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Current Issue
March, 2019
Volume 45, Number 1
  
14 June 2019
Greg Kandra




The United States is insisting that Thursday's attack on two tankers in the Gulf of Oman was carried out by Iran. (video: CBS News/YouTube)

Trump insists Iran is behind tanker attack (The Washington Post) President Trump rejected Iran’s denials Friday that it attacked two tankers in the Gulf of Oman, insisting in a television interview that “Iran did do it” and pointing to a video released by the U.S. Central Command purporting to show Iranian vessels retrieving an unexploded mine from one of the damaged ships. Iran called the U.S. allegations against it “alarming…”

‘Russians are getting sick of church’ (Foreign Policy) A recent opinion poll recorded that 79 percent of Russians think of themselves as Orthodox Christians. But the church does not command obedience. The Yekaterinburg protests were much angrier, the views of the protesters much more passionately held, than the other big recent social protest in Russia’s regions against a planned landfill site in the northern city of Arkhangelsk…

Ration challenge: thousands of Americans plan to live on same diet as Syrian refugees (Newsweek) Starting this Sunday, more than 14,000 people across the country will get a small taste of what it’s like to live as a refugee, with thousands planning to take part in the “Ration Challenge”—a global fundraising effort that asks participants to live on the same rations provided to Syrian refugees in Jordan for the duration of World Refugee Week…

Dome of the Rock missing from Temple Mount drawing (Haaretz) The Jerusalem municipality removed the Dome of the Rock from a drawing of the Temple Mount displayed at a an event attended by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Leon on Thursday. The Al-Aqsa Mosque, the gates of the Temple Mount and the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer are prominently placed in the image, however the dome is conspicuously absent. Despite the dome being one of the most recognizable elements of the Jerusalem skyline, the designers depicted only the building’s base…



Tags: Refugees Jerusalem Russia Iran

13 June 2019
Greg Kandra




Archbishop Rino Fisichella, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelization, holds the Spanish version of Pope Francis' message for the 17 November World Day of the Poor, during its release at the Vatican. (photo: CNS/Paul Haring)

Ignoring the poor falsifies the Gospel, pope says in message (CNS) Christians must not underestimate the importance of embracing and assisting the poor, oppressed and outcast, Pope Francis said. Not only did Jesus entrust his disciples with the task of continuing his ministry on earth by giving hope to the poor, but “the credibility of our proclamation and the witness of Christians depends on it,” the pope said in a message for the World Day of the Poor…

U.S. Says ‘highly likely’ Iran behind attack on tankers in Gulf of Oman (CBS News) Two tankers were attacked Thursday near the strategic Strait of Hormuz, leaving one ablaze and adrift as sailors were evacuated from both. It was the second time in a month that tankers have been seriously damaged in the region, and again U.S. officials were quick to point the finger of blame at Iran…

Five years later, calls for accountability over fall of Mosul (Al-Monitor) With much of it still in ruins amid struggles to restore its basic infrastructure, Mosul is marking the fifth anniversary of its dramatic fall to the Islamic State. On 11 June, Ayad Allawi, the head of Wataniya Alliance, called for a full investigation of the June 2014 fall of Mosul...

Indian police raid Jesuit’s residence, charge him with sedition for defending tribal peoples (UCANews.com) Police in India have for the second time in less than a year raided an octogenarian Jesuit charged over allegedly seditious links to Maoist rebels. A police team, including officers from Maharashtra state in western India, raided the residence of 83-year-old Rev. Stanislaus Lourdusamy on the outskirts of Ranchi, capital of eastern Jharkhand state…



Tags: India Iraq Pope Francis Iran

12 June 2019
Greg Kandra




Syria says it shot down a number of Israeli missiles that were launched toward an area overlooking the Golan Heights. (video: i24News/YouTube)

Syria says it thwarted Israeli missile attack (Al Jazeera) Syrian Air Defenses thwarted an Israeli attack on Tal al-Hara in southern Syria and shot down a number of them, Syrian state news agency SANA said early on Wednesday. Located in Deraa Governorate, Tal al-Hara is considered a strategic hill overlooking the occupied Golan Heights…

Religion blamed for India’s poor grade on gender equality (UCANews.com) A global study of gender equality has placed India nearly at the bottom, with some research and rights groups accusing religion of playing a major role in Indians discriminating against women. The Sustainable Development Goals Gender Index ranked India 95th out of 129 countries. The index measures how well nations are progressing toward achieving gender equality by 2030, which is part of the 17 sustainable development goals set by the United Nations. Research done by Reshma Elizabeth Thomas of the University of Madras this year claims that religion is the main cause of depriving women of equality. For most Indians, the ideal concept of women comes from Hindu mythology as 80 percent of Indians are Hindus. …

Syrian refugees in Lebanon forced to destroy homes (AFP) Abu Mohamed lost his house in Syria early in the civil war. Six years on, it’s happening again -- only this time in Lebanon and he has to destroy it himself. His family and thousands of others crammed in this remote mountainous region of northeastern Lebanon have been ordered to demolish hard shelters, which the authorities consider illegal construction…

Report: dam in Ethiopia has wiped out indigenous livelihoods (Mongabay.com) A dam in southern Ethiopia built to supply electricity to cities and control the flow of water for irrigating industrial agriculture has led to the displacement and loss of livelihoods of indigenous groups, the Oakland Institute has found…



Tags: Syria India Israel Hinduism

11 June 2019
Greg Kandra




Deadly attacks in northern Syria have displaced thousands of civilians and sparked fears that millions of residents could be at risk. (video: TRT World/YouTube.)

Russian jets bomb Idlib (Al Jazeera) At least 25 people have been killed in aerial bombardment carried out by Russian jet fighters in Idlib region. The rebel stronghold of northwestern Syria has come under deadly regime bombardment in recent weeks, sparking fears for its roughly three million residents…

Body of Indian bishop exhumed after suspicions raised surrounding his death (UCANews.com) Police in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh have exhumed the body of a Catholic bishop after suspicions were raised that his death in a car accident six months ago could have been the result of foul play. Bishop Thomas Thennatt of Gwalior’s corpse was exhumed on 10 June after a court ordered police to investigate the prelate’s death on 14 December last year...

Violence with Gaza causing families to leave southern Israel (The Jerusalem Post) At least 10 families living in Gaza border communities have decided to leave the area following the repeated rounds of violence between Israel and terror groups in the Hamas-run coastal enclave, Channel 13 reported on Friday. According to the report, the families arrived in the Sha’ar Hanegev Regional Council last year and have told the council that they will be leaving this summer due to the security situation…

Syria says no to restoring ties with Hamas (The Jerusalem Post) Syria is not interested in restoring their relations with Hamas despite the Palestinian movement’s readiness to bury the hatchet with Damascus. According to recent reports, Iran and its Lebanese ally, Hezbollah, have been mediating between Syria and Hamas in a bid to persuade the two sides to restore their relations…



Tags: Syria Gaza Strip/West Bank Indian Bishops

10 June 2019
Greg Kandra




Syriac Catholic Archbishop Yohanna Moshe of Mosul, Iraq, center, concelebrates the liturgy at St. Thomas Syriac Catholic Church in the old city of Mosul in February. Announcing his desire to visit Iraq in 2020, Pope Francis called for a peaceful resolution to crises in the Middle East.
(photo: CNS/Khalid al-Mousily, Reuters)


Pope hopes to visit Iraq in 2020 (Vatican News) Pope Francis said on Monday he “thinks constantly of Iraq”, where he wishes to travel in the coming year. He was addressing representatives of ROACO, the ‘Reunion of Aid Agencies for the Oriental Churches.’ As he listed countries that fall within the Reunion’s reach and where the faithful continue to suffer, — including Syria, Ukraine and the Holy Land — the Pope focused on Iraq…

Pope Francis releases message for World Mission Sunday 2019 (Vatican News) World Mission Sunday in 2019 falls on 20 October. Instituted by Pope Pius XI in 1926, the annual day encourages prayers, cooperation and help for missions as well as reminding Christians about the fundamental missionary character of the Church and of every baptized person. The theme of this year’s observance is “Baptized and Sent: The Church of Christ on Mission in the World”…

Inside Lebanon’s most dangerous refugees camps (The Independent) The original refugee camp at Bourj al-Barajneh was once a sea of canvas tents. Today it is a concrete labyrinth hiding Lebanon’s social outcasts, more than 20,000 Palestinian refugees, from view…

UN: Up to 2 million Syrians could flee to Turkey (Reuters) Up to two million refugees could flee to Turkey if fighting intensifies in north-western Syria as aid funds run dangerously low, the United Nations said on Monday. Syria’s Russian-backed regime forces have been pressing an assault on opposition and rebels in their last major stronghold with air attacks and ground battles that have already forced tens of thousands to leave their homes…



Tags: Iraq Pope Francis Lebanon Refugees Refugee Camps

7 June 2019
Greg Kandra




In this image from 2015, Pope Francis greets Russian President Vladimir Putin as he arrives for a private meeting at the Vatican. The two will meet again in July, possibly paving the way for a future papal visit to Russia. (photo:CNS/Alexei Nikolsky, RIA Novosti/Kremlin via Reuters)

Putin July trip to Rome could pave way for papal trip to Russia (Reuters) The Vatican said Putin, who will be on a state visit to Italy, will hold talks with the Argentinian-born pope on 4 July. The meeting, their third since Francis was elected in 2013, comes at a time of improving relations between the Vatican and the world’s Orthodox Churches. It also will be their first since Francis and Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill met in 2016, a landmark step in healing the 1,000-year-old rift between the Western and Eastern branches of Christianity…

Lebanon imposes curfew on Syria refugees (Middle East Monitor) Lebanon has restricted the movement of Syrian refugees in the Deir El-Ahmar area until Friday after a fire engine was ambushed yesterday. Governor of Baalbek, Bachir Khodr, imposed the severe restrictions on the refugees after a fireman was hopsitalised in the attack. A Syrian man is reported to have been involved in the attack…

Myths put lives of young Indian women at risk (UCANews.com) In large swathes of rural India, as well as some urban pockets, females are considered impure and segregated when menstruating. They are forced to sleep in separate ”menstruation huts,” which are often cowsheds or barns. Poverty and a general lack of awareness of health issues pushes them even closer to death as they are prone to infections while bleeding, or can be bitten by snakes or other wild animals in the huts, experts say…

Visiting the ’Sistine Chapel of Iran’ shows Christian-Muslim coexistence (B.C. Catholic) Located in the ancient Persian capital of Isfahan, this church is also known as Vank Cathedral (“Vank” is the Armenian word for monastery or convent). An Armenian Orthodox church, this gem is hidden behind walls, a living intersection of Perso-Christian-Islamic culture in one of the world’s oldest civilizations. The church is a part of old Christianity not often seen in that part of the world, a living proof of the harmony that has long existed among Muslims and Christians. In fact, it is one of the best places to observe a coexistence of cultures and religions…

Vatican to launch radio news service in Latin (Vatican News) Starting on Saturday, 8 June, a 5-minute weekly news bulletin in Latin will be broadcast to the world on Vatican Radio frequencies through the Italian language audio channels. Of course you will also be able to follow it on our web portal and listen to it on podcast, and it will soon be available on the English-language audio frequencies as well…



Tags: Syria India Lebanon Muslim Iran

6 June 2019
Greg Kandra




Pope Francis greets people as he visits Our Lady Queen of Iasi Cathedral in Iasi, Romania on 1 June 2019. During his audience Wednesday, the pope expressed joy at being among the Romanian people last week. (photo: CNS/Vatican Media)

Pope expresses joy at being among Romanian people (Vatican News) During his Catechesis at the Wednesday General Audience, Pope Francis recalled his recent visit to Romania following in the footsteps of Saint John Paul II. The motto of the visit was “Let’s walk together” and the Pope expressed his joy at being able to walk as a pilgrim among the Romanian people. The Pontiff said that the various meetings whilst there “highlighted the value and the need to walk together both among Christians, on the level of faith and charity, and among citizens, on the level of civil commitment…”

Syrian airstrikes kill civilians in Idlib (Al Jazeera)At least five civilians were killed by Russian and Syrian government warplanes that targeted Syria’s northwest as residents marked the holiday of Eid al-Fitr. A local source told Anadolu Agency the five people died on Wednesday in air attacks targeting the town of Kansafra and three villages in Idlib…

Pope to meet Putin before Vatican Ukraine meeting (ABC News) Pope Francis will meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Vatican next month, a day before Catholic leaders from Ukraine gather at the Holy See to discuss the continuing conflict there and the fallout from the schism between the Russian and Ukrainian Orthodox Churches…

Child beggars are the face of poverty in Gaza (Haaretz) There’s a fine line between being a peddler and beggar. The peddlers offer bunches of fresh mint, cookies, gum and tissues. When you refuse, they plead: “Please, give me something.” Many of the peddlers are children, who are up late in any event during Ramadan. They could be seen walking around after 1 A.M. hawking their small supply of wares...



Tags: Syria Gaza Strip/West Bank Romania

5 June 2019
Greg Kandra




Clergy from around the world process for the enthronement of Metropolitan-Archbishop Borys Gudziak as head of the Ukrainian Catholic Archeparchy of Philadelphia at the Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception on 4 June 2019.
(photo: CNS/Jonathan Drake, Reuters)


Ukrainian Catholic Church installs new leader (AP) An Eastern Catholic diocese in Pennsylvania has installed a new leader. The Ukrainian Catholic Archeparchy of Philadelphia has named the Rev. Borys Gudziak as the metropolitan archbishop, which makes him the head of the Ukrainian Catholic Church in the United States. Gudziak is a 58-year-old native of Syracuse, New York. He succeeds Stefan Soroka, who resigned for health reasons last year…

Ethiopian Christians, Muslims clean stadium in show of solidarity for Eid-al-Fitr (NAIJ.com) Ethiopian Christians on Monday, 3 June, joined their Muslim brothers and sisters in a clean up exercise to show solidarity and love ahead of the end of the holy month of Ramadan. Leading the group was Ethiopia’s prime minister Abiy Ahmed who was also spotted sweeping the ground where the celebrations are expected to take place on Wednesday when the Muslim community across the world mark Eid-al-Fitr…

UN: crops and farmland being burned in Syria as a ’weapon of war’ (Al Jazeera) Thousands of hectares of vital crops and farmland have been set on fire by fighters in northwest Syria in a campaign that has turned food supplies into a “weapon of war”, the United Nations World Food Program (WFP) said…

Egypt’s president speaks out on Muslim treatment of Christians (National Review) Sunday Egyptian president Abdel Fatah al-Sisi delivered a speech during a ceremony in Cairo for Laylat al-Qadr, which is one of the odd-numbered nights during the last ten days of Ramadan. Since before the Egyptian revolution in 2011 propelled the country into chaos and till this year, Egypt’s Coptic Christian population has been facing a wave of persecution that some Copts describe as the worst in 700 years. President Sisi’s remarks, however, may be a sign of his efforts imploring peaceful coexistence in Egypt between Muslims and Christians…



Tags: Syria Ethiopia Muslim Ukrainian Catholic Church

4 June 2019
Greg Kandra




The video above shows Syrian forces bombing hospitals in Idlib in May. (video: Sky News/YouTube)

In Syria, even the hospitals aren’t safe (The New York Times) After eight brutal years, it is hard to find anything shocking about the Syrian civil war. But somehow, the government forces under President Bashar al-Assad always find a way. On 15 May, Syrian bombs destroyed the Tarmala Maternity and Children’s Hospital in Idlib, the 19th medical facility attacked since late April…

Leprosy patients receive help and hope at center in India (UCANews.com) Some 160 families now live in Leprosy Care Center center with their children and grandchildren. With the third generation growing up here, the place has become their home. All the older residents fled their homes and villages following severe social exclusion…

Westminster Abbey denies Ethiopian Christians permission to pray with relic (Times of Israel) Westminster Abbey has been accused of cultural insensitivity after it turned down a request from Ethiopian Christians to pray beside a tablet that the Ethiopian church considers sacred…

New Ukrainian Catholic archbishop faces challenge of renewal among faithful (The Philadelphia Inquirer) On Tuesday, Borys Gudziak, a native of Syracuse, N.Y., and the son of immigrant parents, will be installed as the metropolitan archbishop of the Ukrainian Catholic Archeparchy, or archdiocese, of Philadelphia, making him the titular head of the faith in the United States. Gudziak, 58, who has helped fuel a resurgence in the church in Ukraine, will work to inspire a similar renewal in this country of a faith — with fewer than 100,000 adherents — that has faced many of the same struggles as other Christian denominations…

Record turnout for Eid prayers in Ethiopian capital (Andalou Agency) More than one million people gathered in and around the Addis Ababa stadium for Eid al-Fitr prayers on Tuesday. The Muslim festival of Eid al-Fitr was celebrated across Ethiopia — a country hosting the largest Muslim community in Sub-Sahara Africa after Nigeria. Muslims account for 34% of Ethiopia’s more than 100 million population…



Tags: Syria India Ethiopia Muslim

3 June 2019
Greg Kandra




Pope Francis beatified seven Romanian Catholic martyrs during his visit to Romania last weekend. (video: CNS/YouTube)

Pope praises, beatifies martyred Romanian bishops (CNS) The memory and witness of Romania’s martyred bishops are a reminder that Christians are called to stand firm against ideologies that seek to stifle and suppress their cultural and religious traditions, Pope Francis said. On the last leg of his visit to Romania, the pope on 2 June celebrated a Divine Liturgy during which seven Eastern-rite Catholic bishops, who died during a fierce anti-religious campaign waged by the communist regime in Romania, were beatified…

Pope Francis says he is strengthened by talks with Benedict (CNS) Pope Francis said that he continues to visit retired Pope Benedict XVI, 92, who is like a grandfather who continues to encourage him and give him strength. ”I take his hand and let him speak. He speaks little, at his own pace, but with the same profoundness as always. Benedict’s problem are his knees, not his mind. He has a great lucidity,” the pope told journalists on 2 June on his return flight from Romania…

Some Syrian refugees being welcomed home with arrest and interrogation (The Washington Post) Hundreds of Syrian refugees have been arrested after returning home as the war they fled winds down — then interrogated, forced to inform on close family members and in some cases tortured, say returnees and human rights monitors. Many more who weathered the conflict in rebel-held territory now retaken by government forces are meeting a similar fate as President Bashar al-Assad’s regime deepens its longtime dependence on informers and surveillance…

Ethnic violence has displaced nearly 3 million Ethiopians (The Los Angeles Times) About 700,000 people have been displaced by the Gedeo-Guji dispute, according to the United Nations. Yet it is just one of many inter-ethnic conflicts raging in Ethiopia that have given the country an unenviable distinction: Last year more people fled their homes there than in any other nation on Earth. In total, 2.9 million people had been displaced by December 2018, more than those dislodged in Syria, Yemen, Somalia and Afghanistan combined, according to estimates published this month…

India faces demand for Hindu temple on site of mosque (UCANews.com) Less than a week after the Hindu nationalist Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) won a landslide victory in India’s general elections, Hindu groups stepped up demands to build a temple in Ayodhya, claimed to be the birthplace of revered Hindu god Lord Ram…



Tags: Syria India Pope Francis Ethiopia Romanian Catholic Church





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