16 October 2018
Paul VI meets with leaders of the CNEWA/Pontifical Mission family at the Vatican, including Cardinal Francis Spellman, chair of CNEWA, and Archbishop Joseph Ryan, then-president of CNEWA.
(photo: CNEWA archives)
On Sunday, 14 October, Pope Francis canonized seven saints — including Pope Paul VI, who was the bishop of Rome from 1963 until his death in 1978. The man who is now St. Paul VI was long a champion of our work around the world — beginning in the 1940’s.
During World War II, then-Msgr. Giovanni Batttista Montini, who served Pope Pius XII, organized and directed the Holy See’s relief efforts for refugees. At a November 1948 meeting in the Vatican — during which the idea of a papal mission specifically for displaced persons in Palestine was discussed — it was Msgr. Montini who penciled in the name of the head of CNEWA, then Msgr. Thomas J. McMahon, to lead such an effort. Thus was born the Pontifical Mission for Palestine, which Pius XII entrusted to CNEWA as its operating agency in the Middle East.
Years later, as Pope Paul VI showed an even deeper commitment to the work of CNEWA. To begin with, he announced plans to open his pontificate with a historic trip to the Holy Land:
In December 1963, during the council [Vatican II], Paul VI announced his intention to begin his pontificate with a “pilgrimage of prayer and penance” to the Holy Land:
“We will bring to the Holy Sepulchre and to the Grotto of the Nativity the desires of individuals, of families, of nations; above all, the aspirations, the anxieties, the sufferings of the sick, the poor, the disinherited, the afflicted, of refugees, of those who suffer, those who weep, those who hunger and thirst for justice.”
He made the trip in January 1964:
Fired with the Gospel message of hope, the pope met with heads of state and religious leaders in the Holy Land. These visits culminated with his embrace in Jerusalem of Orthodoxy’s spiritual leader, Patriarch Athenagoras I, Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople.
Before departing the Holy Land, Pope Paul VI assured [CNEWA’s Secretary and President of the Pontifical Mission] Msgr. Joseph Ryan, who accompanied the pontiff, of the Holy See’s commitment to the refugees and encouraged Ryan to further the Pontifical Mission’s efforts with Palestinians.
Paul VI’s pilgrimage resulted in social rehabilitation and development projects that, with support from the Pontifical Mission, changed the lives of many: Bethlehem University; Ephpheta Institute for hearing-impaired children; Tantur Ecumenical Institute; and Notre Dame of Jerusalem Pilgrimage Center. These diverse initiatives testified to the pope’s belief in the church as an instrument of reconciliation and hope.
At the Mount of Olives, Pope Paul VI and Athenagoras I lift the mutual excommunications dividing the Catholic and Orthodox churches, in January 1964.
(photo: CNEWA archives)
The following year, Pope Paul VI issued the groundbreaking document, Nostra Aetate, a declaration on the relation of the church to non-Christian religions, which noted not only Christianity’s historic connection to Jews, but also its respect for Muslims:
The church regards with esteem also the Muslims. They adore the one God, living and subsisting in himself; merciful and all-powerful, the creator of heaven and earth, who has spoken to men; they take pains to submit wholeheartedly to even his inscrutable decrees, just as Abraham, with whom the faith of Islam takes pleasure in linking itself, submitted to God. Though they do not acknowledge Jesus as God, they revere him as a prophet. They also honor Mary, his virgin Mother; at times they even call on her with devotion. In addition, they await the day of judgment when God will render their deserts to all those who have been raised up from the dead. Finally, they value the moral life and worship God especially through prayer, almsgiving and fasting.
In the years that followed, he never lost his concern with and affection for the peoples of the Middle East:
On the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the Pontifical Mission, Pope Paul VI wrote to [CNEWA’s] Msgr. John G. Nolan … : ”The work of the Mission for Palestine has been one of the clearest signs of the Holy See’s concern for the welfare of the Palestinians, who are particularly dear to us because they are people of the Holy Land, because they include followers of Christ, and because they have been and are still being so tragically tried. We express again our heartfelt sharing in their sufferings and our support for their legitimate aspirations.” (16 July 1974)
Also in 1974, the Holy Father noted in Nobis in Animo that the Holy Land “is also a country in which, besides the Shrines and Holy Places, a Church — a community of believers in Christ — lives and works. Were their presence to cease, the Shrines would be without the warmth of the living witness and the Christian Holy Places of Jerusalem and the Holy Land would become like museums.”
Cardinal Jacques Martin, a co-worker of then Msgr. Montini for many years in the Vatican’s Secretariat of State, in speaking of Pope Paul VI, noted, “The thing that most struck those who were close to him was that he gave himself entirely to the service of the church, without second thoughts, without holding back any of his time or energy. At one a.m. the light was often still burning in his office. He was a man consumed by his work, a man who gave himself entirely.”
We remain deeply grateful for the love and passion he brought to his papacy — and which he shared so selflessly with the suffering peoples in the Holy Land, a place now so fraught with division, hardship and violence. So many of those we serve need his prayerful intercession now, more than ever.
Pope Paul VI prays at the River Jordan during his pilgrimage to the Holy Land in 1964.
(photo: CNEWA archives)
With humble gratitude and boundless hope, we join our voices to so many others around the world this day to pray for his accompaniment, his prophetic vision, and his courage. May his spirit help us to help others, and may his prayers guide us on our way.
”St. Paul VI, pray for us!”
16 October 2018
Tags: CNEWA Pope CNEWA Pontifical Mission
Children gather for a meal at the Mariam Tsion School in Saesa, Ethiopia. Discover how CNEWA carries out its mission of Remembering the Forgotten in the September 2018 edition of ONE magazine. (photo: John E. Kozar)
16 October 2018
In a dramatic move, the Russian Orthodox Church has broken its ties with Constantinople, creating a schism. (video: AFP/YouTube)
Russian Orthodox Church breaks ties with Constantinople (AP) The Russian Orthodox Church decided Monday to sever ties with the leader of the worldwide Orthodox community after his decision to grant Ukrainian clerics independence from the Moscow Patriarchate. Metropolitan Hilarion said the Russian church’s Holy Synod resolved to “break the Eucharistic communion” with the Istanbul-based Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople…
Iraqi delegate at Synod says young people need a ‘fast response’ (Vatican News) Mr. Safa al Abbia is a 26-year-old Chaldean Catholic dentist from Iraq. He was invited to the Synod of Bishops on Young People, Faith and Vocational Discernment currently underway in Rome. His plea to the bishops is that the universal Church helps young people in Iraq who are being persecuted for their faith. He explained that the main challenge for youth in Iraq is “peace and stability and their right to live in dignity…”
Syria’s key border crossings to re-open (AP) President Bashar Assad’s government received a major boost Monday as Syria’s commercial gateway with Jordan and a crossing with the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights manned by U.N. peacekeepers were reopened years after the war disrupted their operations…
Hindu group in India seeks to shut down schools belonging to religious minorities (UCANews.com) Muslim and Christian leaders in India see danger in a pro-Hindu group’s demand that the government revoke a policy allowing minority groups to own and manage educational institutions in the country. A report released on 10 October by the Center for Policy Analysis, a think tank of hard-line Hindu group Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, stated that allowing religious minority groups to have institutions for their own people was tantamount to “compartmentalization” that works against the unity of India…
In Ethiopia’s new cabinet, half the ministers are women (Washington Post) Ethiopia’s reformist prime minister announced Tuesday a new cabinet that is half female, in an unprecedented push for gender parity in Africa’s second-most-populous nation…
15 October 2018
Tags: Syria India Ethiopia Russian Orthodox Church
Chamsa Hadaya stands surrounded by family members. (photo: Armineh Johannes)
The new edition of ONE magazine features A Letter from Iraq, in which Chamsa Marzina Hadaya describes her family’s efforts to start over after fleeing ISIS and then returning home:
Right after we fled Qaraqosh, we used some of our savings and spent a few days in a cheap motel. We then rented a small apartment for a few months, but we ran out of funds as our stay lengthened from weeks to months to years. We had to quit the apartment and find another place provided by the church that was a prefabricated room in the camp of Ain Kawa — near the city of Erbil in Iraqi Kurdistan. We stayed there for more than 15 months.
Life was unbearable during our stay in the camp. We had no income and we were completely dependent on charity for every single need. We experienced real destitution and we felt weak, humiliated and alone — strangers in a strange land. Nothing but our faith gave us real support: We felt God’s presence in our daily life, and this gave us hope and determination to hang on for a better life.
I cried. I prayed to God and asked him for his help to preserve our dignity — and God heard me! One of the organizations working in the same camp where I lived offered me a job in the kindergarten, and with this income I was able to help support my husband and family.
I have to admit that, spiritually, I have passed through some difficult times. I questioned God many times, wondering, “How is it possible that he has abandoned us?” But after all those moments of fear, I have finally surrendered my life and my fate to God.
My mother taught me how to live my faith, how to face crises and adapt to change. She taught me how to synchronize my hands and my mind to achieve my goals. Thanks to the image of my mother and her encouraging whispers that have accompanied and guided me in such difficult times, my hope in God has become so strong that now I live it in every single detail of my life. And now, again, I take this opportunity and this experience to pass it on to my children.
Read more in the September 2018 edition of ONE.
15 October 2018
Tags: Iraq ISIS
Pope Francis on Sunday canonized seven new saints, including Pope Paul VI. (video: CNS/YouTube)
Canonization offers signs and symbols of sanctity (Vatican News) A pope who championed dialogue and mission. An archbishop who was murdered for defending the defenseless. Two priests and two women religious, who dedicated their lives to serving the poorest and most in need. And a layperson who died of bone tuberculosis when he was only 19 years of age. All witnesses to their faith in different ways at different times. All officially recognized by the Church as being worthy of imitation. By formally declaring their sanctity during Mass on Sunday, Pope Francis was acknowledging that their names may be entered in the canon (hence “canonization”) of the saints, churches may be built in their honor, altars dedicated, and prayers directed to them as special patrons…
Russian Orthodox Church holds synod in Minsk over Ukraine issue (Radio Free Europe) Leaders of the Russian Orthodox Church were meeting in the Belarusian capital on 15 October amid a dispute over moves toward independence for the Orthodox Church in Ukraine…
Holy See calls for respect of indigenous rights (Vatican News) Speaking on behalf of the Holy See’s Permanent Observer, Archbishop Bernadito Auza, First Counsellor Monsignor Tomasz Grysa expressed satisfaction over significant progress in promoting and protecting the rights of indigenous peoples, particularly mentioning the adoption of the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. However, he said the environmental, cultural and spiritual patrimony of many indigenous populations remains under significant threat…
India’s female feticide remembered (UCANews.com) Anti-abortion and other groups have joined government efforts to change India’s skewed sex ratio that is caused by large-scale female feticide. According to the Population Research Institute, at least 12.7 million sex-selective abortions were conducted in India between 2000 and 2014. On the eve of the United Nations’ established International Day of the Girl Child, various groups joined a program in a public square in the capital, New Delhi, stressing the importance of protecting girl children…
UN marks International Day of Rural Women (Vatican News) The United Nations chief is calling on the world to ensure the full rights of rural women and girls saying their empowerment will ensure a peaceful future and a healthy planet for all. ”The empowerment of rural women and girls is essential to building a prosperous, equitable and peaceful future for all on a healthy planet,” said UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in a message for the 15 October International Day of Rural Women…
12 October 2018
Tags: India Ukraine Russian Orthodox Church Pope
Syrian refugee children greet visitors in the refugee camp of Zahleh, Lebanon, in January 2016. (photo: John E. Kozar)
In the new edition of ONE magazine, arriving in mailboxes this week, CNEWA’s president Msgr. John E. Kozar offers some insight into our association’s mission:
When we communicate with our donors to express our thanks for their generous prayers and financial gifts, we often refer to the gratitude that ultimately comes from the “poor,” those who “suffer” and those who are “persecuted.”
These are broad categories and we might not appreciate the range of these beneficiaries of CNEWA’s good works and support. Let me elaborate a bit.
It is normal to focus on the material needs of the poor. We think of hungry and starving children; mothers desperate to feed or shelter their little ones; an elderly person without a place to call home; or victims of war, floods or other calamities forced to flee, always uncertain what tomorrow might bring.
We especially think of children who have been orphaned, those whose cries and hollow stares penetrate our hearts. We think of children who hunger for education and would give anything to be able to have a formal schooling environment. We think of the elderly, often those most easily forgotten or marginalized. Societies sometimes consider them expendable.
We think of those with special needs who find little or no acceptance in many cultures — those with physical and mental disabilities or social outcasts because of class structures. We think of those victims of religious bigotry or ethnic classification, or those “in the middle” and not accepted by either side. Social and economic exclusion is a reality for so many in our world.
We think of those who are really persecuted, even unto death. They are violated and taken away; they are sometimes killed, but always considered “second class.”
What I am describing is a canvas of the broken, fractured world in which CNEWA is privileged to serve. And in our humble way, with your most generous support and prayerful accompaniment, we do our best to serve those who are poor, those who suffer and those who are persecuted.
I am blessed with vivid memories from my many pastoral visits to those we serve. I’ve seen hungry children being fed and cared for at the hands of religious sisters and church-related programs in areas of conflict and oppression. I have seen the faces of desperate mothers who seek comfort for their ailing children — and find a loving and gentle hand extended by the church.
Check out more in our magazine. And watch the video below, in which Msgr. Kozar shares more of the ways in which CNEWA helps spread the joy of the Gospel to so many who are on the margins.
12 October 2018
Tags: CNEWA Msgr. John E. Kozar
Patriarch Filaret, the head of the Kiev Patriarchate, has welcomed a decision to recognize the independence of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. He speaks about it in the video above. (video: Radio Free Europe/YouTube)
Russian Orthodox Church to break with Constantinople (Reuters) The Russian Orthodox Church will have to break eucharistical relations with Constantinople over a split with Ukraine’s Orthodox Church, Alexander Volkov, spokesman for Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill, was quoted as saying by Interfax on Thursday. Earlier on Thursday, the Synod meeting in Istanbul backed Ukraine’s request for an independent, “autocephalous” church and reversed the excommunication of Patriarch Filaret, who hopes to lead the independent church…
UN calls for health care access for refugees near Jordan border (Gulf Times) Some 45,000 Syrians living in a refugee camp in the Syrian desert near the Jordanian border need critical access to basic services as winter months approach, the United Nations warned on Wednesday. UNICEF said there is only one UN-supported clinic near the border inside Jordan providing basic health services for urgent lifesaving cases at Rukban refugee camp…
Time for Christians in India not to turn the other cheek (La Croix) A few years ago, church dealings with law-enforcement agencies were minimal. However, this is not the case now as violence and harassment against Christians have increased in recent times…
Eritrea’s joy becomes Ethiopia’s burden amid huge exodus (The Guardian) Since 11 September, at least 15,000 Eritreans have crossed into Ethiopia, according to local authorities. Many have come to trade and to visit the friends and family from whom they were separated in 1998, when war broke out. The border had been almost impermeable since Ethiopia’s failure to implement a UN peace deal signed in 2000. Most dramatic, though, has been the swell of refugees…
Found: mass grave, evidence of king’s bloody rule in Jerusalem (The Times of Israel) Evidence of a mass slaying, including cruel beheadings, committed during the bloody reign of the Hasmonean king Alexander Jannaeus (103-76 BC) was recently uncovered in a courtyard next to the Jerusalem municipality during excavations of an ancient water cistern…
11 October 2018
Tags: Ukraine Ethiopia Jerusalem Russian Orthodox Church
In this image from 1968, Pope Paul VI greets children as he visits the Church of St. Leo the Great in Rome. (photo: CNS/Giancarlo Giuliani, Catholic Press Photo)
As the world prepares to mark the canonization of Pope Paul VI this weekend, we are reminded of his remarkable legacy — and how a significant part of that touches the people and places we serve, most notably in the Holy Land.
There, an extraordinary event occurred in January of 1964. Pope Paul VI became the first Bishop of Rome, the pope, to visit the Holy Land since St. Peter left it almost 2,000 earlier. That alone would have been enough to make history. However, Paul VI was committed to the spirit of Vatican II, which included a call for the Catholic Church to be ecumenical. So, while in the Holy Land, the pope met with Athenagoras, the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Constantinople. The significance of this cannot be overstated: this marked the first time a pope had met with the patriarch since the Great Schism of 16 July 1054, when the legate of Pope Leo IX announced the excommunication of Patriarch Michael I Cerularius — who, in turn, then excommunicated the pope. Despite efforts over the centuries, the break between the Catholic and Orthodox Churches showed few signs of healing. Thus the meeting of the Pope of Rome and the Patriarch of Constantinople was by any and every measure historic.
However, the Paul VI’s visit to the Holy Land was not merely an opportunity to meet with the patriarch. It was also an opportunity for him to meet the people of the land—Israelis and Palestinians. Popes had historically shown concern for the Palestinian people through the establishment of the Pontifical Mission for Palestine by Pope Pius XII in 1949, which is presently the operating agency for CNEWA in the Middle East. Paul VI was no exception.
Even before the 1967 War and the occupation of the West Bank by the Israelis Pope Paul VI saw that the situation of Palestinians was dire. Palestinians were leaving the Holy Land — and Christian Palestinians, often more educated than the general population, were emigrating in alarming numbers. After 1967, the situation became and has remained worse.
In an effort to improve the situation of Palestinians, Pope Paul VI suggested opening some kind of educational facility. The schools of the Latin Patriarchate were always in need of teachers and so originally the idea was for an institute to train teachers. However, in 1973 Brother John Manual, FSC, suggested a university—the first of its kind on the West Bank. Brother Manual’s community, the Christian Brothers of De La Salle, had been active in education in the Holy Land for decades. The community offered property which they owned in Bethlehem for the new project.
Bethlehem University was opened at the suggestion of Pope Paul VI and today continues to serve students of all faiths in Palestine. (photo: John E. Kozar)
Like the other schools the brothers ran in the Middle East, the new university would be built on “La Sallian” principles of education and ethics, providing higher education opportunities for Palestinians. The university opened in 1973 with three religious brothers, some Palestinian faculty members and 112 students. Over the decades, Bethlehem University has become one of the premier universities in the region. With the goal of providing not only education but also employment opportunities to its students, the university over the years has added schools of nursing, business, education and an Institute for Hotel Management and Tourism — critical for handling the vast numbers of pilgrims who visit the region from around the world.
The university now has more than 15,000 alumni and an enrollment of over 3,200 students. As the Christian population continues to diminish, Bethlehem University continues to serve all Palestinians—Christian and Muslim. By having Christian and Muslim students study together and get to know each other, the university is promoting a pluralistic culture of friendship and cooperation between Christians and Muslims in Palestine.
CNEWA has been intimately connected with Bethlehem University over the decades. The Pontifical Mission for Palestine is engaged with the university and the president of CNEWA sits on the university’s board of directors. Bethlehem University refers to its students and alumni as “the bright stars of Bethlehem.” One can hope that those “stars of Bethlehem” can lead the Palestinian people to a new and brighter future.
That is certainly what Pope Paul VI — soon to be St. Pope Paul VI — would have wished.
Read more about The Perseverance of Bethlehem University in the November 2004 edition of ONE magazine.
11 October 2018
Tags: Bethlehem Pope Bethlehem University
Schoolgirls in Chandigarh, India, wear pink turbans on 11 October to mark International Day of the Girl Child. (photo: CNS/Ajay Verma, Reuters)
11 October 2018
Two months after the historic flooding that hit India, efforts are underway to raise more money for relief and to raise awareness, as well, about disease. (video: CNBC/YouTube)
Relief workers: Thousands of Syrian refugees could face starvation (Reuters) Thousands of Syrians stranded on Jordan’s border with Syria are running out of food as routes leading to their camp are closed by the Syrian army and Jordan is blocking aid deliveries, relief workers and refugees said on Thursday…
Before and after photos of flooding show how Kerala is recovering (Indian Express) Even as two months have gone by since Kerala’s worst disaster in a century, the biggest challenge for the state has been to raise money for the relief and rehabilitation process. At least 493 people lost their lives in the rains and floods during the South West monsoon…
Israel destroys Gaza attack tunnel (Reuters) Israel destroyed a cross-border tunnel on Thursday running from the Gaza Strip into Israeli territory, which it said was dug by the Palestinian Hamas group with the aim of carrying out attacks…
Young people of India show solidarity with Synod of Bishops (Vatican News) Young Catholics from all over the Archdiocese of Bombay in India came together in Mumbai on October 7 to participate in a novel way in the Synod of Bishops on young people currently taking place in the Vatican. Mumbai’s young Catholics celebrated what they called Synodgy2018 that aimed at inspiring young people to work together with the Church, with the promise that the Church would listen and respond to them...
Tags: Syria India Kerala