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September, 2019
Volume 45, Number 3
  
18 February 2015
J.D. Conor Mauro




A boy looks at his flooded home in the village of Mifol, Albania, on 3 February. Floods caused by heavy rains forced the evacuation of hundreds of villagers. (photo: Gent Shkullaku/AFP/Getty Images)

Orthodox Church of Albania aids areas hit by flooding (Orthodox Church of Albania) The massive rainfalls at the beginning of February caused flooding in many parts of Albania. The area most affected was southern Albania, where many villages suffered severe damage to households and, in some cases, agricultural production and livestock. The Albanian Orthodox has responded by shipping boxes of food and clothing to the local areas affected…

Chaldean patriarch’s call for prayer for unity (Vatican Radio) Chaldean Patriarch Louis Raphael I urged prayer, reflection, discernment and examination of conscience in a message commemorating the beginning of the Lenten season. The patriarch lamented the sin of division and invited all Muslim brothers and sisters to join Christians in fasting for the intention of peace, stability and dignity…

‘Guantanamo of the East’: Ukraine locks up refugees at EU’s behest (Der Spiegel) Most migrants reach Europe through Italy or Greece. Many die on the way. A broad coalition, with voices ranging from Pope Francis to German President Joachim Gauck, is demanding better protection for refugees on Europe’s southern border and the United Nations refugee agency, UNHCR, describes the route across the Mediterranean as the world’s deadliest. But when it comes to the eastern route, and the fate of migrants like Hasan Hirsi — who describes how Ukrainian security forces robbed, beat and tortured him — interest has thus far been limited…

Syrian army gains ground in Aleppo offensive (Al Akhbar) The Syrian army and its allied forces continue to fight in neighborhoods under the control of the opposition in the city of Aleppo, and to break the siege around the towns of Nubl and Al Zahraa in the city’s northern countryside…

War separates lovers in Aleppo (Al Monitor) Twenty-three-year-old Louay was not alone on Valentine’s night, but he wasn’t with his girlfriend, either. He and some lovesick friends gathered by candlelight for an intimate evening. Louay arranged candles in the shape of the letter R and told his friends about the last time he saw his girlfriend, Rama. More than 13 months have passed since Louay and Rama’s last meeting. In February 2014, regime forces closed the only crossing that connected the two parts of Aleppo — the eastern side under opposition control, and the western side under the regime. As a result, the city has been divided and families separated. All of Louay’s friends have their own love stories to tell, all marked by the same kind of suffering — a lost future, a divided country and a distant lover because of the raging war…



Tags: Ukraine Refugees Aleppo Chaldean Patriarch Louis Raphael I Albania

12 February 2015
J.D. Conor Mauro




Pope Francis addresses cardinals and bishops at the opening of the papal consistory to discuss the reform of the Roman Curia at the Vatican on 12 February. (photo: Andreas Solaro/AFP/Getty Images)

Pope Francis opens consistory with call to unity (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis says the end goal of the reform of the Roman Curia is to harmonize work among the Vatican offices, to achieve a more effective collaboration and promote collegiality. The pope spoke Thursday morning to the College of Cardinals at the opening session of the extraordinary consistory for the creation of new cardinals on Saturday…

Chaldean bishops rally to defend Christians persecuted in Iraq (AINA) Bishops of the Chaldean Church have agreed to unite and face the rising threat of persecution of Middle East Christians, vowing that the church hierarchy will continue to care for families tormented by violent extremists. At the conclusion of the Special Synod of the Chaldean Church, Baghdad Patriarch Louis Raphael I expressed confidence that the church would be able to weather the challenges it is currently facing…

Two metro Detroit Chaldean priests to be ordained bishops (Detroit Free Press) As Christians increasingly face persecution in Iraq, two Detroit Iraqi-American Catholic priests will be promoted to bishop Friday in Iraq. One will serve in Iraq, where he was kidnapped in 2006…

Metropolitan Onufry of Kiev and All Ukraine calls for end to war (Pravmir.com) “On behalf of the 1,000-year-old Ukrainian Orthodox Church, I am urging everyone who calls himself a Christian to stop killing one another immediately. Because dozens of totally innocent civilians, women, elderly people and, most horribly, sinless children become victims of hostilities on a daily basis,” the metropolitan said in an appeal released on the occasion of the anniversary of the events at Maidan Square in Kiev…

Jacobite, Orthodox flocks yearn for peace (Manorama Online) Followers of the Syriac Orthodox Church and the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church are waiting for a new era of peace and cooperation after the ice-breaking statements by their supreme leaders, Patriarch Ignatius Aphrem II and Catholicos Baselios Mar Thoma Paulose II. The disputes between the two factions have a history of more than a century. Despite a short-lived truce the differences led to litigation and humiliating arguments. The followers, however, nursed a dream of peaceful coexistence because they keep the same faith…

Egypt orders release of Al Jazeera reporters (Al Akhbar) An Egyptian court ordered the release of two jailed Al Jazeera journalists on Thursday pending retrial, after they spent 411 days in prison in a case that sparked worldwide outrage. Muhammad Fahmy, a Canadian whose family hoped he would be deported, must meet a bail of 250,000 Egyptian pounds ($33,000), while his colleague, Egyptian national Baher Muhammad, was freed on his own recognizance along with other defendants. The next court session was set for 23 February, the court said…



Tags: Egypt Pope Francis Chaldean Church Syriac Orthodox Church Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church

11 February 2015
J.D. Conor Mauro




A pro-Russian rebel stands next to damaged buses in Donetsk on 11 February. Shelling hit a central bus station in Donetsk and killed at least four people, according to a local official. (photo: Vasily Maximov/AFP/Getty Images)

As leaders gather to discuss Ukraine peace, war intensifies (Washington Post) Pro-Moscow rebels and Ukrainian forces waged intense battles over strategic ground Wednesday as leaders gathered for high-stakes talks seeking to quell the escalating conflict. The leaders of Ukraine, Russia, Germany and France agreed to meet in Minsk, Belarus, after days of preliminary discussions, raising the prospect of a deal with the rebels in eastern Ukraine…

Delhi archbishop: Indian election result ‘a vote for change’ (Catholic Herald) The Archbishop of Delhi has said the Indian government failed to deliver on its promises following the victory of an anti-corruption party in the state elections. Speaking to AsiaNews, Archbishop Anil Joseph Thomas Couto claimed the election had been marred by anti-Catholic violence after churches were vandalised and a peaceful protest was broken up by heavy-handed police…

Ethiopian Orthodox patriarch visits Sudan (Sudan Vision) Patriarch Abune Mathias of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church is in Sudan accompanied by a number of priests and the ambassador of Ethiopia to Sudan. The patriarch was received by the undersecretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Abdalla Hamad al Azraq. The two discussed the situation of the Ethiopian community and churches in Sudan as well as the firm historic ties between the Sudanese and Ethiopian peoples…

Aleppo’s displaced find refuge in Kurdish regions (Al Monitor) Sheikh Maksoud, located in the northwest of Aleppo, is considered a safe haven for the displaced. Arab and Kurdish families alike go there to escape the shelling in the eastern neighborhoods under the opposition’s grip. Hundreds of families from Kobane sought shelter there in the wake of the battles between the Islamic State and the Kurdish forces…



Tags: India Ethiopia Ukraine Aleppo Sudan

9 February 2015
J.D. Conor Mauro




Ethiopian Orthodox clergy chant the psalms in the ancient rock-cut churches of Lalibela, Ethiopia.
(photo: Carl Hétu)


Egypt uses church to bolster ties with Ethiopia (Al-Monitor) At a time when the Egyptian government officially acknowledged that obstacles re-emerged in the negotiations with Ethiopia over the Renaissance Dam — which is threatening the Egyptian share of the Nile’s waters — Egypt is seeking to take advantage of the rapprochement between the Egyptian and Ethiopian Coptic churches. This was shown during the last visit of the Ethiopian patriarch to Pope Tawadros II of Alexandria at Christmas. Egypt is trying to benefit from these ties to improve bilateral ties, drawing on historical relations that have linked both churches since the 14th century until their separation in 1959...

400 rabbis urge Netanyahu to end Palestinian house demolitions (Christian Today) More than 400 rabbis and cantors from Israel and around the world have signed a petition addressed to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, urging him to stop the practice of demolishing Palestinian homes...

Synod of Chaldean Bishops: join forces to liberate the lands occupied by jihadists (Fides) The Iraqi national government and the regional Kurdistan government must “allocate the necessary funds to support families that Daesh expelled from their homes and deprived their property”. In addition, all “national and international forces” must “unite their intent to liberate the occupied territories as soon as possible and put in place the necessary measures to protect Christians and other Iraqis, so they all return to their homes and live in safety and with dignity”. These are the appeals launched by the Extraordinary Synod of the Chaldean Bishops, summoned by Patriarch Louis Raphael I at the patriarchal seat of Baghdad on Saturday, 7 February...

Catholicos Baselios Paulose II welcomes dialogue with the Syriac Orthodox Church (The Orthodox Church) Baselios Paulose II Patriarch — Catholicos on the Apostolic Throne of St Thomas and Malankara Metropolitan — has welcomed dialogue with the Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch and All East. The Catholics stated that he is pleased to wholeheartedly cooperate with the peace initiatives of Patriarch Ignatius Aphrem II...

ISIS pulls some forces and hardware from Aleppo (The Daily Star) ISIS has withdrawn some of its insurgents and equipment from areas northeast of the Syrian city of Aleppo, rebels and residents say, adding to signs of strain in the Syrian provinces of its self-declared caliphate...



6 February 2015
J.D. Conor Mauro




An Indian Christian woman holds a rosary during a protest outside the Sacred Heart Cathedral following recent attacks on churches in New Delhi on 5 February 2015. (photo: Sajjad Hussain/AFP/Getty Images)

Police drag protesting priests, nuns, children into buses (NDTV) A large number of policemen swooped down on a protest in Delhi against church attacks, and dragged activists, including priests and nuns into buses. Some alleged that they were attacked with batons. Christian groups were protesting outside the Sacred Heart cathedral in central Delhi when the police arrived. Scores of protesters were manhandled and bundled into buses, their bags, shoes and other belongings left scattered on the road. Father Dominic Emanuel, the spokesperson of the Delhi Catholic Archdiocese, was also forced into a bus and taken away. An elderly woman, who lay on the road, was picked up by four policewomen and thrown into a bus…

India government official promises security to churches (Fides) Rajnath Singh, India’s minister of Home Affairs, has ordered an inquiry into the recent attacks on Catholic churches in the last two months, starting from the desecration of St. Alphonsa church. The minister communicated the decision to a delegation of Christian leaders who met him after the demonstrated organized by Christians on 5 February in Delhi to protest against the inaction of the government. During the protest, police forced demonstrators onto buses…

Moscow concerned over tension on Armenia-Azerbaijan contact line (Azernews) Russia has called on the parties to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict to avoid actions leading to escalation on the contact line. Armenia and Azerbaijan should take effective measures aimed at reducing tension, said Alexander Lukashevich, Spokesperson for Russian Foreign Ministry, reported Tass, a Russian media outlet. He said the very difficult situation on the frontline has resulted in an intensification of a large number of ceasefire violations, clashes and actions of sabotage groups. The data provided by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s monitoring commission revealed that 12 people were killed and 18 others wounded in wake of the skirmishes in January, noted Lukashevich. Armenia has held Nagorno-Karabakh and seven adjacent territories under occupation for over two decades…

ISIS threatens Assyrians in Syria, women and children evacuated (AINA) Two days ago ISIS ordered Assyrians in the region of Hassake to remove the crosses from their churches and to pay a jizya (a tax on non-Muslims), warning residents that if they failed to pay they would have to leave or else be killed. On Sunday ISIS entered the village of Tel Hormizd and forced residents to remove the cross from the church. After ISIS left the town, the women and children were evacuated to the town of Um Gargen, directly north across the river, while the Assyrian men, who are armed, stayed to defend their town. Kurdish fighters from the YPG have also entered the town to protect it…

‘4,000-strong’ Christian militia formed to fight ISIS (Newsweek) Iraqi Christians have established their own militia and are training to fight the Islamic State (ISIS) in the Nineveh Plains of northern Iraq. Many Christian towns were captured by ISIS when they marched across the country last summer and approximately 30,000 Christians have since fled the Nineveh Plains for fear of falling into the hands of the radical Islamists. According to British newspaper the Catholic Herald, the Nineveh Plains Protection Units (NPU) have 3,000 Christian men registered to be trained, while another 500 are already training for combat and 500 volunteers from the group are already situated in Assyrian villages in northern Iraq. Newsweek was not able to independently verify these claims…

New apostolic nuncio to Egypt appointed (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has nominated 66-year-old Italian Archbishop Bruno Musarò to be the new Apostolic Nuncio to Egypt and Delegate to the League of Arab States. Archbishop Musarò was formerly the Apostolic Nuncio to Cuba from August 2011 to 5 February 2015…



Tags: India Iraq Armenia Indian Christians Azerbaijan

29 January 2015
J.D. Conor Mauro




Catholic and Orthodox patriarchs meet in Bkerke, Lebanon, on 27 January, to address the crises in the Middle East. Pictured from left to right are Melkite Catholic Patriarch Gregory III; Greek Orthodox Patriarch Youhanna X of Antioch; Maronite Patriarch Cardinal Bechara Peter; Syriac Orthodox Patriarch Ignatius Aphrem II; and Syriac Catholic Patriarch Ignatius Joseph III. (photo: CNS/Mychel Akl, courtesy Maronite Catholic patriarchate)

Christian leaders meet in Lebanon, call for end to financing terrorists (CNS) Catholic and Orthodox patriarchs called for an end to financing terrorists and suggested that borders be closed when necessary to prevent their movement. The leaders also appealed for the creation of a Palestinian state with its capital in East Jerusalem, based on a long-standing proposal for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian crisis, and pleaded for the return of Palestinian refugees to their native lands. Their calls came in a statement released after a meeting on 27 January in Bkerke, the seat of the Maronite Church north of Beirut, to address the situation of Christians in the Middle East, especially those displaced from Iraq and Syria. A representative of the Protestant churches of Syria and Lebanon as well as international aid officials also attended…

Oriental Orthodox and Catholics work to conclude joint document (Vatican Radio) Representatives of all the Oriental Orthodox churches are in Rome this week for a meeting of their International Joint Commission for Theological Dialogue with the Catholic Church. During the five-day encounter, which began on Monday, participants hope to finalize a joint document on communion and communication in the first five centuries of Christianity…

Islamic State bombed historic walls of Nineveh in Iraq (AINA) Jihadists resumed bombings against historic sites in Nineveh and destroyed remains of the ancient wall of Mosul, specialized sources reported today. A historian living in Mosul, the second largest in Iraq, told the publication Shafaq News that militants of the Islamic State destroyed on Tuesday night much of the historic city wall located on Tahrir neighborhood on the left coast of Mosul…

Double suicide attack kills 6, wounds 28 in Baghdad (Al Akhbar) A double suicide attack on a base housing militia groups fighting alongside the government north of Baghdad killed at least six people on Thursday, medical sources said. “The car rammed an army checkpoint protecting access to the base” in Mishahada, a Baghdad hospital official said. The first blast killed at least three people, including a civilian…

Yazidis ask Israel for help (Al Monitor) Desperate Yazidis are reaching out to Israel, asking for understanding and assistance, especially in the military domain for their fight against the Islamic State…

Hezbollah-Israel: No war for now (Al Jazeera) Neither Hezbollah nor Israel are interested in engaging in a full scale war, analysts say. Hezbollah’s attack on Wednesday, the strongest since 2006, was meant to restore the balance of deterrence between the two sides, following Israel’s game-changing move last week when it targeted and killed six Hezbollah operatives and an Iranian commander in Quneitra in Syria’s Golan Heights…

Living among the dead in Gaza (Al Monitor) “We smell the stench of death everywhere and all we see is the burial of the dead. We no longer know the meaning of leisure, as we have abandoned the hope of living.” This is how Abu Raed al Qahwaji described the life of his family, which now lives in a cemetery in central Gaza. Qahwaji, 39, who lives with his wife and four children, said, “We used to live in a small flat in an apartment building in the Shajaia neighborhood in central Gaza City. … However, the building was destroyed in the war and we were left with no other choice but this small hut I set up in the cemetery.” He explained that he could not find any other shelter given his dire situation, poverty and unemployment, while the demand on apartments was increasing following the war that destroyed tens of thousands of houses and apartment buildings…

Jordan demands proof captured pilot is alive as deadline passes (Washington Post) Jordan demanded proof Thursday from the Islamic State that a captured Jordanian pilot is still alive, as a deadline set by the militant group for the kingdom to release a convicted terrorist passed without word on the fate of both sides’ prisoners or any sign of an imminent exchange…



Tags: Iraq Gaza Strip/West Bank Israel Jordan Ecumenism

28 January 2015
J.D. Conor Mauro




A Palestinian boy looks down at tents erected next to homes destroyed during last year's 50-day war between Israel and Hamas-led militants in a neighborhood east of Khan Yunis, in the southern Gaza Strip, on 28 January. (photo: Said Khatib/AFP/Getty Images)

People dying in Gaza, unable to pay for home repairs (Vatican Radio) The United Nations says that Palestinian refugees in Gaza are being forced to sleep in the rubble of their homes, which were destroyed during a 50-day conflict last year, and children are dying of hypothermia…

Israel and Lebanon’s Hezbollah trade fire across border (Washington Post) Israel and Lebanon’s Hezbollah militia exchanged deadly barrages Wednesday across a fractious border region monitored by U.N. peacekeepers in fighting that killed at least two Israeli soldiers and one U.N. observer…

Patriarchs of Antioch: To stop the conflict, stop arms trafficking (Fides) The wars that devastate the Middle East will end only when the flow of arms and money to armed factions and terrorist groups by allies and sponsors stops, say the leaders of Eastern churches during a 27 January meeting in Bkerké…

Turkey becomes springboard for Syrians heading to Europe (Der Spiegel) Turkey has become a hub for human traffickers, with freighters picking up Syrians in the port city and smuggling them on to Europe. It’s a lucrative business built on the hardships of others. This network consists of both Syrians and Turks, and person has different responsibilities, serving as only a tiny link at the end of a long chain…

Egypt: Protests marking uprising leave 18 dead (BBC) At least 18 people have been killed in clashes between police and protesters across Egypt, officials said. Three police cadets were among the dead, and dozens of protesters were also injured, the officials said. The clashes follow the death of an activist in a march in the capital Cairo on Saturday…



Tags: Egypt Lebanon Gaza Strip/West Bank Middle East Israel

20 January 2015
J.D. Conor Mauro




In this 20 January photo, Ukrainian soldiers carry the coffin of a fallen comrade across the Maidan Square in Kiev. (photo: Anatolii Stepanov/AFP/Getty Images)

As fighting deepens in eastern Ukraine, death toll rises (Washington Post) Intensifying battles, mounting death tolls and dire new warnings from Russia have dragged eastern Ukraine’s long-running conflict into some of the worst fighting since last summer, rendering a months-old cease-fire agreement effectively defunct…

A new eparchy for Ethiopia and a new metropolitan for Eritrea (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has erected a new eparchy in Ethiopia, which will be known as the Eparchy of Bahir Dar-Dessie, and in another development, Pope Francis has also erected the Metropolitan Church of Asmara in Eritrea. Although Eritrea as a nation won its independence in 1991, the Catholic Church of Ethiopia and Eritrea have always been regarded as one episcopal conference. As of Monday, the two are now separate…

Flow of Syrian refugees to Lebanon drops after restrictions (Daily Star Lebanon) A United Nations official says the flow of Syrian refugees into Lebanon has dropped sharply due to restrictions recently imposed by Lebanese authorities. Although Lebanese border officials began informally restricting the entry of Syrians last October, Beirut officially imposed visa regulations earlier this month on their neighbors. The move was the first such in decades. Ninette Kelley, the U.N. refugee agency’s representative in Lebanon, told reporters Tuesday the number of new Syrian refugees in Lebanon dropped by 44 percent in 2014, compared to the previous year…

Maronite patriarch: Poverty destabilizes the Middle East (Fides) Poverty is a key factor in the lack of stability in the Middle East, because “there cannot be peace where there is underdevelopment,” said Maronite Patriarch Bechara Peter. Thus, Jihadist factions shore up their numbers by virtue of financial resources, paying the salaries of the new fighters enrolled in its ranks…

Patriarch urges Christians, Muslims to lead fight against extremism (Vatican Radio) Chaldean Patriarch Louis Raphael is calling upon Christians and Muslims of the world to lead the fight against fundamentalism by being the first to reject all forms of discrimination and violence. He made the call at a conference organized at the weekend in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, by the Iraqi Center for Diversity Management…



Tags: Ethiopia Ukraine Middle East Christians Eritrea Maronite Patriarch Bechara Peter

16 January 2015
J.D. Conor Mauro




A Turkmen refugee child who fled Syria to the Akkar district in north Beirut, Lebanon, waits to receive humanitarian aid from the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency on 15 January. (photo: Ratib al Safadi/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Prayers and calls for peace in Syria, Iraq (Vatican Radio) The ongoing conflict in Syria and Iraq and the suffering of persecuted Christians there was the focus of a prayer effort in Rome on Thursday. The vigil took place as the United Nations issued a call for solutions to the ongoing conflict in the Middle East. Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, prefect for the Congregation for Oriental Churches, led the vigil. In his homily, the cardinal prayed “for the conversion of those who do evil, that their hardened hearts open to a new way of seeing, a new experience of humanity, to an authentic religiosity that does not kill or persecute, but which promotes the good of the other, even if they are different…”

Food enters besieged Homs, Syria after local deal (Daily Star Lebanon) U.N. aid workers have started delivering food to tens of thousands of people trapped in a besieged district of Homs city in Syria following negotiations with warring parties, officials said Friday. In the absence of a nationwide peace deal, relief groups have tried to get localized agreements with fighters on all sides of the conflict to get convoys through to people in battle zones…

Lebanon: Syrians refugees facing deadly winter with little aid (Al Akhbar) For the refugees living in tents in Lebanon, the storm has yet to subside. The fear of death stays with them like the snow that has swept through their tents. Noura, who escaped from the hell of Aleppo to end up in an unofficial camp in Bar Elias, expresses grave concern over the situation. Carrying her baby in her arms to give him warmth, she says: “I only received food aid twice in the past four months. If the cold doesn’t kill us, we will certainly die of hunger…”

The small miracle amid the carnage in Syria (Talking Points Memo) In the beginning of October, Islamic State forces surrounded and besieged the Kurdish town of Kobane in northern Syria at the border with Turkey. IS had swept through Iraq quickly, picking up American tanks and mortars abandoned by the fleeing Iraqi army along the way. Observers feared a humanitarian disaster akin to the IS massacre of ethnic Yazidis on Mount Sinjar in August. The Pentagon insisted that, with no ground troops to fight, Kobane could not be saved. Turkish tanks sat at the border, waiting for an IS victory and a possible ground invasion. Months after it was supposed to fall, Kobane still stands, and IS has been forced back. The story of the town’s resistance is an epic tale of determination and self-defense…

Ukraine backs mobilization of troops in east (Vatican Radio) Ukraine’s parliament has approved a mass military mobilization amid allegations that thousands of Russian troops have invaded the east where separatists have sharply increased their activities. The measures come amid confusion over who is in control over the strategic airport area in Donetsk…

Bishops discusses support for Egyptian Christian schools (Fides) On 13 and 14 January, Egyptian Catholic bishops met in the district of Maadi to discuss coordination among various Catholic communities, with special focus on schools. Coptic Catholic Patriarch Ibrahim Isaac presided over the meeting, which was also attended by Greek-Melkite Patriarch Gregory III, as vice-president of the ecclesial organization…



Tags: Syria Iraq Egypt Lebanon Ukraine

15 January 2015
J.D. Conor Mauro




Syrian refugees endure harsh living conditions at the Atmeh refugee camp in Idlib, Syria, on 11 January. (photo: Ahmed Hasan Ubeyd/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Syrian refugee freezes to death in Bekaa as storm toll hits 12 (Al Akhbar) A Syrian refugee woman froze to death in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley on Wednesday, as the stormy weather that hit the country last week returned. Ramah Mohammed Tehrani is yet another name added to the list of Syrian refugees who perished in the latest ice storm, dubbed “Zina,” in Lebanon. Tehrani was found dead in her home, which she shared with her family in the outskirts of the city of Baalbek. She was a mother of three, including a 5-year-old daughter. “I am a maternal orphan now,” said her eldest son, 15-year-old Hekmat. His father is reportedly still in Syria…

Coptic pope: The cartoons of Muhammad are offensive (Fides) The cartoons on Muhammad published by the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo are “offensive” and any insult must be rejected “at all levels,” said Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros II. After the massacre, the magazine printed 5 million copies — whose cover shows a cartoon depicting the Prophet Muhammad crying and holding a sign that says “je suis Charlie” under the title, “all is forgiven.” Religious insults, Pope Tawadros said, “do not help [the cause of] peace in the world, and do not produce any benefit…”

Pope says respect for religion should limit freedom of expression (CNS) Commenting on recent killings by Islamist terrorists at a Paris newspaper, Pope Francis condemned killing in the name of God, but said freedom of expression should be limited by respect for religion and that mockery of faith can be expected to provoke violence. The pope said freedom of expression was a “fundamental human right” like freedom of religion, but one that must be exercised “without giving offense…”

Chaldean bishops elected and confirmed (VIS) Pope Francis has approved the canonical election by the Synod of Bishops of the Chaldean Church of Rev. Basel Yaldo as auxiliary of the Patriarchate of Babylon of the Chaldeans. Additional appointments include Archbishop Amel Shamon Nona as bishop of the Chaldean Eparchy of St. Thomas the Apostle in Sydney, Australia, and Chorbishop Emmanuel Challita as bishop of the Chaldean Eparchy of Mar Addai in Toronto, Canada…

Syrian rebels, government reach truce in besieged area (Daily Star Lebanon) Syrian rebels and government forces began observing a 10-day truce Thursday in the last rebel-held area of the central city of Homs, marking another setback for opposition fighters, activists said…

U.N. envoy vows to press on for Aleppo truce (Daily Star Lebanon) U.N. peace envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura Thursday vowed to press on with efforts for a truce in Aleppo, adding that wanted a resolution of the devastating conflict this year. De Mistura, a Swedish-Italian diplomat appointed as U.N. envoy on Syria in July, said the second city of Aleppo was a “symbolic microcosm of all of Syria.” This was so “because it has the highest number of displaced people, because it has seen two years of suffering, because while the government and the opposition continue being involved in heavy fighting between them, ISIS is only 20 miles away from Aleppo,” he said…

Sunni-Alawite couples in Syria defy sectarianism (Al Monitor) Many believe that the conflict in Syria is a power struggle between Sunnis and Alawites, while others assert that the conflict is between a dictatorial regime and armed revolutionaries. In both cases, there is no doubt that sectarianism and hatred between Alawite extremists and Sunni extremists plays a major role in this conflict. Still, there are young men and women from different communities who continue to challenge this paradigm through love, determination and marriage. Damascus, despite the war, is still able to witness such love stories in these difficult days…

The Great Wall of Saudi Arabia? (Christian Science Monitor) Saudi Arabia has been constructing a 600-mile East-West barrier on its Northern Border with Iraq since September. The main function of the barrier will be keeping out ISIS militants, who have stated that among their goals is an eventual takeover of the Muslim holy cities of Mecca and Medina, both of which lie deep inside Saudi territory, according to United Press International…



Tags: Syria Pope Francis Refugees Chaldean Church religious freedom





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