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Current Issue
June, 2018
Volume 44, Number 2
  
1 July 2013
J.D. Conor Mauro




In this video, Jamal Elshayyal reports protesters in Egypt have stormed the headquarters of the Muslim Brotherhood in a show of anger at the president and his allies. (video: Al Jazeera)

By the millions, Egyptians seek Morsi’s ouster (New York Times) Millions of Egyptians streamed into the streets of cities across the country on Sunday to demand the ouster of their first elected head of state, President Mohamed Morsi, in an outpouring of anger at the political dominance of his Islamist backers in the Muslim Brotherhood. The scale of the demonstrations, coming just one year after crowds in Tahrir Square cheered Mr. Morsi’s inauguration, appeared to exceed even the massive street protests in the heady final days of the uprising that overthrew President Hosni Mubarak in 2011…

Christians join protests in Egypt (Vatican Radio) In Egypt, protesters stormed the Cairo headquarters of President Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood group Monday morning, a day after the largest protests the nation has seen since the ouster of Hosni Mubarak two years ago. Demonstrators are calling on the President to step down, and for new elections to be held. Many Christians have joined the protests, saying discrimination and violence against minority faiths have increased since Morsi took office. “Most of the Christians do not want the president,” says Father Rafic Greiche, the spokesman for the Melkite Greek Catholic Church in Egypt. “We have to be clear about this.” The full interview with Father Greiche can be found here…

Egypt ministers resign amid unrest (Al Jazeera) Five Egyptian ministers have tendered their resignations from the president’s cabinet, a senior official has said, as protests against the president’s rule filled the streets of cities throughout the country. Earlier on Monday, the state news agency, MENA, said the ministers were considering resigning in sympathy with the protesters who were calling for the resignation of Morsi…

Military offensive on refugee camps in northern Syria (Fides) The refugee camp in Bab al Salam was the subject to an air raid by the Syrian Air Force where seven people were seriously injured, including a child. The raid took place on the night of 25-26 June, the second air attack suffered by the refugee camp in recent weeks. Mirta Neretti, a volunteer, says: “Our contacts in the camp fear that this is the beginning of an escalation … to force refugees to flee,” thereby freeing the land for further military excursions. “The 17,000 refugees in the camp, [including] 5,000 children, are completely helpless and exposed to all sorts of violence…”

Syria neighbors block thousands from fleeing (Daily Star Lebanon) Syria’s neighbors have closed or tightened restrictions at several border crossings, leaving tens of thousands of people stranded within Syria’s dangerous frontier regions, Human Rights Watch said on Monday. According to the statement, Iraq, Jordan and Turkey have all restricted the flow of people trying to flee a conflict which has killed 100,000 people and, according to the United Nations, has already driven 1.7 million more to take sanctuary outside Syria. Only Lebanon, which has limited control over its own borders and is now hosting over half a million refugees, had remained open to refugees, the New York-based rights group said…



Tags: Egypt Refugees Syrian Civil War Refugee Camps Egypt's Christians

28 June 2013
J.D. Conor Mauro




In this 2005 photo, Ethiopian Orthodox Christians process to Lalibela to visit its subterranean complex of 11 rock-hewn churches, considered one of the holiest sites in the world. Every Christmas and Temqat — the Ethiopian commemoration of the baptism of Christ — as many as 50,000 pilgrims throng the small town, some traveling hundreds of miles on foot from distant parts of Ethiopia and beyond to attend the celebrations. (photo: Leah Niederstadt)

Rock churches of Lalibela, the Jerusalem of Ethiopia (CNN) Lalibela, a small town in northern Ethiopia, is home to 11 spectacular churches carved both inside and out from a single rock some 900 years ago. The chiseled creations have turned this mountain town into a place of pride and pilgrimage for worshipers of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, attracting 80,000 to 100,000 visitors every year. Even though Lalibela sits in a remote region of Ethiopia, the faithful will walk for days, even weeks, to get here, many of them traversing the rugged mountains barefoot. Ethiopia is home to one of the oldest Christian churches in the world, dating back to the early fourth century. The Ethiopian Orthodox Church used to be a part of Egypt’s Coptic Church, but established its own patriarch in 1959. Today, nearly two thirds of the East African country’s population is Christian, with most belonging to the Orthodox Church…

Pope meets Orthodox delegation from Ecumenical Patriarchate (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis met on Friday with a delegation from the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, which is in Rome to attend celebrations for Saturday’s feast of Sts. Peter and Paul. Traditionally, as spiritual leader of Orthodox Christians worldwide, the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew sends a delegation to Rome each 29 June, while a Catholic delegation travels to Istanbul each 30 November to mark the feast of St. Andrew, patron of the Orthodox world. In his meeting with the Orthodox representatives, Pope Francis spoke of important progress in the official dialogue between Catholics and Orthodox, which has already produced many joint documents. The Joint International Commission for Theological Dialogue is currently studying the key question of primacy and collegiality in the church of the first century, one of the main obstacles on the road to unity and reconciliation between the Eastern and Western Churches…

Polish and Ukrainian bishops sign appeal for reconciliation (Polskie Radio) Polish and Ukrainian church leaders signed an appeal for reconciliation in Warsaw on Friday, marking the 70th anniversary of the Volhynia massacres, which took place in a Nazi-occupied region that had been divided between Poland and the Soviet Union prior to the Second World War. Archbishop Jozef Michalik, head of the Polish Roman Catholic Episcopate, and Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk, leader of Ukraine’s Greek Catholic Church, were the chief signatories of the document. The declaration calls on Poles and Ukrainians to “open minds and hearts to mutual forgiveness and reconciliation…”

Shelling claims lives in the Old City of Damascus (Fides) According to the Melkite Patriarchate in Damascus, whose headquarters is situated a few hundred meters from the Greek-Orthodox Patriarchate, the fatal explosions on 26 June in the Old City were not a suicide attack but the launch of two mortar shells. The area affected is a few meters from the Greek Orthodox cathedral in Maryamiyya and also from the Shiite Al Ishane charitable building. But the dynamics of the episode suggests that it was not a targeted attack…



Tags: Pope Francis Ethiopia Syrian Civil War Ecumenism Lalibela

27 June 2013
J.D. Conor Mauro




Although Christians make up only 2 percent of the population in Iraq, the U.N. High Commission for Refugees reports that they make up 40 percent of the 1.6 million Iraqis in search of asylum abroad. Of those who remain in the country, many are internally displaced. This video includes interviews with Chaldean Patriarch Raphael Louis and Redemptorist Chaldean Archbishop Bashar Matti Warda of Erbil discussing the struggles Iraqi Christians face and the pastoral pressure created by their migration. (video: CRTN and Aid to the Church in Need)

Strengthening young Iraqis’ Christian identity (Aid to the Church in Need) Since the war in 2003 Iraq has lost more than half of its previously 900,000 Christians. More than 1,000 Christians were killed in bloody attacks and hundreds of thousands fled abroad. Nevertheless, Christian life goes on in Mesopotamia. German Father Jens Petzold even founded a monastery here last year, at the invitation of Chaldean Patriarch Louis Raphael. Since February 2012, a Syrian Catholic community has been building a monastery in Iraqi Kurdistan. Many Christians from Baghdad and the south of Iraq have fled from the terror attacks in Baghdad to the autonomous Kurdish regions…

Delegation from Ecumenical Patriarchate to visit Rome (VIS) The Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity issued a press release today stating that a delegation sent by the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople Bartholomew I will visit Rome from 27-29 June 2013 as part of the traditional exchange of delegations for their feasts of patron saints — 29 June in Rome for the celebration of the Apostles Peter and Paul and 30 November in Istanbul for the celebration of St. Andrew the Apostle…

Religious minorities in danger in Syria (AINA) In Syria’s conflict, now characterized as overtly sectarian, every religious and ethnic group has experienced catastrophic loss and pain. Reportedly over the past two years of war, over 93,000 combatants and civilians, of diverse religious identities, have been killed, 1.5 million have become refugees, and 4.5 million more have been internally displaced. Though no religious community has been spared suffering, Syria’s ancient Christian minority has cause to believe that they confront an “existential threat,” according to a finding of the U.N. Human Right Council’s Commission of Inquiry on Syria, last December. And this group, in contrast to Syria’s Alawites, Shiites and Sunnis, has no defender…

Suicide blast near major Damascus church kills at least 4 (Washington Post) A suicide attacker blew himself up near one of the main churches in the Syrian capital Thursday, killing at least four people, according to state-run TV news. The blast struck in the vicinity of the Greek Orthodox Virgin Mary Church in the predominantly Christian neighborhood of Bab Sharqi in central Damascus. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack in Damascus, which has been hit by a wave of suicide attacks that have killed and wounded scores of people…

Two thousand villages flooded; Indian friars and nuns assist (Fides) The flash floodings in Uttarkand are “a national tragedy that affects many of our people,” said a statement by the Religious Conference in India, which combines orders and religious congregations. “As religious Indians, along with all the church, we are deeply moved and we respond with prayer and with all possible actions to support the victims.” The devastating floods have wholly or partially affected over 2,000 villages in the districts of Uttarkashi, Chamoli and Rudraprayag. More than 100 people in the village of Guptkashi and nearby villages have died, while at least 2,000 are missing. The area affected by the floods is situated in the Diocese of Bijnor, where Bishop John Vadakel, with assistance from Caritas India, has initiated a coordinated effort for humanitarian aid…



Tags: Syrian Civil War Violence against Christians Ecumenism Indian Catholics Chaldean Patriarch Louis Raphael I

26 June 2013
J.D. Conor Mauro




In this 2010 photo, Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, greets Ahmad Mohamed al Tayeb, president of Al Azhar University in Cairo, Egypt, as they arrive for a press conference in Washington. (photo: CNS/Nancy Wiechec)

Islamic-Catholic Liaison Committee holds meeting in Rome (VIS) The Islamic-Catholic Liaison Committee held its 19th meeting in Rome on 18-19 June 2013. The assembly was presided over jointly by Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, and Dr. Hamid bin Ahmad al Rifaie, president of the International Islamic Forum for Dialogue. After listening to the papers presented by Catholic and Muslim scholars and exchanging views about the theme of the rise of secularism in society, the participants agreed that Christianity and Islam affirm the inseparability and complementarity between the material and the spiritual domains and that our responsibility as believers is to reconcile these dimensions of life…

Report describes grim prospects for Christians in Syria (AINA) A new report on Syria’s Christians has been published by Open Doors International. The report is titled Vulnerability Assessment of Syria’s Christians and it paints a grim picture for the future of Christians in Syria. This report contextualizes, analyzes and interprets current developments in Syria, with a particular emphasis on the position of its Christian population, in light of this population’s distinct vulnerabilities. In Aleppo particularly, and now in Homs, it is clear there has been disproportionate suffering of Christians and that they are particularly at risk from the war…

Patriarch Kirill urges creation of new fund for Christians in Syria (Fides) An amazing collection of money in all the churches of the Patriarchate of Moscow will be allocated to the Syrian people. The initiative was launched yesterday, Tuesday, 25 June, by the Patriarch Kirill with a statement released by the Synodal Department for information of the Patriarchate in Moscow. “In that biblical land, where Christians and Muslims have lived side by side,” stressed the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, “the relics are now desecrated, churches violated, Christians are forced to abandon their homes, they are often persecuted and tortured and killed”…

Syria death toll tops 100,000, activists say (Haaretz) More than 100,000 people have been killed since the start of Syria’s conflict over two years ago, an activist group said Wednesday. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which has been tracking the death toll in the conflict through a network of activists in Syria, released its death toll at a time when hopes for a negotiated settlement to end the civil war fade. It said a total of 100,191 had died over the 27 months of the conflict. Of those, 36,661 are civilians, the group said…

Patriarch Irinej attends spiritual music festival commemorating Edict of Milan (inSerbia) Serbian Orthodox Church Patriarch Irinej said late Tuesday that spiritual music festival dubbed “Musical Edict” in Nis is a contribution to marking 17 centuries of the proclamation of the Edict of Milan. Participation of choirs from different parts of the world proves that Nis, the birthplace of Constantine the Great, has become a metropolis that had an important role in the past, but also has one in the present. Speaking about marking 1700 years of the proclamation of the Edict of Milan, Patriarch Irinej said that, according to plan, there are different events organized in various important historical towns in Serbia, across all dioceses…



Tags: Syrian Civil War Patriarchs Catholic-Muslim relations Patriarch Kirill Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran

25 June 2013
J.D. Conor Mauro




Metropolitan Filaret of Minsk and Slutsk, patriarchal exarch of all Belarus, prays the Divine Liturgy in the Minsk Holy Spirit Cathedral on 23 June 2013, also known as Trinity Sunday, or the celebration of Pentecost in Eastern Christianity. The Belarus Orthodox Church is another name for the Belarusan Exarchate of the Russian Orthodox Church. (photo: Belarus Orthodox Church)

Belarus Orthodox Church head decries capital punishment (Belarus Digest) The business-oriented weekly newspaper Belarusy i Rynok reports that the head of the Belarusian Orthodox Church, Metropolitan Filaret of Minsk and Slutsk, patriarchal exarch of all Belarus, spoke out against the death penalty during a roundtable that recently took place. Apart from the Orthodox Church, the representatives of the Roman Catholic Church, legislative and judiciary authorities, delegates from the Council of Europe, diplomats and human right activists participated in the event. “We, Christians, cannot legitimize capital punishment since this is the sin of murder,” he said, adding that “we sinful people” do not have the authority to make such decisions about another’s existence…

A series of attacks shake Iraq, including a church hit in Baghdad (AsiaNews) A dozen bombings on Monday in and around Baghdad killed at least 41 and wounded 125 others. Many of the attacks struck outdoor markets or restaurants in the Iraqi capital, including the neighborhoods Al Nasser, Karrada, Al Jihad and Nahrawan. Bombings were also reported in Mosul and Tikrit. Christian-owned shops and businesses were among the casualties, along with religious buildings. Last night, masked men attacked St. Mary Assyrian Church in the east of Baghdad. The attackers stood front of the building and fired wildly at the guards standing outside, seriously wounding two of them…

The Coptic Orthodox Church thanks armed forces for keeping the peace (Fides) In view of the demonstration against the government of Morsi convened on 30 June — the first anniversary of his rise to power — by opposition forces, the Coptic Orthodox Church published a message of thanks and appreciation for the Egyptian army. The high military instances had publicly stated its intention to remain at the service of the people and to want to avoid the ruin that hangs over the entire country. The Coptic Orthodox Church applauds military’s efforts to balance force and security…

Will Ethiopia’s ‘grand’ new dam steal Nile waters from Egypt? (Christian Science Monitor) Africa’s largest hydropower project, a new 6,000-megawatt dam on the Blue Nile, has sparked a row between Egypt and Ethiopia. But it could increase the overall water flow in the Nile in the long run, through the creation of a reservoir roughly half the size of Rhode Island…



Tags: Egypt Ethiopia Iraqi Christians Coptic Orthodox Church Belarus

24 June 2013
J.D. Conor Mauro




In this 2010 image, Franciscan Father Pierbattista Pizzaballa, custos of the Holy Land, speaks to a reporter while attending a conference on Christian-Muslim dialogue at Sant’Egidio headquarters in Rome on 22 February. (photo: CNS/Paul Haring)

Syrian priest offered his martyrdom for peace (Fides) On Sunday, June 23 the Syrian priest François Murad was killed in Gassanieh, in northern Syria, in the convent where he had taken refuge. The circumstances of the death are not fully understood. According to local sources, the monastery came under fire by militants linked to the jihadi group Jabhat al Nusra. “Let us pray,” writes Custos of the Holy Land Father Pierbattista Pizzaballa, O.F.M., “that this absurd and shameful war ends soon and that the people of Syria can go back to living a normal life.” Archbishop Jacques Behnan Hindo, titular of the Syrian Catholic archeparchy in Hassaké-Nisibis reports to Fides: “Father Murad sent me some messages that clearly showed how conscious he was of living in a dangerous situation, and offered his life for peace in Syria and around the world…”

Greek Orthodox patriarch slams failure to free bishops (Daily Star Lebanon) Greek Orthodox Patriarch Youhanna X questioned the failure of states and security forces to expedite the release of two abducted bishops. “We appreciate the efforts exerted by the [relevant] states and security forces to seek out information on the fate of the two bishops, but we wonder if they lack the resources to secure their release?” the patriarch said during a liturgy at Balamand Monastery. He added, “We believe their fate is in the hands of God, but this doesn’t [free] anyone from the responsibility of finding out the truth and releasing them as soon as possible…”

Deadly fighting rages in Lebanon (Al Jazeera) At least 15 Lebanese soldiers are now known to have died in clashes between government troops and followers of a Sunni sheikh, who is opposed to the Shia movement Hezbollah and its involvement in the war in Syria. The clashes, which broke out on Sunday between the army and supporters of Ahmad al Assir, continued overnight in Sidon, reported Al Jazeera’s Nour Samaha on Monday. The fighting raged around Abra and the Ain al Helweh Palestinian refugee camp near Sidon, she said…

Pope: ‘A Christian cannot be anti-Semitic!’ (VIS) At noon today, the Holy Father received 30 members of the delegation of the International Jewish Committee on Interreligious Consultations. The pope recalled that 21 previous meetings have helped to strengthen the mutual understanding and ties of friendship between Jews and Catholics. “The church recognizes that ‘the beginnings of its faith and election are to be found in the patriarchs, Moses, and prophets.’ … Due to our common roots, a Christian cannot be anti-Semitic!” he said…



Tags: Lebanon Syrian Civil War Holy Land Catholic-Jewish relations Orthodox Church of Greece

21 June 2013
J.D. Conor Mauro




In this 2010 photo, Syrian Orthodox Patriarch Ignatius Zakka I of Antioch and All the East, right, meets with Melkite Greek Catholic Patriarch Gregory III of Antioch at the monastery and seminary of St. Ephrem the Syrian, in Syria. (photo: CNEWA)

Prayers for the bishops of Aleppo kidnapped two months ago (Fides) The churches of the Middle East unite in prayer for the release of the two metropolitan bishops of Aleppo — the Syrian Orthodox Mar Gregorios Yohanna Ibrahim and the Greek Orthodox Boulos al Yazigi — kidnapped on 22 April. On Saturday evening, 22 June, exactly two months after the kidnapping, Greek Orthodox Patriarch Youhanna X of Antioch (brother of the kidnapped Greek Orthodox bishop) and the Syrian Orthodox Patriarch Mar Ignatius Zakka I will lead jointly a prayer in Lebanon for the bishops’ release and for peace to prevail in Syria…

Syriac Christians, Kurds working together in Syria (Al Monitor) A shared desire to remain neutral in Syria has inspired cooperation between the Syriac Christian and Kurdish minorities, despite government encouragement of sectarian security branches. This Syriac-Kurd entente is rooted historically in the denial of both peoples’ rights in Syria…

U.N. agency denounces killing of Palestinian refugees in Syria (Daily Star Lebanon) The United Nations agency concerned with Palestinian refugees condemned Friday the recent killing of six Palestinians at the Khan Eshieh camp just outside of the Syrian capital. In a statement, the agency said at least three mortar bombs struck the camp outside Damascus Wednesday. UNRWA said it was not clear which party to the conflict had fired the mortar bombs. “In the strongest terms, UNRWA condemns these latest examples of disregard for civilian lives in the Syria conflict,” the Palestinian relief organization said…

Kerala Catholic association fights to save coast from erosion (The Hindu) Members of the Kerala Catholic Bishops’ Council and the Kerala Latin Catholic Association undertook a fast from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Thursday to draw attention to the need for immediate measures to protect the Thanni-Eravipuram coast from sea erosion. Inaugurating the protest, Syro-Malankara Bishop Joshua Mar Ignathios said that life turned miserable for people living along the Kerala coast every monsoon because the authorities took no timely steps to prevent erosion…

Indian bishops: Solidarity with Hindu pilgrims affected by floods (AsiaNews) The Bishops’ Conference of India expresses “deep concern” over the devastation caused by floods and landslides that have hit many parts of the State of Uttarkhand. To date, these disasters have left 150 people dead and tens of thousands of Hindus affected by torrential rains during a pilgrimage. The police have carried over 30,000 people to safety, but 50,000 more remain trapped by landslides. Through the diocesan Caritas and NGO’s, the Indian church has pledged to support the government agencies providing aid and assistance to victims of floods…

Guard shoots Israeli at Western Wall (Al Jazeera) A security guard has shot and killed an Israeli man at one of Judaism’s holiest sites in Jerusalem, the Western Wall, apparently mistaking him for a Palestinian fighter, police said. The shooting took place shortly before 8 a.m. as the plaza in front of the wall filled with worshippers for morning prayers ahead of the start of the Jewish Sabbath at sundown. The site was temporarily closed to the public…



Tags: Syrian Civil War Syro-Malankara Catholic Church Aleppo Palestinian Refugees

20 June 2013
J.D. Conor Mauro




Syrian refugee families dwell in a derelict school building without a regular supply of electricity or water in Beirut, Lebanon, in this March 2013 photo. At the end of his weekly general audience on 19 June, Pope Francis called attention to World Refugee Day, 20 June. (photo: CNS/Don Doll, S.J., Jesuit Refugee Service)

Pope to Middle Eastern Christians: Never lose hope (Vatican Radio) Today, Pope Francis attended the Reunion of Aid Agencies for the Oriental Churches (ROACO) at the conclusion of the group’s 86th plenary assembly. ROACO is a committee that unites funding agencies from various countries around the world to coordinate charitable efforts. “The confrontation that sows death should give place to the encounter and the reconciliation that brings life. To all those who suffer I say forcefully: never lose hope! The church is close to you, the church walks with you and sustains you!” the pope said…

Witnessing to the love of Christ in Syria, plagued by hatred and war (AsiaNews) “In a small village north of Aleppo conquered by the rebels, Father Hanna, a Franciscan priest, rings the bell each day at the small local church. The chimes mark the hours of the day and are a sign of hope for the whole population, Christian and Muslim, knowing that in the small chapel there is someone ready to listen, to alleviate their suffering, regardless of faction, and religious beliefs. In Damascus, Aleppo, Homs and other cities, the Sisters of the Good Shepherd provide continuous assistance to the displaced, bringing clean clothes, food and words of comfort,” says Archbishop Mario Zenari, apostolic nuncio to Damascus. “Clergy are laying down their lives life for Christ — and at this time the features of his face are those of the Syrian people, who are suffering…”

Chaldean patriarch: the only solution is political (Fides) “Blood calls for more blood, revenge calls revenge,” said Chaldean Patriarch Raphael Louis. As such, to achieve peace in Syria, “the only solution to look for is political.” The prospect of supplying arms to the rebels — favored by some Western Countries — will only lead to more chaos and bloodshed…

Building bridges in Belgrade (Vatican Radio) Vatican Radio interviews Gerard Mannion, the chairman of the Ecclesiological Investigations International Research Network, who discusses the major themes of a conference taking place this week in the Serbian capital. The assembly brings together a network of theologians and ecumenical experts from countries around the globe to discuss the themes of religion, authority and statehood. “For a long time now we’ve wanted to come to an area that is predominantly Orthodox and to involve as much of the Orthodox perspective as we could. … We’re delighted with the Orthodox participation and especially that [Serbian Orthodox Patriarch] Irinej opened the conference formally for us…”

Ethiopian refugees face dam backlash in Egypt (Al Jazeera) Over the last few weeks, there has been an emergence of xenophobic attacks against Ethiopians on the streets of Cairo, motivated by Ethiopia’s goal to build the “Grand Renaissance Dam.” The Ethiopian government is planning to dam the Blue Nile for hydroelectric power, a move Egypt worries will affect its water supply…

New Palestinian prime minister resigns (Reuters) Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah has offered his resignation to President Mahmoud Abbas just two weeks after taking office, an official in his press office told Reuters on Thursday. A government source told Reuters that Hamdallah made the abrupt, unexpected move because of a “dispute over his powers”…



Tags: Egypt Pope Francis Refugees Orthodox Chaldean Patriarch Louis Raphael I

19 June 2013
J.D. Conor Mauro




Pope Francis greets the crowd as he arrives to lead his general audience in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican on 19 June. (photo: CNS/Paul Haring)

Pope: Christian unity calls for Catholic unity (VIS) Pope Francis dedicated his catechesis of the Wednesday general audience to the expression “of the body” that the Second Vatican Council used to indicate the nature of the church: the church is the body of Christ. “How much damage is caused to the church by divisions among Christians, by being apart, by narrow interests! The divisions among us,” he continued, “but also the divisions between the communities: evangelical Christians, Orthodox Christians, Catholic Christians, why are we divided? We must try to bring unity…”

Pope commemorates World Refugee Day (VIS) After giving his catechesis at the general audience, the Holy Father spoke of World Refugee Day, which is commemorated on this day. “We cannot be insensitive to these families or towards our refugee brothers and sisters. We are called to help them, opening ourselves to understanding and hospitality. … In their faces is etched the face of Christ!”…

Cardinal Sandri: A cry for peace in land of Christ’s birth (Vatican Radio) In his homily before this year’s R.O.A.C.O. assembly, which brings together charitable agencies from around the world to support the global church, Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, prefect of the Congregation for the Eastern Churches and president of R.O.A.C.O., said the following: “The journey towards Christian perfection is … highly demanding, for it is measured by the paradoxical love of the Cross: ‘love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you’! When one thinks of the vortex of violence — as unceasing as it is irrational — which has struck our brothers and sisters in Syria and Iraq, as well as of the tension threatening in the Holy Land, in Egypt, and in other places in the Middle East, one cannot avoid the fully paradoxical nature, from a human point of view, of the Gospel’s command…”

‘Islamization’ of Gaza schools endangers Catholic institutions (AsiaNews) Catholic schools in the Gaza Strip risk closure. The Hamas government is implementing legislation to prevent the presence of “non-Islamic” schools in their territory and those that do not conform to the rules, such as the strict separation between the sexes, will be closed. At present, there are three Catholic schools in the Gaza Strip: the school of the Latin Patriarchate, a school run by the Sisters of the Holy Family and the school of the Sisters of the Holy Rosary. Together, they educate over 1000 students, most of whom are Muslim. In recent weeks, Latin Patriarch Fouad Twal of Jerusalem has expressed a desire to discuss the issue with Ismail Haniyeh, prime minister of Gaza…

Coptic Pope: Egyptian Christians should follow their conscience in civic matters (Daily News Egypt) Members of Egypt’s Christian minority are free to express their opinions on the streets, just as they were to vote for whomever candidate they supported in the past presidential elections, said head of the Coptic Orthodox Church Pope Tawadros II. In a Monday interview on MBC Egypt satellite channel, the patriarch said the decision for Copts to protest, both on 30 June and in general, was an issue of personal freedom of expression. “Anyone is allowed to express their opinions peacefully,” said the pope. He went on to say the church is above politics and focused on its social and religious role…

Sunnis, Shiites clash in Lebanese town (Washington Post) Fighting erupted in the southern Lebanese town of Sidon on Tuesday between the supporters of a Salafist sheik and local Shiites affiliated with the Hezbollah movement in the latest example of sectarian tensions fueled by the conflict in neighboring Syria. The state-run National News Agency said one person was killed and four were injured. Tensions also have soared in eastern Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley, where adjoining Sunni and Shiite communities have become entangled in the war across the border…



Tags: Pope Francis Patriarch Fouad Twal Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros II Cardinal Leonardo Sandri ROACO

18 June 2013
J.D. Conor Mauro




In this video, CNN’s Mohammed Jamjoom reports on the latest in a series of attacks that are targeting every ethnic group in Iraq. Instability within the nation has given rise to concerns about the possibility of civil war. (video: CNN)

Over 30 killed, 50 wounded in bombing at Baghdad mosque (CNN) At least 31 people were killed and 57 others were wounded when two suicide bombers attacked a Shiite mosque in Baghdad on Tuesday, police said. The incident took place during noon prayers in the Habib Ibn al Mudhaher mosque in al Qahira, a predominantly Shiite neighborhood in the northeastern section of the Iraqi capital. The bombers, clad in suicide vests, detonated the explosives inside the mosque. Police said that the two bombers used pistols equipped with silencers to kill several guards before they entered the mosque and blew themselves up. Sunni-Shiite tensions and violence have been on the rise for months in Iraq…

Beirut: appeal for Catholic-Orthodox unity, peace in Syria (AsiaNews) Catholic and Orthodox churches opened their respective synods today in Beirut to discuss the grave situation facing Syria’s Christian communities, caught between warring Shiite and Sunni factions in a conflict that is beginning to spill into Lebanon. Greek Orthodox Patriarch Youhanna X of Antioch and Melkite Greek Catholic Patriarch Gregory III of Antioch also made a joint appeal for the unity of all Christians…

Syrian refugees find little help in Greece (Washington Post) Thousands of Syrians fleeing war and misery are making their way to Europe, and many are coming through Greece, whose Mediterranean islands stretch within tantalizing reach of home. Once they get here, many wish they’d never come. Greece’s economic meltdown has left little food, medicine or other aid for refugees washing up on its shores. The new arrivals are packed into detention camps, and those who stay longer hide in cramped, barren apartments, fearing anti-immigrant violence on the streets…

Israel debates branding ‘price-tag’ attacks terrorism (Christian Science Monitor) Frustrated at their inability to stem a spike in violence against West Bank Palestinians by Jewish settlers with so-called “price tag” attacks, over the weekend Israeli law enforcement authorities nearly acquired permission to treat the attackers as terrorists. Attacks by right-wing vigilantes have surged this year. But few arrests or indictments have been made after they have desecrated West Bank mosques and churches, damaged Palestinian cars, and scrawled graffiti outside the residences of Israeli peace activists…

Ethiopia, Egypt tone down talk of war over Nile dam (Daily Star Lebanon) Ethiopia and Egypt cooled talk of war on Tuesday and agreed to more dialogue to resolve a row over a giant dam that the Horn of Africa nation is building on the Nile, on which Egyptians depend on for almost all their water. “Some pronouncements were made in the heat of the moment because of emotions. They are behind us,” Mohamed Kamel Amr, Egypt’s foreign minister, told a joint news conference with his Ethiopian counterpart Tedros Adhanom in Ethiopia’s capital…



Tags: Iraq Ethiopia Syrian Civil War Violence against Christians Ecumenism





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