26 February 2019
India confirms it struck targets in Pakistan early Tuesday, escalating the tensions between the two countries. (video: BBC/YouTube)
Indian fighter jets attack Pakistan (NPR) India says its fighter jets crossed a disputed border before dawn Tuesday into neighboring Pakistan, conducting airstrikes on a militant training camp and killing “a very large number of terrorists.” Pakistan confirmed by tweet that Indian planes entered its airspace. But the spokesperson for the Pakistan Armed forces said they were forced to drop their payload in an open field, after Pakistan scrambled its own jets, and that there were no casualties or damage…
Iran to build 200,000 housing units in Syria (Middle East Monitor) Iran has agreed to build 200,000 housing units in the Syrian capital Damascus, the Tasnim News Agency reported on Sunday. Tehran province Vice Chairman of Mass-Housing Constructors Association Iraj Rahbar revealed the plan, noting that it was one of a number of agreements on civil construction, tourism and the agriculture industry, the news agency reported…
Copts concerned about death sentence for monks convicted in murder of bishop (AsiaNews) A court sentenced two monks to death over the murder of the abbot of the monastery of St Macarius in Wadi El Natrun. For Egyptian Christians and the leaders of the Coptic Orthodox Church, this is a sad day and represents a catastrophe that will be appealed as soon as possible. The details of the case are still murky. Many of the pieces of the puzzle are missing, nor is it clear why the death penalty was imposed. Sources that spoke to AsiaNews, said that they will wait for further developments before commenting on the matter…
Opioid crisis hits Gaza (Times of Israel) An opioid crisis has quietly spread in the Gaza Strip, trapping thousands in the hell of addiction and adding another layer of misery to the blockaded and impoverished Hamas-controlled coastal territory. The scourge can be traced to the mass import of cheap opioid-based Tramadol pain pills through smuggling tunnels under Gaza’s border more than a decade ago. A more addictive black-market form of the drug called Tramal has since taken hold…
Death toll in Ukraine conflict now up to 13,000 (Radio Free Europe) Some 13,000 people have been killed, a quarter of them civilians, and as many as 30,000 wounded in the war in eastern Ukraine since it broke out in April 2014, the United Nations says…
25 February 2019
Tags: Syria India Ukraine Iran
The Rev. Boulos Nassif strives to serve marginalized communities in Egypt. Learn how he is among the many Signs of Hope in that country in the current edition of ONE. (photo: Roger Anis)
25 February 2019
Tags: Egypt Priests
Pope Francis receives the Apostoliki Diaconia of the Orthodox Archdiocese of Athens.
(photo: Vatican Media)
Pope to Greek Orthodox: ‘We have more in common than what keeps us apart’ (Vatican News) Pope Francis on Monday reflected on the fruitfulness and importance of Catholic Orthodox dialogue on the journey to full communion. He was speaking to the Apostolikí Diaconía and the Centre for the Family of the Orthodox Archdiocese of Athens whom he received in the Vatican…
Ukraine’s crisis of faith (Politico) For years, Father Vasily spent his Sundays behind the altar at St. Nicholas, a church in the small town of Vorsivka, in north-central Ukraine. That all changed in early January, not long after the Ukrainian Orthodox Church officially split from the Moscow-based Russian Orthodox Church in one of the biggest schisms in Christian history…
‘Kerala will become an aged society soon’ (The Times of India) Kerala would become a fast-aging society in the near future, said Geojit Financial Services managing director C. J. George…
Bootleg liquor kills dozens in India (UCANews.com) The church is assisting those affected by a mass toxic alcohol poisoning that has killed more than 140 tea-estate workers in India’s northeast. Some 350 people continue to fight for lives in hospitals in Assam state after they consumed bootleg alcohol on 21 February. A similar tragedy occurred earlier this month with bootleg liquor killing more than 100 people in northern states of Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand…
Press briefing announces initiatives for protection of minors (Vatican News) There have been four Press Conferences, coinciding with the four days of the Meeting. Each one has provided a synthesis of the day’s discussions and reflections, and allowed journalists an opportunity to engage with participants and speakers in what was often a lively Q&A session. One implicit (and explicit) question underscored the concluding press briefing on Sunday: “What now”? Expectations were high, especially given Pope Francis’ mandate to participants, at the start of the Meeting, to come up with “concrete” initiatives to help the Church in protecting minors…
22 February 2019
Tags: India Ukraine Russian Orthodox Orthodox Greece
Families line up to receive medical care and food at the dispensary. (photo: CNEWA)
Lebanon is now witnessing a new phenomenon, according to our local church partner, the Socio-Medical Intercommunity Dispensary: Families and the elderly are approaching the dispensary for bread.
A member of the CNEWA Lebanon field staff writes:
I just came back from the field from Socio-Medical Intercommunity Dispensary in Nabaa where I had a meeting with the staff to follow-up on the health project CNEWA has been supporting. I was shocked at the sight of elderly women and men as well as families approaching the center asking for bread. A staff member told me that they are witnessing a new phenomenon, one they have not seen before, even during the war. Many well-known workshops in the area of Nabaa-Bourj-Hammoud are closing down and laying off workers. It is forcing families—who were barely able to cover their living expenses—to seek bread.
Through its local church partner, the Socio-Medical Intercommunity Dispensary, CNEWA for two years has supported the poor population of the area with food portions and medical aid; in 2018, 309 extremely poor families were provided with nourishment for five months.
The Socio-Medical Intercommunity Dispensary (also known as “Dispensaire Intercommunautaire”) is run by the Assembly of Female Religious Congregations. It was originally founded in 1968 by the Franciscan Missionary Sisters of Mary to serve those in need in a variety of ways — socially, medically and culturally. The Assembly took charge of the dispensary in 1973 and has been running it since. The dispensary is located in Nabaa-Bourj Hammoud, known to be poor districts of East Beirut with mixed communities. The residents are predominantly Christians displaced from Mount Lebanon and other parts of the country during the civil war. There are also a large number of foreign workers (Syrian, Egyptian, Iraqi, Sri-Lankan, Filipino, etc.) seeking shelter in cheap, small apartments. These areas are densely populated, characterized by rates of high illiteracy, delinquency, unemployment, drugs and prostitution.
Hanna Issa's wife receives bread at the dispensary. (photo: CNEWA)
One of the beneficiaries of CNEWA’s program has been Hanna Issa. He and his family have been supported with food and medical aid which helped them to overcome their dire economic condition. Hanna, 55, is married and has a 13-year-old daughter. He used to work in a shoe workshop in the area of Bourj Hammoud. Due to the difficult economic situation, the workshop went into bankruptcy and had to close down, laying off dozens of workers. Hanna tried hard, but in vain, to find a job to provide for his family. But through CNEWA, Hanna and others in similar circumstances were kept afloat and did not drown in despair.
Others have not been so fortunate. Deteriorating economic and social conditions in Lebanon have led to a shocking increase in the number of acts of self-immolation—most offered in protest against the crushing economic conditions.
It is a reminder to us of how circumstances have changed so suddenly for so many. Tragically, a growing number of Lebanese hunger for more than bread; they crave human dignity and hope. CNEWA is privileged to help in any way we can, thanks to the support and generosity of our donors.
22 February 2019
Abbot Nicholas Zachariadis, founding abbot of Holy Resurrection Monastery in St. Nazianz, Wisconsin, holds a pair scissors to the head of Deacon Paiisi during a tonsure ceremony at St. Gregory Church in St. Nazianz, Wisconsin. (photo: CNS/Sam Lucero, The Compass)
A Divine Liturgy brought together four jurisdictions of Eastern-rite Catholic communities, as well as the local Latin-rite Catholic community, at St. Gregory Catholic Church in St. Nazianz.
The 16 February liturgy celebrated the life tonsure of Father Paiisi into the monastic brotherhood of Holy Resurrection Monastery.
Catholics worldwide number around 1 billion, with the vast majority belonging to the Latin-rite Catholic Church. About 20 million belong to 22 Eastern-rite Catholic churches, which trace their roots to five ritual families. The largest of these are churches of the Byzantine tradition, to which the monks at Holy Resurrection belong.
Father Paiisi, whose birth name is Patrick Firman, is a member of the Ukrainian Catholic Church. In honor of his faith background, Bishop Benedict Aleksiychuk, of St. Nicholas Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy in Chicago, joined Abbot Nicholas Zachariadis, leader of the Holy Resurrection monastic community, for the tonsure ceremony, which is equivalent to a solemn profession in the Latin-rite Catholic Church.
“Holy Resurrection Monastery belongs canonically to the Romanian Greek-Catholic jurisdiction and is now the largest of these Greek-Catholic monasteries,” Abbot Zachariadis said. “It has always seen its mission as extending to all jurisdictions.”
The tonsure ceremony was a prime example of this collaboration.
The abbot explained that in the Byzantine Catholic Church, there are “basically two vocations or charisms of the Christian life: marriage and monastic life. Even priests and deacons are either married or monks.” Eastern Catholic priests are not allowed to marry after ordination.
In general, in Eastern-rite Catholic churches in their homelands, married men may become priests; they cannot marry after ordination. Under a Vatican rule in the early 20th-century, married priests could not serve the Eastern-rite churches in the United States, Canada and Australia.
But by the early 2000s, the Vatican had stopped suspending married men ordained to the priesthood for service in the Eastern Catholic churches of North America and Australia. In 2014, the Vatican lifted its ban on the ordination of married men to the priesthood in Eastern Catholic churches outside their traditional territories, including in the United States, Canada and Australia
With married Eastern-rite clergy becoming much more common, even in the United States, the witness of monastic life will be even more important than ever to emphasize the two charisms in the church,” Abbot Zachariadis said. “This tonsure celebrates the witness of monastic life in the Greek-Catholic churches in the USA and the co-operation between all the Greek-Catholic churches in order to make this happen.”
The tonsure -- from the Latin word “tondeo,” meaning to shear or shave -- is rich with historical symbolism.
It consists of cutting the hair of the candidate, a gesture that is found in Scripture.
For example, Chapter 18, Verse 18, of the Acts of the Apostles, describes Paul being “at Cenchreae, where he had his hair cut because he had taken a vow.”
Before the tonsure rite, Abbot Zachariadis addressed the assembly that numbered over 100 people.
“We hope that this will be the beginning of many more associations with the Ukrainian community of Chicago,” he said, in his welcome to Bishop Aleksiychuk, who brought with him from Chicago a choir that led the congregation in song.
The abbot said the gathering of so many communities bodes well for their future. “This shows a very, very important direction of our monastery and, hopefully, of our Greek-Catholic churches in the USA,” he said.
He also acknowledged the presence of six nuns from the Byzantine Catholic Christ the Bridegroom Monastery in Burton, Ohio, in the Eparchy of Parma.
In its 25-year history, the monastery in St. Nazianz has been unique, Abbot Zachariadis said.
“We were traditional, we were in America and we were a monastery especially for all Greek Catholics,” he said. “Not just for Romanians, not just for Ruthenians, not just for Ukrainians, not just for Melkites, but for all Greek Catholics. ... I appeal to all the Greek-Catholic jurisdictions in the U.S. to be inspired by this vision, to promote monastic life.”
He said that, unlike the Latin-rite Catholic churches, the Eastern-rite Catholic churches are small and need each other to succeed. “Each of our jurisdictions is too small, too lacking in resources, too uninformed about the richness of monastic life for each jurisdiction to recreate the wheel of monastic life,” he said.
Father Paiisi’s tonsure is a positive sign for the future, added the abbot, showing that Eastern- and Latin-rite Catholics “are in this together.”
“I’m very proud this morning to be kind of cementing this reality,” he said, by receiving Father Paiisi, a deacon of the Ukrainian Catholic Church, into the monastery. He hoped it would be the beginning of many such “monastic vocations to our monastery.”
“May Father Paiisi, as I will be tonsuring him for life, be a witness, and an important witness, to that reality,” Abbot Zachariadis added.
With the tonsure of Father Paiisi, he said, the monastery now has 10 members. Two novice monks are scheduled for life tonsure this year.
“We are growing, but the size of a monastic community is not as important as the quality,” he said. “I am very impressed by the quality of our monastic candidates.”
22 February 2019
Tags: Priests Ukrainian Catholic Church
Sukhbati Gand with her children in a photo taken before her husband Anant Ram Gand was found murdered in India’s Odisha state. His pastor says he had been given an ultimatum to renounce Christianity or face death. (photo: UCANews.com)
Christian man beheaded in India (UCANews.com) A Christian man has been found virtually beheaded in an interior village of India’s Odisha state in what family members and many others believe was an anti-Christian attack. They dismiss a police claim that he was killed by politically motivated Maoist rebels. The body of 40-year-old Anant Ram Gand, father of four girls and a boy, was found on a road in Bhenas village of Nabarangapur district, local pastor Chandan Jani told ucanews.com…
Report: religious minorities in India ’attacked with impunity’ (UCANews.com) Religious and ethnic minorities in India continue to face violence at the hands of Hindu groups that support the federal government led by the pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), according to a new report by Human Rights Watch. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government has failed to prevent or credibly investigate growing mob attacks on religious minorities and marginalized communities, said the report released in New Delhi on 19 February...
U.S. says 200 troops to remain in Syria (Al Jazeera) The United States will leave around 200 troops in Syria for a period of time, the White House has announced, as President Donald Trump backed away from a complete withdrawal of forces from the war-torn country. ”A small peacekeeping group of about 200 will remain in Syria for a period of time,” White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said in a statement on Thursday…
Eritrean delegation visits Ethiopia to discuss improving relations (AfricaNews.com) Eritrea’s information minister, Yemane Gebremeskel, said the delegation which arrived in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa on Thursday, had delivered a message from president Isaias Afwerki to prime minister Abiy Ahmed…
Lebanese leader visits Damascus to discuss repatriation of refugees (The Telegraph) Fears are growing for the 1.5 million Syrian refugees in Lebanon after the country’s new refugees minister made a surprise visit to Damascus this week to discuss their return. Saleh Gharib, an outspoken supporter of the regime of Bashar al-Assad, said Lebanon would work to ”secure the return” of refugees to Syria, where human rights organizations report they are subject to abuse and arbitrary detention. He explained that the Syrian government ”believe that the failure to return the displaced Syrians would be a blow to the victory of the Syrian state…”
21 February 2019
Tags: Syria India Ethiopia Eritrea Persecution
Armenian Christians at the Black Church in northwestern Iran venerate the site of the apostle Thaddeus’s death. (photo: Armenian Catholic Patriarchate of Antioch)
21 February 2019
Tags: Armenian Catholic Church Iran
As tensions escalate between India and Pakistan, Pakistan has vowed retaliation if India attacks. (video: BBC/YouTube)
Pakistan prime minister authorizes use of force in case of Indian attack (AP) Pakistan’s prime minister has authorized the armed forces to “respond decisively and comprehensively to any aggression or misadventure” by India, as tensions soar between the nuclear-armed rivals. India has vowed a “jaw-breaking response” to a suicide bombing in the disputed Kashmir region last week that killed 40 Indian soldiers…
Hundreds evacuated from ISIS’s last Syria holdout (Al Jazeera) Hundreds of people, including women and children, have been evacuated from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant group’s (ISIL, also known as ISIS) last holdout in Syria, bringing US-backed forces closer to retaking the last sliver of the ”caliphate.” AFP correspondents reported on Wednesday seeing at least 17 trucks carrying men, women and children out of the last patch of ISIL territory in the eastern Syrian village of Baghouz…
Jordan’s prime minister appeals for more aid, as refugees are set to stay (Reuters) Jordan’s Prime Minister Omar al-Razzaz appealed on Wednesday to major donors to continue multi-billion dollar funding for Syrian refugees in the kingdom, saying most of those who had fled the eight-year conflict had no intention of returning any time soon…
Ukraine remembers Maidan massacre (NBC News) Bricks, safety helmets and remnants of barricades are piled in makeshift memorials in the cobbled streets near Kiev’s main square. At least 50 anti-government protesters were killed here five years ago Wednesday, including many who were shot by snipers. It was the bloodiest day in months of demonstrations triggered by pro-Moscow President Viktor Yanukovych’s refusal to sign an agreement to forge closer ties with Europe…
Pope: Hear the cry of the little ones who ask for justice (Vatican News) The “Protection of Minors in the Church” meeting began on Thursday with prayers, readings, and brief periods of silent reflection, before Pope Francis gave his opening remarks in the Vatican’s Synod Hall. In front of the patriarchs, cardinals, archbishops, bishops, religious superiors and other leaders, the pope told them that, “in the face of the plague of sexual abuse perpetrated by men of the Church against children”, he had called them together so, “we may listen to the Holy Spirit and with docility to His guidance we may hear the cry of the little ones who ask for justice…”
20 February 2019
Tags: Syria India Pope Francis Ukraine
In a project supported by CNEWA, young Indian women from poor families develop computer skills so they can have a brighter future. (photo: CNEWA)
We recently received the following update from our regional director in India, M.L. Thomas, describing a project CNEWA is supporting to help uplift and support the poor — in particular, helping girls develop vital skills they can use in the future:
More than 300 young women were trained in trades that can help sustain a good quality of life.
This was one of the highlights of the project supported by CNEWA in 2018. CNEWA accompanied a few church institutions to support the poor, particularly the Dalits, to help them earn a living on their own. This was made possible through the support of generous donors of CNEWA.
CNEWA helped 352 young women through these dioceses/institutions:
Archdiocese of Trivandrum helped 90
Diocese of Marthandom helped 89
Diocese of Thuckalay helped 65
Diocese of Palghat helped 64
St. Joseph’s After Care Home, Changanassery helped 44
St. Joseph’s After Care Home has been helping poor children for the last 24 years. Many grew up to become qualified nurses, who completed their schooling in the orphanage.
The Catholic Church, a pioneer of educating the young, has helped bring revolutionary changes to India in terms of providing basic education to the poor and to Dalit children. The Church is now working to support the poor in higher education and job training.
More than 300 young women have been trained in a variety of jobs, including nursing and health care. (photo: CNEWA)
In normal circumstances, the parents —being poor—would opt to send the young women away in marriage. Such women are often not prepared to take up the responsibility of running the home and raising children, and their lot in life never improves. So we need to help give them skills to make a living and have other opportunities.
During the last few years, CNEWA has helped hundreds of young women in their studies. Most have been able to settle into and well-paying jobs in nursing, computer or tailoring that give them a secure footing for the future and help them support their families.
We remain grateful to our generous donors for making all this possible, and helping to change the lives of India’s poor for the better!
20 February 2019
Sister Shubba Poovattil visits with an elderly resident in Malayatoor, India. Read about how the remarkable Deivadan Sisters uplift Kerala’s abandoned elderly with Fearless Grace in the July 2010 edition of ONE. (photo: Peter Lemieux)