Current Issue
September, 2019
Volume 45, Number 3
14 November 2013
J.D. Conor Mauro

Pope Francis takes off his zucchetto as he leaves his general audience in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican on 6 November. (photo: CNS/Paul Haring)

Prosecutor warns of a mafia threat against Pope Francis (Washington Post) Pope Francis could be at risk from the ‘Ndrangheta organized crime organization, according to a leading anti-mob prosecutor who has himself been the target of threats from the mafia. Nicola Gratteri, 55, a state prosecutor in the southern Italian region of Calabria, where the ‘Ndrangheta is most active, said the pope’s effort to reform the church is making the ‘Ndrangheta “very nervous.” The organization is considered by experts in Italy to be the most dangerous and coordinated mafia organization in the country. “For many years, the mafia has laundered money and made investments with the complicity of the church. But now the pope is dismantling the poles of economic power in the Vatican, and that is dangerous…”

Memory of a mass killing becomes another casualty of Egyptian protests (New York Times) Memory has become a frequent casualty of Egypt’s politics since the uprising against former President Hosni Mubarak in 2011. Leaders have tried to wipe away histories of atrocities by foot-dragging on investigations until new bloodshed dulls memories of the old. But nothing so far has matched the effort by the military-backed government and its supporters to extinguish the memory of Rabaa al Adawiya, the site of the worst mass killing in Egypt’s modern history, and a dangerous reminder of absent justice and Egypt’s festering political feuds. Reminders of the past have become a threat. Athletes have drawn outrage and censure for displaying the four-finger Rabaa symbol — Rabaa means “fourth” in Arabic — at competitions. For its part, the military quickly transformed the square where as many as 900 people were killed, leaving no hint of the violence except the bullet holes in lampposts and homes…

Egypt: Church threatens to reject constitution (Asharq al Awsat) The Coptic Church has threatened to reject Egypt’s new draft constitution over the terminology used to describe Christians and Jews. A member of the 50-member constitution drafting committee, speaking on condition of anonymity, revealed that the differences revolve around an article that uses the term “People of the Book” to refer to Christians and Jews, which some from the two minority groups find offensive. Egypt’s Christians have rejected the term “People of the Book,” preferring the article refer specifically to “non-Muslims…”

Jordan rejects Jewish prayer at Al Aqsa mosque compound (Al Monitor) Jordanian-Israeli ties, always under pressure, could be heading for trouble if the Knesset approves a controversial bill to divide Al Aqsa mosque compound in east Jerusalem, allowing Jews to pray in the Muslim compound. The bill was drafted by Israeli Deputy Minister for Religious Affairs Rabbi Eli Ben Dahan and was rejected by Arab Knesset members, who warned that if passed, the law could lead to the eruption of a third intifada. Under the peace treaty between Jordan and Israel, the former maintains a special supervisory role over Muslim and Christian holy sites in east Jerusalem, occupied by Israel since the 1967 war…

Syrian Kurds gaining ground, push for autonomy (Christian Science Monitor) Emboldened by a string of victories over powerful Al Qaeda affiliates fighting in Syria, Kurds there have taken a major step toward autonomy. On Tuesday, Kurdish groups announced the formation of an interim autonomous government in Syria’s Kurdish region, with elections to follow. The announcement comes on the heels of battle successes against Jabhat al Nusra and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, among the most powerful of the myriad homegrown and foreign forces fighting the Assad regime…

Russian Orthodox Church returns to Mideast (Al Monitor) Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, the Russian Orthodox Church’s chief external affairs officer, met with a number of state, political and religious officials in the Lebanese capital, bearing several messages. The most important was Russia’s decision to effectively act as the protector of Christians in the Levant and as their defender and legal representative, perhaps the only real one they have on an international level. The metropolitan went on to emphasize that the goals, principles and interests of the Russian Federation are predicated on “the survival of Levantine Christians in their countries, and their peaceful coexistence with their Muslim compatriots, away from external attempts to destabilize those countries…”

Serbian Orthodox Church celebrates “Vraci” (inSerbia) Today, the Serbian Orthodox Church celebrates the feast of Sts. Cosmas and Damian, popularly known as “Vraci” or “Vracevi.” These saints are considered patrons of the medical profession. Sts. Cosmas and Damian were twin brothers, physicians and early Christian martyrs born in Cilicia, part of today’s Turkey. They practiced their profession in the seaport of Ayas, Adana and the Roman province of Syria. They did not accept payment for their services, and many believe that this is how they attracted many people to Christian faith…

Tags: Egypt Pope Francis Syrian Civil War Jordan Russian Orthodox Church