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Current Issue
March, 2017
Volume 43, Number 1
  
24 May 2017
Greg Kandra




The Most Rev. Peter Remigius, Bishop of Kottar, speaks to a gathering of Caritas India in April. Pope Francis has just accepted his resignation. (photo: Caritas India)

Pope, President Trump discuss peace, dialogue, support for immigrants (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis and U.S. President Donald Trump met in the Vatican on Wednesday, discussing issues of peace, interfaith dialogue and religious freedom, as well as the role of the American Church in education, healthcare and support for immigrants...

Bishop of Kottar resigns, successor appointed (Fides) On 20 May 2017, the Holy Father accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the diocese of Kottar, India, presented by His Excellency Peter Remigius. The Pope appointed as bishop of the diocese of Kottar, India, the Rev. Nazarene Soosai, Pastor of the Our Lady of Ransom parish of Kanyakumari in Kottar...

Official: Jordan cannot deal with more Syrian refugees (Middle East Monitor) Jordan has reached breaking point and can no longer accept more Syrian refugees, a senior minister told officials at the World Economic Forum. According to the country’s official news agency, Petra, Minister of Planning and International Cooperation, Imad Fakhoury, said the number of refugees currently in the country have put more economic and social burdens on the budget, infrastructure, services, education, health and water, especially in the northern and central areas...

Syrian army says senior ISIS militant killed (Reuters) The Syrian army said on Wednesday it had killed Islamic State’s military commander in Syria during operations in the north of the country, where the Russian-backed government forces are seizing more territory back from the jihadist group. If confirmed, this would represent a major blow against ISIS ahead of an attack which the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) — an alliance of Kurdish and Arab fighters — are expected to launch against the jihadists in their stronghold of Raqqa city...



Tags: Syria India Pope Francis Jordan

23 May 2017
Greg Kandra




People leave flowers in St. Anne’s Square on 23 May 2017 in Manchester, England.
(photo: Leon Neal/Getty Images)


Pope offers condolences to victims of Manchester bombing (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has sent a telegram expressing condolences to the victims of Monday night’s bombing of a concert venue in Manchester, England, and condemning the attack, in which at least 22 people were killed and 59 others injured...

Trump ends visit to Israel, praises ‘unshakeable bond’ between the U.S. And Israel (CBS News) President Trump ended his visit to Israel with a message of unity and commitment to defend the state of Israel. In his final speech in Jerusalem before starting his next leg of his overseas trip, Mr. Trump reaffirmed “the unshakeable bond” between the U.S. and Israel. “Israel is a testament to the unbreakable spirit of the Jewish people,” Mr. Trump said...

U.N. envoy: liberation of Mosul ‘imminent’ (Al Jazeera) The liberation of the northern Iraqi city of Mosul “is imminent” and the days of ISIL’s self-declared caliphate “are numbered,” the UN envoy for Iraq says. But Jan Kubis told the UN Security Council on Monday that despite progress, fighting remains “a tremendous challenge” because ISIL fighters are increasingly using civilians as human shields in “a last-gasp effort that reveals little more than the inherent inhuman barbarity of the terrorists...”

Archbishop Gallagher speaks on need to protect those facing persecution (Vatican Radio) The Holy See’s ‘foreign minister,’ Archbishop Paul Gallagher has highlighted the need to protect Christians and other religious minorities facing persecution in different parts of the globe. The words of the Secretary for Relations with States came on Saturday during an international meeting organised by the ‘Centesimus Annus pro Pontifice’ Foundation...

Nuncio to U.N.: migration should not be a desperate necessity (Vatican Radio) The Apostolic Nuncio and Permanent Observer to the United Nations in New York, Archbishop Bernardito Auza, has released his prepared remarks to the first of two panel discussions of issues surrounding sustainable development and poverty eradication, in connection with the Global Compact on safe, orderly and regular migration...



22 May 2017
Greg Kandra




Syrian opposition fighters, who were evacuated from the last opposition-held district in the central city of Homs, embrace as they arrive in the Maaret al-Ikhwaan village north of Idlib, on 22 May 2017. The Syrian regime on 21 May regained total control of the central city of Homs with the evacuation of rebels from the last area they had controlled.
(photo: AFP/Omar Haj Kadour/Getty Images)


Syria says Homs cleared of armed opposition (The Los Angeles Times) Syria’s government announced Sunday that the country’s third-largest city, Homs — once deemed the capital of the revolt against President Bashar Assad — had been cleared of armed opposition for the first time in more than five years. The announcement follows the completion of the evacuation of the last rebel-held neighborhood...

Conflict feeds rising divorce rates in Gaza (U.S. News and World Report) It used to be rare for a couple, especially one married for so long, to divorce in conservative Gaza, where even social relations between males and females before marriage face restrictions. Divorce is now a topic of frequent public concern, and one seen as an indicator of how bad Gaza’s humanitarian and sociopolitical crises have become. Divorce is a “national catastrophe,” says Abu Salman Al Mughany, 75, a “mukhtar,” or community leader, who mitigates family issues in Gaza City. “It’s the collapse of the social fabric in our communities...”

Report: Iraq conflict drives displacement to ‘nearly unprecedented’ level (Norwegian Refugee Council) The last three years of conflict in Iraq have caused a displacement crisis that is ‘nearly without precedent’ according to a report released today by the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC) and the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC). The Global Report on Internal Displacement found that widespread military offensives in Iraq caused almost 660,000 new displacements in 2016. One in ten people displaced by conflict around the world in 2016 were displaced in Iraq, bringing the total number of internally displaced Iraqis to over three million. A growing proportion of Iraqis have also been displaced more than once...

Egypt refers 48 to court over Coptic church bombings (BBC) Egypt’s public prosecutor says 48 suspected members of so-called Islamic State (ISIS) have been referred to a military court in connection with three bombings of Coptic churches. Thirty-one of the suspects are in custody while the others are still at large...

St. Nicholas relics arrive in Russia after more than 900 years in Italy (AP) Relics of Saint Nicholas, one of the Russian Orthodox Church’s most revered figures, arrived in Moscow on Sunday from an Italian church where they have lain for 930 years. Intense media coverage accompanied the arrival, underlining the church’s influence in post-Soviet Russia...



19 May 2017
Greg Kandra




Refugees who have fled Mosul arrive at a camp for internally displaced persons.
(photo: Gail Orenstein/NurPhoto via Getty Images)


Syria says U.S. air strike killed soldiers (AP) A Syrian military official said Friday that an aerial “aggression” by the U.S.-led coalition on a government military position near the border with Jordan the day before killed several soldiers and caused material damage. The strike was the first such close confrontation between U.S. forces and fighters backing President Bashar Assad and the development is likely to increase tensions in the war-torn country...

The last stand of ISIS in Mosul will test Iraqi forces (The Washington Post) After making rapid gains in a new offensive, Iraqi forces are close to choking off the last bastion of several hundred Islamic State fighters dug into the twisting alleyways and narrow streets of Mosul’s Old City. The final push will be led by Iraqi’s U.S.-trained Counter Terrorism Service units, the same forces that first entered the eastern reaches of the city in October when the battle to retake the city began, officers said. The plan involves clearing the final few neighborhoods north of the Old City and surrounding the square-mile-wide neighborhood...

Bishops say Church cannot ignore injustice in Israel-Palestine conflict (CAN) The Catholic Church will speak out against injustice and avoid any attempt to normalize the “festering wound” of the Israeli-Palestinian situation, a commission from the region’s leading Catholic bishops has said...

Trump embarks on trip to Middle East (Reuters) With turmoil enveloping his administration at home, President Donald Trump heads abroad on Friday for a trip the White House hopes will shift focus away from domestic controversies and on to his foreign policy agenda...

Russian patriarch asks U.N., Pope to intervene over religious laws (RT) The head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill, has appealed to a number of international religious and political leaders, asking them to not let Kiev enforce its recent initiative that might see Orthodox religious communities diminished in Ukraine...



18 May 2017
Greg Kandra




Displaced Iraqis rest amid rubble after fleeing fighting between Iraqi Counter Terrorism Service forces and Islamic State militants on 15 May in Mosul. (photo: CNS/Danish Siddiqui, Reuters)

U.N. expects 200,000 more people to be driven from Mosul as fighting intensifies (Reuters) The United Nations said on Thursday up to 200,000 more people could flee Mosul as Iraqi forces push into the last districts held by Islamic State militants. Iraqi authorities and aid agencies are already struggling to cope with a surge in displacement since security forces opened a new front against the militants in Mosul earlier this month...

Turkey opens ‘city’ for orphans of Syrian war (BBC) Turkey has opened a vast center dedicated to housing and educating orphans from war-torn Syria. The complex, in the south-eastern border town of Reyhanli, will house 990 children in what Turkish media say is a cozy, home environment. They will live in 55 villas and have access to four schools, a mosque, a playground and a sports arena...

Indian religious groups meet to prepare for catastrophes (Vatican Radio) Caritas India in New Delhi on Tuesday, brought together faith-based organizations active in disaster management to create a network to help India become more resilient when catastrophe strikes. Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Sikh and Buddhist organizations participated in the meeting along with former government officials from the Disaster Management Authority. “It is time not only to be change-makers but also make others into change-makers,” said Swamini Adityanand Saraswati from the Global Interfaith Wash Alliance while addressing the meeting...

Gaza left in dark amid power struggle (BBC) By night, much of the Gaza Strip is plunged into darkness with streets lit only by the headlights of passing cars...

Copts who sought sanctuary ordered back to Egypt (The Australian) Ashraf Boshre spent 48 years double-checking that the security doors of his home in Giza, Egypt, were firmly locked before going to sleep. A Coptic Christian, the 51-year-old brought his wife, Amany, and daughters Maria, 24, Mira, 19, and Monica, 13, to Australia in late 2013 on a visitors’ visa, before applying for protection following decades of abuse. “When I’m walking the street, going to church (here), no one is going to come attack you,” said Mr. Boshre, who now lives in Sydney’s south. “No one is going to come attack your daughters because they’re not wearing the head cover. It helps me, I feel happy.” But within days, Mr. Boshre, his family, his parents Ibrahim and Nora, and sisters will be asked to buy plane tickets and return to Giza...



17 May 2017
Greg Kandra




Pope Francis prepares to use incense to venerate an icon of the Holy Family as he celebrates Mass at the Air Defense Stadium in Cairo on 29 April. UNESCO plans to declare the path taken by the Holy Family through Egypt as a World Heritage site. (photo: CNS/Paul Haring)

‘Path of the Holy Family’ to be recognized by UNESCO (Fides) UNESCO is preparing to recognize the “Path of the Holy Family,” the itinerary that unites the places traveled, according to the millennial traditions, by Mary, Joseph and the Child Jesus when they found refuge in Egypt to escape the violence of Herod, as “World Heritage” of humanity. This is what Adel Gindy, general head of the international relations of the Egyptian tourism development Authority reported to national media...

Syria denies it burned bodies of political prisoners (The New York Times) The Syrian government forcefully rejected on Tuesday accusations by the United States that the bodies of thousands of political prisoners had been disposed of in a crematory at a prison near Damascus, describing the allegations as “lies” to justify American aggression...

The Mosul families who lived in fear (Metro.co.uk) With ISIS on the brink of defeat in Mosul, a dark chapter in the history of the city looks set to come to an end. But for those civilians who fled, or found themselves trapped by the militants, there remains a long road ahead. Metro.co.uk spoke to the Iraqis who are trying to rebuild the lives that the terror group destroyed...

Ukraine’s president says his official website hit by a cyberattack (BBC) Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko’s official website has been hit by an “organised” cyber-attack from Russia, his administration has said. It said it was Russia’s response to Mr Poroshenko’s decree banning some of Russia’s biggest social media networks and net services popular in Ukraine...

Russia fights computer virus with holy water (CNA) After malware hacked as many as 200,000 computers throughout the world, the Russians have an idea: blessing the computers with holy water...



16 May 2017
Greg Kandra




An Iraqi Federal Police member walks next to a destroyed house after their clashes with Islamic State fighters in Mosul, Iraq, on 28 April. (photo: CNS/Muhammad Hamed, Reuters)

Iraq says battle for Mosul is nearly won (Reuters) Iraqi forces have dislodged Islamic State from all but 12 square km of Mosul, a military spokesman said on Tuesday, after planes dropped leaflets into the city telling civilians the battle was nearly won. Seven months into the U.S.-backed campaign, the militants now control only a few districts in the western half of Mosul including the Old City, where Islamic State is expected to make its last stand...

U.S. says Syria built crematoriums to handle mass prisoner killings (The Washington Post) The Syrian government has constructed and is using a crematorium at its notorious Sednaya military prison near Damascus to clandestinely dispose of the bodies of prisoners it continues to execute inside the facility, the State Department said Monday...

Local Muslims contribute to building of Christian church in Egypt (Fides) It took little more than a year to build the second church in the village of Ismailia, in the Egyptian province of Minya. The Christian place of worship was also built in a short space of time thanks to the financial contribution of the local Muslim population. The inauguration of the new church, dedicated to St. George and the Virgin Mary, took place last week with the festive participation of many villagers, Christians and Muslims...

Catholic bishops seek help from Indian president to protect indigenous people (Vatican Radio) Catholic bishops from India's tribal lands have sought the intervention of President Pranab Mukherjee to ensure the rights of millions of adivasis or indigenous people. The memorandum signed by bishops from six states with large tribal populations said they were “saddened” by the policies of state governments that have trampled over tribal people’s rights...

Letter from patriarch regarding his resignation (ByzCath.org) Abandonment of Patriarchal Service is the culmination of my Catholic Christian, monastic and humanitarian life’s work: a period during which the Holy Savior has bestowed his blessings on me...

Russia finances restorations of ‘Star Street’ in Bethlehem (Fides) The Russian government has decided to finance $4 million in restoration and reconstruction work in the historic center of Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus...



Tags: Syria Iraq Egypt Muslim ISIS

15 May 2017
Greg Kandra




Pope Francis leads the Regina Coeli on Sunday 14 May. After, he entrusted all those suffering from war and conflict to Mary, the Queen of Peace. (photo: CNS/Stefano Rellandini, Reuters)

Pope entrusts those afflicted by war to Mary, Queen of Peace (Vatican Radio) Following the Regina Coeli on Sunday, Pope Francis entrusted “to Mary, the Queen of Peace, the destiny of the peoples afflicted by wars and conflicts, particularly in the Middle East.” Many innocent people, he said, whether Christians, or Muslims, or members of minority groups such as the Yazidis, are “sorely tried,” suffering “tragic violence and discrimination...”

Activists say airstrikes on ISIS town killed at least 20 (AP) Syrian activists say airstrikes on a town held by the Islamic State group near the Iraqi border have killed at least 20 civilians. It isn’t clear who is behind the raid on Boukamal but various activist groups blame the U.S.-led coalition, which is waging war on IS. The claims could not be independently verified...

Bishop: Copts make up 15 percent of Egyptian population (Egyptian Independent) Copts are not a minority in Egyptian society as they number about 15 million, which is equivalent to more than 15 percent of the total population, said Bishop Daniel, Pope Tawadros’s deputy. In a welcoming ceremony for the African media delegation on behalf of Pope Tawadros II, who is currently on a pastoral tour to Egyptian churches in Europe, Daniel said Africa used to fall under the pastoral range of the Pope of the Coptic Church...

Kuwaiti doctors treating refugees in Jordan (Arab Times) Al-Rahma International, an affiliate of Kuwait’s Social Reforms Society, has sent in a team of medical volunteers of various specialties to treat Syrian refugees in the Kingdom...

Muslim birth rate on the rise in Kerala (Times of India) The Muslim birth rate in the state has been rising steadily, while the birth rate of Hindus and Christians has marked a decline, an analysis of vital statistics report prepared by economics and statistics department reveal...



12 May 2017
Greg Kandra




In this image from February, a man fills buckets with drinking water in a public filling area in Aleppo, Syria. The U.N. reports that Aleppo is on the road to recovery, but it will be a long journey. (photo: CNS/Youssef Badawi, EPA)

Aleppo progresses along the road to recovery (UNHCR) Six months on from the east Aleppo evacuations — when civilians first saw a glimmer of hope after many months of miserable existence and enormous suffering — life for some is slowly restarting. But the road to recovery will be a long one. There is catastrophic damage to infrastructure, destroyed homes and shops and questions over how those returning to their former lives can earn a living...

Maronite bishops praise establishment of ‘ministry for the fight against corruption’ in Lebanon (Fides) The national emergencies that all Lebanon’s political forces must urgently face are the fight against the “cancer” of corruption and the search for a widest possible consensus around a new electoral law that will allow the country to renew Parliament and safeguard it from the risk of falling into a new institutional paralysis. These are the suggestions addressed to Lebanese political forces by the Maronite Bishop’s Assembly which gathered on Wednesday, 10 May at the patriarchal seat of Bkerkè...

A helping hand for refugees in Jordan (Vatican Radio) With more than 5 million Syrian refugees living in nearby countries, ‘Collateral Repair Project’ is a charitable organization in Jordan that brings desperately-needed assistance to these refugees and other victims of war and conflict, those commonly referred to as “collateral damage...”

Islamic preacher faces religious contempt charges for calling Christians and Jews ‘infidels’ (Fides) Sheikh Salem Abdul Jalil has tried to soften the controversy caused by his recent televised statement in which he defined Christians and Jews “infidels” and their doctrine “corrupt.” But the controversy around the case does not seem to stop: several jurists — including Coptic Naguib Gabriel — denounced the Muslim Sheikh to the judicial authority on charges of religious contempt. And Jalil could appear before the judges on 25 June...

Documentary on Bethlehem turns into a mission for peace (Catholic Register) Finding peace in the birthplace of Christ has been an elusive mission, but one that Leila Sansour has taken on with determined vigour through her documentary film Open Bethlehem.The film, originally released in 2014, follows Sansour in her campaign to stop the building of a wall which Israel considers essential for protection from terrorists and Palestine says is meant to isolate its citizens. Whatever the viewpoint, what Sansour saw was her hometown suffering immensely because of the wall construction...



11 May 2017
Greg Kandra




In this image from March, a Syrian refugee widow, 25-years-old Hawla Shafi, who fled from the Syrian town of Raqqa, is seen with her children in front of an abandoned electric transformer building in Sanliurfa, Turkey. Raqqa has just been recaptured by the opposition forces.
(photo: Halil Fidan/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)


U.S.-led coalition lauds capture of ISIS town in Syria (AP) The U.S.-led coalition fighting the Islamic State group says the Kurdish-led Syrian opposition forces’ capture of a key town and nearby dam in eastern Syria from the militants undermines IS’s ability to defend its de facto capital, Raqqa. Thursday’s coalition statement says the fall of Tabqa and its dam the day before also denies ISIS “a key coordination hub” used by the group’s foreign fighters since 2013 to plan operations and attacks against the West...

Drought surging once again in Ethiopia (AllAfrica.com) The national, Risk Management Commission reported the number of people who are in need of urgent assistance has reached 7.7 million. The number is 31 percent higher compared to what it was six months ago...

Focolare Movement organizes events in India to strengthen interreligious dialogue (Fides) Promoting unity, peace and solidarity among young people belonging to different religions in India: this is the aim of a series of events that the Focolare Movement in India have organized in May, especially to strengthen the path of interreligious dialogue. The theme of the special week, celebrated by young Focolare people at an international level, was “Change your heart to change the world...”

Metropolitan Tikhon addresses World Summit in Defense of Persecuted Christians in Washington (OCA.org) His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon, offered welcoming remarks at the opening session of “Martyrs for Christ,” the World Summit in Defense of Persecuted Christians that opened here on 10 May 2017. “This Summit takes place during the season of the resurrection of Christ, in which we celebrate the victory of the Life-giver over death and the destruction of corruption by the Divine Physician,” said Metropolitan Tikhon...

Russian found guilty for inciting religious hatred for playing ‘Pokemon Go’ in church (The Washington Post) A judge in Russia’s fourth-largest city has convicted a blogger who played ‘Pokémon Go” in a renowned Orthodox cathedral of inciting religious hatred and insulting the feelings of believers, the state RIA-Novosti news agency reported Thursday...







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