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Current Issue
March, 2018
Volume 44, Number 1
  
15 June 2018
J.D. Conor Mauro




In recent message, Pope Francis urges justice, solidarity and compassion regardless of migration status. (video: Rome Reports)

What is the current state of the migration crisis in Europe? (The Guardian) Three years after Europe’s biggest influx of migrants and refugees since the Second World War, tensions between E.U. member states over how to handle irregular immigration from outside the bloc — mainly from the Middle East and Africa — are rising again…

Trauma forms the invisible ruins ISIS left behind on the Nineveh Plain (Crux) After the Islamic State was driven out of the Nineveh Plains in northern Iraq in 2017, the scale of destruction left behind in a chain of historically Christian villages was staggering…

Iraq to rebuild Yazidi shrines in Sinjar (AINA) Iraq’s Ministry of Construction and Housing is rebuilding Yazidi shrines, administrative headquarters, and roads in Nineveh Province’s city of Sinjar, in what the ministry called a ‘major campaign,’ on Thursday…

Syria’s not waiting for peace to rebuild, and Iran wants to help (Al Monitor) Taking full control of the capital city of Damascus and the surrounding area for the first time since the civil war broke out in 2011 has given the Syrian government new impetus. That success also allows it to approach reconstruction of infrastructure and cities…

Church in Orissa prepares to commemorate anti-Christian massacres (Fides) The Catholic Church in the Indian state of Orissa, in eastern India, is preparing to celebrate the solemn commemoration of the victims of the anti-Christian massacres of 2008…



Tags: Syria Iraq India Migrants Yazidi

14 June 2018
J.D. Conor Mauro




In this 2017 photo, Syrian refugee children play on the grounds of the Fratelli Association in Rmeileh village, which provides refugees with educational services. (photo: Philip Eubanks)

Lebanon witnesses rise in Syrian refugee child labor over past year (Daily Star Lebanon) Aid groups say more and more Syrian children are joining the workforce as poverty intensifies among about a million refugees living in Lebanon — roughly a quarter of the country’s population…

In Iraqi Christian village, ‘In God we trust’ isn’t just a slogan (Crux) Once a thriving Chaldean Catholic community, Qaramlesh today is the shadow of what it used to be, but many are working against the clock to make it what it was before summer ends…

Egypt sees rise in disappearances of Coptic Christian women (Christian Today) The disappearance of a number of Coptic Christian women in Egypt in recent months has sparked fears that they are being targeted for human trafficking…

U.N. slams ‘excessive’ Israeli force against Palestinians in Gaza (Al Jazeera) The U.N. General Assembly on Wednesday condemned Israel for excessive use of force against Palestinian civilians, in a resolution adopted by a strong majority of 120 countries. The 193-member world body rejected the United States’ efforts to blame Gaza’s Hamas rulers for the violence that has killed more than 120 Palestinians in the past two and half months…

U.N. condemns European countries’ refusal to take in migrants (Vatican News) The chief of the United Nations refugee agency UNHCR says a bitter dispute over which European country should take in a rescue boat carrying hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean “profoundly shameful” for the European Union…

Christians in the Nineveh Plain host evening meal with Muslim neighbors (Fides) On Tuesday, a community iftar was hosted in the city of Bartella, about ten miles from Mosul, at the local community center of the Syriac Orthodox Church. This evening meal interrupts the daily fasting Muslims undertake during Ramadan…

Ukraine’s Greek Catholic chief sees ‘no choice’ but dialogue with Russia (Crux) “For us, for the simple people, for the Christians, reconciliation means not only prayer for reconciliation, but also effective acts of reconciliation, because that is how we construct a peace for the next generation,” said Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuck, leader of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, in an interview with a small group of reporters…



Tags: Lebanon Ukraine Refugees Iraqi Christians Palestinians

13 June 2018
J.D. Conor Mauro




In this August 2017 photo, a man shovels the road in Qaraqosh’s main commercial street, heavily destroyed by fighting between Islamic State militants and Iraqi coalition forces. (photo: Raed Rafei)

In post-ISIS Christian town, heroism and paradox both abound (Crux) Over the centuries, the Middle East has always been a land where expectations tend to experience especially tough collisions with reality, so it probably should be no surprise that a massive effort to rebuild the Christian village which was the epicenter of a brutal ISIS onslaught in 2014 has, at its heart, three grand paradoxes. Qaraqosh — or “Baghdeda” to Christians, who make up 96 percent of the population and prefer to use the city’s Aramaic name to reclaim their Christian identity — was the largest Christian community on the Nineveh Plains, a swath of land that overlaps the border between Iraq and Kurdish-controlled territory…

Georgian Prime Minister Kvirikashvili resigns (The Daily Star) Georgia’s Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili resigned on Wednesday amid a disagreement with the leader of the ruling party, Bidzina Ivanishvili, who is a former prime minister and the ex-Soviet country’s richest man. “We’ve had some disagreements with the leader of the ruling party,” Kvirikashvili said in a televised statement. “I think there is a moment now when the leader of the (ruling) party should be given an opportunity to staff a new cabinet.” Kvirikashvili, 50, has been prime minister since 2015…

U.N. votes on condemning Israel over Gaza violence (Al Monitor) The United Nations General Assembly will vote Wednesday on condemning Israel for Palestinian deaths in Gaza in a resolution fiercely opposed by the United States. At least 129 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire during protests near the border with Gaza that began at the end of March…

Can Jordan’s new prime minister reform the government? (Washington Post) Last week, Jordan’s King Abdullah II appointed former education minister Omar Razzaz as the new prime minister after protests rocked the country. And Razzaz has already made several concessions to the protesters over taxes. But more interesting is that Razzaz said a “new social contract” will be a top item on his government’s agenda…



Tags: Iraq Gaza Strip/West Bank Jordan Georgia

12 June 2018
J.D. Conor Mauro




A man pushes a cart loaded with lunch boxes through a flooded street after heavy rain in Mumbai on 9 June 2018. (photo: Punit Paranjpe/AFP/Getty Images)

Caritas India offers climate change survival classes (UCAN India) As India continues to be struck by natural disasters and extreme weather conditions, a church group is pitching in with others to help prepare villagers for when calamity strikes. Since April, dust storms and rains across the northern and eastern part of the country have killed 278 people, 223 of them in the first fortnight of May…

Iraqi shepherd determined that Christianity not only survive, but thrive (Crux) Officially speaking, there’s no index of the moral heroes of Catholicism in our time. There would be plenty of candidates, clergy and religious lay men and women, all over the world who put their lives on the line in every imaginable way to serve the planet’s most marginalized and suffering people. Somewhere near the top of the list, however, would have to be Archbishop Bashar Warda, leader of the Chaldean Catholic Church in Erbil, Iraq…

Iraq’s favorite lake dries up in sign of worse to come (Al Monitor) Karbala’s Lake Milh hasn’t seen a lot of visitors in the last few years. Once a popular picnic destination for Karbala residents, the lake’s water has dwindled, leaving most of it a desert with nothing but derelict fishing boats and dead animals…

Debunking four myths surrounding the Palestinian protests (Vice) Over the past ten weeks, tens of thousands of Palestinians in Gaza have participated in the “March of Return,” mass nonviolent demonstrations to protest Israel’s illegal siege. Throughout, Israel has responded with violent force. In order to legitimize its resort to overwhelming force, Israel has sought to cast doubt on the popular character of the demonstrations in Gaza and to present them as a threat to its security. A number of myths about the Gaza protests have consequently gained widespread traction…

Noah’s Ark and the Assyrian relief (AINA) A team of archaeologists is searching Turkey’s Mount Cudi (also called Judi Dagh) for the resting place of Noah’s Ark. While their investigations have not turned up any new evidence of the fabled ship, they have discovered an ancient Assyrian relief, carved into the stone of the mountain…

Hungary & Ukraine inaugurate orphanage amid concerns (Vatican News) Anita Herczegh, the wife of Hungarian President János Áder, and Ukrainian First Lady Marina Poroshenko came to the St. Michael Center in Rativci with a mission: They want to ensure that orphans in what is Ukraine’s Transcarpathia region can grow up in family homes at a time when Ukraine faces war and hardship…



Tags: India Chaldean Church Palestinians Hungary

4 June 2018
J.D. Conor Mauro




Children kick around a soccer ball near statue of the Virgin Mary at the refugee camp in Dbayeh, on the northern outskirts of Beirut, Lebanon. To learn more, read Defining Dbayeh, from the September 2007 edition of ONE. (photo: Dalia Khamissy)



Tags: Lebanon Refugees Children Refugee Camps

4 June 2018
J.D. Conor Mauro




Protesters wave flags near Jordanian security forces during a demonstration outside the prime minister's office in the capital Amman late on 3 June 2018. (photo: Khalil Mazraawi/AFP/Getty Images)

Jordan PM Hani Mulki quits after austerity protests (BBC) Jordan’s Prime Minister Hani Mulki has resigned after days of protests against tax rises and austerity measures. The recent demonstrations in the country, which is a key Western ally, are the biggest in years. Protesters have chanted anti-government slogans and clashed with police, who have fired tear gas and blocked roads…

Greek Catholic Annunciation Society targets youth dropout rate in Jerusalem through remedial education (Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem) For the past six years the Greek Catholic Annunciation Society in Jerusalem, has been working through its remedial education project to reduce the rate of youth dropout, as well as to offer the mothers of these young people awareness sessions and social activities. The project, which is funded by CNEWA and now by the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, aims to reduce the dropout rate among 200-300 students by providing them with support lessons and extra-curricular activities such as educational trips to museums and historical sites with certified tour guide…

Iraq’s water crisis traced upstream to Turkish, Iranian dams (AINA) The water crisis has spread in southern and central provinces of Iraq and the Kurdistan Region as dams built by Turkey and Iran, irrespective of international laws, slow the flow of rivers into Iraq to a trickle. There are growing fears up to seven million people will be displaced due to the dramatic fall in water resources…

Bethlehem: A Franciscan priest attacked for defending pilgrims (Fides) Franciscan priest, Father Fadi Shalufa was attacked on 1 June by one of the two young men who had previously harassed a group of pilgrims in visit to the birthplace of Jesus. The two attackers were arrested by the Palestinian police…

Thousands of Palestinians mourn ‘reprehensible’ killing of Gaza medic (TeleSUR) Thousands of Palestinians attended the funeral procession of Razan Najjar, the Palestinian medic who was killed while trying to save an injured protester at the Gaza-Israel border during a demonstration Friday. Various U.N. officials issued statements Saturday condemning Najjar’s killing. “The killing of a clearly identified medical staffer by security forces during a demonstration is particularly reprehensible,” said Jamie McGoldrick, the local U.N. humanitarian coordinator…

Patriarch Kirill confirms metropolitan of Estonian Orthodox Church (Err.ee) Patriarch Kirill on Sunday confirmed the election of Archbishop Yevgeny (Eugeni) of Vereya as the new metropolitan bishop of Tallinn and All Estonia and the head of the Estonian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate…



Tags: Iraq Gaza Strip/West Bank Jerusalem Jordan Catholic education

4 May 2018
J.D. Conor Mauro




Posters of candidates for the upcoming Lebanese parliamentary elections hang on the walls of buildings in the northern Lebanese city Tripoli's Bab al Tabbaneh Sunni neighborhood on 3 May. (photo: Joseph Eid/AFP/Getty Images)

Lebanese voters want change; few expect it (New York Times) Voters across Lebanon will vote in parliamentary elections on Sunday for the first time in nine years, and many of them are fed up. The country’s crises are many: a million Syrian refugees are straining public services; a shaky economy is increasingly teetering; garbage is piling up; fear is spreading of a new war between Hezbollah and Israel; and the political class has failed to find solutions…

UNICEF: Children bear the brunt as violence escalates in Gaza (U.N. News) Highlighting the devastating impact of the humanitarian crisis and increasing violence on Gaza’s children, the United Nations Children’s Fund has called on all parties with influence on the ground to prioritize their protection…

Gaza protests: Latest updates (Al Jazeera) Palestinians in the besieged Gaza Strip are protesting for the sixth Friday in a row as part of the Great March of Return movement. The rallies are part of a six-week protest that will culminate on 15 May to mark what Palestinians refer to as the “Nakba” or “catastrophe” — a reference to Israel’s establishment in 1948 and when 750,000 Arabs were forcibly removed from Palestine. Since the protests began on March 30, at least 41 Palestinians in the coastal enclave have been killed by Israeli forces and more than 7,000 wounded…

In rural Jordan, pulling power from the wind to make change on the ground (Christian Science Monitor) In a troubled tribal town in Jordan, residents are turning to wind energy to lift the region up from underdevelopment, unemployment, and unrest, and as a model for green energy…

‘Anti-conversion law’ approved in the state of Uttarakhand (Fides) Uttarakhand, in northern India, has become the seventh state of the Indian Federation to have approved an “anti-conversion law,” a tool often used by Hindu extremists to accuse Christians of “forced or fraudulent conversion”…

Syria rebels hand over arms in new deal with government (Al Monitor) Syrian rebels on Friday were surrendering their heavy weapons for the second day after agreeing with the government a new deal to withdraw from central towns, a war monitor said…



Tags: Syria India Lebanon Gaza Strip/West Bank Jordan

3 May 2018
J.D. Conor Mauro




Palestinian couple Muaz Rukup and Hedil Naccar, medical officials who had worked during “Great March of Return” demonstrations, are seen during their wedding ceremony at a healthcare tent near Gaza-Israel border in Khan Yunis, Gaza, on 2 May 2018. (photo: Abed Rahim Khatib/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Israeli government: Gaza protests are state of war, human rights law doesn’t apply (Haaretz) In response to a High Court petition filed by human rights groups, the Israeli state has argued the protests by Palestinians on the Gaza border fall into the category of a state of war and thus human rights law does not apply to the rules of engagement. In their so-called March of Return, Gazans have been protesting each Friday at the Gaza border fence. In the demonstrations, the Israeli army has killed 45 protesters and wounded thousands…

Maronite bishops: After elections, government must aim to repatriate Syrian refugees (Fides) The parliament and the government that will be elected on Sunday, 6 May, will have to oppose the attempt to permanently impose on Lebanon the weight of the reception of Syrian refugees, Maronite bishops said in a pronouncement…

The Armenian Catholicos Karekin II calls for national reconciliation (AsiaNews) The head of the Armenian Apostolic Church, Catholicos Karekin II of All Armenia, with an appeal released yesterday, has called on the authorities and opposition to act within the framework of legality, and seek ways to resolve the political crisis in the country through dialogue…

Massive Indian dust storm kills more than 70, injures scores more (RT) A powerful dust storm in northern India has killed more than 70 people and injured more than 140 others on Wednesday. Many reportedly died in their sleep while the storm swept through their homes. India’s Hindustan Times reports that the storm left a trail of destruction in its wake, uprooting trees and affecting the electricity supply in the states of Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan…

U.S. officials return thousands of ancient Iraqi artifacts seized from Hobby Lobby (Christian Today) U.S. officials have returned more than 3,800 artifacts illegally obtained from suppliers in Iraq and sold to Hobby Lobby, the giant craft store chain owned by evangelical Christians. The artifacts had been smuggled into the country and Hobby Lobby had bought them for the Museum of the Bible, which opened last year in Washington, D.C. Hobby Lobby’s founder, Steve Green, is the museum’s chairman…

Egypt’s jailed journalists: In numbers (Al Jazeera) The U.N. cultural agency, UNESCO has awarded its World Press Freedom Prize to imprisoned Egyptian photojournalist Mahmoud Abu Zeid, despite criticism from the government of Abdel Fattah al Sisi following the announcement last week. Rights groups have reported an unparallelled crackdown on Egypt’s media in recent years and say there are signs it is getting worse…

Ecumenical Patriarch faces a hard choice over Ukraine (OCP Media Network) His All-Holiness Bartholomew is rightly believed to be the guardian of the Orthodox Christian unity. However, the recent visits to Fanar by President Poroshenko and Rostislav Pavlenko threw His All-Holiness into a dilemma. They want him to ecclesiastically legitimate the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church and the Kyivan Patriarchate so that their clergy would be able to form another independent church in Ukraine. Being blinded by the pre-election agenda, administration of the Ukrainian President takes no notice of some obstacles on the way to autocephaly…



Tags: India Egypt Gaza Strip/West Bank Armenian Apostolic Church Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I

2 May 2018
J.D. Conor Mauro




Residents of the village of Parakar blocking a road to Zvartnots International Airport. Armenian politician, opposition activist Nikol Pashinyan, one of the leaders of the ‘Way Out’ Alliance (Yelk) Party, has called on protesters to block airports and streets. (photo: Artyom Geodakyan\TASS via Getty Images)

Armenia’s opposition, blocked in parliament, raises pressure in the streets (New York Times) Protesters in Armenia, frustrated by Parliament’s refusal to elect the opposition leader as prime minister, heeded his call for widespread civil disobedience on Wednesday, fanning out across the country to close major squares, roads and schools…

The significance of Armenia’s ‘April Revolution’ (The Nation) Analysts outside of Armenia scrambled to make sense of the April Revolution. Was it a “color revolution” or a Ukrainian-style Maidan? Was it a “blow to Putin,” as the pages of The Washington Post suggested? The revolt did have certain elements that were recognizable in “color revolutions” — the street demonstrations, the involvement of youth, etc. However, its orientation was strictly domestic and its long-term causes — jobs, poverty, privatization, inequality, etc. — were entirely endogenous…

Chaldean Patriarchate: Do not use religious symbols for electoral propaganda (Fides) Candidates in the upcoming Iraqi political elections must avoid exploiting symbols and religious references as instruments of electoral propaganda, the Patriarchate of Babylon of the Chaldeans said ahead of the 12 May elections. In order to gather electoral support the candidates must only refer to their professional skills and their personal talents. Christian candidates, in particular, must avoid claiming alleged sponsorships and support from ecclesiastical authorities…

Harassment of Christians continues to escalate in Turkey (AINA) International Christian Concern has learned that overnight on 30 April 2018 at least one Turkish nationalist vandalized the Surp Takavor Armenian Church in Istanbul’s Kadiköy municipality. The nationalist wrote “This homeland is ours” on the wall and dumped a large pile of garbage outside of the church’s door…

Iraq’s Yazidis resume pilgrimages to sacred temple (AINA) Iraqi Yazidis are healing from the pain and hardship they suffered at the hands of the Islamic State, which swept their areas, killing men and forcing women into sexual slavery. In a sign of the return to normal life, the Yazidi New Year was celebrated in a Yazidi temple on 8 April for the first time since the liberation from ISIS…

Ethiopian Jews clamor to move to Israel (BBC) Ethiopian Jews have appealed to the president of Israel to help them migrate there, to be reunited with members of their families…

‘Secret church’ dating back to first Christian centuries survived ISIS (Christian Today) A ‘secret church’ in Syria dating back to the first centuries of Christianity has been discovered by archaeologists in a territory held by ISIS for more than two years. The ancient tunnel system, found in the city of Manbij, is believed to have once served as a refuge for Christians who faced persecution during the Roman Empire…



Tags: Syria Iraq Armenia Yazidi Ethiopian Jews

1 May 2018
J.D. Conor Mauro




As part of a pastoral visit to Lebanon, Archbishop John Michael Miller of Vancouver visits Iraqi Christian refugees at a school run by the Syriac Catholic Patriarchate, supported by CNEWA. (photo: Carl Hétu)

Cries for peace in Syria louder than ever (Catholic Register) Catholic aid agencies that help Syrian and Iraqi refugees say a recent escalation of conflict in Syria has increased despair and heightened the call for peace from Christian leaders. “They all told us the same thing,” said Carl Hétu, national director of the Catholic Near East Welfare Association (CNEWA) Canada, who made a pastoral visit to Lebanon from 15 to 19 April with Vancouver Archbishop J. Michael Miller to encourage partners who are working with refugees. “The region needs peace. They don’t need more bombs and the refugee crisis cannot be sustained any more in Lebanon…”

Syria announces Yarmouk camp evacuation agreement (Al Jazeera) The Syrian government has reached an evacuation deal with fighters from Hay’et Tahrir al Sham to leave the Yarmouk refugee camp in southern Damascus. The official SANA news agency announced on Monday that the fighters and their families, numbering about 5,000, would be evacuated in two stages, the first of which would see 1,500 people transported to the rebel-controlled Idlib province in northwestern Syria…

Expert: The bogey of Christian infiltration in India is a ‘political hoax’ (AsiaNews) The age-old bogey of Christian infiltration into the heart of India — allegedly intent on undermining the country — has been resurrected. While now a hackneyed political canard, its use as a recurrent theme in of Indian politics is significant…

Indian government accused of ignoring religious violence (UCAN India) The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom has accused the Indian government of doing little to prevent violence against religious minorities and socially poor Dalit people. The commission’s latest report, released 25 April, said the government run by the pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party has not addressed the problem of sectarian violence despite government statistics showing that sectarian violence has increased sharply over the past two years…

Greek-Turkish border under refugee pressure again (Al Monitor) Their clothes caked with mud, a small group of refugees from Syria trudge past a Greek farmer tilling his field on a tractor. He barely pauses to look at them. In the villages near the Evros River, the natural boundary with Turkey in northeastern Greece, such arrivals are now common…

Christians in Jerusalem’s Old City under threat from ‘hostile radical settlers’ (Christian Today) Christians in Jerusalem say their presence in the Old City is under threat from intimidation, with priests being spat at and abused, alongside aggressive property acquisition by hardline and ’hostile’ Jewish settlers, the Guardian has reported. The churches say they are facing onslaught on three fronts, according to the paper’s report from Jerusalem: a war of attrition waged by hardline settlers; unprecedented tax demands by Jerusalem city council; and a proposal to allow the expropriation of church land put up for sale…



Tags: Syria India Lebanon Jerusalem Greece





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