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Current Issue
September, 2017
Volume 43, Number 3
  
22 September 2017
Greg Kandra




Syriac Catholic Patriarch Ignatius Joseph III, shown in a 2014 file photo, addressed Catholic leaders in India and spoke of the persecution Christians are facing around the world. (photo: CNS/Tyler Osburn)

Patriarch: Christians facing attacks (The Hindu) The West and East Asian countries have been witnessing selective gory attacks and massacres of Christians, Syriac Catholic Patriarch Ignatius Joseph III has said. The patriarch was addressing a gathering at the 87th anniversary of the reunion of the Syro-Malankara Church at Mar Ivanios Nagar (Green Valley Convention Centre) at Adoor on Wednesday…

Civilians evacuate eastern Syria (Reuters) Hundreds of civilians left a besieged ISIS enclave in central Syria after the Syrian government and ISIS reached an evacuation deal, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Friday…

Mosul’s children return to school (ABC News) Since Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al Abadi declared victory over ISIS in Mosul in July, a sense of normalcy has returned. In West Mosul, 110 schools have reopened to welcome nearly 81,000 children, about 36,000 of them girls, Laila Ali, a media officer with UNICEF in Iraq, told ABC News…

Ethiopia: 55,000 displaced over ethnic clashes (AP) More than 55,000 ethnic Oromos have been displaced from Ethiopia’s Somali region after a week of clashes with Somalis in which dozens were killed, the regional government of Ethiopia’s restive Oromia region said…

Trump’s call for refugee resettlement causes stir in Lebanon (The National) Lebanon’s politicians have been quick to respond to Donald Trump’s comments at the U.N. General Assembly that the United States would “seek to host refugees as close to their home country as possible.” The issue is a sensitive one for Lebanon, where as many as 1.5 million Syrian refugees have fled since civil war broke out in their country in 2011. Lebanon now hosts more refugees per capita than any other country, and ranks third in the world for overall number of refugees…



Tags: Syria Iraq Lebanon Ethiopia

21 September 2017
Greg Kandra




Bishop Boulos Marcuzzo, Patriarchal Vicar in Jerusalem and Palestine (right) surveys the damage from yesterday’s attack by vandals on St. Stephen Church outside Jerusalem.
(photo: Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem)


Vandals desecrate church near Jerusalem (Latin Patriarchate) On Wednesday, 20 September 2017, vandals have broken into and desecrated St. Stephen Church in Beit Gemal, near Beit Shemesh, west of Jerusalem. The perpetrators smashed a statue of the Virgin Mary and the stained-glass windows depicting important passages in the life of Jesus. Bishop Boulos Marcuzzo, Patriarchal Vicar in Jerusalem and Palestine, who visited the Church this morning, said that “this is not only an act of vandalism but an action against the sacredness of the holy places and the faith of people...”

‘Anti-conversion’ laws in India giving rise to conflict (Fides) “Anti-conversion” laws, which are instruments to restrict religious freedom, continue to exacerbate and polarize Indian society, says Jesuit Father Michael Kerketta, Indian theologian and professor in Ranchi, capital of the Indian state of Jharkhand, northern India...

Explosion injures pilgrims at Rosh Hashanah celebration in Ukraine (Radio Free Europe) A celebration of Rosh Hashanah in the central Ukrainian city of Uman has been marred by an explosion that authorities say lightly injured two Israeli pilgrims. Ukraine’s National Police said that an unidentified explosive device went off early in the morning on 21 September in a garage near the site where pilgrims are celebrating the Jewish New Year...

Egypt hands down death sentences to ISIS militants who beheaded Copts in Libya (AFP) An Egyptian court Saturday condemned to death seven people for membership of the Islamic State group and over the beheading in Libya of 21 Christians, all but one of them from Egypt, judicial officials said. ISIS in Libya posted a video on the internet in February 2015 of the gruesome beheadings on a Libyan beach, sparking international condemnation and Egyptian air strikes against jihadist targets in the neighboring Arab state...



20 September 2017
Greg Kandra




Embed from Getty Images
In this image from March, a member of the Jordanian armed forces carries a toddler from the Rukban refugee camp to a nearby medical clinic operated by the UN. Reports indicate many displaced Syrians in the camp are stranded there, unable to return home.
(photo: Khalil Mazraawi/Getty Images)


Christian community in India threatened (Vatican Radio) A tiny Christian community in central India’s Madhya Pradesh state is being threatened by a right-wing Hindu nationalist group to flee the village or face dire consequences, the local bishop told Vatican Radio. Bishop Anthony Chirayath of the Syro-Malabar diocese of Sagar, who was visiting his Catholics in Mohanpur village in Guna district on Wednesday told Vatican Radio that the situation there was “very serious...”

The desperation of Syria’s displaced civilians (The Nation) Displaced Syrians are trapped as never before. Those in the desolate encampment in Rukban, on Jordan’s remote northeastern border (known as “the berm”), are a microcosm of Syria’s stranded civilians. They face an immediate threat, as the Syrian government forces they fled advance along the border with Jordan...

Israel announces general closure of West Bank, Gaza (Palestinian News Network) Israeli army spokesmen announced imposing a general closure on the West Bank, all crossings of the Gaza Strip, as the Jewish holidays approach. The closure is to start from midnight last night until Sunday night...

Richmond ordination reflects burgeoning membership in Russian Orthodox church (Richmond Press Herald) Toddlers, babes-in-arms, and other young children populating the church yard and inside St. Alexander Nevsky Church showed just how rapidly the parish family of the Russian Orthodox congregation has grown. Inside the sanctuary Sunday was another sign: the ordination of the Rev. Nathan Williams to the priesthood, the ordination of Joseph Kimball to the diaconate and the investiture of two tonsured Readers, Patrick Kimball and Matthew O’Donnell. Tonsured Reader is a first step toward priesthood...



19 September 2017
Greg Kandra




Indian Catholics carry a statue of Our Lady of Good Health Vailankanni at the Miraculous Medal Shrine in Germantown, Pennsylvania. (photo: CatholicPhilly.com)

Assad: Christians in Syria are ‘no guests or migratory birds’ (Fides) Christians in Syria are “no guests or migratory birds.” They “are part of the origin of the nation, and without them there is no pluralistic Syria.” This is what Syrian President Bashar Assad said on 17 September, to a large delegation of participants in a room of the Damascus Hall at the annual youth gathering organized by the Syriac Orthodox Church...

Pope cites St. Francis Cabrini as a model to ministry to immigrants (CNS) Although she died 100 years ago, St. Frances Cabrini is a shining example of “love and intelligence” in ministering to the needs of immigrants and helping them become integral members of their new homelands, Pope Francis said. Responding to “the great migrations underway today” the same way Mother Cabrini did “will enrich all and generate union and dialogue, not separation and hostility,” Pope Francis said in a letter to Sister Barbara Louise Staley, superior of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, which the saint founded...

Indian Catholics welcome new Marian shrine in Pennsylvania (CatholicPhilly.com) More than 700 faithful from various Indian and American Christian communities filled the pews and choir loft of the Miraculous Medal Shrine in Germantown on Saturday, 9 September for the feast of Our Lady of Good Health Vailankanni...

Two churches reopened, 60 churches still closed in Egypt (Egypt Independent) Minya and Abu Qirqas Archeparchy reopened on Sunday Anba Paula church in Kedwan village and St.Mary church in Ezzbet al-Furn in Minya governorate, after numerous Copts complained of preventing them from praying in the two churches. His Grace Bishop Makarios, General Bishop of Minya and Abu Qirqas, praised President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s efforts to reopen the two churches, asserting that both Muslims and Copts live harmoniously in both villages...

Pope praises Rome’s first interreligious half-marathon (CNS) After thousands of runners completed the first ever “multireligious” half-marathon in Rome, Pope Francis praised the initiative, which was sponsored by the Pontifical Council for Culture...

Is the Ark of the Covenant in Ethiopia? (Aleteia) after the destruction of the Temple of Solomon in Jerusalem, no one knows for sure where the Ark of the Covenant ended up. The Ark disappeared without a trace (and without any known record of its whereabouts), so the place where it might be found — assuming it had been preserved in the first place — remains today one of the great enigmas not only of history but, particularly, of archaeology. But what is certain is that almost 45 million Ethiopian Orthodox Christians are convinced that the Ark of the Covenant was taken about 3,000 years ago to Aksum, in northern Ethiopia, and has since been jealously cared for by these monks in the modest church of Saint Mary of Zion...



18 September 2017
Greg Kandra




Salesian Father Tom Uzhunnalil, who was released from captivity on 12 September, greets journalists as he arrives for a news conference in Rome on 16 September. Father Uzhunnalil, who is from Kerala, was abducted during an attack on a charity care home in Yemen in March 2016 and imprisoned for 18 months. (photo: CNS/Junno Arocho Esteves)

Freed Salesian priest describes his capture, liberation (CNS) Salesian Father Tom Uzhunnalil was sitting in a room in an unknown location — one of several he had been relocated to during his 18-month imprisonment — when he received some unexpected news. “Those who kept me came to where I slept (and said), ‘I bring you good news. We are sending you home. If you need to go to the bathroom, go. Take a shower, but quickly!’” Father Uzhunnalil told reporters 16 September at the Salesian headquarters in Rome...

As East Mosul comes back to life, West Mosul remains in ruins (NPR) Nine months after Iraqi forces drove ISIS from eastern Mosul, the east side’s main street has come back to life. Wedding convoys decorated with ribbons and flowers honk their horns. Female drivers pull up in front of pastry shops and stalls piled high with fresh fruit...

Understanding India’s only Catholic federal minister (UCANews.com) Recent photos of Indian church leaders meeting with top federal officials almost always include Alphons Joseph Kannanthanam, a Catholic who joined India’s ruling pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in 2011. Many Catholic officials have accused the party of not treating religious minorities fairly. However, when Amit Shah, the BJP president, visited southern Kerala State in June to meet Catholic bishops, it was Kannanthanam who did the organizing...

Orthodox join procession commemorating Russian royalty (RT) The Russian Orthodox Church has commemorated the memory of Grand Duchess Elisabeth Fyodorovna Romanov and tragic events of the 1917 Revolution in a service and procession, with hundreds of worshipers joining the holiday outside Moscow...



15 September 2017
J.D. Conor Mauro




Embed from Getty Images
Syrian refugee children play on a street in the Palestinian Shatila refugee camp, on the southern outskirts of the Lebanese capital Beirut. (photo: Anwar Amro/AFP/Getty Images)

Despite tension, Syrian refugees find sympathy in Lebanese villages (Al Monitor) Six years since the war in Syria began, tensions in Lebanon between Syrian refugees and Lebanese nationals have continued to intensify, especially in Beirut. It is no secret that Lebanese officials have contributed to the scapegoating of refugees for Lebanon’s socioeconomic and political woes. However, the xenophobic rhetoric seems not to have infected many of Lebanon’s communities near the border in the country’s two most impoverished regions. While tensions do exist, there appears to be a level of mutual understanding over their difficult circumstances…

Life for Aleppo residents creeps toward normalcy (Christian Science Monitor) Life is slowly returning to the desolate streets of Aleppo — men hawk goods on a street corner; teenagers sell bananas off a picnic table. Rami Abdurrahman, director of the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, says thousands of people have returned to their homes in Aleppo — once Syria’s largest city — from camps for the displaced…

ISIS is on the run in Iraq, but some major battles remain (Washington Post) Iraqi security forces have freed most of northern Iraq from the grip of the Islamic State. But U.S. and Iraqi officials warn that thousands of militants remain in the country and are ready to wage a ferocious fight in a desert region bordering Syria. The bulk of the war against the ISIS was finished when Iraqi security forces reclaimed the cities of Mosul and Tal Afar this summer. But the battle looming in western Anbar province is expected to be one of the most complex to date…

Christians divided on Kurdish independence referendum (Fides) With the approach of the referendum announced by the government of the autonomous region of Iraqi Kurdistan to sanction its independence from Baghdad, there are contrasting signs from the local Christian communities…

Violence still plagues Christians in Iraq (Al Monitor) Christian leaders say Iraq’s monasteries and churches could soon become mere relics unless something is done to curb the violence against Christians. During a 26 August press conference, Syriac Catholic Patriarch Mar Ignatius Joseph III of Antioch described Christians as “the most targeted and most vulnerable” minority in the region — and not just because of ISIS…

Catholic-Orthodox dialogue resumes, with greater Russian involvement (AsiaNews) At the end of a summer of intense contacts and visits between the representatives of the Holy See and the Patriarchate of Moscow, the renewed dialogue between Russian Orthodox and Catholics seems to be having the desired result: a resurgence of cooperation and understanding between Catholic Church and Orthodox churches…



Tags: Syria Iraq Refugees Iraqi Christians Catholic-Orthodox relations

14 September 2017
Greg Kandra




In the video above, a Coptic bishop speaks of the persecution some Christians are facing in Egypt and says: “Forgiving those who attack us makes us stronger.” (video: Rome Reports/YouTube)

Russia fires on ISIS targets in Syria (The Washington Post) Russia’s military says it fired seven cruise missiles at Islamic State targets in the eastern Syrian province of Deir el-Zour. The Defense Ministry said the Kalibr cruise missiles were launched from two submarines in the Mediterranean on Thursday...

Pope Francis moved by meeting with freed Indian priest (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Wednesday met privately in the Vatican with the Indian Catholic priest who was freed from abduction by gunmen in Yemen...

Ethiopian religions reach out to fight AIDS (AP) The leaders of Ethiopia’s three main religions will launch a national campaign to create awareness about HIV and Aids and attempt to dispel the stigma attached to those who are infected with the deadly disease. The week-long campaign, which is being launched by the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, the Islamic Affairs Supreme Council and the Ethiopian Evangelical Church, will begin when Muslims attend Friday prayers, the leaders told reporters late on Wednesday...

Refugees a priority as Canadian parliament resumes (Catholic Register) After a surge of asylum seekers over the summer, Canada’s refugee policies will be the top concern for many faith-based groups when Parliament resumes 18 September...

Devoted few nurture rugby in Iraq (The Daily Mail) t was his only job and sole means of funding his studies, but 20-year-old Mohammed Abbas left it for a chance to play on Iraq’s first national rugby side. In a war-torn country where football has long been the dominant sport, Abbas has joined 19 other young Iraqis training for the Arab Rugby Sevens Championship in Jordan next month. The sport is so new to Iraq that there is not yet the money to pay them...



13 September 2017
Greg Kandra




The Rev. Tom Uzhunnalil exits an airplane in Muscat, Oman after his release yesterday.
(photo: Vatican Radio/AFP)


Holy See expresses gratitude for rescue of abducted Indian priest (Vatican Radio) The Vatican has received with deep gratitude the news of the release of an Indian Catholic priest Rev. Tom Uzhunnalil, after 18 months of captivity following his abduction by unknown gunmen in March last year in Yemen. The Salesian of Don Bosco priest arrived in the Omani capital Muscat in an air force plane soon after his release on Tuesday, 12 September...

Pope grants assent to erecting new eparchy (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has granted his assent to the decision of the Synod of Bishops of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church to erect the Eparchy of Chernivtsi, with its seat in the same city and with territory taken from the Eparchy of Kolomyia- Chernivtsi, making it a suffragan of the Metropolitan see of Ivano-Frankivsk...

Aleppo archbishop: ‘War is fought through forgiveness’ (Fides) “War is not fought with war, but through dialogue, forgiveness, reconciliation, and the will to start a new life and follow new paths of peace,” said Armenian Catholic Archbishop of Aleppo, Butros Marayati, at the international meeting “Paths of Peace" organized by the Community of Sant’Egidio in Munster, Germany...

India’s Catholic bishops to release guidelines on sexual harassment (Vatican Radio) India’s Catholic bishops are releasing a document this week that proves guidelines to prevent and deal with sexual harassment, especially of women, in Church-run institutions. “CBCI Guidelines to Deal with Sexual Harassment at Workplace” is the title of the document that will be released on Thursday at a press conference at the CBCI Centre in New Delhi...

Iran strikes deal with Syria to repair power grid (Reuters) Iran signed deals with Damascus on Tuesday to repair Syria’s power grid, state media said, a potentially lucrative move for Tehran that points to a deepening economic role after years of fighting in the Syrian conflict...

Ethiopia now threatened by locusts (The African Independent) Swarms of locusts have invaded north-west Ethiopia, posing a serious threat to crops there and putting the region, as well as the entire Horn of Africa, at risk of further food insecurity, officials said on Monday. Just over a week since the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) warned of new locust hordes descending on Eritrea and Sudan after devastating swarms hit west and northern Africa last year, Ethiopian authorities said the pests had already been spotted in Tigray and Amhara districts...



12 September 2017
J.D. Conor Mauro





Abducted priest Tom Uzhunnalil rescued from Yemen (The Hindu) The Rev. Tom Uzhannalil from Kottayam, Kerala, who was kidnapped from Aden and kept in captivity by Yemeni militants for 18 months, has been released, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj announced on Tuesday. “I am happy to inform that Father Tom Uzhunnalil has been rescued,” Ms. Swaraj posted on her Twitter account. Since his abduction, Ms. Swaraj has made several statements on the government’s efforts to secure his release, as they have been able to do in other such cases, including the release of an aid worker from Afghanistan…

Orthodox patriarch targeted in Jerusalem protests against church land sales (Christian Today) Palestinians have rallied in Jerusalem against the selling of church property to Jewish settlers. The protesters demanded the removal of Patriarch Theophilos III over his role in selling the land. The rally was sparked by a court ruling over the selling of three major compounds near the Jaffa Gate in the Old City to an Israeli Jewish settler group, Ateret Cohanim…

Christian activists to church leaders: Speak out against growth of Hindu extremism (Fides) “We, as Indian Christians, are concerned about the change that we see in our country that, from a pluralist democracy, is almost turning into a sort of reign dominated by a Hindu ideology,” says an open letter addressed to the leaders of Indian churches, signed by 101 well-known Christian activists and intellectuals, including educators, activists, lawyers, journalists, theologians, philosophers, academics and pastors. “Churches must act before it is too late…”

Pope Tawadros launches Coptic Orthodox church in Australia (Daily News Egypt) Pope Tawadros II of Alexandria launched on Sunday the St. Verena and St. Bishoy Coptic Orthodox Church in Melbourne. Some representatives of the Christian communities in Melbourne attended the opening of the church…



Tags: India Violence against Christians Palestine Coptic

11 September 2017
Greg Kandra




Pope Francis answers questions from journalists aboard his flight from Cartagena, Colombia, to Rome on 10 September. Earlier, the pope cut and bruised his face on the popemobile window when he was greeting people. (photo: CNS/Paul Haring)

Turkey halts migrants in Black Sea (Vatican Radio) Turkish authorities say they have stopped 313 migrants on the Black Sea attempting to reach Balkan countries in the last two days, suggesting the emergence of an alternative route to Europe...

Report: Iraq holding hundreds of wives, children of ISIS suspects (BBC) The Iraqi authorities are holding more than 1,300 foreign family members of suspected Islamic State militants at a displaced people’s camp south of Mosul, officials and aid workers say. The women and children, from at least 13 countries, mostly fled Tal Afar as troops recaptured the city last month. The Norwegian Refugee Council, which is providing assistance at the camp, said they were in “de-facto detention”...

Pope injured during visit to Colombia (CNS) Driving through the streets of the Caribbean coastal city of Cartegena, the popemobile braked suddenly, and Pope Francis hit his head. A big bump appeared quickly on his left cheekbone and a few specks of blood from his scratched eyebrow stained his white soutane. After a quick treatment with ice, according to the Vatican, the pope was back in the popemobile making his way to the Church of St. Peter Claver, the Jesuit who devoted the last 40 years of his life to caring for and ministering to African slaves...

Gaza poverty rate reaches 80 percent (Middle East Media Center) Chairman of the Popular Committee Against the Siege on Gaza said, on Friday, that poverty rate among Palestinians in the territory has reached 80 per cent. “This has had disastrous effects on all aspects of life,” explained Jamal Al-Khodari in a press statement...

Ethiopia marks new year (The Herald) Ethiopia, with its own calendar, will be starting its New Year 2010 today, and citizens were busy preparing for celebrations...



Tags: Ethiopia Gaza Strip/West Bank Turkey Immigration





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