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Liturgical traditions in the Middle East, could be threatened by conflicts

MSGR. JOHN KOZAR President CNEWA "Syro Malabar is one of the largest and Syrian Malankara, which actually have a Syriac connection. Then you have Caldeans in Iraq. You have Maronites, very well known also in the United States. You have Melkites in most of the countries in the Middle East. You  have Coptics.â?

But despite the different liturgical traditions, most recently the attention has been on the ongoing conflicts surrounding these areas. Sometimes it's religious or political persecution. Other times, it's straight out war.

MSGR. JOHN KOZAR President CNEWA "I was just told yesterday by the Lebanese diplomat that 1,500 Syrians every day are fleeing into Lebanon. Jordan is probably equally as many, maybe more, also into Turkey.  Many of those are Christians.â?

That's where the Catholic Near East Welfare Association comes in. Known as CNEWA, the Papal agency helps Christians in the Middle East. From supporting them so they can practice their faith to simply helping them survive and have a better future.  Everything from food to health care, housing, training and education. However, no one is excluded.

SAMI EL-YOUSEF CNEWA Regional Director (Jerusalem) "If you reflect on Gaza, in particular which is a dramatic case, 99 percent of the students of our Christian schools are Muslims.�

ISSAM BISHARA CNEWA Regional Director (Beirut, Lebanon) "These are all run by religious, Christian organizations that I think without them, the country would not be the same.�

Back in September 2012, the Pope visited Lebanon where he called for peace. He specifically went to deliver the Apostolic Exhortation on the Middle East. Since then, Issam Bishara says, even non Christian leaders have used the document as a type of 'road map' for their country.

ISSAM BISHARA CNEWA Regional Director (Beirut, Lebanon) "The idea was, the basic idea was for Christians to be an integral part of their communities, to be part of their countries in every aspect of the social life and other aspects.�

MSGR. JOHN KOZAR President CNEWA "Despite all of these horrendous odds, people still reach down in their faith and they do still lift themselves up with some hope, I think with our young people there, that's the big challenge.�

At this point CNEWA has offices in eight countries. They're asking Christians who can openly practice their faith, to help out those who often times, can't do the same.