31 December 2014
Santa Clauses parade through the streets of Thrissur, India, on 27 December. The Archdiocese of Thrissur created a new Guinness World Record when they assembled 18,112 Santa Clauses on the streets and broke the existing record set by Londonerry, Northern Ireland, with 13,000. Read more about this event here. (photo: CNS/Anto Akkara)
31 December 2014
A girl sits near Christmas decorations in a basement used as a bomb shelter in Donetsk, Ukraine on 30 December. (photo: CNS/Igor Tkachenko, Reuters)
Ukraine turns away from “the worst year since World War II” (Euronews) People in Ukraine are ready to turn their back what the country’s central bank has described as ‘the worst year since World War II’. Many internally displaced Ukrainians will ring in the new year in Kyiv’s Independence Square where violent protests forced former President Viktor Yanukovych to flee in February 2014...
Number of Catholics growing worldwide (Vatican Radio) The number of Catholics in the world has increased with growth registered across all five continents...
Egypt to expand buffer zone near Gaza (AFP) Egypt said Tuesday work will begin next week to double the width of a buffer zone being built along the border with the Gaza Strip to prevent militants infiltrating from the Palestinian enclave...
Church recalls pastoral workers killed in 2014 (Vatican Radio) 2014 was a grim year for the number of Church workers around the world killed by violence or the deadly Ebola virus. In its annual report, Fides, the news agency of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, states that 26 pastoral workers were killed — 3 more than in the previous year...
Over 18,000 Santa Clauses set world record in Kerala (Indo-Asian News Service) The archdiocese of Thrissur in Kerala on Saturday created a new Guinness World Record, when it assembled 18,112 Santa Clauses on the streets and broke the existing record set by Derry in Northern Ireland with 13,000. The event, named “Boun Natale 2014”, was the brainchild of Archbishop Andrews Thazhath, who had last year managed to parade 5,000 Santas...
30 December 2014
Tags: India Ukraine Gaza Strip/West Bank Vatican Kerala
A sister of the Congregation of the Mother of Carmel, one of CNEWA’s partner organizations in India, feeds ducks in Aluva, India. (photo: Sean Sprague)
30 December 2014
Tags: India Sisters Indian Catholics
A Syrian child who fled the clashes in his country rides his bicycle in mud around tents in Aleppo on 25 December. (photo: Orhan Cicek/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Aleppo’s shelters become underground schools (Al Monitor) In defiance of the grinding war that has been raging in Syria for nearly four years, underground shelters have been turned into schools. Students in rebel-held areas of Aleppo have returned to studying after most of the schools were destroyed…
Middle Eastern Christians flee violence for ancient homeland (National Geographic) On most afternoons, Mor Barsaumo, a honey-colored, fifth-century stone church nestled in a warren of slanted streets of Midyat, Turkey, draws a crowd. In the narrow courtyard, old men smoke cigarettes and drink coffee, while children kick a soccer ball across the stone floor. In a darkened classroom, empty except for a few desks, a teacher gives private lessons in Syriac, derived from Aramaic, the language of Christ. And now, the refugees also come. Advised by relatives or other refugees, newcomers to Midyat often make the steps of the church their first stop. Midyat and its environs — known in Syriac as Tur Abdin, “mountain of the servants of God” — are the historical heartland of the Middle East’s widely dispersed Syriac Orthodox Christian community. Now the region has become a haven as the fighting in Syria and Iraq has forced Christians to flee their homes…
Cardinal protests against forced conversions to Hinduism (Catholic Herald) The president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India has criticized forced conversions of Christians to Hinduism. Cardinal Baselios Cleemis Thottunkal, major archbishop of the Syro-Malankara Catholic Church, said that he was gravely concerned that “conversion events are being held under the label of ‘homecoming…’ ”
Israeli soldier kills Palestinian teen in “cold blood,’ injures 3 others (Al Akhbar) A single bullet to the heart fired by an Israeli soldier was enough to kill 17-year-old Imam Jamil Ahmed Dweikat, a Palestinian teen from the town of Beita south of Nablus. Nael Talat Thiab, who was walking alongside Imam in their home village, was also shot in the leg by Israeli Occupation Forces. Lying in a hospital bed, the 17-year-old teen told Ma’an news agency that his friend was killed in “cold blood.” An Israeli spokeswoman claimed that the two youth were “hurling stones at a nearby road…”
29 December 2014
Tags: India Middle East Christians Israeli-Palestinian conflict Syro-Malankara Catholic Church Aleppo
Four young carolers pose in their home-made costumes in front of Holy Trinity Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church in Kosmach, Ukraine. To learn more about how the Hutsuls of the Carpathian Mountains celebrate the holidays, read Faith and Tradition, from the November 2004 issue of ONE.(photo: Petro Didula)
29 December 2014
Tags: Ukraine Cultural Identity Village life Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church Eastern Europe
People gather in Manger Square and the Church of Nativity on Christmas Eve in Bethlehem, West Bank. (photo: CNS/Debbie Hill)
Muslims join Christians for Christmas celebrations in Gaza (Al Monitor) “We have a Christmas tree that I bought years back. We are buying new ornaments. All I wish for is to raise my daughter to be loving and tolerant. This is why we are celebrating the occasion with Christians,” Bissan al Qishawi, a Muslim, told Al Monitor on Christmas Eve. Her two daughters, Ilaa and Salma, wake up the following morning to their gifts under the tree. “I want them to forget the gloominess of war and its traumatic memory,” she said. The Qishawis are not an exception; many Muslim families in Gaza celebrate Christmas…
Palestine pushes for U.N. resolution to end Israeli occupation (Christian Science Monitor) The U.N. Security Council is expected to vote this week on a resolution that would end Israel’s 47-year occupation of Palestine within three years. The current draft of the resolution, which the United States has the power to veto, is not expected to pass…
Ukraine: Hundreds released in massive prisoner exchange (Vatican Radio) Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has met some of hundreds of freed prisoners, who were exchanged with pro-Russian separatists in the east of the country. Buses hoisting Ukrainian flags drove them home in time for the New Year. At least 145 captured Ukrainian government soldiers and 222 detained pro-Russian rebels have been exchanged between the warring factions in eastern Ukraine…
Security measures strengthened for Coptic Christmas celebrations (Fides) Egypt’s security forces developed strategies to ensure security for the upcoming Christmas celebrations for Copts at a meeting on Sunday, 28 December. Egyptian Interior Minister Mohammed Ibrahim praised the efforts to ensure tranquility to the Christian communities and thwart aggression and intimidation against Coptic Christians who celebrate Christmas on 7 January…
Peshmerga regains control in parts of Nineveh (Fars News) Iraqi Kurdistan’s Peshmerga forces regained control over two new areas in western Mosul, the capital of Nineveh province. “The Peshmerga, supported by protection force of Sinjar city, regained control over Sarray and Suq areas in Sinjar district of Western Mosul,” said Esmat Rajab, a member of the Democratic Kurdistani Party, on Sunday…
23 December 2014
Tags: Egypt Ukraine Middle East Christians Gaza Strip/West Bank Holy Land Christians
On 26 December 2004, tens of thousands of lives in India were changed forever by one of the deadliest earthquakes and tsunamis in history. More than 200,000 people lost their lives throughout Indonesia.
CNEWA’s program director Thomas Varghese, now based in New York, was working in India at the time. In the video below, he describes what he experienced and saw — and how CNEWA responded to this humanitarian disaster.
23 December 2014
Tags: India Tsunami
Fadi Hazboun, 20, takes a selfie of with his Catholic family from Nazareth in front of the Christmas tree in Manger Square outside the Church of Nativity in Bethlehem, West Bank, on 21 December. Pictured with him are his father, Afif; mother, Nardin; and his 8-year-old brother, Jowan. (photo: CNS/Debbie Hill)
23 December 2014
Tags: Holy Land Bethlehem Palestinians West Bank
Syrian refugees walk at the Zaatari refugee camp in the Jordanian city of Mafraq, near the border with Syria, on 7 December. Pope Francis Tuesday wrote a pre-Christmas letter to the suffering Christians of the Middle East. (photo: CNS photo/Muhammad Hamed, Reuters)
Pope Francis writes letter to Christians in the Middle East (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has written a pre-Christmas letter to the Christians of the Middle East to express his closeness to them at a time of “afflictions and tribulations” due to “the continuing hostilities in the region, but especially because of the work of a newer and disturbing terrorist organization.” Though the Pope does not refer to the organization by name, Islamic State militants in recent months have forced hundreds of thousands of Christians, Yazidis and other minorities from their homes and villages in Iraq. The Pope, who says he follows daily reports of the “enormous suffering endured by many people in the Middle East,” describes the organization “of previously unimaginable dimensions,” responsible for “all kinds of abuses and inhuman acts.” Christians were “brutally driven out of their native lands,” he observes, where they “have been present since apostolic times…”
Israeli who joined ISIS may have citizenship revoked (The Jerusalem Post) Interior Minister Gilad Erdan is considering if he will revoke the citizenship of an Israeli minor who joined joined Islamic State in Syria or Iraq and is now trying to come back home for medical treatment. Erdan said, in an interview with Channel 2 on Monday, that he is waiting for Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman’s recommendation in order to decide how to proceed in revoking the citizenship of Marwan Haldi, a Nazareth resident, before he can return to Israel. “This is someone who was most likely trained to kill as part of the most brutal terror organizations in the world,” Erdan said in a statement to The Jerusalem Post. “It’s up to me to seriously reconsider his return to Israel as well as his continuing to be a citizen…”
Churches burned in Egypt last year are still in ruins (Global Post) Exactly 16 months ago here, as news flowed in of the bloody dispersal of sit-ins in Cairo that left more than 800 supporters of ousted Muslim Brotherhood President Muhammad Morsi dead, angry mobs in this Upper Egyptian city took to the street and attacked churches, shops and other Christian-run establishments. The churches, which the army promised to fix more than a year ago, still stand half-built as Minya’s Copts prepare for another drafty Christmas…
Winter could be a weapon of war in Ukraine (USA Today) A deteriorating humanitarian situation amid the hardship of an approaching winter in east Ukraine is giving the Ukrainian national government an opening to turn the local population against Russian-backed separatists…
Churches in India increase security for Christmas (Times of India) At 178 years, St James Church is Delhi’s oldest. Yet, this Christmas, it will be chary of welcoming visitors after morning service on Thursday due to security concerns and might even not allow anyone in after the ceremony. Other churches in the city are, meanwhile, making arrangements for additional security alongside Christmas preparations…
South African mosque hosts Christmas dinner for Christians (IOL News) The Open Mosque in Wynberg has not suffered a backlash after hosting a Christmas dinner for about 100 Christian guests, says its founder, Dr. Taj Hargey. Dr. Hargey described the dinner on Sunday as a “historic occasion that has never been [seen] anywhere in the world before…”
22 December 2014
Tags: Egypt Ukraine Middle East Israel Copts
Several weeks ago, CNEWA visited a school in Gaza to hear how young people were coping after the war.
The haunting video below captures some of what was seen and heard.
To support the people of Gaza, visit this page. And please keep them in your prayers.