Current Issue
September, 2019
Volume 45, Number 3
30 November 2018

Now 8-months-old, little Mariam is thriving and healthy after being treated for a hole in her heart. (photo: CNEWA)

In May, we told you about a CNEWA success story from Jordan, 2-month-old Mariam:

Before Mariam was born, her parents came to CNEWA, looking for help. The mother was older, and it was clear she needed a Caesarean delivery. The CNEWA staff directed the family to the Italian Hospital, supported by CNEWA in Amman, and helped pay for the surgery.

The delivery went well, but the doctors discovered that Mariam has a small hole in her heart. She is being treated with drugs and, in time, it is hoped the hole will close and Mariam will have a long life.

This week, Ra’ed Bahou, our regional director in Amman, sent along the picture shown above, with an update:

This is her second visit to our CNEWA office. Mariam and her father stopped by for the distribution of the Christmas food tickets for Iraqi families.

She is healthy and gorgeous.

We’re delighted to share that news with our readers — and grateful, as always, for the generosity of our CNEWA family that continues to make stories like this one possible.

Tags: Jordan

30 November 2018
Greg Kandra

In this image from July, Pope Francis releases a dove with Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople outside the Basilica of St. Nicholas in Bari, Italy. To mark the 30 November feast of St. Andrew, the pope sent a message to the patriarch, expressing the importance of working for Christian unity. (photo: CNS/Paul Haring)

Pope: Christian unity is hope for a suffering world (Vatican News) Despite differences between Catholics and Orthodox Christians, Pope Francis said the two communities are called to be a sign of hope by working together for peace, human dignity and care of creation. “We can work together today in the search for peace among peoples, for the abolition of all forms of slavery, for the respect and dignity of every human being and for the care of creation,” the Pope said in a message to Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople on the occasion of the 30 November feast of St. Andrew, the patron of the Patriarchate based in Istanbul, Turkey…

Ukraine bans Russian men from entering country (NBC News) Russian men between the ages of 16 and 60 have been barred from entering Ukraine after long-simmering tensions between the countries escalated into a clash on the Black Sea. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko tweeted Friday that restrictions on Russian nationals were taken in order to prevent the formation of “private armies which in reality are representatives of Russian armed forces…”

Syria says it shot down ’hostile targets in suspected Israeli attack (Reuters) Syrian air defenses shot down “hostile targets” on Thursday, state media said, in an area regional intelligence sources said contains Iran-backed assets, while Russian media said no Israeli jet had been downed as earlier reported…

Indians say they’re being held hostage in Ethiopia over unpaid wages (Bloomberg) India’s foreign ministry is investigating claims by expatriates in Ethiopia who say they are being held hostage by local staff that haven’t been paid after the financier Infrastructure Leasing & Financial Services Ltd. began defaulting on $12.6 billion in debt…

29 November 2018
Elias D. Mallon, S.A., Ph.D.

In this image from May, Pope Francis greets Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople during a meeting in the Apostolic Palace at the Vatican. (photo: CNS/Paul Haring)

The last day of November holds a special significance for many Christians — and serves to remind us of the much-desired unity for which CNEWA and so much of the Christian world ardently pray.

In his encyclical Ut Unum Sint (That They May Be One) of 25 May 1995, Pope John Paul II wrote of the necessity of the church living and breathing with its “two lungs.” By that he was referring to the Catholic Church including Catholics not only of the Latin Rite but also the many different Orthodox Churches who were not in communion with Rome.

Historically it seemed that once Christians stopped being persecuted, they started arguing with each other. Churches broke relations (communion) with each other starting in the 4th century and continued to do so throughout the centuries. Some of the breaks were not that noticeable; others such as the Great Schism between the Eastern and Western Church in 1054 and the Protestant Reformation which started in 1517 were nothing short of tectonic and impacted major parts of the Christian world.

At the opening of the 20th century, Christianity found itself seriously divided and it seemed that those divisions were incurable. However, there were stirrings of the Spirit among some broad minded Christians, leading them to believe not only that divisions among Christians were wrong but also that they could be healed. The Ecumenical Movement was born.

With Vatican II (1962-65) the Catholic Church formally committed itself to this movement and to work for Christian unity by engaging in dialogue with other Christians. One of the most dramatic ecumenical events to occur took place during the council. Pope Paul VI visited the Holy Land—the first pope to do it since St. Peter. While there, he met with Athenagoras, the Orthodox Patriarch of Constantinople in January of 1964. Although the role of the Patriarch of Constantinople among the Orthodox Churches is quite different than that of the pope in the Catholic Church, he is, nevertheless, the “first among equals” and the Ecumenical Patriarch.

The historic meeting ultimately resulted in the lifting of the mutual excommunications which had been promulgated by the two churches in 1054; it also brought about the commitment to engage in dialogue and the pledge of regular visits between the Phanar (the cathedral of the Patriarch of Constantinople) and the Holy See. It was decided that the patriarch would visit or send a delegation to the Holy See every year on 29 June, the Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, the patron saints of Rome. The Holy See would return the visit every year on 30 November, the feast of St. Andrew, patron saint of Byzantium.

The initial meetings were cordial, ceremonial and, of course, very important. Sometimes the patriarch himself came to Rome and the pope went to the Phanar in Istanbul. More often, high level delegation exchanged visits to celebrate the feast of the other church.

Over the decades what had begun as a cordial and ceremonial—though important—event has evolved into the meeting of friends and brothers. The small steps of rapprochement made by Pope Paul and Patriarch Athenagoras in the Holy Land, have evolved into a deep friendship and cooperation between Pope Francis and Patriarch Bartholomew and the Catholic and Orthodox Churches.

When the representatives of Pope Francis celebrate the Feast of St. Andrew tomorrow in Istanbul, they are representing two friends—Francis and Bartholomew—who have not only met several times but have worked together in issues such as the environment, world peace and the plight of refugees.

CNEWA’s world is deeply rooted in places where Orthodox Christians are in the majority. The yearly meetings between the pope and patriarch are signs to us that in a world of nationalism, xenophobia—if not downright hatred of “the Other”—and division, the “two lungs of the church” are working together to breathe new life in the two major Christian traditions of the world.

Tags: Pope Francis Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople

29 November 2018
Greg Kandra

A nun and patients pray during Mass in the St. Louis Hospital chapel in Jerusalem. Read about how this place has become An Oasis of Compassion in the September 2012 edition of ONE.
(photo: Debbie Hill)

Tags: Jerusalem

29 November 2018
Greg Kandra

Archbishop Leo Cornelio of Bhopal speaks to media outside a polling station on 28 November, after he says he was denied the right vote in the Madhya Pradesh state election. (photo:

Ukraine urges NATO to deploy ships amid escalating standoff with Russia (AP) The Ukrainian president has urged NATO to deploy naval ships to the Sea of Azov amid a standoff with Russia. President Petro Poroshenko made the call in an interview with the German daily Bild published Thursday, saying that “Germany is one of our closest allies and we hope that states within NATO are now ready to relocate naval ships to the Sea of Azov in order to assist Ukraine and provide security…”

Report: Christians denied vote in Indian election ( Hundreds of Christians, including a Catholic archbishop, were turned away from polling booths in India’s Madhya Pradesh state because their names were not on the voter list. Christian leaders claimed there was foul play in the 28 November poll. Archbishop Leo Cornelio of Bhopal, the state capital, and hundreds of other Christians, had to return home without exercising their franchise to elect 230 legislators…

Syrian abuses reportedly slowing return of refugees from Lebanon (AP) Some refugees who have gone back to Syria from Lebanon have been killed, detained or forced to join the military, abuses that deter others from returning, a Lebanese Cabinet minister said Tuesday…

Dutch church holds non-stop service to prevent Armenians from being deported ( A Dutch church service that began a month ago has maintained a 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-per-week service for over a month to protect an Armenian refugee family from being deported. The Tamrazyans, a family of five, have lived in the Netherlands for nearly nine years, but are facing expulsion after a court rejected their appeals to stay in the country…

Vatican discusses Global Compact on Migration (Vatican News) In December, the international community will adopt two international agreements: The Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration — at an Intergovernmental Conference in Marrakesh and the Global Compact on refugees at the United Nations in New York. One of the key partners in drawing up the Compact is the Vatican’s migrant and Refugees Section of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development. The Rev. Michael Czerny, S.J., Co-Under-Secretary of the Migrant and Refugees Section, spoke to Vatican News about the Vatican’s role and stance on this global compact…

Tags: India Lebanon Ukraine Armenia Migrants

28 November 2018

Among the skills children learn at the Assisi School is how to create jewelry with beads.
(photo: CNEWA)

This week, we received a report from our regional director in India, M.L. Thomas, updating us on a program CNEWA is supporting:

Kaleketty is a remote forest village in the diocese of Kanjirappally in Kerala. CNEWA stretched its hands to help 50 visually impaired children at a school for the blind run by the Congregation of Assisi Sisters of Mary Immaculate.

To help these children develop skills, the sisters conduct academic classes, and also give them training in music, dance, and physical education. They are also trained in rehab programs—making umbrellas, working with rattan and bamboo, or creating jewelry with beads.

CNEWA’s support bought musical instruments, along with mosquito nets, mats, mattresses, medicine and day-to-day living items.

The Assisi Sisters of Mary immaculate (ASMI) which is a Franciscan Congregation of the Syro-Malabar Church, was established in 1949. The congregation was founded to radiate God’s compassionate love to the most rejected of the society — including leprosy patients, the blind, and the mentally handicapped.

The Assisi School for the Blind is a residential school. They have 50 blind children this year studying in 10 grades. Up to grade 7, the students are taught in state syllabus with the help of Braille books. For higher secondary studies, the students stay in the school’s hostel and go to another nearby facility. Proper training, knowledge and encouragement enable them to overcome their disabilities and exceed in life.

We sincerely thank our generous donors for supporting this project. You have not seen these young people, and they cannot see you, but they do visualize you with their hearts. Be assured, they pray for you!

Tags: India

28 November 2018
Greg Kandra

In Ukraine, seminarians share duties in tending the greenhouse at the academy in Uzhorod. Learn more about how young men are answering the call to the priesthood in Ukraine and coming Out From Underground in the Autumn 2015 edition of ONE. (photo: Oleg Grigoryev)

Tags: Ukraine Vocations (religious)

28 November 2018
Greg Kandra

In this image from last spring, internally displaced Syrians wait in line for food at a camp outside Damascus. Pope Francis has written a letter to Franciscan friars in Syria, expressing his closeness to the "martyred land." (photo: CNS/Ali Hashisho, Reuters)

Pope expresses closeness to ‘martyred land of Syria’ (Vatican News) In a letter sent to Franciscan friars in Syria, Pope Francis expressed his closeness to the “martyred land of Syria.” “I wish to share in your sufferings and tell you that I am close to you and to the Christian communities which are so tried by the pain experienced in their faith in Christ Jesus…”

Russia warns Ukraine of escalation (Vatican News) Russia’s security service has released controversial statements by three captured Ukrainians after Russian ships fired on also, seized three Ukrainian boats off the coast of Russian-annexed Crimea. One of the men, Volodymyr Lisovyi, said he was aware of the “provocative nature” of the Ukrainian action. Ukraine’s navy commander said the men had been forced to lie under duress…

Benedict affirms Christians are called to ‘dialogue’ with Jews (Vatican News) In a “correction” sent to the German monthly Herder Korrespondenz, Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict XVI affirmed that Christians are called to a “dialogue” with the Jews, rather than a “mission.” The Pope emeritus was responding to an article by theologian Michael Böhnke of Wuppertal. In the September issue of the journal, Böhnke had commented disapprovingly on statements made by Benedict concerning the relationship between Jews and Christians…

New study examines link between Kerala floods and climate change (The Wire) The frequency and intensity of extreme weather events in India appears to be on the rise, as projected by various scientific assessments on climate change. But it may not be right to connect every such event with climate change. This is what a new study on the recent Kerala floods highlights…

Ethiopia plans first census in a decade (Bloomberg) Ethiopia will hold its first population census in more than a decade, a step that could have far-reaching consequences for the Horn of Africa nation that’s grappling with multi-ethnic representation and rippling demands for self-determination…

Tags: Syria Ethiopia Ukraine Kerala Jews

27 November 2018
Chris Kennedy

#GivingTuesday is an annual worldwide event encouraging charitable giving — and here at CNEWA, that means a chance to share with others the priceless gift of hope. (video: CNEWA)

Today is #GivingTuesday, a worldwide event now in its seventh year, created to encourage charitable donations during the holiday season.

Coming after the rush of Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday, today offers a chance for all of us to care for our brothers and sisters in some of the world’s most troubled places.

#GivingTuesday donations, among making many other small miracles possible, will help us:

Bring medical care for war-displaced families in Lebanon and Jordan

Offer nourishment for young drought victims in Ethiopia

Deliver meals, clothes, blankets and first aid kits for flood survivors in India

Rush winter clothes and milk for displaced Iraqi and Syrian kids for colder months ahead

Secure food and heating fuel for families and elderly in Armenia

Will you share this season’s peace, hope and joy with those that might otherwise have none? You can donate here.

Meanwhile, check out our #GivingTuesday video above, created by our interns from Regis High School here in New York City. Please share it with anyone who might want to know more about how to help!

If you aren’t able to give, we still hope you will connect with CNEWA by sharing this video on Facebook or Twitter, or by gifting someone with a subscription of our award-winning magazine, ONE.


27 November 2018
Greg Kandra

Workers decorate the Christmas tree in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican on 26 November. The tree comes from the northern Italian region of Veneto. (photo: CNS/Paul Haring)

Tags: Vatican

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