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December, 2017
Volume 43, Number 4
  
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

9 July 2013
J.D. Conor Mauro




In this 9 December photo, Bulgarian Orthodox Metropolitan Kiril of Varna and Veliki Preslav celebrates the Divine Liturgy at Sveti Sedmochislenitsi Church (The Church of Seven Saints) in Sofia. (photo: The Bulgarian Orthodox Church)

Bulgarian bishop found drowned, foul play suspected (France24) A powerful and controversial Bulgarian Orthodox Church metropolitan was found dead on a Black Sea beach on Tuesday. Metropolitan Kiril was initially thought to have died from drowning but Bulgarian state radio, citing police and prosecutors, said the 59-year-old’s death appears suspicious. An autopsy was being carried out to determine the cause of death, which happened in the city of Varna, the diocese the bishop represented. Kiril was one of the best-known members of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church…

Praying: the Catholic and the Muslim way (Vatican Radio) Jesuit Professor Father Felix Körner is a scholar engaged in dialogue with Muslim theologians in an effort to build bridges between Christians and Muslims and to improve mutual understanding. To mark the beginning of Ramadan, Veronica Scarisbrick speaks to Professor Körner, who currently teaches interreligious theology at the Jesuit-run Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome…

Crisis conditions spur provisional Egyptian government to action (AsiaNews) Continuing protests and 51 deaths since Monday, 8 July, have pushed Adly Mansour, interim Egyptian president, to advance the date of the election. Within seven months, the country will return to the polls. The official date remains to be announced within the next few weeks, during which time the members of the new parliament will attempt to improve the nation’s constitution…

Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood rejects timetable (Al Jazeera) The Muslim Brotherhood party has rejected the transition timetable set out by the military-backed interim president. Essam al Erian, a senior Brotherhood figure and deputy head of its Freedom and Justice Party, the political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood, rejected the transition timetable on Tuesday, saying it takes the country “back to zero.” On his Facebook page, al Erian wrote that “the people created their constitution with their votes,” referring to the constitution that Islamists pushed to finalization and then was passed in a national referendum during former President Mohamed Morsi’s year in office…

Wounded dying for lack of medicine in Syria’s Homs, activists say (Daily Star Lebanon) People wounded in fighting between rebels and regime troops in the central Syrian city of Homs are dying for lack of medical equipment, activists said on Tuesday. “The army’s continuous bombardment over the past 11 days has made the critical humanitarian situation in rebel areas of Homs even worse,” Syrian Observatory for Human Rights director Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP. “An unknown number of rebels and civilians wounded in recent days are dying from their injuries, because there is no medical equipment to treat them,” he added…



Tags: Egypt Syrian Civil War Catholic-Muslim relations Bulgarian Orthodox Church Democracy

8 July 2013
J.D. Conor Mauro




A protester calling for the removal of Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi holds up a copy of the Quran and a cross during a rally at Cairo’s Tahrir Square on 5 July. Egypt’s Catholic leaders welcomed the ouster of the Islamist president and pledged to help “rebuild democracy” under army rule. (photo: CNS/Khaled Abdullah, Reuters)

Churches welcome Morsi’s ousting (The Tablet) The head of the Coptic Orthodox Church, Pope Tawadros II, has praised the campaign that ousted the country’s elected president and leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, Mohamed Morsi, on Thursday evening. Pope Tawadros, the leader of the largest religious minority in Egypt, said that Egyptian people had recovered their “stolen revolution” — a reference to how the Arab Spring of 2011 had led to an increasingly hardline Islamist government. Morsi was officially deposed from office at 7 p.m. local time on Thursday following a week of protests at his rule and the intervention of the Egyptian military…

Egypt security forces kill dozens of pro-Morsi protesters (Los Angeles Times) Soldiers and security forces opened fire on an encampment of anti-military protesters outside the barricades at the Republican Guard headquarters. “We were praying, and … we were surprised by gun fire and tear gas all around us,” said Mahmoud Mohamed, a lawyer who was shot in the arm. “We had women and children with us. … They didn’t give us a chance to retreat.” It is not clear what led to the onslaught that killed at least 42 people and injured hundreds. A military statement said a “terrorist group” attempted to storm the Republican Guard facility, killing one soldier and wounding 40…

Jesuit’s appeal for peace during Ramadan (Fides) “The holy month of Ramadan is a time of penance and conversion to God and is a time to ask our brothers and sisters’ forgiveness. We ask the grace of repentance for everyone. We ask it while claiming respect for law and justice,” said Jesuit Father Paolo dall’Oglio in an appeal to the end the war in Syria and sectarian conflicts in other Middle Eastern countries — conflicts that exist from Pakistan to Lebanon, “as well as those of ideological confessional nature that are taking place from Egypt to Morocco, costing enormous losses and disfiguring the face of Islam…”

Leaders should serve the people, says Bulgarian patriarch (Independent Balkan News Agency) Bulgarian Orthodox Patriarch Neofit says that God puts people in positions of leadership not to satisfy their personal ambitions and goals but to be their servant. Neofit, elected patriarch in February 2013 at the time of the earlier protests that were mobilized around cost-of-living issues, was speaking against a background of continuing anti-government protests. While standing back from taking sides, the patriarch earlier issued a message to the current protesters in which he extended his blessing to them. “When one is empowered to make decisions that affect many people, one must be very careful and responsible, especially humbled by the consciousness of his human weakness and imperfection,” Patriarch Neofit said…

Czechs mark Sts. Cyril and Methodius anniversary (Prague Daily Monitor) Almost 80,000 pilgrims, including President Milos Zeman, visited the Days of Good Will People celebrations of the 1150th anniversary of the arrival of Sts. Cyril and Methodius as missionaries in Great Moravia Friday, festival secretary Josef Korenek has said. Some 60,000 people attended a liturgy for pilgrims on Friday, Korenek added. Bishops from Bohemia, Moravia and Silesia along with 11 foreign bishops, among others from Germany, Russia and Ukraine, took part in the event. St. Cyril or Constantine (827-869) and St. Methodius (825-885), “the apostles of the Slavs,” were two Greek brothers from Thessalonica. As missionaries they spread Christianity, but they also translated biblical and liturgical text into the comprehensible, old Slavonic language. They invented a scripture for this purpose, called Glagolitic, that was later transformed into Cyrillic that it is still in use in the Orthodox Church…



3 July 2013
J.D. Conor Mauro




In this 2011 photo, a Swiss Guard stands at attention as Pope Benedict XVI celebrates the beatification Mass for the late Pope John Paul II in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican. (photo: CNS/L’Osservatore Romano via Catholic Press Photo)

John Paul set for sainthood after second miracle approved (ANSA) A second miracle by Pope John Paul II was approved Tuesday by a plenary meeting of cardinals and bishops of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, ANSA sources said. The decision means that John Paul may be canonized by the end of this year, the sources said. The next step is for Pope Francis to give the final signature…

Egyptian Army delivers ultimatum; will Copts play a bigger role in what follows? (Fides) In Egypt, the army has delivered an ultimatum: President Morsi must work to resolve the country’s political crisis within 48 hours, or he will be removed from office. After the president responded with a speech on Tuesday evening, reiterating his firm intention to remain in power until the end of his term, “the people are … waiting to see” what the army will do, says Coptic Catholic Bishop of Minya Botros Fahim Awad Hanna. Bishop Hanna adds that, among the discussions and proposals over what will follow, “there are those who hope of some form of involvement also on behalf of the University of Al Azhar and representatives of the Coptic Church as forces capable of contributing to a balanced solution to the crisis…”

Catholic leaders decry arming Syrian rebels (National Catholic Register) Church leaders warned that more blood, martyrs and the end of the church in Syria is the price Syria will pay if the United States decides to go ahead with plans to arm the rebel forces. “We’re seeing what looks like an extermination of Christianity,” says Bishop Nicholas Samra, head of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church in the United States. Bishop Samra said that Syria’s five Melkite bishops delivered a “bleak report” about the church in Syria to him and other Melkite bishops gathered at their June annual meeting with Patriarch Gregory III in Lebanon. “Our patriarch and all of our bishops are just calling for an end to all of the fighting,” Bishop Samra said. “We want to see what can be done by working relationships and by sitting down and talking, rather than shooting…”

Maronite bishops urge armed groups to lay down their weapons (Naharnet) The Maronite Bishops Council condemned on Wednesday the spread of illegal arms in Lebanon, saying that it will only create chaos in the country. “All armed groups must lay down their weapons in favor of official security forces,” they concluded. The bishops made their remarks after their monthly meeting headed by Patriarch Bechara Peter. “Political groups cannot rely on arms to achieve their goals, but they should do so through democratic means…”



Tags: Melkite Greek Catholic Church Pope John Paul II Saints Maronite Coptic Church

2 July 2013
J.D. Conor Mauro




Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros II speaks at the Holy Synod of the Coptic Orthodox Church in June 2013. (photo: The official site Pope Tawadros II)

Pope Tawadros II praises Egyptian protesters (Ahram Online) Egypt’s Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros II expressed his support on Tuesday for the nationwide anti-government protests and the campaign calling on President Mohamed Morsi to step down. “It is wonderful to see the Egyptian people taking back their stolen revolution in a peaceful way,” he said in a statement via Twitter…

Syrian refugees set up home in Iraq’s Domiz camp – in pictures (The Guardian) More than 160,000 Syrian refugees are seeking safety in Iraq, most of them in the Kurdish region. Domiz refugee camp, the only Iraqi camp for Syrian refugees, is severely overcrowded and about 90,000 refugees are scattered around nearby towns. With the number of people leaving Syria showing few signs of diminishing, securing food, water and adequate sanitation is an ever-increasing problem…

Georgia’s mighty Orthodox Church (BBC) The Orthodox Church remains the most trusted institution in Georgia. In a February survey carried out by the Caucasus Resource Research Center, 95 percent of respondents had a favorable opinion of its work. Beka Mindiashvili, a former theologian who is now head of the Tolerance Center at the public defender’s office, attributes such high confidence in the church to the 80-year-old patriarch, Ilia II. “He possesses all the right attributes. He is charismatic, he speaks slowly and each word is regarded saintly, holy,” Mr Mindiashvili says. “He is a person for everybody. To a simple person, he speaks simply; to a politician, he speaks politically; to an intellectual, he speaks of Umberto Eco and of classical music.” There were only about 50 priests when Ilia II became patriarch in 1977. Today there are approximately 1,700… [Check out ONE’s profile of the Orthodox Church of Georgia]

Suspect arrested in connection with vandalism of West Bank monastery (Jerusalem Post) An ultra-Orthodox man was arrested Sunday for a September “price-tag” attack on a 19th-century Christian monastery in the West Bank, allegedly carried out in solidarity with other nationalistic Jewish settlers, police said Monday. Graffiti left on the Latrun Monastery by the suspect referred to Migron, an unauthorized settler outpost evacuated by the Israeli government last year. The words “Jesus is a monkey” were also painted in Hebrew on a wall, and the monastery’s doors then set ablaze. The crime was promptly condemned in September by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who said the perpetrators had threatened freedom of religion and must be punished…

Maronite patriarch praises Lebanese army (Naharnet) Maronite Patriarch Bechara Peter voiced on Tuesday his “complete support” for the army in its efforts to preserve Lebanon’s unity and peace. He called on the Lebanese people “regardless of their political or sectarian affiliations to support this national institution.” The patriarch further stressed: “The army helps unite the people and acts as a guarantor of peace for the nation … against the repercussions of the regional crises and internal developments.” Patriarch Bechara Peter’s remarks came amid a growing controversy over extending the tenure of Army Commander General Jean Qahwaji in light of the recent clashes in the southern city of Sidon, where 18 soldiers were killed and 50 were wounded in clashes with armed supporters of Salafist cleric Sheikh Ahmed al Asir on 22-23 June…



Tags: Violence against Christians Maronite Patriarch Bechara Peter Refugee Camps Georgian Orthodox Church Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros II

1 July 2013
J.D. Conor Mauro




In this video, Jamal Elshayyal reports protesters in Egypt have stormed the headquarters of the Muslim Brotherhood in a show of anger at the president and his allies. (video: Al Jazeera)

By the millions, Egyptians seek Morsi’s ouster (New York Times) Millions of Egyptians streamed into the streets of cities across the country on Sunday to demand the ouster of their first elected head of state, President Mohamed Morsi, in an outpouring of anger at the political dominance of his Islamist backers in the Muslim Brotherhood. The scale of the demonstrations, coming just one year after crowds in Tahrir Square cheered Mr. Morsi’s inauguration, appeared to exceed even the massive street protests in the heady final days of the uprising that overthrew President Hosni Mubarak in 2011…

Christians join protests in Egypt (Vatican Radio) In Egypt, protesters stormed the Cairo headquarters of President Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood group Monday morning, a day after the largest protests the nation has seen since the ouster of Hosni Mubarak two years ago. Demonstrators are calling on the President to step down, and for new elections to be held. Many Christians have joined the protests, saying discrimination and violence against minority faiths have increased since Morsi took office. “Most of the Christians do not want the president,” says Father Rafic Greiche, the spokesman for the Melkite Greek Catholic Church in Egypt. “We have to be clear about this.” The full interview with Father Greiche can be found here…

Egypt ministers resign amid unrest (Al Jazeera) Five Egyptian ministers have tendered their resignations from the president’s cabinet, a senior official has said, as protests against the president’s rule filled the streets of cities throughout the country. Earlier on Monday, the state news agency, MENA, said the ministers were considering resigning in sympathy with the protesters who were calling for the resignation of Morsi…

Military offensive on refugee camps in northern Syria (Fides) The refugee camp in Bab al Salam was the subject to an air raid by the Syrian Air Force where seven people were seriously injured, including a child. The raid took place on the night of 25-26 June, the second air attack suffered by the refugee camp in recent weeks. Mirta Neretti, a volunteer, says: “Our contacts in the camp fear that this is the beginning of an escalation … to force refugees to flee,” thereby freeing the land for further military excursions. “The 17,000 refugees in the camp, [including] 5,000 children, are completely helpless and exposed to all sorts of violence…”

Syria neighbors block thousands from fleeing (Daily Star Lebanon) Syria’s neighbors have closed or tightened restrictions at several border crossings, leaving tens of thousands of people stranded within Syria’s dangerous frontier regions, Human Rights Watch said on Monday. According to the statement, Iraq, Jordan and Turkey have all restricted the flow of people trying to flee a conflict which has killed 100,000 people and, according to the United Nations, has already driven 1.7 million more to take sanctuary outside Syria. Only Lebanon, which has limited control over its own borders and is now hosting over half a million refugees, had remained open to refugees, the New York-based rights group said…



Tags: Egypt Refugees Syrian Civil War Refugee Camps Egypt's Christians





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