31 January 2019
In this image from 2016, Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill of Moscow greets Pope Francis at Jose Marti International Airport in Havana. Marking the 10th anniversary of his enthronement, the patriarch compared Kiev to Jerusalem for its significance to Christianity. (photo: CNS/Paul Haring)
Patriarch compares Kiev to Jerusalem for its significance (TASS) Orthodoxy in Russia began with its Christianization by Prince Vladimir in Kiev, so for Russian believers that city is comparable in terms of its historic importance to the significance of Jerusalem for world Christianity, Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia said at a meeting with delegations of Local Orthodox Churches that arrived in Moscow on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of his enthronement…
Many Syrian refugees in Jordan reluctant to return home (The National) Despite a warming of ties and reopening of borders between Jordan and Syria, security concerns and an absence of a political resolution to the civil war have prevented all but a few thousand Syrian refugees from returning home, raising questions over how long the community will remain in the economically struggling kingdom…
Places of worship for Egyptian Copts closed after protests (Al-Monitor) More disturbing episodes of intimidation against Coptic Christians took place this month in the village of Manshiyet Zaafarana in Minya governorate, 150 miles south of Cairo. On 11 January, Muslim hard-line residents of the village encircled a building used as the Copts’ place of worship, claiming Christians were seeking to turn it into a church without a permit. Subsequently, the place of worship was closed…
In Aleppo, a slow rebuild begins (IRINNews.org) More than two years after the Syrian government won a long and deadly battle for Aleppo, sounds of demolition and construction have replaced the explosions and gunfire that used to echo through the city’s center…
Ethiopia: 3 million internally displaced (Euronews.com) With three million internally displaced people, Ethiopia is going through one of the most severe — and under-reported — humanitarian crises in the world. The topic of refugees and displaced people will head the agenda at the Africa Union summit in Addis Ababa next month…
India’s failing health system hits women hardest (UCANews.com) Recent surveys have highlighted how poor women are on the receiving end of pathetic state-run health services. The latest study was released on 22 January by Oxfam, a confederation of 20 independent charitable organizations focusing on the alleviation of global poverty. It claimed that the poor are denied health care, exposing them to greater risks of lethal diseases…
Vatican urges fight against stigma of leprosy (Vatican News) The Vatican is urging the international community not only to help eliminate Hansen’s disease but also to end the stigma, discrimination and prejudice attached to it by treating those hit by it with love, compassion and solidarity. Cardinal Peter Turkson, the Prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, made the call in a message on the occasion of 66th World Leprosy Day…
30 January 2019
Tags: Syria Egypt Russian Orthodox Kiev
Jesuit Father Paolo Dall'Oglio is pictured celebrating Mass 3 March 2008. Pope Francis met with family members of the Italian Jesuit, whose fate is still unknown after he was kidnapped in Syria in 2013. (photo: CNS/P. Razzo, CIRIC, via Catholic Press Photo)
Pope Francis met with family members of the Rev. Paolo Dall’Oglio, the Italian Jesuit whose fate is still unknown after he was kidnapped in Syria in 2013.
Alessandro Gisotti, interim director of the Vatican press office, told reporters on 30 January that the pope held the private audience at his residence, the Domus Sanctae Marthae.
The meeting took place in “a particularly cordial atmosphere,” Gisotti said, and included Father Dall’Oglio’s mother, four sisters and one brother.
“The audience represents the pope’s affection and proximity toward the family of the Italian Jesuit who was kidnapped in Syria in July of 2013.”
The pope met with family members on another occasion at the Jesuit headquarters in Rome in July 2014 — just a few days after the first anniversary of the priest’s disappearance.
The Italian missionary was a respected promoter of peace and Christian-Muslim dialogue in Syria.
Witnesses had reported that on the day the priest disappeared he was going to speak to leaders at the Islamic State headquarters in Raqqa, Syria, to try to persuade them to release several hostages being held there.
30 January 2019
Tags: Syria Pope Francis
A Muslim prays inside Sheikh Zayed Mosque in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Pope Francis is scheduled to visit the mosque during his visit to the United Arab Emirates next month.
(photo: CNS/Ahmed Jadallah, Reuters)
Archbishop: Catholic-Muslim dialogue at heart of pope’s trip to UAE (Crux) Pope Francis will “encourage the Catholics throughout the world to continue to put into practice the teachings of the Church regarding dialogue with Muslims” when he visits the United Arab Emirates, according to one expert on interreligious dialogue. Francis will be the first pope to visit the Arabian Peninsula on his 3-5 February visit to Abu Dhabi, the capital of UAE. During his trip, the pontiff will meet with the international Muslim Council of Elders, participate in an interreligious meeting and celebrate Mass for the local Catholic population, mainly foreign workers…
Al-Qaida advances in northern Syria, threatening truce (Economic Times) It only took a few days for al-Qaida-linked militants to seize more than two dozen towns and villages in northern Syria from rival insurgents earlier this month, expanding and cementing their control over an area the size of neighboring Lebanon. The advance by Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, or the Levant Liberation Committee, was the most serious blow yet to a September cease-fire brokered by Russia and Turkey that averted a major government offensive in Idlib province, the last main stronghold…
Russian Orthodox patriarch calls on religious leaders to help resolve conflict (TASS) Orthodox and Muslim representatives can help politicians to resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia said at a meeting with Sheikh ul-Islam Allahshukur Pashazade, head of the Muslim Board for the Caucasus and co-chair of the CIS Interreligious Council, and Azerbaijan’s delegation…
Yoga guru charges discrimination in award given to Mother Teresa(UCANews.com) Christian leaders have criticized yoga guru Baba Ramdev’s comments that Mother Teresa was awarded India’s highest civilian award because she was Christian. The Bharat Ratna (jewel of India) was awarded to the Catholic nun in 1980 for her humanitarian work among India’s poor. Albanian-born Mother Teresa, who died in 1997 aged 87, became St. Teresa of Kolkata when she was canonized in 2016. Speaking to the media on 26 January Prayag in Uttar Pradesh, Ramdev questioned the government for giving the prestigious award to actors and politicians but not to the seers of the Hindu religion…
Biodiversity thrives around Ethiopia’s church forests (Nature) If you see a forest in Ethiopia, you know there is very likely to be a church in the middle, says Alemayehu Wassie. Wassie, a forest ecologist, has spent the past decade on a mission: preserving, documenting and protecting the unique biodiversity in pockets of forest that surround Ethiopia’s orthodox churches…
29 January 2019
Tags: Syria Pope Francis Muslim Orthodox Church
On a home visit, Father Vinu Joseph and Sister Savari Arul administer medication to a patient. (photo: Meenakshi Soman)
In the current edition of ONE, journalist Anubha George reports on the inspiring work among the poor with a mobile clinic Healing the Forgotten in India. Here, she offers more details from her visit.
It is the end of October. The roads are winding. We’re driving up the hills. The Sun is at its scorching peak. The weather is humid. We in the Kanyakumari Social Service Society (K.K.S.S.S.) ambulance are sweaty and thirsty. But the morale in the team is at an all time high. It’s as if nothing can faze them. There is no urgency as the palliative care team visits one home after another. It’s as if serving the community is their one and only purpose.
That is the one thing I take away from them: that service is a calling. There are people in this world who go to absolutely any length to help others, without expecting anything in return.
K.K.S.S.S. was set up in 1972. It is the social development arm of the Diocese of Thuckalay in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu. K.K.S.S.S. runs a mobile ambulance which provides palliative care for people who are very poor and have nowhere to turn to for help.
This morning, the Rev. Vinu Joseph is leading the team of a nurse and three volunteers. We go high up in the hills. It’s a tribal area. It’s an actual forest. Tigers and wild elephants can be spotted. Health services aren’t easily accessible to people here. We park the ambulance by the foothills and start to climb up. A two mile hike later, we’re at Vijay Kumar’s home. It’s a hut. He’s 52 and had a stroke a few years ago. Doctors said it was caused by high blood pressure. Vijay Kumar wasn’t even aware he had high BP. His daughter stands by the door with her two children. One is a toddler, the other an infant. There are big poisonous spiders weaving their webs all around. A dog guards the hut. There are some hens and chickens running around.
Vijay Kumar is bed ridden. He has been so since the stroke. His wife welcomes Father Vinu as he walks in. I’m too scared of the spiders to go in. Vijay Kumar puts his hand out. I hold his hand from outside the window. Members of the K.K.S.S.S. team have known the family a while. Father Vinu prays. The family are Hindus. But they’re glad that someone’s come to check up on them. They’re happy that someone prays for them. Vijay Kumar’s daughter tells me they appreciate the support and help.
It turns out that the K.K.S.S.S. team make this trek up the hills just to check Vijay Kumar’s blood pressure a couple of times a week. All that just to check up on one person? I ask Father Vinu if that’s worth it. His reply touches my heart.
“People like Vijay Kumar look after our forests. They guard nature. The least we can do is look after them,” he says. Then he adds: “The service of the poor is the service of Christ. Jesus gives us the strength to do what we do. And he alone shows us the way.”
Read more in the December 2018 edition of ONE.
29 January 2019
A religious sister walks through a construction site in Beni Suef, Egypt. The planned school under construction will allow students to continue studying with the sisters past grade school. Read more about this and other Signs of Hope in Egypt in the current edition of ONE. (photo: Roger Anis)
29 January 2019
Vandals attacked and defaced a synagogue in Jerusalem Monday. (photo: Twitter)
Jerusalem synagogue defaced (Haaretz) A synagogue in Jerusalem was defaced Monday overnight as vandals broke in and damaged its Torah ark, facilities and books. Police has opened an investigation into the matter. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he was “shocked” at the incident, writing on Twitter that “police must find those responsible immediately and ensure they are brought to justice…”
France planning to repatriate ISIS suspects (The Telegraph) France is reportedly planning to repatriate more than 100 French ISIS suspects from Syria amid fears they could lose track of them after US troops withdraw from the war-torn country. Some 130 Islamic State suspects being held in custody by Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in prisons across northern Syria are to be sent back within the next few weeks, according to French channel BFMTV. ”All those who will return to France will be entrusted to the judges. The judge will decide that it will be necessary to put them in prison,” Christophe Castaner, France’s Interior Minister, told BFMTV…
Ethiopia bans street begging by Syrians (AP) Ethiopia is banning street begging by Syrian nationals who have startled people by showing up in growing numbers in recent months. The deputy head of Ethiopia’s immigration office tells The Associated Press that “we have tolerated them for some time but we have now decided to ban the illegal practice...They are becoming a burden…”
Jordan Foreign Minister urges closure of refugee camp (The Jordan Times) Arrangements to deliver humanitarian aid to the Rukban camp are only temporary solutions that do not address the real issue, and the focus must be on the de-establishment of the camp and allowing refugees to return to their hometowns, Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi has said. ”The area in which Rukban exists has never sustained life. Humanitarian supplies are important, but now that the conditions of their return are met, with Daesh pushed out of them, I think all efforts should be focused on achieving that,” Safadi told Sputnik news agency in a recent interview…
28 January 2019
Tags: Syria Ethiopia Jerusalem Jews ISIS
The Kanya Kumari Social Service Society’s mobile clinic visits patients in remote regions of Tamil Nadu, India. Read more about the extraordinary mission of Healing the Forgotten in the December 2018 edition of ONE. (photo: Meenakshi Soman)
28 January 2019
The 'caliphate' of ISIS has been severely diminished in Syria, and the remnants are making a final stand in the desert. (video: ITV News/YouTube)
The ISIS ‘caliphate’ is reduced to a pair of villages in Syria (The Washington Post) A pair of dusty villages in the Syrian desert is all that remains of the vast expanse of territory the Islamic State once called its caliphate, and the complete territorial defeat of the militant group appears to be imminent, according to U.S. and Kurdish officials…
Asian bishops’ president issues statement for World Day of Sick in Calcutta (Vatican News) The Asian bishops’ president is urging believers in the continent to continue upholding the sacred duty and tradition of caring and respecting the elderly, the infirm and the helpless, saying it is a barometer of society’s health. Cardinal Charles Bo, the president of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences (FABC), made the exhortation in a message he released on Sunday in view of the upcoming international celebration of the Catholic Church’s World Day of the Sick…
Goa being hurt by exploitation (UCANews.com) The planeloads of foreign tourists and pleasure-seekers are no longer descending on the coastal state of Goa — a bastion of Christianity in India — with such regularity, lured by its palm-fringed beaches and hippie vibe. The lines of local tourists vying to try their hand at jet-skiing or paragliding have also shortened in this former Portuguese colony that sits on the country’s western coast. For the first time in years, hotel occupancy rates reportedly shot down to around 50 percent on average over Christmas and New Year, significantly lower than in previous peak seasons in this former tourism hot-spot…
Israel unearths a sacred Roman road in Jerusalem (The Washington Post) The main road winding through the densely built Arab neighborhood of Wadi Hilweh is like many others in Jerusalem, lined with convenience stores and often crammed with traffic. There’s little clue to what is happening just yards below the pavement and under the floors of surrounding houses and apartment blocks. For five years, Israeli archaeologists, supported by a nationalist Jewish organization, have been digging a tunnel here. Their aim is to uncover what they say was once an important thoroughfare used by worshipers some 2,000 years ago to reach the Jewish holy temple…
25 January 2019
Tags: Syria India Jerusalem ISIS
The video above shows the very real struggles of Ukraine's elderly poor — and the efforts of Caritas to bring them light and hope. (video: Ivan Chernichkin/CNEWA)
In the current edition of ONE, journalist Mark Raczkiewycz looks at how Caritas Ukraine offers Windows to the World for the country’s elderly poor. He offers further impressions below.
There’s a saying in Ukraine that translates in English as: “Growing old isn’t a blessing.”
There are about 11 million pensioners here, who comprise about a quarter of the population. They eke out a living by relying on their paltry monthly pensions that amount to less than $100; the average monthly nationwide salary is $320. Yet they somehow survive. Statistics show that this segment is the most diligent when it comes to paying their utility bills on time. When I speak to them, they usually say that all their money goes towards buying medicine, paying bills and food. They really don’t have much left after that. They can’t afford to do what they want like go on trips and pursue hobbies in their leisure time. The healthier, more mobile ones help by taking care of grandchildren. Many often supplement their pensions by staying in the workforce. For example, they’ll sell fruits and vegetables from their summer home gardens or work as newspaper vendors near subway stations or hawk honey from their hives, anything they don’t consume.
It’s a necessity — otherwise, they wouldn’t survive. They usually don’t stray from their household budgets so they’re immediately vulnerable to any shocks in the economy like a rise in natural gas prices for heating or consumer inflation.
Their plight is impossible not to notice.
I’ve heard of women working as nannies or house cleaners and men who will moonlight as plumbers or basic repairmen. They’re resourceful in that way, doing whatever they can to make extra money to stay afloat. People joke that the seniors who gather and sit on benches act as the most effective community watchdogs. But that company is valuable for them to avoid being alone.
The more unfortunate really can’t rely on the state, which is why groups like Caritas as well as humanitarian efforts by the Greek Catholic Church are so important.
For the elderly, homecare assistance is more than helping them do things they can’t. Human interaction brightens their day and makes them feel like they’re not abandoned. Otherwise, the world becomes a lonely, cold place. Depression sets in. Dementia as well. I’ve seen how even taking a pet like a cat or dog improves their lives. How house calls by social workers, even for one hour a week makes a difference. The elderly deserve better and should lead more dignified lives.
They actually don’t ask for much, are the least demanding and the most patient. Thank goodness the church and Caritas are there for them.
Read more in the December 2018 edition of ONE.
25 January 2019
World Youth Day pilgrims from Venezuela take a selfie with Muslims from Jumma Mosque in Panama City. The Muslims handed out complimentary cold bottles of water to people as they waited to get into a welcoming ceremony with Pope Francis on 24 January 2019. (photo: CNS/Chaz Muth)
Thousands of World Youth Day pilgrims stopped by the Jama Mosque on 24 January en route to catch a glimpse of Pope Francis.
“Brothers, sisters, you need water,” Hashim Bhana yelled at them from under a tent that announced a “hydration center” outside the mosque, a place where pilgrims could pick up free water, or catch some needed shade and a smile as they struggled to stay hydrated under the blazing sun.
“This is an event for the good of young people, it benefits them so how could we say no” to helping them, said Bhana.
While hundreds of vendors sold water to the thirsty, the Muslim community at the oldest mosque in Panama City gave it away for free near a banner that said, “Welcome Pilgrim Friends.” By the time Pope Francis had arrived at Santa Maria la Antigua Field, they had handed out 15,000 bottles and were looking for more because of the demand, said Bhana.
In Panama City, people of different religions get along well, he said, so the gesture was not unusual.
“What’s important to us is that we’re all brothers and sisters. We don’t ask about your religion, your skin color, age. We’re all humans and we want everyone to be well,” said Kasim Bhana, who was helping distribute water.
Having the pope in Panama City is a blessing, he said, adding that the Muslim community would be providing free water until World Youth Day was over, particularly because the venues for many of the events were near the mosque and they did not want the pilgrims to dehydrate or suffer.
The mosque has about 8,000 members, give or take, said Kasim Bhana, and many were taking turns staffing the water stations during the hottest times of the day. Others bought and delivered water and ice to keep the water bottles cold.
But on the day the pope was going to be closest to the mosque, they opened earlier.
“This was the best day,” he said.
Tags: Pope Francis Muslim Interfaith