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Winter, 2013
Volume 39, Number 4
imageofweek From the Archive
In this 1996 image, children attend a festival in New York celebrating Greek heritage. (photo: Karen Lagerquist)
  
16 April 2014
J.D. Conor Mauro




Police officers stand guard at the entrance to the new Azraq Syrian refugee camp, which is under construction east of Amman, Jordan, 25 March. Azraq Refugee Camp will open on 30 April, according to a U.N. official. (photo: CNS/Muhammad Hamed, Reuters)

Syria refugees face growing challenges in Jordan urban areas (Daily Star Lebanon) Syrian refugees in urban areas of Jordan are struggling to cope with inadequate housing, high debts, rising costs and educational challenges for their children, a global relief agency said Wednesday. CARE International said a household assessment of more than 2,200 Syrian refugees showed 90 percent of them were living in debt to relatives, landlords, shopkeepers and neighbors. Jordan is home to more than 500,000 Syrian refugees…

Syria fighting leaves Maaloula, a historic Christian town, in ruins (Los Angeles Times) On Tuesday, Syrian forces were targeting the remnants of a rebel force in this historic town, long a center of Christian worship and pilgrimage. Though most insurgents had long fled, a determined few remained well concealed in buildings and within the rubble, moving through tunnels and blasted-out passages. But they faced overwhelming force. Russian-made tanks pounded their positions while automatic-weapons fire rained down on them. Snipers posted on the bare hillsides trained their rifles on remaining rebel redoubts…

Palestinians wounded in clashes with Israeli police at al Aqsa mosque (The Guardian) Dozens of Palestinians were wounded in clashes with Israeli police that erupted when the al Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem was opened to Jewish visitors. A police spokesman, Micky Rosenfeld, told AFP that Palestinians threw stones and firecrackers at police when they opened the walled compound’s gates on Wednesday…

All eyes on Russia as Ukraine begins offensive in East (Der Spiegel) Russia has repeatedly denied that it is mobilizing its forces on the Ukrainian border and dismissed satellite photos released by NATO last week — designed to prove the contrary — as being out of date. On Tuesday, Moscow said claims that some Russian troops were in eastern Ukraine were “absurd.” Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said he hopes that Kiev has “enough brains” to prevent a further escalation…

United against Moscow (The Tablet) The Easter season will be an uncertain one for the embattled people of Ukraine, but what is sure is that it will not herald improved relations between the region’s churches. Since Moscow’s creeping occupation of Crimea began in late February, the Russian Orthodox Church has echoed the line of President Vladimir Putin with an obsequiousness recalling the worst days of Soviet rule. Its stance has provoked resentment among local Catholics and forced Orthodox Ukrainians to make hard choices between spiritual and national loyalties. Recent efforts by Catholic leaders in Europe to cooperate with Russian Orthodoxy can hardly be sustained when such sharp differences emerge over freedom…



Tags: Syria Refugees Ukraine Refugee Camps Palestinians
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15 April 2014
J.D. Conor Mauro




Debris chokes a badly damaged church in the Monastery of Mar Sarkis in Maaloula after the Syrian government reclaimed it from rebel fighters on 14 April. (photo: CNS/Khaled al Hariri, Reuters)

Syrian army seizes ancient Christian town near Lebanon border (Reuters) Syrian soldiers backed by Hezbollah fighters recaptured the town of Maaloula, north of Damascus, on Monday, military sources and state television said, further squeezing rebels’ supply routes through the Qalamoun mountains into Lebanon. Islamist fighters, some from the al Qaeda-linked Nusra Front, had taken over part of the ancient Christian town in December and held several nuns captive until releasing them in March in a prisoner-exchange deal. Government forces have recaptured several rebel-held areas and border towns in recent months, closing off supply routes from Lebanon and securing the main highway leading north from Damascus toward central Syria, Homs and the Mediterranean…

Missile strikes an Armenian Catholic school (Fides) A child died and 61 people were injured when a missile hit an Armenian Catholic school in Damascus, in the district of Bab Tuma. “Rescuers arrived immediately and the injured were taken to three hospitals in the area,” said the Rev. George Bahi, a priest of the Armenian Catholic Patriarchal Exarchate of Damascus. “We are all shocked by what happened…”

Syria’s graffiti revolution (Al Monitor) Syrian graffiti artists seek to reclaim the spirit of the revolution by taking on both the Assad government and radical Islamists. “This [graffiti] is an opportunity to gain back the public space that was stolen from us by the militias, formerly occupied by the regime with the pictures of Bashar and Hafez al Assad, and now taken by Quranic verses [of ISIS],” says Syrian activist Amer Mattar. Amer is a member of Shera’ (Arabic for “the street”), a group of young activists in the northern Syrian town of Kafr Nabl who are using graffiti as a way to reclaim a revolution they feel has gone horribly astray…

Ecumenical patriarch calls for peace in Ukraine (Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople) “We believe that the good will of the Ukrainian people will succeed in bringing healing and ultimate reconciliation. … It is our wholehearted hope and prayer that, by that time, all divisions may be healed for the sake of the unity of the Ukrainian people,” Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I said…

Ukraine says it has begun military operation in east (New York Times) After days of failing to enforce its own ultimatums, the Ukrainian government on Tuesday began what the president called a military operation to confront pro-Russian militants in the east of the country. The first indication that the operation represented more than just words this time was a modest Ukrainian military checkpoint established on a highway north of the town of Slovyansk, which has been controlled by militants since Saturday…

Russia warns of encroaching Ukrainian civil war (Al Jazeera) Ukraine’s government said Tuesday that an “anti-terrorist operation” to oust pro-Russian rebels from occupied buildings in the east had begun, but attempts to wrest back control appeared sluggish amid warnings from Russia over the risk of civil war. “Blood has once again been spilt in Ukraine. The country is on the brink of civil war,” Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev wrote on his Facebook page Tuesday, referring to at least two deaths on Sunday when Kyiv unsuccessfully tried to regain control in Slovyansk, one of about ten towns and cities where the rebels have seized buildings…



Tags: Syria Ukraine Violence against Christians Russia Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I
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14 April 2014
Greg Kandra




In this image from Passover in 2009, Jewish worshipers are wrapped in prayer shawls as they take part in the Jewish priestly blessing at the Western Wall, Judaism’s holiest prayer site, in the Old City of Jerusalem. (photo: CNS/Darren Whiteside, Reuters)

Drought could complicate food crisis in Syria (NPR) In March, the United Nations World Food Programme reported that a potential drought in the area could significantly hurt food production in Syria: “Large rainfall deficits in the 2013-2014 season will have a major impact on Syria’s next cereal harvest. With three quarters of the rainfall season gone, it is unlikely that there will be a significant recovery in this agricultural season.” That could also make a disastrous situation much worse. Dina El-Kassaby, a public information officer for the World Food Programme based in Amman, Jordan, says getting food to areas stuck in the middle of combat is already very difficult...

Israel prepares for Passover (Associated Press) Smoke wafted through the air in Jerusalem on Monday morning as Jews burned scraps of bread and added the final touches to weeks of meticulous preparations for Passover, the holiday in which the biblical story of the Exodus of the Jewish people from ancient Egypt is retold. This year, the holiday comes amid uncertainty over the future of the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, with the sides facing an end-of-April deadline to reach a preliminary deal or agree to an extension of negotiations...

Pope sends Passover greetings (CNS) Offering Passover greetings to Rome’s Jewish community, Pope Francis also asked for prayers for his upcoming trip to the Holy Land. With the approaching of the start of Passover at sundown on 14 April, the Pope said he wanted to offer his “best wishes for peace” to Rome’s chief Rabbi Riccardo Di Segni and the city’s Jewish community...

Catholics in Crimea isolated (ByzCath.org) Catholics living in the Crimea have been cut off from their co-religionists in Ukraine since Russia seized the province, a bishop serving in Crimea has reported to Aid to the Church in Need (ACN). Bishop Jacek Pyl, an auxiliary of the Odessa-Simferopol diocese, told ACN: “We only communicate by phone or email; even the aid packages are kept back at the border...”

Parishes prepare for annual Good Friday collection for Holy Land (Vatican Radio) Parishes around the world this week will be taking up the traditional annual Good Friday Collection for the Church in the Holy Land.The proceeds from the Good Friday Collection go to the Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land. The Franciscans have been caring for the holy sites there since 1209. They also assist the poor, run schools, provide scholarships, and conduct pastoral ministries to keep Christianity alive in the land where it originated. In his appeal to Catholics to donate generously this Good Friday, Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, Prefect of the Congregation for Eastern Churches, said “The Collection is still today the principal source which sustains the life and works of the region’s Christians...”

Catholic priest from Kerala appearing in major film (Deccan Chronicle) A Catholic priest in Kerala is all set to play a prominent role in a feature film. Father Thomas Chakkalamattath, who belongs to the Catholic order Carmelites of Mary Immaculate (CMI), is enacting the role of a priest in the movie titled ‘Christmas Cake’, which narrates the story of a bond between a clergyman and a visually impaired boy abandoned by parents. The film, shot in Kerala and Malaysia, will hit screens on 25 April after Easter. It is directed by Sajan Kurien, who has made several parallel films screened in festivals...



Tags: India Pope Francis Ukraine Israel Kerala
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11 April 2014
J.D. Conor Mauro




A man shouts during a pro-Russia rally near the regional government building in Donetsk, Ukraine, on 6 April. (photo: CNS/Mikhail Maslovsky, Reuters)

Russian reboot of Crimea brings rubles and confusion (Al Jazeera) Just weeks after its blitzkrieg annexation of this Black Sea peninsula, the Kremlin is trying to do shock therapy with the region’s economy, moving swiftly to remake everything from the banking system and the legal system to the prices being set at open-air farmers’ markets and regular grocery markets…

Ukrainian Catholic clergy instructed on behavior during elections (RISU) The Synod of Bishops of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church approved on 4 April a set of instructions for how the clergy should behave during elections. The authors were prompted to issue the document in response to the behavior of clergy during the parliamentary electoral campaign of 2012. The document states that a priest is strictly prohibited from being part of a political party, from distributing campaign materials in church, from campaigning for someone and from openly expressing their political views in private conversations with believers…

From Cairo to Suez, Egypt workers defy government with labor strikes (Washington Post) Thousands of Egyptian workers have staged strikes for higher wages and better working conditions in recent weeks, raising the possibility of a confrontation between impoverished laborers and a new president set to be elected this spring…

Warily, Jordan assists rebels in Syrian war (New York Times) During more than three years of civil war in Syria, Jordan has come to the world’s attention largely because it has struggled to shelter hundreds of thousands of refugees. But, quietly, the desert nation has also provided a staging ground for rebels and their foreign backers on Syria’s southern front…

Lebanese army launches Bekaa Valley security plan (Daily Star Lebanon) On Thursday, the Lebanese army began implementing a security plan in the Bekaa Valley, raiding locations in the eastern town of Brital, notorious for being off-limits to authorities, in search for wanted individuals, including abduction gangs and drug dealers…



Tags: Egypt Ukraine Jordan Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church Crimea
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10 April 2014
J.D. Conor Mauro




Cardinal Emmanuel-Karim Delly, pictured in a 2012 photo, served as Chaldean patriarch from 2003 to 2013. Pope Benedict XVI made him a cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church in 2007. (photo: CNS/Paul Haring)

Cardinal Emmanuel-Karim Delly, retired Chaldean patriarch, dies at 86 (The Catholic Register) Pope Francis praised the dedication of the retired patriarch of the Chaldean Church, Cardinal Emmanuel-Karim Delly, 86, who died April 8 in a hospital in San Diego, according to the California-based Chaldean Catholic Eparchy of St. Peter the Apostle. In a telegram of condolence to Patriarch Louis Sako of Baghdad, Pope Francis recalled “with deep gratitude the late patriarch’s dedication to his people and to the promotion of respectful, just and peaceful relations with followers of other religious traditions…”

Caritas president: International community must open refugee camps in Syria (Fides) “The number of Syrian refugees in Lebanon has reached an unsustainable threshold for Lebanon, equal to 25-30 percent of the population present on the national territory. The global and regional powers, instead of providing weapons to those who kill, should focus their interventions on this emergency,” said the Rev. Paul Karam, Maronite priest and president of Caritas Lebanon…

‘Risky’ operation brings aid to besieged Syrians in eastern Aleppo (U.N. News Center) The United Nations refugee agency and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent said today it managed to bring humanitarian aid to a besieged neighborhood in eastern Aleppo, an area that had been cut off from assistance since last June. The “rare and risky” operation to deliver aid to Boustan al Qaser was carried out following agreement with the Syrian Government and the opposition, according to a news release issued by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees…

Catholic convent, Maronite village latest targets of vandals in Israel (CNS) A Catholic convent near Jerusalem and a largely Maronite village in Galilee were damaged in recent weeks as a two-year wave of vandalism directed at Christians and Muslims in Israel and the West Bank continued…

Catholic bishops condemn separatism and sectarianism (RISU) The Conference of Roman Catholic Bishops in Ukraine released a statement supporting Ukrainian unity and condemning the incitement of hatred on religious grounds…



Tags: Syrian Civil War Middle East Chaldean Church United Nations Maronite Church
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9 April 2014
Greg Kandra




Pope Francis arrives for his general audience on 9 April. (photo: CNS)

Pope expresses “profound pain” at murder of priest in Syria (Reuters) Pope Francis spoke on Wednesday of his deep grief over the assassination of a 75-year-old Dutch Jesuit priest in Syria and made a renewed appeal for an end to the violence. Frans van der Lugt had been living in Syria since the 1970’s and had become widely known for his refusal to leave Christians who remained in the rebel-held city of Homs as it was blockaded by government forces. He was beaten and shot dead by unidentified gunmen at his monastery on Monday...

During general audience, Pope Francis appeals for peace in Syria (CNS) Here is our translation of Pope Francis’ remarks today about the murder of Jesuit Father Frans van der Lugt and the continuing war in Syria: “Monday in Homs, Syria, Father Frans van der Lugt, my 75-year-old Dutch Jesuit confrere, was assassinated. He arrived in Syria about 50 years ago and always did his best for everyone with graciousness and love, and so was loved and held in esteem by Christians and Muslims. His brutal murder filled me with with deep sadness and made me think again of all the people who suffer and are dying in that martyred country, already too long a victim of a bloody conflict that continues to sow death and destruction...”

Ukrainian official: unrest will be resolved by force or by talks in 48 hours (CNN) Ukrainian acting Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said Wednesday that the separatist protests in Ukraine's eastern region would be resolved within 48 hours — either through negotiations or the use of force. At the same time, Russia insisted that the presence of its troops just over the border was no reason to worry...

Ethnic Armenians tell of flight from Kasab, Syria (Los Angeles Times) They fled Kasab at daybreak, amid the clamor of artillery and word that Islamist rebels were advancing toward them from Turkey. About 2,500 residents, most of them ethnic Armenians, gathered documents and what few possessions they could carry. They piled into cars and minibuses that carried them 40 miles down mountain roads to the government-held city of Latakia. Only some elderly remained behind, residents said. “We escaped with the clothes on our back,” said one of those who eventually made it to Lebanon...



Tags: Syria Pope Francis Ukraine Armenia
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8 April 2014
J.D. Conor Mauro




Pro-Russia protesters scuffle with the police at the regional government building in Donetsk, Ukraine, on 6 April. A Ukrainian Catholic bishop has warned his church could lose its legal status under Russian rule, and pledged to use “all possible means in the international arena” to defend it. (photo: CNS/Reuters)

Ukraine cracks down on demonstrators; Russia issues warning (Los Angeles Times) Ukrainian riot police on Tuesday cleared a regional administration building and public square in the eastern city of Kharkiv of hundreds of pro-Russia protesters, detaining scores in the process, officials said. In response, Russia’s Foreign Ministry issued a stern warning against the use of force on pro-Russia protesters in eastern Ukraine and alleged the direct involvement of private U.S. military experts…

Georgia’s ancient capital Mtskheta becomes holy city (Interfax) Georgian Orthodox Patriarch Ilia II has conferred the title of “holy city” on Georgia’s ancient capital Mtskheta, a place revered by Georgians…

Egypt’s media blackout on Sinai (Al Monitor) Ever since the beginning of the military operation that began in the Sinai Peninsula after the ouster of President Muhammad Morsi, there has been a media blackout regarding the events going on in this vital part of Egypt and the crises that its citizens are enduring. According to Mustafa Senger, a political activist from the Sinai, one of the most important problems is that mobile phone and Internet networks have stopped working…

Syria’s latest battle: The PR fight over sanctuary for Christians (Christian Science Monitor) When the Syrian opposition took over the Armenian Christian town of Kessab in coastal Syria last month, its 2,000 residents fled. Given the presence of Al Qaeda-linked Jabhat al Nusra and other Islamist groups, they feared the worst for their town. So far, these fears have not been realized. Instead, rebels appear to be using Kessab as an opportunity to try to undo their reputation for extreme brutality towards Syria’s Christians and Shiites. But the Assad regime, which considers itself the protector of minorities, has launched a media campaign to demonstrate how Islamists are terrorizing Christians in Kessab, turning the town into a public relations battlefield in Syria’s civil war…

Fears rise about impact of drought on Syrians (U.N. World Food Program) The United Nations World Food Program (W.F.P.) provided assistance to a record 4 million people in Syria last month but a special report published today highlights how a potential drought would strain the country’s already fragile food security situation. W.F.P. food security analysts say rainfall since September has been less than half the long-term average, and will have a major impact on the next cereal harvest…

Syrians mourn slain Jesuit priest (Al Jazeera) After three years of civil war, during which brutal killing has become commonplace, many Syrians were left stunned Monday by the murder of a Dutch Jesuit priest gunned down in Homs, the besieged city that he refused to abandon. Francis Van Der Lugt — or Abouna (“Father”) Frans, as he was known to Syrians — touched the lives of many, not only Christians. As word of his death spread through Syria, Syrians grieved publically. On Facebook, young and old replaced their profile pictures with one of Frans: in a T-shirt, on a bicycle, among the olive trees, or smiling under the unmistakable black basalt arches of Homs’s Old City…



Tags: Egypt Syria Ukraine United Nations Georgian Orthodox Church
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7 April 2014
Greg Kandra




Jesuit Father Frans van der Lugt chats with civilians in early January, urging them to be patient, in the besieged area of Homs, Syria. The Jesuits said on 7 April that the Dutch priest, who had worked in Syria since 1966, was beaten by armed men and killed with two bullets to the head.
(photo: CNS/Thaer Al Khalidiya, Reuters)


Jesuit priest killed in Homs (Vatican Radio) Dutch Jesuit Rev. Frans van der Lugt, a priest who lived in the war-torn Syrian city of Homs, was killed this morning. Fr. Alex Basili, Provincial of the Jesuits in the Middle East and the Maghreb confirmed the news to the Catholic news agency Fides. Fides reports that on 7 April, at around 8 am, Father Frans van der Lugt was abducted by armed men who beat him and then killed him with two bullets to the head in front of the Jeusuit residence in Homs...

“Serious” meeting held in bid to revive peace process (Reuters) The top negotiators from Israel and the Palestinian Authority held a “serious and beneficial” meeting Sunday night in an effort to rescue the stalled peace process, an American official was quoted as telling Israel Radio on Monday. Both sides are expected to meet again later on Monday, with Justice Minister Tzipi Livni representing the Israeli side and Saeb Erekat, the chief Palestinian negotiator, representing the Ramallah government headed by Mahmoud Abbas...

Pope reaffirms evangelization in Africa (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has reaffirmed the importance of the Church’s work of evangelization in Africa, saying that lay and religious must “foster this missionary imperative” that has roots in the past but continues “every day in the Church’s pastoral work...”

Jesuit: Ukraine revolution “spiritual,” pitting good against evil (Catholic Register) The Canadian-born superior of the Jesuits in Ukraine is in Brussels to make the case for Ukraine’s revolution — a revolution rooted in Christian, European and democratic ideals, he argues. Church interest in Ukraine’s future runs high at the moment, Nazar told The Catholic Register in an e-mail. “There is a lot of interest in the Ukraine issue, not only with respect to Ukraine itself,” wrote Nazar. “(Russian President Vladimir) Putin’s nervous aggression, which he has never justified publicly, upsets a major European agreement following World War II that borders would be left as they are...”

Fire destroys Ukrainian Catholic Church outside Toronto (CBC) A two-alarm blaze has totally destroyed a Ukrainian Catholic Church in Brampton, Ont., outside Toronto. The fire at St. Elias the Prophet Church, located on Heritage Road north of Bovaird Drive West, started around 7 a.m. and by 8:10 a.m., according one witness, the entire building was fully engulfed by flames. “There is practically nothing left,” wrote Twitter user Tash Reed in a tweet less than 20 minutes later...



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4 April 2014
J.D. Conor Mauro




In this 2007 file photo, Metropolitan Hilarion Alfeyev of Volokolamsk, the chairman of the Russian Orthodox Department of External Church Relations, sits in his study. (photo: Russian Orthodox Church/Wikimedia Commons)

The pan-Orthodox council, Ukraine crisis and Christian unity (National Catholic Register) Edward Pentin interviews Russian Orthodox Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk. The metropolitan discussed the crisis in Ukraine, the pan-Orthodox council planned for 2016 — the first of its kind in 12 centuries — and the current status of Catholic-Orthodox relations…

Pope Francis congratulates new Syriac Orthodox patriarch (VIS) The Holy Father has sent a message to Ignatius Aphrem II, the new Syrian Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch and all the East, congratulating him on his election. Pope Francis expresses his joy at receiving this news and prays that His Holiness “may be a spiritual father for your people and an untiring builder of peace and justice, serving the common good and the good of the entire Middle East in today’s difficult circumstances…”

Israeli diplomat strike ends, clearing the way for papal visit (Vatican Insider) After a year of financial disputes and union battles and strikes that culminated in the complete suspension of all diplomatic activities in the past 11 days, Israel’s government and unions have reached an agreement, leading to the reopening, as of today, of all Israeli embassies and consulates across the world. This unprecedented Israeli union strike has caused serious harm to the country’s foreign policy, forcing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to cancel a rare trip to Latin America. There had also been fears that the strike would affect Pope Francis’ late-May visit to the Holy Land, but the Vatican had assured it would be going ahead as scheduled…

Crimea’s schism splits Orthodox hierarchy (Al Jazeera) On the day of the Crimean referendum, a Russian-speaking Orthodox priest, flanked by two soldiers in unmarked uniforms, walked into a Ukrainian Orthodox church in the military town of Perevalnoye, Crimea. The Russian priest had made a 60-mile trip from Sevastopol to ask for proof that the Ukrainian church was properly registered. An hour-long theological debate ensued before soldiers and their accompanying priest left, according to the Ukrainian priest, Father Ivan Protoirey, 58. Father Ivan said the priest from Sevastopol’s message was clear: The Ukrainian church that aligns with the Kiev Patriarch, Filaret, rather than the Moscow Patriarch, Kiril, would have no place in the new, Russian-controlled Crimea…

Rebel assault in Kessab, Syria, revives dark memories for Armenians (Los Angeles Times) A rebel assault on the northern Syrian town of Kasab near the Turkish border has sparked a furor among Armenians worldwide and revived dark memories of the Ottoman-era genocide. It’s unclear how many civilian casualties occurred in the previously tranquil home to about 2,500 Armenian Christians. But the incident, which has also heightened tension between Turkey and Syria, provides a sharp new focus for the propaganda wars between the government of Syrian President Bashar al Assad and the disparate rebel forces that have been trying to topple him for three years…

Gaza theaters battle censorship, conservatism (Al Monitor) The joy of stage performance and creativity made actress Wala Mutir, 27, smile as she greeted the crowd in the city of Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip. She played the leading role in “Scenes From Christine’s Heart,” a play adapted from the play “Mourning Becomes Electra” by Eugene O’Neill. But as an actress in the conservative Gaza region, Ms. Mutir faces challenges. A young man in the audience stood up and objected by saying: “We are in a society that doesn’t accept plays that incite women to reveal their feelings.” The theater is having difficulty finding talented female performers, according to actor-director Jamal Abu al Qumsan. “The situation here is difficult on the actresses because society judges them. Two of the best, Samah al Sheikh and Enas al Saqqa, had to leave Gaza and settle in Cairo,” he told Al Monitor…



Tags: Syrian Civil War Pope Francis Ecumenism Gaza Strip/West Bank Orthodox
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3 April 2014
J.D. Conor Mauro




In this September photo, Syrian children carry their belongings as they enter Turkey with their families at the Turkish Cilvegozu border gate. (photo: CNS/Umit Bektas, Reuters)

Syria’s ‘lost generations’ of illiterate children a source of future conflict? (Vatican Radio) Caritas Lebanon’s former president, Msgr. Simon Faddoul, says he’s concerned that generations of young Syrians growing up without an education in a climate of conflict are learning to “excel at the language of war … and hatred.” He warns, “we may face another warring generation in the short and long term…”

Bishops: ‘Persecution’ narratives play into the hands of extremists (Fides) The Bishops of the Assembly of Catholic Ordinaries of the Holy Land warn against some misleading Western narratives of the persecution of Christians in the Middle East. The bishops recognize that there is no doubt the recent upheavals in the Middle East, initially called the “Arab Spring,” have opened the way for extremist groups and forces that, “in the name of a political interpretation of Islam, are wreaking havoc in many countries, particularly in Iraq, Egypt and Syria. There is no doubt that many of these extremists consider Christians as infidels, as enemies, as agents of hostile foreign powers or simply as an easy target for extortion.” However, according to the document, one must point out that Christians are not the only victims. Secular Muslims and those of other denominations, all those defined as “heretics” are being attacked and murdered, too…

Syrian Armenians, once insulated from war, forced to flee (Washington Post) Some fled in their nightclothes, others in their farming boots straight from the fields. Many thought they’d be able to return in a few hours but now fear they may never again. Until the shells started raining down late last month, the tiny Syrian village of Kessab and surrounding villages had been largely sheltered from the three-year-old conflict that has devastated other parts of Syria. But now the area is the focus of a rebel offensive in the coastal province of Latakia, and an accompanying social-media storm of disinformation…

Million Syria refugees registered in Lebanon (BBC) The number of refugees who have fled Syria and registered in Lebanon has surpassed the “devastating milestone” of one million, the U.N. says. Lebanon now has “the highest per capita concentration of refugees worldwide”, said the head of the U.N. refugee agency. “For Lebanon, a small nation beset by internal difficulties, the impact is staggering,” he added…

Ukrainian Greek Catholic leader: ‘Educate Christians for honest politics’ (Catholic World Report) On 28 March, a newspaper in Kiev published a lengthy interview with the head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk. “The [Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church] believes in the possibility of Christian democracy, but it will never become part of the political process. More than once we have said that we support no political party or individual politician. But we strive to educate Christians, who would be capable of honest politics…”

Kiev-loyal Orthodox church doubtful of its future in Crimea (Ecumenical News) Ukrainian Orthodox Christians who are loyal to Kiev feel increasingly unsafe in Crimea after Russia’s annexation of the Black Sea peninsula and some have already left, church leaders said on Monday. Since the demise of the Soviet Union in 1991 and the advent of an independent Ukraine, the country’s Orthodox faithful have been split principally between the Kiev and Moscow Patriarchates. The much larger Moscow-based Church does not recognize its Kiev-based rival, which is not part of the global Orthodox communion. The estimated 220,000 Crimeans loyal to the Kiev Patriarchate have long felt marginalized because of the region’s strong pro-Russian sympathies, but Moscow’s takeover of the peninsula has fuelled their feelings of vulnerability…



Tags: Syrian Civil War Children Refugees Ukraine Crimea
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