Current Issue
December, 2018
Volume 44, Number 4
13 December 2013
J.D. Conor Mauro

Police surround Christian demonstrators during a march advocating for rights for low-caste Christians in New Delhi on 11 December. (photo: CNS/Anto Akkara)

Indian prime minister apologizes after Christian marchers beaten (Catholic Herald) Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh apologized to church leaders for the police beating of protesters — including priests and nuns — during a march advocating for rights for low-caste Christians…

Israel’s divided government scraps controversial Bedouin relocation plan (Al Jazeera) Israel is scrapping a controversial draft law that would have forced the relocation of tens of thousands of native Bedouin residents of the Negev desert, an official said Thursday. The move — which is known as the Prawer Plan and would have ordered the demolition of about 40 so-called unrecognized Bedouin villages in the Negev and the relocation of between 30,000 and 40,000 people — passed a preliminary ministerial vote in January. The Association for Civil Rights in Israel said Bedouin communities in the Negev face discrimination within Israeli society. More than 160,000 Bedouin live in unrecognized villages in the Negev, where the state does not provide basic services like water and electricity…

Orthodox bishop denies urging Christians to take up arms (Fides) Metropolitan Lukas al Koury of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch categorically denies inciting Syrian Christian youth to take up arms in the conflict that has bloodied the country, and asserts that the declarations attributed to him by the media “are false.” In a note sent to Fides, Metropolitan Lukas urges everyone to be wary of those newspapers manipulating stories for political ends…

Syrian extremist rebels target journalists (Der Spiegel) Radical Islamists embedded among the rebels in Syria are reportedly targeting foreign journalists for abduction. Instead of holding them for ransom, however, they use them as trump cards in their power struggles with more moderate rebel groups. On Tuesday, Ayman Mhanna, executive director of the Beirut-based SKeyes Center for Media and Cultural Freedom, said that 20 foreign journalists are being held captive in Syria. Some of the missing journalists are in the hands of the regime, he added, but the majority are captives of extremist groups…

Syria: U.S. and Britain call a halt to equipping rebels (AsiaNews) The United States and Britain have suspended the shipping of non-lethal supplies — armored vehicles, communications gear, etc. — to Syrian rebels, but will continue to send humanitarian aid. London and Washington have decided to sever ties with the rebels because of the continued growth of radical Islamist groups…

Tags: Syrian Civil War Israel Indian Christians Dalits Bedouin

12 December 2013
Greg Kandra

In this image from August, a Coptic Orthodox bishop surveys a damaged church in Minya, Egypt. (photo: CNS/Louafi Larbi, Reuters)

CNEWA’s external affairs officer, the Rev. Elias D. Mallon, S.A., Ph.D., appears in the pages of America magazine this week, writing about the struggle for democracy in Egypt — and how this is impacting Christians:

The situation of Christians in post-Morsi Egypt has grown rapidly and significantly worse. Pro-Morsi forces accuse the Coptic Christians of having staged a military coup against the democratically elected president. Although the number of Egyptian Christians is so small (estimates range between 5 percent and 15 percent of the population) that it would, practically speaking, be impossible for them to overthrow the government, nonetheless all over the country violent attacks on Christians and Christian institutions have reached an unprecedented level. On 17 August 2013, a list was published of 32 Christian institutions that had been attacked, looted or destroyed since Mr. Morsi’s removal. When the looting and destruction of Christian homes and businesses are also taken into account, the list is only the proverbial tip of the iceberg. The image of Patriarch Tawadros standing with General el-Sisi has become a rallying point for the pro-Morsi, anti-military demonstrators to focus attacks on Christians as the enemy.

Egypt is experiencing the worst of all possible situations; there is no clear good side and no clear bad side. The actions of the pro-Morsi supporters who attack Christians show quite clearly what their agenda may have been all along. Yet the military’s actions and the ferocity of its response to the pro-Morsi demonstrators make it very difficult to be sympathetic. In fact, that is a major problem: it is almost impossible to be completely sympathetic to either side. Each side has grievances and each side has committed atrocities. This has made it very difficult, if not impossible, for countries like the United States and the member states of the European Union to take a clear stand on what is happening and to support one group against the other.

The situation in Egypt highlights a very important fact that is crucial for the entire Middle East. Despite all the rhetoric, democracy alone is not and cannot be the answer. Since the advent of the Arab Spring, there has been a great deal of talk about democracy. Most of it has been shallow and naïve.

Read on to learn more.

Meanwhile, America’s editor, Matt Malone, S.J., draws a connection between this piece and one written six decades ago for the magazine by Senator John. F. Kennedy:

Nearly 60 years after J.F.K. wrote for these pages, America once again looks at a seemingly intractable problem in the Mediterranean region. Father Mallon’s analysis is, in fact, a faint echo of Senator Kennedy’s caution, especially when Father Mallon writes that “to expect democracy in the Middle East to emerge, develop democratic institutions and thrive in a decade or two is not only unrealistic; it is unfair.” Indeed, such a course would amount to something President Kennedy himself derided in a 1963 speech, an unsustainable “Pax Americana enforced on the world by American weapons of war.” Still, there are many in the foreign policy establishment today who argue for such a “historically naïve” form of progress, says Father Mallon: “For many in the United States, democracy means ‘just like us.’ ”

Tags: Egypt Violence against Christians Egypt's Christians Democracy Arab Spring/Awakening

12 December 2013
Greg Kandra

Bishop Borys Gudziak addresses protestors in Kiev and expresses solidarity with them. (photo: Bishop Ken Nowakowski)

Yesterday, Ukrainian authorities stormed the central square in Kiev, intensifying the standoff with protestors. After nine hours, security forces withdrew. The demonstrators remained.

We received an e-mail from Bishop Ken Nowakowski, Ukrainian Greek Catholic bishop of New Westminister, Canada. He is in Kiev and following the protests in the city. He wrote:

Early Wednesday morning, 11 December 2013, Bishops Borys Gudziak of Paris, Ken Nowakowski of New Westminster, Yaroslav Pryriz of Sambir-Drohobych and Bohdan Dzyurakh of Kiev went to Independence Square in Kiev to be in solidarity with those on the square as a result of the siege that was happening during night. They appeared on the stage, and spoke to the protestors, assuring them that the church stood in peace with them.

The bishops, who are members of the Permanent Synod of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, also spoke directly to the military and special forces, urging them not to commit violence against their own people. The bishops led the people in prayer, blessed them and then went to the chapel tent that the Ukrainian Catholic Church erected. There, they celebrated Divine Liturgy. The chapel tent is on the spot where blood of the peaceful and unarmed students was spilled when special forces brutally beat these young defenseless people.

After the Divine Liturgy, the bishops went to the front lines, where the military was lined up, to urge them not to use violence against those on the squares and streets.

The Permanent Synod of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church also released the following statement:

We are profoundly disturbed by the actions of the state security forces on the Maydan Square in heart of Kiev conducted under the cover of the night.

We condemn the action directed towards restricting civil liberties, especially the freedom of expression and peaceful civic manifestation of the citizens of Ukraine.

We declare our support and solidarity with all those on the Maydan Square who are standing with dignity and witnessing to the dignity of their fellow citizens and of the whole nation.

We strongly support the peaceful character of this civic gathering and declare our rejection of any type of violence.

We pray to God Almighty for peace, justice and the triumph of truth for our people.

In this time of great trial by the words of Jesus Christ that were proclaimed in all of our churches this past Sunday offer encouragement: “Don’t be afraid; just believe, and she will be healed!” (Lk 8:50)

May the blessing of the Lord be upon you!

Tags: Ukraine Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church Canada

12 December 2013
J.D. Conor Mauro

Christian demonstrators are taken away in a police bus on 11 December after being arrested during a march advocating for rights for low-caste Christians in New Delhi. The following day, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh apologized to church leaders for police beating some demonstrators during the march. (photo: CNS/Anto Akkara)

Archbishop of Delhi arrested while marching for Dalits’ rights (Fides) Archbishop Anil Couto of Delhi was arrested today by the Delhi police along with other Christian bishops and leaders of other denominations. The archbishop was participating, along with other leaders and many lay faithful of Christian churches, in a peaceful march to protest for the rights of the Dalits. The protesters had arrived in the area of Jantar Mantar and were heading towards the Indian Parliament. The police responded by beating and arresting many protesters. A complaint has been lodged against the Delhi police for assaulting priests and nuns…

Pope: Human trafficking a crime against humanity (VIS) Trafficking in human beings, a real form of slavery which affects all countries, including the most developed, was the theme chosen by Pope Francis in his address to 16 new non-resident ambassadors and one diplomatic representative to the Holy See. The Holy Father spoke about the numerous initiatives undertaken by the international community to promote peace, dialogue, cultural relations, politics and economics, as well as aid to populations affected by difficulties of various types, and went on to consider the question of trafficking in human beings which “affects the most vulnerable people in society: women, children, the disabled, the poorest and those who come from situations of family or social disintegration…”

Safety of journalists in Syria under the spotlight (Vatican Radio) Major news organizations are becoming increasingly concerned about the safety of journalists reporting in Syria. Thirteen news outlets have sent a letter to the leadership of the armed opposition in Syria, calling for urgent action against rebel groups increasingly targeting journalists for kidnappings. The letter is in response to a sharp rise in the number of journalists while on assignment in opposition-held areas in northern Syria. Many of the abduction cases go unreported at the request of families or employers in the hope that keeping the kidnappings out of public view may help with negotiating the captives’ release…

For Syrian refugees in Lebanon, winter brings challenges (Washington Post) The United Nations said Wednesday that it is “extremely concerned” for Syria’s refugees as snow and freezing temperatures descended on the region. Syria and the countries that border it have been bracing for what is expected to be the worst winter storm in years. Snow hit some areas of Lebanon, Turkey and northern Syria overnight Tuesday as sharp winds and cold, heavy rains battered others, causing misery for hundreds of thousands in camps and shanties. In Lebanon, despite the wintry conditions, the flow of Syrians fleeing the war is unrelenting…

E.U. official: Ukraine’s Yanukovych will sign trade deal (USA Today) A European Union official said Thursday that Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych intends to sign an agreement with the European Union, but some of those protesting in support of the deal said that won’t stop their demonstrations. “If the deal is signed now, I won’t leave the protest,” said Dmitry Zhuk, 24, a Kiev resident who has joined the protests after his workday almost every day since they started last month. “I don’t think anyone will leave.” Experts and the protesters themselves said that in the wake of a violent crackdown that broadened the protesters’ demands, they are unlikely to immediately disperse. “At first, it was indeed the protest for signing the association agreement with E.U., but after what happened — all the force used against protesters — only someone who is completely ignorant can say, ’O.K., now everything will change to the best’ and go home,” Mr. Zhuk said…

Ethiopian-born Israeli lawmaker spurned at blood-collection drive (Al Jazeera) The speaker of Israel’s parliament ordered a blood-collection crew to leave the legislature’s premises on Wednesday after it turned down an offer of a blood donation from an Ethiopian-born lawmaker. Knesset member Pnina Tamano-Shata, 32, wanted to donate blood to a routine visit by an ambulance service but was told by a member of the crew that set criteria disqualified her because she emigrated to Israel from Ethiopia at age 3. “Under health ministry directives, we are unable to accept blood from donors of Ethiopian Jewish origin,” the health official was reported to have said as he spurned the donation. Israeli President Shimon Peres expressed disgust at the incident, saying: “There must not be any differentiation between Israeli people’s blood. All Israel’s citizens are equal…”

Tags: Ukraine Refugees Indian Christians human trafficking Dalits

11 December 2013
Greg Kandra

The cover of Time magazine’s Person of the Year issue, featuring Pope Francis. (photo: CNS/Time Inc., handout via Reuters)

This morning, Time magazine named Pope Francis its Person of the Year—the third pope, following Blessed John XXIII and Blessed John Paul II, to earn that distinction.

CNS reports:

Pope Francis is not seeking fame or accolades, but being named Time magazine’s Person of the Year will make him happy if it helps attract people to the hope of the Gospel, said the Vatican spokesman.

“It’s a positive sign that one of the most prestigious recognitions in the international press” goes to a person who “proclaims to the world spiritual, religious and moral values and speaks effectively in favor of peace and greater justice,” said the spokesman, Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi.

The choice of Pope Francis “is not surprising, given the wide appeal and huge attention” to his pontificate so far, Father Lombardi said in a written statement on 11 Decemberr, shortly after Time announced it had named the pope for the annual feature.

“Rarely has a new player on the world stage captured so much attention so quickly — young and old, faithful and cynical — as has Pope Francis,” Time said on its website. “With a focus on compassion, the leader of the Catholic Church has become a new voice of conscience.”

Blessed John Paul II was named Person of the Year in 1994 and Blessed John XXIII in 1962.

Other past honorees include several U.S. Presidents, Mahatma Gandhi, Adolf Hitler, Josef Stalin and Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook. The magazine says the title goes to the person or idea that “for better or worse ... has done the most to influence events of the year.”

In explaining the choice, Time writer Nancy Gibbs notes:

Rarely has a new player on the world stage captured so much attention so quickly—young and old, faithful and cynical—as has Pope Francis. In his nine months in office, he has placed himself at the very center of the central conversations of our time: about wealth and poverty, fairness and justice, transparency, modernity, globalization, the role of women, the nature of marriage, the temptations of power.

At a time when the limits of leadership are being tested in so many places, along comes a man with no army or weapons, no kingdom beyond a tight fist of land in the middle of Rome but with the immense wealth and weight of history behind him, to throw down a challenge. The world is getting smaller; individual voices are getting louder; technology is turning virtue viral, so his pulpit is visible to the ends of the earth. When he kisses the face of a disfigured man or washes the feet of a Muslim woman, the image resonates far beyond the boundaries of the Catholic Church. …

For pulling the papacy out of the palace and into the streets, for committing the world’s largest church to confronting its deepest needs and for balancing judgment with mercy, Pope Francis is Time’s 2013 Person of the Year.

Tags: Pope Francis Pope Pope John Paul II

11 December 2013
J.D. Conor Mauro

Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky’s ecumenical legacy lives on in the Sheptytsky Institute of Eastern Christian Studies, in St. Paul University, Ottawa, Canada. (video: Sheptytsky Institute)

Russian government brands 113-year-old Sheptytsky sermon ‘extremist’ (Christian Today) Russian officials from the Meshchansky District Court in Moscow recently labeled the text of a sermon preached in 1900 by Ukrainian Greek Catholic Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky as “extremist.” This means its distribution is banned all across Russia and ownership of it can now result in criminal prosecution, according to a report by Forum 18 news agency. Archbishop Sheptytsky is currently a candidate for Sainthood in the Catholic Church because of his work in rescuing Jews from the Nazis. The sermon in question, which is entitled “The True Faith” (”Pravdiva Vira,” in its original language), was one of 16 Ukrainian-language texts initially deemed “extreme” by the Meshchansky District Court back in March this year. Ownership of this text could now result in a jail sentence of three years, and a fine of 300,000 Rubles (around $9,000)…

Archbishop: Inciting Christians to take up arms is ‘insane’ (Fides) “As men of the church, we cannot incite Christians to take up arms and to take part in the conflict. We cannot say these things. It is insane. It goes against the Gospel and the Christian doctrine,” said Syriac Catholic Archbishop Jacques Behnan Hindo of the eparchy of Hassake-Nisibis. His words are a response to recent statements made by Greek Orthodox Bishop Lukas al Khoury, according to whom “every young Christian in a position to do so should take up arms to protect Syria, churches and convents.” Archbishop Jacques adds: “We are against violence, from whatever side it comes. … Moreover, such reckless statements put Christians in danger of becoming targets of violence…”

Pan-Orthodox gathering in Munich (Serbian Orthodox Church) On the feast day of the Presentation of the Most Holy Theotokos, Serbian Orthodox Patriarch Irinej celebrated the Divine Liturgy in the church of St. Jovan Vladimir in Munich. Concelebrating were Russian Orthodox Archbishop Marko of Berlin, Romanian Orthodox Metropolitan Seraphim of Central and Northern Europe and Antiochene Orthodox Bishop Sophian of Kronstadt…

Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church issues statement on events in Kiev (Vatican Radio) “We are profoundly disturbed by the actions of the state security forces on the Maydan Square in heart of Kiev, conducted under the cover of the night.” In a statement issued Wednesday, the Permanent Synod of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church has strongly denounced the police action against protestors in Kyiv’s “Independence Square.” The statement, signed by Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk and the members of the permanent synod, condemned “the action directed towards restricting civil liberties, especially the freedom of expression and peaceful civic manifestation of the citizens of Ukraine…”

Lebanon worries housing will incentivize Syrian refugees stay (New York Times) The modest shelter housing some Syrian refugees here, a few hundred yards south of the border with Syria, hardly looks objectionable. Made of plywood walls on a concrete foundation of some 250 square feet, with one door, two windows and a corrugated zinc roof, the squat structure is called a “box shelter.” But Lebanon has banned box shelters, regarding them as a threat to this already fragile nation. In the eyes of the Lebanese, the box shelters, made by the Danish Refugee Council, look too permanent and could encourage the Syrians to stay. Of the many factors complicating the world’s response to the Syrian refugee crisis, perhaps none are more peculiar to the Middle East than Lebanon’s deep-seated fear of permanence…

Pope Francis: Person of the Year (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has been named Time Magazine’s Person of the Year for 2013. He is the third Catholic pontiff to receive this honor, after John XXIII in 1962 and John Paul II in 1994…

Tags: Pope Francis Ukraine Syrian Civil War Russia Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church

10 December 2013
Greg Kandra

Children in the Tigray region of Ethiopia, such as 13-year-old Tiblets Gebray, suffer from chronic malnurishment and depend on outside support during lean years. (photo: Petterik Wiggers)

Pope Francis is helping to launch a “wave of prayer,” drawing attention to the plight of starving people around the world:

People must stand united against the scandal of hunger while avoiding food waste and irresponsible use of the world’s resources, Pope Francis said.

People should “stop thinking that our daily actions do not have an impact on the lives of those who suffer from hunger firsthand,” he said in a video message on 9 December, launching a global campaign of prayer and action against hunger.

Organized by Caritas Internationalis, the Vatican-based federation of Catholic charities, a global “wave of prayer” was to begin at noon on 10 December on the South Pacific island of Samoa and head west across the world’s time zones.

Pope Francis offered his blessing and support for the “One Human Family, Food For All” campaign in a video message released on the eve of the global launch.

With about one billion people still suffering from hunger today, “we cannot look the other way and pretend this does not exist,” he said in the message.

There is enough food in the world to feed everyone, he said, but only “if there is the will” to respect the “God-given rights of everyone to have access to adequate food.”

By sharing in Christian charity with those “who face numerous obstacles,” the pope said, “we promote an authentic cooperation with the poor so that, through the fruits of their and our work, they can live a dignified life.”

In the Autumn edition of ONE, we reported on efforts to eradicate hunger among students in one corner of Ethiopia. There remains much to be done. To learn what you can do in that part of the world to answer the pope’s plea, visit our Ethiopia giving page.

Tags: Pope Francis Ethiopia Children Prayers/Hymns/Saints Hunger

10 December 2013
J.D. Conor Mauro

In this 2007 photo, Mother Bellegia Shayaf, superior of the Antiochene Orthodox Monastery of St. Tekla in Maaloula, walks to lunch with one of the 20 orphaned girls in the care of her community. (photo: Mitchell Prothero/Polaris)

Ban appeals for safety of missing Orthodox Christian nuns in Syria (U.N. News Center) Secretary General Ban Ki-moon today appealed for the safety of 12 nuns who went missing from a convent in the Syrian town of Maaloula and all those who may be detained against their will in the strife-torn nation. Mr. Ban’s spokesperson said in a statement that the secretary general remains “deeply troubled” by the targeting of places of worship and religious representatives in Syria’s conflict…

U.N. to deliver aid to Syria via Iraq (New York Times) United Nations relief agencies are preparing to make their first deliveries of aid from Iraq to Syria this week but it remains unclear whether this will prove a regular channel of assistance, the U.N. refugee agency said on Tuesday. An airlift of 12 flights using Russian-built Ilyushin cargo aircraft is to start on Thursday and last until Sunday delivering food and other assistance from Iraq to Kurdish areas of Syria’s northeastern Hassake province, according to Amin Awad, the director of the Middle East and North Africa bureau at the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees…

‘Historic’ water deal signed by Israel, Jordan and Palestinians (Al Jazeera) Israel, Jordan and the Palestinians signed a historic water-sharing initiative at the World Bank in Washington on Monday. The deal capped 11 years of water negotiations, and came as the United States continues to push a new effort to forge a peace deal between Israelis and Palestinians. The project envisions a new desalination plant at Aqaba, where Jordan meets the Red Sea, as the linchpin of a sharing deal involving Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian government in the West Bank. Advocates say the project could protect water resources in the region amid rising demand, a continuing political impasse between Israelis and Palestinians, and concerns that climate change could threaten supplies…

F.A.O.: Waste denies human right to food (Vatican Radio) About one-third of all food produced is not eaten and, if food waste continues along this track, about 60 per cent more food will have to be produced by 2050 to meet the world’s food needs, says the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization. But Robert van Otterdijk, agro-industry officer at the F.A.O., says such over-production can be kept at bay and the environment protected by simply reducing food waste. Mr. van Otterdijk says food waste is high on the world political agenda. To that end, the F.A.O. has gathered more than 150 organizations, whose mission is to reduce food loss and waste, for a two-day meeting in Rome. The groups will discuss ways to streamline initiatives and coordinate their efforts…

Church and people in Ukraine demand autonomy from Moscow (AsiaNews) As people of Ukraine continue street protests demanding integration with Europe and autonomy from Moscow, local Orthodox church leaders have openly taken sides in favor of the protesters, appealed for autocephaly, or independence from other churches. The positions of Patriarch Filaret, the 84-year-old head of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church’s Kievan Patriarchate, may find an unreceptive audience in Moscow…

Tags: Ukraine Sisters United Nations Hunger Ukrainian Orthodox Church

9 December 2013
Greg Kandra

Protesters gather around small bonfires lit throughout the main square in Kiev. (photo: Ken Nowakowski)

The dramatic standoff in Ukraine has intensified, with protesters yesterday toppling a statue of Lenin in Kiev and riot police taking to the streets.

A few days ago, Carl Hétu, national director for CNEWA Canada, received an email from Bishop Ken Nowakowski, Ukrainian Greek Catholic bishop of New Westminister, Canada. He is in Kiev and described the scene:

It is out of this world. … It is cold, but hearts are warm. It is somewhat scary, yet one feels among family.

The Ukrainian [Greek] Catholic Church has set up a little tent chapel with priests on hand and prayers being offered, very near the spot where the students were brutally clubbed by the Special Forces last weekend. There are tens of thousands out throughout [Independence] Square and the streets.

Keep us all in your prayers.

Tags: Ukraine Russia Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church Eastern Europe Kiev

9 December 2013
J.D. Conor Mauro

A man throws a flare in the direction of Interior Ministry members during a rally in Kiev, Ukraine, 1 December. (photo: CNS/Gleb Garanich, Reuters)

Ukraine police dismantle Kiev protest camps (BBC) Ukrainian police have begun dismantling protest camps in front of government buildings in Kiev. An opposition party said the police had also raided their headquarters. The protesters had been given until Tuesday to leave. No clashes have been reported. Opposition leaders urged supporters to defend Independence Square, the main protest site. The standoff follows weeks of unrest after a U-turn on a free-trade deal with the European Union. The protesters have given Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych 48 hours to dismiss the government and are demanding new elections for the presidency and government…

Ukraine protests: Why Moscow played hardball with Kiev (Christian Science Monitor) Earlier this year, Russia had, at least publicly, stayed out of the discussion of Ukraine moving closer to the E.U. Then, over the summer, the Ukrainian government began to put forward legislation demanded by the E.U. as a condition for signing an “association agreement,” which would have deepened ties between Kiev and Brussels. Moscow responded accordingly. In July, imports of chocolates from Ukraine were banned, due to “quality concerns.” A few weeks later, lengthy traffic backups started appearing along the two countries’ border, as Moscow imposed tough new inspections on Ukrainian goods ranging from steel to beer to railway cars and locomotives. “All of sudden, it becomes clear to the Kremlin that there was a possibility that the Ukrainians might sign [the agreements] … and the Kremlin elevated it to a geopolitical competition,” says Jan Techau, director of the Carnegie Europe Center…

Chaldean patriarch: The flame of hope lights up Christmas for Iraqi Christians (AsiaNews) In his Christmas message, Chaldean Patriarch Louis Raphael urges Christians to be steadfast and keep the faith alive even amid “suffering, anxiety and … considerable challenges.” Despite a difficult time for Iraq’s Christian minority, which has seen its size cut by half in the past ten years, the Chaldean leader expressed hope, thanking his community for their “perseverance,” and for the courage with which they bear witness to the “flame of hope,” following the example of Abraham…

Pope celebrates Mass with Egyptian patriarch (Vatican Radio) At his daily Mass on Monday, Pope Francis appealed for an end to division and hatred in the Holy Land and the Middle East. The Holy Father concelebrated the Mass with Coptic Catholic Patriarch Ibrahim Isaac on the occasion of the public manifestation of “ecclesiastical communion” between the patriarch and the successor of Peter. The pope spoke about his closeness to Egyptian Christians who are experiencing insecurity and violence, then renewed his appeal for religious liberty throughout the whole of the Middle East…

Syria nuns appear in video, deny kidnapping by rebels (Yahoo! News) A group of nuns from the historic Christian town of Maaloula in Syria denied they were kidnapped by rebels, in a video broadcast by Al Jazeera news channel on Friday. It was unclear who was filming the women or where they were. “A group brought us here and protected us, and we’re very happy with them,” one of the nuns said. An unidentified man asked the nuns questions, with several taking turns to speak. It was unclear if they were being pressured to talk, and some of the women bowed their heads as the camera turned to them. In the video, several of the nuns said they were in good health and that they fled Maaloula after intense shelling there…

Tags: Egypt Pope Francis Ukraine Sisters Russia

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 |