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June, 2018
Volume 44, Number 2
  
5 December 2017
Greg Kandra




Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill of Moscow, shown here celebrating the Divine Liturgy last September, has vowed to continue providing financial assistance to Syria.
(photo: Robert Duncan/CNS)


Patriarch vows Russian Orthodox Church will continue to help Syria (TASS) The Russian Orthodox Church will continue to provide assistance to Syria, with fundraising campaigns being organized in churches, Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia said at a meeting with Patriarch John X of Antioch on Tuesday...

Israel fires at Syrian military facility (Al Jazeera) Israel again fired missiles at a Syrian military facility near Damascus late on Monday, according to a war monitor, the second reported Israeli strike in Syria in the past week...

Lebanon’s prime minister rescinds resignation (Reuters) Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri rescinded his resignation on Tuesday and said all members of the government had agreed to stay out of conflicts in Arab countries. Hariri quit his job in a broadcast from Saudi Arabia a month ago but later said he might withdraw the resignation, providing all parties in Lebanon’s government agree to adhere to the state’s policy of “dissociation” from regional conflicts...

Coptic cathedral reopens after Palm Sunday bombing (World Watch Monitor) A Coptic cathedral has been restored and reopened eight months after a suicide bombing there on Palm Sunday killed 28 and injured 74 others. St George’s Cathedral in Tanta, north of Cairo, has been renamed the Cathedral of St George and the Martyrs, and its blood-splattered pillars have been left untouched as a reminder of what happened...

Gaza’s isolation takes toll on medical patients (CNN) CNN went to see what treatment for cancer patients is like in Gaza. Doctors describe a constant struggle to keep hospitals stocked with medicines and equipment...



1 December 2017
Greg Kandra




Patriarch Filaret of Kiev’s Ukrainian Orthodox Church, shown here during a visit to Chicago in 2012, has reached out to Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kiril and asked for forgiveness and an end to conflict.
(photo: YouTube)


Kiev’s Orthodox patriarch calls for dialogue, ‘forgiveness’ (AFP) The head of the Kiev-based Ukrainian Orthodox Church has called on Russian Patriarch Kirill to end “confrontation” between the two institutions for the sake of the faithful amid a rumbling conflict between Kiev and rebels...

Putin hopes Russian Orthodox Church will contribute to Syria’s reconstruction (TASS) Russian President Vladimir Putin has voiced the hope that the Russian Orthodox Church, which enjoys tangible international authority, will be able to promote the process of postwar reconstruction in Syria. “I do hope that the Russian Orthodox Church, with reliance on its authority in the world, will be able to promote concerted action by the international community for the sake of Syria’s revival, for providing humanitarian assistance to its citizens and for restoring its ruined cultural and spiritual centers,” Putin said...

Peace talks on Syria extended two weeks (United Nations) Previewing what he said will be “not just a normal round of talks,” Staffan de Mistura, the United Nations Special Envoy for Syria, insisted Thursday there should be no preconditions heading into the current round of discussions aimed at resolving the over six-year-long Syrian conflict that has resulted in immense human suffering...

Pope blesses Interreligious and Ecumenical Meeting for Peace (Vatican Radio) The meeting, which saw the participation of representatives of different faiths, took place on the second day of the Pope’s Apostolic Journey to Bangladesh. The 16 Rohingya — 12 men, two women and two young girls — traveled to Dhaka from Cox’s Bazar, the district bordering Myanmar where refugee camps are overflowing with more than 620,000 Rohingya who have fled violence in Myanmar. One by one, each one of the refugees approached the Pope at the end of the event and through the aid of an interpreter told him their stories and their experiences...

Syrian refugee uses musical talent (UNHCR) Three days a week, the bustle of daily life in one corner of Jordan’s remote Azraq refugee camp is drowned out by the driving beat of a traditional “doumbek” drum, loudly accompanied by two dozen singing and clapping children. Leading this joyful ensemble is 45-year-old Syrian refugee Ehsan Al Khalili, his hands a well-practiced blur of movement across the drum skin. His music class is aimed at children with disabilities living in the camp, but is open to all and hugely popular, judging by how quickly the plastic chairs in front of him fill up at the start of each session...



30 November 2017
Greg Kandra




Dramatic drone footage from October reveals the devastation of Raqqa, Syria. A new report states the U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria led to more than 800 civilian deaths over three years.
(video: RT/YouTube)


U.S.-led coalition has killed more than 800 in Syria, Iraq (Voice of America) The U.S.-led coalition targeting the Islamic State group in Syria and Iraq said Thursday its airstrikes have killed 801 civilians since late 2014. The figures came in the coalition's latest monthly statement about its investigations into reports of possible civilian casualties resulting from the strikes...

Syrians on Jordan’s border trapped in power struggle (Al Monitor) Stranded along Jordan’s northeastern border with Syria at Rukban for nearly two years, Mohammad Khader al-Mahya lives in misery. Some 50,000 Syrians live in a 3-year-old desert encampment, hundreds of miles from the nearest city and cut off from international aid workers in a closed military zone...

Study: Ethiopia is an outlier of Orthodoxy (Pew Research Center) Ethiopia has the largest Orthodox Christian population outside Europe, and, by many measures, Orthodox Ethiopians have much higher levels of religious commitment than do Orthodox Christians in the faith’s heartland of Central and Eastern Europe...

Report: Armenia repeatedly violates ceasefire with Azerbaijan (APA) Armenia’s armed forces have 127 times violated the ceasefire along the line of contact between Azerbaijani and Armenian troops over the past 24 hours, the Azerbaijani Defence Ministry told APA on 30 November...

Pope’s message to Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis is encouraging Catholics and Orthodox not only to further theological dialogue between them, but also to promote joint initiatives on issues such as caring for the environment, peaceful coexistence among peoples and the presence of Christians in the Middle East, without waiting for the day of full and visible communion...



29 November 2017
Greg Kandra




Embed from Getty Images
A rebel fighter helps an elderly Syrian refugee return to Syria after crossing the Jordanian border. Reports indicate a small number of refugees are returning to Syria from camps in Jordan.
(photo: Mohamad Abazeed/AFP/Getty Images)


Lebanon’s president says Hariri to remain as prime minister (Reuters) Lebanese President Michel Aoun said that Saad al-Hariri will “certainly” remain prime minister and Lebanon’s political crisis will be resolved in a few days, an Italian newspaper reported on Wednesday...

More refugees returning to Syria from Jordan (AlBawaba.com) The number of Syrian refugees returning voluntarily to Syria from Jordan has been “slightly” rising since a tripartite agreement to back a ceasefire in southwest Syria went into effect early July. In October, there were some 750 returns from Jordan to Syria, compared with 1,078 voluntary returns in September, 1,203 in August and about 631 in July...

Stirrings of hope in Gaza (The Independent) Over recent weeks the early signs that Gaza’s isolation may finally be coming to an end has given a wary and weary civilian population the stirrings of hope. 1 December will be another key milestone in a negotiation process launched in mid-October by the two main Palestinian political parties — Fatah and Hamas — aimed at returning the Palestinian Authority (PA), led by Mahmoud Abbas, to Gaza after a 10-year absence...

Ukraine thanks Israel for support in Crimea (The Jerusalem Post) Over a busy two-day visit to Israel, Ukraine Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin stressed the importance of Jerusalem’s support in international forums regarding Russia’s annexation of Crimea and the conflict in the Donbass. He also gave priority to discussions about economic relations between Israel and Ukraine...

What archeology is revealing about the tomb of Jesus (National Geographic) Over the centuries, Jerusalem’s Church of the Holy Sepulchre has suffered violent attacks, fires, and earthquakes. It was totally destroyed in 1009 and subsequently rebuilt, leading modern scholars to question whether it could possibly be the site identified as the burial place of Christ by a delegation sent from Rome some 17 centuries ago. Now the results of scientific tests provided to National Geographic appear to confirm that the remains of a limestone cave enshrined within the church are remnants of the tomb located by the ancient Romans...

Vatican issues stamps featuring Pope Francis at Armenian Genocide Memorial (The Armenian Weekly) Designed by Daniela Longo, the stamp depicts Pope Francis at the Armenian Genocide Memorial Complex (Tsitsernakaberd), which he visited on 25 June. The pope was accompanied by the Catholicos of All Armenians, His Holiness Karekin II, as well as Armenian President Serge Sarkisian and First Lady Rita Sarkisian...



28 November 2017
Greg Kandra




Embed from Getty Images
UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura addresses the media as he leaves a hotel following talks with Syria’s opposition delegation, on 28 November in Geneva.
(photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP/Getty Images)


New Syria talks open in Geneva (Al Jazeera) Syria’s government and opposition will start a new round of UN-brokered talks in Geneva on Tuesday, but there is little optimism for progress towards ending the seven-year conflict. After months of stalemate, the talks are expected to focus primarily on a new constitution and elections, two of the four so-called “baskets” of reforms laid out by the United Nations for a political settlement to the Syria crisis...

In Iraq, Kirkuk residents nervous as power turns over again (NPR) Power has shifted again in one of Iraq’s most ancient and pivotal cities — Kirkuk. Kurds have recently been on top there but now Arab leaders are in charge and residents are tense as they look ahead...

Egypt says troops killed 14 militants after mosque massacre (AP) Egyptian authorities say security forces have killed at least 14 Islamic militants in Sinai and an adjacent Suez Canal province following the massacre at a village mosque in the northern part of the peninsula last week that killed 305 people...

Indian Catholics sorry papal invitation never came through (CNS) As Pope Francis began his tour to Myanmar and Bangladesh, Catholics in neighboring India regret missing a chance to meet him in their homeland, nostalgically recalling past papal visits, reported ucanews.com...

Delegation of Ethiopian Orthodox Church visits Moscow (The Ethiopian Herald) The delegation of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church went to Moscow with a 4-day working visit at the invitation of His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia.The visit was preceded by the message from His Holiness Patriarch Abba Mathias to Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church expressing interest in reestablishing active cooperation that existed between two sisterly Churches earlier...

Russian church investigates czar’s killing in 1918 (AP) A Russian Orthodox Church panel looking into the 1918 killing of Russia’s last czar and his family says it’s investigating whether it was a ritual murder — a statement that has angered Jewish groups. Father Tikhon Shevkunov, the Orthodox bishop heading the panel, said after Monday’s session that “a large share of the church commission members have no doubts that the murder was ritual.” A representative of Russia’s state investigative agency said it will also probe the theory...



27 November 2017
Greg Kandra




Damaged vehicles line the road on 25 November after a bomb attack at Al Rawdah Mosque in Bir al Abd, Egypt. (photo: CNS/Mohamed Soliman, Reuters)

Egypt reels from mosque attack (Voice of America) Sufi Muslims in Egypt say they plan to continue plans for an annual celebration of the birthday of their prophet, Mohammed, even as the country reels from the massacre at a Sinai mosque that killed 305 worshippers and wounded another 128. No group has claimed responsibility for Friday’s attack, widely believed in Egypt to have been launched because Sufis worshipped at the Al Rawdah Mosque in a village by the same name…

Pope prays for victims of Egyptian mosque attack (CNA) On Sunday, Pope Francis expressed his sorrow for the attack on a mosque in Sinai, Egypt, on 24 November, which killed 305 people and wounded hundreds more. “I continue to pray for the many victims, for the wounded and for the whole community, so severely affected. God frees us from these tragedies and sustains the efforts of all those who work for peace, concord, and coexistence,” he said during his Angelus address in St. Peter’s Square...

Pope Francis meets commission with Church of the East (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Friday received in audience the members of the Joint Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Church of the East. In greetings to the Commission, the pope thanked God “for today’s signing of the Joint Declaration…”

Pope releases message for World Day of Peace (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis’ message for the celebration of the 2018 World Day of Peace was released on Friday during a press conference at the Holy See Press Office…

Is the sari a Hindu garment? (Hindustan Times) Mumbai’s native Christians have a version of the sari called the lugra. A variation of the Maharashtrian nine-yard sari, it is distinctive because each sub-caste had its own style and color preference, with red and green predominating…



Tags: India Egypt Pope Francis

22 November 2017
Greg Kandra




A young woman takes a selfie with Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri after his press conference announcing the withdrawal of his resignation at his residence in Beirut, Lebanon, on 22 November. (photo: Houssam Shbaro/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Lebanon’s Hariri suspends resignation, returns to Beirut (The Washington Post) Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri on Wednesday suspended his shock resignation delivered weeks earlier from Saudi Arabia, marking a stunning return to Beirut after weeks of speculation over his freedom of movement…

What’s happening in Lebanon and why its stability matters (CNBC) “The U.S. and EU worry that increasing instability in Lebanon will further destabilize an already volatile region,” said Marianne Knaevelsrud, Middle East analyst at Protection Group International. “Lebanon hosts more refugees per capita than any other country, a huge economic burden and potential source of insecurity. The West is concerned that political uncertainty could exacerbate the refugee situation or allow militant groups to expand their influence…”

Assad and Putin meet amid new push to end Syrian war (The New York Times) Thanking Russia for the military intervention he credited for “saving Syria,” President Bashar al Assad met with President Vladimir V. Putin amid preparations for new talks aimed at ending the civil war…

‘Armenians stand at the foundations of Christian civilization’ (Public Radio of Armenia) Armenia is hosting a conference on preventing hate crimes on the basis of religion. “Historically being situated on the crossroads of different civilizations Armenia has cultivated deeply rooted traditions of coexistence and respect towards other cultures and religions,” Armenian Foreign Minister Edward Nalbanian said in his opening remarks…

Israel thwarts attempt to smuggle explosives into Gaza (The Jerusalem Post) An attempt to smuggle tons of explosive material into the Gaza Strip has been thwarted by the Israeli Ministry of Defense’s Crossing Authority, it was announced on Wednesday. The attempt was foiled thanks to a new, advanced chemistry laboratory that was set up in recent weeks at Israel’s Kerem Shalom crossing with Gaza…



Tags: Syria Lebanon Israel Russia Armenia

21 November 2017
J.D. Conor Mauro




In this image from 2016, a priest examines a Catholic church destroyed by ISIS militants in Karamdes, Iraq, following the town’s liberation. The U.S.C.C.B. has designated this Sunday, 26 November, as a day of prayer for persecuted Christians in the Middle East. (photo: CNS/Archdiocese of Erbil)

Iraqi Supreme Court rules Kurdish referendum unconstitutional (BBC) The Iraqi Supreme Court has ruled that a referendum on Kurdish independence was unconstitutional. The ruling comes nearly two months after the vote, in which 92 percent of Iraqi Kurds supported secession…

Lebanon’s military chief asks for readiness at Israel border (The Jerusalem Post) Lebanon’s army chief urged “full readiness” at the southern border to face the “threats of the Israeli enemy and its violations,” the army said in a tweet on Tuesday. Army Commander General Joseph Aoun called on soldiers to be ever vigilant for the “good implementation” of the U.N. resolution 1701 to “preserve stability” at the border with Israel...

U.S. bishops designate next Sunday a day of prayer for persecuted Christians in the Middle East (U.S.C.C.B.) In the midst of the turbulence in the Middle East, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops expresses solidarity with Christians and all those who suffer from the conflict and persecution in the region. The church stands at the service of all people in the Middle East, both Christians and Muslims…

Russian patriarch warns of the ‘end of history’ (The Moscow Times) The head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill, said Monday that the end of the world is approaching, the state-run RIA Novosti news agency reports. Following a service at the Christ the Savior Cathedral in central Moscow, Kirill told congregants that the coming apocalypse “is already visible to the naked eye”…

A trip through the stunning, rock-hewed churches of Ethiopia (The New York Times) These trips reinforced my opinion that Ethiopia is one of the more exciting places in the world to visit right now: an attractive mix of ancient tradition and rapid modernization. What’s more, it can all be seen fairly economically…



Tags: Iraq Ethiopia Russia

20 November 2017
Greg Kandra




Pope Francis marked the first World Day of the Poor on Sunday by celebrating Mass with thousands of homeless people, and then hosting them for a luncheon. (video: Rome Reports/YouTube)

Fear of extinction pushes Basra’s Christians to isolation (Al Monitor) Shiites around the world celebrated the Arbaeen holiday on 9 November. This year, Christians in Iraq participated in the Shiite ritual to attest to the coexistence and social interaction between the Christian minority and the Shiite majority in central and southern Iraq. Youssef Touma Elias, an Iraqi Christian, took part in the celebrations and served the Shiite pilgrims who marched to the sacred shrine of Imam Hussein in the city of Karbala. However, this positive step by the members of the Christian minority conceals their deep fear and mistrust of the majority, who failed to protect them from the threats of extremists over recent years…

Hariri plans return to Lebanon (Voice of America) Saad al Hariri, who announced his resignation as Lebanon’s prime minister earlier this month, plans to visit Egypt Tuesday before returning home. His office announced Sunday he will meet with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al Sisi in Cairo…

Indian Christians welcome plan to help poor (UCANews.com) Christian leaders in India have welcomed a government plan to provide free coaching to religious minority students to help them prepare for civil service entry exams. They hope it will ultimately mean more Christians, including from tribal minorities, are able to enter the social mainstream…

Russian Orthodox priests, traffic police march to remember road victims in Moscow (The Moscow Times) Russian Orthodox clergy and traffic police in western Russia this weekend marched down a notoriously dangerous motorway on the eve of the World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims. More than 20,000 people die on the roads in Russia every year, according to the RIA Novosti news agency…

Pope Francis marks World Day of the Poor (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis celebrated Mass on Sunday — the XXXIII Sunday in Ordinary Time and the first-ever World Day of the Poor — in St. Peter’s Basilica…



Tags: Iraq India Lebanon Russia

17 November 2017
Greg Kandra




On Thursday, Pope Francis paid a visit to volunteers who have set up a “field hospital” near St. Peter’s to mark the first World Day of the Poor this Sunday. (video: Rome Reports/YouTube)

Will Saudis impose a blockade on Lebanon? (Al Jazeera) Some Lebanese politicians and bankers believe Saudi Arabia intends to do to their country what it did to Qatar — corral Arab allies into enforcing an economic blockade unless its demands are met…

Jordan builds world’s largest solar plant in refugee camp (The Jordan Times) After six months of construction that saw the sprawling of some 40,000 solar panels over “the size of 33 football fields” in southern Mafraq, the world’s largest solar power plant built in a refugee settlement was inaugurated on Monday…

Bishop Mansour speaks out about supporting Middle East Christians (National Catholic Register) In this interview, Maronite Catholic Bishop Gregory Mansour, a longtime champion of human rights and the Middle East’s Christians, and board chairman of Catholic Relief Services, discusses the role C.R.S. has played in this alliance to sustain the Middle East Christians, and to help them fulfill their mission of building peace in their societies…

New book examines rift between Copts and Muslims (Arab News) The Egyptian regime since Gamal Abdel Nasser has remained steadfast in underplaying sectarian incidents and emphasizing national unity among all Egyptians, despite the occurrence of violent incidents, according to “The Copts” by veteran journalist Abdel Latif El-Menawy…

Christian women coming of age in India (UCANews.com) Women burying their differences to come together is not something new in India. But Christian women forgetting their denominational differences and coming together to claim their space within the Christian community is creating ripples. Regional units of the Indian Christian Women’s Movement are now being launched in different parts of the country. Its Kerala unit was started in September. The affirming presence and enthusiastic participation of women in the movement testifies to the tremendous synergy in such an initiative…

Marking the first ‘World Day of the Poor’ around the world (Vatican Radio) This Sunday parishes in Rome and around the world will mark the first World Day of the Poor which is just one of the fruits of the Jubilee of Mercy. The Pontifical Council for the Promotion for the New Evangelization has been tasked with the organization of the initiative called by Pope Francis.



Tags: India Egypt Lebanon Jordan





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