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Current Issue
December, 2018
Volume 44, Number 4
  
1 March 2019
Catholic News Service




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.



Tags: India

1 March 2019
Greg Kandra




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…



Tags: Syria India Ethiopia Kerala

28 February 2019
Greg Kandra




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)




Tags: Iraqi Christians

28 February 2019
Greg Kandra




'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.…



Tags: Syria India Russian Orthodox

27 February 2019
Greg Kandra




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

27 February 2019
Greg Kandra




The crisis between Pakistan and India escalated Wednesday morning, when Pakistan announced it had shot down two Indian fighter jets. A leading bishop in the Pakistan, meanwhile, is appealing for peace talks. (video: BBC/YouTube)

Pakistani bishop appeals for peace talks with India (Vatican News) With the risk of war escalating between India and Pakistan following an Indian airstrike inside Pakistan on Tuesday, a Pakistani bishop has appealed for peace talks. The Indian government claimed it carried out air raids against an Islamist militant training camp of Jaish-e-Mohammed, killing “a very large number” of fighters, raising the risk of a war between the nuclear-armed neighbors. Pakistan denied there had been any casualties but condemned the Indian action and vowed it would respond…

Pakistan shoots down two Indian jets; crisis deepens (CNN) Pakistan says its air force shot down two Indian fighter jets over the disputed border region of Kashmir, in a significant escalation of the crisis between the two nuclear-armed powers. India confirmed the loss of one plane and said it shot down a Pakistani jet as it responded to the incident…

Russia and Syria urge U.S. to withdraw troops (Al Jazeera) Russia and Syria have called on the United States to leave Syria and to allow people inside a refugee camp in the southeast of the country to be evacuated by Russian and Syrian forces. A joint statement released on Wednesday by Russia’s Ministry of Defense said Russian and Syrian forces had prepared buses to relocate refugees at the camp in the Rukban area and would guarantee them safe passage so they could start new lives.

Ethiopian bishops speaks out on protection of minors (Vatican News) Bishop Gebremedhin said that Ethiopia as a nation is committed to protecting children and has signed the United Nations Convention on the Protection of Minors. However, the cultural priorities with regard to protecting children in his country are several, such as sexual abuse, child trafficking, early marriage and others…

European Russians break ties with Constantinople (AsiaNews) Since 23 February, the Russian Orthodox exarchate, linked to the patriarchate of Constantinople, has decided to break ties with Bartholomew, following his choice to approve the autocephalous Church in Ukraine…



Tags: India Ukraine Ethiopia Russian Orthodox

26 February 2019
Greg Kandra




A boy receives Communion at an Ethiopian Orthodox church in Temple Hills, Maryland. Read more about America’s Horn of Africa in the March 2009 edition of ONE.(photo: Erin Edwards)



Tags: Ethiopia Ethiopian Orthodox Church

26 February 2019
Greg Kandra




India confirms it struck targets in Pakistan early Tuesday, escalating the tensions between the two countries. (video: BBC/YouTube)

Indian fighter jets attack Pakistan (NPR) India says its fighter jets crossed a disputed border before dawn Tuesday into neighboring Pakistan, conducting airstrikes on a militant training camp and killing “a very large number of terrorists.” Pakistan confirmed by tweet that Indian planes entered its airspace. But the spokesperson for the Pakistan Armed forces said they were forced to drop their payload in an open field, after Pakistan scrambled its own jets, and that there were no casualties or damage…

Iran to build 200,000 housing units in Syria (Middle East Monitor) Iran has agreed to build 200,000 housing units in the Syrian capital Damascus, the Tasnim News Agency reported on Sunday. Tehran province Vice Chairman of Mass-Housing Constructors Association Iraj Rahbar revealed the plan, noting that it was one of a number of agreements on civil construction, tourism and the agriculture industry, the news agency reported…

Copts concerned about death sentence for monks convicted in murder of bishop (AsiaNews) A court sentenced two monks to death over the murder of the abbot of the monastery of St Macarius in Wadi El Natrun. For Egyptian Christians and the leaders of the Coptic Orthodox Church, this is a sad day and represents a catastrophe that will be appealed as soon as possible. The details of the case are still murky. Many of the pieces of the puzzle are missing, nor is it clear why the death penalty was imposed. Sources that spoke to AsiaNews, said that they will wait for further developments before commenting on the matter…

Opioid crisis hits Gaza (Times of Israel) An opioid crisis has quietly spread in the Gaza Strip, trapping thousands in the hell of addiction and adding another layer of misery to the blockaded and impoverished Hamas-controlled coastal territory. The scourge can be traced to the mass import of cheap opioid-based Tramadol pain pills through smuggling tunnels under Gaza’s border more than a decade ago. A more addictive black-market form of the drug called Tramal has since taken hold…

Death toll in Ukraine conflict now up to 13,000 (Radio Free Europe) Some 13,000 people have been killed, a quarter of them civilians, and as many as 30,000 wounded in the war in eastern Ukraine since it broke out in April 2014, the United Nations says…



Tags: Syria India Ukraine Iran

25 February 2019
Greg Kandra




The Rev. Boulos Nassif strives to serve marginalized communities in Egypt. Learn how he is among the many Signs of Hope in that country in the current edition of ONE. (photo: Roger Anis)



Tags: Egypt Priests

25 February 2019
Greg Kandra




Pope Francis receives the Apostoliki Diaconia of the Orthodox Archdiocese of Athens.
(photo: Vatican Media)


Pope to Greek Orthodox: ‘We have more in common than what keeps us apart’ (Vatican News) Pope Francis on Monday reflected on the fruitfulness and importance of Catholic Orthodox dialogue on the journey to full communion. He was speaking to the Apostolikí Diaconía and the Centre for the Family of the Orthodox Archdiocese of Athens whom he received in the Vatican…

Ukraine’s crisis of faith (Politico) For years, Father Vasily spent his Sundays behind the altar at St. Nicholas, a church in the small town of Vorsivka, in north-central Ukraine. That all changed in early January, not long after the Ukrainian Orthodox Church officially split from the Moscow-based Russian Orthodox Church in one of the biggest schisms in Christian history…

‘Kerala will become an aged society soon’ (The Times of India) Kerala would become a fast-aging society in the near future, said Geojit Financial Services managing director C. J. George…

Bootleg liquor kills dozens in India (UCANews.com) The church is assisting those affected by a mass toxic alcohol poisoning that has killed more than 140 tea-estate workers in India’s northeast. Some 350 people continue to fight for lives in hospitals in Assam state after they consumed bootleg alcohol on 21 February. A similar tragedy occurred earlier this month with bootleg liquor killing more than 100 people in northern states of Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand…

Press briefing announces initiatives for protection of minors (Vatican News) There have been four Press Conferences, coinciding with the four days of the Meeting. Each one has provided a synthesis of the day’s discussions and reflections, and allowed journalists an opportunity to engage with participants and speakers in what was often a lively Q&A session. One implicit (and explicit) question underscored the concluding press briefing on Sunday: “What now”? Expectations were high, especially given Pope Francis’ mandate to participants, at the start of the Meeting, to come up with “concrete” initiatives to help the Church in protecting minors…



Tags: India Ukraine Russian Orthodox Orthodox Greece





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