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Current Issue
September, 2018
Volume 44, Number 3
  
13 March 2018
Greg Kandra




In the video above, church leaders discuss the impact of Pope Francis’ papacy on the five-year anniversary of his election. (video: CNS/Robert Duncan/YouTube)

Marking the five-year anniversary of Pope Francis’ election (CNS) Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio was elected pope just a few days after telling the College of Cardinals that the Catholic Church faced a clear choice between being a church that “goes out” or a church focused on its internal affairs. After the cardinal from Buenos Aires, Argentina, was elected on 13 March 2013, and chose the name Francis, he made “go out,” “periphery” and “throwaway culture” standard phrases in the papal vocabulary...

Middle East bishops receive encouragement from Pope Francis (Vatican News) Bishops from across the Middle East have made pilgrimages to three papal basilicas to “pray for the strengthening of the faith” of Catholics in their countries “who live in difficult situations.” Members of the Conference of Latin Bishops of the Arab Regions (Celra) said they also received “great encouragement” from Pope Francis’ prayers and work for peace across the Middle East during a meeting with him as part of a five-day trip to Rome...

Palestinian Prime Minister survives assassination attempt in Gaza (CNN) Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah survived an assassination attempt in northern Gaza on Tuesday morning, according to Wafa, the official Palestinian news agency. Hamdallah, who was making a short trip to the coastal enclave to mark the opening of a new water treatment facility, had just passed through the Erez border crossing from Israel when a bomb detonated near his convoy, tearing the siding off at least one black SUV and blowing out the car’s windows...

Ujjain, India Christian hospital vandalized (Manoramaonline.com) Pushpa Mission Hospital, run by the Ujjain diocese in Madhya Pradesh was vandalized and critical life support systems were disrupted by a mob of suspected BJP workers...

Report: Turkish forces ‘encircle’ Syrian Kurdish city (BBC) The Turkish military says it has surrounded the Kurdish-held city of Afrin in northern Syria, the focus of an offensive against a Kurdish militia. A statement said troops and allied Syrian rebels had also captured “critically important areas...”

India’s pro-Hindu party wins over Christian-led states (UCANews.com) The results of state elections in the Christian-dominated states of Nagaland and Meghalaya, as well as in the communist stronghold of Tripura on March 3, showed how the BJP [pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party] is making considerable gains in these areas...



12 March 2018
Greg Kandra




In this 2017 photo, a Catholic family working to repair their family home damaged by ISIS militants poses in the Christian town of Karamdes, Iraq. Portions of this year’s annual Good Friday collection will help support Christians in the Middle East who are trying to rebuild their lives. (photo: CNS/Martyn Aim, courtesy Knights of Columbus)

Good Friday collection appeals for funds to support Christians who have fled Syria, Iraq (Vatican News) Money raised by the Good Friday collection traditionally goes to support projects and communities throughout Palestine, Israel, Jordan, Cyprus, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Turkey, Iran and Iraq. In his letter, Cardinal Sandri appealed especially for financial support for Christian families and young people who have fled from the fighting in Syria and Iraq…

Rome children’s hospital reaches out to Syrian children (Vatican News) Bambino Gesu Hospital is treating two wounded Syrian children in Rome. The hospital owned by the Holy See has also joined hands with WHO and UNHCR for projects in Syria and Jordan to reach out to children hit by the ongoing war and bombardment in Syria…

Indian Catholic Church criticizes court decision on euthanasia (Vatican News) A ruling by India’s supreme court that allows euthanasia for the terminally ill has been criticized by India’s Catholic Church that says that the mark of good society is its ability and willingness to care for the most vulnerable of society…

Hotter, drier, hungrier: how global warming punishes the world’s poorest (The New York Times) A people long hounded by poverty and strife has found itself on the frontline of a new crisis: climate change. More than 650,000 children under age 5 across vast stretches of Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia are severely malnourished. The risk of famine stalks people in all three countries; at least 12 million people rely on food aid, according to the United Nations…

In Jerusalem’s Old City, hi-tech illuminates the city’s biblical past (Times of Israel) King David made a big, bold and bright return to Jerusalem Sunday evening at an advance showing of the Tower of David Museum‘s new Night Experience. The biblical leader who reigned over the United Kingdom of Israel and Judah three millennia ago comes to life again on the inner walls of the ancient citadel next to the Old City’s Jaffa Gate…



Tags: India Middle East Christians Jerusalem Horn of Africa

8 March 2018
Greg Kandra




Embed from Getty Images
Syrian children walk past Syrian Red Crescent trucks carrying humanitarian aid in the town of Douma in the rebel-held enclave of Eastern Ghouta on 9 March 2018.
(photo: Hamza Al-Ajweigh/AFP/Getty Images)


U.N. aid convoy re-enters Eastern Ghouta amid ‘calm’ (BBC) A U.N. aid convoy has managed to enter the rebel-held area of Eastern Ghouta in Syria which has been under intense bombardment, officials say. For the first time since Monday, food supplies got into the town of Douma, the Red Cross said...

White House to convene summit on Gaza (The Times of Israel) The White House will convene a meeting next week of “stakeholders” to improve life in the Gaza Strip, a top Trump administration Middle East peace negotiator said Thursday...

Report: international flight ban in Erbil to be lifted (Daily Sabah) A ban on international flights into and out of northern Iraq’s Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) will be lifted before the upcoming Nevruz spring festival on 21 March, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has reportedly said...

Georgia debates teaching religion in school (Civil Georgia) This is not the first time religious education is considered for schools. Even as Georgia regained its independence in 1991, classes of “the History and Culture of Religion” were introduced into the classrooms and taught to pupils aged 8 to 12 until 2005. Despite its title suggesting social science tilt, the classes were often (although not always) taught by the Orthodox Christian priests and almost in all cases focused overwhelmingly on Orthodox Christianity as means of patriotic education — and religious indoctrination...

Friar trains Iraqis to preserve manuscripts seized by ISIS (AFP) As ISIS militants swept across Iraq three years ago, he rescued a treasure trove of ancient religious manuscripts from near-certain destruction. Father Najeeb Michaeel is now training fellow Iraqis to preserve their heritage. “My duty is to save our heritage, a significant treasure,” the Dominican friar told AFP in a telephone interview from his office in the city of Arbil, capital of Iraqi Kurdistan...



8 March 2018
Greg Kandra




Embed from Getty Images
Turkish-backed Syrian rebels gesture as they drive down a road in the area of Hallubi, north of Afrin, on 8 March 2018. (photo: Nazeer Al-Khatib/AFP/Getty Images)

Eastern Ghouta cut in two as Syrian army seizes ground (The Guardian) Syrian government forces have seized vast swathes of territory from rebels in the opposition-held suburbs of Damascus, effectively dividing the besieged enclave of eastern Ghouta in two and further squeezing rebels and the tens of thousands of civilians trapped inside...

Pope Francis meets with members of International Migration Commission (Vatican News) Pope Francis on Thursday met members of the International Catholic Migration Commission on the occasion of their Plenary Council. In prepared remarks to members of the Commission in the Vatican’s Clementine Hall, Pope Francis expressed his thanks to them for their work carried out in the Church’s name to assist migrants and refugees in great need. The multiple projects initiated on five continents, he said represented “exemplary instances of the four verbs — welcome, defend, promote and integrate”...

New U.S. embassy may be in Jerusalem, but not in Israel (The New York Times) In two months, the United States plans to open a new embassy to fulfill President Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. There’s just one problem: The embassy may be in Jerusalem, but it may not be fully in Israel...

Meet Kuwait’s homegrown priest (The Jordan Times) Dressed in a traditional white Gulf headdress and with two red crosses embroidered on his black clerical robe, Kuwait’s first homegrown priest cuts a unique figure in the predominantly Muslim emirate. The Rev. Emmanuel Benjamin Jacob Gharib, 68, celebrates both the Bible and Gulf Arab culture with his Christian congregation in Kuwait City. In an interview with AFP ahead of the 20th anniversary of his ordination, he stressed the level of acceptance he has felt from fellow Kuwaitis. “Everyone welcomes me wherever I go,” said Father Emmanuel...



7 March 2018
Greg Kandra




In this image from 2016, a volunteer embraces refugee children in a makeshift camp near Idomeni, Greece. The Vatican has called on Catholics and Catholic agencies to counteract the “refusal to welcome” migrants in some countries. (photo: CNS/Nikos Arvanitdis, EPA)

Turkey’s Erdogan criticizes UN ceasefire in Syria (The Independent) Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has criticised a UN-mandated ceasefire in Syria designed to stop the recent bloodshed in eastern Ghouta while defending his own military’s two-month-old operation against the Kurds in Afrin...

Vatican: Church must counteract ‘refusal to welcome’ migrants (CNS) The Catholic Church and Catholic agencies that work with migrants and refugees around the world are called to educate, advocate and seek alternative host countries in the face of a growing “refusal to welcome” newcomers, as the Vatican secretary of state defined the situation...

Jordan: Syrian refugees will benefit from regularizing their situation (The Jordan Times) Local organizations have welcomed the Ministry of Interior’s (MoI) announcement of a brand new campaign aimed at regularizing the status of Syrian refugees living informally in the urban areas of Jordan...

Report: Most Kerala converts choosing Hinduism (ManoramaOnline.com) If the results of a study published by the Media Research and Development Foundation, Kozhikode are to be believed, maximum number of religious converts in the state chose to embrace Hinduism....

Pope Francis makes donation for first Orthodox monastery in Austria (The Tablet) Pope Francis has donated 100,000 euros (£90,000) towards the first Orthodox monastery that is being built at St Andrä in Austria’s easternmost province of Burgenland...

‘Cycle priest’ gaining attention in India (UCANews.com) On the rugged mud paths of villages and the tarred roads of Rajkot town, people often spot a Catholic priest rushing on his cycle. After almost a decade’s work in Rajkot’s Junagadh parish, Father Vinod Kanatt is now nicknamed “cycle priest” in the diocese managed by the Carmelites of Mary Immaculate congregation...



6 March 2018
Greg Kandra




Syrian Red Crescent volunteers give medical supplies to civilians on 5 March in Ghouta, Syria.
(photo: CNS/Syrian Red Crescent via Reuters)


Report of ‘chlorine attack’ on embattled Syrian town (BBC) Medics in the rebel-held Eastern Ghouta area of Syria say they have been treating people with breathing problems after a suspected chlorine attack. The reports follow government air strikes and shelling just hours after the last UN aid envoy left the enclave following a supposed five-hour truce...

Ambassador says Iraq is safe, urges refugees in Lebanon to return home (The Daily Star) Iraq’s ambassador to Lebanon Sunday called on Iraqi refugees in the country to return home “voluntarily” in the near future, citing “safe” conditions in Iraq following the withdrawal of Daesh (ISIS) from much of its territory. Speaking on Radio Liban Sunday, Ambassador Ali Bandar al-Aameri urged “all Iraqi refugees in Lebanon, particularly Christians, to return voluntarily to their country.” He did not specify a timeline for possible return, but promised funding and housing for voluntary returnees...

Trump may travel to Jerusalem for embassy opening (The Jerusalem Post) President Donald Trump warmly welcomed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to the Oval Office on Monday, and said that he may come to Israel in May for the ceremony marking the formal transfer of the US Embassy to Jerusalem...

Saudi Prince invites Coptic leader to Saudi Arabia (Arab News) Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman invited Egypt’s Coptic Christians to visit Saudi Arabia after a rare meeting in Cairo’s main cathedral. Speaking to Egyptian media after the visit the head of the Egyptian church, Pope Tawadros II said: “In the name of the Coptic Orthodox church we welcome Prince Mohammed’s visit to his second country Egypt”...

Why Greek Catholics of Ukraine seek recognition as a patriarchate (CNA) The Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church is not a patriarchate, but it would like to be. A request for a recognition of patriarchal status recently came from Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk, who addressed it in a speech delivered 9 February for the 125th anniversary of the birth of Cardinal Josip Sliyi...

Report: Vatican confirms canonization of Paul VI set for October (Crux) Adding specificity to what was already known about the impending canonization of Blessed Paul VI in 2018, Italian Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the pope’s top deputy as the Vatican’s Secretary of State, said Tuesday that the sainthood rite will take place in late October at the close of a meeting of the Synod of Bishops, an institution Paul VI himself founded...



5 March 2018
Greg Kandra




Embed from Getty Images
A United Nations vehicle is seen at the al-Wafideen checkpoint near the rebel-held Eastern Ghouta region. A a convoy carrying aid for thousands of trapped Syrians headed towards the rebel-held enclave on 5 March 2018. (photo: Louai Beshara/AFP/Getty Images)

Aid convoy enters Eastern Ghouta in Syria (Al Jazeera) A 46-truck convoy carrying humanitarian aid has begun entering Eastern Ghouta through the government-controlled Wafideen checkpoint for the first time in nearly a month. “At last ... A convoy ... carrying desperately-needed aid for tens of thousands is on its way to Eastern Ghouta, Syria,” Robert Mardini, the head of the Middle East operations for the International Committee of the Red Cross, said in a tweet on Monday...

Mass grave with remains of Christians found near Mosul (Iraqi News) A mass grave with remains of forty Christians was found in Mosul, church sources declared on Thursday. “Al-Hashd al-Shaabi (Popular Mobilization Forces) along with security troops in Halila region, near Badush in west of Mosul, ran into a mass grave of Christians who were kidnapped from the region,” a source from the Syriac Orthodox Church told Alghad Press website...

Russian patriarch visits Bulgaria (RT.com) The heads of the Russian and Bulgarian Orthodox churches and the Bulgarian president marked the 140th anniversary of the end of the country’s occupation by the Ottoman Empire at the site of a famous joint victory over the Turks...

A second country plans to move embassy to Jerusalem (CNN) Guatemala will move its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem in two months, just two days after the United States plans to relocate its embassy to the city. Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales made the announcement Sunday at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s annual policy conference in Washington. His remarks were greeted with cheers and applause. “As a sovereign decision, we recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel,” Morales said...

Britain to take up persecution of religious minorities in India (Hindustan Times) Britain will raise the issue of alleged persecution of Christians and Sikhs in India during the April meeting of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in London and Windsor, following demands by MPs to take it up with Prime Minster Narendra Modi...



1 March 2018
Greg Kandra




Sister Josephine Amala Valarmathi addresses a meeting of domestic workers in Chennai, India. The Indian religious sister has been providing legal aid to migrant workers to help them avoid exploitation. (photo: CNS/courtesy Global Sisters)

Eastern Ghouta bombardment: 674 Syrian civilians killed in 13 days (Al Jazeera) As many as 674 civilians have been killed in nearly two weeks by the continuous air attacks on the Damascus suburb of Eastern Ghouta, a Syrian volunteer group has said. The Syrian Civil Defense, also known as the White Helmets, said on Friday that more than 670 people have been killed since the Syrian government, aided by Russia, launched an air offensive on the largely rural area outside the capital on 18 February...

New law sought for Kerala church properties (UCANews.com) Catholic reformists have launched a campaign for a new law to govern church properties in southern Kerala as the Indian state’s top court studies land deals involving Cardinal George Alencherry, the major archbishop of the eastern rite Syro-Malabar Church...

Indian sister answers call of migrants (Global Sisters Report) Sister Josephine Amala Valarmathi says providing free legal aid to migrant workers in their destination countries is a must to end their exploitation by employers and employment agents. Numerous cases could be avoided, she says, if Indian embassy officials would join civil society organizations in those countries to educate workers on local laws. The nun says her priority since 2003 has been to organize awareness programs for migrant workers on safe legal migration procedures so that they could avoid exploitation and fraudulent recruitments...

Pope to visit Geneva for anniversary of World Council of Churches (Vatican News) Pope Francis will travel to Geneva on 21 June to mark the 70th anniversary of the World Council of Churches. The announcement was made on Friday at a press conference in the Vatican by the WCC General Secretary, Rev. Olav Fykse Tveit and by Cardinal Kurt Koch, head of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity...

Archbishop recalls UN Human Rights Declaration (Vatican News) In the statement at the UN session this week, Archbishop Ivan Jurkovič spoke about how this 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights “represented a unique opportunity to reaffirm its pivotal importance as a reference point for global and cross-cultural discussion on human rights, fundamental freedoms and human dignity”...



1 March 2018
Greg Kandra




In the video above, Cardinal Edwin O’Brien, Grand Master of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre, reflects on the controversy that led to the sacred site being closed earlier this week, and suggests a way forward. (video: Rome Reports/YouTube)

Iranian Christians fear the worst (The New York Times) They sold their homes and possessions, quit their jobs, and left their country — they thought for good. The Iranians, mainly members of their nation’s Christian minorities, were bound for a new life in America after what should have been a brief sojourn in Austria for visa processing. But more than a year later, some 100 of them remain stranded in Vienna, their savings drained, their lives in limbo and the promise of America dead...

New mobile money initiative launched for refugees in Jordan (Reuters) The Central Bank of Jordan today signs an agreement with Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to launch Mobile Money for Resilience (MM4R), a multifaceted grant initiative focused on financially empowering vulnerable groups such as low-income Jordanians and refugees. As the first initiative of its kind in the Middle East, MM4R will provide access to more advanced digital financial services, such as payment transfers, savings and credit...

Catholic priest stabbed to death in Kerala (Deccan Herald) A Catholic priest died after sustaining stab injuries in an attack by an employee of his parish, near the famed Kurisumudi pilgrim centre in Malayattoor in Ernakulam district, on Thursday. The Rev. Xavier Thelakat (51) was stabbed by a man identified as Johny, a sexton at the St. Thomas International Shrine in Kurisumudi where Father Xavier was the Rector...

Priest jailed for rape in India acquitted, freed (UCANews.com) A Catholic priest jailed two years ago on charges of raping a young girl was released 28 February after a court acquitted him of all charges in central Indian Madhya Pradesh state, a hotbed of anti-Christian activities...

For the birds: Armenian says ‘When you have a good pigeon, you get great respect’ (GlobalVoices.org) David Shirvanyan has been keeping doves (a type of pigeon) since he was five years old, when he got a bird as a gift from a relative. He fell in love, and today he has 300. He plies his trade at Yerevan’s bird market, which operates on weekends, offering animals both for food and for pets...



28 February 2018
Greg Kandra




Tourists place candles outside the locked doors of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem’s Old City. The church, the holiest site for Christians, reopened on 28 February after a dispute over property taxes. (photo: CNS/Debbie Hill)

Church of Holy Sepulchre reopens (CNS) Christian leaders in the Holy Land announced they would reopen the Church of the Holy Sepulchre on 28 February after the Israeli government has set up a negotiating team to resolve a municipal dispute over property taxes...

Pope prays for Syria at General Audience (Vatican News) The Pope was greeting pilgrims and visitors from Syria, the Holy Land and the Middle East present at the General Audience on Wednesday, when he improvised yet another appeal for what he called that “martyred nation.” “We must pray for these brothers and sisters of ours,” he said, “and for all persecuted Christians”...

Ethiopian Jews threaten hunger strike (AP) Representatives for thousands of Ethiopian Jews announced Wednesday they will stage a mass hunger strike if Israel eliminates funding to allow them to join their families in that country. Hundreds gathered at a synagogue in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, to express concern that Israel’s proposed budget removes the funding to help them immigrate to reunite with relatives...

Meet a family that has tattooed Christians in Jerusalem for 700 years (The Federalist) Buried in a maze of alleyways in the Old City of Jerusalem near Jaffa Gate stands a small shop with a sign that reads, “Razzouk Tattoo: Tattoo with Heritage Since 1300.” The Razzouk family has been tattooing for 700 years. When the family moved to Israel from Egypt, they brought their tattooing tradition with them. Ever since then, the Razzouks have been providing tattoos for Christians in Israel as certificates of their pilgrimage...

In Jordan, a classroom for refugees built by refugees wins architecture award (TheirWorld.org) The building, which has won a global architecture award, was constructed in Jordan’s Za’atari village and is designed to cope with high and low temperatures. It looks like a giant beehive — but this amazing structure is a school for refugees built by refugees. The dome was constructed as a classroom for children in the village of Za’atari, near the huge Syrian refugee camp of the same name in Jordan...







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