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Current Issue
December, 2017
Volume 43, Number 4
  
1 December 2016
Greg Kandra




Syrians living in Aleppo flee the city on 1 December 2016. Some 100 Syrian refugees who have made their way to Lebanon are set to arrive in Rome on 2 December through a “humanitarian corridor” program. (photo: Ibrahim Ebu Leys/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Humanitarian corridor to Rome brings hope to Syrian refugees (Vatican Radio) One hundred Syrian refugees from Lebanon are set to arrive at Fiumincino Airport in Rome on 2 December through a special “humanitarian corridor” program, bringing the total intake to five-hundred refugees since the start of the project...

Iraqi Shi’ite militias could prove a bigger test than Mosul (Reuters) Baghdad is currently battling hardline Sunni group Islamic State in the northern city of Mosul. In that struggle, government troops are fighting alongside the country’s Shi’ite militias, as well as Kurdish and U.S. forces. But the government of Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi knows that even if it defeats Islamic State it needs to bring the Shi’ite militias under greater control...

European leaders gather to discuss Christian persecution (CNA) European leaders gathered this week at a conference in Vienna to discuss Christian persecution and its resounding effect on Europe, particularly emphasizing the need to seriously address religious discrimination and genocide around the world...

Jordanian Instagram account gives Syrian refugees a voice (Al Arabiya) Since the start of the Syrian civil war in 2011, the total number of refugees registered by UNHCR in Jordan stands at 655,833, as of November 2016. Although the extensive number of Syrian refugees has placed tremendous pressure on Jordan’s economy and infrastructure, many Jordanians are working to support these refugees. Determined to provide a voice for Syrian refugees in Jordan and raise awareness about their ongoing struggles, Jordanians Haneen Diri and Rana AlTarawneh created an Instagram account @Lifeofarefugenius to achieve this goal. Diri and AlTarawneh photograph Syrian women, men and children and post their experiences on Instagram, depicting the personal accounts and stories of a wide range of refugees...

Ethiopian-Israelis celebrate Sigd Day in Jerusalem (The Jerusalem Post) For more than 2,500 years, the Sigd was observed in Ethiopia as a day of fasting and prayer for the return to Zion, held on a mountaintop symbolizing Mount Sinai. Jews prayed to one day live in Jerusalem, a city they believed was paved with gold and filled with God’s light and powerful presence. On Wednesday, thousands of Ethiopian Israelis from across the country gathered on a picturesque promenade in the capital’s Armon Hanatziv neighborhood, where multiple generations of men, women and children celebrated their triumphant achievement...



29 November 2016
Greg Kandra




Residents flee the Al Moyaser neighborhood of Aleppo to a government-held area on 29 November 2016. (photo: Jawad al Rifai/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Report: Israeli airstrikes hit Syria outside Damascus (The Guardian) Israeli jets fired two missiles from Lebanese airspace towards the outskirts of the Syrian capital, Damascus, early on Wednesday, the official Syrian news agency said, in a strike on an unknown target that caused loud explosions…

U.N. to hold emergency meeting on Aleppo’s ‘descent into hell’ (CNN) The United Nations Security Council will hold an emergency meeting Wednesday on the dire humanitarian situation in the Syrian city of Aleppo. French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault called for the meeting on Tuesday…

Mosul food, water reserves dwindling (Reuters) The United Nations issued a fresh warning on Wednesday about the humanitarian situation in eastern Mosul where the U.S.-backed Iraqi army is locked in heavy fighting with ISIS militants. More than six weeks into the offensive against ISIS’ last major city stronghold in Iraq, the army is trying to dislodge militants dug in among civilians in the eastern districts, the only side Iraqi troops have been able to breach…

Lebanon stops building wall around parts of Palestinian refugee camp (The Jerusalem Post) The Lebanese Army informed the joint Palestinian leadership in Lebanon on Friday that it has halted construction of a cement wall around parts of the Ain al Hilweh refugee camp in southern Lebanon, the country’s largest, following popular protests…

Peace talks on Ukraine end without agreement (Reuters) Four-way talks on ending a separatist conflict in eastern Ukraine finished without a breakthrough on Tuesday, with German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier declaring that “lip service” statements were not enough to achieve lasting peace…

Franciscans issue call for children to pray for peace in the Holy Land (OFM.org) “Dear Brothers and Sisters, May the Lord give you peace! For a long time, as Friars Minor, we have been concerned about the situation that our brothers are experiencing together with the Christians and the entire population of Syria. Not long ago, we called on the international community to intensify its efforts to stop the war and the suffering of the civilian population and to make every effort to achieve peace…”



Tags: Syria Iraq Lebanon Ukraine Holy Land

29 November 2016
Greg Kandra




Syrian families, fleeing from various eastern districts of Aleppo, queue to get onto government buses before heading to government-controlled western Aleppo. The Syrian government offensive to recapture rebel-held Aleppo has prompted an exodus of civilians.
(photo: George Ourfalian/AFP/Getty Images)


‘Deeply alarming’: Thousands fleeing Aleppo (BBC) Up to 16,000 civilians have been displaced by the Syrian government’s advance into besieged rebel-held areas of the city of Aleppo, the UN says. Humanitarian chief Stephen O’Brien said thousands more were likely to flee if the fighting continued to spread and intensify in the coming days. He expressed concern about their fate, calling the situation deeply alarming...

Iraqi leader predicts ISIS collapse in Mosul (AP) Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi says Islamic State group fighters lack the courage to put up long-term resistance in Mosul, despite unleashing hundreds of car bombs that have killed and maimed Iraqi soldiers and civilians as the fight for Iraq’s second-largest city appears set to extend well into next year...

How ISIS recruiters found fertile ground in Kerala (The Guardian) India’s Muslim population, the third largest in the world, has so far contributed negligible numbers to ISIS — fewer than 90 people, according to most estimates. “More have gone from Britain, even from the Maldives, than India,” says Vikram Sood, a former chief of India’s foreign spy agency. But growing concern over the group’s influence was made official this month, when the US embassy in Delhi issued its first Isis-related warning, of an “increased threat to places in India frequented by Westerners, such as religious sites, markets and festival venues”...

15 arrested over burning Coptic guest house (Egypt Independent) The public prosecution ordered the remanding of 15 persons into custody over the burning of a Coptic community guest house in Naghameesh village, Sohag province, in the wake of rumors that the place had been turned into a church. All of the accused will be held for four days pending investigations, while another 13 persons were cleared and released...

‘My week living like a refugee’ (Catholic Register) From 14-17 November, I participated in an event called Life of a Mesopotamian Refugee. Students from the Assyrian Chaldean Syriac Student Union (ACSSU) wanted to reach two goals: to educate McMaster, Ryerson and York University students about refugees and to fundraise $30,000 to send to Iraq and Syria through the Catholic Near East Welfare Association (CNEWA). This year is the third time I tried to emulate the life of a refugee today, placing strong emphasis on the word “tried”...

VIDEO: Rebuilding a Greek Orthodox church in New York destroyed on 9/11 (The New York Times) Construction of the St. Nicholas National Shrine is underway...



28 November 2016
Greg Kandra




In the video above, experts raise concerns about the rising number of missing and exploited refugee children in Europe. (video: Rome Reports)

A third of Aleppo now taken by Syrian forces (BBC) Syrian government forces have captured a third of the rebel-held territory in eastern Aleppo, monitors say. The advance, after heavy bombing from the air, is a major blow for the armed opponents of President Bashar al-Assad...

Winter closes in on Iraqi refugees fleeing Mosul (Reuters) The United Nations is asking donors to fund winter kits for 1.2 million people — preparing for a worst case scenario that much of the city’s population may have to flee. Seventy-two thousand have fled so far, and winter has brought freezing temperatures. The Kurdish authorities are requiring fleeing civilians to stay in camps even if they have family outside, so that males can be checked for ties to Islamic State. Relatives crowded out front, bringing blankets and pillows...

Gaza risks becoming an ‘easy launch pad’ for ISIS (The Jerusalem Post) Palestinian infighting and years of an Israeli blockade could turn the impoverished Gaza Strip into an easy “launching pad” for Islamic State recruiters, Qatar's foreign minister says.

African ant colonies pose threat around Christian churches (CNBC) The ant colonies are in the forests that surround Orthodox Christian churches in Ethiopia, which are some of the last natural forests in the country. Ethiopian Christians have long surrounded their churches with woodland. Some of these forests are more than a thousand years old, and are unusually rich areas of biodiversity in areas otherwise barren or deforested for agriculture.

Iconography classes attract non-Orthodox (RNS) Anna Schalk finds herself weeping each time she enters an Orthodox church and gazes at the flat, colorful icons of Jesus and the Virgin Mary. The impressionistic painter had long been drawn to spiritual images but this year she took a big step beyond her own artistic and religious traditions. At a summer workshop, she created an icon of her own, alongside other students who spent a week together with the same mission. “It’s like a meditative experience,” said the retired pediatric occupational therapist, a Roman Catholic, comparing her work on the icon to partaking in Communion...



23 November 2016
Greg Kandra




Metropolitan Justinus Boulos Safar, the Syriac Orthodox patriarchal vicar of Zahle and Bekaa [editor’s note: mistakenly referred to as “Syriac Orthodox patriarch of Antioch” in narration], says Christian refugees have been a blessing and an opportunity to put the faith into practice. (video: Rome Reports)

Mosul completely surrounded by Iraqi troops (CNN) The city of Mosul is now entirely surrounded by Iraqi-led forces, an alliance of paramilitary groups said Wednesday, more than a month since the operation was launched to seize control of the key city from ISIS militants. The Popular Mobilization Units made the announcement in a statement that was also distributed by the Iraqi Joint Operations Command…

Christianity returns to the Nineveh Plain (CNA) Two years after the sound of church bells was replaced by the sound of explosives in Bashiqa, Iraq, just north of Mosul, Christians are again celebrating the Divine Liturgy after forcing the Islamic State out of their homeland...

Single male refugees face hardships in Lebanon (Huffington Post) A study of single, male refugees in Lebanon by the International Rescue Committee, published earlier this year, paints an alarming picture of men struggling to access aid and vulnerable to exploitation. Among the 500 men interviewed, 53 percent did not register with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, due to access restraints and misconceptions about their eligibility. While 19 percent was not able to reach one of the centers, at least 30 percent believed unmarried men are automatically ineligible to register and 8 percent believed they would not get aid even if they registered…

Pope meets with Islamic culture group (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis met in the Vatican on Wednesday with participants at a colloquium organized by the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue and the Islamic Culture and Relations Organization from Tehran…

Maronite bishop named chairman of board of C.R.S. (U.S.C.C.B.) Bishop Gregory John Mansour of the Maronite Eparchy of St. Maron of Brooklyn has been appointed chairman of Catholic Relief Services (C.R.S.) Board of Directors by Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. The cardinal made the announcement on 22 November. The C.R.S. appointment is effective for a three-year term…

Activist: Three years after uprising, life in Ukraine ‘considerably worse’ (Sputnik) The Ukrainian leadership has failed to salvage the economy, tackle corruption and improve the lives of the people two and a half years after the protests in central Kiev, which became known as Euromaidan, led to a coup, activist and blogger Dennis Schedrivy told Radio Sputnik, painting a grim picture of what life is like in Ukraine these days…



Tags: Iraq Lebanon Ukraine Refugees Pope

22 November 2016
Greg Kandra




In this image from 18 November, a boy comforts a child waiting for medical treatment at a makeshift hospital in Douma, Syria. The U.N. reports health services in Syria have been devastated by the ongoing conflict in the country. (photo: Abd Doumany/AFP/Getty Images)

UN: Syria health services ‘devastated’ by war (VOA) Top United Nations aid officials warned Monday that health care services in Syria have been devastated by bombings and the nearly six-year-old conflict. “Over half the country’s public hospitals and primary health care centers are either closed or only partially functioning,” the World Health Organization’s representative in Syria, Elizabeth Hoff, told a meeting of the U.N. Security Council via a video link from Damascus. “Almost two-thirds of all health professionals have left the country; domestic production of medicines has dropped by two-thirds and vaccination coverage rates have dropped by half,” she said...

U.S. strike destroys bridge, restricts ISIS (Reuters) U.S. forces backing Iraqi troops retaking Mosul from Islamic State carried out an air strike on a bridge spanning the Tigris river, restricting militant movements between western and eastern parts of the city, a U.S. official said on Tuesday...

In Jordan, a Syrian refugee camp withers (Reuters) Mohammad Othman’s bicycle route through the marketplace in the Syrian refugee camp of Zaatari was once a struggle against a tide of people. Now it’s an easy ride. So many residents have left for the West, or been forced back to Syria by Jordanian authorities, that Zaatari, once the fastest-growing refugee camp in the Middle East, has gone quiet...

Chaldean bishop: ‘Speak up about Middle Eastern Christians’ (CUA.edu) The perilous state of Christianity in the Middle East was the topic of discussion on 17 November as Chaldean Bishop Francis Y. Kalabat, eparch of the Chaldean Catholic Diocese of Detroit, addressed members of the Catholic University community. Speaking as part of a panel discussion organized by the School of Theology and Religious Studies (STRS), Bishop Kalabat explained the complexities of keeping Christianity alive in the Middle East, and the struggles of Christians who live there...

Coptic patriarch visits Kuwait (Herald Malaysia) The Patriarch Ibrahim Isaac, the spiritual leader of the Catholic Copts, the largest Egyptian Catholic community, made his first pastoral visit to Kuwait last week. Upon arriving at the airport, the patriarch said he was very happy to visit the country for the first time. “Thousands of different nationalities and faiths live in this state, known for its religious tolerance,” he said. “The Egyptian community is very well received in Kuwait. For many of them, it is a second home country...”

Awakening to the religious divide in Kerala (Asia Times) ”What was it like growing up? Did you ever sense a divide between the Muslims and Hindus?” My editorial assistant, a Kashmiri Pundit woman half my age, wanted to know. The truth is I had no sense of religion as I grew up. In Avadi, the ordnance factory township in southern India, religion took a backseat to national spirit. Every morning at school we took a pledge: “India is my country and all Indians are my brothers and sisters...”



21 November 2016
Greg Kandra




An event organized by the University of Edinburgh asked people around the world to light candles as a show of solidarity with the war-torn city of Aleppo. Over the weekend, the city was pounded by what has been described as the “heaviest bombardment” since the war began.
(video: Rome Reports)


Aleppo pounded by ‘heaviest bombardment’ since war began (CNN) Syrian regime forces pounded eastern Aleppo with airstrikes for a sixth straight day Sunday, bringing the death toll to almost 300 in the most intense bombing since the war began five years ago, rescuers say. Among the latest reported violence: a suspected chemical attack that killed four children and their parents. Two activist groups — the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human rights and Aleppo Media Center — said a barrage of barrel bombs struck their neighborhood, al-Sakhour...

Civilian exodus slows Iraq’s push to take control of Mosul (AP) Iraqi troops on Sunday fortified their positions in Mosul neighborhoods retaken from ISIS as their advance toward the city center was slowed by sniper fire and suicide bombings, as well as concern over the safety of civilians. The troops laid siege Sunday to the Al-Zohour neighborhood, about 5 miles from the city center. The arrival of the troops at the neighborhood’s fringes prompted hundreds of civilians to emerge from their homes waving white flags. The special forces later drove ISIS from two other neighborhoods...

Salesians remain in Syria, promoting reconciliation and forgiveness (CNA) Father Alejandro León is a Salesian missionary who has lived more than 13 years in the Middle East, and in Syria since 2011 — precisely when its civil war began. He has said that being there during the war is “a sign of mercy and the love of God,” even though it involves risking his own life and often being close to death...

Patriarch Kirill: ‘Western laws clash with moral nature of man’ (RT) In an exclusive interview with RT, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill, shared his ideas on the difficult situations of Christians in the Middle East, the US presidential election, and European multiculturalism...

Indian bishops express sorrow over victims of train crash (Vatican Radio) “We are very saddened by this tragic incident,” says Bishop Theodore Mascarenhas, secretary general of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference (CBCI) commenting on Sunday’s train disaster near Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh. The Indore-Patna train early Sunday Morning, derailed, perhaps due to a crack in the rails, killing at least 143 and injuring around 180...

At close of Year of Mercy, Pope issues new Apostolic Letter on mercy (Vatican Radio) Although the Extraordinary Jubilee Year has concluded, we are still living in a “time of mercy.” That was the message of Pope Francis in a lengthy Apostolic Letter, entitled Misericordia et misera, (“Mercy and Misery”), issued on Monday following the close of the Year of Mercy...

Christian refugees: When success means just being seen and heard and remembered (Aleteia) In Amman, we met Christian refugees from Iraq, and among them were doctors, and lawyers, and highly-trained professionals who, afforded a safe place to live, had discovered that a refugee’s reality is one stripped of a sense of purpose. To be together with their families, away from the threats of the murderous Islamic State is a blessing, to be sure, but the days can hang heavy, and you can lose sight of yourself — and of hope — when you have no way to work at your life’s calling...



18 November 2016
Greg Kandra




People inspect damage caused by an airstrike near Idlib, Syria, on 17 November.
(photo: CNS/Ammar Abdullah, Reuters)


U.N. says Aleppo faces ‘bleak moment’ (Reuters) The besieged population of eastern Aleppo faces a “very bleak moment” with no food or medical supplies, winter approaching, and an increasingly fierce attack by Syrian and allied forces, U.N. humanitarian adviser Jan Egeland said on Friday. Although Russia and rebel groups both sounded positive about a U.N. humanitarian plan to get supplies in and the sick and wounded out of eastern Aleppo, neither has yet given final approval, he said...

Satellite images reveal damage to Mosul (BBC) Satellite images of Mosul have revealed extensive damage to the city’s buildings, infrastructure and archaeological sites following more than two years of occupation by so-called Islamic State (ISIS). The imagery, released by US geopolitical intelligence company Stratfor, shows how the jihadists have destroyed mosques, government buildings and historical areas. It also reveals damage caused by coalition airstrikes...

Turkey removes only Christian co-mayor (Fides) Among the victims of the “purges” wanted by the Turkish government apparatus is Februniye Akyol, the first Assyrian Christian to be elected co-mayor in Turkey, in the city of Merdin. Both she and the other co-mayor, the Kurdish Ahmet Turk, were removed and replaced with a “Qayyum” appointed by the central government...

Pope prays for peace with leader of Assyrian Church of the East (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis spoke on Thursday of the suffering of innocent victims caught up in the Syrian and Iraqi conflicts, saying that nothing can justify such terrible violence. His words came as he met with the head of the Assyrian Church of the East, Mar Gewargis III, who was making his first visit to the Vatican since being elected as Catholicos-Patriarch in September last year...

U.N. joins efforts to help Ethiopian refugees (Andalou Agency) The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) signed an agreement in the capital Addis Ababa Friday to further strengthen their cooperation to meet the growing needs of refugees and their host communities in Ethiopia. UNHCR’s Clementine Nkweta-Salami and UNICEF’s Gillian Mellsop signed the agreement, which outlines key areas of collaboration in child protection, education, health and nutrition, as well as water, sanitation and hygiene. The agreement lasts until 2020...



17 November 2016
Greg Kandra




Iraqi civilians who fled Mosul wait for aid packages at the Khazir refugee camp on 16 November 2016. Bad weather has slowed the advance of troops battling to retake Mosul from ISIS.
(photo: Feriq Ferec/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)


Bad weather slowing advance inside Mosul (BBC) Iraqi forces have paused their advance into Mosul due to bad weather, a month after launching an offensive to retake the city from so-called Islamic State. A general said poor visibility was limiting the ability of aircraft to provide cover, adding that troops would secure eastern areas they had entered...

Meetings held between Lebanon’s new president and heads of churches (Fides) Yesterday, newly elected President Michel Aoun received the delegation of the Greek-Melkite Church, led by Patriarch Gregoire III Laham, and that of the Syrian Catholic Church, led by Patriarch Ignace Youssif III Younan...

President Barzani: Kurdistan to be multiethnic and multireligious (Fides) The Kurdish Peshmerga troops will not withdraw from lands they reclaimed from ISIS in the military campaign for the liberation of Mosul, explaining that this was agreed with the United States and Iraqi government. This is what Masud Barzani, President of the Autonomous Region of Iraqi Kurdistan said on Wednesday, 16 November, meeting the local media in Bashiqa, the city of Nineveh province liberated from the Peshmerga in the first week of November...

Bishops urged to bring more attention to Christian persecution in Middle East (CNS) Maronite Bishop Gregory J. Mansour called on the bishops of the United States to bring wider attention to the persecution of Christians in the Middle East to their parishes and political leaders. Addressing the fall general assembly of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops on 15 November, the Maronite leader said he hoped that the new four-year strategic plan adopted by the conference earlier in the day would incorporate a robust advocacy for religious freedom in the rest of the world...

In Ukraine, mothers search for disappeared sons (Al Jazeera) Olena Dovhopola’s son, 31-year-old Serhiy, went missing in September 2014, just months into the war in Ukraine. Serving in the Ukrainian army, Serhiy went missing after fierce clashes with separatist rebels in the east of the county. He is one of an estimated 1,000 people, both soldiers and civilians, who have been declared missing — presumed dead or captured — since the beginning of the conflict in March 2014...

New research project looks refugee artisans (Phys.org) The impact of forced displacement on Syria’s traditional crafts and cultural heritage, and the people directly involved in it, is to be analysed in a new research project. Academics from the University of Plymouth will study the industries that have survived among refugee communities forcibly displaced to the neighboring state of Jordan since 2011...



16 November 2016
Greg Kandra




Wreckage of ancient artifacts, destroyed by ISIS, is seen in Nimrud in Mosul’s southeast, which was taken back by the Iraqi army three days ago. The ancient city, which contained the tombs of many Assyrian kings, is now ruined after the occupation of ISIS. It is no longer even possible to see a single remaining statue in the city, whose history has been erased.
(photo: Idris Okuducu/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)


Troops in Iraq find traps, kids hurt, heritage destroyed (AP) Iraqi special forces pushed deeper into the northern city of Mosul on Wednesday, backed by U.S.-led airstrikes but under attack by rockets and suicide bombers from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Troops have established a foothold in the city’s east, and earlier in the day, drove northward into the Tahrir neighborhood, where families left their houses to flee the fighting. Mortars from ISIS-held territory wounded at least five children trying to flee the fighting, who were evacuated by the troops...

Russia deploys aircraft carrier in new Syria offensive (The Independent) Russia has begun a major military campaign on rebel-held parts of Syria after the country’s biggest surface deployment since the Cold War docked at a naval base on the Syrian coast...

Kerala church offers money to those in need during financial crisis (Indian Express) With the PM’s demonetization announcement that sent shock ripples throughout the country, people have been running amok wanting to exchange the older currency with the new in-circulation Rs 2,000, or better yet a whole bunch of Rs 100 notes. Others have been waiting in long queues, starting from the wee hours of the morning till late night. In Kerala, however, a church has come to help the lesser privileged people in an unusual way. St Martin De Porres church in Ernakulam district in Kerala announced that it would give money out of their offertory box to people who are in dire need of the money, and expect nothing in return...

Communist leader in India asks Church for support (India-Christian Activist Network) At a ceremony to mark the conclusion of the Jubilee Year of Mercy, the communist leader of the southern Indian state of Kerala asked the church to help support his government’s welfare programs. Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan made the appeal while speaking at the 12 November function in the largely Christian town of Kottyam. “I don’t have any problem in getting the church to support us in these areas,” he said...

Walking with pilgrims to Ethiopia’s ‘New Jerusalem’ (CNN) From all corners of a nation they come, often walking for hundreds of miles barefoot: Ethiopian Orthodox Christians on a once-in-a-lifetime journey. Their destination is Lalibela in the north of Ethiopia. A town of approximately 20,000 people, Lalibela’s population swells five-fold in the first days of January, pilgrims converging to celebrate Genna (or Ledet) — Christmas according to the Ethiopian calendar...

Rare icon replica visiting Scranton (Scranton Times-Tribune) A rare replica of the Mary the Helper of Mothers icon is spending the month at St. Mary’s Byzantine Catholic Church in Scranton and the faithful are invited to see it. An icon in the Orthodox faith is a religious image or painting intended to give its viewer a spiritual experience. This image of the Blessed Mother, clothed and surrounded in gold and holding the infant Jesus, is meant to help women facing challenges conceiving, difficult pregnancies or hard childbirths, said St. Mary’s pastor, the Rev. Leonard A. Martin, S.J....







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