Seal of the Jesuits
Jesuit USA Newsletter

September 25, 2004

Islamic Fundamentalism Cause of Mideast Christian Exodus

In the six weeks following the August 1, when bombs exploded in five Catholic churches in Baghdad and northern Iraq, some 10,000 Iraqi Catholics have fled the country, said Jesuit Fr Samir Khalil Samir, an Egyptian-born expert on Islam who runs the Center for Arab-Christian Documentation and Research in Beirut, Lebanon.

The events in Iraq offer a compressed illustration of a trend throughout the Arab world, where Christian populations have dwindled in the face of conflict and growing Islamic fundamentalism, Fr Samir said.

Fr Samir said the latest exodus of Iraqi Catholics was not simply a response to the church attacks, but also a reflection that work was disappearing for Christians in the country.

Almost all those who left in August were Chaldean Catholics, and many are seeking to emigrate to the United States or Australia, where they have relatives, the priest said.

Overall, he said, Iraqi Christians were safer under the regime of former President Saddam Hussein than they are today--not because they approved the regime, but because the dictatorship provided security.

Fr Samir said the steady rise of Islamic fundamentalism in the Middle East has roots in the early 20th century. Although the vast majority of the region's Muslims reject terrorism, fundamentalism today has spread into every area of social life.

Fr Samir was not optimistic about the future. "This situation means that, within a matter of decades or centuries, Christianity will disappear--as it disappeared from Turkey, from Persia, and from North Africa," he said. "Unless there is a miracle--and miracles are not God's usual way in politics--it will happen.

"But in the meantime, we Christians have a mission, an essential role to play," he said. Part of that mission is to help bring peace to the Holy Land and preserve it as a place for all religions, he said. [Source: CNS. Do not repost electronically]


Airport Chaplain Aims to Comfort Stressed-out Travelers, Employees

Charles Barnes, a Jesuit scholastic who also teaches at Seattle University, is a part-time Catholic chaplain at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.

Barnes, who is studying for the priesthood, says the sight of his clerical collar and the word "Chaplain" emblazoned in gold letters across the back of his vest can be reassuring to travelers and employees, even when no words are spoken.

With recurring threats of airline bankruptcies, lingering trauma from 9-11, and cutbacks in jobs or pensions, Barnes said, "One of the big issues right now is employee morale."

He said air disasters are the times when the chaplain's role is most visible to the general public. The Catholic chaplains respond to the sacramental needs of the victims and their loved ones.

"One of the largest things we can do is be a presence," Barnes said. [Source: CNS. Do not repost electronically]


Fr Kolvenbach to Visit the United States

Father General Peter-Hans Kolvenbach will visit Omaha to deliver an address at Creighton University on "Cooperating with Each Other in Mission."

Fr Jim Grummer SJ, provincial of the Wisconsin Province, has asked Fr Kolvenbach to address the themes that GC 34 addressed to Jesuits nine years ago in Decree 13, "Cooperating with the Laity in Mission."

The talk will be on Thursday, October 7, at 7:00 pm (CST) and will be broadcast live, on Creighton's web site at . A video of the talk, as well as the text of the talk will be available, soon afterwards.

Before going to Omaha, Fr Kolvenbach will be visiting the New Orleans Province, stopping at Loyola High School in New Orleans, the novitiate at Grand Coteau, and Spring Hill College. (See their web site for details: ) [Source: Creighton University]


A Warning Against Unilateralism

Fr Drew Christiansen SJ, associate editor of America magazine, said "I think the Bush administration, as it's articulated its foreign policy . . ., would be the polar opposite of the Catholic position because it rejects multilateralism for aggressive, muscular unilateralism, even with respect to our closest allies, saying no one else will determine what our interests are or what we will do. And that includes preventive war.

"Generally, the church has favored multilateralism, and particularly international law and the UN system as a way of doing that, knowing that the UN system is far from perfect" he said.

Catholic social teaching on international justice and peace promotes greater use of international law and institutions as a means of protecting human rights and the common good.

On preventive war, Fr Christiansen, who is a former director of the Office of International Justice and Peace for the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, said, the Bush administration and the Vatican "couldn't be in a more different position."

He added, however, "I'm not sure that the Catholic position, in terms of the actual decisions, would be any different when it comes to John Kerry, who said that he supported the war and would still go to war despite what we know now about the situation."

Addressing the Bush administration's overall approach to international laws and accords, Fr Christiansen said, "The Catholic inclination is to strengthen international organizations and international law and the administration . . . has done everything to kind of defy existing international agreements." [Source: CNS. Do not repost electronically]


Jesuit Emphasizes the Role of Spiritual Care in Healing

Jesuit Fr Robert Faricy urged health care professionals at a retreat in Temecula, Calif., to "ask the Lord's help, pray daily for their patients by name, and, when appropriate, pray with the patients."

Fr Faricy is an author and professor emeritus of spirituality at the Gregorian University in Rome. Based at Marquette University, he celebrates Masses for the sick in Rome and throughout the United States.

"The Lord heals us if it helps us grow in holiness," he said. "Healing is an integration of the functions of mind, body, and spirit. . . . The most important healing is spiritual healing, but I have witnessed emotional healing from rejection, depression, anxiety, trauma, and false feelings of guilt." [Source: CNS. Do not repost electronically]


Italian Jesuit Targets Disabled Sudanese in Chad Refugee Camps

Among the hundreds of thousands of Sudanese refugees in northeastern Chad, Fr Franco Jacuzzi, an Italian Jesuit, has targeted those he considers the most vulnerable: the disabled.

"These people have no voice; they have no rights, so we have to find how to help them," said Fr Jacuzzi. Aid agencies sought out Fr Jacuzzi and two other priests with Jesuit Refugee Service because of their knowledge of teaching.

Since arriving in Chad's refugee camps in June, Fr Jacuzzi shifted his focus from schools to disabled refugees. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees, which administers the camps, keeps no statistics on the disabled, so Fr Jacuzzi began taking a census of disabled people in the camps managed by Secadev, the Chadian Caritas office.

Fr Jacuzzi relies on Secadev staff to point out areas of the camps where disabled Sudanese reside, but mostly he finds them by canvassing the miles-long camps on foot. For the Sudanese refugees, only the strong can survive; there is not enough food or medicine to save the weak. But Fr Jacuzzi said he believes that the church's presence in the camps can help the weak and sick die with dignity.

In Secadev's three camps, Fr Jacuzzi has identified 1,000 "vulnerable persons," which include single or widowed women with children.

Fr Jacuzzi said it was essential for the disabled Sudanese to have an advocate working on their behalf. "Otherwise it would be too easy for them to miss their food distribution," he said. "They are used to having nothing, so they will not ask. We have to push to help them." [Source: CNS. Do not repost electronically]


Gonzaga University Students Embark on the 35th Pilgrimage in North Idaho

Approximately 165 Gonzaga University students, faculty, staff, and alumni embarked on the 35th Pilgrimage to Cataldo Mission in North Idaho on September 10th. The trip followed the steps of missionary Fr Joseph Cataldo SJ along a remote stretch on the Coeur d'Alene River amid Idaho's forests and fields.

Pilgrims learned of the vision that gave birth to Gonzaga University and reflected on their place in its continuing journey. The trek ended with Mass and prayers at Sacred Heart Mission Church at Cataldo, Idaho, the state's oldest standing building and headquarters of the first Jesuit missionaries to the Inland Northwest. [Source: Gonzaga University]


Remembrance of Things Past


From the Editors

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