11 May 2017
In this image from March, a Syrian refugee widow, 25-years-old Hawla Shafi, who fled from the Syrian town of Raqqa, is seen with her children in front of an abandoned electric transformer building in Sanliurfa, Turkey. Raqqa has just been recaptured by the opposition forces.
(photo: Halil Fidan/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
U.S.-led coalition lauds capture of ISIS town in Syria (AP) The U.S.-led coalition fighting the Islamic State group says the Kurdish-led Syrian opposition forces’ capture of a key town and nearby dam in eastern Syria from the militants undermines IS’s ability to defend its de facto capital, Raqqa. Thursday’s coalition statement says the fall of Tabqa and its dam the day before also denies ISIS “a key coordination hub” used by the group’s foreign fighters since 2013 to plan operations and attacks against the West...
Drought surging once again in Ethiopia (AllAfrica.com) The national, Risk Management Commission reported the number of people who are in need of urgent assistance has reached 7.7 million. The number is 31 percent higher compared to what it was six months ago...
Focolare Movement organizes events in India to strengthen interreligious dialogue (Fides) Promoting unity, peace and solidarity among young people belonging to different religions in India: this is the aim of a series of events that the Focolare Movement in India have organized in May, especially to strengthen the path of interreligious dialogue. The theme of the special week, celebrated by young Focolare people at an international level, was “Change your heart to change the world...”
Metropolitan Tikhon addresses World Summit in Defense of Persecuted Christians in Washington (OCA.org) His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon, offered welcoming remarks at the opening session of “Martyrs for Christ,” the World Summit in Defense of Persecuted Christians that opened here on 10 May 2017. “This Summit takes place during the season of the resurrection of Christ, in which we celebrate the victory of the Life-giver over death and the destruction of corruption by the Divine Physician,” said Metropolitan Tikhon...
Russian found guilty for inciting religious hatred for playing ‘Pokemon Go’ in church (The Washington Post) A judge in Russia’s fourth-largest city has convicted a blogger who played ‘Pokémon Go” in a renowned Orthodox cathedral of inciting religious hatred and insulting the feelings of believers, the state RIA-Novosti news agency reported Thursday...
10 May 2017
A catechism class prays after celebrating the Divine Liturgy in Cairo. To learn more about how Christians are keeping the faith in Egypt, often under difficult circumstances, read Anxiety in Cairo in the current edition of ONE. (photo: David Degner)
10 May 2017
Pope Francis and Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros II attend an ecumenical prayer service at St. Peter’s Church in Cairo on 28 April. The church was the site of a December 2016 bombing. In a letter to Pope Tawadros today, Pope Francis called for “unity in diversity.”
(photo: CNS/Paul Haring)
Pope calls for unity in diversity in letter to Pope Tawadros II (CNS) In a letter to Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros II, Pope Francis said he hoped that both their churches can continue along the path of true unity and communion. The bond between the Catholic Church and the Coptic Orthodox Church is a reminder “to intensify our common efforts to persevere in the search for visible unity in diversity, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit,” the pope wrote in a letter to the patriarch on 10 May...
Battle for Mosul: 400,000 Iraqis displaced in two months (Al Jazeera) More than 400,000 people have been displaced from western Mosul about two months into the Iraqi army’s battle against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), according to the UN. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said, citing the Iraqi government, that 434,775 people have fled ISIL’s last stronghold in Iraq since Iraqi forces launched the western Mosul operation on 19 February...
Ethiopian cardinal calls for strengthening of families (Vatican Radio) His Eminence Cardinal Berhaneyesus, C.M., Metropolitan Archbishop of Addis Ababa, President of CBCE and AMECEA Chairman has called on parents to be a primary and reliable means of information for their children. He said that this post modern era is a challenging time for the youth to make an informed decision about their life and the path they want to choose. His Eminence said this in the speech he delivered at the national forum on building integral being of adolescents and youth organized by the Ethiopian Ministry of Youth and Sports in Addis Ababa...
Orthodox graffiti comes to Russia (GlobalVoices.org) The Russian Orthodox Church and street art don’t tend to go hand in hand, but a recent collaboration between a provincial street artist and a priest has proven an exception to that rule. Last month, an artist who goes by “Rimrus” from the city of Volgodonsk in southern Russia, noticed that the wall surrounding an Orthodox church in his hometown was covered in graffiti, and he decided to do something about it. In a letter to a local priest, Rimrus suggested the church cover up the graffiti with its own street art and proposed a design. The priest immediately granted permission and even offered to provide paint to the artist...
9 May 2017
School feeding programs in Ethiopia have proven a highly effective means of supporting communities — helping to feed young people and give them energy to study. To learn more, read A Letter from Ethiopia in the current edition of ONE. (photo: Petterik Wiggers)
9 May 2017
In the video above, an Iraqi priest says Iraqis must learn to forgive “even those who led ISIS into our homes.” (video: Rome Reports)
Chaldean patriarch: ‘incendiary rhetoric’ fuels Islamaphobia (Fides) The Chaldean patriarch in a recent document condemned cases of preachers and self-proclaimed Muslim leaders who define Christians, Jews and Gentiles as “infidels” and instigate their followers to treat them with the same violent and discriminatory practices used against them by jihadists from ISIS...
Syria safe zones on hold (The Guardian) Russian-backed plans for de-escalation zones in Syria are on hold as the US, France and the UK seek further detail on how exactly the agreement will be enforced. The deal, jointly signed by Russia, Iran and Turkey in Kazakhstan last week, agreed the establishment of four zones intended to halt conflict between government forces and rebels in key areas, and would potentially be policed by foreign troops...
Iraqi leader: 75 percent of all Iraqi Christians have fled (Christian Post) As many as 1.5 million Christians, or close to 75 percent of all followers of Christ in Iraq, have fled the country since 2003, according to an Iraqi Christian lawmaker. “The number of Christians living in the country now stands at between 500,000 and 850,000,” Josef Sleve told Anadolu Agency on Wednesday. “This means that over the past 14 years, some 1.5 million Christians have emigrated to other countries...”
Jordan’s king vows to protect Arab Christians (World Watch Monitor) King Abdullah II of Jordan said that he will protect the existence and identity of Arab Christians, when last week he met the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, who is on a 12-day tour of the Middle East. King Abdullah II spoke of Jordan as a model of harmonious coexistence between Christians and Muslims. Jordan used to be one of the most open and religiously free countries in the Middle East...
Priest kidnapped in Yemen pleads for help in video (CNS) Indian Salesian Father Tom Uzhunnalil, who was kidnapped in Yemen more than a year ago, in a video message pleaded for the Indian government and the Catholic Church to do more to secure his release...
Syrian refugees in Lebanon struggle after eviction (Reuters) Sitting in a dimly lit room with his three-year-old son on his lap, Taha points to the boy's lips where a rat had bitten him twice while he was sleeping in the night. With a look of hopelessness, Taha, a refugee from Syria, explains how he and his family of seven now live in a horse barn in the Bekaa Valley after last month they were served eviction notices to leave their camp by the Lebanese army. Taha and his family are among an estimated 10,500 Syrian refugees ordered to leave the makeshift camp, with the Lebanese military citing security reasons as the refugees were camped near the Rayak air base...
Indian women pray for peace (Vatican Radio) Around 450 Catholic women from the eight districts of eastern part of Arunachal Pradesh India, during a three-day convention, organized a candle light prayer rally on 6 May to pray for peace...
8 May 2017
CNEWA’s president, Msgr. John E. Kozar, recently received another letter from Samir Nassar, the Maronite Archbishop of Damascus, Syria, along with the holy card shown above — a poignant image of Mary for the month of May. The image shows part of the icon of Our Lady of Vladimir, which we wrote about in our magazine in 1990. (Read more about the image and its history here.)
The card bears a scriptural reference on the back: John 19, 25-27, which includes the words spoken by Jesus from the cross, “Behold your mother.”
The archbishop wrote to ask for prayers for the intercession of Our Lady of Peace in his troubled country. But he also wanted to offer some good news, praising the sisters who are serving and offering “the good works of Christ in Damascus.”
Seventy nine sisters of different congregations are devoted to the church of Damascus. In total discretion, they bring no attention to themselves. Some orders have been here for more than 180 years. They are the profound force that brings life to the Gospel through charisma inspired by the Holy Spirit, in service of the believers and the less fortunate.
- Testimony of fraternity: Some sisters live in small communities in schools which were nationalized in 1968. Others live in hospitals, modest apartments or housing in the middle of God's people, leading a life of poverty, prayer and praise.
- Always willing to listen: These consecrated religious sisters are available to shelter and listen to the less fortunate. This is a primary need in these years of war and solitude. They accumulate in their hearts all the sufferings and problems of the less fortunate who've been forgotten in their misery and uncertainty. Due to their own powerlessness, these consecrated women lovingly and affectionately represent a Wall of Waiting, which assures a charitable presence for needy families.
- Compassionate faces: Our sisters’ commitment to the service of families is evidenced by their presence in daycare centers, schools free clinics, food service establishments and in catechetical and religious formation centers. I give special mention to their heroic mission in the health care sector. Their activities for the care of the sick and the numerous people wounded by war has developed into an avant-garde pastoral of the sick.
- Benefits of the future: The basic mission of our dear sisters remains centered on schools in the formation of children and young people. This educational service transmits moral valueless such as peace, tolerance and dialogue to rebuild a torn country...I have to point out in this area the most important psychological support that the sisters provide to those wounded in war and especially for uprooted children scarred by violence, negligence and exclusion.
- A huge thank you: This beautiful testimony of light, hidden and unknown, deserves our gratitude and acknowledgement. Dear consecrated beloved sisters in Damascus, the RISEN CHRIST will be the one to thank you and bless you!
Maronite Archbishop of Damascus
Our Lady of Peace, pray for us!
8 May 2017
Seminarians last weekend ran a relay across Italy to raise funds for displaced Iraqis in Erbil, such as those shown above. (photo: Paul Jeffrey)
Loaded with peanut butter sandwiches, power bars, Gatorade, grit and prayer, nine U.S. seminarians studying in Rome ran relay-style across the Italian peninsula to raise funds for displaced families in Iraq.
Warm-up included a pre-dawn Mass 6 May at the Pontifical North American College where the students live, followed by packing two vans with nine runners, two drivers and protein- and carb-rich provisions, Christian Huebner of the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C., told Catholic News Service on 4 May.
One van headed to the Mediterranean Sea near Fiumicino and the other van went east to the Adriatic Sea.
“When we arrive, we dip a finger in the water and run to the middle” of the peninsula, which is about 240 miles across, he said. The students meet up in the middle by evening “in some random parking lot” as long as it had a gas station and pizzeria to replenish tanks and tummies.
He said the men take turns running one leg of five to nine miles to a planned checkpoint and then the finishing runner would “slap hands” to hand-off the virtual baton to the next runner in the relay.
The men stretched and rested in the moving van, encouraging the one on the road along the way, he said.
The one-day run raised more than $15,000 dollars, in part thanks to an anonymous donor who matched every dollar pledged. The money goes to the pontifical foundation, Aid to the Church in Need, which will use the funding to continue a program that feeds some of the 12,000 displaced families from Mosul living in Erbil.
The Chaldean Catholic Archeparchy of Erbil, in conjunction with other aid agencies, is the largest provider of aid to the displaced families in that area, the seminarians said on their “Roman Run for Erbil” donor page.
The Chaldean Church organizes pastoral programs, runs seven schools that are open to displaced children and provides food aid, said the donor page on the www.ChurchInNeed.org site.
This was the third year a group of U.S. seminarians — led by Deacon Michael Zimmerman of the Archdiocese of Boston — got together to do a fundraising run for a common cause. Past efforts raised money for a seminary in Haiti, a pro-life center in the United Kingdom and the Syriac Catholic Church, Huebner said.
Unfortunately, he said, Deacon Zimmerman, the run’s founder, had to miss this year’s run because of a soccer injury.
The biggest and most important aim of the relay run, Huebner said, was supplying prayer for and solidarity with those who are suffering.
“One thing the Holy Father says,” is the importance of “taking prayer with you along the way” every day, and the “Roman Run” does that, he said, with prayer being a part of the training, fundraising and race.
“We use the opportunity to encourage people to a life in prayer, no matter where we find ourselves in life,” Huebner said. “Prayer can soak into any part of life like a sponge.”
8 May 2017
Natalia Menshykova fled her home in the Crimean capital of Simferopol and, like countless others, started life over in Lviv. She now runs a small theater company. Read more about her and Ukrainians who are The Displaced in the current edition of ONE. (photo: Ivan Chernichkin)
8 May 2017
In this image from 2016, Melkite Greek Catholic Patriarch Gregory III meets with children as they take part in a day of activities and prayers at a church in Damascus.
(photo: CNS/Omar Sanadiki, Reuters)
Pope accepts resignation of Greek Melkite Patriarch (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Saturday accepted the resignation of the Melkite Greek Patriarch of Antioch, His Beatitude Gregory III Laham, from his pastoral office. A letter from the Holy Father to the Patriarch-emeritus and all the Melkite bishops explains that His Beatitude presented his resignation during the course of a special audience with the Holy Father in February, and that the Holy Father has decided to accept the resignation...
Syria will abide by ‘de-escalation’ plan (Reuters) Syria’s foreign minister said on Monday that his government would abide by the terms of a Russian plan for “de-escalation” zones so long as rebels also observed it. Walid al-Moualem told a televised news conference that rebels involved in the process must help clear areas they control of jihadist factions, including the former Nusra Front, and that the deal’s guarantors must help them do this...
ISIS reportedly infiltrates refugee camp at Jordan-Syria border (NBC News) Officially, [the camp] is located in a demilitarized zone. However, the pilot of the Jordanian military helicopter used during a recent NBC News visit wouldn’t fly over it for fear of being shot down by ISIS cells in the camp. Brig. Gen. Sami Kafawin, commander of Jordan’s army in the area, told NBC News that militants there “have whole weapons systems ... small arms, RPG’s, anti-aircraft.” He added: “They consider the camp a safe haven. We consider it an imminent threat...”
Survivors talk of life under ISIS (The Sun) Survivors of the brutal Mosul siege have told of the terror of living under the shadow of an ISIS regime which mercilessly punished anyone caught flouting their archaic laws. Those caught smoking or drinking faced death while even those caught wearing the ‘wrong kind’ of trousers would be thrown into jail for months on end...
Russian priest maintains war cemetery outside St. Petersburg (RT) Properly burying enemy soldiers is paramount, as victory is meaningless without the victor’s benevolence, Orthodox Priest Father Vyacheslav, who helped organize one of Europe’s largest German military cemeteries outside of St Petersburg, told RT...
5 May 2017
Saeed Elyas Seno stands with his wife, Ekhlas Jomaa, and their four children by their temporary home in Kurdistan. Displaced Iraqis such as Senos — driven from their homes by ISIS — are struggling to remain hopeful. Read some of their stories and why they believe ‘God Wants Me Here’ in the March 2017 edition of ONE. (photo: Paul Jeffrey)