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Current Issue
September, 2019
Volume 45, Number 3
  
22 October 2019
Greg Kandra




Thousands continue to protest in Beirut, demanding government reform. The protests have been going on for six days. (photo: Rod & Roy / Instagram)

Protests in Lebanon are continuing and show no sign of abating, according to Al Jazeera:

Protesters in Lebanon insisted on Tuesday they will stay in the streets for a sixth day even after the government approved an unprecedented package of economic reforms.

The protesters have declared a general strike, sending a clear signal they reject the measures Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s government agreed upon on Monday.

Among the reforms is a 50-percent reduction in salary for former and current politicians and ministers; the abolishment of the Ministry of Information and a number of other state institutions; and the establishment of an anti-corruption panel.

CNEWA’s regional director in Beirut, Michel Constantin, sent us the picture above on Monday — which has been widely circulated on social media — and added this note:

This has become Lebanon’s biggest protest movement in modern history.

Accordingly, our office in Beirut was affected as the main road in front of Boutique Hotel has been closed by demonstrators and wheel burning since Friday, preventing the access to the office.

On Monday, church leaders expressed solidarity with the protestors, with Cardinal Bechara Rai, Maronite patriarch, stating: ”We pray to God, through the intercession of our mother Mary, Our Lady of Lebanon, and St. Charbel, to touch the conscience of our political officials and inspire them to find the necessary, successful and quick solutions to the economic and social crisis, which has become a crisis of hunger.”



Tags: Lebanon

22 October 2019
Greg Kandra




Buses transport displaced Syrian families, who fled violence after the Turkish offensive against Syria, to camps in Iraq on 17 October 2019. After a five day pause, Turkey's offensive may resume as early as today. (photo: CNS/Ari Jalal, Reuters)

Turkey’s Erdogan says Syria offensive could resume (Reuters) Hundreds of Kurdish fighters remain near to Syria’s northeast border despite a U.S.-brokered truce demanding their withdrawal and Turkey could resume its offensive in the area when the ceasefire expires, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said…

ISIS reaps gains from U.S. pullout from Syria (The New York Times) When President Trump announced this month that he would pull American troops out of northern Syria and make way for a Turkish attack on the Kurds, Washington’s onetime allies, many warned that he was removing the spearhead of the campaign to defeat the Islamic State, also known as ISIS. Now, analysts say that Mr. Trump’s pullout has handed the Islamic State its biggest win in more than four years and greatly improved its prospects…

Eritrean refugees continue to flood into Ethiopia (The New Humanitarian) The long-dormant border crossings re-opened with such fanfare between Eritrea and Ethiopia last year as a symbol of warming relations are all now closed — but that isn’t stopping a steady flow of Eritrean refugees from fleeing across the heavily militarized frontier…

Netanyahu fails to form government (BBC) Israel’s long-standing Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has said he cannot form a government, handing the opportunity to his political rival. Mr Netanyahu has been in power for the past decade, but he was unable to build a coalition with a majority after September’s election ended in deadlock. His rival Benny Gantz of the Blue and White party will now be invited to attempt to form a government…

Heavy rains inundate Kerala (The Indian Express) Heavy rains are likely to lash several parts of Kerala and Lakshadweep in the next five days as the North-East monsoon became active over the state, according to the latest forecast by the India Meteorological Department (IMD)…

Vatican: Christians and Hindus must show world peace is possible (CNS) Christians and Hindus must resist pessimism and instead draw from and add to the “a hidden sea of goodness” that convinces many men and women around the world that peace and brotherhood are possible, said a Vatican message for the Hindu feast of Diwali…



Tags: Syria India Ethiopia Turkey Eritrea

21 October 2019
Greg Kandra




In this 2018 photo, Cardinal Oswald Gracias of Mumbai, president of the Catholic Bishops Conference of India, speaks during a news conference in Bangalore. The cardinal is taking part in the Amazon Synod at the Vatican. (photo: CNS/Anto Akkara)

At Amazon Synod, Cardinal Gracias sees similarities between Amazon and India (Vatican News) An Indian cardinal participating in the Amazon Synod, currently taking place in the Vatican, says he is moved by the passion of the bishops of the Amazonia region for their poor and suffering people. Cardinal Oswald Gracias, made the remark in an interview to Vatican News…

U.S. troops leave Syria and cross into Iraq (CNN) Hundreds of trucks carrying American troops have crossed into Iraq in a long military convoy Monday, marking the largest withdrawal of US forces from Syria to date. US personnel, who were fighting the terror group alongside the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, will be mostly repositioned in western Iraq, US Defense Secretary Mark Esper said, while some will remain temporarily in Syria to protect oil fields from ISIS. It’s an apparent walk back of President Donald Trump’s assertion last week that he would bring all American troops stationed in Syria “back home…”

Coptic Christians in Egypt fear martyrs are being forgotten (Crux) While the video footage of the deaths of the 21 Christians [in Libya in 2015] stunned much of the world, many Coptic Christians have since lamented that the events seem to have been quickly forgotten — though in the rural village of Al Our, the presence of their family members seemed to be a plea for both remembrance and continued attention to the ongoing realities of Christians in the region…

‘Lost’ street built by Pontius Pilate uncovered in Jerusalem (The Independent) A 2,000-year-old “lost” street built in Jerusalem by Pontius Pilate has been uncovered for the first time since the city was sacked by the Romans in 70AD. The ancient walkway most likely used by pilgrims as they made their way to worship at the Temple Mount was first discovered in 1894 by British archaeologists in the “City of David” within the walls of Jerusalem…



Tags: Syria India Jerusalem

18 October 2019
Greg Kandra




Students attend class at Bethlehem University. Learn more about what makes this school so distinctive in A Letter from Bethlehem in the current edition of ONE. (photo: Ilene Perlman)



Tags: Bethlehem University

18 October 2019
Greg Kandra




While Turkey has agreed to a pause in its offensive, Syrian Kurdish fighters are accusing the Turkish military of violating the terms of a truce. (video: DW News/YouTube)

Kurds accuse Turks of violating truce (The New York Times) The leadership of the Syrian Kurdish fighters accused the Turkish military and its proxies on Friday of violating the terms of a truce in northern Syria that was brokered a day earlier by Vice President Mike Pence, raising questions about the feasibility of the cease-fire and whether the Americans can enforce it…

Armenia backs Christians in northeast Syria (Armenian Weekly) The Armenian government is working to assist ethnic Armenians in danger of being caught in the wake of the Turkish invasion of northeastern Syria, which is now entering its first week. Authorities in Yerevan were quick to formally condemn the Turkish assault, which has been dubbed “Operation Peace Spring” by the Turkish military…

Chennai becomes first in India to get ’intelligent flood warning system’ (The New Indian Express) Tamil Nadu is all set to deploy an ‘intelligent flood warning system’ in Chennai, which will enable officials to get area-wise inundation details during the monsoon. The technology, called CFLOWS, is India’s first integrated coastal flood warning system...

Ethiopia opens its secretive Imperial Palace for the first time (CNN) For more than a century, the secretive imperial palace complex has stood over Ethiopia’s capital city of Addis Ababa, closed off to everyone but the country’s leaders and the troops who protected them. Almost hidden from view on a wooded bluff, its forbidding 40-acre compound was unknown even to some of those living beneath it. Behind its walls, plots were hatched, conquests planned and dark deeds executed…



Tags: Syria India Ethiopia Turkey

17 October 2019
Greg Kandra




Smoke rises over the Syrian city of Ras al Ain on 16 October 2019, as seen from the Turkish border city of Ceylanpinar. Humanitarian concerns are growing as people caught in the crosshairs of the Turkish incursion into northeastern Syria try to flee for safety. (photo: CNS/Murad Sezer, Reuters)

Pence arrives in Turkey as U.S. seeks to halt Syria offensive (The Washington Post) Vice President Pence arrived Thursday in Turkey’s capital on a mission to persuade President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to halt a military offensive in northeastern Syria that has set off a hasty U.S. troop withdrawal and posed political problems for the Trump administration. Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo were scheduled to meet with Erdogan, the State Department said Monday. The United States and other Western allies have reacted with alarm to the Turkish military operation, aimed at beating back Kurdish militants from Turkey’s border region and creating a zone where Syrian refugees could be resettled, Ankara says…

Turkish offensive sends new wave of refugees to Iraq (The Washington Post) As foreign powers jostle for control of northeast Syria, a new wave of refugees is trudging into Iraq, fearful, uncertain and worn out. Aid groups said Wednesday that more than a thousand Syrians had crossed the Iraqi border in the days since U.S. troops pulled back and Turkey moved in to push Kurdish-led forces from its southern frontier. Should the violence worsen, humanitarian agencies are preparing to receive as many as 50,000 people by January…

Hundreds of ultra-Orthodox teens attack Palestinians in Jerusalem (Haaretz) Hundreds of ultra-Orthodox teens rioted on Wednesday overnight in central Jerusalem, attacking Palestinians that drove by them and vandalizing their vehicle. Seven were arrested by police on suspicion of causing property damage…

Archbishop urges dialogue between Pakistan, India (Vatican News) A Catholic bishop of Pakistan has expressed concern over the confrontation between Pakistan and India over the disputed region of Kashmir and wishes the leaders of both the nuclear-armed nations take on the path of dialogue to save humanity. ”Atomic weapons will never be needed or used if world leaders remain firm in their commitment to build global peace,” Archbishop Sebastian Shaw of Lahore said last week, during a ceremony to commemorate the historic meeting between St. Francis of Assisi and Sultan al-Malik al-Kamil of Egypt, 800 years ago in Egypt 1219…



Tags: Syria India Jerusalem Turkey

16 October 2019
Greg Kandra




In this image from 2016, children in Aiga, Ethiopia, enjoy biscuits they received as part of a food program supported by Catholic Near East Welfare Association. To mark World Food Day, 16 October, Pope Francis issued a message calling on the world to “realize that what we are accumulating and wasting is the bread of the poor.”(photo: John E. Kozar, CNEWA)

Pope’s message for World Food Day: wasting the bread of the poor (Vatican News) Pope Francis sends a message to the FAO Director General, Qu Dongyu, for World Food Day, observed on 16 October, expressing his concern for the “distorted relationship between food and nutrition.” The pope begins his message by referring to the theme for this year’s World Food Day: “Our Actions Are Our Future. Healthy Diets for a #ZeroHunger World”. The Pope notes that “despite efforts made in recent decades, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is yet to be implemented in many parts of the world…”

Turkey urges Kurdish fighters to lay down their arms (The New York Times) President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey called on Wednesday for Kurdish fighters battling his troops in northeastern Syria to lay down their weapons and withdraw from the border area “this very night.” Resisting Western pressure to halt the operation, Mr. Erdogan also requested international support for his country’s battle against Kurdish fighters whom Turkey considers terrorists but who had been allied with the United States against the Islamic State…

A look inside Egypt’s most embattled minority, Christians in ’Garbage City’ (The New York Post) Enormous bags of trash litter the streets and fill every nook and cranny, and the ambient scent is correspondingly pleasant. Pictures of Coptic popes and Jesus and Mary cover the walls, often next to hand-painted scenes from Mecca. Emaciated cats lounge about. If any place epitomizes the decrepitude and magic of the Egyptian capital — presenting both qualities in equal and abundant measure — it is this place called Garbage City...

Heavy rainfall warning issued for Kerala (The Times of India) A low pressure formation in the Arabian Sea will bring intentness rains and thunderstorms to Kerala for the next couple of days…

Jerusalem opens natural spring, but not to Palestinians (Haaretz) Police allowed a natural spring in southern Jerusalem to be opened to visitors on Tuesday, but on the explicit condition that Palestinians not be allowed to enter the site…



Tags: Egypt Pope Francis Kerala Turkey

15 October 2019
Greg Kandra




Following a Mass near Thrissur, India, pilgrims carry a statue of St. Mariam Thresia on 13 October 2019. She was among five people canonized by Pope Francis at the Vatican that day.
(photo: CNS/Anto Akkara)


Among the five people canonized over the weekend, one was a religious sister from Kerala who founded a congregation in India.

From Vatican News:

A religious and mystic, Sister Mariam Theresia was born in Puthenchira, in southern India’s Kerala state, on April 26, 1876. Belonging to a once rich and noble family with extensive landed property, the future pioneer of the family apostolate grew up in piety and holiness under the loving guidance of her saintly mother, Thanda. In her intense love for God, the 8-year old girl gave herself up to austere, penance, fasting and prayer. She wanted to be conformed ever more to the likeness of the suffering Christ to whom she also consecrated her virginity at an early age.

In imitation of Jesus, she helped the poor, nursed the sick, visited and comforted the lonely people of her parish.

She was also blessed with the stigmata but kept it secret to avoid attention. She received several mystical gifts like prophecy, healing, an aura of light, sweet odor and frequently had ecstasies and levitations. Her entire existence was tormented by demons and she offered her sufferings for the remission of the sins of the world.

Thresia and three companions who joined her led a life of prayer and austere penance and continued to help families, visiting the sick, the poor and the needy irrespective of religion or caste. This ministry led her to establish the new Congregation of the Holy Family on 14 May 1914.

Sister Thresia died on 8 June 1926, at the age of 50, and was declared Blessed by Pope Saint John Paul II in 2000.

Pope Francis in February authorized a decree recognizing a miracle through her intercession, which cleared her for sainthood, and in July the Pope decided on 13 October as the canonization day.

Since then, the sisters of the Congregation of the Holy Family have been preparing intensely for this great day, said Sister Udaya, the Superior General of the Congregation. In Rome for Sunday’s canonization, she explained to Vatican news that they are concentrating more on spiritual preparation and works of charity for the family than external preparation.

Hear an interview with Sister Udaya at the link.



15 October 2019
Greg Kandra




Turkish-backed Syrian rebel fighters raise the Syrian opposition flag at the border town of Tel Abyad, Syria, on 14 October. (photo: CNS/Khalil Ashawi, Reuters)

Syriac Catholic patriarch pleads for peace in Syria (CNS) The patriarch of the Syriac Catholic Church pleaded for “immediate and lasting peace in northeastern Syria and the preservation of innocent lives, especially for Christians, who are the original and founding component of Syria.” Celebrating Mass on 13 October in the patriarchal Church of the Virgin Mary in Rome in the presence of people uprooted over the years from Syria and Iraq, Syriac Catholic Patriarch Ignace Joseph III Younan said, “We Christians of the East are neglected and abandoned by this world, which searches for its immediate material interests…”

Fighting in Syria displaces more than 100,000 (Vatican News) Turkish troops moved on Saturday to seize key highways that link towns in northeast Syria. It marks the 4th day of the Turkish offensive against Kurds living near the border in Syria. Turkey says its goal is to push back Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units at least 20 miles from the border. Turkey considers the YPG a terrorist organization. At least 30 civilians have so far been reported killed in the violence. The United Nations said Saturday that at least 100,000 people have been driven from the towns of Ras al-Ain and Tal Abyad alone, where the heaviest fighting is going on…

Indian archbishop, priest die in car accident in U.S. (Vatican News) Archbishop Dominic Jala of Shillong of north-east India’s Meghalaya state and the Rev. Mathew Vellankal, a 58-year old Indian-born priest of the Diocese of Oakland, died last week a road accident in California in the United States. Archbishop Jala was 68. Father Vellankal was driving the archbishop and another Indian priest, the Rev. Joseph Parekkatt, to Clearlake in California, when the tragedy took place. Their car was hit by a semi-truck in Colusa County…

Greek Church recognizes Orthodox Church of Ukraine (Radio Free Europe) An extraordinary meeting of the leadership of the Church of Greece decided on 12 October to recognize the autocephalous Orthodox Church of Ukraine (OCU), making it the first of the Eastern Orthodox churches to take such a step. The Orthodox Times said the Greeks’ formal recognition will take place on 19 October in Thessaloniki, with Archbishop Ieronymos and the OCU’s Metropolitan Epifaniy of Kyiv and All Ukraine present...

Leaders of Egypt, Ethiopia meet to discuss dam standoff (Reuters) A long-running diplomatic standoff over building and operating the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam has heightened tensions between the two countries. Egypt worries that the dam will threaten its already scarce water supplies…



Tags: Syria Ethiopia Turkey Indian Bishops

11 October 2019
Greg Kandra




In this image from January, Pope Francis shakes hands with Abiy Ahmed, prime minister of Ethiopia, during a private audience at the Vatican. The Ethiopian prime minister was awarded the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize on 11 October. (photo: CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Ethiopia’s prime minister awarded Nobel Peace Prize (The New York Times) Abiy Ahmed, the prime minister of Ethiopia, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday, for his work in restarting peace talks with neighboring Eritrea, ending a long stalemate between the two countries. Mr. Abiy, 43, broke through two decades of frozen conflict between his vast country, Africa’s second most populous, and Eritrea, its small and isolated neighbor. When he became prime minister of Ethiopia in 2018, he threw himself at a breakneck pace into reforms at home, and peace negotiations with the rebel-turned-dictator Isaias Afwerki, president of Eritrea…

Turkey claims hundreds of ’terrorists’ killed in Syria (Bloomberg) President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he would “open the doors” for 3.6 million refugees currently in Turkey to seek shelter in Europe, should his country come under undue criticism. Erdogan’s threats on Thursday came a day after Turkish troops began a major incursion into northeastern Syria, drawing criticism from the U.S., many European nations and Arab states. The cross-border military offensive, code-named “Peace Spring,” resulted in deaths of hundreds of “terrorists” since it began on Wednesday, according to Turkey’s military…

Why strong monsoon rains are not good news for Indian farmers (India Today) India, one of the world’s biggest agricultural producers, experienced its heaviest monsoon rains in 25 years this year. While rain would normally cheer the agricultural heartland, the monsoon was erratic and has left many crops damaged…

The young women who share language in Jerusalem (Haaretz) Two years ago two women decided to try to expand their mutual circle of friends in Jewish and Arab neighborhoods of Jerusalem. They started a Facebook page where they proposed creating a women’s group in which Arab women would teach their Jewish counterparts Arabic and the Jewish women would teach the Arab women Hebrew…



Tags: Syria Ethiopia Turkey





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