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July, 2019
Volume 45, Number 2
  
6 November 2013
J.D. Conor Mauro




In this 2010 photo, Latin Patriarch Fouad Twal of Jerusalem prays at the Stone of Unction before leading the the Easter Vigil Mass in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. (photo: CNS/Debbie Hill)

Patriarch Twal: Israeli demolitions sabotage peace (Fides) Latin Patriarch Fouad Twal of Jerusalem condemned the recent demolition of a house built on Latin Patriarchate property by the Israeli government. “There is no justification for the demolition, but when the municipality and the Israeli government enact demolitions and displace people from their homes, these practices increase hatred and endanger the future of peace…”

Jesuits create online courses for refugees (Fides) Currently there are more than 500,000 Syrian refugees in Jordan. The Jesuit Refugee Service launched online higher education courses in Amman last July, and immediately found a welcome surprise: word of mouth among refugees has led to the boom of enrollments…

Pope extends greetings to Hungarian Roma (VIS) After today’s general audience, the pope extended his customary greetings to more than 45,000 participants gathered in St. Peter’s Square. He dedicated some words to the Hungarian Roma population who are participating in a national pilgrimage to Rome. “You have brought with you the cross that was blessed in this square ten years ago by Blessed John Paul II,” he said…

Egypt court upholds ban on Muslim Brotherhood (Los Angeles Times) An Egyptian appeals court on Wednesday upheld a sweeping ban on the Muslim Brotherhood, in a sign of the interim government’s determination to keep heavy pressure on the Islamist movement. The ban, ordered in September, outlaws all Brotherhood-linked groups and activities, and paves the way for the seizure of the movement’s assets. The Brotherhood denounced the ruling, which came just two days after deposed Islamist President Mohamed Morsi was put on trial by the military-backed government…

Bishop of Kerala to government: give a home to the homeless (Fides) Philipose Mar Crisostomo, Syro-Malankara metropolitan archbishop, urged the Prime Minister of Kerala, Oommen Chandy, to pursue initiatives to provide homes for the homeless. Mr. Chandy presented the project called “Zero Landless” to church leaders, which aims to provide a plot of land to all farmers who do not have one. On this occasion, the metropolitan suggested a similar project: “Zero Homeless,” demanding the state of Kerala to give the same attention to all homeless families…



Tags: Egypt Refugees Kerala Patriarch Fouad Twal Roma

5 November 2013
J.D. Conor Mauro




In this 2008 photo, Armenian Apostolic Catholicos Karekin II of the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin, patriarch of All Armenians, attends Pope Benedict XVI’s weekly general audience in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican. (photo: CNS/Dario Pignatelli, Reuters)

Patriarch Karekin II to head World Council of Churches (ArmenPress) The delegates of the tenth assembly of the World Council of Churches in Busan, South Korea, unanimously elected His Holiness Karekin II, supreme patriarch and catholicos of All Armenians, to become the president of the World Council of Churches. The Press Service of the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin informed Armenpress that the patriarch will head the Council for the coming eight years…

Archbishop calls Sadad killings the largest massacre of Christians in Syria (Fides) “What happened in Sadad is the most serious and biggest massacre of Christians in Syria in the past two years and a half,” said Archbishop Selwanos Boutros Alnemeh, Syriac Orthodox metropolitan of Homs and Hama. In Sadad, invaded by Islamist militias a week ago and then re-conquered by the Syrian army, “45 innocent civilians were martyred for no reason, and among them several women and children, many thrown into mass graves. Other civilians were threatened and terrorized. 30 were wounded and 10 are still missing. For one week, 1,500 families were held as hostages and human shields…”

Five days on the ground with Syrian Christians (Catholic World Report) As civil war continues to rage in Syria, Christian communities with ancient roots in the country stand in the crossfire between the Syrian government and the rebel forces. Below is an account of several days in the war zone from the Rev. Daniel Maes, a Belgian priest who has been at the Melkite Greek Catholic Monastery of Mar Yakub in Qara, Syria for several years. In it he details the efforts of Mother Agnes-Mariam de la Croix, the Lebanese-born superior of the Mar Yakub nuns, to free hostages taken by the rebels and to negotiate peace…

Explosion at the nunciature in Damascus, no casualties (VIS) According to the Holy See Press Office, the apostolic nunciature in Syria, located in Damascus in the central quarter of Malki, was struck by a mortar shell this morning. The incident did not cause extensive structural damages and the nunciature remained open to the public today…

United Nations estimates 40 percent of Syrians need aid (Al Jazeera) Valerie Amos, United Nations humanitarian chief, told the 15-member Security Council on Monday that 9.3 million people now need outside help to survive, up from 6.8 million in September, and 6.5 million are now homeless inside the country, up from 4.25 million. The population of Syria is about 23 million…

Orthodox and Catholic theologians call for peace in Middle East (U.S.C.C.B.) The North American Orthodox Catholic Theological Consultation issued a statement on the plight of Christians in the Middle East at their meeting in Mississauga, Ontario, calling for the release of a Greek Orthodox metropolitan and a Syriac Orthodox metropolitan — both from Aleppo, Syria — and repudiating the kidnapping, torture and killing of not only Christians but all civilians…

Ethiopian Orthodox Church works to end violence against women (Care2) With 45 million members, the Ethiopian Orthodox Church has powerful influence on Ethiopian society. U.N. Women forged an initiative with the church in two districts, Woldia and Kobo, in the northern Amhara region. Aiming to reach a broad population, the project involves in-depth training workshops that engage religious leaders to take the lead to end violence against women and girls. At the trainings, the religious leaders learn about the causes and consequences of violence against women and strategies to prevent violence…

To celebrate Diwali, Nepal and India ‘lose’ a month of electricity (AsiaNews) In India and Nepal, the five-day Diwali festival consumes every year as much electricity as a whole month of ordinary use. Still, the ’festival of lights’ is the most important and lavish celebration on the Hindu calendar. And today, the fifth and final day of the festival, people celebrated Bhai Tika, a time when brothers and sisters meet and exchange gifts…



Tags: India Syrian Civil War Violence against Christians Armenian Apostolic Church Ethiopian Orthodox Church

4 November 2013
Greg Kandra




In the video above, Melkite Patriarch Gregory III of Antioch answers questions at Aid to the Church in Need’s UK office. (video from Aid to the Church in Need)

Patriarch Gregory III of Antioch discusses life in Syria (Byzcatch.org) John Pontifex interviews Patriarch Gregory III of Antioch at Aid to the Church in Need’s UK office. The Patriarch, who is the head of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church, was visiting the UK as the guest-of-honour at Aid to the Church in Need’s Persecuted but never forgotten events in London and Glasgow. In this interview he talks about what life has been like for Christians in war-torn Syria...

Mursi trial begins in Egypt (Vatican Radio) Egypt on Monday began the trial of ousted president Mohamed Mursi. It is the second time in just over two years that an overthrown president has been in court in Egypt. The trial is not being aired on state television and journalists were barred from bringing their telephones into the courtroom set up in a Cairo police academy. The now-banned Muslim Brotherhood has said it will not abandon street protests to pressure the army,which toppled Mursi on 3 July, to reinstate him. Speaking to Vatican Radio the Chief press spokesman, of the Greek Melkite Catholic Church in Cairo, Fr. Rafic Greiche says he hopes the trial will help turn a page for the Egyptian people...

Pope Francis prays for deceased cardinals and bishops (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Monday, 4 November celebrated Mass in remembrance of all the cardinals and bishops who died during the past year. During the Mass, which was held in St. Peter’s Basilica, the Pope reminded us that we are all in the merciful hands of God who will grant heavenly rewards to the just and the righteous...

Chaldean patriarch reflects on his ministry (Asia News) “Remember always that you are priests!” Therefore, “I invite you to think of the wonderful mission to which you are called” within “the One, Universal, Holy and Apostolic Church,” said Chaldean Patriarch Mar Louis Raphael Sako I in a letter to the Chaldean clergy, published on 31 October and recently sent to Asia News. His Beatitude talks about the ten years of his episcopate, his nine months at the helm of the patriarchal see and the coming final celebrations of the Year of Faith. For this reason, he has decided to address for a second time, after his first letter in May, all the bishops, priests, religious and nuns of the Chaldean community in order to invite them to “prayer and introspection” under the protection “of the Virgin Mary...”



29 October 2013
J.D. Conor Mauro




In this photo from last month, Pope Francis walks with Greek Orthodox Patriarch Youhanna X of Antioch during a private meeting at the Vatican. (photo: CNS/L’Osservatore Romano via Reuters)

Heads of Eastern churches to meet in summit (VIS) Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, prefect of the Congregation for the Eastern Churches, announced in his address at the opening of the new academic year of the Pontifical Oriental Institute that a summit meeting of the patriarchs and major archbishops of the Eastern churches of Syria, Iraq and the Middle East will be held in the Vatican, in the presence of Pope Francis, on 21 November. The meeting, which will take place from 19 to 22 November, will take as its general theme “The Eastern Catholic churches, 50 years after Vatican Council II…”

Jesuits on the Syrian conflict: Let’s stop arms dealers (Fides) In order to understand and stop the conflict in Syria, “one should recognize and call by name the real interests at stake — at a local, regional and international level — that do not correspond to the interests of the Syrian people,” the Provincial Superiors of the Jesuits of the Middle East and Europe said in a recent statement. The Jesuit provincials dwell in particular on arms trafficking as triggering and feeding the violence in the Middle East…

Orthodox bishop appeals to rescue the people of Qalamoun (AsiaNews) The Syriac Orthodox Bishop Silvanus Boutros Naame issued an appeal on behalf of the approximately 3,000 residents of Sadad and Hofar, in the Qalamoun region of Syria, near the border with Lebanon. The bishop asks that they that they be saved from siege and moved to safe places “in any direction, either towards the Convent of Al Attieh or towards the city of Homs, where we may welcome them…”

Beleaguered Syrian Christians fear future (Denver Post) The shelling and recent rebel assaults on predominantly Christian towns have fueled fears among Syria’s religious minorities about the growing role of Islamic extremists and foreign fighters among the rebels fighting against President Bashar al Assad’s rule. Al Qaeda-linked fighters have damaged and desecrated churches in areas they have seized. In Raqqa, militants set fires in two churches and knocked the crosses off them, replacing them with the group’s black Islamic banner. Radical Islamists also torched an Armenian church in the northern town of Tel Abyad on Sunday, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights…

Syria polio outbreak confirmed by WHO (BBC) The World Health Organization has confirmed ten cases of polio in war-torn Syria — the first outbreak in the country in 14 years. The United Nations body says a further 12 cases are still being investigated. Most of the 22 people who have been tested are babies and toddlers. Before Syria’s civil war began in 2011, some 95 percent of children were vaccinated against the disease. The U.N. now estimates 500,000 children have not been immunized…

Patriarch: Interreligious relations in Serbia ‘harmonious’ (B92) The head of the Serbian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Irinej, has described interreligious relations in Serbia as “harmonious.” Patriarch Irinej last week headed a Serbian delegation on a visit to Jakarta, Indonesia. According to Tanjug, the patriarch said “there are no such [harmonious] relations in Kosovo and Metohija, where ethnic Albanians declared independence unilaterally.” The patriarch and his Indonesian hosts “agreed that religious conflicts occur when politicians abuse religious issues,” according to the news agency…



Tags: Pope Francis Middle East Christians Syrian Civil War Ecumenism Serbian Orthodox Church

28 October 2013
J.D. Conor Mauro




In this 2010 photo, Patriarch Theophilos III of Jerusalem blesses the people of Madaba, a town south of Amman, Jordan. (photo: Joseph Zakarian)

Church of Antioch may break off relations with Patriarchate of Jerusalem (Pravoslavie) The Greek church news agency Romphea has reported the decision of the Synod of the Orthodox Church of Antioch regarding the issue of jurisdiction over the state of Qatar. Greek Orthodox Patriarch Youhanna X of Antioch has warned Greek Orthodox Patriarch Theophilos III of Jerusalem that if within two months he does not take steps to resolve the problem with Qatar, the Church of Antioch will have to break off relations with the Church of Jerusalem. Both local churches consider the state of Qatar to be their canonical territory…

Aid still a trickle as Syrians contend with hunger, disease (Washington Post) With more than five million people internally displaced, a suspected polio outbreak and starvation threatening, the United Nations and aid agencies say that just a trickle of the required assistance is getting into war-ravaged Syria as the harsh winter months loom. After more than two and a half years of conflict, the accounts of struggling civilians paint a portrait of abject human suffering amid what the World Health Organization has deemed the world’s worst humanitarian crisis…

Vatican sends greetings to Hindus for Diwali (Vatican Radio) The Vatican has sent a cordial message of solidarity to Hindus as they celebrate the feast of Deepavali, also known as “the festival of lights,” or Diwali. Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran writes: “Regardless of our ethnic, cultural, religious and ideological differences, all of us belong to the one human family.” The full text follows…

Christian book burning in Raqqa (Fides) The militia of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, the faction that in several regions of Syria monopolized the armed insurrection against the regime in Damascus in recent days have organized a book burning of Bibles and Christian books in front of the Greek Catholic Church of Our Lady of the Annunciation in Raqqa, the Syrian city which has been for months under the control of anti-Assad militias…

Israel agrees to release 26 more Palestinian prisoners (Al Jazeera) The Israeli government voted Sunday to release 26 long-held Palestinian prisoners as part of a United States-brokered deal that led to the resumption of Middle East peace talks in August. A statement from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said the 26 prisoners, jailed for violence committed before a 1993 interim accord, would be released. However, the actual release of the prisoners will take place at least 48 hours after their names are published to give bereaved Israeli families the opportunity to appeal their release before the courts, which rarely intervene in such cases…



Tags: Refugees Jerusalem Health Care Christian-Hindu relations Church of Antioch

25 October 2013
Greg Kandra




In this image from 2012, Melkite Patriarch Gregory III attends Mass with Pope Benedict XVI on the waterfront in Beirut. At left is Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, former Vatican secretary of state.
(photo: CNS/Paul Haring)


Patriarch: ‘Syria is walking the way of the cross’ (Independent Catholic News) Bombs, kidnapping and financial extortion are among the problems facing Syria’s Christians, the leader of the country’s Catholics told a meeting in Westminster Cathedral Hall. Speaking to more than 300 benefactors of Aid to the Church in Need, Patriarch Gregory III — the head of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church — said: “Syria is experiencing a lengthy, bloody way of the cross, stretching along all the country’s roads.” The patriarch, who is president of the Assembly of Catholic Hierarchs in Syria, added: “You may think that it is safe here or unsafe there, but at any moment you may be killed by bomb, missile or bullet, not to mention being kidnapped or taken hostage for ransom, or murdered...”

Syrian Orthodox bishop calls for “humanitarian corridor” (Fides) The Metropolitan Silwanos Boutros Alnemeh, of the Syriac Orthodox Archdiocese of Homs and Hama, has launched an appeal to institutions and international humanitarian organizations on behalf of the civilian population. About 3,000 people have remained besieged in the villages of Sadad and Hofar, in the region of Qualamun, about a hundred kilometers north-east of Damascus, where another front of the conflict between the government army and anti-Assad militias has opened. Those responsible for the siege, the bishop explains in his message, must “facilitate the departure of the population safely in any direction, both towards the monastery of Al-Attieh, and in the direction of the city of Homs, where we could welcome them.” Metropolitan Silwanos begs international organizations, recipients of his appeal, to avoid “statements that may compromise the safety of the residents of the besieged cities and residents in Syria...”

Canadian government to direct millions to aid Syrian refugees (Catholic Register) The Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace is directing $5.4 million of Canadian government funding to Syrian refugees who are living outside official refugee camps. More than half the Syrian refugees, including over four million displaced Syrians still inside Syria’s borders, aren’t in any of the refugee camps in Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq. There are more than 2 million refugees who have made it out of the war torn country...

Church in Kerala celebrates feast with a Hindu flair (Catholic News Service) In the Christian heartland of Kerala, India, feisty church festivals are commonplace, but the celebration of the feast of Our Lady of Fatima at St. Mary’s Assumption Church in Kottekad remains unique. Emulating a typical Hindu pooram, or festival, when the deities are carried in procession to the temples on elephants to the accompaniment of traditional bands called “panchavadyam,” a portrait of Our Lady of Fatima was carried to the Syro-Malabar Catholic church on elephants on 20 October...



Tags: Syria Refugees Kerala Melkite Patriarch Gregory III of Antioch

24 October 2013
J.D. Conor Mauro




In this May photo, Coptic Pope Tawadros II celebrates the Divine Liturgy at St. Mark’s Coptic Cathedral in Cairo. (photo: The Coptic Orthodox Church)

Pope Tawadros II discusses perpetrators of church attack (Daily News Egypt) During his weekly sermon on Wednesday, the leader of the Coptic Orthodox Church, Pope Tawadros II, said: “We pray for those who were killed and injured as well as those who killed the happiness of the innocent.” Those comments are the Coptic pope’s first since the attack on a Coptic wedding at Virgin Mary Church in the Giza neighborhood of Al Warraq. “The door of repentance is still open for [the attackers], and we pray for Egypt so that God will protect it,” the pope said…

Pope meets with Jewish human rights group (Vatican Radio) In a meeting with a delegation from an international Jewish human rights organization on Thursday, the pope stressed that the problem of intolerance must be confronted. Several representatives from the United States-based Simon Wiesenthal Center met with Pope Francis in the Sala Clementina. He acknowledged the mission of the center, which is to fight every form of intolerance and to promote mutual understanding between cultures. The pope remarked that he has had several occasions in the past few weeks to restate “the church’s condemnation of all forms of anti-Semitism…”

Muscovite builds record-breaking statue of Jesus in Syria (The Moscow Times) A bronze statue of Jesus Christ, taller than the famous Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro, has appeared in war-torn Syria. The statue, entitled “I Have Come to Save the World” was the brainchild of Yury Gavrilov, a 49-year-old Muscovite who runs an organization in London called the St. Paul and St. George Foundation. Patrons of the project include both the Russian Orthodox Church and the Russian government. Despite the statue’s Russian connection, it was cast in Armenia and made by an Armenian sculptor, Artush Papoian. Syria’s ethnic Armenians have been fleeing the country in droves since the conflict began, to the extent that Armenia has built a new settlement called New Aleppo to house them, named after the war-torn northern Syrian city where the majority of Syria’s ethnic Armenian population lives. The statue is located on a mountaintop near the city of Sednaya…

Latin Patriarch opens conference on women in the Middle East (Fides) On 24 October, a conference organized by the World Union of Catholic Women’s Organizations began with a report by Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem Fouad Twal on the role of women in the church and society in the Middle East. The conference is taking place under the patronage of Queen Rania of Jordan and has as its theme the service rendered by women devoted to “life, dignity and the common good…”

In Ethiopia, IKEA shelters house refugees (Der Spiegel) The Swedish furniture giant IKEA had 13 newly developed huts erected on the Ethiopian savanna at the Kobe refugee camp last August. The precisely arranged row of Swedish-designed structures stands in stark contrast to the tents and barracks in other parts of the camp. It’s a test case for the company, and if the IKEA huts pass, they could soon offer refugees around the world a better home than conventional tents…



Tags: Pope Francis Refugees Art Women Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros II

23 October 2013
J.D. Conor Mauro




In this photo, captured in February by frequent ONE magazine contributor Dalia Khamissy, members of a Syrian Christian refugee family in Lebanon conceal their faces out of concern for their safety and that of relatives still in Syria. Recently, Ms. Khamissy visited two families displaced by the war as part of a report for Al Jazeera, linked below. (photo: CNS/Dalia Khamissy)

For Syrians in Jordan, sanctuary comes at a price of humiliation (Al Jazeera) Syrians have long hosted refugees from conflicts throughout the Middle East; now they are dependent on the kindness of strangers. In the sprawling refugee camp in northwestern Jordan, Syrians find themselves feeling the pain and anxiety of displaced Arab populations from conflicts past — the Palestinians, Lebanese and Iraqis to whom their own country had once provided sanctuary. There are almost 550,000 Syrian scattered across Jordan, each with a tale of loss…

Islamist militias begin incursion in the Christian city of Sadad (Fides) Since Monday, the Christian city of Sadad, situated in a strategic area along the road that joins Homs to Damascus, has been at the center of the battle between the army of Assad and rebel militias dominated by Islamist groups. According to local sources, the raid took place in a similar way to that suffered a month ago in the historic Christian village of Maaloula. The biblical city of Sadad, cited in the Book of Numbers and the Book of Ezekiel, is 60 miles from Damascus and 40 from Homs. The city is home to two churches — dedicated to St. Sergius and St. Theodore, respectively — famous for their frescoes…

The Catholic Church coordinates humanitarian aid in Syria (VIS) The Catholic Church and the local churches in the region have been involved since the beginning of the crisis, in 2011, in the constant work of providing humanitarian aid to the population struck by the civil war in Syria. Pope Francis has paid particular attention to the evolution of the crisis and the aid work offered by charitable agencies, whom he received in audience during a meeting organized by the Pontifical Council Cor Unum. “Helping the Syrian population, regardless of ethnic origin or religious belief”, said the pope on that occasion, “is the most direct way of contributing to the pacification and edification of a society open to all its components…”

Archbishop Chullikatt calls for all weapons to be silenced (Vatican Radio) Archbishop Francis Chullikatt, the apostolic nuncio and permanent observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, has called for general and complete disarmament. Speaking a the First Committee of the 68th session of the General Assembly, the archbishop said that this moment in history offers a moment of opportunity to rid the world of chemical and nuclear weapons. “In the past few weeks, we have seen vivid action taken in the long struggle to rid the world of chemical and nuclear weapons. The recent U.N. Security Council’s unanimous resolution on Syria’s chemical weapons has historic importance. … The willingness of the world as a whole to move forward in a constructive manner to eliminate nuclear weapons has never been more evident…”

Qatar emir vows to help secure bishops’ release (Daily Star Lebanon) Qatar, having recently played a key role in freeing nine Lebanese pilgrims, reportedly vowed Wednesday to help win the release of two bishops abducted in Syria. Qatar News Agency said Maronite Patriarch Bechara Peter expressed his “gratitude and appreciation” for the nation’s role in securing the weekend release of the nine Lebanese Shiite men held for 17 months by Syrian rebels…



Tags: Refugees Syrian Civil War Violence against Christians Jordan Maronite Patriarch Bechara Peter

22 October 2013
J.D. Conor Mauro




Chaldean Patriarch Louis Raphael I says greater cooperation is necessary for the survival of Christianity in the Middle East. (video: Rome Reports)

As Middle East Christians migrate, Chaldean patriarch pursues unity (Rome Reports) Recently, Chaldean Patriarch Louis Raphael I reached out to his Orthodox counterpart, Mar Dinkha IV, patriarch of the Church of the East. He proposed joining their two churches, which trace their roots to Iraq. “If we are still isolated, just like small churches, we are really incapable to do anything,” said the Chaldean Church head. “But when we are united all together, then we will be a stronger church and we will have an impact.” The Assyrian patriarch has welcomed increased dialogue between their two churches. But full communion may not be on the horizon anytime soon…

In Syria, doctors risk life and juggle ethics (New York Times) Syria’s civil war has been especially dangerous for health professionals; a United Nations report issued last month described the “deliberate targeting of hospitals, medical personnel and transports” as “one of the most alarming features of the Syrian conflict.” By varying estimates, more than 100 doctors have been killed and as many as 600 have been imprisoned. The country’s once-functioning health system is in a shambles. More than half of its public hospitals have been damaged in the two-year-old civil war and 37 percent are out of service entirely, according to a recent report by the World Health Organization. Many Syrian doctors have fled; those who remain describe dire conditions where even the most basic care is not available…

Amid dwindling Christian presence in the Middle East, Maronite bishop speaks out (National Catholic Register) While calling for dialogue between Syria’s Assad regime and moderates among the opposition, a Maronite bishop has stressed the necessity of a continued Christian presence in the Middle East. “We need the solidarity of people and governments in the West to ensure the ongoing presence of Christians in Syria and throughout the Middle East,” Bishop Elias Sleman of the Maronite Eparchy of Latakia told the Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need on 17 October. Bishop Sleman is visiting the United States to raise support for his people as well as internally displaced Syrians…

Syrian rebels battle army in Christian town (Daily Star Lebanon) Syrian government forces battled Tuesday with Al Qaeda-linked rebels trying to capture an ancient Christian town north of Damascus, activists and the state media said. The Jabhat al Nusra, or Nusra Front, appear to have targeted Sadad because of its strategic location near the main highway north of Damascus, rather than because it is Christian. But hard-liners among the rebels are hostile to the minority group, who tend to support the government of President Bashar Assad, and other Al Qaeda-linked fighters have damaged and desecrated churches in areas they have seized…

Student protests at Egypt’s Al Azhar challenge army (Reuters) Thousands of students from Egypt’s Al Azhar University staged a third day of protests on Monday, in one of the boldest challenges to the army since it toppled Islamist President Muhammad Morsi in July. The demonstrations demanding Morsi’s reinstatement are a delicate matter for the authorities because the administration at Al Azhar, the ancient seat of Sunni Muslim learning, has historically toed the government line. Security sources said a total about 4,000 students were involved, of whom 44 had been arrested…



Tags: Egypt Middle East Christians Syrian Civil War Health Care Christian Unity

21 October 2013
J.D. Conor Mauro




In this June photo, Syrian refugees families await treatment at a medical center at the Zaatari refugee camp in Mafraq, Jordan. (photo: CNS/Muhammad Hamed, Reuters)

Catholic medical student sees Syrian refugee crisis up close (Archdiocese of Miami) When he came to study medicine in Jordan’s capital through a scholarship program for Holy Land Christians, Tareq Nasrawi had expected to see heart disease, diabetes, breast cancer and other basic public health concerns. But the 21-year-old Latin Catholic and native of Jerusalem is also seeing the human suffering and medical crisis from a civil war raging unabated in neighboring Syria since 2011. While the majority of Syrian refugees are Muslim, the Christian refugees are fearful of reprisals against Christians and their perceived support of the Syrian dictatorship. They therefore have been reluctant to register for international aid, according to Michael La Civita, spokesman for the New York-based Catholic Near East Welfare Association…

Jordan’s rural poor chafe under the burden of hosting Syrian refugees (Al Jazeera) The cylindrical water trucks, their precious cargo sloshing inside, amble along the dusty road separating the small Jordanian village of Zaatari from the massive Syrian refugee camp that has taken its name. They do not stop at the village, which, like most of this desert state, is parched. Instead, they roll on to the camp that is now Jordan’s fourth-largest city. The refugee camp, the second largest in the world, houses at least 120,000 Syrians, a fraction of the almost 550,000 who have sought sanctuary in this country of 6 million since the outbreak of Syria’s civil war. But not all the refugees who have arrived in Zaatari want to live in the camp, with its common toilets and kitchens, disease and crowding. As a result, the sleepy village that is home to 12,000 Jordanians has been transformed by the arrival of several thousand refugees…

Egypt gunmen open fire on Coptic Christian wedding in Cairo (BBC) Three people, including a girl aged eight, died when gunmen on motorcycles opened fire on a wedding party outside a Coptic church in Cairo. At least nine others were wounded in the attack in Giza, officials said. Egypt’s Coptic Christian community has been targeted by some Islamists who accuse the church of backing the army’s overthrow of President Muhammad Morsi in July…

Chaldean seminary becomes a condo for needy families (Fides) The Chaldean Patriarchate has announced the upcoming distribution of the first set of 16 apartments thanks to the renovation of the former Patriarchal Seminary, intended for families in need. Another 32 housing units, nearing completion, will be delivered in coming months…

Palestinians in Nablus seeking better days (Washington Post) A decade ago, this ancient town was a crucible of terror and resistance — and produced more suicide bombers than any other city in the devastating second Palestinian intifada, or uprising, against Israel. Now, Nablus just wants desperately to get back to normal — back to work, back to the world. But it is not so easy. Interviews with business owners and their workers here in the northern West Bank, once the engine of Palestinian industry, reveal a city that has little hope for a peace deal with the Israelis, and considers its own leadership feeble and corrupt…

Kremlin ready to consider citizenship for Syrian Christians (World Bulletin) The Kremlin is ready to consider a Russian citizenship request from about 50,000 Syrian Christians when it receives it, a presidential spokesman said Friday. “We have not received any requests so far. These documents will be considered in line with the established procedures once we receive it,” Dmitry Peskov said. Russian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said the issue was up to Russia’s leadership to decide. Russian citizenship is granted by a presidential decree. Father Vsevolod Chaplin, who heads the Russian Orthodox Church’s press service, said Friday that the Russian authorities should show kindness to these people, who are “in real danger…”



Tags: Refugees Violence against Christians Jordan Russia Refugee Camps





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