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




Pope Francis talks with Guillaume Goubert and Sébastien Maillard, journalists with the French daily newspaper La Croix, during an exclusive interview at the Vatican on 9 May.
(photo: L’Osservatore Romano/La Croix)


In new interview, Pope Francis speaks of immigration, Islam, other issues (L’Osservatore Romano) Migration, Islam, the laity, France, missionaries, the abuse crisis, the possibility of reintegration of the Lefebvrists into the Church, and the family: these were the main themes which Pope Francis addressed on 9 May in an interview he gave to the French daily “la Croix”...

World powers gather to resume Syria peace talks (Al Jazeera) Senior diplomats from the West and the Middle East are meeting in the Austrian capital Vienna in an effort to salvage efforts to halt Syria’s civil war. John Kerry, US secretary of state, and Sergey Lavrov, Russia's foreign minister, will chair the meeting on Tuesday. At the gathering, the 17-nation International Syria Support Group (ISSG) will renew its call for a national cessation of hostilities and immediate humanitarian access to besieged communities...

Russians building army base at Syria’s Palmyra site (Stars and Stripes) The Russian military is constructing a new army base in the central Syrian town of Palmyra, within the protected zone that holds the archaeological site listed by UNESCO as a world heritage site without asking for permission from relevant authorities, an American heritage organization and a top Syrian archaeologist said Tuesday...

Ancient church frescoes in Turkey damaged during conversion to mosque (Fides) The ancient Byzantine church of Aghia Sophia in Trabzon, converted into a mosque in 2013, was severely damaged due to the work carried out for its transformation into a Muslim place of worship. This was reported by local sources consulted by Agenzia Fides. Heavy renovation led, among other things, to the destruction of frescoes and the total coverage of mosaics...

Online petition launched to try and stop sanctions against Syrians (Fides) A digital online petition has been launched at change.org, aimed “at MPs and the mayors in every Country’ to ask for “the iniquity of sanctions on Syria to be made known to the citizens of the European Union and become, finally, the subject of a serious debate and consequent resolutions”. This is the initiative launched by a number of bishops, religious and consecrated Catholics belonging to different Churches sui iuris, to ask the European Union to put an end to sanctions still in place against Syria...

After fleeing Ethiopia, some return home to a changed country (The Washington Post) The first time Abezash Tamerat returned to her native Ethiopia, she walked out of the airport terminal’s sliding doors only to turn around and walk right back in, briefly overwhelmed by the press of beggars and taxi drivers clamoring outside. Tamerat had left Ethiopia as a child and grown up in foster care in Georgia. Now she was going back as a 20-year-old to rediscover the far-off, unfamiliar place that had shaped her identity...



16 May 2016
Greg Kandra




In this photo from 29 April, a set of dishes somehow survived a rocket attack on a house in Agdam, Azerbaijan. The leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan were scheduled to meet Monday for peace talks in Vienna. (photo: Resul Rehimov/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Presidents of Armenia, Azerbaijan meet for peace talks (Vatican Radio) Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian and Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev were expected to meet in Vienna later Monday to discuss a fragile cease-fire in Azerbaijan’s breakaway Nagorno-Karabakh region following the worst violence there in decades...

Report: Syrian refugees selling organs to survive (Newsweek) The illegal trade in human organs has become widespread in Syria and neighboring countries, medical officials and victims say, with cross-border networks exploiting thousands of desperate Syrians. These networks purchase transplantable organs such as kidneys and corneas from Syrians and ship them to neighboring countries, where they disappear into the murky world of the international organ trade, they say. There are also allegations that organs have been stolen from prisoners...

Pope’s visit to Armenian genocide memorial could strain relations with Turkey (RNS) Pope Francis will visit the Armenian Genocide memorial complex during a three-day visit to the country in June, a move that may strain the Vatican’s diplomatic relations with Turkey. The pope will travel to the Tsitsernakaberd site in southern Armenia on 25 June, spending an hour at the memorial, the Vatican announced on Friday (13 May). The complex commemorates up to 1.5 million Armenians killed between 1915 and 1923 under the Ottoman Empire...

Multipurpose center under construction in Jordan (Fides) At the initiative of the parish “The Visitation of Our Lady,” construction work of a multipurpose center has started in Anjara, Jordan. The project will serve the parish’s long-awaited purposes and needs. The project, which is located a few miles south of Ajloun, will meet the growing demand for more living space, especially for the children. The children are currently staying in the religious community’s house as there isn’t proper accommodation for them to reside in...

Mine-clearing unlocks holy ground at Jesus’ baptism site in Jordan (The Wall Street Journal) Israel cleared a part of the baptismal site in 2011 and it has since become a popular attraction for visiting Christian pilgrims. Now Israeli and Palestinian officials have agreed to allow U.S. and U.K.-based demining group HALO Trust to clear the rest of the site — about 136 acres. HALO and Israeli defense officials estimate the area is littered with more than 3,000 antipersonnel and antitank mines and an unknown number of improvised explosive devices. The plan is to clear all the mines within two years...

Drought, floods hit Ethiopia’s economy (Voice of America) Floods in Ethiopia, which come on the heels of the worst drought in 50 years, have already claimed the lives of dozens of people and displaced thousands more. The economic toll will also be particularly severe because three-quarters of Ethiopia’s population lives off the land...

Gaza farmers dodge bullets to harvest crops (Al Monitor) Angst seems to be the name of the game for Palestinian farmers within the buffer zone between Gaza and Israel, which measures 300 meters (328 yards) inside the Gaza border. Farmers fear what they say is constant shooting from Israeli forces openly defying a truce agreement signed in August 2014 between the Palestinian resistance and Israel in a bid to end the 2014 war on Gaza...

Vatican publishes pope’s message for World Mission Day 2016 (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has released a Message for World Mission Sunday 2016, which takes place each year on the third Sunday of October...



13 May 2016
Greg Kandra




In Addis Ababa, Ethiopia today, Commissioner of Ethiopia National Disaster Risk Management, Mitiku Kassa, left, and USAID Acting Assistant Administrator, Thomas H. Staal, right, hold a joint press conference to discuss increased aid for the drought-stricken country.
(photo: Moohammed Abdu Abdulbaqi/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)


U.S. Donates 128 million for Ethiopian drought relief (Bloomberg) The U.S. Agency for International Development said it will donate almost $128 million to support more than 10 million Ethiopians suffering from the country’s worst drought in half a century. The funds will pay for food, water, malnutrition treatment, mobile health teams and seeds, Acting Assistant Administrator for the Bureau of Democracy, Conflict and Humanitarian Affairs Thomas Staal told reporters in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, on Friday...

Vatican releases pope’s itinerary for Armenia visit (Vatican Radio) The official programme for Pope Francis’ 3-day visit to Armenia from 24th to 26th June was released on Friday...

Iraqi Christian refugees forced to sign document supporting independence of Kurdistan (Fides) A fair number of Christian Assyrians, Chaldean and Syrian displaced, who took refuge in the city of Dohuk after their villages were conquered by the jihadists of ISIS, were forced to sign a petition in recent days in support of the proclamation of an independent Kurdish State in Iraqi Kurdistan. This was reported by local sources, consulted by Agenzia Fides. Ainkawa.com site also publishes a facsimile of the signature collection form, with a space to register the identity card and mobile phone number...

“Garden of Mercy” inaugurated in Jordan (Fides) A company dedicated to “sustainable” agriculture, with 600 olive trees planted on an area of 10 thousand square meters, which employs 15 workers, chosen among the Iraqi refugees but also among the unemployed Jordanians: this is the “garden of mercy,” humanitarian project inaugurated yesterday, Thursday, 12 May in Amman, at the Centre “Our Lady of Peace,” in the presence of His Beatitude Fouad Twal, Patriarch of Jerusalem of the Latins, and of Archbishop Alberto Ortega Martin, Apostolic Nunzio in Jordan and Iraq...

Gaza hosts human rights film festival (The Jerusalem Post) While the Cannes Film Festival rolled out the red carpet in France, another red carpet was laid among the rubble of Gaza City. Thursday marked the beginning of the Karama-Gaza Human Rights film festival, the first film festival of its kind to focus on human rights across the world...



12 May 2016
Greg Kandra




In the video above, African journalists report on the devastating floods that have hit Ethiopia, displacing thousands still coping with a massive and relentless drought. (video: CCTV/YouTube)

Flash floods displace tens of thousands in Ethiopia (Reuters) Flash floods displaced nearly 120,000 people in Ethiopia last month and a total of almost half a million are expected to be affected this year, government and humanitarian agencies said on Wednesday. The floods are part of the global El Niño weather phenomenon that had previously caused a severe drought in the Horn of Africa nation following successive failed rains...

Turkey threatens stronger military action in Syria (The Wall Street Journal) President Recep Tayyip Erdogan threatened Thursday to take stronger military action inside Syria to halt relentless Islamic State rocket attacks that have brought life in parts of one Turkish border town to a standstill. After weeks of deadly Islamic State strikes, Mr. Erdogan suggested that Turkey was prepared to send troops into neighboring Syria to bring an end to attacks on Kilis, the Turkish town nominated this year for a Nobel Peace Prize for welcoming so many Syrian refugees...

Moscow patriarch: Fight against terrorism is a ‘holy war’ (Fides) “Today the fight against terrorism is a holy war.” This is the strong message used by Kirill, Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, to support the need for a joint mobilization of the international community against a phenomenon which he presented as a global evil. The expression, together with explicit references to the Russian military intervention in the Syrian conflict, was used by the Primate of the Russian Orthodox Church on the occasion of a ceremony held to commemorate the fallen Russians of World War II, on 6 May...

Study looks at the role of Christianity in Israeli society (Pew Research) Christians currently make up just 2% of Israel’s adult population. Indeed, as of 2010, Christians made up a small share (4%) of the population in the Middle East-North Africa region as a whole. A Pew Research Center survey of Israel provides a rare window into the religious beliefs and practices of this close-knit group...

Christian school workers stage demonstration in Ramallah (Fides) A qualified representation of Christian school staff took part yesterday, Wednesday, 11 May, in a new public mobilization organized in Ramallah, calling for the revision of the Social Security legislation approved by Palestinian authorities last March...

Pope: Vatican will study question of women deacons (CNS) Pope Francis told the heads of women’s religious orders from around the world that he would set up a commission to study the New Testament deaconesses and he also insisted more can and should be done to involve lay and consecrated women in church decision-making at every level. Asked if he would establish “an official commission to study the question” of whether women could be admitted to the diaconate, Pope Francis responded: “I accept. It would be useful for the church to clarify this question. I agree...”



11 May 2016
Greg Kandra




In this picture from 2014, a Christian family who fled from violence in Mosul, Iraq, sit in the room of a church in Amman, Jordan. The Vatican is funding a job-creation program for Iraqi refugees in Jordan, a country that is hosting close to 1.5 million refugees, but is struggling to provide work for them. (photo: CNS/Jamal Nasrallah, EPA)

Vatican funds job-creation project for refugees in Jordan (CNS) The Vatican is funding a job-creation program for Iraqi refugees in Jordan, a country that is hosting close to 1.5 million refugees, but is struggling to provide work for them. With $150,000 donated to the Vatican by visitors to its pavilion at the World’s Fair in Milan in 2015, the Vatican will provide the funding that Caritas Jordan needs to launch the project...

Pope Francis sends letter to Coptic patriarch on Day of Friendship (Vatican Radio) 10 May marks the anniversary of the first encounter between Pope Paul VI, the Bishop of Rome, and head of the Coptic Orthodox Church, Pope Shenouda III, which took place 43 years ago. Today, on the Day of Friendship between Copts and Catholics, Pope Francis has written to His Holiness Tawadros II, Pope of Alexandria and Patriarch of the See of Saint Mark, to commemorate the occasion...

Cardinal: Don’t let Marrakesh Declaration be ignored (CNS) Noting the untimely death of previous declarations of Muslim comity with other faiths, Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, Washington’s retired archbishop, urged that the Marrakesh Declaration, drafted in January to have the same effect, not remain ignored. Cardinal McCarrick, during a 10 May “Newsmaker” assembly at the National Press Club in Washington, referred to the Medina Charter issued by the Prophet Muhammad, the founder of Islam, which allowed Muslims and non-Muslim “tribes,” including Jews, to live in Medina in peace and to come together for common defense...

Ethiopia hosts conference on hate speech (Vatican Radio) A two day forum exploring the role of religious leaders in Africa in preventing hate crime and atrocities, is taking place in Addis Abada, Ethiopia. Religious leaders from across Africa have gathered for the forum, which is co-sponsored by the Office of the UN Special Advisor on the prevention of Genocide, the World Council of Churches and the King Abdulla bin Abdulaziz Centre for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue (KAICIID)...



10 May 2016
Greg Kandra




Indonesians take part in a demonstration in solidarity with the civilians of the northern Syrian city of Aleppo in front of Syrian Embassy in Jakarta, Indonesia, on 9 May 2016. A fragile cease-fire in Aleppo has been extended another 48 hours.
(photo: Agnes Rudianto/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)


Syrian government extends cease-fire (The Washington Post) The Syrian military on Monday extended a fragile cease-fire that had broken down in the northern city of Aleppo, as the United States and Russia worked together to try to get peace talks back on track and quell the violence. Shortly before the cease-fire was due to expire and as fighting raged in the northern city of Aleppo, the Syrian military announced that the truce would be extended for 48 hours...

U.S. Announces $50 million aid program for Gaza (AP) The United States has announced a $50 million aid program for the Gaza Strip. U.S. officials said Monday that the money will be used over five years to provide basic humanitarian assistance and create jobs. The money will be distributed by the U.S Agency for International Development in partnership with Catholic Relief Services...

Indian bishops condemn rape and murder of Dalit student in Kerala (Vatican Radio) The Catholic bishops of India have joined political parties, rights activists, women organizations and others in condemning the rape and brutal murder of a young Dalit law student in southern India’s Kerala state. The 30-year-old student by the name of Jisha was raped and murdered at her home in Perumbavoor on 28 April...

New bishop appointed to Phoenix eparchy (CNS) Pope Francis has appointed Bishop John S. Pazak of the Byzantine Eparchy of Sts. Cyril and Methodius of Toronto as bishop of the Holy Protection of Mary Eparchy of Phoenix. The Pope accepted the resignation of Bishop Gerald Dino, 76, of the Phoenix eparchy, where he had served eight years...

Chaldean patriarch writes about priests who have emigrated to U.S. without permission (Fides) Chaldean Patriarch Louis Raphael I, writing to the priests, religious and faithful of the Chaldean diocese in the U.S., says to divide the ecclesial body into separate groups is a “serious sin,” in a time when the Chaldean Church is also prompted by the dramatic historical circumstances which guards unity with special care. For this reason, he said, even the communities in diaspora that belong to the eparchy of St. Peter of the Chaldeans, based in San Diego, California, are called to walk the path of reconciliation, and take advantage of the new Apostolic Administrator to favor the return to its “excellent start.” He made this comments in the letter which he also announces the appointment of Archbishop Shlemon Warduni, auxiliary Bishop of Baghdad as their Apostolic Administrator, waiting for the Chaldean Synod to proceed to the election of the new Bishop, after Saturday, 7 May...

Israeli general compares Jewish state to Nazi Germany (The Washington Post) On the eve of Holocaust Remembrance Day last week, a top Israeli general gave a speech saying he saw “revolting trends” in today’s Israel that he compared to Nazi-era Germany and Europe in the 1930s. No surprise — this has created a big stir in Israel, flaring again Sunday...

India rejects U.S. report on religious freedom (RNS) India is rejecting a U.S. panel’s charges that the religious freedom of minorities in the world’s largest democracy is being violated with tacit support from elements in the ruling party. By contrast, leaders of the country’s Christian and Muslim minorities welcomed the findings of the report by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), released on Monday (2 May) in Washington...

Visiting the ancient Ethiopian churches carved into the mountains (The Daily Mail) For centuries, young men and boys have climbed the steep mountainsides of Tigray, Northern Ethiopia, to reach ancient churches carved into the side of the jagged rock faces. Believed to have been built over a thousand years ago, churches in these remote mountains have been a place of worship and study for Orthodox Christians in the region. Hoping to get closer to God literally and figuratively, the young students risk their lives on a daily basis as they scale the cliff-sides to get to the churches where teachers have spent decades studying holy scriptures...



9 May 2016
Greg Kandra




Pope Francis meets Catholics and Muslims taking part in an interfaith colloquium.
(photo: Vatican Radio/L’Osservatore Romano)


Catholics, Muslims highlight shared beliefs for social, political life (Vatican Radio) Catholic and Muslim experts in interreligious dialogue have issued a joint communique stressing their shared beliefs as a basis for peaceful coexistence and cooperation for the common good...

European Award for Armenian church in Turkey (Fides) The Armenian Apostolic Church of St. Giragos in Diyarbakir has been awarded for its recent restoration by the European Union, but the awards ceremony and the laying of the commemorating plaque of the award cannot be held at the place of worship, which since March has been confiscated by the Turkish military authorities for security purposes, along with other churches in the historic center of the city...

56 hours with the Russian army in Syria (The Washington Post) Last weekend, I received a call from the Russian Foreign Ministry offering a spot on a three-day press tour with the Russian army to Syria, exact dates and destinations TBD. There was also a special warning for American journalists coming aboard. Write poorly about us, an official said, and “this will be your first and last trip...”

Closed Roman Catholic church in New York becomes Malankara Catholic church (The Journal News) A Yonkers Roman Catholic church shuttered last year in a parish consolidation will celebrate its rebirth Saturday as an Eastern Rite congregation. The Rev. Sunny Mathew, 43, the new congregation’s pastor, said the move to Yonkers realizes a longtime dream for his parishioners, who began their congregation in 1984 in New York City. Most Holy Trinity Church at 18 Trinity Plaza will be occupied by St. Mary’s Malankara Catholic Church, an Indian congregation that for 17 years worshiped in the chapel at Salesian High School in New Rochelle...

Is the era of great famine over? (The New York Times) The worst drought in three decades has left almost 20 million Ethiopians — one-fifth of the population — desperately short of food. And yet the country’s mortality rate isn’t expected to increase: In other words, Ethiopians aren’t starving to death. I’ve studied famine and humanitarian relief for more than 30 years, and I wasn’t prepared for what I saw during a visit to Ethiopia last month...

New York Episcopal church welcomes flock of destroyed Serbian Orthodox cathedral (The New York Times) As Desa Boskovic stepped into the shadow of the Serbian Orthodox Cathedral of St. Sava in Manhattan on Sunday afternoon, her mind grew clouded with memory. It was there that she sought refuge as an immigrant from Serbia in 1973, hopeful for some sense of familiarity in this alien city. Its grand gothic arches have welcomed her every Sunday since, framing her family as they observed baptisms, weddings and funerals. Now she wept as she beheld the scorched skeleton of the cathedral that a week earlier had gone up in flames, generations of devotion reduced to rubble...



6 May 2016
Greg Kandra




In the video above, a Russian orchestra performs for troops and journalists in an ancient Roman amphitheater in Palmyra, Syria. (video: CNN/YouTube)

Air strike on refugee camp could be a war crime (BBC) An air strike on a Syrian refugee camp that reportedly killed at least 28 people could amount to a war crime, a senior UN official has told the BBC. Stephen O’Brien, the UN humanitarian affairs chief, called for an inquiry into the attack on the Kamouna camp in the northern Idlib province. Syrian or Russian forces are suspected. Syria’s military denied involvement in the strike on a rebel-held area...

Russian symphony performs in Palmyra, Syria (The New York Times) Russia has made its mark on Syria with the crash of bombs and the thud of artillery. On Thursday the Russians added gentler sounds: live classical music echoing through an ancient stone theater and into the eerie, empty desert. Extending its soft power into the Syrian conflict, Russia deployed a symphony orchestra led by one of its best-known conductors, Valery Gergiev, and the cellist Sergei P. Roldugin, an old and — according to the Panama Papers documents leaked last month — very wealthy friend of President Vladimir V. Putin. Their performance space was Palmyra, the city of ruins left by Roman and other ancient civilizations and ruined further by the depredations of the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL...

Israel bombs Hamas in worst violence since war in 2014 (The Telegraph) Israel carried out air strikes in the Gaza Strip on Friday during the most serious escalation of hostilities since the last war against Hamas in 2014. The target of the air raids was “Hamas terror infrastructure”, according to an Israeli military statement. The strikes appear to have taken place in Beit Lahia, a suburb of Gaza City, and the southern town of Khuzaa. Both areas suffered severe damage during the 50-day war in July-August 2014...

Jordan’s prince discusses recent meeting at Vatican (Vatican Radio) “Citizenship is a question of pluralism, a question of recognizing the identity of the other on the basis of respect:” That’s what Jordan’s Prince El Hassan bin Talal has told Vatican Radio following an interfaith meeting in the Vatican on the theme “Shared values in Social and Political Life”...

Facing an ugly truth about Christian persecution (Crux) According to watchdog groups, there are 200 million Christians today living under the threat of physical violence, arrest, torture, imprisonment and death. In light of that epidemic, there’s a burning need to raise consciousness about the threats Christians face. At the same time, it’s also important to be scrupulously honest about the nature of those threats, so that fair-minded people don’t come to see this as a PR effort, or an exercise in wedge politics, rather than a genuine human rights calamity. In that spirit of candor, here’s an ugly truth to confront: There are occasions when Christians meet the enemy, and it’s us...

Vatican council: Christians and Buddhists should work together for the environment (Vatican Radio) The Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue has sent a message to the Buddhists of the world to mark the Feast of Vesakh, which commemorates the his birth, enlightenment and death of Gautama Buddha...



4 May 2016
Greg Kandra




In this image from 2015, the Patriarch of the Chaldean Church, Louis Raphael Sako takes part in the Easter liturgy in Baghdad. This week, he called on Iraqi leaders to end the deterioration in his country. (photo: Safin Hamed/AFP/Getty Images)

Patriarch calls for reconciliation in Iraq (CNS) Chaldean Catholic Patriarch Louis Sako of Baghdad urged Iraq’s leaders to put an end to the “institutional, economic and security deterioration” in the country. “We call upon you, with a saddened heart and sorrow because of what is happening in Iraq and because the people are suffering from violence, poverty and misery,” Sako said in a statement...

The sad reality of Syria at war (The New York Times) Declan Walsh recently visited Damascus, the war-weary Syrian capital, and the government-controlled part of the divided city of Aleppo. Here, he answers selected readers’ questions about his reporting trip to Syria, life in devastated parts of the country, and how Syrians view their prospects...

Indian Supreme Court: person can change religion, but not caste (TheCSF.org) In a significant decision, the Supreme Court has ruled that a person can change religion and faith but not the caste to which they belong. The Supreme Court has said that caste has linkage to birth and person changing religion can’t change his caste. The Judgment came in the case of Mohammed Sadique, who had contested election from a constituency reserved for Scheduled Castes in Punjab...

Report: religious freedom deteriorating around the world (RNS) Religious freedom remains under “serious and sustained assault” around the globe, according to a new annual report from the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom. “At best, in most of the countries we cover, religious freedom conditions have failed to improve,” commission chairman Robert P. George said Monday. “At worst, they have spiraled further downward...”

Negotiations continue for release of kidnapped priest (Vatican Radio) Two months after the massacre perpetrated by a terrorist commando in the nursing home in Aden, where four Missionaries of Charity were killed along with 12 other people, there is still no certain news about father Tom Uzhunnalil. In the absence of verified information, rumors continue to circulate on the current negotiations to secure his release...

Azerbaijan says Armenia repeatedly violates cease fire (TASS) The Armenian armed forces have violated the ceasefire 120 times on various sections of the frontline over the past 24 hours using, in particular, 60mm mortars, Azerbaijan’s Defense Ministry said on Wednesday...

Pope greets participants in interfaith meeting (Vatican Radio) Ahead of his General Audience on Wednesday, Pope Francis met with participants of a meeting between the Royal Institute for Interfaith Studies of Amman and the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue. The Fourth meeting between the two institutions had for its main topic the theme: “Shared values in social and political life: citizens and believers...”



3 May 2016
Greg Kandra




A child is seen in a hospital bed after being injured in a 10 March bombing near Damascus, Syria. The Syrian army has extended a “regime of calm” around Damascus after a recent resurgence of violence. (photo: CNS/Mohammed Badra, EPA)

Syria extends “regime of calm” (Vatican Radio) The Syrian army confirmed on Monday that a “regime of calm” has been extended for a further 48 hours around Damascus, the country’s capital. This cessation of hostilities in the capital comes after a resurgence of violence in the country’s northern Aleppo region, which has seen more than 250 people killed in the last 9 days, and threatens to destabilize the 9 week truce put in place by UN officials...

Metropolitan offers prayers after fire destroys Serbian cathedral (OCA.org) On Bright Monday, 2 May 2016, His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon, sent a letter to His Grace, Serbian Orthodox Bishop Mitrophan, offering prayers and concern in the wake of a four-alarm fire that engulfed Saint Sava Serbian Orthodox Cathedral near West 25th Street and Broadway in New York City...

Chaldean Patriarchate condemns destruction of church as an attack on Christian memory (Christian Today) The Chaldean Patriarchate has condemned the destruction of the historic Clock Church by the Islamic State (ISIS), saying it was undertaken “to erase Iraq’s Christian memory in favour of a state of strangers who commit terror in the name of Islam.” The iconic Clock Church, a Christian church known for its soaring clock tower which was built in the 1870s, is one of the best known remaining churches in Mosul, Iraq, which was named after its tower and funded by Empress Eugenie, the wife of the last French Emperor Napoleon III...

Syrian women gaining confidence in Turkish refugee camp (Al-Monitor) A Turkish teacher taught the group of 20 Syrian women stitching, embroidery and how to make blankets and mend clothes. The clothes and blankets are sold in shops and bazaars in the city of Gaziantep and inside the camp. Not only did Maysa, [one of the refugees,] earn some extra money, the sewing club gave her something much more valuable...

Ethiopian farmers fighting drought with land restoration (The Guardian) Although the recurrent famine that plagues Ethiopia is too complex to be explained by a single cause, environmental degradation has played a big role. Ethiopia has long been a victim of land degradation, driven by increased human use of land and unsustainable agricultural practices. Grazing of animals and collection of firewood haven’t helped — with less cover and protection against erosion, soil is more easily washed away. Now, Ethiopia is drawing on its business community and public sector to do something about it...

Tribal Christians flee Indian village following threat (UCANews.com) Six families of Gond tribal Christians have fled their village in the central Indian Chhattisgarh state after Hindu neighbors allegedly threatened to kill them if they didn’t convert, their pastor has said. Following a week of harassment and attacks, all 37 Christians fled Katodi village in Kanker district on April 29, Moses Annel told ucanews.com 2 May. They were “beaten up and their houses were destroyed" after they refused the majority Hindu tribal villagers’ “demand to give up their Christian faith,” Annel said...

Jesuits and Rotary partner to help refugees (Vatican Radio) What do millions of refugees — many of them children, adolescents and young adults — who have fled conflict or persecution need to start a new life in host countries? What do they need to be able to go home one day, form a new life and contribute to their communities and to their country? The answer is simple: quality education. Education provides skills, opens the doors to employment, promotes peace and stability...







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