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Current Issue
September, 2018
Volume 44, Number 3
  
9 November 2018
Greg Kandra




Pope Francis greets Mar Gewargis III, Catholicos Patriarch of the Church of the East. (photo: Vatican Media)

Pope prays for peace with head of Assyrian Church (Vatican News) During an audience with Mar Gewargis III, Pope Francis prayed for an end to the suffering of Christians in the Middle East, and celebrated the fruits of ecumenical dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Church of the East…

Syria war: Army frees 19 ISIS hostages (BBC) The Syrian army has freed 19 women and children held hostage since July by ISIS, state media say. They say the captives were rescued when troops launched an operation north-east of the desert city of Palmyra. The hostages were seized during an IS attack in the southern Suweida region. More than 200 people were killed. Suweida is a stronghold of the Druze religious minority, and the captives were drawn from this community…

Christians in Indian state seek religious freedom (UCANews.com) Christian leaders in India’s poll-bound Chhattisgarh state have presented a charter of demands to major political parties seeking to end discrimination and violence. The charter prepared by leaders of the ecumenical Chhattisgarh Christian Forum expressed concerns over the security of the miniscule Christian community in the central state, now ruled by the pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party. It also calls on the next government to ensure freedom to practice religion...

Gaza youth protest march reaches Jerusalem (Haaretz) President Reuven Rivlin joined thousands of students from Gaza border communities and other communities across the country at a rally in Jerusalem on Thursday, the culmination of a five day march to protest the tension and hostilities along the border…



Tags: Syria India Assyrian Church Iran

8 November 2018
Greg Kandra




Egyptian Christians mourn during a 3 November funeral at Prince Tadros Orthodox Church in Minya. Gunmen killed seven pilgrims as they headed to a monastery on 2 November. Survivors have begun describing details of the attack. (photo: CNS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany, Reuters)

Russian military distributes food near Aleppo (TASS) Members of the Russian military have carried out a humanitarian mission, distributing 450 food sets to residents in a village in Syria’s Aleppo Province, Lieutenant General Vladimir Savchenko, chief of the Russian center for reconciliation of conflicting sides in Syria, told reporters on Wednesday…

Egypt’s Coptic monastery survivors describe bus attack (Arab News) Survivors from an attack on a convoy of Coptic Christian pilgrims have told Arab News of the horrific moments when extremists opened fire killing seven. The survivors included 7-year-old Mina Basem who lost his mother Reham Milad Yusuf in the attack. His older brother Fadi is recovering from his injuries. ”We visited the monastery and spent a wonderful time but on our way back we were attacked by two cars who fired on us,” Mina said. “I don’t remember anything after that.”A member of his family said Mina hid under the bus seats to avoid the bullets…

UN: ISIS left 200 mass graves in Iraq (BBC) More than 200 mass graves containing thousands of bodies have been found in areas of Iraq that were once controlled by the Islamic State (IS) group, a UN investigation has found. The graves were found in the north and western governorates of Nineveh, Kirkuk, Salahuddin and Anbar. They could contain as many as 12,000 victims, the UN report said.

Ethiopian Jews mark holiday in Jerusalem (Jewish Telegraphic Agency) On a national holiday for Ethiopian Jews, before a crowd of tens of thousands, the president of Israel vowed that the citizens of his country will not discriminate on the basis of skin color. “We are brothers and sisters, and anyone who tries to undermine that has no place amongst the tribes of Israel,” Reuven Rivlin said in his address Wednesday to mark Sigd, a state holiday since 2008 that marks the Ethiopians’ yearning to return to Jerusalem and Zion…

Schools opt for cleaner air during Diwali (Vatican News) As Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights approaches panic grips the Indian capital and its surroundings, with thick smog hanging in the air. Experts have warned that the air quality is expected to deteriorate drastically with the use of firecrackers in the run-up mark Diwali, which this year fell on Wednesday, 7 November. In a move against the annual threat, 12 Catholic schools in the national capital opted for a pollution-free Diwali this year…



Tags: Syria India Iraq Egypt

7 November 2018
Greg Kandra




Palestinian children receiving treatment are seen in early September at Augusta Victoria Hospital in East Jerusalem. U.S. Christian leaders expressed "grave concern" about the Trump administration's decision to stop financial assistance to six East Jerusalem hospitals.
(photo: CNS/Ammar Awad, Reuters)


U.S. completes food distribution at Syria camp near Jordan (Reuters) The United Nations has finished distribution of aid to thousands of Syrians, mostly women and children, stranded in the desert close to the border with Jordan, an aid official said on Wednesday. A U.N-led convoy of more than 70 trucks arrived on Saturday under Russian army protection after months of delay in the first such first aid delivery from inside Syria to the rebel-held camp that has over 50,000 people…

Christian leaders urge U.S. to restore aid to East Jerusalem hospitals (CNS) U.S. Christian leaders expressed “grave concern” about the Trump administration’s decision to stop financial assistance to six East Jerusalem hospitals. Israeli doctors from most of Israel’s major hospitals called the decision a blow to the health of the city…

Anger erupts in Egypt after massacre of Christian pilgrims (RNS) The Coptic bishop of this city south of Cairo, Anba Makarios, spent the weekend trying to comfort mourners after two buses carrying Coptic Christians were ambushed Friday as they left a monastery here, killing seven of the pilgrims and wounding 19. The Islamic State in Egypt claimed responsibility for the attack. But during Makarios’ appearance at Prince Tadros Church, as the bishop thanked provincial officials for issuing the necessary permits to conduct public funerals, the congregation erupted in anger…

Ethiopian Catholic Church pleased about first woman president (Vatican News) The Ethiopian Catholic Church says it is pleased that women in Ethiopia are getting their rightful place in the development of the country. According to a statement from the Ethiopian Catholic Secretariat, it is a blessing to see that Ethiopians are recognising the invaluable talent women have to offer to the integral development of the nation…

A political power struggle for the soul of the Orthodox church (Financial Times) I’m in a 17th-century monastery at the edge of Moscow’s Gorky Park, having a conversation that transports me several more centuries back in time. I’ve come to talk to Russian church officials about a new schism in the Orthodox church, a rupture that piqued my interest for its geopolitical dimension — and, in a small part, a personal one. I was raised Orthodox. “Any schism is bad,” Vladimir Legoida, a church official, tells me, as we look back to the Great Schism of 1054, the split between the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches. “That’s a wound on the body of Christianity. We grieve it as a tragedy…”

Vatican sends ’cordial greetings’ to mark Deepavali (Vatican News) On 6 and 7 November, millions of people throughout the world will celebrate the Festival of Lights, or Deepavali. Rooted in the Hindu culture, Deepavali celebrates the triumph of good over evil. As is customary, the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue issued a message on 31 October entitled “Christians and Hindus: In Defense of the Vulnerable of Society”…



Tags: India Ethiopia Palestine Jerusalem Hindu

6 November 2018
Greg Kandra




Dalit villagers gather for a prayer service in Bhikkawala, India. Christian Dalits across India will mark Dalit Liberation Sunday this weekend. (photo: John Matthew)

Fight against last vestige of ISIS stalls (The New York Times) An American-backed military offensive has stalled against the Islamic State’s last vestige in eastern Syria — in part because of the enemy that the allied fighting force had expected, and other threats that it very much had not…

Indian Christians to celebrate Dalit Liberation Sunday (Vatican News) Christians of various denominations in India are joining hands in jointly observing the Dalit Liberation Sunday (DLS) on Sunday. The Office for Scheduled Castes/Backward Classes (SC/BC) of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI), and the National Council of Churches in India (NCCI), that comprises Protestant and Orthodox Churches, are marking the day on 11 November…

Is another Gaza war imminent? (Al Jazeera) Recently, rockets were fired into Israel from Gaza and three Palestinian children were killed in an Israeli air raid. Is another full-scale Israeli attack on the strip inevitable? Donald MacIntyre, former Jerusalem correspondent for The Independent and author of the book, “Gaza: Preparing for Dawn,” describes it as “a very fragile and dangerous situation”…

For one Moscow church, schism may spell end of unique status (Radio Free Europe) Tucked behind a Stalin-era skyscraper a short walk from Red Square, St. Nicetas is an “embassy church”, or metochi, of Mount Athos, the male-only monastic community in Greece that the world’s Orthodox Christians consider a spiritual home. While it belongs to the Russian Orthodox Church, St. Nicetas is symbolically tied to the mother church of Eastern Orthodoxy, the Constantinople Patriarchate, under whose jurisdiction Athos falls. ”On paper we’re part of the Moscow Patriarchate, but spiritually we represent Athos,” says Father Pyotr, a St. Nicetas clergyman who withheld his last name because he is not authorized to speak on the church’s behalf.

Is this how they built the pyramids? (CNN) Archeologists have spent centuries wondering how the towering pyramids of Giza were constructed thousands of years ago. Now, the discovery of a sophisticated ramp system has put them one step closer to solving the mystery. The remains of the 4,500-year-old ramp was found at an alabaster quarry -- of the same period -- in an Egyptian desert by a team of researchers from the University of Liverpool, UK, and Cairo’s French Institute for Oriental Archaeology…



Tags: Syria India Egypt Gaza Strip/West Bank

5 November 2018
Greg Kandra




The video above offers details of the deadly attack on Coptic Christians near a monastery in Minya, Egypt. (video: France 24/YouTube)

Pope Francis: ’A Christian cannot be an anti-Semite’ (Vatican News) Pope Francis on Monday held a meeting with representatives of the World Congress of Mountain Jews. It is the first time that a delegation from this community, which dates back to the 5th Century, has travelled to meet a Pope…

Egypt police kill 19 suspected in Coptic Christian attack (BBC) Nineteen Islamist militants accused of carrying out a deadly attack on Christians in Egypt have been killed by police, the interior ministry says. They died in a shoot-out after police pursued “fugitive terrorist elements” into the desert area west of Minya province, the statement said. Seven Coptic Christians were killed in an attack on two buses near a monastery in Minya on Friday…

Bishops in Holy Land speak out on Israel’s Nation State Law (Vatican News) It is out of a “spirit of dialogue” that the Catholic Bishops of the Holy Land speak out in a statement responding to the “issue of the Nation State Law passed by the Israeli Knesset on 19 July 2018. The legislation at issue limits the promotion and protection offered by the State of Israel to “Jewish citizens of the State of Israel”…

Missionaries of Charity agree to resume adoption service in India (UCANews.com) The Missionaries of Charity (MC) congregation has agreed to resume its service of giving children for adoption. The congregation founded by St. Teresa of Kolkata, commonly known as Mother Teresa, discontinued giving babies from their orphanages for adoption in October 2015 after disagreeing with a new federal law that allowed single and divorced woman to adopt children…

Luxury city could show future of Syria (AP) Marota City, as Syria’s largest investment project is known, is seen as setting the blueprint for how the government will undertake the ambitious rebuilding of areas devastated in the nearly eight-year civil war. The government is using controversial new property laws to create zones where partnerships of the government and businessmen take ownership of neighborhoods and redevelop them. Officials say the projects aim at re-planning slums and destroyed areas and attracting private investors to join the massively expensive task of reconstruction…

The soul of Russian Orthodox church bells (Al Jazeera) An automated future where the robots have stolen human jobs is a widespread modern concern. Even the most traditional of professions can be vulnerable, for example, church bell ringing in Russia…



Tags: Syria Egypt Israel Russian Orthodox Church Jews

2 November 2018
Greg Kandra




Bishop Theodore Mascarenhas spoke to an interfaith gathering in New Delhi last week and called for unity as a way to end religious violence in India (photo: AsiaNews).

U.S. Accuses Russia of blocking aid to Syrian refugee camp (CNN) The US military accused Russia on Thursday of blocking the delivery of critical aid to the Rukban refugee camp in Syria, a desert camp that the United Nations has described for months as in a “desperate” situation. ”Russia has again refused to support a UN delivery of humanitarian assistance from Damascus to the Rukban internally displaced persons camp despite US security guarantees,” US Navy Capt. Bill Urban, a spokesman for US Central Command, told CNN in a statement…

Indian bishop calls for unity to end religious violence (UCANews.com) An Indian bishop has asked religious leaders to come together to foster peace amid increasing religion-based violence, especially against religious minorities and weaker groups. Bishop Theodore Mascarenhas, secretary-general of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India, was speaking at a 27 October interreligious gathering in New Delhi marking the 300th anniversary of the death of Sikh religious leader and social worker Bhai Kanhaiya (1648-1718)…

Lebanon’s forgotten refugee camp (The World) The Dbayeh refugee camp in Dbayeh town is a Palestinian Christian camp established in 1951, when Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat rented the area prior to Lebanese government restrictions on Palestinian land rights. Currently, the camp is home to around 520 families. Fifty of those families are Syrians who came to Lebanon after the civil war broke out in their country in 2012…

Untold story of Kerala flood: a deluge of digital volunteers (GulfNews.com) While rains were lashing Kerala in August, submerging many parts of the state in the worst such incident in nearly a century, a largely untapped trait of Keralites was surging above the waters — an outpouring of voluntarism in the digital domain…

Ethiopia swears in first woman Supreme Court chief (NPR) Ethiopia swore in its first female Supreme Court chief on Thursday, part of a wave of appointments of women to top government positions backed by Ethiopia’s new Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed…



Tags: India Lebanon Ethiopia Palestine

31 October 2018
J.D. Conor Mauro




Hindus light candles in clay lamps in celebration of Diwali, the festival of lights. Read more about this holiday here. (photo: Khokarahman via Wikimedia Commons)

Christians and Hindus to defend the vulnerable in society (AsiaNews) In a statement commemorating Diwali, the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue said: “Attentiveness and cooperation are needed, not only to defend the legitimate place and rights of the vulnerable in society, but also to cultivate a culture of care and concern in their regard…”

US-backed Syria force suspends anti-ISIS attacks after Turkey strikes (Al Monitor) A Kurdish-led force backed by a U.S.-led coalition said Wednesday it was suspending operations against the Islamic State group after Turkey shelled Kurdish militia posts in northern Syria…

Ancient Assyrian sculpture up for sale at Christie’s — but should it ever have left Iraq? (AINA) A 3,000-year-old Iraqi artifact goes on sale at Christie’s auction house in New York this week, where it is expected to fetch more than $10 million for its American owners. However, the Iraqi government has demanded a halt to the sale of the two-meter frieze taken from an ancient Assyrian palace…

Coptic Church gears up for a new fight at Jerusalem’s Holy Sepulchre (Haaretz) A dispute between the Coptic and Ethiopian churches reared its head last week. The incident involved the forcible dispersal by the Israel Police of a quiet protest by a few Coptic monks, who were objecting to renovations by the Israel Antiquities Authority at St. Michael’s, a chapel at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre…



Tags: Syria Iraq Interreligious Ethiopian Orthodox Church Coptic Church

30 October 2018
Greg Kandra




Holy Land church leaders have raised concerns about recent incidents of vandalism in a cemetery adjacent to a Salesian monastery west of Jerusalem. (photo: Crux/Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem)

Holy land cemetery vandalism concerns church leaders (CNS) Holy Land church leaders expressed concern in the wake of two separate incidents involving the Christian community that occurred over a one-week span. Monks of the Salesian Monastery at Beit Jamal west of Jerusalem discovered the evening of 16 October that their cemetery had been vandalized, including broken crosses and damage to tombs…

Thousands of Syrian refugees stranded in desert near Jordan risk starvation (Haaretz) Tens of thousands of Syrians stranded in a desert camp near the Jordanian border are at risk of starvation amid dwindling supplies and the approach of winter, while regional powers trade blame over who is responsible for this latest humanitarian catastrophe in Syria’s civil war. Desperately needed aid deliveries to the besieged Rukban camp have repeatedly failed or been postponed, including a UN convoy which was supposed to go in on Thursday but has now been indefinitely delayed…

How caste discrimination during and after Kerala flooding affected dalits (The News Minute) One would expect that in the face of such a huge disaster, people would come together across communities to fight the forces of nature. However, during the rescue operations itself, there were reported cases of caste discrimination…

Russia vows ’to act’ if Georgia and Ukraine join NATO (The Express) In a clear sign of the country’s unease in the wake of President Donald Trump’s decision to pull out the United States out of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF), Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu voiced concern at what he described as the “militarization of the European continent”…

Pope Francis emphasizes importance of truth in journalism (Vatican Media) Pope Francis has sent a message to the Italian news agency SIR (Servizio Informazione Relgiosa/Religious Information Service) in time for the thirtieth anniversary of its publication. The agency was founded in order to help better communicate information relating to both religious and world affairs to the Italian Catholic Church…



Tags: Syria Jerusalem Kerala Refugee Camps

29 October 2018
Greg Kandra




Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, center, Transportation and Intelligence Minister Yisrael Katz, left, and Cabinet Secretary Tzachi Braverman stand for a moment of silence to honor the victims of a synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh, during the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem on 28 October. Pope Francis at his Sunday Angelus prayed for those affected by the attack inside the Pittsburgh synagogue. (photo: CNS/Oded Balilty, pool via Reuters)

Pope prays for victims of Pittsburgh synagogue shooting (Vatican News) At the Angelus on Sunday, Pope Francis expressed his closeness to the city of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and especially to the Jewish community there. Eleven people were killed, and several others were wounded, on in a shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in the neighborhood of Squirrel Hill. A suspect was taken into custody after the attack…

Jerusalem and Tel Aviv stand with Pittsburgh (The Jerusalem Post) ome 500 Americans and Israelis gathered Sunday night to sing somber songs in Hebrew and English at Jerusalem’s Zion Square in a candle-lit vigil in memory of the 11 victims of Saturday’s massacre at the Tree of Life Congregation in Pittsburgh organized by The Meeting Place Dialogue Group, The Jerusalem Movement and the Hartman Institute Hevruta program…

Anti-Christian violence reaches record highs in parts of India (AsiaNews) Anti-Christian violence is reaching record levels in Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous state, a study by Violence Monitor reveals. According to the monthly survey of anti-minority incidents in India, 25 cases of religious intolerance were reported in September, 20 of which in Jaunpur, the constituency of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, near the sacred city of Varanasi. The high number of cases is worrying, activists say, noting that with more than 200 million inhabitants, Uttar Pradesh is the country’s most populous state…

Synod document: listen to, support, guide young people (CNS) The Catholic Church and all its members must get better at listening to young people, taking their questions seriously, recognizing them as full members of the church, patiently walking with them and offering guidance as they discern the best way to live their faith, the Synod of Bishops said. While the synod’s final document spoke of friendship, affection, sexuality and “sexual inclinations,” those issues were not the center of concern in the lengthy final document, which was released on 27 October...

Amnesty India bank accounts frozen (Vatican News) The bank accounts of human rights watchdog Amnesty International in India have been frozen, effectively stopping its work, after the government’s financial crime investigating agency carried out a 10-hour raid at the group’s Bengaluru office on Thursday…

The revolutionary history of Ethiopia’s Jews (Haaretz) The Jewish community in Ethiopia, labeled in the past as Falasha or Beta Israel, is perceived in Israel as a traditional-religious community which, while in Ethiopia, conducted its life in isolation from its inimical neighbors and from the processes unfolding around it, with all its aspirations focused on immigrating to Israel. A new study, which I conducted, reveals that men and women in this community were political activists and members of Marxist underground movements during the revolutionary years and civil war in that country (from the 1970s until 1991)…



Tags: India Ethiopia Israel Jews

26 October 2018
Greg Kandra




A report from the UN says it will cost more than $4 billion to help Kerala recover from the devastating floods of August. The video above chronicles the extent of the damage.
(video: Chavara Media/YouTube)


UN: Kerala will need billions to recover from floods (Business Standard) Kerala will need about Rs 310 billion (about $4 billion) for recovery and reconstruction following the century’s worst floods, according to a UN report presented to the Chief Minister by UN Resident Coordinator in India Yuri Afanasiev…

Heavy rains bring flooding, death to refugee camps (Middle East Monitor) Flooding in Lebanon and Turkey has left refugees dead after heavy rains hit the region and swamped refugee camps. Videos shared by member of the Syrian Negotiations Committee Hadi Albahra, reportedly from refugee camps near the Lebanese border town of Arsal, show the ground completely flooded, with tents and belongings destroyed…

Russian Orthodox leaders concerned about ’provocations’ (The Catholic Herald) Turmoil in the Orthodox world continues with interesting news from Moldova, where, it is reported, Patriarch Kirill is cutting short a planned visit, in case there are ‘provocations’…

Catholic youth in Arabia attend youth congress (Vatican News) As the Synod of Bishops on Young People draws to a close on Sunday, 1,500 Catholic young people living on the Arabian Peninsula are attending the Arab Catholic Youth Congress (ACYC) in Ras Al Khaimah, United Arab Emirates (UAE), from 25-27 October. They have responded to the invitation to ”Stand up, reignite your faith, hope and love and experience Jesus deeper”…

Exhibitions celebrate Syria before the war (The New York Times) A thousand miles southeast of what remains of Syria’s civil war, “Syria Matters,” a major exhibition at the Museum of Islamic Art here, is focused on the history and the soul of the country rather than the images of conflict that have been reflected in headlines and splashed across television screens for the past seven years…



Tags: Syria India Lebanon Refugee Camps





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