11 October 2012
Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York arrives for a Mass celebrated by Pope Benedict XVI in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican on 11 October. The Mass marks the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council, as well as the beginning of the Year of Faith. (photo: CNS/Paul Haring)
Pope opens Year of Faith (CNS) On Thursday, Pope Benedict XVI celebrated a Mass marking the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council and launching the Year of Faith. The pope called on Catholics to revive the “authentic spirit” of Vatican II by re-proposing the church's ancient teachings to an increasingly secular modern world. Vatican II, the Holy Father said, had been “animated by a desire ... to immerse itself anew in the Christian mystery so as to re-propose it fruitfully to contemporary man.” The full text of his homily can be found on the Vatican's news site.
Ecumenical patriarch speaks at Vatican II anniversary celebration (Vatican Radio) At the conclusion of the Mass to celebrate the anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople addressed Pope Benedict XVI and the bishops and faithful gathered in St. Peter’s Square. In his remarks, Patriarch Bartholomew — the “primus inter pares,” or “first among equals” in the Eastern Orthodox Communion — said he was honored to be invited and to attend “this solemn and festive commemoration of the Second Vatican Council.”
Pope prays for Middle East Christians in Arabic (Catholic News Agency) After his recent visit to the Church in Lebanon, Pope Benedict XVI added Arabic to the list of official languages used at his weekly general audiences, launching the effort by offering the promise of his prayers in Arabic. “The pope prays for all the people who speak Arabic. God bless you all,” he said in Arabic at the 10 October general audience, which was held in St. Peter’s Square. For the first time, a priest also read an Arabic summary of the pope’s remarks on how the Second Vatican Council was a “moment of grace” in the Catholic Church’s history. Going forward, Arabic will join the ten other official languages in which a brief explanation is delivered.
Turkey detains Syrian passenger plane (Vatican Radio) Turkey scrambled fighters and briefly detained a Syrian passenger plane yesterday, suspecting it of carrying military equipment from Moscow. The plane was on route to Damascus with 30 passengers on board when Turkish military fighter jets forced it to land at Ankara airport.
Russian Orthodox Church stakes out territory on social issues (The World) The reawakening of religion in Russia, 20 years after the end of the atheist Communist system, comes as the church tries to find a new place and relevance in Russian society.
10 October 2012
Tags: Syria Pope Benedict XVI Vatican Turkey Russian Orthodox Church
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Colorful murals and icons adorn the nave of the Armenian Cathedral of the Assumption of Mary. (photo: Petro Didula)
In the September 2012 issue of ONE, Lviv-based journalist Mariya Tytarenko wrote about an Armenian Apostolic congregation's efforts to rebuild church and community. Presented below are some of the thoughts and impressions she recorded on site.
After the Divine Liturgy in the Armenian Apostolic Cathedral of the Assumption of Mary in Lviv, I was invited to join the choir in the church sacristy for a special event.
“Don’t even hesitate,” Andriy Shkrabiuk, a chief cantor of the choir said. “You’ll have a chance to get some extra information for your article that you’ll never get just by interviewing us!”
I was curious. When it’s cold in the church, Father Thaddeos Gevorgian, whom everybody calls in Armenian ter hair, conducts a homily after the Divine Liturgy in the much warmer sacristy. Since there had been a homily during the Divine Liturgy, I assumed this would be something else.
I followed the choristers, who had accepted me into their little “family” the first time we met, last Sunday. That was 26 February — Mardi Gras, or Bun Barekendan in Armenian, which marks the beginning of the Lenten fast.
Romana Melnyk was carrying a hyacinth in a flowerpot. “It’s Yulia Tsviakh’s 23rd birthday today, and this is her favorite flower,” she whispered as we entered the sacristy.
Romana, 35 years old, is Ukrainian, but her husband is Armenian. Her parents still have not accepted her husband, whom she married against their wishes. “I’m very stubborn,” she had remarked on the circumstances of her marriage, as well as her first impression of the church choir in May 2001: “I was born to sing here!” Since then, she has been a soloist in the choir.
Archbishop Grigoris Bouniatian, the Primate of the Armenian Apostolic Eparchy of Lviv, is inside the sacristy speaking with Karlo Sargsian, the president of the Armenian community in Lviv.
“You’re lucky,” Andriy said, “Although Lviv has a cathedral for the Armenian Apostolic Diocese in Ukraine, Archbishop Grigoris is a rare guest here since he is usually away traveling to other regions of the country. He almost lives in his car.”
We all stood around a large table, and everyone greeted each other in turn in three languages: Ukrainian, Russian and Armenian, along with translations from Armenian into Ukrainian, since many of us, including Yulia, didn’t know any Armenian. There are only five Armenians in the 12-person choir.
Yulia looked very happy, especially after Archbishop Grigoris and Father Thaddeos had given her their blessings. She treated everyone to cake and drinks — juice, in observance with the Lenten fast.
“I’m Armenian; that’s why I’ve never raised a toast drinking juice in place of cognac,” Karlo joked, raising a toast to Youlia’s health.
“Oh, I’m used to drinking juice,” 26-year-old Solomiya Kachmar responded cheerfully. She was in her seventh month of pregnancy. When I asked her whether it was not too cold for her to sing in the church during the two-and-a-half-hour Liturgy, she answered: “Not at all! Just the opposite — my blood circulates better when I sing!”
“It’s because Solomiya is pregnant,” 25-year-old Marichka Dolna interrupted. “I get cold really quickly, whether I’m singing in the choir or playing the organ.” Marichka said she plays organ for the church every Saturday from 3:30 to 5 PM.
Another Marichka — 20-year-old, half-Ukrainian and half-Uzbek Marichka Rubaieva — didn’t sing today because she had been away for a year, and Andriy didn’t allow her to join the choir without a rehearsal. When I asked her how she felt today, standing outside the choir, she answered: “I realized how much I missed all this.”
When I was about to leave the company of this wonderful Armenian-Ukrainian group, Andriy said to me while putting on his favorite Stetson hat: “I bet you’ll soon be singing in our choir!”
10 October 2012
Tags: Ukraine Prayers/Hymns/Saints Armenian Apostolic Church
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Children greet Msgr. Kozar on his visit to St. Anthony's Dayssadan, a home for children with physical disabilities run by the Preshitharam Sisters. (photo: John Kozar)
CNEWA works for, through, and with the churches of the East to effect real change and positive works through local partners. When CNEWA President Msgr. John Kozar visited India earlier this year, he met many individuals receiving assistance from our dedicated partners. The Preshitharam Sisters,one such group of caregivers, run St. Anthony’s Dayssadan, a home for children with physical disabilities:
The drama began the instant we arrived, when we were welcomed by all the children gathered at the front entrance to greet me with singing and clapping. Now, what I did not know was that about 80 percent of these beautiful children are not able to walk. They assembled there under their own incredible efforts. When the welcome ended they proceeded to crawl inside the building, down a long corridor (with the marble floor immaculately clean), then up a flight of stairs. I had tears watching them, as they demonstrated how they have overcome their disabilities. As I would easily discern, it is the result of the loving patience of the sisters, their devotion to teach these little ones how to overcome and to share with them the love of God for each of them. Let me tell you about three of these youngsters who typify the miracles taking place at this institution, which is supported by CNEWA.
One boy of about 15 — whose arms, hands, legs and feet are horribly contorted — demonstrated mobility by rolling himself down the long corridor, then amazingly up a long flight of stairs, all the while with a smile from ear to ear. I was choked up by his display of determination. His climbing up the staircase defied gravity, but not his human spirit.
Another special child was a 12-year-old boy, the only one presently confined to bed. He is recovering from surgeries that, hopefully, will reverse the ravages of a disease that form birth has eaten away at the bone structure in his joints. And because he is immobile, his condition is also complicated by bedsores. But do you know how this beautiful child welcomed me? He sang the most beautiful rendition, in perfect English, of “When the Saints Go Marching In.” The three of us had tears.
Read more of Msgr. Kozar’s remarks here.
10 October 2012
Tags: India CNEWA Sisters Health Care Disabilities
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In this image from 16 October 2011, Coptic Christians conduct a candlelight protest at Abassaiya Orthodox Cathedral in Cairo, one week after more than two dozen people were killed during clashes with soldiers and riot police. (photo: CNS/stringer via Reuters)
Thousands march to remember killing of Egypt Copts (Associated Press) Several thousand Egyptians marched for miles through Cairo on Tuesday, marking the year anniversary of a military crackdown on Christian protesters that killed 26 people and demanding retribution against army leaders they hold responsible for the deaths. Muslim clerics, Christian priests, activists and liberal former lawmakers joined the procession, filling large boulevards to memorialize the “Maspero massacre,” referring to the name of the state TV building overlooking the Nile River where the violence took place a year ago.
In Syria, “humanitarian emergency increases” (Fides) As the conflict continues, “humanitarian crisis increases more and more: although we do our best, we are not able to meet all the needs of refugees. We urgently need other humanitarian aid.” That is how the lay Catholic Pascal Kateb, secretary general of Caritas Syria, describes the situation in Syria to Fides.
Warm welcome for Apostolic Nuncio in Malyankara (Indian Express/IBN) Malyankara is the place where the light of Christianity was ignited first, and it has to glow brightly shedding the light all over the world, said Apostolic Nuncio Archbishop Dr. Salvatore Pennacchio to the believers while visiting the St. Thomas Pilgrim Center at Malyankara on Monday. The Mar Thoma Pontifical Shrine, at the Pilgrim Center, is a monument to St. Thomas situated at Marthoma Nagar at Kodungallur.
Some Russian Orthodox call for closing gay clubs in Moscow (The Moscow Times) A group of Russian Orthodox believers on Monday called for the closure of all gay clubs in Moscow as part of the drive to ban the promotion of homosexuality. The People’s Council, a nationalist Orthodox organization, said in a statement that homosexuality is “a grave sin” and that it was seeking to close gay clubs that “entice fragile members of society into the gay community,” Interfax reported.
Christians show love of Israel in Jerusalem (Huffington Post) The mainstream news media can leave the average Israeli with the impression that much of the world has hostile, hateful feelings towards the Jewish state or, at the very least, does not want to be friends. It gets a little lonely at times in the Middle East. But there was love in the air of Jerusalem this past Thursday afternoon. Marching through the streets of Jerusalem, approximately 6,000 Christian friends of Israel made their way with flags and smiles, which they readily shared with Israeli bystanders — from secular to ultra-orthodox Jews of all ages and backgrounds. Israeli Tourism Minister Stas Misezhnikov welcomed the Christian visitors, who were led by evangelical Protestant community leaders visiting from across the world to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles, the Christian celebration of the seven-day Jewish holiday of Sukkot.
9 October 2012
Tags: India Syria Egypt Israel Violence against Christians
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In this 2009 image, students pause from physical education at the Latin School in Zerqa, Jordan, which receives support from the Knights of the Holy Sepulchre. (photo: Nader Daoud)
This past Sunday, the Western Lieutenancy of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem invited CNEWA’s Father Guido Gockel, M.H.M., and me to address their annual meeting in Palm Springs, California. In my remarks, I looked at some key questions concerning the region:
”Is there a future for Christians — indeed for any minority — in this new Middle East? What role will religion play,especially Islam, in governing these peoples? And, is Islam compatible with the so-called democratic aspirations expressed by the reformers leading the “Arab Spring?”
CNEWA works closely with this chivalric order dedicated to supporting the church in the Holy Land, and Msgr. Kozar and I are blessed to be members.
To read the speech, click here. And please, let me know what you think.
9 October 2012
Tags: Middle East Christians Middle East Christianity Islam Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem
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Faithful celebrate Mass at a Roman Catholic church in Antakya, Hatay province. (photo: Sean Sprague)
In the May 2011 issue of ONE, Sean Sprague provides a window into the variegated Christian life of the Turkish city of Antakya, once known as Antioch:
To walk through Antioch today is to walk through a city that is both historically rich and religiously diverse.
With the great medieval bazaar on one side, with its tiny shops selling nuts, dried fruits, lingerie and cell phones, the old town forms what priests enthusiastically call an “ecumenical triangle.” Within short walking distance are the synagogue to the north, the Latin Catholic church to the west, the Orthodox cathedral to the east, and a scattering of ancient mosques in all directions.
By far the most impressive church is the Orthodox cathedral. With a high dome supported by sturdy limestone columns, it is discreetly hidden behind a narrow gateway so that you almost come upon it by chance. About 100 Arabic—speaking members of the Antiochene Orthodox community attend the evening Divine Liturgy on Ascension Thursday. Father Dimitri Dogum leads his small congregation in its ancient and haunting chant. …
Five minutes away, through a warren of alleyways, stands the Latin Catholic church. Its pastor, Father Domenico Bertogli, a Capuchin from Italy, has lived in Turkey for 42 years, and in Antioch for the last two decades.
Father Bertogli explains why so many different kinds of Christians live together peaceably. “Antioch is the place where we were first called Christians,” he says, “and it should not matter whether we call ourselves Catholic, Orthodox or Protestant. Many of the young people tell me this. What matters is that we are Christians!”
Read more in Turkey’s Melting Pot.
9 October 2012
Tags: Middle East Christians Unity Ecumenism Turkey Christian Unity
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Rubble runs up to the foot of the altar inside a church damaged during shelling in Homs, Syria, on 5 October. (photo: CNS/Shaam News Network, handout via Reuters)
Fighting intensifies in Homs, church damaged (The Guardian) Homs could fall at any moment as the Syrian army takes street after street, a resident of the central Hamidiya district told the Guardian. Khalid Majied said the Free Syrian Army was doing little to help civilians and appeared to be on the verge of pulling out of the city.
Arabic to become a part of the pope’s general audience (VIS) Beginning on Wednesday 10 October, during the Holy Father’s weekly general audience, an Arabic speaker will join the other speakers who provide a summary of the papal catechizes in various different languages. In this way, in the wake of his recent trip to Lebanon and the publication of the post-synodal apostolic exhortation “Ecclesia in Medio Oriente,” the Holy Father intends to express his perpetual concern and support for Christians in the Middle East, and to remind everyone of their duty to pray and work for peace in the region.
Patriarch Gregory III: “May the Year of Faith be the Year of Reconciliation” (Fides) “May the Year of Faith be for Syria the Year of Reconciliation: [this] is the hope of Christians and all the Syrian people.” This is what the Melkite patriarch of Damascus, Gregory III Laham, now in the Vatican to attend the Synod on the New Evangelization, declared in an interview with Fides on the eve of the opening of the Year of Faith. “We Christians in the Middle East,” Patriarch Gregory III explains of the Greek Catholic community that in Syria has over 150,000 faithful, “feel an integral part of the Arab world and in this moment of difficulty, problems, fear, we have greater need to strengthen our faith: to be bearers of the Gospel.”
Catholic bishops of the Holy Land offer guidance on living the Year of Faith (Fides) In a newly published pastoral letter, the Assembly of Bishops of the Catholic Ordinaries of the Holy Land offers its contribution to the itinerary that the universal church is called to fulfill in the Year of Faith. The pastors of the Catholic churches in the region, citing Pope Benedict XVI’s exhortation, remind everyone: “The example of the first community of Jerusalem can serve as a model to renew the current Christian community.”
Kerala Catholics prepare to begin Year of Faith (Asian Age) The Year of Faith beginning in Catholic Church on Thursday will see faithful in the state joining others across the world for special prayers in homes and churches. Though the Catholic Church in Kerala does not expect a situation like that in Europe, where church attendance is in alarming decline, it still is keen on the yearlong stress on reaffirming faith.
Tom Hanks to be featured on posters promoting Christianity in Russia (Hollywood Reporter) Tom Hanks will appear on posters promoting Orthodox Christianity in Russia and neighboring states alongside prominent local cultural and sports figures. The Russian Orthodox youth movement Soboryane said it is launching a massive poster campaign during a missionary event entitled “My Pravoslavnye” (“We Are Orthodox Christians”) on 13 and 14 October in Russia, Belarus and Ukraine.
5 October 2012
Tags: Syria Pope Benedict XVI Middle East Christians Kerala Russian Orthodox Church
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Pope Benedict XVI attends a ceremony and signing of his apostolic exhortation on the Middle East at the Melkite Catholic Basilica of St. Paul in Harissa, Lebanon, on 14 September.
(CNS photo/L’Osservatore Romano via Reuters)
As we noted in our Page One headlines this morning, the Holy Father’s exhortation on the Church in the Middle East is being widely circulated in that part of the world.
Pope Benedict XVI had a lot to say to the people of the Middle East on a range of topics. Here are five subjects (among many) worth noting, as expressed in the pope’s own words:
- The four pillars of the early church. “According to Acts, the unity of believers was seen in the fact that ‘they devoted themselves to the Apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of the bread and the prayers’ (2:42). The unity of believers was thus nourished by the teaching of the Apostles (the proclamation of God’s word), to which they responded with unanimous faith, by fraternal communion (the service of charity), by the breaking of the bread (the Eucharist and the sacraments), and by prayer, both personal and communal. It was on these four pillars that communion and witness were based within the first community of believers. May the Church which has lived uninterruptedly in the Middle East from apostolic times to our own day find in the example of that community the resources needed to keep fresh the memory and the apostolic vitality of her origins!” (paragraph 5)
- Peace. “Peace is not simply a pact or a treaty which ensures a tranquil life, nor can its definition be reduced to the mere absence of war. According to its Hebrew etymology, peace means being complete and intact, restored to wholeness. It is the state of those who live in harmony with God and with themselves, with others and with nature. Before appearing outwardly, peace is interior. It is blessing. It is the yearning for a reality. Peace is something so desirable that it has become a greeting in the Middle East”
(cf. Jn 20:19; 1 Pet 5:14). (9)
- Ecumenism. “[The Church in the Middle East] lives there in a remarkable variety of forms. Along with the Catholic Church, a great number of venerable Churches and Ecclesial Communities of more recent date are present in the Middle East. This mosaic demands a significant and continued effort to build unity in respect for the riches of each, and thus to reaffirm the credibility of the proclamation of the Gospel and Christian witness. Unity is a gift of God which is born of the Spirit and which must be cultivated with patient perseverance (cf. 1 Pet 3:8-9). We know that it is tempting, whenever our divisions make themselves felt, to appeal to purely human criteria, forgetting the sage counsel of Saint Paul (cf. 1 Cor 6:7-8). He entreats us: ‘Be eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace’ (Eph 4:3). Faith is the centre and the fruit of true ecumenism. Faith itself must first be deepened. Unity is born of constant prayer and the conversion which enables each of us to live in accordance with the truth and in charity (cf. Eph 4:15-16). The Second Vatican Council encouraged this ‘spiritual ecumenism’ which is the soul of true ecumenism.” (11)
- Religious freedom. “Religious freedom is the pinnacle of all other freedoms. It is a sacred and inalienable right. It includes on the individual and collective levels the freedom to follow one’s conscience in religious matters and, at the same time, freedom of worship. It includes the freedom to choose the religion which one judges to be true and to manifest one’s beliefs in public. It must be possible to profess and freely manifest one’s religion and its symbols without endangering one’s life and personal freedom. Religious freedom is rooted in the dignity of the person; it safeguards moral freedom and fosters mutual respect. Jews, with their long experience of often deadly assaults, know full well the benefits of religious freedom. For their part, Muslims share with Christians the conviction that no constraint in religious matters, much less the use of force, is permitted. Such constraint, which can take multiple and insidious forms on the personal and social, cultural, administrative and political levels, is contrary to God’s will. It gives rise to political and religious exploitation, discrimination and violence leading to death. God wants life, not death. He forbids all killing, even of those who kill” (cf. Gen 4:15-16; 9:5-6; Ex 20:13).
- Women. “The first creation account shows the essential equality of men and women (cf. Gen 1:27-29). This equality was damaged by the effects of sin (cf. Gen 3:16; Mt 19:4). Overcoming this legacy, the fruit of sin, is the duty of every human person, whether man or woman. I want to assure all women that the Catholic Church, in fidelity to God’s plan, works to advance women’s personal dignity and equality with men in response to the wide variety of forms of discrimination which they experience simply because they are women. Such practices seriously harm the life of communion and witness. They gravely offend not only women but, above all, God the Creator. In recognition of their innate inclination to love and protect human life, and paying tribute to their specific contribution to education, healthcare, humanitarian work and the apostolic life, I believe that women should play, and be allowed to play, a greater part in public and ecclesial life. In this way they will be able to make their specific contribution to building a more fraternal society and a Church whose beauty is ever more evident in the genuine communion existing among the baptized.”
There is much more, of course, stretching across 100 paragraphs. We’ll have more from this important document in the next edition of the magazine. Meantime, you can read the exhortation in its entirety online.
CNEWA president Msgr. John Kozar was in Lebanon during the pope’s trip last month. You can read his account of that visit here.
5 October 2012
Tags: Lebanon Pope Benedict XVI Middle East
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A boy plays with a toy camera he found in the garbage. (photo: Dana Smillie)
Cairo-based journalist Sarah Topol covers events in the Middle East. For the September issue of ONE, she reports on Egypt’s Zabbaleen, or “garbage people” in Arabic. Here, she offers her personal impressions of a class of people struggling to live on what others discard.
The fetid smell of garbage hits you immediately. It is sickly sweet and hangs in the air, suspended in the desert heat. Honking trucks piled with bags of trash and bleating donkeys carting more of the same cram the narrow, unpaved road that cuts through the Christian quarter of Manshiyet Nasr, a neighborhood on the rocky cliffs outside of Cairo. This is the home of the “Zabbaleen,” the city’s trash collectors.
While men collect and drive the trucks, women sit outside in the narrow alleys sorting through the waste. Sometimes they hammer apart items, like cassette tapes: sturdy case plastic goes into one pile, and the black ribbon in another. Other times, their hands are dripping with remnants of refuse — the leftover yogurt from a container or bits of orange peel. Their children run barefoot through the congealed remains. Goats chew on the rubbish, while stray cats stare at visitors before returning to their scavenging or naps. Flies are everywhere.
This is one of the most squalid areas in Egypt. It is also home to one of the most efficient systems of disposal in the world — 80 percent of the garbage brought here is recycled. Life here was never easy, but for a long time it was at least predictable. Then in 2009, the Egyptian government decided to kill all of the country’s pigs as a foolhardy attempt to prevent swine flu. Now times are tougher; the goats don’t eat nearly as much trash as pigs did, and in post-revolutionary Egypt, many, especially those in the country’s Christian minority, are afraid of the near-constant political and economic instability.
Um Abanoub is a mother of six. She is 40 years old, but her harshly lined face makes her look older. When I approach, she’s hunched down sorting waste with her teenage daughter. “Now we have to pay money for disposing organic waste,” she tells me, referring to the fees people pay for using trash dumps. “Before, we fed it to the pigs.
“Things have gotten worse since the revolution,” she tells me plaintively, explaining that she owes money to many of her neighbors because she married one of her daughters and the two others are engaged. Weddings are expensive affairs in Egypt. “This is how we find ourselves in life. Only God knows how things will go,” she tells me.
When I ask her if she receives any charity, she says: “No, we don’t see anything from those organizations, or from the church — we thank God for whatever little he provides us.” The community is deeply devout, but most people I speak to agree they see little assistance from the church.
I take these concerns to Father Abraham, one of the five priests responsible for the Zabbaleen at St. Simon, an imposing church cut into the cliff face. “As much as it can, it helps its children,” the black-robed priest explains while fielding calls from congregation members with personal problems during our interview. “The church can’t satisfy everyone.”
As for the relationship between local Muslims and Christians, Father Abraham reports there are no problems and others in the community agree — relationships based on trade have continued despite the political instability.
“I deal with almost everyone, including the Muslim Brotherhood,” plastics trader Francis Sawiris tells me of the conservative Islamist group that now controls nearly half the seats in Egypt’s post-revolutionary parliament. “It’s all about the attitude, not the religion: he needs me and I need him. That’s the benefit of a working relationship,” he explains while cheerfully sorting through plastic on the ground floor of his home.
But on a wider scale people tell me they are afraid. Egypt’s revolution has also unleashed more radical Islamists into politics, including the ultra-traditionalist Salafis who control a quarter of seats in the new parliament. Sectarian incidents are on the rise.
My tour guide, Mousa Nazmy from the Spirit of Youth Foundation — an N.G.O. run by and for the Zabbaleen — told me he was looking for a way out. Nazmy’s brother was killed during sectarian clashes that struck the neighborhood when a protest on 9 March spiraled out of control. He was 26 years old and left behind two children and a wife.
“After that we were all afraid,” Nazmy tells me. “We thought the revolution would lift people up, but the opposite happened.”
5 October 2012
Tags: Egypt Coptic Christians
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Bishop Amba Tadros visits Port Said, Egypt and distributes sweets during a feast before Lent. (photo: Sean Sprague)
In 2009, writer Liam Stack reported on the efforts by Coptic Orthodox Bishop Amba Tadros to bring a sense of renewal and hope to a community along the Suez Canal that has seen alternating periods of boom, bust and bombing:
When he was installed in November 1976, he was charged with creating an Orthodox ecclesiastical jurisdiction for a city that had never had one. Port Said was also missing most of its population. As the 1967 war began, the city was evacuated in the face of a massive Israeli aerial bombardment. Soon after, Egypt lost control of the strategically important Sinai Peninsula, which lies just east of the city.
For Egyptians, it was one of the darkest periods of the country’s modern history, and, in the middle of it all, Amba Tadros was building up the local church from scratch.
“Many homes and buildings had been destroyed by bombs, and people were living in shelters or on the streets,” says the bishop, now an elderly man. “Electricity and water were difficult to have all through the day.”
Over the course of the 1970’s, people began to trickle back to their homes, but most of the city was ruined in the war.
For men like Amba Tadros it was a challenging time. Some would have found providing physical and spiritual aid to the city’s displaced residents a crushing task. But local Coptic leaders say that something unexpected grew out of the ashes: renewed friendships among peoples of all faiths that was a harbinger of a citywide renewal.
Read more about Hope and Renewal in Suez in the November 2009 issue of ONE.
Tags: Egypt Coptic Christians
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