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September, 2018
Volume 44, Number 3
  
21 June 2017
J.D. Conor Mauro




An Iraqi fighter stands on the Iraq-Syria border in Nineveh, Iraq. (photo: Martyn Aim/Getty Images)

Recapture of Iraq-Syria border point heralds new regional reality (Al Monitor) Regional governments are shifting their focus from national borders in consideration of the interests of the wider axis to which they belong. One manifestation of this was reflected in the celebratory mood of media as Iraqi and Syrian forces jointly secured the Syrian-Iraqi border crossing on 9 June…

Why I’m trying to stop mass deportation of Detroit Assyro-Chaldeans (AINA) “Over the past week, many have asked why I became so involved in the recent immigration sweep of mostly Chaldeans that took place here in metro Detroit. Now that the dust has settled and my schedule has returned to somewhat normal, I want to share why…”

Church of the East patriarch visits Tel Kaif, meets with Christian defenders (Fides) Mar Gewargis III, catholicos-patriarch of the Church of the East, visited the territories of the Nineveh Plain, liberated from the occupation of ISIS. During his visit on Saturday, 17 June, the primate of the Assyrian church met with Ryan al Keldani, in Tel Kaif, head of the so-called “Babylonian Brigades,” a militia who in recent months sought to carve out a Christian role in the anti-jihadist military operations…

In Fatima, Maronite patriarch to consecrate Middle East to the Immaculate Heart of Mary (Fides) Maronite Patriarch Bechara Peter I will travel to the Portuguese Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima to consecrate Lebanon and the Middle East to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. The act of consecration will take place during the Divine Liturgy that the Maronite Church leader will celebrate in the shrine on 25 June…



Tags: Syria Iraq Lebanon Church of the East

20 June 2017
Greg Kandra




Indian Cardinal Ivan Dias died 19 June at age 81 in Rome. (photo: CNS/Kham, Reuters)

Pope offers condolences on death of Indian cardinal (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has expressed his sadness at the death of Indian Cardinal Ivan Dias. The 81-year-old retired prefect of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples and former archbishop Emeritus of Bombay passed away on Monday in Rome. Pope Francis sent a condolence message to the late cardinal’s brother Francis Dias, recalling his service to the Holy See, particularly his efforts in rebuilding the Church in Albania...

Marking World Refugee Day (Vatican Radio) At a time in history in which an unprecedented 65.5 million people around the world have been forced from home, we are witnessing the highest levels of displacement on record. Among them are nearly 22.5 million refugees, over half of which are under the age of 18. World Refugee Day, held each year on 20 June, commemorates the strength, courage and perseverance of millions of men, women and children who are on the move, in search of protection and opportunity...

Holy See calls for international cooperation to aid legal migration (Vatican Radio) The Holy See has called for international cooperation to facilitate safe and legal migration ahead of World Refugee Day. The Rev. Michael Czerny, Undersecretary of the Migrant and Refugee Section of the Holy See, made the appeal on Monday to the United Nations in Geneva...

Australis suspends airstrikes in Syria (AP) Australia on Tuesday suspended its airstrikes against Islamic State targets in Syria as a precaution, after a U.S. fighter jet shot down a Syrian warplane earlier this week and Russia warned the U.S.-led coalition from flying over Syrian army positions west of the Euphrates River. The announcement from Canberra came as a brief, two-day truce collapsed in the southern Syrian city of Dara and nearby areas where government forces have gained ground...

Ethiopia’s coffee farmers are ‘on the front lines of climate change’ (NPR) Ethiopia gave the world Coffea arabica, the species that produces most of the coffee we drink these days. Today, the country is the largest African producer of Arabica coffee. The crop is the backbone of the country’s economy — some 15 million Ethiopians depend on it for a living. But the effects of climate change — higher temperatures and less rainfall — could take a toll on the country’s ability to farm this treasured crop...



19 June 2017
Greg Kandra




In this image from 2016, Syrian refugees arrive at a camp after crossing into the Jordanian side of the northeast Jordan-Syria border near Royashed. The United Nations reports that more people were displaced in 2016 than ever before. (photo: CNS/Jamal Nasrallah, EPA)

UN: More people displaced in 2016 than ever before (The New York Times) The relentless civil war in Syria and a surge of South Sudanese fleeing the collapse of peace efforts in their country helped propel the global population of displaced people to a record in 2016, the United Nations refugee agency said Monday. The agency’s annual Global Trends report, a statistical assessment of refugees, asylum seekers and people forcibly displaced from their homes, reflected a worsening of conflict, mayhem and persecution...

King of Jordan confirms: defense of holy sites a ‘priority’ (Fides) The protection of Jerusalem’s holy Muslim and Christian sites is a “priority” for the Hashimite Monarchy, committed to supporting the birth of an independent Palestinian state that has Gerusalem East as the capital. This is what King Abdallah II of Jordan said to a delegation of religious, Christian and Muslim representatives from Jerusalem on Sunday, 18 June, in Amman...

Synod begins to elect new patriarch (Fides) The Synod of Bishops of the Greek Melkite Church has begun today, Monday, 19 June to elect the new Patriarch. At the beginning of May, Pope Francis announced that he had accepted the resignation of Gregory III Laham from pastoral office...

Pope’s visit to India may be postponed to 2018 (Vatican Radio) It is very likely that the visit of Pope Francis to India and Bangladesh planned for the end of this year, could be postponed to next year, a prominent Indian Catholic Church leader said on Thursday. In an interview to National Catholic Reporter (NCR) on 15 June, Cardinal Oswald Gracias, Archbishop of Bombay said that discussions with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government about a papal visit this year have taken longer than expected...

Archeologists unearth forgotten city in Ethiopia (The Telegraph) British archaeologists in Ethiopia have uncovered a forgotten city dating as far back as 10th century AD that was once believed to be the home of giants. The dig, in Harlaa, unearthed a 12th century mosque, a jeweler’s workshop and evidence of Islamic burials and headstones. Experts from the University of Exeter and Ethiopia’s cultural ministry also found pottery from Madagascar, the Yemen and China, as well as bronze and silver coins from 13th century Egypt...



16 June 2017
Greg Kandra




An Iraqi soldier escorts civilians in Mosul’s western Al-Shifa district on 15 June 2017, as they flee their homes during the ongoing offensive by Iraqi forces to retake the city from ISIS group fighters. (photo: Mohamed El-Shahed/AFP/Getty Images)

More than 100,000 civilians trapped in Mosul (Reuters) Over 100,000 civilians remain trapped behind Islamic State lines in Mosul with a U.S.-backed government offensive to recapture the Iraqi city entering its ninth month, the United Nations refugee agency UNHCR said on Friday. “These civilians are basically held as human shields in the Old City,” said the presiding UNHCR representative in Iraq, Bruno Geddo, referring to Mosul’s historic district where the militants are besieged by Iraqi government forces...

Iraqi leader meets with Christians (Fides) Masrour Barzani, head of the intelligence in the autonomous Region of Iraqi Kurdistan and President Masud’s son, met with a delegation of representatives of the most rooted Churches in the region, including Redemptorist Bashar Warda, Chaldean Archbishop of Erbil, and Mar Nicodemus Daud Matti Sharaf, Syriac Orthodox Bishop of Mosul on 13 June...

ACLU asks court to stop deportation of Iraqi Christians (Aleteia) The American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan has asked for a temporary restraining order on the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, which is sending hundreds of Iraqi Christians back to a country where, many contend, they are in serious danger of being tortured or killed. The civil liberties organization filed a brief in a federal court in Michigan Thursday, days after ICE arrested a number of Chaldean Christians in and around Detroit as part of President Donald J. Trump’s efforts to enforce immigration laws...

Where an influx of Syrians is remaking Turkey (The New York Times) Turkey built this concrete wall to try to stop the flow of refugees and cut off its connection to the war on the other side. I visited this place to see how some of the three million refugees in Turkey are remaking the region...

UAE names Abu Dhabi mosque after Mary, Mother of Jesus (Newsweek) Authorities have renamed a mosque in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates, after the mother of Jesus Christ. Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince and deputy commander of the Emirati military, said he ordered the change in a bid to build bridges with other religions...

Controversy surrounds bill to ban foreign names for Egyptian babies (Fides) Controversy and sarcasm in Egypt increase with regards to the bill submitted on Tuesday 13 June to the Egyptian Parliament to forbid the conferral of Western and “foreign” names to Egyptian babies...



15 June 2017
Greg Kandra




Refugees Husam Al Dakhil and his cousin Bahaa Hraiz serve a Syrian buffet at an Ottawa parish, which has now found sponsors for their parents and siblings.
(photo: Deborah Gyapong/Canadian Catholic News/Catholic Register)


Indian Christians demand justice for nun who was harassed by police (Vatican Radio) Christians of central India’s Bhopal city have demanded justice for a Catholic nun who had been detained under the false charge of forcibly converting four tribal girls. Sister Bina, of the Congregation of the Carmelite Sisters of St. Teresa (CSST), was arrested at Satna railway station while travelling with four girls on board a train from Jharkhand state...

UN: U.S.-led airstrikes caused ‘staggering’ civilian deaths (The Washington Post) Airstrikes by a U.S.-led coalition have caused a “staggering” loss of civilian life in recent months around the Islamic State’s Syrian stronghold of Raqqa, a United Nations investigative body said Wednesday. A U.S.-backed ground force entered the city with the help of coalition air raids last week, three years after the area became a hub from which Islamic State leaders planned expansion throughout the region and attacks around the world...

Canadian parish sparks giant family reunion for Syrian refugees (Catholic Register) Holy Redeemer, a parish in the Ottawa archdiocese, didn’t stop at bringing in one Syrian refugee family. They brought in three — and plan to bring in three more. In addition to the three original families — all blood relations — the parish has been instrumental in bringing in two young nephews of the families, who now have sponsors for their parents and siblings...

Study says warmer climate could cause malaria to spread in Ethiopia (AFP) Cool, high-lying areas of Ethiopia hitherto shielded from heat-loving malaria mosquitoes are increasingly exposed to the disease as the climate warms, researchers said. Most Ethiopians live in the country’s highlands, and have long enjoyed natural protection against mosquitoes carrying the malaria-causing parasites Plasmodium falciparum and P. vivid. But the buffered area has been shrinking since 1981, scientists reported in the journal Environmental Research Letters. About six million people live in the newly-vulnerable regions...



14 June 2017
Greg Kandra




One of the young residents who fled Raqqa, Syria, arrives in Jarablus on 26 May. Thousands of residents remain trapped in the city as the battle to retake Raqqa from ISIS rages. (photo: Huseyin Nasir/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

U.S.-backed forces battle ISIS outside Raqqa (The Washington Post) As U.S.-backed forces press farther into Raqqa, the Islamic State’s stronghold in ­Syria, human rights groups pleaded Tuesday for the safety of thousands of residents still trapped in the city…

For Christians in Egypt, building a new church can set off violence (NPR) Christians in Minya province have faced long-running tensions with their Muslim neighbors over an issue central to their survival as a community — whether they can build churches…

Caritas Jordan providing iftar meals for Syrian refugees (Vatican Radio) Most of the 657,000 registered Syrian refugees in Jordan are Muslim. That’s why the local Caritas campaign, especially launched for the holy month of Ramadan, aims both to support those in need and to live the spirit of the month in mercy and fraternity. This year, the campaign is rooted in Caritas’ aptly named Mercy Restaurant, which prepares iftar, or evening meals for its fasting brothers and sisters…

Turkey opens Syrian border crossings for Ramadan (AP) Thousands of Syrian refugees are returning home for a visit during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, after Turkey temporarily opened two border crossings with its war-torn neighbor…

India commits to pacts on eradicating child slavery (Vatican Radio) India on Tuesday ratified two key global agreements on eradicating child slavery, committing the country to adopting international labor standards on the employment of minors and allowing it to be subjected to scrutiny by other nations. India’s census found there were more than four million laborers aged between 5 and 14 in 2011 out of 168 million globally, but activists say millions more are at risk due to poverty…

United Nations: Ukraine conflict enters fourth year with ‘no end in sight’ (UN.org) Warring parties in eastern Ukraine have repeatedly failed to implement ceasefire agreements, allowing hostilities to escalate and the cumulative death toll to exceed 10,000 as the conflict entered its fourth year, a new United Nations report reveals…



Tags: Syria India Egypt Ukraine

13 June 2017
Greg Kandra




Archbishop Rino Fisichella, president of Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelization, speaks at the Vatican 13 June about the theme of the first World Day of the Poor, to be celebrated on 19 November. He said Pope Francis envisioned the day as a way for the whole church to reflect on the Gospel meaning of poverty. (photo: CNS/Robert Duncan)

Vatican announces first World Day for the Poor (CNS) People cannot sit back and be indifferent or unresponsive to growing poverty in the world as a privileged minority accumulates “ostentatious wealth,” Pope Francis said. “God created the heavens and the earth for all; yet sadly some have erected barriers, walls and fences, betraying the original gift meant for all humanity, with none excluded,” the pope said in a message for the first World Day of the Poor...

Displaced Iraqis hit by food poisoning (BBC) Hundreds of people have fallen ill and a child has died of suspected food poisoning at a camp for displaced people near the Iraqi city of Mosul. People were said to be vomiting and suffering dehydration after an iftar meal, to break the daily Ramadan fast...

Israel agrees to reduce Gaza electricity (Al Jazeera) The Israeli government has agreed to cut down its electricity supply in the Gaza Strip, at the behest of the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority (PA), Israeli officials said. According to Yoav Mordechai, the Israeli head of the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), President Mahmoud Abbas requested Israel to stop supplying electricity to Gaza back in April...

Muslims and Christians in Goa join hands to protest against cattle sale ban (OutlookIndia.com) To protest against the Centre’s notification banning the sale of cattle for purpose of slaughter, Muslims and the Roman Catholic Church in Goa have come together to back a civil society collective called Goa for Beef — Beef for Goa...

Dozens of news sites blocked in Egypt (Amnesty International) The Egyptian authorities have shifted their onslaught against media freedom to the digital sphere, blocking access to more than 40 news sites without justification in recent weeks, in an attempt to eliminate the country’s last remaining spaces for criticism and free expression, said Amnesty International...

Armenia: where natural beauty and brandy trump a troubled past and volatile present (Economic Times) Bucolic locations, monasteries set in tumbling landscapes, gurgling streams, lapis lazuli lakes — Armenia is picture-postcard turf. One of the cradles of civilisation, the pint-sized country was also the first in the world to officially adopt Christianity as the state religion in AD 301. With doughty neighbors (Turkey, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Russia and Iran) hemming it in, the nation is also at a geopolitical and cultural crossroads...



Tags: India Iraq Egypt Gaza Strip/West Bank Vatican

12 June 2017
Greg Kandra




Pope Francis greets Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, as he meets with members, consultors and guests of the council 9 June at the Vatican. (photo: CNS/L’Osservatore Romano)

Pope urges Council for Interreligious Dialogue to uphold women’s dignity (CNS) The more women are involved in and contribute to communities, politics, economics and the church, the more positive changes will come about, Pope Francis said. “Women are fully entitled to actively take part in all settings, and their rights must be affirmed and protected, including through legal instruments wherever it may prove necessary,” he said 9 June. The pope was speaking to members, consultors and guests of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, which was holding its plenary assembly in Rome 7-9 June. Participants had discussed the role of women in teaching universal fraternity. “We cannot truly call on God, the father of all, if we refuse to treat (others) in a brotherly way,” Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran told the pope, quoting from “Nostra Aetate,” the Vatican II declaration that addressed the Catholic Church’s relations with other religions...

Holy See denounces retention of migrant children (Vatican Radio) The Holy See has called on the international community to protect the rights of unaccompanied migrant children and condemned their detention as a “grave error.” The Vatican’s Permanent Observer to the UN in Geneva, Archbishop Ivan Jurkovic, made the remarks to the Human Rights Council panel discussion on the rights of unaccompanied migrant children and adolescents…

Refugee families in Lebanon return to Syria (Latin American Herald Tribune) Some 50 Syrian families who had found refuge in Lebanon have returned to their homes in a village located near the border, escorted by military units and members of the Lebanese intelligence services, according to the Lebanese Armed Forces on Saturday. The armed forces said that the families were transferred to Assal al-Ward village in civilian vehicles through Arsal Mountains in northeastern Lebanon to the border with Syria...

Family rejoices over returned of Christian girl kidnapped in Iraq (Fides) Christina Kader Ebada is the name of a Christian girl from Qaraqosh who has been returned to her family after being abducted three years ago by militia of the Islamic State group. The girl, now six years old, was united with her parents last Friday 9 June...

Mosul woman, 84, survives under rubble for a week (Rudaw.net) After seven days of entrapment under the rubble of a house destroyed by coalition warplanes in west Mosul, an elderly woman, whose family had held her funeral, was miraculously found alive. Niama Mohammed, 84, had been caught along with another 34 people by ISIS as they tried to escape. They were used as human shield in a house. The house was one day bombed when a group of the militants had fought against the advancing Iraqi troops on the rooftop. The house was bombed by the coalition warplanes. Of the 35, only Niama survived both the bombing and hunger and thirst for a week...

Indian priest fights to end discrimination against children whose parents have HIV (CNS) A priest in the north Indian state of Rajasthan is fighting to end discrimination against children whose parents live with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. Father Jerish Antony is funding the education of 218 children whose parents have HIV as part of a program run by the Diocese of Ajmer...

Syrian refugee builds life as a surfer in Lebanon (AFP) Ali Kassem had never seen the sea before he fled his home in Syria for Lebanon, but now he’s a regular in the waves and dreams of his own surf school. Dressed in a purple wet suit, the 17-year-old confidently coats his board with wax and smears sunscreen on his face before dashing into the sea...



9 June 2017
J.D. Conor Mauro




Coptic Orthodox Christians celebrate the Divine Liturgy in the Minya region, south of Cairo, on 27 May. (photo: Mohamed El-Shahed/AFP/Getty Images)

Egyptian minister warns Christians of church security risks (Fides) Egyptian Interior Minister Magdi Abdel Ghaffar said, in an 8 June meeting, that Egypt is under attack by forces wishing to destabilize the country, and advises Christians to reduce visits and celebrations in churches and monasteries, stating that conspicuous crowds at places of worship could be targeted. In his speech, reported by the Egyptian media, Mr. Ghaffar confirmed that churches and monasteries will be at the center of appropriate security measures currently managed in coordination with local communities and ecclesial authorities…

Pope Francis sends condolences to Tehran attack victims (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Friday sent his condolences for the victims of Wednesday’s terrorist attack in Tehran, Iran, saying he “laments this senseless and grave act of violence.” The Holy Father’s words were conveyed in a telegram sent by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin…

Ecumenical patriarch discusses importance of environmentalism (Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople) “For more than twenty-five years, the exacerbation of the ecological crisis, along with its attendant social and financial inequalities, have created unusual concern and vigilance for the Ecumenical Patriarchate,” said Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople, adding that environmental destruction is always “accompanied by social and economic decline, unemployment and diminished quality of life…”

Iraq’s Kurds say ‘no turning back’ on independence vote (Daily Star Lebanon) Iraq’s Kurds said on Friday a referendum on independence will go ahead despite warnings internationally that a vote in favor of secession could trigger conflict with Baghdad at a time when the fight against ISIS is not yet won…

Kerala challenges Modi: No to beef ban (AsiaNews) Kerala is the first state in India to rebuke to the ban on cow meat imposed by central government of Narendra Modi. With a resolution adopted yesterday, the state’s legislators have rejected the measure…



Tags: India Iraq Egypt Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I Iran

8 June 2017
J.D. Conor Mauro




Palestinian friends and family mourn during the funeral of Fadi al Najjar, 25, in Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip on 7 June. Al Najjar was killed by Israeli fire in the Gaza Strip the previous day. (photo: Majdi Fathi/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Half a century after the Six-Day War, some Israelis wonder if it was a victory (Los Angeles Times) Hundreds of guests and dignitaries gathered at the Knesset, the Israeli parliament, for a special session Tuesday marking the 1967 Six-Day War. It was a celebration of Israel’s lightning military victory over Arab armies in the Sinai Peninsula, Golan Heights, West Bank and East Jerusalem that forever changed the landscape of the Middle East. Absent from the parliamentary party, however, were legislators from Israel’s pro-peace Meretz party. Not enough attention, they said, was being paid to the consequences of Israel’s unending control over millions of Palestinians who live in the lands occupied 50 years ago this week…

Iraqi Kurds to hold September independence referendum (Fides) Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdish region will hold a referendum on independence on 25 September. The decision, aimed at provoking a negative reaction from the central government in Baghdad was announced last night, 7 June, during a summit between President Masud Barzani and members of the government of the autonomous region…

Iraqi forces liberate important crossing into Syria (AINA) Pro-government popular mobilization units (Hashd al Sha’abi) liberated the Safouk border crossing into the Syrian province of Hassake. The P.M.U. was able to take control of Safouk after launching a surprise assault, tonight, from the recently liberated town of Ba’aj, east of the Syrian border…

Indian farmers protest against debt-related suicides (AsiaNews) Millions of farmers have halted production in Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh. In Maharashtra, many took to the streets on 1 June to demand the government cancel farm loan debts. In a desperate attempt to put the spotlight on their tragic conditions, they destroyed the product of their hard work in the fields, throwing onions, potatoes and milk in the streets. From there, the protest spread to Madhya Pradesh, where five people died in clashes with the police…

Kerala Catholics urged to spread the ‘message’ of Kandhamal (Vatican Radio) Catholics in southern India’s Kerala state have been urged to show solidarity with the suffering Christians of Odisha state and spread the message of their exemplary witness. Cardinal George Alencherry, major archbishop of Ernakulam-Angamaly who heads the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church, made the appeal on 6 June while releasing the Malayalam version of a book by rights advocate and journalist Anto Akkara that details the atrocities of the 2008 anti-Christian violence in Odisha’s Kandhamal district…

Kerala government announces new liquor policy, 700 bars to reopen (India.com) In a major move, the Kerala government on Thursday approved a new liquor policy that will see more than 700 closed down bars in three- and four-star hotels, allowed to reopen. Church leaders and anti-liquor activists staged a protest in front of the Kerala Assembly on Thursday against the change in policy…



Tags: Syria India Iraq Palestine Israeli-Palestinian conflict





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