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Current Issue
Spring, 2016
Volume 42, Number 1
  
25 May 2016
J.D. Conor Mauro




Internally displaced Iraqis leave a Catholic church after celebrating the liturgy in a camp in Ain Kawa, Iraq, in April. (photo: CNS/Paul Jeffrey)

Tom Gallagher: The desperate plight of Iraqi Christians (Greenwich Time) In mid-April 2016, as an act of solidarity with the suffering Christians and other religious minorities, New York’s Cardinal Timothy Dolan, as chairman of the Board of Directors of the 90-year old New York City-based papal agency, Catholic Near East Welfare Association (CNEWA), made a pastoral visit to Erbil and Dohuk, a town near the Turkish border. I went as a journalist for the National Catholic Reporter. Our small delegation visited multiple health clinics and displacement camps for Iraqi Christians and Yazidis. At each stop the displaced repeated the plea to be able to “just go home…”

Christian schools at risk as Israeli government reneges on promise (Fides) A few days before the end of a difficult school year, which started with a 27-day strike, 47 Christian schools operating in Israel are facing a financial emergency because the Ministry of education has not honored their commitment to transfer 50 million shekels to the Christian schools, a condition of the agreement that ended the strike in September. As of today, the government is more than 50 days past its deadline…

Iraqi priest: Violence, divisions have created a sense of brotherhood with Muslims (Herald Malaysia Online) The Rev. Samir Youssef, pastor in the Chaldean Eparchy of Amadiya, in Iraqi Kurdistan, has been taking care of 3,500 Christian, Muslim and Yazidi refugee families since 2014. Over this time, ISIS, violence, political divisions and partisan interests have created a new sense of brotherhood among them. In the past, people lived side by side, but today, refugees have a new desire of community, which is “expressed in what they do but also what they say,” not only among children and youths, but also among adults “who have overcome their initial distrust,” Father Youssef says. “When Muslim and Yazidi children call me ‘Abouna’ [“father” in Arabic], and come to visit me in church, this is God’s victory…”

Syrian bishop’s plea as blasts cause carnage (AINA) A bishop in Syria has described desperate efforts to tend to the injured and the dying following multiple ISIS attacks in Tartous and Jableh, which left more than 200 dead and nearly 650 injured. Bishop Antioine Chbeir stressed that Monday’s attacks in his diocese were the first of their kind in an area where displaced Syrians had gathered in their hundreds of thousands, believing it to be one of the last remaining safe areas of the country…

Christianity in India and the challenges of Hindu extremism (The Tablet) Christians and Muslims have been persecuted at the hands of Hindu nationalists associated with the ruling B.J.P. party, which espouses Hindutva, the ethno-religious political ideology that claims India as a “motherland” for Hindus and regards Islam and Christianity as alien elements in Indian society. The Syro-Malabar Church, with 4 million members, is the largest of southwest India’s churches, claiming descent from the mission efforts of the Apostle Thomas. It is one of the 23 Eastern Catholic churches in communion with Rome. Whether Thomas actually arrived in India in the year 52 is disputable, but it is clear that Christianity was established on the Malabar coast at least as early as the sixth century, and thereafter lived in cultural symbiosis with both Hinduism and Buddhism. So far, the level of interreligious violence has been low in Kerala compared with other states, but, warns Cardinal George Alencherry, “there is an undercurrent of communal tension here too…”



Tags: Syria Iraq India Israel Iraqi Christians

24 May 2016
J.D. Conor Mauro




Solidarity groups protest behind a line of riot police during the forced evacuation of a makeshift camp close to the Greece-Macedonia border near the village of Idomeni on 24 May. (photo: Sakis Mitrolidis/AFP/Getty Images)

Greece begins to clear migrants from Idomeni camp (TIME) Greek authorities have started removing thousands of migrants and refugees from a makeshift camp near the Macedonian border, where they have been stranded since Macedonia closed its border in February…

Rabbis launch campaign against religious hatred, ‘price tag’ gangs (Fides) Israel-based Rabbis for Human Rights have announced that a new campaign will be launched in the Knesset this week. ‘Price tag’ attacks are hate crimes directed mainly at Palestinians and Christians by extremist right-wing Israeli Jews. These crimes often go unpunished…

Terra Santa middle school in Aleppo hit by a missile (Custodia Terrae Sanctae) On Saturday, 21 May, missiles fell on the Terra Santa Middle School in Aleppo, Syria. One person died and two were seriously injured, including elderly people who had sought refuge there. Until this event, the school, with its large park, was considered to be one of the city’s few safe places. A year ago, the friars opened up classrooms in order to accommodate about 20 elderly people after their homes were bombed. “The explosion was extremely violent, and it was strongly felt,” said Brother Firas Lutfi, O.F.M., the school principal, in a telephone interview. “There is a no longer one place in Aleppo that is 100 percent safe…”

Egypt Parliament to discuss easing restrictions on building churches (WorldWatch Monitor) The Egyptian Parliament is considering a proposal on the construction of churches that Christians hope will narrow the country’s religious inequality gap. The construction of each new church typically had to be authorized directly by the Egyptian president, although attempts have been made to grant church-building permits from governors and the security authorities…

Surge in eastern fighting kills seven Ukrainian soldiers (Reuters) Ukraine said on Tuesday seven of its servicemen had been killed in the past 24 hours as a result of increased attacks by pro-Russian rebels, the highest reported daily casualty figure since August…

Russian Orthodox Church and the Church of the East open talks (AINA) Official dialogue between the Church of the East and the Russian Orthodox Church opened in consideration of the full-scale persecution of Christians in the Middle East, suffered especially in Iraq and Syria, on 18 May. The Commission recognized the importance of the Russian Orthodox Church’s solidarity with the Church of the East and all persecuted peoples of the Middle East…



Tags: Syria Ukraine Israel Greece Migrants

23 May 2016
J.D. Conor Mauro




Iraqi pro-government forces advance towards the city of Fallujah on 23 May, as part of a major assault to retake the city from ISIS. (photo: Ahmad Al Rubaye/AFP/Getty Images)

Iraqi Army liberates strategic city in Anbar (Al Masdar News) The Iraqi Army has had a very successful day in the Anbar governorate, liberating several sites from ISIS terrorists around the city of Fallujah. However, the biggest surprise in Anbar came from Al Karma, where the Iraqi Armed Forces overwhelmed ISIS units to liberate this strategic city near the Iraqi capital…

Chaldean patriarch urges U.S. not to arm ‘Christian militias’ (AINA) Christian anti-ISIS forces in Iraq are set to benefit from a defense spending bill headed for authorization by the U.S. Congress. Chaldean Patriarch Louis Raphael I, however, urges against giving weapons to self-styled “Christian” militias. “There are no ‘Christian militias,’ but only politicized groups and simple people who are in desperate need of a salary…”

Israel allows building supplies to enter Gaza again (New York Times) The Israeli military authorities on Monday allowed building supplies to start flowing into Gaza again, lifting a suspension that had blocked work for more than a month on thousands of houses destroyed in the 2014 summer war. About 90 truckloads of cement were expected to cross into Gaza on Monday, according to the office of the special coordinator for the peace process…

Syria’s Catholic and Orthodox children to pray together for peace (AINA) Children from Syria’s different Christian denominations will be joining together to pray for peace in the country on International Children’s Day. The plan, which is being backed by Syrian church leaders, was described in a joint message from the country’s Catholic and Orthodox patriarchs. They wrote: “On this International Day of the Child, Christian children in many of the towns and cities of Syria are going to gather together and pray that peace may come at last…”

Wave of bombings kills scores in area of Syria loyal to Assad (Washington Post) A wave of coordinated bombings in Syria claimed by ISIS killed at least 78 people Monday in the usually calm coastal area where Russian troops are based, Syrian state media reported…

Egyptian press announces resumption of dialogue between Holy See and Al Azhar (Fides) ”In Egypt, great importance is given to the meeting between Pope Francis and the Grand Imam of Al Azhar; even the most popular newspapers dedicate large space to the event on the front page, and report that the decision to resume official dialogue between the Holy See and the largest Sunni theological institution has already been taken,” says Anba Kyrillos William Samaan, Coptic Catholic Bishop of Assiut…



Tags: Syria Iraq Gaza Strip/West Bank

20 May 2016
Greg Kandra




The video above explains how Syrian bishops, religious organizations are seeking to stop sanctions on Syria, as a new report reveals countries are not delivering on aid they pledged to the war-torn country. (video: Rome Reports)

Israeli defense minister resigns (The New York Times) The Israeli defense minister, Moshe Yaalon, announced on Friday that he was resigning, an abrupt move that comes as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu publicly conducts negotiations with a far-right party to join his government. As part of those negotiations, Mr. Netanyahu is believed to have offered the position of defense minister to Avigdor Lieberman, the head of the ultranationalist Yisrael Beiteinu party...

Air disaster adds to Egypt’s litany of woes (NPR) The cause isn’t yet known, but the loss of an Egyptian plane into the Mediterranean has already delivered a new round of trauma to a beleaguered country struggling on several fronts. President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi’s hardline rule faces mounting criticism at home and abroad. An ISIS-linked group is waging an insurgency in the Sinai Peninsula. The tourist industry has been in the doldrums for years. And the EgyptAir plane that vanished early Thursday marked the country’s second aviation disaster in just over six months...

Report: Countries not fulfilling pledges to help refugees (The Guardian) Countries who attended a London summit to help Syrian refugees have so far only committed a sixth of the money they pledged for 2016, a report shows. The money is due to be allocated to help countries in the region surrounding Syria, primarily Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan, with a focus on Syrian children’s education and improving the chances of refugees finding paid work...

Over 100 reported killed by floods, landslides in Ethiopia (Al Jazeera) About 100 people have been killed by floods and landslides across Ethiopia that started last month, government officials say. At least 20,000 families have been made homeless, according to the UN, while local officials say there are a number of people still missing. Meteorologists have blamed this year’s particularly powerful El Niño weather phenomenon for the country’s high rainfall...

Aid from UAE headed to Iraqi refugees (Fides) The eleven Iraqi Christian refugee families in Mosul who found hospitality in Naur, western urban area of the municipality in Amman, will also receive this year material aid reserved for them from the United Arab Emirates...

Commission says suicides on the rise in Gaza (Gulf News) Independent Commission for Human Right’s (ICHR) figures show six suicides in Gaza since the beginning of this year whereas five Gazans took their lives in the entire 2015. The commission urged the situation in Gaza be addressed by the entire society which must establish a national mental health committee to tackle the suicides. The ICHR said there is a sharp increase in the rate of suicide attempts, too...



19 May 2016
Greg Kandra




In the video above, a priest from the Pontifical Council Cor Unum explains the pope’s project for refugees in Jordan. Today, Pope Francis spoke to diplomats at the Vatican and encouraged them to work on behalf of migrants and those caring for them. (video: Rome Reports)

Pope to diplomats: do not give in to fear in helping migrants (CNS) While the international community should continue working for peace in war-torn countries, it also must work to help migrants escaping violence and persecution as well as those caring for them, Pope Francis said. In a speech 19 May to six new ambassadors to the Holy See, the pope said that while fears of terrorism and changing a nation’s culture cannot be dismissed lightly, the concerns must “be addressed in an intelligent and creative way so that the rights and needs of all are respected and upheld...”

Search underway for missing EgyptAir flight (CNN) EgyptAir Flight 804 vanished from radar on its way from Paris to Cairo with 66 people aboard, the airline said Thursday. The plane was flying at 37,000 feet when it lost contact overnight above the Mediterranean Sea, the airline tweeted. French President Francois Hollande said he was told the flight crashed, but Egyptian Civil Aviation Minister Sharif Fathi said he preferred to classify the flight as missing...

New bishop in India vows to evangelize (Crux) In what could seem simply Vatican business as usual, Pope Francis last month created a new diocese in the Indian state of Odisha and named its first bishop. It’s anything but ordinary, however, because Odisha, formerly known as Orissa, was the setting for the worst anti-Christian pogrom in the early 21st century. In late 2007 and again in the summer of 2008, mobs of radical Hindus left 100 people killed, thousands injured, 300 churches and 6,000 homes destroyed, and 50,000 Christians taking refuge in a nearby forest, where more died of hunger, thirst and snakebite. Bishop Aplinar Senapati of the new diocese of Rayagada says the main thrust of his mission in this battle-scarred territory will be evangelization...

How a 100-year-old agreement made the modern Middle East (America Magazine) The Sykes-Picot Agreement, one of the most fateful pacts in modern history, was signed 100 years ago on 16 May 1916. It is not an anniversary to be celebrated...

The suffering of Syria’s Christians taught him how to be a priest (CNA) Father Rodrigo Miranda is a priest from Chile. But it was in Syria, among the oppressed Christian community, that he learned what it really meant to be a priest. “They wake us up to the essential and important things in life,” he told the Spanish daily ABC. The witness of the persecuted Christians in Syria is “an antidote for the mediocre and decadent world of our societies...”

Metropolitan Tikhon congratulates Patriarch Kiril on DECR anniversary (OCA.org) In a letter dated 17 May 2016, His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon offered congratulations to His Holiness, Patriarch Kirill of Moscow on the 70th Anniversary of the Moscow Patriarchate’s Department of External Church Relations [DECR]...



18 May 2016
Greg Kandra




Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, US Secretary of State John Kerry and UN Special envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura lead talks on Syria on 17 May 2016 in Vienna.
(photo: Leonhard Foeger/AFP/Getty Images)


Syria support group wrestles with ending conflict (Voice of America) The International Syria Support Group has stepped up efforts to help stabilize Syria with new provisions that would exclude repeat cease-fire violators from being protected under the cessation of hostilities agreement and would also expand humanitarian air drops into besieged areas. However, challenges remained as the multi-national group wrapped up its meeting in Vienna...

Residents near Gaza border told to prepare for possible evacuations (Newsweek) Israeli authorities have instructed residents of Israel’s southern communities on the Gaza border to prepare for a mass evacuation in the event that another conflict with Palestinian militant groups breaks out this summer. Tensions are increasing on the border, with firefights breaking out between Hamas militants and Israeli forces, as Israel conducts operations to root out the extensive tunnel network in the coastal enclave that has been used to smuggle goods and to launch attacks against Israeli forces...

Pope greets Ukrainian children at audience (Vatican Radio) During this week’s general audience, Pope Francis extended a special greeting to a group of children from Ukraine, who had been brought to the Vatican by the international initiative Children for peace all over the world...

Archbishop to UN: Stop terrorism by winning hearts of the young (Vatican Radio) Archbishop Bernardito Auza, Apostolic Nuncio and Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, called for world leaders to “strike terrorism at its very roots and where it must primarily be fought: namely, in the hearts and minds of men and women,” especially the youth, who are at risk of radicalization and recruitment by terrorist groups...

Efforts should focus on rebuilding farmers’ resilience in Ethiopia (The Guardian) This year’s severe El Niño drought has dealt a major blow. The effects have been devastating, as more than 10.2 million Ethiopians require food assistance. Farmers in drought-affected areas have had to watch the crops and livestock that feed their families and produce their income vanish. But there is still cause for hope...

Some Christian refugees in Slovakia ask to return home (Fides) At least twenty of the 149 Iraqi refugees who have been in Slovakia for a few months on the basis of a “selective” welcome program reserved for Christian refugees have decided to return to Iraq. They have explained their choice with nostalgia for their homeland and the difficulties of adapting to the cultural context of the country that had welcomed them. The Iraq returnees, according to local sources, were part of the group of Iraqi Christians from the villages in the Nineveh Plain, who had been forced to leave their homes in August 2014, before the advance of the jihadi militias of the Islamic State...

Kerala damaged after heavy rains (Indian Express) Heavy rains lashed various parts of central and southern districts of Kerala, causing extensive damage in coastal areas. Rains and rough seas caused damage to hundreds of houses in coastal areas in the state capital, Alappuzha and Ernakulam districts, official sources said. Authorities have given directions to evacuate people in low lying areas, where reports of houses being damaged have come in. Relief camps have also been opened to shift the affected people in these areas, they said...



17 May 2016
Greg Kandra




Pope Francis talks with Guillaume Goubert and Sébastien Maillard, journalists with the French daily newspaper La Croix, during an exclusive interview at the Vatican on 9 May.
(photo: L’Osservatore Romano/La Croix)


In new interview, Pope Francis speaks of immigration, Islam, other issues (L’Osservatore Romano) Migration, Islam, the laity, France, missionaries, the abuse crisis, the possibility of reintegration of the Lefebvrists into the Church, and the family: these were the main themes which Pope Francis addressed on 9 May in an interview he gave to the French daily “la Croix”...

World powers gather to resume Syria peace talks (Al Jazeera) Senior diplomats from the West and the Middle East are meeting in the Austrian capital Vienna in an effort to salvage efforts to halt Syria’s civil war. John Kerry, US secretary of state, and Sergey Lavrov, Russia's foreign minister, will chair the meeting on Tuesday. At the gathering, the 17-nation International Syria Support Group (ISSG) will renew its call for a national cessation of hostilities and immediate humanitarian access to besieged communities...

Russians building army base at Syria’s Palmyra site (Stars and Stripes) The Russian military is constructing a new army base in the central Syrian town of Palmyra, within the protected zone that holds the archaeological site listed by UNESCO as a world heritage site without asking for permission from relevant authorities, an American heritage organization and a top Syrian archaeologist said Tuesday...

Ancient church frescoes in Turkey damaged during conversion to mosque (Fides) The ancient Byzantine church of Aghia Sophia in Trabzon, converted into a mosque in 2013, was severely damaged due to the work carried out for its transformation into a Muslim place of worship. This was reported by local sources consulted by Agenzia Fides. Heavy renovation led, among other things, to the destruction of frescoes and the total coverage of mosaics...

Online petition launched to try and stop sanctions against Syrians (Fides) A digital online petition has been launched at change.org, aimed “at MPs and the mayors in every Country’ to ask for “the iniquity of sanctions on Syria to be made known to the citizens of the European Union and become, finally, the subject of a serious debate and consequent resolutions”. This is the initiative launched by a number of bishops, religious and consecrated Catholics belonging to different Churches sui iuris, to ask the European Union to put an end to sanctions still in place against Syria...

After fleeing Ethiopia, some return home to a changed country (The Washington Post) The first time Abezash Tamerat returned to her native Ethiopia, she walked out of the airport terminal’s sliding doors only to turn around and walk right back in, briefly overwhelmed by the press of beggars and taxi drivers clamoring outside. Tamerat had left Ethiopia as a child and grown up in foster care in Georgia. Now she was going back as a 20-year-old to rediscover the far-off, unfamiliar place that had shaped her identity...



16 May 2016
Greg Kandra




In this photo from 29 April, a set of dishes somehow survived a rocket attack on a house in Agdam, Azerbaijan. The leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan were scheduled to meet Monday for peace talks in Vienna. (photo: Resul Rehimov/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Presidents of Armenia, Azerbaijan meet for peace talks (Vatican Radio) Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian and Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev were expected to meet in Vienna later Monday to discuss a fragile cease-fire in Azerbaijan’s breakaway Nagorno-Karabakh region following the worst violence there in decades...

Report: Syrian refugees selling organs to survive (Newsweek) The illegal trade in human organs has become widespread in Syria and neighboring countries, medical officials and victims say, with cross-border networks exploiting thousands of desperate Syrians. These networks purchase transplantable organs such as kidneys and corneas from Syrians and ship them to neighboring countries, where they disappear into the murky world of the international organ trade, they say. There are also allegations that organs have been stolen from prisoners...

Pope’s visit to Armenian genocide memorial could strain relations with Turkey (RNS) Pope Francis will visit the Armenian Genocide memorial complex during a three-day visit to the country in June, a move that may strain the Vatican’s diplomatic relations with Turkey. The pope will travel to the Tsitsernakaberd site in southern Armenia on 25 June, spending an hour at the memorial, the Vatican announced on Friday (13 May). The complex commemorates up to 1.5 million Armenians killed between 1915 and 1923 under the Ottoman Empire...

Multipurpose center under construction in Jordan (Fides) At the initiative of the parish “The Visitation of Our Lady,” construction work of a multipurpose center has started in Anjara, Jordan. The project will serve the parish’s long-awaited purposes and needs. The project, which is located a few miles south of Ajloun, will meet the growing demand for more living space, especially for the children. The children are currently staying in the religious community’s house as there isn’t proper accommodation for them to reside in...

Mine-clearing unlocks holy ground at Jesus’ baptism site in Jordan (The Wall Street Journal) Israel cleared a part of the baptismal site in 2011 and it has since become a popular attraction for visiting Christian pilgrims. Now Israeli and Palestinian officials have agreed to allow U.S. and U.K.-based demining group HALO Trust to clear the rest of the site — about 136 acres. HALO and Israeli defense officials estimate the area is littered with more than 3,000 antipersonnel and antitank mines and an unknown number of improvised explosive devices. The plan is to clear all the mines within two years...

Drought, floods hit Ethiopia’s economy (Voice of America) Floods in Ethiopia, which come on the heels of the worst drought in 50 years, have already claimed the lives of dozens of people and displaced thousands more. The economic toll will also be particularly severe because three-quarters of Ethiopia’s population lives off the land...

Gaza farmers dodge bullets to harvest crops (Al Monitor) Angst seems to be the name of the game for Palestinian farmers within the buffer zone between Gaza and Israel, which measures 300 meters (328 yards) inside the Gaza border. Farmers fear what they say is constant shooting from Israeli forces openly defying a truce agreement signed in August 2014 between the Palestinian resistance and Israel in a bid to end the 2014 war on Gaza...

Vatican publishes pope’s message for World Mission Day 2016 (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has released a Message for World Mission Sunday 2016, which takes place each year on the third Sunday of October...



13 May 2016
Greg Kandra




In Addis Ababa, Ethiopia today, Commissioner of Ethiopia National Disaster Risk Management, Mitiku Kassa, left, and USAID Acting Assistant Administrator, Thomas H. Staal, right, hold a joint press conference to discuss increased aid for the drought-stricken country.
(photo: Moohammed Abdu Abdulbaqi/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)


U.S. Donates 128 million for Ethiopian drought relief (Bloomberg) The U.S. Agency for International Development said it will donate almost $128 million to support more than 10 million Ethiopians suffering from the country’s worst drought in half a century. The funds will pay for food, water, malnutrition treatment, mobile health teams and seeds, Acting Assistant Administrator for the Bureau of Democracy, Conflict and Humanitarian Affairs Thomas Staal told reporters in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, on Friday...

Vatican releases pope’s itinerary for Armenia visit (Vatican Radio) The official programme for Pope Francis’ 3-day visit to Armenia from 24th to 26th June was released on Friday...

Iraqi Christian refugees forced to sign document supporting independence of Kurdistan (Fides) A fair number of Christian Assyrians, Chaldean and Syrian displaced, who took refuge in the city of Dohuk after their villages were conquered by the jihadists of ISIS, were forced to sign a petition in recent days in support of the proclamation of an independent Kurdish State in Iraqi Kurdistan. This was reported by local sources, consulted by Agenzia Fides. Ainkawa.com site also publishes a facsimile of the signature collection form, with a space to register the identity card and mobile phone number...

“Garden of Mercy” inaugurated in Jordan (Fides) A company dedicated to “sustainable” agriculture, with 600 olive trees planted on an area of 10 thousand square meters, which employs 15 workers, chosen among the Iraqi refugees but also among the unemployed Jordanians: this is the “garden of mercy,” humanitarian project inaugurated yesterday, Thursday, 12 May in Amman, at the Centre “Our Lady of Peace,” in the presence of His Beatitude Fouad Twal, Patriarch of Jerusalem of the Latins, and of Archbishop Alberto Ortega Martin, Apostolic Nunzio in Jordan and Iraq...

Gaza hosts human rights film festival (The Jerusalem Post) While the Cannes Film Festival rolled out the red carpet in France, another red carpet was laid among the rubble of Gaza City. Thursday marked the beginning of the Karama-Gaza Human Rights film festival, the first film festival of its kind to focus on human rights across the world...



12 May 2016
Greg Kandra




In the video above, African journalists report on the devastating floods that have hit Ethiopia, displacing thousands still coping with a massive and relentless drought. (video: CCTV/YouTube)

Flash floods displace tens of thousands in Ethiopia (Reuters) Flash floods displaced nearly 120,000 people in Ethiopia last month and a total of almost half a million are expected to be affected this year, government and humanitarian agencies said on Wednesday. The floods are part of the global El Niño weather phenomenon that had previously caused a severe drought in the Horn of Africa nation following successive failed rains...

Turkey threatens stronger military action in Syria (The Wall Street Journal) President Recep Tayyip Erdogan threatened Thursday to take stronger military action inside Syria to halt relentless Islamic State rocket attacks that have brought life in parts of one Turkish border town to a standstill. After weeks of deadly Islamic State strikes, Mr. Erdogan suggested that Turkey was prepared to send troops into neighboring Syria to bring an end to attacks on Kilis, the Turkish town nominated this year for a Nobel Peace Prize for welcoming so many Syrian refugees...

Moscow patriarch: Fight against terrorism is a ‘holy war’ (Fides) “Today the fight against terrorism is a holy war.” This is the strong message used by Kirill, Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, to support the need for a joint mobilization of the international community against a phenomenon which he presented as a global evil. The expression, together with explicit references to the Russian military intervention in the Syrian conflict, was used by the Primate of the Russian Orthodox Church on the occasion of a ceremony held to commemorate the fallen Russians of World War II, on 6 May...

Study looks at the role of Christianity in Israeli society (Pew Research) Christians currently make up just 2% of Israel’s adult population. Indeed, as of 2010, Christians made up a small share (4%) of the population in the Middle East-North Africa region as a whole. A Pew Research Center survey of Israel provides a rare window into the religious beliefs and practices of this close-knit group...

Christian school workers stage demonstration in Ramallah (Fides) A qualified representation of Christian school staff took part yesterday, Wednesday, 11 May, in a new public mobilization organized in Ramallah, calling for the revision of the Social Security legislation approved by Palestinian authorities last March...

Pope: Vatican will study question of women deacons (CNS) Pope Francis told the heads of women’s religious orders from around the world that he would set up a commission to study the New Testament deaconesses and he also insisted more can and should be done to involve lay and consecrated women in church decision-making at every level. Asked if he would establish “an official commission to study the question” of whether women could be admitted to the diaconate, Pope Francis responded: “I accept. It would be useful for the church to clarify this question. I agree...”







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