Current Issue
September, 2019
Volume 45, Number 3
10 March 2016
Greg Kandra

Children receive oxygen at a hospital in Taza, Iraq, on 9 March, after ISIS militants fired mortar shells and rockets filled with “poisonous substances” into their village.
(photo: CNS/Stringer, Reuters)

A new report states that Christians and minorities in Iraq, Libya and Syria are victims of genocide carried out by ISIS.

CNS has details:

The 278-page document was released March 10 in Washington, a week before a congressionally mandated deadline for the Department of State to announce if genocide was being committed against religious and ethnic minorities in the Middle East and North Africa by the Islamic State.

It argues that the case for genocide exists and called on Secretary of State John Kerry to make such a declaration and to include Christians in it.

The report contains dozens of statements collected from 22 February through March 3 from witnesses and victims of atrocities carried out by Islamic State forces. The incidents include torture, rapes, kidnappings, murder, forced conversions, bombings and the destruction of religious property and monuments.

“Murder of Christians is commonplace. Many have been killed in front of their own families,” said the report, titled “Genocide Against Christians in the Middle East.”

It cites statements from religious leaders, including Pope Francis, and conclusions from the European Parliament, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom and the Iraqi and Kurdish governments, all of which have labeled the Islamic State’s actions as genocide.

The report includes a legal brief directed toward Kerry detailing the case for a genocide designation.

Read more.

Pope Francis last year condemned what he called “genocide” of Christians in part of the Middle East, noting:

“Today we are dismayed to see how in the Middle East and elsewhere in the world many of our brothers and sisters are persecuted, tortured and killed for their faith in Jesus,” he said,according to Firstpost. “In this third world war, waged piecemeal, which we are now experiencing, a form of genocide is taking place, and it must end.”

10 March 2016
Greg Kandra

In this image from last year, Syrian refugees wait on the Syrian side of the border near Sanliurfa, Turkey. A new report says a quarter million children in Syria are at risk from the
ongoing civil war. (photo: CNS/Sedat/Suna, EPA)

Report: Syrian children at risk from ongoing war (Vatican Radio) A new report from humanitarian aid agency Save the Children says more than a quarter million children in besieged areas of Syria are at daily risk from the ongoing civil war...

Iraq’s President: Christians are “original” members of our nation (Fides) Christians are “original members” of Iraq, as evidenced by the ancient monasteries scattered throughout the country. And jihadi groups, such as Daesh, have raged not only against them but also against Muslim populations, as evidenced by Muslim victims — even Sunni — and the Islamic Caliphate mosques destroyed in Mosul. This is how Iraqi President Fouad Masum, of ethnic Kurd, called the current plight of Christians in Iraq, threatened by sectarian rifts and engaged in conflict with the self-styled Islamic State that have settled in Mosul since June 2014...

‘Terror rampage’ leaves one dead, 13 injured in Israel (Haaretz) Two Palestinian gunmen who fired at an Israeli bus in Jerusalem on Wednesday morning were shot and killed by Israeli forces after a car chase over several miles. A bystander was seriously wounded in the shootout. There were no injuries on the bus. Shortly after that incident, a 16-year-old male Palestinian was shot and killed after he tried to stab a soldier at an army position near the Palestinian village of Salfit...

Bishop calls Catholic silence on Middle East “massive failure” (CNS) An American bishop has called the silence of Catholics on the ongoing wars in the Middle East a massive failure. “The most massive failure of the Catholic community at all levels in the past 20 years has been to address the question of our ongoing involvement in the Middle East,” according to San Diego Bishop Robert W. McElroy. “What is particularly fascinating and troubling is all three recent popes were clearly opposed to the wars, yet at no level in the Catholic community was there any major opposition or sustained witness,” he said. “It’s like the dog that didn’t bark...”

Direct food aid programs in Ethiopia often fail (The Guardian) Our experience in Ethiopia — and more than 40 other countries facing the world’s toughest challenges — shows that massive direct food aid programmes often fail. Direct food aid — importing emergency food rations on a large scale — overrides local efforts to produce and distribute food, and tends to damage local and national resilience rather than support it...

9 March 2016
Greg Kandra

People line up for confession with retired priests at a retreat center near Irinjalakuda, India. Retired priests are continuing to minister to Catholics in India. Learn how in Redefining Retirement in the March 2009 edition of ONE. (photo: Peter Lemieux)

9 March 2016
Greg Kandra

In this image from 4 March, Apostolic Nuncio to Iraq and Jordan, Archbishop Alberto Ortega Martin arrives to visit the Ashti camp which houses displaced Iraqis who fled the violence in the northern city of Mosul. Iraqi officials say they are expecting another influx of refugees with an upcoming offensive to retake Mosul. (photo: Safin Hamed/AFP/Getty Images)

Iraq expects new flood of refugees (Anadolu Agency) Iraqi officials are preparing for a new wave of refugees following an anticipated offensive to retake Mosul, a senior Iraqi official told Anadolu Agency on Wednesday. “Iraqi authorities have decided to set up three refugee camps on the outskirts of Mosul,” Noureddin Qablan, deputy chief of Nineveh city council, said. “We wanted to take all the necessary measures to avoid a repetition of past tragedies...”

Heartfelt appeal of missionary in Ethiopia: “The country is dying of thirst” (Fides) Ethiopia is the second most populous country in Africa and one of the world's poorest. Over 400,000 children suffer from severe malnutrition and in recent months drought has severely increased. It is expected that at the end of April, some areas will remain permanently without water. “I have been a missionary in Ethiopia for almost 10 years and this is the first time the Country is dying of thirst,” says Father Christopher Hartley in a note sent to Agenzia Fides...

Promotion of lay Catholics, commitment to dialogue are priorities in India (Fides) “There is need for on-going formation for the laity to enable them to understand and to live their role in the Church,” said Archbishop Salvatore Pennacchio, Nuncio Apostolic to India and Nepal, when he addressed the Plenary Assembly of the Latin Catholic Bishops of India. “In today’s socio-political scenario,” he explained, “it is fundamental to recognise the dignity of lay Catholics and the importance of their participation in the Church. Moreover Christian testimony in a pluralistic society means commitment to fruitful dialogue among persons of different beliefs, religions and cultures...”

Who is really taking Christian homes in Iraq? (Al-Monitor) Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Units grouping is taking much of the heat for the seizure of Christians’ properties in Baghdad and other provinces. But the organization is trying to counter the claims by tackling the problem itself...

ISIS threatens “apostate Putin” in new video (Newsweek) Islamist group Islamic State (ISIS) has threatened “Putin the apostate” with an imminent attack on Russian soil in a new propaganda video. Since Russia began air strikes on ISIS and other anti-government targets in Syria during the last week of September 2015, there has been a concentrated anti-Russian backlash from the group. It claimed responsibility for downing the Russian passenger plane above Egypt in October and has continued to post Russian-language propaganda videos...

8 March 2016
Greg Kandra

Pope Francis, along with senior members of the Roman Curia, listen as Servite Father Ermes Ronchi, an Italian theologian, delivers his meditation during a weeklong Lenten retreat in Ariccia, Italy, on 7 March. (photo: CNS/L’Osservatore Romano)

Tags: Pope Francis

8 March 2016
Greg Kandra

Chaldean Patriarch Louis Raphael delivers a speech during the inauguration ceremony of a new Chaldean church on the outskirts of Paris on 6 March. (photo: Matthieu Alexandre/AFP/Getty Images)

Patriarch: No ‘Christian militia’ to free land occupied by jihadists (Fides) Chaldean Patriarch Louis Raphael I has distanced himself definitively from groups within Christian communities asserting the necessity to defend their own community rights and fight jihadists by forming armed groups...

Syrian refugees despairing after five years of war (Voice of America) Many families are crowded into small cement block units, or tents, and there is not much to do. The pressure of living that way year after year is taking its toll. “These refugees have been staying in tents, and you can imagine the issues that we have, be it psychological, or even domestic violence. You have the whole family of seven people living in a small tent,” said Tanya Kareem, head of the UNHCR sub-office in Dohuk, northern Iraq. With the war in Syria about to enter its sixth year, donor fatigue is setting in. Ms. Kareem said funding constraints are affecting what UNHCR can do for the refugees…

Remembering India’s Christian martyrs should be a priority (Crux) Pope Francis often talks about the “ecumenism of blood” that anti-Christian persecution creates, driving Christians toward deeper unity because of the realization that denominational differences mean nothing to their persecutors. There’s probably no better place on earth to make that point than Kandhamal, India…

Vatican announces consistory to approve canonization of Mother Teresa (CNS) Pope Francis will preside over a consistory to approve the canonization of five men and women, including Blessed Teresa of Kolkata, the Vatican announced. The 15 March consistory will also determine the approval of canonization of Argentine “gaucho priest,” Blessed Jose Gabriel del Rosario Brochero and Blessed Jose Sanchez del Rio, a 14-year-old Mexican boy martyred for refusing to renounce his faith during the Cristero War of the 1920’s, the Vatican said 7 March. The meeting of cardinals and promoters of the sainthood causes, also known as an “ordinary public consistory,” formally ends the process of approving a new saint…

Starving animals put up for sale at Gaza zoo (Reuters) A Gaza zoo owner is putting the last of his starving animals up for sale. Muhammad Oweida once hosted family and school outings at his zoo in Khan Younis in the southern part of the Palestinian territory. But war and economic hardship intervened to turn the venture into what is now a sad collection of 15 emaciated animals that he can no longer afford to feed. “I have to sell them in order to save them,” said Mr. Oweida, 24, sitting near the cage of a tiger who had not eaten in four days…

Tags: Syria India Gaza Strip/West Bank Indian Christians Chaldean Patriarch Louis Raphael I

7 March 2016
Greg Kandra

In this image from 2006, children welcome visitors to the Our Lady of Armenia Boghossian Educational Center. To learn more about the faith that is flourishing in Armenia, read A New Start for Armenia’s Catholics from the January 2006 edition of ONE. (photo: Armineh Johannes)

7 March 2016
Greg Kandra

Pope Francis meets with His Beatitude Sviatoslav Shevchuk, of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, on 5 March at the Vatican. (photo: L’Osservatore Romano)

Rebels clash in Syria ahead of peace talks (The Guardian) Rebels fighting to overthrow the government of President Bashar al-Assad have clashed with Kurdish paramilitaries in Aleppo, in some of Syria’s most intense fighting since a truce brokered by international powers came into effect late last month. Despite the weekend fighting, talks aimed at reaching a political deal to end the five-year conflict appear set to resume, with a top official for the umbrella opposition group saying it would likely send a delegation to Geneva...

Pope expresses gratitude to Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has written a letter of thanks and gratitude to His Beatitude Sviatoslav Shevchuk, Major Archbishop of Kiev and Head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church. The Archbishop, together with other members of the Permanent Synod of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church have been meeting in Rome and released a statement in which they affirmed communion with the Catholic Church. They were received in audience by the Pope on Saturday...

Archbishop Shevchuk interview: Pope shares suffering of Ukraine (Vatican Radio) After his meeting with Pope Francis on Saturday, the head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk, spoke to Vatican Radio’s Ukrainian section...

Bracing for what could be Iraq’s bloodiest battle (CBS News) For more than a year, the Iraqi military and its allies have been talking about and preparing for an operation to try and take back the country’s second-largest city from ISIS. No date has been set for an offensive to retake Mosul, which sits about 250 miles north of Baghdad, on the edge of Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdistan region. But Kurdish peshmerga soldiers, who have been the most effective force against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria in northern Iraq, are getting closer...

Indian police detain three after gang torches church (PressTV) Police have detained at least three suspects after a gang attacked a church in the central Indian state of Chhattisgarh, officials say. Chief Badri Narayan, a local police chief, said on Sunday that law enforcement agencies arrested at least three men over the attack, which took place in Kachna village near Raipur, the state capital of Chhattisgarh. Several women and children were injured after a group of about 50 men barged into the church during Sunday Mass...

Georgetown forum looks at rise of anti-Semitism (CNS) A 29 February symposium marking the start of Georgetown University’s new Center for Jewish Civilization took note of a precarious future faced by many of Europe’s Jews. Anti-Semitic attacks are on the rise in their intensity, and some governments seem either unwilling or unable to protect their nation’s Jews, some panelists said at the forum, “Understanding Contemporary European Anti-Semitism...”

4 March 2016
J.D. Conor Mauro

Students at the Shashemene School for the Blind practice using Braille typewriters. To learn more about the school and its efforts to teach its students self-reliance, read The Future at Their Fingertips, from the Winter 2015 edition of ONE. (photo: Petterik Wiggers/Panos Pictures)

Tags: Ethiopia Children Education Disabilities Youth

4 March 2016
J.D. Conor Mauro

Spanish-born Archbishop Alberto Ortega Martin, the apostolic nuncio to Iraq and Jordan, blesses a woman during a visit at the Ashti camp in Erbil on 4 March. (photo: Safin Hamed/AFP/Getty Images)

The first-ever refugee team will be competing at the Rio Olympics (Global Citizen) For the first time in history, the Olympics will have a team made up entirely of refugees. The International Olympic Committee (I.O.C.) announced on Wednesday the creation of a “Team Refugee Olympic Athletes.” Previously, the I.O.C. has stepped up to support refugees by donating $2 million for sports projects helping refugees. And during this year’s Olympic torch journey, a refugee will also take part in carrying the torch through a refugee camp in Athens, Greece. Except for the fact that they aren’t representing any country, the refugee team will be like any other team at the Olympics. In the opening ceremony, they will be marching behind the Olympic flag in front of the host team, Brazil…

Under strain, Europe tells migrants to seek work elsewhere (New York Times) As Europe’s migrant crisis spiraled toward yet another humanitarian catastrophe, a European Union leader issued a stark warning Thursday to millions in search of economic opportunity: Stay away. “Do not come to Europe,” said Donald Tusk, the president of the European Council, which represents the bloc’s 28 leaders. “Do not believe the smugglers. Do not risk your lives and your money. It is all for nothing. Greece or any other European country will no longer be a transit country…”

In Ukraine towns ravaged by war, evangelical missionaries find fertile ground (New York Times) Maryinka, a Ukrainian-held town of apartment blocks and one-story homes outside the rebel capital of Donetsk, has become a hot spot not only for fighting, but also for saving souls. As Ukrainian forces and Russian-backed separatists carry on an almost forgotten fight in half-deserted towns like this one, despite a year-old cease-fire, several well-organized evangelical groups are staging a campaign of their own. Based on their accounts and evidence seen here, they are finding fertile ground for their efforts…

Christian town in Syria bears scars of fierce fighting (AINA) Its historic churches pillaged by militants and buildings riddled with shrapnel, the ancient Christian town of Maaloula, north of Damascus, still bears the scars of the fierce fighting that devastated it two years ago. Residents vividly recall the shock they felt when they returned to their town after it was recaptured by the Syrian army from the Al Nusra Front — Al Qaeda’s branch in Syria — and other militants in 2014…

Dalit Christians complain to Jesuit general against discrimination in church (Vatican Radio) India’s Dalit Catholics complained last week to the visiting Jesuit superior general about discrimination within the Catholic Church. Jesuit Father Adolfo Nicolas, head of the Society of Jesus, who was on a visit to India, received their memorandum on 27 February, when he met a delegation from the Dalit Christian Liberation Movement in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu…

Water wars intensify between Egypt, Ethiopia (Al Monitor) Controversy continues to swirl around the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, with conflicting reports emerging about how soon Ethiopia will begin storing water there…

Tags: Syria Iraq Ukraine Refugees Middle East Christians

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