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December, 2017
Volume 43, Number 4
  
27 September 2016
Greg Kandra




Staffan de Mistura, U.N. Special Envoy for Syria, addresses the Security Council
on 25 September. (photo: U.N./Kim Haughton)


‘If we lose this generation, we lose Syria’ (Al Jazeera) Millions of displaced Syrian children have been forced to quit school amid a protracted civil war that has left the country in ruins. In Turkey, which has grappled with a massive refugee influx over the past five years, more than half of Syrian refugee children are not receiving a formal education, according to Human Rights Watch. Finding few alternatives, many of these children have taken jobs in factories or turned to the streets, selling tissues or gum to earn a meager income...

U.N. briefing: ‘Chilling days for Syria’ (UN.org) The past week has been one of the worst ones in Syria during the near six years of this devastating conflict. Earlier in the week I had to deeply regret the fact that the meeting of the International Syria Support Group did not yield the results we were hoping...

Crisis in Ethiopia: Drought persists, nutrition suffers (Aleteia) Spring brought rain, and some relief, but in some places too much rain led to severe flooding, which displaced 190,000 people. “The majority of Ethiopian farmers are dependent on rain-fed agriculture. Rain failure is a disaster for farmers,” said Argaw Fantu, regional director in Ethiopia for the Catholic Near East Welfare Association. “Some areas are also naturally disadvantaged areas as the rainfall is so erratic, [and because of the] rocky and mountainous nature of the area...”

Vatican releases details of pope’s upcoming visit to Georgia and Azerbaijan (Vatican Radio) At a briefing for journalists at the Holy See press office on Monday, Vatican spokesman Greg Burke gave details of Pope Francis’ forthcoming three day visit to the republics of Georgia and Azerbaijan. It’ll be his 16th pastoral visit outside Italy and it’ll be focused on the themes of peace and brotherhood, following on from the message of peace that he took with him to the neighboring republic of Armenia last June...

New program helps refugees in Canada develop job skills (The Catholic Register) Refugee youth in Calgary are learning essential job skills through a new program run by the Calgary Catholic Immigration Society (CCIS). On 6 September, CCIS announced the launch of the program that will benefit young refugees in the Archdiocese of Calgary. The Enhancing Refugee Youth Employment Outcomes project will help 48 young refugee, ages 15 to 30, develop job skills and gain work experience...



26 September 2016
Greg Kandra




A picture taken on 25 September 2016, shows trucks carrying humanitarian aid, parked on a road in Idlib after entering Syria through a border crossing with Turkey.
(photo: Stringer/AFP/Getty Images)


Syria: aid reaches Madaya and other besieged towns (BBC) Aid has been delivered to four besieged towns in Syria for the first time in almost six months, the International Committee of the Red Cross says. Seventy-one lorries reached rebel-held Madaya and Zabadani, near Damascus, and government-controlled Foah and Kefraya, in Idlib province, on Sunday. They brought food, medical supplies and hygiene kits for 60,000 people. Last week, the UN suspended aid deliveries across Syria for 48 hours after a deadly attack on a convoy.

Activist: India’s anti-Christian massacre carefully planned (Vatican Radio) The untold atrocities that Christians in eastern India’s Odisha state were subjected to in 2008, are the result of careful planning by Hindu nationalist groups of the “Sangh Parivar” network at the highest level, an Indian journalist and rights activist told the media on Thursday, alleging illiterate masses of militants were manipulated by propaganda and incited to kill. Thanks to the investigation carried out by Anto Akkara, “one can rewrite the history of Kandhamal,” the district in Odisha where the atrocities were concentrated...

Keeping Jordan’s balance amid crisis (CBS News) The bombs in New York and New Jersey last week brought the specter of terror home, again. It seems no country is safe, but there is one that is beating fearsome odds. ISIS burned through Syria and Iraq until it hit a firewall, the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. The king, Abdullah II bin Al-Hussein, is holding the front and sheltering millions of refugees despite his struggling economy, no oil wealth and precious little water. If the king can keep his balance, Jordan may prove that an Arab state can remain peaceful, tolerant, and modern...

‘Couples for Christ’ movement thriving in India (Vatican Radio) Evangelization, renewal of families and care of the poor are part of the mission of a Filipino lay group called Couples for Christ (CFC) that visited Odisha, eastern India, from 13 to 18 September. The Vatican-approved CFC lay movement began their unit in Odisha’s main Cuttack-Bhubaneswar Archdiocese in 2013...

Relics of Russian Orthodox saint to be sent into space (Radio Free Europe) After spending nearly nine decades forgotten in a Moscow storeroom during the Soviet era, some relics of Russian Orthodox St. Serafim of Sarov should soon be circling the globe aboard the International Space Station (ISS)



23 September 2016
J.D. Conor Mauro




Cardinal Pietro Parolin, secretary of state of the Holy See addresses the 71st session of the United Nations General Assembly at the U.N. headquarters in New York on 22 September. (photo: Dominick Reuters/AFP/Getty Images)

Vatican ratifies U.N. Convention against Corruption (Vatican Radio) The Holy See has deposited the instrument of ratification of the United Nations Convention against Corruption at United Nations headquarters in New York. Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican Secretary of State, made the formal deposition on 19 September 2016, both for the Holy See, and on behalf of the Vatican City State…

Catholic-Orthodox commission approves statement on authority (CNS) Catholics and Orthodox need to explore ways authority can be understood and exercised so that is not an obstacle to unity, a group of top-level theologians said. Members of the official Joint International Commission for the Theological Dialogue Between the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church met near Chieti, Italy, 16 to 21 September and approved a document reflecting a mutual understanding of primacy and synodality. “Primacy” refers to the authority of the lead bishop or pope, and “synodality” refers to the authority exercised collegially by the College of Bishops in the West or a synod of bishops in the Eastern churches. While Orthodox patriarchs are recognized spiritual leaders and exercise authority over some areas of church life, they do not have the kind of jurisdiction the pope has over the Catholic Church and especially over its Latin-rite dioceses…

Iraqi Catholic church in U.S. torn by immigration efforts (Wall Street Journal) The backyard gathering was part Catholic liturgy, part rebellion. The priest, an Iraqi immigrant, had been kicked out of the local church. Parishioners had been warned by local church leaders not to worship with him. Yet 50 people sat in makeshift pews behind a home east of San Diego in a show of opposition to church officials urging Christians to stay in Iraq, where their numbers are dwindling. “There is no future for Christians in Iraq,” said Bahaa Gandor, a 31-year-old who fled the country in 2010. “We have to bring them here…”

‘A massacre is inevitable’: Siege drags on for two Shiite villages in Syria (Los Angeles Times) A punishing siege imposed by Islamist rebels has cut off the two sister towns of Fua and Kefraya in northwest Syria for the last 18 months, leaving them at the mercy of truck bombs, mortar barrages, and the terrifying staccato of sniper fire. The two towns lie in Idlib province, a predominantly Sunni Muslim region southwest of Aleppo. In March 2015, the entire province was overrun by a powerful jihadist coalition known as the Army of Conquest. The exception was Fua and Kefraya, two Shiite villages whose roughly 17,000 residents have remained, even under a devastating blockade, loyal to the government. For most, there has seemed to be little choice: Shiite Muslims are seen as apostates by Islamist hard-liners, and the Army of Conquest has threatened to wipe them out…

Protecting cultural heritage from combatants promotes human rights and universal values (U.N. News Center) Safeguarding cultural property that combatants aim to damage encompasses part of larger endeavors to defend human rights and universal values, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today, calling on the international community to intensify efforts to protect such treasures and end their illicit trafficking…



Tags: Syria Iraqi Christians United States United Nations Catholic-Orthodox relations

22 September 2016
J.D. Conor Mauro




Egyptians stand on the shore in the Egyptian port city of Rosetta, waiting for the results of a search operation after a boat carrying migrants capsized in the Mediterranean on 21 September 2016. (photo: Mohamed El Shahed/AFP/Getty Images)

Egypt migrant boat capsize: Hundreds feared dead (BBC) Survivors from a boat which capsized off the Egyptian coast on Wednesday have told the BBC that hundreds of people may have drowned. The boat was carrying about 550 migrants when it capsized eight miles off the coast, they say. Authorities have rescued 163 people and recovered 42 bodies so far off the port city of Rosetta. Four crew members have been arrested in connection with incident, Egyptian officials said…

Church committed to support for Dalits against rising violence (Fides) Violence against Dalits (the “untouchables”) in India have increased in recent years, according to the National Crime Record Board. “It is a matter of concern to note: Since the Bharatiya Janata Party of Prime Minister Narendra Modi have been ruling, atrocities on Dalits have increased” says Jesuit A. Xavier John Bosco, director of the Jesuit Social Centre, based in Secunderabad, Andhra Pradesh…

Jerusalem archbishop: Christian unity, Middle East situation are priorities (CNS) The new apostolic administrator of the Latin Patriarchate, Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa, said he would focus on listening to the priests and people of the diocese to better understand the pastoral issues. In a 21 September news conference before his official entrance into Jerusalem, the archbishop told journalists the diocese faces many challenges similar to those of the church in other parts of the world, including divisions within family life, young people’s disenchantment with the church. But he said the local church also is concerned with the influx of refugees, foreign workers and migrants in Jordan and Israel, many of whom are Christian, as well as issues of family reunification and an acute shortage of housing…

Syrian archbishop: ‘A bullet narrowly missed my head’ (AINA) Christians in Syria are being targeted by Kurdish militias according to a senior Christian leader in the region. Syriac Catholic Archbishop Jacques Behnan Hindo says Kurds in Hassake, a city in northeast Syria, and surrounding areas are responsible for “acts of violence and intimidation” against Christians. He said he had a narrow escape himself when shots were fired through the window of his house and a bullet narrowly missed his head. “At that moment, the area was presided over by Kurdish militias, and there were no other armed persons nearby…”

Christian and Muslim religious leaders pray for peace in the name of Mary in Beirut (AsiaNews) Representatives of all of Lebanon’s faith communities gathered on Tuesday for an interfaith prayer for peace at Marian shrine in Harissa, north of Beirut. The group met in response to a call made by Pope Francis, who asked that all the dioceses in the world hold prayer ceremonies, at the same time as the one in Assisi, the city of St. Francis, which brought together prominent figures of faith and culture…



Tags: Syria India Egypt Lebanon Jerusalem

21 September 2016
J.D. Conor Mauro




Moscow and the Syrian government have denied they carried out a deadly air strike on an aid convoy in Syria. (video: Al Jazeera English)

Russia and Syria deny striking U.N. aid convoy in Aleppo (Al Jazeera) “The air forces of Russia and Syria did not conduct any strikes against the U.N. aid convoy in the southwestern outskirts of Aleppo,” said Russian defense ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov on Tuesday, as outrage mounted over an attack that some called a war crime. The Red Cross said at least 20 people were killed in the attack on trucks carrying desperately needed humanitarian relief to thousands of Syrians. Ban Ki-moon, U.N. secretary-general, speaking at the General Assembly in New York, called those who attacked the convoy “cowards.” He continued: “Powerful patrons that keep feeding the war machine also have blood on their hands…”

Caritas: Syrian people are the ‘ball’ in the cruel game of the powerful (AsiaNews) In Syria, major world powers are playing “a football game” in which the Syrian people have become the ball, wrote Sandra Awad of Caritas Syria, in an appeal letter for International Day of Peace. “Unfortunately, what is happening during this game is that the players are destroying with their big shoes … the infrastructure, buildings, factories, and are crushing the Syrian people, especially the poor ones who became the majority…”

Egypt migrant boat capsize: At least 29 people killed (BBC) At least 29 people have drowned after a migrant boat capsized off the Egyptian coast, officials say. The boat was carrying about 600 passengers, of which about 150 have been rescued, state media reported. The capsize took place off the coast of Kafr al Sheikh, officials say…

Interreligious peace rally held in Miao Diocese (Vatican Radio) The Miao Diocese in Arunachal Pradesh — the Indian state furthest northeast — organized an interreligious peace rally in Neotan village, in response to Pope Francis’ call to pray for peace on 20 September. “Amidst growing religious intolerance in India and all around, this inter-religious peace rally is a great step to promote mutual respect and peace among the people of all faiths,” said the Venerable Narinda Bhikkhu Mahathero, head monk in Miao’s Buddhist monastery…

Signs of panic and rebellion in the heart of Islamic State’s territory (Washington Post) The graffiti that appeared on a wall near the mosque in Mosul where the Islamic State leader declared his caliphate two years ago was a small but symbolic act of rebellion. The spray-painted letter “m” — for the Arabic word mukawama, meaning resistance — was part of a campaign by Kitaeb al Mosul, an underground opposition group in the northern Iraqi city that released a video detailing their efforts this month. In recent months, the Islamic State has carried out more arrests and executions such as these in a sign of desperation as it faces the prospect of losing Mosul, according to reports from inside the city…



Tags: Syria Iraq India Egypt Migrants

19 September 2016
J.D. Conor Mauro




Oxfam workers organize life jackets collected from the beaches of Chios, Greece, and used by adults and children, on display at the Brooklyn Bridge park last Friday, ahead of this week’s U.N. Summit for Refugees and Migrants. (photo: Kena Betancur/AFP/Getty Images)

Leaders at U.N. summit adopt plan to protect refugees and migrants (U.N. News Center) With more people forced to flee their homes than at any time since World War II, world leaders came together at the United Nations today to adopt the New York Declaration, which expresses their political will to protect the rights of refugees and migrants, to save lives and share responsibility for large movements on a global scale…

U.S. and Russian-led Syria talks begin in New York (Daily Star Lebanon) United States Secretary of State John Kerry and Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov opened a meeting of their key international counterparts Tuesday after a week-old ceasefire in Syria’s civil war collapsed…

Catholic and Hindu students on a pilgrimage to the Marian shrine (Fides) As part of an effort to promote interreligious dialogue, St. Andrew’s School in Bandra, Mumbai, organized an inter-Jubilee pilgrimage, carried out by more than 400 students of all religions — only 70 of whom are Catholics — to a Marian shrine…

Ordinations suggest a tentative rebirth for Christianity in Iraq (Crux) Just a few miles away from war and genocide, two ordinations last Friday in Iraqi Kurdistan, and the celebrations they triggered, suggest a surprising narrative of not only survival but also rebirth for Christianity in the Middle East. Two young men were ordained Catholic priests last Friday in Ain Kawa, Erbil, the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan, for the Chaldean Catholic Church. Patriarch Louis Raphael I performed the rite and for his church called it “a great sign of hope in a time of great crisis…”

Pope: War is shameful, prayers to ‘God of peace’ in Assisi (Vatican Radio) The world needs to go “beyond the divisions of religions,” and feel the “shame” of war, without turning a “deaf ear” to the cries of those who are suffering: that’s what Pope Francis said in his Homily at Mass at Santa Marta Tuesday morning. The Holy Father was speaking just hours before he was to leave for the Umbrian hill town of Assisi where he was to take part 20 September 2016 in the closing ceremony of an international summit of interfaith leaders to pray for world peace. The first such gathering in Assisi was convened by Pope St. John Paul II in 1986…



Tags: Syria India Interreligious United Nations Chaldean Church

19 September 2016
J.D. Conor Mauro




Syrians stand in the doorway of their home in the rebel-held town of Talbisseh on the northern outskirts of Homs as a Red Cross vehicle carrying aid drives past. (photo: Getty/AFP/Mahmoud Taha)

Moscow says strikes on Syria army threaten U.S.-Russia ceasefire plan (Christian Science Monitor) Moscow stepped up its war of words with Washington on Sunday, saying air strikes by a U.S.-led coalition on the Syrian army threatened the implementation of a U.S.-Russian ceasefire plan for Syria and bordered on connivance with Islamic State. The Russian Defense Ministry said on Saturday that U.S. jets had killed more than 60 Syrian soldiers in the eastern Syrian city of Deir Ezzor in four air strikes coming from the direction of Iraq…

Syria declares ceasefire over; U.S., Russia seek extension (Daily Star Lebanon) Syria’s military declared a week-long cease-fire over on Monday and vowed to continue fighting, even as officials from the United States and Russia met behind closed doors in Geneva to try to extend it. What is likely to be the final attempt by the U.S. administration of President Barack Obama to find a negotiated solution to the five year old civil war appeared close to collapse…

Long-awaited church construction law in Egypt disappoints activists (France24) Egypt recently issued a long-anticipated law governing the building of churches. Christians in the country had hoped its passage would help alleviate sectarian violence, but observers say the legislation falls dismally short. Human Rights Watch went so far as to call the measure discriminatory…

Roma flee to California as Europe turns more hostile (Bloomberg) When Viorel Romanescu last year fled his Romanian village, he didn’t follow the well-trod path to Western Europe like his fellow Roma. Instead, he sold his pig and horse, and bought a plane ticket to Mexico. This year, almost 1,800 Romanians have been apprehended at the southern U.S. border, up from fewer than 400 in all of last year and just a few dozen in 2008, according to government statistics. They are propelled by an anti-immigrant wave sweeping Europe and pushing the Roma across the Atlantic Ocean. The traditionally itinerant group, persecuted for centuries, is facing less-tolerant governments as more than a million migrants and refugees from Syria and other countries overwhelm the region. A resurgence of neo-Nazism from Romania to Italy has seen their camps demolished, businesses firebombed, neighborhoods walled off and children beaten…

Bombs, stones thrown at church in Lakhimpur Kheri (Indian Express) Vandals threw stones and homemade bombs into a church in Lakhimpur Kheri district of the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh on Saturday night, police said. Men on bikes hurled the weapons at Christ Church in Kotwali, damaging windows and furniture…



Tags: Syria India Egypt War Roma

16 September 2016
J.D. Conor Mauro




The damaged interior of the Khan al Wazir market in the government-held side of Aleppo stands deserted in the silence of the cease-fire. (photo: Getty/AFP/Youssef Karwashan)

Streets and skies suddenly quiet, Syrians watch cease-fire with unease (New York Times) They are getting used to fewer explosions, and to fewer ambulances racing through their war-ravaged cities. Now, under a tentative cease-fire across Syria, people have more time to think about longer-term concerns. Government supporters and opponents alike share a sense of misgiving, as the cease-fire was negotiated between Russia and the United States, over their heads. They do not know its details, and they do not know if anyone has their interests in mind. “I hope this cease-fire is real, and not a chance for the armed groups to rearm,” said a police officer in a government-held Christian village near Homs…

Christian refugees celebrate the Holy Cross (Fides) The week of liturgical and community celebrations on the occasion of the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross in Ain Kawa, a predominantly Christian suburb in Erbil, ended on Tuesday, 13 September with a long procession, accompanied by songs and prayers, and with a ceremony at a local stadium…

Sectarian clashes in Minya; Coptic Bishop visits the wounded (Fides) New tensions and sectarian clashes have affected the province of Minya in Upper Egypt. Yet another violent incident occurred in the village of Assem, about 150 miles south of Cairo, on 12 September. According to local church sources, a fight broke out between young Muslims and Christians leaving at least two people in need of intensive care in two different hospitals in Minya…

Pope Francis: Mary is our mother, who defends us (Vatican Radio) In a “world that suffers the crisis of a great orphanhood,” we have a mother that accompanies and defends us. That was the message of Pope Francis during the morning Mass at the Casa Santa Marta on the feast of Our Lady of Sorrows…

Hungary aims to help persecuted Christians worldwide (AINA) A new government office aimed at helping the millions of Christians around the world who face persecution has been established in Hungary. “In 81 countries around the world Christians are persecuted and 200 million Christians live in areas where they are discriminated against. Millions of Christian lives are threatened by followers of radical religious ideologies,” says Zoltan Balog, the Hungarian Minister for Human Capacities…

Chaldean patriarch: Help us remove mines from Nineveh (Fides) “Before returning to reviving our beloved city of the Nineveh Plain,” Chaldean Patriarch Louis Raphael says remaining threats must be removed — including live explosives buried just out of sight. “The jihadists of [ISIS], even when they pull back, they continue to sow death with mines and explosive devices.” The church leader has already approached Fraternité en Irak in July — a French organization committed to supporting the Iraqi religious minorities — to take charge of the de-mining of the first two villages in the Nineveh Plain that had been freed…



Tags: Syria Iraq Egypt Pope Francis Hungary

15 September 2016
Greg Kandra




A six-year-old Syrian girl who fled from her home due to the Syrian civil war, poses for a photographer at a refugee camp outside Aleppo, Syria on 15 September 2016.
(photo: Ensar Ozdemir/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)


Russia, US accuse each other of violations in Syria ceasefire (CNN) Russia’s Defense Ministry said Thursday the United States was not fulfilling its obligations under the Syrian ceasefire agreement, as Moscow and Washington pointed fingers at each other for violating what had appeared to be a peaceful lull in fighting...

CNEWA releases report on program to feed hungry in Africa (CNEWA.org) Earlier this summer, CNEWA launched a campaign to help the suffering men, women and children in the Horn of Africa, hundreds of thousands of them enduring the worst drought in decades. “The food needs here are critical,” CNEWA’s president Msgr. John E. Kozar said in an interview with Catholic News Service during a pastoral visit to the region. Thanks to the generosity of our donors, CNEWA has been able to respond to those needs...

Fear and paranoia still stalk Turkey after the failed coup (The Guardian) It’s been two months since a deadly coup attempt stunned Turkey, leaving some 240 dead and the country reeling. The physical scars are still raw — outside the parliament building in Ankara, which was hit by bombs and gunfire where helicopters fired into a crowd of protesters who had gathered to defend their democracy, the tarmac is still pockmarked with bullet holes. Dark, iron-colored stains on paving slabs betray the final moments of the brutally slain. Yet the psychological damage, the paranoia and fear that permeate public life, is still being done...

Vatican hospital to provide help in the Holy Land (Vatican Radio) An agreement was signed on Wednesday between the Vatican-owned Bambino Gesù Pediatric Hospital and the Bethlehem-based Holy Family Hospital, which is operated by the Sovereign Military Order of Malta. Holy Family Hospital is a major maternity hospital serving Palestine, and over 3,500 children are born in the institution every year...

Pope issues guidelines to harmonize canon law of the Latin Church and the Eastern Churches (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis issued an Apostolic Letter on Thursday, in which he brings the basic legal instruments that govern the Latin Church and the Eastern Churches in communion with Rome more closely into accord with one another in several different specific areas regarding the discipline of the sacraments, and ecclesial identity of the faithful...

Franciscan: Indian Church is at the forefront to tackle poverty (Fides) The Church in India is at the forefront to tackle poverty and hunger, according to the Rev. Nithya Sagayam, OFM Cap, speaking at a national seminar on the theme of “answers to hunger and extreme poverty” organized by the NGO “Franciscans International” and by the Centre of Udayani Jesuits in Calcutta, from 11 to 14 September. As Fides learned, the Franciscan recalled that the Indian Church acts “in sync with the Millennium Development Goals,” with particular attention to the objectives of sustainable development and food security...



14 September 2016
Greg Kandra




At his daily Mass Wednesday, Pope Francis condemned the killing of Father Jacques Hamel.
(video: Rome Reports)


Pope Francis at Mass for Father Jacques Hamel: to kill in the name of God is satanic (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Wednesday morning celebrated Mass for the French priest of Rouen, Father Jacques Hamel, whom he described, is part of the chain of Christian martyrs that runs throughout the history of the Church. Father Hamel was murdered while celebrating Mass in his Parish Church by two men swearing allegiance to the so-called Islamic State in July...

Syrians await aid during ceasefire (CNN) A ceasefire in Syria’s brutal civil war appears to be holding into its second day — but for hundreds of thousands of besieged Syrians, the wait for humanitarian relief may last somewhat longer. Aid convoys are positioned at the Turkish border town of Cilvegozu, poised to enter the country and deliver food and medical aid to rebel-controlled eastern Aleppo, where the United Nations says between 250,000 and 275,000 people have been cut off from assistance since early July...

Aleppo priest: We’re struggling against desperation (Vatican Radio) There was calm across much of Syria Wednesday following a Russian and US brokered ceasefire, although a number of violations were reported since it took hold. With the truce in place the northern city of Aleppo is awaiting much needed aid...

Anti-Wahhabism spreading in Muslim world (Al-monitor) The religious authority in Saudi Arabia responded aggressively to Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s annual message 5 September in which Khamenei attacked the Saudi government against the backdrop of the disputes between both states that culminated in forbidding Iranian pilgrims from the hajj this year. Iran also accused Saudi Arabia of negligence in managing the hajj, which led to the deaths of more than 760 people and injuries to around 1,000 in 2015...

Faith combined with firepower (The New York Times) While tanks and artillery have been Russia’s weapons of choice to project its power into neighboring Ukraine and Georgia, Mr. Putin has also mobilized faith to expand the country’s reach and influence. A fervent foe of homosexuality and any attempt to put individual rights above those of family, community or nation, the Russian Orthodox Church helps project Russia as the natural ally of all those who pine for a more secure, illiberal world free from the tradition-crushing rush of globalization, multiculturalism and women’s and gay rights...

Pope to mark World Day of Prayer for Peace in Assisi (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis will take part in the final meeting of the World Day of Prayer for Peace when he travels to Assisi on Tuesday, 20 September...







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