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ACN Project of the Week – Renovation of the Carmelites Sisters Church – Haïfa

14.02.2019 in ACN Canada, ACN PROJECTS, AED Canada, By ACN Project Services, Carmelites, CONSTRUCTION, Contemplative Sisters, International Catholic Charity Aid to the Church in Need, Israel, Journey with ACN

Israel – Haïfa 

Success Story: Repairs to the convent chapel of the Carmelite Sisters in Haifa

 

Carmelite Sisters praying in their newly renovated church in Haïfa. Photo:  during Holy Mass.

The Carmelite Sisters in Haifa are very happy now. Thanks to the generosity of our benefactors, ACN was able to give them 45 000 dollars so that they could finally repair their convent chapel. This church, which is dedicated to Our Lady of Mount Carmel, was first built in 1937 and has barely been maintained properly since then, owing to the shortage of money. Leaking rain and penetrating damp had resulted in extensive damage to the fabric of the building. In fact the situation had become so bad that it was becoming a growing health hazard for the sisters themselves, for the local community and also for the pilgrims coming to visit the place.

 

The 17 sisters now living in the convent come from 11 different countries. Their door is always open to anyone who wishes to visit. The local people often come to see the sisters with their prayers, and pilgrims from all over the world who come to visit the Holy Land also often come to the sisters, many with deep questions problems about their faith. The Carmelite convent where the sisters now live stands on the north slope of Mount Carmel, traditionally the birthplace of the Carmelite Order. It was in the year 1150 when the first group of hermits first settled here on Mount Carmel where, according to the Bible, the Prophet Elijah confronted the priests of Baal and proved to them that the God of Israel was the true God and their own ‘gods’ merely false idols (cf. 1 Kings 18:16-46).

 

The Carmelite Order soon spread to other countries, at the same time changing, however. But in the 16th century, in Spain, it was reformed by St Teresa of Avila and St John of the Cross and returned to something closer to its original spirit.

 

The sisters in Haifa bake hosts, or altar breads, and make small souvenirs for the visiting pilgrims as a means of supporting themselves and their apostolate. But without outside help they could never have found the money to repair their convent chapel. So it is thanks to the help of you, our generous benefactors, that they were finally able to re-consecrate this chapel on 15 October last year, the feast of St Teresa of Avila herself.

 

In the name of the Sisters, Mother Maira of the Infant Jesus, the prioress, thanks all those who have helped: “We hope that this is the beginning of a renewal of the life of prayer, both for our local church and for pilgrims who cross the Holy Land and who are praying the Lord in our chapel of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. It is with joy that we express our gratitude and renew our prayers and sacrifices for the Church and the whole world.”

A true blessing send to pilgrims, parishioners of Haïfa and also to ACN Benefactors!

 

Are you inspired by this project? To give and make another similar project a success – click above and select: Project of the Week. 


 

#LetsBeOne – A message from Nazareth to WYD

26.07.2016 in International Catholic Charity Aid to the Church in Need, Israel, Youth Apostolate

#LetsBeOne – A message from Israel to WYD

She lives in Nazareth where Jesus grew up.  Majida cannot go to the World Youth Days celebrations.  Not because she doesn’t have the money, but because she has chosen to serve the refugees who are stranded on the beaches of Galilee.  She is a Veronica on the Way of the Cross who has encountered refugees from across the Mediterranean.  She will be ‘ONE’ with the universal Church through her prayers with the Rosary, on the banks of this sea carrying such hope….

 

Feature story : “We identify more with Good Friday than with Easter”

24.03.2016 in ACN Canada, ACN Feature, Adaptation Mario Bard, Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, AED Canada, Aide à l’Église en détresse., By Oliver Maksan, By Oliver Maksan, Feature Story, Holy Land, Israel, Jerusalem, Journey with ACN, Mario Bard, Middle East, Moyen-Orient, Uncategorized, Voyager avec l’AED

Jerusalem, the Holy Land

“We identify more with Good Friday than with Easter”

Holy Week has begun in Jerusalem with the big Palm Sunday procession – but the political situation has left its mark   

 

Jerusalem belongs to the Christians on Palm Sunday. Bearing palm fronds and olive branches, thousands of locals and visitors from all over the world make their way singing and praying down the Mount of Olives to the Old City of Jerusalem to receive the blessing of the Latin Patriarch.

 

Much to the annoyance of motorists, Israeli police close off the streets to traffic so that the kilometres long procession can pass through unhindered. Long after the Palm Sunday procession has ended, the celebrations continue in and close to the Christian quarter of the Old City. Even the tram has to temporarily discontinue operations when the Christian scout groups parade with their bagpipes. With these celebrations Palestinian Christians – only a small minority in both Israel and Palestine – not only want to commemorate Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem, but also show Jews and Muslims: We are still here – even though we only make up two percent of the population in Israel, and even less in Palestine.

 

This year however, the joy was subdued. The wave of violence that has shaken the Holy Land since last autumn has left its mark. Since fewer foreign pilgrims are traveling to the Holy Land because of the current situation, the procession was much smaller than usual. In an interview with Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), a representative of the Israeli police estimated that the procession, which had 30,000 participants last year, was probably only half as large this year. Most importantly, however: Christians from the West Bank were missing.

 

Bishop Fouad Twal leads the procession on Palms Sunday 2016.

Bishop Fouad Twal leads the procession on Palms Sunday 2016.

“The people are afraid to come to Jerusalem”

 

“Last year we arrived from Bethlehem in seven buses. This year there were only three,” explained Johnny, a Catholic from the birthplace of Christ. He said that in contrast to previous years, no Christians came from West Bank cities such as Nablus or Jenin. The reason, he explained, was that Israeli authorities only started issuing entry permits to Jerusalem very late this year. “We only found out on Friday whether we would be able to go on Sunday. For many this was just too short notice,” he told the pastoral charity.

 

However, Johnny then said, what the real reason was: “The people are afraid to come to Jerusalem. They fear that something could happen to them. We constantly hear about Palestinians being shot here.”

 

In fact, since autumn more than 180 Palestinians have died in clashes with Israeli security forces in the Holy Land. However, many of them were killed because they attacked Israelis, including civilians. The attacks were carried out with knives, scissors or guns. More than 30 Jews were killed in this way. Israelis speak of victims of terrorism when referring to their dead and insist on their right to self-defence. Most Palestinians consider their dead to be resistance fighters who were executed by Israelis without sentencing. These viewpoints are irreconcilable. And thus hatred and distrust continue to grow on both sides.

 

“The church is opposed to any form of violence, be it from Palestinians or from Israeli soldiers. After all, the fact that they are wearing a uniform does not justify everything they do. However, at the same time we are for justice. It is simply not enough to say: No more violence. As long as there is injustice, there will be no peace,” Jamal Khader, said the rector of the Latin Patriarchate Seminary in Beit Jalla, a neighbouring town of Bethlehem.

 

Jerusalem has to be an open city. It belongs to everyone…

 

In an interview with Aid to the Church in Need, he was not surprised to hear about the drop in the number of visitors to the Palm Sunday procession this year. “I can understand that Palestinian Christians do not feel like coming to Jerusalem – and that despite the fact that it is Easter and we traditionally celebrate it in Jerusalem.” The priest said that it all started in the late nineties with the checkpoints. “The people often had to wait for hours. Then came the

The city of Jerusalem.

The city of Jerusalem.

wall and the permits. I used to come to Jerusalem for an ice cream. Today, I avoid coming here whenever I can. I do not want to have to pass through the checkpoints. And many feel the same.”

 

Father Jamal believes that Israel wants to discourage Palestinians from visiting Jerusalem. “Not everyone is issued an entry permit for the high feast days. Sometimes only the parents receive a permit and not the children. Then everyone stays home of course. Sometimes they are all issued a permit, but are then turned back again for some reason. This can’t be. Jerusalem has to be an open city. It belongs to everyone, Jews, Christians, Muslims. It can never be an exclusive city. Because then there will never be peace.”

 

Father Khader said that the political situation also influences how Palestinian Christians celebrate Easter. “We Christians of Palestine identify more with Good Friday than with Easter. We as Palestinians can closely relate to the sufferings of Christ. When we see Christ suffering, we see our suffering. The Gospels of the Passion not only tell the story of Jesus, but also our own. That does not mean that we do not believe in resurrection and the hope that goes along with this. But we are not that far yet.”

 

Interview by Oliver Maksan
Adaptation: Amanda Griffin, ACN Canada.


 

 

ACN Feature – The Wall separating Israel and Palestine

11.02.2016 in ACN Canada, ACN International, ACN Interview, Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, By Oliver Maksan, Holy Land, International Catholic Charity Aid to the Church in Need, Israel, Journey with ACN, Palestine

(Crédit: Marcin Mazur)

The Holy Land

“Where can we go? After all, this is our home”

Israel’s wall in the Cremisan Valley: The hopes of  Beit Jala Christians are again diminished

 

The hopes of Beit Jala Christians , a town  neighbouring Bethlehem, have again diminished. Israel’s supreme court has now dismissed their lawyers’ most recent petitions. The aim was to force the Israeli army to disclose the precise course of the wall in the Cremisan Valley, which is part of Beit Jala, before construction commenced.

 

The plaintiffs, Christian families and members of Catholic orders, wanted to use this  to stop the army creating a situation on the ground in the agricultural area which could not be appealed against. The judges did emphasize the possibility of an appeal. But with the rejection of the petition, continued work to close the gap connecting the sections of wall between Israel and Palestine has become possible.

Mgrs. William Shomali "People feel very frustrated and depressed. "

Mgrs. William Shomali “People feel very frustrated and depressed.”

 

“This dismissal has weakened their trust in the justice and will motivate some people to sell and leave,” Auxiliary Bishop William Shomali explained in an interview with the international Catholic pastoral charity Aid to the Church in Need. In the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem he is responsible for the Palestinian areas. As for the promise to allow owners to have full access to their land, it is not enough. It means the owners can use their land to plant grapes and olives but not to construct a home. The access itself may be denied in the future, since the land behind the wall will be part of Jerusalem. Going there needs a permit and permits can be denied,” the Bishop said.

 

The legal dispute between the Christian landowners and the Israeli army has been dragging on since 2006. The proceedings are being followed closely by the media and also by diplomats from the whole world stationed in Israel. Pope Francis has also intervened. But minor successes over the past year have ultimately given way to disillusion. Israel’s supreme court as the final arbiter announced that the army could build – on Palestinian soil.  As a result, 58 Christian families will lose their land where the wall is and sooner or later or will only have limited access to it. Israel justified the planned route by quoting security reasons and defence against terrorism, and it talks of this being a temporary measure. But the Palestinians regard the course of the wall as a state-organised land grab. They talk of the “annexation wall.”

 

In actuality, the barrier, which meanders across more than 700 kilometers between Israeli and Palestinian areas, has about eighty per cent of its structure on Palestinian land, and not on the Israeli border.

“The land has belonged to us for generations”

 

In August of last year, the excavators advanced in the valley(Credit: Society Saint Yves).

In August of last year, the excavators advanced in the valley (Credit: Society Saint Yves).

In August of last year, the excavators advanced in the valley. Ancient olive trees uprooted: The wall – already growing out of the soil. “I have to date lost fifteen olive trees because of the wall. They were many hundreds of years old. It makes my heart bleed,” said Mr Nahmi. “And they intend to take even more from us.” The elderly gentleman, an Orthodox Christian from Beit Jala, is directly affected by the construction of the wall. He doesn’t think much of the agricultural gates in the wall which the army intends to install for the farmers. “This hasn’t worked in the past. For some security reason or other people are then stopped from entering. Regardless of whether they have permission or not to take heavy agricultural machinery and workers across to the fields located on the Israeli side. The fact is that our land is lost. The Israelis still apply Ottoman law by which private land passes into state ownership if it hasn’t been cultivated for ten years.”

 

His nephew Xavier, a Chilean-born Palestinian, agrees with him. He had very consciously decided to return to the home of his forefathers. The young Catholic said: “For four years we have celebrated  Holy Mass and prayed every Friday in the olive groves so that we will be spared what is now happening. I said to our critics that prayer and non-violent resistance pay off. But what can I say now?”

 

Mrs Ilham is also affected by the planned wall. “It’s very difficult for us. A catastrophe,” the teacher from Beit Jala said. “The land has belonged to us for generations. It’s not only about the fruit that we grow there. It’s about our history, our bond with our homeland which is being taken from us.” This seventy-year-old lady understands it when young people from Beit Jala think about emigrating. “But where can we go? After all, this is our home. Everywhere else we are strangers.”

 

Priests saying mass in cremisan valley, August 2015 (Credit: Saint-Yves Society).

Priests saying mass in Cremisan valley, August 2015 (Credit: Saint-Yves Society).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Oliver Maksan, ACN International
Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, ACN Canada


 

PRESS RELEASE: Israël- Palestine – « An insult to peace »

24.08.2015 in By Robert Lalonde, Israel, Jerusalem, Palestine, Press Release
Palestine, Cremisan Valley 03.08.2012 Wall section which shall to be extended and runs through the land of the Christians of Beit Jala

Palestine, Cremisan Valley

Israël- Palestine

« An insult to peace »

Clare Creegan, ACN International

Adapted by Robert Lalonde, ACN Canada

Montreal/Königstein/Surrey, 24th August 2015 – The Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem has strongly condemned the decision to resume the construction of the West Bank Barrier, calling it “an insult to peace.”

 On Monday 17th August, bulldozers arrived to restart the building of the barrier through the Cremisan ​​Valley near Bethlehem – despite the Supreme Court having rejected a planned route through the area in April 2015, after a nine-year legal battle.

Israeli authorities began work on the West Bank Barrier, which separates parts of the Palestinian Territories from Israel, in 2002 following a spate of suicide bombings by militant groups. According to a statement by the Latin Patriarchate sent to Aid to the Church in Need: “Israeli bulldozers arrived unannounced on private property in Beir Ona, near the Cremisan Valley, to resume the construction of the separation wall. The people of the area have noted with surprise and pain that their 50, centuries-old olive trees have been uprooted.”

A cruel blow to the hopes raised

Israel, June 2014 Latin Patriarch Fouad Twal portrait. Photo taken in the Latin Patriarchate in Jerusalem.

Latin Patriarch Fouad Twal

His Beatitude Fouad Twal called on the Israeli authorities to wait for the outcome of a petition submitted by the families of the Valley to the Supreme Court a few days ago. The statement from the Latin Patriarchate expressed the Patriarch’s “sadness and frustration of those oppressed” by the building of the barrier and condemned the “injustice done to them”.

The security wall’s route has been opposed by local Christian leaders who have stated that its route deviates from the Green Line – the boundary between the State of Israel and the Palestinian territories according to the 1949 armistice agreements.

The chair of the Department for International Affairs of the episcopal conference of England and Wales, Bishop Declan Lang, also lent his voice in support of Patriarch Twal condemning the Israeli authority’s actions. He said: “The action of the IDF [Israel Defence Forces] in bulldozing olive trees to prepare for the construction of the separation barrier is a cruel blow to the hopes raised by the recent Supreme Court ruling. I urge the Israeli authorities to stop construction and reconsider urgently their approach to the people of the Cremisan Valley which has caused such grave injustice.”

Bishop Lang added his thoughts were with those “facing this unjust and difficult situation and who are seeking peace in the midst of this conflict. »

ACN Interview – Jerusalem

03.12.2014 in ACN Interview, Holy Land, Israel, Middle East
© Ilona Budzbon / Aid to the Church in Need

Jerusalem, Holy Land

“Nineteen Christian families have left Bethlehem”

Franciscan Custos Pierbattista Pizzaballa talks with Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) about the violence in the Holy Land and its consequences

GAZA-1

©Aid to the Church in Need

by Oliver Maksan, ACN International

Adapted by ACN Canada

Aid to the Church in Need: Father Custos, with unrest on the Muslim Temple Mount and the terror attack on a synagogue in Jerusalem, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is increasingly taking on a religious dimension. Do you fear that a national conflict will be turned into a religious one?

There is that risk. On the other hand, one should not forget that this religious dimension has always existed. Religion has always been part of the problem. Now, there is the risk that the religious dimension will become pre-eminent. But we are not the only ones who are concerned about this.

I am under the impression that the respective politicians are working to calm things down. I don’t know whether it may not already be too late for this. Like I said: the religious aspect will always be there. What is crucial is keeping it as small as possible.

Aid to the Church in Need: However, would you agree that the crux of the conflict is still the fight of two peoples for the same piece of land?

Yes. But like I said, it is not that easy to separate the religious aspect from the national one. To be a good patriot, you either have to be a good Muslim or a good Jew. You also have to realize that the lay movements on both sides, both in Israel and in Palestine, have become very weak during the past twenty years.

However, I don’t believe that politicians such as Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas want to transform the conflict into a religious one. But it is true that religious parties on both sides are working in this direction.

Aid to the Church in Need: Also in Israel?

© Aid to the Church in Need

©Ilona Budzbon / Aid to the Church in Need

Yes. Take the national religious parties. I am not saying that everyone in Israeli society wants this. But the risk of an increasingly religious dimension is there and we have to do everything in our power to avoid it.

Aid to the Church in Need: Most recently there was unrest on the Islamically administered Temple Mount in Jerusalem. The Jews are trying to enforce their right to pray there. Up until now, they have been prohibited from doing so, also under Israeli law. Do you believe that this should change?

© Aid to the Church in Need

©Ilona Budzbon / Aid to the Church in Need

According to traditional Jewish views, Jews are forbidden from entering the Mount where the Jewish temple once stood. Thus the religion in and of itself is not the problem, but the mixing of religion and politics. However, this is what is happening at the moment. Up until now, the status quo on the Temple Mount has always been respected in Israel. If this is changed, it will transform the conflict in a religious direction that will be irreversible.

Aid to the Church in Need: The year 2014 was not a good one in terms of the relationship between Israelis and Palestinians. In April, peace talks were broken off, in the summer war broke out in Gaza, now in autumn Jerusalem has been plagued by terror. Are we further away from peace than ever before?

I don’t know whether we are further away from it than ever before. But we are doubtlessly far away from peace. I can’t see that there is any possibility of changing the situation in the near future. There is deep-seated frustration and a profound lack of mutual trust between these two peoples.

Aid to the Church in Need: What would have to happen to build up trust?

It will take a long time. And there are no easy solutions. What we are seeing at the moment is the result of years of hate and frustration. You have to start in the schools and in society. You have to give the Palestinians something concrete and not just promises. And the Israelis also have to feel as if they have a contact person on the other side.

Aid to the Church in Need: Could the Christians in the Holy Land play a role in this?

Here in the Holy Land, we Christians are irrelevant. There are too few of us. In addition, we are confessionally divided. We can’t even agree on who cleans what in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. How then are we supposed to be a model for unity and reconciliation? This is why we cannot be the ones to build the bridge. However, we can of course provide opportunities for encounters. After all, every church has interreligious fora. However, I don’t believe that there is very much else we can do.

Aid to the Church in Need: How are Christians in the Holy Land affected by the violence and tension?

Naturally we feel the massive decline in religious tourism. As compared to last year, we have had a sixty per cent drop in visitors to the holy sites since the Gaza War. That is a dramatic decline. It is only climbing back up slowly. But those Christians who live from tourism are used to this. These kinds of conflicts occur every few years. However, in addition to the economic dimension, frustration is also on the rise among Christians. Nineteen Christian families have left Bethlehem for Europe and America in the past two, three months.

Aid to the Church in Need: What is the reason for this?

All Christians are appalled by what is happening in Iraq at the hands of ISIS. It was also a horrendous shock for the Christians in the Holy Land. It strengthens the feeling that there is no future for Christians in the Middle East, that they are not wanted here. Added to this is the frustration that peace has failed to appear.

Aid to the Church in Need: Two reasons are given to explain the emigration of Christians from Palestine: the consequences of Israeli occupation and the Islamization of Palestinian society. What do you consider the main reason?

There is no “either or,” only a “not only but also.” The one does not exclude the other. From an economic standpoint, life in the Palestinian areas is very difficult. On the other hand, relations with the Islamic community are not the same as they once were. All of that plus everything else that is going on around us and you get a feeling of hopelessness.

Aid to the Church in Need: Israel is currently discussing a nation state bill that would establish the Jewish character of the state. Will this happen at the expense of Israeli democracy with its large Arabian minority, including its many Christians?

Now, it is nothing new that Israel considers itself a Jewish and democratic state. This has been the case ever since the state was founded. I believe that the bill currently under discussion will not fundamentally change the situation of the minorities, including the Christians. However, it will intensify the feelings of reserve that minorities in Israel harbour towards the state. It will make them even more convinced that they are not really wanted here.

ACN-20141030-15507

©Ilona Budzbon / Aid to the Church in Need

Aid to the Church in Need: Looking beyond the Holy Land: with the advance of ISIS in Iraq and Syria, has the year 2014 been a turning point for Christianity in the Middle East in general?

Yes, 2014 has been a turning point. What World War I was for Europe, this year was for the Middle East. The old orders no longer exist. However, we don’t know yet what the new will look like. In Syria, for example, hundreds of thousands of Christians are fleeing. The middle class is leaving the country. What is left are the poor. The ecclesiastical infrastructure that we built up in Aleppo and other such regions of the country has been destroyed or abandoned. We are faced with enormous tasks. We not only have to rebuild the Christian community, but also the relationship with the Muslim majority.

© Aid to the Church in Need

©Ilona Budzbon / Aid to the Church in Need

Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB)

27.08.2014 in ACN Canada, Gaza, Holy Land, Iraq, Israel, Pope Francis, Syria, Ukraine
To make a donation to ACN for refugees

To make a donation by please call: (514) 932-0552 or toll free 1-(800) 585-6333
or click the image to make a secure on-line donation.

The great interest of the Aid to the Church in Need Canada (AED) to monitor what is happening in Iraq now, motivates us to share with you this beautiful text signed by four Canadian bishops, including the President of Catholic Bishops (CCCB), Bishop Paul-André Durocher.

An appeal for mercy, compassion and justice in the Middle East and throughout the world

The Executive Committee of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, meeting on August 25, 2014, in Quebec City, issues the following appeal:

In the name of the Father of life, and of the Crucified Christ, and of the Spirit of love, we make this appeal for mercy, compassion and justice.

We hear resounding about us still the question that God, Father of all life, posed to humanity at the beginning: “Where is your brother?” We see the homeless and the wounded of the Middle East: in Iraq, Syria and the Holy Land. We hear their cries in Ukraine and in parts of Africa. We observe the persecutions and hardships that hundreds of thousands of people today endure because of their faith and convictions – Catholics, Orthodox, Protestants, Jews, Muslims, members of other religions as well as ethnic minorities. The horrors of war and violence are ravaging so many innocent hearts. Families and children are left without water, food, aid and shelter. Homes and communities are being destroyed. Not only is the future at risk for the people of these regions, but international security itself is in peril. War and violence are again eroding the common bonds of humanity, fragmenting the human family. It is Jesus who is being persecuted, who is homeless, who is hungry, who is in prison, who is being tortured.

ACN-20140731-11989

©AED/ACN

As followers of the Crucified One, we recognize particularly in the Middle East the sufferings of our own brothers and sisters in faith. Moved by their pains and afflictions, we make their cause our own. We are united with them in solidarity and faith. Our unceasing prayer and hope are rooted in the love and forgiveness by which Our Lord transforms the human heart. Our one comfort is in the concern and care that people around the world are offering. Encouraged by the calls of Pope Francis for peace and justice, we echo the statements and actions of the leaders of the Catholic and Orthodox Churches of the Middle East. We make our appeal to all people – of every faith and in the name of good will, here in Canada and around the world – to do even more to assist the suffering of those in need.

We pray that the Holy Spirit continue to inspire Canadians, particularly the faithful of our Catholic Church, to support the work of agencies that bring solace and aid to the persecuted and the exiled. We pray too that the transforming power of the Spirit inspire political, religious and community leaders, in each of the troubled regions of our world, to speak out loudly for justice and reconciliation, to denounce atrocities, to renounce violence and oppression, to announce and demand peace.

“Let me hear what God the Lord will speak, for he will speak peace to his people and to his faithful…” (Psalm 85.8)

+ Paul-André Durocher Archbishop of Gatineau President

+ Douglas Crosby, O.M.I. Bishop of Hamilton Vice President

+ Lionel Gendron, P.S.S. Bishop of Saint-Jean-Longueuil Co-Treasurer

+ Anthony Mancini Archbishop of Halifax-Yarmouth Co-Treasurer

PRESS RELEASE : Gaza – “The children … are very afraid of the bombs”

12.08.2014 in ACN Canada, ACN International, Gaza, Holy Land, Israel, Palestine

Oliver Maksan, ACN International

Adapted by Robert Lalonde, ACN Canada

COURAGEUX-2

Montreal, Tuesday, August 12, 2014 – “As a priest I ask you above all to pray for peace in the Holy Land. I work where the Prince of Peace Jesus Christ was born. But we have no peace here.” With these words Father Mario da Silva recently approached the benefactors of the international Catholic pastoral charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) in Gaza.

The Brazilian cleric works in the Catholic “Holy Family” parish in Gaza City. He belongs to the order “Institute of the Word Incarnate IVE”, which originated in Argentina. “We also need your material assistance to meet the most basic needs of the refugees, such as water, food and clothing. May God bless your generosity,” da Silva continued. About 900 refugees have found refuge in a Catholic school and are receiving support there.

“Only the very courageous ones come”

COURAGEUX-1

At present about 170 Catholics live in the Gaza Strip with its population of 1.8 million. Because of the war, pastoral care is difficult, according to Father Mario. “In spite of the situation we celebrate Holy Mass every day and perform Eucharistic adoration. But hardly anyone comes to the church at the moment. On Sundays there are never more than five people. Only the very courageous ones come. It’s simply too dangerous. Because of the bombings people don’t dare go out onto the streets and they prefer to stay in their houses.

We’ve therefore started a telephone pastoral service. Every day the Pastor and I call the faithful. We ask about the families, how they are, what they need, and we also attempt to give them spiritual courage.” In view of the continuing attacks the people are desperate, Father Mario said. “The children in particular are very afraid of the bombs.” Alongside the two clerics there are also six nuns living in the parish from the community founded by the Blessed Mother Teresa. They look after mentally and physically disabled children.

ACN supports the Catholic Church in Gaza in its work. At the request of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem emergency aid has now been approved to the tune of 73 000 $.

Holy Land – “We need aid more than ever”

05.08.2014 in ACN Canada, ACN International, ACN PROJECTS, Gaza, Holy Land, Israel, Palestine

Oliver Maksan, AED International

Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin

At the request of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, the international Catholic pastoral charity “Aid to the Church in Need” (ACN) will give support to victims of the Gaza war. According to the Patriarchate, the most urgent tasks include emergency medical aid for war victims who are currently receiving treatment in hospitals both within Gaza and outside.

FOUAD TWAL-1

In the Catholic St. Joseph’s Hospital in Jerusalem, alongside 24 Muslims, there is now also a seriously injured Christian from Gaza who is unable to pay for the costs of his treatment. The Christian medical facilities in Gaza itself are also in need of support. Currently they are severely affected by the shortage of power and fuel in the territory, and are thus restricted in their ability to fulfil their tasks.

Funding is therefore required for fuel for power generators. As well as emergency medical aid for the injured, the repair of Christian facilities in Gaza will also be necessary. For example the Catholic school of the Holy Family, which is currently sheltering 1,000 refugees, must be renovated before it can be put back into operation. Private houses belonging to Christians have also been completely destroyed in some cases. The Latin Patriarchate has also requested ACN’s help for their repair.

The highest number of Palestinian victims since 1967

 FOUAD TWAL-2

Representatives of the Patriarchate have therefore addressed themselves to ACN’s supporters. Fouad Twal, the Latin Patriarch, said recently in Jerusalem: “Dear benefactors of ACN. We in the Holy Land are a Church in need. Please continue to give us your prayers, your solidarity and your aid. We need them now more than ever.” William Shomali, the Bishop responsible for Gaza in the Patriarchate, also appealed to ACN: “The humanitarian situation in Gaza is very bad. We ask for your prayers for a ceasefire and peace. We ask for your help for the poor and those injured by the war. Now, more than ever before, is the time to aid the people in Gaza.”

According to the Palestinian Ministry of Health, over 1,700 Palestinians have so far lost their lives in the Gaza war since 8 July, more than 9,000 have been injured, in some cases severely, and over 254,000 people are in flight within the Gaza Strip as a result. This represents the highest number of Palestinian victims in the conflict with Israel since the Six-Day War of 1967, during which Israel conquered the Palestinian territories which it has occupied ever since.

TERRE SAINTE-2

The war has also dealt a heavy blow to Gaza’s Christian community. Some 1,300 Christians live in the territory alongside its approximately 1.8 million Muslim inhabitants. The Greek Orthodox Church has a congregation of about 1,200, while some 170 belong to the Roman Catholic Church. Both Churches have accepted Muslim refugees into their buildings.

One Orthodox Christian woman has already lost her life in the Israeli bombardment. Many others have been injured, in some cases severely. As well as the Orthodox cemetery and private houses belonging to Christians, the buildings of the Catholic Parish of the Holy Family have also been damaged. The Argentinean priest, Jorge Hernandez, still remains there together with three Sisters from the Order of Mother Teresa as well as handicapped children and elderly people for whom the Sisters are caring.

Aid requested from Aid to the Church in Need to help in Gaza totals $73,500 to date.

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Interview from the Holy Land – “Only a political solution will bring peace”

15.07.2014 in ACN International, ACN Interview, Gaza, Israel, Palestine

OLIVER MAKSANOliver Maksan, Middle East correspondent for ACN, speaking about the situation in the Holy Land (July 15th, 9 am)

Interview conducted by Maria Lozano, ACN International

 

  • What sparked the current conflict between Israel and Gaza?

Well, initially it began with the kidnapping of three Jewish teens and the killing which followed in mid-June close to Hebron. Israel held Hamas responsible and crushed the Islamist organization’s infrastructure in the Westbank substantially during the search for the kidnapped teens. Then the rocket fire from Gaza began. It started slowly but increased ultimately massively. At the beginning of last week, Israel

launched its military “Operation Protective Edge.”  Since then, more than 1,300 targets in Gaza have been attacked by the Israeli army. According to Israel around 1,000 rockets have been launched towards Israel from Gaza.

 

  • Why Hamas decided to get involved so massively?

Hamas wanted the conflict because it is in deep political and economical trouble. In Syria the Islamists by supporting the rebels against Assad bet on the wrong horse. Iran, its sponsor, as a consequence stopped its support. The overthrow of Muslim brother Mursi in Egypt deteriorated Hamas’ situation furthermore dramatically. They decided then that they do not have much to lose. They wanted to reestablish their reputation amongst Palestinian and Arabs as a resistance movement against Israel. On the other hand, in return for a ceasefire they want to get a political and economical price as high as possible. For example, an opening of the mostly closed border crossing with Egypt would benefit them.

But fundamentally the conflict is about the so far unresolved conflict between Israel and the Palestinians who in Gaza is given an edge to because of the humanitarian situation there. Without a political solution to the conflict there will be rounds of violence again and again.

 

  • Israel’s security cabinet accepted a ceasefire proposal by Egypt this morning. It gives the enemies 12 hours to stop the fighting starting from 9 am (Israeli time) this morning. Hamas declined. What will happen now?

Well, depends on Hamas. If they follow suit, this round of the conflict will be over soon. If not and they continue attacks, Israel will see itself internationally legitimated to respond forcefully. So far things for Hamas did not turn out well. They were not able to harm Israel significantly since most of the rockets were intercepted. On the contrary they were weakened militarily by Israeli strikes significantly. But they are still hesitant because they want to hammer out a political and economical price as high as possible.

 

  •  How is life in Israel right now?
© ACN/AED

© ACN/AED

Depends on the region we are talking about. The areas close to the Gaza strip are in an emergency situation. The sirens sound there permanently and people are running for shelter to the bunkers. But also in more remote areas like Jerusalem, Tel Aviv or Haifa there were attacks and air raid alarm. This shows how Hamas could increase the range of its missiles. But in these areas people do not feel immediately threatened. Life goes on normally more or less. Attacks are sporadic only and the Iron Dome system intercepts the rockets.

Not least because of this, most Israelis feel relatively secure in their entirety. So far there were no direct fatalities.

 

  • How is the situation in Gaza instead?

In Gaza the picture is completely different. In this small and densely populated area there are no bunkers and sirens. Weapons and rocket launchers are often deployed in residential areas.  In total more than 175 people have been killed by Israeli attacks so far. Caritas estimates that more than 70 percent of them were civilians. Further, they think that more than 1,200 persons have been wounded, partially seriously. Hundreds of houses have been either completely or partially been destroyed. Hundreds of families thus became homeless. The supply situation is becoming dramatically bad. Electricity and potable water are getting low.

 

  • What about the Christians in Gaza?

They suffer like everybody else there. Up to now there are no reports about fatalities among Christians. But the Catholic parish priest of Gaza fears that radical Islamist groups might try to benefit from an atmosphere of anarchy to turn against Christians.

 

  • How many Christians are there in Gaza?

They are a tiny minority only. Among an estimated 1.8 million inhabitants in Gaza only 1,300 persons are Christians. The majority belongs to the Greek-Orthodox Church, which has an Archbishop residing in Gaza city. Only 170 persons belong to the Roman-Catholic Church. According to estimates more than half of Gaza’s Christian population has left since 2005.

 

  • What is the Church’s position with regard to the conflict?

The Catholic Church in the Holy Land naturally calls for an immediate ceasefire. But the Church asks for more. It wants a just peace implemented and not only another round of a shaky ceasefire.  The commission Justitia et Pax of the Catholic conference of ordinaries recently published a text saying: The present situation in Gaza is an illustration of the never-ending cycle of violence in the absence of a vision for an alternative future. Breaking out of the cycle of violence is the duty of all, oppressors and oppressed, victims and victimizers. In order to commit themselves to this aim, all must recognize in the other a brother or sister to be loved and cherished rather than an enemy to be hated and eliminated.