25 July 2013
Missio President Msgr. Klaus Krämer visits with CNEWA President Msgr. John Kozar.
Msgr. Klaus Krämer, president of Missio, the German Catholic mission organization of the Pontifical Mission Societies, visited the New York offices of CNEWA this morning. A longtime collaborator with Msgr. Kozar, Msgr. Krämer was in the United States to meet with other Catholic agencies and help build what he called “Catholic solidarity.” He expressed his appreciation for his work with Msgr. Kozar — “We have a very good partnership,” he said — and spoke of a desire to consolidate efforts and build a worldwide network of charities devoted to serving the poor in Africa, Asia and Oceania.
Describing the work of Missio, Msgr. Krämer put it simply: “We invest in people.” Missio supports numerous programs and projects. One annual program, “Three Kings,” involves children caroling throughout Germany during the first week of January to raise money for poor children in the regions Missio serves. This immensely popular project raised €42 million last year. You can learn more about Missio — one of the oldest mission societies in the world, founded in 1822 — by visiting its UK website.
Msgr. Krämer himself has a colorful background. He was a lawyer before becoming a priest and served for several years as secretary to Cardinal Walter Kasper, president emeritus of the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity. (Among other things, Msgr. Krämer is editing the writings of Cardinal Kasper and, while in New York, plans to meet with several publishers.)
When I asked him to sum up his organization’s message, Msgr. Krämer paused and thought for a moment.
“The Gospel is alive,” he said. “The church is not only a question of life in a parish, life in a country, it’s part of an international network. This is like a global village. The Catholic Church is one of the oldest and biggest global players. And this network of churches is something very unique. And it’s a challenge for us, as Catholics, to be in contact and to help. But it’s also a source that can encourage us in our own faith.
“We can see how alive the church is in other parts of the world and how they are dealing with their challenges, their problems. So we are not only giving. We are also receiving a lot from them. This is important for the life of the church. And it’s important for the whole world.”
25 July 2013
A Free Syrian Army fighter carries his weapon as he runs to take cover in Aleppo’s Salaheddine neighborhood on 23 July. Archbishop Francis A. Chullikatt, papal nuncio to the United Nations, criticized the “persistent refusal” of Syria’s warring factions to negotiate an end to the country’s 28-month-long civil war. (photo: CNS/Muzaffar Salman, Reuters)
Holy See: There can be no military solution to Syria (Fides) No more wasting time, exclude any military option, immediately start a negotiation: that is what Archbishop. Francis A. Chullikatt, papal nuncio to the United Nations, asked yesterday during the open debate of the Security Council on the Middle East. The nuncio criticized the “persistent refusal” of Syria’s warring factions to negotiate an end to the country’s 28-month-long civil war, calling on the international community to act quickly to stop the conflict. “There can be no military solution to the Syrian conflict,” he said in his speech...
UN puts death toll in Syria at 100,000 (AP) Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Thursday raised the death toll in Syria’s civil war to more than 100,000, up from nearly 93,000 just over a month ago. Ban called on the Syrian government and opposition to halt the violence in the 2 ½ year civil war, saying it is “imperative to have a peace conference in Geneva as soon as possible...”
UK bishops call for peace in Holy Land (Vatican Radio) Catholic and Anglican bishops in England and Wales have met with the Israeli ambassador to Britain, calling for increased efforts to bring lasting peace to the Holy Land. In their meeting with Ambassador Daniel Taub on Wednesday, Bishop Declan Lang, chair of the Catholic Bishops’ department for International Affairs, and Bishop Michael Langrish, who heads the Church of England’s efforts for Midde East peace, said conflict between Israelis and Palestinians “has for far too long been an open wound,” frustrating the aspirations of both communities to live in dignity, peace and security...”
Metropolitan Hilarion: the West is moving to a kind of dictatorship (Interfax) Modern Western states move to absolute dictatorship, head of the Department for External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate Metropolitan Hilarion believes. “Nowadays state sets a principle of secularity, independency from any outside authority that is authorized to point out to violations of morals or rights,” the metropolitan writes in his article published in the Pravoslavnaya Beseda magazine. People are declared the only source of authority in a democratic state, and people should realize this authority through free will of citizens participating in elections and referendums...
24 July 2013
A mother and child pause for a picture at the Godano Institution, a home for abused girls and women. The women attend classes, learning to sew and work as beauticians. Last year, CNEWA President Msgr. John Kozar visited and wrote about his experience. Read his moving account of “the Church”s Priority.” (photo: Cody Christopulos)
24 July 2013
Tags: Ethiopia Education Women (rights/issues)
This image from last year shows destruction in Homs after clashes between the Syrian army and rebels. (photo: CNS/SANA handout via Reuters)
Red Cross: Syria blocking aid to Homs (Al Jazeera) Syrian authorities are blocking access to the Old City of Homs, where trapped civilians are in dire need of food and medical supplies, the Red Cross said. The International Committee of the Red Cross (I.C.R.C.), in a statement issued on Wednesday, warned of possible “tragic” consequences if aid does not arrive in Homs soon. The agency revealed last Friday that it was negotiating a humanitarian pause to be able to enter Homs, where President Bashar al Assad’s forces have been conducting a heavy offensive against rebels, with air and artillery strikes…
Lombardi: Pope Francis brings attention to the poor (Vatican Radio) The director of the Holy See Press Office and director general of Vatican Radio, Father Federico Lombardi, S.J., has been to World Youth Days under three popes — John Paul II, Benedict XVI and Francis. He said each pope has his own individual style and way of speaking to young people. “We recall the popes of the World Youth Day, obviously. Every one of them has his style, his way of speech, his different relation to the young people,” Father Lombardi said. “At the time of John Paul II, there was the problem of East and West maybe for some of the World Youth Days, then [with Pope Benedict XVI] there was the problem of the digital generation in Madrid and so on. We see now that Pope Francis brings the attention to the urgent needs of the world of today — the poor, hunger, justice, human spiritual development,” he explained…
Celebrations mark 1025th anniversary of Christianity in Russia (Voice of Russia) Today, on 24 July celebrations are starting in Russia that are dedicated to the 1025th anniversary of Christianity in Russia. The head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill will lead the service in the country’s main cathedral — the Cathedral of Christ the Savior. The 1025th birthday of Russian Christianity will be marked by church services and cross processions not only in Russia, but also in Belorussia and Ukraine…
23 July 2013
Tags: Pope Francis Syrian Civil War Pope Benedict XVI Pope John Paul II World Youth Day
A girl attends the Divine Liturgy at the Melkite Greek Catholic Cathedral of Our Lady of Paradise in São Paulo, Brazil. This week, hundreds of thousands of young people are expected to take part in the visit of Pope Francis to Brazil for World Youth Day. Check out our archives to read more about the Greek Catholic Paradise in Brazil. (photo: Izan Petterle)
23 July 2013
Tags: Pope Francis Melkite Greek Catholic Church Melkite World Youth Day Brazil
Pope Francis waves from his popemobile after arriving in Rio de Janeiro on 22 July. (photo: CNS/Ueslei Marcelino, Reuters)
Brazil crowds delight Pope Francis, frustrate his guards (Christian Science Monitor) A wrong turn sent a humble Fiat carrying Pope Francis into the thick of a frenzied Rio crowd Monday, in his first minutes back in South America since becoming pontiff. It was a nightmare for security officials, but for the clearly delighted pope just another opportunity to connect. The pope is visiting Brazil on a seven-day visit meant to fan the fervor of the young faithful around the globe. That task has grown more challenging as Roman Catholics stray, even in strongholds of the religion such as Brazil, yet it seemed to come easily to Francis even on the drive from the airport to an official opening ceremony… [The full text of Pope Francis’ arrival speech is available via Vatican Radio.]
In Pictures: Syria’s young refugees (Al Jazeera) Among the Syrian refugees located in camps in Jordan and Lebanon, children face particular hardship. A significant percentage of child fatalities occur while en route to escape the war in Syria. While on this perilous journey, juveniles are often separated from their parents and left to die in the rugged terrain. For such children, life consists of hiding from snipers and shelling, facing extreme weather without shelter, and pursuing desperate measures for nutrition, such as licking moisture from grass…
In Lebanon, more Syrian students than Lebanese expected (Fides) About half of the 6.8 million Syrians in need of urgent humanitarian assistance, both within Syria and across its borders, are school-age children. In September, for the start of the new school year, it is expected that there will be more Syrian refugee students than Lebanese in the public schools. According to the United Nations, the schools are not prepared to accept many refugee children. Compounding the situation is the recruitment of child soldiers…
Monks in Egypt’s lawless Sinai preserve an ancient library (Yahoo! News) Just as they have done for 17 centuries, the Greek Orthodox monks of St. Catherine’s Monastery in Egypt’s Sinai desert and the local Jabaliya Bedouins worked together to protect the monastery when the 2011 revolution thrust Egypt into a period of uncertainty. Afraid they could be attacked by extremists or bandits in the relatively lawless expanse of desert, the 25 monks put the monastery’s most valuable manuscripts in the building’s storage room. Their Bedouin friends, who live at the base of Saint Catherine’s in a town of the same name, allegedly took up their weapons and guarded the perimeter. The community’s fears of an attack were not realized, but the monks decided they needed a new way to protect their treasured library from any future threats. Last year, they began a program of digitally copying biblical scripts with the help of multispectral imaging specialists from around the world, while simultaneously renovating and modernizing the library itself…
Pope Francis mourns Indian cardinal (Catholic Herald) Indian Cardinal Simon Pimenta, who led the Archdiocese of Bombay for more than 18 years, died on Friday at the age of 93. Sending his condolences to Catholics in Mumbai (as Bombay is now named), Pope Francis remembered the cardinal’s “long years of devoted service to the Catholic community there and his many years of faithful assistance to the successor of Peter as a member of the College of Cardinals.” His death leaves the College of Cardinals with 203 members, 112 of whom are under the age of 80 and therefore eligible to vote in a conclave…
22 July 2013
Tags: Pope Francis Refugees Monastery Refugee Camps World Youth Day
Sister Christian Molidor, R.S.M.
Today, we received word that a beloved member of our CNEWA family, after a long illness, has died.
Tens of thousands of friends and benefactors grew to know Mercy Sister Christian Molidor from her weekly emails she wrote until her retirement in 2011. But Christian’s work at Catholic Near East Welfare Association began long before the internet; in her self-deprecating style, she would say she joined CNEWA before the alphabet was invented. According to Christian, she arrived one day in 1984. Msgr. John Nolan, then the head of CNEWA, had no idea what to do with the Libertyville, Illinois, native, so he sent her “packing,” she recalled some years ago.
She went to India, where she visited orphans, catechists, priests, senior citizens, the handicapped and her beloved religious sisters. She helped cook and clean. She did the wash and hung the laundry. And she photographed. She took thousands of pictures of smiling children, sisters laughing and patients praying. She collected their stories, wrote them down, squirreled them away in her head and shared them for decades.
In this undated photo from our archive, a group of children play in India. (photo: Sister Christian Molidor, R.S.M.)
Christian held many positions at CNEWA — everything from communications director to associate secretary general to special assistant to the president — but she loved most documenting the stories and taking the portraits of the people she loved to serve. Christian’s love for and faith in Jesus, and his presence in the lowly, the poor and the marginalized, fueled her being. And she shared this love and faith with everyone she encountered. Everyone!
How fortunate I am to have known, worked with and loved this great woman of God. She taught me much, and she teaches still. Let me end with her last email message to her beloved CNEWA family. Her voice comes through clearly:
As a heartfelt gift to you, (and in my usual opinionated and nagging style), I end with a few suggestions for all:
Mend a quarrel, seek out a forgotten friend, dismiss judgments and replace with trust. Write a love letter, share some treasure, give a soft answer and encourage youth.
Manifest your loyalty in word and deed, keep a promise, find the time; forgo a grudge, forgive an enemy; listen, try to understand, examine your demands on others and think first of someone else.
Appreciate. Be kind. Be gentle. Laugh a little, then laugh a little more, deserve confidence, fight malice and decry complacency.
Express your gratitude, go to church, welcome a stranger; brighten the heart of a child. Take pleasure in the beauty and wonder of the earth.
Speak your love; speak it again. Speak it still once again.
There, I think I’ve covered my parting thoughts. Let’s pray together always; and if you remember, please tuck a prayer in your pocket for me.
Farewell and peace.
Eternal rest grant unto her O Lord, and may perpetual light shine upon her.
22 July 2013
Tags: CNEWA Sisters
Pope Francis carries a bag as he boards a plane at Fiumicino airport in Rome on 22 July. He is making his first trip abroad as bishop of Rome to join more than 300,000 young people in Brazil for World Youth Day. (photo: CNS/Giampiero Sposito, Reuters)
22 July 2013
Tags: Pope Francis World Youth Day Brazil
In this 2011 image, Abbot Mar Christo tends to the vegetable garden in St. George’s Monastery in Syria’s Wadi al Nasarah. Dating back to the sixth century, the monastery is the region’s oldest extant Christian site. For more, see Syria’s Christian Valley, from the January 2011 issue of ONE. (photo: Sean Sprague)
The plight of Syrian minorities (Counterpunch) As the conflict in Syria rages, the dire reality of religious and ethnic minorities comes to the surface. On July 18, BBC World News featured reportage on the Syrian government shelling of the town of Al Husun, which lies at the foothill of Krak des Chevaliers. The 11th-century Crusader citadel rests magnificently at the top of a massive hill at the heart of a valley in western Homs known as Wadi al Nasarah — “the Christian Valley.” To its southwest nestles the historic Antiochian Orthodox St. George’s Monastery. As early as March 2011, the Christian Valley became the most sought refuge of the people of Homs, regardless of religion or sect. The valley constitutes some 32 villages, of which 27 are inhabited by Christians — mostly Greek Orthodox. Among the remaining five villages, four are mainly Alawites, leaving only Al Husun inhabited largely by Muslim Sunnis. Despite rising sectarian tensions, the people of the Christian Valley, largely peasants who live off their farms, remain hospitable. Many of them host their neighbors who had to flee Homs and, more recently, Aleppo…
What’s become of Syria’s Christian sites? (Huffington Post) As politicians debate the fate of Syria’s Christian minority, reportedly targeted by Muslim fundamentalists for supporting President Bashar al Assad’s regime, the country’s Christian sites seem to have been forgotten in the two-plus-year civil war. “They cut off the head of the statue of Mary (Lady of the Two Worlds) in Syria’s Jisr al Shaghour region,” wrote Rev. Georges Massouh, a Lebanese Greek Orthodox priest, adding that it was still more acceptable than slaughtering human beings. If the attack aimed to terrorize Christians, they will remain in Syria — whose every grain of soil is a witness to its Christianity — and will be martyrs of love, peace, and Christ’s eternal presence in them, he said this week in the daily Annahar. But the ongoing conflict has definitely taken a toll on Christians, their sites, and the language of Christ…
Orthodox delegations arriving in Moscow for commemoration (Voice of Russia) Delegations of the Orthodox churches of Jerusalem, Antioch, Romania, and Cyprus arrived in Moscow today to take part in the festivities marking the 1,025 years since the adoption of the Christian faith by Kievan Rus. The delegations from the Orthodox Patriarchal Church of Jerusalem and the Orthodox Church of Cyprus are led by the supreme hierarchs of these churches — Patriarch Theophilos III and Archbishop Chrysostomos II, respectively. The events are scheduled to run from 24-29 July…
Orthodox patriarch calls for reopening of Istanbul’s Halki Seminary (Hurriyet Daily News) Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew repeated his call to the Turkish government for the reopening of the Heybeliada Halki Seminary, saying that the religion was entering a dangerous phase due to a lack of proper religious officials. Bartholomew was speaking at an iftar event organized by the Istanbul Mufti office, with Mufti Rahmi Yaran present, where the patriarch mentioned the closed Halki Seminary. “We would like to mention at this time the importance of qualified religious officials in the society. Religious officials should always be properly educated and set examples based on their training throughout their life…”
Israeli-Palestinian peace talks’ resumption put in doubt by both sides (BBC) Moves towards a resumption of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks were mired in rumors, rebuttals, criticism and confusion on Sunday. In a high-profile dismissal of the embryonic process, Israel’s former foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman, wrote on Facebook that there was “no solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, at least not in the coming years, and what’s possible and important to do is conflict-management.” Naftali Bennett, economics minister, insisted construction on Jewish settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem would continue, regardless of talks…
19 July 2013
Tags: Syrian Civil War Violence against Christians Russian Orthodox Church Middle East Peace Process Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I
Father Elias Koucos presides over the liturgy at Prophet Elias Church in Holladay, Utah.
(photo: Cody Christopulos)
Three years ago, we visited the Greek Orthodox community in the heart of Mormon-dominated Utah:
From the summit of Ensign Peak in Utah, a mountain Mormons believe sacred, the visitor takes in a panoramic view of the rugged but splendid geography of this unique southwestern American state. To the west, one glimpses the Great Salt Lake and desert; to the south, one looks down upon the Salt Lake Valley, which cradles the state capital, Salt Lake City, and its sprawling suburbs; and to the east, one’s vision is blocked by the Wasatch Mountains, a forbidding, craggy wall towering thousands of feet above the valley. It was through these mountains that the Latter-day Saints first entered the Salt Lake Valley in the summer of 1847 after their long, difficult flight from religious persecution across America’s heartland. Mexican territory at the time, they and their followers nonetheless adopted the valley as their homeland, referring to it as “Mormon Zion,” and began settling what is today Salt Lake City.
A half-century later, the first Greek immigrants arrived in Salt Lake City. They did not come by handcart and oxen-pulled wagons, as did the original settlers, but by railroads built with immigrant labor in the decades before their arrival. Attracted to Utah with promises of jobs on the railroads, most of these Greeks soon began laying railroad tracks themselves. …
The precise number of Utahans of Greek descent is difficult to assess. In the 2000 U.S. Census, nearly 12,000 state residents reported to be of Greek ancestry. Approximately 1,000 active families, or about 4,000 people, belong to the Greek Orthodox Church of Greater Salt Lake. While small compared to the larger Greek-American enclaves in the eastern United States, Utah’s Greek-American community is thriving. According to the 2000 Census, Utah ranks ninth in the nation with respect to the percentage of the population claiming Greek ancestry.
Today, the Greek Orthodox Church is the binding force for Utah’s Hellenic community. Father Matthew Gilbert, pastor of Holy Trinity Cathedral, describes the parish as very active, with no shortage of activities, especially for the youth. Still, says the priest, himself “Greek” by marriage, passing down the faith to the next generation remains a challenge.
“The hardest thing is the spiritual aspect. It’s nice to dance and to play basketball. We have Greek schools, dance programs, Orthodox Christian camps in the summer, Greek camp, Sunday school. We offer everything imaginable, but it’s up to individuals to cultivate their spiritual life. It’s always easier to cultivate the fun things, but a spiritual life is difficult. It takes a lot of work. Being baptized is the easy part. The rest is commitment.”
Read more about Greek Orthodoxy in Mormon Zion from the July 2010 issue of ONE.
Tags: Eastern Christianity United States Orthodox Church Orthodox