25 March 2013
Pope Francis exchanges a gift with retired Pope Benedict XVI after arriving at the papal summer residence in Castel Gandolfo, Italy, on 23 March. Pope Francis traveled by helicopter from the Vatican to Castel Gandolfo for the private meeting with the pope emeritus. (photo: CNS/L’Osservatore Romano via Reuters)
Pope Francis gives icon from Patriarch Kirill to pope emeritus (Interfax) Pope Francis has decided to give the Marian icon he received from Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill to Pope Benedict XVI. “The icon is called Our Lady of Humility and I will take the liberty to say just one thing: I thought of you, being so humble as a pope,” the press office of the Moscow Patriarchate quoted Pope Francis as saying. “Thank you, what a gift!” the pope emeritus said. The newly elected Pope Francis and his predecessor have just met in the papal summer residence in Castel Gandolfo…
Catholics, Orthodox celebrate Easter according to the Julian calendar (Fides) Most of the Catholic communities in Israel, the Palestinian territories, Jordan and Cyprus are preparing to celebrate the liturgies of Holy Week not these days but in the first week of May, according to the Julian Calendar followed by the Orthodox communities. The unification of the Easter dates in most of the area is an application of the directive issued on 15 October 2012 by the Assembly of Catholic Ordinary of the Holy Land. This comes into force ad experimentum this year in the whole of Holy Land, with the exception of the areas of Jerusalem and Bethlehem, where the Gregorian calendar will continue to be followed both to respect the constraints imposed by the system of the “status quo,” which regulates the coexistence of the different Christian churches in Holy Places, and to take account of the arrival of pilgrims from all over the world during the Easter season. By 2015, the provision for a common Easter date should be confirmed or recalibrated in accordance with the directions also given by the Holy See…
Cyprus Orthodox patriarch favors leaving eurozone (PressTV) The head of the Cyprus Orthodox Church says he prefers the debt-stricken nation to leave the euro as Nicosia is striving to avoid bankruptcy. “The euro cannot last,” said Archbishop Chrysostomos II in an interview with the Greek daily Realnews, published on Saturday. “I’m not saying that it will crumble tomorrow, but with the brains that they have in Brussels, it is certain that it will not last in the long term, and the best is to think about how to escape it,” he said…
New casualty in wave of Bulgarian self-immolations (Der Spiegel) A 40-year-old Bulgarian set himself on fire to protest poverty and corruption in his country on Friday, becoming the sixth self-immolation in the E.U. country in less than a month. The church is concerned about this trend. Bulgarian Orthodox Patriarch Neofit urged Bulgarians “under no circumstances” to take their own lives. “The Bulgarians must not fall victim to hopelessness,” he said…
In India, 1500 children die daily from preventable illness (Fides) Some 25 percent of children up to age 5 in India die from causes related to diarrhea. For millions of people in the Asian country, the lack of water is a constant challenge. Two-thirds of India’s population does not have adequate sanitation facilities. In the southeastern state of Andhra Pradesh there is a shortage of latrines, and more than 665 million Indian inhabitants use open sewers or fields. According to the organizations Partners India and WASH, about 1500 children die every day in the country due to preventable diseases such as cholera and typhoid…
22 March 2013
Tags: India Pope Francis Holy Land Bulgarian Orthodox Church Cyprus
Pope Francis shakes hands as he greets diplomats during an audience with the Vatican diplomatic corps in the Apostolic Palace’s Sala Regia on 22 March. (photo: CNS/Tony Gentile, Reuters)
Pope Francis this morning met with nearly 200 members of the diplomatic corps, and spoke powerfully and poignantly about the church’s mission in the world:
As you know, there are various reasons why I chose the name of Francis of Assisi, a familiar figure far beyond the borders of Italy and Europe, even among those who do not profess the Catholic faith. One of the first reasons was Francis’ love for the poor. How many poor people there still are in the world! And what great suffering they have to endure! After the example of Francis of Assisi, the church in every corner of the globe has always tried to care for and look after those who suffer from want, and I think that in many of your countries you can attest to the generous activity of Christians who dedicate themselves to helping the sick, orphans, the homeless and all the marginalized, thus striving to make society more humane and more just. But there is another form of poverty! It is the spiritual poverty of our time, which afflicts the so-called richer countries particularly seriously. It is what my much-loved predecessor, Benedict XVI, called the “tyranny of relativism,” which makes everyone his own criterion and endangers the coexistence of peoples. And that brings me to a second reason for my name. Francis of Assisi tells us we should work to build peace. But there is no true peace without truth! There cannot be true peace if everyone is his own criterion, if everyone can always claim exclusively his own rights, without at the same time caring for the good of others, of everyone, on the basis of the nature that unites every human being on this earth.
One of the titles of the Bishop of Rome is “pontiff” — that is, a builder of bridges with God and between people. My wish is that the dialogue between us should help to build bridges connecting all people, in such a way that everyone can see in the other not an enemy, not a rival, but a brother or sister to be welcomed and embraced! My own origins impel me to work for the building of bridges. As you know, my family is of Italian origin; and so this dialogue between places and cultures a great distance apart matters greatly to me, this dialogue between one end of the world and the other, which today are growing ever closer, more interdependent, more in need of opportunities to meet and to create real spaces of authentic fraternity. In this work, the role of religion is fundamental. It is not possible to build bridges between people while forgetting God. But the converse is also true: it is not possible to establish true links with God, while ignoring other people. Hence it is important to intensify dialogue among the various religions, and I am thinking particularly of dialogue with Islam. At the Mass marking the beginning of my ministry, I greatly appreciated the presence of so many civil and religious leaders from the Islamic world. And it is also important to intensify outreach to non-believers, so that the differences which divide and hurt us may never prevail, but rather the desire to build true links of friendship between all peoples, despite their diversity.
Fighting poverty, both material and spiritual, building peace and constructing bridges: these, as it were, are the reference points for a journey that I want to invite each of the countries here represented to take up.
The entire text can be read at the Vatican news site.
22 March 2013
Tags: Pope Francis Unity Ecumenism Christian Unity Dialogue
A pregnant woman gets a checkup at the Mother of Mercy Clinic in Zerqa, Jordan. The clinic is run by the Dominican Sisters of St. Catherine of Siena and receives funding from CNEWA. (photo: John E. Kozar)
Megan Knighton is a charitable giving advisor for CNEWA.
Spring is a time for new life and new hope — and CNEWA is helping to bring both to women and children in need.
No baby should ever die because her mother cannot afford a safe birth. No mother should ever have to suffer that pain. One of the most pressing needs in the places we serve is medical care — especially for pregnant women and for newborns during the first hopeful-yet-vulnerable months of their precious young lives.
That is why our CNEWA family supports mother-and-child health clinics such as the Mother of Mercy Clinic in Zerqa, Jordan, and the Little Sisters of Nazareth Baby Care Center, which serves Christian Palestinian refugees in Dbayeh, Lebanon.
Thanks to prayers and generous donations, in 2012 the doctors and nurses at these two clinics were able to serve mothers and young children to the fullest. Here are just five of their successes:
Delivered over 1,000 healthy newborns
Provided 15,000 newborns and young children with free physicals and vaccinations
Gave free gynecological exams for any pregnant woman seeking care from our clinics
Screened every pregnant mother for vitamin and nutrient deficiencies and gave necessary supplements and dietary information
Purchased two new sonar machines that doubled the number of ultrasounds performed in a year
If you believe every baby deserves a safe birth, please make a generous donation today to CNEWA. You will help us to help others — and continue to bring forth a new springtime of life and hope for so many. God bless you and your family!
22 March 2013
Tags: CNEWA Children Health Care Donors Women
Ethiopian children gather on a rural hillside. (photo: Christian Molidor, R.S.M.)
Several years ago, we took readers to Ethiopia for a closer look at the diverse traditions of its peoples:
The peoples of Ethiopia have long experienced constant interaction through trade, warfare, religious activities, migration and intermarriage.
Although Christians and Muslims have often found themselves as antagonists in territorial disputes, the two faith communities share in many of the same observances.
Large numbers of Christians and Muslims attend an annual sacrifice at Lake Bishoftu, a fertility rite of pagan Oromo origins. Members of both faiths also participate in an annual pilgrimage to the Harege region to honor the archangel Gabriel.
Non-Christians also join Ethiopian Christians in their celebration of the Finding of the True Cross, a two-day festival known as Meskel, as well as the Christian celebration of Temqat, or the feast of the Epiphany.
No matter their religious or ethnic identities, Ethiopians also share a number of cultural traits. Belief in active spirits such as the evil eye, a ban on the consumption of pork, a ritual calendar, pilgrimages and monotheism are just some of the many beliefs and practices common to the great majority of the Amhara, Tigrinyans, Falasha, Kman, Oromo, Somali and Haddiya of every faith community.
Despite these similarities and the modernization and consolidation efforts of Ethiopian governments starting in the late 19th century, Ethiopia is not a single national society.
Sadly, poverty is probably the only characteristic common to most every Ethiopian. The country is overwhelmingly poor, with most of the population engaged in subsistence farming. Degraded lands, poor cultivation and frequent droughts have left the country periodically unable to feed its people.
Read more about the Ethiopian people in the July 2004 issue of ONE.
22 March 2013
Tags: Ethiopia Cultural Identity Christian-Muslim relations Farming/Agriculture Ethiopian Christianity
Parishioners pray in the St. Elijah Church in Ain Kawa, Iraq, a mostly Christian neighborhood outside Erbil, Kurdistan’s capital and largest city. In the November 2011 issue of ONE, we reported that much of Iraq’s Christian population had found a haven in the Kurdish-controlled north. In the time since, poor economic conditions have caused many to relocate once again. (photo: Safin Hamed/Metrography)
Pope Francis accepts Chaldean patriarch’s invitation to Iraq (AsiaNews) As St. Francis traveled to the East where he met Sultan Malik al Kamil, so we hope Pope Francis “may come to Iraq to confirm us our faith and give our small community in the land of Abraham courage and hope,” said His Beatitude Mar Louis Raphael I during an audience with the pontiff this morning in the Vatican. “Yes,” answered the pope, “with joy.” The patriarch himself told AsiaNews about his meeting with the Holy Father before leaving this afternoon for Baghdad. The head of the Chaldean Church was in Rome for the pope’s inaugural Mass in St. Peter’s Square last Tuesday. The prelate said that he was “struck by the pope’s simplicity and spontaneity.” He was very moved when the two talked about the tragic fate of Iraqi Christians…
Pope emphasizes the importance of ‘table time’ (CNS) Pastors and theologians involved in ecumenical dialogue emphasize the importance of “table time” — sharing meals — along with serious theological discussions, shared prayer and joint action. Pope Francis spoke about his ecumenical vision on 20 March and prayed with delegates from Orthodox and other Christian communities at his inaugural Mass on 19 March. Since 17 March, he’s also had breakfast, lunch and dinner with the Orthodox representatives who came to Rome for his inauguration. Pope Francis is still living at the Domus Sanctae Marthae, the Vatican guesthouse where the Orthodox delegates also were staying. They all eat together and greet each other in the common dining room…
Moscow patriarchate optimistic about relations with pope (Interfax) The Moscow Patriarchate attaches great importance to promoting relations with the Catholic Church in many areas, including social service, support for the poor and the deprived and protection of people suffering from persecution, said Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, head of the Moscow Patriarchate’s department for External Church Relations. Pope Francis met with metropolitan archbishop at the Vatican on Wednesday…
In pope, other religions see a friend (Washington Post) “In the maximum leader of the Christian world,” said Guillermo Borger, president of the Argentine Israeli Mutual Association, “we have an ally.” The secretary general of the Islamic Center of the Argentine Republic, Sumer Noufouri, said he regularly attended an annual Mass convened by the then-archbishop to celebrate Argentina’s Independence Day, alongside the country’s Jewish leaders. “He is a person who listens and who knows Islam,” said Noufouri, who described the new papacy as “an opportunity for a fresh start in relations between Islam and the Catholic Church.” The interfaith relationships built by Pope Francis in Argentina underscore his approach to religious diversity — one that has given him a reputation for tolerance and peaceful cohabitation with non-Catholics…
Indian religious excited about ‘charism of religious life’ in pope (Fides) “History has repeatedly demonstrated that the charism of religious life can bring about change and growth of the church in terms of holiness and effectiveness of its mission. With Pope Francis the Holy Spirit indicates this direction,” said a statement by the Conference of Religious of India, which brings together more than 130,000 monks and nuns of several orders. The conference expressed “communion of heart and mind” with Pope Francis…
India’s economic miracle bypasses poor (Der Spiegel) Unlike in China, India’s economic miracle has failed to benefit the poor. Instead, the rich are getting richer in this notoriously divided land, and government support fails to reach those in need. An analysis by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development finds that the blatant gap between poor and rich is growing in India almost faster than anywhere else on the globe…
21 March 2013
Tags: India Pope Francis Iraqi Christians Ecumenism Chaldean Church
Pope Francis leads a meeting with religious leaders at the Vatican on 20 March. The pope met with the Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, Sikh and Jain delegations that had come to the Vatican for his inauguration. (photo: CNS/L’Osservatore Romano via Reuters)
Pope Francis had warm words for interfaith religious leaders who met with him yesterday:
For the good of all people, the care of the poor and the future of the Earth, religions must cooperate in reminding modern men and women that God exists and has a plan for their lives and their behavior, Pope Francis said.
“The Catholic Church knows the importance of promoting friendship and respect among men and women of different religious traditions,” he said, repeating the entire phrase twice for emphasis March 20 during a meeting with the Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, Sikh and Jain delegations that had come to the Vatican for his inauguration.
The Catholic Church, he said, “is equally aware of the responsibility that all have for this world, for creation — which we must love and protect — and we can do much good for those who are poor, weak and suffering, to favor justice, to promote reconciliation, to build peace.”
Below, you can watch a CNS video in which Greek Orthodox Metropolitan Tarasios of Buenos Aires discusses the man he knew as Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio:
21 March 2013
Tags: Pope Francis Unity Interreligious Interfaith Dialogue
Pope Francis will carry forward a tradition he kept in Buenos Aires: celebrating Holy Thursday’s Mass of the Lord’s Supper in a prison, a hospital or a shelter for the poor and marginalized. He is expected to wash the feet of inmates in a ritual highlighting humility, service and love. (video: Rome Reports)
Pope Francis to celebrate Holy Thursday Mass in prison (CNS) Pope Francis has decided to celebrate the Holy Thursday Mass of the Lord’s Supper in a Rome juvenile detention facility and wash the feet of some of the young detainees. It marks a change in venue of the previously scheduled 28 March Holy Week event — normally held in either St. Peter’s Basilica or the Basilica of St. John Lateran — to Rome’s Casal del Marmo prison for minors. As archbishop of Buenos Aires, Pope Francis used to celebrate the Mass of the Lord’s Supper in prisons, hospitals or shelters for the poor and marginalized. “With the celebration at Casal del Marmo, Pope Francis will continue that practice, which must be carried out in a context characterized by simplicity,” the Vatican said in a 21 March statement. The Mass of the Lord’s Supper highlights “the commandment of love” and service through the ritual of washing the feet of others, the statement said…
Ecumenical patriarch’s inaugural attendance: First time in history? (Archon News) One of the most intriguing recent developments was Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I's decision to attend Pope Francis’ installation as bishop of Rome. The occasion is being presented in the media as something that has not happened since the ecclesiastical schism that separated Christian East and Christian West in the eleventh century. But that characterization is almost certainly wrong — this is quite likely the first time in history that a bishop of Constantinople will attend the installation of a bishop of Rome. And this is a profoundly bold step in ecumenical relations between the Orthodox and the Roman Catholics, one that could have lasting significance…
Full text of Pope Francis’ interfaith discourse available (Vatican Radio) On Wednesday, 20 March 2013, Pope Francis received several dozen representatives of the various Christian churches and other world religions, who attended his inauguration. Among them were several leaders from the Orthodox Church, Orthodox Oriental Church, the Anglican Communion, and various Protestant churches, including the Lutheran, Baptist and Methodist churches. Representatives from the Jewish and Muslim faiths were also present. Please find below Vatican Radio’s translation of the pope’s discourse…
Middle East Christians in danger, Melkite patriarch warns (AKI) Christian minorities in the Middle East are under threat, especially in conflict-wracked Syria. His Beatitude Gregory III, Melkite Greek Catholic patriarch of Antioch, has conveyed this concern to Pope Francis, Adnkronos International (AKI) has learned. “The crises in the Middle East, particularly in Syria, are endangering Christians present in the region,” Patriarch Gregory III said, quoting a letter he said he has written to the pope. As Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Pope Francis was responsible for the Catholic community in the Middle East and was a point of contact for immigrants from Lebanon, Syria and all the countries in that region. “I hope that the pope will ensure a better future for all Arab countries and their peoples,” concluded the Syrian-born patriarch…
Patriarch emeritus has low expectations for U.S. diplomatic visit (Fides) “All the great people in the world come to visit us. They arrive and depart, and our reality does not change. We are in the same situation,” says Latin Patriarch Emeritus of Jerusalem Michel Sabbah, commenting on U.S. President Barack Obama’s first visit to Israel, the Palestinian territories and Jordan. “Regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, no external pressure can really change things. Only Israel can decide to proceed on the path of peace or to maintain the status quo. No one can change this situation from the outside. Everything is in the hands of Israel…”
Gaza may face severe water crisis (Al Monitor) Figures issued by public and private institutions suggest the Gaza Strip is in imminent danger of a water crisis. Fresh water for domestic and agricultural use has become scarce. Moreover, according to Omar Shabat, the technical director of the Coastal Municipalities Water Utility, 90 to 95 percent of underground water for domestic consumption is contaminated to varying degrees. This portends the spread of diseases among locals and could make the sector unlivable…
20 March 2013
Tags: Pope Francis Gaza Strip/West Bank Ecumenism Israeli-Palestinian conflict Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I
Pope Francis embraces Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople, spiritual leader of Orthodox Christians, at the Vatican on 20 March. The pope met with Patriarch Bartholomew before a meeting with the Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, Sikh and Jain delegations that had come to the Vatican for his inauguration. (photo: CNS/L’Osservatore Romano via Reuters)
A potentially significant development today:
The ecumenical patriarch of Constantinople has invited Pope Francis to travel with him to the Holy Land next year to mark the 50th anniversary of the embrace between Patriarch Athenagoras and Pope Paul VI, the pioneers of Catholic-Orthodox dialogue. During their private meeting, Patriarch Bartholomew and Pope Francis explored possible paths towards unity, including theological dialogue, environmental defense, and a visit to the Fanar, after going through proper diplomatic channels.
Earlier, when the pontiff met Christian and other religious leaders, Patriarch Bartholomew was the only one who addressed Pope Francis. For the patriarch, Christians must bear witness in a credible way through “church unity” in order to cope with the world’s economic crisis and to counter “worldly trends” that limit life to its earthly horizons. The ecumenical patriarch’s words reflect the pontiff’s notion of stewardship, which he presented yesterday during his inaugural mass.
All this is evidence of the great unity between the two leaders. When Pope Francis introduced the patriarch, he called him, off the cuff, “my brother Andrew” underscoring the blood ties between the two apostles patrons of the two churches, Andrew of Constantinople and Peter of Rome, the “first one to be called” and the “first one among the apostles”.
Like Francis, Patriarch Bartholomew referred to Pope Benedict XVI “as a mild man who distinguished himself by his theological knowledge and charity.”
When he spoke about the “task and huge responsibilities” that await the pope, he said that “the unity of Christian churches” was “the first and most important of our concerns” in order to ensure that “our Christian witness is seen to be credible near and far.” Hence, it is necessary to continue “the theological dialogue” between Catholics and Orthodox, based on the experience and tradition of the first undivided thousand years.
The world’s economic crisis is another “imperative,” requiring that “those who have more give more” so that “justice can ensure peace”.
Read it all.
20 March 2013
Tags: Pope Francis Holy Land Ecumenism Christian Unity Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I
Pope Francis blesses the camera of Argentine presidential photographer Victor Bugge before his meeting with Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner at the Vatican on 18 March.(photo: CNS/Argentine presidency handout via Reuters)
20 March 2013
Tags: Pope Francis
Archbishop Chrysostomos II of Nea Justiniana and All Cyprus, 71, was elected and enthroned as head of the Cyprus Orthodox Church in November 2006. (photo: Cyprus Orthodox Church)
Cyprus Orthodox Church offers to help bail out state (CBS News) The head of Cyprus’ influential Orthodox church, Archbishop Chrysostomos II, says he will put the church’s assets at the country’s disposal to help pull it out of a financial crisis, after lawmakers rejected a plan to seize up to 10 percent of people’s bank deposits to secure an international bailout. It wasn’t immediately clear what the total value of the church’s assets would be, or how much of that value the church was actually willing to lend the government…
Pope ‘determined’ to continue toward unity (AsiaNews) Pope Francis has a “strong desire” to continue the ecumenical journey towards the “noble cause” of Christian unity. He has also stated his confidence that the “fraternal dialogue” with the Jewish people will continue. Further, he expressed his appreciation for the presence of Muslims at the ceremony marking the beginning of his pontificate. This morning’s meeting with 33 delegations from churches and religious denominations, Christian and non-Christian, who attended the inaugural mass of the new Pope was an insight into this pontificate’s line regarding relations with other Christians and religions, and even those who “do not even belong to any religions but who feel close to the truth and beauty.” The Pope responded to the warm greetings of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, calling him Andrew — the name of the apostle founder and patron of the patriarchate. “Yesterday morning,” he said, “during Holy Mass, through your presence, I recognized the spiritual presence of the community you represent. In this manifestation of faith, the prayer for unity among believers in Christ seemed even more urgent to men and together somehow to see prefigured this full realization, which depends on the divine plan and our sincere cooperation...”
Catholic commission writes to U.S. president in honor of visit (Fides) On the occasion of U.S. President Barack Obama’s visit in the Middle East, which began with his arrival in Israel today, Wednesday, 20 March, the Justice and Peace Commission of the Assembly of Catholic Ordinaries of the Holy Land has written the president a letter. The missive is intended to draw his attention to some major problems that affect the presence of Christians in the region. “The Palestinian people,” reads the letter, are living their “46th year under occupation. And the plight of Palestinian Christians is the same as experienced by the Palestinian people as a whole…”
Pope Francis calls pope emeritus to wish him happy feast day (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis called Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI to wish him well on the feast of St. Joseph, 19 March. The Argentine pope, who placed the call to his German predecessor shortly after 5 p.m. Rome time, Tuesday, once again expressed gratitude to the pope emeritus for his long service to the church. Since his resignation on 28 February, Pope Benedict has been staying at the papal summer residence in Castel Gandolfo, in the countryside of Rome, until restoration work on his new residence in the Vatican is completed…
Lebanon’s Catholics fear incursion of Islamic fundamentalism (Global Post) Even though Beirut is no longer cleaved into Muslim and Christian sides by the Green Line — the five-mile long, overgrown barricade erected during Lebanon’s 1975-1991 civil war — some Christians still feel like their presence here is not guaranteed. An influx of refugees from the civil war in neighboring Syria has Christians in Lebanon anxious that religious violence against them could reappear here. A swath of leaders, from U.S. President Barack Obama to Pope Benedict XVI, have identified post-war Lebanon as a model for the world. Archbishop Paul Sayah, the vicar general of the Maronite patriarch and the Maronite Church’s second-ranking clergy member, believes that the survival and continuity of Lebanon’s Christians carries global implications. “If this formula does fade in Lebanon, the message to the world is that religions can’t live together, cultures can’t work together, and the alternative is war of religions,” says Archbishop Sayah. “This is the importance of Lebanon”…
Tags: Pope Francis Pope Benedict XVI Holy Land Cyprus President Obama