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Our World

Stories and events from around the world of CNEWA.

Little Ataf Farhat

Late in May, the story of a nine-year-old girl who swallowed a needle while trying on a new veil shocked Lebanon.

Although the needle was lodged in Ataf Farhat’s larynx, near her heart, the child was turned away from six hospitals, in part because her family, who live in the Israeli-occupied South of Lebanon, could not pay.

The case of the stricken child came to the attention of Mr. Issam Bishara, Director of our Beirut office, who offered to pay all medical costs after reading about the child’s plight in a Beirut newspaper.

The Lebanese government, inspired by the immediate response of our Beirut office, intervened and paid the child’s bills.

Little Ataf is recuperating well in her home.

That All May Be One

On 30 May, Pope John Paul II issued a new call for Christian unity in his encyclical “Ut Unum Sint” (That All May Be One).

In this encyclical, which considers the Eastern and reformed churches, the Pope, while acknowledging the sin of the church’s separation, calls the way of ecumenism the way of the church.

“The courageous witness of so many martyrs of our century, including members of Churches and Ecclesial Communities not in full communion with the Catholic Church, gives new vigor to the Council’s call and reminds us of our duty to listen to and put into practice its exhortation…”

Father Brother

On 19 June, Msgr. Robert L. Stern, Secretary General, was made an affiliated member of the Brothers of the Christian Schools at the congregation’s generalate in Rome. Brother Donald Mansir, F.S.C., Chief Overseas Operations Officer, and Brother Vincent Pelletier, F.S.C., Director of our Addis Ababa office, attended the ceremony.

“I’m proud to be affiliated with a group of men such as those who serve CNEWA so ably,” Msgr. Stern commented. “Now I can be buried in the habit of a brother!” he added wryly as he shared his reflections after the event.

Pilgrimage to the Holy Land

In July, Msgr. Stern led 25 priests from the Archdiocese of New York on a study-pilgrimage to the Holy Land. The group visited many holy places in Jordan, Israel and the Israeli-occupied territories. In addition, they viewed some of the contemporary works of the church, including the Catholic parish in Bir Zeit, Bethlehem University, the Pontifical Mission Library in Bethlehem, the Maison du Sacre Coeur in Haifa, and Tantur, the Ecumenical Institute for Theological Research.

The priests were received by His Beatitude, Michel Sabbah, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, and Fr. Guiseppe Nazzaro, O.F.M., Custos of the Holy Land. Dr. Gabriel Padron, Advisor to the Foreign Minister of Israel on Interreligious Affairs, and Dr. Sari Nusseibe, Director of the Palestinian University of Jerusalem, briefed the pilgrims on contemporary issues.

Holy Land Briefing

John Cardinal O’Connor, President of CNEWA, Mr. John C. Whitehead, former Deputy Secretary of State, and Brother David Carroll, F.S.C., Assistant to the Secretary General, addressed some 200 members of the Eastern Lieutenancy of the Knights and Ladies of the Holy Sepulchre in a “Briefing on the Holy Land” in New York on 19 June.

Cardinal O’Connor spoke about Jerusalem’s religious significance for Christians.

Brother David illustrated how the Israeli policies of closing towns and areas, the importation of foreign labor and the controlled distribution of water are having a serious impact on the lives of Palestinians.

A Historic Visit

His All Holiness, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, made his first official visit to the Vatican as the spiritual head of the Orthodox Church on 27 June to pray and meet with Pope John Paul II.

Two days later, on the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, the two church leaders celebrated a historic liturgy at St. Peter’s Basilica. They celebrated the Liturgy of the Word, reciting together the creed in Greek, in the form used in the Eastern liturgy. The Ecumenical Patriarch left the sanctuary, however, at the start of the Liturgy of the Eucharist, a poignant reminder that full communion has not yet been achieved.

“We are not yet worthy of the grace of the common Communion cup,” he said during the liturgy.

After Mass, the Pope and Ecumenical Patriarch prayed at the tomb of St. Peter, then spoke to thousands of people from the basilica’s central balcony where the Pope invited the Ecumenical Patriarch to join him in blessing the crowd.

News from the Malabar Coast

Pope John Paul II has raised to the rank of metropolitan archdiocese the former dioceses of Tellicherry and Trichur, bringing the number of Syro-Malabar archdioceses to four.

Mar George Valiamattam, the new Archbishop of Tellicherry, is the youngest member of India’s college of bishops.

Mar Joseph Kundukulam, now Archbishop of Trichur, visited our New York offices in mid-July.

The Archbishop, who is known as “the father of the poor,” shared with us his concerns for the alienated and the poor, including his work with single mothers and their children, people with Hansen’s disease and the terminally ill.

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