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Current Issue
June, 2018
Volume 44, Number 2
  
23 March 2018
Greg Kandra




Embed from Getty Images
In this image from last year, Pope Tawadros II (L) meets with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi (R) in Cairo, Egypt. Many Copts say they will support President al-Sisi in next week’s election.
(photo: Presidency of Egypt/Handout/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)


‘Dozens burned to death’ in strikes on East Ghouta (Al Jazeera) At least 37 people, mostly women and children, have been killed and 80 others injured after regime forces bombed an underground shelter in Eastern Ghouta, according to rescuers and activists on the ground. Sources on the ground and rescuers from the Syrian Civil Defense, a volunteer rescue group also known as the White Helmets, said on Friday that the victims were burned to death after air strikes carrying napalm gas hit the shelter in the town of Arbeen...

Can Pope Francis keep the door open for refugees? (CNN) The Syrian war was just two years old when Pope Francis took power. Europe was feeling the crush of asylum seekers from Syria and North African migrants, an influx that reshaped communities from Spain to Sweden, spreading a fever of anti-immigrant rage in its wake...

Ahead of Egypt vote, Christians put faith in Sisi (AFP) On the streets of Cairo’s Shubra district, many Coptic Christians — but not all — say they will support President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in his re-election bid on Monday. Pro-Sisi banners hang overhead in the neighborhood where many Copts reside, often showing the president standing alongside Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros II...

Indian cow vigilantes get life for lynching (UCANews.com) An Indian court has jailed 11 people for life for lynching a Muslim man suspected of possessing beef in a landmark case that church leaders say will help to check increasing violence against religious minorities. It is the first time a court has punished perpetrators of cow-related violence in the country, according to Persecution Relief director Shibu Thomas...

Holy Synod of Russian Orthodox Church to convene in Belarus in October (Belarus News) The Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church plans to hold a session in Belarus in October 2018, Metropolitan of Minsk and Zaslavl, Patriarchal Exarch of All Belarus Pavel told journalists on 20 March...

Photos: Passover celebrations underway in Ethiopia (The Jerusalem Post) Approximately 4,000 members of the Jewish community are expected to attend the Seder in Gondar, Ethiopia...



22 March 2018
Greg Kandra




In this photo from last October, Pope Francis clasps hands with a person at the “Regional Hub,” a government-run processing center for migrants, refugees and asylum seekers, in Bologna, Italy. The pope is seen wearing a yellow ID bracelet with his name and a number, just like the immigrants and refugees at the center. The Holy See this week declared that migration efforts must respect the human person. (photo: CNS/L’Osservatore Romano)

Holy See says migration efforts must put the person at the center (Vatican News) “Refugees are not numbers to be distributed and allocated, but persons with a name, a story, with hopes and aspirations.” These were the words with which the Vatican Observer to the United Nations in Geneva reminded UN members to always put the dignity of the person at the center of their work...

Jerusalem on high alert ahead of holidays (Ynetnews.com) In Jerusalem, this heightened level of alert is manifested in the increased deployment of Border Police and police forces in the Old City, where many Israelis as well as tourists will spend some of the upcoming Passover holiday. “The defense establishment realizes that the cluster of events we are facing may be highly combustible. We’re on the precipice of Passover, two memorial days and Independence Day, but before we even get there we’re facing Land Day at the end of this month,” said a senior police source...

Rebels leave defeated Syrian town (BBC) Syrian rebels and their families are to be evacuated from a key town in the besieged Eastern Ghouta region as part of an agreement with the government. State media said 1,760 people had left Harasta, but a BBC Arabic correspondent said he had seen no buses depart yet...

Russian Catholic leaders pledge to work with Putin (CNS) Russia’s minority Catholic Church has pledged to help build a civil society after the nation’s 18 March election and called on President Vladimir Putin to “justify voters’ confidence” after his victory...

Kerala churches upset over new liquor policy (The Business Standard) The Syrian Mar Thoma Church and the Jacobite Syrian Christian Church on Thursday lashed out at the Pinarayi Vijayan government in Kerala for deciding to open closed liquor vends. The Kerala Catholic Bishop’s Conference (KCBC) had also slammed the "liquor policy" of the Vijayan government...

On World Water Day, recalling how Pope Francis has made care of the world’s water a priority (Vatican News) Pope Francis has already made it clear that the availability and care of the world’s water sources must be a global priority. In his encyclical Laudato Si’ (On Care for Our Common Home), the word “water” appears 47 times—22 occurrences within articles 27-30 which treat the subject of water specifically...

Rare, endangered primate born in Jerusalem zoo (The Times of Israel) An Israeli zoo said Thursday that an endangered primate known as a golden lion tamarin has been born in captivity. The Jerusalem Biblical Zoo said the monkey was born two weeks ago to mom Bilbi and dad Zohar. The yet unnamed monkey was seen Thursday clinging to its mother’s back...



21 March 2018
Greg Kandra




Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi meets Cardinal Oswald Gracias in New Delhi on 20 March. (photo: UCANews.com)

Bodies of 39 kidnapped Indian workers found in mass grave in Iraq (NPR) The AP said the bodies were found under a dirt mound after Iraqi authorities found evidence of the grave last summer using radar equipment. Once the bodies were exhumed, Indian authorities sent DNA samples from relatives of the missing workers. All but one have been identified. Among the artifacts discovered at the site were ID cards, non-Iraqi shoes and religious bracelets...

Modi holds off on inviting Pope Francis to India (UCANews.com) Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi continues to be non-committal on inviting Pope Francis to the country despite requests from church leaders as sporadic violence and intimidation against Christians continue across India. Less than a year after the Vatican gave up in frustration on a planned visit by the pontiff to the world’s second most populous country in 2018, turning instead toward strife-torn Myanmar and Muslim-majority Bangladesh, Cardinal Oswald Gracias failed to get agreement for a papal tour from the leader of the Hindu-centric Bharatiya Janata Party in a rare meeting with Modi on 20 March...

Israel confirms it struck Syrian nuclear reactor in 2007 (AP) The Israeli military confirmed Wednesday it carried out the 2007 airstrike in Syria that destroyed what was believed to be a nuclear reactor, lifting the veil of secrecy over one of its most daring and mysterious operations in recent memory. Although Israel was widely believed to have been behind the 6 September 2007 airstrike, it has never before commented publicly on it...

‘Why I stay in Gaza’ (The New York Times) When so many basic things are so fundamentally beyond your control, you sometimes do feel like giving up, saying goodbye to both country and past, and letting Palestine go. The problem is, Palestine won’t let you go...

Praying with paint: Iconography as a conversation with God (Catholic Register) Eleven women gathered at the Sheptytsky Institute on the campus of Toronto’s University of St. Michael’s College late in February to deepen their love of God over the course of a week spent painting a single, small icon of Christ or of Mary. Under the instruction of master iconographer and art restorer Roumen Kirinkov, these women learned to mix dry pigments and yolk emulsions, apply glazes, stretch canvas, mix and apply gesso, handle gold leaf, mix colours, choose and handle brushes. But first they prayed...



20 March 2018
Greg Kandra




Embed from Getty Images
Syrian civil defense volunteers search for victims following Syrian government air strikes on the Eastern Ghouta rebel-held enclave of Douma, on 20 March 2018. An air strike has reportedly killed more than a dozen children sheltered in an underground school in the region.
(photo: Hamza Al-Ajweh/AFP/Getty Images)


Syria: air strike kills children at school (BBC) An air strike has reportedly killed 15 children and two women sheltering in an underground school in Syria’s besieged rebel-held Eastern Ghouta region. Rescuers said civilians had been hiding in the school to escape government and Russian raids on the town of Arbin...

Archbishop: young Christians and Muslims are engine to rebuild Iraq (Herald Malaysia) Rebuilding Iraq, after years of wars, extremism, divisions and violence culminating in the rise of the Islamic State, which is down but not yet out, must be based “on the young, who are the basis on which to build the future,” said Mgr. Yousif Thoma Mirkis, archbishop of Kirkuk, northern Iraq. The prelate recently met with a group of students from the University of Mosul who were lodged in his diocese when ISIS controlled the city...

Cardinal invites Christians to ‘Share the Journey’ with migrants this Easter (Vatican News) The President of Caritas Internationalis, the Church’s worldwide humanitarian confederation, has released an Easter message urging men and women of goodwill to join the Caritas “Share the Journey” campaign that aims to reaches out to migrants, tackle prejudice by changing perceptions and help people open their hearts and their minds...

Isaiah the prophet: the archaeological evidence (Haaretz) A 2,700-year-old seal impression on clay unearthed in Jerusalem this February piqued enormous interest, after its finder, the leading Jerusalem archaeologist Dr. Eilat Mazar, said it may have been the personal seal of Isaiah the Prophet himself. Biblical scholars have been quarreling ever since...

Indian Jesuits release book to mark pope’s five years (UCANews.com) Marking Pope Francis' five years in office, two Indian Jesuits have compiled a book collecting reflections of more than 50 church leaders on how they have applied the Jesuit pope’s insights in their own lives. Jesuit Fathers Kuruvilla Pandikattu and Father Vadappur Jose, both professors at the Jesuit-run Papal Seminary in Pune city in western India, edited the book, Francis Effect...



19 March 2018
Greg Kandra




People sit in a truck with their belongings in Afrin, Syria on 16 March.
(photo: CNS/Khalil Ashawi, Reuters)


Pope Francis appoints new archbishop in India (Vatican News) Pope Francis on Monday appointed a new archbishop in Bangalore, in southern India’s Karnataka state, and a new apostolic nuncio to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). The Pope appointed Bishop Peter Machado of Belgaum as the new Archbishop of Bangalore. At the same time he also accepted the resignation of Archbishop Bernard Blasius Moras who stepped down having reached the retirement age of 75 in 2016...

Turkish flag hoisted over Afrin, Kurd fighters flee (Vatican News) After nearly two months of fighting, Turkish-backed forces have taken complete control of Afrin in the north of Syria, after Kurdish resistance dissolved. In a nationally broadcast statement, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan confirmed the news, adding that most of the Kurdish forces had fled the area...

Palestinians mark 100 days since Trump’s Jerusalem decision with protests (The Lebanon Daily Star) Thousands of Palestinian refugees took part in a Hamas-sponsored event Sunday in south Lebanon’s Sidon marking 100 days since U.S. President Donald Trump recognized occupied Jerusalem as the capital of Israel...

Why Armenia can claim to be the first Christian nation (Herald Times Online) Strange as it may seem to Western Christians, Armenia can claim to be the first kingdom to officially convert to Christianity...

Ethiopian Airlines supports Ghanian Christian pilgrims (Business Ghana) The Ethiopian Airlines, Africa’s largest airline group, has provided Seamless Connections for Ghanaian Christians seeking to go on Holy Pilgrimage to Israel. The Airline has been arranging Pilgrimage packages together with a Pilgrimage Company, One People Travels for Ghanaian Churches and passengers...



16 March 2018
Greg Kandra




Embed from Getty Images
Civilians fleeing the city of Afrin in northern Syria walk at the mountainous road of al-Ahlam while heading towards the check point in az-Ziyarah, in the government-controlled part of the northern Aleppo province, on 16 March 2018. (photo: George Ourfalian/AFP/Getty Images)

Thousands flee twin offensives in Syria (BBC) As many as 50,000 people have fled separate offensives against rebel forces in northern and southern Syria in recent days, activists say. Russian air strikes reportedly killed 31 people in the Eastern Ghouta outside Damascus on Friday, after 20,000 people left the region...

Human trafficking called one of the ‘darkest, most revolting realities’ (CNS) “Human trafficking is one of the darkest and most revolting realities in the world today,” said Msgr. Tomasz Grysa, Vatican deputy ambassador. Vulnerable rural women and girls suffer “compounded marginalization” and are at a “cumulative disadvantage prior to being trafficked,” he said. “Their dignity and rights are not adequately respected before they’re trafficked, something that makes them more susceptible to much worse violations of their dignity and rights later...”

Palestinians call for ‘day of rage’ over Jerusalem recognition (Times of Israel) Palestinian groups in the West Bank and Gaza are urging mass protests Friday to mark 100 days since US President Donald Trump announced his decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital...

Ethiopian-Israelis decry family separation (AP) Zemenech Bililin has not seen her sisters in more than a decade, since she immigrated to Israel from Ethiopia with part of her family. Now a 19-year-old infantry soldier in Israel’s military, Bililin says she is outraged that she is fulfilling her duties as a citizen but the state is shirking its responsibility to bring her relatives to Israel. Bililin’s family is one of hundreds that have been split between Israel and Ethiopia over what they say is an inconsistent immigration policy, and whose fate hinges on an Israeli government decision over whether to allow for their reunification...

Syrian refugees’ pain over separation from family (BBC) A family resettled in Wales after fleeing Syria have spoken about their pain at being separated from their sick daughter and a seven-year-old grandson...



15 March 2018
Greg Kandra




The video above, from 2016, shows some of the devastation of the Syrian civil war, with dramatic before and after images. The destruction has only worsened since then. The war reached its seventh year today. (video: Kashif Malik/YouTube)

Pictures show devastation of Syria over seven years (Newsweek) Syria’s devastating civil war reached its seventh year Thursday, with President Bashar al-Assad and his Russian and Iranian allies taking on the last of the insurgents trying to unseat him. Meanwhile, the U.S. is caught in the middle of a new conflict between two of its partners...

Remains of 21 beheaded Copts to be returned to Egypt (Egypt Today) Upon request from Egyptian Attorney General Nabil Sadek, Libyan Attorney General Abdul Qader Juma Radwan on Wednesday agreed to return the remains of the 21 Egyptian Coptic victims who were killed in Sirte by Islamic State (ISIS) terrorists in February 2015. Siddiq Assour, head of investigations at the Libyan Attorney General’s Office, affirmed that the Libyan authorities coordinated with the Egyptian authorities to send the bodies of the victims after DNA samples were delivered...

Poverty drives Syrian refugees in Lebanon to marry off girls early (Voice of America) A growing number of girls among the 1.5 million Syrian refugees who have fled to Lebanon since 2011 are becoming wives amid rising poverty, aid groups said on the eighth anniversary of the conflict. Around 1 in 5 Syrian girls ages 15 to 19 in Lebanon is married, according to the United Nations children’s agency (UNICEF), which fears more young girls will be married off by families that cannot afford food, rent and medicines...

Report: Israel demolished thousands of homes in Jerusalem (Al Jazeera) A new Palestinian report reveals that Israel demolished five thousand homes in Jerusalem since 1967 as well as the demolition of neighborhoods in the eastern part of the city...

Ethiopia appeals for more drought aid to help nearly 8 million people (Andalou Agency) Ethiopia has appealed for $1.6 billion in humanitarian and development assistance for 2018 to help millions of people in desperate need of aid. The appeal was made in capital Addis Ababa on Tuesday at the launch of a Humanitarian Disaster Resilience Plan mapped out by the Ethiopian government in collaboration with international donors...



14 March 2018
Greg Kandra




Palestinians wait to cross an Israeli roadblock in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Issawiya. A law passed on 7 March by the Israeli parliament allows the interior minister to revoke the permanent residency status of Palestinians living in East Jerusalem. (photo: CNS/Ammar Awad, Reuters)

Report urges action to end Syrian civil war (Vatican News) As the Syrian civil war enters its eighth year this week, the humanitarian agency Save the Children has issued a new report urging the international community to push for an immediate end to the conflict. In the report, published on Monday, Save the Children, describes the “apocalyptic” bombing campaign in Eastern Ghouta that has targeted homes, schools, hospitals and other medical facilities, forcing thousands of families to live in underground shelters. “For hundreds of thousands of children in Syria, this is the worst point of the conflict so far,” the report says...

New law allows Israel to revoke residency of East Jerusalem Palestinians (CNS) A new Israeli law that allows the government to revoke the permanent residency status of Palestinians living in East Jerusalem is contrary to international law, said the director of a Catholic legal aid center...

Why migrants risk journey from Africa to Europe (CNN) In a series of reports, CNN has been highlighting the plight of migrants in Libya who have been abducted and tortured to extort a payment for their release, and even sold as slaves. Yet even with these dangers awaiting them, the UN Migration Agency (IOM) estimates there are up to 1 million migrants currently in Libya. So why would anyone risk so much, and what’s it like to make the journey?...

Young Indian Christians shrug off scandals (UCANews.com) Most young Christians in India are proud of their church despite scandals involving sex and money, says a study conducted by a major seminary in the western city of Pune. However, almost half of respondents from southern India, which often reports such scandals, said they were “embarrassed” by the church...

Efforts to rewrite Indian history worry Christians, Muslims (UCANews.com) Christian and Muslim leaders in India are appalled by federal government moves to “revise” the country’s history in a bid to push a pro-Hindu narrative. Reuters revealed last week that a committee appointed by the Narendra Modi government has been working for six months to prove Hindus are direct descendants of India’s first inhabitants. The reports also said that the committee is seeking to demonstrate that ancient Hindu scriptures are fact, not myth...



13 March 2018
Greg Kandra




In the video above, church leaders discuss the impact of Pope Francis’ papacy on the five-year anniversary of his election. (video: CNS/Robert Duncan/YouTube)

Marking the five-year anniversary of Pope Francis’ election (CNS) Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio was elected pope just a few days after telling the College of Cardinals that the Catholic Church faced a clear choice between being a church that “goes out” or a church focused on its internal affairs. After the cardinal from Buenos Aires, Argentina, was elected on 13 March 2013, and chose the name Francis, he made “go out,” “periphery” and “throwaway culture” standard phrases in the papal vocabulary...

Middle East bishops receive encouragement from Pope Francis (Vatican News) Bishops from across the Middle East have made pilgrimages to three papal basilicas to “pray for the strengthening of the faith” of Catholics in their countries “who live in difficult situations.” Members of the Conference of Latin Bishops of the Arab Regions (Celra) said they also received “great encouragement” from Pope Francis’ prayers and work for peace across the Middle East during a meeting with him as part of a five-day trip to Rome...

Palestinian Prime Minister survives assassination attempt in Gaza (CNN) Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah survived an assassination attempt in northern Gaza on Tuesday morning, according to Wafa, the official Palestinian news agency. Hamdallah, who was making a short trip to the coastal enclave to mark the opening of a new water treatment facility, had just passed through the Erez border crossing from Israel when a bomb detonated near his convoy, tearing the siding off at least one black SUV and blowing out the car’s windows...

Ujjain, India Christian hospital vandalized (Manoramaonline.com) Pushpa Mission Hospital, run by the Ujjain diocese in Madhya Pradesh was vandalized and critical life support systems were disrupted by a mob of suspected BJP workers...

Report: Turkish forces ‘encircle’ Syrian Kurdish city (BBC) The Turkish military says it has surrounded the Kurdish-held city of Afrin in northern Syria, the focus of an offensive against a Kurdish militia. A statement said troops and allied Syrian rebels had also captured “critically important areas...”

India’s pro-Hindu party wins over Christian-led states (UCANews.com) The results of state elections in the Christian-dominated states of Nagaland and Meghalaya, as well as in the communist stronghold of Tripura on March 3, showed how the BJP [pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party] is making considerable gains in these areas...



12 March 2018
Greg Kandra




In this 2017 photo, a Catholic family working to repair their family home damaged by ISIS militants poses in the Christian town of Karamdes, Iraq. Portions of this year’s annual Good Friday collection will help support Christians in the Middle East who are trying to rebuild their lives. (photo: CNS/Martyn Aim, courtesy Knights of Columbus)

Good Friday collection appeals for funds to support Christians who have fled Syria, Iraq (Vatican News) Money raised by the Good Friday collection traditionally goes to support projects and communities throughout Palestine, Israel, Jordan, Cyprus, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Turkey, Iran and Iraq. In his letter, Cardinal Sandri appealed especially for financial support for Christian families and young people who have fled from the fighting in Syria and Iraq…

Rome children’s hospital reaches out to Syrian children (Vatican News) Bambino Gesu Hospital is treating two wounded Syrian children in Rome. The hospital owned by the Holy See has also joined hands with WHO and UNHCR for projects in Syria and Jordan to reach out to children hit by the ongoing war and bombardment in Syria…

Indian Catholic Church criticizes court decision on euthanasia (Vatican News) A ruling by India’s supreme court that allows euthanasia for the terminally ill has been criticized by India’s Catholic Church that says that the mark of good society is its ability and willingness to care for the most vulnerable of society…

Hotter, drier, hungrier: how global warming punishes the world’s poorest (The New York Times) A people long hounded by poverty and strife has found itself on the frontline of a new crisis: climate change. More than 650,000 children under age 5 across vast stretches of Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia are severely malnourished. The risk of famine stalks people in all three countries; at least 12 million people rely on food aid, according to the United Nations…

In Jerusalem’s Old City, hi-tech illuminates the city’s biblical past (Times of Israel) King David made a big, bold and bright return to Jerusalem Sunday evening at an advance showing of the Tower of David Museum‘s new Night Experience. The biblical leader who reigned over the United Kingdom of Israel and Judah three millennia ago comes to life again on the inner walls of the ancient citadel next to the Old City’s Jaffa Gate…



Tags: India Middle East Christians Jerusalem Horn of Africa





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