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December, 2017
Volume 43, Number 4
  
28 October 2013
J.D. Conor Mauro




In this 2010 photo, Patriarch Theophilos III of Jerusalem blesses the people of Madaba, a town south of Amman, Jordan. (photo: Joseph Zakarian)

Church of Antioch may break off relations with Patriarchate of Jerusalem (Pravoslavie) The Greek church news agency Romphea has reported the decision of the Synod of the Orthodox Church of Antioch regarding the issue of jurisdiction over the state of Qatar. Greek Orthodox Patriarch Youhanna X of Antioch has warned Greek Orthodox Patriarch Theophilos III of Jerusalem that if within two months he does not take steps to resolve the problem with Qatar, the Church of Antioch will have to break off relations with the Church of Jerusalem. Both local churches consider the state of Qatar to be their canonical territory…

Aid still a trickle as Syrians contend with hunger, disease (Washington Post) With more than five million people internally displaced, a suspected polio outbreak and starvation threatening, the United Nations and aid agencies say that just a trickle of the required assistance is getting into war-ravaged Syria as the harsh winter months loom. After more than two and a half years of conflict, the accounts of struggling civilians paint a portrait of abject human suffering amid what the World Health Organization has deemed the world’s worst humanitarian crisis…

Vatican sends greetings to Hindus for Diwali (Vatican Radio) The Vatican has sent a cordial message of solidarity to Hindus as they celebrate the feast of Deepavali, also known as “the festival of lights,” or Diwali. Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran writes: “Regardless of our ethnic, cultural, religious and ideological differences, all of us belong to the one human family.” The full text follows…

Christian book burning in Raqqa (Fides) The militia of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, the faction that in several regions of Syria monopolized the armed insurrection against the regime in Damascus in recent days have organized a book burning of Bibles and Christian books in front of the Greek Catholic Church of Our Lady of the Annunciation in Raqqa, the Syrian city which has been for months under the control of anti-Assad militias…

Israel agrees to release 26 more Palestinian prisoners (Al Jazeera) The Israeli government voted Sunday to release 26 long-held Palestinian prisoners as part of a United States-brokered deal that led to the resumption of Middle East peace talks in August. A statement from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said the 26 prisoners, jailed for violence committed before a 1993 interim accord, would be released. However, the actual release of the prisoners will take place at least 48 hours after their names are published to give bereaved Israeli families the opportunity to appeal their release before the courts, which rarely intervene in such cases…



Tags: Refugees Jerusalem Health Care Christian-Hindu relations Church of Antioch

25 October 2013
Greg Kandra




In this image from 2012, Melkite Patriarch Gregory III attends Mass with Pope Benedict XVI on the waterfront in Beirut. At left is Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, former Vatican secretary of state.
(photo: CNS/Paul Haring)


Patriarch: ‘Syria is walking the way of the cross’ (Independent Catholic News) Bombs, kidnapping and financial extortion are among the problems facing Syria’s Christians, the leader of the country’s Catholics told a meeting in Westminster Cathedral Hall. Speaking to more than 300 benefactors of Aid to the Church in Need, Patriarch Gregory III — the head of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church — said: “Syria is experiencing a lengthy, bloody way of the cross, stretching along all the country’s roads.” The patriarch, who is president of the Assembly of Catholic Hierarchs in Syria, added: “You may think that it is safe here or unsafe there, but at any moment you may be killed by bomb, missile or bullet, not to mention being kidnapped or taken hostage for ransom, or murdered...”

Syrian Orthodox bishop calls for “humanitarian corridor” (Fides) The Metropolitan Silwanos Boutros Alnemeh, of the Syriac Orthodox Archdiocese of Homs and Hama, has launched an appeal to institutions and international humanitarian organizations on behalf of the civilian population. About 3,000 people have remained besieged in the villages of Sadad and Hofar, in the region of Qualamun, about a hundred kilometers north-east of Damascus, where another front of the conflict between the government army and anti-Assad militias has opened. Those responsible for the siege, the bishop explains in his message, must “facilitate the departure of the population safely in any direction, both towards the monastery of Al-Attieh, and in the direction of the city of Homs, where we could welcome them.” Metropolitan Silwanos begs international organizations, recipients of his appeal, to avoid “statements that may compromise the safety of the residents of the besieged cities and residents in Syria...”

Canadian government to direct millions to aid Syrian refugees (Catholic Register) The Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace is directing $5.4 million of Canadian government funding to Syrian refugees who are living outside official refugee camps. More than half the Syrian refugees, including over four million displaced Syrians still inside Syria’s borders, aren’t in any of the refugee camps in Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq. There are more than 2 million refugees who have made it out of the war torn country...

Church in Kerala celebrates feast with a Hindu flair (Catholic News Service) In the Christian heartland of Kerala, India, feisty church festivals are commonplace, but the celebration of the feast of Our Lady of Fatima at St. Mary’s Assumption Church in Kottekad remains unique. Emulating a typical Hindu pooram, or festival, when the deities are carried in procession to the temples on elephants to the accompaniment of traditional bands called “panchavadyam,” a portrait of Our Lady of Fatima was carried to the Syro-Malabar Catholic church on elephants on 20 October...



Tags: Syria Refugees Kerala Melkite Patriarch Gregory III of Antioch

24 October 2013
J.D. Conor Mauro




In this May photo, Coptic Pope Tawadros II celebrates the Divine Liturgy at St. Mark’s Coptic Cathedral in Cairo. (photo: The Coptic Orthodox Church)

Pope Tawadros II discusses perpetrators of church attack (Daily News Egypt) During his weekly sermon on Wednesday, the leader of the Coptic Orthodox Church, Pope Tawadros II, said: “We pray for those who were killed and injured as well as those who killed the happiness of the innocent.” Those comments are the Coptic pope’s first since the attack on a Coptic wedding at Virgin Mary Church in the Giza neighborhood of Al Warraq. “The door of repentance is still open for [the attackers], and we pray for Egypt so that God will protect it,” the pope said…

Pope meets with Jewish human rights group (Vatican Radio) In a meeting with a delegation from an international Jewish human rights organization on Thursday, the pope stressed that the problem of intolerance must be confronted. Several representatives from the United States-based Simon Wiesenthal Center met with Pope Francis in the Sala Clementina. He acknowledged the mission of the center, which is to fight every form of intolerance and to promote mutual understanding between cultures. The pope remarked that he has had several occasions in the past few weeks to restate “the church’s condemnation of all forms of anti-Semitism…”

Muscovite builds record-breaking statue of Jesus in Syria (The Moscow Times) A bronze statue of Jesus Christ, taller than the famous Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro, has appeared in war-torn Syria. The statue, entitled “I Have Come to Save the World” was the brainchild of Yury Gavrilov, a 49-year-old Muscovite who runs an organization in London called the St. Paul and St. George Foundation. Patrons of the project include both the Russian Orthodox Church and the Russian government. Despite the statue’s Russian connection, it was cast in Armenia and made by an Armenian sculptor, Artush Papoian. Syria’s ethnic Armenians have been fleeing the country in droves since the conflict began, to the extent that Armenia has built a new settlement called New Aleppo to house them, named after the war-torn northern Syrian city where the majority of Syria’s ethnic Armenian population lives. The statue is located on a mountaintop near the city of Sednaya…

Latin Patriarch opens conference on women in the Middle East (Fides) On 24 October, a conference organized by the World Union of Catholic Women’s Organizations began with a report by Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem Fouad Twal on the role of women in the church and society in the Middle East. The conference is taking place under the patronage of Queen Rania of Jordan and has as its theme the service rendered by women devoted to “life, dignity and the common good…”

In Ethiopia, IKEA shelters house refugees (Der Spiegel) The Swedish furniture giant IKEA had 13 newly developed huts erected on the Ethiopian savanna at the Kobe refugee camp last August. The precisely arranged row of Swedish-designed structures stands in stark contrast to the tents and barracks in other parts of the camp. It’s a test case for the company, and if the IKEA huts pass, they could soon offer refugees around the world a better home than conventional tents…



Tags: Pope Francis Refugees Art Women Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros II

23 October 2013
J.D. Conor Mauro




In this photo, captured in February by frequent ONE magazine contributor Dalia Khamissy, members of a Syrian Christian refugee family in Lebanon conceal their faces out of concern for their safety and that of relatives still in Syria. Recently, Ms. Khamissy visited two families displaced by the war as part of a report for Al Jazeera, linked below. (photo: CNS/Dalia Khamissy)

For Syrians in Jordan, sanctuary comes at a price of humiliation (Al Jazeera) Syrians have long hosted refugees from conflicts throughout the Middle East; now they are dependent on the kindness of strangers. In the sprawling refugee camp in northwestern Jordan, Syrians find themselves feeling the pain and anxiety of displaced Arab populations from conflicts past — the Palestinians, Lebanese and Iraqis to whom their own country had once provided sanctuary. There are almost 550,000 Syrian scattered across Jordan, each with a tale of loss…

Islamist militias begin incursion in the Christian city of Sadad (Fides) Since Monday, the Christian city of Sadad, situated in a strategic area along the road that joins Homs to Damascus, has been at the center of the battle between the army of Assad and rebel militias dominated by Islamist groups. According to local sources, the raid took place in a similar way to that suffered a month ago in the historic Christian village of Maaloula. The biblical city of Sadad, cited in the Book of Numbers and the Book of Ezekiel, is 60 miles from Damascus and 40 from Homs. The city is home to two churches — dedicated to St. Sergius and St. Theodore, respectively — famous for their frescoes…

The Catholic Church coordinates humanitarian aid in Syria (VIS) The Catholic Church and the local churches in the region have been involved since the beginning of the crisis, in 2011, in the constant work of providing humanitarian aid to the population struck by the civil war in Syria. Pope Francis has paid particular attention to the evolution of the crisis and the aid work offered by charitable agencies, whom he received in audience during a meeting organized by the Pontifical Council Cor Unum. “Helping the Syrian population, regardless of ethnic origin or religious belief”, said the pope on that occasion, “is the most direct way of contributing to the pacification and edification of a society open to all its components…”

Archbishop Chullikatt calls for all weapons to be silenced (Vatican Radio) Archbishop Francis Chullikatt, the apostolic nuncio and permanent observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, has called for general and complete disarmament. Speaking a the First Committee of the 68th session of the General Assembly, the archbishop said that this moment in history offers a moment of opportunity to rid the world of chemical and nuclear weapons. “In the past few weeks, we have seen vivid action taken in the long struggle to rid the world of chemical and nuclear weapons. The recent U.N. Security Council’s unanimous resolution on Syria’s chemical weapons has historic importance. … The willingness of the world as a whole to move forward in a constructive manner to eliminate nuclear weapons has never been more evident…”

Qatar emir vows to help secure bishops’ release (Daily Star Lebanon) Qatar, having recently played a key role in freeing nine Lebanese pilgrims, reportedly vowed Wednesday to help win the release of two bishops abducted in Syria. Qatar News Agency said Maronite Patriarch Bechara Peter expressed his “gratitude and appreciation” for the nation’s role in securing the weekend release of the nine Lebanese Shiite men held for 17 months by Syrian rebels…



Tags: Refugees Syrian Civil War Violence against Christians Jordan Maronite Patriarch Bechara Peter

22 October 2013
J.D. Conor Mauro




Chaldean Patriarch Louis Raphael I says greater cooperation is necessary for the survival of Christianity in the Middle East. (video: Rome Reports)

As Middle East Christians migrate, Chaldean patriarch pursues unity (Rome Reports) Recently, Chaldean Patriarch Louis Raphael I reached out to his Orthodox counterpart, Mar Dinkha IV, patriarch of the Church of the East. He proposed joining their two churches, which trace their roots to Iraq. “If we are still isolated, just like small churches, we are really incapable to do anything,” said the Chaldean Church head. “But when we are united all together, then we will be a stronger church and we will have an impact.” The Assyrian patriarch has welcomed increased dialogue between their two churches. But full communion may not be on the horizon anytime soon…

In Syria, doctors risk life and juggle ethics (New York Times) Syria’s civil war has been especially dangerous for health professionals; a United Nations report issued last month described the “deliberate targeting of hospitals, medical personnel and transports” as “one of the most alarming features of the Syrian conflict.” By varying estimates, more than 100 doctors have been killed and as many as 600 have been imprisoned. The country’s once-functioning health system is in a shambles. More than half of its public hospitals have been damaged in the two-year-old civil war and 37 percent are out of service entirely, according to a recent report by the World Health Organization. Many Syrian doctors have fled; those who remain describe dire conditions where even the most basic care is not available…

Amid dwindling Christian presence in the Middle East, Maronite bishop speaks out (National Catholic Register) While calling for dialogue between Syria’s Assad regime and moderates among the opposition, a Maronite bishop has stressed the necessity of a continued Christian presence in the Middle East. “We need the solidarity of people and governments in the West to ensure the ongoing presence of Christians in Syria and throughout the Middle East,” Bishop Elias Sleman of the Maronite Eparchy of Latakia told the Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need on 17 October. Bishop Sleman is visiting the United States to raise support for his people as well as internally displaced Syrians…

Syrian rebels battle army in Christian town (Daily Star Lebanon) Syrian government forces battled Tuesday with Al Qaeda-linked rebels trying to capture an ancient Christian town north of Damascus, activists and the state media said. The Jabhat al Nusra, or Nusra Front, appear to have targeted Sadad because of its strategic location near the main highway north of Damascus, rather than because it is Christian. But hard-liners among the rebels are hostile to the minority group, who tend to support the government of President Bashar Assad, and other Al Qaeda-linked fighters have damaged and desecrated churches in areas they have seized…

Student protests at Egypt’s Al Azhar challenge army (Reuters) Thousands of students from Egypt’s Al Azhar University staged a third day of protests on Monday, in one of the boldest challenges to the army since it toppled Islamist President Muhammad Morsi in July. The demonstrations demanding Morsi’s reinstatement are a delicate matter for the authorities because the administration at Al Azhar, the ancient seat of Sunni Muslim learning, has historically toed the government line. Security sources said a total about 4,000 students were involved, of whom 44 had been arrested…



Tags: Egypt Middle East Christians Syrian Civil War Health Care Christian Unity

21 October 2013
J.D. Conor Mauro




In this June photo, Syrian refugees families await treatment at a medical center at the Zaatari refugee camp in Mafraq, Jordan. (photo: CNS/Muhammad Hamed, Reuters)

Catholic medical student sees Syrian refugee crisis up close (Archdiocese of Miami) When he came to study medicine in Jordan’s capital through a scholarship program for Holy Land Christians, Tareq Nasrawi had expected to see heart disease, diabetes, breast cancer and other basic public health concerns. But the 21-year-old Latin Catholic and native of Jerusalem is also seeing the human suffering and medical crisis from a civil war raging unabated in neighboring Syria since 2011. While the majority of Syrian refugees are Muslim, the Christian refugees are fearful of reprisals against Christians and their perceived support of the Syrian dictatorship. They therefore have been reluctant to register for international aid, according to Michael La Civita, spokesman for the New York-based Catholic Near East Welfare Association…

Jordan’s rural poor chafe under the burden of hosting Syrian refugees (Al Jazeera) The cylindrical water trucks, their precious cargo sloshing inside, amble along the dusty road separating the small Jordanian village of Zaatari from the massive Syrian refugee camp that has taken its name. They do not stop at the village, which, like most of this desert state, is parched. Instead, they roll on to the camp that is now Jordan’s fourth-largest city. The refugee camp, the second largest in the world, houses at least 120,000 Syrians, a fraction of the almost 550,000 who have sought sanctuary in this country of 6 million since the outbreak of Syria’s civil war. But not all the refugees who have arrived in Zaatari want to live in the camp, with its common toilets and kitchens, disease and crowding. As a result, the sleepy village that is home to 12,000 Jordanians has been transformed by the arrival of several thousand refugees…

Egypt gunmen open fire on Coptic Christian wedding in Cairo (BBC) Three people, including a girl aged eight, died when gunmen on motorcycles opened fire on a wedding party outside a Coptic church in Cairo. At least nine others were wounded in the attack in Giza, officials said. Egypt’s Coptic Christian community has been targeted by some Islamists who accuse the church of backing the army’s overthrow of President Muhammad Morsi in July…

Chaldean seminary becomes a condo for needy families (Fides) The Chaldean Patriarchate has announced the upcoming distribution of the first set of 16 apartments thanks to the renovation of the former Patriarchal Seminary, intended for families in need. Another 32 housing units, nearing completion, will be delivered in coming months…

Palestinians in Nablus seeking better days (Washington Post) A decade ago, this ancient town was a crucible of terror and resistance — and produced more suicide bombers than any other city in the devastating second Palestinian intifada, or uprising, against Israel. Now, Nablus just wants desperately to get back to normal — back to work, back to the world. But it is not so easy. Interviews with business owners and their workers here in the northern West Bank, once the engine of Palestinian industry, reveal a city that has little hope for a peace deal with the Israelis, and considers its own leadership feeble and corrupt…

Kremlin ready to consider citizenship for Syrian Christians (World Bulletin) The Kremlin is ready to consider a Russian citizenship request from about 50,000 Syrian Christians when it receives it, a presidential spokesman said Friday. “We have not received any requests so far. These documents will be considered in line with the established procedures once we receive it,” Dmitry Peskov said. Russian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said the issue was up to Russia’s leadership to decide. Russian citizenship is granted by a presidential decree. Father Vsevolod Chaplin, who heads the Russian Orthodox Church’s press service, said Friday that the Russian authorities should show kindness to these people, who are “in real danger…”



Tags: Refugees Violence against Christians Jordan Russia Refugee Camps

17 October 2013
J.D. Conor Mauro




In this April 2010 image, Melkite Greek Catholic Patriarch Gregory III celebrates the Divine Liturgy at the ancient Monastery of Mar Thomas in Sednaya, Syria. (photo: CNEWA)

Patriarch Gregory III: Christians do not need Assad to survive (BBC) Melkite Greek Catholic Patriarch Gregory III told the BBC that more than 450,000 Christians out of a total population of 1.75 million — more than one quarter — had been displaced or left the country. However, he was adamant that the Christian community will survive. Syria’s minority Christian community has faced growing violence, but he said it is not dependent for its survival on President Bashar al Assad’s secular government. In fact, Patriarch Gregory believes Christians can in fact help bring the warring sides together. “We have to have a new vision, and that is our work as Christians, especially the Christian Arabs have to play this role to change the vision…”

Scattered by war, Syrian family struggles to start over (New York Times) Watering the plants on her balcony back home in Syria this spring, Wedad Sarhan took delight in how they were stirring to life after the winter months. A rocket exploded on the balcony minutes later. Ms. Sarhan was standing inside. Two of her granddaughters were wounded. Their father, Hasan, quickly carried one girl to a nearby clinic, unaware that the other lay more grievously wounded under a pile of clothes. That evening, the Sarhans fled Dara’a, their hometown in southwestern Syria, and crossed into Jordan, three generations of refugees. Their large clan, already torn apart by the Syrian civil war, was now scattered across Jordan and Syria. “Our family story is just one of many,” said Noman Sarhan, Ms. Sarhan’s eldest son. “You can find Syrian families who have had an easier time than we’ve had, and others whose stories are more horrific. But almost all Syrian families have these in common: a relative who’s been killed or wounded, who is detained or wanted. Every family has suffered…”

The historic scale of Syria’s refugee crisis (New York Times) The Syrian refugee crisis has exploded from about 270,000 people a year ago to today’s tally of more than two million who have fled the country. The pace of the diaspora has been characterized by the United Nations as the worst since the Rwandan genocide in 1994. In addition, an estimated 4.25 million Syrians have been displaced within their country, bringing the total number forced into flight to more than six million. According to the United Nations, the flood of Syrian refugees is comparable to the crises caused by the war and sectarian violence in Iraq and by the conflicts that accompanied the breakup of Yugoslavia…

France to accept Syrian refugees amid surge in anti-immigration politics (Al Jazeera) France is set to welcome 500 Syrian refugees, reports say, at a time when what many call an anti-immigrant, far-right National Front Party is making strides in local elections and popularity polls — a sign Arab and Muslim community advocates say has grim portents for France’s immigrants. Philippe Leclerc, the French representative for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, told French newspaper Le Figaro Wednesday that President Francois Hollande agreed to accept the Syrian immigrants, after requests from the United Nations that European nations help alleviate the toll massive inflows of refugees have taken on Syria’s Middle Eastern neighbors…

Egypt detaining, deporting Syrian refugees, rights group says (Los Angeles Times) Saying that Egypt is “failing abysmally” to meet international obligations, Amnesty International called Thursday for the country’s military-backed government to stop detaining and deporting Syrian war refugees. About 300,000 Syrians have fled to Egypt, where they were once welcomed. But as their numbers have swelled, public sentiment has shifted sharply. Official media outlets routinely revile the refugees as partisans of the Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamist movement that propelled now-deposed president Muhammad Morsi to power, and they are accused by authorities of representing a threat to public order…

Amid new attacks, Egypt’s Copts preserve heritage (Yahoo! News) Locked inside a 6th-century church in a desert monastery are some of the jewels of early Christianity — ancient murals in vivid pinks, greens and reds depicting saints, angels and the Virgin Mary with a baby Jesus, hidden for centuries under a blanket of black soot. Italian and Egyptian restorers are meticulously uncovering the paintings, some of the earliest surviving and most complete examples of early Coptic Christian art. But the work, in the final stages more than a decade after it started, is done quietly to avoid drawing attention — and there’s no plan to try to attract visitors, at least not now. “This is our heritage and we must protect it,” said Father Antonius, abbot of the Red Monastery where the Anba Bishay Church is located. He takes it as a personal mission to protect it. The church’s heavy wooden door has only two keys. He keeps one and a young monk he trusts keeps the other…

Chaldean patriarch visits Iraqi prime minister (Chaldean Patriarchate) On Wednesday afternoon, 9 October 2013, Chaldean Patriarch Louis Raphael I visited Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki to congratulate him on the occasion of Eid al Adha. Patriarch Louis Raphael discussed the plight of Christians in Iraq, outlining points to encourage them to stay in their country, which the prime minister received with interest…



Tags: Refugees Syrian Civil War Violence against Christians Chaldean Patriarch Louis Raphael I Melkite Patriarch Gregory III of Antioch

16 October 2013
J.D. Conor Mauro




Pope Francis speaks against the ‘scandal’ of hunger (Vatican Radio) October 16th is World Food Day and in a message to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization Pope Francis condemned the continuing scandal of hunger and malnutrition in today’s world and what he called a globalization of indifference towards it. In his message the pope criticized what he called “a growing tendency for us to close in on ourselves,” saying this leads to a certain indifference on “a personal, institutional and state level” towards hunger, as though “it were an inevitable fact…”

Archbishop Marayati: International community promotes Christian exodus (Fides) “There is a rumor that 17 countries have opened their doors to Syrian refugees. This news has reignited among Christians the impulse to leave Syria,” says Armenian Catholic Archbishop of Aleppo Boutros Marayati. He adds that the richest Christians have already left Syria, while for others “any attempt to leave the country remains dangerous and also very expensive. For now, this is not a mass exodus, but the phenomenon involves a growing number of families…”

Iraq war claimed half a million lives, study finds (Al Jazeera) The number of deaths caused by the Iraq war has been a source of intense controversy, as politics, inexact methodology and a clamor for public awareness have intersected in a heated debate of conflicting interests. The latest and perhaps most rigorous survey, released Tuesday, puts the figure at close to 500,000. The study included a survey of 2,000 Iraqi households in 100 geographic regions in Iraq…

Bedouin resist Israeli relocation plans (Al Monitor) Although not fierce in intensity, the struggle of the Bedouins has been protracted and tenacious. Their demand has become a slogan for the Negev region of southern Israel: recognition. Ever since the Palestinian exodus of 1948, Israel has not recognized the Bedouin villages of the Negev, and has only limited legal recognition of the towns that the government built and into which the population is being forcibly inserted. In 2003, however, the government made the unorthodox decision to recognize 13 villages. This has made little difference. Before, these villages were denied basic services such as water, electricity, medical clinics, schools, transportation, roads and sewers. The houses were continuously demolished and the land was confiscated. Those services are still denied today…

Security chief meets patriarch over kidnapped bishops (Daily Star Lebanon) General Abbas Ibrahim met Saturday with Greek Orthodox Patriarch Youhanna X of Antioch and discussed the ongoing efforts to secure the release of two Syrian bishops. According to the National News Agency, General Ibrahim informed the patriarch about recent developments in the case of the prelates, saying that the matter could be resolved in the near future…



Tags: Iraq Pope Francis Middle East Christians Hunger Bedouin

15 October 2013
J.D. Conor Mauro




In this 2008 photo, a foreign aid volunteer helps to harvest olives in a valley east of Nablus, in the West Bank region. There were several reports of violent incidents when settlers residing in Jewish outposts overlooking the valley opposed the presence of Palestinian harvesters in the area. To learn more about life as a Palestinian olive farmer, read Olive Offerings, from the January 2009 issue of ONE. (photo: Ahikam Seri)

Palestinian olive season puts focus on Israeli settlements (Al Monitor) Members of various diplomatic missions to Palestine joined Palestinians in picking olives. The exercise was no simple picnic or act of volunteer work. Rather, it was another visible manifestation of the major problem of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict: the struggle for land. Olive trees have an important legal status. Since a large part of the West Bank is rural and often void of specific land deeds, authorities often rely on an old Ottoman ruling stating that any person who cultivates fruit-bearing trees can use this continuous relationship with the land to make claim for disputed lands. Palestinians complain that Israeli settlers cognizant of the social, legal and political importance of fruit-bearing trees have made destroying Palestinian olive trees their number one goal. Settler actions against Palestinian lands vary from cutting down olive trees, uprooting them or setting them ablaze…

Egyptians try to draft General Sisi for president (Washington Post) General Abdel Fatah al Sisi’s unofficial presidential campaign is hitting the streets with impressive momentum. Organizers claim that more than nine million people — over 10 percent of Egypt’s population — have already signed the petition calling for the man who orchestrated the July coup that overthrew Egypt’s first democratically elected leader to become this nation’s next elected president. For many Egyptians, the rise of a new military man is a comforting idea after nearly three years of political turmoil since the fall of President Hosni Mubarak. Already, Sisi mania has swept the nation in a pattern reminiscent of past strongmen — the general’s face has become ubiquitous in shop windows and even on cupcakes. He is celebrated in songs, poems and chants…

Egypt struggles for control of Sinai (Der Spiegel) The Sinai Peninsula is both a vacation paradise and a haven for jihadists and gangs of thugs. The military and the police are trying to regain control over the region. But a new class of haughty warlords and a resentful public mean the state’s chances are remote. Though the entire country has descended into violence since the military coup in July, nowhere in Egypt is the fight being waged as bitterly and violently as on the Sinai Peninsula, which is roughly the size of the Republic of Ireland…

A journey through Russia’s struggling heartland (New York Times) On the jarring, 12-hour drive from St. Petersburg to Moscow, another Russia comes into view — one where people struggle with problems that belong to past centuries…

Russia detains scores of migrants after riot (Al Jazeera) Russian police rounded up more than 1,600 immigrants in Moscow a day after rioting by nationalists over a fatal stabbing of a Russian that many residents blame on a man from the Caucasus region. Some 200 residents rallied in the Biryulyovo district on Monday to call for tougher policing of labor migrants. The riot on Sunday broke out with nationalist chants of “white power” and “Russia for Russians.” About 380 people were arrested after demonstrators smashed windows and set fire to shops…



Tags: Egypt Palestine Russia Israeli-Palestinian conflict Farming/Agriculture

11 October 2013
J.D. Conor Mauro




In this 2010 photo, Syrian Catholic Archbishop Jacques Behnan Hindo of Hassaké-Nisibis arrives for a session of the Synod of Bishops for the Middle East at the Vatican. (photo: CNS/Paul Haring)

Syrian archbishop decries ‘Kurdish state’ in northern Syria (Fides) Recently, the Kurdish Democratic Party has declared ’’the intention of creating a Kurdish autonomous region in the Syrian province of Jazira.” Syrian Catholic Archbishop Jacques Behnan Hindo of Hassaké-Nisibis commented on the committee meetings, which brought together the heads of different ethnic and religious communities, saying: “We have already rejected the proposal to create … a popular assembly proclaiming the autonomy of the region. Not even the majority of the Kurds want to create an autonomous political entity where the leadership is exercised by the dominant ethnic or religious group. At most one can propose a confederation of local communities that will set new relations with the central government in Damascus…”

Deal could see release of two bishops in Syria (Daily Star Lebanon) A deal running in parallel with efforts to free the nine kidnapped Lebanese in Syria could see the release of two Greek Orthodox bishops who were kidnapped in Lebanon’s neighbor earlier this year, the head of the Syriac League told The Daily Star Friday. “There are positive signs over an imminent release of the two bishops,” said Habib Afram. Aleppo’s Greek Orthodox Metropolitan Paul Yazigi and Syriac Orthodox Metropolitan Youhanna Ibrahim were kidnapped on 22 April while en route to Aleppo from the Turkish border. They are reportedly being held by a small group of rebels in the Syrian town of Bshaqtin, about 12 miles northwest of Aleppo…

At border, Israelis watch Syria’s civil war through a fortified fence (Los Angeles Times) From the bunkers and watchtowers along this tense, fortified frontier, Israelis say they can do little more than view from afar the civil warfare raging across the border in Syria. And in a reminder of the helplessness and paralysis felt by the international community over what to do, Israel’s most visible strategy seems almost futile: It’s building a fence. With 20 feet of steel rebar, the structure is much taller and more imposing than the flimsy barbed wire coils and rusting posts that once separated Syria from Israeli-occupied Golan Heights…

In Karnataka, no end to violence against Christians (AsiaNews) Hindu ultra-nationalists continue their “brutal and relentless” violence against Christians and churches in the Indian state of Karnataka, according to Sajan George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians, who in a letter called on the state’s Chief Minister Siddaramiah to intervene. The seriousness of the situation is such that the central government acknowledged the situation, defining Karnataka as one of the six states in which extremist forces are targeting minorities for their own political end…

Pope Francis: Let anti-Semitism be banished from every heart (Vatican Radio) On Friday, Pope Francis met with members of Rome’s Jewish community to mark the 70th anniversary of the deportation of the city’s Jewish population during the Nazi occupation. Among those present were Dr. Riccardo Di Segni, chief rabbi of Rome; Dr. Riccardo Pacifici, president of the Jewish Community of Rome; and Dr. Renzo Gattegna, the president of the Union of Italian Jewish Communities. “I’ve said it other times and I would like to repeat it now: It’s a contradiction that a Christian is anti-Semitic: His roots are Jewish,” said the Pope. “A Christian cannot be anti-Semitic! Let anti-Semitism be banished from the heart and life of every man and every woman…”

Bishop Shahé Panossian elected primate of Lebanon (Catholicosate of Cilicia) On Monday, 7 October 2013, the Armenian Apostolic Diocesan Council of Lebanon met at St. Nishan Church in Beirut to elect a new primate of Lebanon from a short list of three names, ultimately selecting Bishop Shahé Panossian. The bishop was ordained deacon in 1976 and priest in 1980. From 1982-2006 he served, variously, as pastor of the Prelacy of Thessaloniki, Greece, and in the prelacies of Florida, Chicago and New Jersey in the United States of America. The former primate, Archbishop Gegham Khacheryan, resigned on 2 October…



Tags: India Syrian Civil War Violence against Christians Armenian Apostolic Church Syrian Catholic





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