6 November 2019
Protests continue in Lebanon this week, with some focusing on state institutions. In the video above, protestors explain why they are taking to the streets. (video: France 24/YouTube)
Lebanese protesters seek to shut down key institutions (Al Jazeera) Lebanese demonstrators have begun surrounding government institutions in the capital, Beirut, and other cities, as a mass protest movement demanding an overhaul of the country’s political system approaches its fourth week. The move on Wednesday suggests a shift in the focus of protesters from blocking roads and setting up barricades to holding sit-ins at state-affiliated sites as they seek to maintain pressure on the political establishment until their demands for the departure of the ruling elite and an end to chronic economic mismanagement and corruption are met…
Pope: dialogue begins with empathy (CNS) Christians who preach the Gospel must see people who do not know Christ as children of God and not as nonbelievers worthy of hostility and contempt, Pope Francis said. The example of St. Paul’s mission in Greece and his encounter with the pagan culture there serves as a reminder that Christians should “create a bridge to dialogue” with other cultures, the pope said on 6 November during his weekly general audience…
Israel approves controversial cable car plan for Jerusalem (BBC) A controversial plan to build a cable car network in Jerusalem’s Old City to transport visitors to one of Judaism’s holiest sites has been approved by Israel’s housing cabinet. The cable cars will ferry up to 3,000 people an hour about 1.4km (0.9 miles) from West Jerusalem to the Western Wall in occupied East Jerusalem…
Jordan official: Economy buckling under burden of refugees (The Media Line) Jordan’s economy has been suffering due to the presence of some 1.3 million Syrian refugees who have fled that country’s eight-year civil war, according to an official from the Jordanian Planning Ministry. Issam Al-Majali, spokesperson for the ministry charged with overseeing the refugees, told The Media Line that the influx “caused a huge increase in governmental expenses between the years 2011 and 2018 due to the costs involved in responding to the refugees’ needs…”
Why is India’s pollution much worse than China’s? (BBC) As India’s north continues to struggle with extreme pollution levels, the story has put a fresh spotlight on air quality in cities across Asia. Beijing has long been notorious for its smog — but statistics show that India, Pakistan and Bangladesh have worse air by far…
5 November 2019
Tags: Pope Francis Lebanon Jerusalem Jordan
Ethiopian Cardinal Berhaneyesus Souraphiel is seen at the headquarters of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in Washington last month. (photo: CNS/Tyler Orsburn)
Ethiopia is now managing nearly a million refugees from South Sudan, Somalia, Eritrea, Sudan, Yemen and even Syria, said Ethiopian Cardinal Berhaneyesus Souraphiel. Because so many Ethiopians are refugees, those who remain in the country work to make newcomers feel welcome.
The cardinal, who visited Washington in late October, said his country had been “a country of hospitality, a country of open doors to migrants and refugees who suffer in other parts of the world. And if a poor country shares meager resources she has with migrants and refugees, how much more should the richer countries (do). Because one day, you might be a refugee or a migrant yourself.”
“I was surprised when I saw Syrian refugees in Addis Ababa and Ethiopia,” he added. “I don’t know how they arrived, the mothers arrived from Syria, and they have written on their chests in Amharic …’We are Syrians, we have come from Syria, please help us.’“
In separate interviews with Catholic News Service and with Catholic Standard, newspaper of the Archdiocese of Washington, Cardinal Souraphiel told of how the church is helping refugees and how the country’s poverty is forcing you people to emigrate from their homeland.
Souraphiel said the church is his country “is very much open to receive the refugees.” He said besides the Ethiopian Catholic Secretariat, the church works with international agencies such as Jesuit Refugee Service, Catholic Near East Welfare Association, Caritas and affiliated agencies such as the U.S. bishops’ Catholic Relief Services. Sisters of the Missionaries of Charity especially help with trauma counseling, he said.
When refugees arrive, church workers want “to let them know that they are welcomed” and get them registered with the United Nations refugee agency, UNHCR. If refugees register with a parish, they have access to Catholic education and Catholic health services.
“Ethiopians themselves are refugees in other countries in some areas. So they know the need of refugees,” he said. Ethiopians “have sympathy and empathy for refugees and also people on the move.
“They never had grudges with refugees, and that is why I think Ethiopia is blessed by the Lord.”
Part of what drives young people to become refugees is poverty, and that is the biggest challenge facing the church, the cardinal said.
“We live with the poor and we stay with them. Wherever they are, we try to be the voice of the disadvantaged, the displaced people,” he said. The church especially tries to help “abandoned children, and also mothers who suffer because of the big burden of taking care of the family, which they bring with them when they migrate from their own villages to the cities.”
As of May, more than 2.8 million Ethiopians were displaced within their country. As of 2018, Ethiopia’s unemployment rate was more than 19 percent.
Economic growth on the national level “might not trickle down to the poor,” so millions of unemployed young people — including those with college degrees — want “to go abroad, especially to the Arab world and to South Africa and to Europe.”
“Their aspiration is to escape the networks of poverty and change their own individual lives and the lives of their family members,” he said. And although many do, the majority struggle. They may end up abused, and many return home.
Church leaders try to encourage people to have hope, “especially the youth,” and they work with them to try to find employment within the country.
The cardinal said he is disturbed when he hears of Europeans closing their borders.
“This is not biblical; it’s not Christian,” he said.
He noted that the United States also is also a country of migrants and refugees.
“This has been what has made America a special country … to be a home for persecuted persons or for persons who looked for refuge from violence in their own countries,” he said.
He said Christians and Muslims were very moved when, in March, Pope Francis kissed the feet of politicians from South Sudan.
“Each politician whose feet was kissed — behind him are millions of refugees,” he said. The gesture was “to prick their conscience, to say to them, ‘You are responsible for the suffering of millions of mothers and children and elders because of, say, love of wealth and political power.”
“He did that just by bending down and kissing the feet, not by many other words.
“If you ask me to bend down and kiss your feet I might try, but I don’t know if I will get up,” the 71-year-old said, laughing. “He, at 82 years old … they gave him some help … is able to do that.”
Cardinal Berhaneyesus Souraphiel visited the New York offices of CNEWA last week.
5 November 2019
Tags: Ethiopia Refugees
Protests are continuing in parts of Lebanon. The unrest is now having a financial impact, as the central bank asks other banks to raise their capital by up to 20 percent. (video: Al Jazeera/YouTube)
As protests continue, Lebanon’s central bank asks banks to raise capital (Reuters) Lebanon’s central bank has asked banks to raise their capital by up to 20 percent by the end of June 2020, according to a central bank circular seen by Reuters, amid nationwide protests that led the prime minister to resign last week. It also asked banks not to distribute dividends for the 2019 financial year…
‘Defeated’ ISIS finds safe haven in parts of Iraq (NBC News) Just months after the Islamic State militant group lost the last of its territory in Syria, and days after its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, was killed in a U.S.-led raid, the group has found safe haven in a remote, ungoverned space in Iraq, as foreign fighters move across the border from Syria, military officials tell NBC News…
Rising sea levels pose threat to India, but scientist says study is flawed (India Today) This risk for the world is three times higher than the earlier studies’ estimates while Indians would face a seven times higher risk from the rising sea levels than previously believed, a new research shows. But an Indian scientist has challenged their findings and said that the study has flaws…
Russian Orthodox Church criticizes boots carrying cross design (RT) The Russian Orthodox Church is apparently displeased with a boot design deemed sacrilegious due to a cross-like shape on the sole. The scandal is the latest in a seemingly endless list of shoe-related social upheavals. A man in the Siberian city of Barnaul launched a crusade against the offending footwear after his wife spotted them at a department store. Manufactured in China, the artificial leather boots reportedly feature cross-shaped slide-stoppers on their soles…
Photos: world’s largest underground cemetery inaugurated in Jerusalem (Haaretz) A new massive underground burial ground was dedicated on Thursday at Jerusalem’s Har Menuhot cemetery consisting of a number of tunnels that are 1.6 kilometers long (about one mile) and 16 meters (52 feet) high. The tunnels have a total of 24,000 gravesides...
4 November 2019
Tags: Iraq Lebanon Jerusalem Russian Orthodox Church ISIS
A child in Ethiopia peers out from beside a handful of khat, the popular but addictive crop that is causing widespread problems in the country. Read how some families are Breaking Free of the drug, with help from the church, in the current edition of ONE. (photo: Petterik Wiggers)
4 November 2019
Pope Francis celebrates Mass in the Catacombs of Priscilla in Rome on 2 November 2019, the feast of All Souls. (photo: CNS/Vatican Media)
Celebrating Mass in catacombs, Pope recalls persecuted Christians (CNS) In what he said was his first visit to the catacombs, Pope Francis celebrated Mass for the feast of All Souls with special words of remembrance for Catholics who still today must worship in secret…
Pope prays for persecuted Orthodox Christians in Ethiopia (CNS) Pope Francis Sunday asked for prayer for persecuted Orthodox Christians in Ethiopia, who have been targeted in ongoing ethnic clashes that have left 78 people dead. ”I am saddened by the violence of which Christians of the Tewahedo Orthodox Church of Ethiopia are victims,” Pope Francis said in his Angelus address on 3 November. ”I express my closeness to this beloved church and her patriarch, dear brother Abune Mathias, and I ask you to pray for all the victims of violence in that land,” he said…
Russian Orthodox churches from Western Europe officially return to Moscow (RT) The Archdiocese of Russian Orthodox churches in Western Europe has officially returned to the Moscow Patriarchate’s domain after defying an order from its rival Constantinople to dissolve. Russia’s Patriarch Kirill presented the unity charter to Archbishop John (Renneteau) during a ceremony at the Cathedral of Christ the Savior, the Moscow’s Patriarchate’s largest church. John, who shall remain in charge of the Western European parishes, was previously given the title ‘Archbishop of Dubna’…
Holy See backs global convention on crimes against humanity (Vatican News) The Holy See is backing the creation of a global convention on crimes against humanity saying that international and domestic instruments are needed to fight the plague. ”It is a matter of great concern for us all that the world continues to be scarred by political, religious and ethnic violence,” Archbishop Bernadito Auza said on Thursday…
Protestors killed outside Iranian consulate in Iraq (Vatican News) Dozens of Iraqi protesters gathered in the Shi’ite holy city of Karbala on Sunday night. They set tires ablaze and attacked Iran’s local consulate. Demonstrators chanted slogans like “Iran out, Kerbala remains free.” Some threw firebombs over the walls, others scaled the concrete barriers, and an attempt was made to take down the Iranian flag flying on the property…
What India looks like when the air turns to poison (The New York Times) Air pollution in India’s capital climbed to poisonous extremes over the weekend and into Monday, blanketing streets in an opaque haze, delaying flights and prompting fights between politicians over who was to blame…
31 October 2019
Tags: India Pope Francis Ethiopia Persecution
Sister Marie-Therese and Sister Muntaha Hadaya visit a family who returned to Qaraqosh, Iraq, two years ago, after fleeing ISIS. Catholic and Orthodox patriarchs this week pressed the importance of preserving the Christian presence in the Middle East. (photo: CNEWA/Raed Rafei)
Syrian-born Catholic and Orthodox patriarchs pressed the need to preserve the Christian presence in the Middle East during a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban.
The patriarchs -- Syriac Catholic Patriarch Ignace Joseph III Younan, Melkite Patriarch Joseph Absi, Syriac Orthodox Patriarch Ignatius Aphrem II and Greek Orthodox Patriarch John X of Antioch -- met with Peter Szijarto, Hungary’s foreign minister, in addition to Putin and Orban during their official visit to the Hungarian capital 29-10 October.
In a speech to Szijarto, Patriarch Absi said the exodus of Christians from the Palestinian Territories, Lebanon, Iraq, and most recently Syria, has become “an alarming issue” for Christian leaders.
“The failure of different groups to live together in harmony in Middle Eastern countries is a threat to convivial relations between different groups all over the world,” he said.
“Failure to help the Middle-East to remain an oasis for different religions to live peacefully together will set a dangerous historical precedent,” Patriarch Absi warned. “Soon, similar conflicts will start to take shape in different places of the world.”
The patriarch stressed that the Christian presence in the Middle East “gives us a special role regarding our Muslim compatriots: that of witnessing the Gospel through a commitment to the service of all, whether in our schools, our hospitals, our centers for the elderly or our orphanages.”
He praised “the courage of the Hungarian position against immigration,” citing in particular the government’s Hungary Helps program, which has benefitted war-torn Syrian communities.
While the churches in the Middle East are trying to encourage Christians to stay in their homelands, Patriarch Absi said, “this is a mission that needs the work of governments because the needs are truly big and go beyond the capacity of the church.”
“What we need is countries with a similar vision to Hungary and Russia,” Patriarch Absi said. “That is, to help people the way they want to be helped rather than to change entire countries to befit political agendas.”
Patriarch Absi continued, “We hope that other countries will follow their example and encourage Christians to stay. This can be done by the lifting of economic sanctions, putting an end to the embargo, and by helping to achieve lasting peace. The Russian Federation and Hungary can have an impact on the international community; they can show other countries the way to achieve peace and how to safeguard nations in conflict.”
In a news conference on 30 October with Putin, Orban said that Hungary and Russia have a shared interest in stopping migration and achieving stability in the Middle East.
31 October 2019
Tags: Syria Iraq Orthodox Persecution
Demonstrators form a human chain during anti-government protests in Tripoli, Lebanon on 27 October 2019. The 29 October resignation of Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri followed 13 days of massive country-wide demonstrations. (photo: CNS/Omar Ibrahim, Reuters)
Lebanon’s Maronite bishops call for unity (CNS) Lebanon’s Maronite bishops, commending the unity of the Lebanese people amid a peaceful mass uprising demanding a new government, called for a “constructive spirit” following the resignation of the country’s prime minister. ”The Lord is leading the ship of the homeland and we hope that this step will be the beginning of the solution,” Cardinal Bechara Rai, Maronite patriarch, said in response to the resignation of Saad Hariri…
Russia and Hungary to discuss persecuted Christians (Vatican News) Hungary’s state secretary, for the aid of persecuted Christians, Tristan Azbej, is worried. He told Vatican News that Christians are now the most persecuted people in the world. That’s why, he says, Hungary wants to set up an international alliance to help Christian believers and other faith minorities during an upcoming conference next month…
Ethiopia mourns dead after ethnic violence breaks out (VOA) Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed says his country remains united after a week of violent clashes left at least 67 people dead and several religious sites destroyed. Now, he is trying to restore calm…
Cyclone brings heavy rains to Kerala (The Weather Channel) Heavy downpour in Kerala and Lakshadweep is set to continue in full swing on Thursday 31 October, as the depression over the Arabian Sea intensified into a cyclonic storm on Wednesday. The cyclone has been named ‘Maha’…
30 October 2019
Tags: India Lebanon Ethiopia
CNEWA visited Our Lady of Mt. Virgin Parish in Middlesex, New Jersey, last weekend, helping to spread the word about the work of CNEWA around the world. (photo: CNEWA)
Last weekend, CNEWA paid a visit to Our Lady of Mt. Virgin Parish in Middlesex, New Jersey. It was a great opportunity for us to share “the church’s best kept secret” and spread the word about some of the work we’re doing around the world.
We were warmly welcomed by the OLMV administrator, the Rev. David Skobolow, my old friend Deacon Tom Sommero, and hundreds of members of the parish family.
Deacon Greg Kandra preached at four Masses at Our Lady of Mt. Virgin over the weekend. (photo: CNEWA)
I preached and served at four Masses over the weekend, linking CNEWA’s mission to the Gospel reading from St. Luke, about praying to God with humility. So many we serve have taught us about humility — but also about hope, perseverance and unwavering faith. As the reading from Sirach reminded us, “The prayer of the lowly pierces the clouds.” It’s a blessing and a privilege to pray with the poor, and walk with them on their journey.
We’re eager to continue spreading the word about CNEWA, so if you’d like us to visit your parish, please let us know!
For more information, write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org
CNEWA development officer Christopher Kennedy; multimedia editor Deacon Greg Kandra; OLMV administrator the Rev. David Skobolow; and OLMV Deacon Tom Sommero. (photo: CNEWA)
30 October 2019
Protests have continued in Lebanon, following the resignation of Prime Minister Saad Hariri. The video above explores what happens next. (video: Al Jazeera/YouTube)
Lebanon: Army begins clearing roads after prime minister’s resignation (Al Jazeera) Security forces in Lebanon began clearing roads hours after the Lebanese army issued a directive urging protesters to vacate major thoroughfares to allow life to return to normal. The army’s statement came on Wednesday, a day after Prime Minister Saad Hariri announced his resignation and hours before a scheduled speech by President Michel Aoun…
Pope calls for dialogue, reconciliation over problems in Iraq (CNS) In the wake of deadly protests in Iraq, Pope Francis called on the people and their leaders to take the path of dialogue to find answers to their nation’s problems. At the end of his weekly general audience in St. Peter’s Square on 30 October, the pope said his thoughts were with “beloved Iraq, where protest demonstrations going on this month have caused numerous deaths and injuries…”
How the new Syria took shape (The New York Times) In just a few weeks, the American withdrawal from northern Syria dramatically reordered power in the country after eight years of civil war…
U.S. House passes resolution recognizing Armenia genocide (The New York Times) The House voted overwhelmingly on Tuesday to formally recognize the Armenian genocide and denounce it as a matter of American foreign policy, a symbolic vindication for the Armenian diaspora made possible by a new torrent of bipartisan furor at Turkey…
How they discovered the ancient site of a miracle (The Express) The Pool of Siloam was a rock-cut pool on the southern slope located just outside the walls of the Old City to the southwest. Located less than 2,000 feet from Temple Mount, the pool was fed by the waters of the Gihon Spring and was used by pilgrims more than 2,000 years ago.The pool remained in use during the time of Jesus Christ and, according to the Gospel of John, the Messiah led “a man blind from birth” to the pool in order to complete his healing...
29 October 2019
Tags: Iraq Lebanon Jerusalem Armenia
Filipino members of the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate harvest olives in the Garden of Gethsemane in Jerusalem on 19 October 2019. Catholic nuns, locals and international volunteers gathered to pick olives that will be made into liturgy oil used during the Chrism mass on Maundy Thursday in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. (photo: CNS/Debbie Hill)