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September, 2018
Volume 44, Number 3
  
29 June 2017
Greg Kandra




Pope Francis greets Orthodox Archbishop Job of Telmessos and his delegation at the conclusion of a Mass marking the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican 29 June. As is customary an Orthodox delegation from the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople attended the feast day Mass. Read more about the Mass here. (photo: CNS/Paul Haring)



29 June 2017
Greg Kandra




In this image from 2016, a volunteer embraces refugee children at a makeshift camp in near Idomeni, Greece. The Holy See has called for financial donations to developing countries to go toward supporting migrants, refugees and the local poor.
(photo: CNS/Nikos Arvanitdis, pool via EPA)


Holy See calls for donations to help migrants and the poor (Vatican Radio) The Holy See has called for financial donations to developing countries hosting refugees and forced migrants to go equally towards supporting arriving migrants and the local poor. It also said migrants and refugees should be both welcomed in their countries of arrival and accompanied before, during, and after their migratory journey...

Rosaries and rifles: Christians battling ISIS in Raqa (AFP) As the fightback against IS intensified the Syriac Military Council (SMC) — formed in 2013 to defend the community during Syria’s civil war — joined with the SDF. After a months-long operation to encircle Raqa, the SDF burst into the city on 6 June and are chipping away at jihadist-held districts, with help from heavy US-led coalition air strikes. Now the SMC’s fighters are battling jihadists on the frontline in Raqa, some proudly wearing their religion on their sleeves — literally. Many fighters have tattoos of rosaries inked around their wrists and the word "JESUS" printed down their forearms...

The courage of a Christian town on the frontline of Jihad (Newsweek) Qaa has now become a symbol for the courage of Christians of Lebanon — and not for the first time. During Lebanon’s civil war (1975-90), Qaa’s Christians were the target of sectarian attacks and, later,on the receiving end of regime brutality during the Syrian occupation, which only ended in 2005 after the Cedar Revolution...

A new island in the Mediterranean? (The New York Times) Israel’s intelligence and transport minister has long pushed the idea of an artificial island off the coast of the Gaza Strip, with plans for a port, cargo terminal and even an airport to boost the territory’s economy and connect it to the world. But now the minister, Israel Katz, has released a slick, high-production video setting out his proposal in more detail, complete with a dramatic, English-speaking narration, colorful graphics and stirring music...



28 June 2017
Greg Kandra




In the video above, the leader of an NGO providing support in the Middle East describes the remarkable and unshakable faith of the Iraqi people she has met. (video: Rome Reports)

Airstrike on ISIS prison reportedly kills dozens (The New York Times) An airstrike in eastern Syria destroyed a house that the Islamic State had turned into a prison, killing dozens of people, Syrian activists said Tuesday, and they blamed the military coalition led by the United States for the attack. A spokesman for the coalition confirmed that it had bombed buildings controlled by the Islamic State in the area on Monday and said that it was investigating the reports of civilian deaths...

Iraqi military says it has retaken two Mosul neighborhoods (Reuters) Iraq’s military said on Wednesday it had retaken two more neighborhoods from Islamic State in Mosul’s Old City, bringing it closer to total control of the city...

Some towns in Italy seek refugees for economic growth (Financial Review) During the past decade, a flood of migrants and refugees has begun to replace the Italians who left. From 2008 to 2013, the percentage of foreign migrant workers in the Italian farm industry nearly doubled to 37 per cent from 19 per cent, according to the National Institute of Agricultural Economics...

Unpacking recent violence against Egypt’s Copts (Eurasia Review) On 26 May, the Islamic State (ISIS) murdered 29 Coptic Christians on a bus in Minya, the latest targeting of Egypt’s largest minority community. Three church bombings since December, also claimed by ISIS, have killed over 70 Copts. The government of Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi casts itself as the protector of Egyptian Copts, and violence against them appears to result straightforwardly from the ideological-strategic imperatives of ISIS. Yet such a shallow narrative is inadequate to understand recent outbreaks of violence affecting the Coptic community...

Gaza on the brink (Foreign Affairs) An ongoing electricity crisis is placing an inordinate amount of pressure on Gaza. If not addressed, it could end with a political implosion, a full-blown humanitarian disaster, and yet another round of violence between Hamas and Israel...

Cyberattack hits Ukraine, then spreads (The New York Times) Computer systems from Ukraine to the United States were struck on Tuesday in an international cyberattack that was similar to a recent assault that crippled tens of thousands of machines worldwide...



27 June 2017
Greg Kandra




Christian Scout volunteers turned out on 18 June to paint parts of Aleppo, Syria.
(photo: Custodia.org)


This story appeared today on the website for the Franciscans in the Holy Land:

Never have Aleppines found the markings on their sidewalks more beautiful. The Franciscan parish in the large city in Northern Syria decided to restore the city’s colors.

Aleppines could not believe it when on Sunday, 18 June, they saw scout brigades repainting their sidewalks for the first time. A little black and white paint was enough to give color to the neighborhood around the parish of St. Francis of Aleppo. A municipal sign indicated to drivers whether they were allowed to park their cars or not. It is the most trivial of things and yet “It is beautiful,” said one passer-by.

“Aleppo more beautiful” is an initiative carried out by the local friars of the Custody with the support of the governor, the mayor and the whole municipality. The program was inaugurated on Sunday, 18 June. In front of the parish church, Father Ibrahim, the pastor, was surrounded by government officials, brushes in hand, to paint the edges of the sidewalks.

Volunteers were happy to be covered with paint — and to be covering the streets, too.
(photo: Custodia.org)

After years of war that literally made the city’s colors fade, making “Aleppo more beautiful” is a concern and a challenge. For the people in charge of the initiative: “It allows us to unite as a single nation, a single family, whatever our religion or convictions... We also thought of this initiative right away as an opportunity to make reparations, to restore this beautiful mosaic — our society, which has been torn apart... So, we dove in with a lot of interest, love and commitment; [with] love for our martyred city and [with] the desire to promote reconciliation in our wounded, torn society. We are convinced that good is contagious. We do good and spread it, radiate it. War, hatred, egoism, the reign of death will be replaced by peace, charity, solidarity, the common good and the extension of the Kingdom of Heaven.”

The promoters of the initiative invited all of the churches to join them and many groups such as the Christian Scouts, various religious groups and any of the inhabitants of the city who wanted to help. The Latin parish took charge of the financial aspect by buying all of the necessary materials.

A friar supervises the young Allepine artists. (photo: Custodia.org)

In the end, more than 200 people, armed with paintbrushes, buckets and paint, showed great enthusiasm and zeal and set out to conquer the city by embellishing it.

Read more and see more pictures at the link.



27 June 2017
Greg Kandra




Pope Francis meets with a delegation from the Ecumenical Patriarchate at the Vatican.
(photo: Vatican Radio)


Pope meets Orthodox delegation from Ecumenical Patriarchate (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis met on Tuesday with members of an Orthodox delegation from the Ecumenical Patriarchate who are here in Rome to celebrate the feast of Saints Peter and Paul. In his greeting, the Pope noted that this year marks the 50th anniversary of the first exchange of visits between a Roman pontiff and an Ecumenical Patriarch. It was those historic encounters that inaugurated the tradition of sending Catholic and Orthodox delegations to Rome and Istanbul to celebrate the patron saints of the East and Western Churches...

ISIS counterattacks stall parts of Mosul push (AP) Counterattacks by Islamic State militants on the western edge of Mosul have stalled Iraqi forces’ push in the Old City, the last IS stronghold in the battle, an Iraqi officer said Tuesday. The attacks forced Iraqi forces and the U.S.-led coalition to pull some assets away from the Old City to again clear the Yarmouk and Tanak neighborhoods, which were declared liberated of IS in May...

ISIS loses ground in Sinai, searches for foothold in Egypt (Al Monitor) The Egyptian Interior Ministry announced June 22 the killing of seven people it believed were involved in recent attacks against Copts, including church bombings and shootings in which about 100 people were killed. The ministry said in a statement it was “certain that a group of individuals had been stationed in some areas in the Western Desert, where they received military training on how to use weapons and assemble explosive devices in order to carry out more terrorist attacks...”

Pope Francis marks 25 years as a bishop (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis celebrated Mass on Tuesday morning in the Pauline Chapel of the Apostolic Palace, together with the members of the College of Cardinals present in the city, in roder to mark the 25th jubilee of his ordination to the episcopacy. The Dean of the College of Cardinals offered greetings and best wishes to Pope Francis on the occasion, recalling the words of St. Paul the Apostle in his Second Letter to the Corinthians, “Make room for us in your hearts,” Cardinal Sodano said. “Holy Father, you need not tell us to make room for you in our hearts,” he continued, pledging him all the love and reverence due the Successor to Peter...



26 June 2017
Greg Kandra




A Coptic villager in Upper Egypt checks his cell phone while transporting crops across town. This image is part of a photo essay by Msgr. Kozar which was honored last week with a First Place Award from the Catholic Press Association. Visit this link to see more of his prize-winning photos.
(photo: John E. Kozar)




26 June 2017
Greg Kandra




In this image from 21 June, a woman weeps during a rally held in support of Detroit’s Chaldean Christian community outside the federal courthouse. Dozens of Chaldean Christians and others were scheduled to be deported to Iraq, but late last week, a district court judge halted the deportation. (photo: CNS/Jim West)

Judge halts deportations of Chaldean Christians to Iraq (CNA) A district court judge on Thursday halted the deportation of more than 100 Iraqis, including many Chaldean Christians, who were recently picked up by immigration officers and detained. “We are thankful and relieved that our clients will not be immediately sent to Iraq, where they face grave danger of persecution, torture or death,” Michael Steinberg, legal director of the ACLU of Michigan, which represented the Iraqi nationals, stated in response to the ruling...

Fighting intensifies in Syrian Golan Heights (Al Jazeera) Fighting between government forces and opposition fighters has intensified in the Quneitra province in Syria’s south, situated in the roughly 30 percent of the Golan Heights under Syrian control. More than a dozen people were killed, including both pro-government forces and opposition fighters, in the latest uptick in fighting in the countryside of al-Baath city and near the town of Khan Arnab, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) said on Sunday...

Egyptian university presents bill against those who use religion to justify violence (Fides) The scholars of the University of al Azhar, the main theological-academic center of Sunni Islam, submitted the text of a bill to the offices of the president of the Egyptian Republic to counter violence and sectarian hate propaganda justified in the name of religion...

Report: malnutrition on the rise in parts of Ethiopia (Doctors Without Borders) An acute humanitarian emergency is unfolding in Doolo zone, in Ethiopia’s Somali region, as malnutrition reaches alarming levels, warns Médecins Sans Frontières [Doctors Without Borders] (MSF), whose teams are working in Doolo zone, the worst affected area. “The numbers of young children with severe acute malnutrition in Doolo zone are the highest ever seen in this area by our teams in the 10 years we have worked in the region,” says Saskia van der Kam, MSF nutritional advisor...

Pope uses relics to foster relations with Orthodox (CNA) Common veneration of relics is one of the tools Pope Francis is using to foster ecumenical relations with the Eastern Orthodox Churches...

One million people have visited relics of St. Nicholas in Moscow (AP) Over a million people have visited the relics of Saint Nicholas, one of the Russian Orthodox Church's most revered figures, since they were brought to Moscow last month. A total of 1,021,500 people have paid their respects to the holy remains, according to data published Saturday on an official website for the relics. The queue to see the fragments of the saint's bones on display has regularly extended several miles from Moscow’s Cathedral of Christ the Savior since the 23 May beginning of public viewings...



20 June 2017
Greg Kandra




Indian Cardinal Ivan Dias died 19 June at age 81 in Rome. (photo: CNS/Kham, Reuters)

Pope offers condolences on death of Indian cardinal (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has expressed his sadness at the death of Indian Cardinal Ivan Dias. The 81-year-old retired prefect of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples and former archbishop Emeritus of Bombay passed away on Monday in Rome. Pope Francis sent a condolence message to the late cardinal’s brother Francis Dias, recalling his service to the Holy See, particularly his efforts in rebuilding the Church in Albania...

Marking World Refugee Day (Vatican Radio) At a time in history in which an unprecedented 65.5 million people around the world have been forced from home, we are witnessing the highest levels of displacement on record. Among them are nearly 22.5 million refugees, over half of which are under the age of 18. World Refugee Day, held each year on 20 June, commemorates the strength, courage and perseverance of millions of men, women and children who are on the move, in search of protection and opportunity...

Holy See calls for international cooperation to aid legal migration (Vatican Radio) The Holy See has called for international cooperation to facilitate safe and legal migration ahead of World Refugee Day. The Rev. Michael Czerny, Undersecretary of the Migrant and Refugee Section of the Holy See, made the appeal on Monday to the United Nations in Geneva...

Australis suspends airstrikes in Syria (AP) Australia on Tuesday suspended its airstrikes against Islamic State targets in Syria as a precaution, after a U.S. fighter jet shot down a Syrian warplane earlier this week and Russia warned the U.S.-led coalition from flying over Syrian army positions west of the Euphrates River. The announcement from Canberra came as a brief, two-day truce collapsed in the southern Syrian city of Dara and nearby areas where government forces have gained ground...

Ethiopia’s coffee farmers are ‘on the front lines of climate change’ (NPR) Ethiopia gave the world Coffea arabica, the species that produces most of the coffee we drink these days. Today, the country is the largest African producer of Arabica coffee. The crop is the backbone of the country’s economy — some 15 million Ethiopians depend on it for a living. But the effects of climate change — higher temperatures and less rainfall — could take a toll on the country’s ability to farm this treasured crop...



19 June 2017
Greg Kandra




In this image from 2016, Syrian refugees arrive at a camp after crossing into the Jordanian side of the northeast Jordan-Syria border near Royashed. The United Nations reports that more people were displaced in 2016 than ever before. (photo: CNS/Jamal Nasrallah, EPA)

UN: More people displaced in 2016 than ever before (The New York Times) The relentless civil war in Syria and a surge of South Sudanese fleeing the collapse of peace efforts in their country helped propel the global population of displaced people to a record in 2016, the United Nations refugee agency said Monday. The agency’s annual Global Trends report, a statistical assessment of refugees, asylum seekers and people forcibly displaced from their homes, reflected a worsening of conflict, mayhem and persecution...

King of Jordan confirms: defense of holy sites a ‘priority’ (Fides) The protection of Jerusalem’s holy Muslim and Christian sites is a “priority” for the Hashimite Monarchy, committed to supporting the birth of an independent Palestinian state that has Gerusalem East as the capital. This is what King Abdallah II of Jordan said to a delegation of religious, Christian and Muslim representatives from Jerusalem on Sunday, 18 June, in Amman...

Synod begins to elect new patriarch (Fides) The Synod of Bishops of the Greek Melkite Church has begun today, Monday, 19 June to elect the new Patriarch. At the beginning of May, Pope Francis announced that he had accepted the resignation of Gregory III Laham from pastoral office...

Pope’s visit to India may be postponed to 2018 (Vatican Radio) It is very likely that the visit of Pope Francis to India and Bangladesh planned for the end of this year, could be postponed to next year, a prominent Indian Catholic Church leader said on Thursday. In an interview to National Catholic Reporter (NCR) on 15 June, Cardinal Oswald Gracias, Archbishop of Bombay said that discussions with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government about a papal visit this year have taken longer than expected...

Archeologists unearth forgotten city in Ethiopia (The Telegraph) British archaeologists in Ethiopia have uncovered a forgotten city dating as far back as 10th century AD that was once believed to be the home of giants. The dig, in Harlaa, unearthed a 12th century mosque, a jeweler’s workshop and evidence of Islamic burials and headstones. Experts from the University of Exeter and Ethiopia’s cultural ministry also found pottery from Madagascar, the Yemen and China, as well as bronze and silver coins from 13th century Egypt...



16 June 2017
Greg Kandra




Altar servers make their way to the Divine Liturgy at the Orthodox cathedral in Antioch. Read more about Turkey’s Melting Pot, and the many faiths that reside there, in the May 2011 edition of ONE. (photo: Sean Sprague)







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