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

South African President Nelson Mandela assists Pope John Paul II at the Johannesburg International Airport in 1995, at the start of the pope’s first official visit to South Africa. Mandela, who led the struggle to end the country’s apartheid regime, died on 5 December at age 95 at his home in Johannesburg. (photo: CNS/Patrick De Noirmont, Reuters)

Pope extends condolences to the family of Nelson Mandela (VIS) Pope Francis sent a telegram of condolence to Jacob Zuma, president of South Africa, on the death of Nobel Peace Prize winner Nelson Mandela yesterday. In the text, the Pope extended his condolences to the Mandela family, members of government and all South Africans. Pope Francis recalled: “the steadfast commitment shown by Nelson Mandela in promoting the human dignity of all the nation’s citizens and in forging a new South Africa built on the firm foundations of non-violence, reconciliation, and truth…”

UNHCR chief: Pope Francis is symbol of hope (Vatican Radio) Today, Pope Francis received in audience the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, António Manuel de Oliveira Guterres. As high commissioner, Mr. Guterres heads one of the world’s largest humanitarian organizations, with more than 7,000 staff working in 126 countries providing protection and assistance to millions of refugees, returnees, internally displaced people and stateless persons. Tracey McClure spoke with the former Portuguese prime minister following his meeting with Pope Francis, and he had this to say: “Since ever, the Catholic Church has been absolutely impeccable in putting in the agenda the need to respect the rights of refugees, the rights of migrants, the need for societies to be tolerant, for societies to respect diversity — and this has been a constant line of advocacy for the Catholic Church. But I think Pope Francis gave a new dimension to this…”

‘Assad’s nun’ becomes unlikely power broker in Syrian civil war (National Post) Amid Syria’s ferocious civil war, a nun has emerged as an unlikely power broker and figure of controversy. Mother Superior Agnes-Mariam of the Cross has thrust herself into the role of go-between and publicist — arranging ceasefires, organizing pro-government media trips and conducting speaking tours as perhaps the country’s most prominent critic of the uprising against President Bashar al Assad. She is so despised by the opposition even acts of seeming good will are criticized, such as arranging a rare truce that allowed thousands to leave a blockaded town. The nun insists she is not an Assad propagandist, describing his family’s decades-long rule as a “tumor,” but she saves her harshest criticism for the rebels…

U.S. bishops speak against illegal demolitions in Jerusalem (Fides) United States bishops have written in protest of the demolition of a house owned by the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem in late October. In a 26 November letter to Israeli ambassador Ron Dermer, Bishop Richard E. Pates, speaking on behalf of the U.S.C.C.B., asked the diplomat to convey to the Israeli government their “strong objections.” In early November, Fouad Twal, the Latin patriarch of Jerusalem, had visited the site of the demolition and described the occurrence as “an act of vandalism that violates international law…”

Palestinian activism evolves in Prawer protests (Al Monitor) Nonpartisan Palestinian youths have taken the lead in nationwide protests against Israel’s Prawer Plan — which seeks to move a sizable population of Negev Bedouin from its land and resettle it elsewhere — breaking away from traditional Palestinian political forces. These protests raise a number of questions about the organizational framework and courses of action currently available to Palestinians. These include the identity of the factions that could actually take the lead on the Palestinian arena, whether the situation is expected to escalate to a third intifada and how coordination was achieved over such a multifaceted issue…

Government supporters stage counterprotest in Ukraine (New York Times) Pro-government demonstrators deployed a new tactic on Friday to counter protests in favor of European integration, marching through the capital, Kiev, to oppose homosexuality, which they said would accompany a greater European Union role in Ukrainian affairs. Carrying religious icons and singing hymns, the group of about a thousand Orthodox Christian supporters of President Viktor F. Yanukovich filed out of a monastery and marched to a city park. Marchers said they favored allegiance with Russia rather than Europe because Russia more closely matches the cultural and religious heritage of Ukraine, once part of the Soviet Union. The protesters set off from the Kiev Pechersk Lavra, a monastery controlled by the Moscow Patriarchate, which is subordinate to the Russian Orthodox Church and is one of three denominations of Eastern Orthodoxy in Ukraine. The Kievan Patriarchate of Ukraine, in contrast, has supported the pro-European demonstrators and has allowed many to sleep in churches…

Tags: Pope Francis Ukraine Africa Palestinians U.S.C.C.B.