by Cardinal Bechara Boutros Rai, Patriarch of Antioch of the Maronites, with an appeal to all members of the Church led by him...

Russian government wants to amend bill on “religious feeling” (Vatican Radio) The Russian government has asked parliament to amend a bill that would set jail terms for “offending religious feeling.” The measure was proposed by lawmakers after last year’s Pussy Riot protest at a Moscow cathedral. Critics have said it may harm Jews, Muslims and others outside the Russian Orthodox Church. But one of the lawmakers who sponsored the bill, said a phrase seen to favour the Russian Orthodox Church would be removed and the legislation would protect all religions operating legally in Russia...

Latin Patriarch in Jerusalem discusses Day of Prayer for Peace in Holy Land (Vatican Radio) The Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, the leader of the Catholic Church in the Holy Land, says Christians of all denominations in Jerusalem are united in prayer, solidarity and communion during the week of Christian Unity and are grateful for the concern of fellow Christians around the world. Calling Jerusalem the “Mother Church” with a “world dimension,” Patriarch Fouad Twal says “the unique way to be grateful is to do our best to fulfil this mission (well because) the Church in the Holy Land (can constitute) a bridge between all the others...”

Ukrainian eparch reflects on the New Evangelization (Vatican Radio) The Catholic university contributes toward the New Evangelization when, in addition to offering quality education, it prays together, fosters the beauty of the liturgy and reaches out to the marginalized, said the new eparch of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church in France...

Kerala court rules filmmakers will be charged with defamation ( The makers of a comedy about two petty criminals who dress up as Catholic priests will be charged with defamation, a Kerala court ruled yesterday. Two actors, along with the director, the producer and the screenwriter of the local hit movie ”Romans,” which was released last week, are all named in the suit, brought by a Catholic youth leader in the Kottayam district of the state. “The movie has hurt the sentiments of the faithful,” said petitioner Boban T. Thekkel. “There is a limit to freedom of expression. I can’t tolerate such things...”

Toronto plans World Interfaith Harmony Week (Catholic Register) World Interfaith Harmony Week is coming to Toronto for the first time. The United Nations Initiative, which originated in 2010 and is meant to promote peace, love, tolerance and understanding among followers of all religions, will begin on 1 February at various Toronto locations. The theme for Toronto will be looking for ways to work together. “It’s an important thing, not only for Catholics, but for all Christians to be exposed to and to become more aware of the importance of other religions in the world,” said Fr. Damian MacPherson, director of the Office of Ecumenical and Interfaith Affairs for the archdiocese of Toronto. “In the absence of not knowing, generally suspicion arises...”

Tags: Syria Ukraine Jerusalem Russia Greek Catholic Church

25 January 2013
Elias D. Mallon, S.A., Ph.D.

Pope Benedict XVI received the leaders from several Oriental Orthodox Churches on the conclusion of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, to discuss the progress of talks between them to reach full communion. Click the video to watch. (video: Rome Reports)

With the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity drawing to a close today, and Pope Benedict XVI meeting with members of the Joint International Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Oriental Orthodox churches, we asked our external affairs officer Father Elias Mallon to explore a few interesting facts about the Roman Catholic Church and the Oriental Orthodox.

  1. The Oriental Orthodox churches are six ancient churches that differ from the various Orthodox churches in the Byzantine tradition, such as the Greek, Romanian, Russian and Ukrainian, etc. They are: the Armenian Apostolic Church, Coptic Orthodox Church, Eritrean Orthodox Church, Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, Syriac Orthodox Church and the Indian Orthodox Church, which is split into two groups, the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church and the Malankara Syriac Orthodox Church. Many of these churches have Catholic counterparts in full communion with Rome: the Armenian, Coptic, Ge’ez, Syriac and Syro-Malankara Catholic churches are much smaller than their Orthodox counterparts and share their liturgical rites, traditions and many of the same disciplines.

  2. These Orthodox churches are very ancient. The Coptic church traces its beginnings to St. Mark the Evangelist. The Syriac churches of the Antiochene tradition trace their roots to St. Peter. The Armenian church prides itself on being the oldest national church as Christianity became the state religion of Armenia in 301, though it traces its roots to Sts. Bartholomew and Thaddeus.

  3. These churches are not in communion with the Catholic Church and the Byzantine Orthodox churches. The split between the Oriental Orthodox churches and the rest of Christianity is traditionally dated to the Council of Chalcedon (451). This council’s formulation of the relationship of the humanity of Jesus to his divinity was not acceptable to the Oriental Orthodox church for various reasons. Modern theological and historical research among the Catholic, Byzantine Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox churches has come to the conclusion that the differences that have existed for almost 15 centuries are cultural and linguistic, and need not necessarily be church dividing.

  4. Relations between the Catholic Church and the Oriental Orthodox churches have improved dramatically since Vatican II. The Joint International Commission for Theological Dialogue has — often against great odds, such as the arrest of Pope Shenouda III of the Coptic Orthodox Church by the Egyptian authorities from 1981-1985 — made considerable progress, resulting among other things with the official Statement of Christological Agreement that was signed 12 February 1988, overcoming one of the major obstacles to unity between the Catholic and Oriental Orthodox churches. Some ecclesialogical issues remain, but the commission continues to study the issues and to attempt to resolve them.

  5. CNEWA works where all these churches originated and maintain large communities — Armenia, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, India, Iraq and Syria — and has developed an outstanding rapport with its leaders. CNEWA exercises the dialogue of charity in its many forms of assistance, from priestly formation in Ethiopia, refurbishing Syriac churches in the Middle East to humanitarian assistance in Armenia.

Tags: Eastern Christianity Orthodox Church Eastern Churches Orthodox Oriental Orthodox

25 January 2013
Greg Kandra

Father Mezo hears confessions at Protection of the Virgin Mary Church in Nyírascéd, Hungary. (photo: Balazs Gardi)

In 2006, ONE reported on Greek Catholics holding on to their faith and their traditions in a village in rural Hungary:

Wherever he goes in the Hungarian village of Nyírascád, Father György Mezo is greeted with the traditional “Dícsoség Jézus Krísztusnak,” or “Glory to Jesus Christ.” Most of the residents are Greek Catholics, and Father Mezo has headed the village’s Greek Catholic parish, Protection of the Virgin Mary, for 15 years. Life is not easy in this village in northeastern Hungary, near the Romanian border. The birthrate is down. Couples used to have five or more children, but providing for a family that size has not been possible for the last 50 years or so. Even now, in this post-Communist era of the European Union, forestry, the main occupation of most villagers, is not the industry it once was. Most couples have one child these days. And jobs are scarce too. Many villagers work in nearby cities or, if they are well educated, they go to Budapest.

But as the world changes around them, the villagers of Nyírascád hold on to their traditions, which is why Father Mezo is held in such high regard.

“People have preserved the traditional rites, both liturgical and legal,” said Gyula Katona, Nyírascád’s mayor since 1973. He said the village was an exception to most of Hungary, where Communist rule and the enticements of the modern, secular world had combined to dilute the faith. Even under Communist rule, “catechism remained in the schools because the villagers wanted it there.”

“Processions were held each year, at Easter and on the feastday of the church,” he continued. “In other villages they held processions juston the church grounds, but here they paraded through the streets. From Good Friday to Easter morning, the holy tomb is always guarded by young men, as is traditional. We could do all this because tradition is very strong here.”

Read more about Holding on in Hungary from the May 2006 issue of ONE.

Tags: Eastern Europe Hungary Greek Catholic Church

25 January 2013
J.D. Conor Mauro

Young men pass buildings destroyed by Syrian airstrikes in Damascus on 17 January. (photo: CNS/Goran Tomasevic, Reuters)

Syrian rebels destroy Shi’ite site, loot churches (Yahoo! News) Rebels in Syria have burned and looted the religious sites of minorities, Human Rights Watch said on Wednesday, as the longest and deadliest of the Arab Spring revolts becomes increasingly sectarian. The 22-month-old rebellion against President Bashar al Assad started as a peaceful protest movement but has turned into civil war, pitting mostly Sunni Muslim rebels against a state security and military establishment dominated by Assad’s minority Alawite sect, an offshoot of Shi’ite Islam. In the northern Idlib province, where rebels have taken swaths of territory from government forces, the New York-based rights group said opposition fighters destroyed a Shi’ite “husseiniya” — a religious site devoted to Hussein, a martyr in Shi’ite tradition. In the western Latakia province, Human Rights Watch quoted residents as saying gunmen working “in the name of the opposition” had broken into and stolen from Christian churches in two villages…

Coptic Catholic bishop: Egypt must not become Islamist (Fides) On the second anniversary of the Revolution of 25 January 2011, while there are reports of new clashes in the streets between police and anti-government protesters, Coptic Catholic Bishop Youhanna Qulta outlines the contours of the delicate moment lived by the great north African country. According to Bishop Qulta, “if the government and the Muslim Brotherhood try to repress the demonstrations held these days, the nightmare of civil war will return in Egypt.” Bishop Qulta, as a representative of the Catholic Churches in Egypt, took part in the Constituent Assembly called upon to write a new Constitution. Today he confirms the reason he and other Christian representatives withdrew from that body: “Work had begun on the right note, but at some point it became clear that the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafis wanted to impose an Islamic Constitution. We discussed with their leaders, but they did not want to listen. We realized that our function was only decorative, and went away.” According to Bishop Qulta: “Egypt is not Mali. It is at the crossroads of Europe, Asia and Africa. More than ten million Christians live there. Its economy is based on tourism and trade. This is why one cannot agree to allow it to become an Islamist Country.” The bishop added: “I love my Muslim brothers and my sisters. I also dedicated my studies and my Ph.D. to Islamic culture.” For Bishop Qulta, the real problem is the relationship between politics and religion: “Who wants to be religious, cannot claim to compel by law the people to pray, not to drink alcohol and follow all practices related to his religion. In Arab countries, only by separating religion and politics one can have democracy”…

Bishop warns of “toughest times” for Serbs since 2004 pogrom (B92) A Serbian Orthodox bishop based in Kosovo has said that the position of the Serb people in Kosovo and Metohija has not been this difficult ever since March 2004. Ethnic Albanians at that time organized widespread attacks on Serbs, their property, and holy places. “Eight full years have passed since the horrible event, and we still see that part of the Albanian community is ready to commit the most serious crimes, including the barbaric desecration of graves,” Bishop Teodosije of Raska-Prizren was quoted as saying. Commenting on the latest spate of violence in which several dozen gravestones were either destroyed or damaged in Serbian Orthodox cemeteries in Kosovo and Metohija, the Bishop said that “the feelings at seeing images of broken tombs and crosses set on fire are terrible”…

Pope receives members of key ecumenical commission (VIS) Today in the Vatican, the Holy Father received the members of the Joint International Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Oriental Orthodox churches. The commission was instituted ten years ago as a initiative of the ecclesial authorities of the family of the Oriental Orthodox churches and the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. The commission has dedicated this week to exploring “more fully the communion and communication which existed between the churches in the first five centuries of Christian history,” Pope Benedict XVI said, expressing his hope that “relations between the Catholic Church and the Oriental Orthodox churches will continue to develop in a fraternal spirit of cooperation, particularly through the growth of a theological dialogue capable of helping all the Lord’s followers to grow in communion and to bear witness before the world to the saving truth of the Gospel.” The full text of his address can be found here

Tags: Egypt Syrian Civil War Violence against Christians Pope Benedict XVI Ecumenism

24 January 2013
Don Duncan

In this 28 September 2012 photo, Violette Elias cuts pomegranates that will eventually be squeezed and turned into molasses at her orchard near Kafarchakna, in northern Lebanon. (photo: Dalia Khamissy)

In the November 2012 issue of ONE, journalist Don Duncan discussed the role of pomegranates in Lebanese culture. In the course of his reporting, he joined farmer Violette Elias and her family for a meal in her home. Below, he shares his thoughts and impressions from the scene.

The farm of Violette Elias in the northern mountains of Lebanon is as typical as you are going to find in this small Mediterranean country. The house is a high-gabled, traditional Lebanese farm house, folded into a lush green environ — some 800 feet above sea level — with the soaring snow-capped peaks of Lebanon’s highest mountains behind it.

Around the house and down the hill behind it are scatters of trees, a motley orchard of apple, orange, pear and pomegranate trees that Violette harvests all year round. Toward late spring, the distinctive red flowers of the pomegranate trees begin to burst gently on the twigs, and as spring moves into summer the redness deepens. By August, pomegranate fruits are nearly ready for the picking. Violette picks them as she needs them throughout the harvesting season, which lasts until November.

In her kitchen, Violette has a basket of picked pomegranates and uses them for making her own molasses, which she says is an “indispensable” part of any kitchen. The day I visited her family, her four children — Adele, 31; Allisar, 29; Nassif, 28; and Habib, 25 — were back home for the weekend from Beirut. Each of them buzzes around Violette in the kitchen, preparing the dinner table as she works on a Lebanese snack featuring pomegranate. The scene is at once traditional and very contemporary, and I am struck by how well Lebanon has managed to hang on to its values and traditions — whereas countries like Ireland, where I am from, which once had similar values, often lose some measure of them in the face of evolving modernity and globalization.

Violette works her mortar and pestle, mixing her pomegranate molasses with herbs and raisins, and adding the resulting sauce to cooked rice to form a stuffing for peppers and zucchini, a traditional Lebanese snack. We all sit down at the table in the dining room and make small talk as we await Violette to finish and bring her homemade snacks and delicacies. Local cider is poured, and bread is sliced. We talk about Beirut, the rising rent and stagnant salaries — all obsessions for Lebanese in their 20’s and 30’s — but we also talk about the benefits of coming from the countryside and living in the capital, and what a luxury it is to quit the urban chaos at the weekend for the crisp climbs of the mountain.

I was a little envious of the Elias children — mainly because I don’t have such a haven in Lebanon, but also because it reminded me of Ireland, when I lived in Dublin and I had a similar country retreat: my native village in the midlands.

And then the food came out and it was, in some ways, like being at home. Even though the cuisine is worlds apart, it was mamma’s cooking in a way and it left a warm, satisfied feeling in my heart.

Tags: Lebanon Cultural Identity Farming/Agriculture

24 January 2013
Greg Kandra

One of the many ancient manuscripts found in Debra Zion. (photo: Sean Sprague)

On 24 January, the Latin church marks the feast of St. Francis de Sales, the patron of writers and journalists. In 2004, writer and journalist Sean Sprague paid a visit to Ethiopia and discovered some treasures of the written word:

Ringed by volcanic hills, Lake Ziway is known for its birds. On a typical day African pygmy geese, yellow-billed storks, white pelicans and other birds swoop over the 187-square-mile lake in central Ethiopia. Ornithology aside, there is another reason to visit Lake Ziway: Its largest island, Tullu Gudo, shelters the oldest active religious community south of Ethiopia’s Christian heartland, Debra Zion. Tradition holds that Tullu Gudo once housed the Ark of the Covenant, said to contain the Ten Commandments. …

The original church of Debra Zion and its monastery fell into ruin by the early 19th century, but its treasures — various ancient Christian manuscripts and icons — were preserved. … At the back of the Debra Zion church is a padlocked door behind which are the island’s historic treasures.

Looking over the various manuscripts, Abune Gregorius was particularly interested in one book, a history of the saints, written in Ge’ez. This ancient language predates the Aksumite empire, but remains the liturgical language of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church.

Read more about these treasures and Ethiopia’s Island Sanctuary in the January 2005 issue of ONE.

Tags: Ethiopia Orthodox Ethiopian Orthodox Church Ethiopian Christianity

24 January 2013
J.D. Conor Mauro

Blessed John Paul II is pictured in a 1983 photo greeting Polish Cardinal Jozef Glemp of Warsaw, who died on 23 January in Warsaw. (photo: CNS/KNA)

Cardinal Jozef Glemp of Poland dies at 83 (New York Times) Cardinal Jozef Glemp, the spiritual leader of Poland’s Roman Catholics for 25 years, who helped steer his nation through a historic and relatively peaceful transition from Communism to democracy in 1989, died on Wednesday in Warsaw. He was 83. The Polish news agency PAP said Cardinal Glemp had lung cancer. For a thousand years, the church has been a repository of nationhood in overwhelmingly Catholic Poland, and for decades Cardinal Glemp, as the archbishop of Warsaw and Gniezno and the primate of Poland, was both mediator and power broker in the struggle between the Communist government and the resistance led by the Solidarity labor union…

Bombs in Baghdad kill 17 (Al Jazeera) Three blasts, including a suicide attack, have killed at least 17 people in and around the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, officials say. The most deadly of Tuesday’s explosions took place in Taji, about 12 miles north of Baghdad, where a suicide bomber driving a car packed with explosives detonated his bomb near an army base, killing at least 7 and wounding 24. Two more car bombs, in the northwest neighborhood of Shula and the town of Mahmudiya to the south of the city, killed another 10 and wounded nearly 30, police and hospital sources said. Violence in Iraq has eased since the widespread sectarian carnage of 2006-2007, but Sunni armed groups still launch frequent attacks to reignite confrontation among the Shia majority, Sunni Muslims and ethnic Kurds. The latest attacks come amid rising ethnic and sectarian tension following the arrest last month of bodyguards assigned to the Sunni finance minister Rafia al Issawi…

Archbishop Manoogian elected Armenian patriarch of Jerusalem (France24) Archbishop Nurhan Manoogian has been elected the 97th Armenian Orthodox patriarch of Jerusalem, one of the five custodians of Christian religious sites in the Holy Land. The 65-year-old patriarch elect replaces His Beatitude Torkom II, who died at 93 in October 2012, after falling into a coma following a stroke. The new patriarch will lead the small Armenian Orthodox communities in Israel, the Palestinian territories and Jordan, and take responsibility for parts of holy sites including the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. Nurhan Manougian was born in Aleppo, Syria in 1948 and ordained in Jerusalem in 1971. His election must be approved by Israel and the Jordanian king…

Muslim Brotherhood boycotts Jordanian elections (Christian Science Monitor) Jordanians voted in their first parliamentary elections since the Arab Spring revolts on Wednesday, but a boycott by the main Islamist party guaranteed there would be no repeat of an Egypt-style revolution via the ballot box. The popular Muslim Brotherhood shunned the poll saying the electoral system had been rigged against large, populated urban areas where it is strongest in favor of rural tribal areas where conservative, pro-government forces are entrenched. The Brotherhood’s boycott has reduced the election to a contest between tribal leaders, establishment figures and businessmen, with just a few of the 1,500 candidates running for recognized parties. “God willing, these elections will produce a good parliament that will consider the needs of the citizens. We hope this parliament will be better than the previous one,” said Iskandar Nuqul, a voter in Amman’s first electoral district…

Palestinian president seeks peace talks with new Israeli parliament (Daily Star Lebanon) Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will invite Israeli politicians to the West Bank to try to make sure peacemaking is on the new government’s agenda, a senior official said Thursday, even as a top Israeli hard-liner proposed sidelining the polarizing issue. President Abbas hopes to sit down with representatives of Israel’s parliamentary factions to discuss the possibility of settling the Israeli-Palestinian conflict peacefully, senior Palestinian official Yasser Abed Rabbo told The Associated Press. He did not say when the invitations would go out, but emphasized that the president wants the meeting to take place before Israel forms its next government — a process that is expected to take several weeks…

Egyptian human rights group decries police abuses (L.A. Times) An Egyptian human rights groups reported this week that torture and police brutality, which helped spark a national uprising two years ago, have continued under the new Islamist-led government. Over the course of 2011 and 2012, the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR) documented more than 20 extrajudicial killings as a result of torture or “unnecessary” use of firearms by police forces, the group said in a report released ahead of the second anniversary of the 25 January revolt that eventually toppled former President Hosni Mubarak. “It is clear from the data gathered that police continue to deploy excessive violence and torture systematically as it was during the Mubarak regime,” the rights group said. As Egypt continues to find its way after the revolution, the government has gone through different interior ministers who promised drastic police reform and new ways for security forces to reach out to the public. EIPR says little has changed…

Tags: Iraq Egypt Jordan Middle East Peace Process Armenian Apostolic Church

23 January 2013
Greg Kandra

A local woodcarver sits outside his home in Kosmach. (photo: Petro Didula)

In 2004, we turned a spotlight on the Hutsuls, nestled in the Carpathian Mountains:

Tucked into the Carpathian Mountains in southwestern Ukraine, Kosmach is the center of the 500,000-strong Greek Catholic and Orthodox Hutsul community.

The 13th-century Mongol invasion of Kievan Rus — which includes parts of present-day Belarus, Russia and Ukraine — is an essential chapter in Hutsul history. Many of those who survived the ruthless devastation of their homeland, peasants mostly, headed for the hills, seeking refuge in the Carpathians. ...

The Soviets frowned on tradition, particularly those traditions rooted in religion. But the Hutsuls took pride in their distinctive dress, dances and songs, says Vasyl Markus, editor of the Encyclopedia of the Ukrainian Diaspora and a professor at Loyola University in Chicago. Families continued to decorate Easter eggs, orpysanky, as well as practice embroidery and other examples of folk art. And unlike most parts of the Soviet Union, religious expression never really wavered. But that expression is not purely Christian.

“The Christian faith in the area is nuanced,” says Father Hunchak. “There is faith, but it is not exactly Christian, rather half-Christian, half-pagan … a mystical faith. In the Carpathian Mountains, there are people who know about trees, plants, nature.”

Read more about the Faith and Tradition of the Hutsuls in the November 2004 issue of ONE.

Tags: Ukraine Russia Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church Ukrainian Orthodox Church Belarus

23 January 2013
J.D. Conor Mauro

An Iraqi woman prays during a 2011 Christmas Mass at St. Joseph Chaldean Catholic Church
in Baghdad. (photo: CNS/Saad Shalash, Reuters)

Archbishop Sako considers the future of Christians in the Middle East (Fides) The situation in the Middle East “is worrying, as are certain things that one hears on the Arab Spring by certain leaders,” says Chaldean Archbishop of Kirkuk Louis Sako in a recent appeal. According to the archbishop, the “mixture of ethnicities, religions and languages” present in the Middle East inevitably leads to tensions and conflicts, because in that region of the world “a criterion of citizenship able to integrate everyone, regardless of religion or ethnicity … has never been established.” Disruptive processes now taking place in Iraq, which may eventually also affect Syria, “worsen the situation”; because of institutional gaps, safety is uncertain and little prevents the activities of criminal and extremist groups…

Eritrean coup is said to have failed (New York Times) Eritrea, a sliver of a nation in the Horn of Africa that is one of the most secretive and repressive countries in the world, was cast into confusion on Monday after mutinous soldiers stormed the Ministry of Information and took over the state-run television service, apparently in a coup attempt. According to several people with close contacts inside Eritrea, the coup attempt failed, with government troops quelling the would-be rebellion and no one rising up in the streets. But many analysts said it was only a matter of time before President Isaias Afwerki, Eritrea’s brash and steely leader for the past 20 years, is confronted again — and most likely from within…

Sunday prayer for peace in the Holy Land shared across 3000 cities (Fides) On Sunday, 27 January, 3000 cities around the world will pray for peace in Holy Land in the context of the fifth International Day of Intercession, promoted in 2009 by some Catholic youth groups. The International Day of Intercession for Peace in Holy Land, according to the organizers, “has become over the years a sign and inspiration for those [with a] strong desire that in Jesus’ land peace and justice reign, which may be a sign of unity and growth throughout the world”…

Lebanon’s mufti decries ‘fake democracy’ (Daily Star Lebanon) On Wednesday, Grand Mufti of Lebanon Sheikh Mohammad Qabbani slammed the “dictatorship” of political leaders who have made Lebanese live in a “fake democracy.” In a statement on the occasion of Prophet Mohammad’s birthday, he said: “To this day, we are still looking for reasons behind our disputes, making this another cause for our weakness, and we have even boasted for a long time that we and no one else enjoy democracy in this Levant. … But we remain prisoners of a fake democracy that carries with it the ugliest forms of complex dictatorship, horrible sectarianism practices, and wait-and-see and speculative policies”…

In Lebanon, CNEWA seeks aid for Syrian refugees (Terra Santa) For those who speak Italian, here is an interview in the Italian magazine, Terra Santa (or The Holy Land Review), with CNEWA’s regional director for Lebanon, Syria and Egypt, Issam Bishara.

Tags: Lebanon Middle East Christians Middle East Eritrea Chaldeans

22 January 2013
Antin Sloboda

Ukrainian Greek Catholics celebrate Theophany in St. Onuphrius Church.
(photo: Antin Slobada/CNEWA)

On 19 January, Eastern Christians who follow the Julian calendar celebrated the feast of Theophany, commemorating the baptism of Jesus.

Ukrainian Greek Catholics in Ottawa have embraced a special tradition to mark the feast under the lead of the Metropolitan Andrew Sheptytski Institute of Eastern Christian Studies (MASI), a long-time partner of CNEWA.

On Saturday, a festive Matins and Divine Liturgy were celebrated at the Canadian Museum of Civilization inside the museum’s St. Onuphrius church. This authentic Ukrainian-style shrine has been donated to the museum by the Ukrainian Catholic community of Alberta to form part of a permanent exhibit on Canada’s history. Theophany is the only day of the year when liturgical services take place at this church.

After the celebrations at St. Onuphrius, clergy and the faithful walked to the banks of the Ottawa River for the traditional Water Blessing Ceremony, featuring a cross made of ice.

After the Divine Liturgy, some braved the cold to take part in the Water Blessing on the banks of the Ottawa River. (photo: Antin Slobada/CNEWA)

Tags: Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church Canada

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