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March, 2018
Volume 44, Number 1
  
3 December 2015
Greg Kandra




Indian residents carry children as they walk through floodwaters in Chennai on 3 December 2015. More than 40,000 people have been rescued in recent days after record rains lashed the coastal state, worsening weeks of flooding that has killed more than 270 people.
(photo: STRDEL/AFP/Getty Images)


British jets strike ISIS targets in Syria (Vatican Radio) British fighter jets based in Cyprus have carried out the first UK air strikes on targets belonging to the so-called Islamic State in Syria. Britain had already been involved in attacks against the Islamist group in Iraq...

Caritas India rushes emergency aid to flood-ravaged Tamil Nadu (Vatican Radio) Caritas India, the aid agency of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India, has dispatched some 2.5 million rupees as emergency fund to Tamil Nadu, a southern Indian state battered by the century’s worst floods. Amrit Sangma, Caritas India communication officer, told Matters India on 2 December that they will provide food, wash kits and clothes to affected people with the support of its four local partners. Hundreds of thousands of people have been stranded in Tamil Nadu following incessant rains for the past two days. Meteorological Department in the state has predicted heavy rains in the coming four days. More than 270 have been killed in flood and rain related incidents, local newspapers report...

Anguish, shock in Muslim community after San Bernardino shootings (The Los Angeles Times) When Mahmoud Tarifi learned the name of a suspect in Wednesday’s San Bernardino shooting, his heart sank. He said he knew the man may have been Muslim. Tarifi, a leader at the Islamic Center of Claremont, was not alone. After officials announced that a man named Syed Farook was a suspect, members of the faith’s community shared their sense of grief and concern. Tarifi said American Muslims are accustomed to being targeted and scapegoated whenever violent Islamic extremists commit attacks. “Every Muslim worries about being victimized,” he said. “It’s how we felt after 9/11 and after the Paris attacks”...

In Iraq, new Catholic University to open next week (Fides) 8 December is the date chosen for the opening of a new Catholic University, Erbil Campus, CUE in Iraq. The Chaldean Catholic Archdiocese of Erbil has warmly invited everyone to take part in the inauguration of this important centre of studies. In a statement sent also to Fides, people are encouraged to be part of “a path of education which will lead many to a future of prosperity and peace”...

Radio Maria to begin broadcasting in Arabic (Fides) Radio Maria, an Italian Catholic radio station established in 1982 at Arcellasco d’Erba which today broadcasts in more than 50 countries and in as many languages, will begin programmes in Arabic via web on 8 December to mark the Feast of the Immaculate Conception and the opening day of the Holy Year of Divine Mercy...

Caritas seeks to raise awareness about “hidden war” in Ukraine (Vatican Radio) Civil war in Ukraine has left some 3 million people in need of humanitarian assistance. Caritas Internationalis is working to raise awareness about what is increasingly becoming a “hidden war”...



Tags: Syria Iraq India Muslim Islam

2 December 2015
Greg Kandra




Although the Feast of St. Nicholas doesn’t come until 6 December, the saint made an early appearance at the pope’s General Audience on Wednesday. Wolfgang Georg Kimmig-Liebe of Germany, dressed as St. Nicholas, stands among the crowd before Pope Francis arrives for his weekly audience in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican on 2 December.
(photo: CNS/Alessandro Bianchi, Reuters)




2 December 2015
Greg Kandra




Hatice Akdal, a Syrian refugee woman, sits on the floor in a room in Reyhanli district of Hatay, southern Turkey, on 1 December 2015. Many Syrians had to leave their homes after the recent Russian airstrikes. (photo: Cem Genco/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Russia claims it has proof Turkey involved in ISIS oil trade (Reuters) Russia’s defense ministry said on Wednesday it had proof that Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and his family were benefiting from the illegal smuggling of oil from Islamic State-held territory in Syria and Iraq. Moscow and Ankara have been locked in a war of words since last week when a Turkish air force jet shot down a Russian warplane near the Syrian-Turkish border, the most serious incident between Russia and a NATO state in half a century...

U.K. Parliament to vote on bombing ISIS in Syria (CNN) After the November 13 terror attacks in Paris, France asked its allies to bump up their military offensive against ISIS. Now Britain and Germany will decide whether they will. The parliaments of both countries are debating their leaders’ requests for greater military commitment against the terror group. And the measures are expected to be approved...

As many as 50,000 refugees, most from Syria, may enter Canada (The Globe and Mail) As many as 50,000 refugees — at least 70 per cent from Syria — could arrive in Canada by the end of next year, Immigration Minister John McCallum says, adding the federal government is anxious to prevent a backlash from Canadians against this massive influx of newcomers. This rate of intake would be the greatest since 1979-1980 when 60,000 Indochinese boat people found a new home in Canada...

Coptic Church denies claims of normalization with Israel (Middle East Monitor) Egypt’s Coptic Church has refused claims of normalising ties with Israel and affirmed that Pope Tawadros II did not meet with any Israeli officials during his brief visit to Jerusalem, according to a statement released today. Anadolu news agency reported that Tawadros II travelled to Jerusalem in order to pay tribute to Jerusalem Archbishop Anba Abraham who died last Wednesday. The statement said that the Coptic Pope arranged his entrance to Jerusalem with the Palestinian Authority without obtaining an Israeli visa...

Children find calm, order inside Gaza’s only ballet school (Reuters) The group of girls, ponytailed and dressed in pink, stretched their arms out to the sides and pivoted onto their toes, trying desperately to hold still. Eagle-eyed, the instructor surveyed Gaza’s latest crop of would-be ballerinas. Fifty girls aged five to eight are now enrolled in the ballet school at the Al-Qattan Center for Children in Gaza, making it one of the most popular classes the arts institute runs, under the watchful eye of a Ukrainian teacher. Amid the chaos and destruction that has shattered Gaza so often over the past five years, with repeated wars between Israel and Hamas, the school is a haven of calm and order, one many parents are eager for their children to enjoy...



Tags: Syria Gaza Strip/West Bank Turkey Russia Coptic

1 December 2015
Greg Kandra




A sister feeds a resident at Asha Bhavan, a home for the elderly and destitute in Kerala, India.
(photo: Jose Jacob)


Today marks #GivingTuesday, a global event to encourage the spirit of giving during the holiday season. As we noted last week:

On #Giving Tuesday, CNEWA will raise funds to ease hunger. Nutrition is a challenge for every initiative we support. In hospitals, mother-and-child clinics, orphanages, schools and Bible camps — and every facility that helps refugees — everyone needs to eat.

#Giving Tuesday will let us help churches and religious sisters provide healthy formula for infants. Lunches for school children. Hot meals for the elderly and sick. As Pope Francis noted, “We are in front of a global scandal, one billion people who still suffer from hunger today. We cannot look the other way and pretend this does not exist.”

To give on #Giving Tuesday — or even in advance — use your computer, smart phone or tablet. To make donating easy, we’re harnessing the power of CrowdRise. One of America’s most highly-regarded funding web sites, it’s an online giving hub that brings together ordinary people, diverse charities and companies. All to support important causes.

Read more about this special event and how you can help us help others.



1 December 2015
Greg Kandra




In this image from 5 November, Palestinian protesters throw stones at Israeli soldiers during clashes in Hebron. Escalating violence has moved the Palestinian Authority to request that municipalities tone down their public Christmas celebrations this year.
(photo: CNS/Abed Al Hashlamoun, EPA)


Palestinian Authority limits Christmas celebrations in West Bank (RNS) The Palestinian Authority has asked municipalities to tone down their public Christmas celebrations this year amid escalating violence between Palestinians and Israelis. Hana Amireh, who heads a government committee on churches in the West Bank, confirmed the Palestinian Authority is requesting “a certain decrease’ in festivities following the deaths of dozens of Palestinians since mid-September. The majority of them were killed during clashes with Israeli forces or carrying out terrorist attacks, according to the Israeli government...

Poll: only small fraction of Syrian refugees want to come to U.S. (The Washington Post) According to a new Gallup poll, a tiny fraction of would-be Syrian refugees say their desired home lies in the United States or Canada. The survey, which was conducted in January through face-to-face interviews, found that only 6 percent of Syrians who said they were contemplating leaving their country imagined North America as their chosen destination...

Pope sends message to Patriarch Bartholomew for Feast of St. Andrew (Vatican Radio) In a message marking the feast of the apostle Andrew, patron saint of the Orthodox world, Pope Francis urges Catholics and Orthodox to offer a “credible and effective witness” to the Christian values of trust, respect, charity and reconciliation. The message was hand delivered to the Orthodox leader in Istanbul by the head of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, Cardinal Kurt Koch, who led a delegation to the Patriarchal Church of St George for the feast of St Andrew on Monday 30 November. By consigning “painful memories to oblivion”, Pope Francis writes, and restoring a “relationship of love and fraternity”, there is no longer “any impediment to Eucharistic communion which cannot be overcome through prayer, the purification of hearts, dialogue and the affirmation of truth...”

Ethiopia faces power cuts while drought dries dams (Bloomberg) Ethiopia may face further power shortages because of low water levels at dams after a poor rainy season, an official said, following two days of sporadic cuts caused by technical faults at hydropower plants...

Sister stresses education among predominantly Muslim populations (Fides) In Pakistan and India, nuns carry out a great job among the population, almost entirely Muslim, in favor of education and the promotion of interreligious dialogue. This is what Sister Monica Joseph, Superior General of the Religious of Jesus and Mary, R.J.M. stresses to Agenzia Fides. Sister Monica is participating at the XIX Plenary Assembly of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples. She also highlights the great efforts of her congregation in favor of children, young people, boys and girls, the poor and abandoned...



Tags: Syria India Refugees Ethiopia Gaza Strip/West Bank

30 November 2015
Greg Kandra




Migrants from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan arrive at the transit and registration camp in the town of Presevo, southern Serbia, on 24 November. The extensive vetting process that all refugees undergo before arriving in the United States, “screens out any possible threat of terrorism,” said the executive director of the U.S. bishops’ Migration and Refugee Services. Read more. To help Syrian Christians still in the Middle East survive the winter, please visit this giving page.
(photo: CNS/Djordje Savic, EPA)




30 November 2015
Greg Kandra




Pope Francis sits next to Imam Tidiani Moussa Naibi during a meeting with the Muslim community at the Koudoukou mosque in Bangui, Central African Republic on 30 November.
(photo: CNS/Paul Haring)


Pope visits Grand Mosque (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Monday morning visited the Grand Mosque of Koudoukou in Bangui, the capital of the Central African Republic, meeting with the city’s Muslim community. The Holy Father was welcomed to the mosque by the Grand Imam Nehedi Tidjani, along with four other Imam, who accompanied him to the podium. In his address, Pope Francis recalled the recent violence which has rocked the country, saying “Christians and Muslims are brothers and sisters...”

Michigan plans to resettle more Syrian refugees (Mlive.com) Washtenaw County is home to approximately 16 refugees from the violence in Syria, and more could be on their way despite Governor Snyder’s call for a resettlement “pause.” Representatives from Jewish Family Services — the only refugee resettlement agency in the county — said they have families in the pipeline waiting for final clearance to make their way to Ann Arbor...

Chaldean Patriarch: let us pray for the liberation of Mosul (Fides) In all the Chaldean churches in the world, during Advent and during the daily celebrations, the faithful will pray to invoke the gift of liberation of Mosul and the entire Nineveh Plain, and ask for the rights of religious minorities living in Iraq to be guaranteed. These are the two prayer intentions that Chaldean Patriarch Louis Raphael I suggested to Chaldean Catholics in Iraq and those in the scattered communities in the diaspora, with a message issued on the first Sunday of Advent...

Ukraine remembers victims of Stalin-era famine (AFP) Ukraine on Saturday held a day of mourning for the millions of victims of a Soviet-era famine, with President Petro Poroshenko describing it as an episode in the “war waged by Russia against Ukraine.” Poroshenko, accompanied by Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk and hundreds of Ukrainians, laid symbolic wheat ears and lit candles before the Holodomor — or “death by hunger” — monument in central Kiev...

The biggest African refugee camp no one talks about (AllAfrica.com) On a sunny November day in Addis Ababa the courtyard of the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) centre is packed with people — some attend a United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees reception clinic, others get essential supplies, while students attend classes, and many simply play volleyball, table football or dominoes to pass the time. Now in its 20th year, the JRS compound resembles a microcosm of Africa’s — and even the Middle East’s — troubles, hosting refugees from South Sudan, Congo, Uganda, Somalia, Eritrea, Yemen, Burundi and more. It aims to assist 1,700 people in 2015...

Multi-purpose room completed at Catholic parish in Gaza (Fides) A multipurpose room has been completed in the Catholic parish in Gaza, which now can be used as space equipped to meet the diverse needs of the local community. The room, equipped with a large stage, can accommodate theater shows, conferences, meetings, weddings and social events of all kinds. The multipurpose space also has a game room, a library, a computer lab and a fitness facility. The inauguration of the new facility — report official media of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem — took place on 25 November in the presence of parishioners and many workers of the teams that worked on the project. The construction of the social space was done thanks to the financial support of the Pontifical Mission for Palestine...

India launches program for Jubilee of Mercy (Fides) “When we are nourished by the Eucharist we can nourish others” is the appeal launched by Abram Viruthakulangara, Archbishop of Nagpur, for the Jubilee Year of Mercy. As reported to Fides, in the diocese, located in the state of Maharashtra, the local community intends to live the time of the Jubilee highlighting the importance of reaching out to others: “Jesus has a two-point programme: love of God and love of one’s neighbor. Where there is love, God reigns”, the Archbishop said, adding, “the Kingdom of Jesus has no boundaries just like love has no boundaries...



Tags: Iraq Pope Francis Ukraine Ethiopia Islam

24 November 2015
Greg Kandra




In this image from September, donated shoes await child refugees from Syria arriving in Hungary. Hundreds of faith leaders have called for compassion in addressing the world refugee crisis. Read more here. (photo: CNS/Paul Jeffrey)



24 November 2015
Greg Kandra




The civil war in Syria is forcing Christians to leave their country. In the video above, the archbishop of Aleppo explains how violence and hopelessness are driving people out every day.
(video: Rome Reports)


Turkey has “all but closed its borders” to Syrian refugees (Al Jazeera) Turkey has “all but closed its borders” to Syrian refugees, many of whom say they have been beaten, detained and expelled by Turkish border guards while trying to escape the devastating civil war that has sent millions fleeing Syria, nongovernmental organization Human Rights Watch (HRW) said Monday. The U.N. refugee agency says Turkey has registered more than 2 million Syrians as refugees since the conflict began nearly five years ago...

Turks down Russian warplane in Syria (Vatican Radio) Russia’s defence ministry said on Tuesday one of its fighter jets was downed in Syria after coming under fire from the ground. The Turkish military said it shot down a plane after it was repeatedly warned about violating Turkish airspace...

Faith leaders say refugees require compassion, acceptance (CNS) A Boston cardinal and the Maryland Catholic Conference were among hundreds of faith leaders who called for compassion in addressing the world refugee crisis and stressed the importance of developing a national immigration policy based on humanitarian need. Acknowledging that the times are “dangerous” and that “enhanced security procedures are needed,” Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley in a statement on 19 November cautioned that in developing an immigration policy, “decisions concerning the specific measure taken require careful deliberation”...

Russia to halt gas supplies to Ukraine (Reuters) Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said Moscow would cut gas supplies to Ukraine on Tuesday or Wednesday because Kiev had not paid up front for more gas and might also halt coal supplies to Ukraine in retaliation for a power blackout of Crimea. Alexander Novak, in comments to Vesti FM radio station, was speaking as Russian-annexed Crimea continued to rely on emergency generators to meet its basic power needs after unknown saboteurs blew up electricity pylons supplying the peninsula with electricity over the weekend...

Airlines cancel flights in wake of Egypt plane crash (BBC) Two airlines have cancelled all flights between the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh and the UK until January. British Airways has cancelled flights up to and including 14 January while Easyjet has suspended flights until at least 6 January. Easyjet said the move was made to provide some certainty to passengers travelling over the Christmas period. BA said the decision was made following discussions with the government about the situation in Sharm el-Sheikh. Monarch, Thomson and Thomas Cook have cancelled flights until dates in December...

Indian Christians struggle for political relevance (UCANews.com) or a long time, Indian Christian leaders depended on others for their political meal, without bothering to know the recipes. But theories of political cooking are fast changing in India, and they are hurriedly looking for some easy-to-learn recipes. A new recipe was successfully tested in the cardamom-growing hills of southern Kerala in November, when village elections were conducted there. What occurred in this small village of Christians could have great lessons for their people across India in their attempt for political assertion...



Tags: Syria India Ukraine Turkey Russia

23 November 2015
Greg Kandra




Pope Francis poses with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko during a meeting at the Vatican
on 20 November. (photo: CNS/Alessandra Tarantino, pool via Reuters)


On Friday, Pope Francis met with Ukraine’s president. Some details, from CNS:

Although the conflict between Ukraine and Russian-backed separatists continues, Pope Francis and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko still share hope that a political solution still can be found, the Vatican said.

Welcoming Poroshenko to the Vatican on November 20, the pope greeted him in Ukrainian. Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, explained that at the age of 11, the young Jorge Mario Bergoglio learned a few phrases of Ukrainian when he served as an altar boy for a Ukrainian Catholic priest in Buenos Aires.

Pope Francis and Poroshenko spoke privately for more than 20 minutes. The Vatican said that their conversation was “dedicated principally to matters connected with the situation of conflict in the country.”

“In this respect, the hope was shared that, with the commitment of all the interested parties, political solutions may be favored, starting with the full implementation of the Minsk Accords,” a cease-fire agreement signed in September 2014, the statement said.

Additionally, the two expressed their concerns regarding the difficulties in providing humanitarian relief, healthcare in areas of the country where the fighting continues.

The Ukrainian president gave the pope a glass sculpture of an angel, which represented “a messenger of God who brings peace to every home and reminds us of such principal values of life as God’s blessing, family, labor and peaceful skies overhead.”

Poroshenko told the pope he hoped “that with this you will remember Ukraine.”







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