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September, 2017
Volume 43, Number 3
  
19 October 2015
J.D. Conor Mauro




Copts attend a Friday Divine Liturgy at the Virgin Mary Church in Cairo. (photo: Virginie Nguyen Hoang/AFP/Getty Images)

Egyptian elections see high Christian turnout (Fides) According to the monitoring carried out by the Maspero Youth Union, a group of young activists of the Coptic Orthodox community, so far the percentage of Copts who voted is higher than those recorded in other religious and social groups. On the first day of voting, many Egyptian Christians went to the polls after going to church…

Cardinal Sandri: Syro-Malankara Catholic Church is a bridge to unity (Vatican Radio) Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, prefect of the Congregation for the Eastern Churches, delivered a speech memorializing Syro-Malankara Catholic Archbishop Benedict Mar Gregorios on Sunday…

Germany shows signs of strain from mass of refugees (Der Spiegel) Six weeks after Chancellor Angela Merkel’s historic decision to open Germany’s borders, there is a shortage of basic supplies in many places in this prosperous nation. Cots, portable housing containers and chemical toilets are largely sold out. There is a shortage of German teachers, social workers and administrative judges. Authorities in many towns are worried about the approaching winter, because thousands of asylum-seekers are still sleeping in tents…

Syrian troops advance toward air base besieged by ISIS (Daily Star Lebanon) Government forces advanced Monday under the cover of Russian airstrikes toward an air base besieged by ISIS in northern Syria, a Syrian military official and activists said, while a rebel military commander was killed in another battle in a nearby area…

Israel erects wall in wake of recent attacks (Vatican Radio) On Sunday, a Palestinian gunman killed a soldier and wounded 11 other people at a central bus station in the southern Israeli city of Beersheba, while Israeli authorities erect a concrete wall in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Jabel Mukaber…

Hunt for Israelis who killed Eritrean man (The Guardian) Israeli police are hunting members of a group of Israelis who killed an Eritrean migrant after mistakenly identifying him as a terrorist involved in an attack at a bus station. Haftom Zarhum was shot repeatedly by a security guard then kicked and spat at by a mob after going to the southern Israeli city of Beersheba to pick up his renewed work visa…



Tags: Syria Egypt Israel Germany Cardinal Leonardo Sandri

16 October 2015
Greg Kandra




Israeli and border police stand guard on 9 October near a gate to the compound known by Muslims as the Haram al-Sharif and by Jews as the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.
(photo: CNS/Jim Hollander, EPA)


Palestinians torch Jewish shrine (Vatican Radio) Palestinians set fire to a Jewish shrine in the West Bank on Friday as the Islamist group Hamas called for a day of rage against Israel. Israeli military officials say about 100 people converged on the tomb of the biblical patriarch Joseph, which is located in the Palestinian city of Nablus. They were pushed back by Palestinian security forces who arrived on site, but not in time to stop rebels setting parts of it on fire...

Holy site at center of increased tensions in Jerusalem (CNS) It has been painful to watch as violence has taken over Jerusalem once again, especially along the Via Dolorosa, where Jesus suffered in order to dissuade the use of violence, said Auxiliary Bishop William Shomali, Latin Patriarchate chancellor. This violence goes against Jerusalem’s vocation as a holy city, which should be open to all people of faith, he said. “We are shocked at what is happening,” Bishop Shomali told Catholic News Service in mid-October, after two weeks of unrest. “Violence does not help. We do not accept violence by any side...”

Syrian refugees encountering racism, but also kindness (AP) For the Syrian refugee family, one reprieve from crushing boredom in the asylum centre is short walks to a lake. But in a town teeming with neo-Nazis, the excursions can bring more distress than relief: A man recently stormed out of a coffee shop and screamed at two women of the Habashieh family to take off their hijabs “because we’re in Europe!” Another time, people inside a car yelled: “Auslaender raus!!” — Foreigners out!! Fear and frustration, however, have been tempered by kindness. A volunteer from nearby Dresden has befriended the Habashiehs, who fled Syria’s civil war and are now living in a temporary facility in the eastern town of Heidenau after arriving in Germany last month, following a perilous journey from Damascus. The experience mirrors the mixture of hostility and generosity that has greeted hundreds of thousands of migrants streaming into Europe this year...

Pontifical council issues document on human trafficking (Vatican Radio) The Pontifical Council of Migrant and Itinerant People’s has issued a final document following an international symposium on the Pastoral Care of the Road. The document and plan of action offers reflections and recommendations highlighting the scurge of human trafficking and calls on states and governments to “protect with all legal measures children and women earning a living or living on roads and streets, who are often victims of socio-economic inconsistencies and/or human trafficking...”

Christians kidnapped by ISIS released (VIS) At least 50 Christians in Qaryatayn taken hostage last August by jihadists of the Islamic State were released on Sunday 11 October, and were able to return to the villages of Zaydal and Fairuzeh in an area controlled by the Syrian government army. Their release, confirmed by the media linked to the Assyrian community, took place a few hours after the release of Syrian priest Jacques Murad, Prior of the Monastery of Mar Elian, who was carrying out negotiations to restore freedom to more than 200 Christians and Muslims in Qaryatayn still under the control of the jihadists of Daesh...

Pentecostal pastor killed in India (UCANews) A Christian minister was shot dead in eastern India, an act a church leader said points to a trend of terrorizing Christians in the tribal-dominated Jharkhand state. Chamu Hasda Purty, 54, of the Independent Pentecostal Church, was shot dead 12 October in Sandhi village of the state’s Khunti district. Police officials said they are unsure of the motives for the murder and that the attackers are on the run...



Tags: Syria Refugees Palestine Israel Jerusalem

15 October 2015
J.D. Conor Mauro




A 7-year-old Syrian girl, nostalgic for home and friends, describes her journey from Syria to the Greek island of Lesbos. Interview courtesy UNICEF. (video: AJ+)

Greek island out of migrant burial space (Vatican Radio) The authorities on the Greek island of Lesbos fear that the island’s main cemetery could be running out of space for the bodies of Middle Eastern migrants who die trying to make the sea crossing from Turkey. So far this year a staggering 450,000 migrants and refugees have crossed from Turkey over to the Greek islands…

ISIS retreating in Syria; Russian jets strike 32 facilities overnight (FARS News) Russian warplanes have destroyed a surface-to-air missile launcher that the ISIS terrorist group previously captured from the Syrian Army, the Russian Defense Ministry reports…

Iraqi forces in major push against ISIS (Daily Star Lebanon) Iraqi forces battled ISIS militants on separate fronts Thursday, ramping up operations to retake Baiji and Ramadi, two of the conflict’s worst flash-points. The Baiji area has seen almost uninterrupted fighting since ISIS swept across Iraq last year, but top officers said Thursday that the Baiji refinery, the country’s largest, was almost secure…

Hindu extremists demand an anti-conversion law in Jharkhand (Fides) Hindu extremist groups have begun a campaign to promote the adoption of a new “anti-conversion law” in the Indian state of Jharkhand, in north central India, after the news of the conversion of 300 tribal people to Christianity in the district of Gumla…

To be Christian in Gaza: Interview with Father Mario da Silva (Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem) “Our church is the only place where Christians may get to know their identity and that of the Christian culture. At times,” Father da Silva says, “Christians would attend three Masses — Orthodox, Catholic and Protestant — each Sunday…”

Jerusalem grows more grim and polarized with clampdown (New York Times) Israelis were in little mood for browsing after more than two dozen attacks, most by young Palestinians armed with knives, that have killed seven Israelis this month, five of them in Jerusalem. At least 12 suspects in the attacks have been fatally shot by Israeli security forces and citizens at the scenes. Some Palestinians said they were scared of being mistaken for an assailant. New Israeli security measures introduced Wednesday included roadblocks and checkpoints at entrances of some Palestinian neighborhoods of East Jerusalem, and the deployment of reserve soldiers to bolster police forces…



Tags: Syria Iraq India Refugees Gaza Strip/West Bank

14 October 2015
Greg Kandra




Palestinian university students shout slogans during a rally to express their solidarity with Palestinians clashing with Israeli security forces in the West Bank and Jerusalem,
on 14 October 2015 in Gaza City. (photo: Mohammed Abed/AFP/Getty Images)


Israel sends more forces to West Bank (The Jerusalem Post) The IDF has deployed two additional battalions to its Judea and Samria Division, three companies to the Jerusalem-West Bank perimeter area, and two reinforcement battalions to the Gaza border, to deal with disturbances along the security fence there...

Director of Caritas Jerusalem criticizes new checkpoints (Fides) “The imposition of Israeli checkpoints in Palestinian areas of Jerusalem represents a ‘safety measure’ that provides no security, but on the contrary increases anger and frustration, and thus feeds feelings of revenge.” This is how the Rev. Raed Abusahliah, Director General of Caritas Jerusalem evaluates the potential negative effects of the closure of areas of East Jerusalem, where attacks by Palestinian suicide bombers in recent days have caused the deaths of several Israeli citizens. “In my opinion,” said Father Raed, “they can impose all the blocks they want, but this will not ensure safety. The only way to achieve security and stability for all is to restore freedom to the Palestinian people”...

Kidnapped priest freed in Syria (AFP) A Syrian priest who was kidnapped in May in the central province of Homs is free and on Sunday conducted his first Mass since his abduction, a church source said. “Father (Jacques) Mourad is free. He is currently in the village of Zaydal,” about five kilometres (three miles) from the city of Homs, the source told AFP. The priest of the Syriac Catholic Church “celebrated mass this morning in Zaydal,” the source added, without providing details on how he gained his freedom, citing security reasons...

Iranian troops reportedly preparing for offensive in Syria (Reuters) Thousands of Iranian troops have arrived in Syria to join the regime’s military forces and Hizbollah allies to launch a ground attack against insurgents in Aleppo, two senior regional officials have said. Control of Aleppo city and the surrounding province in the area near the Turkish border is divided among the Syrian government, insurgent groups fighting Syrian president Bashar al-Assad and ISIS that controls some rural areas near the city...

Syrian refugees in Jersey City are among few to start new life in the U.S. (The New York Times) After four years of fleeing and 15 hours of flying, Hussam Al Roustom walked off the plane at Newark Liberty International Airport, only to feel as if he had stepped into an American movie. “It was like an action film in the sense that this hero had lost everyone dear to him, and then he finds himself safe — but he has nothing else to lose,” Mr. Al Roustom said in Arabic, through an interpreter. “That’s how I felt.” Mr. Al Roustom is a refugee from Syria. Since arriving in June, he, his wife, their 3-year-old daughter and their 7-year-old son have been living in an apartment atop the Kwick Discount Center grocery store in Jersey City. Their journey ended even as four million Syrians were still looking for a home, throwing Europe and the Middle East into a humanitarian crisis. Mr. Al Roustom was one of only 1,682 Syrian refugees admitted to the United States since 1 October, 2014, and among 78 resettled in the New York metropolitan area...

Church has built strong interreligious ties since ‘Nostra Aetate’ (CNS) The scene in Foundation Hall of the National September 11 Memorial and Museum during Pope Francis’ visit spoke volumes about the Catholic Church and interreligious relations. On the platform with Pope Francis 25 September were representatives of the Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh, Jewish, Muslim religions as well as Christian religions. All equal. All offering prayers for peace and words of inspiration from their sacred texts. The event symbolized the strengthening relations and solidarity that the Catholic Church has with non-Christian religions as envisioned by “Nostra Aetate” (“In Our Time”), the Vatican II declaration that addressed the relations of the Catholic Church with other religions, said Father John W. Crossin, executive director of the Secretariat for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops...



13 October 2015
Greg Kandra




Syrian residents inspect the damaged area after war-crafts belonging to the Syrian army bombed residential areas in Ein Tarma district in Damascus, Syria on 13 October 2015.
(photo: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)


Survival in Syria: “Things are different” (CNN) Shelled-out apartment blocks, AK-47’s and black flags, tanks and Russian jets: the images we have of Syria, of death and destruction, omit any idea of life. But life goes on. “People are still trying to survive,” said journalist Zaina Erhaim. “They are still getting in love, they’re still getting their children to schools — although now the schools are in basements, although the field hospitals are in basements.” “They’re going on with their lives. They still go to school. They still have shops. But things are different”...

Iraqi refugees volunteer to help others (UNHCR) Childhood friends Hussein and Jaffa fled war ravaged Iraq together, crossing seven borders and the Aegean Sea to seek refuge in Europe. As they seek asylum in Austria, they decided to help those following in their tracks. Donning fluorescent jackets, they volunteer in a makeshift camp on the Austrian side of a bridge to Germany, helping 1,000 or so foot-sore refugees to get hot food, medical care, tents to sleep under and warm clothes to beat the autumn chill. “This is something I want to do here — to help people and to keep busy,” says soft-spoken Jaffa, 23, snatching a moment to chat while interpreting for Arabic speaking refugees headed to Germany — journey’s end for many of them...

Ukraine nuncio reflects on his country’s invasion (Vatican Radio) After four years as Papal Nuncio to Ukraine, Archbishop Thomas Gullickson reflects on the challenges faced by Ukrainians after their country was thrown into turmoil in 2014. The lives of millions of Ukrainians were destabilized, leaving up to two million people “on the run” and “having to find a new homeland,” the Archbishop told Vatican Radio...

Severe drought threatening millions of Ethiopians (RFI) Food insecurity is a sensitive issue in Ethiopia ever since the country was hit by famine in 1984-85 after extreme drought. The problem today is that the drought is affecting a large area — from the eastern Afar region to the southern Somali regions — which is an area that is already quite dry. “One factor of the crisis is that it’s a region that normally thrives on pastoral activities, and because of the drought, livestocks are also dying,” Ahmed Shukri, a senior economist with the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization told RFI...

Indian couple tells synod how interfaith marriage is lived (Vatican Radio) The 14th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on the family, currently taking place in the Vatican 4-25 October, heard from of an Indian couple on Saturday how inter-faith marriage can be lived. Penelope and Ishwarlal Bajaj from Mumbai, who have been married for over 38 years, are among 18 couples from around the world invited to the Synod as auditors. The Indian couple was asked to share the testimony of their marriage and family life at the 6th General Congregation of the synod, Saturday morning...



Tags: Syria Iraq India Ukraine Ethiopia

9 October 2015
Greg Kandra




In the video above, Syriac Catholic Patriarch Ignatius Joseph III speaks at the Synod on the Family on families in his homeland facing persecution. (video: Rome Reports)

Pope Francis appeals for peace in Middle East (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis made a prayerful appeal for reconciliation and peace in the Middle East and Africa on Friday, at the opening of the morning session of the Synod assembly in the Vatican. The appeal came as the Holy Father addressed the participants of the XIV Ordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on Friday morning, at the start of their second round of meetings...

Archbishop of Aleppo welcomes Russia strikes (Al-Arabiya) The Melkite Greek Catholic archbishop of Aleppo welcomed Russia’s massive military escalation in Syria, describing it in an interview Thursday with Swiss television as a source of “hope” for the country’s Christians. Archbishop Jean-Clement Jeanbart said the initiative “serves the Christians’ cause,” adding that he nonetheless recognized that Moscow was ultimately protecting its own interests by launching strikes in Syria…

Copts call for investigation into massacre (Fides) Four years after what some have called the massacre of Maspero, the Copts of Egypt Coalition — an independent organization of the Coptic Orthodox Church, but animated by militant lay Copts — has asked President Abdel Fattah al Sisi and the Egyptian Minister of Justice Ahmed al Zind to reopen the investigation regarding this tragic event, in which 27 Copts were killed by ferocious reprisals unleashed by military units against a protest...

Surprising findings from 4,500-year-old Ethiopian (The Los Angeles Times) DNA from a man who lived in Ethiopia about 4,500 years ago is prompting scientists to rethink the history of human migration in Africa...

Divers begin construction of first underwater Russian Orthodox church (The Moscow Times) Divers in Crimea began construction of an underwater Russian Orthodox church, placing a giant cross at the bottom of the Black Sea, Crimean news service Krym.Realii reported Wednesday. The nine-foot cross, styled as a ship anchor, will become the “initial structure, around which the world’s first underwater temple will be built, which will bear the name of St. Nicholas — sailors’ patron saint,” a spokesperson for the Russian Orthodox Church in Crimea was quoted by Krym.Realii as saying...

‘Agreed Statement on Christology’ between Anglicans, Oriental Orthodox (OCP Media Network) Historic agreements have been signed between Anglican and Oriental Orthodox churches helping to heal the oldest continuing division within Christianity. An Agreed Statement on Christology, published in North Wales this week by the Anglican-Oriental Orthodox International Commission, heals the centuries-old split between the Anglican Churches within the family of Chalcedonian churches and the non-Chalcedonian churches over the incarnation of Christ…



8 October 2015
Greg Kandra




Syrian refugees from Kobane wait at the Turkish-Syrian border to return to their country on 8 October. (photo: Halil Fidan/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Syria launches wide-scale offensive (CNN) The Syrian army, which had appeared earlier this year to be on the ropes, has “launched a wide-scale offensive,” a senior military official said Thursday. The aim is “eliminating the terrorist groups and liberating the areas and towns that have suffered from terrorism and its crime,” said General Ali Abdullah Ayyoub, the Syrian army chief of staff…

Jerusalem mayor calls on civilians to carry firearms (NBC News) The mayor of Jerusalem urged gun owners to carry their weapons at all times on Thursday in the wake of a slew of attacks and unrest in Israel and the West Bank. “Given the current escalation [of violence] in the security situation, those with a licensed firearm who know what to do with it must go out with [their weapon] — it’s an imperative,” Mayor Nir Barkat told Army Radio. “In a way, it’s like military reserve duty…”

Germany faces strains in refugee crisis (The Guardian) The realities of shouldering Europe’s refugee crisis are coming home to Germany, amid daily reports of clashes in asylum seeker homes; bureaucrats overwhelmed by a backlog of registration claims and deep divisions within chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative ranks over how to manage the enormity of the challenge. Just weeks after Merkel responded to the refugee crisis with the declaration: “Wir schaffen es” (“We can do it”), the euphoric mood that dominated has been replaced by a more sober response and a creeping sense of realism that the newcomers are here to stay…

One third of military deaths in Ukraine not related to battle (The Moscow Times) Nearly a third of Ukraine’s military losses over the past two years were non-battle casualties, according to the country’s Defense Ministry figures cited by news reports. In total, 2,027 soldier deaths have been recorded in 2014-2015 so far, according to the Defense Ministry report released Wednesday. Among them, 597 were non-battle casualties, the ministry said. The leading causes of non-battle deaths included suicide, with 171 cases, and road accidents, with 112…

Caritas Jerusalem intervenes to fight child malnutrition in Gaza (Fides) Most of the 1.8 million inhabitants of the Gaza Strip cannot afford adequate food, partly because of higher food prices following the latest Israeli military action. Children and young people, who represent half the population, suffer most. A study carried out by the Palestinian Medical Relief Society revealed that 52 percent of children in the Gaza Strip suffer from anemia and severe phosphorus, calcium and zinc deficiencies, while a significant number of children suffer from respiratory infections. After the last Israeli military action, Caritas Jerusalem has launched a project aimed at improving food standards for children in the Gaza Strip between the ages of 5 and 12, giving them milk and food products specifically to meet their nutritional deficiencies…



Tags: Syria Refugees Gaza Strip/West Bank Jerusalem Germany

7 October 2015
Greg Kandra




Smoke rises after Russian airstrikes hit ammunition-stores and bases of two opposition groups in the Mansoura region west of Aleppo, Syria, on 6 October, 2015.
(photo: Abdulfetah Huseyin/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)


Russia escalates attacks on Syria (The New York Times) Sharply escalating its role in Syria, the Russian military launched on Wednesday medium-range cruise missiles from nearly 1,000 miles away, bringing to the conflict elements of its Cold War-era military might. The new Russian airstrikes came amid reports of an expanding ground offensive by pro-government forces in Syria, which is taking place in coordination with Russian warplanes operating from an airfield in western Syria. That offensive will include the Syrian Army, Hezbollah forces on the ground and Russia in the air — all coordinated with Iran, according to an official with that alliance...

Ukraine rebels postpone elections (Vatican Radio) Kiev, Moscow, and Washington have welcomed a decision by officials in rebel-controlled eastern Ukraine to postpone local elections, saying it would boost peace efforts. The rebels are sidestepping a contentious issue that had blocked progress toward a resolution for the war in Ukraine that has killed thousands...

Latin Patriarchate calls for restarting negotiations in Holy Land (Fides) The new wave of violence that is rampant in Jerusalem and the Holy Land urgently requires “Israelis and Palestinians to act with courage and return to the negotiating table,” which must be carried out on “solid and equitable basis” represented by resolutions — so far unfulfilled — approved by the UN on the Israeli-Arab conflict. This is the path indicated by the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem to stop the spiral of death that again has bloodied the Holy City and the Palestinian territories...

Iraq Ministry of Justice says Christian property will be protected (Fides) The Iraqi government will adopt measures to protect the real estate property of Christians who have left the country, and to prevent their homes and their land illegally changing ownership during their absence. The new rules were announced by Iraqi Ministry of Justice, Haidar al-Zamili, with a statement...

Of African family values and the Synod of Bishops (National Catholic Register) Ethiopia’s metropolitan archbishop, Cardinal Berhaneyesus Souraphiel, is promoting the value of marriage and the family through a campaign of prayer, a bilingual newsletter that includes prayers for the synod participants, and workshops for representatives of churches in his jurisdiction. These include pastoral coordinators, lay leaders, married couples, catechists, youth leaders and Catholic professionals. In a recent email interview with the Register, Cardinal Souraphiel discussed the challenges facing the Church in Africa and the synod...



Tags: Syria Iraq Ukraine Ethiopia Russia

6 October 2015
Greg Kandra




As more refugees flee the Middle East, a priest from Iraq in the video above says more needs to be done to help persecuted Christians remaining behind. (video: Rome Reports)

EU: Millions more refugees could flee Syria, Turkey (BBC) Turkey has warned the EU that millions more refugees could flee Syria as the civil war intensifies, European Council President Donald Tusk has said. He said Russian and Iranian engagement in Syria was making a victory for President Bashar al-Assad more likely. According to Turkish estimates, it could mean another three million refugees from Aleppo and the area...

Fleeing Iraqi Christians find new life in Lourdes (Reuters) For Iraqi Christians fleeing Islamic State militants in their native land reaching Lourdes, the French town long synonymous with miraculous religious visions, feels little short of a modern-day miracle. Arriving in the town where peasant girl Bernadette Soubirous is said to have had visions of the Virgin Mary in 1858, the refugees have also experienced real Christian charity through the efforts of some dedicated, Lourdes-based compatriots, an ex-soldier and the local parish priest...

Unrest flares in West Bank, Jerusalem (CNS) Unrest flared in early October throughout the West Bank and Jerusalem, which has experienced tensions during September, largely over the status of the contested holy site of the Temple Mount or Haram al-Sharif. Four Israelis were killed in the Old City of Jerusalem: a couple driving near their West Bank settlement with their four children in the back of their car, and two men, one of whom was on his way to pray at the Western Wall at the end of the Jewish Sabbath; his wife and toddler were injured in the attack. An ultra-Orthodox teenage boy was later stabbed near the same place...

Ukrainian Catholic leader: Time for cautious diplomacy is over (CNS) The head of the Ukrainian Catholic Church has urged the Vatican to show greater support for his country, as a senior Vatican diplomat warned the country risked becoming “a kind of Somalia.” “I would have expected a lot more involvement by the Vatican — the time for cautious diplomacy is at an end,” said Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk of Kiev-Halych, major archbishop of the Ukrainian Catholic Church. “The fact that 70 per cent of Ukrainian army regulars fighting against separatists and Russian soldiers have Russian as their mother-tongue shows the unity of our people and our army. What we are seeing is a foreign invasion of Ukrainian territory by Russian troops,” he said...

Israel completes high-tech border fence (The Jewish Press) A new security fence complete with high-tech sensors has been completed along Israel’s southern border with Gaza, the Defense Ministry announced Tuesday. The information may help residents of the Gaza Belt communities feel at least a little bit safer: infiltration by Gaza terrorists will not be nearly as easy since completion of the fence, although the measure will not stop rocket or mortar attacks...

Tycoons donating millions to build churches in Armenia (The Guardian) Some multi-millionaire philanthropists fund universities and hospitals, while others opt to fund charities. But in Armenia, the super-rich seem to prefer building churches. So far, in 2015 alone, some of the country’s most powerful and wealthy public figures have provided significant funds for work on five construction projects across the country...



5 October 2015
Greg Kandra




This image from 2007 shows the iconic monumental arch in Palmyra, Syria, which has been destroyed by ISIS. (photo: Wikipedia Commons)

ISIS destroys arches in Palmyra (The New York Times) Another landmark structure in Syria’s ancient city of Palmyra has been deliberately destroyed by Islamic State militants, according to local antigovernment activists and Syrian officials. The building involved this time was a set of triumphal arches, erected in the second century...

Ukraine says Russia must cede border by end of the year (AFP) President Petro Poroshenko has stressed Ukraine must regain control of its eastern border with Russia despite an apparent agreement to push back the implementation of a February peace deal into next year. The Western-backed leader told Ukrainian television late Sunday that he never agreed to the terms announced by French President Francois Hollande at a media event held after summit talks on the crisis in Paris on Friday...

Archeologists denied permission to excavate port where St. Thomas arrived in India (India Telegraph) The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has decided not to extend the permission granted to an excavation project in Kerala to “reinstate the cultural and historical significance of the legendary Muziris port.” The Muziris port was said to be where St. Thomas arrived in AD 52. But the exact location of the port, which was destroyed in a flood, is a mystery although the general consensus appears to be that it was located somewhere near Kodungalloor in Thrissur, a northern district and cultural capital of Kerala...

Coptic Patriarch says Christians in the Salafist lists “not credible” (Fides) Christians who present themselves as candidates in the Islamist Salafist lists “lack credibility” because “no one can live following two opposite thoughts.” This is the peremptory judgment that the Coptic Orthodox Patriarch expressed on the choice of Christians who agreed to stand in the forthcoming elections in the lists of the Salafist al-Nour Party. This is what Pope Tawadros said during his televised speech, and expresses a thought shared by Bishops and leaders of other Churches and Christian communities in Egypt...

Canada relaunches Muslim-Catholic student dialogue (Catholic Register) After a year on hiatus, the Muslim- Catholic Student Dialogue has relaunched with high hopes for more successful bridge-building between the Muslim and Catholic communities in the Archdiocese of Toronto. Fr. Damian MacPherson, director of the archdiocese’s Office of Ecumenical and Interfaith Affairs, and Imam Hamid Slimi, former chairman of the Canadian Council of Imams, initiated the student group in 2010 with the expectation of bringing together Muslim and Catholic university students in fellowship. “It was felt that this kind of interaction and dialogue would really benefit the whole working together of Catholics and Muslims,” said MacPherson. “And so the effort has been underway for some time and there certainly has been some modest results...”

Ethiopia aims to triple tourism in five years (Reuters) Ethiopia aims to triple its number of foreign visitors to more than 2.5 million by 2020, making tourism a pillar of one of Africa’s fastest-growing economies. Buoyed by huge spending on infrastructure and an expansion of its services and agricultural sectors, Addis Ababa expects annual economic growth of around 11 percent for the next five years. Though lacking the palm-fringed beaches and safari trails of neighboring Kenya and Tanzania, the Horn of Africa country boasts magnificent terrain and a fascinating imperial past...



Tags: Syria India Egypt Ukraine Kerala





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