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December, 2017
Volume 43, Number 4
  
11 January 2013
J.D. Conor Mauro




CNEWA President Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York talks with Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, prefect of the Congregation for Eastern Churches, before a meeting of the Synod of Bishops on the new evangelization at the Vatican on 26 October. (photo: CNS/Paul Haring)

Cardinal Sandri in Egypt: Guarantee profession of faith for all (Vatican News) Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches, while visiting Egypt to celebrate the Year of Faith with the local church, met with those responsible for apostolic events in that country. “Doubtlessly,” he said in a 9 January address, “you are experiencing the desert of this very difficult present situation. Perhaps we must guard against letting the desert advance in our consciences and our hearts precisely while we are trying to advance the Gospel. Do not forget that the Son of God’s intense days were preceded and followed by an even more intense dialogue with the Father.” The cardinal went on to entrust the objectives of the Year of Faith, called by the Holy Father on 11 October 2012, to those responsible for apostolic events: “We are asked in grace to remain close to the life of the church and to participate directly in it. ... In this way, we may share the church’s mission to all peoples. We are expecting a renewed missionary impulse from the Year of Faith because throughout the world the most diverse religions are meeting and facing one another. And we are hoping for the confirmation of the church’s presence in the world, with its due support and the defense of Christians who are not granted religious freedom. The ability to profess one’s own creed must be guaranteed to everyone without exception, and thus also to Christians”…

Cardinal Dolan urges leadership from U.S. president for Israeli-Palestinian peace (U.S.C.C.B.) The United States is poised to make a real difference in the Arab-Israeli-Palestinian conflict and should provide tireless leadership to ensure a two-state solution in the Middle East, said two leaders of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (U.S.C.C.B.) in a 9 January letter to President Barack Obama. “We affirm your support of the two-state solution, promise our support for strong U.S. leadership for peace, and urge you even to consider appointing a high profile envoy in hopes that as in the past this might advance peace and justice in the region,” wrote Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, president of U.S.C.C.B., and Bishop Richard Pates of Des Moines, Iowa, chairman of the U.S.C.C.B. Committee on International Justice and Peace…

Rebels seize control of north Syrian airbase (BBC) Rebels are reported to have taken control of a strategic military airbase in northwestern Syria after days of fierce fighting with government forces. Opposition activists said the Free Syrian Army (F.S.A.) was in full control of Taftanaz airport. Videos purportedly showed fighters inside the facility. Helicopters based there have been used to attack rebel-held areas. “Many regime forces have been killed and most of the soldiers and officers fled at dawn,” Rami Abdul Rahman told the A.F.P. news agency. “This is the largest airbase to be seized since the revolt began”…

Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch Visits Georgia (Civil.ge) Greek Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I visited Tbilisi on the occasion of 80th birthday of the Georgian Orthodox Church leader, Patriarch Ilia II, and of 35th anniversary of the Georgian patriarch’s enthronement. Serbian Orthodox Patriarch Irinej and interim leader of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church Metropolitan Cyril of Varna and Veliki Preslav are also attending. President Saakashvili received leaders of Orthodox churches on 10 January. He said that Patriarch Ilia II’s jubilee was a “celebration” for all of Georgia. Patriarch Bartholomew I is expected to meet PM Bidzina Ivanishvili on 11 January, according to the Georgian Patriarchate…

Coptic pope expresses strong desire for ecumenism (Fides) Pope Tawadros II, patriarch of the Coptic Orthodox Church, has been contributing to the new climate of dialogue and proximity among Christians since last November. On Tuesday, 8 January, the Coptic pope welcomed the visiting Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches. In December, during the Christmas holidays, the patriarch wanted to personally pay homage with a visit to all the heads of Christian churches in Egypt who follow the Gregorian calendar. “On that occasion,” says Botros Fahim Awad Hanna, auxiliary bishop of Alexandria of the Catholic Copts, “he expressed the desire to meet at least once a month. New Patriarch Tawadros is aware of the crucial importance of the ecumenical journey, and at the same time he reveals his profile as a pastor. He said: the doctrinal issues must be left to theologians. We, as pastors, have to express in front of all our fraternal love, in mutual love. It should be noted that his motto is the phrase of the first letter of St. Paul to the Corinthians: love will never have an end”…

Bishops warn of increasing polarization in the Holy Land (Vatican Radio) Bishops from North America and Europe have concluded their annual pilgrimage of solidarity to the Christians of the Holy Land with an appeal for prayers for peace. In their final statement the bishops note that the people in the region are living through dark and dramatic events, such as the conflict in Gaza and southern Israel; civil war in Syria, and increasing polarization within Israel and Palestine. These developments, they write, have caused profound anxiety for all but particularly for the dwindling Christian population…



Tags: Syrian Civil War United States Middle East Peace Process Patriarchs Coptic Orthodox Church

10 January 2013
J.D. Conor Mauro




Children pose with a snowman outside the Church of the Nativity in the West Bank town of Bethlehem on 9 January, during a rare cold spell. (photo: CNS/Marcin Mazur, Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales)

U.S. bishop says young Palestinians are beacon of hope (CNS) On 8 January, Bishop Kicanas of Tucson, Arizona, told Catholic News Service he was especially moved by the “daunting spirit” he found in the young people of Gaza. “While they have experienced trauma, disappointments and restrictions, they are advancing,” said the bishop, who was participating in the 13th annual Holy Land Coordination. “Their hopeful desire is to somehow, in the near future, be able to use the skills [they are gaining in their studies] to help their society. It even gives me hope.” Though the Israeli-Palestinian conflict remains discouraging, with Israel expanding settlements and encroaching on Palestinian land, religious leaders must forge a sense of optimism, said Bishop Kicanas. “The situation is bleak and, yes, one of darkness but ... we continue to hear of light in the darkness, moments of hope,” he said…

Christian community trapped and exhausted in Aleppo (Fides) About a thousand Christians, mostly Greek Orthodox and Roman Catholic, are trapped in the small village of Yaakoubieh in the north of Aleppo. They are completely worn out, with no food, no electricity and an acute lack of basic necessities, and find themselves in the midst of heavy fighting between loyalist forces and opposition groups. Unable to leave the village, they “are in terrible condition, where they risk extinction.” This is the alarm sounded through Fides Agency by the Franciscan friar Father Francois Kouseiffi, O.F.M., pastor of the church of San Francesco in Hamra, Beirut. Father Francois deals with the care and assistance of about 500 Syrian refugees. “The situation is very serious. The faithful are trapped. We are trying in every way to help them to come to Lebanon”…

High number of Syrian refugees creates tension in Lebanon (Fides) Granting hospitality to refugees fleeing from war-torn Syria is a meritorious act that must be encouraged. But with the relentless rise in the number of refugees, the dangers to political stability and social order also increase. Yesterday, in the usual monthly meeting convened at the patriarchal seat in Bkerke, the Synod of Maronite Bishops took note of the anxiety caused by both the economic crisis and the effects of the civil war in neighboring Syria. The Maronite bishops also expressed the hope that the political parties reach a profitable and widely shared agreement by launching a new electoral law. The final communiqué, sent to Fides Agency, reiterates the importance of peace in the Middle East, where “God chose to reveal the mystery of salvation and redemption.” The Bishops express concern “for the daily rise in the number of refugees, among them the presence of Palestinians”…

Indian Christians denied water and firewood after church attack (Worthy News) Impoverished Christian villagers in India’s western state of Maharashtra were refused water and firewood Tuesday, 8 January, after a Hindu attack on their local church injured some 30 believers, a chief investigator told Worthy News. Joseph Dias, secretary-general of Indian rights group Catholic-Christian Secular Forum (C.S.F.), said the incidents are part of an ongoing Hindu campaign to intimidate minority Christians in Maharashtra’s Thane Rural District…

Russian patriarch: punish desecration without limiting free speech (Catholic Culture) In the wake of a legislative proposal that would criminalize offenses against religious sensibilities, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church called upon the state to punish desecration without limiting freedom of speech. “A fine in an amount of several hundred rubles for blasphemous words written on churches, mosques, or synagogues indicates that society does not quite realize the importance of protecting believers’ religious feelings,” said Patriarch Kirill of Moscow…



Tags: Lebanon Refugees Syrian Civil War Violence against Christians Indian Christians

9 January 2013
Greg Kandra




Civilians and Free Syrian Army fighters gather at the site hit by a missile in Aleppo’s al Mashhad district on 7 January. (photo: CNS/Muzaffar Salman)

Apostolic Nuncio to Israel discusses property issues in Holy Land (Vatican Radio) The apostolic nuncio to Israel, Archbishop Giuseppe Lanzarotto, says the Holy See is hoping soon to reach a satisfactory conclusion to its ongoing talks with Israel on fiscal and property issues related to Catholic institutions in the Holy Land…

Jordanian refugee camp devastated by storm (Fides) The storms of snow, wind and freezing rain that struck the Hashemite Kingdom have had devastating effects on the refugee camp of Zaatari, in the Jordanian desert, where 50,000 refugees who fled from the Syrian civil war are crammed in an intolerable situation. “The storms,” reports to Fides Agency Wael Suleiman, director of Caritas Jordan, “have destroyed at least 500 tents in the camp”…

Report: violence in Syria may trigger mass exodus of Christians (Voice of Russia) Syria’s ongoing turmoil has turned the country into a dangerous place for Christians, says an international missionary organization called Open Doors. According to its World Watch List 2012, the situation in embattled Syria is getting worse for Christians. Syria has moved up to place 11 from 36 on Open Door’s list of least Christian-friendly states, since the conflict broke out more than a year ago. According to the report, many Syrian Christians are facing violence against them, many have been kidnapped or murdered, while churches have been severely damaged or demolished. The estimated Christian population in the country stands at around 10 percent…

Bishops’ pilgrimage to Holy Land nears end (Vatican Radio) The pilgrimage of solidarity by bishops from North America and Europe to Christian communities in the Holy Land is in its final stages…



Tags: Syria Refugees Syrian Civil War Violence against Christians Jordan

8 January 2013
Greg Kandra




Egyptian Muslims and Christians celebrate Coptic Christmas Eve in Cairo’s Tahrir Square on 6 January. (photo: CNS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany, Reuters)

Egypt’s Christians worried about rise of Islam (Washington Post) Christians were worried about their safety on Monday as they marked the first Christmas under Islamist rule, with Coptic Pope Tawadros II urging worshipers “not to be afraid” and some complaining that their lives had gone from bad to worse in the nearly two years since the ouster of Hosni Mubarak...

Bishop of Amman: peace a shared value for Christians and Muslims (Vatican Radio) “When you love you have to share. It’s not in terms of a Christian value but it’s in terms of Arab values. Sharing and being generous and opening the door to others is an Arab value and we are proud of it. The main thing that we share with our brother Muslims here is peace and security for Jordan. When we see what is happening in Syria and Iraq we pray to Almighty God to keep us safe and secure here.” This is the message of Bishop Maroun Elias Lahham, Bishop of Amman and Apostolic administrator of the diocese of Tunis, speaking with Vatican Radio’s Veronica Scarisbrick who is accompanying bishops from Europe and North America on their annual pilgrimage of solidarity with the Christians of the Holy Land...

Indian Christians encouraged to oppose death penalty and chemical castration for rapists (Fides) In a note sent to Fides Agency, the “Catholic Secular Forum” (CSF), a Catholic lay movement based in Mumbai, said that “death penalty and chemical castration are not the position of the Church.” In a memorandum sent to the Indian government, Christian movements urge the government to make sex education compulsory in public schools, in order to avoid the emergence of deviant sexual behavior in young people...

Syrian archbishop: “Palestinian refugees on exodus, just like the Holy Family” (Fides) During the Christmas period “it is not uncommon these days to see Palestinian families wandering the streets of Damascus. Parents carrying their children, followed by older children carrying parcels and bags. Tears to the eyes of women, anger in the eyes of men, the sadness of children’s eyes.” In a message sent to Fides Agency, the Archbishop of Damascus of the Maronites, Samir Nassar, outlined the double tragedy of the Palestinian refugees overwhelmed by the Syrian civil war, comparing their painful exodus to that lived by Jesus, Mary and Joseph...

PHOTO GALLERY: Theophany 2013 (OCA) On the first weekend of January 2013, parishes across the Orthodox Church in America celebrated the Great Feast of the Theophany of Our Lord by blessing water — outdoors as well as indoors — in commemoration of the Baptism of our Lord, Jesus Christ...



Tags: Syria Egypt Jordan Muslim Copts

7 January 2013
Greg Kandra




A Syrian refugee woman carries her child in late December at a refugee camp near the Turkish town of Kilis. (photo: CNS/Muzaffar Salman, Reuters)

Pope appeals for cease fire in Syria (Vatican Radio) Pope Benedict XVI has made an urgent appeal to civil and political authorities to work for peace. The Pope’s heartfelt cry came on Monday during his annual address to Members of the Diplomatic Corps accredited to the Holy See. Speaking to representatives of the 179 States that currently have full diplomatic relations with the Vatican, as well as members of numerous international organizations such as the EU, the Order of Malta and the PLO, Pope Benedict emphasized that world leaders have a grave responsibility to work for peace. They are the first — he said — called to resolve the numerous conflicts causing bloodshed in our human family. The Pope went on to list urgent areas of concern starting with Syria which he described as being “torn apart by endless slaughter and the scene of dreadful suffering among its civilian population”...

Patriarch: idea to divide Egypt is “irrational” (Fides) The members of the Coptic diaspora who launched the idea to divide Egypt to create a Coptic state are “irrational.” This is what Pope Tawadros II in person said, after two months at the helm of the largest Christian community in an Arab country. In an interview with Turkish Anadolu Agency on the occasion of Coptic Christmas, Pope Tawadros strongly affirmed that “the Church is an integral part of that Egypt that will not be divided, that has been united since the Pharaoh Menes and will remain so forever”...

Indian laity oppose youth festivals on Sundays (Times of India) The commission for laity of Syro-Malabar Church in Kerala has come out strongly against the education department for conducting the school youth festivals on Sunday, the day for religious rituals and teachings for the Catholic community...

Patriarch Kiril congratulates Orthodox on Christmas (Voice of Russia) Addressing Orthodox Christians before the start of a solemn service at Christ the Savior Cathedral in Moscow Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Kirill congratulated them on Christmas and wished them peace, prosperity and well-being. In line with tradition, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church conducts a festive Christmas service at Christ the Savior Cathedral. “I congratulate you on the great feast of Christmas. I wish peace, prosperity and well-being to all of historical Rus, to the Russian state, to each and every one of you. May the grace of the Savior touch us not only on this wonderful Christmas night, but on all the days of our lives,” said the Patriarch...



Tags: Syria Egypt Pope Benedict XVI Syro-Malabar Catholic Church Orthodox

4 January 2013
Greg Kandra




Two Iraqi boys hold candles as they pray for peace in Iraq and Syria during Mass at a Chaldean Catholic church in Amman, Jordan on 23 December (photo: CNS/Ali Jarekji, Reuters)

Bishops in solidarity with “suffering and vulnerable” in Holy Land (Vatican Radio) Bishops from across Europe and North America this week will be visiting Syrian refugees in Jordan along with other suffering and vulnerable people and communities in the Holy Land. In a press release, the Holy Land Co-ordination reports: The 13th meeting of the Coordination of Episcopal Conferences in Support of the Church of the Holy Land and the Assembly of Catholic Ordinaries of the Holy Land takes place from 5-10 January. The delegation will meet in Bethlehem, visit Jordan and then concluding the annual pastoral visit in Jerusalem...

Syrian archbishop appeals for aid (Vatican Radio) Food, medicine, electricity and fuel are increasingly scarce in Jazira, the river plain area of Mesopotamia which encompasses northwestern Iraq and northeastern Syria. With the influx of Syrians fleeing the conflict in their country, Jazira’s population of 1 and a half million has swelled to some 2 million and Church and humanitarian officials are raising the alarm, saying not enough is being done to help them...

In Gaza, children bear psychological scars of conflict (Washington Post) Gazans often talk about the inescapability of war, and the symptoms of their suffering. They cast Gaza as a prison — one physical and psychological, where Israeli bombardment comes every so often,and there is little to do but bear it. Indeed, there are few places in the Arab world where psychology and trauma are as openly discussed as they are in Gaza. But health professionals here argue that there are few places in the region that contain a population so traumatized, a youth so obsessed with conflict.

Campaign begins to regain relics of St. Nicholas of Myra (Fides) The Turkish archaeologist Nevzat Çelik, responsible for the excavations at the archaeological site of Mira-Andraike, re-launched during the Christmas holidays the request to return the relics of St. Nicholas of Myra to Turkey, at the moment venerated at the Basilica of San Nicola in Bari...

How media in Lebanon marked the Christian feast of Christmas (Fides) In Lebanon the Christmas period is marked by the unique media coverage dedicated to the Christian celebrations. On Christmas Day, 25 December, the Al-Nour radio paid tribute to the birth of Christ with a selection of hymns. The main TV channel linked to the Shiite political formation articulated its programming with a Christmas card addressed to Christians, while the information services devoted considerable space to the Christmas celebrations, highlighting the participation of Hezbollah’s representatives in official ceremonies and underlining the title of “prophet” recognized by Islam to “Jesus the son of Mary”...

Russians flock to Baltics for Orthodox Christmas (New Age) With the Eastern Orthodox Christmas just around the corner, three ex-Soviet Baltic states are facing a new invasion from the east as Russian tourists flood in for the holidays. In stark contrast to the Soviet takeover which saw Moscow subjugate Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania from World War II until 1990-91, despite frosty official relations the EU Baltic trio are now rolling out the red carpet for Russian tourists. In the three capitals, hotels with special packages for Russian visitors in the run-up to Orthodox Christmas Day on 7 January are nearly fully booked...



Tags: Syria Gaza Strip/West Bank Turkey Russian Orthodox

3 January 2013
J.D. Conor Mauro




A blind man walks past cars and buildings damaged in fighting in the old city of Aleppo, Syria, on 27 December. (photo: CNS/Ahmed Jadallah, Reuters)

Rebels and government forces clash at Syrian airports (BBC) Fierce battles are taking place at some northern Syrian airports, as rebels try to neutralise the government’s overwhelming air advantage. Rebels broke into the Taftanaz base in north-western Idlib province but were pushed back by the army, rebel sources and state media said. Reports said Aleppo airport was also under siege, and has been closed since Tuesday because of repeated attacks. The attacks come a day after a United Nations study said 60,000 people had died in Syria. Commissioned by U.N. human rights commissioner Navi Pillay, the study concluded that there had been 59,648 deaths between February 2011 and November 2012, and that figure would now have risen above 60,000…

Maronite patriarch excoriates Lebanese politicians (Daily Star Lebanon) Maronite Patriarch Bechara Peter slammed Lebanon’s politicians Thursday, urging them to take part in national dialogue and address the issue of Syrian refugees coming to the country, the National News Agency reported. “Shame on you not to attend the dialogue table,” said the cardinal. “It is a shame on officials not to attend dialogue and address the Syrian refugee case, the biggest national and humanitarian issue we are facing today,” he added. Over 160,000 Syrian refugees have arrived in Lebanon since the start of violence in neighboring Syria…

Armenians concerned over rights in Holy Land (Hetq Online) Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem, a member of the triumvirate of Guardians of the Christian Holy Places, has voiced grave fears over the threat of the erosion of its historic and traditional rights in the Church of Nativity in Bethlehem. The rights and privileges that are the legacy of the Armenians are indelibly inscribed within the tenets of a Status Quo that has been in place since the Ottoman administration of the land. But recent developments in Bethlehem, involving its sister guardian, the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate (with the Latin Custodia forming the third member of the triumvirate), are threatening to seriously impact on Armenian rights, church officials claim…

Romanian Patriarchate declares year for Saints Constantine and Helen (Basilica News Agency) Following the initiative of His Beatitude Patriarch Daniel, undertaken during the working session of 25 October 2011, the Holy Synod of the Romanian Orthodox Church approved that the year 2013 should be declared Solemn Year of Saint Emperors Constantine and Helen at the anniversary of 1700 years since the Edict of religious tolerance of Milan (313). The Holy Synod Office worked out a nation-wide program for implementing the liturgical, cultural and media program, emphasizing tolerance, freedom, and the social and religious politics of the canonized emperor and empress…

Israel nearly finished building Israel-Egypt border fence (L.A. Times) Two years after construction began, Israel has finished the bulk of the work on a fence along its border with Egypt. Closing off the rambling, 140-mile-long stretch of desert border will prevent the “unfettered flow of illegal infiltrators, the smuggling of drugs and weapons,” said a statement from the Defense Ministry, which oversaw the $400-million engineering project. Speaking at a ceremony marking the completion of the main section, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised the effort to curb the illegal entry of migrants from Africa, reduced from more than 2,000 a month in January 2012 to fewer than 40 in December. Early last year, Netanyahu said Israel would build a similar fence along the desert border with Jordan…



Tags: Egypt Syrian Civil War Israel Holy Land Maronite Patriarch Bechara Peter

2 January 2013
Greg Kandra




A defaced religious painting is seen with the eyes and mouth scratched out in the old city of Aleppo, Syria, on 27 December. (photo: CNS/Muzaffar Salman, Reuters)

Bishops describe Christmas in besieged Syria (CNS) Because of ongoing fighting in the city, Catholic leaders in Aleppo, Syria, canceled their traditional Christmas visits to local government officials, but the local governor dropped in on a meeting of bishops and priests on 27 December to offer his best wishes, said Bishop Giuseppe Nazzaro. The bishop, who is the Latin-rite apostolic vicar of Aleppo, said Gov. Mohammad Vahid Akkad, an appointee of besieged President Bashar Assad, expressed his appreciation for Pope Benedict XVI’s Christmas appeals for peace in Syria. After praying for peace in Syria in his midnight Mass homily, Pope Benedict expressed his concern Christmas Day for the “deeply wounded and divided” Syrian people. He called for “an end to the bloodshed, easier access for the relief of refugees and the displaced, and dialogue in the pursuit of a political solution to the conflict”…

Pope sends greetings to new Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch (Vatican Radio) At a time when the Middle East is so unstable and prone to violence, “it is increasingly urgent that the disciples of Christ offer an authentic witness of their unity, so that the world may believe the Gospel message of love, peace and reconciliation.” These are the words of Pope Benedict XVI, in a message of fraternal greetings in Christ’s love, to Youhanna X, the new Greek Orthodox patriarch of Antioch and All the East…

Bishop of Udaipur resigns (Fides) On 21 December 2012, Pope Benedict XVI accepted the resignation of Msgr. Joseph Pathalil from the pastoral care of the Diocese of Udaipur, India, in accordance with the Code of Canon Law. The Holy Father appointed Bishop John Devprasad Ganawa of Jhabua as bishop of the Diocese of Udaipur. The same prelate was appointed apostolic administrator of the vacant et ad nutum Sanctae Sedis of the Diocese of Jhabua…

Russian Orthodox church favors law banning adoptions (AsiaNews) Despite a wave of criticism from civil society groups and members of the Russian government, the Russian Orthodox Church has backed the controversial ‘anti-Magnitsky bill’ that President Vladimir Putin signed into law last Friday. As of 1 January, the new law bans adoptions of Russian children by U.S. citizens…

Dozens of religious items stolen from Russian Orthodox church in Hollywood (Los Angeles Times) Los Angeles police continued their investigation Monday into the theft of nearly 40 religious artifacts from a Russian Orthodox church in Hollywood. Thirty-seven items were taken from an altar room at the Holy Transfiguration Russian Orthodox Cathedral the night of 22 December, Los Angeles police said. No arrests have been made in the case...



Tags: Syrian Civil War Pope Benedict XVI Russian Orthodox Church Patriarchs Indian Bishops

21 December 2012
Greg Kandra




A woman walks past a house destroyed in an airstrike in Azaz, Syria, on 18 December.
(photo: CNS/Ahmed Jadallah, Reuters)


Second refugee camp to open in Jordan (Fides) In the coming days a second UN camp for refugees fleeing from Syria will be opened in Jordan. This is confirmed to Fides Agency by the director of Caritas Jordan, Wael Suleiman. The new facility is located near Zarqa and can accommodate 45,000 people. Priority will be given to women and children...

Pope will turn attention to Iraq during new year (Vatican Radio) Pope Benedict XVI has convoked a Synod of bishops of the Chaldean Catholic Church for January, 2013. The aim of the Synod will be to elect a successor to His Beatitude Cardinal Emmanuel III Delly, Patriarch of Babylon of the Chaldeans, whose resignation was accepted by the Holy Father on Wednesday...

Christian churches participating in national dialogue in Egypt (Fides) There were representatives of three Christian churches at the fourth session of the Egyptian national dialogue chaired by the Deputy President Mahmoud Mekky, which took place on 18 December...

Orthodox leaders discuss outreach at White House (OCA.org) More than 80 representatives of the nation’s Orthodox Christian service organizations gathered at the White House here on Friday, December 14, 2012 to discuss strategic service alliances with the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. The White House Conference on Orthodox Christian Engagement was hosted by the White House Office of Public Engagement in conjunction with the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships and facilitated by International Orthodox Christian Charities[IOCC]...

Syrian Christians prepare for somber Christmas (Canada Free Press) “Silent night, Holy night, all is calm, all is bright...” Many Christians all over the world will sing this Christmas carol in the next few days. Millions look forward to Christmas. What about the Syrian Christians in the midst of a terrible civil war? Will they have the “heavenly peace” this Christmas classic speaks about?

Bartholomew seeks to reinvigorate dialogue with Catholics (National Herald) Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew is attempting to inaugurate a new path and new dynamics of rapprochement and reconciliation with the Roman Catholic Church in conjunction with the Theological Dialogue working towards the Eucharistic Union of the Churches...



Tags: Syria Iraq Egypt Refugees Orthodox

19 December 2012
Greg Kandra




A female refugee from Syria prepares food for her family as her son helps her with the stove at a refugee camp in the village of Jeb Jennine, in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley. (photo: CNS/Paul Jeffrey)

Harsh winter looms for Syrian refugees (Vatican Radio) With Syrian refugees now numbering over half a million, many of them face grim conditions as temperatures drop in the region and there is a looming shortage of essential winter supplies. Father Peter Balleis is the International Director for Jesuit Refugee Services and he says the Syrian refugees and displaced people face great hardship in the coming winter months. He told Vatican Radio’s Susy Hodges that conditions are particularly acute in Syrian’s second city of Aleppo which “is cut off from supplies” as it’s virtually besieged. He says there are shortages in the city of “food and electricity” and therefore a lack of heating and that life for the local population “is getting very difficult”…

Pope accepts resignation of Chaldean patriarch (VIS) Pope Benedict XVI accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the Chaldean Church presented by His Beatitude Cardinal Emmanuel III Delly, patriarch of Babylon of the Chaldeans, Iraq, and convoked the Synod of Bishops of the same church in Rome on 28 January 2013 to elect a successor…

Gaza Christians will be permitted to visit Bethlehem (Jerusalem Post) The I.D.F. is set to issue permits to some 500 Palestinian Christians residing in Gaza, allowing them to travel to the West Bank — specifically Bethlehem, for Christmas. Additionally, at least 20,000 entrance visas will likely be issued to Christian pilgrims who are expected to visit Bethlehem from abroad for the holiday...

Former hostage Terry Waite writes about his return to Lebanon (The Guardian) Last week I returned to Lebanon, a quarter of a century after being kidnapped and held captive for almost five years, most of the time chained to a wall and denied many basic comforts. You might think such a trip foolhardy, but the crisis developing there desperately needs attention. I had been invited to go back to see for myself the plight of the many Christian refugees who are flooding across the Syrian/Lebanese border, and travelled to the Bekaa Valley to visit the refugees who have been forced into exile from Syria. The situation there is tragic…



Tags: Syria Lebanon Refugees Gaza Strip/West Bank Pope Benedict XVI





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