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Current Issue
September, 2019
Volume 45, Number 3
  
6 December 2019
Greg Kandra




In this image from 2017, Sheik Ahmad el-Tayeb, grand imam of al-Azhar University, greets Pope Francis at a conference on international peace in Cairo. The two religious leaders have just proposed a World Day of Fraternity to be observed at the United Nations.
(photo: CNS/L'Osservatore Romano via Reuters)


Pope, Grand Imam propose World Day of Fraternity (Vatican News) The request was delivered to the Secretary General of the United Nations, António Guterres, by the High Committee for Human Fraternity, established to promote the objectives of the Document on Human Fraternity. In addition to a World Day, the group also proposed a World Summit on Human Fraternity…

Filipino workers flock to leave Lebanon (Channel News Asia) Hundreds of Filipinos, most of them female domestic workers, flocked to their embassy in Lebanon on Thursday to sign up for free repatriation from the crisis-hit country. The embassy issued a statement linking its offer of a free ticket home to Lebanon’s free-falling economy...

Thousands protest Indian citizenship bill excluding Muslims (AP) More than 1,000 students marched Friday in India’s northeast against a bill approved by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government to grant citizenship to non-Muslim migrants from India’s three Muslim-majority neighbors. The marchers took to the streets of Gauhati, the Assam state capital, carrying placards opposing the bill that’s likely to be introduced in Parliament next week for approval…

Refugees in Ethiopia grow impatient for right to work (VOA) Home to Africa’s third-largest refugee population, Ethiopia won praise in January for passing a law giving 700,000 registered refugees and asylum-seekers who have fled conflict, drought and persecution the right to live outside 26 camps where they are currently hosted. But 11 months after the Refugee Proclamation was announced — allowing refugees and asylum-seekers to work, open bank accounts, legally register births and marriages, and attend primary school — Ethiopia has yet to pass further legislation to bring it to life…

Children at Indian school run race for safety of women (Vatican News) In the wake of rising crimes against women across India, a group of children in a remote village of northeast India ran a race on Wednesday calling for awareness and action to ensure the safety of women in the country…



Tags: India Lebanon Ethiopia Refugees Muslim

5 December 2019
Greg Kandra




Protests continue in the streets of Lebanon, after the announcement of a new candidate for Prime Minister (video: France 24/YouTube)

Lebanon to begin talks on forming new government (Al Jazeera) Consultations to form a new government in Lebanon will formally begin on Monday, the presidency has announced, more than a month after a wave of protests led the prime minister, Saad Hariri, to resign. ”The presidency has set Monday as the date for the parliamentary consultations” for the designation of a new prime minister, the presidency announced in a short statement on social media on Wednesday…

Catholic leaders urge investigation of hate crimes (CNS) The Assembly of Catholic Ordinaries of the Holy Land condemned vandalism attacks in two Arab villages and called on Israeli authorities to “investigate seriously” what they termed hate crimes. In addition to dozens of cars damaged and anti-Arab Hebrew graffiti spray painted on walls in the Arab town of Jaljulia in central Israel, graffiti was scrawled in Hebrew on a wall and a car was burned in the Palestinian town of Taybeh, east of Ramallah…

Turkish goods face boycott in northeast Syria (The Washington Post) A boycott of Turkish goods by Syrian Kurds was intended to express Kurdish anger with Turkey’s assault against their autonomous enclave — but has also revealed the extent of Kurds’ dependence on their bitterest foe…

India weighs religion-based citizenship bill for minorities (Reuters) India’s cabinet approved a bill on Wednesday to give citizenship to religious minorities persecuted in neighboring Muslim countries, the first time that the country is seeking to grant nationality on the basis of religion…

Coptic woman wins inheritance case in Egypt (The Brooklyn Tablet) Late last month, an Egyptian higher court granted a Coptic Christian woman equal inheritance with her brothers, overturning the rulings of two lower court judges. The verdict counters Sharia law, under which a woman receives only half the inheritance as male heirs do. Sharia law is the basis for much of Egyptian law, and so any ruling that upholds the rights of someone who belongs to a minority religion is potentially groundbreaking…



Tags: India Egypt Lebanon Arabs

4 December 2019
Greg Kandra




In this undated photo, Cardinal Konrad Krajewski, the papal almoner, is shown meeting refugees in Lesbos. He will be bringing more refugees to the Vatican next week. (photo: Vatican Media)

At Pope’s request, more refugees coming to Italy from Lesbos (Vatican News) Cardinal Konrad Krajewski left for Lesbos on Monday. This new mission follows that of last May and comes after the visit of Pope Francis to Lesbos in 2016. The Apostolic Almoner will return next Wednesday with a group of 33 refugees. Another 10 will arrive by the end of the year. Assistance for all of them will be provided by the Holy See and the Sant’Egidio Community…

To make sense of Lebanon’s protests, follow the garbage (The New York Times) The government’s inability to provide basic services, including 24-hour electricity and garbage collection, is rooted in an agreement that ended Lebanon’s civil war nearly 30 years ago. The deal divided power between the nation’s 18 recognized religious sects, effectively institutionalizing corruption, with each group able to dole out government jobs, contracts, favors and social services to its followers. The Lebanese have finally had enough of a system that has enriched the political elite while failing to build a stable economy or provide basics like reliable running water or consistent waste management…

In Syria, health workers risk becoming ‘enemies of the state’ (The New York Times) On Wednesday, Physicians for Human Rights, a group that has documented the collapse of Syria’s health care system, released a study asserting that over the course of the war, President Bashar al-Assad has successfully made medical assistance to his enemies a crime…

Explaining Kerala’s connection to ISIS (Indian Express) Security agencies estimate that some 100-120 individuals from Kerala either joined, or tried to join, ISIS. Some of them moved to Syria or Afghanistan from the Middle East, where they were employed; others migrated from Kerala. Even in 2018, when ISIS was largely in retreat in Syria and Iraq, 10-odd people from Kerala made the journey…

In Ethiopia, church forests are withstanding environmental destruction — but just barely (The New York Times) I grew up attending churches surrounded by parking lots and populated by congregations that didn’t connect their spirituality to ecology. So when I first heard about the church forests of Ethiopia, I was intrigued…



Tags: Ethiopia Refugees Kerala ISIS

2 December 2019
Greg Kandra




Iraqi demonstrators throw stones towards security forces during ongoing anti-government protests in Baghdad on 29 November 2019. Pope Francis said after the Angelus on 1 December he was concerned and saddened following two months of protests in Iraq that resulted in the deaths of hundreds of people. (photo: CNS/Khalid al-Mousily, Reuters)

Pope Francis laments violence against Iraqi protestors (Vatican News) At the Angelus prayer on Sunday, the Pope said he is following developments in Iraq “with concern.” ”I was saddened to learn that the protests in recent days have been dealt with harshly, leading to the death of dozens of victims,” he said. Pope Francis promised his prayers for the victims and his spiritual closeness to their families and all Iraqis. He also invoked “peace and harmony from God….”

Nearly 100 killed as fighting intensifies in Syria (The Telegraph) Regime forces and armed groups were locked in heavy clashes Monday on the edge of Syria’s last opposition bastion, with 96 fighters killed over two days, a war monitor said. The battles since Saturday on the edge of the jihadist-dominated Idlib region are the most deadly since a Russia-brokered ceasefire went into effect in late August, the Syrian Observatory for Human rights said…

Nearly $4 billion withdrawn from banks in Lebanon over unrest (Andalou Agency) Nearly $4 billion have been withdrawn from banks since September amid protests against economic woes, the country’s caretaker economy minister said. ” The bank withdrawals were prompted by fears of the confusing economic situation in the country,” Mansour Bteish told Al-Jadeed TV on Sunday...

Pope asks Catholics to set up, be enchanted by Nativity scene (CNS) A Nativity scene is a simple reminder of something astonishing: God became human to reveal the greatness of his love “by smiling and opening his arms to all,” Pope Francis said in a letter on the meaning and importance of setting up Christmas cribs. ”Wherever it is, and whatever form it takes, the Christmas creche speaks to us of the love of God, the God who became a child in order to make us know how close he is to every man, woman and child, regardless of their condition,” the pope wrote in his apostolic letter, “Admirabile Signum” (“Enchanting Image”)…



Tags: Iraq Pope Francis Lebanon

26 November 2019
Greg Kandra




In this image from 2018, a man is rescued from drowning after the opening of a dam following heavy rains on the outskirts of Cochin, India. Climate change is having a profound effect on life in India. (photo: CNS/Sivaram V, Reuters)

How climate change is radically affecting life in India (The New York Times) The monsoon is central to Indian life and lore.It turns up in ancient Sanskrit poetry and in Bollywood films. It shapes the fortunes of millions of farmers who rely on the rains to nourish their fields. It governs what you eat. It even has its own music. Climate change is now messing with the monsoon, making seasonal rains more intense and less predictable. Worse, decades of short-sighted government policies are leaving millions of Indians defenseless in the age of climate disruptions — especially the poor…

Second night of clashes in Lebanon amid anti-government protests (Al Jazeera) Clashes have erupted between protesters calling for an overhaul of the political system and supporters of the main Shia groups Hezbollah and Amal amid reports of gunfire in some parts of Lebanon, according to local media…

India proposes nationwide citizens list; Muslims fear persecution (DW.com) India’s Home Minister, Amit Shah, recently proposed creating a National Register of Citizens (NRC)for the entire country. Although Shah assured the Indian Parliament that no groups would face discrimination, resistance to the proposal has been mounting, with several Indian states describing it as a move to target and harass minorities…

Palestinians protest closure of institutions in East Jerusalem (Middle East Eye) Tens of Palestinians held a protest on Tuesday in the occupied city of East Jerusalem against Israel’s closure of several Palestinian institutions in the Old City. Israeli authorities closed down several institutions on 21 November, claiming that they are funded and belong to the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority (PA)…



Tags: India Lebanon Palestine

25 November 2019
Greg Kandra




Protests are continuing in Lebanon, including the one in the video above, marking Independence Day on Friday. (video: France24/YouTube)

Protestors, Hezbollah and Amal supporters clash in Beirut (Al Jazeera) Security forces fired tear gas early on Monday amid confrontations in central Beirut between supporters of Hezbollah and Amal, and demonstrators protesting against Lebanon’s political elite. Lebanon has faced five weeks of anti-government protests, fuelled by anger at corruption among the sectarian politicians who have governed the country for decades. Demonstrators want all of them gone from power…

Concern over rise of dark tourism in Syria (The Guardian) As President Bashar al-Assad tightens his grip on the remains of the opposition in the north-west, a handful of tour companies and travel bloggers catering to English-language customers have started running bespoke trips to the country to “mingle with locals while also passing destroyed villages,” visit archeological sites “shrouded in a coat of destruction” and “experience the famous cosmopolitan nightlife that has returned to the centre of Damascus…”

Bishop voices concern over anti-conversion law in India (Crux) A local bishop in India has voiced his objection to a proposed new anti-conversion law in the state of Uttar Pradesh. The Uttar Pradesh State Law Commission on Thursday submitted a report to Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath suggesting a new law to check “forcible religious conversions…”

Egyptian Coptic rights activist faces terror charges (AFP) An Egyptian Coptic rights activist is facing charges of joining a “terror” group and spreading misinformation, his lawyer confirmed Monday, amid a renewed crackdown on dissidents in the country. Ramy Kamel was arrested from his Cairo home early Saturday by seven plainclothes police officers, a member of his defence team, Atef Nazmy, told AFP…



Tags: Syria India Lebanon Coptic

22 November 2019
Greg Kandra




Pope Francis greets religious leaders during a meeting with Christian leaders and the leaders of other religions at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, Thailand, on 22 November 2019.
(photo: CNS photo/Paul Haring)


Pope tells Thai religious leaders to work for peace (Crux) Speaking to people from 18 different religions on Friday, Pope Francis said that the complex challenges of the world today — including globalization, the rapid advances of technology and the persistence of civil conflicts resulting in migration, refugees, famine and war — makes the need for cooperation between religions all the more pressing. ”These challenges remind us that no region or sector of the human family can look to itself or its future in isolation from or immune to others,” Francis said. “All these situations require us to be bold in devising new ways of shaping the history of our time without denigrating or insulting anyone…”

Parallel rallies in Lebanon draw protesters, leaders (AP) Lebanon’s top politicians made their first joint appearance Friday since massive anti-government protests erupted last month, attending a military parade for the country’s 76th Independence Day. Protesters gathered for alternative independence celebrations, converging by early afternoon on Martyrs’ Square in central Beirut, which used to be the traditional location of the official parade. Protesters have occupied the area, closing it off to traffic since mid-October…

Tawadros II opens world’s largest Coptic library (Egypt Independent) Pope Tawadros II of the Coptic Orthodox Church in Alexandria inaugurated on Tuesday the Central Papal Library in Wadi al-Natrun’s Saint Pishoy Monastery alongside other church officials. It is now considered to be the largest Coptic library in the world…

Ethiopia to launch first satellite next month (AP) Ethiopian officials say the country will launch its first ever satellite next month. It is the latest example of space ambitions by several African nations. The satellite was built in China and will be launched from a site there…



Tags: Lebanon Coptic Christians Interfaith Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros II

21 November 2019
Greg Kandra




Pope Francis visits with Somdej Phra Maha Muneewong, supreme patriarch of Buddhists, at the Wat Ratchabophit temple in Bangkok on 21 November 2019. (photo: CNS/Paul Haring)

Pope meets with Buddhist patriarch in Thailand (Vatican News) The first signs of dialogue between the Buddhist and Catholic traditions appeared half a century ago when the 17th Supreme Buddhist Patriarch visited Pope Paul VI in the Vatican. Pope Francis recalled that visit when he met with the present Supreme Buddhist Patriarch at the Wat Ratchabophit Sathit Maha Simaram Temple in Bangkok, on Thursday morning…

Pope: Mission is seeking family we don’t know yet (CNS) Missionaries are not mercenaries, but beggars who recognize that some brothers and sisters are missing from the community and long to hear the good news of salvation, Pope Francis told the Catholics of Thailand. Celebrating Mass on 21 November, the feast of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, in Bangkok’s National Stadium, Pope Francis looked at the meaning of what he calls “missionary discipleship…”

Fear, turmoil in Lebanon as financial crisis worsens (AP) On one of Beirut’s main commercial streets, store owners are cutting salaries by half or considering shutting down. Shops advertise sales, but still can’t draw in customers. The only place doing a thriving business: the store that sells safes, as Lebanese increasingly stash their cash at home. It’s a sign Lebanese fear their country’s financial crisis, which has been worsening for months, could tip over into disaster…

Vatican reiterates: two states needed in Holy Land (CNS)The Vatican reiterated its call for a two-state solution in the Holy Land after U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the United States would no longer recognize the illegality of Israeli settlements in the West Bank…

In secular India, it’s getting tougher to be a Muslim (CNN) India has a long history of sectarian violence, but over the past few years, there has been a rise in suspected hate crimes against Muslims, who make up roughly 200 million of the country’s 1.3 billion population…

Putin thanks Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill for maintaining peace (TASS) Russian President Vladimir Putin has wished a happy birthday to Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia and thanked him for his assistance to the government in maintaining interfaith peace. A meeting of the president and the head of the Russian Orthodox Church took place in the Patriarchal Chambers of the Moscow Kremlin on Wednesday…



Tags: India Pope Francis Lebanon Interreligious

19 November 2019
Greg Kandra




As Lebanon is engulfed in a massive protest movement, the Assembly of Catholic Patriarchs and Bishops of Lebanon gathered for its annual meeting 11-15 November 2019, at Bkerke, the Maronite Catholic patriarchate north of Beirut. The meeting was led by Lebanese Cardinal Bechara Rai, patriarch of the Maronite Catholic Church, second from left, and included other heads of religious orders. (photo: CNS/Mychel Akl for the Maronite patriarchate)

Lebanon Catholic leaders urge protestors to remain peaceful (CNS) While Lebanon continues to be engulfed in a massive protest movement, the country’s Catholic leaders called on demonstrators to be peaceful and civilized. In a 15 November statement at the end of its annual meeting, the Assembly of Catholic Patriarchs and Bishops of Lebanon hailed the “historic uprising” that has shaken the country since 17 October…

U.S. embassy in Jerusalem warns of Palestinian unrest (The Times of Israel) The US embassy in Jerusalem on Monday issued a travel warning for Americans planning to visit Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, warning of Palestinian unrest in light of Washington’s settlement policy shift announced earlier in the day. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that the US was softening its position on Israeli settlements in the West Bank, and repudiating a 1978 State Department legal opinion that held that they were “inconsistent with international law…”

After massacre, Ethiopia’s leader faces anger, and a challenger (The New York Times) Not long after security forces tried to arrest him in the middle of the night, Jawar Mohammed, a media baron and one of Ethiopia’s most prominent political activists, found himself face to face with Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, the man whose government ordered his arrest…

Pope meets Indian nun bringing hope to the destitute (Vatican News) Pope Francis on Monday received Indian nun Sister Lucy Kurien who has worked tirelessly for over 20 years giving shelter to destitute women, men and children in her country. Pope Francis knows Sister Lucy; they have met before in the Vatican because of her work to provide love, care and shelter to battered, exploited women, destitute men and street children. Sister Lucy is the Director and founder of Maher which she set up in Pune, the second largest city in the Indian state of Maharashtra in 1997…



Tags: India Lebanon Ethiopia

18 November 2019
Greg Kandra




In this undated photo, Pope Francis meets with Archbishop Gabriele Giordano Caccia, whom he named Saturday as the new Permanent Observer to the United Nations. (photo: Vatican Media)

Apostolic Nuncio to the Philippines to be Permanent Observer to the UN (Vatican News) Pope Francis on Saturday appointed Archbishop Gabriele Giordano Caccia as the new Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations. He succeeds Philippine Archbishop Bernardito Auza, who on 1 October 2019 was named by Pope Francis as Apostolic Nuncio to Spain and Andorra. Since 12 September 2017, Archbishop Caccia has been serving as Apostolic Nuncio to the Philippines. In 2009, Pope Benedict XVI appointed him Apostolic Nuncio to Lebanon…

UNICEF: Many children remain left behind (Vatican News) Although the world has made historic gains over the past three decades in improving children’s lives, urgent action is required if the poorest children are to feel the impact, says a new UN report published on 18 November…

Pope: Having a friend who is poor will help you get to heaven (CNS) The poor are the church’s treasure because they give every Christian a chance to “speak the same language as Jesus, that of love,” Pope Francis said, celebrating Mass for the World Day of the Poor. ”The poor facilitate our access to heaven,” the pope said in his homily on 17 November. “In fact, they open up the treasure that never ages, that which joins earth and heaven and for which life is truly worth living: love..”

Ethiopian human rights leader battles scant resources (Reuters) When Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed appointed a former political prisoner in July as head of the state-funded human rights commission, supporters hailed it as a sign the country might finally tackle abuses by security forces and move to break a cycle of bloody ethnic feuds. Now reality has hit…

India may attempt to land on the moon in 2020 (Space.com) Just months after a landing anomaly, India is hard at work pursuing another try at touching down on the moon, according to a news report…



Tags: India Ethiopia Poor/Poverty United Nations





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