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December, 2017
Volume 43, Number 4
  
13 May 2014
Greg Kandra




Latin Patriarch Fouad Twal of Jerusalem pauses during an 11 May news conference in the northern city of Haifa, called because of recent attacks dubbed “price tagging.” Archbishop Twal said a spate of attacks he described as acts of terror against the church were poisoning the atmosphere ahead of this month’s visit by Pope Francis, and urged Israel to arrest more perpetrators. (photo: CNS/Ammar Awad, Reuters)

Patriarch wants Israelis to crack down on vandalism at religious sites (CNS) The Latin patriarch of Jerusalem called a continuing wave of vandalism against Christian, Muslim and Druze properties a “blight on Israeli democracy” and urged authorities to step up prosecution against the perpetrators. Patriarch Fouad Twal said during a news conference on 11 May in the northern city of Haifa that the attacks, which involve scrawling and spray painting racist and anti-Christian and anti-Muslim messages on buildings and holy sites, was particularly troublesome in light of Pope Francis’ planned visit to the Holy Land on 24-26 May...

Cardinal challenges interfaith leaders to promote peace (Vatican Radio) Do the choices we make as individuals or collectively lead to increasing peace or increasing violence? That’s the question posed by Cardinal Jean Louis Tauran to participants at a seminar Monday at Petra University in Amman, Jordan exploring the theme “religion and violence.” In his discourse entitled, “Religion, society and violence: causes and results. The role of religious leaders for peace and social cohesion,” the President of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue challenged religious leaders to be at the forefront of efforts to promote peace in their societies...

Group claims Syria used chemical weapons last month (AP) An international human rights group said Tuesday it has strong evidence that the Syrian army used chlorine gas on three rebel-held towns last month. The statement by the New-York based Human Rights Watch adds to concerns that chemical weapons are still being used in Syria, months after a chemical attack killed hundreds of civilians last August. The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, which monitors implementation of the Chemical Weapons Convention, said in April that it would investigate the chlorine claims but hasn’t commented further...

Metropolitan Hilarion says he was refused entry to Ukraine (Reuters) A top cleric from the Russian Orthodox Church said he was refused entry to Ukraine this week amid an escalating stand-off between Moscow and Kiev over separatist unrest in Ukraine’s east. The church’s Department of External Relations said its head, Metropolitan Hilarion, was turned back on Friday at the airport in the eastern city of Dnipropetrovsk where he came to award a prize to a local cleric. “I was given no explanation,” Hilarion told Russian state news channel Rossiya 24. “Apparently my name, and possibly the names of other Church hierarchs, are on a list of people who are banned from entering Ukraine.” The Ukrainian border guard declined to comment...



9 May 2014
J.D. Conor Mauro




The Rev. Ziad Hilal, S.J., has been working tirelessly to ease the suffering of those who remain in Homs. To read more about his work, especially with children growing up in the crosshairs of snipers, read his Letter From Syria in the Summer 2013 issue of ONE. (photo: John E. Kozar)

Jesuit priest’s work continues in Homs (Vatican Radio) A month after the Jesuit Rev. Frans van der Lugt was murdered in the Syrian city of Homs, his friend and fellow Jesuit, the Rev. Ziad Hilal, is continuing his tireless humanitarian work…

Pope: Church in Ethiopia, Eritrea a witness to unity (Vatican Radio) The church in Ethiopia and Eritrea is a unique example of “witness to the unity of the people of God.” Though from different countries and different rites, “each with its own particular richness” shares the same mission of service of Christ and his church. This was the focus of Pope Francis’ address to the bishops from Ethiopia and Eritrea on their pilgrimage…

Lebanon deports Palestinians back to Syria (Al Jazeera) Lebanon’s General Security department has forcibly deported 41 Palestinian refugees back to Syria, despite the fact that they had entered the country legally. The move on 4 May ran counter to an earlier decision by the Lebanese government to not deport any refugee back to Syria under any circumstances. Lebanese authorities pointed out that the arrests and the following deportation was due to the fact that the detainees held forged visas to Libya. After long hours of interrogation at Beirut International Airport, a decision was made to deport the group…

Evidence mounts: Syrian regime hasn’t abandoned chemical weapons (Der Spiegel) Although Damascus has turned over 92.5 percent of its chemical weapons stockpile, including sarin, as agreed, reports indicate it continues to deploy poison gas against the Syrian people. Given chlorine’s use in everyday products, it isn’t included in the list of weapons the regime has agreed to place under international control. Its deployment against humans is nonetheless prohibited under the Chemical Weapons Convention, of which Syria is a signatory. At least 10 chlorine gas attacks have been carried out since April 10 in the border areas of the Idlib and Hama provinces…

Egypt’s Sisi tells media not to push for democratic reforms (Al Jazeera) Egyptian presidential candidate Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, the country’s former military chief, warned newspaper editors Thursday not to cover freedom-of-speech issues or press for other democratic reforms, as such actions could lead to protests that jeopardize national security…

Ukraine’s political divisions play out among its Orthodox congregations (Christian Science Monitor) As Ukraine’s political divisions play out on the geopolitical stage, the country also faces an unsettling schism among its main churchgoers. And, as with national politics, a tug-of-war between pro- and anti-Moscow factions may be fueling the centrifugal forces that threaten to unravel Ukraine…



Tags: Ukraine Syrian Civil War Christian Unity Eritrea Ethiopian Christianity

8 May 2014
Greg Kandra




Pope Francis embraces the catholicos-patriarch of the Armenian Apostolic Church, Karekin II of Etchmiadzin, during a meeting at the Vatican on 8 May.
(photo: CNS/L’Osservatore Romano via Reuters)


Pope Francis to Armenian Catholicos: blood of martyrs is seed of unity (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis received the Patriarch of the Armenian Apostolic Church, Catholicos Karekin II, on Thursday at the Vatican. The Catholicos is in Rome on a three-day visit that concludes on 9 May. In remarks prepared for the occasion, Pope Francis recalled Pope St. John Paul II’s 2001 visit to Armenia, and the many other visits the Catholicos has made to Rome and to the Popes in the Vatican, especially his 2008 visit to Pope Benedict XVI and his participation in the inauguration of Pope Francis’ own pontificate...

Explosion destroys hotel in Aleppo (BBC) A large explosion in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo has destroyed a hotel and several other buildings, state media and activists report. Rebel fighters are believed to have detonated a bomb placed in a tunnel beneath the Carlton Citadel Hotel, near the city’s medieval citadel and souk. The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said government troops had been based there and at least 14 died...

Report documents "egregious" violations of religious freedom in Syria (National Catholic Register) The U.S. government should designate Syria as a “country of particular concern” due to “particularly severe violations of religious freedom” in its ongoing conflict, a global religious liberty group said. “The existing humanitarian disaster and egregious human rights and religious freedom violations pose a serious danger to Syria’s religious diversity post-conflict,” the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom said in its 2014 report...

American Christians pledge solidarity with persecuted Christians in Iraq and Syria (Fox News) On behalf of the suffering churches of Egypt, Iraq and Syria, a broad array of American Christians, with a degree of unity rarely seen since the Council of Nicaea in 325, have joined together in a “pledge of solidarity and call to action.” Their action results from deepening concern about the “wave of persecution” in the region of Christianity’s roots. Some 200 Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox leaders have signed on — from Catholic Cardinal Wuerl, to National Association of Evangelicals’ chair Leith Anderson, to Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori of the Episcopal Church to Armenian Orthodox Archbishop Oshagan Cholayan...

Special novena organized ahead of pope’s trip to Holy Land (L’Osservatore Romano) Nine days of special prayer have been organized in preparation for Pope Francis’ pastoral visit to the Holy Land from 24 to 26 May. According to the website of the Patriarchate of Jerusalem for Latins, the Jerusalemite Churches and Christian communities from 24-26 May will spiritually prepare and support the Pope’s pilgrimage and his meeting with the Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew, which will take place in the holy city...



7 May 2014
Greg Kandra




In this image from May 2013, Pope Tawadros II of Alexandria, patriarch of the Coptic Orthodox Church, and Pope Francis shake hands after exchanging gifts during a private audience in the pontiff's library at the Vatican. (photo: CNS/Andreas Solaro, pool via Reuters)

Coptic pope to Pope Francis: Let us unify our Easter celebrations (Fides) Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros II sent a letter to Pope Francis on the occasion of the first anniversary of their meeting at the Vatican. Among the topics discussed therein, Pope Tawadros invites the bishop of Rome to find a single date for the Easter celebration in all Christian churches. A papal representative in turn submitted to Pope Tawadros an invitation to send a representative of his church to the next assembly of the Synod of Catholic Bishops, to be held in October and dedicated to the theme of the family...

Separatists in Ukraine wage an information war (Washington Post) Since pro-Russian militants have taken control of several areas in eastern Ukraine, and as a referendum on independence from Ukraine looms, journalists say there has been a systematic campaign to shut down opposing voices and substitute pro-Russian propaganda...

Archbishop: Ukraine’s struggle is for dignity (Catholic Register) Amid the violence and turmoil plaguing Ukraine, Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk said one must remember to love thy neighbour. “As I bring you greetings from a country and a people who are caught, of no fault of their own, in a life-and-death struggle for their own future I want to highlight the importance of a faith perspective amid the leadership class,” said Shevchuk, the head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church. “You should love your neighbour as you love yourself. There is no greater commandment than this.” Shevchuk spoke on 2 May at Toronto’s University of St. Michael’s College...

Lebanon’s migrant workers demand rights (AL Monitor) More than a quarter of a million migrant domestic workers are estimated to work in Lebanon. Most come from Ethiopia, the Philippines, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, among other African and Asian countries. Though there are difficulties for all migrant workers in Lebanon, it is the migrant domestic workers who are most vulnerable. The exclusion of migrant domestic workers under Lebanon’s labor law prevents them from benefiting from general protections afforded to workers in other sectors, such as annual and sick leave, a minimum wage, set working hours, the right to change employers and the ability to create associations, among other things...

Kerala celebrates Pooram (ANI News) Artisans in Kerala are burning midnight oil to weave colourful ornaments and parasols to adorn the tuskers for the last day of the Hindu festival of Pooram in Thrissur district. World famous annual seven-day Hindu temple festival Pooram started with traditional flag hoisting ceremony on 3 May and will conclude on 9 May. “People from all religious groups—the Hindus, the Christians, irrespective of caste and creed, everybody is cooperating. It was started by the famous Keralite ruler Sakthan Thampuran around 200 years back,” said an artisan, Prasar Murlidharan...



6 May 2014
J.D. Conor Mauro




Krak des Chevaliers, pictured here in 2010, has stood for nearly a millennium near the Syrian city of Homs. (photo: Sean Sprague)

Krak des Chevaliers: Priceless castle battered by Syria’s civil war (Christian Science Monitor) The Krak des Chevaliers once held off a siege by the Muslim warrior Saladin some 900 years ago, but today bears the wounds of modern warfare — heavy artillery damaged its walls, an airstrike punctured its roof, and shrapnel tore through its religious artifacts. From its towering hilltop perch in western Syria, the world’s best preserved medieval Crusader castle has fallen victim to the chaos of Syria’s civil war as rebels fight to topple President Bashar al Assad. The damage done to the majestic stone structure, listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site, shows that the warring sides will stop at nothing, including the destruction of the country’s rich heritage, to hold on to power or territory.

Syrian government says Maaloula’s sites sacked by rebels (Al Monitor) An official report issued by the Directorate General of Antiquities and Museums for the Rif Damascus governorate revealed the destruction inflicted upon the city of Maaloula and its historical Christian sites, weeks after the army regained control of the city. This report was issued after a visit made by a specialized mission of the Directorate to probe the level of losses incurred by the city. The “armed opposition” has damaged historical Christian sites in the city, destroyed sites and altars, painted over traditional icons and paintings, removed and burned crosses, searched for treasures under altars and in tombs, and searched among the remains of monks and nuns…

In Syria, activists in Raqqa try to confront militant Islamist group (Los Angeles Times) In the northern Syrian city of Raqqa, the main commercial street was busy. Shops were open, with customers strolling the aisles, and cars filled the streets. Only a few dozen stores were closed. It wasn’t what activists had hoped for when they called for a citywide strike among business owners on Saturday to protest a tax imposed by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. ISIS has demanded payment in exchange for electricity, water, street cleaning and protection. Though shop owners chafed at the imposition of a “protection tax,” they feared retribution from the Al Qaeda offshoot group for any act of defiance…

Whose water is it anyways? Resentment pools on Israel-Lebanon border (Christian Science Monitor) The Israeli-Lebanese border has enjoyed a rare, eight-year spell of calm, but worsening water shortages threaten to spark tensions once again. A sealed well used for more than a century by residents of Blida, a small village in southern Lebanon, has found itself on the wrong side of the border as water shortages entice local farmers to tap it. A few miles east along the border, another territorial dispute looms at a Lebanese tourist site beside the Hasbani river, which flows into Israel…

Armenian Apostolic Catholicos Karekin II to visit Rome (VIS) His Holiness Karekin II, head of the of the Catholicate of Etchmiadzin of the Armenian Apostolic Church will visit Rome from 7 to 9 May to meet with Pope Francis. The Armenian Church consists of two catholicates and two patriarchates, and around six million faithful. The two catholicates — the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin in Armenia and the Great House Cilicia, in Antelias, Lebanon — are in full communion, but they are independent from an administrative point of view…

Mayor of Baghdad: No discrimination against Christians in housing initiative (Fides) The mayor of Baghdad, Abub Naim al Kaabi, has made known his intention to make available public land and housing for low-income Christians in the city. The initiative, according to sources close to the Chaldean Patriarchate, is politically sponsored by Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki, who said: “We will give the keys of prefabricated houses to the citizens without any discrimination…”



Tags: Iraq Lebanon Syrian Civil War Israel Armenian Apostolic Church

5 May 2014
Greg Kandra




Orthodox Metropolitan Emmanuel of France is the coordinator of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew’s pilgrimage to Jerusalem for the meetings with Pope Francis on 25 May.
(photo: CNS/Paul Haring)


Hopes rise that Pope, patriarch meeting renews efforts at unity (CNS) The Orthodox bishop who is co-ordinating the upcoming pilgrimage to Jerusalem by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople said he hopes the patriarch’s 25 May meeting with Pope Francis will give new impetus to efforts for Christian unity. But he also said the two leaders are likely to discuss a range of common concerns, including the predicament of Christians in the Middle East, conservation of the natural environment and defense of the traditional family. “We hope that this will not just be a meeting like others, but we hope that this will give a new horizon for the relations between our two sister Churches,” Orthodox Metropolitan Emmanuel of France told Catholic News Service in Rome. “In a divided world, we need unity...”

Pope issues appeal for Ukraine (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis appealed for peace in Ukraine on Sunday. Speaking to the faithful gathered in St. Peter’s Square for the middayRegina coeli prayer (which replaces the Angelus at Eastertide), The Holy Father said, “I would like to invite you to entrust to Our Lady the situation in Ukraine, where tensions continue unabated.” The Holy Father went on to say, “I pray with you for the victims of recent days, asking that the Lord instill sentiments of peacemaking and brotherhood in the hearts of everyone...”

Report: tens of thousands flee Syrian province (Aljazeera) At least 60,000 people have fled towns in the Deir Ezzor province in eastern Syria which has been the scene of fierce clashes between rival rebel groups, opposition activists say. The al-Qaeda affiliated al-Nusra Front have been battling the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) for four days despite an order from al-Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri to stop fighting, the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Sunday. “Residents of the towns of Busayra, home to 35,000 people, Abriha, home to 12,000 people, and al-Zir, home to 15,000 people, have nearly all been displaced by the fighting in the area,” the Observatory said...

Coptic patriarch: church does not take sides in elections (Fides) Coptic Orthodox Patriarch Tawadros II has explicitly excluded any choice of the Coptic Orthodox Church in favor of one of the two candidates in the Egyptian presidential elections to be held next 26 to 27 May. “I ask every citizen, Christian or Muslim”, said Pope Tawadros in an interview published on Sunday, 4 May in the Egyptian Catholic weekly Hamel el-Resale “to read the electoral program of each candidate and choose who you want as President”. In the same interview, the Coptic Orthodox patriarch wanted to reaffirm the “institutional” nature and not political of the explicit support expressed by the Coptic Church regarding the transition program that led to the removal of President Mohamed Morsi, the promulgation of the new constitution and presidential elections...

Vatican statistics report church growth steady (CNS) The number of Catholics in the world and the number of priests, permanent deacons and religious men all increased in 2012, while the number of women in religious orders continued to decline, according to Vatican statistics. The number of candidates for the priesthood also showed its first global downturn in recent years. The statistics come from a recently published Statistical Yearbook of the Church, which reported worldwide Church figures as of 31 December 2012...



2 May 2014
Greg Kandra




In this image from last September, a man walks along a battered street in the besieged area of Homs, Syria. (photo: CNS/Yazan Homsy, Reuters)

Ceasefire in Homs to allow rebel withdrawal (Reuters) Syrian authorities and rebel fighters agreed to a 24-hour cease-fire in the Old City district of Homs on Friday to allow besieged rebels to pull out of their last stronghold in the central Syrian city, a monitoring group and television stations said. A final rebel withdrawal from the city once dubbed the “capital of the revolution” would mark a significant and symbolic military advance by forces loyal to Bashar al Assad, one month before his likely reelection as president…

Russia calls urgent meeting on Ukraine (Voice of Russia) Russia called an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council on Friday to discuss the “serious escalation of violence in Ukraine,” where security forces have clashed with pro-Moscow separatists…

Two helicopters shot down over Ukraine (CNN) Two helicopters were brought down in the flashpoint city of Slavyansk on Friday, Ukraine’s Defense Ministry said, as Ukrainian security forces launched their most intensive effort yet to try to dislodge pro-Russian separatists. Residents of Slavyansk were warned to stay home and avoid windows as the latest phase of the authorities’ “anti-terrorist operation” began…

Pope calls for attitude of ‘evangelical service’ at Vatican (CNS) Pope Francis told his new economic oversight council that it must be “courageous and determined” in its critical role of helping the church not waver from its real mission of bringing the Gospel to the world and helping those most in need. The church has a duty to use its assets and manpower responsibly in promoting its spiritual mandate, and “a new mentality of evangelical service” must take hold throughout the Vatican, the pope said on 2 May…



Tags: Pope Francis Ukraine Syrian Civil War Russia

1 May 2014
Greg Kandra




Patriarch Louis Raphael of the Chaldean Church blesses with a crucifix as he concludes a liturgy in St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican in this February 2013 file photo. (photo: CNS/Paul Haring)

Chaldean patriarch: “We are a ruined church” (Catholic World News) Eleven years after the US invasion of Iraq, the head of the Chaldean Catholic Church declared that “we are a ruined church” and said that “1,400 years of Islam could not uproot us from our land and our churches, while the policies of the West [have] scattered us and distributed us all around the world.” “Democracy and change come through upbringing and education rather than through conflict,” said Patriarch Louis Raphaël I Sako, who has governed the Eastern Catholic church since February 2013. “Intervention by the West in the region did not solve the problems ... but on the contrary, produced more chaos and conflict...” (Read his full statement here).

Activists claim children killed in elementary school bombing in Syria (CNN) Dozens of children are among the latest victims of the Syrian civil war after barrel bombs fell on an elementary school Wednesday, dissidents said. Syrian forces dropped the bombs on an opposition-held area of Aleppo, the country’s largest city, the opposition Local Coordination Committees of Syria said. The LCC said 25 children died...

Jordan opens another refugee camp for 130,000 (Associated Press) Jordan opened a new, sprawling tent city on Wednesday to accommodate tens of thousands more Syrian refugees who are expected to flee their country’s fighting — another grim indicator for a deadly war now in its fourth year. The new Azraq refugee camp is built to host 130,000 people, said Brig. Gen. Waddah Lihmoud, director of Syrian refugee affairs in Jordan. It cost $63.5 million dollars to build, the UN said...

Clashes in Egypt leave two Christians dead (Fides) Two Egyptian Coptic Christians were killed on 29 April, due to sectarian clashes which broke out in villages in the area of the city of Assiut, Upper Egypt. The clashes involved disputes between a Coptic Orthodox family and a Sunni family clan with regards to the ownership of land...

Patriarch Kirill: church’s role is reconciliation, not politics (Interfax) The Orthodox Church’s role in the civil conflict in Ukraine is to reconcile people, not to serve anyone’s political interests, said Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia. “The position our church has assumed — and this position has remained unchanged for the past 25 years — is that our church never yields to any political temptations and never serves anyone’s political interests. It is our position of principle that the church must remain above fighting. It must preserve its peacekeeping potential even when everyone thinks no peacekeeping potential exists any more,” Patriarch Kirill told the Supreme Church Council in Moscow on Wednesday...



30 April 2014
J.D. Conor Mauro




This March 25 photo shows a hospital at Al Azraq, the new Syrian refugee camp east of Amman, which opened today. (photo: CNS/Muhammad Hamed, Reuters)

Jordan opens new Syrian refugee camp (The Guardian) The Jordanian government and the U.N. have officially opened a new camp for refugees from the war in Syria, with the potential to become one of the world’s largest refugee camps. Although the first refugees began arriving on Monday — 437 so far — the camp, which currently has shelters for 25,000 and infrastructure for 50,000, has been designed to expand to 130,000 if necessary. The camp is 12 miles west of the town of Azraq in the country’s Zerqa governorate, about 60 miles from the capital Amman. Jordan has 600,000 registered refugees in total. The new camp is designed to take the pressure off Zaatari camp, which itself has a population of 100,000 and has reached capacity…

Syria conflict: Dozens die in explosions in Homs (BBC) At least 37 people have been killed in explosions in the Syrian city of Homs, officials say. The attacks, which involved at least one car bomb, also injured dozens. Earlier, at least 14 people were killed and more than 80 wounded in a mortar attack on a technical institute in central Damascus. The attacks come a day after President Bashar al Assad registered to stand for re-election, defying calls to step down as a way of ending Syria’s civil war…

Ecumenical patriarch restates Orthodox condemnation of nationalism (Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople) “It must be remembered that the Orthodox Church issued a synodical condemnation of nationalism way back in 1872, and has done so in numerous occasions since then. The concept of the nation cannot become a determining factor of church life or an axis of church organization. Whenever an Orthodox church succumbs to nationalist rhetoric and lends support to racial tendencies, it loses sight of the authentic theological principles and gives in to a fallen mindset, totally alien to the core of Orthodoxy,” said Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I at a 24 April address in the Netherlands…

On eve of elections, Iraq’s waters become weapons of war (Al Monitor) In Iraq, government and terrorist groups have been using water as a tool in their ongoing conflict. Ironically, Baghdad has been divided in two for several days: One part is suffering from water scarcity, while the other part is flooded. In another development two weeks ago, bomb attacks targeted gas pipelines linked to Tikrit, 100 miles north of Baghdad. This led to heavy contamination of the Tigris River…

India’s first Russian Orthodox church in Delhi (The Times of India) The construction of India’s first Russian Orthodox church will soon begin in the capital, a top Russian diplomat said here. One of the largest of the Orthodox congregations, the Russian Orthodox Church had launched a parish here in 2011 but has so far operated out of the Russian embassy premises. “It will be constructed quite soon, and what is required now are the financial inputs for the project from Moscow,” said Sergey Karmalito, senior counselor at the Russian embassy…



Tags: Iraq India Syrian Civil War Jordan Refugee Camps

29 April 2014
J.D. Conor Mauro




An Iraqi woman living in Jordan casts her ballot at a polling station in a government school in Amman on 27 April. Iraqi Catholic refugees, along with their exiled countrymen, are voting in the first parliamentary polls since the 2011 withdrawal of U.S. troops from their nation. (photo: CNS/Muhammad Hamed, Reuters)

Sectarian strife casts a shadow over Iraqi elections (Al Jazeera) As Iraq heads toward its first national elections since the U.S. military withdrew its forces at the end of 2011, deep-rooted sectarian divisions and bloody violence spilling over from neighboring Syria threaten to upend any fragile gains made over the years since Saddam was routed…

Chaldean patriarch fears for Iraqi Christian presence (AsiaNews) Chaldean Patriarch Louis Raphael I says he is seriously concerned over the continuing decline of Christian presence in the country: “If measures are not taken soon, in 10 years’ time there will only be a few thousand Christians left in Iraq…”

Syria’s Assyrians threatened by extremists (AINA) The heated situation in the Middle East is burdening Christians in general, and Assyrian Christians in particular — chiefly belonging to the Chaldean Church and the Church of the East — amid growing talk about the danger of yet another wave of displacement. The number of Assyrians in Syria is estimated at 400,000, and they are distributed mainly between Hassake, Qamishli, Malikiyah and Aleppo. Assyrians are less present in Damascus and Sednaya, and 350,000 Assyrians live abroad…

Breathing new life into Lebanon’s ancient art of glassblowing (Christian Science Monitor) Glassblowing, a 2,000-year-old tradition that dates back to the Phoenicians and got its early start in Lebanon, was on the brink of extinction here just six months ago. But thanks to an innovative new recycling project, the country’s last glassblowing family has gotten more work in the past five months than the past five years combined. The craft’s revival is a triumph of cooperation in a country increasingly buffeted by the Syrian war and internal political tensions…

‘A Good Start’: Analyzing Erdogan’s genocide comments (Der Spiegel) Nearly a hundred years after the mass murder of Armenians by Ottoman soldiers, Turkey’s prime minister spoke last week for the first time of the “suffering” of the victims. In an interview, Hayko Bagdat, a 38-year-old Turkish-Armenian journalist, discusses the significance of Erdogan’s statement…



Tags: Iraq Lebanon Iraqi Christians Assyrian Church Democracy





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