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John Feister concludes his daily reports from the Middle East with reflections on injustice at home and abroad.

Special Features
Day 8: Concluding Thoughts

The trip is over now, and all of us journalists are back home. I doubt that any of us will ever look at the Middle East in the same way again. Granted, we got an earful of the Palestinian side of the story, but don’t we get a monthly, weekly, even daily dose of the Israeli perspective?

We talked to a lot of people over a weeks’ time. Our schedule included about 5 events per day (usually 15 hours’ worth) for 7 days. It was a ton of input that I’ll be thinking about and sorting through for weeks to come. I hope to add a number of pieces to this website in the coming weeks, as the Special Synod of Bishops occurs, and as we hear Pope Benedict’s reflections and challenges after the Synod. The Holy Land, as we heard so much this week, is in need of our attention.

Two Sides to Israel

In the coming weeks another correspondent from our shop, Jennifer Scroggins, will go to Lebanon and Syria with Catholic Near East for the conclusion of this immersion experience. Look for her reports starting early in November.

Israeli soldiers at the new gate of Jerusalem's Old City (Photo by John Feister)
I reflected in my final video about the two worlds of Israel: the pretty side versus the Palestinian side. I couldn’t help but consider how much we do the same in our own U.S. culture. St. Anthony Messenger Press is next to the Franciscan motherhouse in a tough part of town. People around Cincinnati hear about our “Over the Rhine” neighborhood constantly on the news: shootings, crime, all sorts of trouble. It’s where the riots started here some years ago that earned a black eye for our region.

The point

But Cincinnati is a comfortable place to these people who watch Over the Rhine on the news. The outlying suburbs, I dare to say, remind me of the Israeli settlements: safe, comfortable places away from those dangerous poor people, perceived to be a black majority, whether that’s true or not. My point is this: I saw plenty of injustice in Palestine. I saw greed and racism at work. To a lesser degree, I’ve seen some of the same closer to home. I must say, though, there are no soldiers walking the streets with machine guns here! As Christians, though, we are challenged to open our eyes to injustice near and far.

When there is a moment of opportunity for justice, as there may well be now in Palestine, we should pay attention and offer our solidarity. In the hills where our Lord walked, in the towns and cities where he taught us to love, we are reminded that we all are one body. Click here to go back to the main page.

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Andrew Dung-Lac and Companions: Andrew Dung-Lac was one of 117 people martyred in Vietnam between 1820 and 1862. Members of this group were beatified on four different occasions between 1900 and 1951. All were canonized by St. John Paul II. 
<p>Christianity came to Vietnam (then three separate kingdoms) through the Portuguese. Jesuits opened the first permanent mission at Da Nang in 1615. They ministered to Japanese Catholics who had been driven from Japan. </p><p>The king of one of the kingdoms banned all foreign missionaries and tried to make all Vietnamese deny their faith by trampling on a crucifix. Like the priest-holes in Ireland during English persecution, many hiding places were offered in homes of the faithful. </p><p>Severe persecutions were again launched three times in the 19th century. During the six decades after 1820, between 100,000 and 300,000 Catholics were killed or subjected to great hardship. Foreign missionaries martyred in the first wave included priests of the Paris Mission Society, and Spanish Dominican priests and tertiaries. </p><p>Persecution broke out again in 1847 when the emperor suspected foreign missionaries and Vietnamese Christians of sympathizing with a rebellion led by of one of his sons. </p><p>The last of the martyrs were 17 laypersons, one of them a 9-year-old, executed in 1862. That year a treaty with France guaranteed religious freedom to Catholics, but it did not stop all persecution. </p><p>By 1954 there were over a million and a half Catholics—about seven percent of the population—in the north. Buddhists represented about 60 percent. Persistent persecution forced some 670,000 Catholics to abandon lands, homes and possessions and flee to the south. In 1964, there were still 833,000 Catholics in the north, but many were in prison. In the south, Catholics were enjoying the first decade of religious freedom in centuries, their numbers swelled by refugees. </p><p>During the Vietnamese war, Catholics again suffered in the north, and again moved to the south in great numbers. Now the whole country is under Communist rule.</p> American Catholic Blog I discovered that my sins had created a spiritual racket that drowned out the gentle whispers of God to my soul; God had never actually abandoned me, but I needed repentance and sacramental grace to reawaken all that was good and beautiful in me.


St. Andrew Dung-Lac
Our common faith is our greatest treasure. Join Vietnamese Catholics around the world in honoring this 19th-century martyr.

With Thursday’s menu planned and groceries purchased, now is the time to send an e-card to far-away friends.

Christ the King
Our liturgical year ends as it begins, focusing on Our Lord’s eternal reign.

Christ the King
Our liturgical year ends as it begins, focusing on Our Lord’s eternal reign.

The Faithful Departed
An e-card can be a gentle reminder to pray for loved ones who have died. Choose one from

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