24 September 2012
Cardinal Kurt Koch, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, reports that responses to the pope's Lebanon trip have been overwhelmingly positive. This 9 September 2010 photo was taken prior to his elevation to cardinal that year. (photo: CNS/Paul Haring)
Pope’s Lebanon trip promoted unity with the Christian Orthodox churches (L’Osservatore Romano) “A big step forward in achieving unity with the Christian Orthodox churches” — that’s the way that Cardinal Kurt Koch, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, described the most recent visit of Benedict XVI to Lebanon. The cardinal, who participated in the visit as member of the Holy Father’s entourage, analyzed the ecumenical meaning of the visit in an interview with L’Osservatore Romano.
Opposition leader tells pope the Syrian regime is a threat to Christians (Lebanon Daily Star) Syrian Christian opposition leader George Sabra told Pope Benedict XVI that the survival of the Damascus regime poses a threat to the country’s Christians, the Syrian National Council said Sunday. “The survival of the Assad regime is a danger to Christians and Muslims in Syria alike,” Sabra told the pontiff during a visit to the Vatican on Saturday.
Pope to pilgrims: “Continue to pray for Christians in the Middle East” (Fides) After the Angelus prayer at the Apostolic Palace of Castel Gandolfo yesterday, 23 September, the Holy Father addressed the French-speaking pilgrims with these words: “Dear French-speaking pilgrims, I thank you with all my heart for your prayers that accompanied the success of the apostolic trip to Lebanon and the whole Middle East. Continue to pray for Christians in the Middle East, for peace and for peaceful dialogue between religions.”
Orthodox leaders seek European help to stem anti-Christian violence (Byzcath.org) The Orthodox patriarchs of the Holy Land have appealed to the European Union for help in combating a rising tide of anti-Christian violence. In a statement issued this week, four Orthodox leaders remind their European counterparts that their Christian communities have survived for centuries with Muslim neighbors. “However, the recent increasing influence of extreme fundamentalist elements in the region directly jeopardizes the lives of Christians in their ancient cradles,” the statement says.
Consumer group wants Russian Orthodox patriarch defrocked (RT.com) The Society for Consumer Rights’ Protection has addressed the top board of the Russian Orthodox Church with a request to defrock Patriarch Kirill over alleged violations of the church canon.
Meet Bethlehem University’s first female vice president (Catholic News Service) Thirty-five years after the first class graduated from Bethlehem University, one of its members became the first woman and Palestinian to hold the Catholic school’s highest academic position. “No one ever imagined this position not being held by a [Christian] brother,” said Irene Hazou, newly appointed academic vice president.
21 September 2012
Tags: Syrian Civil War Violence against Christians Pope Benedict XVI Unity Ecumenism
Residents inspect the damage to buildings in Aleppo, Syria, after being heavily shelled by a jet air strike on 12 September. (photo: CNS photo/Zain Karam, Reuters)
Vicar delegate in Aleppo: Christian volunteers are helping care for refugees (Fides) “There are tens of thousands of displaced families in the metropolitan area of Aleppo, who fled from the neighborhoods where fighting occurs. They find shelter in schools, churches, mosques, public buildings. They must eat, drink, sleep, dress, look after themselves. Many volunteers in our communities are taking care of them, along with other Syrian volunteer groups.” This is what the Franciscan Father Georges Abou Khazen, OFM, Vicar Delegate of the Apostolic Vicariate of Aleppo for the Catholics of the Latin rite says to Fides.
Catholic official in Egypt says tensions remain high in Cairo (Fides) “The tension is high, because protest demonstrations are expected because of the caricatures which appeared on a French satirical newspaper that offended the Prophet Mohammed. The embassy, consulate and French schools in Cairo are closed for fear of accidents. Even the President of the Republic is heavily guarded by police and special forces,” says to Fides Agency Fr. Rafic Greiche, director of communications for the Catholic Church in Egypt.
Two Canadian activists fear for their lives after being wrongly linked to anti-Islam film (Toronto Star) Two Canadian human-rights activists say they fear for their lives after being wrongly linked to an anti-Muslim film that has sparked riots and protests around the world. Nader Fawzy and Jacques Attalla said Thursday they are among a number of Coptic Christians who Egypt has accused of being involved in the production, distribution or promotion of the film, Innocence of Muslims. Both men deny any link to the film. They told The Canadian Press they’d never heard of the amateurish movie until it began sparking violent protests across the Middle East last week.
Russian Orthodox bishop blesses North Pole (Alaska Dispatch) Crew members of Russia’s ongoing Arctic-2012 expedition assisted Orthodox Bishop lakov of Naryan-Mar in the send off a blessed capsule designed to sanctify the region. The capsule bore a plaque reading, “With the blessing of Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All of the Rus, the consecration of the North Pole marks the 1150 years of Russian Statehood.” The ceremony and dedication is considered by some to be part of Russia’s ambitious drive to lead the Arctic in occupation and development.
20 September 2012
Tags: Syria Egypt Muslim Russian Orthodox
Pope Benedict XVI talks with Rabbi Riccardo Di Segni, the chief rabbi of Rome, during his visit to Rome’s main synagogue on 17 January 2010. (photo: CNS/Paul Haring)
Pope Greets Jewish Community of Rome (VIS) Pope Benedict XVI sent a telegram to Riccardo Di Segni, chief rabbi of Rome, for the Jewish festivities of Rosh Hashanah (New Year), Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) and Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles), which all fall in this period.
Controversial Film about Muhammad Spotlights Copts (Associated Press) The anti-Islamic movie trailer inflaming the Middle East opens with Muslims ransacking a Christian medical clinic and then segues into a flashback of Muhammad’s life. “Set the place on fire! We’ll burn out these forsaken Christians!” cries one Muslim character. The opening scene from “Innocence of Muslims,” although crude, resonates with some Egyptian Christians, who have suffered years of persecution and attacks by Islamic militants.
Vatican Condemns Attacks on Christian Holy Places in Israel (The Telegraph) Christian holy sites in Israel have been subjected to a series of organized attacks which the authorities have done nothing to prevent, a representative of the Vatican in the country has said. Pierbattista Pizzaballa, one of the church’s top officials in the Holy Land, said he is worried about relations between Jews and Christians in the Holy Land. “I think the main atmosphere is ignorance,” Father Pizzaballa said. “It’s important not just to condemn, but also to work, to take initiatives to stop this phenomenon.”
Ukrainian Culture on Display in Canada (Vancouver Sun) Black-and-white photos showing faces filled with hope and determination hang on the walls of the Ukrainian Museum of Canada. In front of the pictures are pieces of clothing, some with delicate beadwork from a region known as Bukovyna while others have detailed embroidery. There’s a wedding ensemble from the Hutsul region. And of course there are pysanky — better known as Easter eggs. “It’s a mixture, but it tells the story of people who came to Canada, who they were and why they decided to move,” says Krystyna Hudyma, the museum’s curatorial and programming assistant. Those are just some of the artifacts at the Saskatoon-based museum, the oldest Ukrainian museum in the country.
19 September 2012
Tags: Ukraine Violence against Christians Pope Benedict XVI Coptic Christians Jewish
Waving to the crowd, Pope Benedict XVI passes a Swiss guard while leaving his general audience in Paul VI Hall at the Vatican on 19 September. (photo: CNS/Paul Haring)
Pope Reflects on Trip to Lebanon (Vatican Radio) On Wednesday, as is tradition, Pope Benedict XVI dedicated his Angelus reflections to his recent apostolic voyage to Lebanon: “Dear brothers and sisters, today I would like to briefly return, in my thoughts and heart, to those extraordinary days of my apostolic journey to Lebanon — a trip that I had strongly wanted, despite the difficult circumstances, considering that a father should always be near his children when they encounter grave problems. I was moved by a sincere desire to announce the peace that the risen Lord gave to his disciples and summarized in the words: ‘My peace I give to you.’ ”
Christians in Syria Form “Committees” to Prevent Violence (Fides) The Christian communities in Syria, after suffering at the hands of armed gangs — often jihadist groups — have begun to organize “popular dissuasive committees.” Formed by young armed Christians, these groups seek to prevent banditry and violence and defend their neighborhoods. Christian communities have suffered abuse, kidnapping, rape, murder, theft and violations of property in the Christian Valley of western Syria, in the center of Aleppo, in the part of Damascus known as Jaramana and in other villages such as Qusayr and Rableh, near Homs.
Egypt Issues Arrest Warrants over Anti-Islam Film (Associated Press) Egypt’s general prosecutor issued arrest warrants Tuesday for seven Egyptian Coptic Christians and a Florida-based American pastor and referred them to trial on charges linked to an anti-Islam film that has sparked riots across the Muslim world.
Ukrainian Bishops Close Synod in Canada (Catholic News Service) Ukrainian Catholic bishops from four continents gathered for a final celebration on 16 September as they closed their weeklong Synod of Bishops. One of their emphases was on the role of the laity, and the final “gala,” as it was billed, included the Hoosli Ukrainian Male Chorus, an honor guard and the Selo Ukrainian Dancers.
Orthodox, Anglicans to Attend Vatican II Celebration (Catholic News Service) The Orthodox ecumenical patriarch of Constantinople and the Anglican archbishop of Canterbury will join Pope Benedict XVI’s celebration of the 50th anniversary of the opening of Vatican II. Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople and Archbishop Rowan Williams of Canterbury will attend the Mass that Pope Benedict XVI will celebrate at the Vatican to mark the anniversary of the 11 October 1962 opening of the council, Vatican officials said.
18 September 2012
Tags: Syria Egypt Violence against Christians Pope Benedict XVI Palestinians
A member of the Free Syrian Army helps civilians to leave a shelled building in Aleppo on
16 September. (photo: CNS photos/Zain Karam, Reuters)
Vatican: Make Syria’s Children a Priority (Vatican Radio) Less than 24 hours after Pope Benedict XVI’s heartfelt appeal to regional and global powers to stop the violence in Syria, the Vatican has redoubled its call for urgent aid to the innocent victims of the conflict, particularly children. Addressing the 21st Session of the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva, the Holy See’s permanent observer to the U.N., Archbishop Silvano M. Tomasi, stated that the international community needs to make humanitarian assistance to all displaced people and other victims of bombardments and indiscriminate destruction — especially children — a priority.
Caritas Lebanon: the Pope Has Brought Us Hope (Vatican Radio) Caritas Lebanon, founded 36 years ago, is part of the far reaching family of Caritas Internationalis, the Vatican aid agency with a mission to bring help and support to millions of people in need across the world. Father Simon Faddoul, president of Caritas Lebanon, shares with to Vatican Radio’s Tracey McClure his feelings regarding the pope’s visit to his country.
Pope’s Trip to Lebanon Shows the True Face of the Church (L’Osservatore Romano) The pope’s visit to Lebanon was a journey of peace. Yet his itinerary in the lands where Christianity was born and developed in the first centuries had a far deeper meaning: In showing the Church’s true face, it summed up all of Pope Benedict XVI’s journeys.
Chaldean Bishop: “The Pope’s Comfort Reached Aleppo” (Fides) Benedict XVI’s visit also gave comfort to the Christians of Aleppo, the Syrian metropolis which for two months has been in the middle of armed clashes between the rebels and the Syrian army. This is what the Jesuit Father Antoine Audo, Chaldean bishop of Aleppo and president of Caritas Syria, tells Fides Agency.
Kerala Bishops Organize Student Protest Against Alcoholism (Indian Express/IBN Live) In a distinct way of protesting against the scourge of alcoholism, Kerala Catholic Bishops’ Council (K.C.B.C.)’s anti-drug movement, Madya Virudha Samithi, organized a march to the chief minister’s residence at Puthuppally on Monday. The march was made unique by a group of students who dressed up in military fatigues and arrived at the residence of Chief Minister Oommen Chandy in a vehicle made to look like a military helicopter. According to organizers, it was the launch of a symbolic protest and an awareness program against the growing threat posed by rampant alcoholism.
17 September 2012
Tags: Pope Benedict XVI Kerala Russian Orthodox Church Aleppo Caritas Lebanon
Pope Benedict XVI arrives in the popemobile to celebrate an outdoor Mass on the Beirut waterfront 16 September. (photo: CNS/Stefano Rellandini, Reuters)
Pope pleads with Lebanon’s Christian youth not to leave the country (National Catholic Reporter) In a speech to at least 20,000 Lebanese youth tonight, both Christian and Muslim, Pope Benedict XVI tackled the elephant in the room during his fourth trip to the Middle East: Despite decades of papal appeals, so far nothing has stopped a steep decline in the region’s native Christian population. The Latin patriarch of Jerusalem, Foaud Twal, recently warned that the Holy Land is on the brink of becoming a “spiritual Disneyland,” full of glittering spiritual attractions but empty of flesh-and-blood Christians. Many observers wonder if a similar fate awaits the entire region.
The pope addressed those concerns, almost pleading with Lebanon’s Christian youth not to taste the “bitter sweetness” of emigration. “I am aware of the difficulties which you face daily on account of instability and lack of security, your difficulties in finding employment and your sense of being alone and on the margins,” the pope said. But those frustrations, he said, should not prompt them to choose “an uprooting and a separation for the sake of an uncertain future.”
Pope meets with religious leaders and patriarchs in Lebanon, offers “fraternal closeness and prayers” (VIS) Sunday evening Pope Benedict XVI met with Orthodox patriarchs, representatives of Protestant communities and Catholic patriarchs of Lebanon. The encounter took place at the Syrian Catholic Patriarchate in Charfet, Beirut, famous for its library, which contains more than 3,000 manuscripts in Syriac and Arabic.
Having listened to some welcome remarks addressed to him by His Beatitude Ignace Youssif III Younan, patriarch of Antioch of the Syrians, the Holy Father expressed his thanks to those present who, he said, “represent the diversity of the Church in the East. ... My thoughts also go to the Coptic Orthodox Church of Egypt and to the Ethiopian Orthodox who have had the recent sadness of losing their respective patriarchs. I wish to assure them of my fraternal closeness and of my prayers.”
Pope departs Lebanon, prays that “she may live in peace” (VIS) The Holy Father’s apostolic trip to Lebanon came to an end yesterday afternoon with the departure ceremony at the international airport of Beirut. Among those present to bid him farewell were Michel Sleiman, president of Lebanon, the country’s four Catholic patriarchs, various Lebanese bishops and representatives of the civil and religious authorities. In his address, the pope expressed his thanks “to the entire Lebanese people, who form a beautiful and rich mosaic and who have shown the successor of Peter their enthusiasm by the efforts, both general and specific, of each community. I cordially thank our venerable sister Churches and the Protestant communities. I thank in particular representatives of the Muslim communities. Through my stay here, I have noticed how much your presence has contributed to the success of my journey. In these troubled times, the Arab world and indeed the entire world will have seen Christians and Muslims united in celebrating peace.”
U.N. panel says human rights situation in Syria deteriorating (Voice of America) An independent panel of U.N. investigators says the human rights situation in Syria has sharply deteriorated, with “gross violations” growing in number, pace and scale. The panel’s Brazilian chairman, Paulo Pinheiro, told the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva Monday that “egregious violations” happen so often that his team has not been able to investigate them all.
Patriarch Kirill visits Japan (Interfax) Dozens of Russian expatriates accorded a warm welcome to Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia, who visited the Russian Orthodox Church’s embassy parish in Tokyo on Sunday. After conducting a service at the Church of St. Alexander of the Neva, Patriarch Kirill said that, “a parishioner’s last will has been fulfilled and an Orthodox church was dedicated in Tokyo four years ago after 40 years of incessant work.” “I remember how excited all of us were as the church was being sanctified and prayers said. Many of you remember the entire drama, which only proves that the truth is always right and that God hears the righteous prayer. This church is an example that must edify us all,” he said.
14 September 2012
Tags: Syria Lebanon Pope Benedict XVI United Nations Patriarch Kirill
Pope Benedict XVI greets officials during a welcoming ceremony at Rafiq Hariri International Airport in Beirut, 14 September. (photo: CNS/Paul Haring)
“Lebanese Hope Pope’s Visit Will Reduce Tensions and Promote Peace” (Vatican Insider, La Stampa) The civil war in Syria is having a terrible effect on the Lebanon and people in Beirut say they fervently hope Pope Benedict XVI’s visit can help to reduce tensions in the land of the cedars, stop the war in Syria, and advance peace throughout the Middle East.
“Maronite Patriarch Calls for a Christian Spring” (Vatican Radio) “The language of hatred and violence, both regionally and internationally, will never bring about a new Spring, only the opposite” says Lebanese Maronite Patriarch Beshara Boutros al-Rai.
“Pope Arrives in Lebanon” (Vatican Information Service) “The successful way the Lebanese all live together,” said the pope, “surely demonstrates to the whole Middle East and to the rest of the world that, within a nation, there can exist cooperation between the various Churches, all members of the one Catholic Church in a fraternal spirit of communion with other Christians, and at the same time coexistence and respectful dialogue between Christians and their brethren of other religions.”
“Pope Calls for a Halt to Weapons to Syria” (The New York Times) On the airplane to Lebanon, the pope called for a halt to weapons to Syria, calling the import of arms a “grave sin,” according to a Reuters report on the pope’s remarks to reporters. It was not immediately clear whether the pope was faulting the Syrian government or its opponents, or condemning in general terms, the rapid militarization of the conflict.
“Lebanese of all Faiths Hope Visit Heralds Peace” (The Daily Star Lebanon) “The pope can try to ease any religion’s collective tension,” said Sawsan Darwaza, a theater and film director who said she was very supportive of the visit even though she is not Christian.
13 September 2012
Tags: Lebanon Middle East Christians Middle East Pope Benedict XVI Middle East Synod
Workers hang a Vatican flag 11 September near the main airport in Beirut in preparation for Pope Benedict XVI's visit to Lebanon. (photo: CNS/Sharif Karim, Reuters)
With World on the Brink, Can Benedict Be a Firebreak? (NCR) Pope Benedict XVI’s upcoming trip to Lebanon will be the first visit of a major Western leader to the Arab world after the attacks in Egypt and Libya. Big questions loom: Will the pope’s presence inflame extremist Islamic sentiment even further? Or, will the visit act as a firebreak, offering a counter-narrative of Muslim-Christian harmony? In either event, this 24th foreign journey by Pope Benedict XVI, and his fourth to the Middle East, could potentially be among his most consequential. A Vatican spokesperson, Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, says that the pope will bring a “message of dialogue and respect for all believers of different religions” to Lebanon.
Christian Presence in Sarajevo Fading (Kuwait Times) The head of the Serbian Orthodox Church has warned that Christianity is under threat in Sarajevo, as Muslim and Christian clerics argued during talks meant to promote reconciliation. “The most tragic [thing] is that many who might want to, do not have the opportunity to return [to Sarajevo],” Irinej said on RTRS television, calling on Europe to “put right a great injustice.” A census taken in 1991, before the war in Bosnia, recorded Serbs as about 30% of Sarajevo’s population; though no official census has been taken since then, Serb presence is estimated to have fallen to half of that.
Many Christians Join Protests Against Film Mocking Islam (Fides) In Egypt, Christians are joining Muslims to protest against the film that denigrates the Prophet Muhammed. Father Rafic Greiche, director of the communications for the Catholic Church in Egypt, says: “Right now, demonstrations are in progress in the center of Cairo to protest against the American film which insults the Prophet Mohammed, with several clashes with the police. The situation is tense in the area around the U.S. Embassy, which is very close to Tahrir Square. It should be noted that among the demonstrators there are also many Christians, the Copts in particular, together with Muslims are protesting against the film. Also on Facebook and other social media, Christians and Muslims are united in the protest.” Additionally, even the leaders of the major Christian denominations in Egypt have made their voices heard. “The Catholic Church, the Orthodox and Protestant churches issued a statement in Arabic against the film in question,” Father Greiche says.
In Syria, Christians Take Up Arms for the First Time (The Telegraph) The Christian community has tried to avoid taking sides in the civil war, at first seeking only to protect churches. However, as the war moved into the city and spread across its suburbs, they have begun to accept weapons from the Syrian army and join forces with Armenian groups to repel opposition guerrillas. “Everybody is fighting everybody,” said George, an Armenian Christian from the city. “The Armenians are fighting because they believe the F.S.A. are sent by their Turkish oppressors to attack them, the Christians want to defend their neighbourhoods, Shabiha regime militia are there to kill and rape, the army is fighting the F.S.A., and the [Kurdish militant group] P.K.K. have their own militia too.” For the past six weeks up to 150 Christian and Armenian fighters have been fighting to prevent Free Syrian Army rebels from entering Christian heartland areas of Aleppo.
Armenian Primate Visits U.S. (The Armenian Mirror Spectator) Archbishop Avak Asadourian who has been the Primate of the Armenian Diocese of Iraq for the past 33 years, during some of its most traumatic periods, is considered a hero among his people. He is currently visiting the United States for a special celebration to be accorded him by the large Iraqi-Armenian community in Glendale on 16 September, in honor of his 35 years as a clerical leader. On this trip, the Primate also visited the St. Vladimir’s and St. Nersess’ Seminaries in New York, from which he graduated in 1976. During an exclusive interview, the Primate spoke about the insecure condition of the Armenian and Christian communities since the time of the Iran-Iran war, which started in 1980, and the “ill-conceived war perpetrated by the NATO coalition against Iraq” in 2003.
12 September 2012
Tags: Lebanon Syrian Civil War Christian-Muslim relations Armenian Apostolic Church Coptic Christians
Ukrainian Catholic Archbishop Stefan Soroka of Philadelphia; Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk; and Archbishop Lawrence Huculak of Winnipeg, Manitoba, the metropolitan of the Ukrainian Catholic Church in Canada, process before the Divine Liturgy outside Sts. Volodymyr and Olha Cathedral in Winnipeg on 9 September. (photo: CNS/David Lipnowski)
Archbishop Caccia, Apostolic Nuncio: Great Expectations for Papal Visit (Fides) While the images of the Pope and the Lebanese and Vatican flags emerge everywhere, the slogan of the visit: “I give you my peace” dominates the front pages of newspapers. An evangelical phrase that, said Archbishop Caccia, “fully corresponds to the expectations of the people.” He further notes: “A special novena to prepare for the Pope’s visit is in progress in the churches in the Country.”
Pope Hopes to Further Interreligious Dialogue (Daily Star) Pope Benedict XVI hopes to advance the church’s relationship with Islam and help Christians keep their place in the Muslim world during his trip to Lebanon this week. The pope’s choice of Lebanon for his Middle East trip is not a casual one: the multi-confessional society — by which government posts are split among religious groups — was hailed by pope John Paul II as a model for the region. The visit will include meetings with representatives from Lebanon’s four main communities: Shiite, Sunni, Druze and Alawite.
Palestinian Prime Minister to Ease Protests with Price Cuts (Washington Post) After a meeting of his cabinet, Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad announced a decision to cancel increases this month in the prices of diesel fuel, kerosene and cooking gas, which are purchased from Israel, and to reduce the recently raised value-added tax, which is pegged to Israeli rates under an economic agreement with Israel. To make up for revenue losses from the price and tax reductions, the government will cut the salaries of ministers and other high-level officials and reduce some government expenditures.
Egyptian Town’s Muslim-Christian Unrest Points to Bigger Challenges (Los Angeles Times) It began when a Christian dry-cleaning business scorched a Muslim man’s shirt: First came the insults, and then Muslims and Christians were clashing in a square in this farming town rimmed by pyramids, culminating in a lethal explosion. “There was nothing wrong before all this,” said Ahmed Araby, a Muslim car dealer in a white tunic standing in the shade of a mosque. “It was a mistake. It was over a shirt. Muslims and Christians were like brothers, but a huge problem has fallen on our doorstep.”
“North America’s Churches Can Be an Example for Ukraine” (CNS) Ukrainian Orthodox Metropolitan Yurij of Winnipeg, Manitoba, told several dozen Ukrainian Catholic bishops that the North American Catholic and Orthodox bishops have worked through the “animosity” that once marked relations between their churches, and they now collaborate. “In Ukraine, they have to go through the same kind of process,” he said, adding that bishops outside Ukraine must be patient with their brothers.
11 September 2012
Tags: Egypt Lebanon Interreligious Palestinian Authority Ukrainian Catholic Synod
This Homs church was damaged in the ongoing violence in Syria.
(photo: CNS/Shaam News Network, handout via Reuters)
Vatican ambassador says 100,000 Christians have left Homs (Turkish Weekly) Approximately 100,000 Christians in Homs have had to move relocate within Syria due to the ongoing clashes between the Syrian army and opposition militants, according to a senior Vatican diplomat in Damascus. “Up until now, Christians have been suffering from the same consequences of the conflict like all the other citizens. However, a good number of Christians — around 100,000 — had to leave Homs. Most of them moved to the Christian Valley [Krak des Chevaliers] and to the Damascus area,” Vatican Ambassador to Syria Nuncio Mario Zenari said yesterday.
Vatican official: Religion’s role in Arab Spring is to promote dignity (Catholic News Service) Religious communities can assist the North African and Middle Eastern pro-democracy movements by upholding human dignity and not trying to claim power for one religion or one movement within a religion, a senior Vatican official said. Comboni Father Miguel Angel Ayuso Guixot, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, represented the Vatican at a conference in Istanbul last weekend on “The Arab Awakening and Peace in the New Middle East: Muslim and Christian Perspectives.”
Pentecostal church looted, razed near Moscow (The Moscow Times) The demolition, which sent shock waves through the country’s Protestant community over the weekend, was ordered by city authorities determined to build a sports stadium on the site. But the decision, based on a court order, is raising fears that religious freedom is under attack from a government that has long shown preferential treatment to the dominant Russian Orthodox Church.
Egyptian lawyer says Coptic immigration could be demographic disaster (Al Arabiya News) Egyptian Christian lawyer Mamdouh Ramzi warned of the repercussions of the immigration of Copts outside Egypt for fear of persecution at the hands of the Islamist government. “More than 100,000 Copts applied for immigration to the United States and Scandinavian countries,” he told Al Arabiya’s al-Hadath al-Masri (The Egyptian Event). “The immigration of such large numbers of Copts constitutes a grave threat to Egypt’s demographic structure.”
Tags: Syria Russian Orthodox Church Coptic Christians Egypt's Christians Arab Spring/Awakening