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December, 2017
Volume 43, Number 4
  
11 April 2013
Greg Kandra




Pope Francis greets U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon during a meeting at the Vatican
on 9 April. (photo: CNS/Vincenzo Pinto, pool via Reuters)


Pope meets with UN head, discusses crisis in Syria (CNS) Each recognizing the important role the other plays on the global stage, Pope Francis and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon met at the Vatican 9 April, discussing common efforts to promote peace and protect human dignity. “The United Nations and the Holy See share common goals and ideals,” the U.N. secretary-general told the pope as the two sat across from each other at a desk in the papal library. Reporters were ushered out of the room at that point. The two spoke specifically about “situations of conflict and serious humanitarian emergencies, especially in Syria,” but also about the ongoing tensions on the Korean peninsula and in several African countries “where peace and stability are threatened,” said a statement from the Vatican press office…

Patriarch expresses concern about Christians in Syria (Christian Post) Maronite Patriarch Bechara Peter expressed concern on the situation of Christians in Syria and the increasing number of displaced Syrians living in Lebanon. During his meeting with French President Francois Hollande at the Elysee Palace in Paris Tuesday, the patriarch said a large number of Orthodox Christians — about 60 percent of those displaced — had left Syria, and that the solution there must be political. He stressed that President Bashar al Assad is not worse than those who are fighting in Syria…

Kerala Muslim man receives gift of life from Catholic priest (Indian Express) Diagnosed with chronic kidney disease a year-and-a-half ago, 30-year-old Rasad Muhammad’s hope of living had sunk with each passing day as a donor remained elusive. Until last month, when his saviour appeared suddenly — in the form of a Christian priest he had never met before. Father Kidangathazhe Sebastian, 41, will donate one of his kidneys to Rasad so he can live. Preparations are under way, and the transplant surgery is likely to be performed next month…

‘Pacem en Terris’ 50 years later (Vatican Radio) Thursday, 11 April, marks half a century since Blessed John XXIII published his encyclical “Pacem in Terris.” This encyclical, which as the Latin title indicates focuses on peace on earth, called for social and international peace. With this document which can be perceived as Pope John XXIII’s last testament, published as it was only a couple of months before his death, he broke new ground…



Tags: Kerala United Nations Maronite Patriarch Bechara Peter Patriarch Kirill

10 April 2013
J.D. Conor Mauro




In this video, Al Jazeera’s Nisreen El-Shamayleh reports from Ramtha, near the Syria-Jordan border, on the state of refugees. An estimated two-thirds of the 477,000 Syrians who have fled their homeland live outside of the camps set up for them in Jordan. Many are forced to crowd together in abandoned buildings, and all those outside the camps face the added challenges resulting from a smaller allocation of humanitarian aid. (video: Al Jazeera)

Rising cases of lice and scabies among Syrian refugees in Lebanon (Daily Star Lebanon) Lebanon’s Health Ministry said Wednesday cases of scabies and lice have increased among Syrian refugees and urged citizens to take precautionary measures. “The Health Ministry has recorded an increase in the number of scabies and lice cases, as a result of overpopulation and bad personal hygiene in locations where Syrian refugees reside,” the ministry said in a statement. The ministry affirmed that these diseases were “not dangerous” and could be treated easily with medication that is available without any cost for citizens…

Chaldean bishop: Aleppo is starving (Fides) “One lives day by day. I have the impression that people are more and more exhausted. They have all become poor and everyone is always looking for something to eat for himself and his family. In the streets of Aleppo you can see the people that run endlessly with bags in their hand, trying to find a bit of bread,” said Chaldean Bishop Antoine Audo. Bishop Audo, who is also the president of Caritas Syria, outlined a vivid image of the daily condition of a city that was among the most prosperous and dynamic in the Middle East, and which now appears hopelessly scarred by the civil war. The latest emergency that closely involves the churches in Aleppo is that of hundreds of Christian families forced to flee from the neighborhood of Cheikh Maksoud, conquered in the last days by the anti-Assad militias…

Unexploded devices pose hazard to Gaza children (Al Monitor) The Landmine and Cluster Munition Monitor mentions that the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories are “contaminated with mines and explosive remnants of war. The precise scope, scale and impact of the contamination is not known, but encompasses minefields, military-training zones and areas of confrontation where many explosive devices are left behind.” The presence of unexploded ordnances (UXOs) continues to pose a high risk to civilians, particularly children, in the Gaza Strip. Following Israel’s 23-day assault on Gaza in 2008-2009, which resulted in more than 1,500 Palestinians killed and over 5,300 injured, the risk of UXOs became significantly higher. A United Nations report released back in August 2009 shows than within only six months of the end of the deadly Israeli assault, 12 civilians were killed in UXO incidents, six of whom were children, and another 24 were injured, including four children. Four years later, such incidents have not ceased. In fact, they have notably increased…

Cardinal Tauran discusses interreligious dialogue (Chicago Tribune) Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, has given many lectures, speeches and homilies during his years of Vatican diplomatic service. Tribune religion reporter Manya A. Brachear sat down with him to reflect on this and other matters. “You have to remember,” the cardinal says, “that interreligious dialogue is not dialogue between religions. It’s dialogue between believers. It’s not [merely] a theological, philosophical exercise…”



Tags: Refugees Syrian Civil War Israeli-Palestinian conflict Refugee Camps Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran

9 April 2013
J.D. Conor Mauro




A man uses a bucket to put out a tear gas canister as Egyptians run inside St. Mark Coptic Orthodox Cathedral in Cairo on 7 April, while police fire tear gas during clashes with Muslims. At least two people died during the clashes outside the cathedral, and more than 80 were injured. (photo: CNS/Asmaa Waguih, Reuters)

Coptic pope criticizes Egyptian president for handling of recent violence (AP) The leader of Egypt’s Coptic Orthodox Church on Tuesday blasted the country’s Islamist president over his handling of recent deadly sectarian violence, including an attack on the main cathedral in Cairo. The remarks by Pope Tawadros II underscore rising Muslim-Christian tensions in Egypt; they were his first direct criticism of President Mohammed Morsi since the patriarch was enthroned in November as the spiritual leader of Egypt’s Orthodox Christians. He said Morsi had promised him in a telephone conversation to do everything to protect the cathedral, “but in reality he did not”…

Egypt government considering constitutional concessions (Daily Star Lebanon) Egypt’s Islamist-led government has asked independent legal experts to propose amendments to the new constitution, the state news agency MENA said on Tuesday, signaling that it may be heeding concerns of the liberal and leftist opposition. Members of Egypt’s main opposition bloc, the National Salvation Front, walked out of the drafting of the constitution last year in protest at what they saw as its Islamist slant, and have called for changes to enshrine more freedoms and rights, notably for religious minorities and women…

Maronite patriarch meets French president (Daily Star Lebanon) Maronite Patriarch Bechara Peter met with French President Francois Hollande Monday at the Elysee Palace in Paris, the National News Agency reported. The patriarch headed to France Monday as part of an official visit. On Monday, he discussed with French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius efforts to form a new cabinet in Lebanon and the issue of inter-Lebanese dialogue…

Bulgaria prays for hope (Vatican Radio) Bulgaria has begun three days of special prayers against suicide and nationwide pessimism after at least seven people set themselves on fire while protesting against poverty and corruption. Worshipers remember five Bulgarians who died and two who remain in critical condition by self-immolation. Bulgaria’s newly-elected Patriarch Neofit appealed to the faithful however not to take their own lives “under any circumstances.” He said: “Bulgarians must not fall victim of hopelessness.” An audio report can be found below the text of the story…

Catholicos Karekin II speaks at Armenian presidential inauguration (hetq) “With prayer and appeals for the radiant life of the homeland on our lips, we greet and extend our Pontifical blessings to you on the occasion of the inauguration of the President of the Republic of Armenia. … Since the reestablishment of independent statehood, our country has overcome terrible difficulties; it has traversed the demanding path of rebuilding and reformation. … On this occasion of the inauguration, we extend our exhortation to our people in the homeland and the diaspora, to implement unified efforts with the authorities of our country, for the sake of our homeland, the vibrancy of our national life and the manifestation of our hopes…”

Serbian Orthodox Church against deal with Kosovo Albanians (Fox News) The influential Serbian Orthodox Church has appealed against a deal with Kosovo Albanians that would pave the way for Serbia’s EU membership. The EU has given Serbia until Tuesday to say whether it would relinquish the control of northern of Kosovo — one of the most difficult issues dividing the former Serbian province — in exchange for the start of Serbia’s EU membership negotiations. Serbian Orthodox Patriarch Irinej said in a letter Saturday addressed to Serbian leaders that they shouldn’t “give up, sell or betray” Kosovo for a “murky” EU membership promise…



Tags: Egypt Maronite Patriarch Bechara Peter Serbian Orthodox Church Bulgaria Catholicos Karekin II

8 April 2013
J.D. Conor Mauro




The above video report illustrates some of the violence that broke out near St. Mark's Cathedral in Cairo, and shares reactions from leaders and members of the public. (video: Al Jazeera)

One dead, dozens injured in riot after Egyptian Coptic funeral (Sky News) At least one person has died and more than 60 others have been injured in clashes outside St. Mark’s Cathedral in Cairo on Sunday, following a funeral for four Christians who were killed in sectarian clashes on Friday. Mourners, who were chanting against the Islamist President Mohamed Morsi, were pelted with stones and bottles as they left the funeral. The Copts inside the church complex responded in kind. Before long, people began throwing fire bombs. Black-clad riot police intervened, firing tear gas at the cathedral, witnesses said, but not before one person had been killed. “I consider all attacks on the church as an attack on me personally,” state television quoted Mr. Morsi as telling the pope…

Coptic Orthodox pope calls for wisdom and restraint (Fides) Following the assault against Copts outside of St. Mark’s Cathedral in Cairo, Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros II expressed his disapproval of the acts. Extending condolences to the families of Christians killed in recent violence, the patriarch has also also urged the Egyptian people to remain calm and continue to work towards national unity…

Unexpected wonders in Ethiopian rock churches (The Daily Mirror) Ethiopia, rich in culture and diverse natural wonders, is finally beginning to realize its potential as a tourist destination. One major attraction is the northern highlands — the traditional heart of the nation and its Orthodox Christian faith. The jewel in the crown is Lalibela, an incredible labyrinth of 11 monolithic churches, tunnels and catacombs carved out of the red volcanic rock. Many of the churches are freestanding; one is intricately shaped as a cross, while a few are still quite cave-like. Their construction is attributed to King Lalibela who reigned until 1221 and is said to have wanted to create a “New Jerusalem” after the old one was captured by Saladin. But how they were built has been lost in the fog of time…

Indian bishops reaffirm commitment to poor as Year of Faith focus (Fides) “There is an unbreakable bond between our faith and the poor,” the bishops of northeast India — a region troubled by social conflicts and inhabited by tribal people who often lack basic services — wrote in a joint pastoral letter reaffirming their commitment in favor of the poor and marginalized. The bishops of the region’s 15 dioceses met recently to take stock of the situation of the church issue a statement on the Year of Faith, appreciating and echoing the predilection for the poor that Pope Francis expressed at the beginning of his pontificate…



Tags: Egypt Violence against Christians Coptic Orthodox Church Ethiopian Christianity Indian Bishops

5 April 2013
Greg Kandra




A man mourns the death of relatives while people search for casualties under the rubble at a site hit by what activists said was an airstrike in Aleppo, Syria, on 30 March.
(photo: CNS/Ziad Rev, Reuters)


Aleppo Christians fleeing rebel-held areas in Syria (Fides) The conquest of the district of Cheikh Maksoud by the anti-Assad militia could mark the fate of Aleppo, the metropolis battered for months by a bloody civil war. “Father David Fernandez, a missionary of the Institute of the Incarnate Word, confirms that neighborhood- is located on a hill overlooking Aleppo and is a strategic point for those who want to conquer the central area of the city, where there are also government buildings...

Kidnappers target Christians in Egypt (Associated Press) Ezzat Kromer’s resistance to his kidnappers did not last long. One of the masked gunmen fired a round between his feet as he sat behind the wheel of his car and said with chilling calm, “The next one will go into your heart.” The Christian gynecologist says he was bundled into his abductors’ vehicle, forced to lie under their feet in the back seat for a 45-minute ride, then dumped in a small cold room while his kidnappers contacted his family over a ransom. For the next 27 hours, he endured beatings, insults and threats to his life, while blindfolded, a bandage sealing his mouth and cotton balls in his ears. Kromer’s case is part of a dramatic rise of kidnappings targeting Christians, including children, in Egypt’s southern province of Minya, home to the country’s largest concentration of Christians but also a heartland for Islamist hard-liners...

Building collapse near Mumbai kills dozens (BBC) At least 40 people have died, including 11 children, after a building under construction collapsed near the Indian city of Mumbai, police say. Dozens have been injured and many others are feared trapped beneath the seven-storey building in Thane. Police said the block was an illegal construction and building work was going on even though four floors were already occupied. Building collapses are common with poor construction practices often blamed...

A Bosnian Muslim welcome to Pope Francis (Lebanon Daily Star) The election of Argentine Pope Francis, the 266th Bishop of Rome and head of the Roman Catholic Church, deserves both our congratulations and our reflection for the future of Muslim-Christian coexistence and dialogue. As a survivor of genocide at the end of 20th century in Bosnia, I am very interested in the policy of the Vatican and the message of the Holy See, which speaks for the Catholic Church. While the political influence of the Vatican might be limited to public diplomacy, the spiritual influence has great significance for millions of Christians worldwide. Consequently, the pope has always had a great impact on global peace and security. Pope Francis.. may find in his two immediate predecessors important lessons that could guide his future relations with Muslims...



Tags: Syria India Egypt Pope Francis Muslim

4 April 2013
Greg Kandra




Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros II's enthronement ceremony, pictured above, was held
at St. Mark's Cathedral in Abbasiya in Cairo on 18 November. (photo: CNS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany, Reuters)


Coptic patriarch will go to Rome to meet Pope Francis (Fides) Coptic Orthodox Patriarch Tawadros II of Alexandria has expressed his desire to go to Rome to meet Pope Francis. According to Egyptian media sources — such as the daily Al Masry al Youm — the head of the largest Christian church in the Arab world expressed this intention on Wednesday evening, after receiving Archbishop Jean-Paul Gobel as a guest at the Cathedral of St. Mark. The Coptic Orthodox patriarch’s visit to the Apostolic See of Rome represent a very important event from an ecumenical point of view. Tawadros’s predecessor, Pope Shenouda III, had met Pope Paul VI at the Vatican 40 years ago, in May 1973…

Will Syria’s refugee crisis drain Jordan of its water? (Time) Now that spring has arrived in the Middle East, Syria’s estimated 1.2 million refugees in Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan can hope for relief from the snow, the rain and the bitterly cold nights of winter. But that relief will be as short-lived as the region’s balmy weather. Summer is fast on its way, and in Jordan in particular, life for Syrian refugees, and the border communities that support them, is about to get a lot worse…

In Syria, abandoned baby becomes family’s ‘gift from God’ (Daily Star Lebanon) A newborn baby abandoned on the street in the battleground Syrian city of Aleppo has been named “Gift from God” by the family who adopted her, even at the cost of an extra mouth to feed. In a city that has been devastated by fighting since July last year, where jobs have disappeared and prices for even basic goods have risen beyond most people’s reach, parents face impossible choices. Doctors say the abortion rate has increased as parents take fright at the prospect of having to fend for another child. Others have sent children to live with family members, or abandoned them altogether. Hibat Allah, as she is named in Arabic, was lucky to survive her abandonment in a rebel-held neighborhood of the city in December, her adoptive parents recall…

The story behind an Ethiopian Christian refugee who settled in Israel (Haaretz) He employs a staff of 12 Israelis, is the son of a high-ranking government official and wears brand-name sweaters. Meet Yohannes Bayu, refugee. “I’m one of the lucky ones,” says the Jerusalem resident, who is one of an estimated 170 people who have, in the course of six decades, been officially recognized by Israel as refugees. A Christian from Ethiopia, Bayu, 39, came to Israel after fleeing his native land in 1997, long before thousands of other Africans began walking across the Egyptian desert to make their way to the Jewish state…



Tags: Refugees Ecumenism Refugee Camps Coptic Orthodox Church Water

3 April 2013
Greg Kandra




A man holds an injured child who had just been pulled out from under rubble at a site hit by what activists said was an airstrike in Aleppo, Syria, on 30 March. (photo: CNS/Ziad Rev, Reuters)

Israel issues warning to Palestine and Syria (Al Jazeera) Israel’s defense minister warned Palestinian fighters that the Israeli military will respond to any attacks in its territory, after a rocket was fired from Gaza into southern Israel and an attack from Syria. Moshe Yaalon said on Wednesday that the military will not hold back if attacked and will not allow its civilians or armed forces to come under fire “in any form”. “We shall not allow in any form the establishment of a routine of sporadic firing on our civilians or on our forces,” said Yaalon…

Report: Syria conflict drawing hundreds of jihadists from Europe (The Guardian) Hundreds of Europeans have travelled to Syria since the start of the civil war to fight against the country’s president, Bashar al Assad, the most comprehensive study of European foreign fighters to date has found…

Russian Orthodox leaders hope Anglicans will not allow female bishops, same-sex marriage (Interfax) The Moscow Patriarchate expects Justin Welby, the new Archbishop of Canterbury, to adhere to the norms of Christian morals and the church system. “We know that the Anglican Church is now going through a difficult time and various views, positions, and parties coexist in it. However, we really hope that the traditional understanding of Christian morals and the church system will prevail in this polemic,” Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church's department for external relations, said during a meeting between Welby and representatives of the Orthodox churches who attended his enthronement…

Kerala is India’s divorce capital (Deccan Chronicle) Two decades ago, the state had a very modest divorce rate. But now, with the state capital being ranked the divorce capital of the country, and Kerala having the highest divorce rate in the country, family courts are flooded with divorce petitions. The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act 2005, which came into force in 2006, has given women a legitimate ground for divorce they did not have before. But, like any law, it can be misused. According to Rakhi Ravikumar, a counsel who specializes in divorce petitions, a court will offer interim relief now only when it is convinced that the domestic violence plea is genuine…



Tags: India Syrian Civil War Kerala Israeli-Palestinian conflict Russian Orthodox Church

2 April 2013
Greg Kandra




The video above from CNS shows highlights of Pope Francis celebrating his first Holy Week and Easter. You can read more about the pope’s Easter message, the traditional “urbi et orbi,”
at this link.


In Easter messages, church leaders call for peace in Syria (CNS) In Easter messages, Catholic patriarchs in the Middle East highlighted the need for an end to the war in Syria, now entering its third year. Cardinal and Maronite Patriarch Bechara Peter appealed “to the disputants in Syria, who are so intent in demolishing the homes of peaceful citizens, [the country’s] institutions and history, and the killing of dozens of innocent people a day … we appeal to them to put away their arms and refuse the money given to them from the outside world, whose interest is only to demolish Syria and other Arab countries…”

Report: March deadliest month in Syrian war (CNN) The brutal civil war in Syria claimed more than 6,000 lives in March alone — making it the deadliest month since the conflict began a little more than two years ago, the opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported Monday. The group said 6,005 people were killed in Syria last month. That’s more than all the deaths that occurred in the first nine months of the war. “This will become the new normal, and the death toll figures will continue to rise,” said Rami Abdel Rahman, the head of the observatory.

Priest from Kerala killed in Bangalor (New Indian Express) A 62-year-old rector was found murdered inside St. Peter’s Pontifical Seminary, located next to a church early Monday. The police said the assailants escaped with some valuables after striking the rector’s head with a blunt weapon before strangling him. The victim, Father K. J. Thomas, a native of Kerala, had been staying at the seminary for the past five years. He was the managerial as well as spiritual head of the church and used to train priests…

Hope for a unified Easter (Catholic Register) When Catholics sat down to Easter dinner on 31 March, Orthodox Christians still had most of Lent ahead of them as they wait for Easter Sunday on 5 May. Why would Christians be so divided about something as fundamental as Easter, the one day that stands at the heart of the faith? Getting all Christians to celebrate Easter together would be a major step forward in ecumenical relations, said Father Damian MacPherson, the archdiocese of Toronto’s ecumenical and interfaith affairs director…

Exploring Christianity’s Ethiopian roots (Ebony.com) Christianity reportedly arrived in North Africa in the latter part of first century A.D. or the early part of the second, while “the adoption of Christianity in Ethiopia dates to the fourth-century,” according to findings by the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The Bible also documents the conversion of an Ethiopian eunuch as the early church was forming. Likewise, Moroccan explorer Ibn Battuta mentions Christians in Nubia (an area that covers present-day northern Sudan and southern Egypt) in his 14th century travelogue. But when Europeans penetrated Sub-Saharan Africa in the 16th Century, ultimately mining the region for Africans to enslave, the historical narrative shifts which is perhaps why many associate the religion most with Europeans to this day…



Tags: Syrian Civil War Ecumenism Maronite Patriarch Bechara Peter Indian Catholics Ethiopian Christianity

28 March 2013
J.D. Conor Mauro




Markian Surmach sells pysanky — traditionally decorated chicken or goose eggs, rich with symbolism — at his Ukrainian shop in New York City. Scholars agree that the art form originated at least 2,000 years ago. To learn more about pysanky, read The Colors of Easter, from the March 2012 issue of ONE. (photo: Erin Edwards)

Ancient Ukrainian tradition transforms eggs into masterpieces (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette) Steeped in ancient symbolism and decorated in hot wax, pysanky (pronounced pie-sun-key) is a colorful folk art tradition in Ukraine that harkens back to pagan times. These days, the ancient tradition is celebrated at Easter, when Ukrainian churches and community groups gather to decorate eggs in intricate, painstaking detail. Decorating eggs is more than just a pastime for those who lived in Ukraine when it was under the control of the Soviet Union, from 1922 to 1991. For them, it’s a symbol of expressive freedom…

Self-absorption is root of evils within church, said pope (CNS) Evils within the church are caused by a self-centeredness and “theological narcissism” that forget to share Christ with people outside of the church, Pope Francis said in the days before his election. “When the church is self-referential, inadvertently, she believes she has her own light,” he said in a summary of a speech he gave to the College of Cardinals before the start of the conclave that ended in his election. When the church ceases to be “the mysterium lunae,” that is, to depend on Christ for receiving and reflecting his — not its own — light, the church then “gives way to that very serious evil, spiritual worldliness, which according to [Jesuit Cardinal Henri-Marie] De Lubac, is the worst evil that can befall the church,” said then-Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio…

Syrian bishop: Outsiders are killing Syrians, destroying churches (Russia Today) “A person who has no homeland is nothing,” says Orthodox Metropolitan Bishop Luke, an Arab born in Syria. Metropolitan Luke is speaking Arabic, using the usual Muslim expressions, such as “insha’Allah,” which means “God willing,” or the standard greeting of “as-salam alaykum.” The metropolitan notes: “Our culture implies no intolerance towards Islam. It’s the basic principle of our relations. We call Muslims our cousins.” This solidarity finds an expression in the season; it is the Orthodox Lent — the time to offer the most sincere prayers of absolution. “Now that Lent has begun we say prayers every day. We are under attack, all of the Syrian people. These people say they act with Syrian people’s best interests at heart, but it’s not true. We are the Syrian people, and they have been sent to our country from the outside…”

Syrian official: 10 killed in university attack (Daily Star Lebanon) A Syrian government official says 10 people have been killed and 20 wounded in a mortar attack against Damascus University. The official says the mortar rounds struck the university’s architecture department in the central Baramkeh district on Thursday. He spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to give official statements…



Tags: Pope Francis Ukraine Syrian Civil War Cultural Identity Easter

27 March 2013
J.D. Conor Mauro




In this 16 September 2012 photo, Melkite Patriarch Gregory III of Damascus, Syria, attends Mass with Pope Benedict XVI on the waterfront in Beirut. At left is Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Vatican secretary of state. (photo: CNS/Paul Haring)

Melkite leader urges pope to help end Syria bloodshed (Daily Star Lebanon) Melkite Patriarch Gregory III called on newly elected Pope Francis to help end the two-year-old violence in neighboring Syria. “We warmly urge him [Pope Francis] — as we know the love he has for the Levant — and urge world countries and all the officials to work to stop the bloodshed in Syria,” Laham said in his Easter Resurrection message. “Enough pain. Enough tragedies. Enough violence, terrorism, weapons and fundamentalism. Enough trading in human lives, their dignity, livelihood, security, integrity and stability,” Laham said…

Ecumenical meeting in Iraq discusses pressing issues for community (Fides) On Tuesday, 26 March, leaders and representatives of the churches and Christian communities in Iraq gathered at the headquarters of the Chaldean Patriarchate in Baghdad to discuss the present condition of Middle East Christians and to deal jointly with the emergencies and difficulties that threaten Iraqi Christians. The meeting, convened by Chaldean Patriarch Louis Raphael I, included senior representatives of the Armenian Apostolic, Assyrean of the East, Coptic Orthodox, Greek Orthodox, Syriac Catholic and Syriac Orthodox churches. Ecumenism and fraternal dialogue of communion with all Christians is a priority for the Chaldean patriarch, who had said after his election: “Unfortunately one hears some who say: I am more Armenian than Christian, more Assyrian than Christian, more Chaldean than Christian. A tribal mentality persists here and there…”

Pope: Holy week challenges us to step outside ourselves (Vatican Radio) Linked is an English summary of Pope Francis’ first general audience. (An English translation of the Holy Father’s complete catechesis will be available soon.) “Holy Week challenges us to step outside ourselves so as to attend to the needs of others: those who long for a sympathetic ear, those in need of comfort or help. We should not simply remain in our own secure world, that of the ninety-nine sheep who never strayed from the fold, but we should go out, with Christ, in search of the one lost sheep, however far it may have wandered,” the pope said…

Indian Christians protest against working on Easter (Fides) Some government departments have told their employees to stay open on 29-31 March, which for Christians are Good Friday through Easter. Christians in India have called for Christian workers to be granted a work break because these are “the most important days of the year for the Christian faith.” Some Catholic nongovernmental organizations, such as the Mumbai-based Catholic Secular Forum, sent a memorandum to the prime minister and the minister of finance expressing “deep shock” and recalling the existence of a circular that provides for “the closure of business tax offices on Saturday and Sunday”…

Syria’s Shiites offer different picture of war (L.A. Times) Each evening, Ali Jamal and other men in this border town grab their Kalashnikov assault rifles, jump on their motorbikes and ride across the irrigation canal into Syria to protect their homes. The enemies are Sunni rebel “terrorists,” he says, who target Jamal and his neighbors because they are Shiite Muslims. “Imagine, these people used to be our neighbors,” said the 40-year-old farmer, perplexed by the transformation. “Now they want to kidnap and kill us.” The predominant narrative of the Syrian war is that of a tyrannical government largely run by members of a Shiite sect, the Alawites, brutalizing a people yearning for freedom. However, in the largely Shiite towns and villages of Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley, people who have fled Syria tell a different story. They speak of an “ethnic cleansing” campaign carried out by rebels intent on creating an Islamic state run by Syria’s Sunni majority…



Tags: Pope Francis Syrian Civil War Indian Christians Chaldean Church Melkite Patriarch Gregory III of Antioch





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