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September, 2017
Volume 43, Number 3
  
23 July 2013
J.D. Conor Mauro




Pope Francis waves from his popemobile after arriving in Rio de Janeiro on 22 July. (photo: CNS/Ueslei Marcelino, Reuters)

Brazil crowds delight Pope Francis, frustrate his guards (Christian Science Monitor) A wrong turn sent a humble Fiat carrying Pope Francis into the thick of a frenzied Rio crowd Monday, in his first minutes back in South America since becoming pontiff. It was a nightmare for security officials, but for the clearly delighted pope just another opportunity to connect. The pope is visiting Brazil on a seven-day visit meant to fan the fervor of the young faithful around the globe. That task has grown more challenging as Roman Catholics stray, even in strongholds of the religion such as Brazil, yet it seemed to come easily to Francis even on the drive from the airport to an official opening ceremony… [The full text of Pope Francis’ arrival speech is available via Vatican Radio.]

In Pictures: Syria’s young refugees (Al Jazeera) Among the Syrian refugees located in camps in Jordan and Lebanon, children face particular hardship. A significant percentage of child fatalities occur while en route to escape the war in Syria. While on this perilous journey, juveniles are often separated from their parents and left to die in the rugged terrain. For such children, life consists of hiding from snipers and shelling, facing extreme weather without shelter, and pursuing desperate measures for nutrition, such as licking moisture from grass…

In Lebanon, more Syrian students than Lebanese expected (Fides) About half of the 6.8 million Syrians in need of urgent humanitarian assistance, both within Syria and across its borders, are school-age children. In September, for the start of the new school year, it is expected that there will be more Syrian refugee students than Lebanese in the public schools. According to the United Nations, the schools are not prepared to accept many refugee children. Compounding the situation is the recruitment of child soldiers…

Monks in Egypt’s lawless Sinai preserve an ancient library (Yahoo! News) Just as they have done for 17 centuries, the Greek Orthodox monks of St. Catherine’s Monastery in Egypt’s Sinai desert and the local Jabaliya Bedouins worked together to protect the monastery when the 2011 revolution thrust Egypt into a period of uncertainty. Afraid they could be attacked by extremists or bandits in the relatively lawless expanse of desert, the 25 monks put the monastery’s most valuable manuscripts in the building’s storage room. Their Bedouin friends, who live at the base of Saint Catherine’s in a town of the same name, allegedly took up their weapons and guarded the perimeter. The community’s fears of an attack were not realized, but the monks decided they needed a new way to protect their treasured library from any future threats. Last year, they began a program of digitally copying biblical scripts with the help of multispectral imaging specialists from around the world, while simultaneously renovating and modernizing the library itself…

Pope Francis mourns Indian cardinal (Catholic Herald) Indian Cardinal Simon Pimenta, who led the Archdiocese of Bombay for more than 18 years, died on Friday at the age of 93. Sending his condolences to Catholics in Mumbai (as Bombay is now named), Pope Francis remembered the cardinal’s “long years of devoted service to the Catholic community there and his many years of faithful assistance to the successor of Peter as a member of the College of Cardinals.” His death leaves the College of Cardinals with 203 members, 112 of whom are under the age of 80 and therefore eligible to vote in a conclave…



Tags: Pope Francis Refugees Monastery Refugee Camps World Youth Day

22 July 2013
J.D. Conor Mauro




In this 2011 image, Abbot Mar Christo tends to the vegetable garden in St. George’s Monastery in Syria’s Wadi al Nasarah. Dating back to the sixth century, the monastery is the region’s oldest extant Christian site. For more, see Syria’s Christian Valley, from the January 2011 issue of ONE. (photo: Sean Sprague)

The plight of Syrian minorities (Counterpunch) As the conflict in Syria rages, the dire reality of religious and ethnic minorities comes to the surface. On July 18, BBC World News featured reportage on the Syrian government shelling of the town of Al Husun, which lies at the foothill of Krak des Chevaliers. The 11th-century Crusader citadel rests magnificently at the top of a massive hill at the heart of a valley in western Homs known as Wadi al Nasarah — “the Christian Valley.” To its southwest nestles the historic Antiochian Orthodox St. George’s Monastery. As early as March 2011, the Christian Valley became the most sought refuge of the people of Homs, regardless of religion or sect. The valley constitutes some 32 villages, of which 27 are inhabited by Christians — mostly Greek Orthodox. Among the remaining five villages, four are mainly Alawites, leaving only Al Husun inhabited largely by Muslim Sunnis. Despite rising sectarian tensions, the people of the Christian Valley, largely peasants who live off their farms, remain hospitable. Many of them host their neighbors who had to flee Homs and, more recently, Aleppo…

What’s become of Syria’s Christian sites? (Huffington Post) As politicians debate the fate of Syria’s Christian minority, reportedly targeted by Muslim fundamentalists for supporting President Bashar al Assad’s regime, the country’s Christian sites seem to have been forgotten in the two-plus-year civil war. “They cut off the head of the statue of Mary (Lady of the Two Worlds) in Syria’s Jisr al Shaghour region,” wrote Rev. Georges Massouh, a Lebanese Greek Orthodox priest, adding that it was still more acceptable than slaughtering human beings. If the attack aimed to terrorize Christians, they will remain in Syria — whose every grain of soil is a witness to its Christianity — and will be martyrs of love, peace, and Christ’s eternal presence in them, he said this week in the daily Annahar. But the ongoing conflict has definitely taken a toll on Christians, their sites, and the language of Christ…

Orthodox delegations arriving in Moscow for commemoration (Voice of Russia) Delegations of the Orthodox churches of Jerusalem, Antioch, Romania, and Cyprus arrived in Moscow today to take part in the festivities marking the 1,025 years since the adoption of the Christian faith by Kievan Rus. The delegations from the Orthodox Patriarchal Church of Jerusalem and the Orthodox Church of Cyprus are led by the supreme hierarchs of these churches — Patriarch Theophilos III and Archbishop Chrysostomos II, respectively. The events are scheduled to run from 24-29 July…

Orthodox patriarch calls for reopening of Istanbul’s Halki Seminary (Hurriyet Daily News) Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew repeated his call to the Turkish government for the reopening of the Heybeliada Halki Seminary, saying that the religion was entering a dangerous phase due to a lack of proper religious officials. Bartholomew was speaking at an iftar event organized by the Istanbul Mufti office, with Mufti Rahmi Yaran present, where the patriarch mentioned the closed Halki Seminary. “We would like to mention at this time the importance of qualified religious officials in the society. Religious officials should always be properly educated and set examples based on their training throughout their life…”

Israeli-Palestinian peace talks’ resumption put in doubt by both sides (BBC) Moves towards a resumption of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks were mired in rumors, rebuttals, criticism and confusion on Sunday. In a high-profile dismissal of the embryonic process, Israel’s former foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman, wrote on Facebook that there was “no solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, at least not in the coming years, and what’s possible and important to do is conflict-management.” Naftali Bennett, economics minister, insisted construction on Jewish settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem would continue, regardless of talks…



Tags: Syrian Civil War Violence against Christians Russian Orthodox Church Middle East Peace Process Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I

19 July 2013
J.D. Conor Mauro




Five-year-old Battoul al Hassan stands outside her family’s temporary home in Jounieh, Lebanon. To read our recent story on Syrian refugees in Lebanon, see Crossing the Border, from the Spring 2013 issue of ONE. (photo: Tamara Hadi)

CNEWA’s humanitarian fight for Syrian refugees (AsiaNews) The Syrian tragedy is creating tens of thousands of refugees each month. Catholic Near East Welfare Association (CNEWA) is active along the Lebanese border helping displaced Christian families. “In the past year, we have helped more than 11,000 families and 4,000 children,” its regional director Issam Bishara told AsiaNews. “And our work goes on.” In the last 14 months, Catholic Near East Welfare Association has been able to provide food and other aid to 4,474 children and 11,152 Syrian families in need, displaced from an area that runs from Homs to the Lebanese border. For the upcoming school year, the papal agency also plans to provide school supplies to at least 1,500 children in Homs for a period of 160 days…

Israeli law tears Palestinian families apart (Al Jazeera) Thousands of families are affected by the Citizenship and Entry into Israel Law, which prohibits Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza from obtaining permanent or temporary resident status in East Jerusalem or Israel. The citizenship law applies to married couples even when one spouse holds Israeli residency or citizenship. Since Israel’s 1967 annexation of East Jerusalem, a move unrecognized by the international community, Palestinians have rarely been granted citizenship rights, only residency rights. Palestinians live with the threat of having their residency revoked. As a result, a generation of Palestinian children has grown up living in uncertainty and fear…

Egyptian Christians happy Morsi is gone but remain wary (Jerusalem Post) Coptic Christian community is not under any illusion that the army’s installation of an interim government devoid of Islamists spells the end to its long-standing grievances, such as difficulties in getting state jobs, equality before the law and securing permits to build churches. Communal tensions and attacks on Christians and churches rose sharply under Morsi, Egypt’s first freely-elected president. Many Copts, who make up about a tenth of Egypt’s 84 million people, left the country where their ancestors settled in the earliest years of Christianity — several centuries before the arrival of Islam…

After ouster, Egypt’s military and Islamists are far from a deal (New York Times) More than two weeks after the military removed President Mohamed Morsi from power, intense efforts to bring the generals and the ex-president’s Islamist supporters to an agreement have so far come up empty, deepening Egypt’s political crisis. The efforts, according to intermediaries, have been stymied by the military’s refusal so far to release Mr. Morsi and several aides, who are held incommunicado and have not been charged with crimes. In Mr. Morsi’s absence, members of his movement, the Muslim Brotherhood, have continued to demand that the military’s intervention be reversed as a precondition for any settlement…



Tags: Egypt Refugees Middle East Christians CNEWA Israeli-Palestinian conflict

18 July 2013
J.D. Conor Mauro





In this video, the BBC’s Ahmed Maher reports on the violent backlash against Christians in Egypt since Muhammad Morsi was forced from office. (video: BBC)

Egyptian Coptic church destroyed by looters (BBC) There has been a string of attacks on Christians in different provinces in Egypt since Muhammad Morsi was forced from office, with Coptic Christians saying they have been singled out for campaigning against him. In the village of Dalga, near the central Egyptian city of Minya, a church was looted and destroyed and the priest, Father Ayoub Youssef, had to flee for his life. He said Muslim neighbours helped his escape from the roof of his house. “Had it not been for them, I would have been lynched,” he said.…

Coptic pope suspends public catechesis for security reasons (Fides) Yesterday, Coptic Orthodox Patriarch Tawadros II canceled for the third consecutive time the weekly meeting of public prayer and catechesis he typically holds on Wednesday afternoon in St. Mark’s Cathedral in Cairo. Coptic Catholic Bishop Boutros Fahim Awad Hanna of Minya has noted that since 30 June, “Pope Tawadros avoids appearing in public, not so much because he fears for his life, but because he does not want people to gather for fear that some fool could throw a few bombs. At the moment there are those who accuse Christians of being responsible of the popular uprising…”

Israeli-Palestinian talks: speculation mounts on possible breakthrough (The Guardian) The Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, has convened a meeting of the Palestinian leadership in Ramallah amid mounting speculation about an imminent breakthrough that may bring Israel and Palestine back to the negotiating table. Israeli President Shimon Peres further raised expectations in a statement which said: “From the latest information at my disposal, [United States Secretary of State John Kerry] has succeeded in progressing the chance for opening peace talks. … The coming days are crucial and we are within touching distance.” Both parties, he added, were “making an effort to overcome the final obstacles…”

Bridge to nowhere: Syrian refugees in Greece (Al Jazeera) Syrians fleeing war spend every resource at their disposal and risk life and limb to arrive in Greece, but safe arrival is no guarantee of an easier life. While the war rages, Greek authorities will not deport Syrian refugees, but nor will they support them in any way. Without residence permits, it is next to impossible for them to work legally. Many are reduced to begging. Others live off the charity of the Greek Orthodox Church and community organizations. It is easy to be picked up during police stop-and-search operations targeting undocumented migrants. Syrians can end up jailed for months while their nationality is verified. Once inside a detention center, police brutality is all too frequent. Greece is experiencing a severe backlash against migrants, legal and illegal, as a six-year recession has driven unemployment to 27 percent…

Bulgarian Orthodox Church appoints new acting metropolitan of Varna (Sofia Globe) The Holy Synod of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church appointed Dorostol Metropolitan Ambrosii as temporary metropolitan of Varna on 18 July. Metropolitan Ambrosii will hold the position until the election of a new metropolitan, who would replace Metropolitan Kiril, found dead on a Black Sea beach earlier this month. After Kiril’s death, the Holy Synod named Vratsa Metropolitan Kalinik as acting Varna Metropolitan, but Kalinik withdrew after clergy and laity wrote to the Holy Synod objecting to his appointment…



Tags: Violence against Christians Middle East Peace Process Immigration Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros II Bulgarian Orthodox Church

17 July 2013
J.D. Conor Mauro




In this photo from Sunday, 7 July 2013, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I presides over the concelebration of the Divine Liturgy for the patronal feast of the Church of St. Kyriaki in Kontoskali, Istanbul, with Metropolitans Germanos of Theodoroupolis and Athenagoras of Kydonies. Metropolitan Chrysostomos of Myra was also in attendance. (photo: N. Manginas/The Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople)

Ecumenical patriarch sympathizes with protests, prays for kidnapped bishops (AsiaNews) Ramadan has not stopped anti-government protests, which began with the events of Gezi Park. At an iftar (the traditional dinner after the daily fast during Ramadan) offered by the mayor of Istanbul to leaders of non-Muslim religious minorities, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I showed his interest in and sympathy for the protests, which are a sign of the growing desire for democracy and justice in Turkish society. In a veiled reference to the protests in Gezi Park, the patriarch said, “We are excited and joyful witnesses to important facts that seek to find a solution to long-standing situations that have accumulated over the years in Turkish society even though they cause divisions and polarization.” In his brief but tough speech, Bartholomew mentioned the kidnapping of Greek Orthodox Metropolitan Paul and Syriac Orthodox Metropolitan Yohanna, expressing concern for their fate and inviting all those present at the iftar dinner to pray for them…

Concern for Syrian refugees grows (Vatican Radio) Suspected rebel gunmen assassinated a well-known supporter of Syrian President Bashar al Assad in Lebanon today, the latest sign that Syria’s civil war is spreading to its smaller neighbor. It was the first assassination of a pro-Assad figure in Lebanon since Syria’s conflict started more than two years ago. Meanwhile, the United Nations has appealed for more humanitarian aid for Syrian refugees…

After Morsi, Christians and churches targeted by Islamists (AsiaNews) More than 100 Christian families have fled Al Arish in the Sinai after receiving death threats from Islamist groups following the fall of Muhammad Morsi. Currently, Coptic churches in northern Sinai have canceled all services and meetings, except for the Divine Liturgy on Friday. No Christians are left in the towns of Rafah and Sheikh Zowayd. The Sinai Peninsula has always been a home for Islamist groups, many of them linked to Hamas in Gaza. For decades, they have fought against the Egyptian army as it tried to stop weapon supplies and smuggling into the Gaza Strip. Under Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood, the army had reduced pressure on them but now the military is back in force following the fall of Hosni Mubarak’s successor…

Russian, Serbian patriarchs criticize Serbian government (B92) Serbian Orthodox Patriarch Irinej has conferred with Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill in the Russian Patriarchate in Moscow. The Serbian church head sought the aid of the Russian Orthodox Church and the Russian government in the preservation of Kosovo and Metohija, leveling criticism at the Serbian authorities. Patriarch Irinej underlined that Serbia must not renounce Kosovo and Metohija, because that would imply renouncing its history, culture, spirituality and holy sites. Patriarch Kirill remarked that the Russian Orthodox Church agrees with the stands of its sister church in terms of Kosovo and Metohija, and he also criticized Serbia’s political leadership…

Roma integration idles (Al Jazeera) The Roma are Europe’s biggest ethnic minority. For decades they have been victims of racism, discrimination and social exclusion. In 2005 twelve European countries declared “the decade of Roma inclusion” and, in 2011, the European Union established a framework for their integration. But in its latest report, the E.U. Commission concluded that not only has inadequate progress been made but that the majority of states failed to allocate sufficient resources for Roma inclusion…

Grassroots ‘ecumenical friendship’ strengthens Catholic-Orthodox relations (Catholic World Report) Rather than collecting dust on a Vatican shelf, Pope John Paul II’s apostolic letter “Orientale Lumen” (“Light of the East”), which encourages Latin Catholics to better know the traditions of the Christian East, has continued to inspire a Washington, D.C.-based grassroots ecumenical movement for almost two decades. Initially planned as a single meeting to discuss the pope’s work, the Orientale Lumen Conference has become an annual gathering open to anyone. In some ways, it has kept the light of Orthodox-Catholic dialogue burning even while official dialogues hit roadblocks…



Tags: Syrian Civil War Violence against Christians Ecumenism Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I Roma

16 July 2013
J.D. Conor Mauro




Pope Francis greets the crowd after praying the Angelus at the papal villa in Castel Gandolfo, Italy, on 14 July. (photo: CNS/Paul Haring)

Pope Francis prays for the victims of the Volhynia Massacre (VIS) Following Sunday’s Angelus, the pope commemorated the massacres of Volhynia in June 1943, a tragic episode during World War II in which tens of thousands of people lost their lives. He said: “I join in prayer with the prelates and faithful of the church in Ukraine, gathered in the cathedral of Lutsk for the Holy Mass of the souls of the deceased on the seventieth anniversary of the massacres at Volhynia. Those actions, provoked by nationalist ideology in the tragic context of the Second World War, claimed tens of thousands of victims and damaged the fraternity between the two peoples, the Polish and the Ukrainian. I entrust to the mercy of God the souls of the victims and, for their people, I ask the grace of profound reconciliation and of a peaceful future in hope and in sincere collaboration in building together the Kingdom of God…”

Monastery under attack; nuns appeal to Palestinian president (Fides) The nuns of the Greek Orthodox monastery in Bethany have sent a letter to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to urge the leaders of the Palestinian Authority to take charge, with appropriate measures, of the escalation of attacks that the site has been suffering lately: thrown stones, broken glass, theft and looting of the monastery property as part of a campaign of intimidation. “We do not exclude,” wrote the Mother Superior Sister Ibraxia in her letter to President Abbas, “that behind these attacks there are those who want to foment discord among the children of the Palestinian nation…”

Greek Orthodox patriarch: Syrian people committed to unity and peace (SANA) Greek Orthodox Patriarch Youhanna X of Antioch and All the East stressed that the Syrian people are committed to the territorial integrity of Syria, adding that efforts should be exerted for Syria to restore peace, security and stability. During a visit to Lattakia province, he called on the neighboring countries to exert efforts for peaceful political solution to the crisis in Syria, which was and will remain the homeland for dialogue, fraternity, amity and peace…

NGO claims Egyptian state is failing to respond to attacks on copts (Daily Star Lebanon) Egypt’s Christians have been targeted in a wave of attacks since the ouster of Islamist President Muhammad Morsi, and the state is failing to protect them, an NGO said Monday. Sectarian violence since the latest political upheaval in Egypt began has killed four Coptic Christians in Luxor governorate, with churches elsewhere torched and looted, said the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights. “What is disturbing is the failure of the security apparatus to act — which at times looks like collusion — to protect citizens and their property who are being targeted on the basis of their religion,” the EIPR’s Ishak Ibrahim said in a statement…

Israel begins deporting Eritrean refugees to troubled African homeland (Los Angeles Times) In an acceleration of its controversial crackdown on African asylum seekers, Israel has begun sending Eritrean refugees back to their restive homeland, where they face uncertain and potentially perilous futures. The first planeload of 14 Eritreans left Israel over the weekend and the government is expected to repatriate about 200 more in the coming days, according to refugee-rights groups. After receiving a flood of about 60,000 African refugees over the last seven years, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared the influx a threat to the country’s security and Jewish character…



Tags: Egypt Pope Francis Palestine Israel Eastern Europe

15 July 2013
Greg Kandra




Maronite Patriarch Bechara Peter has called for reconciliation in Lebanon, saying that sectarian militias will lead the country to “destruction.” (photo: CNS/Jim West)

Patriarch calls for reconciliation in Lebanon (Fides) Any non-state army should be considered “illegitimate” and will result in the return of the country to the “law of the jungle and an increase in crime, a phenomenon that unfortunately we are already recording,” according to the Patriarch of Antioch of the Maronites Bechara Peter Rai. He launched yet another warning about the fate of the Country of the Cedars during his homily on Sunday 14 July in Harissa. The head of the Maronite Church has called on political factions to reconcile in a new social contract, based on the National Pact of 1943 with which Christians and Muslims agreed on the joint management of political power and institutional offices in Lebanon which became independent from France. According to the patriarch, the conflict between the political factions is contributing to the “destruction of the country.” A drift that can be stopped only by returning to the foundational Covenant “with which the Lebanese built their Country on the basis of living together, preserving Lebanon against any loyalty to other nations of the East or the West”...

Dozens killed in series of attacks in Iraq during Ramadan (Al Jazeera) At least 33 people have been killed and almost 100 wounded in deadly attacks across Iraq as violence escalates during Ramadan, security and hospital officials say...

Car bomb kills at least 13 near Damascus (BBC) A car bomb has exploded north of the Syrian capital Damascus killing at least 13 people including 10 policemen, activists say. The overnight blast struck near a police station in the town of Deir Atiyeh, the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. State-run Sana news agency confirmed the attack, saying “terrorists” had caused an unknown number of casualties. The blast comes as the Syrian army tries to regain ground around Damascus...

Hindus outraged at statue depicting Virgin Mary in a sari (International Business Times) The issue of Christian missionaries proselytizing in India has taken a bizarre turn after a church in the eastern state of Jharkhand installed a statue of Mother Mary and Baby Jesus depicted as “tribals,” the indigenous people of the state. With dark brown complexions and sporting traditional Indian tribal clothing (white sari with red border, etc.), the statue in a church in the village of Singhpur has sparked outrage from local Hindus and other non-Christians who have called for its immediate removal...

Tens of thousands line up to view relic in St. Petersburg (AFP) Around 65,000 people have queued for hours in Saint Petersburg to see a religious relic brought from Greece, officials said Saturday, in the latest sign of the Russian Orthodox Church’s influence in post-Soviet Russia. The cross of Saint Andrew — said to be a relic of the X-shaped cross on which Andrew the Apostle was crucified — was placed in Saint Petersburg’s Kazan Cathedral on Thursday after arriving from its historic home in Patras in Greece...

Patriarch Kirill: Russians are having too much fun (Radio Free Europe) Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill has urged Russians to have less fun and spend more of their free time in seclusion. On July 11, Kirill said there was “more fun than needed” in the life of Russians. He said people spent a lot of their energy working and should occupy their time in isolated, quiet places instead of celebrating during their vacations...



12 July 2013
J.D. Conor Mauro




An instructor at the Don Bosco Institute oversees the work of his students in a technology class in Cairo. Run by the Salesians of Don Bosco and supported by CNEWA, the institute enables Egyptians from all economic backgrounds to learn a trade to improve their lives and communities. (photo: Shawn Baldwin)

CNEWA focuses on supporting the churches in Egypt and Syria (B.C. Catholic) The Christian population in Syria faces a threat of being “wiped out,” says Carl Hétu, national secretary of the Catholic Near East Welfare Association Canada (CNEWA). “It’s become a Sunni/Shia battleground, and that’s not going to go away soon,” said Hétu. “The big losers are the Christians.” That’s why CNEWA is focusing its assistance on supporting the churches in Syria. “The Church in the Middle East is in survival mode, whether under the Ottoman Empire, or dictatorship, it has always adapted to the reality of the time, to play its humanitarian role,” he said. That humanitarian role is why the support of the churches is crucial, he said. In Egypt in the wake of a military coup that deposed the Islamist government, the future may be somewhat brighter for Christians there than in Syria, Hétu said. The patriarchs of the Catholic and the Orthodox Copts are working together in a new spirit of ecumenism, uniting the Christians, he said. Christian leaders and working “hand in hand” with Muslims who reject the repressive regime Muslim Brotherhood were imposing on Egypt. “The work of CNEWA is focusing on sustaining, helping and working with the local Catholic Coptic Church of Egypt,” Hétu said. That includes supporting their seminary, their seminarians, and religious in formation, as well as churches’ work in education, social services, health care and aid for children…

Catholics urged to pray for victims of Syria conflict (Vatican Radio) The head of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, Archbishop Vincent Nichols, is presiding at a Mass in London’s Westminster Cathedral on Friday to pray for all those suffering the effects of the civil war in Syria. In a statement issued earlier in the week, all of the English and Welsh church leaders call on Catholics to pray for a peaceful solution to the conflict and to offer whatever practical support they can through aid agencies that are operating in the region. For further details, Philippa Hitchen spoke with Dr. Harry Hagopian, Middle East advisor to the bishops in England and Wales…

Survey: Lebanese support for Syrian refugees flagging (Fides) A recent poll claims 54 percent of Lebanon’s citizens want to see their borders closed to further refugees. As many as 90 percent expressed a desire to limit the heretofore unrestricted access granted to those fleeing Syria’s civil war. The survey was sponsored by the Norwegian Fafo Research Foundation and published only because of the reactions raised by the Lebanese people due to the size of the influx of refugees. The reasons for the growing discontent are mainly economic and social order: 82 percent of respondents believe that refugees take away work from the Lebanese causing a fall in wages, while 66 percent of their prolonged presence is likely to undermine the management of water and energy resources of the country. These results also indicate the growth of xenophobic inclination: More than 80 percent of respondents respond negatively to the possibility of one of their relatives marrying a Syrian, while 53 percent are worried by the idea that Syrian children are eligible to attend the same school classes as their children…

Egypt calls for new look at Morsi prison escape in 2011 (New York Times) Egypt’s new rulers gave new credence to a court case against the ousted president, Muhammad Morsi, and members of the Muslim Brotherhood on Thursday over their escape from prison during the uprising that toppled his predecessor, Hosni Mubarak. No charges have yet been filed. Its acceptance by powerful prosecutors follows the arrest of many Muslim Brotherhood members and is a new blow to the group by the military-backed government. The detentions have been criticized by rights groups and the Obama administration, which spent Thursday walking back remarks made early in the day by a State Department spokeswoman, Jen Psaki, seeming to criticize Mr. Morsi as undemocratic and in so doing seeming to validate the military’s move to oust him…

Orthodox Church formalizes objection to constitutional declaration (Egypt Independent) Today, the Coptic Orthodox Church submitted to the Egyptian presidency a memorandum of legal objections to the recent constitutional declaration, a state-run news website quoted the Rev. Felopateer Gamil Aziz of Virgin Church in Faisal as writing on his Facebook and Twitter accounts. The church understands the nature of the constitutional declaration in the transitional phase and proposes the preparation of a new constitution for the country, different than the suspended constitution, he said. A meeting will be held today between the church and advisers of the interim president to discuss these objections, he said…



Tags: Egypt Refugees CNEWA Syrian Civil War CNEWA Canada

11 July 2013
J.D. Conor Mauro




Bulgarian Orthodox Metropolitan Kalinik, 82, was ordained bishop in 1971 and elected the metropolitan of Vratsa in 1974. (photo: Bulgarian Orthodox Church)

Bulgarian Orthodox Church elects interim Varna metropolitan (Novinite) The Holy Synod of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church elected Wednesday, after a 2-hour emergency sitting, Vratsa metropolitan Kalinik as interim metropolitan of Varna and Veliki Preslav. Metropolitan Kalinik is to temporarily replace the late Varna Metropolitan Kiril whose body was discovered on a beach near Varna on Tuesday. Bulgarian clergy maintain that the cause of death was most likely hypothermia, contrary to early suspicions of foul play. Metropolitan Kalinik will assume the post after the traditional 40 days of respect for the deceased…

Second Christian in a week murdered in Egypt (Times of Israel) Security officials say suspected militants have killed a Christian merchant in the northern Sinai Peninsula. They said 60-year-old Magdy Habashi was abducted last Saturday from the town of Sheikh Zweid. His decapitated body was found early Thursday in a cemetery. Habashi is the second Christian to be killed in northern Sinai in less than a week. Coptic Christian priest Mina Aboud Sharween was gunned down by suspected militants last Saturday as he walked in an outdoor market. There has been a backlash against Christians by Islamist militants for their activism against former President Morsi…

Syrian Christians become kidnapping targets, flee to Lebanon (Global Post) While the war has increased animosity between Sunni and Shia, it has also devastated Syria’s Christians, some of whom have now fled to Lebanon. Their story is rarely told. When the Syrian uprising broke out in March 2011, Christians remained neutral or sided with Assad. They saw that Muslim extremists — both Shia and Sunni — had driven Christians out of Iraq after the US invasion of 2003. They feared a similar crisis in Syria. Even in the early months of the uprising, some local Sunnis were chanting the slogan, “Christians to Beirut, Alawites to the tabout [coffin]”…

In Aleppo, hunger stirs protestation against rebel blockade (AsiaNews) Citizens of Aleppo have been spurred to protest against the blockade imposed by the rebels on the districts controlled by the government. “We lack food and medicine,” shout the inhabitants of the neighborhood of Bustan al Qasr, “the people want an end to the blockade.” According to the Syrian Observatory for human rights, protests against the scarcity of basic necessities began early Tuesday, 9 July, when dozens of protesters gathered near a checkpoint. In the protest, one demonstrator has allegedly been killed, struck by a bullet in the head; it is still unclear whether he was shot by the rebels themselves or by an army sniper…

Chaldean patriarch extends greetings to Muslims in honor of Ramadan (AsiaNews) “On behalf of myself and of all the of Christians of Iraq, I extend my best wishes to all Muslim men and women for the beginning of this blessed month,” said Chaldean Patriarch Louis Raphael I in an address to his brothers and sisters of Islam at the start of Ramadan. His Beatitude wishes that it will be a time of “doing good and peace” for the country and its inhabitants. He stressed the primary duty to preserve “our national unity” and adopt a “language of dialogue in solving problems” — because, the Patriarch added, “we are one community, despite our diversity…”



Tags: Egypt Syrian Civil War Violence against Christians Chaldean Patriarch Louis Raphael I Bulgarian Orthodox Church

10 July 2013
J.D. Conor Mauro




Egyptian Copts gather for the funeral procession of Rev. Mina Aboud Sharween, a victim of sectarian violence, on Monday, 8 July 2013. (photo: The Coptic Orthodox Church)

Christians fear the new Egyptian constitution will be equally divisive (Fides) Christian churches in Egypt are expressing concerns over the temporary constitution enacted by decree on Monday by the Egyptian president ad interim, Adly Mansour. The ecclesiastical hierarchy is likely to announce its official position soon. “We are concerned. … The provisions that in the old constitution seemed bad in the eyes of Christians are highlighted in the new text. If we do not speak now, we will not be able to say anything,” says Coptic Catholic Bishop Botros Fahim Awad Hanna of Minya. What worries Christians is in particular is Article 1 of the new constitutional declaration, which refers to Sharia as a basic source of legislation adds that the interpretation of the Sharia law should be in accordance with the body of laws developed in the early centuries of Islam. In this step the content of Article 219 of the previous constitution is retrieved, which at the time was the center of the disputes of Christians, ultimately resulting in the withdrawal of their representatives from the constitutional assembly in protest. In addition, from the provisional Constitution enacted by Mansour, former Article 3 has disappeared, which guaranteed Christians and Jews the opportunity to use their own canonical principles to regulate personal issues and religious aspects of their communities…

Egypt orders arrest of top Muslim Brotherhood, Islamist officials (Washington Post) Egypt’s top prosecutor has ordered the arrest of the Muslim Brotherhood’s spiritual leader and nine other top Islamist officials for allegedly instigating violence that led to the killing of more than 50 demonstrators Monday. The arrest warrants for Brotherhood supreme guide Muhammad Badie and the others came a day after interim President Adly Mansour appointed a prime minister and vice president, moves designed to lend an air of normalcy to the country even as indications mounted that the president is little more than a civilian face for military rule. Mansour also has outlined a path to quick elections and a return to democracy after the 3 July coup that overthrew Egypt’s first freely elected president, Muhammad Morsi…

Women deacons in the Armenian Apostolic Church: a history (Armenian Weekly) Women deacons, an ordained ministry, have served the Armenian Apostolic Church for centuries. In some instances, the mission of the Armenian deaconesses was educating, caring for orphans and the elderly, assisting the indigent, comforting the bereaved, and addressing women’s issues. They served in convents and cathedrals, and the general population. Their vestments are exactly like those of nuns or sisters, except that on their forehead they have a cross; their stole hangs from over the right shoulder. The woman deacon served on the altar, as did her male counterpart, and the bishop did not limit her liturgical service to convent churches only…

St. Andrew’s Cross to be delivered to Belarus (Belarus Telegraph Agency) The cross on which the Apostle Andrew the First-Called was crucified will be delivered to Minsk. By decision of the Holy Synod of the Belarusian Exarchate, the relic will be on display in the Apostle Andrew Church and the Church of All Saints in Minsk from 29 July to 2 August, BelTA learned from the Minsk Eparchy of the Belarusian Orthodox Church. This relic is ordinarily kept at an Orthodox church in Patras, Greece, in Peloponnese. The cross will be brought to St. Petersburg, Moscow, Kiev and Minsk. “The event is meant to remind us that the spiritual life of the three nations has the same roots — the blessing St. Andrew gave in the first century and the christening in Kiev in 988,” said an official statement from the Belarusian Orthodox Church…

Regional upheaval prompts Israeli Arab Christians form new political party (The Times of Israel) Christian Arab citizens of Israel are forming a new political party. The party’s Hebrew name — B’nei Brit Hahadasha — means “Sons of the New Testament,” although the word “allies” is hidden in the title as well. The effort is part of a growing assertiveness on the part of Christian Arabs in the wake of the Arab Spring, as they increasingly sound calls for an identity distinct from Israel’s broader Arab society, which is around 90 percent Muslim. According to its Facebook page, the party’s platform includes full integration of Christians in all fields, peace with a democratic Palestinian state and all of Israel’s neighbors, increased tourism and trade, and the return of Israelis who have left the country…



Tags: Egypt Israel Saints Egypt's Christians Women Religious in Europe





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