21 May 2013
Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople celebrates an Orthodox liturgy for the feast of the Dormition of Mary at the Panagia Soumela Monastery near Trabzon, Turkey, August 15, 2010. Thousands of Orthodox pilgrims from Greece, Russia and Georgia attended the liturgy at the monastery for the first time since 1923. (CNS photo/Umit Bektas, Reuters)
Waiting for Godot, In Turkey (Archons) The memorable play of Irish author and playwright Samuel Beckett, “Waiting for Godot,” has become a metaphor for situations in which people wait for someone unlikely to come, or do not even know what they are expecting. They just keep waiting and waiting.
African Children: Invisible and Deprived of Their Rights (Fides) Half of the African children are “invisible” because they do not appear in any population register. This is what emerged in a statement released on the occasion of the XXI Meeting of the African Union (AU) which has just begun in Addis Ababa.
Ethnic Identity Damages Church’s Catholicity (Fides) The attachment to one’s “Chaldean” ethnic and cultural roots should not become fanatical cult of one’s national identity, if one does not want to obscure the church’s catholicity. This is the key message that the Patriarch of Babylon of the Chaldeans Louis Sako Raphael I wanted to express in a letter addressed to the clergy of his Church, to share with bishops, priests and religious concerns and hopes on the present moment lived by the church led by him.
Military Chaplains: Serving God and Mother Russia (RBTH) Recruitment of military chaplains is stepping up a gear, as Vladimir Putin’s government builds on traditional Orthodox values to bolster patriotic feelings in society.
One Syrian Village Breathes Easier (France 24) The advance of regime troops on the rebel stronghold of Qusayr in central Syria has come as a relief for at least one village, mostly-Christian, nestled on the shores of Lake Quttina.
Indian Church Helps Syria (Persecuted Church) Extending a helping hand to their war-hit brethren in Syria, the Jacobite Church in Kerala collect 20 million rupees for the rehabilitation of the affected in that country.
20 May 2013
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CNEWA’s president, Msgr. John E. Kozar, is the subject of a comprehensive interview by Basilian Father Thomas Rosica of Canada’s Catholic television network, Salt+Light.
Taped soon after Msgr. Kozar participated in Pope Benedict’s historic pastoral visit to Lebanon last September — and first aired this weekend — the interview includes vignettes from Msgr. Kozar’s travels, CNEWA’s concerns for the plight of the ancient churches of the East, and an invitation to join CNEWA’s mission to build up the church, affirm human dignity, alleviate poverty, encourage dialogue and inspire hope.
20 May 2013
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According to reports, the Turkish government is preparing to build camps to house Syrian Christian refugees in the Syriac Christian heartland near Mardin, home to the fifth-century Deyrulzafaran Monastery. (photo: Karen Lagerquist)
Why is Turkey Building a Tent City for Syrian Christians? (AINA) Nowhere in the Islamic world has a refugee camp for the Christians of one country been built across the border in a neighbouring country. Now Turkey is building a camp that will hold between 3 and 30 times the number of Syrian Christians currently taking refuge in the country. Why? Why is Turkey creating a small city to handle a flood of Syrian Christians?
Syria’s Christians left in limbo (Haaretz) Christians in Syria find themselves damned if they support the regime of President Bashar Assad, and equally damned if they join the rebellion. With both the regime and Islamists looking to settle scores, the future looks bleak.
Jerusalem family tattoos pilgrims for centuries (Businessweek) Orthodox Christians visiting the Holy Land often return home with more than just spiritual memories. Many drop by a centuries-old tattoo parlor in Jerusalem’s Old City, inking themselves with a permanent reminder not only of their pilgrimage but also of devotion to their faith.
Build Your Own Country (Fides) The Patriarch of Antioch of the Maronites, Bechara Boutros, addressed a severe reprimand to Lebanese politicians who fail to reach an agreement to prepare a new electoral law and lead the country out of the serious and dangerous political-institutional paralysis in which it has fallen.
Egyptian Christians targeted with blasphemy charges (Dallas News) Blasphemy charges were not uncommon in Egypt under the now-ousted autocrat Hosni Mubarak’s regime, but there has been a surge in such cases in recent months, according to rights activists. The trend is widely seen as a reflection of the growing power and confidence of Islamists, particularly the ultraconservative Salafis.
13 May 2013
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Patriarchs and heads of local churches in Jerusalem condemned the actions of Israeli police that took place during the celebrations of the Holy Fire on Saturday, 4 May.
(photo: CNEWA, Jerusalem)
Jerusalem’s highest ranking Christian clerics — Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant — issued a statement yesterday protesting the actions of the Israeli police during the celebrations of the Holy Fire last Saturday in the Old City of Jerusalem:
“We, the Heads of Churches in Jerusalem, watched with sorrowful hearts the horrific scenes of the brutal treatment of our clergy, people and pilgrims in the Old City of Jerusalem during Holy Saturday [in the Julian calendar] last week,” the leaders wrote.
“A day of joy and celebration was turned to great sorrow and pain for some of our faithful because they were ill-treated by some Israeli policemen who were present around the gates of the Old City and passages that lead to the Holy Sepulchre.”
According to The Times of Israel, three high-ranking Egyptian diplomats were evicted from the church during the liturgy. A Coptic Orthodox bishop who accompanied the diplomats “was beaten during the incident and briefly lost consciousness. He was treated at a Jerusalem hospital and later released.”
The Times also reported that Israel’s deputy foreign minister, Ze’ev Elkin, offered a verbal apology to Cairo for the “rough treatment” of three Egyptian diplomats on 9 May, a day after “Israel’s ambassador in Cairo, Yaakov Amitai, was summoned by the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Ministry spokesman Amr Roshdy said in a press conference that Amitai was issued a ‘strongly worded’ complaint about the treatment of the Egyptian diplomats.”
The heads of the churches stated that they “understand the necessity and the importance of the presence of security forces to ensure order and stability, and for organizing the celebration of the Holy Fire at the Church of the Resurrection. Yet, it is not acceptable that under pretext of security and order, our clergy and people are indiscriminately and brutally beaten, and prevented from entering their churches, monasteries and convents.
“We urge the Israeli authorities especially the Ministry of Interior and the police department in Jerusalem, to seriously consider our complaints, to hold responsibility and to condemn all acts of violence against our faithful and the clergy who were ill-treated by the police.”
CNEWA’s regional director for Palestine and Israel, Sami El-Yousef — a resident of the Old City who belongs to one of Jerusalem’s oldest Christian families — noted that each year Israeli “security” measures surrounding the Holy Fire become more restrictive, bringing back “memories of my ONE magazine article about the same old story that was published in the May 2010 edition. This year, however, was much worse than in 2010 as the Israeli police were brutal.”
In their statement, Jerusalem’s Christian leaders recognized these enhanced security measures, which effectively prevent the local Christian community from participating in the Easter celebrations, stating that “every year, the police measures are becoming tougher, and we expect that these accidents will not be repeated and the police should be more sensitive and respectful if they seek to protect and serve.
“We also denounce all those who are blaming the churches and holding them responsible of the Israeli measures during Holy Week celebrations. On the contrary, the heads of churches in Jerusalem condemn all of these measures and violations of Christians’ rights to worship in their churches and Holy Sites. Therefore, we condemn all measures of closing the Old City and urge the Israeli authorities to allow full access to the Holy Sites during Holy Week of both church calendars.”
Among those who signed the statement were Greek Orthodox Patriarch Theophilos III, Latin Patriarch Fouad, Armenian Apostolic Patriarch Norhan and the Franciscan custos of the Holy Land, Father Pierbattista Pizzaballa.
3 May 2013
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Important stories and vibrant photography mark the newest issue of ONE — coming soon to a mailbox near you!
OK folks, so it took a little while longer for the editorial staff to churn out this latest edition of the magazine.
We hope you agree that our new and improved look in print was worth the wait.
Yep, the trim size of our print edition is larger, the type is larger, the graphics are enhanced and we have made it easier to connect the story to what CNEWA does and how you can help.
“But I only read it online!”
Great — there’s more online with additional interviews, slide shows, short films and other multimedia features. But for just $24 a year, you can receive our quarterly in glorious color.
As part of the evolution of ONE magazine, we are also in the planning stages of enhancing our digital edition, as well as the entire web site.
Stay tuned! And tell us how you feel about the new look!
Michael La Civita is CNEWA’s chief communications officer.
25 April 2013
Tags: CNEWA CNEWA Canada ONE magazine CNEWA Pontifical Mission
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Children play basketball outside of St. Elias Melkite Greek Catholic Church in Ezraa, Syria. (photo: Armineh Johannes)
While we await word on the fate of the two archbishops abducted earlier this week in northern Syria — and offer our prayers — we plumbed through our archives and unearthed an interesting story from a gentler time about the ancient Christian villages of the plain of Houran in southern Syria.
In 2004, writer Marlin Dick and photographer Armineh Johannes spent a week in the Houran capturing in word and film the lives of these Christians who tilled the same soil as their Roman ancestors, inhabited Roman houses and worshiped in ancient Byzantine churches.
Christians and Muslims in one village, Ezraa, together venerate St. George, “the patron saint of the town’s Greek Orthodox church, built in 512, and the oldest functioning church in Syria,” the author writes. He continues:
Like their Muslim neighbors, Christians often refer to the church as “Khudr Ezraa,” or St. George of Ezraa, using its Arabic name.
“Islam and Christianity both revere Khudr,” says the village’s Melkite Greek Catholic pastor, Father Elias Hanout. “Muslims and Christians here all study together and work together. Today we have a better understanding of each other. We visit each other, attend each other’s funerals and weddings.”
What seemed like a matter of routine in 2004 is today, just nine years later, exemplary. The Houran now hosts some of the fiercest fighting between government forces and rebels. And the fate of its peoples, churches and mosques remains unknown. What we have left are words and pictures, and in my own case, the memories of a memorable visit in autumn 1998.
After I had spent a long day visiting CNEWA-supported projects in the area, an elderly parish priest and his wife welcomed me into their home. I recall fondly their delightful company, and I can still taste the anise-flavored arak, the sweet stuffed eggplant and the succulent tomatoes from their tiny kitchen.
May the Houran’s fields bring forth fruit once again, and God preserve its people.
22 April 2013
Tags: Syria Unity Cultural Identity Village life Houran
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In this image from last November, a statue stands outside a destroyed church in Homs, Syria, Activists said the church had been bombed by forces loyal to Syria’s President Bashar Assad.
(photo: CNS /Yazan Homsy, Reuters)
Reports from Syria and its Christian minority indicate that the situation in Syria is continuing to deteriorate. Today, sources in Syria report that the Greek Orthodox archbishop of Aleppo, Paul Yazigi, and the Syriac Orthodox archbishop of Aleppo, Yohanna Ibrahim, were seized by “a terrorist group” as they were “carrying out humanitarian work.”
Reuters reports that “a Syriac member of the opposition Syrian National Coalition, Abdulahad Steifo, said the two men had been captured when Ibrahim went to collect Yazigi after he crossed into rebel-held northern Syria from Turkey.”
CNEWA works closely with the Greek and Syriac Orthodox churches in Syria, partnering with its priests and religious to deliver aid to the families impacted by Syria’s ongoing civil war. Please pray for the safety of these shepherds and of their flock. Click here to learn how you can help.
10 January 2013
Tags: Syria Georgian Orthodox Church Syriac Orthodox Church
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The Eparchy of Saint-Maron de Montreal of the Maronites, which Bishop-Elect Marwan Tabet will head, is located in Montreal, Quebec, and serves Canada’s entire Maronite population. (photo: Sarah Hunter)
Today, a good friend of CNEWA, Maronite Father Marwan Tabet, was named bishop of the Eparchy of Saint-Maron de Montreal of the Maronites by Pope Benedict XVI. The bishop-elect was born in Bhamdoun, Lebanon, in 1961, entered the Congregation of the Lebanese Maronite Missionaries in 1980, and was ordained to the priesthood in 1986. Father Marwan, who is known throughout Lebanon as a man of action who knows how to get things done — and well. As the general secretary of Lebanon’s Catholic schools, Father Marwan raised the standards for Catholic education throughout the country, offering superb educations for Christian and Muslim students in the poorer sections of the country as well as students in the affluent neighborhoods of Beirut.
In the July 2008 edition of ONE, we focused on Father Marwan and his efforts with Catholic schools in Lebanon:
In many parts of Lebanon, [Catholic schools] represent the last forum where Christian and Muslim youth meet and grow up knowing one another. “Catholic schools are natural places where children can come together, sit next to each other and get to know the other person slowly but surely,” said Maronite Father Marwan Tabet, who heads Lebanon’s General Secretariat of Catholic Schools.
“It’s not like you have to shove it down the throats of people — and the kids grow to know each other, to love each other, to accept each other. That’s very important.”
Father Marwan believes the student body’s religious diversity ranks among the greatest strengths of the nation’s Catholic school system. These schools, he said, are a “place where there is no proselytism, where children are not converted to Christianity. On the contrary, they are open to the other culture. They are accepted and they are cared for with the best of means and possibilities.”
Congratulations Bishop-elect Marwan, and God’s blessings on your new assignment.
6 December 2012
Tags: Education Christian-Muslim relations Canada Maronite Catholic education
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This icon depicting St. Nicholas, dating back to the late 14th or early 15th century, hung in the Church of Dormition in the village of Kuritsko. It is held in the Icon Museum of Veliky Novgorod. (photo: Sean Sprague)
In May 1997, I traveled to Puglia, Italy, to visit my father’s family. While there, I visited Bari, home to the Wonder Worker, good ole St. Nick. Here’s how I concluded an article on that visit, which coincided with another Feast of St. Nicholas, which we celebrate today:
“One Russian family caught my eye. The father watched his youngest child as his wife and daughters, their heads covered in colorful scarves, lit candles, kissed icons, pressed their heads to the sacred images and prostrated themselves before the altar. Although they abstained from the Eucharist, this family and the other Orthodox pilgrims who were in attendance rushed to the iconostasis to receive the blessed bread and to be anointed with the holy myron, or oil, of St. Nicholas.
“The holy myron of St. Nicholas is a clear substance that, according to Byzantine accounts, has oozed from the remains of St. Nicholas since his burial in the early fourth century. Many Barese families still possess the elaborately painted bottles that were blown to hold the sacred oil.
“After the completion of the liturgy I went to the chapel where Nicholas lies buried under a simple stone altar. While the Italians were busy throwing their offerings of lire through an iron gate, my Russian family — who were now joined by other Russian pilgrims — stood near the tomb of their beloved saint and wept.
“This quiet scene was interrupted by a deafening sound. High above the basilica, Italian fighter planes soared, leaving trails of green, white and red smoke. Fireworks were set above the harbor to delight the pilgrims.
“I returned to the somber facade of the basilica and encountered Russian pilgrims bending low to pay homage to the Wonder Worker. After all, it was devotion, not spectacle, that had brought them to this shrine.”
Follow the link to read the rest of the story on Bari’s Borrowed Wonder Worker.
5 December 2012
Tags: Saints Italy Italo-Byzantine Catholic Church
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In April 2010, the CNEWA Board of Directors, led by Archbishop Timothy Dolan, right, visited the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch and All the East Ignatius IV Hazim at the Latin Patriarchate in Damascus. (photo: CNEWA)
The CNEWA family learned today of the death of one of its primary partners in the Middle East, Patriarch Ignatius IV of the Orthodox Patriarchal Church of Antioch. On Monday, he suffered a stroke and was rushed to St. George Hospital in Beirut, where he died today. He was 91 years old.
Since the 1940’s, he had been in the forefront of pastoral activity. He founded a youth movement dedicated to catechesis and formation. He reached out to the New World and set up structures here to encourage growth among the Antiochene Orthodox community. Back home, he reached out to non-Christians, establishing strong relationships with the Alawi, Druze and Sunni and Shiite Muslim communities. But it is perhaps his commitment to healing the ancient church of Antioch, once led by the Apostle Peter, for which he is known and loved.
Elected in 1979, Patriarch Ignatius established a warm relationship with the Syriac Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch, Ignatius I, who was elected in 1980 and also lived in the Syrian capital of Damascus. The two worked together to understand the Christological nuances of their particular tradition — nuances that have divided the Antiochene church since 451 — agreeing to provisions for intercommunion of the faithful and even the concelebration of the eucharistic liturgy.
He deepened, too, ties with the Melkite Greek Catholic Church, which shares the same rites and traditions and remains in full communion with the church of Rome. The “Church of Antioch Initiative” pushed the ecumenical envelope for the healing of the church. Such advances include the sharing of churches, including the 2005 construction of Sts. Peter and Paul in the Damascus suburb of Doumar, which CNEWA assisted in developing.
Antioch’s Orthodox and Melkite Greek Catholic patriarchs, Ignatius IV and Gregory III, jointly consecrated Sts. Peter and Paul Church in Doumar, Damascus, in February 2005. (photo: CNEWA)
Another highlight during his patriarchate was the visit of Pope John Paul II to Syria in May 2001. The pope was cohosted by the Greek and Syriac Orthodox patriarchs, as well as the Melkite Greek Catholic patriarch, Gregory III. Msgr. Robert Stern, then CNEWA’s secretary general, participated in the trip and wrote that the pope was welcomed to the Antiochene Orthodox Patriarchal Cathedral of the Virgin Mary, where he was “warmly welcomed by the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch and All the East, Ignatius IV. Two other patriarchs of Antioch stood at his side: Syriac Orthodox Patriarch Ignatius Zakka I and Melkite Greek Catholic Patriarch Gregorios III.
“The packed cathedral included not only the Catholic and Orthodox bishops of Syria, but most of the other Catholic patriarchs, many of the Greek and Syriac Orthodox bishops of the two patriarchates from other countries around the world and an enthusiastic congregation.
“Beautiful symbols of unity were a joint profession of the Creed, warm and loving words from both the Greek Orthodox Patriarch and the pope, a mutual embrace or kiss of peace and the recitation of the Lord’s Prayer by all.
“Sometimes,” he concluded, “we talk so much about the need for Christian unity we almost forget how much real unity already exists.”
May this loving apostle of unity rest in the peace of Christ.
Tags: Middle East Unity Ecumenism Orthodox Church Patriarchs
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