Canadian Fund Aids Refugees
Georges Azzaria established the Good Samaritan Relief Fund in Canada in 1974, primarily to assist Palestinian refugees in Jordan, many of whom were seeking health care at CNEWAs Mother of Mercy mother and child clinic in Zerqa and the Italian Hospital in Amman. Since the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, the fund is now helping Iraqi refugees in Jordan.
Louis Azzaria of Ste.-Julienne, Québec, secretary-treasurer of the fund, said the change honors the memory of his father, Georges, who died in 1984.
The elder Azzaria was born in Tall Kayf in northern Iraq and moved his family to Canada in 1949. Louis Azzaria said his father, a successful importer-exporter, never forgot his roots and always wanted to share the fruits of his labor with the less fortunate.
Therese Azzaria of Montréal agreed. The fund is our fathers legacy and that its now helping Iraqis is doubly meaningful.
The flight of Christians from the Holy Land and the difficulties faced by those who remain were issues addressed by De La Salle Christian Brother David Carroll, CNEWAs Under Secretary General, at a Lenten lecture series sponsored by the Catholic Diocese of Cleveland.
The collapse of tourism has been particularly hard on the Christian minority, many of whom rely on pilgrims and tourists for their livelihood. CNEWA has responded, Brother David said, with community work programs that employ heads of families while beefing up community infrastructure.
Brother David was among several experts on the Middle East who spoke on The Church: A Sign of Hope in the Holy Land, a program of the Cleveland Diocesan Council of Global Solidarity. Some 5,000 persons attended sessions at 25 venues in late March through early April.
New Patriarch in Egypt
The Coptic Catholic synod of bishops has elected the retired bishop of Minya, Antonios Naguib, Patriarch of Alexandria of the Copts. The synod, which met in Cairo in late March, also accepted the resignation of 86-year-old Patriarch Stephanos II, a good friend of CNEWA, who led the church since his election in 1986.
The new patriarch was born in Samalout, Egypt, in 1935, ordained a priest in 1960 and consecrated a bishop in 1977.
As is customary for the Eastern churches in full communion with Rome, newly elected patriarchs seek ecclesial communion with the bishop of Rome. In an exchange of letters published in early April, Benedict XVI approved the election and offered prayers that Patriarch Antonios would guide the Coptic Catholic Church with wisdom and prudence.
Some 250,000 Coptic Catholics live in Egypt with a growing number immigrating to Europe, North America and Oceania.
State Accredits Theology Faculty
Ukraines Ministry of Education has granted academic recognition to the theology department of Ukrainian Catholic University in Lviv.
Speaking at a news conference following the announcement in early March, Father Borys Gudziak, rector, urged theological schools of various denominations in Ukraine to seek government approval of their programs. Father Gudziak, New York-born and Harvard educated, singled out Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko for supporting the universitys efforts to enhance its theology program and thanked the many people and institutions, including CNEWA, for their encouragement.
Nearly 1,000 full- and part-time students attend the university.
Church and State
While separation of church and state is a given in the United States, according to Islam, there can be no distinction between religion and the state, Chorbishop John D. Faris, CNEWAs Associate Secretary General, told a gathering of Knights and Ladies of the Holy Sepulchre in Brooklyn, New York.
While religious affiliation does not figure in our thinking in the Middle East religious affiliation is everything, he said.
But let us look at it a little more closely: If a person holds religious beliefs as being absolutely true, how may one act otherwise in civil society? he asked. To assert that my religious beliefs are one thing and that my political positions are distinct and perhaps contradictory is schizophrenic.
To read Chorbishop Fariss speech in its entirety, visit the following page on our web site: http://www.cnewa.org/bulletin-bodypg-us.aspx?bulletinID=770.