Syrian Catholic archdiocese confirms priest kidnapped; deacon also missing

Details from CNA:  The Syrian Catholic Archdiocese of Homs confirmed on Friday that a priest in the diocese has been kidnapped, and has asked for prayers for the priest’s safe release. According to Fides, the Homs archdiocese “asked all the faithful to invoke the Lord in prayer so that Father Jacques is released and can return [Read More...]

Iraqi Christians speak: “They wanted us to know they were believers”

I spent last evening at the Immaculate Conception Seminary in Huntington, New York with some of my colleagues from CNEWA, hearing a first-hand account of life in Iraq, from someone who was jus there. It was a great evening:     When CNEWA’s president Msgr. John Kozar looked at those gathered around the room Wednesday, he [Read More...]

Words the world needs to hear

  They are the words of a 12-year-old Iraqi refugee named Tamara in Ankawa, Iraq, as reported by CNS, and they are beautiful: “ISIS took everything,” she said,  “but we still have our faith in Jesus Christ, and they will never take it.”   CNEWA President Msgr. John E. Kozar, meeting these extraordinary people while [Read More...]

Powerful and provocative: a “letter to ISIS” from the People of the Cross

From an online media group called Mighty.LA: As the world responds to the Islamic State with hatred and vengeance, there is one group that is responding differently. They are not allies with ISIS but enemies. And they have been slain by the thousands in the hands of ISIS. ISIS calls them The Nation of the [Read More...]

New Yorkers, take note: an upcoming event to raise awareness and support for persecuted Christians

Mark your calendar: Msgr. John E. Kozar, president of CNEWA (Catholic Near East Welfare Association) will be making a pastoral visit to Iraq and Egypt next month to see first-hand some of the challenges facing Christians fleeing persecution in that troubled part of the world. Just days after his return, Msgr. Kozar will share his insights [Read More...]

Journey to Jordan: the wrapup

A great young videographer named Connor Eberhart accompanied us on the trip. He was tireless and he was everywhere—photographing everything we did, every place we saw. (Did he ever sleep?  I’m not so sure…) Here, in roughly chronological order, are some of the videos he posted on his Vimeo site, which give a great sense [Read More...]

“Catholics appalled by what is happening in the Middle East do not have to feel powerless”

From John Allen in Crux comes this excellent glimpse into the work of Catholic Near East Welfare Agency (CNEWA), where I work: Founded by Pope Pius XI in 1926, CNEWA is an agency of the Vatican sustained primarily by the Church in the United States and Canada. Its first president was a legendary American Jesuit [Read More...]

Journey to Jordan: Departure—UPDATED with more photos

Up bright and early for breakfast, and then a final goodbye to our incredible hotel, as we board the bus for the airport in Amman. Yes, Max Lindenman was sleeping again, in the lobby, with an open book on his lap. The Amman airport is beautiful, bright and manageable. Even our exit through security went [Read More...]

Journey to Jordan: a refugee who fled ISIS tells me his story

Saturday morning brought an emotional encounter with a man who has fled evil, and whose face tells the story. His name is Agnan Adnidihad, a 62-year-old repairman from Mosul who barely escaped the horrors of ISIS last year. Now he is living in Amman—one of tens of thousands of refugees who are crowding into Jordan [Read More...]

Journey to Jordan: deacon at work!

Saturday, we spent a few hours at the Italian Hospital in Amman; I’ll post more on our extraordinary visit to this wonderful facility later. But at the end of our time there, I found myself unexpectedly—and happily—pressed into diaconal service. Several people on our tour were dismayed to learn that we would not be able [Read More...]