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Current Issue
September, 2018
Volume 44, Number 3
  
12 October 2018
Greg Kandra




Patriarch Filaret, the head of the Kiev Patriarchate, has welcomed a decision to recognize the independence of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. He speaks about it in the video above. (video: Radio Free Europe/YouTube)

Russian Orthodox Church to break with Constantinople (Reuters) The Russian Orthodox Church will have to break eucharistical relations with Constantinople over a split with Ukraine’s Orthodox Church, Alexander Volkov, spokesman for Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill, was quoted as saying by Interfax on Thursday. Earlier on Thursday, the Synod meeting in Istanbul backed Ukraine’s request for an independent, “autocephalous” church and reversed the excommunication of Patriarch Filaret, who hopes to lead the independent church…

UN calls for health care access for refugees near Jordan border (Gulf Times) Some 45,000 Syrians living in a refugee camp in the Syrian desert near the Jordanian border need critical access to basic services as winter months approach, the United Nations warned on Wednesday. UNICEF said there is only one UN-supported clinic near the border inside Jordan providing basic health services for urgent lifesaving cases at Rukban refugee camp…

Time for Christians in India not to turn the other cheek (La Croix) A few years ago, church dealings with law-enforcement agencies were minimal. However, this is not the case now as violence and harassment against Christians have increased in recent times…

Eritrea’s joy becomes Ethiopia’s burden amid huge exodus (The Guardian) Since 11 September, at least 15,000 Eritreans have crossed into Ethiopia, according to local authorities. Many have come to trade and to visit the friends and family from whom they were separated in 1998, when war broke out. The border had been almost impermeable since Ethiopia’s failure to implement a UN peace deal signed in 2000. Most dramatic, though, has been the swell of refugees…

Found: mass grave, evidence of king’s bloody rule in Jerusalem (The Times of Israel) Evidence of a mass slaying, including cruel beheadings, committed during the bloody reign of the Hasmonean king Alexander Jannaeus (103-76 BC) was recently uncovered in a courtyard next to the Jerusalem municipality during excavations of an ancient water cistern…



Tags: Ukraine Ethiopia Jerusalem Russian Orthodox Church

11 October 2018
Greg Kandra




Two months after the historic flooding that hit India, efforts are underway to raise more money for relief and to raise awareness, as well, about disease. (video: CNBC/YouTube)

Relief workers: Thousands of Syrian refugees could face starvation (Reuters) Thousands of Syrians stranded on Jordan’s border with Syria are running out of food as routes leading to their camp are closed by the Syrian army and Jordan is blocking aid deliveries, relief workers and refugees said on Thursday…

Before and after photos of flooding show how Kerala is recovering (Indian Express) Even as two months have gone by since Kerala’s worst disaster in a century, the biggest challenge for the state has been to raise money for the relief and rehabilitation process. At least 493 people lost their lives in the rains and floods during the South West monsoon…

Israel destroys Gaza attack tunnel (Reuters) Israel destroyed a cross-border tunnel on Thursday running from the Gaza Strip into Israeli territory, which it said was dug by the Palestinian Hamas group with the aim of carrying out attacks…

Young people of India show solidarity with Synod of Bishops (Vatican News) Young Catholics from all over the Archdiocese of Bombay in India came together in Mumbai on October 7 to participate in a novel way in the Synod of Bishops on young people currently taking place in the Vatican. Mumbai’s young Catholics celebrated what they called Synodgy2018 that aimed at inspiring young people to work together with the Church, with the promise that the Church would listen and respond to them...



Tags: Syria India Kerala

10 October 2018
Greg Kandra




Chaldean Archbishop Habib Nafali of Basra, Iraq, speaks to schoolchildren on 5 October at St. Columba's parish in Chester, England, about the persecution of Christians in Iraq.
(photo: CNS/Simon Caldwell)


Iraqi archbishop fears more persecution (CNS) Christianity in Iraq is just one wave of persecution away from extinction, said the Chaldean Catholic archbishop of Basra. In an interview with Catholic News Service, Chaldean Archbishop Habib Nafali said there were now so few Christians in his country that the church there would disappear if it was subjected to further persecution. He said the displacements and murders of Christians over the past 15 years constituted genocide…

Lebanon: 100,000 Syrian refugees to return home by year’s end (Xinhua) Lebanese General Security chief Abbas Ibrahim said Tuesday that the number of Syrian refugees returning home by the end of this year will reach 100,000. ”The General Security is offering security and logistic facilities in addition to financial exemptions to Syrian refugees living illegally in Lebanon to accelerate their return back home,” Ibrahim was quoted by Elnashra, an independent online newspaper, as saying…

Russian Orthodox Church warns of protests in Ukraine (AFP) A high-ranking Russian Orthodox cleric on Wednesday warned that protests would erupt in Ukraine if the country’s Orthodox Church is granted independence from Moscow…

Kerala reopens to tourists (The Times of India) The Kerala state tourism department on Tuesday said that the state was back to normalcy after the devastating flood and was ready to open its doors with several new tourism initiatives…

For some Americans, Jerusalem’s newest pilgrimage site is the U.S. embassy (NPR) The new embassy has become a magnet for American visitors, many of them devout Christians who support what it stands for: an about-face in U.S. policy, recognizing Israel’s sovereignty claims to the coveted city…



Tags: Syria Iraq Lebanon Kerala Chaldean Church

9 October 2018
Greg Kandra




A Marian icon is seen as Pope Francis leads an audience for laypeople, clergy and religious of the Slovak Catholic Church at the Vatican on 6 October. (photo: CNS /Alessandro Bianchi, Reuters)

Pope says families of Eastern Catholic married priests set example (CNS) The families of Eastern-rite Catholic priests give an important witness to what is healthy and wonderful about family life, Pope Francis said. Speaking to laypeople, clergy and religious of the Slovak Catholic Church — a Byzantine-rite church that has maintained its tradition of ordaining both celibate and married men — the pope said, “the families of priests live a unique mission today…”

Syria: rebels withdraw heavy weapons from Idlib (BBC) Syrian rebel fighters are reported to have withdrawn their heavy weapons from the frontlines around Idlib province. Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency said rockets, mortars and missiles had been removed in line with a deal to create a demilitarized buffer zone separating rebel and government forces…

Crowdfunding to be used to Kerala rebuilding (New Indian Express) The meeting to review the flood relief and rehabilitation work held here under the leadership of Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has decided to make maximum use of crowdfunding for the purpose. An internet portal has been set up for crowdfunding. Details of the work to be taken up by various departments should be submitted to the portal by the departments concerned urgently, it was decided…

Israel to take in approximately 1,000 Ethiopian Christians (Jewish Press) The Cabinet, at its weekly meeting, on Sunday approved the proposal of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (Likud) and Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon (kulanu) to bring to Israel approximately 1,000 members of the Falash Mura community who have children are in Israel. In 1860, Henry Aaron Stern, a Jewish convert to Christianity, traveled to Ethiopia and Eritrea in an attempt to convert the Beta Israel community to Christianity. Today, according to some estimates, there may be as many as 50,000 Christian converts in Ethiopia and Eritrea who maintain some familial relations with Ethiopian Israelis…

Authorities unearth earliest-known inscription bearing the name ’Jerusalem’ (Haaretz) The 2,100-year-old Hebrew inscription on a piece of limestone unearthed in Jerusalem is the earliest-known mention of the full name of the city that is spelled as it is today, the Israel Antiquities Authority announced Tuesday. The name was inscribed on part of a Roman structure dating to the 1st century B.C.E., which was discovered during a salvage excavation prior to the paving of a road near the Binyanei Ha’uma convention center, at the entrance to Jerusalem. The artifact was found by IAA archaeologist Danit Levy…



Tags: Syria Jerusalem Kerala Ethiopian Christianity Byzantine Catholic Church

5 October 2018
Greg Kandra




In the video above from 2016, Nadia Murad speaks to the UN about her experience being kidnapped by ISIS and forced to become a sex slave. Friday, she was named co-winner of the Nobel Peace Prize for her efforts to end sexual violence as a weapon of war. (video: The Guardian/YouTube)

Yazidi rape survivor from Iraq named co-winner of Nobel Peace Prize (CNN) The 2018 Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded to Denis Mukwege and Nadia Murad for their efforts to end the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war and armed conflict. Mukwege, a gynecologist and surgeon, has long worked to treat thousands of women and girls affected by rape and sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Murad is a Yazidi woman from the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar, who was held as a sex slave by ISIS, she told CNN in an interview last year. In 2016, at age 23, she was made a UN goodwill ambassador…

Coptic Metropolitian Bishoy dies (Egypt Independent) Coptic Bishop Metropolitan Bishoy of Damietta, Kafr el-Sheikh and the abbot of the Monastery of Saint Demiana in Barrari, Belqas, died at the age of 67 from a heart attack. Bishoy, who was known as the “church’s iron man”, has been suffering from heart muscle disorder for years. He died after his return from a pastoral tour in Armenia. During his 45 years of ecclesiastical service, Bishop Bishoy became famous, especially during the time of the late Pope Shenouda III, for maintaining the image of the “strong man” and for being a professor of theology, which allowed him to participate in theological conferences against other churches at home and abroad…

Rights commission says Ethiopian government failing to protect people from ethnic violence (Reuters) Ethiopia’s government is failing to protect its citizens amid escalating ethnic violence that has displaced nearly a million people in the last six months, the head of a national human rights body that reports to parliament said on Thursday…

Kerala banks on tourism to revive its economy (LiveMint) Looking at the camera, several men and women in Kerala comprising fish vendors, rickshaw drivers, homemakers and children among others hold out a placard that reads “We Are Open.” This is how a new advertisement by luggage maker Samsonite ends, aimed at exhorting more tourists to visit the flood-ravaged state. It puts across a message that not just hoteliers and other big businesses, but commoners in Kerala too are seeking a revival in tourism.

Syria’s recovered antiquities go on display (The Times of Israel) Syria’s antiquities authority on Wednesday unveiled an exhibition in Damascus of hundreds of artifacts retrieved from around the war-torn country. Dozens of Syria’s archaeological sites have been destroyed, damaged or looted since the start of the seven-year civil war, with all sides blamed for the plundering…



Tags: Iraq Egypt Kerala Coptic Christians

4 October 2018
Greg Kandra




Archbishop Giambattista Diquattro (r), apostolic nuncio of India, speaks at the seminar in New Delhi on 27 September on the theme "Regional Interfaith Dialogue on Child Dignity Online."
(photo: Bijay Kumar Minj/ucanews.com)


Syria’s Assad reaches ‘understanding’ with Arab states (VOA) President Bashar al-Assad told a little-known Kuwaiti newspaper that Syria had reached a “major understanding’’ with Arab states after years of hostility over the country’s civil war. The interview in the Al-Shahed newspaper, published Wednesday, was Assad’s first with a Gulf newspaper since the war began in 2011…

Changes in fishing habits, loss of livelihoods after Kerala flooding (The Indian Express) Eight teams of scientists and researchers were constituted who spread across Kerala to visit major flood-affected areas and make detailed assessments. The key parameters to estimate losses were determined as damage to crafts and gears, livelihood and ecology. ”Many of the fishing gear and accessories were washed away from the stacking sites. The fishing crafts were washed away and damaged by hitting against obstacles,” a CIFT release stated…

When violence flares, Ethiopia turns off the internet (VOA) When dozens of people died in ethnic clashes last month on the outskirts of Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, protesters took to the streets. The government, meanwhile, turned off the internet. Mobile internet service stayed off for about 40 hours. It was the second time this year the internet has gone down in Ethiopia during times of unrest, in addition to a months-long outage that began last year during protests that led to the resignation of former Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn..

India deports Rohingya Muslims (The Washington Post) India deported seven Rohingya Muslims that had fled their native Myanmar back to their country on Thursday, sparking concerns that the move could endanger their lives and violate international laws that protect refugees…

A ’miracle in the Middle East’ (The Washington Post) Imagine 125 million refugees flooding into the United States (population: 328 million). That is what Lebanon has experienced on a per capita basis. Since 2011, this nation of 4 million people has seen an influx of some 1.5 million refugees fleeing the Syrian civil war next door. “I find it a miracle this country hasn’t exploded,” a Western diplomat told me last week. “Most countries would never have allowed this to happen.” This is the dog that didn’t bark — perhaps the most surprising good-news story in the Middle East…

Protecting Indian kids when they go online (UCANews.com) Indian Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Muslim and Sikh leaders are exploring ways to safeguard youngsters utilizing the Internet. Some 50 leaders from these faiths, along with international experts, formulated plans at the ‘Regional Interfaith Dialogue on Child Dignity Online’ held in the capital, New Delhi…



Tags: Syria India Ethiopia Kerala

3 October 2018
Greg Kandra




Kerala is still struggling to clean up after the devastating flooding, and some villages are starting to limp back to life. (video: CNBC/YouTube)

Turkey and Russia work to avoid a bloodbath in Syria (The Los Angeles Times) The best hope for averting a bloodbath in the northwest Syrian province of Idlib — home to 2.6 million people and the last major bastion of rebels fighting the government — depends on cajoling tens of thousands of militants there to lay down their weapons. That job falls to neighboring Turkey, which in an eleventh-hour deal last month brokered with Russia put on hold a Syrian government offensive to take back the province and end the long insurgency…

Kerala flood aftermath: battling snakes and sewage to clean a city (BBC) In the wake of devastating floods in the southern Indian state of Kerala, local volunteers played an integral part clearing the mud and debris. BBC Tamil’s Pramila Krishnan spoke to one woman who spent weeks helping clean up her city…

Russian Orthodox leader urges local churches to discuss ’Ukrainian issue’ (RT) Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Kirill has reportedly sent letters to the heads of all Orthodox Churches, urging them to start discussing the church situation in Ukraine. The Patriarch was quoted as saying that the activities of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople could lead to extremely serious consequences for the unity of world Orthodoxy…

Orthodox leader expresses concern for Greece (Vatican News) In one of his rare public statements, the head of the Greek Orthodox Church, Archbishop Hieronymos II, told a meeting of the Holy Synod here in Athens that he feared the Greek state was rudderless after nearly a decade of wrenching economic crisis, a rising crime rate, crippled health and justice systems, inadequate welfare and what he called a lack of direction in foreign policy…

Syrian refugee challenges stigma of therapy (Reuters) Hana al-Ali broke a stigma when she opened up to a therapist about the strains she faced as a Syrian refugee in Lebanon. Now, she is encouraging other refugees to talk through their problems…



Tags: Syria India Russian Orthodox Church Greece

2 October 2018
Greg Kandra




In this image from 2017, a Russian Orthodox woman lights a candle and prays in an Orthodox parish in St. Petersburg. Russian Catholics hope ties won't be affected by inter-Orthodox tensions.
(photo: CNS/Robert Duncan)


Russian Catholics hope ties won’t be affected by inter-Orthodox tensions (CNS) As plans to establish an independent Ukrainian Orthodox Church encounter complaints from Russia, Catholic leaders hope ecumenical ties will not be affected. Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople, who holds honorary primacy among the world’s 14 main Orthodox churches, plans to grant autocephaly, or independence, to Christians in Ukraine, many of whom have been linked to the Russian Orthodox Church’s Moscow Patriarchate…

An Indian anti-Christian hotspot (UCANews.com) Christians in a tiny northern Indian district suffered at least 12 attacks in September that community leaders say were instigated by false accusations against missioners over the conversion of Hindus. Pastors were beaten up, faithful arrested and Sunday services disrupted in continuing violence allegedly carried out by Hindu groups in Jaunpur district of Uttar Pradesh…

U.N. foreign workers pulled from Gaza over security concerns (Al Jazeera) The UN agency for Palestinian refugees said Monday it was temporarily withdrawing some foreign staff from the Gaza Strip following security concerns linked to job cuts in the coastal enclave. In a statement, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) said it has “decided to temporarily withdraw part of its international staff from Gaza following a series of worrying security incidents affecting its personnel in the strip…”

Autopsy on Coptic Christian monk shows signs of poisoning (BBC) An autopsy on a Coptic Christian monk found dead in central Egypt shows signs of poisoning, officials say. Zeinoun al-Maqari was one of six monks banished from a desert monastery after its abbot was found dead in a pool of blood in July…

Ultra-Orthodox Jews celebrate Simchat Torah holiday in Jerusalem (Channel NewsAsia) Orthodox Jewish men on Monday danced with scrolls of the Torah, celebrating the religious holiday of Simchat Torah (Rejoicing in the Torah) in one of Jerusalem’s oldest neighborhoods…?



Tags: India Egypt Russian Orthodox Coptic

1 October 2018
Greg Kandra




The video above explains the background behind Iran's attack Monday morning on targets in Syria. (video: France 24/YouTube)

Iran fires missiles at Syria over parade attack (Reuters) Iran fired missiles on Monday at militants in Syria it blamed for an attack in southwestern Iran on 22 September, the Revolutionary Guards said, in what it called a sign of Tehran’s readiness to punish its enemies’ “wickedness…”

Ethnic clashes kill 20, displace thousands in western Ethiopia (Andalou Agency) At least 20 people were killed and 60,000 displaced in ethnic clashes flaring since last week in the western region of Benishangul-Gumuz. A government official said the clashes occurred in the areas of Kamashi zone. ”The number of the deceased could be much higher because some of the clashes occurred in far-off rural areas,” said Negeri Lencho, communication chief of Oromia state which borders the area of conflict, as quoted by Ethiopian Television in its late night bulletin…

Russian Orthodox Church threatens to sever ties with patriarch (Radio Free Europe) The Russian Orthodox Church is threatening to sever ties with the leader of the worldwide Orthodox community if he grants autonomy to Ukraine’s Orthodox Church. The move comes amid a deepening row in Orthodox Christianity over the Ukrainian Church’s bid to formally break away from Russia’s orbit. Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I -- who is considered the “first among equals” of Eastern Orthodox clerics -- has sent two special bishops to Ukraine in what is widely viewed as a step toward declaring ecclesiastical independence for the main Ukrainian Orthodox church that is loyal to Kiev…

Syrian migrant dies in clash at migrant camp (Vatican News) One Syrian migrant was reported killed in what the Greek police called a brawl between Syrian and Afghan migrants in a holding camp near Athens. Several others were injured and taken to hospital. What triggered the fight remains unclear, but it’s almost certainly attributable to cramped and unsanitary conditions inside Greece’s holding camps that contain more than 50,000 refugees and migrants who are barred from going deeper into Europe…

Different religious traditions mark ‘an important part of pre-Synod experience’ (Vatican News) On Wednesday, the Synod of Bishops on Young People, the Faith, and Vocational Discernment begins. Brother Javier Hanson, a Brother of the Christian Schools, was chosen by the US Bishops to participate in the first-ever Pre-Synod Meeting in March, in Rome. Brother Javier was assigned to an interfaith group at this meeting and spoke about this experience during the Spring General Assembly of the US Bishops Conference in June…



Tags: Syria Ethiopia Russian Orthodox Church Iran

28 September 2018
Greg Kandra




Pope Francis addresses the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity. (photo: Vatican Media)

Pope: Holy Spirit shows path to Christian unity (Vatican News) Pope Francis spoke Friday to participants in the Plenary Assembly of the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity, inviting the Catholic Church to discern the Holy Spirit’s presence in charismatic movements. The theme for the Plenary Assembly was “Pentecostals, Charismatics, and Evangelicals: Impact on the Concept of Unity”. Pope Francis said the growth of these communities is “an important phenomenon, which cannot be overlooked.” He said, “We have the duty to discern and recognize the presence of the Holy Spirit in these communities, seeking to build bonds of authentic solidarity with them…”

Hundreds of refugees set to return to Syria from Lebanon on Saturday (The Daily Star) General Security announced Friday that “hundreds” of refugees will be returning to Syria from different Lebanese regions the next day, in the latest of voluntary returns organized in coordination with the Syrian government…

Relief group says number of Eritrean refugees in Ethiopia rising after border reopens (AfricaNews.com) Eritreans are taking advantage of reopening of border crossing to enter neighbouring Ethiopia. Some to visit relatives, others for trade but also others are there to stay. This is according to ReliefWeb, a leading humanitarian information source on global crises and disasters. It is a specialized digital service for the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). ReliefWeb cited the Shire District administration in the northern Ethiopian Tigray regional state as stating that up to 15,000 Eritreans have arrived in the Ethiopia since borders reopened…

Kerala government to provide aid to those who lost their livelihoods in flood (The Statesman) The Kerala government on Thursday announced it will provide free ration for three months to those who lost their livelihood due to the devastating floods. ”The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act scheme will also be reworked to provide more number of working days to those who suffered due to the floods,” Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan told the media here. He also announced various committees headed by senior officials to formulate policies and to speed up rebuilding efforts in flood-hit state…

India strikes down adultery law (CNN) India’s top court has abolished a colonial-era law criminalizing extramarital sex, in a landmark ruling campaigners have hailed as a victory for women’s rights. Under the 158-year-old adultery law, known as Section 497, a man could be imprisoned for up to five years for engaging in sexual relations with a married woman without the consent of her husband. The Supreme Court struck down the law Thursday, ruling it retrograde and discriminatory toward women…



Tags: India Pope Francis Ethiopia Christian Unity Eritrea





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