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Volume 44, Number 1
  
10 December 2012
Greg Kandra




Syrian priest welcomed into monastic community in Iraq (Fides) Following his expulsion from Syria, Father Paolo Dall’Oglio SJ, founder of the monastic community of Deir Mar Musa, was welcomed into the newly founded monastery of Deir Maryam el Adhra, which began a few months ago in Sulaymanya in Kurdistan Iraq...

Gaza residents in no mood to celebrate (Los Angeles Times) As tens of thousands of Gazans celebrated Hamas’ 25th anniversary Saturday, Mohamed Mustafa Abdallah huddled by a small fire in a cinder-block shed, assembled from scraps of wreckage from his bombed-out wholesale food business a few feet away. He said he was in no mood to party. His business, near the restive Jabaliya refugee camp where many Gaza Strip militants live, was destroyed by an Israeli airstrike Nov. 17, leaving nothing but broken concrete atop crates of crushed onions, garlic cloves and other goods. It was only a year ago that he finished repairing the damage caused to the building during Israel’s Gaza Strip offensive in 2009. “No one cares about us but God,” the father of eight said...

Former hostage Terry Waite returns to Lebanon to highlight the plight of Christians (The Telegraph) Terry Waite is convinced his meeting with the leadership of Hizbollah, the militant group accused of kidnapping and holding him for five years, will lead to “something positive”. The former hostage spoke for two hours to one of its most senior figures at their stronghold in Beirut, his first encounter with the organisation held responsible for masterminding his kidnapping 25 years ago. Accompanied by The Telegraph, he travelled to Lebanon to highlight the plight of Christians who have fled the Syrian civil war. Now on his return to Britain he denied “political naivety” and said that he was sure his trip achieved something.

Copts in US fear for the faith (Fox) It seems like every Sunday, there’s a new face sitting in the pews of the Church of Saint Verena and the Three Holy Youth in Orange, California. Most are young professionals or families with small children and some have been living in the United States for a just few weeks. “The first waves of immigration,” said Bishop Serapion of the Coptic Diocese of Los Angeles, Southern California and Hawaii...Since the Arab Spring began in early 2011, Department of Homeland Security figures show the number of Egyptians seeking asylum has doubled. Unofficial estimates are that 100,000 Egyptians have so far sought refuge in the U.S. Many of them are believed to be Copts but there are no official statistics on their numbers...

Kerala prepares for Christmas (IBN) The first sign that Christmas is around the corner in Kerala comes in early December, when the mercury dips slightly. That’s when the morning stroll becomes a pleasant experience. Churches and Christian homes begin to put up the traditional Christmas stars, in varying sizes and shapes. Cribs are put up in the second week of December. Now-a-days, these are often ready-made. Nearly 22 percent of the state’s population is Christian, an estimated 32 million people. “Times have changed, so have customs. Gone are the days when the entire family used to get together to make wine, pickles and other food items. These days, who has the time; and then, where are the people to do those things,” asks 75-year-old Santhamma Joseph, a grandmother in Kottayam.



Tags: Syria Iraq Lebanon Gaza Strip/West Bank Palestine

7 December 2012
Greg Kandra




Children run along a street with rubble from buildings damaged by what activists said was a government airstrike in Aleppo, Syria, on 5 December. Middle East bishops and patriarchs say the resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is key to peace throughout region.
(photo: CNS/Aref Hretani, Reuters)


Christian opposition group in Syria appeals for help (Fides) It is urgent to stop the “Jubhat Al Nosra” Salafist group that is spreading terror in Mesopotamia: that is the appeal launched by the new “National Coalition of the Revolution and Opposition” (CNS) from the “Assyrian Democratic Organization” (ADO), a Christian group that is part of the Syrian opposition. In a statement sent to Fides, the ADO said it is “outraged because armed elements of the ‘Jubhat Al Nosra’ Salafist group—that fights alongside the Free Syrian Army— terrorize civilians and confiscate with impunity Christian properties in the region of Hassaké,” in eastern Syria on the border with Turkey...

Patriarchs and Catholic bishops of Middle East issue documents after assembly (Fides) The second Assembly of Patriarchs and Catholic Bishops of the Middle East came to an end on 5 December, in Harissa, with the approval of two documents...The first document, long and complex, offers tips and practical strategies to put into practice the teachings in Ecclesia in the Middle East, the apostolic exhortation that Benedict XVI gave the bishops of the region during his recent visit to Lebanon. According to information collected by Fides Agency, the second document signed by the participants at the assembly in Harissa is an appeal to the international community and all people of good will concentrated on three key points...

Pope sends letter of condolence on death of patriarch (VIS) Benedict XVI has today sent a letter of condolence to the Metropolitan Spyridon of Heliopolis for the death of His Beatitude Archbishop Ignatius Hazim IV, Greek Orthodox patriarch of Antioch and all the East, who died on 5 December at the age of 92. In the text, the Holy Father observes that “during his long life of service to the Gospel, the deceased patriarch offered luminous testimony to faith and charity, working with dedication for the spiritual elevation of the flock entrusted to him and for the noble cause of reconciliation and peace among men...”

Negotiating the price of holy water (NPR) One of the holiest sites in Christendom has also been one of the most contested. The Church of the Holy Sepculchre in Jerusalem lies on the site where Jesus Christ is said to have been crucified and buried. Multiple Christian denominations share the church uneasily, and clerics sometimes come to blows over the most minor of disputes. The Roman Catholic, Greek Orthodox, Armenian Apostolic, Coptic Orthodox, Ethiopian Orthodox and the Syriac Orthodox all have a presence in the church. But the most recent conflict at the 4th century church was over something entirely different: an unpaid water bill...



Tags: Syria Lebanon Middle East Jerusalem Pope Benedict XVI

6 December 2012
J.D. Conor Mauro




A refugee child's drawing depicts the violence from which hundreds of thousands of Syrians have fled. The drawing was made in a psycho-social support group in Kamid al lawz, a town in Lebanon's Bekaa Valley. (photo: CNS/Paul Jeffrey)

Clashes over Syrian war continue in northern Lebanon (Lebanon Daily Star) Fighting intensified Thursday between opponents and supporters of President Bashar Assad in northern Lebanon, as sniper shots left people ducking for cover in downtown Tripoli, raising concern that the fighting might take over the whole city. Fighters exchanged rocket-propelled grenades and machine gun fire in the city for a third day while rockets fired from Syria landed in nearby Lebanese border towns. Security sources told The Daily Star on Thursday that the death toll rose to eight from the fighting between the neighborhoods of Jabal Mohsen, whose residents largely support Assad, and Bab al Tabbaneh, where residents oppose the embattled Syrian leader…

Opposing camps clash in Cairo (Der Spiegel) Late into Wednesday night, followers of President Mohammed Morsi battled on the streets of Cairo with opponents of the Muslim Brotherhood leader. For hours, the two camps fought in front of the presidential palace, with both sides throwing stones and Molotov cocktails. People were savagely beaten and several cars were set on fire. At least five were killed in the overnight clashes and some 450 were injured. On Thursday morning, the Egyptian army was deployed in front of the presidential palace, including several tanks and other military vehicles, to protect the compound…

King of Jordan visits West Bank in support of Palestinian statehood (Washington Post) Jordan’s King Abdullah II paid a rare visit to the West Bank on Thursday in a show of support for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s successful bid for the United Nations’ recognition of a Palestinian state. The Jordanians spoke out sharply against Israel’s latest plans to build thousands of new settler homes in response to the Palestinian move, including initial plans to revive a contentious project east of Jerusalem. The project, known as E1, would separate the West Bank from east Jerusalem, the Palestinians’ hoped-for capital, and drive a big wedge between the northern and southern flanks of the West Bank. “The settlement policy is not only rejected from our side as Arabs and Palestinians, but also by the whole world,” said the king’s foreign minister, Nasser Judeh…

Ethiopian prime minister willing to reopen dialogue with Eritrea (Al Jazeera) Hailemariam Desalegn, Ethiopia’s prime minister, has said that he is willing to hold talks with neighboring Eritrea, with whom Addis Ababa fought a border war that ended in 2000. If Desalgen follows through with Wednesday’s statement, it will be the first time a leader in Addis Ababa has held talks with Issaias Afeworki, the Eritrean president, since the end of the conflict which left at least 70,000 people dead. The two countries remain at odds over the flashpoint town of Badme, awarded to Eritrea by a U.N.-backed boundary commission, but still controlled by Ethiopia. “The most important thing for us is to fight poverty ... to have regional integration. If we two do that, it will be much more productive,” Hailemariam added. Eritrea won independence from Ethiopia in 1993 after a 30-year struggle, that is considered among the continent’s longest and most bitter…

Bishop Zaki cautions church leaders on referendum boycott (Fides) The new Constitution, for which President Morsi seeks a popular referendum on 15 December, “divides the country” and fails to properly represent the diverse interests of the nation, says Bishop Adel Zaki, O.F.M., apostolic vicar of Alexandria in Egypt. Nevertheless, the bishop adds that it is not appropriate that church leaders give direct indication to boycott the referendum. “Churches must enlighten consciences and encourage discernment based on principles of justice and safeguard the common good,” warns Bishop Zaki, “but then everyone has to choose according to their conscience, in full freedom. Churches cannot ask Christians to boycott the referendum”…

The precarious state of religious freedom in Ethiopia (Nazret) A statement issued by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) last month expressed “deep concern about the increasing deterioration of religious freedoms for Muslims in Ethiopia.” According to the USCIRF Statement, “since July 2011, the Ethiopian government has sought to impose the al Ahbash Islamic sect on the country’s Muslim community, a community that traditionally has practiced the Sufi form of Islam. The government also has manipulated the election of the new leaders of the Ethiopia Islamic Affairs Supreme Council (EIASC). Previously viewed as an independent body, EIASC is now viewed as a government-controlled institution. The arrests, terrorism charges and takeover of EIASC signify a troubling escalation in the government’s attempts to control Ethiopia’s Muslim community and provide further evidence of a decline in religious freedom in Ethiopia.” The ruling regime has produced no evidence to support its claims of subversion, terrorism and other allegations of criminality by those protesting official interference…



Tags: Egypt Lebanon Ethiopia Syrian Civil War Palestine

5 December 2012
Greg Kandra




A Syrian man carries a child as displaced people cross the border from the Syrian town of Ras al Ain to the town of Ceylanpinar, Turkey, on 4 December. (photo: CNS/Laszlo Balogh, Reuters)

Syria’s civil war spills into Lebanon (Vatican Radio) Gunmen loyal to opposite sides in neighboring Syria’s civil war battled in the streets of northern Lebanon on Wednesday. At least 5 people have been killed and 45 wounded from two days of fighting. The conflict, which has spilled out into Lebanon, brought Lebanese troops out in force to the streets of the city of Tripoli to calm the fighting…

New call issued for aid to help Syrian children (Vatican Radio) More than 200,000 Syrian children — many with little more than the clothes they fled the fighting in — are at risk from cold and disease, according to Save The Children. The charity is calling for urgent funding to be made available to prepare refugees for winter and ensure that children and their families have proper shelter and enough warm clothing, warm food, hot and clean water, blankets and heating fuel to survive the cold months…

Clashes in Egypt with anti-Morsi protestors (Vatican Radio) More than 100,000 Egyptians protested outside the presidential palace in Cairo yesterday, fueling tensions over Islamist leader Mohammed Morsi’s seizure of nearly unrestricted powers and the adoption by his allies of a controversial draft constitution. Egyptian police fired tear gas at protestors gathered outside the presidential palace in Cairo…

New film about Jesus in Hindi to debut in India (Fides) It is an initiative that “will help to communicate the Christian faith, to spread the real face of Christ and the Church to the people of India.” This is what Father Dominic D’Abreo, spokesman of the Indian Bishops’ Conference, told Fides about the new film on Jesus in the Hindi language, which has just been released to the Indian public in honor of the Year of Faith…

Patriarch Ignatius IV of Antioch dies at 91 (OCA.org) Two days after he was admitted to Saint George Hospital in Beirut, Lebanon, His Beatitude Patriarch Ignatius IV of Antioch and All the East fell asleep in the Lord on Wednesday, 5 December 2012. Patriarch Ignatius IV had suffered a severe stroke on Monday, December 3, and had been under the care of physicians in the hospital’s intensive care unit. He was 91 years old. Upon learning of the patriarch's repose, His Beatitude Metropolitan Tikhon called upon the clergy and faithful of the Orthodox Church in America to remember him in prayer, that our Lord will grant him rest “where there is neither sickness, sorrow, nor sighing, but life everlasting”...



Tags: Syria India Egypt Lebanon Refugees

4 December 2012
Greg Kandra




A refugee child from Syria stands outside a makeshift shelter in the village of Jeb Jennine, in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley. No one is sure how many refugees from Syria have already arrived in Lebanon. (photo: CNS/Paul Jeffrey)

Church in England, Wales launches day of prayer for Middle East (Vatican Radio) The bishops of England and Wales have invited the faithful in the United Kingdom to set aside Tuesday, 4 December 2012, as a day of prayer in solidarity with all those suffering injustice in the Middle East and North Africa. The bishops made the announcement after their November plenary assembly in which they reflected on the tragedy unfolding in Syria and Gaza…

U.S. Warns Syria against use of chemical weapons (Vatican Radio) Intelligence sources in the United States government are saying they have evidence Syrian government engineers have mixed the precursor chemicals to make Sarin gas. The gas could be delivered against targets — including civilian populations — by airplane…

Patriarch: Christians are inspired by ‘Arab renaissance’ of 19th century (Fides) In the great upheavals that are shaking the Middle East, the historical precedent in which even Christians can find inspiration is Nahda, the cultural and political renaissance experienced by the Arab peoples in the 19th century. Maronite Patriarch Bechara Peter referenced this in his speech during the opening session of the Assembly of Patriarchs and Catholic Bishops of the Middle East, which began yesterday afternoon, 3 December…

Pope calls for world authority as ‘moral force’ (Catholic News Service) The world authority envisioned by two popes as a way to ensure global peace and justice would not be a superpower, but primarily a moral force with limited jurisdiction, Pope Benedict XVI said. The pope made his remarks 3 December to a plenary session of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, which was scheduled to meet for three days to discuss the theme of “political authority and global governance.” In his address, Pope Benedict recalled that Blessed John XXIII had called for the “construction of a world community, with a corresponding authority,” to serve the “common good of the human family”…

Church beatifies first lay martyr in India (Business Standard of India) Devasahayam Pillai, the 18th century martyr who sacrificed his life for the faith in the erstwhile princely state of Travancore, was beatified by the Catholic Church on 2 December. Pillai is the first layperson to be elevated to the rank of the “Blessed” in India, one step away from sainthood under Canon Law. Apart from representatives of the Vatican, Indian cardinals, senior bishops, priests, religious and a large congregation of lay devotees attended the function at the Carmer Higher Secondary School operated under the Kottar Diocese…



Tags: Syrian Civil War Middle East Pope Benedict XVI Indian Christians Maronite Patriarch Bechara Peter

3 December 2012
Greg Kandra




A statue stands outside a destroyed Jesuit church in Homs, Syria, on 30 November. Activists said the church had been bombed by forces loyal to Syria’s President Bashar Assad.
(photo: CNS/Yazan Homsy, Reuters)


Syrian violence reaches Turkey, Lebanon (Associated Press) Syrian warplanes on Monday bombed a security building that had been taken over by rebels along the Turkish border, killing at least one person, wounding 20 more and sending dozens of civilians fleeing across the frontier, a Turkish official said. The conflict also spilled into Syria’s eastern neighbor, Lebanon, after Lebanese troops exchanged fire with rebels across the border late Sunday. Violence from Syria’s 20-month-old uprising has on several occasions touched neighboring countries, fueling concerns that the Arab Spring’s longest and deadliest revolt could touch off a regional war...

Syrian democracy a dream (Catholic Register) The Armenian Orthodox Primate of Damascus sees little hope the Syrian civil war will end with a democratic regime in power and questions Western support for rebel groups. The bishop is touring Armenian expatriate communities in North America asking for donations through Church channels. One of the most effective Church agencies working with internally displaced Syrians has been the Catholic Near East Welfare Association, known as the Pontifical Mission Society in the Middle East, said Nalbandian...

Pope to begin tweeting next week (Reuters) The secret’s out. Pope Benedict’s new handle on Twitter will be @pontifex, beating out other contenders that had been considered to showcase the thoughts of one of the world’s most visible leaders. Benedict already has 1.2 billion “followers” in the standard sense of the word but next week he will have another type when he enters what for any 85-year old is the brave new world of Twitter. The Vatican said on Monday that the pope will start tweeting on 12 December. “The handle is a good one. It means ‘pope’ and it also means ‘bridge builder’,” said Greg Burke, senior media advisor to the Vatican...

Russia may soften religion law (Reuters) Russian lawmakers are reworking a draft law introducing prison terms for religious offences after signs that Vladimir Putin is concerned it could undermine the delicate balance between the country’s many religions...

Date set for primate to be enthroned (OCA.org) His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon, will be enthroned as the Primate of the Orthodox Church in America at Saint Nicholas Cathedral, Washington, DC on Sunday, 27 January 2013. The announcement was issued by the Holy Synod of Bishops on Friday, November 30, 2012. Metropolitan Tikhon was elected at the 17th All-American Council in Parma, OH 13 November...

Patriarch Gregorios III releases statement on Palestinian recognition (byzcath.org) Patriarch Gregorios III greatly appreciated the UN resolution granting observer status to the Palestinian state. He said: “Thank God, who waits but never forgets.” He also thanked the countries that voted for the resolution, whilst censuring countries voting against it, some of which seek to be in the defending vanguard of nations’ freedom and dignity...

VIDEO: Cardinal Thottunkal: We have to laugh more and spread joy (Rome Reports) He is now the youngest member of the College of Cardinals, his name, Baselios Cleemis Thottunkal, from India. He admits it is a great responsibility, but above all, a chance for his Church to work hand in hand with the Pope to spread a message of joy...



Tags: Syria Lebanon Palestine Pope Benedict XVI Turkey

30 November 2012
Greg Kandra




Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi speaks during his first televised address after the election this past summer. (photo: CNS via Reuters)

Christians excluded as Islamists back Egypt’s constitution (Associated Press via NBC News) Islamists approved a draft constitution for Egypt early Friday without the participation of liberal and Christian members, seeking to pre-empt a court ruling that could dissolve their panel with a rushed, marathon vote that further inflames the conflict between the opposition and President Mohammed Morsi. The vote by the constituent assembly advanced a charter with an Islamist bent that rights experts say could give Muslim clerics oversight over legislation and bring restrictions on freedom of speech, women’s rights and other liberties...

Holy See welcomes decision of UN to grant observer status to Palestine (Vatican Radio) The General Assembly has given majority approval to the Resolution by which Palestine has become a non-member Observer State of the United Nations. The Holy See has released a communique welcoming the move...

Patriarch Fouad Twal on UN move: “I am grateful and happy” (Fides) The Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Msgr. Fouad Twal, expressed his joy to Fides Agency for the step taken yesterday in New York, where the UN General Assembly approved the recognition of Palestine as a non-member State observer. “It is a joy that I share with all Palestinians, Christians and Muslims, and that soon I will express on behalf of our Christian communities to President Abu Mazen, as soon as he gets back”, said Patriarch Twal...

Court convicts 12 for anti-Christian violence in India (Fides) A court of first instance in Orissa sentenced to six years in jail 12 persons guilty of violence against Christian communities, during the campaign of indiscriminate violence which occurred in the district of Kandhamal (Orissa) in 2008...

Toronto’s Arab Knights call on Catholics to support Holy Land (Catholic Register) Toronto’s Arab Knights of Columbus are calling on Catholics to help support Christian students in Jerusalem today to ensure the future of Christianity in the Middle East for years to come. Hikmat Dandan, Grand Knight of Toronto’s Jesus The King Arab Christian Council, began this project two years ago when Archbishop Joseph Jules Zerey of Jerusalem addressed members of Jesus The King Melkite Catholic Church. The archbishop spoke “about the problems that Christians were facing in the Holy Land,” said Dandan. “And then he spoke about the school and how parents are not able to cope with the cost of the students”...



Tags: India Egypt Palestine Jerusalem

29 November 2012
J.D. Conor Mauro




A demonstrator smothers a tear gas canister in a puddle of water during 25 November protests in and around Tahrir Square in Cairo. Hundreds were injured in protests following Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi's claim to new powers that shield his decisions from judicial review. (photo: CNS/Paul Jeffrey)

Egypt’s courts will not be ‘blackmailed’ (L.A. Times) Egypt’s highest court has indicated it will soon rule on whether to dissolve the constitutional assembly, which has been boycotted by liberals and non-Muslims because of its preference for Shari’a, or Islamic law. Anticipating this, the assembly announced it was rushing to deliver a final draft of the new constitution to President Morsi on Thursday, days before the court is expected to make its decision. The rapid-paced maneuvering between the court and Morsi spoke to a dramatic test of wills over which side would shape the charter and the nation’s political future…

Indian archbishop reports ‘boom of vocations’ in the Year of the Faith (Fides) “The new vocations… are an injection of hope for the local Church. And from the people who live the Year of Faith with enthusiasm, joy, confidence in the future,” said Archbishop John Barwa of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar. Additionally, Father Faustine Lucas Lobo, national director of the Pontifical Mission Societies in India, who went to Kandhamal in past weeks, confirms to Fides: “Catholics and vocations to the priesthood and religious life are growing, thanks to the work of the Church,” and the local faithful are “filled with missionary zeal”…

Maronite patriarch reaffirms need for Christian-Muslim dialogue (EWTN) Now also a cardinal, Maronite Patriarch Bechara Peter says he feels more responsible for improving Muslim and Christian dialogue in the Middle East. The church leader said he feels “the great responsibility to move forward in building communion with Muslims and Christians in a very divided and conflictive Middle East.” One of the six cardinals Pope Benedict XVI created on 24 November, Patriarch Bechara Peter is the only one representing Arab Christians in the Vatican…

Extremist Hungarian politician claims Jews are a ‘security risk’ (Der Spiegel) During a Monday evening debate over Israel’s military offensive against Hamas in the Gaza Strip, Márton Gyöngyösi, deputy parliamentary floor leader for the Jobbik party, demanded that “all Jews living in Hungary be registered” and that “Jews, particularly those in parliament and the government, be evaluated for the potential danger they pose to Hungary.” In a comment directed at Zsolt Németh, a state secretary in the Foreign Ministry, he said: “I think you owe Hungary such a compilation”…

Catholicos seeks peace with Jacobites (The Asian Age) Catholicos Baselios Mar Thoma Paulose II of the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church on Sunday extended an olive branch to the Jacobite faction in the church, saying, “There is no reason for those having the same faith and liturgy to stay apart.” Addressing a mammoth gathering of the faithful at the centenary celebrations of the catholicate, the pontiff said: “I am all for unity in the Malankara Church. I don’t know why it’s still a far cry, and who all are blocking it”…

Hamas leader revives talk of reunion with P.L.O. (New York Times) On the eve of the United Nations vote on whether to declare the Palestinian Authority a nonmember state, the leader of Hamas revived a long-percolating proposal for his militant party to join the Palestine Liberation Organization, the group that, with Israel, signed the Oslo Accord, which Hamas has long derided. Speaking at an academic conference here by video link from his new base in Doha, Qatar, the Hamas leader, Khaled Meshal, called on Wednesday for the politically divided Palestinians to unite through new P.L.O. elections that would rebuild the organization “on a correct basis that includes all Palestinian forces.”



Tags: Egypt Palestine Maronite Patriarch Bechara Peter Hungary Indian Bishops

28 November 2012
Greg Kandra




A damaged church is seen after shelling by forces loyal to Syria’s President Bashar Assad in Daria, near Damascus on 26 November. (photo: CNS/Fadi al Derani, Shaam News Network handout via Reuters)

Car bombs kill dozens in Damascus (Reuters) Two car bombs exploded in an attack that killed at least 34 people on Wednesday in a district of the Syrian capital loyal to President Bashar al-Assad. The explosions struck the eastern neighborhood of Jaramana, home to many of Syria’s Druze minority as well as Christians who have fled violence elsewhere, ripping through nearby shops and bringing debris crashing down on cars…

Russian Orthodox Church offers to send relief to Syria (Interfax) The Russian Orthodox Church has expressed willingness to send humanitarian relief to Christians in conflict-ridden Syria. “I believe that we must support the initiative to send humanitarian aid to Syrian Christians who are suffering and have lost their homes, primarily by sending them medications and bandages. The Russian Church stands ready to join this project,” the head of the church, Patriarch Kirill, said at a meeting of the Imperial Orthodox Palestine Society on Wednesday…

Photo essay: Coptic Christians grapple with fear and faith (Mother Jones) With Egypt aspiring to democracy but still in political tumult, much is at stake for its minority populations, including Coptic Christians. They are estimated to number more than eight million, making them the country’s largest religious minority group. Increasingly they have become a target for extremists. Since the toppling of Hosni Mubarak, acts of aggression and violence, in addition to long-running discrimination and neglect, have instilled fear in the Coptic community regarding their prospects for a peaceful existence.

Ukrainians in Canada gather to remember millions killed by famine (Windsor Star) For a local history teacher, the “sadistic” events of Holodomor, kept silent for decades, are not only important to remember, but important to teach others. “Forcing innocent people to starve, there is no justification for that,” Andrew Stebelsky, a Herman high school history teacher, said Sunday during a ceremony held to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the man-made famine. The Holodomor — meaning death by starvation — led to about seven million deaths of mostly rural Ukrainians through the policies of Joseph Stalin’s communist regime in 1932-33…



Tags: Egypt Ukraine Syrian Civil War Russian Orthodox Church Egypt's Christians

27 November 2012
Greg Kandra




A demonstrator prepares to throw a smoking tear gas canister back at police during protests in and around Tahrir Square in Cairo on 25 November. Several hundred people were injured in protests following Egyptian President Mohammed Mursi’s claim to new powers that shield his decisions from judicial review. (photo: CNS/Paul Jeffrey)

Meeting between patriarch and Egyptian Catholic leaders postponed (Fides) New Coptic Orthodox Patriarch Tawadros II announced that a meeting with a qualified Egyptian delegation of the Catholic churches would be postponed until 11 December. A reason for the postponement is due to the tension that reigns throughout Egypt — especially in the capital, after the constitutional decrees with which President Morsi has expanded his powers have sparked violent protests against the government and also the headquarters of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Cluster bomb reportedly kills children in Syrian playground (Vatican Radio) Activists in Syria say a government jet has dropped a cluster bomb on a playground, leaving ten children dead. Video posted online showed children’s bodies on the ground with their mothers grieving over them. Opposition activists said that the children were killed when a MiG fighter bombed a playground in the village of Deir al Asafir, east of Damascus…

Canada’s Syro-Malankara Catholics proud of new cardinal (Catholic Register) Canada’s Syro-Malankara Catholic community may be modest in size but its members are reacting with immense pride to the elevation of its first cardinal. Major Archbishop Baselios Cleemis Thottunkal, the head of the Syro-Malankara Catholic Church, was to be among eight prelates elevated to cardinal by Pope Benedict on 24 November. He is the first cardinal ever selected from the India-based Syro-Malankara Church. For the 250-member Syro-Malankara congregation of Toronto, the unexpected honor is cause for celebration…



Tags: Egypt Syrian Civil War Syro-Malankara Catholic Church Coptic Orthodox Church Egypt's Christians





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