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Current Issue
September, 2018
Volume 44, Number 3
  
8 June 2016
Greg Kandra




Syrians help a wounded woman after a helicopter belonging to the Syrian army carried out barrel bomb attacks on Beyan hospital and a bazaar in Aleppo, Syria, on 8 June 2016.
(photo: Ibrahim Ebu Leys/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)


Syria denounces distribution of aid packages (The Jerusalem Post) Amid recurrent claims by the Syrian regime accusing Israel of supporting rebel factions fighting to topple President Bashar Assad, the local council of Quenitra claimed that Israel was supplying food aid to opposition-held areas in the southern governorate. In a statement issued on Wednesday, Quneitra’s local administration council said that it “strongly denounces the distribution of aid packages with Hebrew captions which were supplied by the Israeli enemy...

Russian Orthodox Church to gather Holy Synod prior to Council meeting (TASS) The Russian Orthodox Church (ROC) will gather in Moscow prior to the Pan-Orthodox Council the Holy Synod to decide how to act in conditions of some local churches’ refusal to take part in the Council on 17-26 June in Crete, Greece, a senior ROC official said Tuesday. “We will monitor what is going on in local churches, will attentively listen to voices from local Orthodox churches, and I think we will need to hold one more session of the Holy Synod to understand how to act in such a situation,” Chairman of the Russian Orthodox Church’s Department of External Church Relations Metropolitan Hilarion told TASS...

Iraq’s child soldiers (Al Jazeera) The child soldier posed for the camera, holding a machine-gun and wearing black clothes and army boots. He refused to give his name or his age, but it was obvious from his appearance — his facial hair barely grown — that he was only a teenager. The boy fights along with Hashd Al Ameriat — a shia militia. The child soldier was fighting against Daesh (ISIL, also known as ISIS) in Amiriyat al-Fallujah, a city 40 kilometres west of Baghdad, where fierce battles have been taking place between Daesh, the Iraqi Army, and the “Popular Mobilisation Forces” — militias allied with the Iraqi government...

Deadly bombings in Turkey show terror has come home (TIME) For Turkey, war is coming home. The string of deadly attacks throughout the country over the last year has continued this week with two attacks in two days — the bombing in Istanbul on Tuesday, and a day later a car bombing in Midyat in southeastern Turkey, killing at least three. In Istanbul, which has now been hit four times since January, the blasts have begun to erode the sense of normality in this cosmopolitan city of 14 million...

Report: Christian refugees being quizzed on “Bible trivia” (Haaretz) Refugees applying for asylum in Britain based on a claim that they have converted to Christianity and face religious persecution are being grilled by immigration officials on their knowledge of the Bible, Britain’s Guardian news website has reported, citing findings contained in a report released on Tuesday that was prepared by an unofficial group of British members of parliament. Refugees have been asked, for example, what the Ten Commandments are and how many books there are in Bible, the Guardian reported, and refugees who don’t answer the questions correctly are being denied asylum in the United Kingdom...



7 June 2016
Greg Kandra




Police officers secure the area near the scene of a bomb attack in Istanbul, Turkey,
on 7 June 2016. (photo: Defne Karadeniz/Getty Images)


At least 11 killed, dozens injured in rush hour car bombing in Istanbul (Chicago Tribune) Rush-hour car bomb attack targeting a bus carrying riot police killed 11 people and wounded 36 others Tuesday, Istanbul’s governor said. Speaking at the scene of the blast in the district of Beyazit, Istanbul Governor Vasip Sahin said the dead included seven police officers and four civilians. At least three of the wounded were in serious condition. The explosion was caused by a bomb placed inside a car and was detonated as the police vehicle was passing by, Sahin said...

Assad vows to “liberate” Syria (Associated Press) The Syrian president vowed on Tuesday to “liberate” every inch of the country in the same way his troops earlier this year recaptured the historic town of Palmyra from the Islamic State group. Bashar Assad’s speech in front of the newly-elected parliament came as government forces pushed ahead in their offensive in the northern province of Raqqa, which is home to the de facto capital of IS and the seat of its self-proclaimed caliphate. Government forces have also almost encircled rebel-held neighborhoods in Aleppo, Syria’s largest city...

Chaldean patriarch calls for an “exceptional Ramadan” (Fides) “The month of Ramadan offers a propitious time for fasting, prayer, repentance and to change mentality and behavior, in order to live in peace with oneself and others.” These are the first lines of the letter that Chaldean Patriarch Louis Raphael I addressed to his Muslim compatriots, on the occasion of the holy month of Muslims, particularly characterized by the practice of fasting combined with prayer...

Ethiopia’s Christians mark Ramadan alongside Muslims (Andalou Agency) The sun had already sunk below the blood red horizon in Addis Ababa’s neighborhood of Semien Mazegaja as Jemal Ahmed and his wife Kebedech Aliyu prepared for the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. Sitting in their neat one-bedroom home with their year-old twins Ismael and Issac sleeping nearby, Jemal, a Muslim, and his Orthodox Christian wife Kebedech explained how their different faiths did not prevent them from honoring each other’s religions. “Thanks God, we lead a happy and cheerful marriage,” Jemal, 31, told Anadolu Agency. “We are faithful to our beliefs and a marriage that made us one...”

Restoration work begins on Jerusalem’s Holy Sepulchre (Fides) A major restoration project has begun at the shrine inside Jerusalem’s Church of the Holy Sepulchre where Jesus is said to have been buried before his resurrection. The experts involved in the work started yesterday, Monday 6 June. Greek architect Antonia Moropoulou, professor at the National Technical University of Athens, scientific coordinator of the project, said in some statements released to the media that the Aedicule structure is stable, but it needs urgent restoration, after years of exposure to environmental factors such as water, humidity and smoke candles...



6 June 2016
Greg Kandra




A group of Maronite Catholics from the United States traveled to Rome last weekend with their Lebanese bishop, who spoke of his country’s challenges during the present refugee crisis.
(video: Rome Reports)


US-backed force in Syria closes in on ISIS-held city (Reuters) U.S.-backed Syrian fighters have surrounded the Islamic State-held city of Manbij from three sides as they press an offensive against the jihadists near the Turkish border, a spokesman for the fighters said on Monday. The Syria Democratic Forces (SDF), including the powerful Kurdish YPG militia and Arab allies, launched the attack last week with the ultimate aim of dislodging Islamic State from its last foothold at the Syrian-Turkish frontier...

World’s Muslims mark beginning of Ramadan (Al Jazeera) Millions of Muslims around the world are marking the start of the holy month of Ramadan on Monday, a time marked by intense prayer, dawn-to-dusk fasting and good deeds . Religious authorities in most Middle Eastern countries announced the new moon of Ramadan was spotted on Sunday evening...

Syrian children are breadwinners in Lebanon (Associated Press) More than 1.1 million Syrians have sought refuge here since the start of the 2011 uprising, more than half of them children. The U.N.’s children agency, UNICEF, says there are 2.8 million children out of school in the region, and child refugees are particularly at risk of exploitation and abuse, with large numbers having no choice but to go to work...

Synagogue hosts welcome dinner for Syrian refugees (The Washington Post) In Syria, Mostafa Hassoun was told that Jews were the enemy of Syrians and that Israel was out to occupy and oppress his people. But then he fled his country — and he gained access to the Internet. One of the first topics he read about online was the Holocaust. And his attitude shifted drastically. On Thursday, Hassoun found himself in a building he might never have thought he would enter — a synagogue — to speak to people he had been taught to hate — Jews...

Thousands attend memorial for Ethiopian Jews who died on way to Israel (The Jerusalem Post) At a ceremony Sunday memorializing those who perished en route from Ethiopia to Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to eradicate racism in Israeli society. “This is an alarming phenomenon among us. It’s something that is unacceptable,” he said at the national memorial ceremony held on Jerusalem’s Mount Herzl. “We are against this with all our might, and it has no place in Israel. You are the flesh of our flesh, an integral part of our nation, equal among equals...”

Vladimir Putin visits Mount Athos (BBC) Russian President Vladimir Putin has visited the monasteries at Mount Athos, in northern Greece, one of Orthodox Christianity’s holiest sites. Mr. Putin joined celebrations at the monastery of St Panteleimon to mark 1,000 years of Russian monks at Mount Athos. He was accompanied by Patriarch Kirill, head of the Russian Orthodox Church...



3 June 2016
J.D. Conor Mauro




Melkite Greek Catholic Patriarch Gregory III of Antioch meets with children as they take part in a day of activities and prayers at a church in Damascus. (photo: CNS/Omar Sanadiki, Reuters)

U.N. plans no imminent aid airdrops in Syria, despite expired deadline (New York Times) The United Nations on Thursday dimmed any prospect of immediate airdrops of aid to Syrian civilians trapped by the war, despite an expired deadline imposed on Syria’s government to allow unfettered humanitarian access by land. United Nations officials said the World Food Program, its anti-hunger agency, had no imminent plans for airdrops even though the organization had known for more than two weeks about the deadline, which expired on Wednesday…

Syria’s Roma refugees find tenuous sanctuary in an Istanbul ghetto (The Guardian) On the north-western corner of Istanbul’s famous Taksim Square, a small gang of children dart through the traffic, tapping on car windows and trying to catch the attention of passers-by to sell bottles of water. These Syrian Roma children from a community known as the Dom are in many ways the forgotten faces of the Middle East crisis, which has left an estimated 26,000 refugee children homeless across Europe. The Dom speak a separate language which traces back to the Indian subcontinent; even in times of peace they have always existed on the fringes of society, and are used to facing almost universal discrimination…

Syrian refugees help bail out German towns amid massive flooding (Christian Science Monitor) As floodwaters sweep through Europe, some refugees are pitching in to help with the disaster relief efforts. “We know what it means to live in a crisis area and to lose your home,” Syrian Naja al Hassas told the Deutsche Presse-Agentur, as he assisted with clean-up in the German town of Simbach am Inn…

More shipwrecks in Mediterranean claim migrants’ lives, spur recriminations (Washington Post) The death toll from a week of migrant-smuggling disasters in the Mediterranean spiked Friday with the discovery of more than 100 drowning victims off the Libyan coast amid searches for survivors of at least two other stricken boats in waters off Crete and Egypt…

Bulgarian Orthodox Church withdraws from Pan-Orthodox Council in Crete (Sofia Globe) The governing body of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, the Holy Synod, signaled on 1 June its withdrawal from the Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church to be held in Crete from 16 to 26 June. Strictly speaking, the Holy Synod demanded the postponement of the council unless its various demands were met, but given that this is unlikely to happen, the Synod’s decision effectively amounts to withdrawal. The Pan-Orthodox Council has been planned as the first such gathering in about 1000 years…

How one Jerusalem neighborhood has been left to fend for itself (Al Monitor) Kufr Aqab, an area of the Jerusalem municipality that is situated beyond the wall, is in “no-man’s-land.” The Israelis who hold sovereignty here fail to take their responsibility to provide services to the area and its residents, and the Palestinian Authority is not allowed to enter the area, leaving it unregulated with garbage often uncollected and water filling the streets…



Tags: Syria Jerusalem Migrants Bulgarian Orthodox Church Roma

2 June 2016
J.D. Conor Mauro




Armenian priests attend a meeting of the German parliament on 2 June, as legislators approve a resolution recognizing the mass killings of Armenians by the Ottoman government as a genocide. (photo: Mehmet Kaman/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

German parliament declares Armenian deaths a genocide, angering Turkey (New York Times) The German Parliament overwhelmingly adopted a symbolic but fraught resolution on Thursday declaring the killings of Armenians by Ottoman Turks in 1915 a genocide, escalating tensions with Turkey at a diplomatically delicate juncture. The Turkish government angrily denounced the vote as “null and void” and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan recalled the ambassador in Germany back to Ankara for consultations…

India: Traffickers force 300,000 children to beg in streets (Vatican Radio) At least 300,000 children across India are drugged, beaten and forced to beg every day, in what has become a multi-million rupee industry controlled by human trafficking cartels, say police and trafficking experts…

As fighting surges again in Ukraine, an environmental disaster looms (Washington Post) Land mines and sniper fire, tank traps and unexploded shells have shut down Highway 20, the main artery into eastern Ukraine’s separatist stronghold of Donetsk. But despite the upheavals caused by two years of war, ordinary life along the route has struggled on. As violence surges again, that could change…

Ancient Gaza monastery gets second life as children’s library (Al Monitor) Al Khodr Shrine, which is also known as the Khodr Monastery and St. Hilarius Monastery, is situated just 200 yards south of the Deir al Balah city center. The director general of antiquities and cultural heritage at the Ministry of Tourism, Jamal Abu Rayda, told Al Monitor that archaeological studies confirmed that at the bottom of this site is situated the monastery of St. Hilarius, which dates back to the third century and is considered one of the oldest that still exists in Palestine. The monastery is now being restored by the Iwan Center for Architecture Heritage of the Islamic University and the Riwaq Center for Architectural Conservation and turned into a library for the children of the neighborhood…

First seed library sprouts in Palestine (Al Jazeera) A search for rare seeds may seem like something out of a fairytale, but for Vivien Sansour it is a quest to bring back what years of Israeli occupation practices and climate change have pushed to the brink of extinction. The agronomist from Beit Jala, a town near Bethlehem, is collecting seed varieties handed down by Palestinian farmers for generations — an effort that will culminate with a seed library which she hopes will sprout into others across the occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip…



Tags: India Ukraine Gaza Strip/West Bank Germany

1 June 2016
J.D. Conor Mauro




Refugees wait in a queue for food at a makeshift camp at the Jardin d'Eole in Paris on 28 May. (photo: Nnoman Cadoret/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Refugee camp to be built in Paris (Vatican Radio) Preparations are underway in the French capital of Paris to construct a new refugee camp. The mayor has expressed concern about the mounting death toll among people fleeing war and poverty. She made the remarks after officials said at least 1,000 migrants perished in the Mediterranean…

Bishops condemn attacks on Africans in India (UCA News) Bishops in India have condemned a series of attacks on Africans in New Delhi, terming it as a disturbing trend and against Indian culture. “Africans and for that matter nationals of any country are our esteemed guests. Treat them as per our culture,” Bishop Theodore Mascarenhas, secretary-general of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India, said in a press statement…

New apostolic vicar of Harar in Ethiopia consecrated (Vatican Radio) Bishop Angelo Pagano was last Sunday consecrated as the apostolic vicar of Harar in Ethiopia. The colorful ceremony took place at Diredawa St. Augustine Catholic Church. The new bishop was welcomed to his vicariate on 28 May at the Diredawa airport by the archbishop of Addis Ababa, Cardinal Berhaneyesus Demerew Souraphiel, C.M., and Archbishop Luigi Bianco, the apostolic nuncio to Ethiopia. Also present were other Catholic bishops of Ethiopia, the mayor of Diredawa, students and hundreds of Catholics as well as people of good will…

A century ago, Syrians took in Armenians; now, in Armenia, a Syrian family rebuilds (Forbes) One month ago, one more Syrian restaurant opened, this one in Yerevan, Armenia. “I love Armenia. It’s my job, I think, to love it. I want to live here. I don’t want to go anywhere else,” says Shaghig Rastkelenian, who fled to Armenia about four years ago from Aleppo with her family. “My mom is professional cook. She cooks Arabic food and Syrian food, and everybody knows her,” she says. As the Syrian refugee diaspora spreads across the world, restaurants are one of the first signs of their integration in new communities. Syrians are known throughout the Middle East for their craft skills, which include cooking…

In Egyptian village, attack on Christian grandmother fuels anger (AINA) Souad Thabet’s house no longer has a door. Inside, its walls are blackened with soot and a television lies shattered on the floor. The remains of a red nightgown stand out among the ashes. Thabet, 70, describes being dragged outside by Muslim villagers and stripped naked in the dirt roads of Alkarm, the Egyptian village where she spent most of her adult life. Her crime? Her son, a married Christian, was rumored to have had an affair with a married Muslim woman. The woman has since denied the affair took place on national television. President Abdel Fattah al Sisi has denounced the Alkarm attack, which underlines that Copts remain vulnerable three years after he took power and pledged to unite the country following years of political turmoil…

Conference of European Churches discusses women and children’s rights (Fides) Women and children figure prominently as refugees in mass movements of people in recent months, and their rights will be at the forefront of a meeting organized in Greece by the Conference of European Churches in Thessaloniki, from 31 May to 4 June…



Tags: India Egypt Ethiopia Armenia France

31 May 2016
J.D. Conor Mauro




A child celebrates safe landfall at the port of Cagliari, Sardinia, on 26 May, two days after being rescued near the Libyan coasts. (photo: Gabriel Bouys/AFP/Getty Images)

U.N. children’s agency ‘alarmed’ at deaths in the Mediterranean (U.N. News Center) The United Nations Children’s Fund has expressed alarm at the number of migrant and refugee deaths in the past week in the Mediterranean, many of whom were believed to be unaccompanied minors. In anticipation of a major summer upswing of child migrants using the dangerous crossing between Libya and Italy UNICEF will shortly begin an operation with the Italian Government and partners to provide protection support, the agency said yesterday in a press release…

Pope Francis asks for prayers for Syrian children (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis urged the faithful to join in prayer on Wednesday, 1 June, International Children’s Day, with a special thought for the children in Syria. Speaking after the Angelus Prayer in St. Peter’s Square the pope greeted all the deacons present in Rome for their jubilee, thanking them for being present for the occasion but also for their presence in the church…

Iraqi bishop: ISIS drove us to unity (AINA) Archbishop Nicodemus Sharaf Daoud, the Syriac Orthodox bishop of Mosul, visited France and Belgium from 19 to 24 May and gave a series of lectures on the situation of Assyro-Chaldeans in Iraq. He and his congregation were forced into exile to Iraq’s northern region since ISIS attacked and took over Mosul in 2014. The archbishop expressed disappointment in the international community’s response, and hope for solidarity among the region’s Christian communities. “This tragedy made us walk towards unity,” he said. “Arriving in Mosul, ISIS’s men chased the Christians indiscriminately. So why should we make differences? In Erbil, I am constantly in contact with Bishop Petros Moshe, Syriac Catholic archbishop of Mosul, and Bishop Bashar Warda, the Chaldean archbishop of Erbil. We work together on all subjects…”

Syria cease-fire strengthens Al Qaeda branch (AINA) Al Qaeda’s branch in Syria has recruited thousands of fighters, including teenagers, and taken territory from government forces in a successful offensive in the north, illustrating how the cease-fire put in place by Russia and the United States to weaken the militants has in many ways backfired. The branch, known as Al Nusra Front, has churned out a flood of videos — slickly produced in the style of its rival, ISIS — that show off its recruitment drive…

How the war on Syria left its mark on Lebanon’s economy (Al Monitor) The economic and social impact of the Syrian crisis — now entering its sixth year — is one of the most critical issues facing Lebanon. The total number of displaced Syrians who took refuge in Lebanon since the outbreak of the conflict in March 2011 stands at 1.5 million — meaning one in four people in Lebanon is a Syrian refugee. This has strained the public financial capacities and the provision of environmental services in Lebanon. The crisis is also expected to increase rampant poverty among the Lebanese and widen the income inequality gap…

Christians, Muslims, Yazidis and Mandaeans praying for peace (Chaldean Patriarchade of Babylon) At the invitation of Chaldean Patriarch Louis Raphael I, a get-together event was held on Monday evening, 30 May, to pray for peace in Iraq, Syria and the region, at the Virgin Mary Church in Baghdad. Christian clergy of various churches participated in this event, in addition to Muslims — both Shiites and Sunnis — and representatives of Mandaean and Yazidi communities. Several ambassadors, and members of the Iraqi parliament also joined the large crowd of faithful in prayers…

Bishop to donate kidney to poor, lower-caste Hindu in India (Crux) Catholic news from India often pivots these days on anti-Christian bias, even outright persecution from the majority Hindu population. The way one Catholic bishop has chosen to put mercy into practice, however, is a reminder that interreligious tension and conflict is hardly the only narrative. Syro-Malabar Catholic Bishop Mar Jacob Muricken, 52, an auxiliary in the Palai diocese in Kerala, received the necessary clearances from a governmental medical college in Kottayam to take one of his healthy kidneys and have it transplanted into a 30-year-old poor and lower-caste Hindu man from Kottakal…



Tags: Syria India Iraq Interreligious United Nations

27 May 2016
J.D. Conor Mauro




Syrians gather their belongings as they leave a refugee camp due to ISIS attacks in the Azaz district of Aleppo, on 27 May. (photo: Ali Demir/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

U.N. relief chief calls for more assistance for Syrians (U.N. News Center) Following a visit to Hatay in southern Turkey, the top United Nations humanitarian official has called for greater assistance for Syrians in need, both inside the country and across the region, warning that the humanitarian situation for millions of people remains “unrelentingly distressing and dire…”

Syria’s ruined cities will need decades, not years, to recover (AINA) While diplomats wrangle in Geneva over a nascent, faltering peace process kick-started by the United Nations, other organizations are scratching their heads over the huge challenge of reconstructing and rebuilding a country that has been torn apart. In 2014, a U.N. study suggested that it would take Syria at least three decades to recover. The World Bank is trying to come to grips with the nuts and bolts of the destruction. Using satellite imagery of six Syrian cities, the organization came up with assessments for the damage wrought on these urban centers. A conservative estimate on the losses in public infrastructure sits at $6 billion…

Civilians trapped in Iraqi city of Falluja are starving (Vatican Radio) Around 50,000 civilians trapped in the Iraqi city of Fallujah face starvation as government forces continue their assault to retake it from ISIS militants. The grim assessment came from the Norwegian Refugee Council, an NGO that has been delivering aid to those civilians who managed to escape from the outlying areas of Fallujah before the assault commenced…

Returning home to Iraq’s city of Ramadi means facing hidden dangers (Los Angeles Times) After more than a year away from the war-ravaged Iraqi city of Ramadi, Osama Ismail felt it was safe enough to return to check on the condition of his abandoned home. The government, after all, had declared the city “liberated” from Islamic State extremists. Ismail, a father of four, walked through the house last month surveying the damage, eventually reaching the bedroom he shared with his wife. They had left clothes and other items behind in their rush to leave the city and he was curious to see what remained. Then, an explosion. Family members said the blast threw the 42-year-old teacher against a wall and killed him instantly. The house, local officials said, had been booby-trapped with an improvised explosive device by Islamic State fighters…

‘Disaster in the making’: The many failures of the E.U.-Turkey refugee deal (Der Spiegel) The internment of Syrian refugees raises new doubts over the controversial refugee agreement between Europe and Turkey. Indeed, it appears that the deal is on the verge of falling apart, only two months after the program began…

Coptic Orthodox Church confirms mob attack on Christians in Minya village (Ahram Online) The Coptic Orthodox Coptic Church said in a statement on Wednesday that a mob attacked Christian homes in a village in Minya last Friday, and stripped an older Christian woman of her clothes during the assault…



Tags: Syria Iraq Egypt Turkey United Nations

26 May 2016
J.D. Conor Mauro




Muslims and Christians alike visit the Shrine of Our Lady of Lebanon in the village of Harissa, near Beirut. (photo: CNS/Dalia Khamissy)

In Lebanon, Muslims and Christians visit Marian shrine at Harissa (CNS) High on a summit overlooking the Mediterranean, Our Lady of Lebanon stands majestically with her arms outstretched, welcoming her children. Muslims and Christians alike come to the shrine, 16 miles north of Beirut. To Muslims, Mary is known in Arabic as “Seidatna Maryam,” Our Lady Mary. Even though Muslims do not believe that Jesus is the Son of God, in the Quran, a chapter is devoted to Maryam…

Egypt: Muslim crowd burns seven homes of Copts (ANSAmed) A crowd of some 300 Muslims attacked and set on fire seven homes of Coptic Christians in a village of central Egypt and forced a Christian woman to strip naked in public. The incident was reported in a statement by the Coptic church of the governorate of Minya, quoted by Egyptian media like Al Masry al Youm and occurred near Abu Qurqas on Friday night. The homes were “attacked, burned, ransacked and destroyed” at around 8 p.m., the statement said, reporting that police reached the location two hours later, arresting six people. The crowd of attackers was “chanting slogans” and the “deplorable incidents” followed “reports of a sentimental relationship between a Coptic Christian man and a Muslim woman…”

Lebanese leaders hope pope-imam meeting leads to new relationships (Catholic Philly) Lebanese leaders in Muslim-Christian dialogue said they hoped Pope Francis’ meeting with Ahmad el Tayeb, grand imam of Al Azhar University, would lead to new relationships. Maronite Father Fadi Daou, chairman of Adyan, a foundation for interfaith studies and spiritual solidarity based in Lebanon, told Catholic News Service that he hopes the meeting will be the forerunner to a “new dimension of interreligious relations.” Mohammad Sammak, secretary-general of Lebanon’s Christian-Muslim Committee for Dialogue, said the meeting likely would “open a new page of cooperation on the basis of building real citizenship — equal citizenship — between Christians and Muslims all over the Middle East…”

Msgr. Sullivan describes his experiences in Iraq (Catholic Charities) Catholic Charities Executive Director Msgr. Kevin Sullivan joined a small delegation in early April led by Cardinal Timothy Dolan, chair of Catholic Near East Welfare Association (CNEWA), to Iraqi Kurdistan. During this mission they visited families displaced after ISIS swept through Iraq in the summer of 2014. They spent time in displacement camps filled with Christians, Muslims and Yazidis who fled to these camps and looked at health clinics, schools and churches that sprung up to serve them. As part of the delegation, Msgr. Sullivan spoke one-on-one with those forced to flee their homes as well as with sisters, priests and bishops…

Dozens feared dead as migrant boat capsizes in Mediterranean (TheGuardian) Dozens of people are feared to have drowned in the second shipwreck in as many days in the southern Mediterranean, amid tentative signs that some Syrians may be trying once again to make for Europe from Libya…

Uproar over police brutality against Israeli Arab (Al Monitor) Israeli passersby documented border police officers beating an Israeli-Arab youth working in a Tel Aviv grocery store…



Tags: Iraq Egypt Lebanon Israel Migrants

25 May 2016
J.D. Conor Mauro




Internally displaced Iraqis leave a Catholic church after celebrating the liturgy in a camp in Ain Kawa, Iraq, in April. (photo: CNS/Paul Jeffrey)

Tom Gallagher: The desperate plight of Iraqi Christians (Greenwich Time) In mid-April 2016, as an act of solidarity with the suffering Christians and other religious minorities, New York’s Cardinal Timothy Dolan, as chairman of the Board of Directors of the 90-year old New York City-based papal agency, Catholic Near East Welfare Association (CNEWA), made a pastoral visit to Erbil and Dohuk, a town near the Turkish border. I went as a journalist for the National Catholic Reporter. Our small delegation visited multiple health clinics and displacement camps for Iraqi Christians and Yazidis. At each stop the displaced repeated the plea to be able to “just go home…”

Christian schools at risk as Israeli government reneges on promise (Fides) A few days before the end of a difficult school year, which started with a 27-day strike, 47 Christian schools operating in Israel are facing a financial emergency because the Ministry of education has not honored their commitment to transfer 50 million shekels to the Christian schools, a condition of the agreement that ended the strike in September. As of today, the government is more than 50 days past its deadline…

Iraqi priest: Violence, divisions have created a sense of brotherhood with Muslims (Herald Malaysia Online) The Rev. Samir Youssef, pastor in the Chaldean Eparchy of Amadiya, in Iraqi Kurdistan, has been taking care of 3,500 Christian, Muslim and Yazidi refugee families since 2014. Over this time, ISIS, violence, political divisions and partisan interests have created a new sense of brotherhood among them. In the past, people lived side by side, but today, refugees have a new desire of community, which is “expressed in what they do but also what they say,” not only among children and youths, but also among adults “who have overcome their initial distrust,” Father Youssef says. “When Muslim and Yazidi children call me ‘Abouna’ [“father” in Arabic], and come to visit me in church, this is God’s victory…”

Syrian bishop’s plea as blasts cause carnage (AINA) A bishop in Syria has described desperate efforts to tend to the injured and the dying following multiple ISIS attacks in Tartous and Jableh, which left more than 200 dead and nearly 650 injured. Bishop Antioine Chbeir stressed that Monday’s attacks in his diocese were the first of their kind in an area where displaced Syrians had gathered in their hundreds of thousands, believing it to be one of the last remaining safe areas of the country…

Christianity in India and the challenges of Hindu extremism (The Tablet) Christians and Muslims have been persecuted at the hands of Hindu nationalists associated with the ruling B.J.P. party, which espouses Hindutva, the ethno-religious political ideology that claims India as a “motherland” for Hindus and regards Islam and Christianity as alien elements in Indian society. The Syro-Malabar Church, with 4 million members, is the largest of southwest India’s churches, claiming descent from the mission efforts of the Apostle Thomas. It is one of the 23 Eastern Catholic churches in communion with Rome. Whether Thomas actually arrived in India in the year 52 is disputable, but it is clear that Christianity was established on the Malabar coast at least as early as the sixth century, and thereafter lived in cultural symbiosis with both Hinduism and Buddhism. So far, the level of interreligious violence has been low in Kerala compared with other states, but, warns Cardinal George Alencherry, “there is an undercurrent of communal tension here too…”



Tags: Syria India Iraq Israel Iraqi Christians





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