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Summer, 2014
Volume 40, Number 2
imageofweek From the Archive
In this 1996 image, children attend a festival in New York celebrating Greek heritage. (photo: Karen Lagerquist)
  
20 October 2014
Greg Kandra




Retired Pope Benedict XVI greets Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk of Kiev-Halych, leader of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, at the beatification Mass of Blessed Paul VI celebrated by Pope Francis in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican on Sunday 19 October. (photo: CNS/Paul Haring)

Pope: Middle East without Christians is unthinkable (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis convened a Consistory of Cardinals on Monday morning in the Vatican. Originally scheduled in order to proceed with the causes of candidates for beatification, the Holy Father expanded the agenda of the meeting to include discussion of the ongoing crisis in the Middle East. In remarks to the gathered Cardinals at the morning session of the gathering, the Holy Father focused on the need for constant prayer and effective advocacy in favor of peace, and for specific attention to the plight of Christians there...

Australia to deploy forces in Iraq to battle ISIS (BBC) Australia has reached an agreement with Iraq to allow 200 special forces personnel to train local troops to fight against Islamic State militants. Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said the military would now decide when to deploy the special forces group. The unit has been waiting in United Arab Emirates for a month, amid a legal row between the two sides. Australia is a major contributor to the US-led coalition against Islamic State, which controls parts of Syria and Iraq...

Amnesty International deplores abuses on both sides in Ukraine (BBC) Human rights group Amnesty International says there is evidence of atrocities committed by both warring sides in eastern Ukraine, but not on the scale reported by Russia. It said “strong evidence” implicated government forces in the killing of four men near rebel-held Donetsk...

Pope Francis beatifies Pope Paul VI (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Sunday celebrated the Closing Mass for the Extraordinary Synod on the Family. During the Mass in Saint Peter’s Square, the Holy Father beatified his predecessor, Pope Paul VI, whom he described as a “great Pope,” a “courageous Christian” and a “tireless apostle”...

Cardinal sends message of inclusion to Hindus (VIS) “Christians and Hindus: together to foster a culture of inclusion” is the theme of the message addressed to followers of Hinduism by Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, on the occasion of Deepavali, the festival of lights, to be celebrated on 23 October this year...



Tags: Syria India Iraq Ukraine Middle East

17 October 2014
Greg Kandra




Civilians and a member of forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad make their way through rubble and debris of destroyed buildings 7 October near Damascus.
(photo: CNS/Omar Sanadiki, Reuters)


Iraq imposes curfew (AP) The Iraqi government imposed a curfew in the western city of Ramadi on Friday over fears that the Islamic State group might try to advance on the strategically important city. The curfew began at midnight as part of an effort to limit movement in and out of the city as government forces prepared to eliminate pockets of resistance there, said Sabah Karhout, the chairman of the Anbar provincial council. Ramadi, the capital of the vast Sunni-dominated province of Anbar, is located 115 kilometers (70 miles) west of Baghdad...

Report: ex-Iraqi pilots training Syrians (AP) Former Iraqi air force pilots are training extremists from the Islamic State group to fly three warplanes captured earlier from air bases belonging to the Syrian army, a Syrian activist group said Friday. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the planes, seen flying over the Jarrah air base in the eastern countryside of Aleppo province this week, are believed to be of the MiG-21 and MiG-23 variety...

Leaflets announce threats against Ukrainian clergy (RT) Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate has been receiving threats, including that of violence against the clergy, as radical nationalist movements try to take over churches and force them under the Kiev Patriarchate...

Pope sends message on World Food Day (VIS) World Food Day, held on 16 October, was instituted in 1979 by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) in order to raise public awareness and strengthen solidarity in the fight against hunger, malnutrition and poverty. To mark the occasion, the Holy Father sent a message to the director general of the FAO, Jose Graziano da Silva...

Pope to beatify Pope Paul VI on Sunday (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis will officially declare Pope Paul VI Blessed on Sunday, 19 October during the closing Mass of the 3rd Extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the family...



Tags: Syria Iraq Pope Francis Ukraine

16 October 2014
Greg Kandra




In the video above, two patriarchs from the Middle East say they believe ISIS has no future
in their region. (video: Rome Reports)


Report: Catholic church in Qaraqosh bombed (Fides) The bombings carried out iby the U.S.-led coalition against posts of the Islamic State have hit and devastated the Church of the Resurrection, near the town of Qaraqosh, inhabited mainly by Christian Syriac Catholics before falling under the control of the jihadists of the IS. The news, reported by Arab sites such as ankawa.com, has been confirmed by local sources to Fides Agency...

Patriarchs call for recognition of Armenian genocide (Fides) The leaders of the Armenian Apostolic Church and the Syrian Orthodox Church are turning to the whole Christian world and the international community, seeking recognition and condemnation of the crimes committed against Armenians and Syriac Christians in 1915...

Gaza rebuilding faces obstacles (BBC) Winter is coming in Gaza, and the long nights and heavy rains will deepen the misery of thousands of families whose homes were destroyed in the fighting of summer. Newly homeless in a place already peopled with the descendants of refugees from the war that followed Israel’s creation in 1948, their plight is desperate...

Putin set for talks on Ukraine (Christian Science Monitor) With a temporary cease-fire barely holding in eastern Ukraine and winter approaching, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko have agreed to hold talks in Italy this week...

Priest charges Christian minorities in India are under serious threat (CNA) With the election of Narendra Modi of the Hindu “Bharatiya Janata Party” (BJP) as prime minister of India the country’s secular constitution has come under threat, a Catholic priest in India has charged. Father Ajay Kumar Singh, a human rights activist in Kandhamal District in the East Indian state of Odisha (formerly Orissa), warned of the growing influence of radical Hindu forces on the Indian subcontinent...

Boom times for Ethiopian coffee shops (BBC) As Ethiopia’s economy continues to expand strongly, more people — led by young professionals in the capital Addis Ababa — are buying pre-roasted beans, or visiting coffee shops to have their favourite drink made for them. It means boom times for the country’s independent coffee roasters and cafes, who have seen their numbers rise and some are even looking to expand overseas...



Tags: Syria Iraq Ukraine Gaza Strip/West Bank Armenia

15 October 2014
Greg Kandra




In the video above, Christians take up arms to protect villages in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley that could come under attack from ISIS or Wahhabi militants. (video: Eretz Zen)

Patriarch: help Iraqi Christians, stop violent rhetoric (Vatican Radio) While issues of everyday concern to families are on the agenda at the extraordinary Synod on the Family, one participant has come to Rome with a very sinister tale to tell. It’s the plight of tens of thousands of Iraqi Christian families who fled for their lives to escape from Islamic State militants. Few think they will ever return home. That’s according to Archbishop Ignatius Joseph III Younan, Patriarch of Antioch and All the East of the Syriac Catholic Church who was eager to speak to Vatican Radio outside the Synod hall....

ISIS continues to advance in Iraq, Syria (AFP) Jihadists pushed to seize Syria’s Kobani and an Iraqi town close to Baghdad Wednesday as Washington warned of a long fight against the steadily advancing ISIS. In the town of Kobani on the Turkish border, the jihadists have been holding out in fighting with Kurdish militia despite stepped-up U.S.-led air strikes, and calls have been growing for Turkey to take action. In Iraq, ISIS militants were closing on the town of Amriyat al-Fallujah, one of the last still controlled by the government in the troubled Anbar province and only 35 kilometers (20 miles) from Baghdad...

Dozens injured in protests in Kiev (Vatican Radio) More than a dozen police have been injured and dozens of protesters detained in massive clashes between nationalists and security forces near Ukraine’s parliament in Kiev where deputies voted down proposals to recognize a controversial World War II-era Ukrainian partisan group as national heroes...

Egypt, Israel allow aid supplies into Gaza (Egypt Daily News) Egypt and Israel allowed the transfer of hundreds of tons of supplies to the Gaza Strip on Tuesday, at the height of concerted international efforts to rebuild the strip...

Anger as minister says Christian, Muslim dalits should be denied jobs (UCANews.com) Christian and Muslim leaders lashed out Monday after India’s minister for social justice said the government would not be granting job reservation rights to “untouchables” who converted...



Tags: Syria Egypt Iraq Ukraine Gaza Strip/West Bank

14 October 2014
Greg Kandra




With the Extraordinary Synod of Bishops underway in the Vatican, Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk, head of the Ukrainian Catholic Church, discusses major challenges the family faces today.
(video: CNS)


Vatican to UN: Middle East minorities need our protection (Vatican Radio) “The alarming, escalating phenomenon of international terrorism, new in some of its expressions and utterly ruthless in its barbarity” demands “a deeper and more urgent study on how to re-enforce the international juridical framework of a multilateral application of our common responsibility to protect people from all forms of unjust aggression.” This is according to Archbishop Bernardito Auza, the Holy See’s Permanent Observer to the United Nation’s in New York. Abp. Auza’s comments were part of an address delivered to the 69th Session on the Rule of Law on Monday...

UN chief: Gaza destruction “beyond description” (Reuters) Israel opened the border to the first postwar truckloads of rebuilding material for Gaza on Tuesday and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon lamented what he called destruction “beyond description” in the Palestinian enclave...

ISIS captures Iraqi army camp as bombs hit Baghdad (AP) Militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) on Monday captured a military training camp in western Iraq, inching closer to full control of the restive Anbar province, as a spate of deadly bombings shook Baghdad, hitting mostly Shiite neighborhoods and leaving at least 30 dead. The attacks, which came as Iraqi Shiites marked a major holiday for their sect with families crowding the streets in celebration, raised new concerns that the Sunni militant group is making gains despite U.S.-led coalition airstrikes...

Clashes outside parliament in Kiev (BBC) Ukrainian nationalists have hurled smoke canisters and stones at riot police during clashes outside the parliament in Kiev. Violence erupted when the protesters demanded that MPs pass a law to recognise a World War II nationalist group which opposed Soviet forces. Fifteen policemen were injured and at least 50 protesters had been arrested, the Ukrainian interior ministry said...

India marks centenary of National Council of Churches (South Asia Mail) As part of Centenary celebration programs of the National Council of Churches in India (NCCI) in various regions around the country, Kerala Council of Churches (KCC) hosted a three-day long program in Kottayam and Tiruvalla in late September...



Tags: Syria India Iraq Ukraine Gaza Strip/West Bank

10 October 2014
Greg Kandra




In the video above, Pope Francis calls on Catholics to join him in his “Week of Action” to
end world hunger. (video: Caritas Internationalis)


Priest kidnapped in Syria released (Catholic Herald) A Catholic priest kidnapped by Islamists in Syria has been released, according to the Custody of the Holy Land. Fr Hanna Jallouf, a Syrian, was taken captive in Tuesday by the al-Qaeda linked al-Nusra front, along with 20 parishioners. In a statement the Custody of the Holy Land, the head of the Franciscan in the region, said that “Father Hanna Jallouf has been released this morning. He is under House Arrest at the Convent of Knayeh (Qunayeh).” His current whereabouts is unknown...

Palestinian government convenes in Gaza (The Los Angeles Times) For the first time since 2007, Palestinian Authority officials traveled Thursday from the West Bank to Gaza. Describing the day as “historic,” Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah was set to hold a first meeting of the new unity government that was sworn in in June after a reconciliation accord was signed between the rival Palestinian political factions of Fatah and Hamas...

Pope urges support in fight against world hunger (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis is calling an all Catholics around the globe to join him in his “Week of Action” (12-18 October) to end world hunger. The “Week of Action” is part of Pope Francis’ One Human Family, Food for All campaign with Caritas Internationalis. Your Catholic Voice Foundation, a 501(c)3 corporation, is also supporting this mission by collecting donations for food...

Canada votes to join air strikes against ISIS (The Guardian) Canada’s parliament has voted to authorize air strikes against Isis in Iraq, joining the US-led bombing campaign. The Conservative party of Stephen Harper, the prime minister, introduced the motion last week and it was debated this week. Harper has a majority of seats in parliament so the vote was all but assured. The motion passed on Tuesday by 157 votes to 134. The motion authorizes air strikes in Iraq for up to six months and explicitly states that no ground troops be used in combat operations...

Nuncio in Lebanon shares concerns for region (Vatican Radio) “No more war, no more violations of human rights!” That’s what the Holy See’s Apostolic Nuncio to Lebanon says the international community needs to hear and act on as conflict rages across Syria and Iraq...

Synod releases statement on families affected by war (Fides) The full text of the message of the Third Extraordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops for families who suffer as a result of conflicts is published here: “Gathered around the Successor of the Apostle Peter, we the Synod Fathers of the Third Extraordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, along with all participants, share the paternal concern of the Holy Father, expressing our profound closeness to all the families who suffer as a consequence of the many conflicts in progress. In particular, we raise to the Lord our prayers for Iraqi and Syrian families, forced on account of their profession of the Christian faith or their belonging to other ethnic or religious communities, to abandon everything and flee towards a future without any form of certainty...”



Tags: Syria Lebanon Iraq Pope Francis Gaza Strip/West Bank

8 October 2014
J.D. Conor Mauro




Smoke rises from the Syrian town of Kobane after an air strike, seen from near the Mursitpinar border crossing near Suruç, Turkey, on 4 October. (photo: Stringer/Getty Images)

Syrian Kurds say airstrikes push ISIS back from Kobane (Daily Star Lebanon) U.S.-led air strikes Wednesday pushed ISIS fighters back to the edges of the Syrian Kurdish border town of Kobani, which they had appeared set to seize after a three-week assault, local officials said. The town has drawn international attention since the Islamists’ advance drove 180,000 of the area’s mostly Kurdish inhabitants to flee into adjoining Turkey. Ankara has infuriated its own restive Kurdish minority and its NATO partners in Washington by refusing to intervene…

Air strikes leave 65 civilians dead in Iraq’s Anbar (Fars News) A large number of Iraqi civilians were killed during the massive air strikes launched by the warplanes of the U.S.-led coalition in Anbar province on Monday. A military source told National Iraqi news agency that the strikes on ISIS in the city of Ramadi left 65 civilians dead…

More than 300 killed in Ukraine since cease-fire (Al Jazeera) At least 331 people have been killed in clashes in eastern Ukraine since Kiev and Russian-backed rebels signed agreements to enact a cease-fire and create a demilitarized buffer zone last month, the United Nations said Wednesday. Hostilities persist in the main rebel-held city of Donetsk, as well as around the towns of Debaltseve and Schastye…

The Franciscan priest kidnapped after he had appealed to court (Fides) The Rev. Hanna Jallouf, O.F.M., was kidnapped along with his parishioners after his recent visit to the Islamic Court, the body set up to administer justice according to Islamic law in the areas not controlled by the Syrian government. He had gone to report harassment and abuse the convent had suffered in recent weeks by the brigades of Islamists who control the area…

Greek Orthodox denounce Israeli law on Aramaic Christians as divisive (Ecumenical News) The Greek Orthodox Christian Patriarchate in east Jerusalem has slammed an Israeli law recognizing Aramaic Christians as a nationality, describing it as an attempt to divide the Palestinian minority. The Greek Orthodox Church said in a statement that the law, which separates Christians from Arabs, would split minorities living in Israel, eventually weakening Palestinians, reported The Jerusalem Post. “Palestinian Christians are an important part of the Arab and Palestinian nations; we are proud of the Aramaic identity as it reflects history and culture shaped by Arab Muslims and Christians,” the report quoted Christian Orthodox Church spokesperson Father Issa Musleh as saying…

Pope: Divisions between Christians are wounds in the church (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis appealed for Christian unity on Wednesday at his weekly General Audience. Speaking to the crowds gathered in St. Peter’s Square, the pope invited those present to ask themselves: “Are we resigned, or even indifferent to this division? Or do we firmly believe that we can and we must walk together towards reconciliation and full communion?” Divisions between Christians — he continued — wound the church and wound Christ…



Tags: Syria Ukraine Violence against Christians Israel Christian Unity

7 October 2014
J.D. Conor Mauro




A destroyed car sits outside a school in Homs, Syria. Two car bombs exploded near the school on 1 October, killing at least 47 students. (photo: CNS/courtesy Jesuit Refugee Service)

Jesuit based in Syria urges caution as Canada debates military action (Catholic Register) As Canada debated joining the United States and other nations in military intervention to stop Islamic State militants, a Jesuit priest based in Syria urged caution and called for renewed efforts to find peace. “I am not a political man,” said the Jesuit Rev. Ziad Hilal, pastor of Holy Savior Parish in Homs and project manager for Jesuit Refugee Service. “What I want to say, the Syrian people need peace and security…”

Syrian priest and Christians kidnapped by fighters linked to Al Nusra (Fides) The Franciscan Fathers of the Custody of the Holy Land confirm that the Rev. Hanna Jallouf, O.F.M., parish priest in Knayeh, was taken by some brigades linked to Al Nusra Front on 5 October. Along with Father Hanna, several men of the Christian village were also taken. The number of those who were kidnapped is not specified…

Syria border town ‘about to fall’ as hundreds dead (Daily Star Lebanon) Jihadists are on the verge of seizing the key Syrian border town of Kobane, Turkey warned Tuesday after a three-week assault by ISIS that has left hundreds reported dead…

Islamic State using water as a weapon in Iraq (Washington Post) The Islamic State militants who have rampaged across northern Iraq are increasingly using water as a weapon, cutting off supplies to villages resisting their rule and pressing to expand their control over the country’s water infrastructure. The threat from the jihadists is so critical that U.S. forces are bombing the militants close to both the Mosul and Haditha dams — Iraq’s largest — on a near-daily basis. But the radical Islamists continue to menace both facilities…

Chaldean bishop: ‘Our people have been abandoned’ (Aid to the Church in Need) The Government of Iraq is guilty of not helping Christians desperate to flee Islamic State militia, according to a leading Catholic bishop from the country. Chaldean Archbishop Bashar Warda of Erbil said Iraq’s national government in Baghdad “has done nothing, absolutely nothing” for 120,000 Christians seeking sanctuary away from areas terrorized by the extremists…

Pope Francis convokes consistory on Middle East (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Tuesday convoked a consistory of cardinals and patriarchs to discuss the situation facing Christians in the Middle East. The consistory will take place in the Vatican on 20 October…

‘What truce?’ ask residents of Donetsk, where battles continue to rage (Euronews) A ceasefire may still be officially in place in eastern Ukraine, but try telling that to the owners of burning homes in Donetsk. Battles are raging unabated between Ukrainian forces and separatist fighters, mainly around the city’s airport. And nearby neighborhoods are often caught in the crossfire…



Tags: Syria Iraq Pope Francis Ukraine Iraqi Christians

6 October 2014
J.D. Conor Mauro




In this June photo, Islamic State fighters stand guard at a checkpoint in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul. The United Nations reported that the Islamic State has committed a “staggering array” of human rights abuses in Iraq, causing many in Mosul to flee. (photo: CNS/Reuters)

Mosul residents fear U.S. airstrikes and sectarian revenge (Christian Science Monitor) Four months after a band of Sunni jihadists captured their city with shocking ease, residents of Mosul are bracing for possible United States-led airstrikes. As the U.S. and its allies have stepped up a bombing campaign in Iraq against the Islamic State, Sunni residents of Mosul say militants have lowered their profile and switched up tactics…

Most ISIS ammunition from U.S. and China (New York Times) In its campaign across northern Syria and Iraq, the jihadist group Islamic State has been using ammunition from the United States and other countries that have been supporting the regional security forces fighting the group, according to new field data gathered by a private arms-tracking organization. This suggests that ammunition transferred into Syria and Iraq to help stabilize governments has instead passed from the governments to the jihadists, helping to fuel the Islamic State’s rise and persistent combat power…

Kurds repel attack on Syrian town (Daily Star Lebanon) Kurdish forces defending a Syrian town near the Turkish border clashed with the Islamic State Monday after repelling a wide-ranging militant assault the day before in battles that left dozens dead on both sides…

Hezbollah pushes back Syrian militant offensive in Bekaa (Yahoo! News) At least 16 insurgents from Al Qaeda’s Syrian wing, Al Nusra Front, were killed in clashes with Shiite group Hezbollah in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley on Sunday after launching a major offensive, a source close to Hezbollah said…

Abbas pushes U.N. statehood plan forward (Al Monitor) Palestinians seek to restart negotiations with Israel, on equal footing. “Permanent status negotiations between the state of Palestine and the state of Israel is what we want to see in 2015,” said a senior political Palestinian source in Ramallah. The Palestinian Authority will move forward on four tracks toward a “make it or break it” year…

Many killed as rebels storm Ukraine’s Donetsk airport (Vatican Radio) At least some 12 pro-Russian rebels have reportedly been killed in fighting around the airport of Ukraine’s eastern city of Donetsk. Pro-Russian rebels could be seen dragging the body of a fellow fighter to a truck in one of the bloodiest clashes since a ceasefire was agreed last month…



Tags: Syria Lebanon Iraq Ukraine Palestine

3 October 2014
J.D. Conor Mauro




A Syrian Kurdish family walks through a border crossing on 29 September to return to their home in the Syrian city of Kobane, on the Turkish-Syrian border. A Syrian priest on a U.S. mission trip says amid ongoing death and destruction in the Middle East, the Catholic Church continues to provide spiritual and material support for those in need. (photo: CNS/Murad Sezer, Reuters)

Islamic State steps up attack on Syrian town of Kobane (BBC) Heavy fighting is being reported between Kurdish militiamen and Islamic State militants advancing on the northern Syrian town of Kobane. A BBC correspondent across the border in Turkey saw explosions and smoke rising from buildings hit by shells…

Hama maintains its calm amid Syrian storm (Al Monitor) Residents of the city of Hama, 30 miles north of Homs, call it “the city of the massacre,” but it is still far from the battles continuing in the surrounding countryside. Since the Syrian army stormed the city in early August 2011, relative calm has prevailed in the city that witnessed some of the largest peaceful protests against the Syrian regime…

Sweden to recognize state of Palestine (Reuters) Sweden’s new center-left government will recognize the state of Palestine in a move that will make it the first major European country to take the step, Prime Minister Stefan Lofven said on Friday…

Aid worker killed in Donetsk as fighting continues over besieged airport (Al Jazeera) Amid fierce fighting around the besieged Donetsk airport Thursday, a Swiss aid worker was killed as conflict between government forces and advancing pro-Russian rebels in the city intensified. The Red Cross employee died when a shell landed at the organization’s office in a separatist-held part of the eastern Ukrainian city. “We’re deeply distressed by this loss,” Ewan Watson, spokesman for the International Committee of the Red Cross, told Reuters…

Pope to Church of the East patriarch: We are close in faith, persecution (Vatican Radio) “No religious, political or economic motives can justify what is happening to hundreds of thousands of innocent men, women and children,” said Pope Francis said Thursday, describing what is happening to Christians and other minorities in Iraq and Syria as “daily persecution.” The remark was addressed to Mar Dinkha IV, patriarch of the Church of the East — one of the oldest Christian churches, tracing its roots back to the first century in Iran, Iraq, Syria and Turkey…



Tags: Syria Ukraine Palestine Ecumenism Sweden





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