onetoone
one
Current Issue
September, 2017
Volume 43, Number 3
  
25 January 2013
J.D. Conor Mauro




Young men pass buildings destroyed by Syrian airstrikes in Damascus on 17 January. (photo: CNS/Goran Tomasevic, Reuters)

Syrian rebels destroy Shi’ite site, loot churches (Yahoo! News) Rebels in Syria have burned and looted the religious sites of minorities, Human Rights Watch said on Wednesday, as the longest and deadliest of the Arab Spring revolts becomes increasingly sectarian. The 22-month-old rebellion against President Bashar al Assad started as a peaceful protest movement but has turned into civil war, pitting mostly Sunni Muslim rebels against a state security and military establishment dominated by Assad’s minority Alawite sect, an offshoot of Shi’ite Islam. In the northern Idlib province, where rebels have taken swaths of territory from government forces, the New York-based rights group said opposition fighters destroyed a Shi’ite “husseiniya” — a religious site devoted to Hussein, a martyr in Shi’ite tradition. In the western Latakia province, Human Rights Watch quoted residents as saying gunmen working “in the name of the opposition” had broken into and stolen from Christian churches in two villages…

Coptic Catholic bishop: Egypt must not become Islamist (Fides) On the second anniversary of the Revolution of 25 January 2011, while there are reports of new clashes in the streets between police and anti-government protesters, Coptic Catholic Bishop Youhanna Qulta outlines the contours of the delicate moment lived by the great north African country. According to Bishop Qulta, “if the government and the Muslim Brotherhood try to repress the demonstrations held these days, the nightmare of civil war will return in Egypt.” Bishop Qulta, as a representative of the Catholic Churches in Egypt, took part in the Constituent Assembly called upon to write a new Constitution. Today he confirms the reason he and other Christian representatives withdrew from that body: “Work had begun on the right note, but at some point it became clear that the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafis wanted to impose an Islamic Constitution. We discussed with their leaders, but they did not want to listen. We realized that our function was only decorative, and went away.” According to Bishop Qulta: “Egypt is not Mali. It is at the crossroads of Europe, Asia and Africa. More than ten million Christians live there. Its economy is based on tourism and trade. This is why one cannot agree to allow it to become an Islamist Country.” The bishop added: “I love my Muslim brothers and my sisters. I also dedicated my studies and my Ph.D. to Islamic culture.” For Bishop Qulta, the real problem is the relationship between politics and religion: “Who wants to be religious, cannot claim to compel by law the people to pray, not to drink alcohol and follow all practices related to his religion. In Arab countries, only by separating religion and politics one can have democracy”…

Bishop warns of “toughest times” for Serbs since 2004 pogrom (B92) A Serbian Orthodox bishop based in Kosovo has said that the position of the Serb people in Kosovo and Metohija has not been this difficult ever since March 2004. Ethnic Albanians at that time organized widespread attacks on Serbs, their property, and holy places. “Eight full years have passed since the horrible event, and we still see that part of the Albanian community is ready to commit the most serious crimes, including the barbaric desecration of graves,” Bishop Teodosije of Raska-Prizren was quoted as saying. Commenting on the latest spate of violence in which several dozen gravestones were either destroyed or damaged in Serbian Orthodox cemeteries in Kosovo and Metohija, the Bishop said that “the feelings at seeing images of broken tombs and crosses set on fire are terrible”…

Pope receives members of key ecumenical commission (VIS) Today in the Vatican, the Holy Father received the members of the Joint International Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Oriental Orthodox churches. The commission was instituted ten years ago as a initiative of the ecclesial authorities of the family of the Oriental Orthodox churches and the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. The commission has dedicated this week to exploring “more fully the communion and communication which existed between the churches in the first five centuries of Christian history,” Pope Benedict XVI said, expressing his hope that “relations between the Catholic Church and the Oriental Orthodox churches will continue to develop in a fraternal spirit of cooperation, particularly through the growth of a theological dialogue capable of helping all the Lord’s followers to grow in communion and to bear witness before the world to the saving truth of the Gospel.” The full text of his address can be found here



Tags: Egypt Syrian Civil War Violence against Christians Pope Benedict XVI Ecumenism

24 January 2013
J.D. Conor Mauro




Blessed John Paul II is pictured in a 1983 photo greeting Polish Cardinal Jozef Glemp of Warsaw, who died on 23 January in Warsaw. (photo: CNS/KNA)

Cardinal Jozef Glemp of Poland dies at 83 (New York Times) Cardinal Jozef Glemp, the spiritual leader of Poland’s Roman Catholics for 25 years, who helped steer his nation through a historic and relatively peaceful transition from Communism to democracy in 1989, died on Wednesday in Warsaw. He was 83. The Polish news agency PAP said Cardinal Glemp had lung cancer. For a thousand years, the church has been a repository of nationhood in overwhelmingly Catholic Poland, and for decades Cardinal Glemp, as the archbishop of Warsaw and Gniezno and the primate of Poland, was both mediator and power broker in the struggle between the Communist government and the resistance led by the Solidarity labor union…

Bombs in Baghdad kill 17 (Al Jazeera) Three blasts, including a suicide attack, have killed at least 17 people in and around the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, officials say. The most deadly of Tuesday’s explosions took place in Taji, about 12 miles north of Baghdad, where a suicide bomber driving a car packed with explosives detonated his bomb near an army base, killing at least 7 and wounding 24. Two more car bombs, in the northwest neighborhood of Shula and the town of Mahmudiya to the south of the city, killed another 10 and wounded nearly 30, police and hospital sources said. Violence in Iraq has eased since the widespread sectarian carnage of 2006-2007, but Sunni armed groups still launch frequent attacks to reignite confrontation among the Shia majority, Sunni Muslims and ethnic Kurds. The latest attacks come amid rising ethnic and sectarian tension following the arrest last month of bodyguards assigned to the Sunni finance minister Rafia al Issawi…

Archbishop Manoogian elected Armenian patriarch of Jerusalem (France24) Archbishop Nurhan Manoogian has been elected the 97th Armenian Orthodox patriarch of Jerusalem, one of the five custodians of Christian religious sites in the Holy Land. The 65-year-old patriarch elect replaces His Beatitude Torkom II, who died at 93 in October 2012, after falling into a coma following a stroke. The new patriarch will lead the small Armenian Orthodox communities in Israel, the Palestinian territories and Jordan, and take responsibility for parts of holy sites including the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. Nurhan Manougian was born in Aleppo, Syria in 1948 and ordained in Jerusalem in 1971. His election must be approved by Israel and the Jordanian king…

Muslim Brotherhood boycotts Jordanian elections (Christian Science Monitor) Jordanians voted in their first parliamentary elections since the Arab Spring revolts on Wednesday, but a boycott by the main Islamist party guaranteed there would be no repeat of an Egypt-style revolution via the ballot box. The popular Muslim Brotherhood shunned the poll saying the electoral system had been rigged against large, populated urban areas where it is strongest in favor of rural tribal areas where conservative, pro-government forces are entrenched. The Brotherhood’s boycott has reduced the election to a contest between tribal leaders, establishment figures and businessmen, with just a few of the 1,500 candidates running for recognized parties. “God willing, these elections will produce a good parliament that will consider the needs of the citizens. We hope this parliament will be better than the previous one,” said Iskandar Nuqul, a voter in Amman’s first electoral district…

Palestinian president seeks peace talks with new Israeli parliament (Daily Star Lebanon) Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will invite Israeli politicians to the West Bank to try to make sure peacemaking is on the new government’s agenda, a senior official said Thursday, even as a top Israeli hard-liner proposed sidelining the polarizing issue. President Abbas hopes to sit down with representatives of Israel’s parliamentary factions to discuss the possibility of settling the Israeli-Palestinian conflict peacefully, senior Palestinian official Yasser Abed Rabbo told The Associated Press. He did not say when the invitations would go out, but emphasized that the president wants the meeting to take place before Israel forms its next government — a process that is expected to take several weeks…

Egyptian human rights group decries police abuses (L.A. Times) An Egyptian human rights groups reported this week that torture and police brutality, which helped spark a national uprising two years ago, have continued under the new Islamist-led government. Over the course of 2011 and 2012, the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR) documented more than 20 extrajudicial killings as a result of torture or “unnecessary” use of firearms by police forces, the group said in a report released ahead of the second anniversary of the 25 January revolt that eventually toppled former President Hosni Mubarak. “It is clear from the data gathered that police continue to deploy excessive violence and torture systematically as it was during the Mubarak regime,” the rights group said. As Egypt continues to find its way after the revolution, the government has gone through different interior ministers who promised drastic police reform and new ways for security forces to reach out to the public. EIPR says little has changed…



Tags: Iraq Egypt Jordan Middle East Peace Process Armenian Apostolic Church

23 January 2013
J.D. Conor Mauro




An Iraqi woman prays during a 2011 Christmas Mass at St. Joseph Chaldean Catholic Church
in Baghdad. (photo: CNS/Saad Shalash, Reuters)


Archbishop Sako considers the future of Christians in the Middle East (Fides) The situation in the Middle East “is worrying, as are certain things that one hears on the Arab Spring by certain leaders,” says Chaldean Archbishop of Kirkuk Louis Sako in a recent appeal. According to the archbishop, the “mixture of ethnicities, religions and languages” present in the Middle East inevitably leads to tensions and conflicts, because in that region of the world “a criterion of citizenship able to integrate everyone, regardless of religion or ethnicity … has never been established.” Disruptive processes now taking place in Iraq, which may eventually also affect Syria, “worsen the situation”; because of institutional gaps, safety is uncertain and little prevents the activities of criminal and extremist groups…

Eritrean coup is said to have failed (New York Times) Eritrea, a sliver of a nation in the Horn of Africa that is one of the most secretive and repressive countries in the world, was cast into confusion on Monday after mutinous soldiers stormed the Ministry of Information and took over the state-run television service, apparently in a coup attempt. According to several people with close contacts inside Eritrea, the coup attempt failed, with government troops quelling the would-be rebellion and no one rising up in the streets. But many analysts said it was only a matter of time before President Isaias Afwerki, Eritrea’s brash and steely leader for the past 20 years, is confronted again — and most likely from within…

Sunday prayer for peace in the Holy Land shared across 3000 cities (Fides) On Sunday, 27 January, 3000 cities around the world will pray for peace in Holy Land in the context of the fifth International Day of Intercession, promoted in 2009 by some Catholic youth groups. The International Day of Intercession for Peace in Holy Land, according to the organizers, “has become over the years a sign and inspiration for those [with a] strong desire that in Jesus’ land peace and justice reign, which may be a sign of unity and growth throughout the world”…

Lebanon’s mufti decries ‘fake democracy’ (Daily Star Lebanon) On Wednesday, Grand Mufti of Lebanon Sheikh Mohammad Qabbani slammed the “dictatorship” of political leaders who have made Lebanese live in a “fake democracy.” In a statement on the occasion of Prophet Mohammad’s birthday, he said: “To this day, we are still looking for reasons behind our disputes, making this another cause for our weakness, and we have even boasted for a long time that we and no one else enjoy democracy in this Levant. … But we remain prisoners of a fake democracy that carries with it the ugliest forms of complex dictatorship, horrible sectarianism practices, and wait-and-see and speculative policies”…

In Lebanon, CNEWA seeks aid for Syrian refugees (Terra Santa) For those who speak Italian, here is an interview in the Italian magazine, Terra Santa (or The Holy Land Review), with CNEWA’s regional director for Lebanon, Syria and Egypt, Issam Bishara.



Tags: Lebanon Middle East Christians Middle East Eritrea Chaldeans

22 January 2013
Greg Kandra




Pope Benedict XVI has raised the church jurisdiction for Ukrainian Catholics in Great Britain to the level of an eparchy, or diocese, and named Bishop Hlib Lonchyna, 58, a native of Steubenville, Ohio, to be the eparchial bishop. Bishop Lonchyna is pictured in a 2004 photo.
(photo: CNS /Daniele Colarieti, Catholic Press Photo)


Pope creates two Ukrainian eparchies (Vatican Radio) Two papal appointments in the past two days have given Ukrainian Catholics in France and the UK a greater sense of pastoral presence and stability. Pope Benedict XVI elevated the Ukrainian Apostolic Exarchate in Great Britain to the rank of Eparchy on Friday. He followed up on Saturday with an announcement, elevating the exarchate in France to the same rank...

Russians leaving Syria cross into Lebanon (Associated Press) Four buses carrying Russian citizens escaping the Syrian civil war crossed into Lebanon on Tuesday, in the first evacuation organized by Moscow since the start of the conflict nearly two years ago. About 80 people, mostly women and children, were on the buses, according to an official from the Russian Embassy in Beirut who was waiting for the group at the Masnaa border crossing in eastern Lebanon. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the media...

Pope: Divisions among Christians disfigure the church (L’Osservatore Romano) One of the gravest sins “that disfigure the Church’s face” is the sin “against her visible unity,” and, in particular, “the historical divisions which separated Christians and which have not yet been surmounted.” The Holy Father said this at the Angelus on Sunday, 20 January, in St Peter’s Square, speaking of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity that is being celebrated from 18 to 25 January on the theme “What does the Lord require of us?,” from the words of the Prophet Micah...

Christian candidates attracting attention in Jordan election (Fides) There are more than 40 Christians who will present themselves as candidates in the parliamentary elections for the renewal of the Lower Chamber, scheduled for tomorrow in Jordan, according to Father Rifat Bader, director of the Catholic Centre for Studies and Media...

Georgian patriarch visits Russia, seeks stronger ties (Reuters) Georgia’s Patriarch Ilia, on a rare trip to Russia on Monday, said religion was the strongest tie still binding the two countries that fought a short war in 2008 and said he was optimistic about future relations of the two post-Soviet states. One of the most prominent Georgians to visit Russia since the war, the leader of the Georgian Orthodox Church received an award from his Russian Orthodox counterpart, Patriarch Kirill — a move analysts said used the politically powerful churches to help improve the countries’ ties. Ilya is due to meet President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday...



Tags: Syria Lebanon Ukraine Jordan Russia

18 January 2013
J.D. Conor Mauro




In this 23 July 2011 photo, Cardinal Antonios Naguib, Coptic Catholic patriarch of Alexandria, Egypt, celebrates the Divine Liturgy at St. Patrick Church in Nashville, Tennessee, as part of a tour of Coptic Catholic communities across the United States. This week, Cardinal Naguib submitted his resignation for health reasons. (photo: CNS/Theresa Laurence, Tennessee Register)

New Coptic Catholic patriarch elected (Fides) The Synod of the Coptic Catholic Bishops, who gathered in Cairo from 12 to 16 January, received a letter of resignation for health reasons by Patriarch Cardinal Antonios Naguib and, after a day of spiritual retreat, proceeded to the election of his successor. On 15 January, the synod canonically elected the new patriarch of Alexandria of the Copts, His Beatitude Ibrahim Isaac Sidrak, who then received the Ecclesiastical Communio granted by His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI…

Catholic hospital in Jordan struggles to help Syrian refugees (Catholic News Agency) A Jordanian Catholic hospital is appealing for more money to help with the growing influx of Syrian refugees fleeing the conflict in their homeland. "What we're asking for is just to help us help others," said Sister Alessandra Fumagalli, at a Catholic Near East Welfare Association gathering on 16 January at the Vatican. Sister Fumagalli made her remarks at the headquarters of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, speaking alongside Cardinal Edwin O'Brien, Cardinal Leonardo Sandri and the archbishop of Ottawa, Terrence Prendergast. The hospital in the Jordanian town of Karak run by the Comboni sisters, known as "the Italian Hospital," has 40 beds, 30 consultant doctors and 5 resident doctors, but the space for patients remains limited. "We have 15 people coming in three times a day because we just don't have enough seats for them," she said. "We can't afford to buy medical equipment, so CNEWA is helping us a lot in these things," Sister Fumagalli explained. The Catholic charity organized the event where Sister Fumagalli spoke. It brought together over 120 participants, including the Italian actor Giorgio Lupano and Italian political representatives, hoping to tell Italians of the worsening situation for Christians in the Middle East. "The main purpose was to raise awareness in Italy of how much the Eastern Churches are in need, in order to support them," said Emanuelle Latini, the administrator of the association's office at the Vatican…

Jordan won’t accept new refugees if Syria falls (New York Times) In the latest sign of the intense pressures Syria’s war has placed on its neighbors, Jordan’s prime minister said Thursday that his country would not accept thousands of new refugees likely to flee Syria if President Bashar al Assad’s government collapsed. Jordan’s government would instead deploy special forces troops to create “secure safe havens” for the refugees inside Syrian territory. These comments underscored mounting fears in Jordan that it was being destabilized by the influx of more than 200,000 refugees — many living in miserable conditions in a camp near the border — and by the threat of a spreading militancy from the war. Despite such concerns, Jordanian officials on Thursday tried to soften the prime minister’s comments, which raised the possibility of both a Jordanian military incursion into Syrian territory and a new humanitarian crisis. A government spokesman, Samih Maytah, clarified: Jordan will continue receiving the refugees “as long as the flow continues at the same rate,” he said. But if tens or hundreds of thousands came across — “if the regime falls or chaos spreads” — Jordan will stop taking them in…

Pursuit of ‘ideal’ Georgian-Armenian relations includes focus on churches (Azatutyun.am) Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili pledged to help make Georgian-Armenian relations “ideal” during his first official visit to Yerevan on Thursday. He also announced an ambitious initiative to end a long-running dispute between the government-backed Armenian and Georgian churches after holding talks with President Serzh Sarkisian and Prime Minister Tigran Sarkisian — specifically, the thorny issue of worship sites claimed by the Armenian Apostolic and Georgian Orthodox churches. The unresolved dispute centers on ownership of several formerly Armenian churches in Tbilisi as well as abandoned medieval monasteries in Armenia’s Lori province bordering Georgia. The supreme heads of the two churches failed to reach any agreements during almost one week of negotiations held in June 2011. Ivanishvili said he proposed that his private charity finance the renovation of all disputed churches “in both countries” pending a joint Georgian-Armenian study of their origin. “We could also do archaeological work there, which I’m also ready to finance through my fund,” he said…

Jordan’s Islamists, opposition rally against vote (Daily Star Lebanon) Hundreds of Jordanian Islamists, youth activists and other opposition groups are rallying in capital city Amman and calling for a boycott of next week’s parliament elections. Friday’s peaceful demonstration drew about 1,300 Muslim Brotherhood members and others, united in the election boycott and in demands that King Abdullah II cede some of his powers and give parliament more say in the country. The demonstration comes just five days before elections that will for the first time see a prime minister emerge from among the winning candidates, rather than by appointment by the king. The protesters say such reforms do not go far enough…



Tags: Refugees Jordan Armenian Apostolic Church Coptic Catholic Church Georgian Orthodox Church

17 January 2013
J.D. Conor Mauro




Forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al Assad walk on the rubble of damaged buildings and shops in the old city of Aleppo on 3 January. (photo: CNS/George Ourfalian, Reuters)

Editor's note: You may have noticed our website was experiencing technical difficulties. We were down for most of the last 24 hours. But now, at last, we're back. Our apologies for any inconvenience.

Syria university explosion kills more than 80 (L.A. Times) Dozens of people died in two explosions minutes apart Tuesday at a university in the embattled northern city of Aleppo, a reminder of the Syrian conflict’s costly toll on ordinary citizens. At least 82 people, many on campus for midterm exams, were killed, according to separate accounts from rebels in Aleppo, government officials and a pro-opposition group. Videos posted on YouTube show students in winter clothes milling about minutes after the first blast occurred, when a second explosion sent a billowing, mushroom-like cloud into the sky. The explosions tore the facades off buildings, blew out windows, set cars ablaze and left bodies scattered across the grounds of Aleppo University, which has managed to stay open despite daily battles between the government and rebel forces since July. It was not known who was responsible for the blasts…

For those still in Syria, a daily struggle (N.P.R.) The situation for Syrian refugees is getting dire. Much has been reported about the worsening conditions for hundreds of thousands of Syrians taking up shelter just outside the country’s borders, but inside Syria, the numbers are even higher. The United Nations says some 2 million people have been displaced from their homes in Syria, and most of them end up squatting in mosques and schools. NPR’s Kelly McEvers spent a night in one of those schools, in Syria’s largest city, Aleppo, and filed this report on the daily lives of the people she encountered…

Serbian Orthodox Church reports mistreatment of Christians by Kosovo police (Interfax Religion) Information service of the Serbian Orthodox diocese of Ra?ka-Prizren reports that during Christmas celebration on 7 January 2013, Kosovar police executed a raid operation in the Gra?anica convent. The ruling hierarch, Bishop Teodosije of Raska-Prizren, was not notified. The worshippers’ confusion, fear and bewilderment over actions of the police were redoubled by the detention of Orthodox Christians who were in Gracanica to attend Christmas Divine Liturgy. Several Serbs were detained and brought to Pristina for interrogation without any indictment. According to one of them, they were beaten while in the detention unit. One sustained serious injuries and was admitted to the local hospital. The detention of Orthodox Christians on the day of the Nativity of Christ and mistreatment of the detainees has evoked indignation among the Serbian Orthodox and Russian Orthodox communities…

Combating human trafficking a priority in Orissa (Fides) A decisive fight against human trafficking — which mainly affects the poorest communities in Orissa, such as Christians — and initiatives to ensure food security for the population are the activities sponsored for the Year of Faith by a network formed by the religious congregations in the state of Orissa. The network includes other Christian denominations, non-governmental organizations, civic groups, students and diocesan teams of volunteers. The network has identified two emergencies in the society of Orissa state in eastern India, the scene of anti-Christian massacres in 2008. The first is human trafficking, which affects mostly women and children, and the second is food insecurity — households do not have the certainty of the minimum daily sustenance necessary for survival…

Court overturns life sentence against Hosni Mubarak; orders retrial (N.P.R.) An Egyptian court overturned a life sentence against ousted President Hosni Mubarak and ordered a retrial for the former autocrat. The decision to retry the strongman, who was serving a life sentence for failing to stop the killing of protesters, came as no surprise. When the judge overseeing the original case made his ruling last June, he criticized the prosecution for failing to produce concrete evidence against the leadership. Mubarak and his security chief Habib al Adly will be tried again on criminal charges related to the killing of some 1,000 demonstrators during the 2011 uprising that forced the president’s ouster. Adly’s six deputies, who held key positions and were all acquitted, will also be retried. The court also granted a request to overturn not-guilty verdicts on corruption charges against Mubarak, his two sons and a business associate, Hussein Salem…



Tags: India Egypt Syrian Civil War human trafficking Kosovo

15 January 2013
J.D. Conor Mauro




In this 2010 photograph, Latin Patriarch Fouad Twal of Jerusalem waves after celebrating Mass at the cathedral in Valparaiso, Chile, on 8 November. (photo: CNS/Eliseo Fernandez, Reuters)

Patriarch Twal urges democratic participation among Jordanians (Fides) Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem Fouad Twal has sent a message to the “dear children” of Jordan in view of the upcoming parliamentary elections, scheduled for 23 January. In the message, the patriarch thanked King Abdullah II for ensuring that all citizens are able to exercise their electoral rights enshrined in the Constitution, and recalls the words addressed by the king to Pope Benedict XVI in May 2009, during the papal visit to Jordan: “The sons of our people, Muslims and Christians are equal citizens before the law, and all are involved in shaping the future of our country.” Patriarch Twal notes that country, after the worship due to the one God, occupies a position of first importance, since dedication towards one’s country precedes and guarantees the protection of the legitimate interests of individuals or groups. “There is no contradiction between the worship of God and belonging to one’s own country.”

Georgian Orthodox Patriarch Ilia II’s ‘star power’ (Eurasianet.org) Georgia’s two squabbling rulers, the prime minister and the president, both need love — the love of the country’s spiritual leader, the guardian of national unity, the primus inter pares, Georgian Orthodox Patriarch Ilia II. A recent, seemingly playful exchange in which the president and prime minister bickered over whom the patriarch loved more showed rather clearly that Georgia’s political system is not a diarchy, but a triumvirate, and that secular leaders need to vie for the holy graces of the chief of the Georgian Orthodox Church. Georgians’ infatuation with their political leaders is pretty much a one-night stand; they tend to lose interest the moment leaders take office. But the patriarch always tops the national love charts. And, so, well aware of the patriarch’s star power, the civic leaders turned up at the celebrations that marked Orthodox New Year, plus Ilia II’s 80th birthday and the anniversary of his 1977 enthronement — “a celebration of love,” as the church leader himself put it.

Rapes and bombings drive half a million refugees out of Syria (Christian Science Monitor) The flood of refugees from Syria, driven by rampant bombings and the widespread use of rape as an instrument of terror, threatens to destabilize the Middle East. The Syrian government bombed areas around Damascus on Monday as part of its push to keep rebel fighters out of the capital, leaving many children among the dozens killed, anti-regime activists said. An international aid organization cited such raids, along with rape and widespread destruction, as key factors in the exodus of more than a half-million Syrians to neighboring countries since the conflict began in March 2011. The International Rescue Committee said it could be “months, if not years” before the refugees can return home and warned that Syria’s civil war could enflame tensions in the Middle East.

Coptic Christians fleeing Egypt following Islamist takeover (The Telegraph) Tens of thousands of Egyptian Christians are leaving the country in the wake of the Egyptian revolution and subsequent Islamist takeover of politics, priests and community leaders say. Coptic Christian churches in the United States say they are having to expand to cope with new arrivals, as priests in cities like Cairo and Alexandria talk of a new climate of fear and uncertainty. “Most of our people are afraid,” said Father Mina Adel, a priest at the Church of Two Saints in Alexandria. “Not a few are leaving — for America, Canada and Australia. Dozens of families from this church alone are trying to go too.” Father Mina’s church has an important place in the history of the Arab Spring. It was struck by a car bomb on New Year’s Eve 2010, Egypt’s worst sectarian attack in recent decades, in which 23 people were killed. After the bombing, liberal Muslim groups staged protests in support of Christians, printing posters showing the cross and the crescent interlinked which then went on to be symbols of inter-faith unity during the Tahrir Square protests three weeks later. But the victory of the Muslim Brotherhood in parliamentary and presidential elections has changed the mood — particularly as the biggest opposition party is the even more hardline Salafist movement which wants strict Sharia law implemented.



Tags: Egypt Syrian Civil War Jordan Patriarch Fouad Twal Georgian Orthodox Church

14 January 2013
Greg Kandra




Young Syrian refugees stand outside their tents after heavy rain on 10 January at the Zaatari refugee camp in the Jordanian border town of Mafraq. Snow, driving rain and howling winds in early January compounded the already desperate situation for Syrians.
(photo: CNS/Muhammad Hamed, Reuters)


Syrian government warplanes pound Damascus suburbs (CBS News) Syrian activists say a regime attack on Damascus’ rebellious suburbs has killed at least 45 people, including eight children. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Monday that 24 of the dead, including all eight children, were killed by government air strikes and artillery in eastern Ghouta district on Sunday...

Jordanian archbishop opens churches to welcome refugees (Fides) In front of the humanitarian catastrophe that looms over the refugee camp of Zaatari — where snowstorms and freezing rain in recent days have swept away hundreds of tents — Archbishop Maroun Laham, Patriarchal Vicar for Jordan of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, opens the doors of churches and parish complexes to accommodate Syrian refugees...

Indian bishops speak out against rape, support “dignity of women” (Fides) As another episode of gang rape shakes the nation — the victim, a 29 year-old a woman in Punjab, raped by six men in Amristar — the Bishops of India reaffirm “the sanctity of life and the necessity of an effort in the field of education, to combat this practice that degrades the dignity of women...”

CNEWA launches Rome event for Eastern Catholic churches (Vatican Radio) Many Catholics today are surprised when they hear that their Church is made up of a myriad of ancient rites and not just the Latin one. Many of these 22 rites stem directly from the lands where Jesus lived. The Catholic Near East Welfare Association (CNEWA) is trying to raise awareness among the faithful that the Church’s rich tapestry of eastern traditions is an historically important source of strength for the Universal Church. But, these ancient churches need our help. That’s why the President of CNEWA, Monsignor John Kozar is co-hosting with the Pontifical Congregation for Eastern Churches a special event and pilgrimage in Rome this week. He and Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, Prefect of the Congregation, are hoping to introduce Italians, mostly Catholics, to the reality of the eastern rite churches...

A Vatican artist from Russia (Kuwait Times) After Michelangelo and Raphael, the Vatican’s latest official painter is something of an unusual choice-an ebullient Russian woman with a pet owl who is a regular at the court of cardinals and popes. An Orthodox believer in the heart of Roman Catholicism, Natalia Tsarkova paints her classical-style portraits in a flat filled with Vatican memorabilia by the walls of the Holy See. “I like the atmosphere here, I feel needed,” Tsarkova told AFP in an interview in a studio with several unfinished works and back copies of the Vatican’s official newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano...



Tags: Syria India CNEWA Jordan Russian Orthodox

11 January 2013
J.D. Conor Mauro




CNEWA President Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York talks with Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, prefect of the Congregation for Eastern Churches, before a meeting of the Synod of Bishops on the new evangelization at the Vatican on 26 October. (photo: CNS/Paul Haring)

Cardinal Sandri in Egypt: Guarantee profession of faith for all (Vatican News) Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches, while visiting Egypt to celebrate the Year of Faith with the local church, met with those responsible for apostolic events in that country. “Doubtlessly,” he said in a 9 January address, “you are experiencing the desert of this very difficult present situation. Perhaps we must guard against letting the desert advance in our consciences and our hearts precisely while we are trying to advance the Gospel. Do not forget that the Son of God’s intense days were preceded and followed by an even more intense dialogue with the Father.” The cardinal went on to entrust the objectives of the Year of Faith, called by the Holy Father on 11 October 2012, to those responsible for apostolic events: “We are asked in grace to remain close to the life of the church and to participate directly in it. ... In this way, we may share the church’s mission to all peoples. We are expecting a renewed missionary impulse from the Year of Faith because throughout the world the most diverse religions are meeting and facing one another. And we are hoping for the confirmation of the church’s presence in the world, with its due support and the defense of Christians who are not granted religious freedom. The ability to profess one’s own creed must be guaranteed to everyone without exception, and thus also to Christians”…

Cardinal Dolan urges leadership from U.S. president for Israeli-Palestinian peace (U.S.C.C.B.) The United States is poised to make a real difference in the Arab-Israeli-Palestinian conflict and should provide tireless leadership to ensure a two-state solution in the Middle East, said two leaders of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (U.S.C.C.B.) in a 9 January letter to President Barack Obama. “We affirm your support of the two-state solution, promise our support for strong U.S. leadership for peace, and urge you even to consider appointing a high profile envoy in hopes that as in the past this might advance peace and justice in the region,” wrote Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, president of U.S.C.C.B., and Bishop Richard Pates of Des Moines, Iowa, chairman of the U.S.C.C.B. Committee on International Justice and Peace…

Rebels seize control of north Syrian airbase (BBC) Rebels are reported to have taken control of a strategic military airbase in northwestern Syria after days of fierce fighting with government forces. Opposition activists said the Free Syrian Army (F.S.A.) was in full control of Taftanaz airport. Videos purportedly showed fighters inside the facility. Helicopters based there have been used to attack rebel-held areas. “Many regime forces have been killed and most of the soldiers and officers fled at dawn,” Rami Abdul Rahman told the A.F.P. news agency. “This is the largest airbase to be seized since the revolt began”…

Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch Visits Georgia (Civil.ge) Greek Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I visited Tbilisi on the occasion of 80th birthday of the Georgian Orthodox Church leader, Patriarch Ilia II, and of 35th anniversary of the Georgian patriarch’s enthronement. Serbian Orthodox Patriarch Irinej and interim leader of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church Metropolitan Cyril of Varna and Veliki Preslav are also attending. President Saakashvili received leaders of Orthodox churches on 10 January. He said that Patriarch Ilia II’s jubilee was a “celebration” for all of Georgia. Patriarch Bartholomew I is expected to meet PM Bidzina Ivanishvili on 11 January, according to the Georgian Patriarchate…

Coptic pope expresses strong desire for ecumenism (Fides) Pope Tawadros II, patriarch of the Coptic Orthodox Church, has been contributing to the new climate of dialogue and proximity among Christians since last November. On Tuesday, 8 January, the Coptic pope welcomed the visiting Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches. In December, during the Christmas holidays, the patriarch wanted to personally pay homage with a visit to all the heads of Christian churches in Egypt who follow the Gregorian calendar. “On that occasion,” says Botros Fahim Awad Hanna, auxiliary bishop of Alexandria of the Catholic Copts, “he expressed the desire to meet at least once a month. New Patriarch Tawadros is aware of the crucial importance of the ecumenical journey, and at the same time he reveals his profile as a pastor. He said: the doctrinal issues must be left to theologians. We, as pastors, have to express in front of all our fraternal love, in mutual love. It should be noted that his motto is the phrase of the first letter of St. Paul to the Corinthians: love will never have an end”…

Bishops warn of increasing polarization in the Holy Land (Vatican Radio) Bishops from North America and Europe have concluded their annual pilgrimage of solidarity to the Christians of the Holy Land with an appeal for prayers for peace. In their final statement the bishops note that the people in the region are living through dark and dramatic events, such as the conflict in Gaza and southern Israel; civil war in Syria, and increasing polarization within Israel and Palestine. These developments, they write, have caused profound anxiety for all but particularly for the dwindling Christian population…



Tags: Syrian Civil War United States Middle East Peace Process Patriarchs Coptic Orthodox Church

10 January 2013
J.D. Conor Mauro




Children pose with a snowman outside the Church of the Nativity in the West Bank town of Bethlehem on 9 January, during a rare cold spell. (photo: CNS/Marcin Mazur, Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales)

U.S. bishop says young Palestinians are beacon of hope (CNS) On 8 January, Bishop Kicanas of Tucson, Arizona, told Catholic News Service he was especially moved by the “daunting spirit” he found in the young people of Gaza. “While they have experienced trauma, disappointments and restrictions, they are advancing,” said the bishop, who was participating in the 13th annual Holy Land Coordination. “Their hopeful desire is to somehow, in the near future, be able to use the skills [they are gaining in their studies] to help their society. It even gives me hope.” Though the Israeli-Palestinian conflict remains discouraging, with Israel expanding settlements and encroaching on Palestinian land, religious leaders must forge a sense of optimism, said Bishop Kicanas. “The situation is bleak and, yes, one of darkness but ... we continue to hear of light in the darkness, moments of hope,” he said…

Christian community trapped and exhausted in Aleppo (Fides) About a thousand Christians, mostly Greek Orthodox and Roman Catholic, are trapped in the small village of Yaakoubieh in the north of Aleppo. They are completely worn out, with no food, no electricity and an acute lack of basic necessities, and find themselves in the midst of heavy fighting between loyalist forces and opposition groups. Unable to leave the village, they “are in terrible condition, where they risk extinction.” This is the alarm sounded through Fides Agency by the Franciscan friar Father Francois Kouseiffi, O.F.M., pastor of the church of San Francesco in Hamra, Beirut. Father Francois deals with the care and assistance of about 500 Syrian refugees. “The situation is very serious. The faithful are trapped. We are trying in every way to help them to come to Lebanon”…

High number of Syrian refugees creates tension in Lebanon (Fides) Granting hospitality to refugees fleeing from war-torn Syria is a meritorious act that must be encouraged. But with the relentless rise in the number of refugees, the dangers to political stability and social order also increase. Yesterday, in the usual monthly meeting convened at the patriarchal seat in Bkerke, the Synod of Maronite Bishops took note of the anxiety caused by both the economic crisis and the effects of the civil war in neighboring Syria. The Maronite bishops also expressed the hope that the political parties reach a profitable and widely shared agreement by launching a new electoral law. The final communiqué, sent to Fides Agency, reiterates the importance of peace in the Middle East, where “God chose to reveal the mystery of salvation and redemption.” The Bishops express concern “for the daily rise in the number of refugees, among them the presence of Palestinians”…

Indian Christians denied water and firewood after church attack (Worthy News) Impoverished Christian villagers in India’s western state of Maharashtra were refused water and firewood Tuesday, 8 January, after a Hindu attack on their local church injured some 30 believers, a chief investigator told Worthy News. Joseph Dias, secretary-general of Indian rights group Catholic-Christian Secular Forum (C.S.F.), said the incidents are part of an ongoing Hindu campaign to intimidate minority Christians in Maharashtra’s Thane Rural District…

Russian patriarch: punish desecration without limiting free speech (Catholic Culture) In the wake of a legislative proposal that would criminalize offenses against religious sensibilities, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church called upon the state to punish desecration without limiting freedom of speech. “A fine in an amount of several hundred rubles for blasphemous words written on churches, mosques, or synagogues indicates that society does not quite realize the importance of protecting believers’ religious feelings,” said Patriarch Kirill of Moscow…



Tags: Lebanon Refugees Syrian Civil War Violence against Christians Indian Christians





1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | 24 | 25 | 26 | 27 | 28 | 29 | 30 | 31 | 32 | 33 | 34 | 35 | 36 | 37 | 38 | 39 | 40 | 41 | 42 | 43 | 44 | 45 | 46 | 47 | 48 | 49 | 50 | 51 | 52 | 53 | 54 | 55 | 56 | 57 | 58 | 59 | 60 | 61 | 62 | 63 | 64 | 65 | 66 | 67 | 68 | 69 | 70 | 71 | 72 | 73 | 74 | 75 | 76 | 77 | 78 | 79 | 80 | 81 | 82 | 83 | 84 | 85 | 86 | 87 | 88 | 89 | 90 | 91 | 92 | 93 | 94 | 95 | 96 | 97 | 98 | 99 | 100 | 101 | 102 | 103 | 104 | 105 | 106 | 107 | 108 | 109 | 110 | 111 | 112 | 113 | 114 | 115 | 116 | 117 | 118 | 119 | 120 | 121 | 122 | 123 | 124 | 125 |