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Current Issue
September, 2018
Volume 44, Number 3
  
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

8 March 2018
Greg Kandra




Embed from Getty Images
Syrian children walk past Syrian Red Crescent trucks carrying humanitarian aid in the town of Douma in the rebel-held enclave of Eastern Ghouta on 9 March 2018.
(photo: Hamza Al-Ajweigh/AFP/Getty Images)


U.N. aid convoy re-enters Eastern Ghouta amid ‘calm’ (BBC) A U.N. aid convoy has managed to enter the rebel-held area of Eastern Ghouta in Syria which has been under intense bombardment, officials say. For the first time since Monday, food supplies got into the town of Douma, the Red Cross said...

White House to convene summit on Gaza (The Times of Israel) The White House will convene a meeting next week of “stakeholders” to improve life in the Gaza Strip, a top Trump administration Middle East peace negotiator said Thursday...

Report: international flight ban in Erbil to be lifted (Daily Sabah) A ban on international flights into and out of northern Iraq’s Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) will be lifted before the upcoming Nevruz spring festival on 21 March, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has reportedly said...

Georgia debates teaching religion in school (Civil Georgia) This is not the first time religious education is considered for schools. Even as Georgia regained its independence in 1991, classes of “the History and Culture of Religion” were introduced into the classrooms and taught to pupils aged 8 to 12 until 2005. Despite its title suggesting social science tilt, the classes were often (although not always) taught by the Orthodox Christian priests and almost in all cases focused overwhelmingly on Orthodox Christianity as means of patriotic education — and religious indoctrination...

Friar trains Iraqis to preserve manuscripts seized by ISIS (AFP) As ISIS militants swept across Iraq three years ago, he rescued a treasure trove of ancient religious manuscripts from near-certain destruction. Father Najeeb Michaeel is now training fellow Iraqis to preserve their heritage. “My duty is to save our heritage, a significant treasure,” the Dominican friar told AFP in a telephone interview from his office in the city of Arbil, capital of Iraqi Kurdistan...



8 March 2018
Greg Kandra




Embed from Getty Images
Turkish-backed Syrian rebels gesture as they drive down a road in the area of Hallubi, north of Afrin, on 8 March 2018. (photo: Nazeer Al-Khatib/AFP/Getty Images)

Eastern Ghouta cut in two as Syrian army seizes ground (The Guardian) Syrian government forces have seized vast swathes of territory from rebels in the opposition-held suburbs of Damascus, effectively dividing the besieged enclave of eastern Ghouta in two and further squeezing rebels and the tens of thousands of civilians trapped inside...

Pope Francis meets with members of International Migration Commission (Vatican News) Pope Francis on Thursday met members of the International Catholic Migration Commission on the occasion of their Plenary Council. In prepared remarks to members of the Commission in the Vatican’s Clementine Hall, Pope Francis expressed his thanks to them for their work carried out in the Church’s name to assist migrants and refugees in great need. The multiple projects initiated on five continents, he said represented “exemplary instances of the four verbs — welcome, defend, promote and integrate”...

New U.S. embassy may be in Jerusalem, but not in Israel (The New York Times) In two months, the United States plans to open a new embassy to fulfill President Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. There’s just one problem: The embassy may be in Jerusalem, but it may not be fully in Israel...

Meet Kuwait’s homegrown priest (The Jordan Times) Dressed in a traditional white Gulf headdress and with two red crosses embroidered on his black clerical robe, Kuwait’s first homegrown priest cuts a unique figure in the predominantly Muslim emirate. The Rev. Emmanuel Benjamin Jacob Gharib, 68, celebrates both the Bible and Gulf Arab culture with his Christian congregation in Kuwait City. In an interview with AFP ahead of the 20th anniversary of his ordination, he stressed the level of acceptance he has felt from fellow Kuwaitis. “Everyone welcomes me wherever I go,” said Father Emmanuel...



7 March 2018
Greg Kandra




In this image from 2016, a volunteer embraces refugee children in a makeshift camp near Idomeni, Greece. The Vatican has called on Catholics and Catholic agencies to counteract the “refusal to welcome” migrants in some countries. (photo: CNS/Nikos Arvanitdis, EPA)

Turkey’s Erdogan criticizes UN ceasefire in Syria (The Independent) Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has criticised a UN-mandated ceasefire in Syria designed to stop the recent bloodshed in eastern Ghouta while defending his own military’s two-month-old operation against the Kurds in Afrin...

Vatican: Church must counteract ‘refusal to welcome’ migrants (CNS) The Catholic Church and Catholic agencies that work with migrants and refugees around the world are called to educate, advocate and seek alternative host countries in the face of a growing “refusal to welcome” newcomers, as the Vatican secretary of state defined the situation...

Jordan: Syrian refugees will benefit from regularizing their situation (The Jordan Times) Local organizations have welcomed the Ministry of Interior’s (MoI) announcement of a brand new campaign aimed at regularizing the status of Syrian refugees living informally in the urban areas of Jordan...

Report: Most Kerala converts choosing Hinduism (ManoramaOnline.com) If the results of a study published by the Media Research and Development Foundation, Kozhikode are to be believed, maximum number of religious converts in the state chose to embrace Hinduism....

Pope Francis makes donation for first Orthodox monastery in Austria (The Tablet) Pope Francis has donated 100,000 euros (£90,000) towards the first Orthodox monastery that is being built at St Andrä in Austria’s easternmost province of Burgenland...

‘Cycle priest’ gaining attention in India (UCANews.com) On the rugged mud paths of villages and the tarred roads of Rajkot town, people often spot a Catholic priest rushing on his cycle. After almost a decade’s work in Rajkot’s Junagadh parish, Father Vinod Kanatt is now nicknamed “cycle priest” in the diocese managed by the Carmelites of Mary Immaculate congregation...



6 March 2018
Greg Kandra




Syrian Red Crescent volunteers give medical supplies to civilians on 5 March in Ghouta, Syria.
(photo: CNS/Syrian Red Crescent via Reuters)


Report of ‘chlorine attack’ on embattled Syrian town (BBC) Medics in the rebel-held Eastern Ghouta area of Syria say they have been treating people with breathing problems after a suspected chlorine attack. The reports follow government air strikes and shelling just hours after the last UN aid envoy left the enclave following a supposed five-hour truce...

Ambassador says Iraq is safe, urges refugees in Lebanon to return home (The Daily Star) Iraq’s ambassador to Lebanon Sunday called on Iraqi refugees in the country to return home “voluntarily” in the near future, citing “safe” conditions in Iraq following the withdrawal of Daesh (ISIS) from much of its territory. Speaking on Radio Liban Sunday, Ambassador Ali Bandar al-Aameri urged “all Iraqi refugees in Lebanon, particularly Christians, to return voluntarily to their country.” He did not specify a timeline for possible return, but promised funding and housing for voluntary returnees...

Trump may travel to Jerusalem for embassy opening (The Jerusalem Post) President Donald Trump warmly welcomed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to the Oval Office on Monday, and said that he may come to Israel in May for the ceremony marking the formal transfer of the US Embassy to Jerusalem...

Saudi Prince invites Coptic leader to Saudi Arabia (Arab News) Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman invited Egypt’s Coptic Christians to visit Saudi Arabia after a rare meeting in Cairo’s main cathedral. Speaking to Egyptian media after the visit the head of the Egyptian church, Pope Tawadros II said: “In the name of the Coptic Orthodox church we welcome Prince Mohammed’s visit to his second country Egypt”...

Why Greek Catholics of Ukraine seek recognition as a patriarchate (CNA) The Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church is not a patriarchate, but it would like to be. A request for a recognition of patriarchal status recently came from Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk, who addressed it in a speech delivered 9 February for the 125th anniversary of the birth of Cardinal Josip Sliyi...

Report: Vatican confirms canonization of Paul VI set for October (Crux) Adding specificity to what was already known about the impending canonization of Blessed Paul VI in 2018, Italian Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the pope’s top deputy as the Vatican’s Secretary of State, said Tuesday that the sainthood rite will take place in late October at the close of a meeting of the Synod of Bishops, an institution Paul VI himself founded...







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