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Current Issue
September, 2019
Volume 45, Number 3
  
6 June 2014
J.D. Conor Mauro




Pope Francis and Catholicos Aram I, head of the Catholicosate of the Great House of Cilicia of the Armenian Apostolic Church, prayed at the Vatican’s Redemptoris Mater Chapel. (video: Rome Reports)

Armenian Catholicos praises Pope Francis’ efforts for Middle East peace (Vatican Radio) Armenian Apostolic Catholicos Aram I of the Great House of Cilicia told Pope Francis on Thursday that he hoped his invitation to the Palestinian and Israeli presidents to pray for peace in the Vatican would be the start of a process leading to justice and peace in the Middle East. He said the pope and the Vatican are playing an important role in expressing solidarity with Christians throughout the Middle East and in Syria in particular…

Sisi victory deals ‘deadly blow’ to revolutionary youth movement (Al Monitor) As Egypt’s military strongman Abdel Fattah al Sisi was declared president with a landslide 96.9 percent of the vote, and as the ailing nation prepares an inauguration ceremony that will cost millions, the revolutionary youth are contemplating a grim political future wherever they are — in jail, in exile or occupying opposition seats expected to be extremely vulnerable to the highly anticipated wave of oppression…

Egypt criminalises sexual harassment for first time (The Guardian) Egypt has criminalised sexual harassment for the first time, in a move that campaigners say is just the first step towards ending an endemic problem. United Nations research from 2013 suggested that 99.3 percent of Egyptian women had experienced sexual harassment, but it is often the victims who are blamed for their experience, rather than the harassers. Campaigners welcomed the law, but warned that it remained to be seen whether police will enforce it…

Eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk keeps humming amid insurgency (Washington Post) For two months, Donetsk, a city of 1 million people, has been occupied by pro-Russian insurgents who have declared the Donetsk region a sovereign republic, independent of Ukraine. They have vowed a radical transformation of the established order and, backed by a considerable arsenal, they have overtaken dozens of government buildings. But the insurgents, as it turns out, don’t have much time or inclination for the daily drudgery of governing. Rather than risk the ire of residents by disrupting public services, they have left the business of running this city to the same people who were doing it all along: Donetsk’s 13,500 municipal employees, who have kept the metropolis humming even as battles rage all around. “Our workers haven’t missed a day,” said Konstantin Savinov, the city administrator. “But it’s not easy to work under the threat of weapons…”



Tags: Egypt Pope Francis Ukraine Ecumenism Armenian Apostolic Church

5 June 2014
J.D. Conor Mauro




A nun walks home after farming a small plot in Ethiopia’s countryside. To learn about the challenges Ethiopian women face, read An Uphill Battle, from the May 2009 issue of ONE. (photo: Petterik Wiggers)



Tags: Ethiopia Education Women (rights/issues) Women

5 June 2014
J.D. Conor Mauro




Every day 2,500 new Syrian refugees arrive in Lebanon, more than half of them children who have witnessed incredible horrors. (video: Al Jazeera)

U.N. pessimistic over establishing Syrian refugee camps (Daily Star Lebanon) United Nations Special Coordinator for Lebanon Derek Plumbly said Thursday he is downbeat about the possibility of establishing refugee camps for Syrians in Lebanon. Lebanon has been mulling the organization of camps for Syrians along the border with the United Nations. However, Lebanese officials want the camps established inside safe Syrian territories or on the Syrian side of the border…

Aleppo again without water, Armenian population threatened (Fides) In Aleppo the presidential vote with which Assad seeks to perpetuate his power was held with the central districts subjected to intense missile launch and the whole city without water again. “For two days we have been without water,” says Armenian Catholic Archbishop Boutros Marayati, from the patriarchal residence…

Catholicos Aram I meets Pope Francis in the Vatican (Public Radio of Armenia) Following a private meeting between the two church leaders, Pope Francis I met with Armenian Apostolic Catholicos Aram I and the delegation accompanying him. In his speech the catholicos noted that since 1997 he has had the opportunity to meet Popes John Paul II, Benedict XVI, and currently, His Holiness Francis I. The catholicos then expressed his appreciation of the pope’s effort to take the church to the people, which he said is also at the heart of the Armenian Orthodox Church and to which it is fully committed. He then invited all churches to leave confessional differences aside and face together the urgent challenges confronting humanity…

Christians object to serving in Israel’s army (Al Jazeera) The leaders of Israel’s large Palestinian minority are stepping up opposition to Israeli government plans to recruit Christians into the military with a specially convened congress on Friday. According to the IDF, about 2,000 Christians reach the age of conscription each year. Despite the government’s promotion of enlistment, only about 150 Christians are reported to be serving. “The reality is that most Christians do not want to serve and will not respond to the call-up,” says Riah Abu el Assal, the former Anglican bishop of Jerusalem. Opponents of enlistment among the Palestinian minority have staged a series of protests…

Israel to build 1,500 more homes in settlements (The Guardian) Israel’s housing ministry has announced new plans for almost 1,500 new settlement housing units in the West Bank and east Jerusalem, described as a “fitting Zionist response” to the new Palestinian unity government, backed by the Islamic militant group Hamas…

Pope Francis laments threats to Roma (VIS) “New civil, cultural and social approaches, and a new pastoral strategy for the church [against] modern forms of persecution, oppression and slavery” are necessary to face the situation of Roma throughout the world, said Pope Francis during this morning’s audience. Roma often find themselves on the margins of society, “and at times are looked upon with hostility and suspicion; they are rarely involved in the political, economic and social dynamics of the country…”

Pope Francis sends message to Catholic-Orthodox meeting in Minsk (Vatican Radio) The secretary of state of the Holy See, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, has sent a message on behalf of Pope Francis to the European Orthodox-Catholic Forum, which took place in Minsk, the capital of Belarus. “His Holiness hopes that religious freedom in Europe will be protected in all of its forms and that Christians may always bear witness to the hope that is in them with kindness, respect and an upright conscience,” reads the message…



Tags: Pope Francis Lebanon Refugees Syrian Civil War Armenian Apostolic Church

28 May 2014
J.D. Conor Mauro




The authorities in Egypt have extended voting in the presidential election to a third day, following reports of an unexpectedly low turnout so far. Orla Guerin reports from Cairo. (video: BBC)

Egypt’s extended voting fails to turn out Sisi supporters (Los Angeles Times) Egypt’s election went into overtime on Wednesday as the government sought to drum up more votes for former military chief Abdel Fattah Sisi, but turnout again appeared lackluster on the hastily added third day of polling…

Syrians abroad vote in advance of national ballot (New York Times) Thousands of Syrians clogged approach roads and formed lines outside their embassy in Beirut on Wednesday as voting for expatriates began in an election that is expected to return President Bashar al Assad to power…

Patriarch Youhanna X calls for amity and optimism to reconstruct Homs (SANA) Greek Orthodox Patriarch Youhanna X of Antioch and All the East called on all people of Homs to embrace patience, optimism and amity in reconstructing what has been damaged, expressing confidence that the efforts exerted by the state will let everyone come back to their homes and neighborhoods…

Lebanon security forces suspect plot to assassinate patriarch (Daily Star Lebanon) Lebanon’s Internal Security Forces arrested a suspect who confessed to cooperating with a regional intelligence apparatus in a plot to assassinate Maronite Patriarch Bechara Peter, security sources told the Daily Star…

Chaldean Synod to be held in Baghdad from 24-28 June (Chaldean Church) In one month, the leaders of the Chaldean Church will convene in their synodal meeting. In preparation, Patriarch Louis Raphael has asked that a prayer be read at the celebration of the Divine Liturgy in every Chaldean parish and monastery for each Sunday leading up to the event…



Tags: Syria Egypt Chaldean Church Maronite Patriarch Bechara Peter Greek Orthodox Patriarch Youhanna X of Antioch

27 May 2014
J.D. Conor Mauro




A rose is thrown towards the popemobile as Pope Francis arrives to celebrate Mass at Manger Square in Bethlehem, West Bank, on 25 May. (photo: CNS/Paul Haring)

Pope Francis sparks ecumenical and interfaith hope in the Holy Land (Vatican Radio) As Pope Francis’ three-day journey to the Holy Land — with stops in Jordan, Palestine and Israel — comes to an end. Philippa Hitchen brings us an overall picture of this visit in which she focuses on ecumenical and interfaith hope…

Ukraine and pro-Russian forces fight air battle in Donetsk (Christian Science Monitor) Ukrainian government warplanes carried out airstrikes against pro-Russian rebels who seized Donetsk international airport on Monday as both sides mounted an aggressive show of force following the election of a new Ukrainian president…

Egypt declares national holiday to encourage voter turnout (The Guardian) Egypt has declared a national holiday, in an apparent effort to encourage a higher turnout in the second and final day of its ongoing presidential election. Ex-army chief Abdel Fatah al Sisi is expected to easily win Tuesday’s election but he and his supporters are seeking a respectable turnout to prove he has the country’s overwhelming support…

Indian Church calls on Modi aid the poor and marginalized (AsiaNews) “The church in India is hopeful that Prime Minister Narendra Modi will collaborate with the mission of the Catholic Church to promote and work for social and economic justice as well as individual liberty and fundamental rights,” said Cardinal Oswald Gracias, archbishop of Mumbai and president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India…

Syria: U.N. condemns attack on warehouse during aid distribution (U.N. News Center) The United Nations humanitarian chief today expressed outrage at a deliberate attack on a humanitarian warehouse in the Damascus province of Syria, which occurred as aid workers were preparing to distribute urgently needed supplies to hundreds of families in the besieged city…

Cave presumably containing tomb of Queen Tamar found (Pravoslavie) Following a landslide, road workers in Ingushetia have discovered an ancient cave that may contain the tomb of the Georgian Queen Tamar, reported Umalat Gadiev, deputy director of Krupnov Archaeological Center. Holy Queen Tamar of Georgia’s late 12th-century reign was considered a “golden age” of Georgian culture, and she is considered one of the most venerated rulers of Georgia…



Tags: India Egypt Pope Francis Ukraine United Nations

23 May 2014
J.D. Conor Mauro




The Church of Nativity in Bethlehem — traditionally considered to be built on the site of Jesus Christ’s birth — is getting its first restoration in centuries. Master craftsmen are replacing the basilica’s ancient wood with slightly less ancient wood from other buildings. (video: Washington Post)

Pope Francis to lunch with poor Christian families in Bethlehem (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis will have lunch with local Christian families after celebrating holy Mass at Bethlehem’s Church of the Nativity this Sunday. The pope will visit the town of Jesus’ birth on the second day of his May 24-26 journey to the Holy Land. In an interview published on the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem’s website, Auxiliary Bishop William Shomali says the pope wanted to share his lunchtime meal with poor families…

Pope to hear from Syria’s refugees in Jordan (Deccan Chronicle) Pope Francis will hear first-hand accounts of the horrors of Syria’s war when he meets refugees in Jordan Saturday as he begins a three-day visit to the Holy Land. The pope will meet Christians and Muslims forced to leave their homes and flee to the neighboring desert kingdom, now home to more than 600,000 refugees and the first stop on Francis’ trip ahead of Israel and the Palestinian territories…

Lebanese patriarch joins Pope Francis in Israel, stirring controversy (Christian Science Monitor) When Maronite Patriarch Bechara Peter heads to Israel tomorrow to participate in a papal visit to the Holy Land, he will become the first patriarch of the Maronite Church to visit the Jewish state — a move that has stirred intense controversy. Lebanon technically is in a state of war with Israel and it is against the law for Lebanese citizens to visit its neighbor or even have contact with its citizens. Patriarch Bechara Peter, who is also a cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church, says he has a duty to accompany Pope Francis in the Holy Land and that his visit is pastoral and will emphasize the Arab character of Jerusalem…

Struggle for rights at Cenacle shows issues with Jerusalem’s holy sites (CNS) The attention drawn to the Cenacle by extremist Jewish groups has put a damper on the hopes for negotiations over the site, said Franciscan Father Pierbattista Pizzaballa, custos of the Holy Land. “After all this commotion we have to calm down a little and to start now clarifying [our position],” Father Pizzaballa told journalists before the opening of a 20 May conference. “The point is we have the right to pray without infringing upon the rights of others…”

Syria can reform, says Melkite patriarch (Church Times) The crisis in Syria is the result of “murderous mercenaries” who are intent on destroying a peaceful nation on the road to reform, the Melkite Greek Catholic Patriarch Gregory III said, speaking in London on Tuesday. The patriarch described the centuries-long peaceful co-existence of Christians and Muslims, including his own personal experience of growing up in Syria: his mother breastfed him together with a Muslim “milk-brother…”



Tags: Pope Francis Jerusalem Holy Land Israeli-Palestinian conflict Bethlehem

22 May 2014
J.D. Conor Mauro




A Muslim family, currently headed by Adeeb Jawad Joudeh, has been entrusted with the keys to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem for almost 1,000 years. (video: Al Jazeera)

The 1,000-year-old schism Pope Francis seeks to heal (NPR) Pope Francis travels this weekend to the Middle East, the cradle of the three monotheistic religions, and will meet with Catholic, Jewish and Muslim leaders. But the official purpose of the visit is to commemorate the 50th anniversary of a historic rapprochement between Catholics and Orthodox and to try to restore Christian unity after nearly 1,000 years of estrangement. Meeting in Jerusalem in 1964, Pope Paul VI and Orthodox Patriarch Athenagoras set a milestone: They started the process of healing the schism between Eastern and Western Christianity of the year 1054…

Seeking balance on Middle East visit, pope pleases few (New York Times) Pope Francis plans to give a strong show of support for a sovereign Palestinian state when he makes his first visit to the Holy Land this weekend, becoming the first pontiff to travel directly into the occupied West Bank rather than passing through Israel. The pope’s decision to fly straight to Bethlehem from Jordan would be a symbolic lift to the Palestinians at any time. But its resonance is even greater given his tremendous popularity, his focus on the downtrodden, and his timing amid the recent collapse of peace talks and the Palestine Liberation Organization’s unity pact with the militant group Hamas. But in this region, any gesture can be viewed through different lenses. “We’re not very happy about it, but it’s a fact,” Oded Ben Hur, a former Israeli ambassador to the Vatican, said of the pope’s direct flight to Bethlehem from Amman, Jordan. “We wanted them to play it down, but we can understand the complaints…”

Legacy of Hamas-Fatah killings complicates Palestinian unity efforts (New York Times) The bloody six-day battle for control of the Gaza Strip in 2007 left 260 Fatah activists and 176 from Hamas dead. Following the signing of a 23 April pact, a committee is now charged with persuading their families to accept compensation — and raise the funds to pay it — rather than pursue the death penalty as outlined in Islamic law. This so-called social reconciliation is one of the complicated issues yet to be addressed, as President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority prepares to announce the promised new government as early as this week…

Ukraine crisis: Donetsk sees deadliest attack on troops (BBC) A dawn attack on a checkpoint in eastern Ukraine has left at least 14 soldiers dead, in the worst loss of life for government forces to date. Heavily armed militants attacked the checkpoint in the Volnovakha area, in one of four attacks reported overnight in eastern Ukraine…

U.N. official cites ‘worsening’ human rights situation in southern, eastern Ukraine (U.N. News Center) The southern and eastern regions of crisis-racked Ukraine are now awash in weapons and the scene of numerous cases of illegal detentions and abductions, a senior United Nations human rights official warned today, noting that he had discussed with the parties some rights-based and humanitarian de-escalation measures…

Solving the problem of avoidable blindness afflicting many Ethiopians (Fides) Trachoma is one of the most common visual disorders in Africa and, if not treated timely, leads to permanent blindness. Ethiopia is one of the African countries with the highest incidence of people with eye diseases. Out of a population of 75 million people, nearly 1 million Ethiopians are affected by blindness and 4 million are visually impaired…

During Syrian siege, siblings improvised survival (Los Angeles Times) Tales of survival are beginning to rise from Homs’ rubble in the aftermath of a deal that allowed about 2,000 remaining rebels to evacuate the Old City this month, and also opened the way for civilians to return. Longtime residents who fled have been streaming back, stunned by the scope of destruction and anguished by the damage to their homes, but relieved that they are no longer shut out…



Tags: Pope Francis Ukraine Holy Land United Nations Christian Unity

21 May 2014
J.D. Conor Mauro




As the Holy Land prepares for the visit of Pope Francis, hate crimes leave Christians feeling vulnerable. (video: Al Jazeera)

Pope picks one of dueling baptism sites in visit to Holy Land (Washington Post) Christians believe that Jesus was immersed in the waters of the Jordan River by John the Baptist, who wore a cloak of camel’s hair and lived on locusts and honey in the desert wilderness. But the Gospels are not precise about which side of the river the baptism took place on — the east bank or the west. Although it might not matter much to a half-million annual visitors who come to the river for sightseeing or a renewal of faith, it matters very much to tourism officials in Israel and Jordan, who maintain dueling baptism sites, one smack-dab across from the other, with the shallow, narrow, muddy stream serving as international boundary. On Saturday, on his first papal trip to the Holy Land, Pope Francis will visit the baptism site at Bethany Beyond the Jordan — on the eastern, or Jordanian, side of the river…

Pope Francis prays for flood victims in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Serbia (VIS) At the end of today’s general audience, the pope launched an appeal on behalf of those citizens who have lost their lives, for the many still missing and for those affected by the great damage caused by the serious floods which have occurred during recent days in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Serbia. “Unfortunately the situation has worsened, and I therefore invite you all to join me in prayer for the victims and for all those afflicted by this disaster. May the solidarity and concrete support of the international community be forthcoming…”

Syrians return to rebuild lives in Homs’ war-ravaged Old City (Los Angeles Times) Wary of looters and anxious to get back home, the displaced residents of the war-battered Old City have been filing back into their bombed-out neighborhoods. They push baby strollers and drag suitcases to be used in an ongoing salvage operation. At times, it is hard to distinguish between ex-residents gathering what little is left of their belongings and those picking the ruins clean of others’ possessions…

Syrian refugees in Lebanon face health care crisis (BBC) Amnesty International says a shortfall in international support has left many Syrian refugees in Lebanon unable to access crucial medical care. A new report says some refugees have resorted to returning to Syria to receive the treatment they need. The U.N. says there are now 2.7 million registered Syrian refugees and the number is still rising…



Tags: Syria Pope Francis Refugees Holy Land Christians Serbia

20 May 2014
J.D. Conor Mauro




In this 2012 image, people gather at a mass burial for victims of an artillery barrage from Syrian forces in Houla, Syria. (photo: CNS/Shaam News Network handout via Reuters)

Nearly 60 states back referral of Syria conflict to International Criminal Court (BBC) Nearly 60 countries led by Switzerland have expressed support for a proposal to refer the conflict in Syria to the International Criminal Court. They are calling on the I.C.C. to investigate possible crimes against humanity and war crimes…

Some 10,000 people in Ukraine now affected by displacement, U.N. says (U.N. News Center) The United Nations refugee agency estimated today that 10,000 people, most ethnic Tatars, but also Ukrainians, Russians and mixed families, have fled Crimea and restive eastern Ukraine to other parts of the country, out of fear of insecurity or persecution…

Religious tensions deepen Ukraine splits (Reuters) Religious tensions are deepening dividing lines in Ukraine’s crisis, with rival churches taking political sides and Kiev slighting the Russian Orthodox Church, a senior official of the Moscow-based church said on Friday. Metropolitan Hilarion, head of the Russian church’s foreign relations department, said other churches had clearly lined up behind the Kiev government and he cited religious differences for its decision to refuse him entry to Ukraine last week…

Fears grow over Bulgaria’s Russian dependence (Der Spiegel) Concerns are growing within the German government that the European Union’s most impoverished member state, Bulgaria, could fall into the grips of Moscow’s influence. Internal reports, including those of the German foreign intelligence service, warn that Moscow may seek to expand its relations with the country in order to use Bulgaria as a political beachhead into the E.U., and then use that power to divide the block…

Pastoral visit to a detention facility in the Negev desert (Saint James Vicariate for Hebrew Speaking Catholics in Israel) Holot is an open detention facility in the Negev for Sudanese and Eritrean asylum seekers who have arrived in Israel. On Thursday, 15 May 2014, the Latin Patriarchate sent a group of thirteen priests and sisters — including the Latin patriarchal vicar, the Rev. David Neuhaus — to pay a visit to the facility. Many inmates expressed confusion over their internment, asking what crimes they had committed…

Pope hopes to strengthen interfaith relations in Jerusalem visit (Al Jazeera) Fifty years after the historic embrace between the heads of the Catholic and Christian Orthodox churches, Pope Francis will become the fourth pope to visit the Holy Land…



Tags: Ukraine Syrian Civil War Ecumenism United Nations Migrants

19 May 2014
J.D. Conor Mauro




Yesterday, Serbian Orthodox Patriarch Irinej visited Obrenovac, southwest of Belgrade, Serbia, and met with those providing aid to flood victims. (photo: Serbian Orthodox Church)

Worst deluge in a century inundates Serbia, Bosnia (Christian Science Monitor) Soldiers, police, and villagers battled to protect power plants in Serbia from rising floodwaters on Sunday as the death toll from the Balkan region’s worst rainfall in more than a century reached 37…

Caritas Serbia: situation still ‘chaotic’ (Vatican Radio) As large parts of the Balkan region remain under water, the coordinator for Caritas Serbia said people have begun to suffer from waterborne diseases. The situation is “still very chaotic” and it is “extremely difficult still to coordinate” aid, Darko Tot told Vatican Radio on Monday…

Unity is a difficult mission for Christians in Israel (NPR) Pope Francis visits the Middle East next week, including Israel, where Christians make up just 2 percent of the population. But since the last papal visit to the Holy Land five years ago, the number of Christians in Israel has increased, and the makeup of the Christian population has continued to shift…

Putin orders troops near Ukraine to return home (Al Jazeera) Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered troops deployed in regions near Ukraine to return to their home bases, the Kremlin said on Monday. The move appears to indicate Putin’s intention to de-escalate the crisis over Ukraine, the worst in Russia’s relations with the West since the end of the Cold War, although previous pledges to withdraw troops have gone unmet…

Russian church the absent player at pope-patriarch summit (Reuters) When Pope Francis meets the spiritual head of the world’s Orthodox Christians next week, the speeches and symbolism will focus on how these ancient wings of Christianity want to come closer together. After almost a millennium apart, however, the key to the elusive unity they seek does not lie in Jerusalem, where the Catholic pope and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew will embrace on 25 May. If anywhere, that key lies in Moscow. The Russian Orthodox Church, by far the largest church in the Orthodox world and increasingly influential at home and abroad, has long been wary of these closer ties…



Tags: Ukraine Middle East Christians Christian Unity Holy Land Christians Serbia





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