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Current Issue
September, 2019
Volume 45, Number 3
  
6 May 2013
J.D. Conor Mauro




In this video, Father Thomas Rosica interviews Ukrainian Greek Catholic Major Archbishop Shevchuck during his recent visit to Canada. Before being elected head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church on 23 March 2011, Archbishop Shevchuk served as bishop of the Eparchy of Buenos Aires, Argentina, where he considered Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio — now Pope Francis — a mentor. (video: Salt + Light TV)

Witness: Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuck (Salt + Light TV) The Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, having long suffered under Communist persecution, flourished once the Iron Curtain finally fell. The strength of this Eastern-rite church extends to the growing Ukrainian diaspora, particularly in Canada. In 2011, when the Ukrainian bishops needed to elect a new leader for their growing church, they turned to the youngest member from among their ranks: Sviatoslav Shevchuk, then only 40 years old. Father Thomas Rosica sat down with Archbishop Shevchuck during his recent visit to Canada…

Salesians ‘deplore’ Israel’s decision to proceed with separation wall (Vatican Radio) The Salesian province of the Middle East issued a press release Friday saying it “strongly deplores the verdict” of an Israeli tribunal, which has upheld the completion of a separation wall that will cut off a Salesian convent from direct access to its agricultural land and the community it serves. The lives within two Salesian monasteries a few miles from Bethlehem and the people of the nearby Palestinian community of Beit Jala will change dramatically once a nearly 20-foot concrete separation wall is completed as planned. The Salesians recently lost their seven-year battle to stop Israeli authorities from building of the wall through their property…

Young Iraqi Christians organize markets to pay for World Youth Day trip (Fides) On 1 May, at the Chaldean Church of St. Joseph in Baghdad, young Christians organized an open-air market in order to find funds to support the expenses of the trip to Rio de Janeiro, where they hope to travel in July to participate in the next World Youth Day. The original fund-raising initiative could represent a pilot project to be re-launched in other churches scattered throughout the country. On the pavilions of the small fair, which saw right from the beginning a strong turnout of buyers, one could find groceries, clothes and electronic products…

Israel seeks de-escalation after launching airstrike on Syria (Christian Science Monitor) A day after it launched an airstrike outside of Damascus, killing scores of Syrian soldiers, Israel sought to play down the attack as a strike against regime-ally Hezbollah, not President Bashar al Assad. Reuters reports that Israel has made several soothing overtures to its war-racked northern neighbor after launching airstrikes in Syria on Friday and Sunday. Tzachi Hanegbi, a confidante of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, told Israeli radio on Monday that Mr. Netanyahu aimed to avoid “an increase in tension with Syria by making clear that if there is activity, it is only against Hezbollah, not against the Syrian regime”…

Bishop Audo: Easter in the tears of our Orthodox brothers (Fides) Chaldean Bishop of Aleppo Antoine Audo describes the celebration of Easter in Syria: “They sang ‘Christ is risen,’ and while repeating those words of joy and victory, they all had tears in their eyes. All their prayers mingled with their tears.” In addition to the suffering the civil war inflicts on all the people, there is also apprehension for the archbishops who are in the hands of unidentified kidnappers…

U.N.: No clear proof of Syrian chemical weapons (Al Jazeera) A United Nations team of investigators into rights abuses in Syria has stressed there is no conclusive proof of either side in the conflict using chemical weapons, despite a team member’s claims to the contrary. “The Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic wishes to clarify that it has not reached conclusive findings as to the use of chemical weapons in Syria by any parties to the conflict,” the commission said in a statement on Monday…



Tags: Syrian Civil War Iraqi Christians Violence against Christians Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk Separation Barrier

2 May 2013
J.D. Conor Mauro




In this video, Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos III celebrates Holy Thursday by washing the feet of his clergy in the courtyard of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem’s Old City. (video: THV 11)

Greek Orthodox patriarch washes the feet of bishops (THV 11) Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos III washed the feet of 12 of his clergymen in the courtyard of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem’s Old City on Thursday, 2 May, in a traditional ceremony that takes place three days ahead of Easter. According to Christian faith, Jesus washed the feet of his twelve disciples prior to the Last Supper before he was crucified. Christian churches commemorate this event as part of Easter Holy Week celebrations, with Orthodox ceremonies taking place in accordance to the Eastern (Julian) calendar…

A prayer for the Chaldean Synod (Fides) The first Synod of the Chaldean Church convened by the new Patriarch Louis Raphael, who was elected last January 31, will begin in Baghdad on 5 June. The agenda of the synodal assembly includes challenging topics, including the appointment of bishops in several Chaldean bishoprics left vacant in the Middle East and Western countries, the formation of priests, the final draft of a law of the Chaldean Church to be submitted to the consent of the Apostolic See, updating and harmonization of the liturgical rites celebrated unevenly in the various dioceses and the study of concrete measures to curb the phenomenon of emigration and encourage Christians to remain in — or return to — their homeland…

An interview with a Jesuit ecumenist (Catholic World Report) Catholic World Report recently asked Archimandrite Robert Taft, S.J., for his perspective on current Orthodox-Catholic relations. Father Taft has devoted his life to preserving the liturgical treasury of the East and building bridges between Orthodox and Catholic Christians, and describes a vision of Catholic-Orthodox communion: “what it would look like is not a ‘reunion’ with [Orthodox churches] ‘returning to Rome,’ to which they never belonged anyway; nor us being incorporated by them, since we are all ancient apostolic ‘sister churches’ with a valid episcopate and priesthood and the full panoply of sacraments needed to minister salvation to our respective faithful…”

Turkey investigates use of chemical weapons in Syria (Daily Star Lebanon) Turkey is testing blood samples taken from Syrian casualties brought over the border from fighting in recent days to determine whether they were victims of a chemical weapons attack, local government and health officials said on Wednesday. The samples were sent to Turkey’s forensic medicine institute after several Syrians with breathing difficulties were brought to a Turkish hospital on Monday in the town of Reyhanli in Hatay province along the Syrian border. “We are taking the necessary precautions as we have received unconfirmed information on the use of chemical weapons,” Reyhanli Mayor Huseyin Sanverdi told Reuters…

Lebanon border region caught in Syrian conflict (L.A. Times) Kidnapping, smuggling and tribal feuds have long been a reality of the Lebanese landscape, but the conflict next door between the longtime Shiite-linked government of President Bashar al Assad and fragmented, largely Sunni, opposition forces has upped the ante. These days, nothing seems to transpire in northern Lebanon without the Syrian conflict coloring the exchange…



Tags: Syrian Civil War Ecumenism Chaldean Church Orthodox Church of the Holy Sepulchre

1 May 2013
J.D. Conor Mauro




In this December 2012 photo, Patriarch Youhanna X of Antioch, accompanied by Melkite Greek Catholic Patriarch Gregory III of Antioch, lights a candle upon his arrival to the Orthodox patriarchate in Damascus, Syria. (photo: CNS/Khaled al Hariri, Reuters)

Syrian patriarch: Violence won’t drive Orthodox away (Pravoslavie.ru) Patriarch of Antioch and All the East Youhanna X has urged the world community to end the violence in Syria and help free the two abducted Orthodox leaders of Aleppo. “I take this opportunity to extend, on your behalf, in the motherlands and abroad, an appeal to the international community, urging it to do everything it can toward the release of hostages whose absence affects us deeply. … Since we are the children of the Resurrection, we are not afraid of whoever takes violence as a way to achieve his purpose. To be killed, or kidnapped, or to have our institutions destroyed, will not change our resolve to uphold our civil life and our coexistence … and to seek the reign of justice and rights in our homelands,” the patriarch said…

Pope Francis issues appeal against slave labor (Vatican Radio) Marking the feast of St. Joseph the Worker and World Labor Day this Wednesday, 1 May, Pope Francis launched an urgent appeal to Christians and men and women of good will worldwide to take decisive steps to end slave labor. “I would like to add a word about another particular work situation that concerns me: I am referring to what we could define as “slave labor”, the work that enslaves. How many people worldwide are victims of this type of slavery, in which the person is at the service of his or her work, while work should offer a service to people so they may have dignity. I ask my brothers and sisters in faith and all men and women of good will for a decisive choice to combat trafficking in persons, which includes slave labor.” Included are an audio report and a transcript of the Holy Father’s audience…

Child labor rising in Gaza (Al Monitor) Child labor has been on the rise due to growing poverty and unemployment among Gaza’s population, more than 80 percent of whose families, according to United Nations reports, depend on humanitarian aid. While it cannot be separated from the political situation and the Israeli occupation, most analysts trace it back to 2006, when Israel started its blockade policy, causing tens of thousands of Palestinian laborers who worked in Israel to lose their jobs due to an inability to commute. Representatives of Palestinian civil society organizations have consistently stressed the need to make every possible effort to curb the widening tide of this phenomenon. However, very few seem to be directly engaged in addressing the problem…

Could water bring Israelis and Palestinians together? (Christian Science Monitor) The Joint Water Committee (J.W.C.), an Israeli-Palestinian group set up in 1995 under the Oslo Accords, was never meant to be a permanent body for managing water resources. Like many other Oslo-era arrangements, it was intended as more of a temporary tent until the Palestinian house could be built. Some 17 years later, with no Palestinian state in sight, the troubled workings of the J.W.C. illustrate the difficulties Israelis and Palestinians face in piecing together a tenuous coexistence under an interim tent tattered by lack of trust. But despite the current challenges, better water management — perhaps more than any of the other five issues to be determined in final-status negotiations — holds the possibility for improved cooperation and trust-building, because the welfare of both peoples is linked by their dependence on this vital shared resource…

Iraq plans to launch satellite to aid water crisis (Al Monitor) As part of an effort to combat water shortages across the country, Iraq is working to build and launch a satellite before the end of the year. The satellite will allow close monitoring of desertification and freshwater reserve losses…



Tags: Pope Francis Children Syrian Civil War Israeli-Palestinian conflict Water

30 April 2013
J.D. Conor Mauro




Pope Francis shares a light moment with Israeli President Shimon Peres during a private meeting at the Vatican on 30 April. Peres officially invited Pope Francis to Israel and left their meeting saying that “all the people of Israel” are expecting him. (photo: CNS/Ettore Ferrari, pool via Reuters)

Pope meets with Israeli president (Vatican Radio) Today in the Vatican’s Apostolic Palace, Pope Francis received in audience Israeli President Shimon Peres. President Peres went on to meet with Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, S.D.B., and Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, secretary for Relations with States. During the cordial talks, the leaders discussed the political and social situation in the Middle East. A speedy resumption of negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians is hoped for, so that an agreement may be reached that respects the legitimate aspirations of the two peoples, thus decisively contributing to the peace and stability of the region…

Huge explosion rocks Damascus (Al Jazeera) A blast near Syria’s interior ministry has rocked the central Damascus district of Marjeh, killing 13 people and injuring over 70 others, state television said, just a day after the country’s prime minister survived a car bomb attack. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) gave a lower toll, saying nine people were killed in Tuesday’s blast. The group, which relies on a network of activists based in Syria, did not immediately provide details on those reported casualties, but warned that the number of casualties was expected to rise…

Car bombs across Iraq kill at least 22 (L.A. Times) Shiite-dominated areas in southern and central Iraq were rocked Monday by car bomb explosions that killed at least 22 people and fueled fears that the country is sliding into a civil war. The bombings Monday — particularly in the city of Amarah, which has largely avoided such attacks — appeared aimed at jarring the country’s Shiite majority. Car bombs also exploded in a market in the center of Mahmoudiya, just south of Baghdad; a factory area in the southern Shiite shrine city of Karbala; and a restaurant in Diwaniya, also in the south. With the country in crisis, the parliamentary speaker, Usama Nujaifi, called for the government to be dissolved and for a caretaker government to be formed ahead of early elections to save the country from civil war…

European bishops meet to analyze Christian-Muslim relations (VIS) The Council of Bishops’ Conferences of Europe will be meeting in London from 1-3 May to discuss Christian-Muslim relations. Cardinal Jean-Pierre Ricard, archbishop of Bordeaux, will chair the meeting. Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue will be a keynote speaker…

Pope Francis to meet with Coptic pope (Fides) The next visit of the Coptic Orthodox Patriarch Tawadros II to Pope Francis, scheduled for Saturday, 11 May, “could have important and positive results,” says Coptic Catholic Bishop Fahim Awad Hanna. “I also hope that we can resume the thread of theological dialogue and really start to walk towards full communion.” The event will occur 40 years after the meeting in Rome between Pope Paul VI and Shenouda III, the previous Coptic pope. On that occasion a theological dialogue between the two Churches began which in 1988 led to an agreement and a joint declaration on Christology that was to put an end to centuries of misunderstanding and mistrust…

Catholic Church in Ethiopia is a ‘small reality’ appreciated by all (Fides) “We are a small reality but our contribution to the social and spiritual life of the Country is appreciated by all,” says Father Hagos Hayish, secretary general of the Episcopal Conference of Ethiopia. “Catholics in Ethiopia represent about 1 percent of the population, [the rest belonging] to the Ethiopian Orthodox Church or to the Islamic religion,” explains Father Hayish. “The Catholic Church, however, is well regarded by both the population and the authorities for its social activities and its attitude of openness to all, Christians and Muslims.” To promote interfaith dialogue the Interfaith Council of Ethiopia has been created, in which the Catholic Church has been called to play an important role, a sign of respect and trust…



Tags: Iraq Pope Francis Syrian Civil War Middle East Peace Process Ethiopian Catholic Church

29 April 2013
J.D. Conor Mauro




In this October 2011 photo, Lebanon’s Maronite Patriarch Bechara Peter holds a press conference at CNEWA's New York office, discussing topics including hostilities between Israel and Lebanon. (photo: CNEWA/Erin Edwards)

Israel fencing off Lebanese village would violate U.N. resolution (Al Monitor) Recently, Israel began to build a fence around the northern part of Ghajar, a Lebanese village that it has occupied since 2006. Lebanese security forces revealed to Al Monitor that Israel had previously erected a barbed-wired fence around the northern Lebanese part of the village, to prevent — according to their claims — armed men from infiltrating the southern part of the village located in the occupied Syrian Golan Heights. Israel, however, is now intent on replacing this with a five-meter-high fence. This act ignores the 2006 United Nations Resolution 1701, which called for Israel’s withdrawal. Maronite Patriarch Bechara Peter, in a press conference at CNEWA’s New York office in October 2011, had asked the world community to “commit itself to implementing” this resolution…

Eastern churches’ Holy Week begins with prayers for kidnapped bishops (Fides) The Christian communities in Syria are working together to plead for the release of the two bishops of Aleppo kidnapped — the Syrian Orthodox Metropolitan Mar Gregorios Yohanna Ibrahim and the Greek Orthodox Boulos al Yazigi — through prayer vigils, liturgical celebrations, demonstrations and sit-ins. Amid the chaos of civil war, Holy Week for the Eastern churches has begun…

Assassination attempt on Syrian prime minister sends warning to regime (Christian Science Monitor) The Syrian prime minister survived a bomb attack on his convoy this morning in a wealthy neighborhood of Damascus, though his bodyguard was killed and several others were injured in the blast. The attack in the upscale neighborhood highlights the increasing vulnerability of the Assad regime, as it is home to many government officials and several embassies — including the Swiss embassy, located only 100 yards from the blast, according to the Associated Press…

Cardinal Dolan prays for kidnapped archbishops in Syria (U.S.C.C.B.) “We join with our Holy Father, Pope Francis, in ‘praying that they may return to their communities soon.’ The kidnapping of two men of peace is a sign of the terrible violence that is destroying the fabric of Syrian society. We will continue to work through all channels with the Holy See, the diplomatic and international community and all agencies of good will. I plead for their release and for a political solution that ends the violence and protects the citizenship rights of all Syrians, including minorities”…

Settlers burn Greek Orthodox church land in Jerusalem (IMEMC) On Sunday evening, 28 April, a group of extremist Israeli settlers set fire to lands that belongs to the Greek Orthodox church in Wadi Hilweh, in occupied East Jerusalem. On Saturday, three Palestinians, member of the Al Maghribi family, in Sheikh Jarrah, were injured after the settlers burnt the family’s land near their home, and the fire reached their residence…



Tags: Lebanon Syrian Civil War Israel Israeli-Palestinian conflict Separation Barrier

24 April 2013
J.D. Conor Mauro




A member of a Free Syrian Army walks past destroyed buildings and debris in Deraa on 17 April. Pope Francis is offering “intense prayers” for the safety and liberation of two Orthodox archbishops kidnapped in Syria, for effective responses to the humanitarian crisis created by the civil war and for peace in the nation, the Vatican spokesman said. (photo: CNS/Thaer Abdallah, Reuters)

Fate of clerics held in Syria is disputed (New York Times) A Christian advocacy group, L’Oeuvre d’Orient, which assists Middle Eastern Christians, posted a statement on its Web site that the two kidnapping victims — Syriac Orthodox Metropolitan Gregorios Yohanna of Aleppo and Greek Orthodox Metropolitan Paul of Aleppo — had been freed early Tuesday afternoon. The group, based in Paris, said the archbishops were staying in a Greek Orthodox church in Aleppo, the northern city that has been a combat zone since last summer. Despite the reports that the archbishops had been freed, there was no confirmation, and as the day progressed contradictory accounts emerged. Abdel-Ahad Steifo, a Syriac Orthodox member of the National Coalition of Revolutionary and Opposition Forces, the main political opposition group, said in an interview on Al Jazeera that the archbishops were still being held by the kidnappers…

Pope offers prayers for Orthodox archbishops kidnapped in Syria (CNS) Acknowledging “conflicting reports” about two Orthodox archbishops kidnapped in Syria, Pope Francis prayed for them and for an end to the war in their country. At his audience, Pope Francis said the kidnappings were “another sign of the tragic situation the dear Syrian nation is living through with violence and weapons continuing to sow death and suffering.” The pope said: “While I keep the two bishops in my prayers so that they would return quickly to their communities, I ask God to enlighten hearts”…

Syria’s Christians threatened by ideology, geography (Al Monitor) Throughout the two-year-old Syrian civil war, the world powers as well as the Syrian parties involved have said that the country’s minorities, especially its Christians, face an existential threat. The tragedy of Syria’s Christians is linked to not only fundamentalist and ideological motives but also to geostrategic calculations. Wadi al Ouyoun and Wadi al Nasra, which have a million Christians and are the largest continuous Christian settlements in the Middle East, sit on the banks of the Orontes River. This region separates the Syrian Desert from Syria’s “green areas.” Military experts assert that whoever controls the area of the valleys would be able to split Syria in two, cut the road to Aleppo at either Homs or Hama and cut the Latakia-Tartus road on the coast. To put it even more simply, the experts say that whoever controls the Christian areas can control the war in Syria…

Iraqi violence sparks fears of a Sunni revolt (L.A. Times) Security forces for the Shiite-led Iraqi government raided a Sunni protest camp in northern Iraq on Tuesday, igniting violence around the country that left at least 36 people dead. The unrest led two Sunni officials to resign from the government and risked pushing the country’s Sunni provinces into an open revolt against Prime Minister Nouri Maliki, a Shiite. The situation looked to be the gravest moment for Iraq since the last United States combat troops left in December 2011…

Iraqi refugees finally beat the odds (The Catholic Register) The Meera family have endured two wars, ethnic cleansing, religious persecution and a lot of bureaucracy, but with the help of a Catholic parish in Brampton, Ontario, the six Iraqi Christian refugees have fought their way into Canada. The Meeras arrived at Pearson International Airport April 8 after seven years living as refugees in the poor Jermannya neighbourhood in Damascus, Syria. The big surprise waiting for them at the airport was a noisy, excited welcoming delegation from St. Anthony of Padua parish, the Meera’s sponsors. “We never thought there would be that love, that support,” said the Meera patriarch, 57-year-old Habeeb Meera. The Meeras beat the odds over and over on their way to Canada…

Romanian U.S. eparchy expands to include Canada (Eparchy of St. George) The Holy See announced on 23 April that it has extended the jurisdiction of the Romanian Catholic Eparchy of St. George the Martyr in Canton, Ohio, to include Romanian Catholics in all of Canada. The Romanian Greek Catholic Church is one of the Eastern Christian churches in full communion with the Pope, which in 1948 was abolished by communists in Romania but continued to exist underground in Romania and in diaspora. Currently, the Romanian Catholic Eparchy of St. George in Canton is the only Diocese for the Romanian Greek Catholics outside of Romania, encompassing 21 parishes and missions as well as two monastic communities in the United States and Canada. To learn more about this church's history, see our profile of The Romanian Church United with Rome from the May 2006 issue of ONE



Tags: Iraq Syrian Civil War Iraqi Christians Violence against Christians Romanian Catholic Church

19 April 2013
J.D. Conor Mauro




Dozens killed in Baghdad cafe explosion (Al Jazeera) Up to 27 people have been killed and dozens more injured in a suicide bombing in a Baghdad cafe, a government source has told Al Jazeera. The source said that a suicide bomber walked into the popular Dubai Cafe late on Thursday and detonated explosives. Police said the cafe was full of young people enjoying water pipes and playing pool…

Syria’s Christian refugees seeking European future (Albawaba) Christian refugees from Syria have not been in Lebanon for very long. Or at least, you don’t hear much from them, as many are averse to reporters. Off the record, one refugee said that Syrian Christians are often accused of being partisans of President Bashar al Assad. Now, many have voiced a desire to move to England, France and other European nations. However, many obstacles stand in the way; for one thing, the visa procedures are very complicated…

Franciscan church destroyed in Syria (Fides) A violent explosion destroyed the church and convent of Capuchin Franciscan friars in Deir Ezzor, Syria, according to Father Tony Haddad, vice provincial of the Friars for the Near East, who oversees the Capuchin presence in Lebanon and Syria. The explosion occurred on 15 April. “It was the only church in Deir Ezzor still remained almost untouched so far.” Details of the cause of the explosion have not yet become clear…

Chaldean patriarch speaks out against ghettoization (Fides) Christians and other people of Iraq cannot live in enclaves drawn on the basis of ethnicity and religion. And the “militarization of the Arab Spring” represents “a loss for everyone,” according to Chaldean Patriarch Raphael Louis. In a recent interview, the patriarch replied to those who continue to voice concerns about the establishment of a special autonomous area reserved for Iraqi Christians — usually identified with the Nineveh Plain — and affirmed that neither Christians nor those belonging to other ethnic or religious groups should live in a ghetto…

Do Gaza’s Christians feel safe? (Al Monitor) Following Hamas’s rise to power in the Gaza Strip in 2006 and subsequent “Islamizing” campaigns, the region’s Christians have faced increasing animosity and often felt targeted. There are approximately 1,500 Christians in the Gaza Strip, down from some 5,000 in the 1970’s. Opinions vary about the reasons for this exodus; war, fear of religious extremism and the pursuit of a better future are all concerns. Some suggest the Hamas government has not succeeded in serving as a government for everyone and, in specific, has neglected those who disagree with it intellectually and ideologically. Government spokespeople dispute this, arguing Christians receive the full protection of law, and that most of the incidents committed against Christians have been criminal rather than sectarian incidents…



Tags: Iraq Refugees Middle East Christians Syrian Civil War Iraqi Refugees

18 April 2013
J.D. Conor Mauro




In this February 2011 photo, His Beatitude Christopher, archbishop of Prague and metropolitan of the Czech Lands and Slovakia, celebrates the Divine Liturgy at the Synodal Cathedral of Our Lady of the Sign in New York. Metropolitan Christopher resigned from his position as head of the Orthodox Church of the Czech Lands and Slovakia on Friday. (photo: Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia)

Scandal claims head of Orthodox Church of the Czech Lands and Slovakia (Prague Daily Monitor) The head of the Orthodox Church in the Czech Republic and Slovakia resigned Monday amid allegations that he has breached his oath as a monk, carrying out affairs with women and fathering illegitimate children. Having already denied the charges, Metropolitan Christopher, 59, opted to resign to help maintain the unity of the church. Metropolitan Christopher of Prague was elected in 2006 soon after the death of Metropolitan Nicholas of Presov. After his resignation, the church’s acting head will be the Olomouc-Brno Archbishop Simeon, 87, for about 40 days until a new primate is chosen. To learn more about the Orthodox Church of the Czech Lands and Slovakia, see our profile from the November 2011 issue of ONE

Chaldean patriarch says politics is the domain of the laity (Fides) Chaldean Patriarch Louis Raphael has encouraged Christians to participate in the upcoming elections and to make serious and positive proposals to contribute to the common good. According to the text released by the Chaldean Patriarchate, the participation in the elections is “an essential national task.” Father Albert Husham Zarazeer, the communications manager of the Chaldean Patriarchate, expresses the conviction that “Iraqi Christians, who have deep roots in Iraq and have played an important role in its construction, will participate in the local elections in many of the provincial councils”…

Egyptian Copts reject ‘reconciliation meeting’ (AINA) A customary “reconciliation” meeting took place yesterday in Al Khosous to address the recent sectarian violence that resulted in the death of six Christians and one Muslim. Organized by the regime, the meeting included the governor of Qaliubia, Mr. Abdel-Ghafour; the assistant to the Egyptian President for social outreach; top ranking security personnel; representatives from Al Azhar; and two priests from St. Georges church in Al Khosous. The government delegation encountered anger and outright rejection from Copts, believing as they have learned from the past that such reconciliation meetings are useless. The Copts stressed the need to apply the rule of law to all — Christians or Muslims…

Syrian patriarch asks Vatican to increase peace efforts (CNA) The most powerful Catholic leader in Syria met Pope Francis today to ask the Vatican to get more involved in bringing peace to his tortured homeland. “I think it’s time the Vatican plays a bigger role, when we hear about weapons here and there,” said Melkite Patriarch Gregory III. “We want to hear the voice of the Holy Father saying, ‘This is a sin, it is against humanity,’ ” he told reporters on 17 April at Rome’s Basilica of Santa Maria. The Patriarch of Antioch, who is the spiritual leader of the Greek Melkite Catholic Church, said the voice of the Holy See “is now extremely important for us, both Christians and Muslims.” For more, read our profile of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church, which appeared in the March 2006 issue of ONE



Tags: Orthodox Church Chaldean Church Coptic Christians Melkite Patriarch Gregory III of Antioch Czech Republic

15 April 2013
J.D. Conor Mauro




Metropolitan Geevarghese Mar Ivanios of the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church
1940 – 2013
(photo: Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church, via theorthodoxchurch.info)


Kottayam Metropolitan Mar Ivanios passes away (Indian Orthodox Herald) Malankara Orthodox Metropolitan Geevarghese Mar Ivanios of Kottayam, India, passed away on Friday, 12 April 2013, after a long battle with illness. He was 72 years old. His legacy as an advocate of Orthodox spirituality and monasticism is embodied in the monastery he founded — St. Baselios Dayara Monastery at Njaliyakuzhi, Kottayam, where he used to live. Catholicos Emeritus Baselios Didymos I and the reigning Catholicos of the East and Malankara Metropolitan Baselios Paulose II presided over his funeral. Members of the Holy Episcopal Synod, priests and faithful from all over the church attended the function…

Maronite archbishop discusses Syrian Christians’ dilemma (Fides) Christians in Syria “must choose between two bitter chalices: to die or leave.” Maronite Archbishop Samir Nassar of Damascus outlines the many ways in which this dilemma seizes the lives of millions of defenseless civilians, Christians and Muslims, in the war-ravaged Syria: bombs, car bombs, snipers, lack of medical care — 223 hospitals were closed and all doctors are fleeing, explains Archbishop Nassar — malnutrition and lack of adequate food for diabetics, heart patients and nursing…

Coptic pope to meet Khosous victims’ families (Ahram Online) For the first time since last week’s sectarian violence in Al Khosous, Egypt’s Coptic Pope Tawadros II will lead the Divine Liturgy in Saint Mark’s Cathedral in Abbasiya, announced his secretary. Pope Tawadros has been secluded since Tuesday at the St. Bishoy Monastery in Wadi al Natrun, near the coastal town of Alexandria, following the violence outside of the funeral service of four slain Copts at the Cathedral on Sunday, 7 April. Today, Tawadros is also set to meet with the families of those Copts who died as a result of the violence that began on 5 April and continued for two days…

Blast at Palestinian refugee camp, no casualties (Daily Star Lebanon) A bomb exploded Monday at the Palestinian refugee camp of Ain al Hilweh, near the southern coastal city of Sidon, security sources said, adding that there were no reported casualties or material damage. The sources, who spoke to The Daily Star on condition of anonymity, said the relatively small bomb went off near the headquarters of the Palestinian Unions Confederation…

Pope Francis meets with Latin patriarch of Jerusalem (Vatican Radio) The Holy Father met this morning with Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem Fouad Twal and official delegation from the patriarchate. This audience gave Pope Francis an opportunity to become more acquainted with the church in Jerusalem and its pastoral problems. Patriarch Twal said Pope Francis was very well informed about the situation of Christians who have fled the Middle East. The patriarch noted that many Christians who have left the region had settled in Latin America; some in Argentina were under the pastoral care of then-Cardinal Bergoglio…



Tags: India Pope Francis Refugee Camps Coptic Orthodox Church Maronite Church

10 April 2013
J.D. Conor Mauro




In this video, Al Jazeera’s Nisreen El-Shamayleh reports from Ramtha, near the Syria-Jordan border, on the state of refugees. An estimated two-thirds of the 477,000 Syrians who have fled their homeland live outside of the camps set up for them in Jordan. Many are forced to crowd together in abandoned buildings, and all those outside the camps face the added challenges resulting from a smaller allocation of humanitarian aid. (video: Al Jazeera)

Rising cases of lice and scabies among Syrian refugees in Lebanon (Daily Star Lebanon) Lebanon’s Health Ministry said Wednesday cases of scabies and lice have increased among Syrian refugees and urged citizens to take precautionary measures. “The Health Ministry has recorded an increase in the number of scabies and lice cases, as a result of overpopulation and bad personal hygiene in locations where Syrian refugees reside,” the ministry said in a statement. The ministry affirmed that these diseases were “not dangerous” and could be treated easily with medication that is available without any cost for citizens…

Chaldean bishop: Aleppo is starving (Fides) “One lives day by day. I have the impression that people are more and more exhausted. They have all become poor and everyone is always looking for something to eat for himself and his family. In the streets of Aleppo you can see the people that run endlessly with bags in their hand, trying to find a bit of bread,” said Chaldean Bishop Antoine Audo. Bishop Audo, who is also the president of Caritas Syria, outlined a vivid image of the daily condition of a city that was among the most prosperous and dynamic in the Middle East, and which now appears hopelessly scarred by the civil war. The latest emergency that closely involves the churches in Aleppo is that of hundreds of Christian families forced to flee from the neighborhood of Cheikh Maksoud, conquered in the last days by the anti-Assad militias…

Unexploded devices pose hazard to Gaza children (Al Monitor) The Landmine and Cluster Munition Monitor mentions that the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories are “contaminated with mines and explosive remnants of war. The precise scope, scale and impact of the contamination is not known, but encompasses minefields, military-training zones and areas of confrontation where many explosive devices are left behind.” The presence of unexploded ordnances (UXOs) continues to pose a high risk to civilians, particularly children, in the Gaza Strip. Following Israel’s 23-day assault on Gaza in 2008-2009, which resulted in more than 1,500 Palestinians killed and over 5,300 injured, the risk of UXOs became significantly higher. A United Nations report released back in August 2009 shows than within only six months of the end of the deadly Israeli assault, 12 civilians were killed in UXO incidents, six of whom were children, and another 24 were injured, including four children. Four years later, such incidents have not ceased. In fact, they have notably increased…

Cardinal Tauran discusses interreligious dialogue (Chicago Tribune) Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, has given many lectures, speeches and homilies during his years of Vatican diplomatic service. Tribune religion reporter Manya A. Brachear sat down with him to reflect on this and other matters. “You have to remember,” the cardinal says, “that interreligious dialogue is not dialogue between religions. It’s dialogue between believers. It’s not [merely] a theological, philosophical exercise…”



Tags: Refugees Syrian Civil War Israeli-Palestinian conflict Refugee Camps Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran





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