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Current Issue
June, 2018
Volume 44, Number 2
  
18 September 2017
Greg Kandra




Salesian Father Tom Uzhunnalil, who was released from captivity on 12 September, greets journalists as he arrives for a news conference in Rome on 16 September. Father Uzhunnalil, who is from Kerala, was abducted during an attack on a charity care home in Yemen in March 2016 and imprisoned for 18 months. (photo: CNS/Junno Arocho Esteves)

Freed Salesian priest describes his capture, liberation (CNS) Salesian Father Tom Uzhunnalil was sitting in a room in an unknown location — one of several he had been relocated to during his 18-month imprisonment — when he received some unexpected news. “Those who kept me came to where I slept (and said), ‘I bring you good news. We are sending you home. If you need to go to the bathroom, go. Take a shower, but quickly!’” Father Uzhunnalil told reporters 16 September at the Salesian headquarters in Rome...

As East Mosul comes back to life, West Mosul remains in ruins (NPR) Nine months after Iraqi forces drove ISIS from eastern Mosul, the east side’s main street has come back to life. Wedding convoys decorated with ribbons and flowers honk their horns. Female drivers pull up in front of pastry shops and stalls piled high with fresh fruit...

Understanding India’s only Catholic federal minister (UCANews.com) Recent photos of Indian church leaders meeting with top federal officials almost always include Alphons Joseph Kannanthanam, a Catholic who joined India’s ruling pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in 2011. Many Catholic officials have accused the party of not treating religious minorities fairly. However, when Amit Shah, the BJP president, visited southern Kerala State in June to meet Catholic bishops, it was Kannanthanam who did the organizing...

Orthodox join procession commemorating Russian royalty (RT) The Russian Orthodox Church has commemorated the memory of Grand Duchess Elisabeth Fyodorovna Romanov and tragic events of the 1917 Revolution in a service and procession, with hundreds of worshipers joining the holiday outside Moscow...



15 September 2017
J.D. Conor Mauro




Embed from Getty Images
Syrian refugee children play on a street in the Palestinian Shatila refugee camp, on the southern outskirts of the Lebanese capital Beirut. (photo: Anwar Amro/AFP/Getty Images)

Despite tension, Syrian refugees find sympathy in Lebanese villages (Al Monitor) Six years since the war in Syria began, tensions in Lebanon between Syrian refugees and Lebanese nationals have continued to intensify, especially in Beirut. It is no secret that Lebanese officials have contributed to the scapegoating of refugees for Lebanon’s socioeconomic and political woes. However, the xenophobic rhetoric seems not to have infected many of Lebanon’s communities near the border in the country’s two most impoverished regions. While tensions do exist, there appears to be a level of mutual understanding over their difficult circumstances…

Life for Aleppo residents creeps toward normalcy (Christian Science Monitor) Life is slowly returning to the desolate streets of Aleppo — men hawk goods on a street corner; teenagers sell bananas off a picnic table. Rami Abdurrahman, director of the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, says thousands of people have returned to their homes in Aleppo — once Syria’s largest city — from camps for the displaced…

ISIS is on the run in Iraq, but some major battles remain (Washington Post) Iraqi security forces have freed most of northern Iraq from the grip of the Islamic State. But U.S. and Iraqi officials warn that thousands of militants remain in the country and are ready to wage a ferocious fight in a desert region bordering Syria. The bulk of the war against the ISIS was finished when Iraqi security forces reclaimed the cities of Mosul and Tal Afar this summer. But the battle looming in western Anbar province is expected to be one of the most complex to date…

Christians divided on Kurdish independence referendum (Fides) With the approach of the referendum announced by the government of the autonomous region of Iraqi Kurdistan to sanction its independence from Baghdad, there are contrasting signs from the local Christian communities…

Violence still plagues Christians in Iraq (Al Monitor) Christian leaders say Iraq’s monasteries and churches could soon become mere relics unless something is done to curb the violence against Christians. During a 26 August press conference, Syriac Catholic Patriarch Mar Ignatius Joseph III of Antioch described Christians as “the most targeted and most vulnerable” minority in the region — and not just because of ISIS…

Catholic-Orthodox dialogue resumes, with greater Russian involvement (AsiaNews) At the end of a summer of intense contacts and visits between the representatives of the Holy See and the Patriarchate of Moscow, the renewed dialogue between Russian Orthodox and Catholics seems to be having the desired result: a resurgence of cooperation and understanding between Catholic Church and Orthodox churches…



Tags: Syria Iraq Refugees Iraqi Christians Catholic-Orthodox relations

14 September 2017
Greg Kandra




In the video above, a Coptic bishop speaks of the persecution some Christians are facing in Egypt and says: “Forgiving those who attack us makes us stronger.” (video: Rome Reports/YouTube)

Russia fires on ISIS targets in Syria (The Washington Post) Russia’s military says it fired seven cruise missiles at Islamic State targets in the eastern Syrian province of Deir el-Zour. The Defense Ministry said the Kalibr cruise missiles were launched from two submarines in the Mediterranean on Thursday...

Pope Francis moved by meeting with freed Indian priest (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Wednesday met privately in the Vatican with the Indian Catholic priest who was freed from abduction by gunmen in Yemen...

Ethiopian religions reach out to fight AIDS (AP) The leaders of Ethiopia’s three main religions will launch a national campaign to create awareness about HIV and Aids and attempt to dispel the stigma attached to those who are infected with the deadly disease. The week-long campaign, which is being launched by the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, the Islamic Affairs Supreme Council and the Ethiopian Evangelical Church, will begin when Muslims attend Friday prayers, the leaders told reporters late on Wednesday...

Refugees a priority as Canadian parliament resumes (Catholic Register) After a surge of asylum seekers over the summer, Canada’s refugee policies will be the top concern for many faith-based groups when Parliament resumes 18 September...

Devoted few nurture rugby in Iraq (The Daily Mail) t was his only job and sole means of funding his studies, but 20-year-old Mohammed Abbas left it for a chance to play on Iraq’s first national rugby side. In a war-torn country where football has long been the dominant sport, Abbas has joined 19 other young Iraqis training for the Arab Rugby Sevens Championship in Jordan next month. The sport is so new to Iraq that there is not yet the money to pay them...



13 September 2017
Greg Kandra




The Rev. Tom Uzhunnalil exits an airplane in Muscat, Oman after his release yesterday.
(photo: Vatican Radio/AFP)


Holy See expresses gratitude for rescue of abducted Indian priest (Vatican Radio) The Vatican has received with deep gratitude the news of the release of an Indian Catholic priest Rev. Tom Uzhunnalil, after 18 months of captivity following his abduction by unknown gunmen in March last year in Yemen. The Salesian of Don Bosco priest arrived in the Omani capital Muscat in an air force plane soon after his release on Tuesday, 12 September...

Pope grants assent to erecting new eparchy (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has granted his assent to the decision of the Synod of Bishops of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church to erect the Eparchy of Chernivtsi, with its seat in the same city and with territory taken from the Eparchy of Kolomyia- Chernivtsi, making it a suffragan of the Metropolitan see of Ivano-Frankivsk...

Aleppo archbishop: ‘War is fought through forgiveness’ (Fides) “War is not fought with war, but through dialogue, forgiveness, reconciliation, and the will to start a new life and follow new paths of peace,” said Armenian Catholic Archbishop of Aleppo, Butros Marayati, at the international meeting “Paths of Peace" organized by the Community of Sant’Egidio in Munster, Germany...

India’s Catholic bishops to release guidelines on sexual harassment (Vatican Radio) India’s Catholic bishops are releasing a document this week that proves guidelines to prevent and deal with sexual harassment, especially of women, in Church-run institutions. “CBCI Guidelines to Deal with Sexual Harassment at Workplace” is the title of the document that will be released on Thursday at a press conference at the CBCI Centre in New Delhi...

Iran strikes deal with Syria to repair power grid (Reuters) Iran signed deals with Damascus on Tuesday to repair Syria’s power grid, state media said, a potentially lucrative move for Tehran that points to a deepening economic role after years of fighting in the Syrian conflict...

Ethiopia now threatened by locusts (The African Independent) Swarms of locusts have invaded north-west Ethiopia, posing a serious threat to crops there and putting the region, as well as the entire Horn of Africa, at risk of further food insecurity, officials said on Monday. Just over a week since the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) warned of new locust hordes descending on Eritrea and Sudan after devastating swarms hit west and northern Africa last year, Ethiopian authorities said the pests had already been spotted in Tigray and Amhara districts...



12 September 2017
J.D. Conor Mauro





Abducted priest Tom Uzhunnalil rescued from Yemen (The Hindu) The Rev. Tom Uzhannalil from Kottayam, Kerala, who was kidnapped from Aden and kept in captivity by Yemeni militants for 18 months, has been released, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj announced on Tuesday. “I am happy to inform that Father Tom Uzhunnalil has been rescued,” Ms. Swaraj posted on her Twitter account. Since his abduction, Ms. Swaraj has made several statements on the government’s efforts to secure his release, as they have been able to do in other such cases, including the release of an aid worker from Afghanistan…

Orthodox patriarch targeted in Jerusalem protests against church land sales (Christian Today) Palestinians have rallied in Jerusalem against the selling of church property to Jewish settlers. The protesters demanded the removal of Patriarch Theophilos III over his role in selling the land. The rally was sparked by a court ruling over the selling of three major compounds near the Jaffa Gate in the Old City to an Israeli Jewish settler group, Ateret Cohanim…

Christian activists to church leaders: Speak out against growth of Hindu extremism (Fides) “We, as Indian Christians, are concerned about the change that we see in our country that, from a pluralist democracy, is almost turning into a sort of reign dominated by a Hindu ideology,” says an open letter addressed to the leaders of Indian churches, signed by 101 well-known Christian activists and intellectuals, including educators, activists, lawyers, journalists, theologians, philosophers, academics and pastors. “Churches must act before it is too late…”

Pope Tawadros launches Coptic Orthodox church in Australia (Daily News Egypt) Pope Tawadros II of Alexandria launched on Sunday the St. Verena and St. Bishoy Coptic Orthodox Church in Melbourne. Some representatives of the Christian communities in Melbourne attended the opening of the church…



Tags: India Violence against Christians Palestine Coptic

11 September 2017
Greg Kandra




Pope Francis answers questions from journalists aboard his flight from Cartagena, Colombia, to Rome on 10 September. Earlier, the pope cut and bruised his face on the popemobile window when he was greeting people. (photo: CNS/Paul Haring)

Turkey halts migrants in Black Sea (Vatican Radio) Turkish authorities say they have stopped 313 migrants on the Black Sea attempting to reach Balkan countries in the last two days, suggesting the emergence of an alternative route to Europe...

Report: Iraq holding hundreds of wives, children of ISIS suspects (BBC) The Iraqi authorities are holding more than 1,300 foreign family members of suspected Islamic State militants at a displaced people’s camp south of Mosul, officials and aid workers say. The women and children, from at least 13 countries, mostly fled Tal Afar as troops recaptured the city last month. The Norwegian Refugee Council, which is providing assistance at the camp, said they were in “de-facto detention”...

Pope injured during visit to Colombia (CNS) Driving through the streets of the Caribbean coastal city of Cartegena, the popemobile braked suddenly, and Pope Francis hit his head. A big bump appeared quickly on his left cheekbone and a few specks of blood from his scratched eyebrow stained his white soutane. After a quick treatment with ice, according to the Vatican, the pope was back in the popemobile making his way to the Church of St. Peter Claver, the Jesuit who devoted the last 40 years of his life to caring for and ministering to African slaves...

Gaza poverty rate reaches 80 percent (Middle East Media Center) Chairman of the Popular Committee Against the Siege on Gaza said, on Friday, that poverty rate among Palestinians in the territory has reached 80 per cent. “This has had disastrous effects on all aspects of life,” explained Jamal Al-Khodari in a press statement...

Ethiopia marks new year (The Herald) Ethiopia, with its own calendar, will be starting its New Year 2010 today, and citizens were busy preparing for celebrations...



Tags: Ethiopia Gaza Strip/West Bank Turkey Immigration

8 September 2017
Greg Kandra




In the video above, children return to school in Mosul, many for the first time in three years.
(video: TRT World/YouTube)


Mosul reveals the future of high-tech warfare (Wired) Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared victory in the city on 10 July after almost nine months of devastating fighting, but ISIS remains dangerous even in defeat. Every door, window, side street and vehicle will have to be checked and cleared. Meanwhile, the jihadists still cling on elsewhere in the country, where they are expected to employ the same tactics...

Severe drought adds to number of displaced in Ethiopia (Fides) As a result of the dramatic drought, the phenomenon of the displaced people of the southeast villages of Ethiopia, bordering Somalia, continues...

Refugees from conflict zones opt for war-torn Syria (The Jordan Times) Millions of Syrians have fled their country’s war as refugees, but for tens of thousands of people escaping conflict elsewhere, Syria is also a place of refuge...

Ukraine fears Russia will use exercises to invade (BBC) Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko says he fears that Russia could use massive military manoeuvres next week as a cover for invasion. In a major speech, Mr. Poroshenko said Russia’s Zapad-2017 exercises with Belarus might be “a smokescreen to create new Russian army assault groups to invade Ukrainian territory.” Russia says 13,000 troops will take part in Zapad, on 14-20 September...

Catholic priest in India advocates for cremation (UCANews.com) An acute lack of space has forced Christian cemeteries in New Delhi to reuse graves after five years, with a Catholic priest advocating that Christians opt for cremation...

In Lviv, auxiliary bishop for Philadelphia ordained (ByzCath.org) In St. Yura Cathedral, on 3 September 2017 during the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy led by the Father and Head of the UGCC His Beatitude Sviatoslav, Bishop Andriy (Rabiy) was ordained...



7 September 2017
Greg Kandra




People hold placards and candles during a vigil for Gauri Lankesh in Ahmedabad, India on 6 September. The previous day, the Indian journalist was shot dead outside her home. The Catholic Church in India Wednesday strongly condemned the murder. (photo: CNS/Amit Dave, Reuters)

Syria says Israel bombed military base (The New York Times) Syria accused Israel on Thursday of conducting an overnight strike on a military base said by analysts to house chemical weapons and advanced missiles. The Syrian military reported the attack, saying it had left two people dead near the town of Masyaf in western Syria and had caused unspecified material damage...

Indian Catholic Church condemns death of journalist (Vatican Radio) The Catholic Church of India on Wednesday strongly condemned the murder of a noted Kannada journalist, on Tuesday in Bengaluru who fought the forces of evil, hatred and corruption...

Syrian refugees trade violence for thirst (Al jazeera) Currently, 1.4 million Syrians live in Jordan, while another 1.5 million have resettled in Lebanon. Both countries have historically struggled with seasonal water shortages, low investment in infrastructure, and poor management of water resources. The dramatic population increases have added another layer of stress, with demand for water rising by 22 and 28 percent respectively in Jordan and Lebanon since the Syrian crisis started...

Mosul students volunteer to restore library (Rudaw.net) Citing inaction by the Iraqi government and politicians, a group of student volunteers came together this weekend to clean the debris from the University of Mosul’s Ibn Khaldun Center Library. “We are young, we saw our city destroyed and the government is unable to help,” the organizer of the volunteer group, Mustafa Khaled, told Rudaw English of their work on Saturday and Sunday...

Pope Tawadros visits Canberra congregation (The Canberra Times) Canberra’s Coptic community hopes the Coptic Orthodox pope’s visit to the region will shine a light on the plight of Copts across the Middle East. Pope Tawadros II visited Canberra for the first time yesterday meeting Kaleen’s St Mark Coptic Orthodox congregation after earlier meeting with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull...

From one refugee generation to another (Catholic Register) Dr. Nhung Tran-Davies will never forget the January day she saw the Alshablis, a family fleeing war in Syria, walk through the doors of Edmonton International Airport...



6 September 2017
Greg Kandra




Embed from Getty Images
In this image from July, Syrians gather with pictures of victims during a memorial in Khan Sheikhun, a rebel-held town in the northwestern Syria, 100 days after a toxic gas attack that was reported to have killed 88 people, including 31 children. (photo: Omar Haj Kadour/AFP/Getty Images)

Report: Syria used chemical weapons 27 times (The Guardian) Syrian forces have used chemical weapons more than two-dozen times during the country’s civil war, including in the deadly attack that led to US airstrikes, UN war crimes investigators said on Wednesday. In the most conclusive findings to date from investigations into chemical weapons attacks during the conflict, the UN commission of inquiry on Syria said a government warplane dropped sarin on Khan Sheikhun in April, killing more than 80 civilians...

Jerusalem churches warn of ‘systematic’ erosion of Christian presence in Holy Land (Haaretz) Church leaders in Jerusalem took the unusual step of issuing a statement protesting a recent ruling by a court in the capital instructing the Greek Orthodox Church to sell three buildings in the Old City to a Jewish settler organization. The statement also expressed opposition to an Israeli bill that would transfer ownership of church land sold to private citizens to the state...

Ethiopia faces worsening drought (AP) More than eight million people in drought-hit southeastern and southern Ethiopia are in need of emergency food assistance, officials said as the heads of the World Food Program, Food and Agriculture Organization and International Fund for Agricultural Development made a rare joint visit over the weekend. Despite economic growth in the past decade that has made Ethiopia one of Africa’s fastest-developing countries, rural areas are suffering as the nation faces its worst drought in years...

Latin Patriarchate names new coordinator for pastoral care of migrants (Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem) On 2 September 2017, Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa, Apostolic Administrator of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, appointed the Rev. Rafiq Nahra new coordinator for Coordination of the Pastoral Among Migrants...

Climate change threatens survival of Jordan River (Climate Change News) Hydrologists and climate scientists have just calculated the future of one of the world’s most celebrated waterways, the River Jordan. Their conclusion is that the outlook is poor — and getting poorer...



5 September 2017
Greg Kandra




Embed from Getty Images
Syrian forces sit in the back of an armed vehicle west of Deir al-Zour on 4 September, after taking control of the area in the ongoing battle against ISIS. State media are reporting that the military has broken the siege of the city after more than two years.
(photo: George Ourfalian/AFP/Getty Images)


Syrian army reportedly breaks ISIS siege in Deir al-Zour (BBC) The Syrian military has broken a siege of the eastern city of Deir al-Zour, surrounded for years by so-called Islamic State, state media say. The official Sana news agency reported that troops and allied militiamen had joined up with forces at the Brigade 137 base on the city’s outskirts. An estimated 93,000 civilians have been trapped in an enclave on the western bank of the River Euphrates since 2015...

Vatican calls for new efforts to combat trafficking of migrants (Vatican Radio) Politicians, business leaders, civil society and faith communities must step up efforts to combat the alarming increase in human trafficking. That message was at the heart of a statement given at a meeting in Vienna on Monday by the Holy See’s representative to the fifth thematic session on the Global Compact for safe, orderly and regular migration...

Charity warns of ‘unlivable’ conditions in Gaza (Aljazeera) One million children are suffering from “unlivable” conditions in the Gaza Strip, according to Save the Children, an international charity that promotes children’s rights and provides aid worldwide. “One million children in Gaza are living in dire conditions,” the group said in a statement on Tuesday. “Save the Children considers Gaza to be unlivable now...”

Mother Teresa to be co-patron of Archdiocese of Calcutta (Vatican Radio) As the first anniversary of the sainthood of Mother Teresa was marked on Monday, the Archdiocese of Calcutta, in eastern India, is set to declare her as its co-patron...

Items stolen by ISIS from Mosul museum recovered (IraqiNews.com) Eight artifacts, stolen by Islamic State from Mosul museum, have been recovered after a displaced family returned them to police, an official said. “A displaced family found pivotal artifacts as it returned back to house in al-Zanjili district. The relics were returned back to Federal Police elements deployed there,” Moss’ab Jassim, head of Nineveh monuments department, told Baghdad Today on Sunday...







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