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September, 2019
Volume 45, Number 3
  
9 April 2013
J.D. Conor Mauro




A man uses a bucket to put out a tear gas canister as Egyptians run inside St. Mark Coptic Orthodox Cathedral in Cairo on 7 April, while police fire tear gas during clashes with Muslims. At least two people died during the clashes outside the cathedral, and more than 80 were injured. (photo: CNS/Asmaa Waguih, Reuters)

Coptic pope criticizes Egyptian president for handling of recent violence (AP) The leader of Egypt’s Coptic Orthodox Church on Tuesday blasted the country’s Islamist president over his handling of recent deadly sectarian violence, including an attack on the main cathedral in Cairo. The remarks by Pope Tawadros II underscore rising Muslim-Christian tensions in Egypt; they were his first direct criticism of President Mohammed Morsi since the patriarch was enthroned in November as the spiritual leader of Egypt’s Orthodox Christians. He said Morsi had promised him in a telephone conversation to do everything to protect the cathedral, “but in reality he did not”…

Egypt government considering constitutional concessions (Daily Star Lebanon) Egypt’s Islamist-led government has asked independent legal experts to propose amendments to the new constitution, the state news agency MENA said on Tuesday, signaling that it may be heeding concerns of the liberal and leftist opposition. Members of Egypt’s main opposition bloc, the National Salvation Front, walked out of the drafting of the constitution last year in protest at what they saw as its Islamist slant, and have called for changes to enshrine more freedoms and rights, notably for religious minorities and women…

Maronite patriarch meets French president (Daily Star Lebanon) Maronite Patriarch Bechara Peter met with French President Francois Hollande Monday at the Elysee Palace in Paris, the National News Agency reported. The patriarch headed to France Monday as part of an official visit. On Monday, he discussed with French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius efforts to form a new cabinet in Lebanon and the issue of inter-Lebanese dialogue…

Bulgaria prays for hope (Vatican Radio) Bulgaria has begun three days of special prayers against suicide and nationwide pessimism after at least seven people set themselves on fire while protesting against poverty and corruption. Worshipers remember five Bulgarians who died and two who remain in critical condition by self-immolation. Bulgaria’s newly-elected Patriarch Neofit appealed to the faithful however not to take their own lives “under any circumstances.” He said: “Bulgarians must not fall victim of hopelessness.” An audio report can be found below the text of the story…

Catholicos Karekin II speaks at Armenian presidential inauguration (hetq) “With prayer and appeals for the radiant life of the homeland on our lips, we greet and extend our Pontifical blessings to you on the occasion of the inauguration of the President of the Republic of Armenia. … Since the reestablishment of independent statehood, our country has overcome terrible difficulties; it has traversed the demanding path of rebuilding and reformation. … On this occasion of the inauguration, we extend our exhortation to our people in the homeland and the diaspora, to implement unified efforts with the authorities of our country, for the sake of our homeland, the vibrancy of our national life and the manifestation of our hopes…”

Serbian Orthodox Church against deal with Kosovo Albanians (Fox News) The influential Serbian Orthodox Church has appealed against a deal with Kosovo Albanians that would pave the way for Serbia’s EU membership. The EU has given Serbia until Tuesday to say whether it would relinquish the control of northern of Kosovo — one of the most difficult issues dividing the former Serbian province — in exchange for the start of Serbia’s EU membership negotiations. Serbian Orthodox Patriarch Irinej said in a letter Saturday addressed to Serbian leaders that they shouldn’t “give up, sell or betray” Kosovo for a “murky” EU membership promise…



Tags: Egypt Maronite Patriarch Bechara Peter Bulgaria Serbian Orthodox Church Catholicos Karekin II

8 April 2013
J.D. Conor Mauro




The above video report illustrates some of the violence that broke out near St. Mark's Cathedral in Cairo, and shares reactions from leaders and members of the public. (video: Al Jazeera)

One dead, dozens injured in riot after Egyptian Coptic funeral (Sky News) At least one person has died and more than 60 others have been injured in clashes outside St. Mark’s Cathedral in Cairo on Sunday, following a funeral for four Christians who were killed in sectarian clashes on Friday. Mourners, who were chanting against the Islamist President Mohamed Morsi, were pelted with stones and bottles as they left the funeral. The Copts inside the church complex responded in kind. Before long, people began throwing fire bombs. Black-clad riot police intervened, firing tear gas at the cathedral, witnesses said, but not before one person had been killed. “I consider all attacks on the church as an attack on me personally,” state television quoted Mr. Morsi as telling the pope…

Coptic Orthodox pope calls for wisdom and restraint (Fides) Following the assault against Copts outside of St. Mark’s Cathedral in Cairo, Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros II expressed his disapproval of the acts. Extending condolences to the families of Christians killed in recent violence, the patriarch has also also urged the Egyptian people to remain calm and continue to work towards national unity…

Unexpected wonders in Ethiopian rock churches (The Daily Mirror) Ethiopia, rich in culture and diverse natural wonders, is finally beginning to realize its potential as a tourist destination. One major attraction is the northern highlands — the traditional heart of the nation and its Orthodox Christian faith. The jewel in the crown is Lalibela, an incredible labyrinth of 11 monolithic churches, tunnels and catacombs carved out of the red volcanic rock. Many of the churches are freestanding; one is intricately shaped as a cross, while a few are still quite cave-like. Their construction is attributed to King Lalibela who reigned until 1221 and is said to have wanted to create a “New Jerusalem” after the old one was captured by Saladin. But how they were built has been lost in the fog of time…

Indian bishops reaffirm commitment to poor as Year of Faith focus (Fides) “There is an unbreakable bond between our faith and the poor,” the bishops of northeast India — a region troubled by social conflicts and inhabited by tribal people who often lack basic services — wrote in a joint pastoral letter reaffirming their commitment in favor of the poor and marginalized. The bishops of the region’s 15 dioceses met recently to take stock of the situation of the church issue a statement on the Year of Faith, appreciating and echoing the predilection for the poor that Pope Francis expressed at the beginning of his pontificate…



Tags: Egypt Violence against Christians Coptic Orthodox Church Indian Bishops Ethiopian Christianity

4 April 2013
J.D. Conor Mauro




Young Christian mothers look after their children at a home in the village of Deir Azra, Egypt. (photo: Holly Pickett)

As members of a religious minority, Coptic women in Egypt face discrimination and are subject to laws based on Islamic Sharia. Because of the difficulty of getting a divorce in the Coptic Orthodox Church, some Christian men and women convert to Islam in order to end their marriage — a decision that has far-reaching social and legal consequences for the family and sometimes the entire community.

In the September 2011 issue of ONE, Sarah Topol reported on these consequences:

Divorce on the grounds of conversion to Islam generally tears Christian families apart.

“Life was stable,” says 23-year-old Simone El Gohany about life a few years ago, before her father left her mother for a Muslim woman with whom he had been having an affair, converted to Islam and filed for divorce. “Now I feel like the family is fragmented: There is no family. Stability makes a huge difference.”

The divorce has devastated the lives of the young woman, her two younger sisters and of course her mother. Under Egyptian family law, the father receives custody of the children when he converts to Islam and files for divorce.

To keep her children, the mother sent each of her two youngest daughters to live with different relatives. She then moved to a cramped apartment in a low-income neighborhood in Cairo. As Simone El Gohany explains, Egyptian authorities can only remove children from their mother if they live in a residence belonging to one or both of the parents.

Since the divorce, the children’s father has made no attempt to contact the girls or his ex-wife. He does not pay child support, and Egyptian law does not require him to do so. Still, the children fear he will show up one day or another and demand the girls move in with him. As a result, the girls no longer attend school.

The father’s conversion has also stripped the two youngest daughters of their Christian identity. In the eyes of the Egyptian government, when a father converts to Islam, all his children under the age of 18 automatically “convert” as well. The girls’ government records have all been changed, identifying them as Muslim. Public schools require they attend classes on Islam. Now officially “Muslim,” they can never marry a Christian man since the church does not recognize mixed marriages.

Read more in Spotlight: Coptic Women.



Tags: Egypt Islam Coptic Christians Coptic Orthodox Church Women (rights/issues)

28 March 2013
J.D. Conor Mauro




The Jewish feast of Passover began on 25 March, and will continue until 2 April. Coinciding with this is the holiest day of the Christian calendar, Easter, which will be celebrated on Sunday, 31 March.

In the video below, CNEWA’s external affairs officer, Rev. Elias Mallon, S.A., Ph.D., discusses the significance of these two holidays and their proximity to one another:





Tags: Christianity Easter Judaism

28 March 2013
J.D. Conor Mauro




Markian Surmach sells pysanky — traditionally decorated chicken or goose eggs, rich with symbolism — at his Ukrainian shop in New York City. Scholars agree that the art form originated at least 2,000 years ago. To learn more about pysanky, read The Colors of Easter, from the March 2012 issue of ONE. (photo: Erin Edwards)

Ancient Ukrainian tradition transforms eggs into masterpieces (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette) Steeped in ancient symbolism and decorated in hot wax, pysanky (pronounced pie-sun-key) is a colorful folk art tradition in Ukraine that harkens back to pagan times. These days, the ancient tradition is celebrated at Easter, when Ukrainian churches and community groups gather to decorate eggs in intricate, painstaking detail. Decorating eggs is more than just a pastime for those who lived in Ukraine when it was under the control of the Soviet Union, from 1922 to 1991. For them, it’s a symbol of expressive freedom…

Self-absorption is root of evils within church, said pope (CNS) Evils within the church are caused by a self-centeredness and “theological narcissism” that forget to share Christ with people outside of the church, Pope Francis said in the days before his election. “When the church is self-referential, inadvertently, she believes she has her own light,” he said in a summary of a speech he gave to the College of Cardinals before the start of the conclave that ended in his election. When the church ceases to be “the mysterium lunae,” that is, to depend on Christ for receiving and reflecting his — not its own — light, the church then “gives way to that very serious evil, spiritual worldliness, which according to [Jesuit Cardinal Henri-Marie] De Lubac, is the worst evil that can befall the church,” said then-Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio…

Syrian bishop: Outsiders are killing Syrians, destroying churches (Russia Today) “A person who has no homeland is nothing,” says Orthodox Metropolitan Bishop Luke, an Arab born in Syria. Metropolitan Luke is speaking Arabic, using the usual Muslim expressions, such as “insha’Allah,” which means “God willing,” or the standard greeting of “as-salam alaykum.” The metropolitan notes: “Our culture implies no intolerance towards Islam. It’s the basic principle of our relations. We call Muslims our cousins.” This solidarity finds an expression in the season; it is the Orthodox Lent — the time to offer the most sincere prayers of absolution. “Now that Lent has begun we say prayers every day. We are under attack, all of the Syrian people. These people say they act with Syrian people’s best interests at heart, but it’s not true. We are the Syrian people, and they have been sent to our country from the outside…”

Syrian official: 10 killed in university attack (Daily Star Lebanon) A Syrian government official says 10 people have been killed and 20 wounded in a mortar attack against Damascus University. The official says the mortar rounds struck the university’s architecture department in the central Baramkeh district on Thursday. He spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to give official statements…



Tags: Pope Francis Ukraine Syrian Civil War Cultural Identity Easter

27 March 2013
J.D. Conor Mauro




In this 16 September 2012 photo, Melkite Patriarch Gregory III of Damascus, Syria, attends Mass with Pope Benedict XVI on the waterfront in Beirut. At left is Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Vatican secretary of state. (photo: CNS/Paul Haring)

Melkite leader urges pope to help end Syria bloodshed (Daily Star Lebanon) Melkite Patriarch Gregory III called on newly elected Pope Francis to help end the two-year-old violence in neighboring Syria. “We warmly urge him [Pope Francis] — as we know the love he has for the Levant — and urge world countries and all the officials to work to stop the bloodshed in Syria,” Laham said in his Easter Resurrection message. “Enough pain. Enough tragedies. Enough violence, terrorism, weapons and fundamentalism. Enough trading in human lives, their dignity, livelihood, security, integrity and stability,” Laham said…

Ecumenical meeting in Iraq discusses pressing issues for community (Fides) On Tuesday, 26 March, leaders and representatives of the churches and Christian communities in Iraq gathered at the headquarters of the Chaldean Patriarchate in Baghdad to discuss the present condition of Middle East Christians and to deal jointly with the emergencies and difficulties that threaten Iraqi Christians. The meeting, convened by Chaldean Patriarch Louis Raphael I, included senior representatives of the Armenian Apostolic, Assyrean of the East, Coptic Orthodox, Greek Orthodox, Syriac Catholic and Syriac Orthodox churches. Ecumenism and fraternal dialogue of communion with all Christians is a priority for the Chaldean patriarch, who had said after his election: “Unfortunately one hears some who say: I am more Armenian than Christian, more Assyrian than Christian, more Chaldean than Christian. A tribal mentality persists here and there…”

Pope: Holy week challenges us to step outside ourselves (Vatican Radio) Linked is an English summary of Pope Francis’ first general audience. (An English translation of the Holy Father’s complete catechesis will be available soon.) “Holy Week challenges us to step outside ourselves so as to attend to the needs of others: those who long for a sympathetic ear, those in need of comfort or help. We should not simply remain in our own secure world, that of the ninety-nine sheep who never strayed from the fold, but we should go out, with Christ, in search of the one lost sheep, however far it may have wandered,” the pope said…

Indian Christians protest against working on Easter (Fides) Some government departments have told their employees to stay open on 29-31 March, which for Christians are Good Friday through Easter. Christians in India have called for Christian workers to be granted a work break because these are “the most important days of the year for the Christian faith.” Some Catholic nongovernmental organizations, such as the Mumbai-based Catholic Secular Forum, sent a memorandum to the prime minister and the minister of finance expressing “deep shock” and recalling the existence of a circular that provides for “the closure of business tax offices on Saturday and Sunday”…

Syria’s Shiites offer different picture of war (L.A. Times) Each evening, Ali Jamal and other men in this border town grab their Kalashnikov assault rifles, jump on their motorbikes and ride across the irrigation canal into Syria to protect their homes. The enemies are Sunni rebel “terrorists,” he says, who target Jamal and his neighbors because they are Shiite Muslims. “Imagine, these people used to be our neighbors,” said the 40-year-old farmer, perplexed by the transformation. “Now they want to kidnap and kill us.” The predominant narrative of the Syrian war is that of a tyrannical government largely run by members of a Shiite sect, the Alawites, brutalizing a people yearning for freedom. However, in the largely Shiite towns and villages of Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley, people who have fled Syria tell a different story. They speak of an “ethnic cleansing” campaign carried out by rebels intent on creating an Islamic state run by Syria’s Sunni majority…



Tags: Pope Francis Syrian Civil War Chaldean Church Indian Christians Melkite Patriarch Gregory III of Antioch

26 March 2013
J.D. Conor Mauro




In the Christian village of Yacoubiyah, many say their families have fled to safer places, both inside and outside the country. Those who have chosen to stay are confronting new fears close to home, with some abandoned villas now used as bases for opposition brigades. Al Jazeera’s Zeina Khodr reports from Yacoubiyah, in Idlib province. (video: Al Jazeera)

Pope Francis’ sends Passover message online (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has sent a telegram to Rome’s Jewish community to mark the feast of Passover, which this year begins at sundown, Monday, 25 March. Linked is Vatican Radio’s translation of the full text of the message, addressed to the chief rabbi of Rome, Riccardo di Segni, with whom the Holy Father met on 20 March during the course of his audience with delegations from other Christian confessions and non-Christian religions…

Pope to live in Vatican guest house (CNS) Pope Francis has decided not to move into the papal apartments in the Apostolic Palace, but to live in a suite in the Vatican guesthouse where he has been since the beginning of the conclave that elected him, said Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman. “He is experimenting with this type of living arrangement, which is simple,” but allows him “to live in community with others” — both the permanent residents and guests…

Pope’s Holy Thursday mass to be simple and intimate (VIS) The Mass of the Lord’s Supper that Pope Francis will celebrate on Holy Thursday in the chapel of the Casal del Marmo Penitential Institute for Minors will be, by his express desire, very simple. Around 10 girls and 40 boys will take part in the Mass. The pope will wash the feet of 12 of them, who will be chosen from different nationalities and diverse religious confessions. The youth will also say the readings and the prayers of the faithful. Given the intimate nature of the pastoral visit, journalists will be restricted to the area outside the building and no live coverage will be transmitted…

Ecumenical patriarch expresses possibility of church unity (ANSA) Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, who attended last week the mass inaugurating the pontificate of Pope Francis, believes the reunification of the Orthodox and Latin churches, separated by schism for about 1000 years, is possible. Speaking at a meeting at the university of Kadir Has in Istanbul, Hurriyet reports, Patriarch Bartholomew I said he believed “there is a possibility for the next generations to see the churches of the East and West reunited,” adding that “this will probably not happen during my life”…

Jerusalem Christian leaders extend Easter invitation (VIS) In their Easter message, the leaders of the Christian churches of Jerusalem invite the faithful around the world to make a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, extending an ecumenical appeal to visit those churches and to “walk with the living stones of this land, following in the footsteps of the Risen Christ.” The text continues: “The Christian presence here, in the mother city of our faith, remains a beacon of the light of the Risen Christ that the first disciples were witness to in front of the empty tomb”…

More than half a million Syrian refugees in Jordan (Fides) The Syrian refugees who have found refuge in Jordan have already crossed the threshold of 500 thousand, according to Wael Suleiman, director of Caritas Jordan. “Every day,” explains Suleiman “between one thousand and two thousand refugees enter Jordan. 1700 arrived yesterday. The latest report released on this humanitarian crisis estimates that the refugees will be a million and a half by December. At that point the situation will become unbearable for Jordan”…



Tags: Pope Francis Refugees Syrian Civil War Ecumenism Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I

25 March 2013
J.D. Conor Mauro




Pope Francis exchanges a gift with retired Pope Benedict XVI after arriving at the papal summer residence in Castel Gandolfo, Italy, on 23 March. Pope Francis traveled by helicopter from the Vatican to Castel Gandolfo for the private meeting with the pope emeritus. (photo: CNS/L’Osservatore Romano via Reuters)

Pope Francis gives icon from Patriarch Kirill to pope emeritus (Interfax) Pope Francis has decided to give the Marian icon he received from Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill to Pope Benedict XVI. “The icon is called Our Lady of Humility and I will take the liberty to say just one thing: I thought of you, being so humble as a pope,” the press office of the Moscow Patriarchate quoted Pope Francis as saying. “Thank you, what a gift!” the pope emeritus said. The newly elected Pope Francis and his predecessor have just met in the papal summer residence in Castel Gandolfo…

Catholics, Orthodox celebrate Easter according to the Julian calendar (Fides) Most of the Catholic communities in Israel, the Palestinian territories, Jordan and Cyprus are preparing to celebrate the liturgies of Holy Week not these days but in the first week of May, according to the Julian Calendar followed by the Orthodox communities. The unification of the Easter dates in most of the area is an application of the directive issued on 15 October 2012 by the Assembly of Catholic Ordinary of the Holy Land. This comes into force ad experimentum this year in the whole of Holy Land, with the exception of the areas of Jerusalem and Bethlehem, where the Gregorian calendar will continue to be followed both to respect the constraints imposed by the system of the “status quo,” which regulates the coexistence of the different Christian churches in Holy Places, and to take account of the arrival of pilgrims from all over the world during the Easter season. By 2015, the provision for a common Easter date should be confirmed or recalibrated in accordance with the directions also given by the Holy See…

Cyprus Orthodox patriarch favors leaving eurozone (PressTV) The head of the Cyprus Orthodox Church says he prefers the debt-stricken nation to leave the euro as Nicosia is striving to avoid bankruptcy. “The euro cannot last,” said Archbishop Chrysostomos II in an interview with the Greek daily Realnews, published on Saturday. “I’m not saying that it will crumble tomorrow, but with the brains that they have in Brussels, it is certain that it will not last in the long term, and the best is to think about how to escape it,” he said…

New casualty in wave of Bulgarian self-immolations (Der Spiegel) A 40-year-old Bulgarian set himself on fire to protest poverty and corruption in his country on Friday, becoming the sixth self-immolation in the E.U. country in less than a month. The church is concerned about this trend. Bulgarian Orthodox Patriarch Neofit urged Bulgarians “under no circumstances” to take their own lives. “The Bulgarians must not fall victim to hopelessness,” he said…

In India, 1500 children die daily from preventable illness (Fides) Some 25 percent of children up to age 5 in India die from causes related to diarrhea. For millions of people in the Asian country, the lack of water is a constant challenge. Two-thirds of India’s population does not have adequate sanitation facilities. In the southeastern state of Andhra Pradesh there is a shortage of latrines, and more than 665 million Indian inhabitants use open sewers or fields. According to the organizations Partners India and WASH, about 1500 children die every day in the country due to preventable diseases such as cholera and typhoid…



Tags: India Pope Francis Holy Land Bulgarian Orthodox Church Cyprus

22 March 2013
J.D. Conor Mauro




Parishioners pray in the St. Elijah Church in Ain Kawa, Iraq, a mostly Christian neighborhood outside Erbil, Kurdistan’s capital and largest city. In the November 2011 issue of ONE, we reported that much of Iraq’s Christian population had found a haven in the Kurdish-controlled north. In the time since, poor economic conditions have caused many to relocate once again. (photo: Safin Hamed/Metrography)

Pope Francis accepts Chaldean patriarch’s invitation to Iraq (AsiaNews) As St. Francis traveled to the East where he met Sultan Malik al Kamil, so we hope Pope Francis “may come to Iraq to confirm us our faith and give our small community in the land of Abraham courage and hope,” said His Beatitude Mar Louis Raphael I during an audience with the pontiff this morning in the Vatican. “Yes,” answered the pope, “with joy.” The patriarch himself told AsiaNews about his meeting with the Holy Father before leaving this afternoon for Baghdad. The head of the Chaldean Church was in Rome for the pope’s inaugural Mass in St. Peter’s Square last Tuesday. The prelate said that he was “struck by the pope’s simplicity and spontaneity.” He was very moved when the two talked about the tragic fate of Iraqi Christians…

Pope emphasizes the importance of ‘table time’ (CNS) Pastors and theologians involved in ecumenical dialogue emphasize the importance of “table time” — sharing meals — along with serious theological discussions, shared prayer and joint action. Pope Francis spoke about his ecumenical vision on 20 March and prayed with delegates from Orthodox and other Christian communities at his inaugural Mass on 19 March. Since 17 March, he’s also had breakfast, lunch and dinner with the Orthodox representatives who came to Rome for his inauguration. Pope Francis is still living at the Domus Sanctae Marthae, the Vatican guesthouse where the Orthodox delegates also were staying. They all eat together and greet each other in the common dining room…

Moscow patriarchate optimistic about relations with pope (Interfax) The Moscow Patriarchate attaches great importance to promoting relations with the Catholic Church in many areas, including social service, support for the poor and the deprived and protection of people suffering from persecution, said Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, head of the Moscow Patriarchate’s department for External Church Relations. Pope Francis met with metropolitan archbishop at the Vatican on Wednesday…

In pope, other religions see a friend (Washington Post) “In the maximum leader of the Christian world,” said Guillermo Borger, president of the Argentine Israeli Mutual Association, “we have an ally.” The secretary general of the Islamic Center of the Argentine Republic, Sumer Noufouri, said he regularly attended an annual Mass convened by the then-archbishop to celebrate Argentina’s Independence Day, alongside the country’s Jewish leaders. “He is a person who listens and who knows Islam,” said Noufouri, who described the new papacy as “an opportunity for a fresh start in relations between Islam and the Catholic Church.” The interfaith relationships built by Pope Francis in Argentina underscore his approach to religious diversity — one that has given him a reputation for tolerance and peaceful cohabitation with non-Catholics…

Indian religious excited about ‘charism of religious life’ in pope (Fides) “History has repeatedly demonstrated that the charism of religious life can bring about change and growth of the church in terms of holiness and effectiveness of its mission. With Pope Francis the Holy Spirit indicates this direction,” said a statement by the Conference of Religious of India, which brings together more than 130,000 monks and nuns of several orders. The conference expressed “communion of heart and mind” with Pope Francis…

India’s economic miracle bypasses poor (Der Spiegel) Unlike in China, India’s economic miracle has failed to benefit the poor. Instead, the rich are getting richer in this notoriously divided land, and government support fails to reach those in need. An analysis by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development finds that the blatant gap between poor and rich is growing in India almost faster than anywhere else on the globe…



Tags: India Pope Francis Iraqi Christians Ecumenism Chaldean Church

21 March 2013
J.D. Conor Mauro




Pope Francis will carry forward a tradition he kept in Buenos Aires: celebrating Holy Thursday’s Mass of the Lord’s Supper in a prison, a hospital or a shelter for the poor and marginalized. He is expected to wash the feet of inmates in a ritual highlighting humility, service and love. (video: Rome Reports)

Pope Francis to celebrate Holy Thursday Mass in prison (CNS) Pope Francis has decided to celebrate the Holy Thursday Mass of the Lord’s Supper in a Rome juvenile detention facility and wash the feet of some of the young detainees. It marks a change in venue of the previously scheduled 28 March Holy Week event — normally held in either St. Peter’s Basilica or the Basilica of St. John Lateran — to Rome’s Casal del Marmo prison for minors. As archbishop of Buenos Aires, Pope Francis used to celebrate the Mass of the Lord’s Supper in prisons, hospitals or shelters for the poor and marginalized. “With the celebration at Casal del Marmo, Pope Francis will continue that practice, which must be carried out in a context characterized by simplicity,” the Vatican said in a 21 March statement. The Mass of the Lord’s Supper highlights “the commandment of love” and service through the ritual of washing the feet of others, the statement said…

Ecumenical patriarch’s inaugural attendance: First time in history? (Archon News) One of the most intriguing recent developments was Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I's decision to attend Pope Francis’ installation as bishop of Rome. The occasion is being presented in the media as something that has not happened since the ecclesiastical schism that separated Christian East and Christian West in the eleventh century. But that characterization is almost certainly wrong — this is quite likely the first time in history that a bishop of Constantinople will attend the installation of a bishop of Rome. And this is a profoundly bold step in ecumenical relations between the Orthodox and the Roman Catholics, one that could have lasting significance…

Full text of Pope Francis’ interfaith discourse available (Vatican Radio) On Wednesday, 20 March 2013, Pope Francis received several dozen representatives of the various Christian churches and other world religions, who attended his inauguration. Among them were several leaders from the Orthodox Church, Orthodox Oriental Church, the Anglican Communion, and various Protestant churches, including the Lutheran, Baptist and Methodist churches. Representatives from the Jewish and Muslim faiths were also present. Please find below Vatican Radio’s translation of the pope’s discourse…

Middle East Christians in danger, Melkite patriarch warns (AKI) Christian minorities in the Middle East are under threat, especially in conflict-wracked Syria. His Beatitude Gregory III, Melkite Greek Catholic patriarch of Antioch, has conveyed this concern to Pope Francis, Adnkronos International (AKI) has learned. “The crises in the Middle East, particularly in Syria, are endangering Christians present in the region,” Patriarch Gregory III said, quoting a letter he said he has written to the pope. As Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Pope Francis was responsible for the Catholic community in the Middle East and was a point of contact for immigrants from Lebanon, Syria and all the countries in that region. “I hope that the pope will ensure a better future for all Arab countries and their peoples,” concluded the Syrian-born patriarch…

Patriarch emeritus has low expectations for U.S. diplomatic visit (Fides) “All the great people in the world come to visit us. They arrive and depart, and our reality does not change. We are in the same situation,” says Latin Patriarch Emeritus of Jerusalem Michel Sabbah, commenting on U.S. President Barack Obama’s first visit to Israel, the Palestinian territories and Jordan. “Regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, no external pressure can really change things. Only Israel can decide to proceed on the path of peace or to maintain the status quo. No one can change this situation from the outside. Everything is in the hands of Israel…”

Gaza may face severe water crisis (Al Monitor) Figures issued by public and private institutions suggest the Gaza Strip is in imminent danger of a water crisis. Fresh water for domestic and agricultural use has become scarce. Moreover, according to Omar Shabat, the technical director of the Coastal Municipalities Water Utility, 90 to 95 percent of underground water for domestic consumption is contaminated to varying degrees. This portends the spread of diseases among locals and could make the sector unlivable…



Tags: Pope Francis Gaza Strip/West Bank Ecumenism Israeli-Palestinian conflict Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I





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