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December, 2017
Volume 43, Number 4
  
23 September 2014
J.D. Conor Mauro




Lt. General William C. Mayville Jr. speaks about the bombing campaign in Syria, on 23 September in Washington, DC. (photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

U.S. airstrikes expand to Syrian city of Aleppo (Los Angeles Times) Even as it launched sweeping new airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria, the U.S. military said Tuesday that it had expanded the campaign to the northern Syrian city of Aleppo, targeting an offshoot of Al Qaeda said to be plotting “imminent” attacks against American and Western targets. A total of eight U.S. air attacks carried out in Syria’s largest city were aimed at the Khorasan Group, described in a U.S. Central Command statement as an organization of Al Qaeda veterans. The Aleppo campaign marked an expansion of the bombing effort launched initially against strongholds of the Islamic State in eastern Syria, conducted by U.S. planes, drones and ships with the help of five Arab nations. The strikes indicate that the U.S. air campaign in Syria has broader objectives than going after the Islamic State, the target of the attacks in eastern Syria…

Do Syrians support U.S. airstrikes in Syria? (Al Monitor) As a wary United States Congress passed a resolution authorizing the president to arm Syrian rebels against the Islamic State (IS), and as U.S. military planners consider airstrikes against IS in Syria, Al Monitor’s Syria Pulse covered how Syrians, suffering from more than three years of war, might react. Khaled Attalah reports from Damascus that Syrians there prefer a political solution to the war rather than U.S. airstrikes. Attalah writes, “After mobilizing its allies from around the world, the White House hopes that by using force and launching airstrikes, the IS threat will disappear. However, the Syrian people are not only hoping to be rid of this terrorist group, but also the bloody bottleneck they have been living through for more than three years.” Reporting from the Al Bab region, an IS stronghold east of Aleppo, Al Monitor columnist Edward Dark writes that the prospect of U.S. airstrikes is being greeted with more anxiety than enthusiasm, and could redound to the advantage of IS…

Iraq’s minorities demand weapons, training (Al Monitor) Following the huge regression in the situation of Iraq’s minorities after IS took control of many of the regions where they reside, these groups — including Christian and Yazidi populations — were left with no choice but to call for being armed and trained to protect themselves from the attacks they have witnessed from extremists. This call has not been limited to arming a specific minority, but rather became a mass call advocated by leaders, political parties, activists and individuals in various ways…

Abbas to reveal plan at U.N. to end occupation (Al Jazeera) This week Palestinian officials are busy working on different diplomatic tracks to push forward a new proposal at the United Nations to end Israel’s occupation, work on internal divisions, and hold talks with Israel on cementing a truce in the besieged Gaza Strip. These efforts are taking place in Cairo starting Tuesday, and at the United Nations in New York City throughout the week, as the General Assembly gathers for its 69th session to discuss a wide range of issues; from Syria and Iraq to the Ebola crisis…

Ukraine rebels withdraw artillery (Vatican Radio) Ukraine’s government says its forces and pro-Russian separatists have begun withdrawing heavy artillery in the east of the country as part of efforts to implement a still shaky ceasefire. The withdrawal comes amid pressure on Ukraine’s president and concerns that the country will receive less support from a key ally…

Pope: Respond to ‘globalization of migration’ with ‘globalization of charity’ (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis calls for “more decisive and constructive action” to deal with the phenomenon of migration, saying this will lead to “greater effectiveness in the fight against the shameful and criminal trafficking of human beings, the violation of fundamental rights, and all forms of violence, oppression and enslavement…”

Islamists destroy Armenian Genocide Memorial Church in Deir Ezzor (PanArmenian.net) The Islamic State has destroyed the Armenian Genocide Memorial Church in Deir Ezzor, Syria, news agencies in the Middle East reported, according to The Armenian Weekly. Armenian Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian issued a statement condemning the destruction of the church, calling it a “horrible barbarity…”



Tags: Syria Iraq Ukraine Syrian Civil War Palestine

22 September 2014
J.D. Conor Mauro




#455919754 / gettyimages.com
Syrian Kurds carry their belongings after crossing in to Turkey near the Syrian border on 21 September, near the southeastern town of Suruc. (photo: Getty Images)

Turkey clamps down on Syria border after Kurdish unrest (BBC) Turkey has begun to close some of its border crossings with Syria after about 130,000 Kurdish refugees entered the country over the weekend. On Sunday Turkish security forces clashed with Kurds protesting in solidarity with the refugees. Before the latest influx, there were already more than one million Syrian refugees in Turkey. On Friday Turkey opened a 19-mile section of the border to Syrians fleeing the town of Kobane, also known as Ayn al Arab. But on Monday only two out of nine border posts in the area remained open, the U.N. refugee agency UNHCR said…

Oil-rich Kirkuk in Iraq’s north fears attack by Islamic State (Los Angeles Times) In recent weeks, international attention has focused on Islamic State advances elsewhere in the Kurdish region, such as near the strategic Mosul dam and the city of Irbil, capital of semiautonomous Iraqi Kurdistan. U.S. airstrikes have helped push back the militants — and provided a tactical and psychological lift for peshmerga fighters, who fell back last month in a humiliating retreat. The Kurds have since regrouped and regained ground. For now, their heartland to the north seems secure. But commanders acknowledge that the peshmerga, despite their fearsome reputation, are stretched thin, ill-equipped and have little recent battle experience. Perhaps no place in the sprawling zone under Kurdish authority is as vulnerable as Kirkuk province, long the focus of competing regional and international interests. For decades, its immense petroleum reserves have been a blessing and a curse…

More than 3,000 Gazan children wounded in war (Al Monitor) According to statistics published by the Ministry of Health in Gaza, the death toll of the Israeli war on Gaza includes 540 child deaths, which represents 25 percent of the entire death toll. Over 3,000 children were injured, some of whom have had their limbs amputated or are in critical condition…

Pope: Culture of “tolerance”, “fraternity” in Albania (Vatican Radio) Although the plane trip from Albania to Rome was only 90 minutes, it still left time for Pope Francis to give what has become a traditional post-trip in-flight interview with journalists. During the press encounter, Pope Francis stressed that he was impressed “from the beginning” by the youth of the country, and noted the cooperation among the three major religions: Islam, Orthodox Christianity, and Catholicism. He reiterated the importance of the culture of “living together,” “tolerance” and “fraternity” in the Balkan country…



Tags: Iraq Syrian Civil War Gaza Strip/West Bank Turkey Albania

19 September 2014
Greg Kandra




Pope Francis walks next to Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan during a meeting at the Vatican on 19 September. (photo: CNS/Andrew Medichini, pool via Reuters)

Turkey opens border to Syrians fleeing ISIS (BBC) Turkey has allowed thousands of Syrian Kurds fleeing Islamic State (IS) militants to cross its southern border, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said. TV footage showed exhausted people, mostly women and children, crossing into the south-eastern border village of Dikmetas under tight security. The move followed clashes with Turkish Kurd protesters who were calling for the refugees to be allowed in. Syrian Kurds have been massing along the Turkish border since Thursday...

Pope meets with president of Armenia (VIS) This morning Pope Francis received in audience the president of the Republic of Armenia, Serzh Sargsyan, who subsequently met with Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Secretary of State, accompanied by Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, Secretary for Relations with States. During the cordial discussions, satisfaction was expressed for the development and strengthening of bilateral relations, highlighting the special role of Christianity in the history and life of Armenian society...

Will bishops at upcoming Synod understand the challenges of India? (UCANews) At least one Indian archbishop will speak at the Synod on the Family called by Pope Francis in Rome a fortnight from now. Having served in Delhi as the apostolic nuncio at a critical time in the country’s political history, Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri is an old India hand. But will that be sufficient to have post-synod documents reflect the South Asian reality as a matter of conjecture, and hope?...

Religion still leads the way in Egypt (The Guardian) When protesters successfully called for the overthrow of Mohamed Morsi last year, part of their rhetoric played on fears that Egypt's first democratically elected president and his Muslim Brotherhood were seeking to turn the country into a theocracy. Yet 14 months on, religion and politics are as interwoven as ever — and Morsi’s successors in government are leading the way...



Tags: Syria India Egypt Turkey Armenia

18 September 2014
Greg Kandra




As reports circulate of Christians returning to some recaptured villages in northern Iraq, the British ambassador to the Holy See in the video above says “We want persecuted minorities to be
able to return home.” (video: Rome Reports)


Kurds retake Christian villages (AFP) Kurdish peshmerga forces on Tuesday recaptured seven Christian villages in northern Iraq in clashes with Islamic State (IS) jihadists, an officer and a cleric said. Iraq’s largest Christian town, Qaraqosh, and dozens of other villages were all but emptied in what Christian leaders described as the worst disaster for the minority in centuries.Tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians, most of them Chaldeans, fled their homes when IS militants launched a renewed drive in the north in early August. On Tuesday, peshmerga forces ousted IS militants from seven villages west of the Kurdish capital Arbil during fighting in which rockets and mortar rounds were used, a senior officer said...

Saudi Arabia pledges $500 million to Gaza rebuilding (Reuters) Saudi Arabia has pledged $500 million to help rebuild Gaza, Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Al-Hamdallah said on Thursday, with the full cost of post-war reconstruction expected to be around $4 billion over three years. Saudi Arabia’s commitment comes ahead of a conference in Cairo on 12 October when Palestinian leaders hope other donors, including Turkey, Qatar, the European Union and United States, will step forward with promises of support...

Kerala migration rising (The India Express) The Kerala Migration Survey of 2014 has found that flow of Keralites to abroad still continues mainly because of the state’s inability to provide suitable jobs for the increasing number of educated youths. Apart from this, the glamor associated with Gulf emigration is still strong among the state’s youth...

Pope meets with Jewish leaders to mark Rosh Hashanah (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Wednesday afternoon met with delegation of 40 world Jewish leaders at the Casa Santa Marta. The gathering was in honor of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. Among those attending the event were World Jewish Congress (WJC) President Ronald S. Lauder, Latin American Jewish Congress President Jack Terpins, WJC Treasurer Chella Safra and a number of Jewish community heads and senior WJC officials...

Ethiopia equipped to confront Ebola crisis (Christian Science Monitor) Six months into the worst Ebola outbreak in history, only two African nations — Ethiopia and Algeria — are adequately prepared to handle the potential arrival of the virus, according to the World Health Organization. Nineteen countries are partially prepared, and 20 were described are not prepared at all...



Tags: Iraq Pope Francis Ethiopia Gaza Strip/West Bank Kerala

17 September 2014
Greg Kandra




In this image from May, Jordan’s King Abdullah welcomes Pope Francis during his visit to Amman.
(photo: CNS/Paul Haring)


Jordan’s King Abdullah II: We want to increase presence of Arab Christians (Fides) In the sectarian conflicts afflicting the Middle East, Jordan wants to represent “an oasis of security and stability,” while pledging to do its utmost to protect the Christian Arabs and increase their presence in the region. This is how — according to Jordan sources consulted by Fides Agency — King Abdullah II outlined the profile of his country in a meeting with government representatives convened on 16 September to outline the Jordanian position regarding the alarming progression of the jihadists of the Islamic State...

UN brokers deal to help rebuild Gaza (BBC) A deal has been agreed by Israeli and Palestinian officials to allow building materials into the Gaza Strip for reconstruction, a top UN official says. Robert Serry, special co-ordinator for the Middle East peace process, said the Palestinian Authority would play a lead role in the reconstruction effort. He said it was a step towards the aim of lifting all restrictions on Gaza. More than 100,000 people were left homeless by the recent 50-day conflict between Israel and militants in Gaza...

Coptic Christians clash with police in Egypt (AP) A couple hundred Christian protesters clashed with police in southern Egypt after holding a demonstration on Tuesday in front of a police station demanding authorities locate an abducted housewife, a security official said. The official says protesters hurled Molotov cocktails at a police station in Samalout town, in Minya province, wounding three policemen. The police arrested at least 33 protesters. The official says the demonstration was over the abduction of a 37-year-old Coptic housewife, who went missing two weeks ago...

Patriarch Kiril receives a fighter jet as a gift (The Guardian) Patriarch Kirill, the head of the Russian Orthodox church, was presented with an unlikely gift for a religious leader this week as he toured a factory in Russia’s far-east — a single-seater fighter jet SU-35. Kirill was presented with the jet after giving icons to workers at the civilian and military aircraft plant, the church said in a statement on its official website on Tuesday...

India seeks urgent aid for flood victims (Independent Catholic News) A bishop in India has described the areas engulfed by catastrophic floods last week, as ‘Ground Zero.’ Bishop Peter Celestine of Jammu-Srinagar said: “The State of Jammu and Kashmir has experienced the worst-ever floods in living history and our area is like Ground Zero.” Bishop Celestine said that as a result of the floods the lives and livelihood of the people of the state, particularly in the Kashmir region have been completely upturned...



Tags: Egypt Gaza Strip/West Bank Jordan Islam Coptic Christians

16 September 2014
Greg Kandra




In this image from June, Honduran Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga, president of Caritas Internationalis, speaks at a conference in Washington, DC. (photo: CNS/Bob Roller)

Cardinal on Middle East: “Greatest crisis since World War II” (Vatican Radio) Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga opened a high level Caritas meeting for the crises in the Middle East with an impassioned call for peace. Speaking on Monday at the start of the Rome meeting scheduled to run from 15 to 17 September, Cardinal Rodriguez, President of Caritas Internationalis, spoke of the tragedy of millions in Syria who are forced to flee their homes because of conflilct, of the violence of fundamentalist extremism in Iraq and eastern Syria, and of the predicament of Gaza inhabitants who have lost all in recent Israeli bombing. “As part of the humanitarian community” he said “we are confronted with the greatest crisis the world has faced since the Second World War...”

Pope’s envoy to Iraq: “Iraqi people must be defended” (Vatican Radio) Cardinal Fernando Filoni, the special envoy of Pope Francis to Iraq, has called the actions of the so-called Islamic State “Devil things.” Cardinal Filoni, who is Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour “no one can use the name, or in the name of God, to do things like this...”

Gaza’s housing crisis is described as “much worse than the war” (The Washington Post) Official numbers are few in Gaza City, a densely populated seaside enclave of 600,000. But businessmen, rights groups and economists agree that apartment rents here have more than doubled since the war ended, as thousands of displaced residents elbow into an already saturated housing market. Before the war, experts said, an average two-bedroom apartment went for $200 per month; now it can rent for as much as $500...

In Ukraine, rebels granted self-rule and amnesty (BBC) Ukraine’s parliament has granted self-rule to parts of eastern regions held by pro-Russian rebels, as well as an amnesty for the fighters themselves. The measures are in line with the 5 September ceasefire agreement signed by President Petro Poroshenko. The European and Ukrainian parliaments also voted to ratify a major EU-Ukraine association agreement...



Tags: Syria Iraq Ukraine Middle East Gaza Strip/West Bank

15 September 2014
Greg Kandra




Retired Bishop Michael D. Pfeifer of San Angelo, Texas, stands in front of the Israeli separation wall near Jerusalem on 12 September. Bishop Higgins was one of 18 bishops on a nine-day prayer pilgrimage for peace in the Holy Land. (photo: CNS/Debbie Hill)

Pope laments the “madness of war” (Vatican Radio) “We have yet to learn the lesson from the madness of war,” lamented Pope Francis Sunday as he launched two appeals following the midday Angelus prayer with faithful and tourists in St Peter’s Square...

Heavy fighting reported in Ukraine over the weekend (Washington Post) The heaviest fighting in a series of truce violations in Ukraine’s restive east strained the tenuous 10-day-old cease-fire between the Kiev government and pro-Russian separatists, with both sides blaming the other Monday for attacks that included the shelling of residential buildings. Ukrainian military spokesman Andriy Lysenko on Monday accused the rebels of attacking checkpoints and other positions in the east in intensified fighting over the weekend. The Ukrainian military, he said, was forced to respond...

Bishop criticizes senator for politicizing summit on Mideast Christians (CNS) A Catholic bishop criticized Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, for politicizing a conference of diverse political and church leaders working on behalf of Christians and other minorities in the Middle East. “When you come to a hard political stance on anything, it’s going to cause a flare-up, and that’s what happened last night,” Maronite Bishop Gregory J. Mansour of Brooklyn, New York, told Catholic News Service...

Holy Land tour heightens U.S. Bishops’ awareness of complexities of region (CNS) U.S. bishops visiting the Holy Land said an on-the-ground tour and briefing about the situation in East Jerusalem heightened their awareness of the settlement issue in the divided city. “The expansion of settlements is quickly driving (the possibility of a two-state solution) off the drawing board,” said Bishop Richard E. Pates of Des Moines, Iowa, chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on International Justice and Peace. “The continuing expansion of the Jewish communities and its implication for a two-state solution has been a concern of the National Interreligious Leadership Initiative for Peace in the Middle East...”

Gaza children return to school (Al Jazeera) At least half a million children returned to their schools in the Gaza strip on Sunday, where many will be given special attention and pyschological counselling before their regular classes begin. This initiative aims to help children deal with the traumas the war has inflicted on them. There has been several weeks of delay due to the damage of more than 250 schools and the use of about 90 UN educational facilities as shelters for tens of thousands of internally displaced Palestinians, the United Nations and local authorities said...

Law would permit Christian women to inherit property of deceased children (The Times of India) The Narendra Modi government is readying an amendment in the Indian Succession Act of 1925 that will allow Christian women to get rights in the property of their deceased children. As per Sections 41 to 48 of Indian Succession Act, 1925, governing Christians, it gives mothers no right to inherit property of deceased children who have not left behind any will. All such properties are to be inherited by the father. If the father is not alive, the properties go to the siblings...

Catholics and Orthodox to meet in Amman (VIS) The eighth plenary session of the International Joint Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church will take place in Amman, Jordan from 15 to 23 September, following the invitation from the Greek-Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem, His Beatitude Theophilos III...



12 September 2014
Greg Kandra




A woman walks at her destroyed house in the village of Kominternovo, Ukraine, near the southern coastal town of Mariupol on 6 September. Ukraine’s Catholic bishops have warned that their country is “flowing in blood” because of fighting between Ukrainian and se paratist forces, and urged Western governments not to become “accomplices in the sin of murder” by failing to
support the country. (photo: CNS/Vasily Fedosenko, Reuters)


Pope to visit Turkey to mark feast of St. Andrew (Vatican Radio) Turkish President Recep Tayyp Erdogan has issued an official invitation to Pope Francis to visit his country. Speaking to journalists on Friday, the head of the Vatican press office, Father Federico Lombardi said the Holy See had received the invitation and was preparing for a papal visit to Turkey at the end of November. He added that the duration of the trip and the program for the visit were still to be confirmed. The Pope is expected to visit Istanbul on 30 November to celebrate the feast day of St Andrew, founder of the Eastern Church and patron saint of the Orthodox world...

Chaldean bishop requests more visas for Iraqis (Catholic World News) Bishop Sarhad Yawsip Jammo, the head of a Chaldean Catholic eparchy based in San Diego, will travel to the White House with a list of 25,000 Iraqi Catholics who seek entry into the United States. “Requests have been made to White House for an increase in the number of visas issued, to be granted to those who wish and desire to leave Iraq,” reported a California-based Chaldean news site. “In response to a request from the White House, St. Peter’s Diocese has been compiling a list of names for our brothers and sisters in Iraq that want to escape persecution...”

Ukrainian bishops: “Ukraine is bleeding!” (RISU) Bishops of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church in Ukraine and Ukrainian settlements from South and North America, Australia and Europe who gathered at the Holy Synod in Lviv, 10 September, appealed to the world community with the words: “Ukraine is bleeding!” Please read the full text of the appeal of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Synod translated by Father Athanasius McVay...

Deal reached on Gaza reconstruction (The New York Times) President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority said Thursday night that he had reached an agreement with Israel and the United Nations to allow imports of reconstruction materials into the Gaza Strip, apparently bypassing Hamas to fulfill a key tenet of the cease-fire agreement that halted hostilities on 26 August...

Arab countries ready to join alliance against ISIS (AP) Key Arab allies of the U.S. agreed Thursday to “do their share” to fight against the Islamic State group, promising to take action to stop the flow of fighters and funding to the militants and possibly to join military action. The announcement came after U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry met with regional counterparts in the Saudi Red Sea coastal city of Jiddah in an effort to pin down Middle Eastern allies on what support they are willing to give to the U.S. plan to beat back the Islamic State group, which has seized large swaths of Iraq and Syria...

Ukraine president expects his country to join the European Union (The Guardian) Ukraine’s president, Petro Poroshenko, has said he expects Ukraine to join the European Union eventually, and said Europe would be safer, richer and younger with his war-torn country as a member. Speaking at a summit in Kiev attended by senior EU leaders, Poroshenko said it would be “impolite” for Brussels to refuse Ukraine what he called a “membership perspective.” “A friend in need is a friend indeed,” he said. He thanked EU states for imposing the latest round of sanctions against Russia, which were published on Friday, despite a tentative ceasefire in the east of Ukraine agreed last week...

Court stops Kerala’s new liquor law (The Hindu) The Supreme Court on Thursday stopped the Kerala government from implementing its new liquor policy under which 730 bar owners were asked to shut shop while sparing five-star hotels. The policy was to be implemented from 12 September. Ordering status quo till 30 September, a Bench of Justices Anil R. Dave and U.U. Lalit left it to the Kerala High Court, which is scheduled to hear the plea of affected bar owners on 18 September, to decide the future course...



Tags: Ukraine Gaza Strip/West Bank Kerala Turkey Chaldeans

11 September 2014
Greg Kandra




Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, prefect of the Congregation for Eastern Churches, leads a prayer during an ecumenical prayer service at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington on 9 September. Christian patriarchs from the Middle East, along with lawmakers and international human rights activists, are attending In Defense of Christians’ three-day summit about the persecution of
Middle Eastern minorities. (photo: CNS/Tyler Orsburn)


President Obama outlines plan to battle ISIS (The Boston Globe) President Obama on Wednesday outlined a broad battle plan to defeat the Islamic State, including US airstrikes in war-torn Syria and an expanded American military advisory role in Iraq. But he vowed no US ground troops would be engaged in combat. In a prime-time address on the eve of the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, and nearly three years after the withdrawal of US military forces from Iraq, Obama said that the nation faces a grave new threat from the group variously known by the acronyms ISIS and ISIL...

Church leaders, laity meet in Washington on behalf of Christians in the Middle East (CNS) Emphasizing that diversity does not preclude unity, nearly a thousand Christian leaders, politicians and laypeople gathered in Washington to launch a massive effort on behalf of the minority communities of the Middle East. High-ranking church leaders representing Pope Francis and Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros II, patriarchs of Eastern churches, members of Congress and Christians in the diaspora came together in Washington for the inaugural In Defense of Christians summit...

Kiev says most Russian forces now out of Ukraine (The New York Times) President Petro O. Poroshenko of Ukraine said on Wednesday that the bulk of Russian forces had withdrawn from Ukrainian territory, a move that he said heightened the chances for a lasting cease-fire in the southeast. Speaking at the start of a cabinet meeting that was broadcast nationally, the president also announced plans to move ahead with a law intended to cement the wobbly truce reached last Friday...

Israel launches investigations into Gaza war conduct (The New York Times) Israel on Wednesday announced it had begun criminal investigations into five instances of possible military misconduct in the 50-day Gaza war, an implicit acknowledgment of sensitivity to the widespread criticism, even among allies like the United States, that Israeli forces had used excessive firepower in a number of highly publicized assaults in the Palestinian territory...

Imams decry ISIS “barbarism” at Canada rally (Catholic Register) Religious leaders, including two Imams, denounced the barbarism of the Islamic State and urged the protection of Iraqi Christians and other minorities during a Parliament Hill rally on on 6 September. Imam Mohamad Jebara of the Cordova Mosque condemned the persecution in a statement read by a representative to about 1,000 people. “Persecution, oppression and tyranny are deplorable and repulsive regardless of who perpetrates them and against whom they are perpetrated,” said Jebara. “I stand in solidarity with my Christian brethren and other minorities who are suffering in the Middle East and condemn acts of intolerance against them as satanic deeds, contrary to the mercy which the scripture calls us to embody...”



Tags: Syria Iraq Ukraine Gaza Strip/West Bank Copts

10 September 2014
Greg Kandra




Pope Francis kisses the forehead of quadrapalegic Salvatore D’Argento from Chieti, Italy, as he arrives to lead his general audience in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican on 10 September.
(photo: CNS/Paul Haring)


Pope offers message of hope to Christians in the Middle East (VIS) In his greetings in various languages following the catechesis of today’s general audience, Pope Francis addressed the Arab-speaking faithful and in particular those from Syria and the Middle East, to remind them that the Church, following the example of her Master, excels in mercy. “She faces hatred with love, vanquishes violence with forgiveness, and responds to weapons with prayer,” the pope said. He added, “May the Lord reward your faithfulness, inspire you with courage in the struggle against the forces of evil, and open the eyes of those who have been blinded by evil, so that they may soon see the light of truth and repent for the mistakes they have made. May the Lord bless you and protect you always”...

For some Iraqi Christians, returning home is not an option (CNS) Uprooted from his home in Iraq by the advance of Islamic State fighters, Nouree sees no future for Christians in his country. “It’s like a nightmare,” the Chaldean Catholic father of six told Catholic News Service from a modest apartment in Beirut where he and his family have temporarily resettled after fleeing Iraq. “They just came and took our villages,” Nouree said of the militants. Nouree requested that his full name not be used to protect his identity. “It’s not a coincidence. It’s like a plan to rid the region of Christians. We Christians paid the price, and the Yezidis (the minority religious community) did, too,” Nouree said. “Even though they pushed us out, we won’t forget our homeland. This is our past, our history...”

Ukraine president promises greater autonomy to pro-Russian east (AP) Ukraine’s president promised Wednesday to introduce a bill as early as next week that would offer greater autonomy to rebellious regions in the pro-Russia east, where separatists have been battling government troops for almost five months. But President Petro Poroshenko said the regions would remain part of Ukraine and rejected the idea of federalization, something both Russia and the Russian-backed separatists are still pushing for even after a cease-fire that began Friday...

John Kerry arrives in Iraq to build alliance against ISIS (The Washington Post) Secretary of State John F. Kerry came to Iraq on Wednesday to congratulate a new Iraq government on which the United States is basing much of its emerging strategy to counter Islamic State militants. Kerry met with new Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and other senior officials. His visit is timed to precede President Obama’s speech Wednesday evening laying out a multi-pronged plan to confront militants who have seized large swaths of Iraqi and Syrian territory with stunning speed and battlefield prowess...

Egypt’s mufti condemns Islamic State (Kuwait News Agency) The Grand Mufti of Egypt Shawqy Ibrahim Abdulkareem Allam, Monday condemned the Islamic State in Iraq and Levant (ISIL or ISIS) as a terrorist and criminal group which in no way represent Islam. Speaking at the Foreign Affairs Committee of the European Parliament this evening he said the name "Islamic State" of the group is a misnomer and stressed that Islam does not endorse violent acts and expulsion of people from their homes. ISIL "is carrying out activities which are alien to Islam. They don't represent Islam in any way," underlined the mufti...



Tags: Syria Iraq Egypt Ukraine Middle East





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