Report from Eritrea and Ethiopia
In early June, Msgr. Robert L. Stern and Mr. Domingo Sotero visited Ethiopia and the newly independent Eritrea.
Msgr. Stern and Mr. Sotero spent an informal hour with Eritrea’s leader, President Isaias, who spoke highly of the work of the church in Eritrea. Interestingly, the government of Eritrea has asked the Orthodox, Catholic and Protestant churches of Eritrea to teach religion and morals in the schools. They in turn have decided to work together in creating a syllabus.
In the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa the team met with Cardinal Paulos, the leader of the Ethiopian Catholic Church. They also met with Abuna Paulos, the newly elected patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. The majority of Ethiopia’s Christians are Orthodox.
A Yale graduate, the patriarch worked as a parish priest in New York prior to his election.
Msgr. Stern affirmed the Association’s commitment to all in Ethiopia and his concern for the welfare of all Christians.
Proselytizing in Armenia
“The Jehovah Witnesses have established themselves in the Catholic village of Medzavan [northern Armenia],” wrote Sister J. Arousiag in a letter to Msgr. Stern dated 29 May, “causing dissension and turmoil among the population.
“Concerning the above sect and many others, I am sure you are following the news of the ex-USSR republics,” she continued. “The government (due to the blockade and many other reasons) …has left the people to their own destiny …there is a general competition as to how much one may gain at the expense of the other… . And yet… we have much to be thankful for… . Dear Msgr. Stern, through you, Catholic Near East Welfare Association has been the first benefactor of our mission in Armenia.”
New Officer Appointed
Brother Donald Mansir, F.S.C., has been named chief operating officer and special assistant to the president of the Pontifical Mission. He replaces Sister Maureen Grady, C.S.C., who has completed her term of service and is taking a sabbatical year.
Brother Donald joined the Pontifical Mission in 1989 as our Jerusalem office’s field projects coordinator. In 1990 he became the associate director, and later that year, he was named director.
As director of the Jerusalem office, Brother Donald supervised the expansion of the office’s programs and services. He has earned the respect of all parties concerned for his balanced but strong advocacy for justice and peace issues in the Holy Land.
Three bishops of the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church, including its first major archbishop, visited our Association’s New York offices in July.
Antony Cardinal Padiyara of Ernakulam-Angamaly was named major archbishop by Pope John Paul II. He was formally invested in a 20 May ceremony in Kerala. The cardinal called the restoration of the church to its ancient dignity a “great step forward.”
Mar Kuriakose Kunnassery, bishop of Kottayam, an elected member of the church’s new synod, also visited our offices. He spoke enthusiastically of the Holy See’s decision to restructure the church based on ancient prototypes. A challenge for the new synod is to arrive at a consensus on the form of the church’s ancient liturgy.
Mar Mathew Vattackuzhy, bishop of Kanjirapally, described the work of his fast-growing young diocese.
Bishop Nevins Visits Holy Land
Bishop John J. Nevins of Venice in Florida, a trustee of Catholic Near East Welfare Association, led a pilgrimage to the Holy Land and Rome in late April and in early May. The group consisted of Knights and Ladies of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre and clergy and laity of the diocese.
The bishop accompanied John Cardinal O’Connor, president of the Association, last year on a fact-finding tour of the Middle East.
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