22 July 2016
This image from May 2015 shows the interior of the damaged Immaculate Conception Church in Suez, Egypt. Vatican Radio reports today on the dramatic rise in attacks on Christians in Egypt.
(photo: John E. Kozar)
Bishop in Turkey: Catholics watchful during crackdown after failed coup (CNS) Bishop Ruben Tierrablanca Gonzalez, apostolic vicar of Istanbul, said Catholics were following closely the government crackdown that followed an attempted coup. He told Catholic News Service 21 July there had been no news of detentions or injuries among local Catholics, or reports of restrictions on church life. He said most religious leaders had “stood with the civil community against violence and injustice” in the wake of the failed coup...
Attacks on Christians in Egypt on the rise (Vatican Radio) Egypt has seen a sharp rise in sectarian violence, with particular emphasis on Christians. This week a Christian man was stabbed to death by a mob of Muslim men, causing tensions to rise within the Christian community which has seen several attacks on both men and women in the last month alone. Vatican Radio’s Georgia Gogarty spoke with Christian Solidarity Worldwide’s (CSW) Egypt Advocacy Officer, to find out why there has been a sudden spike in violence, and why little is being done to resolve it...
Church joins project to resettle Syrian refugees (CNS) The Catholic Church in England and Wales has joined a government project to resettle an estimated 20,000 refugees from the Syrian war. A parish in the Diocese of Salford will be the first to welcome a family from a refugee camp in the Middle East as part of a sponsorship plan, which involves welcoming and helping to rehabilitate families of Syrian refugees...
Syrian refugees suffering on Jordan’s border (Al Jazeera) After a suicide car bomb at the remote Rukban border crossing in northeastern Jordan in late June, the government declared the area a closed military zone. It barred access even for the UN and aid agencies that have provided food, water, and medical care to the refugees. More than a dozen newborn infants and elderly have since died in the camp, according to activists. They say the bodies are buried near the road to Damascus...
Report: both sides in Ukraine conflict using secret detention and torture (Amnesty International) Both the Ukrainian government authorities and Russia-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine are holding civilians in prolonged arbitrary and sometimes secret detention and torturing them, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch said in a joint report released today. The report “‘You Don’t Exist.’ Arbitrary Detentions, Enforced Disappearances, and Torture in Eastern Ukraine,” is based on interviews with 40 victims of abuses, their family members, witnesses, victims’ lawyers and other sources...
Syrian children hold Pokemon photos praying ‘world will find them’ (The Telegraph) Children in war-torn Syria have been pictured holding up photos of Pokémon in a ‘plea to the world to come to their rescue’. The Revolutionary Forces of Syria Media Office shared photos of the children which have been widely circulated on social media...
21 July 2016
Girls greet visitors at the Vimala Orphanage in Marthandam, run by the Daughters of Mary. Children at the orphanage are supported by CNEWA. (photo: John E. Kozar)
CNEWA’s chair, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, recently made a pastoral visit to India with CNEWA president Msgr. John E. Kozar, meeting with leaders of the Syro-Malabar and Syro-Malankara Catholic Churches and experiencing the richness and diversity of Christianity in India.
As Asia News reported:
CNEWA’s chair Cardinal Timothy Dolan shares a warm moment with Cardinal Mar Baselios Cleemis, Major Archbishop of the Syro-Malankara Catholic Church, following the liturgy commemorating the death of Mar Ivanios, the founder of the Syro-Malankara Church.
The Syro-Malankara Church in India has commemorated the 63rd anniversary of the death of Aboon Geevarghese Mar Ivanios, the founder of the rite. Cardinal Timothy Dolan, archbishop of New York, was present at the event as guest of honor.
The U.S. prelate came on the personal invitation Cardinal Baselios Cleemis, head of the Syro-Malankara Church and president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI).
(photo: John E. Kozar)
Speaking to AsiaNews, Cardinal Cleemis expressed joy for Cardinal Dolan’s presence, noting the long-standing bonds between the Syro-Malankara Church and the Archdiocese of New York.
In 1948, he said, “Archbishop Mar Ivanios visited the diocese and since then we have always maintained a close bond of friendship.”
In his blog, Cardinal Dolan celebrated the dynamism and diversity of the Catholic Church:
Sisters from the Archeparchy of Ernakulam welcome Cardinal Dolan and Mar George Alencherry, Major Archbishop of the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church. (photo: John E. Kozar)
As I am vividly reminded now, the Church is not constrained by race, blood, or maps. Here in India, I can find the same Catholic faith I savor in the Bronx, on Staten Island, or up in Ulster County.
Cardinal Dolan meets schoolchildren at the St. George Parish School in Ernakulam.
Here the Church, while ancient, seems so new, young, and alive. It is still a tiny part of the census of India — maybe only 1 percent of the teeming population — but, it is growing, and it is respected. The rest of India admires the tiny Catholic community for its unity in faith, its devotion to prayer, and its service to the community, especially in its splendid schools, hospitals and clinics, and works of charity.
(photo: John E. Kozar)
So much so that the little Church in India is itself missionary, as the world thanks God for the radiantly committed Catholic faithful, priests, and sisters who are serving splendidly in all parts of the Church universal, as we are gratefully aware here in the archdiocese.
Visiting my brother bishops, and priests, so many sisters and families here in this subcontinent, is a retreat for me, as I see the oneness, holiness, catholicity, and apostolicity of His Church.
As you can see, Msgr. Kozar took some wonderful pictures during the trip. We look forward to sharing more of them with you online to celebrate and salute this corner of CNEWA’s world, where the church truly is “so new, young and alive.”
A welcoming band greets CNEWA’s president John E. Kozar at the St. George Shrine and School in Ernakulam. (photo: CNEWA)
21 July 2016
Sister Hakinta helps with homework at the Our Lady of Armenia center in Tashir. Many men have left the country to work abroad, leaving women to raise children on their own. Learn what the Church is doing to lend support in Armenia’s Children, Left Behind in the Summer 2016 edition
of ONE. (photo: Nazik Armenakyan)
21 July 2016
A mother and her daughter mourn after the airstrikes carried out by Russian and Syrian war planes targeted a school, in which refugees had taken shelter, in Aleppo, Syria, on 21 July 2016. The city has been under siege for 13 consecutive days.
(photo: Ibrahim Ebu Leys/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Half a million people trapped in Aleppo (Al Monitor) The city of Aleppo has been under siege for 13 consecutive days. The Syrian regime imposed the blockade on the areas under the control of the Syrian opposition after government forces took over strategic areas on 7 July in al-Mallah region in northern Aleppo province. As a result, the regime forces were able to closely monitor Castello Road, the only road leading to the northern and western countryside of Aleppo and the sole humanitarian route that allows the daily passage of merchandise and food from Aleppo’s countryside and from the Turkish-Syrian border areas to the neighborhoods in Aleppo that are in the grip of the armed opposition...
Turkey declares three-month state of emergency (CNN) Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced the nation is imposing a three-month state of emergency in the aftermath of last week’s bloody coup attempt. Erdogan met Wednesday with his national security council and council of ministers, the latter of which approved the state of emergency recommendation...
Report: churches targeted during attempted coup in Turkey (Pakistan Christian Post) Two churches in cities in eastern Turkey infamous as the sites of historic killings of Christians were vandalized during the attempted coup on 15 July, reports Middle East Concern...
Sectarian clashes in Minya, Egypt (Fides) Four Christian Copts and five Muslims were injured in sectarian clashes which broke out in recent days in the village of Edmo, located in the governorate of Minya in Upper Egypt. After the clashes, the police have increased the level of control in the village, with the intent to prevent new clashes...
The dangerous route of Ethiopian migrants (The New Yorker) The modern flow of people to the Middle East waxes and wanes as wars and crises afflict the countries surrounding Djibouti. Over the past decade, though, the number of migrant arrivals in Yemen from the Horn of Africa has increased more than threefold, to about ninety-two thousand last year...
Canadian Church seeks open door for immigration (Catholic Register) As Canada launches another overhaul of immigration policy, the Church has an interest in maintaining open doors, whether it’s to refugees, regular immigrants or temporary foreign workers. “We’re a country of immigrants and we’re a Church of immigrants,” said Canadian Church historian the Rev. Terry Fay, author of New Faces of Canadian Catholics: The Asians. “If we can think of ourselves as any other type of Church, we’re not. We’re not establishment people. We’re a Church of immigrants...”
Order of Holy Sepulchre launches new website (Fides) The initiatives and projects implemented and supported especially in Holy Land by the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre now have a new instrument in order to be known throughout the world: the new international Web site of the Equestrian Order www.oessh.va, inaugurated recently by Cardinal Edwin O’Brien, Grand Master of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre. The site is already available in five languages...
20 July 2016
Filipinos attend a Saturday Mass celebrated in Tagalog at a pastoral center in Tel Aviv. To learn more about migrants making a new home in Israel, read Surviving Without a Country in the Promised Land in the Summer edition of ONE. (photo: CNEWA)
20 July 2016
Family members of detained Turkish soldiers wait in front of the Istanbul Justice Palace on 20 July, following the failed military coup attempt of 15 July. The government has launched a massive crackdown on those believed to be connected to the coup attempt.
(photo: Bulent Kilic/AFP/Getty Images)
Thousands suspended, fired after failed coup in Turkey (CNN) Turkey has now fired or suspended about 50,000 people after a failed coup over the weekend as it intensifies its vast purge — battering the country’s security forces and many of its democratic institutions...
Ukraine journalist killed in car bombing (The Guardian) A prominent journalist working for a Ukrainian online investigative newspaper has been killed by a car bomb in central Kiev. Pavel Sheremet, who wrote for Ukrayinska Pravda, was driving to work in the car of the newspaper’s owner on Wednesday morning when it was blown up, an adviser to the interior minister, Anton Gerashchenko, said...
Indian Christians step up caste protests (Episcopal News Service) Churches throughout India are stepping up protests against the country’s discriminatory caste system which disadvantages Dalit Christians and Muslims. The caste system is a Hindu-based status system that grades different groups of people on a social scale. The National Council of Churches in India have designated a national day of protest on 10 August “to raise our protest to the continual negligence of the government to the cry for the rights of Dalit Christians in the country...”
Gaza couples struggle with financial difficulties (Mondoweiss.net) Gaza’s crippled economy leaves more and more graduates unemployed and incapable of achieving economic independence, which in turn prevents them from forming secure and stable marriages. Every year, 32,000 students graduate from Gaza schools, only to face bleak prospects of ever finding jobs, leaving the Gaza Strip with soaring unemployment rates that reach up to 70 percent among youth. In response, some local and foreign charities launched programs to aid in mitigating the social crisis resulting from the suffocating Israeli restrictions...
Photo of kidnapped priest posted on Facebook (Fides) “We have no further news, and today, with technical means available, everything is possible in this field. But the photo may be authentic. There are those who, however believe that father Tom is still alive. And I also think he is alive.” This is how Bishop Paul Hinder, OFMCap, Apostolic Vicar of Southern Arabia, comments on the publication of the photo which appeared on Father Tom Uzhunnalil’s Facebook account. The Indian priest was kidnapped on 4 March in Aden by terrorist commandos who stormed a nursing home, slaughtering four Missionaries of Charity, along with 12 other people...
Russian Orthodox Church Synod rejects status of Crete Council (Interfax) The Council, which took place in Crete on 20-25 June cannot be regarded as pan-Orthodox, the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church said in Moscow on Friday. “The Holy Synod determined that the Council, which took place in Crete, cannot be regarded as pan-Orthodox, and the documents it approved as expressing a pan-Orthodox consensus,” said the head of the Synodal Department for Church, Society and Media Relations Vladimir Legoyda, commenting on the results of a Synod meeting...
Indian archdiocese welcomes African migrants (Vatican Radio) The Archdiocese of Bangalore in Karnataka welcomed migrants from Africa with open arms at the St. Josephs Boys School, where the Archdiocesan Commission for Migrants organised an event just for them on 17 July. Msgr. Bernard Moras, archbishop of Bangalore, told AsiaNews that “the Jubilee of Mercy provided the impetus for the meeting. It is important to take care of the pastoral needs of migrants and dedicate ourselves to their well-being...”
19 July 2016
The Rev. David Neuhaus, S.J., lights a candle during a baptism ceremony at Mass for the Hebrew-speaking Catholics in Israel. (photo: CNS/courtesy www.catholic.co.il)
The Rev. David Neuhaus, S.J., oversees one of the more unusual flocks in Israel, Hebrew-speaking Catholics:
With just 500 active members, including children, Israel’s Hebrew-speaking Catholic community is so small that many Catholics around the world, and most Israelis, do not know of its existence. It endures as a vibrant contradistinction: Catholics celebrating their faith in a country that is overwhelmingly Jewish, worshiping in Hebrew, marking Jewish feasts and traditions, and honoring many local customs. Yet they are undeniably, proudly Catholic.
Father Neuhaus is the Latin patriarchal vicar for this group. He was born in South Africa to German Jewish parents and converted to Catholicism at the age of 26. Now he works to continue passing on the faith:
One of the challenges is to continue making the faith resonate, especially among the young. In most Catholic communities around the world, “even the children who stop coming to church return to get married and to baptize their children,” Father Neuhaus notes.
“With us, it’s completely different. Once our children stop coming to church, we never see them again.
“The church,” he adds, “becomes invisible in their lives.”
And that’s not all. He is also working to make the church visible in the lives of the immigrant population. In the Summer 2016 edition of ONE, Diane Handel looks at how Father Neuhaus ministers to migrants in Israel. Together with CNEWA and a number of mostly European Catholic donors, he has founded child care centers to serve Israel’s marginalized communities, especially asylum seekers and migrant workers.
The challenges in his corner of the world are significant. As we noted three years ago:
The Arab Christian community “is a traumatized community” because of the displacement of so many Palestinians, Father Neuhaus notes. “We live in a country full of friction, we on the Israeli Jewish side and many of our Catholic brothers and sisters on the Palestinian side, so this friction is present in the church as well. “The challenge,” he concludes, “is to live the unity of the Body of Christ despite the divisions of politics, violence and war.”
That heroic spirit helps carry on part of CNEWA’s mission: to affirm human dignity, encourage dialogue and inspire hope. Want to keep that spirit alive and growing? Visit this link to learn how you can help.
19 July 2016
CNEWA’s president, Msgr. John Kozar, leads benediction at the Al Bishara School in the Ain Kawa area of Erbil, in Iraqi Kurdistan. He visited the region in April. Follow his journey and see more dramatic photographs in United in Faith, Prayer and Love in the Summer 2016 edition of ONE.
19 July 2016
In this photograph from last month, Syrian Kurdish women mourn during the funeral of eight members of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) who died during an assault against ISIS in the town of Manbij. A monitoring group says US-backed forces led airstrikes against the town Tuesday, killing at least 56 civilians. (photo: Delil Souleiman/AFP/Getty Images)
Airstrikes kill 56 civilians in Syrian town (Al Jazeera) At least 56 civilians, including 11 children, have been killed in US-led air strikes against areas in Syria held by the Islamic State of Syria and the Levant group (ISIL, also known as ISIS), a monitoring group said. “We believe that the raids which were carried out Tuesday were by US [or] allied planes, but it was by mistake,” Observatory director Rami Abdel-Rahman told DPA news agency...
Alleged coup supporters to face trial in Greece (The Wall Street Journal) Greece faces a delicate balancing act as it confronts the spillover of Turkey’s failed coup on its territory: Eight Turkish officers who supported the coup and fled to Greece want asylum, while Turkey wants them handed over swiftly...
Gaza tunnel collapse kills terror operative (The Times of Israel) A Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror operative was killed in the Gaza Strip Monday night when a tunnel used by the group collapsed east of the town of Khan Yunis, according to various media reports...
In Lebanon, Syrian refugees fear rising discrimination (AFP) Lebanon hosts more than one million Syrian refugees — roughly a quarter of its population — and has regularly been praised for opening its borders to those fleeing the brutal conflict in its neighbor. But the refugee influx has strained resources and tempers, with some Lebanese viewing the years-long presence of Syrians as a burden, even an imposition...
Olympic champion: world must not forget about Ethiopia’s food crisis (Reuters) Millions of Ethiopians in the grip of a severe hunger crisis are at risk of being forgotten by the international community and urgently need more aid to help them recover, former Olympic champion Haile Gebrselassie said on Monday...
In Egypt, law on the construction of churches delayed (Fides) The start of parliamentary debate on the new Egyptian law that should regulate the construction of churches and places of worship had been announced for the end of May, but almost two months later, the text of bill has not yet been brought into parliament, and is subjected to constant changes...
During trip to India, Cardinal Dolan celebrates Syro-Malankara Catholic Church, praises CNEWA (CardinalDolan.org) Today, we in America praise Jesus for your priests, sisters, and lay faithful whose deep Catholic faith, joy, and sense of family is an inspiration to us all. I praise Jesus Christ for the apostolic work of the Catholic Near East Welfare Association, which allows us to accompany you with our prayers and alms, and am glad that Monsignor John Kozar is here with us. I praise Jesus Christ for the lessons Mar Ivanios has taught us: especially his trust, his emphasis on the Imitation of Christ, and his thirst for unity and reconciliation...
18 July 2016
The neighborhoods surrounding the Tel Aviv Central Bus Station host large migrant populations.
Note: Earlier this year, writer Diane Handal visited Israel to report on what migrants endure to reach this Promised Land. What follows are some random impressions of her journey as a traveler herself, experiencing anew the sights and sounds of a land she knows well.
I boarded the flight to Tel Aviv in a plane filled with men wearing tall black hats and sporting beards, women in wigs and kerchiefs — many of them carrying babies — with toddlers running in front and older ones trailing behind.
Everyone was speaking Hebrew except for a group of older women tourists from Oregon on their way to visit the Holy Land.
We arrived in Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion Airport and after being grilled at immigration, I picked up my baggage and boarded a shuttle to Jerusalem.
The settlements had grown so much from my last visit here, making my heart sink. The scars of the recent uprising and killings lay like a dark blanket over its residents. Hotels have been shuttered as the pilgrims had stopped coming and now there is an uneasy quiet in the streets and a definite police presence.
I walked in through the New Gate and rang the bell of Sami el-Yousef, my dear friend and CNEWA’s regional director for Palestine and Israel. He gave me a warm welcoming hug. I had come home again to the place I love and where I feel I belong. I am 100 percent Palestinian, with my entire family from Bethlehem.
The following day, I met the Rev. David Neuhaus, who is collaborating with CNEWA to help Hebrew-speaking migrants.
I walked with him to Our Lady Woman of Valor Pastoral Center. The children came running up to him, hugging him. The women who worked there were bowing and bending their heads to his hand in a traditional gesture of blessing. He grabbed one child and flipped her upside down! She laughed. My heart stopped.
Lots of hula-hoops were spinning in the playground. Inside the tent, children were drawing with magic markers, their finished work hanging on a clothesline. Snacks and juice were being served and as the clock struck 4 pm, Father David pushed them all inside the tent to maintain quiet as the synagogue began services next door.
Soon, I met two single mothers from the Philippines who are raising their children in Israel and use the center for after school activities.
And then there was Faith. She is ten years old, and is taking care of her five-year-old brother who has Down Syndrome. He doesn’t talk, she says. (But he does communicate; he screams.) Their mother cleans houses. Faith is just precious.
I drove with Father David the next day to southern Tel Aviv and saw houses of corrugated metal roofs and siding to shield its residents from this nasty cold weather. They buildings are “graced” by an old bus station where big green buses are constantly coming and going.
We were in the slums where most of the migrants lived.
A small shopping area below encircled this “Central Bus Station.” On the right side was a Kingdom of Pork Factory store.
Graffiti was scribbled on the stone walls of a cement block house with concrete bricks inserted into what were once windows. A dirt lot next door was full of pigeons.
We went to Rehovat for Mass with Father David and Tony, a seminarian, who reminds me so much of my brothers. He said when he told his mother he was going into the seminary, she cried for a month!
Rehovat is a small town about 12 miles south of Tel Aviv. At last report, in 2014, the population numbered about 129,000 people.
Off one of the main streets, we walked into an alley. A small room overflowed with some 50 worshipers, mainly Filipinos, with some international students in the mix, all coming for Mass.
A Filipino woman was playing a portable organ and the words to the songs were displayed on a screen to the right of the altar.
Everyone was so happy to see Father David, who said the Mass. As before, there were people constantly bowing their heads to his hand.
I left Jerusalem, on my way to the Allenby Bridge crossing to Amman, Jordan.
On the way, I passed Ma’ale Adumim, an enormous settlement on the West Bank with beautiful paved roads and tall modern street lamps. Its population in 2015 was around 40,000.
Soon they will have company. The number of migrants is only expected to grow.
According to The Jordan Times, Israel’s defense ministry recently approved plans to build 153 new settler units in the occupied West Bank.
Read more about Surviving Without a Country in the Promised Land in the Summer 2016 edition of ONE.