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Current Issue
June, 2018
Volume 44, Number 2
  
11 September 2018
Greg Kandra




Families are struggling to salvage their homes and business after the massive flooding in Kerala last month. (video: TRTWorld/YouTube)

Disease and snakes await Kerala flood victims (UCANews.com) Sheela Joseph and her family spent a week in a relief camp before they were able to return to their flood-hit house on the banks of Periyar River in the southern Indian state of Kerala in late August. She was among 1.3 million people who found themselves displaced in the middle of last month when flash floods hit the state. Many have since gone back home as the waters have receded but many thousands still reside in temporary shelters as their abodes remain waterlogged and uninhabitable, if not completely destroyed…

Turkey warns attack on Idlib would cause humanitarian disaster (Reuters) A Syrian government offensive in the country’s northern region of Idlib would cause humanitarian and security risks for Turkey, Europe and beyond, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday in an article in the Wall Street Journal…

Ethiopia, Eritrea reopen border points for first time in 20 years (Reuters) The leaders of Ethiopia and Eritrea re-opened crossing points on their shared border for the first time in 20 years on Tuesday, cementing a stunning reconciliation and giving Addis Ababa a direct route to its former foe’s Red Sea ports…

Coptic abbot’s murder points to strains over ecumenism in Egypt (Religion News Service) The Coptic Orthodox community in Egypt is reeling from the recent murder of the abbot of St. Macarius Monastery, apparently by traditionalists of his own faith, in the fourth-century center of meditation and scholarship 60 miles northwest of Cairo…

Bishops from mission territory gather at Vatican (Vatican News) Bishops who have been ordained within the last two years in dioceses which are still considered mission territory have gathered in Rome to take part in a Seminar organized by the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples from 3-15 September. There are 75 Bishops from 34 countries gathered for the Seminar hosted at Collegio San Paolo (Pontifical International Missionary College of St Paul the Apostle) in Rome…

Virtual reality allows visitors to walking through Jerusalem during the time of Jesus (Aleteia) Australian start-up Lithodomos VR will offer visitors the chance to actually see how ancient cities looked hundreds of years ago, thanks to virtual reality tours based on architectural reconstructions done by professional archaeologists. The Tower of David Museum in Jerusalem’s Old City will launch a VR tour of the city for the holiday of Sukkot, a Jewish holiday that celebrates the gathering of the harvest…



Tags: Syria India Jerusalem Vatican

10 September 2018
Greg Kandra




Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, head of external relations for the Russian Orthodox Church, announced that the Moscow Patriarchate has threatened to sever relations with the Ecumenical Patriarchate if a patriarchate in Kiev is recognized. (photo: CNS/Paul Haring)

Rebel-held areas bombed in northwest Syria (Al Jazeera) Syrian government forces have pounded rebel-held areas in northwest Syria, killing at least five people in a second day of heavy bombardment, according to rescuers, as Turkey sent more troops to the region. The intensified strikes on Sunday, including air attacks, shelling and helicopter-dropped barrel bombs, targeted villages in southern Idlib and northern Hama provinces. The escalation comes amid growing fears over a seemingly imminent all-out offensive against the densely populated Idlib province, the last rebel bastion in Syria…

Monsoon rains pounding northern India, rendering millions homeless (UCANews.com) India’s monsoon floods have claimed 1,400 lives and rendered millions homeless as church agencies and others work to provide relief. The unusually heavy southwest monsoon that hit the southern tip of India in June is making its last lap in northern India and creating unprecedented rains…

Russian Orthodox Church threatens retaliation (Radio Free Europe) The Russian Orthodox Church has threatened to retaliate against its Istanbul-based rival if it allows Ukraine to cut its spiritual ties with Moscow and thereby end Russian religious rule in the country. Metropolitan Hilarion, head of the Russian Orthodox Church’s External Relations Department, said on 8 September that if the patriarch of Kiev was recognized, “we will have no choice but to sever relations with Constantinople”…

Ethiopia reopens embassy in Eritrea (Al Jazeera) Ethiopia has reopened its embassy in Eritrea after a 20-year hiatus, in a further sign of improving relations between the neighbors who signed a peace accord earlier this year…

Bishop’s home, religious items sustain damage from Kerala floods (The Times of India) During the floods, the Pamba River had devoured vast stretches of land and inundated several houses on its banks. One of the damaged houses belonged to Philipose Mar Chrysostom, the Mar Thoma Metropolitan. Now, weeks after the waters have receded, the bishop’s pets, including turkeys, rabbits, love-birds, ducks and goats, which were shifted during the deluge, have been brought back and are moving restlessly inside their pens…

Supporting Israelis in need on Rosh Hashanah (The Jerusalem Post) On Sunday evening, families across Israel are sitting down with loved ones and friends for a festive Rosh Hashanah meal. For most families, the new year festivities are an opportunity for celebration. For others, however, they are a stark reminder of their struggle to provide food for themselves and their households…



Tags: India Ethiopia Israel Eritrea Russian Orthodox

7 September 2018
Greg Kandra




A new mosquito-borne tropical illness is now threatening victims of the flooding in Kerala. The video above shows more of the aftermath and recovery efforts in the Indian state. (video: Firstpost/YouTube)

Russia warns U.S. of pending attack on Syria (CNN) Russia has warned the US military twice in the last week that its forces, along with Syrian regime units, are prepared to attack in an area where dozens of US troops are located, according to several US defense officials. Russia claims that there are militants in the area protected by US troops…

New disease threat faces Kerala flood victims (Times of India) Even as the health department is trying to curb the spread of leptospirosis, the state is now facing a new health threat in the form of dengue — a mosquito-borne tropical disease. Health minister KK Shailaja said an alert has been issued for dengue in the wake of increasing cases being reported in the state. Mosquito menace has risen in Kerala due to stagnant water after floods…

Back to school, but not for all of Syria’s children (AP) Standing in line in the courtyard of their school in the capital Damascus, scores of Syrian girls in pink and blue uniforms saluted the flag and sang the country’s national anthem. A few miles away in a suburb, children played in the courtyard of a rehabilitated school, where shattered windows were replaced but charred walls and pockmarks from bullets remained on the building facades. With fewer areas in active combat in Syria, more children are going back to school this year, the Syrian government said, putting the number at 4 million…

Russian Orthodox Church wants to build an ’Orthodox Vatican’ outside Moscow (BBC) The Russian Orthodox Church hopes to erect an “Orthodox Vatican” in Sergiyev Posad, just outside Moscow, that would require the demolition of several downtown buildings, according to the BBC Russian Service. Journalists learned about plans for an “open-air temple” at the walls of the Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius with a platform stage that would allow the church to hold outdoor liturgies…

Indian bishop seeks federal help for fraught Christians (UCANews.com) Indian Bishop Theodore Mascarenhas has personally asked federal Home Affairs Minister Rajnath Singh to intervene over the mistreatment of Christians and their organizations in eastern Jharkhand state. Bishop Mascarenhas, secretary general of the Indian Bishops’ Conference, met Singh at his New Delhi office on 3 September. The minister was briefed about difficulties being faced by the Christian minority…

Children in Jordan refugee camp at risk of becoming ’lost generation’ (The Independent) Despite their courage and ambitions, these children may not be able to fulfill their potential. They risk becoming part of Syria’s lost generation: children who have been stripped of the chance to develop into the adults they could have been because of the war…



Tags: Syria India Jordan Russian Orthodox Church

6 September 2018
Greg Kandra




Kerala continues to battle the aftermath of the devastating floods that hit last month. The video above shows some of the recent recovery efforts. (video: Indian Express/YouTube)

Report: As many as 700,000 could be displaced by attack on Syria’s Idlib province (The Guardian) Aid agencies fear that as many as 700,000 people could be displaced within a day of a Russian-led bombardment of Syria’s Idlib province as momentum towards an expected attack on the last large rebel enclave continues to gather pace. A three-way summit between Russia, Turkey and Iran to be held in Tehran on Friday has been described by Ankara as a “last chance to avoid a massacre” in north-western Syria, where up to 3 million people live in a densely packed corner of the country…

Syrian refugees embark on organized return from Lebanon (The Daily Star) Hundreds of Syrian families gathered at pickup points across Lebanon Tuesday morning to return to their home country, the state-run National News Agency reported. In the latest refugee return to be organized by Lebanon’s General Security in cooperation with the Syrian government, hundreds of Syrian families boarded buses in the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli…

‘Farmers have lost everything’ in Kerala flooding (Gulf News) what makes the case of Munroe Island special is that it is, like most of Kuttanad in Alappuzha, is a land lying below the sea level. There is not much hope for such a place in case of a deluge and the farmers here are still counting the losses, hoping for financial support from the government to restart their lives. ”Farmers in this village have lost everything.” says Binu Karunakaran, President of Munroe Island Panchayath (Village Council)…

Religious leaders voice support for religion-based personal laws (UCANews.com) Religious leaders have backed a recommendation by the Law Commission of India that the federal government should not proceed with a move to replace religion-based personal laws with a uniform code. The government’s efforts to have a single code to govern marriage, divorce and inheritance for all Indians, regardless of their religion, “is neither necessary nor desirable at this stage,” the commission said in its latest report…

Meet Jesuit Byzantine Bishop Milan Lach (America Magazine) Bishop Milan Lach, S.J., is the fifth Byzantine Catholic ordinary of the Ruthenian Eparchy of Parma, covering several Midwestern U.S. states. Enthroned as bishop on 30 June at his cathedral in Ohio, the 44-year-old Jesuit (an ethnic Ruthenian from Slovakia) is now the youngest Catholic bishop to head a territorial diocese in North America…

Horseback riding and a cause to hope in Gaza (Al Jazeera) For more than 10 years, the headlines coming out of Gaza have been relentlessly grim: three wars, a worsening humanitarian crisis, and political division — all playing out under the restrictive Israeli siege. But there are pockets of normal life where people, especially children can escape the chaos. All around the world, this is a sport that carries connotations of elitism and wealth but in Gaza, the contrast between show jumping and the realities of life for so many is particularly stark…



Tags: Syria India Lebanon Gaza Strip/West Bank

5 September 2018
Greg Kandra




Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa, apostolic administrator of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, speaks during a special prayer service for peace in the Holy Land in May. He has just announced a series of internal reforms in an effort to increase financial transparency. (photo: CNS/Debbie Hill)

Airstrikes in Syria raise concerns of new offensive (The New York Times) Syrian and Russian warplanes carried out dozens of airstrikes on Syria’s last rebel-held province on Tuesday, apparently ignoring a warning from President Trump and raising concerns that a large offensive against the densely populated area had begun…

Governor to open India meeting on rebuilding Kerala (The Times of India) A day-long conclave on rebuilding Kerala will be held here on Wednesday as part of the India for Kerala campaign. Governor Justice P. Sathasivam will formally inaugurate the conclave …

Jerusalem’s Latin Patriarchate introduces reforms (La Croix) After launching a review of its finances and management, the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem has announced the first series of internal reforms. More than two years after his appointment as apostolic administrator of the Latin Patriarchate in 2016, Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa OFM remains convinced of the need for the reforms that he launched in an effort to increase transparency…

For first time in 20 years, an Ethiopian commercial ship has docked in Eritrea (Reuters) An Ethiopian commercial ship docked in an Eritrean port for the first time in two decades on Wednesday, state-affiliated media said, in a concrete sign of a stunning rapprochement between the neighbors and former foes…

Orthodox Church split fuels Russia-Ukraine tension (BBC) Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko says top clerics in the Orthodox Church are now ready to grant independence to the Kiev Church, defying Moscow. If the Constantinople Patriarch, Bartholomew, grants Kiev autocephaly (independence) he will be recognizing its split with the Moscow Patriarchate…



Tags: Syria Ethiopia Jerusalem Russian Orthodox Church Eritrea

31 August 2018
Greg Kandra




Young Syrian refugees are seen atop a vehicle at a camp in June in the village of Arsal, Lebanon. Officials say the refugee crisis in Lebanon continues, with the situation for many largely unchanged. (photo: CNS/Nabil Mounzer, EPA)

Syrian rebels destroy bridges in anticipation of offensive (AP) Syrian opposition fighters blew up bridges Friday linking areas they control to government-held territories in northwestern Syria in anticipation of a military offensive against their last stronghold in the country, activists and a war monitor said. The explosions rocked the area in al-Ghab plains, south of Idlib and came after rebels detected government troop movement in the area, according to Rami Abdurrahman, head of the war monitoring Syrian Observatory for Human Rights…

Status of Syrian refugees in Lebanon remains largely unchanged (CNS) While procedures are being put in place for Syrians to return to their war-torn country from neighboring Lebanon, the refugee crisis continues to linger and remains largely unchanged, a Caritas Lebanon official said…

Kerala needs a Marshall Plan (Times of India) The recent floods which have ravaged Kerala, in terms of scale and effect can be compared to post-war Germany. Kerala with a land mass of 38863 Sq. kms. is a little larger than Germany which has 35,021 Sq. kms. of land. With 7,24,649, people living in 5,645 camps, and the destruction of 10,000 kms of roads and extensive damage to industrial and agricultural infrastructure, it resembles a war-ravaged land. The repairing of the flood damaged Cochin airport, bridges, roads, dams, irrigation projects, waterways, schools, hospitals, homes, agriculture would all require vast amounts of money…

UN: four million refugee children out of school worldwide (The Jordan Times) Four million refugee children across the world remain out of school today, according to a new report issued by the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) on Wednesday. The study, titled “Turn the Tide: Refugee Education in Crisis”, identified an increase by half a million in the number of out-of-school refugee children over the past year, warning that “despite the efforts of the governments of host countries, UNHCR and its partners, enrollment of refugee children in school is failing to keep pace with the growing refugee population…”

The scourge of child marriages in India (UCANews.com) All of 12 years old, a child with a cherubic face holding a balloon is the mother of a four-month-old baby girl. Both seem to consider the balloon to be a fun toy to play with. Each year at least 1.2 million children are married in India in violation of a law that sets a minimum marriage age of 18 for females and 21 for males…

Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill to meet with Patriarch Bartholomew in Istanbul (TASS) Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and all Russia arrived in Istanbul on Friday and is due to hold a meeting with Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople, the press service of the Russian Orthodox Church head said. ”Patriarch Kirill has arrived at Istanbul’s airport. In an hour, a meeting between the two Patriarchs will begin,” the statement said…



Tags: Syria India Lebanon Russian Orthodox

30 August 2018
Greg Kandra




In this image from April, Syrian children are seen inside an informal settlement for refugees in Bar Elias, Lebanon. Many refugees fear returning home, wondering what the future will bring after the war. (photo: CNS/Jamal Saidi, Reuters)

Kerala leader says economic impact of floods was immense (The Indian Express) During the special Assembly session convened to discuss the relief and rehabilitation measures underway to cope with the state’s worst floods in a century, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan informed the House that a total of 483 people lost their lives in rain-related incidents this monsoon. While 14 people are reported to be still missing, around 140 people were admitted to hospitals during this period…

U.S. concerned as Syrian regime moves helicopters (CNN) The Syrian regime has moved armed helicopters closer to the rebel stronghold of Idlib in the last few weeks, according to two defense officials. The US is concerned they could eventually be used to launch another chemical attack using chlorine filled barrel bombs, though they are readily available for a conventional assault…

Syrian refugees fear for future after the war (The Guardian) The blazing guns of insurgency have largely been silenced in central and southern Syria, and politicians in Damascus, Beirut and Amman are claiming with increasing vehemence that a ruined country from which at least 6 million people have fled is now a safe for them to return. Few Syrians in Lebanon seem convinced. “I’ll serve my country proudly and shed my blood for it with a smile on my face, but not like this,” said Abu Ahmed, 41, who hails from the former opposition stronghold of Ghouta…

Copts called ’infidels,’ harassed for attending church (The Tablet) Last week, two churches in Egypt were subject to demonstrations by Muslim hardliners who prevented Coptic Christians from worshiping, claiming the churches are unlicensed. In a third incident, a police officer broke onto a church and screamed at the worshippers “Infidels … you are all infidels…”

Archbishop calls for ‘culture of encounter’ at U.N. (Vatican News) Genuine negotiation in dispute settlement calls for a “culture of encounter” that places at the center of all political, social and economic activity the human person, who enjoys the highest dignity, and respect for the common good. Genuine peace mediation needs trustworthy mediators and must include all parties for a good that is mutually beneficial to all the parties involved, said Archbishop Bernadito Auza, the Holy See’s Apostolic Nuncio and Permanent Observer to the United Nations in New York…



Tags: Syria India Lebanon Kerala

29 August 2018
Greg Kandra




Kerala residents are returning home, but the economic impact is severe. The region's once-thriving tourism industry has been devastated and may take a long time to rebuild. (video: News18 Digital/YouTube)

After flood, tourism in Kerala is left a muddy mess (VOA) More than a week after the floodwater began subsiding, animal carcasses are still floating in Kerala’s backwaters, and in places a nauseating stench rises like a wall when the wake from a passing boat breaks the surface. These inland lagoons running parallel to the coast are one of the biggest tourist draws in India’s most southwesterly state, but the stain of death and devastation wrought by Kerala’s worst flood in a century will take longer than a season to wash away…

U.S., Russia in war of words as Syria attack looms (Al Jazeera) Russia has deployed a dozen warships to the Mediterranean Sea in what a Russian newspaper on Tuesday called Moscow’s largest naval buildup since it entered the Syrian conflict in 2015. The reinforcement comes as Russia’s ally, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, is believed to be considering a major assault on the last rebel-held enclave in northern Idlib province…

Moscow, Kiev in tug-of-war over religious future of Ukraine (AP) As Kiev and Moscow clash on the battlefields of eastern Ukraine, a new front has opened up in the religious sphere. Earlier this year Ukrainian’s president launched a campaign to persuade Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, seen by many as the first among equals of Eastern Orthodox leaders, to grant Ukrainian clerics full ecclesiastical independence from the Russian Orthodox Church to which they have been tied for hundreds of years…

Pope reaches out to other Christian churches, inviting them to serve the poor (Vatican News) Pope Francis has invited the faithful of the Waldensian and Methodist Churches to join Catholics in together proclaiming Jesus, especially to the poor and the marginalized of today. In a message sent to the participants in the annual synod of the Union of Methodist and Waldensian Churches that is taking place in Torre Pellice, near Turin, northern Italy, the Pope expressed his and the Catholic Church’s fraternal closeness...



Tags: India Ukraine Russia

28 August 2018
Greg Kandra




The report above shows the life of a Syrian refugee in Jordan. Jordan now says it can take in no more refugees and is encouraging them to return home. (video: BBC/YouTube)

Jordan says it can’t host any more refugees (AFP) Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi said on Monday his country has exceeded its capacity to host refugees from Syria and is backing their voluntary return home. Amman estimates that it has taken in close to 1.3 million refugees from its war-torn neighbor and says it has already spent more than $10 billion to host them…

India criticized for refusing UAE aid for Kerala (UCANews.com) India’s pro-Hindu government is facing criticism for refusing to accept aid worth US$100 million from the United Arab Emirates for flood-ravaged Kerala state. Catastrophic floods and landslides from 14 — 18 August killed an estimated 400 people and displaced 1.3 million to relief camps where they subsist on donated food and clothes...

Israel plans to expand mixed-gender prayer area at the Western Wall (Haaretz) A plan to expand the mixed-gender prayer area at the Western Wall has won final approval, following pressure from the Prime Minister’s Office. The plan, whose details are reported here for the first time, was approved under a special regulation that created a fast-track process authorizing the municipal engineer, in this case Jerusalem’s, to approve work to make a site handicapped-accessible. Such access was called for in the plan, in addition to the expansion of the area and its entrance…

Fishermen hailed as heroes of Kerala flood (UCANews.com) Fishermen in India’s Kerala state are being hailed as heroes for using their traditional wooden boats to rescue men, women and children from swirling floodwaters. ”You are like our God,” a woman with folded hands told fishermen who saved her along with another female villager and 30 youngsters trapped in a children’s home in Alappuzha district, an area laced with waterways…

Young Palestinians take hold of their future at Gaza tech hub (The Independent) ”Global tech hub” may not be the first three words that spring to mind when describing the besieged and war-ravaged Gaza Strip. But a group of young Palestinians in the tiny territory, home to some 1.8 million people, are trying to change assumptions…



Tags: Syria India Refugees Gaza Strip/West Bank

24 August 2018
Greg Kandra




In India, hundreds of thousands of people in Kerala are coping with the worst flooding in a century. (video: Al Jazeera/YouTube)

After worst flooding in a century, India turns down foreign aid (The New York Times) After devastating floods killed more than 400 people and engulfed entire towns in a southern state in India, the United Arab Emirates offered $100 million to help the recovery. The Indian government’s response: thanks, but no thanks…

Fear of drought in parts of south India (The Times of India) In a cruel irony, surging rains in Kerala have lifted the monsoon’s performance in south India to an 11 percent surplus. The figure, however, doesn’t reveal the extremely skewed rain distribution in the region. Outside Kerala and coastal Andhra, half the districts in south India are grappling with deficient rainfall…

Ethnic unrest tarnishes new Ethiopian leader’s reforms (Reuters) A surge in ethnic violence, sometimes in the form of mob attacks, has displaced nearly 1 million people in the past four months in southern Ethiopia and is inflaming bad feeling between ethnic groups in other regions. The violence threatens to undermine Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s calls for unity in one of Africa’s most ethnically diverse countries. It also overshadows the popular liberal measures he has announced since coming to power in April…

Iraqi Christians unable to attend World Meeting of Families (AsiaNews) The Iraqi delegation’s exclusion from attending the 2018 World Meeting of Families, scheduled from 21-26 August in Dublin (Ireland) is “a terrible event”, says Msgr. Shlemon Audish Warduni, auxiliary bishop of Baghdad. The number two to the Chaldean patriarch confirms that there will be no faithful present at the Irish meeting due to a problem linked to the issue of entry permits. “They told us that it took months to process them — explains the prelate — and our online applications were not even granted…”

Report: in 24 hours, Armenia violates ceasefire 86 times (AzerNews) Over the past 24 hours, Armenian armed forces have 86 times violated the ceasefire along the line of contact between Azerbaijani and Armenian troops, the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry said 24 August. Armenian armed forces were using heavy machine guns. The conflict between the two South Caucasus countries began in 1988 when Armenia made territorial claims against Azerbaijan. As a result of the ensuing war, in 1992 Armenian armed forces occupied 20 percent of Azerbaijan, including the Nagorno-Karabakh region and seven surrounding districts…



Tags: India Iraq Ethiopia Armenia





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