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27 April 2015
Indian schoolgirls light candles for the victims of an earthquake in Nepal at a school in Amritsar on 27 April. (photo: Narinder Nanu/AFP/Getty Images)
Nepal earthquake: International aid effort increased (BBC) The international aid effort for Nepal is gathering pace, with Saturday’s huge earthquake now known to have killed at least 3,900 people and injured 7,000. China, India, Pakistan and Britain are among the countries contributing to the effort, alongside major aid agencies. Nepal has asked for more help, saying it needs everything from helicopters and blankets to paramedics and drivers…
Tensions rise on Israel-Syria border after infiltration attempt, airstrikes (Washington Post) Israeli forces were on heightened alert on Monday along the northern border with Syria after the military reported thwarting an attack by armed militants and retaliating with airstrikes. Details about the late Sunday incident were not clear, but unrest from Syria’s war has occasionally spilled over into the heavily guarded border zone near the Israeli-held Golan Heights…
Gaza’s dying bamboo crafts industry (Al Monitor) Amer Khalaf cuts and shapes bamboo culms into arcs to make handmade furniture. Although he was preoccupied with work, he did not look satisfied. It appears that people no longer care about this profession amid a decline in demand for bamboo products. Those who work in the bamboo furniture industry in the Gaza Strip fear the near extinction of a craft that is one of the Palestinians’ most important traditional handicrafts carrying a long historical legacy…
E.U. won’t send armed force to Ukraine despite clashes (BBC) EU leaders have told Ukraine they are worried about ceasefire violations in the east of the country but will not send armed peacekeepers there. “We can only talk about a civilian mission, not military,” European Council President Donald Tusk told a news conference in Kiev…
Pope meets with chief rabbi of Rome (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis met Monday morning at the Vatican with the chief rabbi of Rome, Riccardo Di Segni. A press statement from the spokesman of the Jewish community in Rome described the meeting as cordial. During the meeting, the two leaders discussed a number of issues, including issues arising from immigration to Europe…
24 April 2015
Tags: Ukraine Gaza Strip/West Bank Israel Cultural Identity Catholic-Jewish Dialogue
People lay flowers at the Tsitsernakaberd Armenian Genocide Memorial in Yerevan, commemorating 100 years since the massacre took the lives of 1.5 million Armenians. (photo: Karen Minasyan/AFP/Getty Images)
Armenians around the world are remembering today the genocide 100 years ago of Armenians by Ottoman Turks:
The annual 24 April commemorations mark the day when the mass killings started. An estimated 1.5 million died in massacres, deportations and forced marches that began in 1915 as Ottoman officials worried that the Christian Armenians would side with Russia, its enemy in World War I.
Turkey denies the deaths constituted genocide, saying the toll has been inflated and that those killed were victims of civil war and unrest. …
In Beirut, tens of thousands of Lebanese of Armenian descent marched the stretch of several miles from an Armenian church in northern Beirut to a soccer field where the commemoration service took place. Many waved Armenian and Lebanese flags and scores wore caps with “I remember and I demand” printed on them in Arabic. Lebanon has one of the largest Armenian communities in the world outside Armenia itself — mostly descendants of people who fled their homes in 1915. Experts estimate the community to number about 150,000 people today.
Among those attending the Beirut service was Agop Djizmedjian, a 52-year-old supermarket employee who brought his 5-year-old son George. “I brought George today to tell him that our ancestors were killed in this genocide,” Djizmedjian said. “When I die, my son will teach his children until we get our rights.”
In Beirut’s predominantly Armenian district of Burj Hammoud, most of the shops were closed and balconies were decorated with the red, blue and orange Armenian flags.
In Jerusalem’s Old City, Armenian priests held a Mass at St. James Cathedral, their chants rising to the sky in the cavernous century-old church adorned with hundreds of metal lamps as light filtered from the dome windows.
Pope Francis spoke of the slaughter of the Armenian people on 12 April, and draw parallels to the plight of Christians today:
Commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Armenian genocide, Pope Francis said atrocities from the past have to be recognized — not hidden or denied — for true reconciliation and healing to come to the world.
However, Turkey’s top government officials criticized the pope’s use of the term “genocide” — citing a 2001 joint statement by St. John Paul II and the head of the Armenian Apostolic Church — in reference to the deaths of an estimated 1.5 million Armenians during their forced evacuation by Ottoman Turks in 1915-18.
Turkey rejects the accusation of genocide, and the government called its ambassador to the Holy See back to Turkey “for consultations” on 12 April, the same day Pope Francis made his statement. The government also summoned Archbishop Antonio Lucibello, nuncio to Turkey, to lodge a complaint.
Before concelebrating the Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica on Divine Mercy Sunday, Pope Francis greeted the many Armenian faithful who were present, including Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan.
The pope lamented the continued forced expulsions and atrocious killings of Christians in the world saying, “Today, too, we are experiencing a kind of genocide created by general and collective indifference” and “complicit silence.”
Humanity has lived through “three massive and unprecedented tragedies the past century: the first, which is generally considered ‘the first genocide of the 20th century,’ ” struck the Armenian people, he said, quoting a joint declaration signed in 2001 by St. John Paul and Catholicos Karekin II of Etchmiadzin, patriarch of the Armenian Apostolic Church.
The other two 20th-century tragedies were those “perpetrated by Nazism and Stalinism,” while more recently “other mass exterminations” have been seen in Cambodia, Rwanda, Burundi and Bosnia, Pope Francis said.
“It seems that the human family refuses to learn from its mistakes caused by the law of terror, so that there are still today those who try to eliminate their own kind with the help of some and with the complicit silence of others who act as bystanders,” he said.
Addressing Armenian Christians, the pope said that recalling “that tragic event, that immense and senseless slaughter, which your forebears cruelly endured,” was necessary and “indeed a duty” to honor their memory “because wherever memory does not exist, it means that evil still keeps the wound open.”
“Concealing or denying evil is like letting a wound keep bleeding without treating it,” he said.
To learn more about Armenia, read our profiles of the Armenian Apostolic Church and the Armenian Catholic Church in the pages of ONE. Also, check out our blog series on the Journey Through the South Caucasus, for an intimate look at life in Armenia today.
24 April 2015
Tags: Pope Francis Turkey Armenia
Over a million people have been forced to flee their homes because of the war in Ukraine. Many of these internally displaced people struggle to find a new life. (video: New York Times)
A population uprooted by Ukraine’s war struggles to get by (New York Times) Valeria Huseva fled her home in Luhansk last July during heavy fighting between pro-Russian separatists and Ukrainian military forces. “I couldn’t stay in the city,” she said. “It was too dangerous for a baby.” Three months pregnant, Ms. Huseva, then 19, arrived alone in this industrial city outside of rebel-controlled territory and sought refuge at a coordination center for internally displaced people…
Ecumenical patriarch affirms solidarity with Iraqi Christians (AsiaNews) Chaldean Patriarch Louis Raphael I paid an official visit to Turkey a few days ago, meeting the faithful and visiting a number of Chaldean places of worship in Ottoman lands. A highlight of his trip included a meeting with Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I in Istanbul. The meeting took place last Wednesday, confirming the bond of closeness and solidarity between the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople and the Chaldean Church, which has endured violence and persecution at the hands of ISIS in Iraq…
Syriacs urge Turkey to recognize massacres (Al Monitor) The Ottoman policy of slaughter and deportations in 1915, associated mainly with its Armenian victims, was actually much broader in its scope. Along with more than a million Armenians killed, it also crushed the Syriac Christian community, which counts its dead in the hundreds of thousands. Syriacs remember it as the Seyfo (or “sword”) Massacre. On the 100th anniversary this year, the Syriacs are for the first time holding protests urging Turkey to recognize the Seyfo Massacre and to apologize…
Pope Francis meets with the president of the Czech Republic (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Friday met with the President of the Czech Republic, Miloš Zeman. A statement released by the Holy See Press Office called the meeting “cordial,” and noted the meeting took place on the 25th anniversary of the restoration of diplomatic relations between the Holy See and the then-Czech and Slovak Federative Republic, which took place on 19 April 1990…
Rights group: Czechs segregating Roma children at schools (Al Jazeera) The Czech Republic has failed to comply with a European court order to stop placing Roma children in schools for the mentally disabled regardless of the students’ capabilities, rights group Amnesty International said Thursday. The European Court of Human Rights had ruled in 2007 that the Czech Republic must stop the practice. Roma people in Europe suffer from widespread discrimination not only in schools, but also in the labor and housing markets and from health care providers, according to a report by the European Commission published last year. The commission opened an investigation last year into whether the Czech Republic was breaching European Union anti-discrimination legislation…
Gaza women shed veil, spark conversation (Al Jazeera) Two weeks ago, journalist and film director Razan Madhoon took off her veil and posted her picture on Facebook, stirring a fierce backlash of comments against her and her husband. Madhoon’s decision came as a shock for the Gaza public, given the region’s rising religiosity. Women wearing the veil and frequenting mosques have become commonplace in the Gaza Strip. Though it may be widely believed that Gaza is a conservative society by nature, no one knows where this idea came from, as society was not as it is now in the 1960’s and 1970’s…
23 April 2015
Tags: Iraq Ukraine Armenia Roma Czech Republic
Displaced Iraqi Christians who fled from ISIS militants in Mosul pray at a school acting as a refugee camp in Erbil, Iraq. (photo: CNS/Ahmed Jadallah, Reuters)
Msgr. John E. Kozar, CNEWA’s president, will be making a pastoral visit to Iraq and Egypt next month to see first-hand some of the challenges facing Christians fleeing persecution in that troubled part of the world. Just days after his return, Msgr. Kozar will share his insights and experiences in a special evening at the Seminary of the Immaculate Conception in Huntington, New York.
We invite you to join us for this important event, in an effort to raise awareness and funds to aid Christian families in Iraq, Syria, Egypt and beyond. It will be an opportunity to learn more about the crisis facing the people of the Middle East — and how you can help. The problems of our suffering brothers and sisters in that region right now are urgent, and the needs are great. Donations will be greatly appreciated.
When: Wednesday 20 May 2015 — 6:30 pm
Where: Seminary of the Immaculate Conception
440 West Neck Road
The evening will include light refreshments.
To learn more, please contact Norma Intriago at firstname.lastname@example.org.
23 April 2015
Coptic Christians gather in the shell of a church in Minya burned in August 2013. The faithful in Egypt are trying to rebuild their churches and institutions after the violence of 2013. To learn more about their efforts, read “Out of the Ashes” in the Spring 2015 edition of ONE.
(photo: David Degner)
23 April 2015
Displaced Iraqis from the city of Ramadi gather to collect food aid at a government building in the Abu Ghraib area west of the capital Baghdad, on 22 April. (photo: Ahmad Al Rubaye/AFP/Getty Images)
Chaldean Church and Caritas help displaced Iraqi Muslim families (AsiaNews) The Chaldean Patriarchate and Caritas in Iraq today delivered aid to at least 2,000 Muslim families that were displaced from Tikrit and Anbar following the latest offensive by the Islamic State group…
Residents return to Iraqi city of Ramadi as panic subsides (Washington Post) Thousands of police officers and residents who fled Ramadi after an Islamic State offensive last week have begun to return home after reinforcements were dispatched to shore up the center of the western city, Iraqi military officials said Wednesday…
Imams and priests preach together in schools in Minya (Fides) The collective mission of a large group of imam linked to Al Azhar — the biggest theological center of Sunni Islam — and Coptic priests begins today, who for a few days will visit schools in the Egyptian province of Minya to meet the students and promote a “culture of encounter” and peace…
Ethiopia’s Catholic bishops condemn execution of Christians (Vatican Radio) Ethiopia’s Catholic bishops condemned “in unambiguous terms” the execution of 30 Ethiopian Christian migrants in Libya. “These Ethiopian martyrs who were butchered on the coast and desert of Libya were not politicians, nor military soldiers, or they were not armed people, considered to be dangerous people for security, rather they were young innocent migrants hopeful for a better future on the other end of their destination; capable of transforming their lives, the lives of their family and even contribute for the betterment of the country of their destination,” the bishops said in a statement issued during their 18 to 23 April general meeting…
Social divide widens between West Bank, Gaza Strip (Al Monitor) Palestinians in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip live in two different, geographically separated areas. Moreover, since mid-2007 the political breakup has widened the geographical gulf and caused the two parts to drift further apart, and have even become governed by different rules and regulations. Israel separates the Gaza Strip from the West Bank and does not allow the movement of people between the two sides…
22 April 2015
Tags: Iraq Egypt Ethiopia Palestine Christian-Muslim relations
Agnon Adnidihad, 62, fled his home in Mosul last year. (photo: CNEWA)
Last Saturday morning, I met a man named Agnan Adnidihad. Now I’d like you to meet him, too.
A few months ago, he was a 62-year-old repairman working in Mosul, Iraq — a Syriac Orthodox Christian quietly tending his business and saying his prayers.
Then along came ISIS.
Today, Agnan is a refugee, living in a corner of Amman, Jordan, where all he can do is survey the remnants of a life that has been ransacked and left in ruins. I met him at the Italian Hospital in Amman, where he is being treated for heart ailments and stress. He agreed to a short interview; the hospital’s medical director, Dr. Khalid Shammas, served as our translator. You can watch the video below.
Dr. Shammas told us the needs of people like Agnan are great; many who pass through the hospital’s doors suffer from posttraumatic stress and depression. And their numbers are growing in Jordan. The country is being flooded with tens of thousands of people from Iraq and Syria who are literally running for their lives. In Jordan, they are finding their way to the Italian Hospital for treatment.
The Italian Hospital is Amman’s oldest medical facility, dating to 1926. (photo: Greg Kandra)
I was blessed to visit the hospital last weekend and receive a guided tour. In the Spring edition of ONE magazine, writer Dale Gavlak offers this snapshot of an institution that is having a profound and positive impact:
The Italian Hospital is Amman’s oldest medical facility, dating to 1926. The 100-bed hospital maintains a longstanding charitable tradition, providing some of the best care at low prices — in some cases, as with Nevine’s delivery, for free.
The hospital offers checkups, intensive care, pediatric and maternity care and a variety of other services, making referrals only in the case of the most serious procedures, such as cardiac surgery.
“For many years, refugees have been coming to our hospital, starting with the Palestinians,” says Nassim Samawi, administrative director. Now, as many as 130 Iraqi Christians daily seek medical assistance at the white limestone facility in Amman’s bustling downtown. Refugees driven from neighboring countries and continents alike come for help, including people from Syria, Sudan, Somalia and even Iraqis still displaced from the 2003 war.
“The flow of refugees is great. We see the suffering they are going through and how we can support them,” says Sister Elizabeth Mary, one of the Dominican Sisters of the Presentation of Mary who staff the facility.
“Whatever funds we receive, they’re used because the people never stop coming. We are always looking for help,” adds the soft-spoken sister.
“It’s normal to see refugees here at the Italian Hospital, which is not the case with other hospitals in Amman. At every level, our staff is prepared to aid them, and the refugees also feel good about coming to our hospital,” Mr. Samawi says.
“Thousands of people are benefiting from our health care program handling mid-sized surgeries,” says Ra’ed Bahou, CNEWA’s regional director for Jordan and Iraq, which supports the Catholic hospital’s care for refugees and the poor. “Now, we are trying to help with larger surgeries — heart operations and some cancer and hernia treatments.”
When our group of newswriters and bloggers visited, the waiting rooms were crowded with mothers with small children and the elderly in wheelchairs. Young nurses shuttled from room to room tracking patients, collecting samples and filing paperwork. The overwhelming majority of patients and staff were Muslim; the women’s heads were covered in the traditional cloth hijab. Many spoke little or no English.
Many of the staff at the Italian Hospital, as with most of the patients, are Muslim. This nurse cares for newborns. (photo: Greg Kandra)
But for all that, the hospital remains distinctly Catholic. Every room has a crucifix on the wall. In the neonatal unit, images of the Virgin Mary with the baby Jesus watch over slumbering newborns. Two sisters from India, Sister Elizabeth and Sister Vinitha, from the Dominican Sisters of the Presentation of Mary, supervise the staff.
Sister Vinitha, left, and Sister Elizabeth, right, are the two sisters who serve at the Italian Hospital. (photo: CNEWA)
The work being done at the Italian Hospital is urgent — yet in our short time there, all we saw was calm. The hospital is spotless. The staff is efficient and gracious. You have the sense that all who come there are in the very best of hands.
For so many, these are the only hands reaching out to help them.
The Italian Hospital has a unit dedicated to caring for newborns, many born to refugees.
(photo: Greg Kandra)
It was a great privilege to see the work CNEWA is helping to make possible in this corner of the land we call Holy — and I was proud to be a part of it, even in some small way. There is so much good being done here. Grace is everywhere.
You, too, can share in this work, and make the lives of men like Agnon Adnidihad better. Take a moment to visit our giving page. You will be giving something beyond what you may realize — a sense of possibility and promise, of reassurance and hope. These people from Iraq and Syria need that. Now, more than ever.
Read more about the hospital in Finding Sanctuary in Jordan in the spring edition of ONE.
22 April 2015
Tags: Refugees Children Jordan Health Care
Students take a break from their studies at a school run by the Daughters of Charity in Bahir Dar, Ethiopia. Read the moving first person account of one of the Daughters of Charity in “A Letter from Ethiopia” in the Spring 2015 edition of ONE. (photo: Petterik Wiggers)
22 April 2015
Armenians gather around a chasm in the mountain at a site called Dudan, near Diyarbakir, believed to be a mass grave of the Armenian Genocide, on 22 April. (photo: Ilyas Akengin/AFP/Getty Images)
After a century, Turks slowly take stock of Armenian Genocide (Der Spiegel) Officially, discussion of the Armenian genocide is taboo in Turkey, even 100 years after the crimes. But the issue is becoming harder for the country to suppress and many Turks are rediscovering their long-lost Armenian identities…
Maronite patriarch commemorates mass killings in Armenia (Daily Star Lebanon) “The centenary ceremony of the Armenian martyrs who were killed a hundred years ago is not just a liturgical ceremony, but a major event for the church and people of the East,” Maronite Patriarch Bechara Peter said at a dinner held by Lebanon’s Ambassador to Armenia Jean Maakaroun…
At least 42 dead in rebel-ISIS clashes near Damascus (Daily Star Lebanon) At least 42 fighters were killed in 24 hours of fierce fighting between Islamist rebels and ISIS in Syria’s Damascus province, an activist group said Wednesday. “At least 30 Islamist rebels and 12 fighters from ISIS were killed in fighting since Tuesday” in the hilly region of Qalamun, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said…
Holy See concerned about Israel-Palestine negotiations (Vatican Radio) The Holy See on Tuesday expressed its deep concern at the “total lack of progress” of the negotiations between Palestine and Israel. “As was recognized on that occasion, Israel has genuine and legitimate concerns for its security; however, such security will come not in isolation from its neighbors, but in being a part of them through a negotiated peace with the Palestinians through the implementation of the ‘two-state solution,’ which has the support of the Holy See and of the international community in general,” said Archbishop Bernardito Auza, the Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations…
Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue urges dialogue with Muslims (VIS) The following is the full text of a declaration published this morning by the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue: “The events of recent times cause many of us to ask: ‘Is there still space for dialogue with Muslims?’ The answer is: Yes, more than ever…”
A global surge in refugees leaves Europe struggling to cope (Washington Post) As Europe confronts a rapidly escalating migration crisis driven by war, persecution and poverty in an arc of strife from West Africa to Afghanistan, even high-level European officials are beginning to admit the obvious: The region’s refugee management system is broken. As a new crisis develops, the nations of Europe appear overwhelmed, belatedly scrambling to plug the gaping holes in their asylum system and contain what has become a full-blown humanitarian emergency…
21 April 2015
Tags: Refugees Middle East Turkey Armenia Dialogue
Mother Jeanette Abou Abdullah comforts one of the hundreds receiving care in the Franciscan Sisters of the Cross’ hospital in Deir el Kamar, Lebanon. To learn more about challenges facing Lebanon today, check out “Lebanon on the Brink” in the Spring edition of ONE,
now available online. (photo: John E. Kozar/CNEWA)