28 June 2019
The July 2019 edition of ONE is now online.
Looking for some great reading this summer? The new edition of CNEWA’s award-winning magazine ONE is now online.
In the July 2019 edition, readers can visit a remarkable school in Lebanon; meet Syrians finding a new home with ancient roots in Armenia; discover how some of Egypt’s poorest residents are reclaiming dignity, even when living among garbage; and rediscover how each of us has a vocation.
It’s a rich and inspiring collection of stories and we’re pleased to share them with you this summer.
Check out the video preview from our president, Msgr. John E. Kozar, below. And click here to read more online.
28 June 2019
Tags: ONE magazine
Sister Nabila Saleh oversees the education of all students at the Rosary Sisters School in Gaza. (photo: Ali Hassan)
The new edition of ONE magazine features a letter from Gaza, written by Sister Nabila Saleh, principal of the Rosary Sisters School. She describes her life and mission:
Religious life carries great requirements and obligations: It demands vows of poverty, chastity and obedience; it requires the ability to break with worldly desires in order to pursue union with God. The road before us is quite thorny and fraught with hardships, but I knew then that the way to God is worthwhile if we allow him to work through us as he desires.
My life, heart and soul are enlightened by the existence of the extreme beauty of God. I tell him continually, “take what you have given me, and use me as you wish me to serve you.” I do believe in God’s providence because he has everything and he can do great things through me.
There are three sisters in the convent in Gaza: I am from Egypt; Sister Martina Bader and Sister Bertilla Murj are from Jordan. We dedicate much of our time to prayer, to the Liturgy of the Hours and worship of the Lord in the Eucharist. We have a harmonious relationship despite our respective differences — different backgrounds, cultures and accents. I cannot deny that I found it difficult at first, but our common love of Christ has brought us to work together in an almost perfect communion.
We believe that God has chosen us to work for him in Gaza to spread love by our care and to offer ourselves as a sacrifice to counter evil from wherever it arises. I am convinced our sacred mission is our daily struggle in teaching ethics, virtues and moral values and instilling the spirit of tolerance and mutual respect for all, regardless of race, gender or creed.
Read more of her letter in the July 2019 edition of ONE, now online.
28 June 2019
Tags: Gaza Strip/West Bank Sisters ONE magazine
After a failed coup attempt in Ethiopia, the state-run television says hundreds have been arrested. (video: AfricaNews/YouTube)
Hundreds arrested in Ethiopia after failed coup attempt (Al Jazeera) Nearly 250 people have been arrested in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa and the city of Bahir Dar since a coup attempt was foiled, the state-run Ethiopian Broadcasting Corporation reported on Thursday. The state broadcaster did not give any more details on who was arrested or when. But a party based in the northern region — the National Movement of Amhara (NAMA) — earlier said 56 of its members had been detained in Addis Ababa on Wednesday…
U.S. official: Christians in Iraq face uncertain future (CNA) The security of Christians in Northern Iraq remains “tenuous” and will require close attention in the future, the State Department’s religious freedom ambassador told members of Congress on Thursday…
Christians face new threats of persecution in Modi’s India (UCANews.com) With Prime Minister Narendra Modi starting his second term after leading his pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to victory in India’s recent election, complaints of violence are growing from the country’s persecuted Christians. Christians face a new wave of threats from Hindu groups after the BJP retained its grip on power in May…
Anti-Syrian refugee sentiment rising in Lebanon (Al Jazeera) Anti-Syrian refugee sentiment is on the rise in Lebanon. The country has the highest number of refugees per capita and many blame their presence for its economic crisis. Rights groups say the government is now pressuring Syrians to return home by making it harder to stay...
Egypt’s Coptic Christians claim they are being shut out of football (EuroNews.com) Many call it the People’s Game, but in Egypt there are claims that football is not for everyone. Coptic Christians say they’re being shut out of the sport in the overwhelmingly Muslim country. Football coach Mina Bindari felt so strongly about the issue that he set up his own “Je Suis” football academy for Copts, to provide them with a path to advance in the sport…
27 June 2019
Tags: Ethiopia Iraqi Christians Coptic Christians Persecution
Michael Shami, a seminarian at the Pontifical North American College, is pictured during his ordination as a deacon at the college in Rome on 2 June 2019. Shami was ordained as a deacon using the Antiochene Syriac rite of the Maronite Catholic Church. (photo: CNS/Denis Nakkeeran)
Ancient tones of Syriac chant, columns of incense, ornate oriental vestments and bearded clerics filled the chapel of the Pontifical North American College in early June, creating a rare Middle Eastern atmosphere in the heart of the U.S. church’s flagship seminary in Rome.
The ordination of Michael Shami to the diaconate was the first at the NAC in more than 20 years to use the Antiochene Syriac rite of the Maronite Catholic Church. The new deacon said the ritual underlined the church’s universality for his fellow seminarians and highlighted treasures proper to one of the smallest and most ancient Christian churches.
In the Maronite tradition, “there are no great treatises like in the West with Aquinas,” Deacon Shami explained. “Its strength is in its liturgical contributions.”
For example, he said, in the ordination rite, “when the bishop is imposing his hands upon the candidate, he’s fluttering his hands, and the specific verb used there for the action of the Holy Spirit” is the same verb “used for the Holy Spirit hovering over the primordial waters in Genesis and the descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.”
“Because typology is the primary mode of Syriac theology, it makes a very rich connection between biblical events and historical events and sacramental events and the general life of the believer,” Deacon Shami said.
While most of the altar servers were Latin-rite seminarians of the NAC, who wore their Latin cassocks and albs, many of them had spent three months learning to chant the Syriac prayers and preparing for the demanding liturgy.
“I didn’t see the hodgepodge” of East and West mixing “as an eyesore or lack of uniformity,” Deacon Shami said. “At the same altar, there was a Maronite deacon standing with a Byzantine priest leading him as his sponsor and Latin servers -- it kind of encapsulated the true universalism of the church and it was appropriate that it should happen in Rome.”
Preparing for Maronite ministry at a Latin seminary might be unusual, but Deacon Shami was confident it would help him to be a successful witness to his religious heritage in the United States.
“It provided me with an opportunity to try to communicate to a predominately Latin- or even Protestant-minded United States the value of the Eastern tradition in general, specifically our heavy reliance on patristics and sacramental mystagogy,” he said. “It taught me which idioms were helpful for communicating Eastern theology and which were not.”
Deacon Shami said that he had to put in extra effort to remain faithful to his Eastern spiritual heritage while at the Latin-rite NAC, but even those challenges bore fruit with his confreres.
“I would chant my own Office in my room,” Deacon Shami said, referring to the daily prayers of the Liturgy of the Hours. The other seminarians “hearing my voice, hearing me take such great love in my tradition in worshipping God, they themselves turned and looked more into the Western chant tradition.”
In other areas of life at the NAC, East and West did not mix so well. Fasting — not eating meat or dairy products — is at the heart of Eastern spiritual discipline and there are long periods of fasting throughout the liturgical year.
“It was very difficult to fast at the NAC. I tried my best, though,” he said, and there, too, it became an opportunity to share with the Latin-rite seminarians the idea of fasting as an ascetical practice.
The NAC also asked Deacon Shami not to wear his Eastern-style outer cassock, he said, because it would break up the uniformity of the seminarians’ attire. Other challenges were making time to visit Eastern-rite liturgies in Rome that would often conflict with the NAC’s schedule.
Deacon Shami is among the few young Maronite-rite seminarians in the United States. At 25, he is aware that his choice to remain faithful to the Christian heritage of his ancestors is counter-cultural. His own father, for instance, “Latinized” when he moved to the United States.
Like many U.S. immigrants from Lebanon, where the Maronite church is centered, “my father stopped attending (the Maronite liturgy) and simply started going to the local Latin parish” because it was more convenient.
As an adolescent, Deacon Shami said he took an interest in the Syriac language and developed his skills while an undergraduate at New York University.
“In my parish assignment last summer, I offered a free Syriac class and I had attendance of upward of 25-30 persons,” Deacon Shami said. “Even people of other backgrounds, with Italian last names, were coming” because Syriac is close to “the language Christ spoke.”
Deacon Shami completed his stint at the NAC in June and plans to visit Lebanon before returning to the United States for a parish assignment that will last until his priestly ordination in May 2020. As a new priest, he hopes to help revive Maronite traditions that have been lost.
A recent liturgical reform in the Maronite church “had a lot of simplification and elimination,” he said.
“One of them is when the priest elevates the host as he’s offering it, and he recounts all the great patriarchal sacrifices of old, from Abraham and Noah to David on the Threshing-Floor of Ornan,” Deacon Shami explained.
“The last sacrifice (the priest) mentions in this anamnesis is the sacrifice of the widow who puts the two pence in the treasury vault,” he said. “It really kind of encapsulates this idea that the greatest sacrifice, as St. Aphrahat says, is the sacrifice of the heart, and so the priest is asking that this sacrifice be akin to that sacrifice, the sacrifice of the widow.”
“Those kinds of prayers have been completely eliminated,” Deacon Shami said, because there was an assumption that many of them were “too complex” for people to understand.
“We need to have a reclamation of sorts,” Deacon Shami said.
27 June 2019
Tags: Maronite Catholic
CNEWA-Pontifical Mission marked 70 years of service to the church of Jerusalem with Mass at the chapel of the Notre Dame of Jerusalem Centre. (photo: CNEWA)
On 18 June 2019, our Jerusalem team marked 70 years of service to the peoples of the church of Jerusalem with a celebration of the Eucharist at the chapel of the Notre Dame of Jerusalem Centre. Archbishop Leopoldo Girelli, Apostolic Nuncio to Israel and Cyprus and Apostolic Delegate in Jerusalem and Palestine, presided. The solemn Mass was dedicated to all those who have served CNEWA-Pontifical Mission.
A special assembly was held after the liturgy. Regional Director Joseph Hazboun offered words of welcome to the guests, which included Mar Gabriel Dahho, Syriac Orthodox Bishop of Jerusalem; Bishop Boulos Marcuzzo of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem; Father Francesco Patton, Custos of the Holy Land; representatives of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church in Galilee and Jerusalem and the Syriac Catholic Church; priests, religious sisters, representatives of local Catholic aid organizations; and directors of partner institutions. The program included a short film highlighting the work of CNEWA-Pontifical Mission, a bagpipe performance of the Palestinian National Anthem by the Melkite Greek Catholic Scout Troop in Jerusalem and a Dabke dance performance by Siwar Association for Culture and Arts.
The Melkite Greek Catholic Scout Troop performed the Palestinian National Anthem on bagpipes after the liturgy. (photo: CNEWA)
The event marked, to the day, Pope Pius XII’s establishment of the Pontifical Mission for Palestine, an ad hoc committee founded to coordinate and deliver worldwide Catholic aid for Palestinian refugees displaced by the Arab-Israeli war of 1948. Placed by the pope under the direct administration of CNEWA, the Pontifical Mission’s activities have been expanded under succeeding pontiffs to include care for all those displaced by war and migration throughout the Middle East, as well as the support for the pastoral and humanitarian works of the churches of the region.
In collaboration with local Christian institutions, aid through our Jerusalem office has reached thousands of families, especially the most vulnerable, such as children and youth, the sick and the elderly, all of whom need basic services, especially in areas of the West Bank and Gaza Strip where resources are very limited. Over the years, the agency has also supported programs that help preserve Palestinian culture and heritage, and helped fund educational and formation initiatives for children, especially underserved communities in Palestine and Israel, including the children of migrants from Africa and Asia.
CNEWA-Pontifical Mission’s enduring presence in the Middle East is a tangible sign of the Holy Father’s sincere concern for the needy, the dispossessed, the refugee and the underprivileged.
To learn more about CNEWA-Pontifical Mission’s activities in the Middle East, please visit here.
27 June 2019
Tags: CNEWA Jerusalem CNEWA Pontifical Mission
A Catholic church destroyed by Islamic State militants in Karamdes, Iraq, is examined by a priest following the 2016 liberation of the predominantly Christian town. The U.S. State Department has released a new report detailing continued attacks against religious minorities around the world. (photo: CNS/courtesy Archdiocese of Irbil)
U.S. report documents attacks on religious freedom worldwide (CNS) The State Department’s newly released annual report on international religious freedom shows continued attacks and abuse by governments and societies against religious minorities in their respective countries…
Russian Orthodox Church plans ’Orthodox Vatican’ for Moscow (The Moscow Times) The Russian Orthodox Church has developed plans to construct its own Vatican to the tune of $2 billion in the Moscow region, the Vedomosti business daily reported on Thursday. Church officials have been in talks with officials in the city of Sergiyev Posad to transform it into the capital of Orthodoxy since 2017...
Gaza arson balloons spark 19 fires (The Times of Israel) Incendiary balloons launched from the Gaza Strip started 19 fires in southern Israel on Wednesday, according to authorities. The southern branch of the Fire and Rescue services said the blazes were quickly extinguished and that investigators determined they were started by arson balloons…
Catholics battle human trafficking in India (UCANews.com) The Global Slavery Index estimates that there are some eight million trafficking victims living in India, but the figure can vary according to definitions that are applied. For example, according to Indian government statistics, 8,132 cases of human trafficking were reported in 2016. Nonetheless, even the official figures indicated that the problem is getting worse as this constituted a 20 percent increase on 2015. Caritas-India in 2017 launched the ‘Swaraksha’ (self-defense) anti-human trafficking program near the Indo-Nepal border where most cases are reported…
Canadian-Indian development group with Sisters of St. Joseph offers support in rural India (Catholic Register) After 42 years of digging wells, setting up water purification systems, organizing villagers to demand better education, health care, roads and infrastructure, a little Canadian-Indian development agency estimates it has helped four million people live a better life in rural India…
Attacks threaten Ethiopia’s reforms (Reuters) The attacks, described by the government as part of a coup attempt in Amhara, highlight the dangers Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed faces as he rolls out ambitious reforms in Africa’s second most populous nation — a regional powerhouse whose economic boom is now threatened by deepening ethnic and regional fissures…
26 June 2019
Tags: India Gaza Strip/West Bank Russian Orthodox Church Persecution
Archbishop Elpidophoros of America stands with his crosier during his enthronement as the seventh archbishop of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America at the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity in New York City on 22 June. Also pictured are retired Metropolitan Avgoustinos of Germany and Archbishop Demetrios, who headed the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America from 1999 to 2019.
(photo: CNS/Dimitrois Panagos, courtesy GOA)
26 June 2019
In this image from 2016, women walk along a street in Asmara, Eritrea. Eritrea's Catholics are being asked to pray and fast in response to the government's move to close Catholic hospitals.
(photo: CNS/Thomas Mukoya, Reuters)
Eritrea’s faithful praying, fasting after closure of Catholic hospitals (Vatican News) Seventeen days of fasting and prayer. That’s what Eritrea’s Catholics are being asked to do in response to the government’s decision to nationalize all Church-run hospitals. Archbishop Abune Menghesteab Tesfamariam, of Asmara, announced the move in a letter dated 22 June. In his letter, the Archbishop condemned the decision to close Catholic-run health facilities, saying “only the Lord can console us and resolve our problems”…
Ethiopia’s chief of staff killed in failed coup plot (Vatican News) Security forces have deployed in strength across the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa. Internet access and some telephone circuits have been blocked. The personal bodyguard of General Seare Mekonnen — the chief of staff of the Ethiopian army — shot him dead after he and another officer attempted to prevent a coup against the administration in the northern Amhara region…
Thousands of refugees returning to Syria face prison, torture (NPR) President Bashar al-Assad has called on the millions of Syrians who’ve fled the brutal civil war to return home, but thousands who have come back end up imprisoned and often tortured…
Mob lynchings spread to India’s heartland (UCANews.com) The mob lynching of a Muslim man in India’s Jharkhand state shows religious hate is spreading to the peace-loving people in the tribal heartland, church leaders and tribal activists say. The death of 24-year-old Tabrej Ansari was the third incident in the state in two years and the latest in a series of such incidents at the hands of Hindu groups who want to make India a Hindu-only nation…
25 June 2019
Tags: Syria India Ethiopia Eritrea
Syriac Catholic bishops from around the world met for their annual synod in Lebanon last week, led by Syriac Catholic Patriarch Ignace Joseph III Younan. (photo: CNS/courtesy Syriac Catholic patriarchate)
Faced with the migration of Christians from Syria and Iraq, Syriac Catholic bishops meeting in Lebanon for their annual synod called upon church members “scattered everywhere in the East and West” to cling to their faith with hope so they “can be witnesses to the joy of the Gospel wherever they are.”
In a statement at the conclusion of the 17-22 June gathering led by Syriac Catholic Patriarch Ignace Joseph III Younan, the bishops acknowledged the suffering of the faithful in the face of “endless wars, persecutions, acts of violence, terrorism, displacement, murder and destruction, and the uprooting of a large number of nationals from the land of fathers and grandparents -- Syria and Iraq -- and their dispersion throughout the world.”
Yet the bishops stressed that they also are optimistic, “thanking God for the return of many displaced people to their villages” in Iraq and Syria.
The prelates noted that Christians “are an authentic component and founder in these two countries.” They called for solidarity among all citizens to build peace, hope and unity.
Synod participants came from dioceses and patriarchal and apostolic offices in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Egypt, the United States, Venezuela and Australia. They were joined by the patriarchal vicar in Rome.
In studying pastoral service in the countries where Syriac Catholics relocated -- primarily Europe, the Americas and Australia -- the bishops acknowledged the plight of migration “to the country of alienation and painful assimilation” and the importance of sending “priests of good quality.” They pointed to visits from the patriarch and bishops to Syriac Catholics worldwide in which the faithful were called “to preserve the deposit of faith and trust for their churches, the Syriac heritage and native lands.”
The bishops reiterated their demand to stop wars and “resolve disputes through dialogue and peaceful means, and to achieve a just, comprehensive and lasting peace.” They called for the return of all displaced persons, refugees and abductees to their homelands.
The synod also stressed “the right of the Palestinians to return to their homes and establish their state on their land,” emphasizing that Jerusalem “is a holy city for the followers” Christianity, Judaism and Islam.
They called on Lebanon’s president, prime minister “and all concerned” to find an immediate solution to the country’s economic recession and crisis in the housing sector that pushes Lebanese youth, in particular, to emigrate.
In their statement, the prelates welcomed efforts made “to obtain the official recognition of our Syriac Church in Jordan.”
They also praised the establishment of a Syriac Youth Meeting in Syria in early July and plans for a World Youth Meeting in 2021, which both follow the first World Youth Meeting in Lebanon in the summer of 2018. The bishops recommended such meetings be held in eparchies and other countries.
25 June 2019
Tags: Syriac Catholic Church Syriac Catholic Patriarch Ignatius Joseph III Younan
Security personnel investigate the scene of a bomb explosion on 9 April 2017, inside the Orthodox Church of St. George in Tanta, Egypt. The Holy See is calling for tolerance and inclusivity to combat terrorism against religion. (photo: CNS/Khaled Elfiqi, EPA)
Holy See urges tolerance to combat terrorism against religion (Vatican News) The Holy See is urging patience, perseverance, wisdom, courage and leadership in countering terrorism against every religion by fostering tolerance and inclusivity. ”I hope we will all become part of the short- and long-term solution,” Archbishop Bernardito Auza, the Holy See’s Permanent Observer to the United Nations in New York, urged on Monday at an event on countering terrorism and other acts of violence against all religious believers by fostering a culture of tolerance and inclusivity…
Iran president calls U.S. sanctions ’outrageous and idiotic’ (USA Today) Iran President Hassan Rouhani on Tuesday mocked President Donald Trump’s decision to impose “outrageous and idiotic” new sanctions, saying the effort to target top Iranian authorities reflects confusion at the White House…
Melkite bishops call for peace in Syria during synod (CNS) Melkite Catholic bishops from around the world, gathering in Lebanon for their annual synod, called for reconciliation and peace in Syria. In Syria, the war is almost over, but the horizon is unclear,” the bishops said in a statement following the 17-21 June gathering, which was led by Melkite Catholic Patriarch Joseph Absi…
The biggest displacement crisis that almost no one is talking about (Slate) The world’s largest new population of displaced people results from a conflict that has received shockingly little international attention: More than 1.5 million people were displaced by violence in Ethiopia last year, nearly all of them internally. This increase doubled the total number of displaced people in the country…
Indian cardinal celebrates Corpus Christi in Italy with a special chalice (Vatican News) Indian Cardinal Oswald Gracias, Archbishop of Mumbai, celebrated the solemnity of Corpus Christi in the Cathedral of Orvieto, Italy, on Sunday, bringing along with him a precious chalice where it originated over five decades ago. For the occasion, a delegation from Mumbai Archdiocese brought the “Golden Lily” chalice which Pope St. Paul VI had gifted the archdiocese when he visited the western Indian city in December 1964…
Tags: India Ethiopia Holy See Melkite