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September, 2017
Volume 43, Number 3
  
24 April 2013
J.D. Conor Mauro




A member of a Free Syrian Army walks past destroyed buildings and debris in Deraa on 17 April. Pope Francis is offering “intense prayers” for the safety and liberation of two Orthodox archbishops kidnapped in Syria, for effective responses to the humanitarian crisis created by the civil war and for peace in the nation, the Vatican spokesman said. (photo: CNS/Thaer Abdallah, Reuters)

Fate of clerics held in Syria is disputed (New York Times) A Christian advocacy group, L’Oeuvre d’Orient, which assists Middle Eastern Christians, posted a statement on its Web site that the two kidnapping victims — Syriac Orthodox Metropolitan Gregorios Yohanna of Aleppo and Greek Orthodox Metropolitan Paul of Aleppo — had been freed early Tuesday afternoon. The group, based in Paris, said the archbishops were staying in a Greek Orthodox church in Aleppo, the northern city that has been a combat zone since last summer. Despite the reports that the archbishops had been freed, there was no confirmation, and as the day progressed contradictory accounts emerged. Abdel-Ahad Steifo, a Syriac Orthodox member of the National Coalition of Revolutionary and Opposition Forces, the main political opposition group, said in an interview on Al Jazeera that the archbishops were still being held by the kidnappers…

Pope offers prayers for Orthodox archbishops kidnapped in Syria (CNS) Acknowledging “conflicting reports” about two Orthodox archbishops kidnapped in Syria, Pope Francis prayed for them and for an end to the war in their country. At his audience, Pope Francis said the kidnappings were “another sign of the tragic situation the dear Syrian nation is living through with violence and weapons continuing to sow death and suffering.” The pope said: “While I keep the two bishops in my prayers so that they would return quickly to their communities, I ask God to enlighten hearts”…

Syria’s Christians threatened by ideology, geography (Al Monitor) Throughout the two-year-old Syrian civil war, the world powers as well as the Syrian parties involved have said that the country’s minorities, especially its Christians, face an existential threat. The tragedy of Syria’s Christians is linked to not only fundamentalist and ideological motives but also to geostrategic calculations. Wadi al Ouyoun and Wadi al Nasra, which have a million Christians and are the largest continuous Christian settlements in the Middle East, sit on the banks of the Orontes River. This region separates the Syrian Desert from Syria’s “green areas.” Military experts assert that whoever controls the area of the valleys would be able to split Syria in two, cut the road to Aleppo at either Homs or Hama and cut the Latakia-Tartus road on the coast. To put it even more simply, the experts say that whoever controls the Christian areas can control the war in Syria…

Iraqi violence sparks fears of a Sunni revolt (L.A. Times) Security forces for the Shiite-led Iraqi government raided a Sunni protest camp in northern Iraq on Tuesday, igniting violence around the country that left at least 36 people dead. The unrest led two Sunni officials to resign from the government and risked pushing the country’s Sunni provinces into an open revolt against Prime Minister Nouri Maliki, a Shiite. The situation looked to be the gravest moment for Iraq since the last United States combat troops left in December 2011…

Iraqi refugees finally beat the odds (The Catholic Register) The Meera family have endured two wars, ethnic cleansing, religious persecution and a lot of bureaucracy, but with the help of a Catholic parish in Brampton, Ontario, the six Iraqi Christian refugees have fought their way into Canada. The Meeras arrived at Pearson International Airport April 8 after seven years living as refugees in the poor Jermannya neighbourhood in Damascus, Syria. The big surprise waiting for them at the airport was a noisy, excited welcoming delegation from St. Anthony of Padua parish, the Meera’s sponsors. “We never thought there would be that love, that support,” said the Meera patriarch, 57-year-old Habeeb Meera. The Meeras beat the odds over and over on their way to Canada…

Romanian U.S. eparchy expands to include Canada (Eparchy of St. George) The Holy See announced on 23 April that it has extended the jurisdiction of the Romanian Catholic Eparchy of St. George the Martyr in Canton, Ohio, to include Romanian Catholics in all of Canada. The Romanian Greek Catholic Church is one of the Eastern Christian churches in full communion with the Pope, which in 1948 was abolished by communists in Romania but continued to exist underground in Romania and in diaspora. Currently, the Romanian Catholic Eparchy of St. George in Canton is the only Diocese for the Romanian Greek Catholics outside of Romania, encompassing 21 parishes and missions as well as two monastic communities in the United States and Canada. To learn more about this church's history, see our profile of The Romanian Church United with Rome from the May 2006 issue of ONE



Tags: Iraq Syrian Civil War Violence against Christians Iraqi Christians Romanian Catholic Church