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December, 2017
Volume 43, Number 4
3 December 2012
Greg Kandra

A statue stands outside a destroyed Jesuit church in Homs, Syria, on 30 November. Activists said the church had been bombed by forces loyal to Syria’s President Bashar Assad.
(photo: CNS/Yazan Homsy, Reuters)

Syrian violence reaches Turkey, Lebanon (Associated Press) Syrian warplanes on Monday bombed a security building that had been taken over by rebels along the Turkish border, killing at least one person, wounding 20 more and sending dozens of civilians fleeing across the frontier, a Turkish official said. The conflict also spilled into Syria’s eastern neighbor, Lebanon, after Lebanese troops exchanged fire with rebels across the border late Sunday. Violence from Syria’s 20-month-old uprising has on several occasions touched neighboring countries, fueling concerns that the Arab Spring’s longest and deadliest revolt could touch off a regional war...

Syrian democracy a dream (Catholic Register) The Armenian Orthodox Primate of Damascus sees little hope the Syrian civil war will end with a democratic regime in power and questions Western support for rebel groups. The bishop is touring Armenian expatriate communities in North America asking for donations through Church channels. One of the most effective Church agencies working with internally displaced Syrians has been the Catholic Near East Welfare Association, known as the Pontifical Mission Society in the Middle East, said Nalbandian...

Pope to begin tweeting next week (Reuters) The secret’s out. Pope Benedict’s new handle on Twitter will be @pontifex, beating out other contenders that had been considered to showcase the thoughts of one of the world’s most visible leaders. Benedict already has 1.2 billion “followers” in the standard sense of the word but next week he will have another type when he enters what for any 85-year old is the brave new world of Twitter. The Vatican said on Monday that the pope will start tweeting on 12 December. “The handle is a good one. It means ‘pope’ and it also means ‘bridge builder’,” said Greg Burke, senior media advisor to the Vatican...

Russia may soften religion law (Reuters) Russian lawmakers are reworking a draft law introducing prison terms for religious offences after signs that Vladimir Putin is concerned it could undermine the delicate balance between the country’s many religions...

Date set for primate to be enthroned ( His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon, will be enthroned as the Primate of the Orthodox Church in America at Saint Nicholas Cathedral, Washington, DC on Sunday, 27 January 2013. The announcement was issued by the Holy Synod of Bishops on Friday, November 30, 2012. Metropolitan Tikhon was elected at the 17th All-American Council in Parma, OH 13 November...

Patriarch Gregorios III releases statement on Palestinian recognition ( Patriarch Gregorios III greatly appreciated the UN resolution granting observer status to the Palestinian state. He said: “Thank God, who waits but never forgets.” He also thanked the countries that voted for the resolution, whilst censuring countries voting against it, some of which seek to be in the defending vanguard of nations’ freedom and dignity...

VIDEO: Cardinal Thottunkal: We have to laugh more and spread joy (Rome Reports) He is now the youngest member of the College of Cardinals, his name, Baselios Cleemis Thottunkal, from India. He admits it is a great responsibility, but above all, a chance for his Church to work hand in hand with the Pope to spread a message of joy...

Tags: Syria Lebanon Palestine Pope Benedict XVI Turkey

30 November 2012
Greg Kandra

Pope Benedict XVI embraces Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople during a private audience at the Vatican in 2008. (photo: CNS/L’Osservatore Romano via Reuters)

Both the Latin and Orthodox churches celebrate the feast of St. Andrew today, 30 November. As Michael La Civita noted last year:

On this feast, the successor of St. Peter sends a delegation to the Turkish city of Istanbul — the former imperial city of Constantinople — where they honor the memory of Peter’s brother with the ecumenical patriarch, who according to tradition is the successor of St. Andrew.

The image above captures the fraternal closeness of the successor of St. Peter and the successor of St. Andrew.

Tags: Pope Benedict XVI Turkey Orthodox

30 November 2012
Greg Kandra

Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi speaks during his first televised address after the election this past summer. (photo: CNS via Reuters)

Christians excluded as Islamists back Egypt’s constitution (Associated Press via NBC News) Islamists approved a draft constitution for Egypt early Friday without the participation of liberal and Christian members, seeking to pre-empt a court ruling that could dissolve their panel with a rushed, marathon vote that further inflames the conflict between the opposition and President Mohammed Morsi. The vote by the constituent assembly advanced a charter with an Islamist bent that rights experts say could give Muslim clerics oversight over legislation and bring restrictions on freedom of speech, women’s rights and other liberties...

Holy See welcomes decision of UN to grant observer status to Palestine (Vatican Radio) The General Assembly has given majority approval to the Resolution by which Palestine has become a non-member Observer State of the United Nations. The Holy See has released a communique welcoming the move...

Patriarch Fouad Twal on UN move: “I am grateful and happy” (Fides) The Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Msgr. Fouad Twal, expressed his joy to Fides Agency for the step taken yesterday in New York, where the UN General Assembly approved the recognition of Palestine as a non-member State observer. “It is a joy that I share with all Palestinians, Christians and Muslims, and that soon I will express on behalf of our Christian communities to President Abu Mazen, as soon as he gets back”, said Patriarch Twal...

Court convicts 12 for anti-Christian violence in India (Fides) A court of first instance in Orissa sentenced to six years in jail 12 persons guilty of violence against Christian communities, during the campaign of indiscriminate violence which occurred in the district of Kandhamal (Orissa) in 2008...

Toronto’s Arab Knights call on Catholics to support Holy Land (Catholic Register) Toronto’s Arab Knights of Columbus are calling on Catholics to help support Christian students in Jerusalem today to ensure the future of Christianity in the Middle East for years to come. Hikmat Dandan, Grand Knight of Toronto’s Jesus The King Arab Christian Council, began this project two years ago when Archbishop Joseph Jules Zerey of Jerusalem addressed members of Jesus The King Melkite Catholic Church. The archbishop spoke “about the problems that Christians were facing in the Holy Land,” said Dandan. “And then he spoke about the school and how parents are not able to cope with the cost of the students”...

Tags: India Egypt Palestine Jerusalem

29 November 2012
Greg Kandra

While reporting on the restoration of a Russian cathedral in Moscow in 2003, journalist Sean Sprague encountered this local entrepreneur, preparing to sell apples. Read more about the impact of the Cathedral of Christ the Redeemer in our July/August 2003 issue. (photo: Sean Sprague).

Tags: Russia Eastern Churches Russian Orthodox Church Eastern Europe

28 November 2012
Greg Kandra

In this 2011 image, Msgr. John Kozar captured a lovely moment at Our Lady of Peace Center outside Amman, Jordan, just before Christmas. The center offers programs for mentally and physically handicapped youths. When Msgr. Kozar visited, the people at the center were enjoying a Christmas show and visit from Santa Claus. Curious? Read more about the
2011 Journey to the Holy Land. (photo: John E. Kozar/CNEWA)

Tags: Jordan Health Care Msgr. John E. Kozar Amman Mental health/ mental illness

28 November 2012
Greg Kandra

A damaged church is seen after shelling by forces loyal to Syria’s President Bashar Assad in Daria, near Damascus on 26 November. (photo: CNS/Fadi al Derani, Shaam News Network handout via Reuters)

Car bombs kill dozens in Damascus (Reuters) Two car bombs exploded in an attack that killed at least 34 people on Wednesday in a district of the Syrian capital loyal to President Bashar al-Assad. The explosions struck the eastern neighborhood of Jaramana, home to many of Syria’s Druze minority as well as Christians who have fled violence elsewhere, ripping through nearby shops and bringing debris crashing down on cars…

Russian Orthodox Church offers to send relief to Syria (Interfax) The Russian Orthodox Church has expressed willingness to send humanitarian relief to Christians in conflict-ridden Syria. “I believe that we must support the initiative to send humanitarian aid to Syrian Christians who are suffering and have lost their homes, primarily by sending them medications and bandages. The Russian Church stands ready to join this project,” the head of the church, Patriarch Kirill, said at a meeting of the Imperial Orthodox Palestine Society on Wednesday…

Photo essay: Coptic Christians grapple with fear and faith (Mother Jones) With Egypt aspiring to democracy but still in political tumult, much is at stake for its minority populations, including Coptic Christians. They are estimated to number more than eight million, making them the country’s largest religious minority group. Increasingly they have become a target for extremists. Since the toppling of Hosni Mubarak, acts of aggression and violence, in addition to long-running discrimination and neglect, have instilled fear in the Coptic community regarding their prospects for a peaceful existence.

Ukrainians in Canada gather to remember millions killed by famine (Windsor Star) For a local history teacher, the “sadistic” events of Holodomor, kept silent for decades, are not only important to remember, but important to teach others. “Forcing innocent people to starve, there is no justification for that,” Andrew Stebelsky, a Herman high school history teacher, said Sunday during a ceremony held to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the man-made famine. The Holodomor — meaning death by starvation — led to about seven million deaths of mostly rural Ukrainians through the policies of Joseph Stalin’s communist regime in 1932-33…

Tags: Egypt Ukraine Syrian Civil War Russian Orthodox Church Egypt's Christians

27 November 2012
Greg Kandra

Catholic News Service has been charting the 50th anniversary of Vatican II on a special website, and yesterday noted the following event from 1962:

The 27th general meeting of the ecumenical council saw the end of discussion on communications media and the start of debate on proposals for achieving a reconciliation between the Church and separated Eastern Christians.

The unity proposal noted that the Church does not want to leave “anything untried for achieving unity,” but said that it does not wish to gain unity “to the detriment of any truth.”

A lot has happened since then. CNS interviewed two key figures, who described the efforts at reconciliation over the last half century as “remarkable.” You can watch the video below:

Tags: Unity Vatican Ecumenism Christian Unity

27 November 2012
Greg Kandra

The Shrine Basilica of Our Lady of Dolours in Trichur, India, is decorated in colorful lights on 25 November for the annual feast marking the consecration of the church. The Syro-Malabar minor basilica is located in the southern Indian state of Kerala. For more on the Syro-Malabar church, check out our profile in the January 2007 issue of ONE. You can also read Msgr. John Kozar’s recent exhortation to the Church, “Into the Deep.” (photo: CNS/Anto Akkara)

Tags: India Kerala Syro-Malabar Catholic Church Indian Christians Indian Catholics

27 November 2012
Greg Kandra

A demonstrator prepares to throw a smoking tear gas canister back at police during protests in and around Tahrir Square in Cairo on 25 November. Several hundred people were injured in protests following Egyptian President Mohammed Mursi’s claim to new powers that shield his decisions from judicial review. (photo: CNS/Paul Jeffrey)

Meeting between patriarch and Egyptian Catholic leaders postponed (Fides) New Coptic Orthodox Patriarch Tawadros II announced that a meeting with a qualified Egyptian delegation of the Catholic churches would be postponed until 11 December. A reason for the postponement is due to the tension that reigns throughout Egypt — especially in the capital, after the constitutional decrees with which President Morsi has expanded his powers have sparked violent protests against the government and also the headquarters of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Cluster bomb reportedly kills children in Syrian playground (Vatican Radio) Activists in Syria say a government jet has dropped a cluster bomb on a playground, leaving ten children dead. Video posted online showed children’s bodies on the ground with their mothers grieving over them. Opposition activists said that the children were killed when a MiG fighter bombed a playground in the village of Deir al Asafir, east of Damascus…

Canada’s Syro-Malankara Catholics proud of new cardinal (Catholic Register) Canada’s Syro-Malankara Catholic community may be modest in size but its members are reacting with immense pride to the elevation of its first cardinal. Major Archbishop Baselios Cleemis Thottunkal, the head of the Syro-Malankara Catholic Church, was to be among eight prelates elevated to cardinal by Pope Benedict on 24 November. He is the first cardinal ever selected from the India-based Syro-Malankara Church. For the 250-member Syro-Malankara congregation of Toronto, the unexpected honor is cause for celebration…

Tags: Egypt Syrian Civil War Coptic Orthodox Church Syro-Malankara Catholic Church Egypt's Christians

26 November 2012
Greg Kandra

Someone with close ties to CNEWA, Cardinal Edwin O’Brien, is making his first trip to the Holy Land as grand master of the Knights of the Holy Sepulchre, and he discussed his visit with Catholic News Service:

“The church in the Holy Land has been under unfriendly domination throughout the centuries, and the fact that we still exist there is almost a miracle,” Cardinal O’Brien told Catholic News Service on 24 November. “We have to do everything we can as a Catholic people to encourage them and to let them know that we are one with them in their struggle.”

The cardinal, a former archbishop of Baltimore whom Pope Benedict named to lead the chivalric order in August 2011, left Rome on 26 November for a weeklong pilgrimage whose itinerary was to include Jerusalem; Bethlehem, West Bank; and Amman, Jordan. He was scheduled to meet with Jerusalem’s Latin Patriarch Fouad Twal, who serves as the order’s grand prior, and other Catholic, Orthodox and Muslim leaders.

The cardinal also planned to visit a few of the more than 100 institutions that the knights support in the region, including parishes, schools and Bethlehem University.

Cardinal O’Brien was not planning to visit the Gaza Strip and said he did not expect the recent fighting there to affect his visit, which was planned almost a year ago. But he noted that Patriarch Twal has been on the "front lines" in aiding victims of the violence there.

You can read more of the interview at the link. Also, check out the cardinal’s remarks about his trip in the video below.

Tags: Middle East Christians Holy Land Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem Cardinal Edwin F. O’Brien

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