Examining the needs of some overlooked Syrian refugees

A new report from the Caritas Lebanon Migrant Center takes an in-depth look at the situation of older Syrian refugees in Lebanon.

cover“We know from experience that older persons suffer in silence, quietly stepping aside so that younger members of their families can access services and aid,” said Father Simon Faddoul, president of Caritas Lebanon. “Our Christian faith compels us to seek out those who may be left behind and ensure that they are reached by our expression of faith.”

The report, “Forgotten Voices: An Insight Into Older Persons Among Refugees From Syria in Lebanon,” looks at the demographics, nutrition and physical and mental health of the older members of the more than 700,000 Syrian refugees in Lebanon.

“Despite our experience in working with older Palestinians, we were taken aback by the findings of this study,” said Kamal Sioufi, president of the board of the Caritas Lebanon Migrant Center.

The report recommended that older people be prioritized as a specific target population of assistance programs. For instance, it said, they need help in managing chronic illness; assistance with mobility to reduce dependency; and they often need “older person dignity kits” such as incontinence pads, a walking stick or a bed rail.

The report also said they need assistance with mental health. For instance, it said, “older refugees who did not have a friend to care for them were significantly more likely to feel depressed and lonely than those who did have a friend. In addition, many older refugees did not take into consideration that they might be able to provide psychosocial support to younger members of their households.”

Among other recommendations, it said social workers needed to be aware that older people often were overlooked in households. Social workers “should prioritize unaccompanied older persons or older persons without care-takers,” it added.

Saving the children of Syria’s war

????????????????????????????????????There are many tragedies in any war, but none are harder to watch than the suffering of children. Syria’s civil war is no exception. Hundreds of children have been killed and thousands more displaced in refugee camps with poor food and shelter and no idea when they can go home.

In the summer edition of One magazine, the official publication of the Catholic Near East Welfare Association, Jesuit Father Ziad Hilal writes about the impact the conflict is having on Syria’s children and the work of the church to save the children in the city of Homs.

As director of St. Savior Center for Education in Homs, Father Hilal is working with his fellow Jesuits and Jesuit Relief Services, the Paulist Fathers, the Sisters of the Good Shepherd and dozens of lay Christians, with the assistance and support of CNEWA, to help the displaced and threatened children — Christian and Muslim — continue their lives. Many have lost one or both parents. All are victims of the crush of violence.

Catholic politicians at odds with church on Syria

As U.S. bishops join Pope Francis in calling for a non-violent resolution to the war in Syria, the nation’s top Catholic politicians have gone the opposite way.

Secretary of State John Kerry has emerged as the administration’s principal advocate for strikes against the Assad regime. Vice President Joe Biden has made the case for Assad’s guilt in the chemical attack that President Obama says would justify armed intervention. And yesterday, House Speaker John Boehner and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi also lent their support to a military solution.

Words can kill: the pope’s talk on envy’s corrosive power

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis’ popular early morning homilies at the Domus Sanctae Marthae residence are back after a two-month-long summer hiatus.

His first homily on Monday revived a recurring theme of the corrosive power of gossip and jealousy, and reminded people that when wielded wrongly, words can kill.

If you’d like a front-row seat for yesterday’s homily, here’s the YouTube clip and translation provided by the Vatican:

 

 

Pope Francis flexes his Hebrew, wishing the world’s Jews Happy New Year.

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis claims he isn’t much of a polyglot, but apparently he had no problem giving new year’s greetings in Hebrew.

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Jewish worshippers pray at the Western Wall, Judaism’s holiest site, in Jerusalem’s Old City ahead of the Jewish new year last year. (CNS/Reuters)

In a meeting yesterday with a delegation from the World Jewish Congress, the pope wished its president, Ronald Lauder, and Jews worldwide, “Shana Tova” or “good year” as the Jewish New Year of 5774 begins on Rosh Hashanah, Wednesday evening.

The pope also called on world leaders to “do everything to avoid war” and to foster increased dialogue, especially among the world’s religious communities, according to a statement released by the New York-based international organization.

It wasn’t the first time the pope met with an international group of Jewish leaders; in fact, he reiterated the same forceful phrase he pronounced during a June meeting with an international Jewish coalition, in which he said, “Due to our common roots, a Christian cannot be anti-Semitic!” Christians must learn about and understand Jewish history and traditions, the pope added at yesterday’s meeting, according to the WJC.

The group said the pope promised to get his point man on relations with Jews, Cardinal Kurt Koch, to do what he could concerning Poland’s ban on the kosher slaughter of animals. The papal meeting also including discussions about attacks against religious minorities, such as the Coptic Christians in Egypt, and increasing restrictions against male circumcision.

Ronald Lauder praised the church for its work in improving Catholic-Jewish relations and said Pope Francis’ leadership “has not only reinvigorated the Catholic Church, but also given new momentum to relations with Judaism.” As Archbishop Jorge Bergoglio of Buenos Aires, the future pope was close to many Jewish leaders and made numerous inroads to improving inter-religious relations.

As a token of thanks during the meeting, Lauder gave the pope a Kiddush cup, used for the blessing of wine on Jewish holidays, and a traditional Rosh Hashanah dessert of honey cake.

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