News from Armenia and Georgia
“If only our donors could see for themselves the benefits of their sacrifices,” Msgr. John D. Faris, Assistant Secretary General, stated following a June visit to Armenia and Georgia.
In the mountains of southern Georgia, Msgr. Faris went to the small Armenian-Georgian village of Tourzkh, where a CNEWA grant financed the installation of a 14-kilometer-long water pipe, bringing water to a village that had never had running water. The 4,000 grateful residents of Tourzkh stood for four hours in the sun to thank CNEWA for this gift.
In Armenia, Msgr. Faris stopped at Lantschig, where he inspected the village church, newly renovated with the help of CNEWA. He then went on to Ashotzk, where he conferred with officials at Redemptoris Mater Hospital, which also receives CNEWA support.
Rest in Peace
On 26 June, Archbishop Thomas J. Murphy, Archbishop of Seattle and a member of the Board of Trustees of Catholic Near East Welfare Association, died peacefully following a long illness, surrounded by close friends and members of his staff.
Widely respected for his efforts on behalf of the disabled and disadvantaged everywhere, Archbishop Murphy will also be missed for his wise leadership and warm wit.
European Ecumenical Assembly
Approximately 10,000 participants – more than half from former Communist countries – attended the Second European Ecumenical Assembly, held in Graz, Austria, from 23 to 29 June 1997. The conference theme was “Reconciliation – Gift of God and Source of New Life.”
The conference’s 700 official delegates ratified a three-page final document promoting dialogue between religions and cultures, nonviolent conflict resolution between states, and elimination of social injustice and exclusion.
Holy Land Briefings
The Lieutenancy of England and Wales of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem invited Msgr. Robert L. Stern, Secretary General, to speak in London on 6 June about the concerns of Christians in the Holy Land. Archbishop Michel Sabbah, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, addressed the lieutenancy as well.
The Eastern Lieutenancy in the United States asked Brother David Carroll, F.S.C., Assistant to the Secretary General, to speak about Palestinian Christians at a briefing in New York on 9 June. Archbishop Renato Martino, Apostolic Nuncio, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, also spoke to the lieutenancy.
Quest for Unity
On 15 August, on the occasion of the joint consecration of the altar of Mart Maryam Church in Roselle, Ill., by Mar Dinkha IV, Catholicos-Patriarch of the Assyrian Church of the East, and Raphael I Bidawid, Patriarch of Babylon of the Chaldeans, the two patriarchs signed a document inaugurating a program to pursue full ecclesial union of the Assyrian Church of the East and the Chaldean Catholic Church.
In another major development, the Assyrian Church of the East and the Syrian Orthodox Church have agreed to begin an ecumenical dialogue to explore ways to bring about a rapprochement between the two churches after 15 centuries of division.
Indian Prelate Visits CNEWA
Returning from the Pro Oriente meeting of churches in the Syriac tradition in Chicago, where he had been a principal speaker, Joseph Mar Powathil, the Syro-Malabar Catholic Archbishop of Changanacherry and President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India, visited our New York offices on 28 July.
Mar Joseph, who was accompanied by Father Gregory Naduviledam, his Chancellor, met with Msgr. Stern, Father Denis J. Madden, Associate Secretary General, and Msgr. Faris to discuss the work of the Archdiocese of Changanacherry, especially the formation of priests, religious and laity, and the many needs of its people.
Catholic Laity of the Middle East
The first Congress of the Catholic Laity in the Middle East was held in Beirut from 10 to 14 June.
The goals of the congress included encouraging lay people to grow in their faith, inspiring their willingness to collaborate with Christians of other religions and communities in the Middle East and fostering dialogue, collaboration and peace in the region.