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December, 2017
Volume 43, Number 4
  
13 August 2013
J.D. Conor Mauro




In this 2008 photo, Jesuit Chaldean Bishop Antoine Audo of Aleppo, Syria, is pictured in Aleppo. (photo: CNS/Paul Jeffrey)

Jesuit Chaldean bishop discusses matters in Syria (Vatican Insider) “I was supposed to be going to the Rimini meeting, but it’s not the right time to be travelling.” Antoine Audo, Jesuit and Chaldean bishop of Aleppo, prefers to stay close to his people who are suffering. He thinks it is not the right time to be taking pointless risks in order to take part in conferences on the situation of Christians in Syria. While explaining the reasons behind this decision, he also told Vatican Insider about the conditions that people are experiencing in the martyred city, which, once one of the most flourishing parts of the Arab world, has had entire neighborhoods reduced to rubble. “Everybody tells me and the other bishops to move around discreetly without wearing bishops’ clothing in order to avoid being kidnapped,” he says. Bishop Antoine also expressed concerns about the missing Father Paolo Dall’Oglio…

Synod of Bishops of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church begins (RISU) “With this Divine Liturgy we, the bishops of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, begin our Synod,” Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk said on 11 August during his homily in the Patriarchal Cathedral of the Resurrection of Christ in Kyiv. The event will run until 18 August. The hierarch said that the central issue is the “new evangelization” — “to make a modern man see, how to share the faith, how we, the believers of the twenty-first century, can know the Word of God in today’s culture…”

Against growing turmoil, Coptic pope urges restraint (AllAfrica) Pope Tawadros II urged the Egyptian people on Tuesday to renounce violence and avoid bloodshed. “I call on everybody, with my utmost love, to protect the lives of Egyptians,” the pope posted on his Twitter account on Tuesday, adding, “I ask all Egyptians to use their heads wisely, practice self-restraint and avoid any violence, attacks or recklessness against humanity or property…”

Israel approves another 900 settler homes (Al Jazeera) Israel’s latest announcement of more than 900 new illegal settlement units in occupied East Jerusalem “threatens” talks with the Palestinians, a senior Palestinian official has said. The units in Gilo, near the Palestinian town of Beit Jala, are in addition to the 1,200 settlement homes approved by Israel on Sunday. “This settlement expansion is unprecedented,” said Yasser Abed Rabbo, a senior member of the Palestine Liberation Organization, said on Tuesday…



Tags: Violence against Christians Israeli-Palestinian conflict Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church Chaldean Church Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros II

12 August 2013
J.D. Conor Mauro




In this 2008 photo, Italian Jesuit Father Paolo Dall’Oglio laughs during a chat with Muslim shepherds in an ancient cave near the Mar Musa monastery in Syria. Father Dall’Oglio was reportedly captured by an Islamist group in Syria in late July. (photo: CNS/John Feister, St. Anthony Messenger)

Reports of missing Jesuit’s death unconfirmed (ANSAmed) The Vatican’s ambassador to Damascus on Monday said he could not confirm a report from Lama al Atassi, secretary general for the Syrian National Front, that the Rev. Paolo Dall’Oglio has been executed. “We are very worried about Father Dall’Oglio as for everyone here in Syria, where the situation is getting worse with every passing day and the picture is getting grimmer by the minute,” says Papal Nuncio Archbishop Mario Zenari. Local news should be taken with a grain of salt, Archbishop Mario added. “You have to be careful because is also an information war, with reports constantly being retracted,” he said…

Syrian rebels destroy Orthodox church in Al Thawrah (AINA) The Antiochian Orthodox Church of Sts. Sergius and Bacchus was a landmark of Al Thawrah (also known as Al Tabqah). It was an impressive, modern structure with a large yard, surrounded by a high wall and well situated on a main street near the corniche — a well-landscaped area hugging the southern bank of Lake Assad which was popular with locals taking evening strolls. Its elegant dome and cross could be seen from a great distance. This church was under the jurisdiction of the Eparchy of Aleppo, led by Metropolitan Boulos al Yazigi, who was kidnapped on 22 April of this year, along with the Syriac Orthodox archbishop of the same city, Metropolitan Gregorios Youhanna Ibrahim…

Syriac Orthodox bishop: stop speculating about the kidnapped bishops (Fides) “Every week some politician or some journalist puts out some story on the two kidnapped metropolitan archbishops of Aleppo. But so far they have always been unverifiable deductions. The reality is that almost four months have gone by since their kidnapping and we do not who kidnapped them,” says Metropolitan Timotheus Matta Fadil Alkhouri, patriarchal assistant in the Syriac Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch. The latest unverified rumors even come from the United States, where Congressional Representative Charlie Dent has taken steps to gather information on the kidnapped bishops due to the insistence of the Syrian community in the city of Allentown. Anonymous sources close to the British diplomacy then attributed to the U.S. politician the claim that the two bishops are still alive and are hostages in Turkey, held by Islamist groups involved in a “plot” to move the seat of the Syriac Orthodox Patriarchate from Damascus to Turkey, and influence the succession of the Syriac Orthodox patriarch, the 80-year-old Mar Ignatius Zakka I…

Syria refugees swell Christian community in Turkey (BBC) Syria’s Christians belong to one of the oldest Christian communities in the world. However, chased away by the threat of violence, some are heading for neighboring Turkey, where they have been greeted with considerable enthusiasm. Driven by a deep and humble faith, Father Joaqim is a young man with a sense of destiny. He has returned from 11 years in Holland to revive his dying community in eastern Turkey. “Thank God our community is alive again,” he says, his face radiating out from the distinctive black cap of his Syriac Orthodox habit. “On Sundays our church is full with worshipers from the village.” Across the Tur Abdin, some of the long-abandoned villages are slowly coming back to life, not just with emigrant families from the Syriac disapora returning from Europe, but also with co-religionists from Syria, separated by an artificial border, returning to the bosom of their community in Turkey…

Bulgarian Orthodox metropolitan objects to Pope John XXIII monument (Sofia Globe) Bulgarian Orthodox Metropolitan Yoanikii of Sliven has issued a statement objecting to reported plans for a monument to Pope John XXIII in the seaside town of Nessebur, saying that the move could create tensions between Orthodox and Catholics. John XXIII, pope from October 1958 to June 1963, was papal nuncio to Bulgaria from 1925 to 1935. The plan for a statue of him to be erected at the isthmus of the town was inspired, according to the municipality, by him having given the equivalent of half a million leva to feed Macedonian refugees. Pope John XXIII’s career also includes having acted to assist Jews seeking to escape the Holocaust, including Bulgarian Jews. Currently, he is on the path of beatification, reportedly expected to happen before the end of 2013, along with the late Pope John Paul II…

Lebanon grand mufti calls for release of all hostages (Daily Star Lebanon) Lebanon Grand Mufti Mohammad Rashid Qabbani called Monday for the release of the recently kidnapped Turkish Airlines pilots in Beirut as well as the Lebanese who have been held hostage in Syria since May 2012. “The kidnapping of people, whoever the people might be, and regardless of the kidnappers, is an act that we denounce and reject, considering it the forced detention of innocents,” Qabbani said…



Tags: Refugees Middle East Christians Syrian Civil War Violence against Christians Turkey

9 August 2013
J.D. Conor Mauro




A Coptic Orthodox delegation visits Al Azhar University to celebrate Eid ul Fitr, the conclusion of Ramadan. (photo: The Coptic Orthodox Church)

Impact of pope’s message to Muslims for end of Ramadan (Vatican Radio) To find out more about the impact of this papal message on Christian-Muslim dialogue, Philippa Hitchen spoke to Archbishop Kevin McDonald, head of the English and Welsh bishops’ office for interfaith relations, who says the pope’s in-person message “has been very well received…”

Growing concern that Pope Tawadros II may be targeted by Islamists (AsiaNews) “We fear that Pope Tawadros II might become a target of Islamist reprisal,” said the Rev. Rafic Greiche, spokesman for the Egyptian Catholic Bishops’ Conference. The Coptic pope, Father Greiche said, “used to go to Cairo’s St Mark Cathedral every Wednesday to meet with the faithful and hold a series of weekly readings. Since President Morsi’s ouster more than a month ago, he has been forced to hold those meetings in a monastery outside the city…”

Egyptian churches to choose representatives for the new constitutional assembly (Egypt Independent) Coptic Pope Tawadros II has chosen Bishop Paula of Tanta to represent the Coptic Orthodox Church in the 50-person constitutional assembly formed to amend the constitution, said a source within the church. The three main Egyptian churches — the Orthodox, Catholic, and evangelical churches — will collectively nominate three representatives to the assembly. Forthcoming meetings will determine whether each distinct church will nominate one candidate or if the three churches will reach a united vision of the figures to be chosen…

Cyprus police advise bolstering security after string of church thefts (InCyprus) Police are advising churches to bolster security measures after a string of ecclesiastical thefts in Paphos this week. Six burglaries have been reported so far. According to a spokesman, churches are generally targeted because they lack sophisticated security systems. Speaking to The Cyprus Daily, Paphos Bishop Georgios described the recent surge in thefts against churches as unacceptable. “We have taken on board the advice from the police and in some cases CCTV systems and alarms have been installed in churches.” He added that the church had noticed a distinct increase in thefts during the summer period. “Cyprus is a tourist destination and it is very busy during the summer. Because we receive many visitors during this time it makes it easy for thieves to come in and look around before they decide to steal something…”



Tags: Egypt Christian-Muslim relations Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros II Coptic Church Cyprus

8 August 2013
J.D. Conor Mauro




In this 2011 photo, Palestinian Christians George Hamah, 65, left, and Yousef Lutfi, 73, walk near the Israeli-erected barrier that divides their olive groves near Bethlehem, West Bank. (photo: CNS/Debbie Hill)

Israel okays more West Bank settlement homes (Al Jazeera) Israel has given preliminary approval for the construction of more than 800 new homes in Jewish settlements on the occupied West Bank, an Israeli official has said. Guy Inbar, the spokesman for Israel’s military-run Civil Administration in the West Bank, said on Thursday that initial plans to build 800 new settler homes were approved a day earlier. However, actual construction would require additional approval from the government. “This is a lengthy process,” said Inbar, who did not immediately provide further details on the plans. Peace Now, an Israeli anti-settlement watchdog, put the number of new homes discussed by the Civil Administration on Wednesday at 1,096 and said they were earmarked for 11 illegal settlements, some located deep within the West Bank…

Maronite bishops urge Lebanon to remain neutral (Fides) Lebanon can avoid the many pitfalls that threaten its stability only if it remains out of the wars raging on its borders and maintains its “neutrality before the ongoing conflicts at a regional and international level.” This alarm for the fate of the country comes from the Council of Maronite Bishops, who met on Wednesday, 7 August, for their monthly meeting in Dimane, at the patriarchal summer seat. The bishops, under the leadership of Patriarch Bechara Peter, also addressed a direct criticism to the two opposing national political blocs held responsible for the institutional paralysis that prolongs the nation’s social and economic crises…

Syrian officials deny claimed rebel attack on Assad motorcade (Los Angeles Times) The Syrian government strenuously denied unsubstantiated reports Thursday that rebels had attacked a motorcade carrying President Bashar al Assad in Damascus, the capital. “The news is completely baseless and a mere reflection of the wishes and illusions of some media outlets and the governments standing behind them,” Syrian Information Minister Omran Zoubi said in a statement. Several Arab-language news services carried word of the alleged attack based on statements from opposition representatives. The Syrian president was pictured on state television Thursday getting into a car and attending services at a mosque in Damascus celebrating the Eid ul Fitr holiday, marking the end of the Ramadan fasting period. Assad appeared unruffled…

Syriacs continue battle over religious buildings (Hurriyet Daily News) The Syriac Christians of Mardin, in southeastern Turkey, will continue their legal battle after the Mor Gabriel Monastery, seeking to reclaim their rights to Syriac Catholic Patriarchate land. Despite a decree signed in 2011 to return property taken away from them, minorities have yet to take their lands back. Münir Üçkardes, a member of the Mardin Syriac Catholics Foundation, says they may take the issue to the European Court of Human Rights (E.C.H.R.). Mor Gabriel is a 1,700-year-old monastery located in Mardin’s Midyat district. In 2008, the Forestry Ministry, the Land Registry Office and the villages of Yayvantepe, Çandarli and Eglence sued the monastery for allegedly occupying their fields. The court recognized the monastery as an “occupier,” after which the case was brought to the E.C.H.R…



Tags: Syrian Civil War Israeli-Palestinian conflict Maronite Church West Bank Syriac Christians

7 August 2013
J.D. Conor Mauro




Women labor in a farmer’s market in Addis Ababa. Unemployment and underemployment among Ethiopian youth is a major problem. Peter Lemieux discusses this in The High Stakes of Leaving, appearing in the May 2012 issue of ONE. (photo: Peter Lemieux)

Seeking a better life, Ethiopian women turn to construction jobs (NPR) The 19-year-old Mekedes is one of six women working alongside 60 men at a construction site that will next year be a new wing of a city hospital. She wears a paint-spattered sweatshirt and a skirt over her jeans, a nod to her Orthodox Christian upbringing. While she typically does lighter jobs like cleaning and shoveling sand, roles on the site are always fluid. She’s tackled even the heaviest lifting jobs since she showed up to work as a day laborer at age 15…

Refugee children face abuse, forced marriages (Fides) Children who fled the war in Syria with their families continue to be exploited, abused and forced into early marriages. UNHCR has launched an initiative to seek the most effective security measures to prevent the young from working, dropping out of school or returning to Syria as child soldiers. According to the latest UNHCR estimates, 130,000 Syrian refugees live in the Zaatari camp in Jordan, where networks of organized crime are being built and scarce resources are constantly being looted and destroyed…

Exploited ‘child brides’ on the rise in Egypt (Washington Post) When young girls are sold into marriage, as 38,000 are every day, they can expect a life with no education and few opportunities, little public autonomy outside of their adult husband’s control and an increased risk of death from pregnancy or childbirth, which are the number one killer of girls aged 15 to 18 in the developing world. One in seven girls born in the developing world is married by age 15, usually sold by her family. But some girls who grow up in Egypt’s poor rural communities face an even scarier sort of child marriage: the temporary kind. Sex tourism to Egypt tends to spike in the summer, when wealthy men from Gulf countries flood into Egypt and thousands of underage girls are sold by their parents into temporary “marriages”…

No deal between army and Islamists in Egypt (New York Times) Egypt’s interim president said Wednesday that diplomats had failed to broker an agreement between the Muslim Brotherhood and the military-backed government to end the political crisis that has gripped the nation for the past five weeks. Today, Egypt’s prime minister said on state TV that the decision to clear the sit-ins was “irreversible.” Neither announcement said what the interim leadership’s next step would be, hinting that a forceful breakup of the sit-ins may be imminent…



Tags: Egypt Ethiopia Children Refugee Camps Women (rights/issues)

6 August 2013
J.D. Conor Mauro




A man mourns his father at a Roma funeral in Hodász, Hungary. Located about 240 miles east of Budapest, Hodász is one of the most significant Roma communities in Hungary. Most Roma are Catholic, with a strong tradition of reverence for the Virgin Mary. To learn more, see Jacqueline Ruyak’s Our Town from the March 2008 issue of ONE. (photo: Balazs Gardi/VII Network)

Hungarian men jailed over Roma killings (Al Jazeera) Four Hungarian men have been sentenced to jail after being found guilty of killing six Roma in a wave of racially motivated attacks between 2008 and 2009. A Budapest court on Tuesday handed down life sentences to Arpad Kiss, Istvan Kiss and Zsolt Peto. A fourth defendant, Istvan Csontos, who served as a driver during the crimes, was sentenced to a 13-year prison term. All four men are linked to the neo-Nazi movement. In one of the most gruesome attacks, a Roma father and his 5-year-old son were gunned down as they tried to flee their house, which the gang had set on fire…

Audit of Syrian refugees finds organized crime, child soldiers (AINA) Many Syrians who have escaped their country are now desperate to escape from United Nations refugee camps, where women are not safe and teenage boys are recruited as soldiers to fight in the conflict, according to an internal United Nations report. The report, a self-evaluation of U.N. refugee agency UNHCR, admits the United Nations could have done much better and “a far more substantial and coherent strategy is needed…”

Growing concern over plight of missing Jesuit priest in Syria (Vatican Radio) Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs Emma Bonino says the Italian Jesuit priest missing in Syria has probably been abducted by an Islamic group, telling state television Tuesday that Italy has been working to secure his release. The Jesuits of the Middle East earlier issued a statement expressing their deep concern over the fate of the Rev. Paolo Dall’Oglio, who went missing a week ago in northern Syria. One Jesuit priest based in neighboring Beirut who knows Father Dall’Oglio well is the Rev. Michael Zammit who spoke to Vatican Radio’s Susy Hodges…

Israeli settlements proceed despite peace negotiations (AsiaNews) A week after agreeing to talks with Palestinian leaders, the Israeli government on Sunday added 20 West Bank settlements to a list some 600 Jewish communities prioritized for aid. According to Palestinian official Hanan Ashrawi, such a move will have a “destructive impact” on peace talks. Considered illegal by the international community, the settlements established by Israel are a longstanding stumbling block for diplomacy…



Tags: Syria Violence against Christians Refugee Camps Hungary Roma

5 August 2013
J.D. Conor Mauro




In this 2010 photo, Syriac Orthodox Patriarch Ignatius Zakka I of Antioch and All the East, left, meets with Archbishop Timothy Dolan at the monastery and seminary of St. Ephrem the Syrian, in Damascus. (photo: CNEWA)

Syriac Orthodox Patriarchate to remain in Damascus (Fides) Patriarch Ignatius Zakka of Antioch and All the East denies all rumors that the See of the Patriarchate of Antioch of the Syriac Orthodox Church will move from Damascus. The patriarch puts it simply: “There is no intention to move it to another place.” The Holy Synod of the Syriac Orthodox Church unanimously echoes this position. According to a statement sent to Fides Agency, such a transition would be tantamount to the admission of a danger of “extinction” of the Syriac Orthodox Church and its spiritual heritage…

Jesuits of the Middle East express ‘deep concern’ for priests (Fides) In a recent statement, the Jesuits of the Middle East expressed “deep worry” about the fate of some of their confreres in the Syrian conflict. Along with Father Paolo Dall’Oglio, the Roman Jesuit who has been missing in northern Syria for a week, the Provincial Assouad also refers to the plight of Father Frans van der Lugt and the people with whom he lives in the center of the city of Homs, stranded and isolated by the war…

Metropolitan Tikhon: American Orthodoxy obliged to the Russian (The Voice of Russia) The Russian Orthodox Church can offer a great deal to the modern world, says Metropolitan Tikhon of All America and Canada. The Orthodox Church of America participated in the celebrations dedicated to the 1025th anniversary of the spreading of Christianity to Russia. In an interview with the Voice of Russia, Metropolitan Tikhon shared his impression on his visits to Moscow, Kiev and Minsk. “We’re filled with gratitude to His Holiness Patriarch Kirill for the invitation to come and to pray together with the hierarchs from all the Orthodox churches,” he said…

In Egypt, mounting tension between Islamists and military (Christian Science Monitor) Tens of thousands of the former president’s supporters have spent the last month camped across two locations in eastern Cairo, demanding the reinstatement of Muhammad Morsi, who was ousted by the military and arrested on 3 July. Two early morning attempts by police and military forces to clear the camps have resulted in the deaths of around 140 Morsi supporters. Fears are now growing over the possibility of a third state-led massacre in as many weeks if the security services move in again…



Tags: Egypt Syrian Civil War Orthodox Church Syriac Orthodox Church

2 August 2013
J.D. Conor Mauro





Copts back army but reject violence (The Tablet) Egypt’s Coptic Church hailed mass demonstrations last weekend to back an army and police campaign against “terrorism,” but expressed sorrow after dozens of supporters of the country’s deposed Islamist president were killed in a crackdown by security forces. A recent statement from Pope Tawadros II on Twitter declared, “the life of every Egyptian is precious,” and offered prayers for the dead and wounded — an apparent reference to those slain on Saturday during a demonstration in support of Muhammad Morsi…

The Pope signs message for end of Ramadan (AsiaNews) Pope Francis has sent a message “to Muslims around the world” to mark the end of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan. His greeting focuses on the promotion of “mutual respect always, not only in the presence of the other” and states that “dialogue and cooperation among believers, in particular between Christians and Muslims … must always be reinforced.” The theme of respect through education is emphasized throughout the missive…

A small ‘World Youth Day’ in Aleppo (Fides) On Sunday, 28 July, about 850 young Christians belonging to the various Christian communities of Syria gathered at the Youth Center George and Matilda Salem, run by the Salesian Fathers in the district of Al Sabeel, where they shared a day of reflection, prayer, discussion and entertainment. Four Catholic bishops took part in the day, celebrating Mass and dividing the tasks in the various moments of reflection and prayer. Everything ended with the consecration of the young people of Syria to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. The Armenian Catholic Bishop Boutros Marayati describes his emotion and shared experience with the young people of Aleppo to Fides Agency: “I was amazed to see so many young people without fear, in a city scarred by war…”

Syrian Archbishop: Assad is staying (The Arab American News) Archbishop Louka al Khouri, patriarchal auxiliary of the Syrian Orthodox Church, believes that the Syrian regime will not fall and President Bashar al Assad will stay in power. Khouri criticized rebel groups, saying that those who love their country would more likely work towards its stability and prosperity, rather than destroy Syria. Though the solution may lie in dialogue, “the armed opposition has nothing to talk about,” he said. “They work for a foreign agenda and refuse the negotiations. They take money and hire mercenaries to kill people and bring murderers from all over the world…”

Indian migrants in Holy Land prepare for Marian feast (EWTN) Preparations for the Feast of the Nativity of Mary this September are already underway in the Holy Land, particularly among Indian migrant workers. “Mother Mary is revered with great devotion by the Indian community as a mother and a spiritual figure of maternal protection,” said the Rev. Jayaseellan Pitchaimuthu, O.F.M., head of the Indian Chaplaincy in Holy Land. The friar explained that the Marian feast day is particularly important in the Indian context because of its relation to other faiths. Members of other religions, including Hindus and Muslims, hold Marian devotions in high esteem, said Father Jayaseellan…



Tags: Syria Pope Francis Indian Christians Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros II Ramadan

1 August 2013
J.D. Conor Mauro




In this photo from our Spring 2013 edition, mourners gather in Cairo’s Cathedral of St. Mark for the funeral liturgy of a Copt killed by troops during a protest march. (photo: David Degner)

Christians fear violence in Egypt (Vatican Radio) Supporters of Egypt’s ousted president Muhammad Morsi continued to hold protests in Cairo on Thursday despite warnings from the country’s interim government. Vatican Radio spoke with the Rev. Rafic Greiche, head of the press office of the Egyptian Catholic Bishops’ Conference, about the latest developments in Egypt. “[Muslim Brotherhood militias] throw Molotovs on the people and sometimes on the churches, they write on the churches very bad words concerning the Pope Tawadros II, also concerning the army. They come to the priests [and call them] traitors. … It is a climate of violence,” said Father Greiche, “and the people are scared…”

Coptic Catholic bishop: Islamists scapegoating Egyptian Christians (Fides) Islamists “emphasize the role of Christians in that uprising also to justify the terrorist attacks being prepared against them,” says Coptic Catholic Bishop Boutros Fahim Awad Hanna. In past days, blogs associated with the Muslim Brotherhood have labeled the interim government following the overthrow of President Muhammad Morsi as the “Military Republic of Tawadros,” indicating Coptic Orthodox Patriarch Tawadros II and his church as the true architects of the popular uprising which led to the end of the Islamist government. “It is obvious that the Muslim Brotherhood wants to explain their political failure by resorting to the theory of ‘Christian conspiracy,’ ” Bishop Boutros says…

Chaldean seminary opens to other Catholic seminarians (Fides) The Chaldean Patriarchal Seminary in Iraq has begun to accept candidates for priesthood belonging to other Catholic churches, starting with the Syrian Catholic Church. The Patriarchate of Babylon of the Chaldeans recently issued a statement announcing this decision, rendered during a 24 July working meeting held at the Patriarchal Curia in Baghdad and presided over by Patriarch Louis Raphael…

Ukrainian Catholic Church leader says priests should not be involved in politics (RISU) Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church spoke recently about why priests should not be involved in politics, the importance of freedom of the church from the government and the need to change the stereotypical notion of power. “The church … must preserve its freedom, otherwise it will become as discredited as the government structures are today,” the church head warns…

Why Lebanon’s Sunnis will stay calm as Syria’s Sunnis wage war (Christian Science Monitor) Once the dominant Islamic sect in Lebanon, over the past two decades the Sunni community has been gradually overshadowed by the political and financial empowerment of the Shiites, led by the powerful Hezbollah. Many Sunnis complain that Hezbollah has infiltrated the apparatus of the Lebanese state, dominating the government and wielding influence over the Lebanese army, deepening their sense of marginalization and victimization. But while outbreaks of further violence are inevitable, a descent into all-out civil war similar to the conflict roiling Syria or the one that blighted Lebanon between 1975 and 1990 is unlikely. Beyond a few cells of radical militants, Lebanese Sunnis are unorganized militarily, and stand little chance in a head-on battle against Hezbollah. And the mainstream moderate leadership, represented by former Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s Future Movement, has rejected violence as a solution…



Tags: Egypt Lebanon Chaldean Church Copts Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk

31 July 2013
J.D. Conor Mauro




Residents rummage through the damage and debris left of their homes for their belongings after what activists said was an air attack from forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al Assad in Aleppo on 27 July. (photo: CNS/Hamid Khatib, Reuters)

Why fewer ground reports are emerging from Syria (Christian Science Monitor) Many journalists are swearing off crossing the border into Syria, owing less to the threat of violence than the risk of kidnapping. Working in Syria during the war has always been dangerous. Since March 2011, the conflict has claimed the lives of at least 24 journalists and 60 citizen journalists. But for those working inside, there were ways to limit exposure to violence and there was relative comfort in knowing that they could trust those around them. In opposition-controlled areas, Syrians wanted the outside world to hear their story and many locals went to great lengths to protect and welcome foreign reporters. Nearly two and a half years into the war, circumstances have changed…

Pope voices concern over priest missing in Syria (Daily Star Lebanon) Pope Francis voiced concern on Wednesday over the fate of an Italian Jesuit priest missing in Syria. “I am thinking of Father Paolo [Dall’Oglio],” the pope, a fellow Jesuit, said at a Mass for members of the order. There have been conflicting reports this week about the fate of Father Dall’Oglio, a priest known for opposing the Syrian regime, with some activists saying they feared he had been kidnapped. But a Catholic charity working in the region, Aid to the Church in Need, said he had gone to meet members of Al Qaeda to demand the release of a captive…

Russian Orthodox Church to give $1 million to Syrian residents (Zee News) The Russian Orthodox Church is preparing to give over $1.3 million to residents of Syrian cities, said Vasily Rulinsky, spokesman of the Synodal Department for Church Charity and Social Ministry. “At the end of June Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia urged believers to help those who fall victims of the armed conflict in Syria. Funds, which were collected by the Russian Orthodox Church eparchies, are being sent to the accounts of the Synodal Department for Church Charity and Social Ministry. Then the funds will be handed over to Patriarch Youhanna X of Antioch and All the East, as well as to Supreme Mufti Ahmad Badreddin Hassoun of Syria…”

Push for Islamic law in Iraqi Kurdistan stirs controversy (AINA) As religious parties in the Kurdistan Region push for Sharia in the autonomous Iraqi enclave, rights groups warn that this move could curtail freedoms. Opposition Islamic parties in the Kurdistan Region have been pushing for implementation of Article 6 of the enclave’s draft constitution, which states that Sharia is the source of all legislation. Islamic opposition parties have consistently opposed the Kurdistan Democratic Party’s attempts to secularize the constitution, in a country with a predominantly Muslim population but with small Christian and other non-Muslim communities…

Ancient Coptic icons seized at Cairo airport (Egypt Independent) Customs officers at Cairo airport have seized three ancient Coptic icons that someone attempted to smuggle to the United States. Customs chief Mohamed al Shahat said that personnel were suspicious of a parcel that was being shipped to the United States. “We found three ancient Coptic icons in it,” he said. The icons were confiscated and sent to the Ministry of Antiquities…



Tags: Iraq Pope Francis Syrian Civil War Russian Orthodox Church Icons





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