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Current Issue
December, 2017
Volume 43, Number 4
  
14 June 2013
J.D. Conor Mauro




The escalating conflict in Syria has forced thousands of Syrians to leave their country. Christian families in particular face a hardship reality in the refugees camps in Lebanon, Turkey and Jordan. This short film captures the testimony of men and women longing to go back to their homeland in peace and harmony. (video: CRTN and Aid to the Church in Need)

No trace of abducted Syrian Bishops (Aid to the Church in Need) Even six weeks after they were taken, there is still no trace of the two Syrian bishops abducted at the end of April, according to Razek Siriani, the ecumenical relations and relief officer of the Syrian Orthodox Archdiocese of Aleppo. “Since their abduction we have received no information of where they are being held or how they are,” Siriani said. The two prelates of Aleppo, Archbishop Mor Gregorius Yohanna Ibrahim of the Syrian Orthodox Church and Bishop Boulos Yazigi of the Greek Orthodox Church, were abducted by armed men on 22 April…

U.S. to begin arming Syrian rebels (Los Angeles Times) The White House declared Thursday that Syria had crossed a “red line” by using chemical weapons in that country’s civil war, and in response, U.S. officials said, President Obama had authorized sending arms to some rebel groups…

Iraqi Kurdistan region struggles to cope with Syrian refugees (Al Monitor) With the continuously deteriorating security and political situation in Syria, and the growing fighting between government and opposition forces, many Syrian citizens — particularly Syria’s Kurds — have been forced to seek refuge in the Iraqi Kurdistan region. This resulted in a wave of displacement that local authorities in Kurdistan did not expect, making the need for international assistance more pressing than ever…

In Israel, Christian cemetery desecrated with Hebrew graffiti (AsiaNews) The Christian-Arab population of Tel Aviv denounces continuing cases of religious and ethnic discrimination. The last case occurred on 12 June in the local Orthodox cemetery. A group of vandals desecrated a number of tombs overnight and smeared the walls with slogans in Hebrew calling for “revenge” against Christians and the “price” they should pay for their acts against Jews. Graffiti with insults appeared on the house of Khaled Kaboub, district judge in Tel Aviv, situated not far from the cemetery…

Cardinal Tauran reaches out to Hindu representatives (Vatican Radio) On Thursday, the head of the Vatican’s Council for Interreligious Dialogue, Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, met with leaders of the United Kingdom’s Hindu community met at a London temple, or “mandir.” Surrounded by Catholic and Hindu scholars, as well as local school children, the cardinal reaffirmed the Catholic Church’s commitment to interfaith dialogue as a way of knowing and appreciating other religious traditions and of creating the conditions for all people to live in freedom and peace…



Tags: Iraq Syrian Civil War Violence against Christians Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran Christian-Hindu relations

13 June 2013
J.D. Conor Mauro




Residents walk near a damaged church on 8 June in Qusayr, Syria, on their way to inspect their houses and collect their belongings. Fierce fighting in the area in the past three weeks left dozens of rebels, troops and Hezbollah fighters dead. (photo: CNS/Rami Bleibel, Reuters)

Conflicts in Syria, Mali pose unprecedented threats to children (United Nations) Despite efforts to protect children living in war-affected countries, the evolving character and tactics of conflict are creating unprecedented threats for children, particularly in Syria, Mali and the Central African Republic, a top United Nations envoy said today. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s latest report on children and armed conflict reviews situations in 21 countries. On Syria, Mr. Ban said in his annual report that the toll the conflict is taking on children is “unacceptable and unbearable,” and urging immediate measures to protect the lives and dignity of all children…

As Syrian crisis grows, donors are in short supply (Los Angeles Times) Facing a growing humanitarian crisis, international relief agency Oxfam set a goal in January of raising $53 million to aid victims of Syria’s brutal civil war. So far, Americans have contributed $150,000. Oxfam isn’t alone. Mercy Corps has collected $900,000 for Syrian refugees during the 27 months of the war, a fraction of the $2.5 million raised in a few weeks in 2006 during the one-month war between Israel and the Hezbollah militia in Lebanon. Other aid groups report similar low levels of response — a sharp contrast to Americans’ usual warmhearted giving to help victims of foreign earthquakes, floods and wars. The stinginess reflects the murky nature of the Syrian war…

Palestine decries Israel’s new outpost plan (Al Jazeera) An Israeli settlement push in the occupied West Bank, involving the building of 1,000 new homes in two new settlements, is “killing the two state solution,” said Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah today. Earlier in the day, an Israeli settlers’ council asked Israeli zoning authorities in the occupied territory to approve the building of 550 housing units in Bruchin, an unauthorized outpost granted legal status by Israel last year…

Ethiopian Orthodox patriarch’s visit to Egypt postponed (Fides) Ethiopian Orthodox Patriarch Mathias I has postponed his visit to Egypt originally planned for 17 June. This act disconfirms the rumors circulating about the possibility of an “ecclesial mediation” carried out by Abune Mathias and Coptic Orthodox Patriarch Tawadros II on the thorny issue of the Grand Renaissance Dam, which is causing tension in the relations between Egypt and Ethiopia…

Coptic leaders to attend 30 June protests (Egypt Independent) Senior leaders in Egypt’s Coptic Orthodox Church denominational council have announced they will join opposition groups’ 30 June protests to demand early presidential elections. However, the church establishment has not urged Copts to attend demonstrations, preferring to leave it to each member of the congregations personal convictions…



Tags: Syrian Civil War Children Palestine Donors Coptic Orthodox Church

12 June 2013
J.D. Conor Mauro




In this video, Al Jazeera’s Andrew Simmons reports on the state of the war in Syria. In this struggle, morale is flagging, sectarian hatred is growing and civilians are increasingly victimized. (video: Al Jazeera)

Reports of ‘massacre’ in eastern Syria (Al Jazeera) Syrian rebels have attacked a village in the country’s east, killing dozens of Shia Muslims, activists said. A Syrian government official on Wednesday denounced the attack that occurred a day earlier, saying it was a “massacre” of civilians. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said at least 60 people were killed in the village of Hatla in the oil-rich province of Deir al Zour, bordering Iraq. The reported killings highlight the sectarian nature of Syria’s conflict that has killed more than 94,000 people, according to the United Nations…

Coptic pope holds meeting on Nile dispute (Ahram Online) Egypt’s Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros II held a meeting with Egyptian Christian public figures to discuss the ongoing row over Ethiopia’s Grand Renaissance Dam project on Tuesday, in advance of scheduled trip to Cairo by head of Ethiopia’s Orthodox Tewahedo Church. Ethiopia’s Renaissance Dam project has been a source of concern for the Egyptian government, which fears that the project, if completed, could negatively impact the volume of Nile water reaching Egypt…

United for reconciliation with Muslims, Christians return to Qusayr (AsiaNews) After fleeing to surrounding villages and the capital, Damascus, Christians from Qusayr are returning to their homes after almost two years. Many have lost everything; some have started to remove rubble from rooms and rebuild roofs, bringing life back to a city that in recent months had lost more than 98 percent of its population, going from 30,000 inhabitants to 500…

Coptic Christians flee from Egypt to Georgia (AINA) Coptic Orthodox say that Georgia’s strong Orthodox Christian heritage — Eastern Christianity took root here in the 4th century — motivated them to make the move. The country’s relative proximity (Tbilisi is roughly a two-and-a-half-hour flight from Cairo) and reputation for relatively lax business and visa regulations also played a role. Around 2,500 Coptic Egyptians currently live in Georgia, according to the Ministry of Justice’s Public Service Development Agency, which manages residence data. Most arrived this year and live in the Georgian capital, Tbilisi; a few hundred have settled a few hours’ drive to the west in the parliamentary seat of Kutaisi…

Turkish protesters defy warning, battle police in Taksim Square (Los Angeles Times) Protesters defying a blunt warning from Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan engaged in running battles Tuesday with police who unleashed clouds of tear gas and blasts of water cannons in an effort to end nearly two weeks of protest…



Tags: Middle East Christians Syrian Civil War Turkey Coptic Christians Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros II

11 June 2013
J.D. Conor Mauro




In this 2011 photo, Swiss Cardinal Kurt Koch, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, talks with Catholic News Service in Washington. (photo: Nancy Wiechec)

Cardinal Koch in Ukraine: Goal of ecumenism ‘visible communion’ (Vatican Radio) Cardinal Kurt Koch, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, gave a lecture on ecumenism at the Ukrainian Catholic University in Lviv, Ukraine, on 10 June. According to the Religious Information Service of Ukraine (RISU), the cardinal focused on the discussion of one of the most painful and key issues of Orthodox-Catholic relations — the primacy of the bishop of Rome…

Chaldean patriarch calls for committee to promote dialogue (AsiaNews) Chaldean Patriarch Raphael Louis hosted a dinner last night at a hotel in the Green Zone in Baghdad, inviting political and religious leaders — including the Shiite Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki, the first to accept the invitation. In the context of this initiative, Patriarch Raphael Louis said he hoped to see the birth of a “committee” to boost the work of “frank and brave” dialogue and encounter between the country’s various souls: Sunni, Shiite, Christian, Arab, Turkmen and Kurdish…

Bulgarian Orthodox metropolitan of Western Europe resigns (Sofia Globe) The Bulgarian Orthodox Church’s governing body, the Holy Synod, has accepted the resignation of Simeon, Metropolitan of Western Europe, on grounds of poor health. Simeon, elected in 1986 as the first Metropolitan of the then-newly established Diocese of Western Europe, has been ill for some time and has been receiving medical treatment in the United States. It is expected that a replacement will be named in the autumn…

Clashes over church in Macedonia (Eurasia Review) At least two people have been injured in clashes between protesters and police that erupted over a church construction project in the Centar municipality of the capital Skopje. The clashes started on Monday when several hundred government supporters tried to push past a police cordon into a local government courtyard, angry over the opposition mayor’s alleged plan — which he denies — to demolish a church. Macedonian Orthodox Bishop Pimen came out with an appeal for calm. “My faithful people, is this the way we witness the peace of Christ? We demolish a municipality in an attempt to prevent the ‘demolishing’ of a church. Let us fill up the churches instead of municipal courts…”

St. Macrina Church in Anatolia holds first ceremony in 90 years (Hurriyet Daily News) Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, the spiritual leader of the Orthodox world, officiated at the first religious ceremony in 90 years at St. Macrina Church in the Central Anatolian province of Nigde yesterday. About 200 people attended the liturgy, including Greek Deputy Agriculture Minister Maksimos Harakopulos and members of various associations from Argentina, Greece and Istanbul…

Survivors of Syrian fighting describe harrowing flight from Qusayr (Los Angeles Times) Ibrahim, a dark-haired man with bandages across his abdomen, said he was injured in a rocket attack amid raging battles between rebel fighters and Syrian government troops backed by Lebanon’s militant group, Hezbollah. It took him three days to trek nine dangerous miles through rocky mountains to Lebanon, dodging soldiers he said were targeting the group of wounded he fled with. Their group, which would dwindle to only a few, split up as Syrian troops chased them…

Damascus hit by multiple suicide bombings (BBC) Two suicide bombers have blown themselves up in the center of the Syrian capital, Damascus, killing 14 people, Syrian state media says. At least 30 other people were injured in the blasts, in Marjeh Square. The explosions happened at a police building in the busy commercial district. The attack comes as regime forces prepare an assault to recapture the northern city of Aleppo after having retaken Qusayr from the rebels…



Tags: Syrian Civil War Ecumenism Chaldean Church Orthodox Cardinal Kurt Koch

10 June 2013
J.D. Conor Mauro




Syrian children attend a class at a new school that opened in the Al Zaatri refugee camp in Mafraq, Jordan, on 4 June. Some 500,000 Syrian refugees have sought shelter in Jordan from the civil war between forces loyal to President Bashar al Assad and rebel fighters trying to overthrow him. (photo: CNS/Muhammad Hamed, Reuters)

Cardinal: Lebanon will ‘pay cost’ of Syrian conflict (France24) “Where do the refugees go? The Christians go to Christian homes in Lebanon, the Druze go to Druze homes in Lebanon, the Alawites go to their relatives [in Lebanon],” said Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue. More than 500,000 Syrians fleeing the conflict have sought refuge in Lebanon, which is increasingly being sucked into the war…

U.S. considers taking in Syrian refugees (Los Angeles Times) Two years into a civil war that shows no signs of ending, the Obama administration is considering resettling refugees who have fled Syria, part of an international effort that could bring thousands of Syrians to American cities and towns. A resettlement plan under discussion in Washington and other capitals is aimed at relieving pressure on Middle Eastern countries straining to support 1.6 million refugees, as well as assisting hard-hit Syrian families…

Palestinian descendants start to reclaim village (Al Jazeera) A dream long nurtured by hundreds of thousands of Palestinians made refugees during the establishment of the state of Israel has become a concrete reality at a small makeshift camp atop a windswept hill. Today, all that remains of the village of Iqrit, close to Israel’s border with Lebanon, is a Catholic church on the hill’s brow. But in 1948, the village was home to 600 Christian Palestinians…

Syria troops ‘preparing for Aleppo assault’ (BBC) Syrian government forces are reported to be preparing for a major offensive on rebel-held parts of the northern city of Aleppo and its surroundings. A Syrian security source said it would start “in the coming hours or days.” On Sunday, they retook the last remaining rebel-held villages in the strategically important area, which lies between the Lebanese border and the central city of Homs…

Amman, Christian Arab media discuss peace, justice and human rights (AsiaNews) Today, the Catholic Center for Studies and Media, in collaboration with the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Social Communications, has begun a two-day conference on justice, human rights and the Arab media. Guests include Fouad Twal, the Latin patriarch of Jerusalem…

Cleric fights to save rural Romania from fracking (ENCA) For months, 50-year-old Father Vasile Laiu has been one of the most outspoken opponents to plans by United States energy giant Chevron to drill for shale gas in rural eastern Romania. Clad in his black cassock, Father Laiu has joined thousands of locals in street protests against a project he says “threatens man, nature and future generations”…



Tags: Refugees Syrian Civil War United States Palestinians Patriarch Fouad Twal

7 June 2013
J.D. Conor Mauro




Syrian refugees wait to receive aid and rations at the Al Zaatri refugee camp in Mafraq, Jordan, 4 June. Some 500,000 Syrian refugees have sought shelter in Jordan from the civil war between forces loyal to President Bashar al Assad and rebel fighters trying to overthrow him. (photo: CNS/Muhammad Hamed,  Reuters)

U.N. says half of Syria’s population will need aid by end of year (The Guardian) The United Nations has launched the largest emergency appeal in its history — $5 billion — warning that half the population will need humanitarian aid by the end of the year. The civil war in Syria has led to the fastest growing refugee crisis in the world amid a conflict in which hospitals, schools and water and sanitation infrastructure have been targeted. But some fear that the appeal will not be enough, as aid agencies have struggled to keep pace with the three-year crisis that has left more than 80,000 people dead…

Patriarch: Millennium of Russian presence on Mount Athos in 2016 (Interfax-Religion) Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia has proposed rebuilding the Ksilurgu Monastery, the oldest Russian monastery on Mount Athos in Greece, by 2016, when the 1,000 years of the Russian presence on Mount Athos will be celebrated. “In three years, we will celebrate the 1,000 years of the Russian presence on the Holy Mount Athos,” the patriarch said in Ksilurgu, addressing monks…

With Golan fence, Israel closer to surrounding itself with barriers (Washington Post) Fearful that the Syrian civil war, jihadist terrorists or Lebanese Hezbollah fighters will spill into Israel, the country’s military engineers are rushing to complete their latest “smart fence,” this one in the occupied Golan Heights. When the 45-mile fence is finished in the coming months, Israel will have taken another big step in surrounding itself with barriers. But some Israelis worry that the fences are a metaphor for weakness as much as they are for strength and that the barriers have increased a sense of isolation…

Church denies Israeli municipality use of its property for festival (WAFA) The Greek Orthodox Patriarchate in Jerusalem said Tuesday that it would not allow the Israeli municipality of West Jerusalem to use church property in the Old City for a festival of lights because of Israeli police mistreatment of Christians during their holidays. A statement by the church spokesman Issa Musleh said the Greek Orthodox Patriarch Theophilos III has told the municipality of its objections to the use of its property in any way for the festival, which he said “does not reflect in any way the true identity of Jerusalem”…

Egypt-Ethiopia water dispute escalates after threatening remarks (Los Angeles Times) A battle over water has turned into a war of colorful rhetoric between Ethiopia and Egypt over the flow of the Nile, which begins in the African highlands but keeps Egypt from being swallowed entirely by desert. An ambitious Ethiopian dam project is diverting Nile waters that Cairo says will reduce the river’s northward flow. The Egyptians have stumbled into crisis mode: At a meeting hosted by the Egyptian president this week, several politicians, unaware TV cameras were rolling, suggested sabotaging or threatening to bomb the dam…



Tags: Pope Francis Refugees Syrian Civil War Israel Separation Barrier

6 June 2013
Greg Kandra




In the video above, John Klink, president of the International Catholic Migration Commission, talks to Catholic News Service about Pope Francis’ special awareness of migrants’ problems.
(video: CNS)


Vatican calls for less restrictive policies toward migrants (Business Ghana) The Catholic Church on Thursday called on the international community to adopt a less restrictive approach on migration and to show more compassion towards the plight of refugees and displaced people. Cardinal Antonio Maria Veglio, the top Vatican official on such matters, lamented that “ever more often, the political debate at national and international level” focuses on “restrictive measures.” “It seems that the issue is mainly about how to keep away asylum-seekers and displaced people. Instead of considering the reasons why they were forced to leave, the sole presence of refugees or deported people is seen as a problem,” Veglio said...

Pontifical council predicts summer will aggravate Syrian crisis (VIS) The Pontifical Council “Cor Unum” called a meeting, from 4-5 June, of the Catholic charitable agencies that are working to combat the crisis in Syria. Testimonials confirm the extent of the tragedy: almost seven million people who need humanitarian assistance, more than 4.5 million forcibly displaced persons, and an ever-increasing number of persons seeking security outside of the country’s borders. A more careful analysis of the needs in this area have revealed that, with the onset of summer, the risk of epidemics in the affected population — with pregnant women, children, the elderly, and the disabled in particular jeopardy — will certainly increase along with shortages of medicines and aid...

Pope warns priest-diplomats against careerism (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Thursday spoke to the members of the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy, which is dedicated to training priests to serve in the diplomatic corps and the Secretariat of State of the Holy See. In his address, the Holy Father reminded the students that they must cultivate a deep spiritual life in order to attain the “inner freedom” that is necessary for their future work. He also warned against ambition, and once again denounced careerism, which he called “a leprosy”...

Chalden Synod begins in Baghdad (Fides) On Wednesday 5 June the Synod of the Chaldean Church convened by the Patriarch of Babylon of the Chaldeans Louis Raphael I Sako began in Baghdad. The beginning of the assembly was also attended by Archbishop Giorgio Lingua, Apostolic Nuncio to Jordan and Iraq...

Tensions surround construction of new dam in Egypt (Fides) The construction of the Grand Renaissance Dam which is currently under construction on the Blue Nile is creating tension between Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia. According to a report published by a committee composed of experts from Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia, in fact, the dam built by Ethiopia will deprive Egyptians of 12 billion cubic meters of water a year...



Tags: Iraq Egypt Pope Francis Vatican Chaldeans

5 June 2013
J.D. Conor Mauro




Enthroned in 1999, Armenian Catholic Patriarch Nerses Bedros XIX of Cilicia has been a strong proponent of education and social service. To learn more about the Armenian Catholic Church, which comprises more than half a million people worldwide, see our profile in ONE. (photo: The Armenian Catholic Church)

Pope meets with Armenian Catholic patriarch at the Vatican (Rome Reports) The pope welcomed Armenian Catholic Patriarch Nerses Bedros XIX of Cilicia. He also met with those who manage the Armenian seminary in Rome. As a gift, the patriarch gave the pope a bronze crucifix that actually had to be carried out by two people…

Pope reiterates concerns for Syria, calls for humanitarian action (VIS) “The destiny of the Syrian people,” the pope repeated, “is a concern that is also close to my heart. On Easter Sunday I asked for peace ‘above all for dear Syria, for its people torn by conflict, and for the many refugees who await help and comfort.’ … In the face of ongoing and overwhelming violence, I strongly renew my appeal for peace…”

Cardinal Koch visits Ukraine to deepen Catholic-Orthodox dialogue (Vatican Radio) The head of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, Cardinal Kurt Koch, traveled to Ukraine today for a visit aimed at deepening the dialogue between Catholics and Orthodox in the former Soviet state. The Cardinal will spend two days in the capital, Kiev, meeting with the Greek and Latin Catholic communities there. He’ll also hold talks with the Ukrainian Orthodox leader, Metropolitan Volodymyr of the Moscow Patriarchate, and other representatives of that church…

ROACO will meet this month (Fides) The Reunion of Aid Agencies for the Oriental Churches (ROACO), the committee which unites funding agencies from various countries around the world, will take place from 18 to 21 June in the Vatican. It will focus in particular on the critical conditions experienced by Christians in the Middle East. The summit’s participants will include Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, prefect of the Pontifical Congregation for the Oriental Churches; Chaldean Patriarch Louis Raphael of Babylon; Coptic Catholic Patriarch Ibrahim Isaac of Alexandria; representatives of the Eastern Christian communities of Syria; and Father Pierbattista Pizzaballa, O.F.M., custos of the Holy Land…

Millions in India join pope to pray for the respect of women (Fides) More than 19 million Catholics in India united with the Holy Father in solemn Eucharistic Adoration on 2 June, scattered in parishes, monasteries and other religious institutions across India. During Adoration the “concern for the problems in India, for a more effective mission against poverty and for the dignity of women and against violence” was expressed…

Racist attacks against Arabs on the rise in Israel (Der Spiegel) Arabs are being beaten and insulted in Israel, where the number of racially motivated attacks has risen dramatically. Reportedly fueled by nationalist politicians, these events have been spreading from Palestinian areas into the Israeli heartland. The attacks have no overt connection with militant settlers or an autonomous Palestine, although these conflicts may well be at the back of people’s minds…



Tags: India Pope Francis Ecumenism Armenian Catholic Church ROACO

4 June 2013
J.D. Conor Mauro




In this 2010 photo, Serbian Orthodox Patriarch Irinej speaks with Cardinal Christoph Schonborn in the yard of cardinal’s residence in Vienna, Austria. (photo: CNS/Heinz-Peter Bader, Reuters)

Serbian patriarch: More unites than divides Orthodox and Catholics (b92) Serbian Patriarch Irinej has said that there is “much more that unites us with the Roman Catholic Church,” compared to that which stands in between. “We’ve always been close and lately it is even intensified,” he said, adding that the churches should move past “the moments that keep us apart”…

New Armenian Patriarch Of Jerusalem Enthroned (Eurasia Review) Archbishop Nourhan Manougian was today enthroned the 97th Armenian patriarch of Jerusalem…

Russian church leader receives Greece’s top honor (Interfax Religion) On Monday, Greek President Karolos Papoulias awarded Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia Greece’s highest honor: the Grand Cross of the Order of Honor. “We are brother nations, we share the same faith, and this is the immutable foundation for relations between Greece and the countries making up historical Russia. I mean the Russian Federation, Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova,” Patriarch Kirill said in accepting the award…

Egyptian Presidency, church prepare joint Ethiopia trip (Egypt Independent) Egypt’s presidency and the Coptic Orthodox Church are coordinating for a joint trip to Ethiopia by President Mohamed Morsi and Pope Tawadros II, where they will discuss with Ethiopian officials a means to resolve a dispute over Ethiopia’s Millennium Dam, which could threaten Egypt’s water supply…

Patriarch Daniel attends the European Commission (Basilica News Agency) The patriarch of the Romanian Orthodox Church participated in the annual meeting of the religious leaders of Europe with the presidents of the European Commission, Council and Parliament, as well as with other high officials of the European Union. This year, the discussions were focused on the concept of European citizenship, 20 years after its introduction, through the Maastricht Treaty, and especially in the context of the multiple challenges that the present economic and social climate addresses to the future European project…

Palestinian Christians surprised to receive travel permits (Al Monitor) When Palestinian Christians suddenly received unsolicited three-month travel permits, they and the Catholic leaders were surprised and worried. There has been little information as to what led the Israelis to give hundreds of unsolicited permits to Palestinian Christians. The Reverend William Shomali, the auxiliary bishop and patriarchal vicar for Jerusalem and Palestine, told Al Monitor that he was as surprised as everyone else. “We didn’t ask for these permits, and I don’t like that they are given to a specific group of Palestinians and not to all.” Shomali believes that the entire permit system is a problem and that the right to movement should be made available to all Palestinians…

Syrians continue education in Egypt (Al Jazeera) Schools are accommodating thousands of Syrian refugees in neighboring Egypt. It is one of the few positive developments for the young victims of the war, some of whom have missed two years of classes…



Tags: Refugees Middle East Christians Christian Unity Patriarchs Palestinians

3 June 2013
J.D. Conor Mauro




In this video, Al Jazeera’s Hashem Ahelbarra reports on the state of civilians trapped in the Syrian city of Qusayr. International aid organisations have stepped up calls for civilians to be evacuated, as rebel fighters faced a fresh assault from government forces. (video: Al Jazeera)

As battle for Qusayr enters third week, civilians remain trapped (Daily Star Lebanon) The battle for Qusayr entered its third week Monday, as wounded civilians remain trapped in the besieged town, the regime having vowed not to let the Red Cross enter until fighting is over. The regime, backed by Hezbollah, is trying to win back the border town from the rebels, as it both provides a vital lifeline for the opposition to secure weapons and supplies, and secures a link between Damascus and the coastal Alawite heartland. Reports say the wounded are being treated in private homes after the town’s main hospital was destroyed during fighting…

Pope calls for release of kidnapped in Syria (VIS) After praying the Angelus, the pope expressed his great concern regarding the continuation of the conflict that, “for more than two years now has inflamed Syria, especially affecting the civilian population that aspires to peace in justice and understanding.” He added: “This troubled situation of war bears with it tragic consequences: death, destruction, massive economic and environmental damage, as well as the scourge of kidnapping. In denouncing these events I wish to assure my prayers of solidarity for those who have been kidnapped and their families and I appeal to the humanity of the kidnappers for the release of the victims…”

For nuncio in Damascus, abductions are a silent scourge (AsiaNews) Echoing the pope’s 2 June remarks, Apostolic Nuncio in Damascus Archbishop Mario Zenari said: “I wish to assure my prayers and my solidarity for those who are being held in captivity and for their families, and I appeal to the humanity of the kidnappers to free their victims. Let us pray for our beloved Syria…”

Melkite Archbishop of Aleppo: ‘United with the Pope we call for dialogue’ (Fides) “We see only chaos and destruction in a conflict that is against everything and everyone. In a country disfigured, with the civilian population led to the slaughter, Pope Francis’ appeal calls for dialogue and reconciliation,” said Melkite Greek Catholic Metropolitan Jean-Clément Jeanbart of Aleppo…

Jerusalem: Dormition Abbey vandalized (ICN) The Dormition Abbey, one of the major sites for Christian pilgrims to the Holy Land, was vandalized on Friday. Graffiti and anti-Christian insults in Hebrew were sprayed on a wall. Two cars were also smeared with offensive words and all tires were slashed. The Abbey is located on Mount Zion in Jerusalem and cared for by German Benedictine monks. This incident is the latest in a succession of desecration of Christian monasteries in September and October last year…



Tags: Pope Francis Syrian Civil War Violence against Christians Jerusalem Aleppo





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