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Current Issue
September, 2018
Volume 44, Number 3
  
26 July 2018
Greg Kandra




In this image from last summer, a displaced Iraqi boy fills a bottle with water in Jada, Iraq. Iraqi Cardinal Louis Raphael Sako has issued a letter to his flock, asking them to promote harmony in their country. (photo: CNS/Suhaib Salem, Reuters) Caption

Iraqi cardinal appeals for citizens to come together (Vatican News) Recently appointed Iraqi Cardinal Louis Raphael Sako issued an appeal in a heart-felt letter to the citizens of Iraq this week. In his letter he asks for help from the people in order to promote harmony, unity and partnership in their country…

Death toll from ISIS attack in Syria climbs to 216 (AP) The death toll from coordinated attacks by Islamic State fighters on a usually peaceful southern Syrian city and surrounding countryside has climbed to 216, a local health official said Thursday, in the worst violence to hit the area since the country’s conflict began. Mass funerals were held in the city of Sweida on Thursday, a day after the wave of attacks that began in the early hours of the mourning and lasted for hours. The city was the scene of several suicide bombings, including one at a busy vegetable market that left a scene of devastation and set in motion the coordinated assaults…

Caste bias alleged at Indian relief camp (The Hindu) A group of people belonging to the Dalit community have alleged that they faced caste discrimination at a relief camp at Pallippad panchayat in Alappuzha district. Fifty-six members of the community, belonging to 23 families, registered a complaint with Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and District Collector S. Suhas, stating that members of the Christian community had humiliated them at a relief camp functioning at Anjilimoodu L.P. School. Mr. Suhas has ordered a probe into the complaint…

Thousands of Syrian refugees want to remain in Lebanon (The Daily Star) At least 30,000 Syrian refugees who fought against the Syrian army hope to remain in Lebanon, a representative of Russia’s Foreign Ministry said Tuesday…

Russian Orthodox patriarch hopes anniversary will bring peace to Ukraine (RT) The head of the Russian Orthodox Church has expressed hope that the forthcoming 1030th anniversary of Christianization of the Kievan Rus, and planned celebrations for the event, will help to overcome strife in Ukraine…



Tags: Syria Iraq Iraqi Christians ISIS

25 July 2018
J.D. Conor Mauro




The Musa family fled Bashiqa, Iraq, in 2014 in the face of ISIS attacks. The family lived in Dohuk, Iraq, for three years. (photo: CNS/courtesy Catholic Relief Services)

In Iraq, the threat to Assyrians remains (AINA) Thanks to the generosity of donors around the world, Christians are returning from internal exile, determined to keep their faith alive, despite extraordinary challenges. But we must not be complacent about the fundamental political problems threatening the existence of a religiously, racially and culturally diverse Iraq…

Priest in Gaza: ‘people living in fear of a new war’ (Vatican News) As tension continues to erupt in violent clashes on the border between Israel and Gaza, the living conditions in the Gaza Strip continue to deteriorate. A Catholic Parish Priest speaks of the desperation of the people, of the dwindling Christian community, and of the widespread fear of a possible new war…

Deadly attacks hit Syrian villages, city of Suweida (Daily Star Lebanon) ISIS militants killed about 100 people in a series of attacks on government-held parts of southwestern Syria Wednesday, official sources said…

Award given to priest and builder of bridges between Islam and Christianity (AsiaNews) The Rev. Samir Khalil Samir, an Egyptian Jesuit and internationally renowned scholar, is this year’s recipient of the special award of the Stephanus Foundation for Persecuted Christians. The Foundation, through its chairperson Michaela Koller, decided to honor Father Samir because of his service to the spiritual heritage of Arab Christians…



Tags: Syria Iraq Gaza Strip/West Bank Interreligious

24 July 2018
J.D. Conor Mauro




A Jahalin Bedouin man and his son are seen in a tent in Khan al Ahmar, West Bank, on 17 June. Israel's Supreme Court ruled in May in favor of demolishing the village, home to about 190 Jahalin Bedouin people. (photo: CNS/Debbie Hill)

U.N. denounces grave ‘assaults’ on fundamental rights of Palestinian people (U.N. News) From arbitrary detentions and deliberate deprivation, to attacks against civilians and forced displacements, the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, expressed “acute concerns” on Monday over the current human rights situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory…

Advancing technology unearths ‘lost city of ancient Israel’ (Al Monitor) A team of Israeli and American researchers is using cutting-edge technology to explore and document an obscure and inaccessible but increasingly significant archaeological site in central Israel…

Copts celebrate first liturgy in new church in seven years (Sight) Seven years after their previous church was closed by local authorities because of “security reasons”, the Coptic community in the Egyptian village of Kom El-Loufy, 250 kilometres south of Cairo, held a first Divine Liturgy in their new church on Sunday. The 1,600 Copts from the village in Minya governorate were marking the completion of the first stage of building of their church, the Church of the Virgin Mary and Martyr Abanoub al Nahisi…

Joy as two patriarchates of Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahdo Church unite (Borkena) Sources close to the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahdo Church say the Holy Synods in Ethiopia and the United States reached agreement to unite which may mean that Abune Merkorios could return home soon after over two decades. An agreement has been reached which means that there will no longer be two patriarchates hereafter; the two holy synods will unite to form a single one which was the case for millennia before TPLF took control of power in Addis Ababa in 1991…

Israel shoots down Syrian fighter jet over Golan Heights (Al Jazeera) The Israeli army said it shot down a Syrian fighter jet that allegedly crossed into the occupied Golan Heights as heavy fighting continued between the Syrian military and the last rebel holdouts in the country’s southwest…

Christians in India observe Martyrdom Day (UCAN India) Christians of different denominations across India remembered those killed for their faith with prayers on 22 July. Christian groups, mostly Pentecostal and Protestant churches, observed Indian Christian Martyrdom Day praying for those killed mostly by Hindu hardliners…



Tags: India Egypt Israel United Nations Ethiopian Orthodox Church

23 July 2018
J.D. Conor Mauro




Iraqi youth pose with Syriac Catholic Patriarch Ignatius Joseph III on 22 July during a gathering at Our Lady of Light convent in Faytroun, Lebanon. (photo: CNS/courtesy Syriac Catholic patriarchate)

First international convention of young Syriac Catholics held in Lebanon (Fides) The words of Jesus’ invitation, “Come and See,” are the guiding thread of the first Syriac Youth International Convention, which took place in Lebanon this weekend. The conference, said Syriac Catholic Patriarch Ignatius Joseph III, was intended as an opportunity to share with the young Syriac Catholics from all over the world the hope “for the renewal of the Christian community in the Holy Spirit…”

Maronite Patriarch: Law on Jewish state excludes Christians and Muslims (AsiaNews) The new Israeli law defining the country as “the nation-state of the Jewish people” is unacceptable, says Maronite Catholic Patriarch Bechara Peter, because of its exclusion of Christians and Muslims, among others. The church leader denounced the law as “ignoble, anti-democratic and anti-pluralist…”

Essential services on verge of shutdown in Gaza as emergency fuel set to run out (U.N. News) Supplies of emergency fuel provided by the United Nations for critical facilities in Gaza are being fast depleted, a senior U.N. relief official there warned on Sunday. “At least one hospital has been forced to shut down for a few hours, and services are being dramatically reduced at others,” said Jamie McGoldrick, the Humanitarian Coordinator for the Occupied Palestinian Territory…

Indian state accused of harassing Christians (UCAN India) A Catholic leader has sought Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s intervention to stop harassment of Christians after Jharkhand state ordered a probe into the funding of more than 80 Christian organizations. Modi’s pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party, which has run Jharkhand’s government since 2014, has been accused of moving against the Christian community, with police arresting nuns, priests and lay Christians on trumped-up charges…

East African bishops applaud Eritrea, Ethiopia peace process (CNS) The bishops of East Africa praised the peace efforts that brought an end to the two-decade war between Eritrea and Ethiopia. In a statement 22 July, the Association of Member Episcopal Conferences in Eastern Africa, known by the acronym AMECEA, said the steps taken by the leaders of both countries “show that Africans have the wisdom to solve their own problems amicably…”



Tags: India Lebanon Gaza Strip/West Bank Israel Maronite Patriarch Bechara Peter

20 July 2018
Greg Kandra




In this image from 2017, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres smiles as he visits with Syrian refugee women at Zaatari camp near Mafraq, Jordan. Jordan closed its border this year and refused to admit any more refugees, sparking a dramatic public backlash. (photo: CNS/Ammar Awad, Reuters)

Jordan shut out refugees — and then saw a backlash (The Washington Post) Over the past month, fighting in southern Syria has displaced more than 300,000 people — the most at any one time in Syria’s nearly seven-year civil war. More than 60,000 of these Syrians fled south, hoping to find safety in Jordan. But Jordan’s government closed the border and refused to let them in, claiming the country has already done enough to help Syrian refugees. Many Jordanians reacted angrily to the government’s position — #OpenTheBorders became a top trending Twitter hashtag in the country as people called the decision shameful and vowed to share their bread with the refugees…

India court steps in to try and contain mob violence (UCANews.com) India’s Supreme Court has asked parliament to introduce a new law to curb a dramatic spike in mob attacks and lynching incidents. The top court on 17 July directed states to set up special or fast-tracked courts to conduct trials of lynching perpetrators. It also wanted lower courts to hand down the maximum punishment for crimes involving mob attacks…

Israeli law declares the country a ’nation-state of the Jewish people’ (The New York Times) Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel has long demanded that the Palestinians acknowledge his country’s existence as the “nation-state of the Jewish people.” On Thursday, his governing coalition stopped waiting around and pushed through a law that made it a fact. In an incendiary move hailed as historic by Mr. Netanyahu’s right-wing coalition but denounced by centrists and leftists as racist and anti-democratic, Israel’s Parliament enacted a law that enshrines the right of national self-determination as “unique to the Jewish people” — not all citizens…

Italian bishops warn against culture of fear that rejects migrants (Vatican News) A statement released on Thursday by the Italian Bishops’ Conference warns against a current climate of fear in the country that has led to a political crackdown against immigration. The statement, entitled “Migrants, from fear to welcome” notes that we are becoming accustomed to images of an ongoing tragedy in which so many die or witness death during their journeys of hope…

Artist brings Jewish figures to life with paper (The Jerusalem Post) King David, a crusader queen, and Suleiman the Magnificent—these are just some of the ancient figures that have been brought to life by Karen Sargysan. The famed Dutch-Armenian artist spent months creating a series of colorful aluminum sculptures of a slew of historical and biblical characters who helped shape Jerusalem’s history. They are on display at “Rock, Paper, Scissors,” a new exhibition at the Tower of David Museum, which is located in the Old City of Jerusalem…



Tags: India Jerusalem Jordan Migrants

19 July 2018
Greg Kandra




People form a human chain in India's Jharkhand state on 15 July to protest what they say is state-sponsored harassment of Christians. (photo: UCANews.com)

Climate change is killing the cedars of Lebanon (The New York Times) After centuries of human depredation, the cedars of Lebanon face perhaps their most dangerous threat: Climate change could wipe out most of the country’s remaining cedar forests by the end of the century…

Syrian media: two pro-government villages evacuated (AP) All the residents of two Syrian pro-government villages in the country’s northwest — over 7,000 people — who were besieged by the rebels for three years were evacuated on Thursday to government-held territory, Syria’s state-run media reported…

Thousands protest harassment of Christians in India (UCANews.com) About 10,000 Christians in eastern India’s Jharkhand state formed a 20-kilometer [about 12 miles] human chain to protest what they call the state-sponsored harassment of Christians and a hate campaign against them. The mostly indigenous Christians say their government, run by the pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), has developed policies to take away their rights and land…

More Syrian refugees to leave Lebanon (The Daily Star) Two more groups of Syrian refugees will return to their homeland from Lebanon in the “next few days,” General Security chief Abbas Ibrahim said Thursday. ”The first group of about 1,000 [refugees] will leave from Arsal,” Ibrahim said to LBCI. Earlier Thursday, during a ceremony marking the opening of a security building in Baalbeck, Ibrahim said a security plan in the Bekaa Valley would serve the people. “They have their rights, [which] they will receive,” he said…

Emotional reunion of Ethiopian and Eritrean families (Borkena.com) The burden of Ethio-Eritrea conflict was heavy on some families. Families have lost loved ones as more than 80,000 people were killed on both sides during the two years war. But there were also families who were condemned to live separately until the rapprochement initiated by the prime minister Abiy Ahmed brought about peace between the two countries after 20 years of stalemate…



Tags: Syria Lebanon Ethiopia Indian Catholics

19 July 2018
Greg Kandra




People form a human chain in India's Jharkhand state on 15 July to protest what they say is state-sponsored harassment of Christians.

Climate change is killing the cedars of Lebanon (The New York Times) After centuries of human depredation, the cedars of Lebanon face perhaps their most dangerous threat: Climate change could wipe out most of the country’s remaining cedar forests by the end of the century…

Syrian media: two pro-government villages evacuated (AP) All the residents of two Syrian pro-government villages in the country’s northwest — over 7,000 people — who were besieged by the rebels for three years were evacuated on Thursday to government-held territory, Syria’s state-run media reported…

Thousands protest harassment of Christians in India (UCANews.com) About 10,000 Christians in eastern India’s Jharkhand state formed a 20-kilometer [about 12 miles] human chain to protest what they call the state-sponsored harassment of Christians and a hate campaign against them. The mostly indigenous Christians say their government, run by the pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), has developed policies to take away their rights and land…

More Syrian refugees to leave Lebanon (The Daily Star) Two more groups of Syrian refugees will return to their homeland from Lebanon in the “next few days,” General Security chief Abbas Ibrahim said Thursday. ”The first group of about 1,000 [refugees] will leave from Arsal,” Ibrahim said to LBCI. Earlier Thursday, during a ceremony marking the opening of a security building in Baalbeck, Ibrahim said a security plan in the Bekaa Valley would serve the people. “They have their rights, [which] they will receive,” he said…

Emotional reunion of Ethiopian and Eritrean families (Borkena.com) The burden of Ethio-Eritrea conflict was heavy on some families. Families have lost loved ones as more than 80,000 people were killed on both sides during the two years war. But there were also families who were condemned to live separately until the rapprochement initiated by the prime minister Abiy Ahmed brought about peace between the two countries after 20 years of stalemate…



Tags: Lebanon Ethiopia Indian Christians Eritrea

18 July 2018
Greg Kandra




Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (left) and Eritrean President Isaias Afworki open a new embassy in Addis Ababa on Monday. (photo: Vatican Media/AFP)

Eritrean archbishop describes new peace accord as a miracle (Vatican News) ”First of all, I was impressed by this young Ethiopian Prime Minister who accepted the decision of the Border Commission unconditionally. This was key because Eritrea accepted it 16 years ago,” said the Metropolitan Archbishop of the Archeparchy of Asmara, Menghesteab Tesfamariam. He was speaking with Vatican News on Wednesday. The Archbishop added, “It is like a miracle after twenty years of ‘no war, no peace’ situation that has held us like hostages in a way. To hear this (Eritrean delegation in Addis Ababa), I think the people of Eritrea and the people in Ethiopia are overjoyed. The news itself was already something great,” he said…

Pro-Assad villages being evacuated in Syria (Vatican News) The villages of al-Foua and Kefraya have remained loyal to President Assad. But now, as a long-time siege by insurgents tightens, its residents are being evacuated. Around 6,000 people will leave the area on 88 buses in a deal brokered by rebels and Iranian-backed forces. Reports suggest 1,800 rebel prisoners being held in Damascus are being released in exchange for the evacuation…

ISIS making a comeback in Iraq (The Washington Post) The Islamic State is creeping back into parts of central Iraq just seven months after the government declared victory in the war against the group, embarking on a wave of kidnappings, assassinations and bombings that have raised fears that a new cycle of insurgency is starting again…

India named the most dangerous place for women (UCANews) After a recent survey found India to be the most dangerous place in the world for women to live, rights activists are calling on the government to take action to make the country a safer place for half of the population. The survey, released by the London-based Thomson Reuters Foundation on 26 June, cited the high risk of sexual violence and slave labor that Indian women face…

Young musicians serve as a ’bridge of dialogue’ in Jerusalem (CNS) Eleven young musicians from Jerusalem and the West Bank had the opportunity to show U.S. audiences that music can be a bridge across cultural divides during a brief tour of the Washington-Baltimore area…



Tags: Syria Ethiopia Eritrea ISIS

17 July 2018
Greg Kandra




Cardinal Berhaneyesus Souraphiel, Archbishop of Addis Ababa, leads a press conference following a meeting of local bishops. He paid tribute to Catholic relations with the Orthodox in Ethiopia. (photo: Vatican Media)

In Syria, civilians killed in airstrike on shelter (AP) On Tuesday, at least 10 civilians were killed when a suspected Russian airstrike hit a school that serves as a shelter in the village of Ain el-Tineh in Quneitra countryside, about 7 kilometers (4 miles) from the Israeli frontier, according to a Syrian search and rescue team…

Sisters provide aid, support to refugees in Jordan (Global Sisters Report) In many ways, sisters are uniquely positioned to provide this kind of case-by-case assistance, because they are integrated with the community and have a familiarity with Catholic organizations providing aid. In Zarqa, a suburb of Amman, Dominican Sisters of St. Catherine of Siena run the Pontifical Mission Mother of Mercy Clinic, which provides prenatal care and vaccines for more than 1,000 people every month…

Ethiopian Catholic Church praises relations with Orthodox (Vatican News) Officially opening the Plenary Assembly meeting in Ethiopia, AMECEA Chairman, Cardinal Berhaneyesus Souraphiel, the Metropolitan Archbishop of Addis Ababa, paid glowing tribute to relations between the Catholic Church in Ethiopia and the Orthodox Church…

Vatican Media renews desire to collaborate with East African bishops (Vatican News) On Sunday, the new Prefect for the Dicastery for Communications sent a message to the Bishops of AMECEA gathered in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, for their 19th Plenary Assembly. ”I could not let this opportunity pass me by”, begins Dr Paolo Ruffini, the new Prefect of the Dicastery for Communication…

Remembering the tsar and his family on the 100th anniversary of their executions (Radio Free Europe) Fresh genetic tests on the bones of Russia’s last tsar and his family have confirmed their authenticity, Russian investigators announced on the eve of the 100th anniversary of their executions. Russia’s Investigative Committee, which looks into serious crimes, announced on 16 July that the tests ordered by the Russian Orthodox Church “confirmed the remains found belonged to the former Emperor Nicholas II, his family members, and members of their entourage…”

How a Ukrainian Church in Rome unites Ukrainians (Vatican News) Santa Sophia Cathedral in Rome is not only a place to worship God, but also a key gathering point for Ukrainian immigrants in Italy. We visited the church to meet some of them…



Tags: Syria Ethiopia Jordan Russia

16 July 2018
J.D. Conor Mauro




Pope Francis greets Chaldean Catholic Patriarch Louis Raphael I of Baghdad, Iraq, during a meeting in Tbilisi, Georgia, on 30 September 2016. The patriarch will be one of four cardinals presiding over an October synod on youth. (photo: CNS/Paul Haring)

Pope’s picks for synod leaders express passion for peripheries (Crux) On Saturday, the Vatican announced Pope Francis’ picks for the four cardinals who’ll preside over an October meeting of bishops focused on youth. All four come from what the pontiff has described the “peripheries” of the world: Myanmar, Iraq, Madagascar and Papua New Guinea…

Eritrea reopens embassy in Ethiopia amid thaw in relations (Al Jazeera) Eritrea has reopened its embassy in Ethiopia in further evidence of a rapid thaw between the two countries that a week ago ended two decades of military stalemate over a border war in which tens of thousands died. In a brief ceremony on Monday, Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and Eritrea’s President Isaias Afwerki jointly raised the Eritrean flag inside a newly refurbished embassy as a military band played Eritrea’s anthem…

With Ethiopia-Eritrea agreement, church hopes for ‘a season of freedom and peace’ (Fides) Prudence is the word circulating in the environments of the Eritrean Catholic Church regarding the peace agreement between Ethiopia and Eritrea. “As a church,” says the Rev. Mussie Zerai, priest of the Eparchy of Asmara, “we are happy with the agreement, but we await developments and pray that the agreement between President Isayas Afeworki and Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed opens a season of lasting peace that restores stability and freedom to the citizens of both countries…”

Can Raqqa, once the capital of ISIS, ever be home again? (New York Times) Eissa Ali’s family is returning home to Raqqa, which was the capital of ISIS territory for more than three years. The family left last year after he was detained and beaten by jihadists for playing cards. Now that the bombs have stopped falling and ISIS is gone, they’re not sure whether they still have a home…

ISIS remains a threat in Iraqi desert, tribal villages (Al Monitor) On the desert road west of the Iraqi city of Beiji, the Popular Mobilization Units (P.M.U.) conducting patrols in the area say freshly planted improvised explosive devices and ISIS sleeper cells still pose significant risks, despite improved security. However, “It’s simply too vast of an area” for outposts, said Ahmed al Debi, head of the P.M.U. Waleed al Kaaba…

Women seek church’s action against sexual violence (UCAN India) Indian Christian Women’s Movement has sought action against continuing sexual violence against women, denouncing the silence against such violence among Christian churches. “Violence seems to have become the new culture in the country,” the movement said in a press release citing rape and killing of 8-year old Asifa Bano in Kashmir and the rape of a 17-year old girl in Unnao in Uttar Pradesh…

Israel in turmoil over bill allowing Jews and Arabs to be segregated (The Guardian Israel is in the throes of political upheaval as the country’s ruling party seeks to pass legislation that could allow for Jewish-only communities. For the past half-decade, politicians have been wrangling over the details of the bill that holds constitution-like status and that Benjamin Netanyahu wants passed this month. Writing in the progressive-leaning Haaretz newspaper, Mordechai Kremnitzer, from the faculty of law at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, said the bill would “remove the mask so as to reveal the ugly face of ultranationalist Israel in all its repugnance”…



Tags: Syria India Iraq Israel Eritrea





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