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Current Issue
September, 2019
Volume 45, Number 3
  
7 October 2019
Greg Kandra




In this image from July, young women row a makeshift raft past submerged houses in the flooded village of Karbi Anglong, India. Nearlyl 1,900 people reportedly were killed during this year's monsoon season in India. (photo: CNS/Anuwar Hazarika, Reuters)

Officials: nearly 1,900 killed during India’s monsoon season (NDTV) Nearly 1,900 people lost their lives and another 46 were reported missing this monsoon season in rains and floods which affected more than 25 lakh in 22 states, Union Home Ministry officials said on Friday. The highest 382 people died in Maharashtra, followed by 227 deaths in West Bengal in rains, floods and landslides that hit as many as 357 districts in the country…

Trump endorses Turkish military operation in Syria (The New York Times) In a major shift in United States military policy in Syria, the White House said on Sunday that President Trump had given his endorsement for a Turkish military operation that would sweep away American-backed Kurdish forces near the border in Syria…

Opening Synod, pope says fear, status quo smother God’s love (CNS) The Catholic Church’s mission in the world is to spread the fire of God’s love and must not be limited to the “‘ordinary maintenance’ of those who already know the Gospel,” Pope Francis said. Celebrating the opening Mass of the Synod of Bishops for the Amazon on 6 October, the pope said, “Jesus did not come to bring a gentle evening breeze, but to light a fire on the earth…”

Massive underground necropolis being built in Jerusalem (VOA) A massive, new underground necropolis is being built in Jerusalem to help overcome a looming shortage of grave sites for Jewish people in the holy city. The mile-long labyrinth, with 23,000 burial chambers lining the walls and ground, was tunneled into the hillside beneath Jerusalem’s main Jewish cemetery, Givat Shaul, which is quickly running out of space…



Tags: Syria India Turkey

4 October 2019
Greg Kandra




This aerial image from 2018 shows downtown Idlib, Syria. Shells hit a hospital in Idlib, wounding at least seven people. (photo: CNS/Ammar Abdullah, Reuters)

Syria: artillery shells hit hospital in Idlib (Al Jazeera) An artillery attack has hit a hospital in Syria’s rebel-held Idlib province, wounding seven people with one in a critical condition, according to a UK-based charity. Save the Children said artillery shells struck the southern wing of a health centre it supports on Thursday in the town of Maarat al-Numan in northwestern Syria…

Report: India witnessed worst rains, flooding in 25 years (Financial Express) Monsoon rains in the country stood at 10 percent above average this year and recorded the highest numbers in 25 years, the weather department said on Monday, adding that as seasonal rainfall went on longer than it was expected. In a country where the monsoon brings nearly 70 per cent of annual rainfall, the longer monsoon has wreaked havoc in several states killing hundreds of people due to flood…

Lebanon’s labor minister asks Syrian refugees to register newborns (Xinhua) Lebanese Labor Minister Camille Abousleiman called upon Syrian refugees on Friday to register their children who were born in Lebanon, a statement by his ministry said. ”Not registering children of Syrian refugees born in Lebanon will have negative effects on Syrians and the Lebanese,” he said…

Pope dedicates upcoming synod to Francis of Assisi (Vatican News) During a highly symbolic tree-planting ceremony in the Vatican Gardens on Friday, Pope Francis places the upcoming Synod for the Amazon under the protection of Saint Francis of Assisi…



Tags: Syria India Pope Francis

3 October 2019
Greg Kandra




In this image from 2014, Pope Francis kisses a cross during his weekly audience at the Vatican. The cross is made from wooden boards recovered from the wreckage of boats carrying migrants from northern Africa to Lampedusa, Italy. (CNS photo/L’Osservatore Romano via Reuters)

Remembering Lampedusa (Vatican News) On 3 October 2013 a migrant boat sank while sailing towards the Mediterranean island of Lampedusa. The final death toll is never to be known, but 194 bodies were recovered and 363 people were declared missing. “Never Again” said Europe, as leaders and institutions released a series of well-intentioned statements. Thus, 3 October was established as the National Day in Remembrance of the Victims of Immigration…

Lebanon slammed for deporting undocumented refugees (Al Jazeera) Lebanon is being criticized for its decision to send back Syrian refugees who arrived after April without proper documentation as another way of pressuring Syrians to return home. Human rights groups are accusing Lebanon of putting the lives of refugees in danger. Nearly 3,000 of them have been sent back in the past four months…

Syrian war refugees in Turkey face hardships reaching Europe (The Washington Post) Fleeing Syria’s eight-year civil war has always been a trial, full of risk and toil, but it has never felt as dangerous, as impossible, as it does these days. The shifting fortunes of the Syrian conflict pose new peril, while hostility to refugees is on the rise in neighboring states. Some Western countries have adopted immigration policies criticized as incoherent or simply cruel, as refugees, struggling to enter Europe, languish in teeming camps on the continent’s edge…

Christians pray for Gandhi on birth anniversary (UCANews.com) Hundreds of Christians from various denominations prayed together for India on 2 October, marking the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, father of the nation. Delhi Archdiocese organized an ecumenical program, Prayer for India, in New Delhi, recalling Gandhi’s ideals of peace and non-violence…

Looted Ethiopian crown resurfaces in Netherlands (The New York Times) In 1998, Sirak Asfaw, a Dutch civil servant who was born in Ethiopia, noticed something shiny in the suitcase of a guest who was staying at his house. Curious, he opened the case to find a glittering gilded crown inside. ”I couldn’t believe my eyes,” Mr. Sirak, who moved to the Netherlands a political refugee in the 1970s, said in a recent interview in Amsterdam…



Tags: Syria India Refugees Migrants Immigration

2 October 2019
Greg Kandra




Severe flooding has hit northern India, killing at least 100 people. (video: The Guardian/YouTube)

Severe flooding kills at least 100 in northern India (UCANews.com) Church people and institutions have been severely affected by floods in northern India that have killed some 100 people and displaced millions. At least 73 people were killed in Uttar Pradesh state and 29 in Bihar state in the rains and flooding that hit the region in the last week of September. Warnings of further rain and flooding have forced the Bihar government to order closure of schools and other education institutions until 3 October...

Pope names U.N. representative as nuncio to Spain (CNS) Pope Francis named Archbishop Bernardito Auza, who has represented the Vatican at the United Nations since 2014, to be nuncio to Spain and Andorra. The Vatican made the announcement on 1 October. It did not name a replacement as permanent observer of the Holy See to the United Nations…

Netanyahu’s corruption hearing opens in Jerusalem (The Telegraph) Benjamin Netanyahu’s lawyers began a last-ditch effort today to convince prosecutors not to bring criminal charges against the prime minister as his long-awaited corruption hearing opened in Jerusalem…

Ahead of Yom Kippur, remembering Mosul’s rich past (The Times of Israel) The newer, but still ancient, city of Mosul is located next to Nineveh in northern Iraq. ISIS, during its occupation of Mosul, deliberately destroyed many of the excavated remains of Nineveh. As a scholar of Islamic art, I know that such acts of deliberate, ideologically based destruction are unusual in Islamic history. Although today Mosul is famous outside of Iraq primarily as a site of conflict, its rich and diverse history forms an important legacy…



Tags: India Iraq Israel United Nations

1 October 2019
Greg Kandra




Pope Francis is marking the beginning of Extraordinary Mission Month, and the Vatican has just released the video above to underscore and illustrate the themes of the month.
(video: Rome Reports/YouTube)


Pope to begin Extraordinary Mission Month (Vatican News) Tuesday 1 October marks the beginning of the Extraordinary Missionary Month October 2019 inaugurated by Pope Francis in St. Peter’s Basilica with the celebration of Evening Vespers Prayers. The Extraordinary Missionary Month was called for by Pope Francis two years ago on World Mission Sunday…

Syria and Iraq open border crossing closed since 2012 (The Washington Post) Syria and Iraq announced the reopening of a border crossing between the two countries Monday, a step toward the normalization of Iraq’s relationship with its western neighbor and a boost to Iran, which will now have an open corridor into Syria…

Israel quietly lets in Gaza workers (AP) Israel is quietly allowing thousands of Palestinians to enter from the Gaza Strip to conduct business and work menial jobs, apparently as part of understandings with the ruling Hamas militant group aimed at preventing a fourth war in the blockaded territory…

Indian ambassador to Holy See: Gandhi still relevant (Vatican News) The world marks Mahatma’s Gandhi’s 150th birth anniversary on 2 October. On its eve, the Ambassador of India to the Holy See, Mr. Sibi George, participated in a day-long inter-faith event in the Vatican…



Tags: Syria India Pope Francis Evangelization

30 September 2019
Greg Kandra




Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state, speaks at the United Nations on 27 September 2019, during a high-level panel discussion on the future of persecuted Christians. Also pictured are Ambassador Katalin Annamaria Bogyay, Hungary’s permanent representative to the U.N., and Teodoro Lopez Locsin Jr., the Philippines’ secretary of foreign affairs.
(photo: CNS/Gregory A. Shemitz)


At United Nations: Concern that world is ‘ignoring’ persecuted Christians (CNS) Christians are the most persecuted religious group worldwide, but hypocrisy, political correctness and ignorance prevent the international community from implementing a comprehensive response to pervasive violence against them, said speakers at a U.N. event on 27 September. The participants in a high-level panel discussion said 80 percent of people killed because of their religious beliefs are Christian and the number of Christians hurt or displaced is on the rise…

Church celebrates Extraordinary Missionary Month in October (Vatican News) The Extraordinary Missionary Month was announced by Pope Francis to mark the 100th anniversary of Pope Benedict XV’s Apostolic Letter Maximum Illud. The theme chosen is “Baptized and Sent: The Church of Christ on Mission in the World”…

U.S. sees rising threat from Qaeda branch in Syria (The New York Times) American counterterrorism officials are voicing increased alarm about a Qaeda affiliate in Syria that they say is plotting attacks against the West by exploiting the chaotic security situation in the country’s northwest and the protection inadvertently afforded by Russian air defenses shielding Syrian government forces allied with Moscow…

Israel, Hamas working together on development projects for Gaza (Al-Monitor) Representatives of the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee for economic aid to the Palestinians convened in New York on 26 September for another round of talks on raising funds for the Palestinian Authority and the Gaza Strip. Prior to the conference, the United Nations issued an emergency report on the state of the PA and demanded immediate action on Gaza’s health system, on the verge of collapse. Its top priority is infrastructure development plans for Gaza, most of which Israel has authorized. Some are already being implemented but require additional funding to be completed…

Ethiopian Jews: next year in Jerusalem! (The Jerusalem Post) The remaining community of Ethiopian Jews sent a clear message to Israel in their Rosh Hashanah wish saying “Next Year in Jerusalem.” There are still Some 7,500 Ethiopian Jews living in Gondar and Addis Ababa…

Pope establishes ’Sunday of the Word of God’ each year (Vatican News) Pope Francis’ Apostolic Letter, Motu proprio “Aperuit illis,” published on 30 September, establishes that “the Third Sunday in Ordinary Time is to be devoted to the celebration, study and dissemination of the Word of God”…

Indian pilgrimage operator wins tourism award (Vatican News) At a ceremony marking World Tourism Day in New Delhi on 27 September, the International Pilgrimage Revolution (IPR) was honored in the Best Inbound Tour Operators category for 2017-2018…



Tags: Syria India Gaza Strip/West Bank Persecution

27 September 2019
Greg Kandra




In this image from April, migrants and refugees walk away from a camp near the town of Diavata, Greece. Pope Francis will mark the World Day of Migrants and Refugees this Sunday.
(photo: CNS/Alexandros Avramidis, Reuters)


Pope Francis to mark World Day for Migrants and Refugees (Vatican News) Pope Francis recalled that next Sunday, 29 September, marks the 105th World Day of Migrants and Refugees. He announced that he will preside over Mass at 10.30am in St Peter’s Square on that day, to mark the occasion…

U.S. accuses Syria of chemical attack (Al Jazeera) The United States has concluded that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces used chemical weapons in an attack in May, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said, vowing a response…

Ethiopian Orthodox ask government to respond to violence, church burnings (AFP) Orthodox Christian leaders in Ethiopia are demanding that the government respond to what they describe as an surge in violence that has seen dozens of churches burned to the ground. As they prepared to celebrate one of the year’s most significant holidays — Meskel, or “the finding of the cross” — church officials on Friday urged Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed to protect them and hold perpetrators of religious violence to account. ..

Church in India expresses concern about ‘Love Jihad’ (UCANews.com) Catholic leaders have supported a call to investigate two cases of “Love Jihad,” an alleged practice of Muslim men courting women with the aim of converting and marrying them. George Kurian, vice-chairman of the National Commission of Minorities, has asked the federal Home Ministry to press its National Investigation Agency to probe two cases reported by Christians in Kerala state…

Reports: number of Jews in Israel and worldwide on the rise (The Jerusalem Post) The population of the State of Israel has increased 2.1 percent since last year, according to a report released in time for Rosh Hashanah by the Central Bureau of Statistics. Today, there are 9.1 million citizens of Israel, of which some 6.7 million (74 percent) are Jewish, the report shows...



Tags: Syria India Refugees Migrants Jews

26 September 2019
Greg Kandra




Pope Francis met with religious congregations battling human trafficking on 26 September.
(photo: Vatican Media)


Pope urges Church to fight human trafficking (Vatican News) Pope Francis on 26 September met participants in the general assembly of Talitha Kum, a worldwide network of religious congregations fighting against trafficking in human persons. He urged more congregations and Church sectors to join in this fight…

Netanyahu chosen to form new government in Israel (Al Jazeera) Israel’s president has tasked Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with forming a new government after last week’s deadlocked election, his office announced. The announcement on Wednesday followed a joint meeting between President Reuven Rivlin, Netanyahu and the prime minister’s main challenger, Benny Gantz, who ruled out joining a government led by “a leader against whom stands a severe [corruption] indictment”…

Tribal Christian lynched for reportedly selling beef in India (UCANews.com) A mob has attacked and killed a Christian tribal man and injured two others accused of slaughtering a cow and selling beef in India’s Jharkhand state. A 15-strong cow vigilante group attacked Kalantus Barla, Fagu Kachhapand and Phillip Hahoro on 22 September in the eastern state. Barla died hours after the attack and the other two are in hospital with severe injuries, police officer V. Homkar told media…

Former rebel stronghold in Syria begins to rebuild (AP) Portraits of Syrian President Bashar Assad adorn a few buildings still intact after years of fighting and Russian soldiers hand out food and other supplies to residents of this Syrian town that was recently captured by the Syrian army. Khan Sheikoun, which holds a strategic position in Syria’s northwestern Idlib province, fell to Assad’s forces last month following weeks of a massive offensive by Syrian troops backed by Russian military support. On Wednesday, a group of foreign reporters on a trip to Syria organized by the Russian Defense Ministry saw municipal workers clearing the streets of debris, and Russian troops distributing aid…



Tags: Syria India Israel human trafficking

25 September 2019
Greg Kandra




In this image from February, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state, talks with journalists in Rome. This week at the UN, he called for solutions to save the world’s forests.
(photo: CNS/Paul Haring)


Cardinal says solutions to save forests needed ’without delay’ (CNS) At a time of increasing urbanization, the “irreplaceable importance” of forests is being “taken for granted and underestimated,” the Vatican’s secretary of state said 23 September at a high-level meeting at the United Nations. ”We all recognize how important forests are for the whole world and indeed for the very future of humanity: They are the world’s most reliable renewable resource and are essential for integral human development,” Cardinal Pietro Parolin said…

Ethiopia: 1200 killed in unrest over the past year (AP) The office of Ethiopia’s attorney general says more than 1,200 people have been killed and more than 1.2 million displaced in clashes in the country over the past year. The clashes, mostly along ethnic lines, have continued to strain the reforms announced by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed after he took office in April 2018…

Israel bars Gaza soccer players from leaving Gaza Strip (Haaretz) The Jerusalem District Court has barred the majority of the soccer players of a Rafah team from leaving the Gaza Strip and traveling to the West Bank for the return final match in the Palestinian soccer cup championship…

Cleaning operation at Western Wall (EuroNews.com) Equipped with long sticks, a team of cleaners on Tuesday (24 September) led by the Rabbi of the Western Wall gouged out written notes that visitors to Judaism’s Western Wall in Jerusalem traditionally cram into its crevices…



Tags: Ethiopia Gaza Strip/West Bank Jerusalem United Nations

24 September 2019
Greg Kandra




In this image from 2018, a migrant empties a bottle of water in a bucket at a makeshift camp next to the Moria camp for refugees and migrants on the Greek island of Lesbos. Interior ministers are demanding a response from the European Union to the growing migrant crisis. (photo: CNS/Giorgos Moutafis, Reuters)

Interior ministers demand EU response to migrant crisis (Vatican News) The Interior Ministers of Italy, Malta, France, and Germany are meeting at a time of concerns about a growing influx of migrants fleeing war, persecution, and poverty. They demand that those rescued at sea will be distributed among other countries and not only be the responsibility of the nations where they land. German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer said they want an “emergency mechanism” for the coming months until the incoming EU’s executive European Commission starts working on a permanent arrangement…

Church needs to ’find solutions’ to India’s challenges (UCANews.com) The Church in India needs to have a paradigm shift if it is to emerge from its comfort zone and refocus on its original mission, say priests. The Catholic Priests Conference of India (CPCI) made the call at its 17-19 September annual convention in the central Indian city of Indore, attended by 40 priests from 18 dioceses…

Iraq’s only Anglican priest says secular government would improve life for Christians (Premier.org) Iraq’s first ordained Anglican vicar tells Premier he never doubts that God is good because evil is done “through what our hands do.” There are nearly 20,000 ordained ministers in the Church of England; in Iraq there is just one. That one Anglican vicar is Rev Faez Jirjees, who, age 53, is the parish priest at Saint George’s Church in Baghdad where Canon Andrew White used to work...

Tunnels below Jerusalem were hiding ’goldmine’ of biblical treasures (The Express) Temple Mount is a hill located in the Holy Land of Jerusalem, which, according to the Bible, was the site of several events in the life of Jesus Christ. The present site is a flat plaza surrounded by retaining walls dominated by three monumental structures from the early Umayyad period, including the Al-Aqsa Mosque, the Dome of the Rock and the Dome of the Chain, as well as four minarets. In the 12th century, the temple became the headquarters of the Christian Crusaders known as the Knights Templar and, according to archaeologist Dr. Shimon Gibson, biblical relics were discovered below the temple…



Tags: India Iraq Refugees Migrants Refugee Camps





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