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Current Issue
September, 2018
Volume 44, Number 3
  
22 August 2017
Greg Kandra




In the video above, a leader of the Greek Catholic Church expresses his confidence that Christians will return to Iraq, saying “These are our homes, our lands.” (video: Rome Reports/YouTube)

Iraq: Up to 15,000 more Christians returning this month (Independent Catholic News) Within just one month, up to 15,000 displaced Iraqi Christians are expected to return to the town in the ancient Nineveh Plains which suffered the worst violence carried out by ISIS. The return of an expected 3,000 families to Qaraqosh comes amid growing concern among parents to secure places for their children at local schools — quickly being repaired in time for the new academic year next month...

Vatican, Russia agree on visa-free diplomatic travel (Vatican Radio) During the press conference following their talks, the Holy See and the Russian Federation signed an Agreement waiving visa requirements for holders of diplomatic passports. Cardinal Parolin and Foreign Minister Lavrov called this a sign of the two countries’ desire to continue to work together on bilateral relations and issues of international concern...

Cardinal Parolin describes meeting with Hilarion as ‘very constructive’ (Vatican Radio) The Vatican Secretary of State on Monday described the tone of his two-hour meeting with Metropolitan Hilarion, chairman of the Department of External Church Relations of the Patriarchate of Moscow, as “very constructive.” Cardinal Pietro Parolin is on afour-day visit to Russia during which he is scheduled to meet the Russian Patriarch Kirill and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Tuesday before holding talks with President Vladimir Putin in Sochi on Wednesday...

Caritas India helps flood victims (Vatican Radio) Caritas India, the Catholic Church’s main charity organization is reaching out to the unreached areas of Bihar and Assam states affected by the recent floods. The Rev. Frederick D’Souza, executive director of Caritas India said that the organization has allocated 50 million rupees (US$ 780,000) and is now handing out food, medicine an tents. Volunteers are also setting up medical camps...

World Humanitarian Day marked with call to support Jordan (The Jordan Times) On the occasion of the World Humanitarian Day (WHD), the UN reiterates that civilians, including humanitarian workers, must not be targets in regions of conflict. The occasion is also an opportunity to shed light on what Jordan has provided to those in need, particularly refugees, and to call on the international community to shoulder its responsibilities...

Ethiopia’s miraculous underground churches (BBC) Officially Christian since 330 AD, Ethiopia claims to be the oldest Christian country in the world. And despite being ravaged by poverty, faith has remained strong over the centuries; Lalibela’s medieval rock-hewn churches are clear proof of that...



21 August 2017
Greg Kandra




In this image from February, women hold placards as they take part in a protest demanding better living conditions at the refugee camp of the former international Helliniko airport in Athens, Greece. Pope Francis has released a message for World Day of Migrants and Refugees, underscoring the Church’s responsibility to extend aid. (photo: CNS/Yannis Kolesidis, EPA)

Pope releases message for World Day of Migrants and Refugees (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis’ message for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees — 14 January 2018 — was released by the Vatican on Monday. In the message the Holy Father says that providing aid to migrants and refugees is a “great responsibility, which the Church intends to share with all believers and men and women of good will, who are called to respond to the many challenges of contemporary migration with generosity, promptness, wisdom and foresight, each according to their own abilities...”

Cardinal Parolin discusses goals of upcoming Russia visit (Vatican Radio) Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin, who is on a 4-day visit to Russia, gave a wide-ranging interview with the Russian state news agency TASS, ahead of his arrival on Monday...

Jets destroy ISIS convoy in Syria (BBC) Dozens of so-called Islamic State (IS) militants are reported to have been killed in a Russian air strike near the eastern Syrian city of Deir al-Zour. Russia’s defense ministry said at least 200 jihadists had died after its air force targeted a convoy of about 20 4x4’s, armored vehicles and tanks. It did not say when the strike took place, but a monitoring group reported that a convoy had been hit last Friday...

Peace returns to Minya village after skirmishes between Muslims, Copts (The Egypt Independent) Calm returned to Ezbat al-Forn, of Abyouha village in Abu Qurqas city of Minya governorate on Monday, following skirmishes Sunday between Christians and Muslims. According to head of Abu Qurqas city council, Brigadier Mohamed Salah, fights broke out on Sunday after some Coptic citizens in the village of Ezbat al-Forn tried to pray at the house of a citizen under the guidance of a priest, prompting some Muslims to intercept for not possessing a license...

Indian prime minister’s Independence Day address leaves Christians ‘disappointed’ (The Tablet) Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Independence day address has done little to reassure the country’s Catholic population, as numbers of targeted attacks against Christians continues to rise. Addressing the nation from the historic Red Fort in New Delhi on 15 August, Modi declared that India is “the land of Gandhi and Buddha, we have to move forward taking everyone along...We have to successfully carry it forward and that is why in the name of faith, violence cannot be allowed.” Yet Christians have said the Prime Minister failed to denounce the targeted sectarian violence that minority Christians and Muslims have been subjected to under under Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) party, known for espousing a Hindu nationalist agenda...

Pope encourages Methodists and Waldensians to walk path to full Christian unity (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has urged Methodist and Waldensian Churches to continue to walk together with the Catholic Church on the path towards full Christian unity, pointing out that in a world lacerated by violence and fear it is all the more important to live and to convey the Christian message of welcome and fraternity...



18 August 2017
Greg Kandra




Embed from Getty Images
Syrians who were staying at a temporary shelter in Jibrin, on the outskirts of Aleppo, are transported to areas currently controlled by the Syrian regime in eastern Aleppo on 16 August 2017. An advisor to Syria’s president says the war is nearly over.
(photo: George Ourfalian/AFP/Getty Images)


Assad advisor says war nearing an end (Reuters) An advisor to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has said the six-year war is nearly over as foreign states cut backing for rebels, and vowed the government would confront any “illegitimate” forces, whether Turkish or American. Bouthaina Shaaban said the fact that Syria was staging the Damascus International Fair for the first time in the war “sends a message that the war has ended ... and we are at the start of the path towards reconstruction...”

Mosul faces struggles with reconstruction (BBC) “My husband is buried over there!” says Ishar, pointing towards a pile of rubble where her house once stood. Draped in a dark blue shawl and a long black abaya, the 32-year-old mother-of-four stumbles through the ruins of the Old City in the west of Mosul, which was recaptured by Iraqi government forces in July after an almost nine-month battle with so-called Islamic State...

Deepening drought hits Ethiopian herders (Reuters) Livestock are dying in parts of Ethiopia that are overwhelmingly reliant on their milk as deepening drought pushes up the number of districts in need of life-saving aid by 19 percent, according to a report released on Thursday...

Indian Catholics in Philadelphia celebrate heritage (CatholicPhilly.com) It was Indian Catholic Heritage Day on 12 August, sponsored by the Indian American Catholic Association of Greater Philadelphia and celebrated at St. Thomas Syro-Malabar Catholic Church in Northeast Philadelphia. The congregation was mostly India-born adults and their American-born children, many in the colorful festive garments of their native land. For the most part they were members of the Syro-Malabar Rite Catholic Church, and the Syro-Malankara Rite Catholic Church, with a smattering of Roman-rite Catholics, all with a common heritage...



17 August 2017
Greg Kandra




Embed from Getty Images
Indian motorists and residents wade through rain water flooded streets of a low lying area in Bangalore on 15 August 2017. (photo: Manjunath Kiran/AFP/Getty Images)

Heavy rains continue to batter parts of India; thousands displaced (The Indian Express) Heavy rains, inundation, and floods continue to wreak havoc in India, with the death toll rising in Assam, Bihar and West Bengal this week. Thousands have been affected by the situation, with many shifted to relief camps and temporary shelters. Train and rail services of the Eastern Railway have also taken a hit, with many lines inundated or damaged in the rains...

New life amid ruins in Mosul’s maternity hospital (Reuters) Al-Khansa Hospital in East Mosul may be a shell of its former self but it is still the city’s main government-run maternity facility. Last month alone, despite severe shortages of medicines and equipment, it delivered nearly 1,400 babies...

Russian Orthodox Church will discuss Ukraine during cardinal’s visit (Crux) Ukraine will be on the agenda when the Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, visits Moscow on 20-24 August. Parolin will be the highest-ranking Vatican diplomat to visit Russia since one of his predecessors, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, consecrated Moscow’s Catholic cathedral in 1999...

Tired by war, Syrians seek respite by the sea (CNN) Children splashing in the Mediterranean, young men and women in swimwear smoking hookah — this could be any holiday hot spot, but it’s Latakia, a seaside town in war-torn Syria...

Congregation centennial: Supporting Eastern Catholics against all odds (CNS) The Vatican is celebrating the 100th anniversary of the establishment of the Congregation for Eastern Churches, an office that supports the Eastern Catholic churches and strives to ensure that the universal Catholic Church treasures its diversity, including in liturgy, spirituality and even canon law...

India’s Muslims and the price of partition (The New York Times) Seventy years after independence, India’s Muslim population has begun to fear that the dark fantasies of the Muslims led by Muhammad Ali Jinnah and the Muslim League in the 1930’s and 1940’s — who fought for the partition of India and the creation of Pakistan as a homeland for the subcontinent’s Muslims — could well be coming true...



16 August 2017
Greg Kandra




Families affected by flooding are seen in Jakhalabandha, India, on 13 August.
(photo: CNS/Anuwar Hazarika, Reuters)


Rains, floods across South Asia (Vatican Radio) Heavy monsoon rains in parts of Nepal, Bangladesh and India have killed more than 160 people in the last week, officials said on Tuesday, as authorities rushed to rescue those missing or stranded in flooded areas...

India’s Prime Minister denounces violence in the name of religion (Vatican Radio) On India’s 71st Independence Day on Tuesday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi urged the nation to reject religious violence, after a series of attacks against minorities sparked debate about whether a surge of Hindu nationalism is undermining the country’s secular ideals...

Report: Genocide of Christians in Middle East continues (CNS) The Trump administration renews its commitment to the protection of religious minority groups threatened by the Islamic State in the Middle East, according to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in the preface of the annual State Department report on international religious freedom, released 15 August. “ISIS is clearly responsible for genocide against Yezidis, Christians and Shia Muslims in areas it controlled,” Tillerson said in a statement. “ISIS is also responsible for crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing directed at these same groups, and in some cases against Sunni Muslims, Kurds and other minorities...”

Oxfam: 700,000 at risk of starvation in Ethiopia (Voice of America) Food insecurity in the Somali region of Ethiopia has worsened, putting 700,000 people on the verge of starvation, according to Oxfam International. The humanitarian organization says that about 8.5 million people across the country face a high risk of hunger, a 30 percent increase since the beginning of the year...

Syriac patriarch says West has ‘betrayed’ Christian minorities (CNS) The Syriac Catholic patriarch doesn’t mince words about the ongoing violence and unrest in the Middle East. Nor does he shy away from calling out the West for not doing enough to protect Christian minorities. “I can tell you, we’ve been not only abandoned by the Western countries, but even we have been betrayed,” Syriac Catholic Patriarch Ignace Joseph III Younan told The Southern Cross, newspaper of the Diocese of San Diego...



14 August 2017
Greg Kandra




Embed from Getty Images
In this image from 3 August, the first Syrian refugees return from Lebanon as part of a cease-fire deal. (photo: Ibrahim Ebu Leys/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Refugees, rebel fighters leaving Lebanon for Syria (Al Jazeera) Buses carrying thousands of Syrian refugees and rebel fighters have begun leaving the Lebanese territory of Arsal for government held areas of Syria, according to the Hezbollah-owned al-Manar TV station. The evacuation on Monday is part of a deal between rebels and Hezbollah, which ensures the safe passage of refugees and the fighters themselves...

Mosul orphans face unknown fate (UPI) “Scores of children have lost their parents in the intense bombardment or in booby traps and suicide bombings perpetrated by ISIS. We have given them names to facilitate sorting them out until we can establish their identity and trace their kin to hand them over,” said Sukaina Mohamad Ali, the head of the Office of Women and Children in Nineveh province...

Egypt opens Gaza crossing for hajj pilgrims (Daily Mail) Egypt reopened its border with the Gaza Strip Monday for the first time in months to allow Muslims from the blockaded Palestinian enclave to travel to Mecca for the hajj pilgrimage, authorities said...

Turkey’s Jews stay calm in face of synagogue attacks (The Jewish Chronicle) On a warm Istanbul night in late July, the silence outside the city’s Neve Shalom synagogue was broken by chants of “Allahu akbar.” A group from the Alperen Ocaklari, an ultranationalist network, had gathered outside the building in the city’s Beyoglu district to protest Israel’s latest security measures around the al-Aqsa mosque...

Sheptytsky Institute grounded in freedom (Catholic Register) It should surprise no one that at a time of rising authoritarianism, democracy will be on the curriculum when the Sheptytsky Institute reopens in Toronto. Along with teaching liturgy, Church history and systematic theology, professors at the institute’s new home in the University of Toronto’s St. Michael’s College are also preparing democracy lessons. And that makes perfect sense to those who know how the Eastern rite Ukrainian Catholic Church was forced underground by Stalinist Soviet rule between 1946 and 1989, said Borys Gudziak, Eparch of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Eparchy of Paris...

Our Lady of Kazan and Mary’s affinity for Russia (CNA) One hundred years ago, at the height of a cultural about-face in Russia, Mary appeared to three shepherd children in Portugal, predicting and encouraging prayer for Russia’s conversion. Years later, a well-known and beloved Russian Orthodox icon known as Our Lady of Kazan, commonly referred to as “the protection of Russia,” would become tied to the site of the Fatima apparitions, where Mary predicted that “the Holy Father will consecrate Russia to me, and she shall be converted, and a period of peace will be granted to the world...”



11 August 2017
Greg Kandra




Embed from Getty Images
Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim speaks to media after Friday prayers at a mosque in Ankara. He expressed concern over “radical groups” emerging along the Syrian border.
(photo: Ali Balikci/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)


Turkey says it’s taking ‘precautions’ along Syrian border (AP) Turkey says new precautions are being taken along its border in response to recent developments in northwestern Syria as it engages in international efforts to broker a deal. Speaking after Friday prayers in Ankara, Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said “radical groups have taken over control” in Syria’s Idlib province...

Shootout in Egypt kills three ‘jihadists behind anti-Copt attacks’ (The Sun Daily) Egypt’s interior ministry said on Thursday a policeman and three jihadists suspected of involvement in deadly attacks against the country’s Coptic Christian minority were killed in a shootout...

Lebanon town rejects additional refugees (The Daily Star) The municipal council of West Bekaa’s Khirbet Qanafar released a statement Wednesday opposing further attempts to establish refugee settlements in the town...

Indian Church reiterates commitment to indigenous cause (Vatican Radio) India’s Catholic Church observed the International Day of Indigenous Peoples on Wednesday with a call to protect indigenous people and their cultural heritage and prevent their exploitation. The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India(CBCI) and the CBCI Office for Tribal Affairs organized a conference in New Delhi to mark the 10th International Day of Indigenous Peoples...

Russian activists gather more than 900,000 signatures for ant-iabortion bill (TASS) More than 900,000 signatures for legal prohibition of abortions have been gathered by activists of the Russian social movement “Pro-Life,” the organization’s president Sergey Chesnokov told TASS ahead of the namesake seventh international festival of social technologies for family values protection that will be held on 14-17 August in Moscow...



10 August 2017
Greg Kandra




Embed from Getty Images
People cool off in shower systems at the streets during a hot summer in Baghdad, Iraq. The government has announced a mandator holiday as temperatures hit 123 degrees Fahrenheit. (photo: Haydar Hadi/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Iraq announces mandatory holiday due to heat wave (AP) The Iraqi government has announced a mandatory official holiday due to a heat wave. Wednesday's late night statement calling for a Thursday holiday came from the Iraqi Cabinet as temperatures hit 50 degrees Celsius (123 degrees Fahrenheit). It is the first heat advisory issued by the government this summer...

ISIS still a threat as people return to Mosul (Reuters) About 230,000 people cannot hope to return “anytime soon” as their homes in West Mosul were completely destroyed, the United Nation’s Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq, said at a briefing in Geneva on Tuesday. The city had a pre-war population of more than two million...

Jordan issues first-of-its-kind work permit to Syrian refugees (Jordan Times) The General Federation of Jordanian Trade Unions (GFJTU) has begun issuing the Arab region’s first non-employer and non-position-specific work permits for Syrian refugees since the Syrian crisis erupted in 2011. The temporary permits are issued for a minimal fee directly to refugees working in Jordan’s construction sector, one of the sectors open to non-nationals according to Jordan’s Labour Law. Previously, such permits were tied to specific employers who applied on behalf of workers for specific positions...

Israel to speed up Gaza tunnel barrier (BBC) Israel is to accelerate the building of a huge barrier along its boundary with Gaza aimed at preventing militants from tunnelling under the border. The 64km (40-mile) long construction will reach a depth of 40m (131ft) below and 6m above ground, at a cost of 3bn shekels ($833m). An Israeli army commander said the barrier should be completed in 2019...



9 August 2017
Greg Kandra




Pope Francis has named Bishop Frank Kalabat of the Chaldean Catholic Eparchy of St. Thomas the Apostle, based near Detroit, as administrator of Eparchy of Addai of Toronto.
(photo: CNS/Bob Roller)


Pope appoints bishops to serve two Chaldean eparchies (CNS) Pope Francis has named Bishop Emmanuel Challita of the Chaldean Catholic Eparchy of Addai of Toronto as bishop of the Chaldean Eparchy of St. Peter to Apostle in San Diego. The pope also named Bishop Frank Kalabat of the Chaldean Catholic Eparchy of St. Thomas the Apostle, based near Detroit, as administrator of Eparchy of Addai of Toronto. The appointments were announced in Washington 9 August by Msgr. Walter Erbi, charge d’affaires at the apostolic nunciature in the United States...

Ukrainian Catholic Archeparchy gets new auxiliary (CNS) Pope Francis has named Father Andriy Rabiy as auxiliary bishop of the Ukrainian Archeparchy of Philadelphia. Bishop-designate Rabiy, 41, currently serves as vicar general of the archeparchy and as pastor of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Ukrainian Catholic Parish in Reading, Pennsylvania...

Israel held secret talks with Russia, U.S. over Syria (Haaretz) Israel, the United States and Russia held a series of secret meetings early last month in Amman and in a European capital regarding the cease-fire in southern Syria. The parties focused in part on the establishment of “safe zones” on the Syrian-Israeli and Syrian-Jordanian borders, according to Israeli officials and Western diplomats...

Archeologists think they’ve unearthed hometown of three apostles (CNS) After decades of searching, Israeli archaeologists working on the shores of the Sea of Galilee believe they have uncovered the lost Roman city of Julias, home of the apostles Peter, Andrew and Philip...

Priest preserves Iraqi culture in historic manuscripts (CNA) As Iraq and surrounding areas face the destruction of many of the region’s archaeological treasures, one priest and his fellow Dominicans are preserving the area’s history and culture through an archive of Christian and other religious manuscripts...

Religious sister from India wins nursing award (UCANIndia) A Catholic religious sister from India has won a prestigious global award in HIV nursing from an international association. The Association of Nurses in AIDS Care (ANAC) selected Sister Lourdu Mary Nagothu for developing and implementing the world’s first masters’ curriculum in HIV/AIDS...



8 August 2017
J.D. Conor Mauro




Amir, an Iraqi Christian craftsman, center, and his family pose in their house on 4 August in Qaraqosh, Iraq. The family, who fled ISIS occupation, has returned home to rebuild their house and their lives. (photo: CNS/AVSI Foundation)

With help from church groups, Iraqis begin return to Nineveh Plain (Crux) Although Iraqi forces recaptured Qaraqosh, about nine miles from the edge of Mosul, from ISIS last October, it took many months before Christians felt comfortable enough to return, and their numbers are not huge. So far, 200 houses have been rebuilt in Qaraqosh, with another 111 on the way. Qaraqosh once had 50,000 people…

Indian Christians alarmed over violence against minorities (Vatican Radio) More than 100 prominent Indian Christians have written an open letter to the heads of all churches and Christian communities, spurring them to action in support of civil society in its struggle to safeguard India’s secular credentials and cultural and religious diversity. In the letter released on 4 August, the signatories noted a dangerous shift in the country “from a pluralist, secular, democracy to a Hindu Rashtra…”

Israeli archaeologists think they found lost Roman city of Julias (CNS) After decades of searching, Israeli archaeologists working on the shores of the Sea of Galilee believe they have uncovered the lost Roman city of Julias, home of the apostles Peter, Andrew and Philip…

Tiny Arizona parish hosts leader of world’s Ukrainian Catholics (CNS) When Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk of Kiev-Halych, Ukraine, the leader of more than 5 million Ukrainian Catholics around the globe, visited the parish of St. Michael Church in Tucson in July, “it was an amazing experience,” said the Rev. Andriy Chirovsky, 61, pastor of the 50-member parish…

Jordan’s king visits West Bank: A rare trip seen as message to Israel (Christian Science Monitor) Jordan’s king flew by helicopter to the West Bank on Monday — a rare and brief visit seen as a signal to Israel that he is closing ranks with the Palestinians on key issues, such as a contested Jerusalem shrine…

Egypt cuts cultivation of water-intensive crops (Al Monitor) In anticipation of a water crisis following the construction of the Renaissance Dam, Egypt’s government is preparing a draft law to impose harsher sanctions on the cultivation of water-intensive crops, but some say farmers must first be offered alternatives…

West Bank priests stress nonviolence as youths protest Israeli occupation (CNS) With tensions still high in the Old City following weeks of violence, Father Firas Aridah completed his work at the Latin Patriarchate early so he could leave Jerusalem for his West Bank parish before any possible violence began. For Father Aridah and other parish priests in the West Bank, the challenge is to emphasize the Christian tradition of nonviolence while supporting their young parishioners’ desire to oppose the Israeli occupation…



Tags: India Iraq Egypt Jordan West Bank





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