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September, 2019
Volume 45, Number 3
19 September 2012
Greg Kandra

Waving to the crowd, Pope Benedict XVI passes a Swiss guard while leaving his general audience in Paul VI Hall at the Vatican on 19 September. (photo: CNS/Paul Haring)

Pope Reflects on Trip to Lebanon (Vatican Radio) On Wednesday, as is tradition, Pope Benedict XVI dedicated his Angelus reflections to his recent apostolic voyage to Lebanon: “Dear brothers and sisters, today I would like to briefly return, in my thoughts and heart, to those extraordinary days of my apostolic journey to Lebanon — a trip that I had strongly wanted, despite the difficult circumstances, considering that a father should always be near his children when they encounter grave problems. I was moved by a sincere desire to announce the peace that the risen Lord gave to his disciples and summarized in the words: ‘My peace I give to you.’ ”

Christians in Syria Form “Committees” to Prevent Violence (Fides) The Christian communities in Syria, after suffering at the hands of armed gangs — often jihadist groups — have begun to organize “popular dissuasive committees.” Formed by young armed Christians, these groups seek to prevent banditry and violence and defend their neighborhoods. Christian communities have suffered abuse, kidnapping, rape, murder, theft and violations of property in the Christian Valley of western Syria, in the center of Aleppo, in the part of Damascus known as Jaramana and in other villages such as Qusayr and Rableh, near Homs.

Egypt Issues Arrest Warrants over Anti-Islam Film (Associated Press) Egypt’s general prosecutor issued arrest warrants Tuesday for seven Egyptian Coptic Christians and a Florida-based American pastor and referred them to trial on charges linked to an anti-Islam film that has sparked riots across the Muslim world.

Ukrainian Bishops Close Synod in Canada (Catholic News Service) Ukrainian Catholic bishops from four continents gathered for a final celebration on 16 September as they closed their weeklong Synod of Bishops. One of their emphases was on the role of the laity, and the final “gala,” as it was billed, included the Hoosli Ukrainian Male Chorus, an honor guard and the Selo Ukrainian Dancers.

Orthodox, Anglicans to Attend Vatican II Celebration (Catholic News Service) The Orthodox ecumenical patriarch of Constantinople and the Anglican archbishop of Canterbury will join Pope Benedict XVI’s celebration of the 50th anniversary of the opening of Vatican II. Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople and Archbishop Rowan Williams of Canterbury will attend the Mass that Pope Benedict XVI will celebrate at the Vatican to mark the anniversary of the 11 October 1962 opening of the council, Vatican officials said.

Tags: Syria Egypt Violence against Christians Pope Benedict XVI Palestinians

18 September 2012
Greg Kandra

A member of the Free Syrian Army helps civilians to leave a shelled building in Aleppo on
16 September. (photo: CNS photos/Zain Karam, Reuters)

Vatican: Make Syria’s Children a Priority (Vatican Radio) Less than 24 hours after Pope Benedict XVI’s heartfelt appeal to regional and global powers to stop the violence in Syria, the Vatican has redoubled its call for urgent aid to the innocent victims of the conflict, particularly children. Addressing the 21st Session of the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva, the Holy See’s permanent observer to the U.N., Archbishop Silvano M. Tomasi, stated that the international community needs to make humanitarian assistance to all displaced people and other victims of bombardments and indiscriminate destruction — especially children — a priority.

Caritas Lebanon: the Pope Has Brought Us Hope (Vatican Radio) Caritas Lebanon, founded 36 years ago, is part of the far reaching family of Caritas Internationalis, the Vatican aid agency with a mission to bring help and support to millions of people in need across the world. Father Simon Faddoul, president of Caritas Lebanon, shares with to Vatican Radio’s Tracey McClure his feelings regarding the pope’s visit to his country.

Pope’s Trip to Lebanon Shows the True Face of the Church (L’Osservatore Romano) The pope’s visit to Lebanon was a journey of peace. Yet his itinerary in the lands where Christianity was born and developed in the first centuries had a far deeper meaning: In showing the Church’s true face, it summed up all of Pope Benedict XVI’s journeys.

Chaldean Bishop: “The Pope’s Comfort Reached Aleppo” (Fides) Benedict XVI’s visit also gave comfort to the Christians of Aleppo, the Syrian metropolis which for two months has been in the middle of armed clashes between the rebels and the Syrian army. This is what the Jesuit Father Antoine Audo, Chaldean bishop of Aleppo and president of Caritas Syria, tells Fides Agency.

Kerala Bishops Organize Student Protest Against Alcoholism (Indian Express/IBN Live) In a distinct way of protesting against the scourge of alcoholism, Kerala Catholic Bishops’ Council (K.C.B.C.)’s anti-drug movement, Madya Virudha Samithi, organized a march to the chief minister’s residence at Puthuppally on Monday. The march was made unique by a group of students who dressed up in military fatigues and arrived at the residence of Chief Minister Oommen Chandy in a vehicle made to look like a military helicopter. According to organizers, it was the launch of a symbolic protest and an awareness program against the growing threat posed by rampant alcoholism.

Tags: Pope Benedict XVI Kerala Russian Orthodox Church Aleppo Caritas Lebanon

17 September 2012
Greg Kandra

Pope Benedict XVI arrives in the popemobile to celebrate an outdoor Mass on the Beirut waterfront 16 September. (photo: CNS/Stefano Rellandini, Reuters)

Pope pleads with Lebanon’s Christian youth not to leave the country (National Catholic Reporter) In a speech to at least 20,000 Lebanese youth tonight, both Christian and Muslim, Pope Benedict XVI tackled the elephant in the room during his fourth trip to the Middle East: Despite decades of papal appeals, so far nothing has stopped a steep decline in the region’s native Christian population. The Latin patriarch of Jerusalem, Foaud Twal, recently warned that the Holy Land is on the brink of becoming a “spiritual Disneyland,” full of glittering spiritual attractions but empty of flesh-and-blood Christians. Many observers wonder if a similar fate awaits the entire region.

The pope addressed those concerns, almost pleading with Lebanon’s Christian youth not to taste the “bitter sweetness” of emigration. “I am aware of the difficulties which you face daily on account of instability and lack of security, your difficulties in finding employment and your sense of being alone and on the margins,” the pope said. But those frustrations, he said, should not prompt them to choose “an uprooting and a separation for the sake of an uncertain future.”

Pope meets with religious leaders and patriarchs in Lebanon, offers “fraternal closeness and prayers” (VIS) Sunday evening Pope Benedict XVI met with Orthodox patriarchs, representatives of Protestant communities and Catholic patriarchs of Lebanon. The encounter took place at the Syrian Catholic Patriarchate in Charfet, Beirut, famous for its library, which contains more than 3,000 manuscripts in Syriac and Arabic.

Having listened to some welcome remarks addressed to him by His Beatitude Ignace Youssif III Younan, patriarch of Antioch of the Syrians, the Holy Father expressed his thanks to those present who, he said, “represent the diversity of the Church in the East. ... My thoughts also go to the Coptic Orthodox Church of Egypt and to the Ethiopian Orthodox who have had the recent sadness of losing their respective patriarchs. I wish to assure them of my fraternal closeness and of my prayers.”

Pope departs Lebanon, prays that “she may live in peace” (VIS) The Holy Father’s apostolic trip to Lebanon came to an end yesterday afternoon with the departure ceremony at the international airport of Beirut. Among those present to bid him farewell were Michel Sleiman, president of Lebanon, the country’s four Catholic patriarchs, various Lebanese bishops and representatives of the civil and religious authorities. In his address, the pope expressed his thanks “to the entire Lebanese people, who form a beautiful and rich mosaic and who have shown the successor of Peter their enthusiasm by the efforts, both general and specific, of each community. I cordially thank our venerable sister Churches and the Protestant communities. I thank in particular representatives of the Muslim communities. Through my stay here, I have noticed how much your presence has contributed to the success of my journey. In these troubled times, the Arab world and indeed the entire world will have seen Christians and Muslims united in celebrating peace.”

U.N. panel says human rights situation in Syria deteriorating (Voice of America) An independent panel of U.N. investigators says the human rights situation in Syria has sharply deteriorated, with “gross violations” growing in number, pace and scale. The panel’s Brazilian chairman, Paulo Pinheiro, told the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva Monday that “egregious violations” happen so often that his team has not been able to investigate them all.

Patriarch Kirill visits Japan (Interfax) Dozens of Russian expatriates accorded a warm welcome to Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia, who visited the Russian Orthodox Church’s embassy parish in Tokyo on Sunday. After conducting a service at the Church of St. Alexander of the Neva, Patriarch Kirill said that, “a parishioner’s last will has been fulfilled and an Orthodox church was dedicated in Tokyo four years ago after 40 years of incessant work.” “I remember how excited all of us were as the church was being sanctified and prayers said. Many of you remember the entire drama, which only proves that the truth is always right and that God hears the righteous prayer. This church is an example that must edify us all,” he said.

Tags: Syria Lebanon Pope Benedict XVI United Nations Patriarch Kirill

14 September 2012
Michael J.L. La Civita

Pope Benedict XVI greets officials during a welcoming ceremony at Rafiq Hariri International Airport in Beirut, 14 September. (photo: CNS/Paul Haring)

“Lebanese Hope Pope’s Visit Will Reduce Tensions and Promote Peace” (Vatican Insider, La Stampa) The civil war in Syria is having a terrible effect on the Lebanon and people in Beirut say they fervently hope Pope Benedict XVI’s visit can help to reduce tensions in the land of the cedars, stop the war in Syria, and advance peace throughout the Middle East.

“Maronite Patriarch Calls for a Christian Spring” (Vatican Radio) “The language of hatred and violence, both regionally and internationally, will never bring about a new Spring, only the opposite” says Lebanese Maronite Patriarch Beshara Boutros al-Rai.

“Pope Arrives in Lebanon” (Vatican Information Service) “The successful way the Lebanese all live together,” said the pope, “surely demonstrates to the whole Middle East and to the rest of the world that, within a nation, there can exist cooperation between the various Churches, all members of the one Catholic Church in a fraternal spirit of communion with other Christians, and at the same time coexistence and respectful dialogue between Christians and their brethren of other religions.”

“Pope Calls for a Halt to Weapons to Syria” (The New York Times) On the airplane to Lebanon, the pope called for a halt to weapons to Syria, calling the import of arms a “grave sin,” according to a Reuters report on the pope’s remarks to reporters. It was not immediately clear whether the pope was faulting the Syrian government or its opponents, or condemning in general terms, the rapid militarization of the conflict.

“Lebanese of all Faiths Hope Visit Heralds Peace” (The Daily Star Lebanon) “The pope can try to ease any religion’s collective tension,” said Sawsan Darwaza, a theater and film director who said she was very supportive of the visit even though she is not Christian.

Tags: Lebanon Middle East Christians Middle East Pope Benedict XVI Middle East Synod

13 September 2012
J.D. Conor Mauro

Workers hang a Vatican flag 11 September near the main airport in Beirut in preparation for Pope Benedict XVI's visit to Lebanon. (photo: CNS/Sharif Karim, Reuters)

With World on the Brink, Can Benedict Be a Firebreak? (NCR) Pope Benedict XVI’s upcoming trip to Lebanon will be the first visit of a major Western leader to the Arab world after the attacks in Egypt and Libya. Big questions loom: Will the pope’s presence inflame extremist Islamic sentiment even further? Or, will the visit act as a firebreak, offering a counter-narrative of Muslim-Christian harmony? In either event, this 24th foreign journey by Pope Benedict XVI, and his fourth to the Middle East, could potentially be among his most consequential. A Vatican spokesperson, Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, says that the pope will bring a “message of dialogue and respect for all believers of different religions” to Lebanon.

Christian Presence in Sarajevo Fading (Kuwait Times) The head of the Serbian Orthodox Church has warned that Christianity is under threat in Sarajevo, as Muslim and Christian clerics argued during talks meant to promote reconciliation. “The most tragic [thing] is that many who might want to, do not have the opportunity to return [to Sarajevo],” Irinej said on RTRS television, calling on Europe to “put right a great injustice.” A census taken in 1991, before the war in Bosnia, recorded Serbs as about 30% of Sarajevo’s population; though no official census has been taken since then, Serb presence is estimated to have fallen to half of that.

Many Christians Join Protests Against Film Mocking Islam (Fides) In Egypt, Christians are joining Muslims to protest against the film that denigrates the Prophet Muhammed. Father Rafic Greiche, director of the communications for the Catholic Church in Egypt, says: “Right now, demonstrations are in progress in the center of Cairo to protest against the American film which insults the Prophet Mohammed, with several clashes with the police. The situation is tense in the area around the U.S. Embassy, which is very close to Tahrir Square. It should be noted that among the demonstrators there are also many Christians, the Copts in particular, together with Muslims are protesting against the film. Also on Facebook and other social media, Christians and Muslims are united in the protest.” Additionally, even the leaders of the major Christian denominations in Egypt have made their voices heard. “The Catholic Church, the Orthodox and Protestant churches issued a statement in Arabic against the film in question,” Father Greiche says.

In Syria, Christians Take Up Arms for the First Time (The Telegraph) The Christian community has tried to avoid taking sides in the civil war, at first seeking only to protect churches. However, as the war moved into the city and spread across its suburbs, they have begun to accept weapons from the Syrian army and join forces with Armenian groups to repel opposition guerrillas. “Everybody is fighting everybody,” said George, an Armenian Christian from the city. “The Armenians are fighting because they believe the F.S.A. are sent by their Turkish oppressors to attack them, the Christians want to defend their neighbourhoods, Shabiha regime militia are there to kill and rape, the army is fighting the F.S.A., and the [Kurdish militant group] P.K.K. have their own militia too.” For the past six weeks up to 150 Christian and Armenian fighters have been fighting to prevent Free Syrian Army rebels from entering Christian heartland areas of Aleppo.

Armenian Primate Visits U.S. (The Armenian Mirror Spectator) Archbishop Avak Asadourian who has been the Primate of the Armenian Diocese of Iraq for the past 33 years, during some of its most traumatic periods, is considered a hero among his people. He is currently visiting the United States for a special celebration to be accorded him by the large Iraqi-Armenian community in Glendale on 16 September, in honor of his 35 years as a clerical leader. On this trip, the Primate also visited the St. Vladimir’s and St. Nersess’ Seminaries in New York, from which he graduated in 1976. During an exclusive interview, the Primate spoke about the insecure condition of the Armenian and Christian communities since the time of the Iran-Iran war, which started in 1980, and the “ill-conceived war perpetrated by the NATO coalition against Iraq” in 2003.

Tags: Lebanon Syrian Civil War Christian-Muslim relations Armenian Apostolic Church Coptic Christians

12 September 2012
J.D. Conor Mauro

Ukrainian Catholic Archbishop Stefan Soroka of Philadelphia; Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk; and Archbishop Lawrence Huculak of Winnipeg, Manitoba, the metropolitan of the Ukrainian Catholic Church in Canada, process before the Divine Liturgy outside Sts. Volodymyr and Olha Cathedral in Winnipeg on 9 September. (photo: CNS/David Lipnowski)

Archbishop Caccia, Apostolic Nuncio: Great Expectations for Papal Visit (Fides) While the images of the Pope and the Lebanese and Vatican flags emerge everywhere, the slogan of the visit: “I give you my peace” dominates the front pages of newspapers. An evangelical phrase that, said Archbishop Caccia, “fully corresponds to the expectations of the people.” He further notes: “A special novena to prepare for the Pope’s visit is in progress in the churches in the Country.”

Pope Hopes to Further Interreligious Dialogue (Daily Star) Pope Benedict XVI hopes to advance the church’s relationship with Islam and help Christians keep their place in the Muslim world during his trip to Lebanon this week. The pope’s choice of Lebanon for his Middle East trip is not a casual one: the multi-confessional society — by which government posts are split among religious groups — was hailed by pope John Paul II as a model for the region. The visit will include meetings with representatives from Lebanon’s four main communities: Shiite, Sunni, Druze and Alawite.

Palestinian Prime Minister to Ease Protests with Price Cuts (Washington Post) After a meeting of his cabinet, Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad announced a decision to cancel increases this month in the prices of diesel fuel, kerosene and cooking gas, which are purchased from Israel, and to reduce the recently raised value-added tax, which is pegged to Israeli rates under an economic agreement with Israel. To make up for revenue losses from the price and tax reductions, the government will cut the salaries of ministers and other high-level officials and reduce some government expenditures.

Egyptian Town’s Muslim-Christian Unrest Points to Bigger Challenges (Los Angeles Times) It began when a Christian dry-cleaning business scorched a Muslim man’s shirt: First came the insults, and then Muslims and Christians were clashing in a square in this farming town rimmed by pyramids, culminating in a lethal explosion. “There was nothing wrong before all this,” said Ahmed Araby, a Muslim car dealer in a white tunic standing in the shade of a mosque. “It was a mistake. It was over a shirt. Muslims and Christians were like brothers, but a huge problem has fallen on our doorstep.”

“North America’s Churches Can Be an Example for Ukraine” (CNS) Ukrainian Orthodox Metropolitan Yurij of Winnipeg, Manitoba, told several dozen Ukrainian Catholic bishops that the North American Catholic and Orthodox bishops have worked through the “animosity” that once marked relations between their churches, and they now collaborate. “In Ukraine, they have to go through the same kind of process,” he said, adding that bishops outside Ukraine must be patient with their brothers.

Tags: Egypt Lebanon Interreligious Palestinian Authority Ukrainian Catholic Synod

11 September 2012
Greg Kandra

This Homs church was damaged in the ongoing violence in Syria.
(photo: CNS/Shaam News Network, handout via Reuters)

Vatican ambassador says 100,000 Christians have left Homs (Turkish Weekly) Approximately 100,000 Christians in Homs have had to move relocate within Syria due to the ongoing clashes between the Syrian army and opposition militants, according to a senior Vatican diplomat in Damascus. “Up until now, Christians have been suffering from the same consequences of the conflict like all the other citizens. However, a good number of Christians — around 100,000 — had to leave Homs. Most of them moved to the Christian Valley [Krak des Chevaliers] and to the Damascus area,” Vatican Ambassador to Syria Nuncio Mario Zenari said yesterday.

Vatican official: Religion’s role in Arab Spring is to promote dignity (Catholic News Service) Religious communities can assist the North African and Middle Eastern pro-democracy movements by upholding human dignity and not trying to claim power for one religion or one movement within a religion, a senior Vatican official said. Comboni Father Miguel Angel Ayuso Guixot, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, represented the Vatican at a conference in Istanbul last weekend on “The Arab Awakening and Peace in the New Middle East: Muslim and Christian Perspectives.”

Pentecostal church looted, razed near Moscow (The Moscow Times) The demolition, which sent shock waves through the country’s Protestant community over the weekend, was ordered by city authorities determined to build a sports stadium on the site. But the decision, based on a court order, is raising fears that religious freedom is under attack from a government that has long shown preferential treatment to the dominant Russian Orthodox Church.

Egyptian lawyer says Coptic immigration could be demographic disaster (Al Arabiya News) Egyptian Christian lawyer Mamdouh Ramzi warned of the repercussions of the immigration of Copts outside Egypt for fear of persecution at the hands of the Islamist government. “More than 100,000 Copts applied for immigration to the United States and Scandinavian countries,” he told Al Arabiya’s al-Hadath al-Masri (The Egyptian Event). “The immigration of such large numbers of Copts constitutes a grave threat to Egypt’s demographic structure.”

Tags: Syria Russian Orthodox Church Coptic Christians Egypt's Christians Arab Spring/Awakening

10 September 2012
Greg Kandra

In preparation for Pope Benedict XVI's visit to Lebanon later this week, a papal media office in Jounieh distributed CD's in decorative envelopes. (photo: CNS/Jamal Saidi, Reuters)

Pope Benedict XVI: On the priority of peace for the Middle East (Vatican Radio) “My apostolic visit to Lebanon, and by extension to the Middle East as a whole, is placed under the sign of peace”: On the eve of his departure, Pope Benedict XVI has clearly stated the aim of this his 24th foreign visit and has voiced his serious concern for the “daily sufferings” of the people of the Middle East, “which sadly, and at times mortally, plague their personal and family life.”

Lebanon’s bishop says situation worsening for Christians (Lebanon Daily Star) The situation in the Middle East is becoming increasingly dangerous and threatens the presence of Christians, Maronite Bishop Michel Aoun said Sunday during a talk with reporters about the pope’s upcoming visit to Lebanon. “The pope’s synod is a road map for Christians in Lebanon and the Middle East; we all know that Christians are experiencing difficulties due to the political and regional situation and that they are exposed to immigration.”

Ukrainian Catholic leader shares favorites, faith in Winnipeg (Catholic News Service) When young Ukrainian Catholics asked the church’s major archbishop to name his favorite book of the Bible, he did not hesitate: the Gospel of St. John. Why? “First — shortest one,” laughed 42-year-old Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk of Kiev-Halych, Ukraine. Then, he added more seriously: “With those few words, he speaks so profoundly.” “Favorites” was among question topics that young people from Manitoba submitted for the head of the Ukrainian Catholic Church to answer during a visit to St. Nicholas Parish on 7 September. Posed in the form of Tweets and projected onto a screen in front of the church, the questions followed a service to honor Blessed Nykyta Budka, the first Ukrainian Catholic bishop who arrived in Canada 100 years ago.

Russian Orthodox patriarch says his church is under attack (Reuters) The head of the Russian Orthodox Church used a Sunday prayer service and a state TV interview to argue that the church he presides over is under attack from foes he said fear its post-Soviet revival and want to destroy its places of worship. Patriarch Kirill did not name punk music group Pussy Riot but was clearly referring to the collective, three members of which were sentenced to jail for performing a “punk prayer” at the altar of a Moscow cathedral during which they criticized President Vladimir Putin.

Catholic Church likely to take up migrants’ issues in India (Times of India) With interstate migration trending upward over the years, the Catholic Church in India may adopt it as a policy matter to help migrants. Labor bodies attached to the church in 12 states — including Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka — will meet in Bangalore next month to chalk out a final decision.

Tags: India Lebanon Pope Benedict XVI Russian Orthodox Church Maronite

7 September 2012
Greg Kandra

Patriarch Bishara Rai (photo: CNS)

Syria’s Christians support stability, not regime (AFP) Syria’s Christians do not support the regime of President Bashar Assad, but they do want stability in their war-torn country, Lebanon’s Maronite Christian Patriarch Bishara Rai told AFP on Thursday. “I tell Westerners who say that we (Christians) are with the Syrian regime that we are not with regimes, we are with the state. There is a big difference,” Rai told AFP, a week before the arrival in Lebanon of Pope Benedict XVI.

A Christian and Muslim vigil planned ahead of pope’s Lebanon visit (Fides) A Muslim-Christian vigil to invoke the protection of God and the Virgin Mary on the visit of Benedict XVI. On the evening of September 12, the eve of the Pope’s arrival in Lebanon, four processions of young people will depart from four points of Beirut to converge in the so-called “garden of Mary”, in the Museum Square area, carrying candles and flags of Lebanon. There, around eight o’clock in the evening, the meeting will begin, with a program including songs, Muslim-Christian readings and prayers to ask God and the Mother of Jesus that the papal visit is welcomed by all and lived as a blessing for the Country of the cedars.

More than a million children at risk from Syria crisis (Fides) In Syria and neighboring countries where they have taken refuge, there is an alarm for minors due to the shortage of food and health care facilities. There are tens of thousands of children involved in the internal conflict which has been going on for a year and a half without access to safe drinking water, adequate food and health care.

Lech Walesa asks Putin to pardon punk rock band involved in cathedral protest (Wall Street Journal) Poland’s legendary dissident Lech Walesa wrote to Russia’s President Vladimir Putin asking him to pardon three members of punk bank Pussy Riot sentenced last month for staging an anti-Putin protest at an Orthodox cathedral.

Ethiopia’s patriarch brokered peace (Sydney Morning Herald) His Holiness Abune Paulos was Patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, one of the oldest Christian Churches in Africa; some two-thirds of Ethiopia’s 83 million people are Christian, the majority following the Orthodox faith.

Tags: Syria Lebanon Ethiopia Pope Benedict XVI Russian Orthodox

6 September 2012
Greg Kandra

Workers hang a poster of Pope Benedict XVI 4 September in Jounieh as part of the preparation for the pope's 14 to 16 September visit to Lebanon. (photo: CNS/Jamal Saidi, Reuters)

Lebanon security forces on alert ahead of pope’s visit (AFP) Security forces have been placed on alert ahead of Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to Lebanon, riven by religious rivalries and shaken by the conflict in neighboring Syria, the visit’s coordinator said on Wednesday. “All Lebanese security organizations are on a state of alert poised to protect His Holiness the Pope,” who will travel to the eastern Mediterranean country 14 to 16 September, said Father Abdo Abou Kasm.

Archbishop fears for fate of Syrian Christians (ANSA) Christianity is at stake, especially in Syria, Archbishop Chrysostomos said Monday, warning that if extremists prevail in Syria, minorities and Christians will feel the repercussions.

Russian Orthodox leader says believers deserve protection (RT/Russia) Believers should be protected from “trolls” by law, both on the internet and in real life, the Russian Orthodox Church’s representative to the Council of Europe says. Unfortunately we are often witnessing trolling in real life in the form of various performances, public actions and other activities aimed against religious communities. Such actions have repeatedly taken place in France, Italy, Spain, Norway, Russia, Ukraine and other countries,” Igumen Filipp Ryabykh said.

Catholic Church in India warns against visit Tamil Nadu (Asian Tribune) The Catholic Church has issued a travel warning against those visiting Tamil Nadu in India stating it is obvious that Tamil Nadu is currently not a conducive place for Sri Lankans to visit. “All Catholics are hereby adviced to refrain from joining pilgrimages to Trichy for visiting of the Velankanni Shrine,” said the statement in the “Messenger,” an official organ of the Catholic Church. It said the authorities at the Shrine reveal that they are not in a position to guarantee the safety of devotees from Sri Lanka.

For Copts, marriage in church may mean marriage TO the church (Egypt Independent) When Rafek Farouk, cofounder of Copts 38, began to chant against the Coptic Church’s divorce laws inside the church’s headquarters, dogs were brought in to run him and others off the grounds. The Copts 38 activist group was named after a 1938 bylaw which legalized a papal declaration listing ten circumstances under which Copts may divorce. When he ascended to the papacy in 1971, the late Pope Shenouda reduced the permissible grounds to two, although this change was not ratified by the state for nearly four decades. Since then, Copts can only obtain the church’s permission for a divorce and a second marriage if their spouse commits adultery or converts to another Christian sect or a different religion altogether.

Tags: Syria India Lebanon Pope Benedict XVI Russian Orthodox Church

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