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




In the video above, Pope Francis and Patriarch Bartholomew show solidarity with migrants and refugees during a meeting on the island of Lesbos on 16 April. (video: Rome Reports)

Pope visits Lesbos, returns to Rome with 12 Syrian refugees (CNS) Pope Francis’ five-hour visit to Greece ended with him offering safe passage to Italy to 12 Syrian Muslims, half under the age of 18. The Vatican had kept secret the pope’s plan to invite the members of three Syrian families to fly back to Rome with him on 16 April. Rumors began swirling in the Greek media a couple hours before the flight took off, but it was confirmed by the Vatican only as the 12 were boarding the papal plane...

Pope, Orthodox leaders listen to cries of refugees, urge help (CNS) Although their speeches were punctuated with policy appeals, Pope Francis and Orthodox leaders focused their visit to the island of Lesbos on the faces, stories and drawings of refugees. Pope Francis, Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople and Archbishop Ieronymos II of Athens and all Greece spent more time 16 April greeting the refugees individually than they did giving speeches...

Pope, patriarch sign joint declaration on refugees (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis, along with Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, and Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens and All Greece, released a joint declaration during their visit to the Greek island of Lesbos on Saturday. The three leaders signed the joint declaration at the end of their visit to the Moria refugee camp. The declaration calls on the international community to respond with generosity and compassion to the tragedy of forced migration, calling it a ‘crisis of humanity’...

Jordan calls ambassador from Iran (AP) Jordan says it is recalling its ambassador to Iran for consultations, suggesting the decision is linked to continued tensions between Tehran and Jordan ally Saudi Arabia. Government spokesman Mohammed Momani said on Monday that Jordan took the step because of what he described as Iranian interference in the “internal affairs of neighboring countries, especially Gulf countries...”

Israeli troops report uncovering tunnel leading from Gaza (BBC) Israel’s military says it has uncovered and “neutralised” a tunnel extending from the Gaza Strip several hundred metres inside Israeli territory. A statement said the tunnel had been constructed by the Palestinian militant group Hamas "in order to infiltrate Israel and execute terror attacks...”

Gripped by drought, Ethiopia drills for water (AFP) In the town of Wukro, surrounded by the rocky, arid mountains of the northern Tigray region, the government is investing longer-term efforts to ensure a supply of fresh water that will go far beyond the immediate needs of aid...

Christian, Muslim population growing in India (Indian Express) Christian and Muslim tribals remain one of the fastest growing demographic groups according to figures released by the Census department this week...



15 April 2016
Greg Kandra




In the video above, the Vatican offers more details about the pope’s upcoming humanitarian visit to Lesbos to meet with refugees. (video: Rome Reports)

Cost of rebuilding Syria could approach $180 billion (RT) Rebuilding war-ravaged Syria may be as much as $180 billion, according to World Bank President Jim Yong Kim. “Once hostilities end, many Syrian refugees will unlikely return unless schools and health clinics are rebuilt,” said Kim at a news conference at the start of the International Monetary Fund-World Bank spring meetings, Thursday. Due to the plunge in oil prices, Kim expressed concern about who would fund the rebuilding of the basic Syrian infrastructure...

Vatican: Pope’s trip to Lesbos is humanitarian, not political (CNS) In a “humanitarian and ecumenical gesture,” not a political one, Pope Francis is to join Orthodox leaders in personally meeting with hundreds of refugees and migrants stranded in Greece, the Vatican spokesman said. Releasing the detailed schedule for the pope’s trip on 16 April to Lesbos, Greece, Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, said the pope and the Orthodox leaders wanted to draw attention to “a situation in which many people are suffering” and where a “solution worthy of the human person” still must be found...

Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem: Israel behaves as a theocratic state (Fides) Israel, “although it proclaims itself a secular and democratic state, it is really behaving more and more like a denominational Jewish military regime.” This is how the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Fouad Twal, defined the current modus operandi of the Jewish state...

Chaldean Church establishes committee to monitor Christian property ownership (Fides) The Chaldean Patriarchate has announced the creation of an hoc committee to monitor sales and transfers of property ownership — houses and land — belonging to Christian citizens in Baghdad...

Peace activists call on church to update teaching (Vatican Radio) “We believe that there is no ‘just war.’ Those words are at the heart of a statement published on Thursday at the conclusion of an international conference looking at changes in church practice and teaching on non-violence and peacemaking. Organized jointly by the Catholic peace network, Pax Christi International and the Vatican’s Justice and Peace Council, the three-day encounter brought together some 80 theologians and peace activists from conflict zones around the world...



14 April 2016
Greg Kandra




Young Syrians present their ID cards as they arrive to vote in a parliamentary election on 13 April at a polling station in the government-held side of the northern city of Aleppo. (photo: George Ourfalian/AFP/Getty Images)

More shelling in Aleppo mars peace talks (ABCNews) Syrian troops exchanged fire with rebels in the contested northern city of Aleppo on Thursday in a renewed bout of fighting that could further mar peace talks underway in Geneva. The fighting came a day after Syrians in government-held parts of the country voted for a new parliament…

Patriarch: Priests should not arrange exodus of Christians from Iraq (Fides) The church as such, and especially priests, should in no way be involved directly in operations and programs to plan and organize the exodus of Iraqi Christians to foreign countries, and anyone who continues to ignore such reprimand will take responsibility for his choices even in front of patriarchal authority. This is how the Patriarchate of Babylon of the Chaldeans warned pastoral workers, and especially the patriarchal clergy, from getting involved directly in the organization of the expatriation of Iraqi Christians who continue to leave their country, following the migration routes that from the Middle East lead to Europe and America…

Israel allows taxis into Gaza for first time in nine years (Middle East Monitor) For the first time in nine years, the Israeli authorities have allowed the entry of taxis into the Gaza Strip, PalSawa.com reported on Wednesday. According to a statement issued by Fu’ad Homeid, chairman of the spare parts, vehicles and heavy equipment association, six out of 36 taxis entered into Gaza on Wednesday…

In Ethiopia, severe drought leaves millions relying on emergency aid (CBC) There is an eerie silence in the desert landscape of Ethiopia’s eastern rim, the lands stretching toward neighboring Somalia and the Gulf of Aden beyond it. It’s more of an absence, really, and it takes a while to put your finger on it. Then it hits. No livestock. If you do see them, they’re few and far between, their ribs sunken, just like the dry riverbeds snaking across the savannah. Ethiopia is currently in the grip of its worst drought in 50 years, and more than ten million people are relying on emergency food aid provided by the government and international aid agencies…

Ukraine’s parliament elects new government (The Washington Post) Following months of political gridlock over stalled reforms and accusations of corruption, Ukraine’s parliament approved Thursday a new government led by a close ally of President Petro Poroshenko…

Arrests in India in connection with fireworks blasts at Kerala temple (The New York Times) Thirteen people have been arrested in connection with the explosions that killed more than 100 during a fireworks display at a temple in southern India over the weekend, The Press Trust of India said on Tuesday. T. F. Xavier, a police superintendent for Kerala, the state where the disaster occurred, said seven of those arrested were officials at the Puttingal temple in the coastal district of Kollam, which hosted the fireworks display to celebrate the start of the new year on the Hindu calendar…



Tags: Syria Iraq India Ukraine Ethiopia

13 April 2016
Greg Kandra




The damaged St. Sarkis Church in Sadad, Syria, is seen in 2013. Hundreds of Christian families are returning to Sadad, more than two years after their city was overrun by terrorists, a local official said. (photo:CNS/EPA)

Christians returning to Syria (CNS) Hundreds of Christian families are returning to Sadad, Syria, more than two years after their city was overrun by terrorists, a local official has said. Suleiman al Khalil, the mayor of Sadad, told Russian media on April 6 of the influx of Christians returning to the city after Russian forces defeated the al Nusra Front, reported Fides, the news agency of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples...

Assad invites delegation from Russian Orthodox Church to visit Syria (Fides) Syrian President Bashar al Assad has invited a “high-level delegation” of the Russian Orthodox Church to visit Syria, at a time when the Syrian government army seems to have reversed the destiny of the conflict with militias jihadist rebels, returning to recover large areas of the country thanks to military support received from Moscow...

Syria holds parliamentary elections (The Washington Post) Even as Syrian peace talks were scheduled to resume Wednesday in Geneva, President Bashar al-Assad took a major jab at the process: voting in parliamentary elections denounced as a farce by the opposition...

Pope’s visit to Lesbos comes at time of fear for refugees (CNS) Pope Francis’ trip to Lesbos, Greece, on 16 April comes at a frightening and critical time for tens of thousands of refugees and migrants waiting and wondering where they will end up, said members of Catholic aid agencies. Maristella Tsamatropoulou, spokeswoman for Caritas Hellas, the Catholic charity in Greece, said when rumors started swirling that Pope Francis would join Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople on a visit to refugees, “we believed it immediately because our Pope is spontaneous; he’s a force of nature...”

Indian leader calls for equal Dalit rights (UCANews.com) Christians and Muslims in India have welcomed comments by the head of an eastern state favoring quotas for Dalit religious minorities in government jobs and educational institutions, a right enjoyed by their Hindu counterparts. “The time has come to give quotas to low-caste Muslims and Christians who have long been deprived of this right because of their religious affiliations,” Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar said...

Saddam Hussein’s palace to become a museum (The Telegraph) The large mansion in Basra, southern Iraq, will become the first museum to open in the war-torn country in several years after serving as a mess hall for the British army during the war, according to National Geographic. The British pulled out from Basra in September 2007...



12 April 2016
Greg Kandra




In Ethiopia’s Afar region, girls wait to fill containers at the local water pump. The UN says the humanitarian emergency in Ethiopia has worsened along with the drought. Read more on the crisis here. (photo: Petterik Wiggers)

UN: Food emergency spreads as Ethiopian drought worsens (Bloomberg) The number of Ethiopian districts identified as suffering a humanitarian emergency increased 18 percent to 219 from December to March as the impact of drought worsened, the United Nations said...

Concern over safety of Syrian refugees (The Guardian) Setting up refugee “safe zones” on the Syrian side of the Turkey-Syria border and refusing to allow those fleeing the conflict to seek international protection could be a violation of international law and put vulnerable people at risk, human rights groups and aid workers have warned...

Alexandria court bans demolition of churches in Egypt (Albawaba.com) The Administrative Court of Alexandria has blocked the demolition of a church belonging to the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate, in the process issuing a ruling that prohibits the demolition of any church in Egypt. The move has been welcomed by members of the Coptic Christian community, who claim that Egyptian churches have been subject to “violations” for many years...

The fading of Gaza’s architectural heritage (AFP) A surprise awaits beyond a black door adorned with a silver lotus flower at the end of a tangle of alleyways in Gaza’s chaotic Old City. Through it and behind imposing stone walls sits a small, Levantine-style palace, some 430 years old and recently painstakingly restored. It is among the rare vestiges of Gaza City’s architectural heritage, battered by war, time, population pressure and simple indifference...



11 April 2016
Greg Kandra




In the video above, Pope Francis calls for the release of all hostages in war zones, in particular the Rev. Tom Uzhunnalil, a missionary priest from India kidnapped in Yemen.
(video: Rome Reports)


Vatican announces papal visits to Armenia, Georgia, Azerbaijan (Vatican Radio) The Holy See Press Office has announced that Pope Francis will visit Armenia in June of 2016, accepting the invitation of His Holiness, Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenia; of the civil authorities; and of the Catholic Church in Armenia. The visit is scheduled for 24-26 of June...

Pope Francis appeals for release all people held captive (CNS) Pope Francis appealed for the release of all people being held captive in the world’s battle zones, including Salesian Father Thomas Uzhunnalil, who was abducted in Yemen. “I renew my appeal for the liberation of all people kidnapped in areas of armed conflict,” the pope said after praying the “Regina Coeli” with pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square 10 April. “In particular, I want to remember Salesian Father Tom Uzhunnalil, abducted in Aden in Yemen,” the pope said...

Ukraine’s Prime Minister resigns (Vatican Radio) Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk has announced his resignation on Sunday saying he would support the country’s parliamentary speaker to replace him after a public outcry over perceived slow reforms and rampant corruption. Speaking on national television, a visibly upset Yatsenyuk said he would step down for several reasons including what he called “the political crisis in the country...”

Cardinal Dolan to displaced Iraqis: you are not forgotten (CNA) On his second full day in Iraq, Cardinal Timothy Dolan traveled three hours to Dohuk, the city where the majority of those who fled Mosul, including the members of the minority Yazidi population, escaped to when ISIS overran the city. After the lengthy ride, Cardinal Dolan briefly visited a medical dispensary set up by CNEWA, where he greeted the staff and some refugees, most of whom come from Mosul...

Construction of wall in Cremisan valley continues (Fides) The construction of the separation wall in the Cremisan area at the beginning of the month of April 2016 has entered its operational phase. Teams have entered the area with bulldozers and cranes and are working to build, one after another, the eight-meter high concrete panels where once century-old olive trees were firmly planted...

Police hunt for suspects in India temple fire (AP) Medical teams on Monday tended to hundreds of people injured in a massive fire that killed at least 110 people, while authorities searched for those responsible for illegally putting on the fireworks display that caused the weekend blaze at a Hindu temple in southern India...

Pope sends condolences after deadly fire in India (CNA) Pope Francis has sent his condolences to the victims and relatives of a fireworks accident on Sunday that killed at least 100 people and injured hundreds of others in India’s Kerala state during celebrations of the local Hindu new year...



8 April 2016
Greg Kandra




In this image from October, an internally displaced Ukrainian family stands in line as they wait for humanitarian aid at a distribution center in Kiev, Ukraine. The pope has called for aid to help the victims of war in Ukraine. (photo: CNS/Roman Pilipey, EPA)

Cor Unum releases statement on collection for Ukraine (Vatican Radio) The Pontifical Council Cor Unum has released a press statement concerning the collection for Ukraine announced by Pope Francis: “During the Regina Coeli of Sunday, 3 April, the Holy Father announced an extraordinary initiative in favor of those who are suffering the consequences of violence in Ukraine. To this end it, a collection is expected to be taken in churches in Europe on Sunday, 24 April...”

Vatican publishes pope’s exhortation on “The Joy of Love” (Vatican Radio) The Vatican on Friday published Pope Francis’ eagerly-awaited Apostolic Exhoratation on the family, drawing together almost three years of consultations with Catholics in countries around the world. The lengthy document, entitled ‘Amoris Laetitia,’ or The Joy of Love, affirms the Church’s teaching that stable families are the building blocks of a healthy society and a place where children learn to love, respect and interact with others...

Syrian refugees boost Turkish economy (Al-Monitor) The Turkish economy grew an average of 3% in the past four years, a rate that trails behind the country’s 50-year average of 4.5%. The slowdown is the result of both the weakening global economy and adverse political and economic conditions at home. Yet a much-needed booster has come from an unlikely quarter — the Syrian refugees...

In India, Jesuits set up a meeting of NGOs to be “closer to the poor” (Fides) To set up a national network of non-governmental agencies to improve and better coordinate the work of support and development among the poorest of society, the Indian Jesuits created the “Lok Manch,” after a meeting which brought together over 120 delegates in Delhi of 100 Indian organizations. As reported in a note sent to Fides, the forum intends to promote laws and policies in favor of the marginalized and vulnerable groups, encouraging the growth of a secular and democratic nation, which can promote the development, well-being and equality among all citizens...

Bamboo could be “green gold” for Ethiopia (CNN) Money really could grow on trees for a new industry in Ethiopia. Two-thirds of the bamboo in Africa is situated in the upwardly-mobile state, and it is hoped that “green gold” can power growth. “The farmer who has bamboo is rich, but he doesn’t know it,” says Adane Berhe, CEO Adal Industrial PLC, which is helping to build the new industry...

Gaza becomes perfect stage for parkour (CBS News) A war blasted hulk of an apartment building in Gaza becomes a perfect stage for parkour. It’s an extreme sport blending gymnastics with agility training developed for a military obstacle course. How many wars have these men seen? They all raise their hands to show three fingers. So the men on this parkour team call themselves “Three-Run Gaza,” for surviving three wars. And they cannot leave because Gaza is under a blockade. “Parkour makes us feel free,” said one of them men named Uday. “Nothing is holding you back...”



7 April 2016
Greg Kandra




An ethnic Armenian soldier rests beneath a crucifix on 7 April at an artillery position near the Nagorno-Karabakh’s town of Martuni. In both the Armenian and Azerbaijani capitals, crowds have been gathering to voice support for their respective militaries after four days of intense fighting in the contested Nagorno-Karabakh region. (photo: CNS/Reuters)

Emotions run high in Azerbaijan-Armenia conflict (The Guardian) In both the Armenian and Azerbaijani capitals, crowds have been gathering to voice support for their respective militaries after four days of intense fighting in the contested Nagorno-Karabakh region. Amid an upsurge of patriotic feeling in Yerevan and Baku, Azerbaijan claimed on Wednesday that the terms of the ceasefire agreed to just 24 hours earlier had already been broken 115 times...

Catholicos to visit Nagorno Karabakh (Fides) The Catholicos of the Armenians, Karekin II, and Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia, Aram I, will together in the coming days visit Nagorno Karabakh, the region with an Armenian majority, under Azerbaijan where in recent days the conflict between Azeris and Armenians violently exploded again...

Iraqi Kurdistan government will continue to pay salaries of some Christians displaced (Fides) The regional government of Iraqi Kurdistan has renewed, until the end of 2016, the commitment to pay the salaries of Christian civil servants and public employees who worked in Mosul, in the Nineveh Plain and other areas conquered by the Jihadists Islamic State, and now live as refugees in Erbil and other areas of the north-Iraqi autonomous region...

Cardinal Dolan visiting Iraq to show support for displaced Christians (CNA) This week Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of New York and chair of Catholic Near East Welfare Association, will travel to Iraqi Kurdistan in order to offer support to families displaced by extremist violence...

Early seasonal rains bring deadly flooding to Ethiopia (AllAfrica) Seasonal rains have come early to parts of Ethiopia, causing deadly floods in places. The state broadcaster, the Ethiopian Broadcasting Corporation told the Associated Press news agency that 28 people have been killed in two remote regions of the country. The intense downpours caused flooding in the drought-stricken region of Afar. Five people were killed as waters rose across what is the lowest point in Ethiopia and one of the lowest in Africa...

Palestinian Christians bitter over destruction of church ruins in Gaza (The Jerusalem Post) Palestinian Christians Wednesday expressed anger over the way the Palestinian Authority and Hamas have handled the ancient ruins of a Byzantine church that were uncovered in Gaza City last week. They said that bulldozers removed the antiquities and continued with their work without supervision. They accused the two big Palestinian parties of seeking to obliterate Christian history and identity in the Holy Land...



6 April 2016
Greg Kandra




In the video above, the Vatican confirms that Pope Francis will visit refugees from Syria and Iraq on the Greek island of Lesbos next week. (video: Rome Reports)

Greece confirms: Pope will visit refugees later this month (Reuters) Pope Francis is to visit Greece on 14-15 April, a Greek government official said on Tuesday, getting a first-hand look at the front line of Europe’s migrant crisis and thousands of refugees fleeing conflict. The Holy Synod, the ruling body of the Greek Orthodox Church, said in a statement it wanted the pontiff to visit Lesbos, the Aegean island where hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants have arrived in the past year. Confirming the visit, a Greek government official said Francis would be accompanied to Lesbos by Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, spiritual leader of the world’s Orthodox Christians...

Relics of saint recovered in Syria (CNS) The relics of Syrian St. Elian, which originally were thought to have been destroyed by members of the so-called Islamic State militia, have been found amid the rubble of the desecrated Mar Elian Church in Qaryatain, Syria. The sanctuary was bulldozed in August 2015, according to Fides, the news agency of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples. Father Jacques Mourad, the prior of the Syriac Catholic monastic community, was kidnapped three months earlier when the terrorists initially raided the church...

Archeologists discover ancient Christian church in Gaza (AP) Palestinian tourism officials say construction workers in the Gaza Strip have discovered what they believe to be a Christian religious site from the Byzantine era. Heyam al-Bitar, research director for the Hamas-run Tourism and Antiquities Ministry, said on Tuesday that the discovery included remnants of marble Corinthian pillars, foundations and crowns, some of them with a Greek cross. She says the ruins likely belong to a church-like structure that existed in what is now Gaza City. She says they date back to the sixth century, and are characteristic of the era of Emperor Justinian...

Cardinal Dolan traveling to Iraq with CNEWA (NCR) New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan, chair of Catholic Near East Welfare Association, is traveling to Iraqi Kurdistan this week, according to a press release from the organization...

First Syrian refugee family headed to U.S. (AP) The first Syrian family to move to the U.S. under its speeded-up “surge” resettlement operation has left Jordan for the United States. Ahmad al-Abboud, his wife and five children, left on Wednesday for Kansas City in Missouri...

Syriac Orthodox Church calls arrest “insulting” (Fides) The Syriac Orthodox Church considers the way the Palestinian police arrested Metropolitan Swerios Malki Murad, Patriarchal Vicar of the Holy Land “insulting.” Such police custody — which took place on Saturday evening, 2 April and lasted a few hours — is “a humiliation for all the faithful of the Syriac Orthodox Church throughout the world.” This is what the statement issued by the General Secretariat of the Syriac Orthodox Holy Synod reads...

Canadian diocese will reimburse money for Syrian refugees lost in gambling (Catholic Register) The Diocese of Hamilton is picking up the pieces after a Chaldean Catholic priest admitted to gambling away $500,000 of donations meant for refugees. The diocese has vowed to make sure no refugees are turned away due to the loss of funds...



5 April 2016
Greg Kandra




In the video above, Pope Francis offers his prayer intention for April, asking for prayers for small farmers around the world. (video: Rome Reports)

Orthodox Church says it would welcome papal visit to Lesbos (Vatican Radio) A statement from the Holy Synod, or ruling body of the Orthodox Church in Athens, said the Pope had expressed a desire to visit one of the islands in order to draw attention to the humanitarian problems of the migrants, as well as the need for “an immediate cessation of hostilities in the wider Mediterranean region...”

Pope’s prayer intentions focus on small farmers (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis’ video for April’s prayer intentions focuses on the plight of the small farmer. The Pope Video is a global initiative developed by the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network (Apostleship of Prayer) to assist in the dissemination of the Holy Father’s monthly intentions related to the challenges the humanity faces...

Life for Turkey’s Syrian refugees (The Independent) As the first wave of refugees is deported from Greece to Turkey, human rights advocates have raised concerns about the country’s suitability as a destination for asylum-seekers. Turkey is home to over 2.5 million Syrian refugees, but its refugee camps can only house around 200,000. Images of the shelter provided to refugees upon their immediate return from Greece appear to show hundreds of people sleeping under one roof in cramped conditions...

Iraq’s food business booming, despite war (AP) Iraqi businessman Zaid Nazo has always been sure of his nation’s deep passion for food and wasn’t afraid to dream big when he transformed his small Baghdad coffee shop in 1999 into a casual dining and takeaway restaurant. Today, the 41-year-old father of two has opened four branches and his chain is one of the most popular in Iraq. The food business is booming. There are 40 percent more restaurants in Baghdad today than there were in 2013 — when security and economic conditions in the country were much better — according to Shakir al-Zamili, the chairman of Baghdad Investment Commission...

Ukraine conflict sparks hunger crisis (The New York Times) The two-year-old conflict in eastern Ukraine has left about 1.5 million people hungry, including nearly 300,000 in need of immediate help, the World Food Program, the main anti-hunger humanitarian agency of the United Nations, said on Monday...

Connecticut governor to receive “Profile in Courage” award for welcoming Syrian refugees (The Wall Street Journal) The John F. Kennedy Library Foundation announced Monday it had awarded Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy the 2016 John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award for his stance on accepting Syrian refugees in the state. “I’m deeply honored and moved by this experience to join other public servants who have been so recognized over the years,” Mr. Malloy, a Democrat, said at a news conference Monday...

A jewel in Syria where “ruins have been ruined” by ISIS (The New York Times) Where Palmyra’s impressive Temple of Bel once stood, only a single stone archway was left to frame a rectangle of blue sky above the arid desert about 160 miles northeast of Damascus, the capital. I traveled to Palmyra on Saturday with members of Hezbollah, the Lebanese Shiite militia allied with President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, to see what remained of the archaeological treasures of Palmyra...

Vatican creates new internet communications office (Vatican Radio) At the invitation of the Secretariat, of State of the Holy See, the Secretariat for Communications has established a Bureau called “DotCatholic” with the purpose of utilizing a generic Internet domain name (.catholic) of the first level, in order to share the teachings, the message and the values of the Catholic Church with the broader global community in Cyberspace...

Sprawling mural pays tribute to Cairo’s garbage collectors (The New York Times) The intricate mural took shape over the past few weeks, little noticed at first, spreading across a harried quarter of Cairo where Egypt’s garbage collectors live, amid overflowing bundles of this overcrowded city’s trash. By the time the painting was finished two weeks ago, it stretched across more than 50 buildings, making it the largest public work of art here anyone can recall. The mural, a circle of orange, white and blue in Arabic calligraphy, quotes a third-century Coptic Christian bishop who said, “If one wants to see the light of the sun, he must wipe his eyes...”







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