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Current Issue
June, 2018
Volume 44, Number 2
  
31 July 2018
Greg Kandra




A flooded house is seen in the Kottayam district of India's Kerala state, where torrential rains have inundated hundreds of villages and displaced at least 100,000 people. (photo: UCANews/IANS)

Church helps victims as floods batter India (UCANews.com) Unusually long and heavy monsoon rains have inundated several parts of India and claimed at least 537 lives as church agencies and others reach out to help some two million people affected by floods. The Federal National Emergency Response Centre has recorded floods in six states after the monsoon began in Kerala in the south in early June. Teams of church people are working to provide immediate relief to flood-affected people, said Anjan Bag, who manages disaster intervention at Caritas India…

Druze women, children reportedly abducted by ISIS in Syria (Vatican News) Reports from Syria suggest that at least 36 women and children were abducted when the militant group attacked their villages in Sweida, a province in the south, last week. A few women have since managed to escape, but further details are unknown…

Doctor describes challenges Syrian refugees face in Jordan and Lebanon (WBUR/Public Radio) Millions of people have fled Syria since the civil war started there in 2011. Millions more are internally displaced. Here & Now’s Meghna Chakrabarti speaks with Dr. Zaher Sahloul, president and co-founder of MedGlobal, a relief organization that has been working in refugee camps in the region…

‘The city of my birth in India is becoming a climate casualty…’ (The New York Times) I spent the first seven years of my life in this delta city, close to where the Ganges pours into the sea. In my memory, it was a city of steam and sweat, rice and fish, of languid, muggy afternoons. A city of water. Lots and lots of water. On this trip, in the era of global warming, I found a city at profound risk...

Hairdressing school gives Syrian refugees in Lebanon dream of independence (Reuters) Around 20 Syrian and Lebanese girls and women will study hairdressing for six months under the L’Oreal Foundation’s Beauty for a Better Life program, earning an internationally recognized certificate if they are successful…



Tags: Syria India Refugees

30 July 2018
Greg Kandra




A Syrian boy walks at a refugee camp in Zahrani, Lebanon last month. Russia is pushing for refugees to return home. (photo: CNS/Ali Hashisho, Reuters)

Syrian refugees fear Russian repatriation (Vatican News) Russia, a key backer of hardline Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, wants refugees to go home, though an ongoing conflict in Syria has killed more than 350,000 people and displaced millions. The Russian special presidential envoy for Syria, Alexander Lavrentiev, told reporters he had discussed the repatriation of refugees with government officials during his visits Thursday to Jordan and Lebanon…

Cardinal: call to ban confession in India is against freedom of religion (Vatican News) The Catholic Church of India has expressed shock that the government’s National Commission for Women (NCW) has called for abolishing the Sacrament of Confession, saying it is undue interference in a sacred an vital issue of Christian life. Cardinal Oswald Gracias, Archbishop of Bombay, the president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI) issued a press release on 27 July saying the demand by the commission is absurd…

Latin Patriarchate issues statement about new Israeli Nation-State Law (Latin Patriarchate website) The recently enacted Basic Law: “Israel, the Nation-State of the Jewish People” is a cause of great concern. Seemingly enacted for internal political reasons, while defining Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people, the law fails to provide any constitutional guarantees for the rights of the indigenous and other minorities living in the country. Palestinian citizens of Israel, constituting 20 percent are flagrantly excluded from the law…

Ukraine’s president calls Russian Orthodox Church a security threat (Politico) Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko on Saturday called the influence of the Russian Orthodox Church a national security threat. At a ceremony marking the country’s conversion to Christianity 1,030 years ago, AFP reported that the Ukrainian leader said that the Russian church’s sway among Ukrainian believers is a “direct threat to the national security of Ukraine.” The head of state also added that “this obliges us to act…”

Indian state ’treats Christians as terrorists’ (UCANews.com) All nine Catholic bishops of India’s northeastern Jharkhand state have sought federal intervention to stop Christians being treated like terrorists as part of alleged state government harassment. The bishops told governor Draupadi Murmu, who is the representative of the Indian president, that the state government led by the pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had used its Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS) to probe Christian institutions…

Egypt investigates death of Coptic bishop (Egyptian Streets) Following the gruesome discovery of the corpse of Bishop Epiphanius, Egypt’s Coptic Orthodox Church announced that authorities would be officially investigating the death. Bishop Epiphanius was the head of Anba Makar Monastery (Saint Macarius the Great) near Wadi el-Natroun. The church issued a statement on Sunday that the bishop had died in ‘strange circumstances…’



Tags: Syria India Egypt

27 July 2018
Greg Kandra




The video report above shows the aftermath of the attack by ISIL (ISIS) in Syria on Wednesday that left more than 200 people dead. (video: RT/YouTube)

Gruesome massacre in Syria is a reminder ISIS is far from dead (CNN) The militants went from home to home, killing families as they slept, before launching several suicide bombings on Wednesday, targeting a bustling vegetable market as well as government-held positions in the southern Syrian province of Suwayda. When the attackers ran out of ammunition, they detonated their explosive vests. By the day’s end more than 200 people were dead, and 180 wounded, in a gruesome massacre claimed by ISIS. The coordinated assault is a chilling reminder that ISIS is far from dead…

Reports: Ethiopian Prime Minister brings end Orthodox schism (AFP) Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has overseen the reunification of two feuding wings of the one of the world’s oldest Christian churches, his top aide said Friday. The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church split in 1991 over the naming of a new patriarch after the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) removed the Derg military junta from power. Abiy oversaw a reunification ceremony in Washington, attended by priests in flowing black and red robes, state media reported…

Indian Christians upset by call to abolish confession (UCANews.com) An Indian federal agency has proposed abolishing the sacrament of confession on grounds that Christian priests misuse it to blackmail and target women, but church officials believe the plan is unnecessary interference in religious affairs…

Lebanon welcomes Russian proposal on refugees (The Daily Star) Lebanese officials Thursday welcomed Russia’s proposal for the return of Syrian refugees, pledging to form a committee to oversee the return with General Security playing a key role, according to a source with knowledge of the discussions…

Russian Orthodox Church slams plan to continue selling beer at stadiums (Reuters) The Russian Orthodox Church has criticized a proposed plan for Russia to relax its ban on beer sales at sports stadiums after a regional official asked President Vladimir Putin to continue sales after the World Cup. Russia relaxed its 2005 ban on alcohol sales at stadiums for the football tournament this summer in line with football governing body FIFA’s regulations. Beer sales in the 11 host cities rose by up to 39 percent during the tournament…



Tags: Syria India Lebanon Ethiopia

26 July 2018
Greg Kandra




In this image from last summer, a displaced Iraqi boy fills a bottle with water in Jada, Iraq. Iraqi Cardinal Louis Raphael Sako has issued a letter to his flock, asking them to promote harmony in their country. (photo: CNS/Suhaib Salem, Reuters) Caption

Iraqi cardinal appeals for citizens to come together (Vatican News) Recently appointed Iraqi Cardinal Louis Raphael Sako issued an appeal in a heart-felt letter to the citizens of Iraq this week. In his letter he asks for help from the people in order to promote harmony, unity and partnership in their country…

Death toll from ISIS attack in Syria climbs to 216 (AP) The death toll from coordinated attacks by Islamic State fighters on a usually peaceful southern Syrian city and surrounding countryside has climbed to 216, a local health official said Thursday, in the worst violence to hit the area since the country’s conflict began. Mass funerals were held in the city of Sweida on Thursday, a day after the wave of attacks that began in the early hours of the mourning and lasted for hours. The city was the scene of several suicide bombings, including one at a busy vegetable market that left a scene of devastation and set in motion the coordinated assaults…

Caste bias alleged at Indian relief camp (The Hindu) A group of people belonging to the Dalit community have alleged that they faced caste discrimination at a relief camp at Pallippad panchayat in Alappuzha district. Fifty-six members of the community, belonging to 23 families, registered a complaint with Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and District Collector S. Suhas, stating that members of the Christian community had humiliated them at a relief camp functioning at Anjilimoodu L.P. School. Mr. Suhas has ordered a probe into the complaint…

Thousands of Syrian refugees want to remain in Lebanon (The Daily Star) At least 30,000 Syrian refugees who fought against the Syrian army hope to remain in Lebanon, a representative of Russia’s Foreign Ministry said Tuesday…

Russian Orthodox patriarch hopes anniversary will bring peace to Ukraine (RT) The head of the Russian Orthodox Church has expressed hope that the forthcoming 1030th anniversary of Christianization of the Kievan Rus, and planned celebrations for the event, will help to overcome strife in Ukraine…



Tags: Syria Iraq Iraqi Christians ISIS

25 July 2018
J.D. Conor Mauro




The Musa family fled Bashiqa, Iraq, in 2014 in the face of ISIS attacks. The family lived in Dohuk, Iraq, for three years. (photo: CNS/courtesy Catholic Relief Services)

In Iraq, the threat to Assyrians remains (AINA) Thanks to the generosity of donors around the world, Christians are returning from internal exile, determined to keep their faith alive, despite extraordinary challenges. But we must not be complacent about the fundamental political problems threatening the existence of a religiously, racially and culturally diverse Iraq…

Priest in Gaza: ‘people living in fear of a new war’ (Vatican News) As tension continues to erupt in violent clashes on the border between Israel and Gaza, the living conditions in the Gaza Strip continue to deteriorate. A Catholic Parish Priest speaks of the desperation of the people, of the dwindling Christian community, and of the widespread fear of a possible new war…

Deadly attacks hit Syrian villages, city of Suweida (Daily Star Lebanon) ISIS militants killed about 100 people in a series of attacks on government-held parts of southwestern Syria Wednesday, official sources said…

Award given to priest and builder of bridges between Islam and Christianity (AsiaNews) The Rev. Samir Khalil Samir, an Egyptian Jesuit and internationally renowned scholar, is this year’s recipient of the special award of the Stephanus Foundation for Persecuted Christians. The Foundation, through its chairperson Michaela Koller, decided to honor Father Samir because of his service to the spiritual heritage of Arab Christians…



Tags: Syria Iraq Gaza Strip/West Bank Interreligious

24 July 2018
J.D. Conor Mauro




A Jahalin Bedouin man and his son are seen in a tent in Khan al Ahmar, West Bank, on 17 June. Israel's Supreme Court ruled in May in favor of demolishing the village, home to about 190 Jahalin Bedouin people. (photo: CNS/Debbie Hill)

U.N. denounces grave ‘assaults’ on fundamental rights of Palestinian people (U.N. News) From arbitrary detentions and deliberate deprivation, to attacks against civilians and forced displacements, the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, expressed “acute concerns” on Monday over the current human rights situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory…

Advancing technology unearths ‘lost city of ancient Israel’ (Al Monitor) A team of Israeli and American researchers is using cutting-edge technology to explore and document an obscure and inaccessible but increasingly significant archaeological site in central Israel…

Copts celebrate first liturgy in new church in seven years (Sight) Seven years after their previous church was closed by local authorities because of “security reasons”, the Coptic community in the Egyptian village of Kom El-Loufy, 250 kilometres south of Cairo, held a first Divine Liturgy in their new church on Sunday. The 1,600 Copts from the village in Minya governorate were marking the completion of the first stage of building of their church, the Church of the Virgin Mary and Martyr Abanoub al Nahisi…

Joy as two patriarchates of Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahdo Church unite (Borkena) Sources close to the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahdo Church say the Holy Synods in Ethiopia and the United States reached agreement to unite which may mean that Abune Merkorios could return home soon after over two decades. An agreement has been reached which means that there will no longer be two patriarchates hereafter; the two holy synods will unite to form a single one which was the case for millennia before TPLF took control of power in Addis Ababa in 1991…

Israel shoots down Syrian fighter jet over Golan Heights (Al Jazeera) The Israeli army said it shot down a Syrian fighter jet that allegedly crossed into the occupied Golan Heights as heavy fighting continued between the Syrian military and the last rebel holdouts in the country’s southwest…

Christians in India observe Martyrdom Day (UCAN India) Christians of different denominations across India remembered those killed for their faith with prayers on 22 July. Christian groups, mostly Pentecostal and Protestant churches, observed Indian Christian Martyrdom Day praying for those killed mostly by Hindu hardliners…



Tags: India Egypt Israel United Nations Ethiopian Orthodox Church

23 July 2018
J.D. Conor Mauro




Iraqi youth pose with Syriac Catholic Patriarch Ignatius Joseph III on 22 July during a gathering at Our Lady of Light convent in Faytroun, Lebanon. (photo: CNS/courtesy Syriac Catholic patriarchate)

First international convention of young Syriac Catholics held in Lebanon (Fides) The words of Jesus’ invitation, “Come and See,” are the guiding thread of the first Syriac Youth International Convention, which took place in Lebanon this weekend. The conference, said Syriac Catholic Patriarch Ignatius Joseph III, was intended as an opportunity to share with the young Syriac Catholics from all over the world the hope “for the renewal of the Christian community in the Holy Spirit…”

Maronite Patriarch: Law on Jewish state excludes Christians and Muslims (AsiaNews) The new Israeli law defining the country as “the nation-state of the Jewish people” is unacceptable, says Maronite Catholic Patriarch Bechara Peter, because of its exclusion of Christians and Muslims, among others. The church leader denounced the law as “ignoble, anti-democratic and anti-pluralist…”

Essential services on verge of shutdown in Gaza as emergency fuel set to run out (U.N. News) Supplies of emergency fuel provided by the United Nations for critical facilities in Gaza are being fast depleted, a senior U.N. relief official there warned on Sunday. “At least one hospital has been forced to shut down for a few hours, and services are being dramatically reduced at others,” said Jamie McGoldrick, the Humanitarian Coordinator for the Occupied Palestinian Territory…

Indian state accused of harassing Christians (UCAN India) A Catholic leader has sought Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s intervention to stop harassment of Christians after Jharkhand state ordered a probe into the funding of more than 80 Christian organizations. Modi’s pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party, which has run Jharkhand’s government since 2014, has been accused of moving against the Christian community, with police arresting nuns, priests and lay Christians on trumped-up charges…

East African bishops applaud Eritrea, Ethiopia peace process (CNS) The bishops of East Africa praised the peace efforts that brought an end to the two-decade war between Eritrea and Ethiopia. In a statement 22 July, the Association of Member Episcopal Conferences in Eastern Africa, known by the acronym AMECEA, said the steps taken by the leaders of both countries “show that Africans have the wisdom to solve their own problems amicably…”



Tags: India Lebanon Gaza Strip/West Bank Israel Maronite Patriarch Bechara Peter

20 July 2018
Greg Kandra




In this image from 2017, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres smiles as he visits with Syrian refugee women at Zaatari camp near Mafraq, Jordan. Jordan closed its border this year and refused to admit any more refugees, sparking a dramatic public backlash. (photo: CNS/Ammar Awad, Reuters)

Jordan shut out refugees — and then saw a backlash (The Washington Post) Over the past month, fighting in southern Syria has displaced more than 300,000 people — the most at any one time in Syria’s nearly seven-year civil war. More than 60,000 of these Syrians fled south, hoping to find safety in Jordan. But Jordan’s government closed the border and refused to let them in, claiming the country has already done enough to help Syrian refugees. Many Jordanians reacted angrily to the government’s position — #OpenTheBorders became a top trending Twitter hashtag in the country as people called the decision shameful and vowed to share their bread with the refugees…

India court steps in to try and contain mob violence (UCANews.com) India’s Supreme Court has asked parliament to introduce a new law to curb a dramatic spike in mob attacks and lynching incidents. The top court on 17 July directed states to set up special or fast-tracked courts to conduct trials of lynching perpetrators. It also wanted lower courts to hand down the maximum punishment for crimes involving mob attacks…

Israeli law declares the country a ’nation-state of the Jewish people’ (The New York Times) Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel has long demanded that the Palestinians acknowledge his country’s existence as the “nation-state of the Jewish people.” On Thursday, his governing coalition stopped waiting around and pushed through a law that made it a fact. In an incendiary move hailed as historic by Mr. Netanyahu’s right-wing coalition but denounced by centrists and leftists as racist and anti-democratic, Israel’s Parliament enacted a law that enshrines the right of national self-determination as “unique to the Jewish people” — not all citizens…

Italian bishops warn against culture of fear that rejects migrants (Vatican News) A statement released on Thursday by the Italian Bishops’ Conference warns against a current climate of fear in the country that has led to a political crackdown against immigration. The statement, entitled “Migrants, from fear to welcome” notes that we are becoming accustomed to images of an ongoing tragedy in which so many die or witness death during their journeys of hope…

Artist brings Jewish figures to life with paper (The Jerusalem Post) King David, a crusader queen, and Suleiman the Magnificent—these are just some of the ancient figures that have been brought to life by Karen Sargysan. The famed Dutch-Armenian artist spent months creating a series of colorful aluminum sculptures of a slew of historical and biblical characters who helped shape Jerusalem’s history. They are on display at “Rock, Paper, Scissors,” a new exhibition at the Tower of David Museum, which is located in the Old City of Jerusalem…



Tags: India Jerusalem Jordan Migrants

19 July 2018
Greg Kandra




People form a human chain in India's Jharkhand state on 15 July to protest what they say is state-sponsored harassment of Christians. (photo: UCANews.com)

Climate change is killing the cedars of Lebanon (The New York Times) After centuries of human depredation, the cedars of Lebanon face perhaps their most dangerous threat: Climate change could wipe out most of the country’s remaining cedar forests by the end of the century…

Syrian media: two pro-government villages evacuated (AP) All the residents of two Syrian pro-government villages in the country’s northwest — over 7,000 people — who were besieged by the rebels for three years were evacuated on Thursday to government-held territory, Syria’s state-run media reported…

Thousands protest harassment of Christians in India (UCANews.com) About 10,000 Christians in eastern India’s Jharkhand state formed a 20-kilometer [about 12 miles] human chain to protest what they call the state-sponsored harassment of Christians and a hate campaign against them. The mostly indigenous Christians say their government, run by the pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), has developed policies to take away their rights and land…

More Syrian refugees to leave Lebanon (The Daily Star) Two more groups of Syrian refugees will return to their homeland from Lebanon in the “next few days,” General Security chief Abbas Ibrahim said Thursday. ”The first group of about 1,000 [refugees] will leave from Arsal,” Ibrahim said to LBCI. Earlier Thursday, during a ceremony marking the opening of a security building in Baalbeck, Ibrahim said a security plan in the Bekaa Valley would serve the people. “They have their rights, [which] they will receive,” he said…

Emotional reunion of Ethiopian and Eritrean families (Borkena.com) The burden of Ethio-Eritrea conflict was heavy on some families. Families have lost loved ones as more than 80,000 people were killed on both sides during the two years war. But there were also families who were condemned to live separately until the rapprochement initiated by the prime minister Abiy Ahmed brought about peace between the two countries after 20 years of stalemate…



Tags: Syria Lebanon Ethiopia Indian Catholics

19 July 2018
Greg Kandra




People form a human chain in India's Jharkhand state on 15 July to protest what they say is state-sponsored harassment of Christians.

Climate change is killing the cedars of Lebanon (The New York Times) After centuries of human depredation, the cedars of Lebanon face perhaps their most dangerous threat: Climate change could wipe out most of the country’s remaining cedar forests by the end of the century…

Syrian media: two pro-government villages evacuated (AP) All the residents of two Syrian pro-government villages in the country’s northwest — over 7,000 people — who were besieged by the rebels for three years were evacuated on Thursday to government-held territory, Syria’s state-run media reported…

Thousands protest harassment of Christians in India (UCANews.com) About 10,000 Christians in eastern India’s Jharkhand state formed a 20-kilometer [about 12 miles] human chain to protest what they call the state-sponsored harassment of Christians and a hate campaign against them. The mostly indigenous Christians say their government, run by the pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), has developed policies to take away their rights and land…

More Syrian refugees to leave Lebanon (The Daily Star) Two more groups of Syrian refugees will return to their homeland from Lebanon in the “next few days,” General Security chief Abbas Ibrahim said Thursday. ”The first group of about 1,000 [refugees] will leave from Arsal,” Ibrahim said to LBCI. Earlier Thursday, during a ceremony marking the opening of a security building in Baalbeck, Ibrahim said a security plan in the Bekaa Valley would serve the people. “They have their rights, [which] they will receive,” he said…

Emotional reunion of Ethiopian and Eritrean families (Borkena.com) The burden of Ethio-Eritrea conflict was heavy on some families. Families have lost loved ones as more than 80,000 people were killed on both sides during the two years war. But there were also families who were condemned to live separately until the rapprochement initiated by the prime minister Abiy Ahmed brought about peace between the two countries after 20 years of stalemate…



Tags: Lebanon Ethiopia Indian Christians Eritrea





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