CNEWA’s New President
With his appointment as archbishop of New York on 23 February, Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan also assumed the presidency ex officio of Catholic Near East Welfare Association. Though CNEWA is an agency of the Holy See, the president has always been the archbishop of New York. A longtime friend and supporter of CNEWA, Archbishop Dolan brings to the presidency a deep personal interest in and commitment to the agency, its work and the people it serves.
Cardinal Sandri Visits CNEWA
Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, Prefect of the Congregation for the Eastern Churches, visited CNEWA’s administrative offices in New York City 23 February. Briefed on the work of the agency, the cardinal met staff members and was hosted by Cardinal Edward Egan at a luncheon in the prefect’s honor. Later that day, Cardinal Sandri met with bishops of the Eastern Catholic and Orthodox churches in the metropolitan area.
As prefect, Cardinal Sandri serves as the pope’s liaison to all Eastern Catholic churches and is responsible for the pastoral and humanitarian activities of many of them. CNEWA works closely with the congregation, contributing funds for its operations and programs.
Rest in Peace
On 20 January, Cardinal Stephanos II Ghattas, Coptic Catholic Patriarch Emeritus of Alexandria, died in Cairo, Egypt. He was 89.
In a 21 January telegram to his successor, Patriarch Antonios, Pope Benedict XVI asked “the risen Christ to welcome into his joy and peace this faithful servant of the church who, first as a missionary of the Congregation of the Mission, then as bishop of Luxor, and finally as patriarch, committed himself with zeal and simplicity to the service of the People of God, in a spirit of dialogue and coexistence with everyone.”
On 20-21 February, Msgr. Robert L. Stern participated in a symposium on Christianity in the Middle East sponsored by CAMECT (Christian Arab and Middle East Churches Together) and Tele Lumière-Noursat and hosted by Mar Ibrahim Ibrahim, Bishop of the Chaldean Eparchy of St. Thomas the Apostle in Detroit. The event brought together leaders from Middle Eastern Christian communities in North America to exchange ideas on the many challenges they face.
Msgr. Stern participated in a panel on the Christian contribution to life in the Middle East, discussions on aid to the region and regional ecumenical and interfaith activities.
Aid for Gaza
Only 4,000 Christians live in the Gaza Strip, yet church-sponsored charities, clinics and schools provide essential social services to all Gazans regardless of creed. The war between Israel and Hamas, which devastated the densely populated and impoverished region, damaged or destroyed many of these institutions.
CNEWA has launched an appeal to help rebuild these important apostolates. Among those works of the churches affected are mother and child clinics run by the Near East Council of Churches and the schools sponsored by the Rosary Sisters and the Latin Patriarchate. To learn how you can help, visit us online at www.cnewa.org.
New Russian Patriarch
The local council of the Russian Orthodox Church elected Metropolitan Kirill of Smolensk and Kaliningrad as patriarch of Moscow and All Russia on 27 January in Moscow’s Christ the Savior Cathedral.
The council, which is composed of some 700 priests, monks and laypeople from more than 60 countries representing each eparchy and foreign mission of the church, elected Metropolitan Kirill from among a list of three candidates.
Ordained a priest in 1969, Patriarch Kirill taught at Leningrad Theological Academy, where he later served as rector. In 1976, he was named bishop of Vyborg and assistant bishop of Leningrad before being named archbishop in 1977. He was later transferred to Smolensk and served as the patriarchate’s chief ecumenist since 1989.
An American Patriarch
Bishop Ephrem Joseph Younan of the Eparchy of Our Lady of Deliverance of Newark was elected Syriac Catholic patriarch of Antioch by the synod of the church, which was held in Rome from 18-20 January.
The 64-year-old patriarch, who speaks Arabic, Aramaic, English, French, Italian and German, is the first Syriac Catholic patriarch to have worked extensively among the diaspora. As a young priest newly assigned to the United States in the late 1980’s, he sought CNEWA’s support to help him work among his scattered flock, most of whom were recent immigrants from Iraq, Syria and Turkey. In 1995, Pope John Paul II erected an eparchy for North America’s Syriac Catholics, appointing the priest as bishop.
Born in Syria and ordained a priest in 1971, he served for 15 years in Lebanon and Syria as pastor, professor and seminary director.