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March, 2018
Volume 44, Number 1
  
13 June 2017
Greg Kandra




Archbishop Rino Fisichella, president of Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelization, speaks at the Vatican 13 June about the theme of the first World Day of the Poor, to be celebrated on 19 November. He said Pope Francis envisioned the day as a way for the whole church to reflect on the Gospel meaning of poverty. (photo: CNS/Robert Duncan)

Vatican announces first World Day for the Poor (CNS) People cannot sit back and be indifferent or unresponsive to growing poverty in the world as a privileged minority accumulates “ostentatious wealth,” Pope Francis said. “God created the heavens and the earth for all; yet sadly some have erected barriers, walls and fences, betraying the original gift meant for all humanity, with none excluded,” the pope said in a message for the first World Day of the Poor...

Displaced Iraqis hit by food poisoning (BBC) Hundreds of people have fallen ill and a child has died of suspected food poisoning at a camp for displaced people near the Iraqi city of Mosul. People were said to be vomiting and suffering dehydration after an iftar meal, to break the daily Ramadan fast...

Israel agrees to reduce Gaza electricity (Al Jazeera) The Israeli government has agreed to cut down its electricity supply in the Gaza Strip, at the behest of the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority (PA), Israeli officials said. According to Yoav Mordechai, the Israeli head of the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), President Mahmoud Abbas requested Israel to stop supplying electricity to Gaza back in April...

Muslims and Christians in Goa join hands to protest against cattle sale ban (OutlookIndia.com) To protest against the Centre’s notification banning the sale of cattle for purpose of slaughter, Muslims and the Roman Catholic Church in Goa have come together to back a civil society collective called Goa for Beef — Beef for Goa...

Dozens of news sites blocked in Egypt (Amnesty International) The Egyptian authorities have shifted their onslaught against media freedom to the digital sphere, blocking access to more than 40 news sites without justification in recent weeks, in an attempt to eliminate the country’s last remaining spaces for criticism and free expression, said Amnesty International...

Armenia: where natural beauty and brandy trump a troubled past and volatile present (Economic Times) Bucolic locations, monasteries set in tumbling landscapes, gurgling streams, lapis lazuli lakes — Armenia is picture-postcard turf. One of the cradles of civilisation, the pint-sized country was also the first in the world to officially adopt Christianity as the state religion in AD 301. With doughty neighbors (Turkey, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Russia and Iran) hemming it in, the nation is also at a geopolitical and cultural crossroads...



Tags: Iraq India Egypt Gaza Strip/West Bank Vatican

12 June 2017
Greg Kandra




Tamara Chitova, 88, enjoys a rare meal in her own home in Georgia. Read about how a Human Touch Offers Pensioners Respite in the July-August 2003 edition of our magazine.
(photo: Dima Chikvaidze)




12 June 2017
Greg Kandra




Pope Francis greets Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, as he meets with members, consultors and guests of the council 9 June at the Vatican. (photo: CNS/L’Osservatore Romano)

Pope urges Council for Interreligious Dialogue to uphold women’s dignity (CNS) The more women are involved in and contribute to communities, politics, economics and the church, the more positive changes will come about, Pope Francis said. “Women are fully entitled to actively take part in all settings, and their rights must be affirmed and protected, including through legal instruments wherever it may prove necessary,” he said 9 June. The pope was speaking to members, consultors and guests of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, which was holding its plenary assembly in Rome 7-9 June. Participants had discussed the role of women in teaching universal fraternity. “We cannot truly call on God, the father of all, if we refuse to treat (others) in a brotherly way,” Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran told the pope, quoting from “Nostra Aetate,” the Vatican II declaration that addressed the Catholic Church’s relations with other religions...

Holy See denounces retention of migrant children (Vatican Radio) The Holy See has called on the international community to protect the rights of unaccompanied migrant children and condemned their detention as a “grave error.” The Vatican’s Permanent Observer to the UN in Geneva, Archbishop Ivan Jurkovic, made the remarks to the Human Rights Council panel discussion on the rights of unaccompanied migrant children and adolescents…

Refugee families in Lebanon return to Syria (Latin American Herald Tribune) Some 50 Syrian families who had found refuge in Lebanon have returned to their homes in a village located near the border, escorted by military units and members of the Lebanese intelligence services, according to the Lebanese Armed Forces on Saturday. The armed forces said that the families were transferred to Assal al-Ward village in civilian vehicles through Arsal Mountains in northeastern Lebanon to the border with Syria...

Family rejoices over returned of Christian girl kidnapped in Iraq (Fides) Christina Kader Ebada is the name of a Christian girl from Qaraqosh who has been returned to her family after being abducted three years ago by militia of the Islamic State group. The girl, now six years old, was united with her parents last Friday 9 June...

Mosul woman, 84, survives under rubble for a week (Rudaw.net) After seven days of entrapment under the rubble of a house destroyed by coalition warplanes in west Mosul, an elderly woman, whose family had held her funeral, was miraculously found alive. Niama Mohammed, 84, had been caught along with another 34 people by ISIS as they tried to escape. They were used as human shield in a house. The house was one day bombed when a group of the militants had fought against the advancing Iraqi troops on the rooftop. The house was bombed by the coalition warplanes. Of the 35, only Niama survived both the bombing and hunger and thirst for a week...

Indian priest fights to end discrimination against children whose parents have HIV (CNS) A priest in the north Indian state of Rajasthan is fighting to end discrimination against children whose parents live with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. Father Jerish Antony is funding the education of 218 children whose parents have HIV as part of a program run by the Diocese of Ajmer...

Syrian refugee builds life as a surfer in Lebanon (AFP) Ali Kassem had never seen the sea before he fled his home in Syria for Lebanon, but now he’s a regular in the waves and dreams of his own surf school. Dressed in a purple wet suit, the 17-year-old confidently coats his board with wax and smears sunscreen on his face before dashing into the sea...



24 May 2017
Greg Kandra




Orthodox believers venerate St. Nicholas’ relics at the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour.
(photo: Valery Sharifulin/TASS via Getty Images)


The relics of a beloved saint have left Italy for the first time.

Reuters reports:

Thousands of people lined up for hours in Moscow on Monday to venerate the relics of Saint Nicholas, believed by Orthodox Christians to have miraculous powers, after his remains were sent to Russia on loan from their permanent home in Italy.

The remains of Saint Nicholas had never previously left the Italian city of Bari in the 930 years since they were brought there. After arriving by plane on Sunday, they were installed in Moscow’s gold-domed Christ the Saviour Cathedral, and put on public display.

The loan was agreed during last year’s historic meeting between Russian Patriarch Kirill and Roman Catholic Pope Francis. It was the first time a pontiff and head of the Russian Orthodox church had met since the Eastern and Western branches of Christianity split apart nearly 1,000 years ago.

The line of people queuing to see the relics stretched for several kilometers from the cathedral along the embankment of the Moskva river.

“I want to touch the relics, to ask for health for my children, for my relatives,” said one woman in the queue, who gave her name as Natalia and said she was from Ukraine. “I want health and peace on earth. Nothing else.”

Saint Nicholas, who lived in the fourth century in what is modern-day Turkey, is one of the most revered saints in Russian Orthodoxy. Numerous churches and cathedrals bear his name in Russia, and Nikolai is a popular name in the country.

Read more.

And for more on St. Nicholas, check out this story from our magazine: Bari’s Borrowed Wonder Worker.



Tags: Russia Russian Orthodox

24 May 2017
Greg Kandra




The Most Rev. Peter Remigius, Bishop of Kottar, speaks to a gathering of Caritas India in April. Pope Francis has just accepted his resignation. (photo: Caritas India)

Pope, President Trump discuss peace, dialogue, support for immigrants (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis and U.S. President Donald Trump met in the Vatican on Wednesday, discussing issues of peace, interfaith dialogue and religious freedom, as well as the role of the American Church in education, healthcare and support for immigrants...

Bishop of Kottar resigns, successor appointed (Fides) On 20 May 2017, the Holy Father accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the diocese of Kottar, India, presented by His Excellency Peter Remigius. The Pope appointed as bishop of the diocese of Kottar, India, the Rev. Nazarene Soosai, Pastor of the Our Lady of Ransom parish of Kanyakumari in Kottar...

Official: Jordan cannot deal with more Syrian refugees (Middle East Monitor) Jordan has reached breaking point and can no longer accept more Syrian refugees, a senior minister told officials at the World Economic Forum. According to the country’s official news agency, Petra, Minister of Planning and International Cooperation, Imad Fakhoury, said the number of refugees currently in the country have put more economic and social burdens on the budget, infrastructure, services, education, health and water, especially in the northern and central areas...

Syrian army says senior ISIS militant killed (Reuters) The Syrian army said on Wednesday it had killed Islamic State’s military commander in Syria during operations in the north of the country, where the Russian-backed government forces are seizing more territory back from the jihadist group. If confirmed, this would represent a major blow against ISIS ahead of an attack which the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) — an alliance of Kurdish and Arab fighters — are expected to launch against the jihadists in their stronghold of Raqqa city...



Tags: Syria India Pope Francis Jordan

23 May 2017
Greg Kandra




A little girl prays at the start of the morning assembly at the St. Antony’s English Medium School in Karottukara, India. Read how this school is changing lives with Education as a Common Goal in the September-October 2003 edition of our magazine. (photo: Sean Sprague)



23 May 2017
Greg Kandra




People leave flowers in St. Anne’s Square on 23 May 2017 in Manchester, England.
(photo: Leon Neal/Getty Images)


Pope offers condolences to victims of Manchester bombing (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has sent a telegram expressing condolences to the victims of Monday night’s bombing of a concert venue in Manchester, England, and condemning the attack, in which at least 22 people were killed and 59 others injured...

Trump ends visit to Israel, praises ‘unshakeable bond’ between the U.S. And Israel (CBS News) President Trump ended his visit to Israel with a message of unity and commitment to defend the state of Israel. In his final speech in Jerusalem before starting his next leg of his overseas trip, Mr. Trump reaffirmed “the unshakeable bond” between the U.S. and Israel. “Israel is a testament to the unbreakable spirit of the Jewish people,” Mr. Trump said...

U.N. envoy: liberation of Mosul ‘imminent’ (Al Jazeera) The liberation of the northern Iraqi city of Mosul “is imminent” and the days of ISIL’s self-declared caliphate “are numbered,” the UN envoy for Iraq says. But Jan Kubis told the UN Security Council on Monday that despite progress, fighting remains “a tremendous challenge” because ISIL fighters are increasingly using civilians as human shields in “a last-gasp effort that reveals little more than the inherent inhuman barbarity of the terrorists...”

Archbishop Gallagher speaks on need to protect those facing persecution (Vatican Radio) The Holy See’s ‘foreign minister,’ Archbishop Paul Gallagher has highlighted the need to protect Christians and other religious minorities facing persecution in different parts of the globe. The words of the Secretary for Relations with States came on Saturday during an international meeting organised by the ‘Centesimus Annus pro Pontifice’ Foundation...

Nuncio to U.N.: migration should not be a desperate necessity (Vatican Radio) The Apostolic Nuncio and Permanent Observer to the United Nations in New York, Archbishop Bernardito Auza, has released his prepared remarks to the first of two panel discussions of issues surrounding sustainable development and poverty eradication, in connection with the Global Compact on safe, orderly and regular migration...



22 May 2017
Greg Kandra




Clergymen are seen as they wait for the arrival of U.S. President Donald Trump for a welcoming ceremony 22 May at Ben Gurion International Airport in Lod, near Tel Aviv.
(photo: CNS/Amir Cohen, Reuters)



22 May 2017
Greg Kandra




Syrian opposition fighters, who were evacuated from the last opposition-held district in the central city of Homs, embrace as they arrive in the Maaret al-Ikhwaan village north of Idlib, on 22 May 2017. The Syrian regime on 21 May regained total control of the central city of Homs with the evacuation of rebels from the last area they had controlled.
(photo: AFP/Omar Haj Kadour/Getty Images)


Syria says Homs cleared of armed opposition (The Los Angeles Times) Syria’s government announced Sunday that the country’s third-largest city, Homs — once deemed the capital of the revolt against President Bashar Assad — had been cleared of armed opposition for the first time in more than five years. The announcement follows the completion of the evacuation of the last rebel-held neighborhood...

Conflict feeds rising divorce rates in Gaza (U.S. News and World Report) It used to be rare for a couple, especially one married for so long, to divorce in conservative Gaza, where even social relations between males and females before marriage face restrictions. Divorce is now a topic of frequent public concern, and one seen as an indicator of how bad Gaza’s humanitarian and sociopolitical crises have become. Divorce is a “national catastrophe,” says Abu Salman Al Mughany, 75, a “mukhtar,” or community leader, who mitigates family issues in Gaza City. “It’s the collapse of the social fabric in our communities...”

Report: Iraq conflict drives displacement to ‘nearly unprecedented’ level (Norwegian Refugee Council) The last three years of conflict in Iraq have caused a displacement crisis that is ‘nearly without precedent’ according to a report released today by the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC) and the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC). The Global Report on Internal Displacement found that widespread military offensives in Iraq caused almost 660,000 new displacements in 2016. One in ten people displaced by conflict around the world in 2016 were displaced in Iraq, bringing the total number of internally displaced Iraqis to over three million. A growing proportion of Iraqis have also been displaced more than once...

Egypt refers 48 to court over Coptic church bombings (BBC) Egypt’s public prosecutor says 48 suspected members of so-called Islamic State (ISIS) have been referred to a military court in connection with three bombings of Coptic churches. Thirty-one of the suspects are in custody while the others are still at large...

St. Nicholas relics arrive in Russia after more than 900 years in Italy (AP) Relics of Saint Nicholas, one of the Russian Orthodox Church’s most revered figures, arrived in Moscow on Sunday from an Italian church where they have lain for 930 years. Intense media coverage accompanied the arrival, underlining the church’s influence in post-Soviet Russia...



19 May 2017
Greg Kandra




Refugees who have fled Mosul arrive at a camp for internally displaced persons.
(photo: Gail Orenstein/NurPhoto via Getty Images)


Syria says U.S. air strike killed soldiers (AP) A Syrian military official said Friday that an aerial “aggression” by the U.S.-led coalition on a government military position near the border with Jordan the day before killed several soldiers and caused material damage. The strike was the first such close confrontation between U.S. forces and fighters backing President Bashar Assad and the development is likely to increase tensions in the war-torn country...

The last stand of ISIS in Mosul will test Iraqi forces (The Washington Post) After making rapid gains in a new offensive, Iraqi forces are close to choking off the last bastion of several hundred Islamic State fighters dug into the twisting alleyways and narrow streets of Mosul’s Old City. The final push will be led by Iraqi’s U.S.-trained Counter Terrorism Service units, the same forces that first entered the eastern reaches of the city in October when the battle to retake the city began, officers said. The plan involves clearing the final few neighborhoods north of the Old City and surrounding the square-mile-wide neighborhood...

Bishops say Church cannot ignore injustice in Israel-Palestine conflict (CAN) The Catholic Church will speak out against injustice and avoid any attempt to normalize the “festering wound” of the Israeli-Palestinian situation, a commission from the region’s leading Catholic bishops has said...

Trump embarks on trip to Middle East (Reuters) With turmoil enveloping his administration at home, President Donald Trump heads abroad on Friday for a trip the White House hopes will shift focus away from domestic controversies and on to his foreign policy agenda...

Russian patriarch asks U.N., Pope to intervene over religious laws (RT) The head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill, has appealed to a number of international religious and political leaders, asking them to not let Kiev enforce its recent initiative that might see Orthodox religious communities diminished in Ukraine...







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