Iraq’s Christians Leave
Some 4,000 Iraqi Christian families have moved to Syria and Jordan since the beginning of August. This further erosion of Iraqs Christian community follows attacks on Christian-owned businesses, the kidnapping of Christian professionals and the 1 August bombings of churches in Baghdad, Kirkuk and Mosul.
Iraqi church leaders are urging their members, who once accounted for more than 3 percent of Iraqs population of 24 million, to remain and work to build a democratic society.
Business as Usual
Despite the instability and violence in Iraq, it is business as usual for Baghdads two Catholic hospitals, Al Hayat and St. Raphael. These facilities, with limited resources and staff, serve Christians and Muslims alike. CNEWA provides medicines, medical equipment and financial support.
Rest in Peace
Sheikh Ahmad Kaftaro, Grand Mufti of the Syrian Arab Republic, died 1 September.
Born in Damascus in 1915, he studied Shariah, the Quran-based legal code of Islam, in Syria, Indonesia, Pakistan and Sudan. A good friend of CNEWA, he was known for his bold vision of interreligious understanding and cooperation and his creative religious leadership in Syria and throughout the Islamic world.
Nine men in India and Eritrea are priests today, thanks to the generosity of a retired crane operator for Bethlehem Steel.
Andrew Kopac, 76, of Bethlehem, Pa., remembers the hardship of his early years in Slovakia and is committed to helping those in need.
For more than 30 years Mr. Kopac, through CNEWAs seminarian sponsorship program, has supported young men preparing for the priesthood.
My wife and I have given some of our priests chalices for their ordination. When they celebrate Mass, I feel my family is part of that Mass, Mr. Kopac said.
One of our new priests needed a motorcycle to get around his large, rural parish. He got that too.
Visiting the CNEWA-sponsored Fatima Orphanage in Kerala, India, in July was an overwhelming experience for François Letaconnoux. It was a working trip as well as a vacation for the New York investment banker, who traveled with his daughter, Isabelle. He filmed the facility and will use his documentary to raise funds for CNEWA.
I have wonderful scenes of some 50 little girls, prompted by the Sisters of the Sacred Heart, singing Welcome, Uncle François. Welcome, Isabelle. Seeing the good work the sisters do in caring for the children is better than just reading about it.
Pilgrimage — Orientation
Ottawa Archbishop Marcel Gervais, Chair of CNEWA Canada, traveled to the Holy Land in July, visiting major holy places and CNEWA projects and meeting with Palestinian and Israeli religious and civic leaders.
Joined by CNEWA Canada and CNEWA United States National Secretaries, Carl Hétu and Chorbishop John D. Faris, and escorted by CNEWAs Regional Director for Palestine and Israel, Maher Turjman, Archbishop Gervais toured the Paul VI Ephpheta Institute for hearing impaired children, the Pontifical Mission libraries, Bethlehem University and a childrens summer camp.
They also visited labor intensive community development projects in Bethlehem, Beit Jala and Beit Sahour.
CNEWAs senior staff met with the General Secretariat of Catholica Unio Internationalis to discuss how its Austrian, German and Swiss branches can enhance their relationship with CNEWA.
Swiss Bishop Pierre Bürcher, President, was joined by Benedictine Father Kilian Karrer, General Secretary, for the meetings held on 24-26 August in New York.