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June, 2018
Volume 44, Number 2
  
31 August 2016
Greg Kandra




In this photo from June, Pope Francis poses for a photo with refugees during his general audience in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican. The pope invited more than a dozen refugees to sit near him on stage during his catechesis. Wednesday, the pope created a new dicastery to focus on needs of migrants and refugees. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Pope creates new dicastery for for migrants and refugees (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has created a new dicastery to better minister to the needs of the men and women the Church is called to serve. The new “Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development” was instituted in a Motu Proprio published on Wednesday in the Osservatore Romano...

Leading ISIS figure reported killed in Syria (Al jazeera) The main spokesman for ISIS, Abu Mohamed al-Adnani, has been killed in the Syrian province of Aleppo, according to an ISIS-linked website. Amaq, the ISIS-affiliated media, said on Tuesday Adnani was killed while monitoring military operations in Aleppo...

Meet Gaza’s only fisherwoman (Forbes) What’s the hardest part of being the only fisherwoman in Gaza? I ask Madeleine Kulab. “Starting the engine is hard and it takes a lot of strength,” she says. Then she shows me how to yank the cord and grab the tiller to steer, and we go spinning over the water, her wooden boat tilting into the small waves. A decade ago Kulab took over her father’s fishing boat as a 13-year-old, after he became disabled. She was the only girl working the waterfront, defying cultural norms to feed her family...

Marking Buhe in Ethiopia (Africannews.com) For weeks in August, Ethiopian boys dress up and perform songs from door to door in neighborhoods across the country. In return, the boys get ‘Mulmul’ — bread freshly baked for the occasion in each house. Known as Buhe, the festival — like most cultural celebrations here has its origins in the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. It marks the transfiguration of Jesus on Mount Tabor...



30 August 2016
Greg Kandra




In the video above, Muslim leaders speak out to condemn Islamic radicals, in a chorus of public criticism that is growing louder. (video: Rome Reports)

Human rights group: Iraq recruiting displaced children to fight ISIS (Human Rights Watch) Iraqi government-backed militias have recruited children from at least one displaced persons camp in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq to fight against Islamic State forces. All security forces and armed groups should abide by international law and demobilize any fighters under age 18...

U.S. welcomes 10,000th Syrian refugee (CNN) he Obama administration will reach its target Monday of resettling 10,000 Syrian refugees by 1 October, National Security Adviser Susan Rice announced in a statement. Rice said that the final Syrian refugee to hit this target would be arriving Monday afternoon, more than a month ahead of schedule...

Turkey detains more journalists (Indian Express) Turkish authorities detained an editor at the prominent Hurriyet newspaper in the latest round-up of journalists and others accused of links to last month’s failed coup, Hurriyet’s English-language publication said on Tuesday...

Russian Orthodox cathedral nears completion in Paris (The Tablet) A huge Russian Orthodox cathedral complex is to be dedicated in October in central Paris, according to a senior official, at a ceremony attended by Patriarch Kirill and President Vladimir Putin. “This center will provide a great educational environment, with training and formation programmes in Russian,” premier Dmitri Medvedev told a World Forum of Compatriots in Moscow. “Its main pearl will, of course, be the Holy Trinity cathedral, which will conform with the traditional canons of Russian Orthodoxy...”



29 August 2016
Greg Kandra




Chaldean Catholic Patriarch Louis Sako of Baghdad, Iraq, is seen at the Vatican in this 2014 file photo. The patriarch recently said the political future of parts of Iraq remains “uncertain.”
(photo: CNS/Paul Haring)


Pope sends message to Catholic-Orthodox meeting (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has sent a message to Cardinal Kurt Koch, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, on the occasion of the XIV Inter-Christian Symposium taking place in Thessalonika from 28-30 August...

Patriarch: unwise to talk now of self-determination in Iraq (Fides) The future political and administrative arrangement of Mosul and the Nineveh Plain, after the eventual liberation of those areas, is an issue which is “still uncertain,” and “it is not wise to talk about self-determination,” according to Chaldean Patriarch Raphael Louis I said during a meeting he had on Thursday, 25 August...

Turkish forces deepen push into Syria (Reuters) Turkish-backed forces pushed deeper into northern Syria on Monday and drew a rebuke from NATO ally the United States, which said it was concerned the battle for territory had shifted away from targeting ISIS. At the start of Turkey’s now almost week-long cross-border offensive, Turkish tanks, artillery and warplanes provided Syrian rebel allies the firepower to capture swiftly the Syrian frontier town of Jarablus from Islamic State militants...

Israel delays delivery of textbooks to Gaza (Haaretz) The Palestinian school year began on Sunday, but Israel has yet to deliver thousands of textbooks for over half a million students to Gaza Strip schools, the Palestinian Education Ministry said on Saturday. An Israeli official in the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) said the books must first be examined and approved by Israel, before being allowed into the Gaza Strip...

Pope to discuss nonviolence in World Peace Day message (CNS) When nonviolence is the basic approach of political decisions and public policy, it promotes the restoration and consolidation of peace, the Vatican said. In his message for the 1 January celebration of World Peace Day, Pope Francis will offer reflections on the importance of nonviolence as a political choice, the Vatican said in a statement on 26 August...

Seminar in India: Practice mercy in the media (Fides) Put into practice mercy even in working with the media: in this spirit the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians in Mumbai lived a seminar in which they deepened some techniques and the use of certain computer software and shared competences in the field of communication...



26 August 2016
Greg Kandra




Syrian army soldiers rest in a street in the government-controlled part of the besieged town of Daraya on 26 August 2016, as thousands of rebel fighters and civilians prepared to evacuate under an accord struck a day earlier. (photo: Youssef Karwashan/AFP/Getty Images)

Residents plan to evacuate Syrian town (BBC) A deal has been reached to allow rebel fighters and civilians to leave the Syrian town of Daraya, which has been under government siege since 2012. The evacuation of the town, near the capital Damascus, is expected to begin on Friday. Syrian Red Crescent vehicles are poised to enter the town. Residents have faced near-constant bombardment and shortages of food, water and power...

Thousands of refugees trapped in Jordanian desert (The Telegraph) The Arab kingdom of fewer than seven million people has taken in around 700,000 Syrians since 2011 and earned the praise of Western countries whose own doors have been mainly shut. Britain has taken in around 5,000 Syrians and the US only slightly more. But this year Jordan’s fears of an Isil attack have risen sharply and, after a jihadist suicide bombing in June, it closed its borders entirely to new refugees. That decision has left around 75,000 Syrians stranded on a sand berm on the Jordanian border...

Shadowy group is assassinating ISIS members within its borders (Business Insider) With such an oppressive regime and a weakening infrastructure, the organization that touts itself as the caliphate is facing growing dissent within its civilian populace. And it looks like this gap is widening, especially after the efforts of a secret group called the Mosul Battalions...

Egypt accused of discriminating against Christian athletes (AINA) Non-profit organization Coptic Solidarity has filed formal complaints with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and FIFA alleging that Coptic Christian athletes in Egypt face “systematic religious discrimination...”

Orthodox cathedral named among top ten “most endangered historic properties” (OCA.org) Historic Saint Michael the Archangel Cathedral in Sitka, AK, is one of two Diocese of Alaska churches on this year’s “Ten Most Endangered Historic Properties” list compiled by the Alaska Association for Historic Preservation [AAHP]. Also on this year’s list is the Ascension of Our Lord Church, Karluk, AK, which was built in 1888. Located on the far side of Kodiak Island, the Karluk church is considered the state’s oldest extant Orthodox sanctuary...



25 August 2016
Greg Kandra




Members of Free Syrian Army (FSA) patrol part of Aleppo, Syria, after taking control from ISIS terrorists during ‘Operation Euphrates Shield’ on 24 August 2016.
(photo: Cem Ozdel/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)


Why Turkey sending tanks into Syria is significant (CNN) More than 80 ISIS targets were attacked in the first hours of “Operation Euphrates Shield” early Wednesday, officials say, as Turkish armor and warplanes targeted a key ISIS-held town across its border with Syria. Jarablus is one of the few towns in northern Syria that ISIS still controls and is a critical location for supplies, money and fighters coming into ISIS-held areas...

Attacker killed in assault on Coptic church (AP) Egypt’s state news agency says a knife-wielding attacker has been shot and killed after he stabbed a guard at a Coptic church...

Russia orders military drills amid tensions with Ukraine (The Wall Street Journal) Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered snap military drills Thursday to test the combat-readiness of troops on the country’s western flank. The exercises, announced by Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, come amid heightened tensions with Ukraine. Russia, which is covertly supporting separatists in its neighbor’s east, blamed Ukraine for the deaths of two service members earlier this month in Crimea, which Russia annexed in 2014...

India seeks to ban ‘commercial surrogacy’ (Vatican Radio) It will no longer be possible to exploit the female body for commercial purposes. This was decided yesterday the Government of India, presenting the new bill that regulates the practice of surrogacy to the public...

In Gaza, animal rescue complete as ‘world’s worst zoo’ closes (The Times of Israel) Rescued by an international animal welfare nonprofit from horrific conditions in a Gaza Strip zoo, 15 surviving animals were brought across the Israeli border on Wednesday morning. They represent the last survivors of a zoo described as “the world’s worst,” many of whose “inhabitants” were crudely taxidermied carcasses on display alongside their living neighbors...



24 August 2016
Greg Kandra




In this image from 1 August, a woman in Donetsk, Ukraine, is seen in her apartment damaged by a shelling attack. Pope Francis on Wednesday issued an appeal for peace in Ukraine.
(photo: Mikhail Sokolov/TASS via Getty Images)


Pope appeals for peace in Ukraine (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Wednesday once again appealed for peace in Ukraine, urging all parties in the conflict, as well as international bodies, to “strengthen the initiatives to resolve the conflict, release the hostages, and respond to the humanitarian emergency...”

After failed coup, Turkey enjoys rare moment of unity (The New York Times) President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey an Islamist who has run the country for more than a decade, has unabashedly used the aftermath of the mid-July coup to focus the country on a common enemy. His approval rating has shot up to 68 percent, from 47 percent before the failed coup. He has not only toned down his divisive language but also said he would rescind the numerous criminal cases he has pursued against Turks for insulting him, a crime under Turkish law...

U.S. Calls on Americans to leave Gaza ‘as soon as possible’ (Newsweek) The United States on Tuesday called on Americans in the Gaza Strip to leave the coastal enclave “as soon as possible...”

Aleppo faces humanitarian crisis (Al Jazeera) The humanitarian situation has gravely deteriorated in Syria’s northern city of Aleppo where Syrian government forces and Russian warplanes continue to attack civilian neighborhoods, according to activists and residents. “In the last four days, food supplies have close to disappeared from the markets, and prices have skyrocketed,” Salem al-Atrash, a resident in the city, told Al Jazeera on Tuesday...

Vatican calls for wider definition of ‘weapons of mass destruction’ (Vatican Radio) The Vatican has called on the international community to expand the definition of a ‘weapon of mass destruction’ to include “devastatingly powerful conventional weapons used to perpetrate war crimes and crimes against humanity...”

India conference hears message that ‘mercy goes beyond borders’ (Fides) To be merciful means going beyond borders and barriers: this is the meaning of the interfaith meeting organized in recent days in Wadala, one of the main areas in Mumbai, in the Indian state of Maharashtra. In the parish of Our Lady of Sorrows, speakers, intellectuals, experts, theologians of different religions gathered to reflect on “the wonderful theme of mercy that embraces the heart of every man and woman without distinction of any kind, religious, ethical, cultural,” said Sr. Teresa Joseph FMA, Secretary of the Office for dialogue and ecumenism within the Bishops’ Conference of India...



23 August 2016
Greg Kandra




A photo taken from Turkey shows smoke rising over Syria after the Turkish army shelled ISIS positions on 23 August 2016. (photo: Ensar Ozdemir/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Turkey launches new artillery strike across Syrian border (The New York Times) Turkey’s artillery shelled ISIS targets across the border in Syria for the second consecutive day on Tuesday, a senior Turkish official said, amid reports that Turkey-backed Syrian rebels were preparing an offensive against an ISIS-held border town in northern Syria. The latest developments have thrust the town of Jarablus into center stage in the ongoing war…

Iranian religious leader thanks Pope Francis for comments on Islam (Vatican Radio) A senior Iranian religious scholar has written to Pope Francis, thanking him for his recent remarks that Islam is not equal to terrorism. In his letter, posted on his official website on Sunday, Grand Ayatollah Makarem Shirazi of Qom also stressed that it is necessary for religious leaders to adopt clear stances when it comes to accusing religions of violence…

ISIS using child bombers (Reuters) Saturday’s attack at the wedding in Gaziantep marked not only Turkey’s deadliest this year, but also the first time in Turkey that militants may have deployed a child bomber in a way already used to deadly effect in wars from Africa to Syria…

Lebanon church leader decries terrorism in visit to South Korea (CNS) Maronite Patriarch Bechara Peter, visiting the South Korean capital of Seoul, urged the international community to end the wars raging in the Middle East “fueled by foreign countries…”

Church building law sparks disputes in Egypt (Egypt Streets) Egypt’s Coptic Orthodox Church released a statement objecting to the “complexities and obstacles” in the governmental amendments to a long-awaited bill on church building in the country, privately-owned Al Shorouk reported…

Data shows reconversion of Dalit Christians in Kerala (The New Indian Express) If statistics are any indication, Kerala is witnessing an upward curve in ‘Ghar Wapsi’ — the controversial reconversion drive launched by some Hindutva groups — resulting in the dwindling Dalit Christian population in the state...



Tags: Syria Egypt Pope Francis Turkey

22 August 2016
Greg Kandra




This photo from 14 August shows the damage from shelling in the town of Shyrokyne, in the Donetsk region in eastern Ukraine. (photo: AFP/Aleksey Filippov/Getty Images)

Battles rage in East Ukraine (Vatican Radio) Ukraine’s military and Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine have accused each other of violating a cease-fire agreement amid escalating fighting that has worried international monitors and the West. The latest clashes have also undermined efforts to treat those wounded in a conflict that has killed more than 9,500 people…

Despite ISIS threat, 100 children receive First Communion in Iraqi Kurdistan (AsiaNews.it) The celebration of first Communion in Alqosh was a historic moment” for a “frontier town” that has been under threat from the militants of the ISIS for a long time. Now it can “hope for peace and normalcy” around these hundred children, said Bishop Basil Yaldo of Baghdad, a close associate of the Chaldean Patriarch Louis Raphael…

Iran says Russia has stopped using base for Syria airstrikes (AP) Russia has stopped using an Iranian air base for launching airstrikes on Syria for the time being, Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman said Monday, just hours after the Iranian defense minister criticized Moscow for having “kind of show-off and ungentlemanly” attitude by publicizing their actions…

Journalist: West won’t recognize Christian Middle East exodus (Catholic Register) Middle Eastern Christians have suffered soft, state-sponsored discrimination since the Ottomans ruled and that discrimination has been reinforced over generations by poor, underfunded education systems throughout the region. More recently this evil brew has been stirred into feverish, bigoted campaigns of hate spread by Saudi-funded Wahhabi preachers…

Lost language set to return in India (The New India Express) Consumed by time, Suriyani Malayalam, an early Malayalam dialect wrote in a variant form of Syriac script, might make its electronic debut if Anshuman Pandey’s ambitious project reaches its target. Mr. Pandey, a linguistics professor at the University of California, is in the process of creating a unicode font for the dialect by 2017…



Tags: India Ukraine Middle East Christians Iraqi Christians

19 August 2016
Greg Kandra




A civilian removes the rubble in front of a damaged shop after an airstrike in the rebel-held Al Saleheen neighborhood of Aleppo. (photo: Reuters/Abdalrhman Ismail)

Russia supports cease-fire in Aleppo (Al Jazeera) Russia has said it would support a 48-hour ceasefire in Syria’s Aleppo, a move the United Nations envoy said would allow aid to reach besieged areas soon, as long as all sides respected the truce. As viral images of a dazed child pulled from rubble in the heavily bombarded rebel-held east of the city captured the plight of its civilians and drew the attention of the world, Moscow said it was ready to start the first “humanitarian pause” next week…

Ukraine president may declare martial law (Vatican Radio) Ukraine’s president has warned of “a full-scale Russian invasion” and says Kiev may have to impose martial law. Petro Poroshenko made the remarks amid reports of ongoing fighting between government forces and Russia-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine…

Israel budget could bring more Jews from Ethiopia (The Times of Israel) Activists campaigning to bring Ethiopia’s Jews to Israel inched closer to their goal during a 21-hour marathon budget approval last Friday, but they are waiting to see what will happen before breaking out the champagne. In the 2017-2018 budget, the Finance Ministry allocated a budget that would enable 1,300 Ethiopians to move to Israel, to be divided among a number of entities, including the Interior Ministry, the Absorption Ministry and the Jewish Agency, among others, according to M.K. David Amsalem (Likud) spokesman Nimrod Eliran Sabbah…

Cardinal urges more subdued celebrations in India (Ucanindia) The head of the Syro-Malabar Church Cardinal George Alencherry has appealed to the faithful to put curbs on church festivities, to reduce noise and pomp, and turn feasts into occasions of simplicity and kindness. The Cardinal said it was time traditional festivals were given a makeover…

Smithsonian, other agencies protect artifacts in Iraq, Syria (The Washington Post) The Smithsonian, better known for museums ringing the Mall, is one of a half-dozen agencies cited in a Government Accountability Office report on the “Protection of Iraqi and Syrian Antiquities.” Smithsonian experts provide cultural property protection training in countries facing war or natural disasters. “To prevent destruction, the Smithsonian and others trained Syrian antiquities professionals to use sandbags and other materials to protect ancient mosaics at a Syrian museum, reportedly resulting in the successful protection of the museum collection when it was bombed,” according to the GAO…



Tags: Syria Ukraine Israel Historical site/city

18 August 2016
Greg Kandra




A Syrian priest speaks about the violence against Christians in his country, which he describes as genocidal. (video: Rome Reports)

Christians ‘praying for peace’ amid bitter battle for Aleppo (The Irish Catholic) The apostolic vicar of Aleppo of the Latins has described the situation for the people in his city as “critical” during this time of fierce fighting. Stuck in the Lebanese capital Beirut as the latest stage in the Syrian conflict forces road closures, Bishop Georges Abou Khazen, O.F.M., said that through contact he has managed to make with Christians in the city, it is clear that “people are afraid” of an even greater escalation in the fighting and that trapped Christians and Muslims are now “praying unceasingly for peace”…

Amnesty International: nearly 18,000 have died in Syrian prisons since 2011 (BBC) Nearly 18,000 people have died in government prisons in Syria since the beginning of the uprising in 2011, according to Amnesty International. A new report by the charity, based on interviews with 65 “torture survivors,” details systematic use of rape and beatings by prison guards…

Turkey seizes assets in post-coup crackdown (Reuters) Turkish authorities ordered the detention of nearly 200 people, including leading businessmen, and seized their assets as an investigation into suspects in last month’s failed military rebellion shifted to the private sector. President Tayyip Erdogan has vowed to choke off businesses linked to U.S.-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom he blames for the 15 July coup attempt, describing his schools, firms and charities as “nests of terrorism…”

Catholic bishops appeal for calm in Ethiopia (The Tablet) Catholic bishops made a passionate plea for peace as security forces continue to brutally suppress anti-government protests in Ethiopia. Chaos can never be a way forward, said Cardinal Berhaneyesus, head of the Church in Ethiopia, as Ethiopian police were reported to have killed hundreds of protesters during riots in the regions of Oromia and Amhara in recent weeks. Amnesty International puts the death toll at nearly 100, and other rights groups have suggested the number of dead is higher, although the government disputes these figures...

Lebanon’s tobacco industry booming because of Syrian war (AP) Syria’s conflict has caused hundreds of thousands of refugees to flee to Lebanon, putting a huge strain on the Lebanese economy and its already-crumbling infrastructure. But the five-year Syrian civil war has been a boon for at least one economic sector: the tobacco industry…

Russia says suspected militants killed (Vatican Radio) Russian authorities say six suspected militants have been killed by security forces in two separate incidents in the city of St. Petersburg and near Moscow, the capital. Those killed reportedly included gunmen who were described as Islamic insurgents fighting in Russia’s volatile North Caucasus region…

French president meets with pope to thank him after terrorist attacks (CNS) Pope Francis met privately at the Vatican with French President Francois Hollande, who said he felt it necessary to thank the Pope in person for his words after the slaying of a French priest and other terrorist attacks in France…



Tags: Syria Ethiopia Violence against Christians Turkey Syrian Conflict





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