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Current Issue
September, 2018
Volume 44, Number 3
  
24 January 2018
Greg Kandra




Officials in Armenia are hoping to have Yerevan’s historic Blue Mosque designated a
World Heritage Site. (photo: Wikipedia)


Report: U.S. strike on ISIS headquarters kills 150 militants (BBC) The US-led coalition against the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) says it has killed up to 150 militants in air strikes on a headquarters in Syria. A statement said the strikes took place on Saturday near al-Shafah, in the Middle Euphrates river valley in the south-eastern province of Deir al-sour. A combination of intelligence and continuous target observation ensured no civilians were harmed, it added...

Week of Prayer for Christian Unity underway (Vatican Radio) The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is underway this week and runs until the 25th January. This year’s theme is “Your Right Hand, O Lord, Glorious in Power” (Exodus 15:6) Apart from this theme, there are also different themes for each individual day...

Monitors warn of preparations for fresh fighting in Ukraine (The Irish Times) Government troops and Russian-led militia in eastern Ukraine appear to be preparing for an escalation in fighting, international monitors warned on Tuesday, amid Kremlin condemnation of Kiev’s new legal stance on the grinding conflict...

Christians mark ‘Kappalottam’ in India (The Hindu) The age-old ritual of ‘Kappalottam’ was held at St. Mary’s Forane Church at Kuravilangad, near here, was held with fanfare on Tuesday. The ritual begins with taking out of a wooden replica of a ship, nearly 40-ft in length, being carried by the crowd. The crowd rock the replica of the ship as if it were being tossed in the sea...

Pope issues message for World Communications Day, on countering ‘fake news’ (Vatican Radio) We need a kind of journalism that is less concentrated on “the mad rush for a scoop,” and more on seeking the truth and to “pointing out alternatives to the escalation of shouting matches and verbal violence.” In his Message for World Communications Day, Pope Francis urges communications professionals to return to the foundations of their calling, or rather, their “mission” to be, what he calls, “the protectors of news...”

Yerevan’s Blue Mosque to be considered for designation as World Heritage Site (Armenian Weekly) Armenia will officially submit Yerevan’s Blue Mosque for consideration for UNESCO’s (United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization) World Heritage Site List, according to Deputy Head of Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Handicraft, and Tourism Organization (ICHTO) Mohammad Hossein Talebian. The Blue Mosque (Kapuyt mzkit in Armenian, Masjed-e Kabud In Farsi) is an 18th century Shia mosque in downtown Yerevan. The mosque stopped services during the Soviet years and once housed the History Museum of Yerevan...



23 January 2018
Greg Kandra




The video above shows some of the recent efforts to rebuild Aleppo, devastated after years of war
in Syria. (video: Syria Scope/YouTube)


Report: ISIS still has up to 10,000 loyalists in Syria, Iraq (NBC News) Hisham al-Hashimi, an adviser to the Iraqi government in its battle against ISIS, told NBC News that while the number of active fighters on the battlefield is probably in the range of 1,000 to 1,500, the actual number of ISIS-loyalists in Iraq and Syria is closer to 10,000...

UN aid group: U.S. won’t allow money to help refugees (Business Insider) United Nations aid group UNRWA alleges that US aid money pledged to the organization was specifically earmarked for refugee services in certain areas and could not be used for services in Syria and Lebanon. This marks the first time the US has specifically exempted their funds from being used in those countries, according to Elizabeth Campbell, Director at The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA)...

Al-Qaeda leader urges attacks on Jews, Americans over Trump’s Jerusalem recognition (AFP) A senior Al-Qaeda leader has called on Muslims “everywhere” to rise up and kill Jews and Americans in response to US President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital...

At least five killed in Ethiopia during Epiphany celebration (BBC) At least five people have been killed in northern Ethiopia after security forces fired on a crowd at a religious festival who were reportedly shouting anti-government slogans. Many more were injured in the incident in the town of Waldiya. Angry protesters have blocked roads and businesses are closed. There have been nearly three years of opposition demonstrations in Ethiopia. On Wednesday, hundreds of activists were released from jail. The deaths happened during the second day of Epiphany, when Orthodox Christians commemorate the baptism of Jesus...

Aleppo’s bizarre struggles to rebuild (AP) Fighting has long died down in Syria’s largest city, but Aleppo’s centuries-old market has yet to come back to life, more than a year after government forces retook rebel-held neighborhoods around the Old City. Few shops have reopened in the once sprawling bazaar in the historic quarter, with UNESCO estimating that as much as 60 percent of the Old City was severely damaged and 30 percent destroyed...

UN aid group: U.S. won’t allow money to help refugee in Syria, Lebanon (Business Insider) United Nations aid group UNRWA alleges that US aid money pledged to the organization was specifically earmarked for refugee services in certain areas and could not be used for services in Syria and Lebanon. This marks the first time the US has specifically exempted their funds from being used in those countries, according to Elizabeth Campbell, Director at The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA)...



22 January 2018
Greg Kandra




Embed from Getty Images
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence is greeted by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during an official welcome ceremony at the Prime Minister’s office. (photo:Getty Images/Israeli Press Office)

Vice President Pence: U.S. embassy will open in Jerusalem next year (The New York Times) Vice President Mike Pence said on Monday that a new United States Embassy to Israel would open in Jerusalem before the end of 2019. Mr. Pence’s statement, made to the Israeli Parliament during a trip to the Holy Land, follows President Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital last month, a move that overturned decades of American policy and international consensus on the status of the holy city...

Jordan’s King: Jerusalem is the key to peace (The Jordan Times) His Majesty King Abdullah on Sunday held talks with US Vice President Mike Pence at Al Husseiniya Palace which focused on Jerusalem and the strategic partnership between Jordan and the US, according to a Royal Court statement. The meeting, which continued over a lunch banquet, was attended by Her Majesty Queen Rania, US second lady Karen Pence, and senior officials from both countries. The King voiced his appreciation of the US for its “historical friendship and support to Jordan throughout the years”...

Rebuilding Aleppo (BBC) Syrians now mend what they care about most, bit by bit. That’s how this painstaking and painful process of rebuilding a celebrated city goes. No one, including the government, has the eye-watering sums it will take to renovate old Aleppo’s storied heritage, and restore the basic services that make a modern city run. Estimates put the cost at tens of billions of dollars...

Syrian refugees found frozen to death in Lebanon (Andalou) The number of Syrian refugees who froze to death due to a snowstorm in eastern Lebanon rose to 17 in three days, according to the Lebanese Civil Defense source. Two more bodies were found late Sunday, the source said. Lebanese soldiers found the bodies, identified as a 30-year-old woman and a three-year-old child, on the mountainous area bordering Syria, it added...

Expert warns 97 percent of Gaza drinking water contaminated (Haaretz) Almost all of the drinking water in the Gaza Strip is importable because of sewage pollution or high salinity levels, according to data presented last week by a hydrologist who advises the Palestinian Water Authority. Ahmed al-Yaqoubi said most Gazans don’t drink the water from their taps because of its poor quality. Instead, they buy expensive water from private enterprises that operate small desalination plants...

Holy city of sterile streets (The New York Times) If there’s an endpoint to the terrible logic of an occupation driven in part by a fanatical settler movement abetted by the state of Israel, that place is the historic center of Hebron. Once home to the souk and jewelry market, a bustling maze of commerce, it is now a stretch of apocalyptic real estate. Wires trail down crumbling walls. Garbage accumulates. Mingling is obliterated. Security demands separation...



Tags: Syria Lebanon Israel Jerusalem Jordan

19 January 2018
Greg Kandra




Students at the Kidist Mariam Center in Meki, Ethiopia, take part in a traditional coffee ceremony. Learn how the center is helping the community — and helping young Ethiopians discover there’s No Place Like Home — in the December 2017 edition of ONE. (photo: Petterik Wiggers)



19 January 2018
Greg Kandra




In the video above, Russians — including President Vladimir Putin — observe Epiphany on
Friday 19 January. (video: Euronews/YouTube)


Israel unveils plan for underground tunnel around Gaza (The Telegraph) Israel unveiled its plans for a vast underground wall around Gaza on Thursday, which military officials said would once and for all stop Hamas burrowing attack tunnels into Israeli territory. The subterranean concrete barrier will run for 40 miles along the entire Israeli-Gaza border and is the first underground border wall of its kind in the world...

U.S. presses to relocate embassy to Jerusalem by 2019 (The New York Times) The Trump administration is moving faster than expected to transfer the American Embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv by 2019, senior officials said Thursday, despite insisting last month that the move would not happen until the end of President Trump’s term. The administration’s plans, following Mr. Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, suggest it no longer cares about cushioning the blow of the new policy, which has drawn angry protests from Palestinians and other Arabs and cast Mr. Trump’s peacemaking ambitions into doubt...

Putin takes icy plunge for Epiphany (Newsweek) In a show of both religious piety and bare-chested machismo, Russian President Vladimir Putin stripped down to a bathing suit and stepped into a frigid lake on Friday, surrounded by monks and television cameras. The Russian leader followed a custom observed by many Orthodox Christians on the feast of Epiphany — a half-naked submersion in cold water that mirrors the baptism of Jesus of Nazareth in the river Jordan. In Russia and other Orthodox countries, the 12th day after Christmas marks the Biblical revelation of Jesus as the son of God to the three wise men...

Ethiopians celebrate Epiphany (XinhuaNet) Ethiopian Christians across the East African country on Thursday started a three-day Ethiopian epiphany celebration with religious and cultural activities...



18 January 2018
Greg Kandra




Bishop Oscar Cantu of Las Cruces, New Mexico, chats with an elderly Palestinian woman on 17 January in the Beit Emmaus Home for the elderly and disabled in Qubeibeh, West Bank.
(photo: CNS/Debbie Hill)


President Trump denies U.S. embassy will move to Jerusalem by year’s end (Reuters) President Donald Trump denied on Wednesday that the planned relocation of the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem would take place within a year, after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he expected the controversial move to happen by then. Reversing decades of U.S. policy, Trump in early December recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and set in motion the process of moving the embassy from Tel Aviv, imperiling Middle East peace efforts and upsetting the Arab world and Western allies alike...

Bishops hear range of feelings from Palestinians, Israelis (CNS) The entrance into this small Palestinian village encircled by the Israeli security barrier and settlements is through a series of bleak and darkened underpasses. But bishops from three continents said their 17 January meeting with students from the Bethlehem University nursing department satellite campus gave them a sense of hope...

Indian police guard Christian schools following threats (UCANews.com) Hundreds of policemen were deployed to guard two Catholic educational institutions in India’s Madhya Pradesh state this week amid alleged threats from Hindu hardliners. The move came as the Madhya Pradesh Catholic Diocesan Schools’ Association sought protection from the state high court for all its educational institutions following threats against them by Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), the student body of the ruling pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party. Church officials say the group is trying to whip up hostility against the Christian institutions for not allowing its members onto their campuses to perform Hindu rites and other activities...

Warnings of fallout after U.S. freezes funding for Palestinian refugees (The Jordan Times) The UN agency for Palestinian refugees warned Wednesday it faced its worst funding crisis ever after the White House froze tens of millions of dollars in contributions, a move Palestinian leaders decried as cruel and blatantly biased...

ISIS continues to pose a threat in Iraq (AFP) Barely a month after Baghdad declared victory over the Islamic State group, the jihadists could still recapture areas of Iraq, especially near the border with Syria, experts and officials say...

U.S. plans open-ended military presence in Syria (BBC) The US will maintain an open-ended military presence in Syria to ensure the enduring defeat of the jihadist group Islamic State, counter Iranian influence, and help end the civil war. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said President Donald Trump did not want to “make the same mistakes” that were made in 2011, when US forces left Iraq...

Egypt’s president expresses ‘extreme concern’ with Ethiopia over Nile dam (AP) Egypt’s president on Thursday expressed his “extreme concern” to Ethiopia’s visiting prime minister over the lack of progress in talks on the impact of a massive upstream dam that Egypt fears could cut into its vital share of the Nile...

Armenians mark Christmas in Jerusalem (Public Radio of Armenia) The Armenian Patriarch of Jerusalem, Nourhan Manougian, arrived on Thursday at Manager Square in Bethlehem heading a procession of Armenian clergy and notables ushering in the start of Armenian Christmas celebrations and the Feast of the Epiphany, WAFA reported. Roman Catholic Christians and other western denominations mark the feast using the Gregorian calendar, Orthodox Christians and most Armenian denominations celebrate the feast using the Julian calendar, while the Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem marks Christmas and Epiphany together on 19 January...



17 January 2018
Greg Kandra




A worker clears some ground outside St. Thomas Church, which serves about 150 families in Palakkad, India. To read about A Day in the Life of a Priest in Kerala, check out the
December 2017 edition of ONE. (photo: Don Duncan)




17 January 2018
Greg Kandra




Cardinal Kurt Koch, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, is pictured in a 2016 photo at the Vatican. In an essay just published, the cardinal called on all Christian churches to undergo a conversion to a commitment to Christian unity. (photo: CNS/Paul Haring)

Cardinal: Christians must convert to ecumenism (CNS) To be effective evangelizers, the Catholic Church and other Christian churches must constantly undergo their own conversion to a stronger commitment to Christian unity, said Cardinal Kurt Koch, the Vatican’s chief ecumenist. “So that the evangelizing task can be carried out in a credible way, the church itself continually needs a self-evangelization that includes conversion to the ecumenical search for Christian unity,” the Swiss cardinal wrote in the Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano...

Russian Orthodox official calls for return to Julian calendar (Radio Free Europe) A senior Russian Orthodox Church official is calling for Russia to return back to its traditional Julian calendar that was used until February 1918. In a televised interview with church-affliliated Spas TV on 16 January, Aleksandr Shchipkov said the shift to the Gregorian calendar by the Bolsheviks a century ago was a bad idea...

Mediterranean leaders seek help with refugees (AP) The leaders of Cyprus, Greece and Jordan pledged a new partnership Tuesday with tighter cooperation on fighting terrorism, and rallied international support for countries hosting hundreds of thousands of refugees fleeing the war in Syria...

India asked to establish universities for Christians (UCANews.com) India’s federal commission tasked with safeguarding religious minorities has called for the establishment of government-funded universities primarily for Christians. But not all Christians support the proposal. The National Commission for Minorities in its 13 January annual report said such an initiative would be in keeping with the already existing state-funded Aligarh Muslim University and Jamia Millia Islamia University...

Ethiopia: where living treasures thrive among ancient attractions (Business Day) Legends and mythology are as important as hard facts in Ethiopia, and the story goes that these churches were carved in mere days because the angels carried on the work at night after tired mortals put down their axes and chisels. Also on the pilgrim and tourist circuit is Aksum, another world heritage site where historians agree a great civilization was trading as early as 400BC. This is where the Queen of Sheba lived in the 10th century BC and is the resting place of the Ark of the Covenant, which contains the Ten Commandments God gave to Moses...

Orthodox charities prepare for ‘Souper Bowl Sunday’ (OCA.org) Sunday, 4 February 2018, has been designated “Souper Bowl of Caring Sunday” by International Orthodox Christian Charities [IOCC]. This year’s 20th annual Souper Bowl Sunday — it’s name reflects the anticipated Super Bowl on the same day — aims at rallying parish youth to champion feeding the poor and caring for those in need around the world...



12 January 2018
Greg Kandra




A Daughter of Charity embraces one of the children at St. Vincent de Paul School in Alexandria, Egypt. Learn more about the remarkable history of these remarkable women, and the work they are doing as Charity’s Daughters in the December 2017 edition of ONE. (photo: Roger Anis)

The current edition of ONE features a profile of the Daughters of Charity, who have been working Egypt for 170 years:

In 1844, seven Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul sailed from France to Alexandria at the request of Egypt’s ruler, Muhammad Ali. They were well received and given a house in Alexandria. From there, they opened a dispensary, where they started their service.

It was not common at this time in Egypt to see sisters outside of convents, serving the community. The locals called the dispensary Saba Banat (“Seven Daughters”). As the charity work grew, the street itself came to be known by that same name.

St. Vincent de Paul founded the Daughters of Charity in France in 1633 with the help of St. Louise de Marillac. Until that point, religious vocations among women often took the form of a contemplative life in relative seclusion; the founders of the Daughters of Charity, by contrast, encouraged the sisters to work outside their convent — to serve Christ in the persons of those poor or in need, through material and spiritual works of mercy. Today, the congregation has a presence in 93 countries around the world.

The first seven Daughters of Charity in Egypt in Alexandria were doctors and nurses, including specialists in ophthalmology.

When the French Suez Canal Company was digging the canal in the middle of the 19th century, the sisters went to work in nearby hospitals to care for workers. After the completion of the canal, they continued to work in governmental hospitals in Port Said, Ismailia and many other facilities in Egypt. Currently, three sisters still work in one of the governmental hospitals in Port Said, maintaining the old tradition.

Over time, the Alexandria sisters gradually expanded their services, even opening schools in the early 20th century. Their presence peaked in 1952, the same year that witnessed a revolution that overthrew the monarchy and the establishment of a republic.

In 1959, the government seized the Saba Banat dispensary as part of a wider campaign of nationalization. In 1963, the dispensary was reopened in a building attached to the school in the At Attarin neighborhood. It kept its old name, despite moving from the old street.

Nowadays, the Daughters of Charity have nine convents in Egypt, where some 50 sisters live and serve locals by running dispensaries, schools, food kitchens and programs teaching literacy and handicrafts to young girls in Upper Egypt.

Read more. And check out the video below.




12 January 2018
Greg Kandra




In this image from 2016, Pope Francis greets Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk of Kiev-Halych, major archbishop of the Ukrainian Catholic Church, at the Vatican. The pope has accepted an invitation from Archbishop Shevchuk to visit the Ukrainian Greek Catholic community in Rome
later this month. (photo: CNS/L’Osservatore Romano, handout)


Pope to signal concern for Ukraine in basilica visit (Crux) In a sign of his concern for one of the world’s most chronic, and often neglected, conflict zones, Pope Francis will travel cross-town in Rome on Sunday, 28 January, to visit the Basilica of Santa Sofia and meet the Ukrainian Greek Catholic community which worships there, in what served for decades as their “Mother Church” during the period of Soviet domination in Ukraine. The Vatican announced the pope’s visit on Friday, saying it comes in response to an invitation by Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk, the leader of the Greek Catholic Church in Ukraine, and an old friend of Francis’s from the time Shevchuk served as Apostolic Administrator of a Greek Catholic diocese in Buenos Aires, Argentina...

Islamist rebels fire on Christian church in Damascus (AMN) The Islamist rebels in the East Ghouta region of Damascus fired two missiles towards Bab Touma, Damascus Now News reported. According to the report released by Damascus Now, the missiles struck a historical church inside the predominately Christian district of Bab Touma, causing material damage to this religious site...

Indian priest, religious sister get jail term for defying court order (UCANews.com) A court in central India has sentenced a Catholic priest and a nun to two months each in jail for defying a court order to reinstate two students their school expelled two years ago...

Mideast leaders increase efforts to fight U.S. decision on Jerusalem (CNS) Church and political leaders in the Middle East are intensifying efforts to combat U.S. President Donald Trump’s unilateral decision declaring Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and plans to move the U.S. embassy there. “The two-state solution is accepted by all the world, including the Vatican. It corresponds to the legitimate resolutions passed by the United Nations,” Auxiliary Bishop William Shomali of Jerusalem, patriarchal vicar for Jordan, told Catholic News Service...

Iraqi Christians stalked by sorrow (UNHCR.org) As fighting continues in parts of northern Iraq after extremists were pushed from Mosul last year, many of those forced to flee have abandoned hope of returning home, fearing sectarian tension may endure, and are looking at a protracted exile, or moving on to other countries under UNHCR resettlement programs, though places are few and reserved for the most vulnerable...







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