Current Issue
March, 2018
Volume 44, Number 1
24 October 2012
Greg Kandra

Maronite Patriarch Bechara Peter, left, walks with Msgr. John Kozar, president of CNEWA, at the patriarchal seat of the Maronite Catholic Church in Bkerke, Lebanon, on 13 September. (photo: CNS/courtesy of Maronite Patriarchate)

Lebanon’s Maronite patriarch, Syro-Malankara archbishop among six new cardinals (Catholic News Service) Pope Benedict XVI surprised pilgrims in St. Peter’s Square on 24 October by announcing he would create six new cardinals, including 63-year-old U.S. Archbishop James M. Harvey, prefect of the papal household. The pope said the consistory to create the new cardinals, who come from six countries, would take place on 24 November, the feast of Christ the King. It will be the smallest group of cardinals created since the 1977 consistory when Pope Benedict XVI, then Archbishop Joseph Ratzinger, received his red hat from Pope Paul VI along with three other churchmen. The new cardinals also will include: Lebanon’s Maronite Patriarch Bechara Peter, 72; Archbishop Baselios Cleemis Thottunkal, 53, head of the Syro-Malankara Catholic Church; Nigerian Archbishop John Olorunfemi Onaiyekan of Abuja, 68; Colombian Archbishop Ruben Salazar Gomez of Bogota, 70; and Philippine Archbishop Luis Tagle of Manila, 55...

Archbishop Shevchuck addresses Synod of Bishops (Vatican Radio) Finding new ways to preach the Gospel, especially in lands that have already received it, and to cultures that have been penetrated and formed by it, is one of the central points of focus for the fathers of the XIII Ordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops. This is a special and particular concern for the major archbishop of the Ukrainian Catholic Church, Sviatoslav Shevchuk of Kyiv-Galicia, who, at 42 years of age, is also the youngest of the synod fathers…

Russian Orthodox Church concerned about persecution of Christians in Syria (Voice of Russia) The Russian Orthodox Church is concerned about persecution of Christians in Syria and other Arab countries which suffered a rapid regime change. This statement was made by the head of the Synodal Department for External Church Relations, Metropolitan of Volokolamsk Hilarion, speaking Tuesday at a meeting of the United Nations General Assembly committee…

Orthodox bishops in America release pastoral letter marking anniversary of Emancipation Proclamation ( On Tuesday, 23 October 2012, the Holy Synod of Bishops of the Orthodox Church in America released a pastoral letter marking the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation. Expressing concern for human trafficking and related issues today, the members of the Holy Synod note that, “as the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation draws near, Orthodox Christians in the United States understand that our freedom in Christ compels us to come closer to the world that we are to serve, protect, heal and transfigure. The Church cannot ignore God’s world — God’s creation. She cannot ignore God’s people, especially those deprived of their freedom…”

Planning underway for Egyptian Catholic TV network (Fides) Its name will be “Salam,” which in Arabic means “peace.” It will see the light of day within 2013, but the planning phase has already begun. It will be the first Egyptian Catholic television network…

Tags: Violence against Christians Pope Benedict XVI Maronite Patriarch Bechara Peter Syro-Malankara Catholic Church Egypt's Christians

23 October 2012
Greg Kandra

Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone (left), Vatican secretary of state, talks with his predecessor, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, dean of the College of Cardinals, before a meeting of the Synod of Bishops on the new evangelization at the Vatican on 9 October. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Cardinal Bertone discusses Syria mission (Vatican Radio) Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B. today addressed the Synodal assembly on the subject of the recent decision to send a delegation of Synod Fathers to Damascus, Syria. “Speaking before this assembly last Tuesday”, he said, “I announced the Holy Father’s decision to send a delegation to Damascus to express his solidarity and that of the Synod with the people of Syria who, unfortunately, have for some time been experiencing a tragic situation of suffering. The intention was also to express our spiritual closeness to our Christian brothers and sisters in that country, and to encourage those committed to seeking a solution respectful of the rights and duties of all. The initiative raised wide interest and received a positive welcome, not only in Rome and Syria, but also at the international level...”

Violence in Lebanon over Syria loyalties (Reuters) Four people were killed and 15 wounded in overnight gun battles in the Lebanese city of Tripoli in a second night of fighting between Sunni and Alawite gunmen loyal to different sides in the war in neighboring Syria, a military source said on Tuesday. In the capital Beirut, tension eased after troops fanned out across the city to clear the streets of gunmen who had clashed on Sunday night. The violence flared after Friday’s assassination in central Beirut of senior Lebanese security official Wissam al Hassan, who was opposed to the Syrian leadership...

Orthodox cleric threatened after condemning Golden Dawn (Ekathimerini) A Greek Orthodox cleric has been receiving threatening phone calls after speaking against the country's increasingly popular neo-fascist party, according to press reports. A verger at the Aghios Dimitrios church in West Macedonia has reported that an unknown person recently called and said: “We shall burn that commie.” The church has reportedly received numerous complaints and warnings from what appear to be supporters of Golden Dawn and nationalist activists. Metropolitan Pavlos of Siatista last week criticized Golden Dawn after members of the Greek far-right party protested against the premiere of Terrence McNally’s Corpus Christi in Athens...

Ethiopian Muslim Council election marred by violence (The Africa Report) The Muslim Council election in Ethiopia was marred by violence with two protesters reported to have been killed on Sunday. The incident occurred in the town of Gerba in the Amhara regional state of Ethiopia. Sources say that other civilians were also injured during the clash, and there are unconfirmed reports of the death of one federal police in the clash. The run up to the elections has been characterized by widespread protests by the Muslim community in the past few months. Protesters accused the government of interfering in religious affairs, a charge which has been denied.

Tags: Syria Lebanon Ethiopia Muslim Orthodox

22 October 2012
Greg Kandra

In this image from October 2011, Maronite Patriarch Bechara addresses the media during a news conference at CNEWA headquarters in New York, attended by CNEWA President John Kozar, seen in the background. Pope Benedict XVI sent the patriarch a telegram of condolence this weekend, following the deadly attack Friday in Beirut. (photo: CNS/Gregory A. Schemitz)

Vatican: Syria mission trip still being planned (VIS) Holy See Press Office Director Fr. Federico Lombardi today made the following statement: “The announced mission to Syria by representatives of the Holy See and the Synod of Bishops is still in the course of being studied and prepared, in order to be put into effect as soon as possible, and to respond effectively to its intended aims of solidarity, peace and reconciliation despite the very serious incidents that have taken place in the region recently”...

Pope sends telegram of condolence for Beirut bombing (Vatican Radio) “Having learned of the terrible attack in Beirut, killing many, His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI prayerfully participates in the pain of the bereaved families and, in the sadness of all the Lebanese people...”

Maronite Archbishop of Damascus addresses fears of Christians in Syria (Fides) in a note sent to Fides Agency, the Maronite Archbishop of Damascus, Samir Nassar stresses the first reactions recorded among the Christians of the Syrian capital after a car bomb exploded in the Christian area of the Old Town causing 13 deaths and dozens of wounded. Archbishop Nassar describes scenes of panic he witnessed, with parents running distressed “to look for their children in schools,” while the sirens of ambulances accentuate the unbearable feeling of living in an apocalyptic time...

Headscarf debate highlights Russian Muslim’s grievances (Reuters) A ban on girls wearing the Islamic headscarf to a school in southern Russia has angered Muslims and forced President Vladimir Putin, who has robustly defended the Orthodox Church, to affirm that Russia is a secular state. Muslims in the town of Kara Tyube in the Stavropol region say the ban on the hijab at School No. 12 forces their children to choose between their religion and a state education...

Russian Orthodox Church seeks land to build in India (Russia & India Times) The Russian Orthodox Church is on the lookout for land to build its first ever shrine in India, IANS said on Sunday. The church has been conducting services within the compound of the Russian Embassy in New Delhi since last year...

In Ethiopia, a pilgrimage to Mount Zeqwala (EthiopSports) Meanwhile, after reaching the top of the mountain, an old woman in her 60s, kissed the ground. After kissing the ground, she sat down solemnly. Trying to catch her breath, she looked down on the mountainous route she had followed. The scorching sunlight of the semi-desert mountainous terrain is a struggle for a couple of hours. One might feel like being roasted on a frying pan. And the reason for the gathering is that every year Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahdo followers celebrate Saint Abune Gebre Menfes Kidus’ Day on Tikimit 5 (15 October) on the mountain...

For the future of new evangelization, look to Ukraine (National Catholic Reporter) Back in 1974, music writer John Landau achieved immortality after attending a set in the Harvard Square Theatre by a then-obscure act out of New Jersey, and declaring: “I have seen the future of rock and roll, and its name is Bruce Springsteen.” In a similar vein, let me say here and now: “I have seen the future of the new evangelization, and its name is the Ukrainian Catholic University...”

Tags: Syria India Lebanon Ethiopia Russian Orthodox

19 October 2012
Greg Kandra

Men walk on a road amid destroyed buildings in Aleppo’s main Saadallah al-Jabari Square. Chaldean Bishop Antoine Audo of Aleppo tells British legislators that the city he “loves so much” has been left in ruins by fighting, and Christians are struggling to survive.
(CNS photo/SANA handout via Reuters)

Beirut bomb blast kills at least eight, wounding 80 (Reuters) A huge car bomb exploded in a street in central Beirut during rush hour on Friday, killing at least eight people and wounding about 80, witnesses and officials said. It was not immediately clear if the explosion targeted any political figure in Lebanon’s divided community but it occurred at a time of heightened tension between Lebanese factions on opposite sides of the Syria conflict. The bomb exploded in the street where the office of the anti-Damascus Christian Phalange Party is located near Sassine Square in Ashafriyeh, a mostly Christian area.

Bishop of Aleppo: “The city I love is in ruins” (Catholic Herald) The Chaldean Catholic Bishop of Aleppo, Syria, has said he is determined to stay with his suffering people even though his city is in ruins and many have already fled. Bishop Antoine Audo told MPs, charity leaders and peers in the Houses of Parliament: “Aleppo, the city I love so much and where I have been bishop this past 20 years, is now devastated — much of it in ruins.”

Egypt’s nuncio says Christian complaints are valid, but there is greater freedom (Catholic News Service) Some of Egypt’s Christians feel uncomfortable with Islamists in power, but there is greater freedom of speech than before the revolution, said the Pope’s ambassador to the Middle Eastern country. “I think there is a greater freedom now, though they accuse the present regime of also clamping down on people, on trying to control the press ... so they say that the president is becoming a pharaoh,” the Vatican nuncio, Archbishop Michael Fitzgerald, told Catholic News Service.

Russian Orthodox missionaries to work in Moscow train stations (The Moscow Times) Russian Orthodox missionaries will descend on Moscow train stations every Friday starting in November. Graduates of an Orthodox missionary course will have a chance to put theory into practice, serving as train station parish consultants, Interfax reported Wednesday. “During rush hour, professionally trained people will be available at train stations to advise anyone regarding the Orthodox faith and to hand out short texts such as leaflets and missionary booklets with further information,” Priest Dmitry, head of the church’s Moscow missions department, was quoted as saying.

Construction begins on Catholic University in Iraq (Fides) On Saturday, October 20 in Ain Kawa, a suburb of Erbil, capital of Iraqi Kurdistan, the first stone of the Catholic University will be placed. The ceremony will be attended by the governor of Erbil, Nawzad Hadi Mawlood, who in the opening speech will underline the support to civil institutions for an academic project considered of great social impact. The enterprise is, in its way, a fruit of the Synodal Assembly on the Middle East held in Rome in October 2010.

Tags: Syria Iraq Egypt Lebanon Russian Orthodox

18 October 2012
Greg Kandra

This church, photographed on 23 September, was damaged by fighting in the Old City of
Homs, Syria. (photo: CNS/Shaam News Network handout via Reuters)

Synod meeting calls for dialogue to resolve Syrian conflict (Fides) At the invitation of Maronite Patriarch Bechara, a meeting was held on Monday, 15 October at the Pontifical Maronite College. Attendees included, among others: Cardinals Timothy Dolan, Leonardo Sandri, Louis Tauran and Pèter Erdo, and Melkite Greek Catholic Patriarch Gregoire III Laham. The meeting provided the opportunity for a debate on the role and status of Christians in Lebanon and in the Middle East. The summary of the meeting, sent to the Fides Agency, says that those present at the meeting unanimously called for a solution to the conflict and the implementation of reforms to be achieved “through dialogue and political and diplomatic negotiation.”

Pope Benedict XVI meets with Metropolitan Hilarion (Vatican Radio) Pope Benedict XVI met on Tuesday with the head of the Russian Orthodox Church’s Department for External Church Relations to discuss common challenges, ecumenical developments and a recent landmark agreement between Moscow and the Polish Catholic Church.

Concerns over tensions at Temple Mount (Foreign Policy) Recent developments in Jerusalem pose a threat to the stability of the city and to the region. The world saw a preview over the recent Jewish holidays, when activists challenged the Israeli-imposed ban on Jewish prayer on the Temple Mount, known to Muslims as al Haram al Sharif. Sensitivities at the site tend to peak during any holiday season; however, these latest challenges cannot be dismissed as routine or benign.

Indian Christian cemetery creates an innovative solution to shortage of space (Express India) New Delhi In a city where residential space is shrinking rapidly, availability of land to rest the dead stands little chance. Most cemeteries in Delhi have been reporting a shortage of space, and now St. Thomas Christian Cemetery in Tughlakabad has taken a step forward to solve the problem. Reversing the idea of vertical highrises to increase housing space, the Tughlakabad cemetery is digging a 50-foot deep pit, with compartments for burial.

Tags: Syria India Middle East Christians Pope Benedict XVI Jerusalem

17 October 2012
Greg Kandra

In this 3 March 2010 photo, Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, greets Ahmad Mohamed al Tayeb, president of Al Azhar University in Cairo, Egypt, as they arrive for a press conference at National Cathedral in Washington. The Catholic and Sunni leaders were among religious representatives participating in a three-day international summit for peace and reconciliation. (photo: CNS/Nancy Wiechec)

Vatican sends delegation to Syria (Salt + Light) The Holy See will send a delegation of cardinals to Syria in the next few days to witness the suffering of Syrians in Damascus. The announcement was made on 16 October during the afternoon session of the Synod of Bishops on the New Evangelization for the transmission of the faith. The delegation will be made up of seven prelates, including Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, and Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of New York and CNEWA's chair and treasurer.

Cardinal Tauran expresses solidarity with Syrians (Vatican Radio) Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, as part of the above delegation, is expected to travel to Syria next week. Making the announcement of the visit on Tuesday, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, secretary of state, said the group was being sent by the Holy Father in order to express solidarity with the Syrian population. Speaking from the synod on Wednesday, Cardinal Tauran said the delegation’s trip to Damascus will have three dimensions. First, there will be an expression of “human solidarity towards people who are suffering — we think for example the elderly … the sick, the poor.” The second dimension is spiritual solidarity with families who are suffering, as well as “those who are rejoicing in this moment of great trial for the Catholic and the Christians in general in Syria.”

Vandals deface Orthodox church in Geneva (The Moscow Times) Vandals smudged red and purple paint on a Russian Orthodox cathedral in Geneva and wrote slogans including, “social peace is corrupted” and “revolution solidarity” on the pavement nearby, the Geneva and West European Diocese said. The attack was carried out early Monday morning on the Cathedral of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, which is affiliated with the Russian Orthodox Church, following a string of assaults on Russian Orthodox churches in recent weeks in Russia and Ukraine.

“Deep concern” over anti-Christian discrimination in Russia (Fides) The Presidency of the Council of the European Episcopal Conferences (C.C.E.E.), today sent a letter to Metropolitan Hilarion, President of the Department for External Relations of the Patriarchate of Moscow, expressing his “deep concern for the numerous and increasing manifestations of discrimination against Christians in various countries, and the spread of anti-Christian feelings and against the Church, especially in the Russian Federation over the past months.”

Leader of Jewish women’s group arrested for ‘singing’ at Western Wall (Haaretz) Jerusalem police arrested the leader of a Jewish women’s group fighting for the right to read from the Torah at the Western Wall on Tuesday evening, with members of the Women of the Wall group claiming that she was detained for singing at the holy site. Yizhar Hess, head of the Masorti Movement, said that the women detained by police “didn’t steal, hit, threaten, or even go over the speed limit. They just sang.” He added: “But, apparently only men can sing near the Western Wall.” In August, four women, two of whom were members of the women’s group were arrested and detained for “behavior that endangers the public peace” and wearing prayer shawls.

Israeli Defense Force beginning to draft ultra-Orthodox (Jerusalem Post) With the invalidation of the Tal Law, which allowed draft deferrals for ultra-Orthodox Jews, Defense Minister Ehud Barak said on Monday that the standard processes to draft recruits have been initiated among haredi youth 16 to 19 years old over the past few weeks. Speaking at a hearing of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, Barak said that although the procedures targeted at haredi teens are ongoing and increasing, he is refraining from drafting current yeshiva students until after the elections.

Tags: Syria Violence against Christians Israel Russian Orthodox Church Women

16 October 2012
Greg Kandra

In Jerusalem’s Church of the Holy Sepulchre on 18 March 2012, a priest lights a candle in front of a picture of Coptic Orthodox Pope Shenouda III of Alexandria, Egypt. After serving as patriarch of the Coptic Orthodox Church for 41 years, he died on 17 March at the age of 88. (photo: CNS/Ammar Awad, Reuters)

Egypt’s Coptic Orthodox Church announces candidates to succeed Pope Shenouda III (Egypt Independent) In a surprise move, several powerful figures within the Coptic Orthodox Church have been barred from running in the next papal elections by the papal election committee, while only five senior clergymen have been selected to run. Bishop Pachomius, the acting patriarch, said in a press conference broadcast by Al Jazeera Mubasher Misr, that that only five candidates are running in the election to succeed Pope Shenouda III and be enthroned as the 118th Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa on the Holy Apostolic See of Saint Mark the Evangelist. The candidates include two bishops: Bishop Tawadros, who holds the title of auxiliary bishop for the Holy Metropolis of Beheira, and Bishop Raphael, who holds the title of assistant bishop for Central Cairo. The other three candidates are all monks: Raphael Ava Mina, Pachomius al-Soriany and Saravim al-Soriany.

New concerns over European Muslims hoping to fight in Syria (Associated Press) European governments have been among the most vocal supporters of Syria’s rebels — to a point: Last week, Muslims in Britain and France accused of trying to join the fight against the regime were detained. For security officials, the fear is that extremists with European passports who are alienated and newly trained to wage war will ultimately take skills learned in Syria and use them back home. In France, where an Islamic extremist trained in Pakistan attacked a Jewish school and a group of soldiers earlier this year, the fear is particularly acute.

Egyptian Catholics promoting political training courses (Fides) In the coming weeks the Egyptian Catholic communities will promote social and political training courses. The initiative aims to revive the pilot experience already inspired by the Coptic Catholic Patriarchate after the end of the Mubarak regime. Botros Fahim Awad Hanna, Coptic Catholic auxiliary bishop of Alexandria, explains: “[T]he pastoral Council of the Catholic Church in Egypt recommended enhancing this work of formation, indicating it as a priority for all the Egyptian Catholic communities of different rite. ... We are waiting for the new Constitution. One makes choices designed to affect our individual lives and community. When the first draft of laws come out, we need to have the tools to be able to analyze, to know how to express a clear opinion, so one can say yes or no to the new Constitution in a reasonable manner.”

Remembering Canada’s Bishop Roman Danylak (Catholic Register) Roman Danylak, retired bishop of the Ukrainian Catholic eparchy of Toronto, was remembered for never turning away a person in need. “He was very much a pastor,” said his sister Olga Danylak. “He was very much a people person.” The bishop passed away at age 81 on 7 October. He was laid to rest at St. Volodymyr Cemetery in Oakville, Ontario, on 11 October following a funeral service at St. Jospahat’s the same day.

Tags: Egypt Syrian Civil War Muslim Canada Coptic Orthodox Church

15 October 2012
Greg Kandra

Pope Benedict XVI greets Maronite Catholic Patriarch Bechara at the start of Mass on the waterfront in Beirut on 16 September. (photo: CNS/Paul Haring)

Patriarch of Antioch: catechists and missionaries are “special envoys” for Year of Faith (Fides) More than 700 priests, nuns, lay people, educators, leaders and catechists received a solemn “missionary mandate” for the Year of Faith by His Beatitude Bechara, Maronite patriarch of Antioch and all the East and president of the Assembly of Catholic Patriarchs and Bishops in Lebanon.

At Istanbul World Forum: religion can be a catalyst for peace (Vatican Radio) The secretary of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, Father Miguel Angel Ayuso Guixot says the pope’s remarks on justice and religious freedom on his recent trip to Lebanon inspired his discourse to participants at the Istanbul World Forum on 13-14 October. The theme of the forum was “Justice and the Construction of a New Global Order.”

Coptic Christians in Egypt living in fear (Haaretz) After a long history of persecution as a minority in Egypt, in these days the nonetheless resilient Copts face a dire moment.

Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre meets in Tulsa (Tulsa World) Eight hundred knights and ladies of a 1,000-year-old Catholic order devoted to supporting Christianity in Israel and the Palestinian territories are meeting this weekend in Tulsa.

Patriarch Kirill arrives in Minsk, praises common past and future (Belarusian Telegraph Agency) The people of Belarus, Russia and Ukraine have a shared heritage and destiny, Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia said at a dedication ceremony for the memorial to Patriarch Alexy II at the Church of all Saints in Minsk on 14 October. “Belarus, Russia and Ukraine are three brotherly nations united by the common fate, common past and, I am confident, have a common future,” the patriarch said.

Vatican marks International Day of Rural Women (Vatican Radio) On 15 October, we observe the International Day of Rural Women. Established by the United Nations in 2008, it recognizes “the critical role and contribution of rural women, including indigenous women, in enhancing agricultural and rural development, improving food security and eradicating rural poverty.” Rural women play a critical role in the rural economies of both developed and developing countries.

Tags: Lebanon Ukraine Pope Benedict XVI Russia Maronite Patriarch Bechara Peter

12 October 2012
Greg Kandra

Pope Benedict XVI exchanges the sign of peace with Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew during a Mass in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican on 11 October to mark the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council. The Mass also opened the Year of Faith.
(CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Mass celebrating Vatican II highlight’s council’s openness to world (Catholic News Service) Celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council with a Mass outdoors was a reminder of the fact that the council called the Catholic Church to live and work in the world, said Bishop Gerald F. Kicanas of Tucson, Ariz. “One of the things that was beautiful today was that we were outdoors, outside the beautiful Basilica of St. Peter, which is what I think John XXIII really wanted: to open the doors, to have the church in the world and transforming the world,” the bishop said Oct. 11. Cardinal Oswald Gracias of Mumbai told Catholic News Service that for Catholics in India the council’s teaching on interreligious dialogue “was extremely important and gave us a whole new perspective on how to deal with everybody else,” recognizing “that everybody is searching for the truth; we are brothers and sisters on the same journey.”

Holy See to participate in Istanbul World Forum this weekend (Vatican Radio) Within the phenomena of the Arab Revolutions, there is a meaningful and active search for justice, equality, representation and dignity. The Istanbul World Forum this weekend will address this issue of justice under various themes focusing on “Justice and the Construction of a New Global Order.” The Forum will take place in the Turkish capitol on October 13-14, 2012, gathering together political as well as religious leaders, academics and business persons, artists and media representatives to present Justice in the light of their particular professions delineated in 6 different thematic areas: Justice and the Global Order, Justice and Politics, Justice and History, Justice and Economy, Justice and Art, and Justice and Religion.

India court affirms freedom to pray at home (Fides) The freedom to carry out prayer meetings in private homes, of any religion, cannot be prevented, according to a ruling by the High Court of Madras, capital of the state of Tamil Nadu in South India.

U.S. stamp for Christmas shows Holy Family fleeing to Egypt (Catholic News Service) The U.S. Postal Service Oct. 10 released a Christmas stamp featuring an image of the Holy Family fleeing to Egypt. A ceremony to celebrate the first day of issue of the stamp took place at the Washington National Cathedral of the Episcopal Church. The portrayal of the Holy Family is a change from the traditional image of Madonna and child used almost every year since the first Christmas stamp was issued in 1962.

Tags: India Egypt Pope Benedict XVI Vatican Turkey

11 October 2012
Greg Kandra

Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York arrives for a Mass celebrated by Pope Benedict XVI in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican on 11 October. The Mass marks the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council, as well as the beginning of the Year of Faith. (photo: CNS/Paul Haring)

Pope opens Year of Faith (CNS) On Thursday, Pope Benedict XVI celebrated a Mass marking the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council and launching the Year of Faith. The pope called on Catholics to revive the “authentic spirit” of Vatican II by re-proposing the church's ancient teachings to an increasingly secular modern world. Vatican II, the Holy Father said, had been “animated by a desire ... to immerse itself anew in the Christian mystery so as to re-propose it fruitfully to contemporary man.” The full text of his homily can be found on the Vatican's news site.

Ecumenical patriarch speaks at Vatican II anniversary celebration (Vatican Radio) At the conclusion of the Mass to celebrate the anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople addressed Pope Benedict XVI and the bishops and faithful gathered in St. Peter’s Square. In his remarks, Patriarch Bartholomew — the “primus inter pares,” or “first among equals” in the Eastern Orthodox Communion — said he was honored to be invited and to attend “this solemn and festive commemoration of the Second Vatican Council.”

Pope prays for Middle East Christians in Arabic (Catholic News Agency) After his recent visit to the Church in Lebanon, Pope Benedict XVI added Arabic to the list of official languages used at his weekly general audiences, launching the effort by offering the promise of his prayers in Arabic. “The pope prays for all the people who speak Arabic. God bless you all,” he said in Arabic at the 10 October general audience, which was held in St. Peter’s Square. For the first time, a priest also read an Arabic summary of the pope’s remarks on how the Second Vatican Council was a “moment of grace” in the Catholic Church’s history. Going forward, Arabic will join the ten other official languages in which a brief explanation is delivered.

Turkey detains Syrian passenger plane (Vatican Radio) Turkey scrambled fighters and briefly detained a Syrian passenger plane yesterday, suspecting it of carrying military equipment from Moscow. The plane was on route to Damascus with 30 passengers on board when Turkish military fighter jets forced it to land at Ankara airport.

Russian Orthodox Church stakes out territory on social issues (The World) The reawakening of religion in Russia, 20 years after the end of the atheist Communist system, comes as the church tries to find a new place and relevance in Russian society.

Tags: Syria Pope Benedict XVI Vatican Turkey Russian Orthodox Church

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