ONE Magazine

The official publication of
Catholic Near East Welfare Association

Celebrating 50 years | God • World • Human Family • Church


on the world of CNEWA

As I write this reflection for the winter edition of ONE, more than 61 million global cases of COVID-19 have been recorded and almost 1.5 million global deaths. No aspect of life as we knew it before the arrival of this vicious virus has remained unaffected. Our entire world has experienced a seismic shift that knows no recent precedent.

Our CNEWA world, and the world of other Catholic aid agencies, has been directly impacted by the eruption of the pandemic. The experiences of natural disasters, political violence, poverty, the reality of displaced people and refugees, the need to respond to health care emergencies, faith and religious formation issues, and starvation, all continue. However, the challenge to respond to such crises under current COVID-19 conditions has been exacerbated by the dramatic rise of unemployment, suffering and death on a global scale.

The articles in this edition of ONE highlight the dedication and commitment of our staff and the generosity of our donors. CNEWA remained steadfast in its commitment to the prestigious Assumption Readings conference in September. Thanks to Carl Hétu, national director of our CNEWA Canada office, and the assistance of Anna Dombrovska, I had the privilege to address, albeit remotely, the ecumenical conference hosted by the Ukrainian Catholic University in Lviv.

Last February, during my first visit to our office in Beirut, I offered Mass for some 800 migrant workers in St. Joseph Church, which remains under the pastoral care of the Society of Jesus. Following the 4 August explosion in the Beirut port, the Holy See designated CNEWA as one of the two Catholic aid agencies, along with L’Oeuvre d’Orient, to coordinate all Catholic aid into Lebanon. L’Oeuvre d’Orient remains responsible for assistance to Lebanon’s educational institutions, while CNEWA, under the able leadership of Michel Constantin and his staff, have coordinated the assistance to hospitals and health care facilities. In the Middle East, Lebanon has the highest percentage of Christians (about 35 percent) of the total population and preserves the great tradition of religious and cultural coexistence. This is an important expression of the meaning of religious freedom. As we commemorate the 10th anniversary of the Special Assembly for the Middle East of the Synod of Bishops, CNEWA is in full communion with the hope of the Holy See to preserve a significant Christian presence in Lebanon.

Our prayers and concern for the violence in Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region with its possible impact on the wider region, that is Eritrea and Sudan, are only heightened by the ongoing spike of the coronavirus pandemic throughout the countries in the Horn of Africa. Under the leadership of Argaw Fantu in Ethiopia and Sister Lettemariam Mogos, D.C., in Eritrea, our work to support the heroic presence and commitment of the religious congregations of women, along with the Jesuit Refugee Service, continues.

In the South Caucasus, we see the emergence of a fragile peace in the area marked recently by war in the historic Armenian region of Nagorno-Karabakh. Once again, CNEWA partners with Caritas Armenia through our Warm Winter Appeal.

The reality of COVID-19 and the feature articles of this issue of ONE all converge around significant themes found in the most recent encyclical of Pope Francis, “Fratelli Tutti,” published on 4 October. The title of the document translates into English as, “On Fraternity and Social Friendship.” Pope Francis acknowledges the pandemic “unexpectedly erupted” as he was writing the encyclical letter.

From my perspective, CNEWA, as a papal agency, must be conversant with the major announcements of the Holy Father. I would argue further that many of the themes advanced by Pope Francis in this document and in his encyclical “Laudato Si” (2015) — translated as “On Care for Our Common Home” — are themes that require our prayerful study and reflection in the analysis of support for our many projects. What we do must have a clear analysis, both a philosophical rationale and framework, and an assessment of its impact. We do this so we can demonstrate the ongoing radical commitment and fidelity to our mission, and out of respect for and accountability owed to our most generous donors. In addition, it is my hope our articulation of our Gospel mandate and papal character will result in an ever-wider network of CNEWA partnerships.

In upcoming reflections, I will try to articulate some of the major themes from the papal documents that will serve to shape CNEWA’s noble mission of service on a global stage. CNEWA’s mission is all about the service of accompanying the local church, particularly in its human, pastoral, spiritual and formational needs.

This issue of ONE appears as we enter the winter months. Let us all hope and pray these months will be marked by vaccinations and medications that will bring relief and hope to our “weary world.” This time also includes our celebration of the mystery of Christmas, when God became one with us in the mystery and “scandal” of the Incarnation of his only begotten son, Jesus, who became man, was crucified, and rose from the dead. It began in Bethlehem of Judea. This truth is the root and basis of CNEWA’s political theology. Are we political? Yes, by virtue of the Incarnation. We are engaged always and everywhere. However, we are never partisan in the mysticism of our politics. Political, yes; partisan, never!

A final note: The CNEWA family wishes to congratulate and assure the recently installed Latin patriarch of Jerusalem, Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa, O.F.M., of our prayers and enthusiastic support. We recognize that pilgrims travel from around the world to visit one empty tomb. That empty tomb is found in the Holy City of Jerusalem — the mother church. There, the seed was planted. From there, the seed has grown and spread to Beirut, Rome, Syria, Iraq, Egypt, Jordan, India, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Ukraine and Eastern Europe, the South Caucasus, Ottawa and to New York City!

God bless you.

Get to know us and stay informed about the impact your support makes.

Nous constatons que votre préférence linguistique est le français.
Voudriez-vous être redirigé sur notre site de langue française?

Oui! Je veux y accéder.

Hemos notado que su idioma preferido es español. ¿Le gustaría ver la página de Asociación Católica para el Bienestar del Cercano Oriente en español?

Vee página en español