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June, 2018
Volume 44, Number 2
  
17 May 2013
J.D. Conor Mauro




In this video, Al Jazeera's Omar al Saleh reports on a series of bombings that have killed at least 26 people in Kirkuk and Baghdad, among other Iraqi cities. In televised remarks, Nouri al Maliki, Iraqi prime minister, attributed the attacks to “sectarian hatred.” (video: Al Jazeera)

Sectarianism in Iraq stoked by Syrian war (Washington Post) A recent tide of sectarian tensions that erupted into the worst violence seen in Iraq in five years is testing the government of Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki, whose ability to contain the crisis could hinge on a conflict raging beyond his control in Syria. The prospect of a regional power shift driven by the bloody civil war next door, where a mostly Sunni rebel movement is struggling to topple the Shiite-dominated regime, has emboldened Iraq’s Sunni minority to challenge its own Shiite government and amplified fears within Maliki’s administration that Iraq may soon be swept up in a spillover war…

Syria begins to break apart under the pressure of war (New York Times) The black flag of jihad flies over much of northern Syria. In the center of the country, pro-government militias and Hezbollah fighters battle those who threaten their communities. In the northeast, the Kurds have effectively carved out an autonomous zone. After more than two years of conflict, Syria is breaking up. A constellation of armed groups battling to advance their own agendas is effectively creating the outlines of separate armed fiefs. As the war expands in scope and brutality, its biggest casualty appears to be the integrity of the Syrian state…

U.N. chief: Hold Syrian peace talks soon (Daily Star Lebanon) A proposed international conference to try to stop Syria’s civil war should be held as soon as possible, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said on Friday, but no date has yet been agreed for a meeting that appears to face growing obstacles. A rising death toll, new reports of atrocities by both sides, suspicion that chemical arms may have been used and the absence of prospects for a military solution have all pushed Washington and Moscow to agree to convene the conference. “We should not lose the momentum,” Ban said of the proposal to bring the Syrian government and opposition representatives to the conference table…

In Serbia, patriarch and president meet and urge unity (b92) Serbian Orthodox Patriarch Irinej and President Tomislav Nikolic met on Monday and urged “absolute unity and responsibility … in the search for a solution to the Kosovo and Metohija issue.” Nikolic underscored that the patriarch and himself agreed in everything, adding that it is not easy to decide on behalf of the nation just as it is not easy to decide on behalf of the church. “Still, it is much better when there is unity among those who make decisions on behalf of the people and those who make such decisions on behalf of the church,” the president said…



Tags: Iraq Syrian Civil War United Nations Serbian Orthodox Church Serbia

16 May 2013
J.D. Conor Mauro




A Free Syrian Army fighter throws an improvised hand grenade toward forces loyal to Syria’s President Bashar al Assad in Deir al Zor on 15 May. (photo: CNS/Khalil Ashawi, Reuters)

Syrian opposition forces plunder and destroy ancient monastery (Pravoslavie.ru) Armed extremists fighting on the side of the Syrian opposition have attacked the ancient Orthodox Monastery of the Holy Prophet Elias near the town of Al Qusayr, situated about 12 miles from the Syrian-Lebanese border, reports the ITAR-TASS agency with a reference to the Syrian state news agency. The gunmen stole church vessels, blew up the bell tower and destroyed the chancel and the font, the monastery’s Abbot Gadir Ibrahim reported on Saturday…

Jordanian Christians hold a silent march to pray for kidnapped Syrian bishops (Fides) On Tuesday, 21 May, Christians in Amman will hold a candle-lit silent march to pray for the release of the two bishops of Aleppo, Syriac Orthodox Mar Gregorios Yohanna Ibrahim and Greek Orthodox Boulos al Yazigi, who have been in the hands of unknown kidnappers for a month…

Turkey seeks assistance with Syrian refugees (Washington Post) Facing one of the world’s largest refugee crises in decades, Turkish officials are urgently appealing for international financial assistance and calling on wealthy nations, particularly the United States and the countries of Europe, to start accepting large numbers of Syrian refugees. The stance marks a shift for the Turkish government, which had long insisted that Ankara would manage and pay for the refugee crisis on its own as a matter of national pride. But with the cost to Turkey hitting $1.5 billion, an estimated 400,000 refugees in the country and a total of 1 million expected by the end of the year, pressure is building. Turkey is even willing to organize an airlift, Ankara officials said, but no country seems eager to receive the refugees…

Baghdad market attacks in north kill 17 (Daily Star Lebanon) At least 17 people were killed by bombs in markets in Baghdad and attacks in northern Iraq on Thursday, police said, adding to a surge of sectarian-tinged violence in the past four weeks. Attacks on Sunni and Shiite mosques, security forces and tribal leaders have mushroomed since security forces raided a Sunni protest camp near Kirkuk a month ago, igniting clashes and fuelling worries of a slide back into all-out sectarian war. Iraq has grown more volatile as the civil war in neighbouring Syria strains fragile relations between Sunni and Shiite Muslims. Tensions are now at their highest point since the last United States troops pulled out at the end of 2011…

At a Jerusalem parlor, centuries of pilgrim tattoos (The Times of Israel) Orthodox Christians visiting the Holy Land often return home with more than just spiritual memories. Many drop by a centuries-old tattoo parlor in Jerusalem’s Old City, inking themselves with a permanent reminder not only of their pilgrimage but also of devotion to their faith. The same Jerusalem family has been tattooing pilgrims with Crosses and other religious symbols for hundreds of years, testament to the importance of the ancient ritual. While Catholics can get a written certificate of their pilgrimage to Jerusalem, Orthodox Christians opt for a tattoo, a permanent reminder of their visit…



Tags: Iraq Refugees Syrian Civil War Jerusalem Refugee Camps

15 May 2013
J.D. Conor Mauro




In this 2010 photo, Serbian Orthodox Patriarch Irinej arrives to celebrate a liturgy in Belgrade, Serbia, following his election. (photo: /Ivan Milutinovic, Reuters)

Serbian Orthodox Church likely to back government on Kosovo deal (Eurasia Review) At its forthcoming annual congress, the Serbian Orthodox Church is expected to discuss the EU-brokered deal with Kosovo and support the government on the issue, experts believe. Serbian Orthodox Church leaders will decide the religious body’s stance on Kosovo this month at the annual session of its governing body, the Holy Synod, predicted Zivica Tucic, an expert on religion in Serbia. “The Church will try to find an acceptable solution for the Kosovo issue,” Tucic told BIRN. Tucic said that one of the signs suggesting that the church would back the government on the issue was the reaction of church leader Patriarch Irinej to the criticism of the deal from some bishops…

Human Rights Watch alleges rebel atrocities in Syria (Los Angeles Times) Gruesome video footage purportedly showing a Syrian rebel commander mutilating the corpse of a dead soldier while shouting sectarian insults has drawn condemnation from Human Rights Watch and focused renewed attention on battlefield atrocities in Syria. The video appears to be further dramatic evidence of how Syria’s more than two-year civil war may be disintegrating into a sectarian bloodbath…

Israeli police attack Coptic Orthodox bishop in Jerusalem (Ahram Online) Israeli newspaper Maariv published a video clip on Monday showing an attack by Israeli police on Coptic Orthodox Bishop Anthasius of Ramallah in Jerusalem during Easter celebrations last week. In an interview with the newspaper, Anthasius said that Israeli police had attacked him in the street after he had tried to pass through an Israeli military checkpoint. In the video, the 84-year-old bishop can be seen being attacked by policemen. “They treated me like a dog,” the bishop told the Israeli newspaper. Israeli police subsequently issued a formal apology to both Egypt and Bishop Anthasius for last week’s incident…

Officials say Iraq bombings kill 10, wound 21 (Daily Star Lebanon) Bombings in Iraq, including two car bombs in the northern city of Kirkuk, killed 10 people and wounded 21 others on Wednesday, security and medical officials said. The first bombing in Kirkuk was the deadliest of the attacks, killing eight people and wounding eight, while a second car bomb exploded nearby, wounding seven more, officials said. Violence in Iraq has fallen from its peak in 2006 and 2007, but attacks remain common, killing more than 200 people in each of the first four months of this year…

Return to Iqrit: the rebirth of a Palestinian village (The Guardian) On a breezy hilltop in sight of the Lebanese border, a village last populated 65 years ago is being reclaimed from the dead for the living. Vegetables and herbs have been planted amid the rubble; a couple of donkeys graze on spring grass; traditional food is cooked and eaten in a makeshift structure next to the Church of Our Lady, where mass is celebrated for up to 200 worshippers on the first Saturday of every month. This is Iqrit, a Palestinian Christian village in northern Galilee, whose inhabitants left in the bitter war that followed the declaration of the state of Israel in 1948, and who have never been permitted to return to their land and razed homes. But in recent months, a group of young men, grandsons of Iqrit’s original residents, have moved back in an attempt to reclaim and rebuild the village…



Tags: Iraq Syrian Civil War Palestine Coptic Orthodox Church Serbian Orthodox Church

14 May 2013
Greg Kandra




Destroyed buildings are seen in the Old City of Aleppo, Syria, on 29 April. The Syriac Catholic patriarch said events in Syria were the result of Western nations carrying out a geopolitical strategy “to split Syria and other countries” in the Middle East. (photo: CNS/George Ourfalian, Reuters)

Patriarch: Crisis in Syria is part of Western strategy (CNS) The Syriac Catholic patriarch said events in Syria were the result of Western nations carrying out a geopolitical strategy “to split Syria and other countries” in the Middle East. “It’s not a question of promoting democracy or pluralism as the West wants us to understand of its policies. This is a lie, this is hypocrisy,” Syriac Patriarch Ignatius Joseph III Younan told Catholic News Service. Western nations did not heed warnings and so “bear responsibility for what is happening in Syria”…

Why Syrian quagmire threatens Turkey (CNN) Turkey’s tragic loss of at least 47 people in the car bombings in the border town of Reyhanli illustrates vividly that Turkey is not immune to the raging violence next door. Turkey has suffered similar, though far less deadly events in the past year, including Syria downing a Turkish jet, the killing of five Turks in cross-border artillery fire and a car bomb blast at a Turkey-Syria border crossing in February killing more than a dozen people. It is also hosting more than 400,000 Syrian refugees at a cost of $1.5 billion and counting. The United Nations estimates that number of refugees will triple by the end of this year. Moreover, it is a critical staging post and a logistical lifeline for opposition fighters against the leadership of Bashar al Assad in Damascus…

Christian village awaits arrival of Syrian army (Lebanon Daily Star) The advance of regime troops on the rebel stronghold of Qusair in central Syria has come as a relief for at least one village, mostly Christian, nestled on the shores of Lake Quttina. For the first time in eight months, the villagers of Ghassaniyeh do not have to make the risky trip across the lake to bring in fresh food and supplies…

Bishop says election of Pope Francis bodes well for Eastern Catholics (Catholic Sun) Bishop Gerald N. Dino of the Byzantine Holy Protection Eparchy of Phoenix said the election of Pope Francis bodes well for Eastern Catholics. “He’s very familiar with the Byzantine rite,” Bishop Dino said. “It means that we have a leader who understands a minority group within the church and respects those minorities”…

Why some Russian Orthodox believers are converting to other Christian faiths (Russia & India Report) Experts say there is a tendency in Russia, although a subtle one so far, of converting from the Russian Orthodox Church to other Christian denominations, such as Catholicism or Protestantism. This is because, they explain, believers often disagree with the position of the Russian Orthodox Church leaders on the most pressing problems of Russian society. In some cases, scandals around individual clergymen are to blame…



Tags: Pope Francis Syrian Civil War Turkey Russian Orthodox Church Syriac Catholic Patriarch Ignatius Joseph III Younan

13 May 2013
Greg Kandra




A girl sits on a chair placed among rubble as she sells bread on a war-torn street in Deir al-Zor, Syria, on 9 May. (photo: CNS/Khalil Ashawi, Reuters)

Syria blames Turkey’s government for car bombings (Reuters) Syria’s information minister has blamed Turkey’s government for deadly car bombings near the Syrian border and branded Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan a “murderer,” state-run Russian TV company RT reported on Monday. The bombings took place as prospects appeared to improve for diplomacy to try to end the war in Syria, after Moscow and Washington announced a joint effort to bring government and rebels to an international conference as soon as possible...

Pontifical yearbook shows Catholic population steady, boom in vocations to diaconate (Vatican Radio) The number of Catholics globally remains largely unchanged at 1.2 billion, rising only slightly higher than global population growth for the 2010/2011 period. The number of priests (religious and diocesan) has grown, largely thanks to a rise in vocations in Asia and Africa which has helped balance the continued decline in Europe (-9% in the last decade). The same cannot be said for the number of professed women religious with a downward trend registering a drop of 10% over the past decade. But, perhaps the most surprising statistic revealed in the 2013 Pontifical Yearbook Monday was the boom in vocations to the permanent diaconate, particularly in Europe and the US where numbers have increased by over 40% in the past decade...

Report says India has highest number of child deaths within first 24 hours of life (Fides) Every year a million children die within 24 hours of birth, and two million before the age of three months. This is what emerges in a recently published report by the NGO Save the Children, in which it also records the death of 287,000 women for causes related to maternity. The first day of a child’s life is the most dangerous, especially in India, where 309,300 infants die each year in the first 24 hours of life. In “Surviving the First Day: Status of Motherhood 2013,” the NGO ranks India as having the highest number of maternal deaths in the world, with 56,000 cases per year...

Patriarch: meeting between Francis and Tawadros II caused joy, hope for unity (Fides) “The meeting between the Pope Francis and Pope Tawadros II caused joy especially among the very simple people. Now the hope is that the path on the way of unity can move forward with concrete and challenging steps.” This is what was reported to Fides Agency by His Beatitude Ibrahim Isaac Sidrak, Patriarch of Alexandria of the Catholic Copts. The patriarch outlined the hopes in the Egyptian Catholic community from the recent meeting between the Bishop of Rome and the Coptic Orthodox Patriarch...

Russian Orthodox patriarch pays first visit to China (New Straits Times) The Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill on Sunday held a service in Beijing on his first ever visit to Communist-ruled China, during which he called for closer ties between the giant neighbours. Kirill, dressed in an ornate red and gold robe, held the service for about 300 people in a tent on the grounds of the Russian embassy in Beijing amid tight security, an AFP photographer witnessed. Chinese exercises strict control over religion, requiring followers to worship in state-approved churches...

Immigration fuels growth in Toronto’s Catholic Church (Catholic Register) Immigration hasn’t just transformed the Catholic Church in Toronto, it’s made the archdiocese of Toronto massively different from Catholic Canada outside the Greater Toronto Area. Two out of every five Catholics in Toronto were born outside the country, compared to just one in 10 Catholics who are immigrants in the rest of Canada...



Tags: Syria India Pope Francis Turkey Coptic

10 May 2013
J.D. Conor Mauro




Tawadros II of Alexandria, pope and patriarch of the Coptic Orthodox Church, and Pope Francis shake hands after exchanging gifts during a private audience in the pontiff’s library at the Vatican on 10 May. The pope told the Coptic leader that Christians are united in “ecumenism of suffering.” If you would like to learn more about Egypt’s largest Christian community, we profiled the Coptic Orthodox Church in the November 2005 issue of ONE. (photo: CNS/Andreas Solaro, pool via Reuters)

Pope Francis meets Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros II (VIS) The visit of Tawadros II of Alexandria, pope and patriarch of the Coptic Orthodox Church, “strengthens the bonds of friendship and brotherhood that already exist between the See of Peter and the See of Mark, heir to an inestimable heritage of martyrs, theologians, holy monks and faithful disciples of Christ, who have borne witness to the Gospel from generation to generation, often in situations of great adversity,” said Pope Francis this morning. The pontiff remarked on the memorable meeting that took place, 40 years ago, between the predecessors of both, Pope Paul VI and Pope Shenouda III, which united them “in an embrace of peace and fraternity, after centuries of mutual distance”…

Syrian refugees: your stories (The Guardian) GuardianWitness, a program seeking ground-level media from people the world over, has been running for nearly a month — including a section dedicated to the stories of Syrian refugees. Caroline Bannock, a coordinator for the program, notes: “It’s not an easy situation to document and many refugees can’t be identified, in case it puts family, left behind in Syria, in jeopardy. However, people who can, do want us to see what the situation is like for them and NGOs, aid agencies and individuals have been sharing images, text and video — when it’s safe to do so. … We have been very moved by the content that has been shared with us — so please do go and look at it, if you haven’t already…”

Saturday an international day of prayer for peace (Fides) On Saturday, 11 May, Syrian Christians of all churches and ecclesial communities have organized a day of prayer to “pray to God to grant mercy to Syria and to put an end to the violence.” The appeal to pray for Syria has been extended to Christians throughout the world. “It is too risky to move in combat areas. We will have to limit ourselves to local meetings throughout the country, in homes, in meeting places and in churches,” said the text of the appeal, published on the internet. There are four prayer intentions: the return of peace, the liberation of all hostages, the care of children traumatized by war and humanitarian relief to all refugees…

For first time, Israeli police protect women praying at Western Wall (Washington Post) Israeli police with metal barriers and human chains on Friday held back thousands of ultra-Orthodox protesters who tried to prevent a Jewish women’s group from praying at a key holy site, the first time police have come down on the side of the women and not the protesters. The switch followed a court order backing the right of the women to pray at the Western Wall in the Old City with practices Orthodox Jews insist are the role of men alone…

Patriarch Kirill begins visit to China (Asianews.it) Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill arrived today in Beijing, the first leg of his official visit to China, which ends 15 June. In the Chinese capital, “The head of the Russian Orthodox Church will meet with government leaders in China, leaders of religious groups, and also with the Chinese officials responsible for religious affairs,” the Patriarchate Press Service said…



Tags: Pope Francis Refugees Syrian Civil War Coptic Orthodox Church Roma

7 May 2013
J.D. Conor Mauro




In this August 2012 photo, Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill and Polish Archbishop Jozef Michalik, president of the Catholic bishops’ conference of Poland, sign a joint message of reconciliation during ceremony at Royal Castle in Warsaw. (photo: CNS/Kacper Pempel, Reuters)

Patriarch Kirill has high hopes for unity with the Catholic Church (Interfax) “We are open to dialogue, cooperation and development of such interaction, and we have no indication that the incumbent Pope is not open to the same,” said Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill. “The time of our disorder and confusion in assessing socially important problems should end,” he said…

U.N. investigator suggests Syrian rebels may have used chemical weapons (Christian Science Monitor) The leader of the United Nations investigation into possible chemical weapon use in Syria said yesterday that witness and victim testimonies indicate that Syrian rebels likely used chemical weapons such as the nerve gas sarin. The commission she leads, however, tempered her comments with a statement today announcing that it had not yet reached “conclusive findings.” Rebel forces denied the claims…

Palestinian Christians struggle under occupation (Al Monitor) “To be a Christian from the land of Jesus Christ is a blessing that not many can claim to share. But this blessing brings with it a daily struggle to preserve our traditions and uphold Christian practices. Faith has not disappeared, hope still guides our lives, but the lack of response to our plight makes many in our community wonder whether the world really cares about us.” Father Johnny Abu Khalil, a Catholic priest from Nablus, recounts the challenges faced by Palestinian Christians…

No justice for Christian victims of Orissa massacres (Fides) Five years after the anti-Christian massacres that shocked Kandhamal district in the Indian state of Orissa, justice remains unserved. In the “pogrom” of 2008, over 400 villages were “cleansed” of all Christians. More than 5,600 houses and 296 churches were burned. There were many human casualties, and 56,000 men, women and children became homeless. As Catholic activist John Dayal reports to Fides, the investigation was carried out late and in a superficial manner…

Gunman attacks Armenian church in Istanbul (panorama.am) An unknown assailant opened fire into the air outside a small Armenian church in Istanbul on Sunday while an Orthodox sermon was being held inside, according to Turkish media…

U.N. peacekeepers seized near Syrian border (Al Jazeera) Four United Nations peacekeepers are being held in the ceasefire line between Syria and the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, where neither Israeli nor Syrian forces can operate. Josephine Guerrero, spokeswoman for the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF), said on Tuesday the four were “detained today by an unidentified armed group while they were patrolling” near Al Jamlah in the so-called Area of Limitation…



Tags: Middle East Christians Armenia United Nations Palestinians Patriarch Kirill

6 May 2013
J.D. Conor Mauro




In this video, Father Thomas Rosica interviews Ukrainian Greek Catholic Major Archbishop Shevchuck during his recent visit to Canada. Before being elected head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church on 23 March 2011, Archbishop Shevchuk served as bishop of the Eparchy of Buenos Aires, Argentina, where he considered Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio — now Pope Francis — a mentor. (video: Salt + Light TV)

Witness: Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuck (Salt + Light TV) The Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, having long suffered under Communist persecution, flourished once the Iron Curtain finally fell. The strength of this Eastern-rite church extends to the growing Ukrainian diaspora, particularly in Canada. In 2011, when the Ukrainian bishops needed to elect a new leader for their growing church, they turned to the youngest member from among their ranks: Sviatoslav Shevchuk, then only 40 years old. Father Thomas Rosica sat down with Archbishop Shevchuck during his recent visit to Canada…

Salesians ‘deplore’ Israel’s decision to proceed with separation wall (Vatican Radio) The Salesian province of the Middle East issued a press release Friday saying it “strongly deplores the verdict” of an Israeli tribunal, which has upheld the completion of a separation wall that will cut off a Salesian convent from direct access to its agricultural land and the community it serves. The lives within two Salesian monasteries a few miles from Bethlehem and the people of the nearby Palestinian community of Beit Jala will change dramatically once a nearly 20-foot concrete separation wall is completed as planned. The Salesians recently lost their seven-year battle to stop Israeli authorities from building of the wall through their property…

Young Iraqi Christians organize markets to pay for World Youth Day trip (Fides) On 1 May, at the Chaldean Church of St. Joseph in Baghdad, young Christians organized an open-air market in order to find funds to support the expenses of the trip to Rio de Janeiro, where they hope to travel in July to participate in the next World Youth Day. The original fund-raising initiative could represent a pilot project to be re-launched in other churches scattered throughout the country. On the pavilions of the small fair, which saw right from the beginning a strong turnout of buyers, one could find groceries, clothes and electronic products…

Israel seeks de-escalation after launching airstrike on Syria (Christian Science Monitor) A day after it launched an airstrike outside of Damascus, killing scores of Syrian soldiers, Israel sought to play down the attack as a strike against regime-ally Hezbollah, not President Bashar al Assad. Reuters reports that Israel has made several soothing overtures to its war-racked northern neighbor after launching airstrikes in Syria on Friday and Sunday. Tzachi Hanegbi, a confidante of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, told Israeli radio on Monday that Mr. Netanyahu aimed to avoid “an increase in tension with Syria by making clear that if there is activity, it is only against Hezbollah, not against the Syrian regime”…

Bishop Audo: Easter in the tears of our Orthodox brothers (Fides) Chaldean Bishop of Aleppo Antoine Audo describes the celebration of Easter in Syria: “They sang ‘Christ is risen,’ and while repeating those words of joy and victory, they all had tears in their eyes. All their prayers mingled with their tears.” In addition to the suffering the civil war inflicts on all the people, there is also apprehension for the archbishops who are in the hands of unidentified kidnappers…

U.N.: No clear proof of Syrian chemical weapons (Al Jazeera) A United Nations team of investigators into rights abuses in Syria has stressed there is no conclusive proof of either side in the conflict using chemical weapons, despite a team member’s claims to the contrary. “The Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic wishes to clarify that it has not reached conclusive findings as to the use of chemical weapons in Syria by any parties to the conflict,” the commission said in a statement on Monday…



Tags: Syrian Civil War Violence against Christians Iraqi Christians Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk Separation Barrier

3 May 2013
Greg Kandra




Metropolitan Mor Cyril Aphram Karim of the Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch, Archdiocese of the Eastern United States, is greeted by Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York at the end of Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York on 2 May. (photo: CNS/Gregory A. Shemitz)

Cardinal Dolan prays for kidnapped Orthodox clergy (CNS) Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan challenged all in attendance to hold onto hope and to pray for the safety and well-being of two Orthodox archbishops kidnapped in Syria in late April while carrying out a humanitarian mission. “Our prayers are singularly fervent this spring morning as I invite all of us to unite in supplication,” Cardinal Dolan said during Mass on 2 May in St. Patrick’s Cathedral for Greek Orthodox Metropolitan Paul of Aleppo and Syriac Orthodox Metropolitan Gregorios Yohanna of Aleppo…

Pope meets president of Lebanon (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis expressed hopes for the formation of a new government in Lebanon Friday “that will have to face the important challenges in the national arena as well as in the international sphere.” This is according to a statement released by the Secretariat of State following the Holy Father’s private audience with Lebanese President Michel Sleiman…

Vatican sends annual message to Buddhists (VIS) Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran and Father Miguel Angel Ayuso Guixot, M.C.C.I., respectively president and secretary of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, signed the message that, on the occasion of the feast of Vesakh, the dicastery annually sends to the followers of Buddhism. Vesakh is a major Buddhist holy day that commemorates the birth, enlightenment, and death of Gautama Buddha. According to tradition, the historical Buddha was born, achieved enlightenment and passed away during the full moon of the month of May, thus Vesakh is a mobile feast, which this year falls on 24 or 25 May, depending on the country it is celebrated in. On those days, Buddhists visit local temples to offer the monks food and to hear the teachings of the Buddha, taking special care to meditate and to observe the eight precepts of Buddhism. This year’s message is entitled: “Christians and Buddhists: Loving, Defending, and Promoting Human Life”…

Russian Orthodox observe Holy Friday (Voice of Russia) Orthodox Christians are observing Holy Friday, the most sorrowful date of the Christian calendar commemorating the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. On this day, Orthodox believers observe a particularly rigorous period of fasting in commemoration of Jesus’ sufferings and his death on the cross. They abstain from every kind of food subsisting on bread and water. Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia will lead Great Vespers with the rank of removal of the shroud and matins with the rank of burials at the Cathedral of Christ the Savior in Moscow…

Historic Alaskan village destroyed by fire (OCA.org) In a report dated 30 April 2013, KTUU Channel 2 News announced that the abandoned Belkofski village on the Alaska Peninsula had been destroyed by fire. Founded in 1824 by the Russian-American Company, Belkofski was home to Holy Resurrection Orthodox Church. The parish’s first church building was erected in 1843. In 1880, a new church was constructed. The structure, which had been placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1980, subsequently collapsed. What was left of the church burned in the fire, along with the parish cemetery…



Tags: Pope Francis Violence against Christians Russian Orthodox Church Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran

2 May 2013
J.D. Conor Mauro




In this video, Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos III celebrates Holy Thursday by washing the feet of his clergy in the courtyard of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem’s Old City. (video: THV 11)

Greek Orthodox patriarch washes the feet of bishops (THV 11) Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos III washed the feet of 12 of his clergymen in the courtyard of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem’s Old City on Thursday, 2 May, in a traditional ceremony that takes place three days ahead of Easter. According to Christian faith, Jesus washed the feet of his twelve disciples prior to the Last Supper before he was crucified. Christian churches commemorate this event as part of Easter Holy Week celebrations, with Orthodox ceremonies taking place in accordance to the Eastern (Julian) calendar…

A prayer for the Chaldean Synod (Fides) The first Synod of the Chaldean Church convened by the new Patriarch Louis Raphael, who was elected last January 31, will begin in Baghdad on 5 June. The agenda of the synodal assembly includes challenging topics, including the appointment of bishops in several Chaldean bishoprics left vacant in the Middle East and Western countries, the formation of priests, the final draft of a law of the Chaldean Church to be submitted to the consent of the Apostolic See, updating and harmonization of the liturgical rites celebrated unevenly in the various dioceses and the study of concrete measures to curb the phenomenon of emigration and encourage Christians to remain in — or return to — their homeland…

An interview with a Jesuit ecumenist (Catholic World Report) Catholic World Report recently asked Archimandrite Robert Taft, S.J., for his perspective on current Orthodox-Catholic relations. Father Taft has devoted his life to preserving the liturgical treasury of the East and building bridges between Orthodox and Catholic Christians, and describes a vision of Catholic-Orthodox communion: “what it would look like is not a ‘reunion’ with [Orthodox churches] ‘returning to Rome,’ to which they never belonged anyway; nor us being incorporated by them, since we are all ancient apostolic ‘sister churches’ with a valid episcopate and priesthood and the full panoply of sacraments needed to minister salvation to our respective faithful…”

Turkey investigates use of chemical weapons in Syria (Daily Star Lebanon) Turkey is testing blood samples taken from Syrian casualties brought over the border from fighting in recent days to determine whether they were victims of a chemical weapons attack, local government and health officials said on Wednesday. The samples were sent to Turkey’s forensic medicine institute after several Syrians with breathing difficulties were brought to a Turkish hospital on Monday in the town of Reyhanli in Hatay province along the Syrian border. “We are taking the necessary precautions as we have received unconfirmed information on the use of chemical weapons,” Reyhanli Mayor Huseyin Sanverdi told Reuters…

Lebanon border region caught in Syrian conflict (L.A. Times) Kidnapping, smuggling and tribal feuds have long been a reality of the Lebanese landscape, but the conflict next door between the longtime Shiite-linked government of President Bashar al Assad and fragmented, largely Sunni, opposition forces has upped the ante. These days, nothing seems to transpire in northern Lebanon without the Syrian conflict coloring the exchange…



Tags: Syrian Civil War Ecumenism Chaldean Church Orthodox Church of the Holy Sepulchre





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