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Current Issue
September, 2019
Volume 45, Number 3
  
11 October 2019
Greg Kandra




In this image from January, Pope Francis shakes hands with Abiy Ahmed, prime minister of Ethiopia, during a private audience at the Vatican. The Ethiopian prime minister was awarded the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize on 11 October. (photo: CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Ethiopia’s prime minister awarded Nobel Peace Prize (The New York Times) Abiy Ahmed, the prime minister of Ethiopia, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday, for his work in restarting peace talks with neighboring Eritrea, ending a long stalemate between the two countries. Mr. Abiy, 43, broke through two decades of frozen conflict between his vast country, Africa’s second most populous, and Eritrea, its small and isolated neighbor. When he became prime minister of Ethiopia in 2018, he threw himself at a breakneck pace into reforms at home, and peace negotiations with the rebel-turned-dictator Isaias Afwerki, president of Eritrea…

Turkey claims hundreds of ’terrorists’ killed in Syria (Bloomberg) President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he would “open the doors” for 3.6 million refugees currently in Turkey to seek shelter in Europe, should his country come under undue criticism. Erdogan’s threats on Thursday came a day after Turkish troops began a major incursion into northeastern Syria, drawing criticism from the U.S., many European nations and Arab states. The cross-border military offensive, code-named “Peace Spring,” resulted in deaths of hundreds of “terrorists” since it began on Wednesday, according to Turkey’s military…

Why strong monsoon rains are not good news for Indian farmers (India Today) India, one of the world’s biggest agricultural producers, experienced its heaviest monsoon rains in 25 years this year. While rain would normally cheer the agricultural heartland, the monsoon was erratic and has left many crops damaged…

The young women who share language in Jerusalem (Haaretz) Two years ago two women decided to try to expand their mutual circle of friends in Jewish and Arab neighborhoods of Jerusalem. They started a Facebook page where they proposed creating a women’s group in which Arab women would teach their Jewish counterparts Arabic and the Jewish women would teach the Arab women Hebrew…



Tags: Syria Ethiopia Turkey

10 October 2019
Greg Kandra




A multirocket launcher fires in an unknown location on 9 October 2019, in this still image from a video. Turkish warplanes have begun attacking northeastern Syria, causing widespread panic among Christian and other religious communities caught up in the aerial bombardments.
(photo: CNS/Turkish Defence Ministry via Reuters)


Turkish bombing causes panic about Christian community (CNS) Turkish warplanes have begun attacking northeastern Syria, causing widespread panic among Christian and other religious communities caught up in the aerial bombardments. ”Christians and others are extremely worried,” Syriac Christian political leader Bassam Ishak told the Catholic News Service by phone on 9 October. “The Turkish bombing seems designed to push people out of their towns, if, in fact, they manage to escape alive.” Ishak heads the Syriac National Council. A graduate of The Catholic University of America in Washington, he is also a member of the political bureau of the Syrian Democratic Council…

Archbishop of Aleppo condemns Turkish offensive in northeast Syria (Vatican News) The news on Wednesday afternoon that Turkish armed forces and Syrian rebel allies had launched a military attack “east of the Euphrates” has raised fears of a worsening humanitarian crisis and more civilian victims. In an interview with SIR news agency, Archbishop Jean-Clement Jeanbart said he fears “a slaughter and many innocent deaths…”

Pope prays after synagogue attack in Germany (Vatican News) Before concluding the Wednesday evening session in the Synod Hall, Pope Francis prayed for victims of the attack on the synagogue of Halle, in Germany. Two people died and several bystanders were injured in the attack, which took place on the Jewish holy day of Yom Kippur…

IDF nears completion of new Gaza border fortifications (The Times of Israel) Israel is nearing completion of new defense works being constructed on the Gaza border in response to weekly border riots, threats from anti-tank missiles and other terror attacks, according to a Channel 13 report broadcast on Wednesday. The project includes defenses against missiles and improved sniper posts, which have been better fortified, placed higher up and in more strategic locations…



Tags: Syria Gaza Strip/West Bank Turkey Jews

9 October 2019
Greg Kandra




Turkish troops have reportedly begun crossing into Syria. (video: Bloomberg/YouTube)

Kurds mobilize in Syria as Turkey is poised for attack (AP) The Kurdish-led civilian administration in northeastern Syria issued a “general mobilization” call along the Syrian border with Turkey on Wednesday as Ankara poised for an imminent invasion of the area in the latest major escalation in the war-ravaged country…

India’s Christians, Muslims face higher persecution (NCR) While most reported cases of persecution are against the country’s Muslim population, Christians have also come under attack. Jesuit Fr. Stanislaus Alla, theologian and professor at the Vidyajyoti College of Theology in Delhi, told NCR that the church in India was “paying the price for standing up for human rights.” Alla was on a trip to the United States to present a paper on public health in South Asia…

Syrian refugees issued more than 153,000 work permits in Jordan (The Jordan Times) The Ministry of Labor has issued over 153,000 permits for Syrian refugees since the beginning of 2016, a United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) official said. More than146,000 work permits were issued to male refugees and over 7,000 were issued to female Syrian refugees, according to UNHCR Spokesperson Lilly Carlisle. ”Male Syrian refugees work mostly in the agriculture and construction fields while women prefer to work in home-based activities,” Carlisle told The Jordan Times…

Ethiopia’s prime minister emerges as Nobel favorite (Reuters) The deal with Eritrea won Abiy Ahmed international plaudits. He is the bookmakers’ favorite to win a Nobel Peace Prize on Friday after climate activist Greta Thunder. But Abiy’s unpredictable style annoys some Ethiopians…



Tags: Syria India Ethiopia Turkey Persecution

8 October 2019
Greg Kandra




In this file photo, Pope Francis greets Riccardo Di Segni, the Chief Rabbi of Rome. The pope sent a message to the rabbi to mark the Jewish holy days. (photo: Vatican Media)

Pope sends wishes to Jews on their holy days (Vatican News) Pope Francis has sent a message to the Chief Rabbi of Rome, Riccardo Di Segni, on the occasion of the Jewish holy feasts of Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Sukkot. ”On the occasion of the solemn anniversaries of Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Sukkot, I am happy to offer you and the Jewish Community of Rome my sincere good wishes,” the Pope Francis wrote Rabbi Di Segni…

Turkey balks at Trump tweet warning to limit Syrian incursion (AP) Turkey will not bow to threats over its Syria plans, the Turkish vice president said Tuesday in an apparent response to President Donald Trump’s warning to Ankara the previous day about the scope of its planned military incursion into northeastern Syria. Mr. Trump said earlier this week the United States would step aside for an expected Turkish attack on Syrian Kurdish fighters, who have fought alongside Americans for years, but he then threatened to destroy the Turks’ economy if they went too far…

Pulling troops out of Syria could aid Assad and ISIS (The New York Times) Before dawn on Monday, at a military base in northeastern Syria, an American general delivered the bad news to his Syrian counterpart. The United States was going to allow Turkish forces to move into the area, leaving the Kurdish-led Syrian militia vulnerable. ”You are leaving us alone,” the Syrian commander, Mazlum Kobani, responded angrily, and accused the United States of complicity in a looming Turkish attack, according to a United States official and another person with knowledge of the meeting…

Imphal: a missionary Church in India’s northeast region (Vatican News) Archbishop Dominic Lumon of Imphal, the capital of Manipur state, was recently on his so-called “ad limina” visit to Rome, which bishops of dioceses around the world are required to make every five years or so. He noted that despite the remoteness and poverty of the North Eastern Region, people there have embraced Christ. Today, the Church of the region has many native bishops who are sending missionaries to other dioceses…

Portals to history and conflict: the gates of Jerusalem (Reuters) Jews, Muslims and Christians pass daily through the gates of Jerusalem’s Old City, on their way to and from prayers or simply to go about their everyday business in one of the most politically sensitive spots on earth. There are eight gates — seven are open and one is sealed — along the Old City walls that were built in the 16th century by Turkish sultan Suleiman the Magnificent…



Tags: Syria Jerusalem Turkey Jewish-Catholic relations

7 October 2019
Greg Kandra




In this image from July, young women row a makeshift raft past submerged houses in the flooded village of Karbi Anglong, India. Nearlyl 1,900 people reportedly were killed during this year's monsoon season in India. (photo: CNS/Anuwar Hazarika, Reuters)

Officials: nearly 1,900 killed during India’s monsoon season (NDTV) Nearly 1,900 people lost their lives and another 46 were reported missing this monsoon season in rains and floods which affected more than 25 lakh in 22 states, Union Home Ministry officials said on Friday. The highest 382 people died in Maharashtra, followed by 227 deaths in West Bengal in rains, floods and landslides that hit as many as 357 districts in the country…

Trump endorses Turkish military operation in Syria (The New York Times) In a major shift in United States military policy in Syria, the White House said on Sunday that President Trump had given his endorsement for a Turkish military operation that would sweep away American-backed Kurdish forces near the border in Syria…

Opening Synod, pope says fear, status quo smother God’s love (CNS) The Catholic Church’s mission in the world is to spread the fire of God’s love and must not be limited to the “‘ordinary maintenance’ of those who already know the Gospel,” Pope Francis said. Celebrating the opening Mass of the Synod of Bishops for the Amazon on 6 October, the pope said, “Jesus did not come to bring a gentle evening breeze, but to light a fire on the earth…”

Massive underground necropolis being built in Jerusalem (VOA) A massive, new underground necropolis is being built in Jerusalem to help overcome a looming shortage of grave sites for Jewish people in the holy city. The mile-long labyrinth, with 23,000 burial chambers lining the walls and ground, was tunneled into the hillside beneath Jerusalem’s main Jewish cemetery, Givat Shaul, which is quickly running out of space…



Tags: Syria India Turkey

4 October 2019
Greg Kandra




This aerial image from 2018 shows downtown Idlib, Syria. Shells hit a hospital in Idlib, wounding at least seven people. (photo: CNS/Ammar Abdullah, Reuters)

Syria: artillery shells hit hospital in Idlib (Al Jazeera) An artillery attack has hit a hospital in Syria’s rebel-held Idlib province, wounding seven people with one in a critical condition, according to a UK-based charity. Save the Children said artillery shells struck the southern wing of a health centre it supports on Thursday in the town of Maarat al-Numan in northwestern Syria…

Report: India witnessed worst rains, flooding in 25 years (Financial Express) Monsoon rains in the country stood at 10 percent above average this year and recorded the highest numbers in 25 years, the weather department said on Monday, adding that as seasonal rainfall went on longer than it was expected. In a country where the monsoon brings nearly 70 per cent of annual rainfall, the longer monsoon has wreaked havoc in several states killing hundreds of people due to flood…

Lebanon’s labor minister asks Syrian refugees to register newborns (Xinhua) Lebanese Labor Minister Camille Abousleiman called upon Syrian refugees on Friday to register their children who were born in Lebanon, a statement by his ministry said. ”Not registering children of Syrian refugees born in Lebanon will have negative effects on Syrians and the Lebanese,” he said…

Pope dedicates upcoming synod to Francis of Assisi (Vatican News) During a highly symbolic tree-planting ceremony in the Vatican Gardens on Friday, Pope Francis places the upcoming Synod for the Amazon under the protection of Saint Francis of Assisi…



Tags: Syria India Pope Francis

3 October 2019
Greg Kandra




In this image from 2014, Pope Francis kisses a cross during his weekly audience at the Vatican. The cross is made from wooden boards recovered from the wreckage of boats carrying migrants from northern Africa to Lampedusa, Italy. (CNS photo/L’Osservatore Romano via Reuters)

Remembering Lampedusa (Vatican News) On 3 October 2013 a migrant boat sank while sailing towards the Mediterranean island of Lampedusa. The final death toll is never to be known, but 194 bodies were recovered and 363 people were declared missing. “Never Again” said Europe, as leaders and institutions released a series of well-intentioned statements. Thus, 3 October was established as the National Day in Remembrance of the Victims of Immigration…

Lebanon slammed for deporting undocumented refugees (Al Jazeera) Lebanon is being criticized for its decision to send back Syrian refugees who arrived after April without proper documentation as another way of pressuring Syrians to return home. Human rights groups are accusing Lebanon of putting the lives of refugees in danger. Nearly 3,000 of them have been sent back in the past four months…

Syrian war refugees in Turkey face hardships reaching Europe (The Washington Post) Fleeing Syria’s eight-year civil war has always been a trial, full of risk and toil, but it has never felt as dangerous, as impossible, as it does these days. The shifting fortunes of the Syrian conflict pose new peril, while hostility to refugees is on the rise in neighboring states. Some Western countries have adopted immigration policies criticized as incoherent or simply cruel, as refugees, struggling to enter Europe, languish in teeming camps on the continent’s edge…

Christians pray for Gandhi on birth anniversary (UCANews.com) Hundreds of Christians from various denominations prayed together for India on 2 October, marking the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, father of the nation. Delhi Archdiocese organized an ecumenical program, Prayer for India, in New Delhi, recalling Gandhi’s ideals of peace and non-violence…

Looted Ethiopian crown resurfaces in Netherlands (The New York Times) In 1998, Sirak Asfaw, a Dutch civil servant who was born in Ethiopia, noticed something shiny in the suitcase of a guest who was staying at his house. Curious, he opened the case to find a glittering gilded crown inside. ”I couldn’t believe my eyes,” Mr. Sirak, who moved to the Netherlands a political refugee in the 1970s, said in a recent interview in Amsterdam…



Tags: Syria India Refugees Migrants Immigration

2 October 2019
Greg Kandra




Severe flooding has hit northern India, killing at least 100 people. (video: The Guardian/YouTube)

Severe flooding kills at least 100 in northern India (UCANews.com) Church people and institutions have been severely affected by floods in northern India that have killed some 100 people and displaced millions. At least 73 people were killed in Uttar Pradesh state and 29 in Bihar state in the rains and flooding that hit the region in the last week of September. Warnings of further rain and flooding have forced the Bihar government to order closure of schools and other education institutions until 3 October...

Pope names U.N. representative as nuncio to Spain (CNS) Pope Francis named Archbishop Bernardito Auza, who has represented the Vatican at the United Nations since 2014, to be nuncio to Spain and Andorra. The Vatican made the announcement on 1 October. It did not name a replacement as permanent observer of the Holy See to the United Nations…

Netanyahu’s corruption hearing opens in Jerusalem (The Telegraph) Benjamin Netanyahu’s lawyers began a last-ditch effort today to convince prosecutors not to bring criminal charges against the prime minister as his long-awaited corruption hearing opened in Jerusalem…

Ahead of Yom Kippur, remembering Mosul’s rich past (The Times of Israel) The newer, but still ancient, city of Mosul is located next to Nineveh in northern Iraq. ISIS, during its occupation of Mosul, deliberately destroyed many of the excavated remains of Nineveh. As a scholar of Islamic art, I know that such acts of deliberate, ideologically based destruction are unusual in Islamic history. Although today Mosul is famous outside of Iraq primarily as a site of conflict, its rich and diverse history forms an important legacy…



Tags: India Iraq Israel United Nations

1 October 2019
Greg Kandra




Pope Francis is marking the beginning of Extraordinary Mission Month, and the Vatican has just released the video above to underscore and illustrate the themes of the month.
(video: Rome Reports/YouTube)


Pope to begin Extraordinary Mission Month (Vatican News) Tuesday 1 October marks the beginning of the Extraordinary Missionary Month October 2019 inaugurated by Pope Francis in St. Peter’s Basilica with the celebration of Evening Vespers Prayers. The Extraordinary Missionary Month was called for by Pope Francis two years ago on World Mission Sunday…

Syria and Iraq open border crossing closed since 2012 (The Washington Post) Syria and Iraq announced the reopening of a border crossing between the two countries Monday, a step toward the normalization of Iraq’s relationship with its western neighbor and a boost to Iran, which will now have an open corridor into Syria…

Israel quietly lets in Gaza workers (AP) Israel is quietly allowing thousands of Palestinians to enter from the Gaza Strip to conduct business and work menial jobs, apparently as part of understandings with the ruling Hamas militant group aimed at preventing a fourth war in the blockaded territory…

Indian ambassador to Holy See: Gandhi still relevant (Vatican News) The world marks Mahatma’s Gandhi’s 150th birth anniversary on 2 October. On its eve, the Ambassador of India to the Holy See, Mr. Sibi George, participated in a day-long inter-faith event in the Vatican…



Tags: Syria India Pope Francis Evangelization

30 September 2019
Greg Kandra




Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state, speaks at the United Nations on 27 September 2019, during a high-level panel discussion on the future of persecuted Christians. Also pictured are Ambassador Katalin Annamaria Bogyay, Hungary’s permanent representative to the U.N., and Teodoro Lopez Locsin Jr., the Philippines’ secretary of foreign affairs.
(photo: CNS/Gregory A. Shemitz)


At United Nations: Concern that world is ‘ignoring’ persecuted Christians (CNS) Christians are the most persecuted religious group worldwide, but hypocrisy, political correctness and ignorance prevent the international community from implementing a comprehensive response to pervasive violence against them, said speakers at a U.N. event on 27 September. The participants in a high-level panel discussion said 80 percent of people killed because of their religious beliefs are Christian and the number of Christians hurt or displaced is on the rise…

Church celebrates Extraordinary Missionary Month in October (Vatican News) The Extraordinary Missionary Month was announced by Pope Francis to mark the 100th anniversary of Pope Benedict XV’s Apostolic Letter Maximum Illud. The theme chosen is “Baptized and Sent: The Church of Christ on Mission in the World”…

U.S. sees rising threat from Qaeda branch in Syria (The New York Times) American counterterrorism officials are voicing increased alarm about a Qaeda affiliate in Syria that they say is plotting attacks against the West by exploiting the chaotic security situation in the country’s northwest and the protection inadvertently afforded by Russian air defenses shielding Syrian government forces allied with Moscow…

Israel, Hamas working together on development projects for Gaza (Al-Monitor) Representatives of the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee for economic aid to the Palestinians convened in New York on 26 September for another round of talks on raising funds for the Palestinian Authority and the Gaza Strip. Prior to the conference, the United Nations issued an emergency report on the state of the PA and demanded immediate action on Gaza’s health system, on the verge of collapse. Its top priority is infrastructure development plans for Gaza, most of which Israel has authorized. Some are already being implemented but require additional funding to be completed…

Ethiopian Jews: next year in Jerusalem! (The Jerusalem Post) The remaining community of Ethiopian Jews sent a clear message to Israel in their Rosh Hashanah wish saying “Next Year in Jerusalem.” There are still Some 7,500 Ethiopian Jews living in Gondar and Addis Ababa…

Pope establishes ’Sunday of the Word of God’ each year (Vatican News) Pope Francis’ Apostolic Letter, Motu proprio “Aperuit illis,” published on 30 September, establishes that “the Third Sunday in Ordinary Time is to be devoted to the celebration, study and dissemination of the Word of God”…

Indian pilgrimage operator wins tourism award (Vatican News) At a ceremony marking World Tourism Day in New Delhi on 27 September, the International Pilgrimage Revolution (IPR) was honored in the Best Inbound Tour Operators category for 2017-2018…



Tags: Syria India Gaza Strip/West Bank Persecution





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