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Current Issue
December, 2018
Volume 44, Number 4
  
26 November 2018
Greg Kandra




A clergyman carries a monstrance holding the Blessed Sacrament during a procession on the Feast of Christ the King on 25 November in Ahmedabad, India. The feast of Christ the King is celebrated the Sunday prior to the beginning of Advent. (photo: CNS/Amit Dave, Reuters)



Tags: India Indian Catholics

26 November 2018
Greg Kandra




Tensions are mounting between Ukraine and Russia after Russia fired on and seized three Ukrainian naval vessels. (video: Sky News/YouTube)

Tensions escalate between Russia and Ukraine; Ukraine to vote on declaring martial law (BBC) Russia has fired on and seized three Ukrainian naval vessels off the Crimean Peninsula in a major escalation of tensions between the two countries. Two gunboats and a tug were captured by Russian forces. A number of Ukrainian crew members were injured. Each country blames the other for the incident. On Monday Ukrainian MPs are due to vote on declaring martial law…

Pope recalls Ukraine famine (Vatican News) Following the Angelus prayer on Sunday, Pope Francis remembered the man-made famine that struck Ukraine in 1932-1933 and the anniversary of the event which occurred on Saturday. Pope Francis called it “a terrible famine instigated by the Soviet regime which caused millions of people to die…”

Reports say dozens injured in toxic gas attack on Aleppo (CNN) Around 100 people were injured in toxic gas attack on the government-controlled city of Aleppo Saturday, according to Syrian state media and a British-based human rights group. It’s not clear who carried out the attack, but Syria’s state news agency quoted a local commander as blaming ‘terrorist groups,’ while Russia accused militants of firing mortar rounds containing chlorine on the city’s northwestern districts…

Franciscan custos calls attention to Holy Land Christians (CNS) Some Christians would consider it a blessing to live in the land where Jesus Christ was born and lived. But for some Christians who live with the daily reality and not the romanticism of the land where the faith originated, living as a religious minority in a place of conflict — often tied to religion — it is considered more of a “misfortune,” said the Rev. Francesco Patton, the head of the Holy Land Franciscans, also known as the custos, during a 7 November event in Washington…

Report: India ‘broke the internet’ to control information (UCANews.com) India leads the world in terms of choking cyberspace by shutting off access to the internet when controversial information, or misinformation, that risks fomenting unrest surfaces amid a rise in religion-based hate crime, raising concern about censorship among Catholic bishops and rights activists. A 12 November report on internet and digital media freedom in 65 countries by the U.S.-based non-profit Freedom House ranked India the worst offender after it blocked access to the web on at least 100 occasions this year alone…



Tags: Syria India Ukraine Russia

19 November 2018
Greg Kandra




Pope Francis eats lunch with poor people as he marks World Day of the Poor at the Vatican on 18 November. Some 1,500 people joined the pope for lunch in Paul VI hall. (photo: CNS/Paul Haring)

Pope Francis has lunch with the poor (Vatican News) Pope Francis on Sunday joined about 1,500 poor people and a group of volunteers for lunch to mark the World Day of the Poor. After Holy Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica, during which he urged believers to heed the cry of the poor and said that “the cry of the poor daily becomes stronger but heard less, drowned out by the din of the rich few, who grow ever fewer and more rich”, the Pope addressed the crowds gathered in St. Peter’s Square for the Angelus prayer, and then went to a beautifully decked out Paul VI Hall and took his seat at the main table…

Syrian army advances against ISIS in southeastern desert (Reuters) Hundreds of Islamic State militants withdrew from the heart of a rugged area in southeastern Syria after holding up for over three months against a major campaign by the Syrian army and its allies to crush them, rebels and residents said on Sunday…

The women smashing Ethiopia’s glass ceiling (BBC) Ethiopia is changing rapidly under Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, with women now wielding enormous power in a country where they have mostly been confined to traditional roles, writes BBC Tigrinya’s Hana Zeratsyon. Ethiopians like to say they were ruled by Queen Sheba in biblical times — something they take great pride in, yet the reality is that the Horn of Africa state is a deeply male-dominated society…

Russian Orthodox Church to continue humanitarian projects in Syria (TASS) Chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate’s Department for External Church Relations, Metropolitan Hilarion, and Patriarch John X of Antioch met in Damascus and discussed further cooperation between the churches in the humanitarian and charity sphere, the Moscow Patriarchate’s Department for External Church Relations said on Sunday. ”Patriarch John told about the current situation in his country and thanked the Russian Orthodox Church for its assistance to those hurt in the warfare in Syria. They also discussed a wide range of issues of inter-church relations and prospects for further cooperation in rendering humanitarian assistance to the Syrian people,” it said…

Cyclone kills dozens in southern India (UCANews) A cyclone killed more than 40 people and displaced hundreds of others at the weekend as it tore a destructive path across southern India, severely damaging farmland and buildings including the region’s most revered Marian shrine. Catholic Church agencies have joined Tamil Nadu state government in relief efforts to help people affected by Cyclone Gaja in Thanjavur Diocese and Pondicherry-Cuddalore Archdiocese...

Vatican urges Christians and Sikhs to ‘promote a culture of tenderness’ (Vatican News) The Vatican is urging Christians and Sikhs to join hands to ”promote a ‘culture of tenderness’ for the wellbeing of every human being and for the welfare of the entire created world!” The Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue (PCID) made the call in its message on the occasion of Sri Guru Nanak Prakash Diwas, or Guru Nanak Jayanti, the birthday of Guru Nanak, the first guru and founder of the Sikh religion. A national holiday in India, it will be celebrated on 23 November this year...



Tags: India Pope Francis Ethiopia Russian Orthodox

16 November 2018
Greg Kandra




Pope Francis greets a woman religious as he makes a surprise visit to a free health clinic for the needy in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican on 16 November. The clinic was open for a week in advance of the 18 November observance of World Day for the Poor.
(photo: CNS/Junno Arocho Esteves)




Tags: Pope Francis

16 November 2018
Greg Kandra




Pope Francis addresses the Order of the Holy Sepulchre with an icon of "Our Lady Help of Persecuted Christians" nearby. He blessed the icon after his meeting with members of the order.
(photo: Vatican Media)


Pope meets with Indian children’s rights activist (Vatican News) Pope Francis on Friday received in private audience Indian children’s rights activist, Kailash Sathyarthi, who shared the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize with Malala Yousafzai of Pakistan. Founder of the “Bachpan Bachao Andolan”, or the Save Childhood Movement, and other initiatives against child labor and the abuse and exploitation of children, the 64-year old former electrical engineer and teacher has been honored with numerous recognitions both in India and abroad…

Pope to Holy Sepulchre: ’Root charitable works in prayer’ (Vatican News) Pope Francis took the opportunity to highlight “the dramatic situation of Christians who are persecuted and killed in ever-greater numbers.” He also called attention to a type of “white martyrdom, like, for example, that type which occurs in democratic countries when religious freedom is limited…”

Christian city in Syria grapples with decision to back the government (The Los Angeles Times) Only reluctantly had Mhardeh, a predominantly Christian city of 23,000 people, sided with the government in the war. But it was a choice that put the once-sleepy suburban city on the front lines and isolated it from its neighbors — predominantly Sunni Muslims, who make up the majority in Syria. Now, as the prospects of peace in the country improve, residents here are grappling with how they can again share a future with those who had become enemies on the battlefield…

Teen pregnancies are top threat to women’s health in India (UCANews.com) Teenage pregnancies and the culture of taking a child bride are both still rampant in India. UNICEF estimates 27 percent Indian women wed before they reach the age of 18, and at least seven percent are married by 15. The U.N. agency released a report in April showing that over 20 percent of the world’s adolescent population lives, and that the country has the highest rate of child marriages in South Asia…

Ethiopia unleashes changes over Africa and the Middle East (African News Agency) Ethiopia’s new prime minister, Abiy Ahmed, has unleashed a wave of breath-taking change since taking power in April, not just in the continent’s second most populous nation but across a swathe of east Africa and the Gulf. The transformation is so rapid and startling that it has been compared to Mikhail Gorbachev’s perestroika reforms in the Soviet Union in the 1980s, a comparison that does not seem exaggerated given the stasis it has replaced…

Order of Malta joins pope to mark World Day of the Poor (Vatican News) Pope Francis has invited everyone to mark the World Day of the Poor to be celebrated on Sunday, 18 November. Speaking to the crowds gathered in St. Peter’s Square for the Angelus, the Pope said that, for the occasion, a “First Aid Station” will be set up in the Square, where those in need will be able to receive medical care. Among the many organizations making sure the Day does not pass unnoticed is the Sovereign Order of Malta, whose core mission is to uphold human dignity and care for people in need…



Tags: Syria India Ethiopia

15 November 2018
Greg Kandra




In this image from September, Palestinians run from tear gas fired by Israeli troops during a protest along a beach in the Gaza Strip. Violence has escalated in Gaza, leading to fears of another war. (photo: CNS/Mohammed Salem, Reuters)

Deadly legacy of ISIS continues to shape lives in Iraq (The Guardian) Devices Isis produced on a semi-industrial basis to lay in large barrier minefields are scattered throughout northern and western Iraq, from Mosul — the site of the group’s last stand — to al-Qaim on the Syrian border, where the group is still fighting, contributing to the displacement of an estimated 1.7 million Iraqis. The issue is not unique to Iraq. Similar homemade mines have been encountered from Afghanistan to Syria and Yemen — an escalating threat that has recently pushed global efforts to reduce land mine casualties into a sharp reverse…

After the worst violence in years, things could get even worse in Gaza (Vox) The conditions that lead to consistent Israel-Gaza skirmishes — like the Israeli blockade, which affects thousands of Palestinians on a daily basis, or Hamas’s control of Gaza — still exist. It’s why there will likely be more small outbreaks of violence that could potentially grow into bigger ones. One main reason for that is that experts say the decades-long peace process, meant to settle longstanding divisions between Israelis and Palestinians, is basically defunct…

India struggles with malnutrition and food waste (UCANews.com) More than 130 countries, including India, are debating how to overcome the adverse effects of climate change, migration and poverty to achieve zero hunger. The second of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, adopted by all United Nations member states, is to achieve zero hunger by 2030. It aims to make sure that all people, especially children and the more vulnerable, have access to sufficient nutritious food all year round. Is it possible for India to achieve that target by 2030?…

How the lights came back in Kerala’s ravaged homes (Indian Link) The devastating flood in Kerala left 2.56 million homes without electricity. How the Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB) restored power in under a fortnight by mobilizing every human resource at hand — including retired staff and volunteers — and doing away with red tape and questions of hierarchy, could be a model for every disaster-stricken state. The KSEB called its plan Mission Reconnect…



Tags: Syria Gaza Strip/West Bank Kerala ISIS

14 November 2018
Greg Kandra




In this image from 13 November, taxi drivers in Amman, Jordan, stage a protest against drivers from private hiring services. (photo: CNS/Andre Pain, EPA)



Tags: Jordan

14 November 2018
Greg Kandra




The video above shows the planned route and design for Jerusalem's proposed cable car system, which is facing mounting criticism from architects and activists. (video: Jewish Life/YouTube)

Iraq Prime Minister says ISIS militants seeking to enter Iraq (VOA) Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi said on Tuesday hundreds of Iraqi Islamic State militants at Deir al-Zor in eastern Syria were trying to cross into Iraq. The militants have launched attacks in recent weeks against U.S.-backed Kurdish forces on the Syrian side of the border, prompting Iraqi militias that operate alongside the army to reinforce in the area…

Russian-controlled church in Ukraine rejects unification (VOA) The Russian-controlled branch of the Orthodox Church in Ukraine said Tuesday that it would not participate in the establishment of a unified church there as Kiev seeks to cut spiritual ties with Moscow. The announcement came after a planned meeting between top pro-Moscow clerics and President Petro Poroshenko fell through…

Architects, activists slam Jerusalem cable car plan (AP) An Israeli plan to build a cable car to Jerusalem’s historic Old City has united architects and Palestinian activists in opposition to a project they say is both an eyesore and a ploy to entrench Israeli control over the city’s contested eastern sector. Developers say the proposed project is meant to relieve snarling traffic and will ferry some 3,000 tourists an hour from the western sector directly to the Old City, in east Jerusalem. It follows a series of Israeli projects in the combustible city that have enraged the Palestinians…

Jerusalem patriarchs offer to mediate monastery dispute in Egypt (Egypt Independent) Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos III and Armenian Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem Nourhan Manougian offered to mediate between the Egyptian and Ethiopian churches to settle the issue of Deir Es-Sultan Coptic Orthodox Monastery in Jerusalem, an Egyptian Coptic Orthodox official said on Saturday…

Indian village still faces challenges three months after flooding (The Indian Express) After a gap of over two months, the familiar throbbing sound of the wooden handlooms can be heard once again in the bylanes of Chendamangalam, a small village in Kerala renowned for its centuries-old handwoven textiles. The devastating floods in mid-August, which left a pervasive trail of destruction across the state, had caused massive losses for the handloom cooperatives in Chendamangalam, home to nearly 600 weavers, most of them women…



Tags: Syria Egypt Jerusalem Kerala

13 November 2018
Greg Kandra




Mahinder Singh, a Dalit, sits with neighbors on charpai (cots of woven ropes) in their tiny village in Gangapar, India. (photo: John Mathew)

Indian Christians demand justice for Dalit Christians (Vatican News) India’s Catholics and Protestants jointly observed Dalit Liberation Sunday on 11 November with liturgy and activities calling for an end to discrimination suffered by Christians of lower-caste origins within the Christian community and in society. Bishop Sarat Chandra Nayak of Berhampur, chairman of the Office for Scheduled Castes/Backward Classes of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI), asked people to remember the 100 poor Christians killed in anti-Christian violence in Odisha state’s Kandhamal 10 years ago…

Botched Gaza spy mission puts Israel back on the brink of war (The New York Times) On Sunday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu assured Israelis weary of conflict with Palestinians in the Gaza Strip that he was “doing everything I can in order to avoid an unnecessary war.” A day and a half later, Israel appeared to be on the brink of just that. After a botched intelligence mission by undercover commandos left seven Palestinian fighters dead, the militant group Hamas and other armed factions mounted an intense and escalating rocket and mortar barrage across much of southern Israel that continued into Tuesday morning…

Syrian Kurds resume push to remove ISIS from Syria (CNN) Syrian Kurdish forces are resuming the final phase of operations against ISIS, as the terrorist group is pushed back into its last remaining slivers of territory. The resumption comes as CNN releases remarkable and rare frontline footage of the recent intense fight against ISIS, filmed by Brazilian photographer Gabriel Chaim…

Holy See urges practical, effective action against human trafficking, slavery (Vatican News) The Holy See and the Catholic Church are deeply committed in the fight against human trafficking and modern slavery, both in tackling the drivers that fuel the scourge and in reaching out to victims. Archbishop Bernardito Auza, the Holy See’s Permanent Observer to the United Nations in New York made the statement on 9 November at a conference at the UN on “Practical Solutions to Eradicate Human Trafficking”…

Thousands join Ethiopia-Eritrea peace run (AFP) Thousands of Ethiopians and Eritreans took part in a 10km reconciliation run Sunday in Addis Ababa in the first joint sporting event since the former bitter foes launched a rapid diplomatic thaw in July. The peace run through the Ethiopian capital caught a new positive mood after years of “cold war”…

Conference explores Syriac Christianity (Vatican News) A two-day conference entitled “Syriac Christianity at the Crossroads of Cultures” gathered researchers from all over the world at the Pontifical Oriental Institute in Rome last week. Both Mar Gewargis III, Patriarch of the Assyrian Church of the East, and Cardinal Louis Sako, Patriarch of Babylon of the Chaldeans, participated in the opening session of the conference commemorating the 700th Anniversary of Abdisho of Nisibis…



Tags: India Ethiopia Israel Eritrea ISIS

9 November 2018
Greg Kandra




Pope Francis greets Mar Gewargis III, Catholicos Patriarch of the Church of the East. (photo: Vatican Media)

Pope prays for peace with head of Assyrian Church (Vatican News) During an audience with Mar Gewargis III, Pope Francis prayed for an end to the suffering of Christians in the Middle East, and celebrated the fruits of ecumenical dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Church of the East…

Syria war: Army frees 19 ISIS hostages (BBC) The Syrian army has freed 19 women and children held hostage since July by ISIS, state media say. They say the captives were rescued when troops launched an operation north-east of the desert city of Palmyra. The hostages were seized during an IS attack in the southern Suweida region. More than 200 people were killed. Suweida is a stronghold of the Druze religious minority, and the captives were drawn from this community…

Christians in Indian state seek religious freedom (UCANews.com) Christian leaders in India’s poll-bound Chhattisgarh state have presented a charter of demands to major political parties seeking to end discrimination and violence. The charter prepared by leaders of the ecumenical Chhattisgarh Christian Forum expressed concerns over the security of the miniscule Christian community in the central state, now ruled by the pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party. It also calls on the next government to ensure freedom to practice religion...

Gaza youth protest march reaches Jerusalem (Haaretz) President Reuven Rivlin joined thousands of students from Gaza border communities and other communities across the country at a rally in Jerusalem on Thursday, the culmination of a five day march to protest the tension and hostilities along the border…



Tags: Syria India Assyrian Church Iran





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