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Current Issue
September, 2018
Volume 44, Number 3
  
16 September 2014
Greg Kandra




In this image from June, Honduran Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga, president of Caritas Internationalis, speaks at a conference in Washington, DC. (photo: CNS/Bob Roller)

Cardinal on Middle East: “Greatest crisis since World War II” (Vatican Radio) Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga opened a high level Caritas meeting for the crises in the Middle East with an impassioned call for peace. Speaking on Monday at the start of the Rome meeting scheduled to run from 15 to 17 September, Cardinal Rodriguez, President of Caritas Internationalis, spoke of the tragedy of millions in Syria who are forced to flee their homes because of conflilct, of the violence of fundamentalist extremism in Iraq and eastern Syria, and of the predicament of Gaza inhabitants who have lost all in recent Israeli bombing. “As part of the humanitarian community” he said “we are confronted with the greatest crisis the world has faced since the Second World War...”

Pope’s envoy to Iraq: “Iraqi people must be defended” (Vatican Radio) Cardinal Fernando Filoni, the special envoy of Pope Francis to Iraq, has called the actions of the so-called Islamic State “Devil things.” Cardinal Filoni, who is Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour “no one can use the name, or in the name of God, to do things like this...”

Gaza’s housing crisis is described as “much worse than the war” (The Washington Post) Official numbers are few in Gaza City, a densely populated seaside enclave of 600,000. But businessmen, rights groups and economists agree that apartment rents here have more than doubled since the war ended, as thousands of displaced residents elbow into an already saturated housing market. Before the war, experts said, an average two-bedroom apartment went for $200 per month; now it can rent for as much as $500...

In Ukraine, rebels granted self-rule and amnesty (BBC) Ukraine’s parliament has granted self-rule to parts of eastern regions held by pro-Russian rebels, as well as an amnesty for the fighters themselves. The measures are in line with the 5 September ceasefire agreement signed by President Petro Poroshenko. The European and Ukrainian parliaments also voted to ratify a major EU-Ukraine association agreement...



Tags: Syria Iraq Ukraine Gaza Strip/West Bank Middle East

15 September 2014
Greg Kandra




Retired Bishop Michael D. Pfeifer of San Angelo, Texas, stands in front of the Israeli separation wall near Jerusalem on 12 September. Bishop Higgins was one of 18 bishops on a nine-day prayer pilgrimage for peace in the Holy Land. (photo: CNS/Debbie Hill)

Pope laments the “madness of war” (Vatican Radio) “We have yet to learn the lesson from the madness of war,” lamented Pope Francis Sunday as he launched two appeals following the midday Angelus prayer with faithful and tourists in St Peter’s Square...

Heavy fighting reported in Ukraine over the weekend (Washington Post) The heaviest fighting in a series of truce violations in Ukraine’s restive east strained the tenuous 10-day-old cease-fire between the Kiev government and pro-Russian separatists, with both sides blaming the other Monday for attacks that included the shelling of residential buildings. Ukrainian military spokesman Andriy Lysenko on Monday accused the rebels of attacking checkpoints and other positions in the east in intensified fighting over the weekend. The Ukrainian military, he said, was forced to respond...

Bishop criticizes senator for politicizing summit on Mideast Christians (CNS) A Catholic bishop criticized Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, for politicizing a conference of diverse political and church leaders working on behalf of Christians and other minorities in the Middle East. “When you come to a hard political stance on anything, it’s going to cause a flare-up, and that’s what happened last night,” Maronite Bishop Gregory J. Mansour of Brooklyn, New York, told Catholic News Service...

Holy Land tour heightens U.S. Bishops’ awareness of complexities of region (CNS) U.S. bishops visiting the Holy Land said an on-the-ground tour and briefing about the situation in East Jerusalem heightened their awareness of the settlement issue in the divided city. “The expansion of settlements is quickly driving (the possibility of a two-state solution) off the drawing board,” said Bishop Richard E. Pates of Des Moines, Iowa, chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on International Justice and Peace. “The continuing expansion of the Jewish communities and its implication for a two-state solution has been a concern of the National Interreligious Leadership Initiative for Peace in the Middle East...”

Gaza children return to school (Al Jazeera) At least half a million children returned to their schools in the Gaza strip on Sunday, where many will be given special attention and pyschological counselling before their regular classes begin. This initiative aims to help children deal with the traumas the war has inflicted on them. There has been several weeks of delay due to the damage of more than 250 schools and the use of about 90 UN educational facilities as shelters for tens of thousands of internally displaced Palestinians, the United Nations and local authorities said...

Law would permit Christian women to inherit property of deceased children (The Times of India) The Narendra Modi government is readying an amendment in the Indian Succession Act of 1925 that will allow Christian women to get rights in the property of their deceased children. As per Sections 41 to 48 of Indian Succession Act, 1925, governing Christians, it gives mothers no right to inherit property of deceased children who have not left behind any will. All such properties are to be inherited by the father. If the father is not alive, the properties go to the siblings...

Catholics and Orthodox to meet in Amman (VIS) The eighth plenary session of the International Joint Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church will take place in Amman, Jordan from 15 to 23 September, following the invitation from the Greek-Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem, His Beatitude Theophilos III...



12 September 2014
Greg Kandra




A woman walks at her destroyed house in the village of Kominternovo, Ukraine, near the southern coastal town of Mariupol on 6 September. Ukraine’s Catholic bishops have warned that their country is “flowing in blood” because of fighting between Ukrainian and se paratist forces, and urged Western governments not to become “accomplices in the sin of murder” by failing to
support the country. (photo: CNS/Vasily Fedosenko, Reuters)


Pope to visit Turkey to mark feast of St. Andrew (Vatican Radio) Turkish President Recep Tayyp Erdogan has issued an official invitation to Pope Francis to visit his country. Speaking to journalists on Friday, the head of the Vatican press office, Father Federico Lombardi said the Holy See had received the invitation and was preparing for a papal visit to Turkey at the end of November. He added that the duration of the trip and the program for the visit were still to be confirmed. The Pope is expected to visit Istanbul on 30 November to celebrate the feast day of St Andrew, founder of the Eastern Church and patron saint of the Orthodox world...

Chaldean bishop requests more visas for Iraqis (Catholic World News) Bishop Sarhad Yawsip Jammo, the head of a Chaldean Catholic eparchy based in San Diego, will travel to the White House with a list of 25,000 Iraqi Catholics who seek entry into the United States. “Requests have been made to White House for an increase in the number of visas issued, to be granted to those who wish and desire to leave Iraq,” reported a California-based Chaldean news site. “In response to a request from the White House, St. Peter’s Diocese has been compiling a list of names for our brothers and sisters in Iraq that want to escape persecution...”

Ukrainian bishops: “Ukraine is bleeding!” (RISU) Bishops of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church in Ukraine and Ukrainian settlements from South and North America, Australia and Europe who gathered at the Holy Synod in Lviv, 10 September, appealed to the world community with the words: “Ukraine is bleeding!” Please read the full text of the appeal of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Synod translated by Father Athanasius McVay...

Deal reached on Gaza reconstruction (The New York Times) President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority said Thursday night that he had reached an agreement with Israel and the United Nations to allow imports of reconstruction materials into the Gaza Strip, apparently bypassing Hamas to fulfill a key tenet of the cease-fire agreement that halted hostilities on 26 August...

Arab countries ready to join alliance against ISIS (AP) Key Arab allies of the U.S. agreed Thursday to “do their share” to fight against the Islamic State group, promising to take action to stop the flow of fighters and funding to the militants and possibly to join military action. The announcement came after U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry met with regional counterparts in the Saudi Red Sea coastal city of Jiddah in an effort to pin down Middle Eastern allies on what support they are willing to give to the U.S. plan to beat back the Islamic State group, which has seized large swaths of Iraq and Syria...

Ukraine president expects his country to join the European Union (The Guardian) Ukraine’s president, Petro Poroshenko, has said he expects Ukraine to join the European Union eventually, and said Europe would be safer, richer and younger with his war-torn country as a member. Speaking at a summit in Kiev attended by senior EU leaders, Poroshenko said it would be “impolite” for Brussels to refuse Ukraine what he called a “membership perspective.” “A friend in need is a friend indeed,” he said. He thanked EU states for imposing the latest round of sanctions against Russia, which were published on Friday, despite a tentative ceasefire in the east of Ukraine agreed last week...

Court stops Kerala’s new liquor law (The Hindu) The Supreme Court on Thursday stopped the Kerala government from implementing its new liquor policy under which 730 bar owners were asked to shut shop while sparing five-star hotels. The policy was to be implemented from 12 September. Ordering status quo till 30 September, a Bench of Justices Anil R. Dave and U.U. Lalit left it to the Kerala High Court, which is scheduled to hear the plea of affected bar owners on 18 September, to decide the future course...



Tags: Ukraine Gaza Strip/West Bank Kerala Turkey Chaldeans

11 September 2014
Greg Kandra




Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, prefect of the Congregation for Eastern Churches, leads a prayer during an ecumenical prayer service at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington on 9 September. Christian patriarchs from the Middle East, along with lawmakers and international human rights activists, are attending In Defense of Christians’ three-day summit about the persecution of
Middle Eastern minorities. (photo: CNS/Tyler Orsburn)


President Obama outlines plan to battle ISIS (The Boston Globe) President Obama on Wednesday outlined a broad battle plan to defeat the Islamic State, including US airstrikes in war-torn Syria and an expanded American military advisory role in Iraq. But he vowed no US ground troops would be engaged in combat. In a prime-time address on the eve of the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, and nearly three years after the withdrawal of US military forces from Iraq, Obama said that the nation faces a grave new threat from the group variously known by the acronyms ISIS and ISIL...

Church leaders, laity meet in Washington on behalf of Christians in the Middle East (CNS) Emphasizing that diversity does not preclude unity, nearly a thousand Christian leaders, politicians and laypeople gathered in Washington to launch a massive effort on behalf of the minority communities of the Middle East. High-ranking church leaders representing Pope Francis and Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros II, patriarchs of Eastern churches, members of Congress and Christians in the diaspora came together in Washington for the inaugural In Defense of Christians summit...

Kiev says most Russian forces now out of Ukraine (The New York Times) President Petro O. Poroshenko of Ukraine said on Wednesday that the bulk of Russian forces had withdrawn from Ukrainian territory, a move that he said heightened the chances for a lasting cease-fire in the southeast. Speaking at the start of a cabinet meeting that was broadcast nationally, the president also announced plans to move ahead with a law intended to cement the wobbly truce reached last Friday...

Israel launches investigations into Gaza war conduct (The New York Times) Israel on Wednesday announced it had begun criminal investigations into five instances of possible military misconduct in the 50-day Gaza war, an implicit acknowledgment of sensitivity to the widespread criticism, even among allies like the United States, that Israeli forces had used excessive firepower in a number of highly publicized assaults in the Palestinian territory...

Imams decry ISIS “barbarism” at Canada rally (Catholic Register) Religious leaders, including two Imams, denounced the barbarism of the Islamic State and urged the protection of Iraqi Christians and other minorities during a Parliament Hill rally on on 6 September. Imam Mohamad Jebara of the Cordova Mosque condemned the persecution in a statement read by a representative to about 1,000 people. “Persecution, oppression and tyranny are deplorable and repulsive regardless of who perpetrates them and against whom they are perpetrated,” said Jebara. “I stand in solidarity with my Christian brethren and other minorities who are suffering in the Middle East and condemn acts of intolerance against them as satanic deeds, contrary to the mercy which the scripture calls us to embody...”



Tags: Syria Iraq Ukraine Gaza Strip/West Bank Copts

10 September 2014
Greg Kandra




Pope Francis kisses the forehead of quadrapalegic Salvatore D’Argento from Chieti, Italy, as he arrives to lead his general audience in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican on 10 September.
(photo: CNS/Paul Haring)


Pope offers message of hope to Christians in the Middle East (VIS) In his greetings in various languages following the catechesis of today’s general audience, Pope Francis addressed the Arab-speaking faithful and in particular those from Syria and the Middle East, to remind them that the Church, following the example of her Master, excels in mercy. “She faces hatred with love, vanquishes violence with forgiveness, and responds to weapons with prayer,” the pope said. He added, “May the Lord reward your faithfulness, inspire you with courage in the struggle against the forces of evil, and open the eyes of those who have been blinded by evil, so that they may soon see the light of truth and repent for the mistakes they have made. May the Lord bless you and protect you always”...

For some Iraqi Christians, returning home is not an option (CNS) Uprooted from his home in Iraq by the advance of Islamic State fighters, Nouree sees no future for Christians in his country. “It’s like a nightmare,” the Chaldean Catholic father of six told Catholic News Service from a modest apartment in Beirut where he and his family have temporarily resettled after fleeing Iraq. “They just came and took our villages,” Nouree said of the militants. Nouree requested that his full name not be used to protect his identity. “It’s not a coincidence. It’s like a plan to rid the region of Christians. We Christians paid the price, and the Yezidis (the minority religious community) did, too,” Nouree said. “Even though they pushed us out, we won’t forget our homeland. This is our past, our history...”

Ukraine president promises greater autonomy to pro-Russian east (AP) Ukraine’s president promised Wednesday to introduce a bill as early as next week that would offer greater autonomy to rebellious regions in the pro-Russia east, where separatists have been battling government troops for almost five months. But President Petro Poroshenko said the regions would remain part of Ukraine and rejected the idea of federalization, something both Russia and the Russian-backed separatists are still pushing for even after a cease-fire that began Friday...

John Kerry arrives in Iraq to build alliance against ISIS (The Washington Post) Secretary of State John F. Kerry came to Iraq on Wednesday to congratulate a new Iraq government on which the United States is basing much of its emerging strategy to counter Islamic State militants. Kerry met with new Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and other senior officials. His visit is timed to precede President Obama’s speech Wednesday evening laying out a multi-pronged plan to confront militants who have seized large swaths of Iraqi and Syrian territory with stunning speed and battlefield prowess...

Egypt’s mufti condemns Islamic State (Kuwait News Agency) The Grand Mufti of Egypt Shawqy Ibrahim Abdulkareem Allam, Monday condemned the Islamic State in Iraq and Levant (ISIL or ISIS) as a terrorist and criminal group which in no way represent Islam. Speaking at the Foreign Affairs Committee of the European Parliament this evening he said the name "Islamic State" of the group is a misnomer and stressed that Islam does not endorse violent acts and expulsion of people from their homes. ISIL "is carrying out activities which are alien to Islam. They don't represent Islam in any way," underlined the mufti...



Tags: Syria Iraq Egypt Ukraine Middle East

9 September 2014
Greg Kandra




Pope Francis and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople walk past the Stone of Unction during an ecumenical celebration in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem last May. Reports indicate the two may meet again in November in Turkey.
(photo: CNS/Paul Haring)


UN: Ukraine death toll rises above 3,000 (The Guardian) The number of people confirmed killed in the Ukraine conflict has risen above 3,000 if the victims of the MH17 plane crash are included, a senior UN human rights official said on Monday. Ivan Simonovic, the UN assistant secretary general for human rights, said the number of people confirmed killed in fighting since the conflict erupted in April was now 2,729 but rose to over 3,000 if the 298 passengers and crew on the Malaysia Airlines flight were included, which he said they should be, though the true figure could be much higher. “This number includes killings registered based on available resources and ... the actual number may be significantly higher,” he told an extraordinary meeting of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE)...

Iraq approves new government (The Washington Post) Under huge international and domestic pressure, Iraq swore in a new government on Monday, opening the way for an expansion of U.S. military support to fight Islamist extremists in the country. The vote to approve a new cabinet came during a fiery late-night parliamentary session. Key positions, including those of the defense and security chiefs, were left open amid controversy over who would fill them. Now confirmed as prime minister, Haider al-Abadi said he would name candidates for those positions within a week...

Pope sends condolences to family of Steven Sotloff (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has expressed his sorrow for the death of slain US journalist Steven Sotloff, urging people everywhere to reject violence, aggression and lack of compassion. His words came in a telegram of condolences addressed to Sotloff’s family and signed by Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin on behalf of the Pope...

Report: Pope may visit Turkey this year (Catholic News Agency) Pope Francis may visit Turkey 29-30 November, strengthening the links with the Orthodox Church’s Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I and advancing their common commitment to ecumenism, peace and ecology. The possible papal voyage to Turkey was discussed by Nikos Tzoitis, an expert in ecumenical dialogue who had served as spokesperson of Patriarch Bartholomew, to whom he is very close...



Tags: Iraq Pope Francis Ukraine Turkey

8 September 2014
Greg Kandra




Pro-Russian separatists stand guard at a checkpoint near Donetsk, Ukraine, on 4 September.
(photo: CNS/Maxim Shemetov, Reuters)


Firefights break out in Ukraine (Washington Post) Ukraine struggled to maintain a tenuous cease-fire with pro-Russian rebels after a series of repeated breaches Sunday, even as the government here faced the equally daunting task of selling the peace plan to the nation. Firefights broke out near the rebel-held city of Donetsk as well as east of the key port city of Mariupol, eyewitnesses said. Yet Ukrainian officials maintained that in general, the truce, which went into effect Friday evening, was holding...

Pope appeals for peace in Ukraine (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has expressed the hope that Ukraine’s current ceasefire can promote efforts to achieve a lasting peace in the east of the country. He also condemned recent violence in the African nation of Lesotho and appealed for a return of peace. His twin appeals came after his Angelus address on Sunday in the Vatican before crowds gathered in St. Peter’s Square. Afterwards he praised Italian Red Cross volunteers leaving for Iraqi Kurdistan for their generous support on behalf of all those persecuted in Iraq...

President Obama to announce strategy against ISIS (The Guardian) Barack Obama will announce a new U.S. “game plan” for an offensive against Islamic State (ISIS) this week, the U.S. president said on Sunday as efforts to build an international coalition against the extremists made progress. The U.S. president — who had been derided for saying last month he did not have a strategy to contend with ISIS — said he would seek congressional support on Tuesday and then “describe what our game plan’s going to be” in a speech on Wednesday...

Palestinian unity teeters over fight with Israel (USA Today) Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas threatened to dissolve his party’s unity government with Hamas as tensions between the two mount over this summer’s fighting with Israel in Gaza. “We will not accept having a partnership if their status in Gaza remains this way,” Abbas said late Saturday in Cairo, according to Egypt’s state news agency MENA. As long as Hamas remains in control of Gaza, Abbas said, “the government of national unity can do nothing on the ground.” Hamas, which entered into a cease-fire agreement with Israel late last month after 50 days of warfare, denounced Abbas’ actions, the Palestinian news agency Ma’an reported...

Turkey opens its doors to Yazidis (Daily Sabah) The Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), which is an offshoot of al-Qaida, has been slaughtering the ancient Yazidi community in Iraq, causing another humanitarian crisis in the country. While some Yazidi villages near the Iraqi town of Sinjar have been vacated, some Yazidis fled to the Kurdish region and others went to Turkey. Turkey has been the main country that has opened its doors to Yazidis. Approximately 10,000 Yazidis crossed the border into Turkey. While many of them were accommodated in Turkish Yazidi villages, others who have no relatives in Turkey were placed in a refugee camp...



Tags: Syria Iraq Ukraine Gaza Strip/West Bank Turkey

5 September 2014
Greg Kandra





In the video above, a representative for the U.S. bishops underscores the need for a nonviolent resolution in Ukraine. (video: from CNS)

Cease-fire signed to halt fighting in Ukraine (BBC) The Ukrainian government and pro-Russia rebels have signed a truce deal to end almost five months of fighting. The two sides, meeting in the Belarusian capital Minsk, agreed to stop firing at 15:00 GMT. President Petro Poroshenko said he would do "everything possible" to end the bloodshed. The rebels said the truce had not changed their policy of advocating separation from Ukraine...

Ukrainian Catholic leader: West must help stop Russian inteference (CNS) A Ukrainian church leader said Western governments need to use “all available means” to curb Russian military interference. “Every right-thinking European should realize that what’s happening here has worldwide implications,” said Bishop Bohdan Dzyurakh, secretary-general of the Ukrainian Catholic Synod of Bishops. “Besides raping all international law, (Russian President Vladimir) Putin is also showing the kind of security the world can expect from a nuclear-armed Russia. He will go as far as he’s allowed to go...”

An estimated 400,000 children need psychological care in Gaza (Fides) In Gaza, 400,000 children and young adults need psychological care to alleviate the effects of the last three conflicts which affected the people of Gaza in the past six years. This is affirmed by Caritas Jerusalem, quoting United Nations sources, in the latest report on its activity. “Boys and girls” — we read in the dossier — “represent the part of the population which suffers most the consequences of armed conflict. The majority experience the separation of families and develop a pessimistic vision of life...”

Mass grave uncovered in Iraq (Associated Press) A series of attacks across Iraq on Friday killed 17 people, including four Shiite militiamen and a Sunni tribal chief, while a mass grave in the north was found to contain the bodies of 15 Shiite truck drivers killed by Sunni militants. Police officials said the deadliest attack happened when a car bomb went off on a commercial street in Baghdad’s mainly Shiite Zafaraniyah district, killing seven people and wounding 15 others. Several shops were damaged...

Flooded refugee camp in Ethiopia to close (Associated Press) Doctors Without Borders says a camp in Ethiopia hosting 40,000 refugees from South Sudan is flooded from heavy rains and that it must be abandoned. The medical charity said in a statement Friday that the Lietchuor refugee camp in Ethiopia’s Gambella region resembles “a lake dotted with islands.” It said newly constructed mud huts for the refugees are completely flooded and that most patients seen in the camp are suffering from malaria and respiratory infections...



Tags: Iraq Ukraine Ethiopia Gaza Strip/West Bank Russia

4 September 2014
Greg Kandra




Pope Francis welcomes former Israeli President Shimon Peres during their meeting at the Vatican on 4 September. The former president asked Pope Francis to head a parallel United Nations called the “United Religions” to counter religious extremism.
(photo: CNS/L’Osservatore Romano via EPA)


Shimon Peres: Pope should lead a “United Religions” body to counter extremism (CNS) Former Israeli President Shimon Peres asked Pope Francis to head a parallel United Nations called the “United Religions” to counter religious extremism in the world today. “In the past, most wars were motivated by the idea of nationhood. Today, however, wars are incited above all using religion as an excuse,” Peres told the Catholic magazine, Famiglia Cristiana, ahead of a papal meeting on 4 September. Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, confirmed that Peres, who ended his presidential term in July, had requested the meeting and told the Pope about his idea. The Pope, however, did not commit himself to the proposal...

Christians in Syria collect aid for Yazidis (Fides) It lasted only 72 hours, but was of great symbolic value: a popular campaign by Christians to collect food, drugs and clothing in the Syrian city of Qamishli to help Yazidi people who fled Iraq and found refuge in Syrian territory close to a refugee camp in Newroz...

Iraqi Christian woman describes kidnapping of her child by militants (CNS) An Iraqi Christian woman has described how her 3-year-old daughter was abducted by Islamist terrorists. Christina Khider Abada was seated beside her mother, Ayda Abada, on a bus when captors from the Islamic State snatched her and took her away. According to an account by the mother, who followed her daughter off the bus, the crying child was passed from one militant to another while Ayda Abada begged for her to be returned. Finally, the terrorists pointed guns in the face of the mother and told her to get back on the bus or they would kill her. Fellow refugee Sahar Mansour interviewed Ayda Abada and her husband, Khider Abada, as they circulated pictures of their daughter in Ain Kawa refugee camp, near Erbil, Iraq, in the hope of gaining information about the toddler’s whereabouts...

Russia warns Ukraine against joining NATO (Washington Post) The Kremlin on Thursday underscored Russia’s opposition to NATO membership for Ukraine, warning that such a move could derail efforts to end the conflict in eastern Ukraine, as leaders of the alliance gathered for a key summit in Wales. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov also told the United States not to try to impose its own will on Kiev...

Chaldean patriarch blasts Iraqi government (ByzCath.org) The head of the Chaldean Catholic Church has renewed his criticism of the Iraqi government and the international community for their failure to address the persecution of Iraq’s Christians. “The curtains have been drawn on the painful events, and 120,000 Christians are uprooted from their historical homeland because the political Islam does not want them there, and the world is silent, standing still, either because it approves or because it is incapable of acting,” said Patriarch Louis Raphaël I Sako. “The suffering of the displaced Christians and other minorities is mounting: their needs are escalating and their fears of an unknown future of their shocked children, seized towns, and looted houses keep them sleepless,” he added...



Tags: Syria Iraq Ukraine Israel Russia

3 September 2014
Greg Kandra




In this image taken last month, a Dutch Royal Air Force transport aircraft at Eindhoven Airbase in Eindhoven, Netherlands, is being loaded with relief supplies for victims of the humanitarian disaster in Iraq. (photo: CNS/Bas Czerwinski, EPA)

Pope expresses support for persecuted Iraqis (Vatican Radio) At the General Audience Wednesday, Pope Francis told Arabic speaking pilgrims and “particularly those from Iraq,” that “like all mothers,” the Church accompanies her needy children. She “raises up the fallen child, heals his wounds, seeks the lost... and defends those who are defenseless and persecuted...”

Putin urges Ukraine to withdraw troops (CBS News) Russian President Vladimir Putin called on Russian-backed insurgents in eastern Ukraine to “stop advancing” Wednesday and urged the Ukrainian army to withdraw their troops from the region. A day ahead of a NATO summit, Ukraine issued a vague statement about agreeing with Putin on cease-fire steps for eastern Ukraine. The separatists rejected the move, saying no cease-fire was possible without Ukraine withdrawing its forces, while Putin’s spokesman claimed that Moscow was not in a position to agree to a cease-fire because it is not party to the conflict...

Is Russian church risking schism over Ukraine? (The Moscow Times) The Ukrainian Orthodox Church is the biggest of Ukraine’s Orthodox churches, and the only one recognized by other Orthodox churches worldwide. Backing the Kremlin on Ukraine could prompt an exodus of the flock from the Moscow-controlled church to the other branches, [Maxim] Goryunov said. Most Ukrainians support official Kiev’s stance on the rebellion, and so do independent churches. “It’s all about Ukraine,” Goryunov said. “If Patriarch [Kirill] starts to act gung-ho, everyone there will desert him...”

Israel claims nearly 1,000 acres near Bethlehem (The New York Times) Israel laid claim on Sunday to nearly 1,000 acres of West Bank land in a Jewish settlement bloc near Bethlehem — a step that could herald significant Israeli construction in the area — defying Palestinian demands for a halt in settlement expansion. Peace Now, an Israeli group that opposes the construction of settlements in the West Bank, said that the action on Sunday might be the largest single appropriation of West Bank land in decades and that it could “dramatically change the reality” in the area...

Gaza reconstruction after war could take 20 years (CBC) An international organization involved in assessing post-conflict reconstruction says it will take 20 years for Gaza’s battered and neglected housing stock to be rebuilt following the war between Hamas and Israel. The assessment by Shelter Cluster, co-chaired by the UN refugee agency and the Red Cross, underscores the complexities involved in an overall reconstruction program for the Gaza Strip, which some Palestinian officials have estimated could cost in excess of $6 billion...

Ancient rock churches putting Ethiopia on tourist map (The Guardian) Kiya Gezahegne joined an unruly, jostling throng surrounding a priest who wielded a 12th-century gold and bronze cross, one of the most sacred artefacts in Ethiopia. A young man shut his eyes and trembled from head to toe as he was blessed. Finally, Gezahegne stepped forward and stooped so the priest could tap the cross all over her body. “I felt close to God,” she said. Steeped in ancient ritual, this was the scene revealed by dawn’s first light in the rock-hewn churches of Lalibela. The cool morning air was filled with the smell of incense and the drumbeat and chanting of hundreds of pilgrims swathed in white robes, some kissing the walls. A sprinkling of foreign visitors groped through narrow crevices and labyrinthine tunnels. Earlier this year they included George W Bush and family and Evgeny Lebedev, the newspaper proprietor...



Tags: Iraq Ethiopia Gaza Strip/West Bank Russia Russian Orthodox





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