6 March 2019
Hundreds of ISIS militants are leaving a besieged enclave in Syria. (video: ITV/YouTube)
Hundreds limp out of besieged Syria militant enclave (AFP) Veiled women carrying babies and wounded men on crutches hobbled out of Baghouz on Wednesday after US-backed forces pummeled the last militant village in eastern Syria. The Syrian Democratic Forces leading the assault expected more fighters to surrender with their families in tow before moving deeper in the Islamic State group’s last redoubt…
Patriarch Kirill to visit North Korea (AsiaNews) Moscow Orthodox Patriarch Kirill will visit North Korea at the invitation of President Kim Jong-un. The Patriarchal exarch for Southeast Asia, the 45-year-old metropolitan of Singapore Sergij (Chashin) revealed the news on 3 March, meeting with journalists in Bangkok. He added “in Pyongyang they always welcome us very cordially, we carry out our service there and I am recognized as the legitimate bishop…”
New Lebanon minister makes return of Syrian refugees a priority (Al Jazeera) Thousands of Syrians who fled to neighboring Lebanon when the war began are going back home. The new minister in charge of Lebanon’s millions of refugees, Saleh Gharib, is an outspoken supporter of the Syrian government. Gharib’s first act in the job was to visit Damascus, where he has vowed to make the return of refugees a priority…
Man arrested for alleged connection to rape of Indian nuns in 1998 (UCANews.com) A man has been arrested for his alleged involvement in the mass rape of four Catholic nuns that occurred more than two decades ago in central India. Police Superintendent Vineet Jain told ucanews.com that they arrested Kalu Limji on 5 March over his alleged involvement in the 1998 mass rape of nuns from the Foreign Missionary Sisters…
U.S. helping Ethiopia build capacity for disaster response (AfricaNews.com) Ethiopia’s National Disaster Risk Management Center (NDRMC) conducted a natural disaster simulation exercise to improve Ethiopia’s response to emergencies. The exercise was the first of its kind and provided a test run for NDRMC’s emergency operations center staff to coordinate a timely response to a simulated flood of the Awash River and areas around Lake Tana. This activity is part of an ongoing program supported by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to help Ethiopia to strengthen its National Incident Management System…
5 March 2019
Tags: Syria India Ethiopia Russian Orthodox
In this image from 2017, displaced Iraqi Christian boys serve Mass at a Catholic church in Amman, Jordan. Archbishop Ivan Jurkovic, the Vatican observer to U.N. agencies in Geneva, said on 5 March that violating religious freedom harms not only the individuals being persecuted, it also damages communities and often opens the door to further violence.
(photo: CNS/Muhammad Hamed, Reuters)
Violating religious freedom harms not only the individuals being persecuted, it also damages communities and often opens the door to further violence, a Vatican representative said.
Archbishop Ivan Jurkovic, the Vatican observer to U.N. agencies in Geneva, also insisted governments should make sure laws allow for conscientious objection, so people can “act freely, in accordance with their deepest conviction.”
The archbishop spoke on 5 March during a session of the Human Rights Council devoted to a report on freedom of religion or belief. The Vatican press office released the archbishop’s remarks the same day.
“The right to religious freedom blossoms or withers together with all human rights,” he said.
Despite decades of progress in putting the freedom of religion and belief alongside the right of freedom of expression “as one of the center pillars of the architecture of human rights,” he said “recent reports on the abuse of this right are astonishing.”
“They are worrisome,” he said, “for the predicament of victims who, in so many parts of the world, courageously face discrimination, intolerance, aggression, imprisonment and even death for staying faithful to their conscience.”
It is also worrisome for the future because when people and communities “are not allowed to live and celebrate in coherence with their deepest convictions, the bonds that keep society together dissolve and the violation of rights often turns into a violent crisis,” he said.
Another aspect of freedom of religion that “should be given due consideration,” he said, is the freedom from any form of coercion to act contrary to one’s faith, he said.
With so many more people of different cultures, religions and beliefs living side by side, it is “vital and sensible to incorporate into legislation, with due prudence and wisdom, options that allow everyone, when faced with a problem of conscience, to act freely, in accordance with their deepest conviction.”
Archbishop Jurkovic lamented increasing calls to restrict the right of conscientious objection.
Quoting a statement by Archbishop Paul Gallagher, the Vatican’s foreign minister, to the Human Rights
Council on 25 February, he said the desire for such restrictions “show how some politicians and even some quarters of international agencies, forgetting their nature and acting without a mandate, are still uncomfortable with the right of freedom of conscience and belief.”
5 March 2019
Tags: Iraqi Christians Vatican Persecution
The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) are struggling to take over the last ISIS-held area of Syria. The Kurdish-led group has slowed down its offensive after ISIS resorted to using civilians as human shields. (video: Al Jazeera/YouTube)
ISIS members ‘surrendering in large numbers’ in Syria (Al Jazeera) Thousands of people, including armed fighters, have left the last area held by ISIS in Syria, a spokesperson for the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) said. Mostafa Bali of the SDF tweeted that about 3,000 people had come out of the village of Baghouz in eastern Syria on Monday through a humanitarian corridor established by the Kurdish-led group for those who want to leave or surrender…
US: Gulf countries helped ease conflict between India and Pakistan (Voice of America) The United States says it used its allies across the world, particularly those in the Gulf, to help defuse tensions between India and Pakistan, after military skirmishes between the nuclear-armed neighbors last week raised fears of a war…
India sees rise in lynchings of Christians (Catholic News Agency) Violent attacks including public lynchings against Christians in India are reportedly becoming increasingly common, with international NGOs and the country’s Catholic bishops raising their voices in protest against mob violence. ”The common man of the country is feeling insecurity in his own country due to the increasing cases of mob lynching,” Archbishop Leo Cornelio of Bhopal wrote on 27 February…
U.S. closes Jerusalem consulate that gave Palestinians a link to Washington (NPR) The U.S. officially shut down its Jerusalem Consulate General on Monday, severing a connection that for decades served as a direct link between Palestinians and Washington. The consulate’s work is being folded into the new U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem — a move Palestinian officials have condemned…
A decade on, anti-Christian riots inspire the Indian Church (UCANews.com) More than a decade after the worst anti-Christian persecution in the history of India, victims and their families are turning out to be biggest witnesses and inspiration of the Christian faith in the country, church leaders told the 22 February gathering in Bengaluru (formerly Bangalore) city. ”When Christians die for their faith, it is a time for the Church to remember that martyrdom is like a seed,” said Archbishop Peter Machado of Bangalore. Martyrdom helps faith grow more quickly than can be achieved by theology or the Bible, he said…
4 March 2019
Tags: Syria India Jerusalem Palestinians Persecution
Ukrainian Catholic Archeparchy staff welcome Metropolitan-Archbishop Borys Gudziak to the pastoral center on 1 March 2019.
(photo: CNS/courtesy Ukranian Catholic Metropolitan Archeparchy of Philadelphia)
While a graceful cascade of white snowflakes gently fell to the ground outside the chancery on 1 March, the staff of the Ukrainian Catholic Archeparchy of Philadelphia welcomed the new Metropolitan-Archbishop Borys Gudziak to the archeparchy’s pastoral center.
Standing in front of a banner reading, “Welcome, Metropolitan Borys,” in both English and Ukrainian, featuring the Ukrainian colors of blue and gold, Bishop Andriy Rabiy offered a warm welcome to Archbishop
Gudziak, as he was presented with the traditional greeting of bread and salt and a bouquet of sunflowers.
After the welcome, Archbishop Gudziak met with the staff in the chancery conference room for an informal get-together. He briefly shared his goals for the archeparchy and also asked staff members for their prayers and to express what their expectations were of him: “What do you need of your new archbishop? What type of archbishop do you want?” he asked them.
Among the thoughts he shared with them, he said he wants to lead the archeparchy as a spiritual brother, father and shepherd, who would inspire the presbyterate, the religious and the laity, the entire archeparchy, to grow in their relationship to Christ.
For the church, for the world, in this age, he said, Catholics need to become a holy and spiritual presence to inspire all to live a life of virtue as they follow the teachings of Jesus Christ and do his will in the world.
He emphasized: “I want to be a good listener and I ask you to be my teachers.”
Archbishop Gudziak reflected on two qualities his mother sought to impress upon him and instill in him: kindness and gentleness. He hopes these character traits can be shared in his relationships with the clergy, religious and laity.
The new spiritual shepherd of the Philadelphia archeparchy, a native of Syracuse, New York was named to this hierarchical position by Pope Francis on 18 February. At the time of his appointment he was the Eparch of St. Volodymyr the Great Eparchy of Paris serving France, Benelux and Switzerland.
He will be formally enthroned 4 June in the Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Philadelphia.
Bishop Rabiy, an auxiliary of the archeparchy, has been serving as apostolic administrator since his appointment by Pope Francis after the pontiff accepted the resignation for health reasons of Metropolitan-Archbishop Stefan Soroka on 16 April 2018.
Auxiliary Bishop John Bura also serves the Ukrainian Catholic Archeparchy of Philadelphia, which includes the District of Columbia, Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey and parts of eastern Pennsylvania. It has a total Catholic population of about 15,000.
4 March 2019
Tags: Ukrainian Catholic Church
Indian passengers are shown returning from Pakistan on the Samjhauta Express, also called the Friendship Express. (photo: Vatican Media/AFP)
Tensions ease between India and Pakistan (Vatican News) A key train service between Pakistan and India resumed on Monday, signaling an easing of tensions between the two nuclear-armed countries after a major escalation of tension last week over the disputed Kashmir region…
Hundreds leave ISIS-held region of Syria (AP) Hundreds of people including fighters from the Islamic State group evacuated their last foothold in eastern Syria Monday hours after U.S.-backed Syrian fighters said they were forced to slow their advance because the extremists are using civilians as human shields…
Kerala denies it aims to control Catholic Church property (Asia News) The Kerala government, led by the Communist-Marxist party of India, denies it wants to control the local properties of the Catholic Church. According to party secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan, it is “mere speculation. Already there are laws to look into it and hence a new law is not required. Some people with vested interests are spreading rumors about this…”
Detained Ukrainian archbishop released in Crimea (Radio Free Europe) Authorities in the Russia-annexed Crimean Peninsula have released the head of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine in the region after briefly detaining him, a Russian lawyer says. The reason for the arrest on 3 March is not clear…
Leaders of Ethiopia, Eritrea, visit South Sudan for high-level talks (Africa News) Ethiopian Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed and Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki are in South Sudan on an official visit. The two departed from Asmara International Airport on Monday morning and have arrived in Juba to bolster existing ties between their countries. Abiy had visited Asmara on Sunday along with Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta...
Pope Francis to open archives on Pius XII next year (Vatican News) Reflecting on the reign of “the Servant of God Pius XII, of venerable memory”, Pope Francis said that he “guided the Barque of Peter in one of the saddest and darkest moments of the twentieth century”. The figure of Pius XII, he said, “has already been investigated and studied”, and widely discussed and even criticized — at times in a prejudiced or exaggerated manner. Today, he said, the pontificate of Pius XII is being re-evaluated, in the hopes that a more balanced historical judgement might emerge. To further those efforts, the Pope said that Vatican archival materials pertaining to Pius’ pontificate (1939-1958) will be accessible to scholars beginning on 2 March 2020…
1 March 2019
Tags: Syria India Ethiopia Vatican Pope
People ride motorbikes on the outskirts of Amritsar, India, 1 March 2019, before the arrival of an Indian air force pilot, who was captured by Pakistan two days earlier and later released. Catholic groups have joined the protest of military escalation in the region.
(photo: CNS/Danish Siddiqui, Reuters)
Catholic groups joined a protest against a military escalation in Pakistan and India following the recent suicide bombing in Indian-administered Kashmir, reported ucanews.com.
“If we don’t end war, war will end us,” read placards held by staff of the National Commission for Justice and Peace, the Catholic Church’s human rights body in Pakistan, at the protest in front of Lahore Press Club 28 February.
Archbishop Sebastian Shaw of Lahore also expressed solidarity with Pakistan’s armed forces in an interfaith news conference at the press club, ucanews.com reported.
“All issues must be resolved through peace talks and dialogue. War is not an option,” he said. Carrying Pakistani flags, the archbishop and clerics also prayed for peace.
Peace activists, including Christians nongovernmental organizations, also protested about “war mongering” and “bomb blasts.” Simultaneous demonstrations were held at press clubs in Islamabad and Karachi.
India and Pakistan conducted airstrikes on each other’s territory in late February as tensions ran high after 40 Indian paramilitary troops were killed in a 14 February suicide attack. A Pakistan-based terrorist outfit, Army of Muhammad, claimed responsibility.
Kashif Aslam, program coordinator of the National Commission for Justice and Peace, praised Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan for announcing the release of an Indian air force pilot captured 27 February after his jet was shot down. A video of Pakistani soldiers trying to protect him from villagers has gone viral on social media.
“This is a diplomatic scoop. We are on high moral ground at this moment. Hope sanity prevails with this peace gesture. We appreciate such steps by the Pakistani government but condemn the ongoing aggression on electronic and social media. Only people-to-people contact can improve our strained relations,” Aslam told ucanews.com.
“The ever-escalating defense budget should instead be diverted toward developing the people,” Aslam added. “Only demilitarization can promise progress.”
Pakistani priests are using pulpits and social media platforms to pray for peace.
“In the name of God almighty, give peace a chance. Come and negotiate and find a solution to the issues that displease us,” the Rev. Abid Habib, former regional coordinator of the Justice and Peace Commission of the Catholic religious major superiors, posted on Facebook.
India accuses Pakistan of supporting “a freedom struggle” in Kashmir against Indian administration. Some groups have also taken up arms in an effort to separate Kashmir from India.
An estimated 100,000 people have died, including civilians, militants and army personnel, since 1990, when Muslim militants began an armed struggle to free the region from Indian rule.
The conflict dates back to 1947 when India and Pakistan become separate states after British rule ended.
Both countries claim Kashmir in full and have fought at least three major wars and regularly exchange artillery and small-weapons fire across a disputed border.
1 March 2019
Indian forces remain on high alert along the border with Pakistan. (photo: Vatican Media)
Indian and Pakistani bishops urge peace between their nations (Vatican News) The Catholic bishops of India and Pakistan are appealing for peace and dialogue as tensions and armed exchanges between the two nuclear-armed neighbors escalate. ”We pray and work for peace between India and Pakistan. We call on the rulers to choose the path of dialogue, the situation today is very delicate and we must not make false or hurried steps,” said Indian Cardinal Oswald Gracias Archbishop of Mumbai. ”We condemn any act of terrorism against Indian forces. But we say ‘no’ to any war option: we must work for a peaceful solution, in favor of South Asia and will be meaningful for the whole world,” Cardinal Gracias, the president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI), told the Vatican’s Fides news agency…
Russia urging Syrian asylum seekers to return home (Reuters) In pre-war Syria, Safaa Al-Kurdi sold wedding dresses. Fed up with the conflict, the mother-of-three fled Damascus four years ago and sought asylum in Moscow. Now, Russia is saying she must go home…
Students rescued from Jerusalem school cut off from flooding (Times of Israel) Some 1,200 trapped students were evacuated Thursday from a school in southern Jerusalem that was cut off by flooding across an access road, amid unseasonal rains in the capital…
Kerala headed toward fiscal collapse (Times of India) Due to acute fiscal crisis, state government imposed stringent treasury restrictions in addition to the restrictions in force. This has paralyzed all planning and development activities of the state, including rebuilding activities for the rehabilitation of flood victims...
Ethiopian coffee ritual being exported (Quartz) In the 2018/2019 financial year, Ethiopia produced about 426,000 metric tons, exporting nearly 4 million bags, yet Africa’s largest coffee producer has few locally produced brands. Now, with a large diaspora that has introduced Ethiopian dining to the world, and domestic growth that has reintroduced the country to the global economy, Ethiopian coffee has the opportunity to take advantage of global consumer trends. Exporting a culture may require some watering-down though…
28 February 2019
Tags: Syria India Ethiopia Kerala
Syriac Catholic Archbishop Yohanna Moshe of Mosul, Iraq, elevates the Eucharist during a liturgy at St. Thomas Syriac Catholic Church in the old city of Mosul on 28 February 2019.
(photo: CNS /Khalid al-Mousily, Reuters)
28 February 2019
Tags: Iraqi Christians
'Long live tribal unity' reads a banner behind the podium of a 26 February meeting in Madhya Pradesh state, where tribal groups joined to oppose a Supreme Court order to evict forest-dwelling people without title rights. (photo: Saji Thomas/UCANews.com)
Bishop expresses concerns over possible evictions of millions of Indian tribal people (UCANews.com) Millions of India’s indigenous people face eviction from their natural habitat following a court order that has alarmed Catholic Church leaders. The Supreme Court ordered governments of 21 states to evict people living on forest land whose claims to land title rights or user rights were rejected as proscribed in a 2006 law. ”We are worried. The fate of millions of indigenous people is threatened,” said Bishop Vincent Barwa, the head of the Indian bishops’ office for indigenous people…
Pakistan to release captured Indian pilot in ‘peace gesture’ (The Washington Post) Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan told parliament Thursday that his country will shortly release an Indian pilot it captured the day before, calling it a “peace gesture” after Pakistan and India engaged in their first aerial combat in nearly 50 years. The pilot’s release will take place on 1 March, Khan said, and the move is likely to de-escalate the current hostilities between the two nuclear-armed neighbors…
Yazidi children in Syria await family reunions (Voice of America) U.S.-backed Syrian forces battling Islamic State militants in their last hideout in eastern Syria said they have rescued dozens of Yazidi children held by the militant group for years. Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a Kurdish-led alliance, said last week that they had successfully freed more than a dozen Yazidi children from ISIS as they evacuated civilians from the Syrian town of Baghuz…
Russian church fires back over performance controversy (Radio Free Europe) A choral reinterpretation of a Cold War ditty depicting a Russian nuclear attack on Washington has variously drawn wild cheers, contrition, and ridicule for its glib message amid mounting nuclear tensions between Russia and the West. The St. Petersburg eparchy of the Russian Orthodox Church eventually expressed regret over the 23 February show.…
27 February 2019
Tags: Syria India Russian Orthodox
A parishioner raises a candlestick as a symbol of light during the Greek Catholic Divine Liturgy. Learn more about the rich traditions in one Slovak village, and how they are being carried on by Those Who Remain Behind in the January 2009 edition of ONE. (photo: Andrej Bán)
Tags: Greek Catholic Church