Current Issue
December, 2018
Volume 44, Number 4
8 June 2017
J.D. Conor Mauro

Cairo protesters gather outside St. Mark’s Coptic Orthodox Cathedral after a bomb attack on 11 December. To learn more about how Christians are keeping the faith in Egypt, often under difficult circumstances, read Anxiety in Cairo in the March 2017 edition of ONE. (photo: David Degner)

Tags: Egypt Violence against Christians Coptic Christians Coptic Orthodox Church Coptic

8 June 2017
J.D. Conor Mauro

Palestinian friends and family mourn during the funeral of Fadi al Najjar, 25, in Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip on 7 June. Al Najjar was killed by Israeli fire in the Gaza Strip the previous day. (photo: Majdi Fathi/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Half a century after the Six-Day War, some Israelis wonder if it was a victory (Los Angeles Times) Hundreds of guests and dignitaries gathered at the Knesset, the Israeli parliament, for a special session Tuesday marking the 1967 Six-Day War. It was a celebration of Israel’s lightning military victory over Arab armies in the Sinai Peninsula, Golan Heights, West Bank and East Jerusalem that forever changed the landscape of the Middle East. Absent from the parliamentary party, however, were legislators from Israel’s pro-peace Meretz party. Not enough attention, they said, was being paid to the consequences of Israel’s unending control over millions of Palestinians who live in the lands occupied 50 years ago this week…

Iraqi Kurds to hold September independence referendum (Fides) Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdish region will hold a referendum on independence on 25 September. The decision, aimed at provoking a negative reaction from the central government in Baghdad was announced last night, 7 June, during a summit between President Masud Barzani and members of the government of the autonomous region…

Iraqi forces liberate important crossing into Syria (AINA) Pro-government popular mobilization units (Hashd al Sha’abi) liberated the Safouk border crossing into the Syrian province of Hassake. The P.M.U. was able to take control of Safouk after launching a surprise assault, tonight, from the recently liberated town of Ba’aj, east of the Syrian border…

Indian farmers protest against debt-related suicides (AsiaNews) Millions of farmers have halted production in Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh. In Maharashtra, many took to the streets on 1 June to demand the government cancel farm loan debts. In a desperate attempt to put the spotlight on their tragic conditions, they destroyed the product of their hard work in the fields, throwing onions, potatoes and milk in the streets. From there, the protest spread to Madhya Pradesh, where five people died in clashes with the police…

Kerala Catholics urged to spread the ‘message’ of Kandhamal (Vatican Radio) Catholics in southern India’s Kerala state have been urged to show solidarity with the suffering Christians of Odisha state and spread the message of their exemplary witness. Cardinal George Alencherry, major archbishop of Ernakulam-Angamaly who heads the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church, made the appeal on 6 June while releasing the Malayalam version of a book by rights advocate and journalist Anto Akkara that details the atrocities of the 2008 anti-Christian violence in Odisha’s Kandhamal district…

Kerala government announces new liquor policy, 700 bars to reopen ( In a major move, the Kerala government on Thursday approved a new liquor policy that will see more than 700 closed down bars in three- and four-star hotels, allowed to reopen. Church leaders and anti-liquor activists staged a protest in front of the Kerala Assembly on Thursday against the change in policy…

Tags: Syria India Iraq Palestine Israeli-Palestinian conflict

7 June 2017
Elias D. Mallon, S.A., Ph.D.

Palestinian girls stand in front the Dome of the Rock as they attend the first Friday prayers of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan at Jerusalem’s Al Aqsa Mosque compound on 2 June 2017. (photo: Ahmad Gharabli/AFP/Getty Images)

As Muslims around the world observe Ramadan, the holy month of fasting, the Pew Research Center has released its report “Muslims and Islam: Key Findings in the U.N. and around the world.” Originally published on 7 December 2016, the report has been updated and released again on 26 May 2017.

As is the case with most Pew Reports, it is detailed yet easy to read and understand. It provides a great deal of information about the number of Muslims in the world as well as in Europe and North America. Not surprisingly, Islam is the fastest growing religion on the planet.

The report also investigates how Muslims feel about certain issues and how different non-Muslim groups feel about Muslims. It is noted that attitudes toward Muslims in the United States, for example, differ according to one’s party affiliation and that southern Europeans generally have a more negative attitude toward Muslims than do northern Europeans. An interesting study contrasts how Muslims in Islamic-dominated countries characterize the West and how non-Muslims in the West characterize Muslims. These provide important areas for dialogue and growth in mutual understanding.

Two other important issues are treated, though not equally well, in the report. The first issue is how Muslims feel about “groups like ISIS.” The overwhelming majority of Muslims both in and outside Muslim majority countries do not approve of violent extremism. This is extremely important to note.

Less satisfactory, however, is the section on “Support for Sharia.” Questions about sharia are often used by people who fear it becoming the law in more secular countries. In an unintended way, the section on “Support for Sharia” might seem to verify these fears as large majorities in Southeast Asia, South Asia, the Middle East and North Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa “favor making sharia the official law in their country.”

There are many problems with this. The report describes sharia as “a legal code based on the Quran and other Islamic scripture.” The first thing to note is that there is no “other Islamic scripture” other than the Quran; and secondly in no sense of the word is sharia a “legal code.”

“Sharia” is not a univocal term and Muslims — even those who favor making it the law of their land — have very different understandings of what that might mean. In addition, “sharia” is a religiously charged term. Few Muslims, if any, would spontaneously be against sharia even if they had little or no understanding of what it might actually mean historically and practically. As a result “sharia” with no qualifications is generally speaking not a helpful category when researching Muslim opinions.

Nevertheless, the Pew Foundation has once again provided valuable and much needed information about Islam, a religion that is misunderstood.

Tags: Muslim Islam Ramadan Religious Differences

7 June 2017
J.D. Conor Mauro

Young Muslim volunteers from the Al Arabi neighborhood of Mosul clean and repair the city’s Monastery of St. George, saying “Mosul is yours as it’s ours.” (photo: Mohammed al Zakaria via This Is Christian Iraq)

Muslims and Christians unite to rebuild Mosul monastery (Crux) Young Muslims joined Christians in repairing and cleaning the Monastery of St. George in Mosul, after ISIS militants vandalized it by smashing windows, damaging the church’s dome, and discarding its cross. The monastery belongs to the Chaldean Catholic Church…

U.S. House of Representatives approves law expanding intervention in Syria and Iraq (Fides) On Tuesday, 6 June, the United States House of Representatives unanimously approved the Iraq and Syria Genocide Emergency Relief Accountability Act of 2017, which authorizes, among other things, targeted interventions in favor of ethnic-religious minorities persecuted by ISIS. The text of the law puts Christians at the top of the list of beneficiary groups of authorized assistance and rescue measures…

At remote desert garrison in Syria, a U.S.-Iran confrontation is brewing (Christian Science Monitor) U.S.-backed forces announced Tuesday that they had begun the long-awaited assault on the northeastern Syrian city of Raqqa, ISIS’ main stronghold in the country and its self-declared capital. But some 170 miles to the south, in a remote corner of Syria’s southeastern desert, another clash is brewing that is pitting the strategic objectives of the United States against those of Iran. Both U.S. and Russian warplanes have been deployed, and some shots have already been fired, including by U.S.-backed coalition forces on Tuesday…

Syria: As airstrikes hit Raqqa, U.N. sounds alarm over plight of civilians (U.N. News Center) The United Nations humanitarian wing today said it is deeply concerned for the safety and protection of more than 400,000 civilians “who continue to be exposed to daily fighting and airstrikes” in Syria’s Raqqa Governorate. “The humanitarian situation in Al-Raqqa governorate remains dire, with the majority of the population reportedly facing critical problems in meeting their immediate needs,” Alessandra Vellucci, director of the U.N. Nations Information Service in Geneva…

Mankind responsible for protection of nature: Mar Chrysostom (The New Indian Express) Syro-Malabar Catholic Metropolitan Philipose Mar Chrysostom spoke out about the critical importance of care for the environment at a function organized by the Kerala Catholic Bishops Council to honor him. “You become true humans only when you see God in others. If a person is starving, it is the God who is starving. God first created man, then nature. So, it is the responsibility of the mankind to protect nature,” said the church leader, who turned 100 this year…

Palestine in Motion (Al Jazeera) Al Jazeera presents “stories of loss, love, trauma, hope, and ultimately, of what it means to be Palestinian,” with each of the rotating photos linking to a separate profile…

Tags: Syria Iraq Christian-Muslim relations Palestinians Indian Bishops

6 June 2017
J.D. Conor Mauro

Youth from 14 parishes receive lunch at a summer program in Alitena, Ethiopia. Meal programs in schools, camps and other venues are a crucial, successful element of the Ethiopian Catholic Church’s efforts to support local communities throughout Ethiopia — efforts CNEWA is proud to assist. In March, we published a letter from Abune Tesfaselassie Medhin, bishop of the Ethiopian Catholic Eparchy of Adigrat, describing the challenges facing currently facing both church and country. You can read this and more in the March 2017 edition of ONE. (photo: CNEWA)

Tags: Ethiopia Hunger Ethiopian Catholic Church Youth

6 June 2017
J.D. Conor Mauro

In this photograph taken on 26 December, an Indian worker labors on a loom in a textile factory near Surat, some 180 miles south of Ahmedabad. (photo: Sam Panthaky/AFP/Getty Images)

India doubles compensation for textile loom worker deaths (Vatican Radio) India has doubled the compensation for the death of power loom workers in its textile industry as part of a benefits scheme to weed out problems plaguing the labor-intensive sector. India is one of the largest fabric producers in the world and has traditionally been a cornerstone of the Indian economy in terms of foreign exchange earnings and employment. A single person, working 12 hours or more, often tends to six to nine looms inside cramped spaces, exposing them to loud noise and injuries from the shuttle that moves at a high speed across the loom…

Syriac Orthodox Patriarchate to start television network (Fides) The Syriac Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch, from its headquarters in Damascus, announced the future birth of its own television channel, designed to support the pastoral care of Syriac Christians through its programs. The channel will be called Suboro TV, from the Syriac word that indicates the Annunciation of the angel to Mary. Programming is scheduled for to begin on 25 March 2018 at the feast of the Annunciation, a Christian holiday celebrated in the Middle East — especially in Lebanon — and observed also by many Muslims…

U.S. coalition begins ‘long and difficult’ battle for Islamic State’s Raqqa stronghold (Washington Post) U.S.-backed forces have begun the “long and difficult” battle to capture the northern Syrian city of Raqqa, the Islamic State’s de facto capital, the U.S.-led coalition fighting the extremist group said Tuesday. Kurdish-led militants began laying the groundwork for the offensive in November, edging through the surrounding province and cutting supply lines into the city. But a showdown for the city itself will prove a major test for the coalition, with the potential for high civilian casualties…

Iraq: Lives of 100,000 children ‘on the line’ as fighting continues in west Mosul (U.N. News Center) Some 100,000 children remain in extremely dangerous conditions in western sections of Iraq’s Mosul as fighting between government and terrorist forces continues, the United Nations children’s agency today reported, warning that “children’s lives are on the line…”

Pan-Orthodox conference to discuss gender in the diaconate (St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Seminary) A Pan-Orthodox Conference — dedicated to examining diaconal ministry in the Orthodox Church — will include presentations on the present state of the diaconate; ways men and women are engaged in diaconal ministry today; opportunities to engage with both clergy and faithful on the rejuvenation of the male and female diaconate; and current challenges and future possibilities of the diaconate for the building up of the body of Christ…

Tags: India Iraq Orthodox Church United Nations Women (rights/issues)

5 June 2017
Michael J.L. La Civita

Clergy lead the funeral procession of Ukrainian Cardinal Lubomyr Husar for his 5 June funeral liturgy at the Patriarchal Cathedral of the Resurrection of Christ in Kiev. (photo: CNS/Valentyn Ogirenko, Reuters)

“Today, we join the millions of men, women and children worldwide mourning the death of Cardinal Lubomyr Husar, friend, teacher, pastor, father of his people,” said CNEWA’s president Msgr. John E. Kozar of the major archbishop emeritus of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, who died 31 May near the Ukrainian capital of Kiev.

“As the universal church today commits his body to the ground and his soul to Almighty God, we remember a man who served the people of God with joy and humor, with passion and love, with kindness and gentleness. We remember a wise man who, despite having lost his eye sight, could discern with humility and grace the ways of the Lord.”

CNEWA’s national director in Canada, Carl Hétu, remembered a man who, “with firm conviction, peace and faith” advocated for the construction in Kiev of a cathedral dedicated to the Resurrection of Christ to mark the resurrection of the Greek Catholic Church in Ukraine. Despite the initial skepticism that greeted the cardinal, “he knew that the building of the cathedral would rally Ukrainians and all people of good will” to put to rest the Soviet oppression of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church.

“The cardinal’s impassioned plea, added, Mr. Hétu, rallied financial and moral support worldwide.”

In a letter to the cardinal’s successor as archbishop of Kiev-Halych, Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk, Msgr. Kozar extended his condolences and prayers “for the repose of the soul of Cardinal Lubomyr Husar, and for those he had lovingly shepherded.

“Never did the cardinal cease in his faith of the Lord’s abiding love, despite great personal and public pain, nor in his firm commitment to witness the Gospel on behalf of the one church. This constancy of faith and love is what perhaps has resounded most clearly, as millions today mourn his death and passing into eternal life.

“This constancy is His Beatitude’s legacy, and it is a legacy he has entrusted to you as his successor as major archbishop of Kiev-Halych, in your service to Ukrainian Greek Catholics in Ukraine and beyond, and to the church universal.”

May his memory be eternal.

Tags: Ukraine Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church

5 June 2017
J.D. Conor Mauro

Christians pray during the Easter liturgy in the Church of St. Porphyrius in Gaza City, on 16 April. (photo: Mustafa Hassona/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Sami El-Yousef, CNEWA’s regional director for Palestine and Israel, recently visited Gaza to provide a status update. His report is now available on our site.

One noteworthy detail concerned the state of institutional growth — especially among Christian initiatives:

On my field visits to partner institutions, we were overwhelmed with news of expansion projects which will undoubtedly translate into better public services for the population. For instance, construction started a few weeks ago on a new building at the Rosary Sisters School. The building will consist of a large indoor auditorium, more classroom space and science labs, expanding the school and student body to the Tawjihi (11th and 12th grade) level. N.E.C.C.’s [vocational training center] in Qarrarah will soon have a new program in the electrical department that trains electricians in installation and maintenance of photovoltaic solar panel systems as there is a greater demand for these systems in Gaza. Currently, this training program is the first and only specialized training program in this sector in the Gaza Strip. Another local partner, the Holy Family School, will construct an additional floor to expand and enhance its academic program. The Latin Patriarchate School is planning to offer a literary Tawjihi stream once the renovation of the school complex is complete. The Orthodox Cultural Center secured a grant to fully furnish and equip the first floor and complete construction of the second floor that will include conference halls and meeting rooms equipped with state-of the-art equipment. I also visited new institutions to explore other potential new projects (specifically Nawa for Culture and Arts Association through St. George Monastery in Deir Al Balah; and Qattan Foundation in Gaza City) which was encouraging given the number of children and youth activities at these institutions. Thus, the institutional presence in Gaza is flourishing despite the general conditions and misery of Gaza which is truly inspirational and unmatched anywhere I have visited in Palestine and Israel. Doing so much with so little is something we all need to learn from our brothers and sisters in Gaza.

Read the full report here.

5 June 2017
J.D. Conor Mauro

Women pray over the casket of Ukrainian Cardinal Lubomyr Husar during his 5 June funeral liturgy at the Patriarchal Cathedral of the Resurrection of Christ in Kiev. Cardinal Husar died 31 May at the age of 84. (photo: CNS/Valentyn Ogirenko, Reuters)

Tags: Ukraine Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church

5 June 2017
J.D. Conor Mauro

Iraqi Christians attend the Divine Liturgy in Erbil, the capital of the autonomous Kurdish region of northern Iraq, on 31 May. (photo: Safin Hamed/AFP/Getty Images)

ISIS victims face discrimination in Kurdistan (AINA) A new report explains how religious minorities in Northern Iraq — Yazidis, Christians, Shabak, and Turkmen — fled the ISIS onslaught in 2014 into Kurdistan. However, despite the freedom of religion of these minorities being “comparatively robust” in Kurdistan to other areas in the region, they still face discrimination, violence, and restrictions upon their movement there, the report alleges…

Dialogue with Muslims, defend human dignity, pope tells missionaries (CNS) Missionaries are entrusted with bringing hope to poor Christian communities while building bridges with Muslims and protecting human rights, Pope Francis told a group of men and women missionaries. Meeting with members of the Consolata Missionaries at the Vatican on 5 June, the pope also encouraged them to push the boundaries of their missionary activity, especially in “defending the dignity of women and family values…”

Pope sends second, personal note of condolence to Ukrainians (CNS) Saying he was moved by reports of tens of thousands of people gathering for a funeral procession for Ukrainian Cardinal Lubomyr Husar, who died on 31 May, Pope Francis sent a second message of condolence to the cardinal’s successor. Being grateful for Cardinal Husar’s “unique, religious and social presence in the history of Ukraine, I invite all of you to be faithful to his constant teaching and total abandonment to providence,” the pope wrote on 5 June, the day of the cardinal’s funeral in Kiev and two days after the massive procession in Lviv…

Divided by victory, Israelis still grapple with 1967 war (New York Times) The six days of the 1967 war were the most important in modern Israeli history. But after 50 years, Israel is still struggling with them. The accidental war and stunning victory also made Israelis occupiers. For with that land — the urban villages of East Jerusalem, the sprawling hills and metropolises of the West Bank, the concrete density of the Gaza Strip — came people: Palestinians now numbering more than 4.5 million. As the 50th anniversary of that war is marked in a series of events this week, Palestinians, of course, will mourn rather than celebrate what they call the “naksa,” or displacement. But even among Israeli Jews, the milestone does not seem a moment for national outpouring, despite the increasing power of the political right wing…

Syrians in Egypt demand clearer work regulations (Al Monitor) Syrians who fled their country and settled in Egypt have so far contributed to the Egyptian economy with more than $800 million, but they have yet to get their papers in order…

Ethiopian domestic worker commits suicide (Daily Star Lebanon) A domestic worker hung herself in the south Lebanon border town of Blida in Marjayoun, a security source told The Daily Star on Monday. The Ethiopian woman was found hung on the branch of a tree near her employers’ home with a small chair beside her. A coroner examined the body and declared the death a suicide. LBCI reported that she began working at the house three months ago…

Tags: Lebanon Iraqi Christians Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church Migrants Catholic-Muslim relations

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