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Current Issue
December, 2018
Volume 44, Number 4
  
26 July 2017
Greg Kandra




In the video above, a religious sister from Syria describes how Christians there have continued to cling to their faith. (video: Rome Reports/YouTube)

Pressure continues to involve Christians in Kurdistan referendum (Fides) Political leaders of the autonomous region of Iraqi Kurdistan continue to try and involve Christians in support of the referendum convened for next 25 September, seeking to proclaim full independence from Baghdad...

Security forces sent to Lebanese Christian town near Syria (Al-Arabiya.net) Security reinforcements were sent to the Lebanese Christian town of Al-Qaa after reports that gunmen may have entered. A number of suicide bombers attacked the Lebanese Christian village last year killing a number of people and wounding dozens more. ISIS was responsible for the bombings in the village of Qaa on Lebanon’s border with Syria...

Syrians rebuild a mosque in Aleppo — and rebuild their community (The Independent) The crumpled heap of stones, all that is left of the minaret of the Great Mosque of Aleppo, asks questions of us all. How do we “restore” or “repair” or “rebuild” a jewel of Seljuk civilization from which millions of Muslims — perhaps even Saladin himself — were called to prayer five times each day for 900 years in one of the oldest cities of the world?...

Coptic Church launches campaign against female genital mutilation (Fides) The Orthodox Coptic Church is about to launch an intense awareness campaign among its faithful against the practice of female genital mutilation, which continues to be widespread among Coptic Christians in different areas of Upper Egypt...

Ethiopian Rosh Hashanah blends unique customs (Jewish News Service) Despite relative isolation from their Jewish brethren around the world for millennia, Ethiopian Jews have coveted the same dream of celebrating Rosh Hashanah “next year in Jerusalem.” Though unique, the Jewish New Year festivities in Ethiopia bear many similarities to the holiday’s observance in the broader diaspora...



Tags: Syria Egypt Lebanon Ethiopia Copts

25 July 2017
Greg Kandra




A migrant child sits on the deck of rescue ship as it arrives on 19 April in Augusta, Italy. A Vatican representative told the U.N. Monday that the integration of migrants and refugees in host nations must become an opportunity for new understanding.
(photo: CNS/Darrin Zammit Lupi, pool via Reuters)


Vatican on migration: an opportunity for development, fraternity (Vatican Radio) The integration of migrants and refugees in host nations can and must become an opportunity for new understanding, broader horizons and greater development for everyone. This message was at the heart of a statement released on Monday by Father Michael Czerny at the UN in New York during an Informal Thematic Session in New York to gather substantive input and recommendations to inform the Global Compact on Migration...

Tensions continue in Jerusalem (Fides) The Israeli government has ordered the removal of installed metal detectors to control the entry at the al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem. But it is too soon to tell whether this measure will have an impact on the tension and violence unleashed around the Holy City where the al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock are situated...

A new life in strangers’ clothes for refugees in Canada (Racked.com) Like most refugees, the Syrians arriving in Canada come with very little literal baggage. They leave behind wedding presents and photo albums, family heirlooms and art collections. A threat to physical safety, the need to flee from civil conflict, might seem like it renders material objects irrelevant. But we carry a powerful attachment to tangible things. The things we collect keep us rooted in the earth; our homes, our beds, our bookshelves and frying pans, the sneakers with the shoelaces that always come undone, and the letters collected in a box tell the story of who we are and where we have been...

How Gaza became unlivable (Al Jazeera) The United Nations Country Team in the occupied Palestinian territory recently released an incisive report on Gaza (PDF), focusing on the humanitarian impact of Israel’s 10-year blockade and the internal political divisions among the Palestinians. Its findings are bleak: Gaza’s impoverishment is entirely the product of human decisions, and not the fate of nature...

Indian Christians observe ‘Martyrdom Day’ (Vatican Radio) A group of Indian Christians have decided to observe Martyrdom Day on 22 July in memory of Christians who are persecuted and killed for their faith. It was the initiative of Shibu Thomas who through his ecumenical movement, “Persecution Relief” said special prayers were offered in Churches across the country. The observance is “part of a concerted effort to encourage those who continue to struggle to cope with persecution and challenge to live a true Christian life,” Thomas told UCANEWS...

Vatican turns off fountains to save water (Vatican Radio) The drought that is affecting the city of Rome and the surrounding areas of the capital has led the Holy See to take measures to save water...



24 July 2017
Greg Kandra




Israeli security forces arrest a Palestinian man following clashes outside Jerusalem’s Old City on 21 July. Pope Francis has appealed for dialogue after a surge of violence in the area.
(photo: CNS/Ammar Awad, Reuters)


Pope appeals for dialogue after Jerusalem violence (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has appealed for moderation and dialogue after a surge of violence and killings over Jerusalem’s Temple Mount. Addressing the crowds gathered in St. Peter’s Square for the Sunday Angelus, the Pope said he is following “with trepidation the grave tensions and violence of the last days in Jerusalem...”

Syria truce crumbles (Al Jazeera) Syrian government forces have carried out several air attacks in the Eastern Ghouta area outside of Damascus, a day after the Syrian military declared a cessation of hostilities in the area, according to a UK-based monitor. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) said Saturday had been relatively calm after the ceasefire took effect with isolated incidents of shellfire...

Christians welcome India’s new president with caution (Vatican Radio) India’s Catholic bishops have welcomed India’s new president, hoping he will be able to foster peace, development and justice for all...

Report: Young Syrian refugees being forced into child labor in Lebanon (Vox) About 280,000 Syrian refugee children in Lebanon have been forced into child labor, according to UNICEF. Many of these kids lost their loved ones and homes in their country’s brutal civil war. They fled to Lebanon for safety — only to find it comes at a very high price...

Catholic charity sends statues of Mary to Iraq to replace those destroyed by ISIS (Catholic Herald) A Catholic charity has sent 15 statues of the Virgin Mary to the Middle East to replace ones destroyed by ISIS. The group Œuvre d’Orient, a French association dedicated to helping persecuted Christians, has sent the statues from Lourdes to Ain Kawa, a suburb of the city of Erbil in Iraqi Kurdistan, which has a majority Catholic population...



21 July 2017
Greg Kandra




In the video above, Cardinal Luis Tagle, president of Caritas Internationalis, speaks of the church’s concern for refugees and the dignity of the human person. Rising anti-refugee sentiment is causing concern in Lebanon. (video: Rome Reports/YouTube)

Israeli aid gives ‘glimmer of hope’ for Syrians (The New York Times) Quietly, over the last year, hundreds of sick Syrian children and their chaperones have been whisked across enemy lines at dawn for treatment at clinics in Israel, slipping back home after dark...

Rising anti-refugee sentiment stirs concern in Lebanon (AFP) An attack on Lebanese troops raiding a Syrian refugee camp has stirred violent debate and polarized opinions, with rising calls to repatriate refugees but also warnings against racist rhetoric. The uptick in pressure comes after Lebanese soldiers were attacked as they stormed two refugee camps near the eastern border with Syria last month...

Power-sharing deal takes shape in Gaza (AP) A power-sharing deal between two former arch foes is slowly taking shape in Gaza and could lead to big changes in the Hamas-ruled territory, including an easing of a decade-long border blockade...

Report: Babies most affected by malnutrition around Mosul (Doctors Without Borders) The malnutrition we see here is primarily due to the scarcity of infant formula. Obviously, adults and children in the besieged part of Mosul suffer from lack of food and, indeed, we see a lot of extremely underweight people arriving in the camps. But once they’re out of the city, the adults soon gain weight, but not the babies. Many Iraqi mothers don’t breastfeed and the ones who do usually stop after two to three months. Conditions in the camps combined with stress and exhaustion make breastfeeding even harder...

A year later, families of those who resisted Turkey coup count cost (The Guardian) A year later, the country remains polarized, and has yet to come to terms with the traumatic putsch that is widely believed to have been orchestrated by followers of Fethullah Gülen, an ally-turned-rival of the president who leads a vast grassroots network from exile in the United States. For the families of the sehitler — the Turkish word for martyrs — the trauma remains close at hand...



20 July 2017
Greg Kandra




India’s President-elect Ram Nath Kovind greets people during a ceremony in New Delhi after his election on 20 July 2017. (photo: Prakash Singh/AFP/Getty Images)

Citizens of Iraqi Christian village protest mayor’s removal (Fides) Hundreds of citizens in Alqosh, a Christian majority city of the Nineveh Plain, participated in the protest march on Thursday that crossed the central streets of the town center. They wanted to show their dissent regarding the sudden removal from office of the local mayor, ordered in recent days by the Council of the Nineveh Province...

‘Untouchable’ elected president of India (Bloomberg) Ram Nath Kovind was elected as president of India, the world’s most populous democracy, becoming the second leader from country’s ‘untouchable’ community to occupy the highest post...

Sunday in an Indian jail (National Catholic Register) Whenever I go to Kandhamal — the ground zero of one of the worst persecutions of Christians in Indian history — unexpected things unfold. The primary objective of my visit mid-June to the remote jungle district in Odisha state on the east coast, where Christian targets had gone up in flames since August 2008, was to confirm couple of important stories, including elephants saving a Catholic youth from being burnt alive by a mob...

Drought worsens in Ethiopia (IPS) Poor rains across East Africa have worsened hunger and left crops scorched, pastures dry and thousands of livestock dead, the United Nations food and agriculture agency has warned in a new alert...

Flow of tourists into Armenia (Public Radio of Armenia) 1,350,791 people have visited Armenia over the first half of this year — 24.3 percent more than at the same period a year before, Zarmine Zeytuntsyan, head of the Economic development and investments ministry’s tourism committee, told journalists on Wednesday referring to the figures received from border checkpoints, reports ARKA News Agency...



19 July 2017
Greg Kandra




Iraqis celebrate in Baghdad on 10 July as Prime Minister Haider al Abadi announces victory over the Islamic State in Mosul. Iraq has announced a 10-year plan to rebuild Mosul. (photo: CNS/Khalid al Mousily, Reuters)

With ISIS gone, Iraq shapes plan for rebuilding Mosul (Voice of America) Just days after Iraqi forces evicted ISIS militants from the last parcel of land that they controlled in Mosul, Iraqi government officials say they are ready to rebuild the war-torn city and return an estimated million displaced civilians to their homes. Officials from the Iraqi Ministry of Planning told VOA that they had drawn up a 10-year plan to reconstruct the city, which came under full control of U.S.-backed Iraqi forces last week…

Christian mayor in Iraq dismissed (Fides) With an unusual emergency procedure, the Council of the Iraqi Province of Nineveh dismissed the mayor of Alqosh, a town of the Nineveh Plain historically inhabited by Christians, and replaced him with a local political leader close to the Democratic Kurdistan Party…

Chicago center hopes to train Syrians how to launch startups (The Chicago Tribune) Chicagoan Steve Lehmann has taken his expertise in early business development nearly 6,000 miles away to the Turkish border town of Reyhanli. His mission: to teach Syrian teens how to launch startups of their own. Even as war rages in the nation, there are still students learning business and plenty of people who can’t find work…

Indian Catholics prepare for Asian Youth Day (Vatican Radio) Asian Youth Day, a major event of the Catholic Church in the continent, is taking center stage in two weeks’ time in Yogyakarta in the Archdiocese of Semarang, Indonesia. Over 2,000 young people from 21 Asian countries are gathering in the central Javanese city, from 2 to 6 August, for the seventh Asian Youth Day…

Last Russian Tsar and family remembered (Radio Free Europe) Large numbers of people marched near the Russian city of Yekaterinburg before dawn on 17 July to mark the 99th anniversary of the execution of Tsar Nicholas II and his family. Marchers carried Russian Orthodox icons and crosses in the procession from the site where Tsar Nicholas II, Tsarina Aleksandra, and their five children were killed in 1918 — months after the Bolsheviks seized power — to the spot where their bodies were buried...



18 July 2017
Greg Kandra




In the video above, religious and political leaders gathered in Rome discuss repeated attacks on religious freedom around the world. (video: Rome Reports/YouTube)

Mosul needs help to rebuild (CNA) Just days after Iraqi forces completed their recapture of Mosul from the Islamic State, the nation’s ambassador to the Holy See has said that they are eager to rebuild the city and have people return home, but it will require help to do so...

Mosul in ruins: ‘I see only despair around us’ (Al Jazeera) Western Mosul is in ruins. From the tenth floor of a badly damaged hotel in Iraq’s second-largest city, destroyed buildings and roads can be seen for miles on end. There is no building that has not been touched by fights and air attacks. The smell of decaying bodies fills the hot July air...

Separatists claim new state to replace Ukraine (AP) Separatists in eastern Ukraine on Tuesday proclaimed a new state that aspires to include not only the areas they control but also the rest of Ukraine. The surprise announcement in the rebel stronghold of Donetsk casts further doubt on the 2015 cease-fire deal that was supposed to stop fighting in Ukraine’s industrial heartland and bring those areas back into Kiev’s fold while granting them wide autonomy. It also caught unawares some rebels who said they have no intention of joining the new state...

Freed from prostitution, they’re becoming lawyers pursuing justice in India (Fides) Children systematically mistreated and forced into prostitution with 20 clients per day, without rights, no voice and no one worrying about their inhuman conditions. This is the harsh reality of over a million girls who are victims of child prostitution in India. It is a phenomenon that even the country’s punitive laws are unable to curb. Since April 2014, the Dutch Free a Girl Foundation has proposed to intervene against this hell. Thanks to the School for Justice, 19 young people survived the abuse of exploiters and will be trained so that they go to university and study law...

Climate change threatens an ancient way of life in Ethiopia (The Washington Post) Another drought has seized the Horn of Africa, devastating the livestock herders in these already dry lands. Even as the government and aid agencies struggle to help them, there is a growing realization that with climate change, certain ways of life in certain parts of the world are becoming much more difficult to sustain...

How the ‘Indian Oskar Schindler’ saved Polish children during World War II (Times of Israel) The elegant ballroom of the Indian consulate general in New York has been the venue for many cultural and other events attended by Indian and American audiences. But on 29 June a special event brought two communities, Indians and Jews, together to witness a hitherto unknown chapter of history, captured in a documentary film called “Little Poland in India...”

African migrants hit by new tax in Israel (Reuters) Nine years ago, Teklit Michael fled Eritrea to avoid military conscription, survived a perilous journey across the Sinai peninsula and sought asylum in Israel. The 29-year-old Eritrean community organizer now works as a cook at a restaurant in south Tel Aviv — alone, without family and in legal limbo, awaiting a response to his asylum request. Since May, Michael’s life has faced another challenge with new tax rules that force his employer to put part of his salary in a fund which he can access only if he leaves Israel...



17 July 2017
J.D. Conor Mauro




An Iraqi carries away garbage from his house after his return to his hometown, the predominantly Christian Iraqi village of Qaraqosh, some 20 miles east of Mosul. (photo: Adel Senna/AFP/Getty Images)

The uncertain fate of Iraq’s largest Christian city (Der Spiegel) Before ISIS invaded, Qaraqosh was home to Iraq’s largest Christian community. Now liberated after three years of occupation, little remains and former residents are considering whether it is worth rebuilding in a country with an unclear future…

U.S.C.C.B. leaders say armed attacks near Jerusalem holy sites ‘a desecration’ (CNS) The president of the U.S. Catholic Bishops’ Conference and two committee chairmen condemned “in the strongest possible terms” the fatal shooting of two Israeli police officers July 14 in Jerusalem’s Old City near some of the world’s holiest sites. “It is a particular desecration to carry out armed attacks in and around sites holy to Muslims and Jews in a city that is sacred to Jews, Christians and Muslims,” they said in a statement…

Syria takes more oil fields from ISIS (AINA) The Syrian army, backed by heavy Russian air strikes, seized a string of oil wells in southwest province of Raqqa on Saturday, as retreating ISIS militants battle to defend their remaining territory in the country…

Threat of attacks forces Egyptian churches to shut down activities (AsiaNews) Copts have suspended some of their activities — including pilgrimages, summer camps and conferences — for security reasons, fearing new attacks by Islamist extremist groups. The measure, which will remain in force for the months of July and August, was issued following alerts by the Cairo authorities…

Clash between self-proclaimed “Christian militias” operating in the Nineveh Plain (Fides) Nineveh Plain Protection Units (NPU) have blamed the so-called “Babylonian Brigades” for having broken into one of their posts to seize military supplies and, above all, to release six of their militiamen, previously arrested on charges of looting private houses and Christian churches, including the Mar Behnam monastery…



Tags: Syria Iraq Egypt Jerusalem

14 July 2017
Greg Kandra




Israeli forces take additional security measures after police killed three men who opened fire in Jerusalem’s Old City on 14 July. (photo: Mahmoud Ibrahem/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Attack near Jerusalem’s Temple Mount (The Jerusalem Post) Three terrorists opened fire on a group of policemen near Lions’ Gate in Jerusalem’s Old City on Friday morning, killing two Israeli police officers and injuring two more before the attackers were killed by police. The slain officers are Hail Stawi, 30, from Maghar and Kamil Shanan, 22, from Hurfeish both in northern Israel. Officer Shanan was the son of former Israeli Druze Knesset member Shakib Shanan…

Son of Copt killed in Egypt plans to donate funds to build a mosque and church (Fides) Young Coptic Michael Atef Munir, son of one of the victims of the massacre of the Coptic pilgrims killed on 26 May in a jihadist ambush, announced he wants to donate the money that the Egyptian government set aside for the relatives of the victims of terrorism to a mosque and a church in the province of Minya…

Syrians make a new life in Mexico (The Guardian) Hassan is one of 10 young Syrians in Mexico thanks to Project Habesha — a small not-for-profit organization arranging university scholarships for youngsters whose education has been disrupted by the war…

Christian birth rates falling in India (New Indian Express) Sustaining the upward growth rate of Muslim population in the state, the recent Vital statistics Report published by the Director of Panchayats is pointing at a steep climb in birth rate among the Muslim community. While Muslims, who constitute a quarter of the population, have attained the birth rate almost equal to that of the majority Hindu community, the Christian community’s birth rate has fallen…



Tags: India Egypt Refugees Israel

13 July 2017
Greg Kandra




A member of the Iraqi federal police walks along destroyed buildings from clashes in Mosul 10 July.
(photo: CNS/Thaier Al-Sudani, Reuters)


Video shows Mosul civilians trapped in a fight that’s not over (The New York Times) The civilians crowd together in a narrow alleyway, stranded near house-to-house fighting and surrounded by the stark devastation of western Mosul, where the battle against the Islamic State was supposed to be over. Video taken from a drone on Monday quickly confirmed that the battle to seize Mosul from the Islamic State continues, and that at least 100 civilians were still trapped by the fighting...

In Ukraine, Cardinal Sandri says there is hope for the future (CNA) Shortly after Pope Francis donated money to help those suffering from Ukraine’s ongoing conflict, Cardinal Leonardo Sandri arrived in the country, saying that while pained, he sees hope for the future. In comments to local Catholic media after landing in Ukraine 11 July, Cardinal Sandri recalled that when he made his first trip to the country several years ago, it was because “in this land was born and is growing, a great hope, a great vision of the future for this Christian country...”

Sole Gaza power station turned off due to fuel crisis (Al Jazeera) The Gaza Strip’s only operating power plant was turned off late on Wednesday due to a severe shortage of fuel, leaving the coastal enclave in a complete blackout, local officials said. Officials at the Hamas-run power corporation said they had turned off the last operating turbine at the plant in southern Gaza city...

Yemen’s foreign minister says kidnapped Salesian still alive (CNS) Yemen’s foreign minister told Indian officials that Salesian Father Thomas Uzhunnalil, kidnapped in Yemen last year, is still alive, and efforts to trace him continue. Ucanews.com reported that, during a visit to New Delhi, Yemeni Foreign Minister Abdulmalik Abduljalil Al-Mekhlafi gave his reassurances in a meeting with the Indian external affairs 10 July, said an Indian government statement. It said Father Uzhunnalil is “alive, and the Yemeni government has been making all efforts to secure his release.” It said al-Mekhlafi “assured all cooperation in this regard...”

Russian hostel reopens for Jerusalem pilgrims (BBC) The Russian government is reopening a hostel for Orthodox pilgrims in Jerusalem in a hospice originally built on the orders of a Romanov grand duke, more than 100 years after it closed...



Tags: India Iraq Ukraine Jerusalem Russia





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