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Winter, 2016
Volume 42, Number 4
  
24 February 2017
Michael J.L. La Civita




Christian pilgrims visit Bethany Beyond the Jordan, which marks the traditional site of the baptism of Jesus. (photo: CNEWA)

Tourism of the Hashemite Kingdom focuses on ‘Christian places’ (Fides) - Biblical religious tourism and especially national “Christian heritage” are increasingly at the center of the Jordanian government strategies to encourage the flow of foreign visitors to the Hashemite Kingdom...

Another Coptic Christian found dead in northern Sinai (Fides) A 40-year-old Coptic Christian was found dead with a gunshot to the neck, in the Egyptian town of Al-Arish, capital of Northern Sinai, on Thursday, 23 February...

Pope Francis to rabbis: Torah manifests God’s paternal love (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis received his long-time friend from his native Argentina, Rabbi Abraham Skorka, on Thursday, along with a delegation of Jewish leaders involved in the preparation of a new edition of the Torah. The annotated, illustrated edition is already being hailed as an achievement in both the literary and visual arts...

Vatican, al-Azhar ask world to help stop religious extremism, terrorism (CNS) The Vatican and al-Azhar University, Sunni Islam’s leading institution of higher learning, called for the world’s governments, organizations and leaders to cooperate with each other in countering extremist and violent groups, noting that such groups “have negatively impacted stability and peaceful coexistence among peoples...”

Iraqi Christians erect large cross in area liberated from ISIS (CNA/EWTN News) After years of darkness, hope has returned to Telekuf-Tesqopa. Located just 17 miles from Mosul, the village is rebuilding after being liberated from ISIS. As a visible sign of the rebuilding, a giant cross was erected on a hill, marking the victory of the Christian faith against the darkness of the jihadists...

Christians and Muslims on a peace march in Iraq (AsiaNews) Chaldean Patriarch Louis Raphael I has launched a ‘Peace March’ on Palm Sunday “open to Christians and Muslims,” which “will set off from Erbil and end in Alqosh” in the Nineveh Plain. People will be “on foot for one day” calling for an end to violence in Iraq and throughout the Middle East...



3 February 2017
Michael J.L. La Civita




In this image from 1991, Cardinal John O’Connor speaks with the Lebanese press corps following a conference with Beirut’s ranking Orthodox leader, Metropolitan Elias Audi.
(photo: Maria Bastone)


He was a lion, a man who “said it like it was.” He never feared to make his point and rarely if ever apologized in public — except for one glaring exception: asking the Jewish community’s forgiveness for the acts and offenses committed against them by the Catholic Church. So read the obituaries of a man indeed larger than life, a passionate defender of life, a powerful enemy of racism and anti-Semitism, a man who preferred to be a priest’s priest and pastor, a boy from Philly, Cardinal John J. O’Connor.

Archbishop of New York and chair of Catholic Near East Welfare Association from January 1984 until his death in May 2000, Cardinal O’Connor does not bring to mind cool feelings. After attending a prayer vigil at St. Patrick’s Cathedral the day of his death, I piled into a cab. The cabbie was listening to talk radio, and the talk that night was of the life and death of the cardinal. As the cabbie snarled through the congested traffic that defines the Big Apple, I heard caller after caller, New Yorkers from all walks of life, talk about a man who touched their lives in deeply personal ways — his midnight stops to hospitals, his visits to people dying of AIDS, his ability to listen and empathize, his love of mothers, his concern for the priests and sisters serving the people of the archdiocese, his passion for the rights of laborers and the poor.

At the end of the trip — a long one — even the cabbie had tears in his eyes.

Cardinal O’Connor’s commitment to and love of the CNEWA family extended years before he assumed the mantle of leadership. He served as a generous benefactor, friend and counselor. Of his impact on CNEWA as its head, my dear friend and former colleague, the late Peg Maron, said it best in the pages of our magazine, published soon after his death:

He challenged the leadership of CNEWA to renew itself.

Under his direction, programs in the Middle East expanded to include such innovative projects as a housing renovation program in the Old City of Jerusalem and a comprehensive village rehabilitation initiative in Lebanon. And, following the disintegration of the Soviet Union, he committed CNEWA’s support of the church in post-Communist Eastern Europe.

Cardinal O’Connor tirelessly encouraged support of avenues of dialogue between Catholics and Orthodox; Christians, Jews and Muslims; Israelis and Palestinians. On trips to the Middle East he met with religious and political leaders throughout the region to keep open the lines of communication.

And he had a special love for the people of Lebanon.

At great personal risk he traveled to Lebanon twice during its civil war, in 1986 and 1989, to demonstrate the solidarity of American Catholics with the people of Lebanon. ...

Following the war, in January 1992, the Cardinal visited Lebanon a third time. During this visit he promised to do whatever he could to help rebuild that shattered nation. He fulfilled this pledge immediately after his return when he invited Lebanese American leaders to his residence on 26 February and challenged them to forget their differences and coordinate their efforts toward rebuilding their homeland. Also, at their request, he led a representative delegation to a White House meeting with President George Bush to seek a change in the United States’ Lebanon policy.

In gratitude for the Cardinal’s efforts on behalf of Lebanon, the Ambassador of Lebanon to the U.S., on behalf of the Lebanese President, presented Cardinal O’Connor with the Order of the Cedar, Lebanon’s highest honor, in January 2000.

Cardinal O’Connor was and remains a CNEWA hero. He retooled the agency, challenging its administrators to clarify its Catholic identity, update its systems, improve its transparency, expand its good works, and to remember always the needs of the poor. His leadership set CNEWA on a course to enter the turmoil of the 21st century, when the works of this special agency of the Holy See have been so sorely needed.

His life was one of a true leader. No doubt, he was received into the bosom of the Lord with the words, “well done, John Joseph.”



Tags: CNEWA Catholic Cardinal John O’Connor

6 December 2016
Michael J.L. La Civita




Bishop Denis J. Madden served the CNEWA family from 1994 until 2005.
(photo: CNS/Tyler Osburn)


Joy is a true gift of God, and what a gift it is to those who share in it.

For more than a decade, the CNEWA family delighted in the joy of Denis J. Madden, who as Father Denis joined CNEWA as its regional director for Palestine and Israel in 1994. Two years after engineering a remarkable feat — the restoration of the great dome of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, involving the historically contentious custodians of Christendom’s holiest shrine — Msgr. Madden joined the New York office as CNEWA’s associate secretary general, where he coordinated the expansion of CNEWA’s work in northeast Africa, particularly in Eritrea and Ethiopia. In 2005, Pope Benedict XVI asked Denis to serve as an auxiliary bishop of a particular church, the Archdiocese of Baltimore, where he coordinated the many ministries of Baltimore’s inner city parishes.

It was a move that put to great use his skills as a clinical psychologist specializing in conflict resolution.

But the many editorial meeting battles waged between this author and the editorial board were perhaps the greatest challenges for this man endowed not only with joy, but a steely sense of justice and truth and unyielding compassion and love for the poor and the marginalized.

Bishop Madden is “a good friend, ideal collaborator and a perfect associate,” Msgr. Robert Stern said of the newly appointed bishop. He’s “a very pastoral priest, a man with great concern for the poor and needy. We will miss him.”

And we did.

Yesterday, Pope Francis accepted Denis’ resignation nearly a year after his submitted it according to the norms of canon law. No doubt the Holy Father saw in this man the same qualities that served the CNEWA family and the poor we are honored to serve: joy, selflessness and effectiveness.

Well done, Denis! “Onwards and upwards!”



22 November 2016
Michael J.L. La Civita




The Rev. Thomas Rosica has been a great partner in CNEWA’s mission. (photo: CNS/Bob Roller)

Readers of CNEWA’s materials — magazine, blog, social media and appeals for help — are aware that this special agency of the Holy See depends on its partnerships with men and women in all walks of life to carry on its mission of service to the Eastern churches. Together, we build up the church, affirm human dignity, alleviate poverty, encourage dialogue and inspire hope.

Without these relationships, Catholic Near East Welfare Association would be merely an idea, not even a vision.

Basilian Father Thomas Rosica is one of those partners, a companion committed to the mission of CNEWA who in a very real way works “to connect you to your brothers and sisters in need.”

Born, reared and educated in Rochester, New York, Father Tom entered the Congregation of St. Basil and was ordained to the priesthood in Rochester in 1986. It was during his years of advanced studies at the École Biblique et Archéologique Française in Jerusalem that Father Tom became well acquainted with the work of CNEWA and the staff of our Jerusalem office, then led by Brother Donald Mansir, F.S.C., and (then) Father Denis J. Madden. These were hopeful and exciting years in Jerusalem, with peaceful negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians making headway — invigorating CNEWA’s outreach to the poorest of the poor through the local churches — and dialogue among the Holy City’s church leaders, coordinated by CNEWA, that would eventually lead to the restoration of the great dome of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

In a very real way, Father Tom began connecting the people served through CNEWA with hosts of concerned men and women after he founded in 2003 Salt+Light Television, Canada’s first national Catholic television network. A fruit of World Youth Day and the visit of St. John Paul II to Canada in 2002 (which Father Tom directed at the request of the Canadian Catholic bishops), Salt+Light has become a major resource for Catholics not just in Canada, but throughout the English- and French-speaking world.

Millions of homes have learned about the miracles of Bethlehem University, the hopes of Pope Benedict XVI’s special assembly for the Middle East of the Synod of Bishops, the challenges of the churches in the lands made holy by the blood of martyrs, and the crises in Ukraine and the role of the churches there in healing a people scourged by war.

In televised features and interviews with CNEWA president Msgr. John Kozar and staff members, such as Canada’s national director Carl Hétu, Father Tom has explored what makes CNEWA tick, revealing CNEWA’s love for the poor and passion for the truth.

In these times of fear, trouble and uncertainty, Father Tom has been a clear voice of reason, serving the Holy See as a consultant for the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, media attaché for synods and papal transitions and as an English-language assistant for the Holy See’s press office. An engaging man with a lively wit and a clear understanding of the church’s role in engaging and transforming rather than condemning society, Father Tom is, nevertheless, critical of those instruments used to divide the people of God. The Internet, for example, “can be an international weapon of mass destruction, crossing time zones, borders and space,” he said upon accepting the St. Francis de Sales Award given by the Diocese of Brooklyn earlier this year, describing it as “an immense battleground that needs many field hospitals set up to bind wounds and reconcile warring parties.”

“The church must shine with the light that lives within itself, it must go out and encounter human beings who — even though they believe that they do not need to hear a message of salvation — often find themselves afraid and wounded by life,” he added.

“The light of Christ reflected in the church must not become the privilege of only a few elect who float enclosed within a safe harbor or ghetto network of communications for the elite, the clean, the perfect and the saved.”

CNEWA is grateful to Father Tom for his heroic work to help us reflect “the light of Christ” — and spread that light around the world, especially among those most in need.



14 October 2016
Michael J.L. La Civita




The Very Rev. Brian F. Terry, S.A. presents CNEWA’s president, Msgr. John Kozar, with the Sharing Hope Award. (photo: Franciscan Friars of the Atonement)

One week ago, in the storied ballroom of The Pierre in New York City, the Franciscan Friars of the Atonement honored Catholic Near East Welfare Association with The Graymoor Sharing Hope Award at the friars’ annual Sharing Hope Celebration Dinner. Hundreds of guests packed the room as the Very Rev. Brian F. Terry, S.A., minister general, cited CNEWA’s “outstanding and steadfast work in serving our Lord by helping suffering people throughout the Middle East, Northeast Africa, India and Eastern Europe. ...

“CNEWA provides an inspiration of hope echoing the friars’ charism ‘to unite what has fallen apart, and to bring home those who have lost their way.’ ”

After thanking the minister general for his thoughtful and generous gesture, CNEWA’s president, Msgr. John Kozar, reminded the guests that the friars and CNEWA “share the same DNA, as we together carry forward the legacy of Father Paul [Wattson], who shared in the founding of CNEWA some 90 years ago.”

It was a fitting occasion for the friars and the CNEWA family, as members of the church gathered together to honor the legacy of the servant of God, Father Paul of Graymoor, who was among the first to respond to help the sufferings of Christians in the Middle East in the early 20th century.



27 September 2016
Michael J.L. La Civita




Archimandrite Emanuel Youkhana serves as the head of CAPNI, an organization dedicated to keeping hope alive for Christians in Iraq and Syria. (photo: European Parliament News)

More than two years ago, word reached us about the threat of ISIS to the northern Iraqi city of Mosul. Long the center of Iraq’s ancient Christian community, Mosul had seen a constant bleeding of its Christians since the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003. Once, Mosul sheltered more than 60,000 Christians, but only a few thousand remained by July 2014. But by the end of the month, the city’s remaining Christians had fled, as ISIS stormed the city and gave its Christian citizens the choice to pay an extortion tax, convert, flee or die. ISIS was less generous to Mosul’s Shiite and Yazidi minorities.

Through our regional director in Amman, we received up-to-date accounts from an archimandrite of the Church of the East, Abuna Emanuel Youkhana, who described the terror that followed, the fate of the city’s ancient churches and monasteries, and the unknown that awaited the Christians of all of northern Iraq. In one report, dated 23 July, Abuna Emanuel writes of the actions of ISIS:

“This reflects how deep the sectarian conflict is and how long it will take to recover — if any recovery is to come. ... The current situation reflects how the Iraqi structure was a fragile one. Is there really a common Iraqi people feeling that they are one people and one country?

“The situation is clearly a deep social and political crisis. ... The question and challenge is how to convince Christians that they have a future in Iraq. The nice words and sympathy statements are not enough. There should be deeds and practices.”

Last week, Abuna Emanuel traveled from Dohuk, Iraqi Kurdistan, to New York, where he addressed the United Nations about the plight of all minorities in Iraq and the Middle East. Before his historic visit to the august body, he visited with CNEWA’s president, Msgr. John Kozar for Archimandrite Emanuel is not just a bystander recording the travails of his people, but the head of CAPNI, an organization dedicated to keeping “the hope alive” for Assyro-Chaldean Christians, and now one of CNEWA’s primary partners in Iraqi Kurdistan. There, in Dohuk, next to the city’s parish of the Church of the East, CNEWA established a clinic with a committee of representatives of the area’s churches, serving some 500 patients a week.

CNEWA president Msgr. John E. Kozar, left, meets with Archimandrite Emanuel Youkhana, right, in New York on 23 September. (photo: CNEWA)

Asked about the strong bonds of friendship and cooperation among the committee’s different churches and their representatives, Abuna Emanuel laughed when asked to comment about such ecumenism in action.

“We don’t have the luxury to discuss this, and its theological implications. We do this practically, building bridges of hope, so as to survive.”

In addition to assisting with the management of the dispensary, which includes a laboratory and two operating rooms, the archimandrite has been interviewing displaced families, ascertaining information about their prospects and hopes as forces gather to take back the Nineveh Plain and the city of Mosul.

“Certain conditions, certain guarantees, have to be met to prevent this from happening again,” the priest said of those families considering returning to their homes should ISIS be pushed out and defeated.

“How do we restore coexistence and mutual trust?” he asked, adding that the post-Saddam Hussein Iraqi government had failed to bind the diverse nation together, ignoring the existence of Iraq’s considerable non-Islamic minorities even in children’s text books.

“The sense of loss is profound,” he said, noting that, overnight, Christian communities founded by the apostles on the soil stained with the blood of martyrs lost their shrines, their relics and their patrimony. Families were uprooted, perhaps forever.

“We share in the liturgy and in the sacraments,” he said of what binds all Iraqi Christians together, “we share all, as seeds of hope.”



22 April 2016
Michael J.L. La Civita




In this photo from 2014, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople leads the Divine Liturgy at the Church of St. George in Istanbul, Turkey. (photo: Filippo Monteforte/Getty Images)

The Turkish State opens a case to recover the lands returned to the Ecumenical Patriarchate in recent years (Fides) Turkey has opened a case against the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, to cancel the legal acts with which some land were returned to the Orthodox Patriarchal See...

The Patriarchs of Antioch remember the two Bishops kidnapped: “We do not have the support of the ‘giants.’ Our only hope is in the Lord” (Fides) “We shall continue to live in this East, ringing our bells, building our churches, and lifting up our Crosses...”

Karabakh: The Anguish of Conflict Lingers for Civilians (EurasiaNet) Now that the fighting has subsided in the contested territory of Nagorno-Karabakh, civilians on the Armenian side are struggling to restore a sense of normalcy...

Babushkas of Chernobyl (Aljazeera) The defiant women who returned to the radioactive exclusion zone soon after the disaster share their tales of survival...

Cong. for Oriental Churches shows support for Pope’s Ukraine appeal (Vatican Radio) The Congregation for the Oriental Churches on Friday released a press statement, expressing support for the extraordinary collection to take place this Sunday in churches across Europe for the people suffering from the war in Ukraine...

Author Jurgen Todenhofer, who lived with IS for 10 days (BBC) Extremists belonging to so-called Islamic State have lost a number of towns and cities recently, including Palmyra. But does that mean that they are being beaten?...



16 March 2016
Michael J.L. La Civita





The spring edition of ONE magazine is here!

Meet a Georgian hero, tour Egypt with Msgr. Kozar, meet Ukraine’s future leaders, see CNEWA in action in northern Iraq, and learn about Ethiopia’s need for water.

You’ll find all of this — and more — in the spring edition of ONE.

(P.S. Spread the word!)



Tags: CNEWA ONE magazine

16 February 2016
Michael J.L. La Civita




Syrian residents survey the damage from shelling in the Suleimaniyeh area of Aleppo on 14 February 2016. Elias Abiad, a 22-year-old Caritas volunteer, was one of the casualties of the weekend bombing. (photo: George Ourfalian/AFP/Getty Images)

Caritas volunteer killed in Aleppo by a mortar shell (Agenzia Fides) Caritas volunteer killed in Aleppo by a mortar shell His name was Elias Abiad and was only 22 years old. The young volunteer of Caritas Syria was killed on Saturday, 13 February in Aleppo by mortar shells which fell in the area of Sulaymaniyah...

Egyptian Coptic Orthodox not forgetting beheading of 21 Christians (Vatican Radio) Monday 15 February marked one year since video surfaced of the murder of 21 Orthodox Coptic Christians on a beach in northern Africa. The men were marched in orange suits across the beach, forced to kneel and then were beheaded by militants of the so-called Islamic State....

Boutros Boutros-Ghali, Former U.N. Secretary General, Dies at 93 (New York Times) The scion of a politically active Coptic Christian family, at home in a Bedouin’s tent or a presidential palace, he accompanied Mr. Sadat on his historic olive-branch mission to Jerusalem in 1977, then played a pivotal role in the Camp David accords...

Russian Orthodox Church Blocks Funeral for Last of Romanov Remains (New York Times) Ever since the remains of the last czar, Nicholas II, and most of his family were exhumed 25 years ago from a dirt road in the Urals, investigators, historians and surviving members of the Romanov dynasty have anticipated the day when all the murdered royals would be laid to rest...

The Syriac Catholic Archbishop of Mosul sends a new appeal to Pope Francis and to the world (Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem) Still to this day, Christianity is under attack in Iraq...



5 February 2016
Michael J.L. La Civita




A Syriac Christian venerates the Gospel at the Church of the Forty Martyrs in Mardin, Turkey. Reports today highlight the return of refugees to the Middle East after finding a cold welcome in Europe. In the Winter 2015 edition of ONE magazine, contributor Don Duncan takes us to southeastern Turkey, where a small but steady number of Syriac Christians have returned from years in exile to rebuild their homeland. (photo: Don Duncan)







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