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Current Issue
September, 2019
Volume 45, Number 3
  
25 February 2019
Greg Kandra




Pope Francis receives the Apostoliki Diaconia of the Orthodox Archdiocese of Athens.
(photo: Vatican Media)


Pope to Greek Orthodox: ‘We have more in common than what keeps us apart’ (Vatican News) Pope Francis on Monday reflected on the fruitfulness and importance of Catholic Orthodox dialogue on the journey to full communion. He was speaking to the Apostolikí Diaconía and the Centre for the Family of the Orthodox Archdiocese of Athens whom he received in the Vatican…

Ukraine’s crisis of faith (Politico) For years, Father Vasily spent his Sundays behind the altar at St. Nicholas, a church in the small town of Vorsivka, in north-central Ukraine. That all changed in early January, not long after the Ukrainian Orthodox Church officially split from the Moscow-based Russian Orthodox Church in one of the biggest schisms in Christian history…

‘Kerala will become an aged society soon’ (The Times of India) Kerala would become a fast-aging society in the near future, said Geojit Financial Services managing director C. J. George…

Bootleg liquor kills dozens in India (UCANews.com) The church is assisting those affected by a mass toxic alcohol poisoning that has killed more than 140 tea-estate workers in India’s northeast. Some 350 people continue to fight for lives in hospitals in Assam state after they consumed bootleg alcohol on 21 February. A similar tragedy occurred earlier this month with bootleg liquor killing more than 100 people in northern states of Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand…

Press briefing announces initiatives for protection of minors (Vatican News) There have been four Press Conferences, coinciding with the four days of the Meeting. Each one has provided a synthesis of the day’s discussions and reflections, and allowed journalists an opportunity to engage with participants and speakers in what was often a lively Q&A session. One implicit (and explicit) question underscored the concluding press briefing on Sunday: “What now”? Expectations were high, especially given Pope Francis’ mandate to participants, at the start of the Meeting, to come up with “concrete” initiatives to help the Church in protecting minors…



Tags: India Ukraine Russian Orthodox Orthodox Greece

22 February 2019
Greg Kandra




Sukhbati Gand with her children in a photo taken before her husband Anant Ram Gand was found murdered in India’s Odisha state. His pastor says he had been given an ultimatum to renounce Christianity or face death. (photo: UCANews.com)

Christian man beheaded in India (UCANews.com) A Christian man has been found virtually beheaded in an interior village of India’s Odisha state in what family members and many others believe was an anti-Christian attack. They dismiss a police claim that he was killed by politically motivated Maoist rebels. The body of 40-year-old Anant Ram Gand, father of four girls and a boy, was found on a road in Bhenas village of Nabarangapur district, local pastor Chandan Jani told ucanews.com…

Report: religious minorities in India ’attacked with impunity’ (UCANews.com) Religious and ethnic minorities in India continue to face violence at the hands of Hindu groups that support the federal government led by the pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), according to a new report by Human Rights Watch. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government has failed to prevent or credibly investigate growing mob attacks on religious minorities and marginalized communities, said the report released in New Delhi on 19 February...

U.S. says 200 troops to remain in Syria (Al Jazeera) The United States will leave around 200 troops in Syria for a period of time, the White House has announced, as President Donald Trump backed away from a complete withdrawal of forces from the war-torn country. ”A small peacekeeping group of about 200 will remain in Syria for a period of time,” White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said in a statement on Thursday…

Eritrean delegation visits Ethiopia to discuss improving relations (AfricaNews.com) Eritrea’s information minister, Yemane Gebremeskel, said the delegation which arrived in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa on Thursday, had delivered a message from president Isaias Afwerki to prime minister Abiy Ahmed…

Lebanese leader visits Damascus to discuss repatriation of refugees (The Telegraph) Fears are growing for the 1.5 million Syrian refugees in Lebanon after the country’s new refugees minister made a surprise visit to Damascus this week to discuss their return. Saleh Gharib, an outspoken supporter of the regime of Bashar al-Assad, said Lebanon would work to ”secure the return” of refugees to Syria, where human rights organizations report they are subject to abuse and arbitrary detention. He explained that the Syrian government ”believe that the failure to return the displaced Syrians would be a blow to the victory of the Syrian state…”



Tags: Syria India Ethiopia Eritrea Persecution

21 February 2019
Greg Kandra




As tensions escalate between India and Pakistan, Pakistan has vowed retaliation if India attacks. (video: BBC/YouTube)

Pakistan prime minister authorizes use of force in case of Indian attack (AP) Pakistan’s prime minister has authorized the armed forces to “respond decisively and comprehensively to any aggression or misadventure” by India, as tensions soar between the nuclear-armed rivals. India has vowed a “jaw-breaking response” to a suicide bombing in the disputed Kashmir region last week that killed 40 Indian soldiers…

Hundreds evacuated from ISIS’s last Syria holdout (Al Jazeera) Hundreds of people, including women and children, have been evacuated from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant group’s (ISIL, also known as ISIS) last holdout in Syria, bringing US-backed forces closer to retaking the last sliver of the ”caliphate.” AFP correspondents reported on Wednesday seeing at least 17 trucks carrying men, women and children out of the last patch of ISIL territory in the eastern Syrian village of Baghouz…

Jordan’s prime minister appeals for more aid, as refugees are set to stay (Reuters) Jordan’s Prime Minister Omar al-Razzaz appealed on Wednesday to major donors to continue multi-billion dollar funding for Syrian refugees in the kingdom, saying most of those who had fled the eight-year conflict had no intention of returning any time soon…

Ukraine remembers Maidan massacre (NBC News) Bricks, safety helmets and remnants of barricades are piled in makeshift memorials in the cobbled streets near Kiev’s main square. At least 50 anti-government protesters were killed here five years ago Wednesday, including many who were shot by snipers. It was the bloodiest day in months of demonstrations triggered by pro-Moscow President Viktor Yanukovych’s refusal to sign an agreement to forge closer ties with Europe…

Pope: Hear the cry of the little ones who ask for justice (Vatican News) The “Protection of Minors in the Church” meeting began on Thursday with prayers, readings, and brief periods of silent reflection, before Pope Francis gave his opening remarks in the Vatican’s Synod Hall. In front of the patriarchs, cardinals, archbishops, bishops, religious superiors and other leaders, the pope told them that, “in the face of the plague of sexual abuse perpetrated by men of the Church against children”, he had called them together so, “we may listen to the Holy Spirit and with docility to His guidance we may hear the cry of the little ones who ask for justice…”



Tags: Syria India Pope Francis Ukraine

20 February 2019
Greg Kandra




Tensions have escalated between India and Pakistan after violence near the border. Catholic bishops are calling for peace. (video: France 24/YouTube)

Tensions rise between Pakistan, India (Vatican News) Khan said instead of using Pakistan as a ‘whipping boy,’ India should seek out the root causes of violence in the region. Tensions between India and her neighbor are frostier than ever. On Monday four Indian soldiers were killed in Kashmir. The army said two terrorists were also killed. On Monday, Pakistan recalled its envoy from Delhi for consultations…

Bishops condemn ’cowardly’ bombing of Indian troops (UCANews.com) Tension has again been ratcheted up in the border areas of India and Pakistan as their respective armies stand eyeball to eyeball while Indian Catholics pray for an end to the conflict. Bishop Ivan Pereira of Jammu-Srinagar, under which jurisdiction Kashmir falls, called on Catholics to “pray for the departed souls and also for the return of peace in the state…”

Russian forces ’open corridors’ for Syrians to return home (Al Jazeera) Russia says it has opened two corridors in Syria to give people safe passage out of the Rukban refugee camp to return home. The camp, in the remote Syrian desert, near the border with Jordan and Iraq, is home to more than 40,000 internally displaced people, mostly women and children..

Israeli police arrest Palestinian protesters at Temple Mount (AP) Israeli police say they have arrested 19 Palestinians as clashes broke out at a contested Jerusalem holy site. Police say dozens of Palestinians participated in a prayer protest Tuesday, attempting to breach a section of the compound that has been closed by Israeli court order for years…



Tags: Syria India Jerusalem Palestinians

19 February 2019
Greg Kandra




Bishop Borys Gudziak speaks to a crowd braving the December chill on the Maidan in 2013. He has just been named to lead the Ukrainian Catholic Archeparchy of Philadelphia.
(photo: Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, Department of External Relations/CNEWA)


Paris-based Ukrainian Catholic bishop to head U.S. archeparchy (CNS) Pope Francis has appointed Bishop Borys Gudziak of the Paris-based Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of St. Volodymyr the Great, to be the seventh metropolitan-archbishop of the Ukrainian Catholic Archeparchy of Philadelphia. Bishop Andriy Rabiy, an auxiliary bishop of the archeparchy, has been apostolic administrator since 16 April 2018. The pope named him to the post following the resignation of Archbishop Stefan Soroka, now 67, for medical reasons…

Meet the Syrians returning home after fleeing war (BBC) After years of people fleeing Syria and its civil war, there are now long queues to enter the country each day. Jordan opened its Jaber border crossing last October after Syrian government troops defeated rebels who had controlled the other side…

Refugees left homeless by anti-pollution campaign in Lebanon (The Daily Star) The eviction of dozens of Syrian refugees living in south Lebanon’s Zahrani is the result of an anti-pollution campaign being implemented jointly by the Litani River Authority and the Industry Ministry. The refugees were forced to evacuate Sunday because their shelters were contributing to the pollution of the Litani River in the region, Sami Alawieh, the Litani River Authority’s general director, told The Daily Star…

The plight of India’s unemployed youth (UCANews.com) Finding employment has long been a challenge for Indian youth, but their prospects have in recent times dimmed markedly, according to the Rev. Jaison Vadassery, secretary of the Indian bishops’ Commission for Labor. A government study released in 2017 showed that some 420 million of Indian’s 1.2 billion people are aged 15-34, making them the largest youth labor force in the world. But a large proportion of those who pursue higher education struggle to secure jobs. This constitutes a failure by India to use the capacity of youth for its socioeconomic development, Father Vadassery said…



Tags: Syria India Lebanon Ukraine

15 February 2019
Greg Kandra




Bishop Giovani Mele (seated)), first bishop of Lungro, is shown with several priests.
(photo: Vatican Media)


Pope sends greetings to Lungro Eparchy for 100th anniversary (Vatican News) Centenary celebrations took place at the Cathedral of San Nicola in the southern Italian town of Lungro, in the Calabria region, on Wednesday, 13 February. Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, Prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches, was on hand as the Italo-Albanese Eparchy of Lungro of Continental Italy celebrated 100 years since its foundation. Bishop Donato Oliverio, head of the Eparchy, celebrated the Divine Liturgy to begin a special Jubilee Year. Albanian President Ilir Meta was also present at the event…

Trump’s Syria withdrawal order forces allies to weigh return of ISIS detainees (The New York Times) President Trump’s abrupt decision to withdraw American troops from northern Syria provoked widespread fears over a future resurgence of the Islamic State. But it may yet have a silver lining: Other countries have signaled they are willing to take back their citizens who joined the terrorist group but are now detained in makeshift camps…

Ukraine deports Orthodox bishop (The Guardian) Ukraine has stripped an Orthodox bishop of his citizenship and barred him from entering the country as a dispute escalates over the Ukrainian and Russian branches of the church. Ukrainian border guards said on Thursday that they had detained and deported Bishop Gedeon, the abbot of a Kiev monastery, because he allegedly held dual Ukraine-US citizenship. The deportation was condemned by Russian officials, who called on the US to intervene…

Hindus oppose statue of missionary at Indian parish (UCANews.com) Members of a Hindu group are up in arms over a statue of a German Jesuit priest outside an Indian Catholic church, claiming that the missionary worked against local people and honoring him insults tribal sentiments…

Catholics, Muslims bond over weekly lunch in Indianapolis (CNS) The openness to people of other faiths that Pope Francis modeled during his 3-5 February visit to the United Arab Emirates has been embraced for more than 20 years at a weekly lunch shared by Muslims, Catholics and other Christians at Shapiro’s Delicatessen in Indianapolis…



Tags: Syria India Hindu Muslim Americans

14 February 2019
Greg Kandra




Leaders from Russia, Turkey and Iran held talks Thursday to plan the post-war future of Syria. (video: VOA/YouTube)

Russia, Turkey, Iran hold Syria talks (The Washington Post) Russian President Vladimir Putin hosted the leaders of Turkey and Iran on Thursday, intensifying efforts to usher in peace in Syria as a fragile truce is threatened in the country’s final rebel stronghold. The three presidents — Putin, Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey and Iran’s Hassan Rouhani — gathered at the Black Sea resort town of Sochi, where they pledged to take some sort of action against militants in Idlib province in northern Syria…

Some refugees who returned to Syria have fled back to Lebanon (The Daily Star) Amid increasing calls for Syrian refugees to return, a Lebanon-based NGO said in a report earlier this week that its researchers had spoken to refugees who returned to Syria only to flee back to Lebanon after encountering unexpected dangers and obstacles. Researchers with SAWA for Development and Aid, a small NGO that has been working with refugees in the Bekaa Valley for the past seven years, interviewed 40 refugees living in various parts of Lebanon — most of them in camps — about conditions in Lebanon and the factors that influenced their decision to return or stay in Lebanon…

Ukrainians in U.S. commemorate five-year anniversary of Maidan uprising (Kyiv Post) Ukrainian-Americans are commemorating the fifth anniversary of the end of the EuroMaidan Revolution, which ended after security forces shot dead more than 100 demonstrators in Kiev in February 2014, the same month that Kremlin-backed President Viktor Yanukovych fled power…

Rome remembers Jesuit missionary kidnapped in Syria (Crux) Last night, a torchlit rally took place in front of Rome’s Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore for Father Paolo Dall’Oglio, a native Roman and Jesuit missionary in Syria who disappeared in 2013, along with the thousands of both natives and foreigners who’ve been subject to kidnapping or arbitrary detention in Syria since violence broke out in 2011…

The curious case of Gaza’s only grand piano (The National) Right now, the Gaza Strip’s only grand piano is covered by a big bit of bright red fabric. A piece of paper has been stuck on top haphazardly, a scrawled note that reads simply: “no touch.” The sleek, black Yamaha has been through a lot already, but after being used in a rare public concert last year, in which a group of Japanese and ­Palestinian pianists performed to a crowd of 300 people at the home of the Red Crescent Society, the piano was seized by the ­Ministry of Culture and locked away in an office…



Tags: Syria Lebanon Gaza Strip/West Bank Russia

13 February 2019
Greg Kandra




In this image from 2016, Syrian girls walk near garbage inside an informal refugee camp in Zahle, Lebanon. (photo: CNS/Mohamed Azakir, Reuters)

Syrian refugees face growing pressure to return to insecure conditions (The Washington Post) With resettlement increasingly less possible and the domestic instability surrounding fears of naturalization, the regional and global push for the return of Syrian refugees is underway. In most instances, however, it is premature for the proper conditions of a sustainable, safe, secure and dignified repatriation to occur. Refugees are, thus, at risk of forced return to Syria, the result of shifting norms in the existing refugee solutions model…

Pope approves canonization of Syro-Malabar sister, Cardinal Newman (Vatican News) Pope Francis on Tuesday cleared the way for the sainthood of renowned English Cardinal John Henry Newman and an Indian nun, and brought six others a step closer to canonization. The Pope received in audience Cardinal Angelo Becciu, the Prefect of the Vatican Congregation for the Causes of Saints and authorized him to promulgated two decrees on miracles for sainthood, a decree on martyrdom and five on heroic virtues…

India’s parliament shelves citizenship bill (UCANews.com) The upper house of India’s parliament has shelved a controversial bill on citizenship amid prayers by tribal Christians for its defeat…

Decision to raze Palestinian Islamic cemetery in Jerusalem denounced (WAFA) The Islamic-Christian Committee to Defend Jerusalem and the Holy Sites denounced Israel’s decision to raze the remaining part of an ancient Palestinian Islamic cemetery in Jerusalem. The Committee’s Secretary-General Hanna Issa denounced Israel’s decision to raze the remaining part of Ma’man Allah (Mamilla) Cemetery as a prelude to the construction of new roads and public buildings as a gross encroachment upon the inviolability of the cemetery, which enflames Muslims and Jerusalemites’ sensibilities…

Author holds up martyred Copts as model for contemporary Christians (Crux) Four years ago this week, 21 men were videotaped on a beach in Libya as their ISIS captors beheaded them one by one. Of the 21 victims, 20 were Coptic Christians from Egypt who had migrated to Libya for work. In his new book, The 21: A Journey into the Land of Coptic Martyrs, German novelist and poet Martin Mosebach chronicles his travels through Upper Egypt, where he met with the families and priests of the martyrs. Mosebach believes Coptic Christianity offers a purer form of the faith from which modern believers should seek to learn…



Tags: Syria India Refugees Palestine Syro-Malabar Catholic Church

12 February 2019
Greg Kandra




In this image from 2016, Pope Francis greets Chaldean Catholic Patriarch Louis Sako of Baghdad, Iraq, during a meeting in Tbilisi, Georgia. Cardinal Sako has expressed his hope that Pope Francis will visit Iraq. (photo: CNS/Paul Haring)

Top Iraqi Catholic says country’s Christians ‘really need’ a papal visit (Crux) Though reaction to Pope Francis’s recent joint declaration with the leader of Al-Azhar, arguably the most important figure in the Sunni Muslim world, received a mixed verdict — from being hailed as historic, to being dismissed as another feel-good statement without teeth — few men have more reason for wanting it to be the former than Cardinal Louis Raphael Sako. The Patriarch of Iraq’s Chaldean Catholic Church, Sako is among those who openly described the 3-5 February papal visit to United Arab Emirates, the first ever to the Arabian peninsula, as “historic” and the declaration on “Human Fraternity for world peace and living together” signed by Francis and Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayeb, the grand imam of Egypt’s Al-Azhar, as a “seed for a possible papal visit to Iraq…”

Forces strike Syria mosque being used as ISIS command center (Haaretz) The U.S.-led coalition says it has hit a mosque used by Islamic State as a command and control center in eastern Syria. The coalition said Tuesday it launched the strike in support of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, who are fighting to drive the extremists from their last tiny stronghold near the border with Iraq. It said the strike occurred Monday as Islamic State was using the mosque to direct attacks and employ suicide car bombs against the SDF…

Egyptian authorities arrest students for mocking Christianity online (AFP) Egyptian authorities have arrested four students for mocking Christian rituals in an online video and ordered them to be kept in custody for four days, a judicial source said Monday. The university students aged between 19 and 24 were accused of being in “contempt of the Christian religion”, the source said…

In Ethiopia, climate change leads herders to retrain as farmers (Reuters) With extreme droughts as much as five times more likely than 60 years ago in parts of the country, the estimated 12 million pastoralists in Ethiopia living off flocks of cows, goats and sheep have been hit hard in recent years. In the Hamar region, where Orgo lives, 1.5 million of the 3 million animals that herders owned perished during the particularly brutal 2015-2016 drought, when the region saw poor rainfall for 18 months, according to district authorities…



Tags: Iraq Ethiopia ISIS

11 February 2019
Greg Kandra




Cardinal Peter Turkson is in India to mark the 27th World Day of the Sick.
(video: Vatican Media/YouTube)


Cardinal visits India to promote World Day of the Sick (Vatican News) Cardinal Peter Turkson, the Prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, is in Calcutta to celebrate the 27th World Day of the Sick, held annually on 11 February, the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes. Speaking to Vatican News, the Cardinal says the Pope’s message to the faithful is that there can be no true care without sharing in the situation of those afflicted, by showing compassion and being willing to empathize with the sick…

U.S. general: ’Tens of thousands’ of ISIS fighters remain in Iraq and Syria (CNN) The top US commander in the war against ISIS aligned himself Sunday with the US intelligence community assessment that there are “tens of thousands” of ISIS fighters spread across Syria and Iraq. “They are dispersed and disaggregated, but there is leadership, there are fighters there, there are facilitators there,” Gen. Joseph Votel told reporters traveling with him to the Middle East for his farewell tour…

Former Muslim highlights plight of Christian converts in Iran (Catholic Register) An increase in Muslims converting to Christianity has prompted a crackdown by Iran’s theocratic government, says an Iranian convert to Christianity…

‘Prison of Christ’ reopens in Jerusalem (AFP/Premier.org) Visitors are being allowed back to a place in Jerusalem where some people believe Jesus was held captive prior to his crucifixion. The ‘Prison of Christ’ chapel had been closed to tourists for a number of years while repairs were carried out following a fire which caused significant damage…

African leaders unveil statue of Ethiopia’s last emperor (AP) A statue of Ethiopia’s Emperor Haileselassie has been unveiled at the headquarters of the African Union on Sunday. The statue is the second to be erected inside the continental body’s offices in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa, after one of Ghana’s first leader, Kwame Nkrumah, who championed pan-Africanism…



Tags: Syria India Ethiopia Jerusalem ISIS





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