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Current Issue
June, 2018
Volume 44, Number 2
  
28 April 2017
Greg Kandra




Pope Francis walks with Egyptian Prime Minister Prime Minister Sherif Ismail, right, as he arrives at the international airport in Cairo 28 April. The pope was making a two-day visit to Egypt.
(photo: CNS/Paul Haring)


Pope arrives in Cairo to begin Egypt visit (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has arrived in Egypt to begin an Apostolic Journey to the country. The Pope touched down at Cairo International Airport this Friday afternoon where he was met by the Apostolic Nuncio to Cairo, Bruno Musaro and a representative of the President of Egypt, Abdel-Fattah Al Sisi...

Pope brings to Cairo a message of peace (The New York Times) Francis, a politically savvy pontiff, will attempt a balancing act. He is expected to highlight the plight of Christians after recent violence in Egypt, while also continuing his mission to reach out to Muslims. Since December, the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, has signaled its intent to wage a sectarian war in Egypt by killing Christians in their homes, businesses or places of worship...

A hidden church in Cairo pins its hopes on good will from the Pope’s visit (The New York Times) For the past decade, a small Coptic Catholic congregation in a gritty north Cairo suburb has been trying to build a new church in the teeth of official resistance — a common tale in Egypt, where the law panders to old prejudices...

Panel accused of whitewashing Israeli discrimination against Christians (Al Monitor) A panel of experts created by Congress to defend religious freedom is being accused of whitewashing Israeli discrimination against Christians and other religious minorities. In an unprecedented public dissent against the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), the only Middle East Christian on the panel is accusing the panel of a “continuing and glaring refusal” to hold Israel to account since the commission’s founding in 1998...

The Eritreans heading to Ethiopia (Al Jazeera) The disputed border town of Badme is where war broke out between Ethiopia and Eritrea in 1998. It lasted for two years and devastated both countries. In 2002, a Hague boundary commission ruled that Badme was part of Eritrea. It was a ruling that both countries initially accepted. But Ethiopian troops continue to occupy the town. Nowadays an uneasy standoff exists between the two country’s armies along the still-contested border a few kilometres north of Badme, at the tip of Ethiopia's Yirga Triangle, which juts into Eritrea. But now there are others moving along the border: Eritreans who travel through the region’s hills, trying to keep out of sight of their own military, to escape into Ethiopia...



27 April 2017
Greg Kandra




In this image from January, children wave Iraqi flags to celebrate the partial liberation of their city as they climb on top of armored military vehicles in Mosul, Iraq. Life in parts of the city has returned to normal, but the battle to liberate the rest of Mosul continues.
(photo: CNS/Paul Jeffrey)


‘Israeli strike’ hits military site near Damascus (BBC) An Israeli missile strike has caused a large explosion and fire at a military site near Damascus international airport, Syrian state media report. A fuel tank and warehouses were damaged, the Sana news agency said...

Defiance and dreams of peace in east Mosul (Irish Times) After an operation to retake the city began last October, Iraqi forces declared the eastern half of Mosul liberated in January, allowing normal life to return — insofar as possible in a city ruined by months of war...

Organ trafficker preys on Syrian refugees (BBC) Some refugees beg on the streets — particularly children. Young boys shine shoes, dodge between cars in traffic jams to sell chewing gum or tissues through the windows, or end up exploited as child labour. Others turn to prostitution. But selling an organ is one way to make money quickly...

Egypt’s Coptic Christians under siege ahead of Pope Francis’s visit (ABC.net) While Egypt’s Copts, the largest Christian denomination in the Middle East — thought to make up about 10 per cent of the country’s population of 90 million — have said they largely appreciate Pope Francis’s anticipated message of peaceful religious co-existence and respect, the community faces deep and intrinsic problems...

Indian community in New Zealand celebrates Christian and Hindu holidays together (Indian Weekender) In what can be termed as an excellent example of religious harmony in New Zealand, and more so, shining a bright light on India’s age-old diverse traditions, last weekend, Keralites in Christchurch celebrated Easter, a Christian festival, and Vishu, a Hindu festival, together...



26 April 2017
Greg Kandra




A cross above a church is seen alongside minarets of a mosque on 17 April in Cairo ahead of Pope Francis’ visit later this week. (photo: CNS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh, Reuters)

Copts, Muslims expected at Mass celebrated by Pope (Fides) Copt Catholic Bishop Antonios Mina says Copt Orthodox Christians will be present at the Mass celebrated by the Pope, as well as many Muslims...

In TED talk, pope urges people to make real connections (CNS) While searching for a connection today often means looking for Wi-Fi, Pope Francis said real connections between people are the only hope for the future. “How wonderful would it be if the growth of scientific and technological innovation would come along with more equality and social inclusion,” he said in a video talk played 25 April for 1,800 people attending TED 2017 in Vancouver, British Columbia, and posted online with subtitles in 20 languages...

France says it has evidence Assad was behind Syrian chemical attack (The Washingon Post) Samples from a deadly sarin attack in Syria bear “the signature” of President Bashar al-Assad’s chemical weapons program, French officials said Wednesday. The announcement marks the strongest evidence yet that Assad’s government was responsible for the daybreak attack on the northwestern Syrian town of Khan Sheikhoun earlier this month which killed at least 86 people, many of them as they slept...

In Mosul, a battle against ISIS and time (The New York Times) Every day, for weeks, the battle to take western Mosul from the Islamic State has looked like this: a block-by-block crawl as casualties mount...

Bishops in India meet with government official to discuss anti-Christian harassment (Crux) Seven bishops from the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh have met with the chief minister of the state to discuss the recent disruptions of Christian places of worship in the state. In recent months, right-wing activists from the Hindu Yuva Vahini (HYV) have stopped services and harassed worshipers in the state, which is India’s largest, accusing churches of trying to convert the local Hindu population to Christianity...

‘Poor man’s kebab’ is Gaza’s most treasured food (The Electronic Intifada) Every morning after I open my store, I buy falafel and hummus for breakfast. It’s the most popular meal in our market because of its reasonable price and high nutritional value,” said Arafat Ashour, 44, the owner of a produce stand at al-Zawya market, one of the oldest markets in Gaza. “I eat it with my friend who works with me. Sometimes customers join us.” Its ingredients may be humble, but falafel enjoys a high status in Gaza...



25 April 2017
Greg Kandra




In the video above, an expert on Islam offers analysis on the pope’s upcoming trip to Egypt. (video: Rome Reports)

Pope Francis sends video message to Egyptians (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has sent a video message to the people of Egypt ahead of his apostolic journey to the country, saying the “world needs peace, love and mercy”…

Tight security is ‘new normal’ ahead of papal visit (CNS) Despite the ongoing risk of terrorism, Pope Francis planned to travel to Egypt as a sign of being close to the people there, said Greg Burke, Vatican spokesman. Heightened security is part of the “new normal” in many countries, but even in the wake of the Palm Sunday attacks in Egypt, it is the pope’s desire “to go ahead, to also be a sign of his closeness” to those affected by violence and all the people of Egypt, Burke told journalists on 24 April…

Iraqi troops capture largest neighborhood in Mosul (AP) A senior military commander says Iraqi troops have driven out Islamic State militants from the largest neighborhood in the western half of the city of Mosul. Special forces Lt. Gen. Abdul-Wahab al Saadi told The Associated Press on Tuesday that the sprawling Al Tanek neighborhood “is fully liberated and under full control” of the security forces. Al Saadi didn’t provide more details…

American killed on monitoring mission in Ukraine (Reuters) A member of the European monitoring mission in eastern Ukraine was killed and two others were injured Sunday when their vehicle drove over a mine near Luhansk. The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, which runs the monitoring mission, said it was investigating. The monitor who was killed was an American man, according to a spokesman for the Foreign Ministry of Austria, which holds the rotating presidency of the 57-nation organization. The man’s name was not released…

Christianity could be restricted in parts of Ethiopia (Christian Today) Christianity could be outlawed in Ethiopia for smaller congregations and house churches where worshippers meet for less formal prayer or smaller services. Tigray State, in the north of Ethiopia, is considering changing its laws to ban Christian activities outside official church compounds, reports World Watch Monitor…



Tags: Iraq Egypt Pope Francis Ukraine Ethiopia

24 April 2017
Greg Kandra




During a prayer service at the Basilica of St. Bartholomew in Rome on 22 April, Pope Francis greets Roselyne Hamel, sister of the Rev. Jacques Hamel, who was killed in Rouen, France, last year. (photo: CNS/Maurizio Brambatti, pool)

Pope pays tribute to modern martyrs (CNS) The church today needs believers who witness each day to the power of God’s love, but it also needs the heroic witness of those who stand up to hatred even when it means giving up their lives, Pope Francis said. At Rome’s Basilica of St. Bartholomew, a shrine to modern martyrs, Pope Francis presided over an evening prayer service 22 April, honoring Christians killed under Nazism, communism, dictatorships and terrorism...

Here’s what is left of Aleppo (Los Angeles Times) A sense of relative stability has descended on the district, despite vast expanses of pancaked buildings, rubble-strewn streets and walls perforated with bullet holes and shrapnel scars. Some residents who fled during the war years have returned, and there is a halting sense of renewed life on the streets. But the area remains largely depopulated. And no one dares say that the war is ending anytime soon…

IKEA launches initiative to give jobs to thousands of refugees in Jordan (Curbed.com) IKEA, the world’s largest furniture retailer, can get a bad rap for igniting relationship disputes and making hard-to-assemble wares. But the Sweden-born store also recognizes that with massive power comes massive opportunity for doing good. Case in point: The company has teamed up with Jordan River Foundation, a non-governmental organization founded by Queen Rania of Jordan, to launch an ambitious employment initiative projected to hire some 200,000 impoverished people around the globe in the next 15 years…

Kerala bishop opposes bill to govern church property (Vatican Radio) The Latin rite archbishop of Kerala, in a letter dated 15 April has urged the government not to interfere in the administration of church properties. Archbishop M. Soosa Pakiam, president of Kerala Catholic Bishops’ Council, wrote to the secretary of the Kerala State Minority Commission to assert the fundamental right of Christians to manage and administer church property…



Tags: Jordan Kerala Catholic Aleppo Martyred

21 April 2017
Greg Kandra




A woman and children attend an Easter liturgy in Mar Yohanna Church in the nearly deserted, predominantly Christian Iraqi town of Qaraqosh near Mosul. (Photo: Carl Court/Getty Images)

Celebrating Easter in an Iraqi town that has lost its Christians (New York Times) Islamic State militants overran the Christian town of Qaraqosh nearly three years ago, smashing every crucifix they found and using the walls of churches for target practice. Residents fled by the thousands, and the few who stayed were forced to spit on images of the Virgin Mary. This weekend, my colleagues and I attended Easter service in Qaraqosh, which has long been a center of Christian life in Iraq, hoping to find signs of rebirth. Instead, we drove through what looked like a ghost town…

Holy See ‘deeply concerned’ over Middle East situation (Vatican Radio) The Holy See has expressed deep concern over the current situation in the Middle East and reiterated its support for a two-state solution in Palestine…

ISIS claims credit for Paris attack (The Independent) A note expressing support for ISIS has been found near the body of a gunman who shot a police officer dead in the center of Paris. Sources within the investigation told news agencies of the discovery as a probe continued into the chief suspect, a 39-year-old Frenchman who was the subject of a previous terror investigation. Police also found a pump-action shotgun and knives in his car, showing the attacker was armed for an extended assault. ISIS swiftly claimed responsibility for the attack, giving the perpetrator a war name indicating he had links in Belgium and hailing him as a “fighter of the Islamic State”…

Indian police rescuing women from sex traffickers (Vatican Radio) In a unique gesture, police in the Indian state of West Bengal are going beyond the call of duty by raising funds for the women they rescue from sex traffickers to help them get back on track…

Holy Fire from Jerusalem delivered to Washington, D.C. (Sputnik) The Holy Fire from the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem has been delivered to Washington, D.C., Archpriest Victor Potapov, rector at the Russian Orthodox Cathedral of St. John the Baptist told Sputnik…



Tags: India Iraq Palestine Iraqi Christians France

20 April 2017
Greg Kandra




Pope Francis and Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al Sisi shake hands during a private audience in 2014 at the Vatican. Pope Francis will visit Cairo next week and meet with the Egyptian president, among others. (photo: CNS/Gabriel Bouys pool, via Reuters)

Egypt arrests 13 suspected of planning attacks (CNA) Egyptian police on Sunday arrested 13 people who were allegedly planning attacks against Christians and public institutions in the country…

Hope and fear ahead of pope’s visit to Egypt (Canadian Catholic News) Fanatics are stepping up their fear campaign against Christians in Egypt in an attempt to derail Pope Francis’ visit at the end of the month, say the Canadian directors of two Catholic aid agencies working in the country. The pope’s visit will include meetings with the Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros II, the Grand Imam of the Mosque of Al Azhar, Sheikh Ahmed Mohamed al Tayyib and Egyptian president Abdel Fattah al Sisi. “The extremists don’t want the pope to meet with the highest Muslim authority of Egypt,” said CNEWA (Catholic Near East Welfare Association) Canada national director Carl Hétu…

Catholic bishops in India urge worship rights for all (Fides) The Catholic Bishops Conference of India on 19 April urged the federal government to ensure that every citizen enjoys the basic right to worship…

Satellite dishes connecting Mosul to the world (AFP) Satellite dishes have been sprouting on the rooftops of east Mosul since it was retaken from ISIS, who punished anyone caught with a dish with the lash. “Now we know what is happening in the world,” Muhammad Turki says as he installs one in the Al Qahira district…

Gaza’s only power plant runs out of fuel (The Independent) The only power plant in the Gaza Strip has ceased producing electricity after running out of fuel, crippling the entire enclave with massive power cuts. Around two million people in the territory are now coping with just two to four hours of power a day, leaving schools, hospitals and businesses unable to operate fully…

Pope names auxiliary bishop from Ukraine to head Chicago-based eparchy (CNS) Pope Francis has named Ukrainian-born Bishop Venedykt “Valery” Aleksiychuk as bishop of the Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of St. Nicholas in Chicago. Bishop Aleksiychuk, 49, has been auxiliary bishop of the Archeparchy of Lviv, Ukraine, since 2010…



Tags: Iraq Egypt Pope Francis Gaza Strip/West Bank United States

19 April 2017
Greg Kandra




In the video above, the Chaldean bishop of Aleppo reflects on the crisis facing Christians in Syria. (video: Rome Reports)

Cairo peace conference to include Pope Francis, Eastern Christian leaders (CNS) Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople was scheduled to attend a peace conference in Cairo with Pope Francis and Sheik Ahmad al Tayeb, grand imam of Al Azhar University…

Terrorist attack near historic Sinai monastery (Fides) Gunmen opened fire on an Egyptian police checkpoint near Saint Catherine’s Monastery in Sinai late on Tuesday 18 April, killing one policeman and wounding four officials. ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack. After an exchange of gunfire, the attackers fled the scene, and some of the gunmen were wounded in the shootout…

Vatican releases itinerary for papal trip to Egypt (CNS) Pope Francis will meet with the leader of one of the world’s leading Sunni Muslim institutions, the head of the Coptic Orthodox Church and representatives of the Catholic Church on a two-day trip to Cairo…

Syria resumes evacuations after deadly bombing (BBC) Evacuations from two government-held areas of Syria have resumed, monitors and reports say, days after an attack on a convoy carrying evacuees killed 126 people, many of them children. Some 3,000 people have left the north-western villages of Fua and Kefraya, which have been surrounded by rebels…

Making a splash on Easter Monday in Transylvania (The New York Times) Young men in Sancraieni have risen early on Easter Monday for as long as anyone can remember. So have the women and girls — to be soaked in ice-cold water and sprayed with patchouli. “Sprinkling” is a spring rite in the heart of Transylvania, in central Romania, when women are watered like flowers. The water, freshly drawn from a well, is believed to secure health, beauty and perhaps even love for the women who find themselves beneath a bucketful of it…



Tags: Syria Egypt Pope Francis Eastern Europe

18 April 2017
Greg Kandra




A Christian worshiper lights candles in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem on Easter Sunday. (photo: CNS/Ammar Awad, Reuters)

Pope Francis prays for persecuted Christian communities (Vatican Radio) On Easter Monday Pope Francis greeted pilgrims and visitors gathered in St. Peter’s Square, praying especially for Christians who are persecuted for their faith…

Pope Francis offers message to city and the world (Vatican Radio) “Jesus is risen!” — “He is truly risen, as he said!” Those were Pope Francis’ words as he delivered his traditional Urbi et Orbi (“to the city and the world”) message from the central loggia of St Peter’s Basilica on a sunny Easter Sunday…

Report: U.S. strike hit Syrian mosque (CNN) A new report suggests American forces failed to take necessary precautions to avoid dropping a pair of bombs on a Northern Syria mosque full of hundreds of worshipers. Syrians said the U.S. airstrikes hit a western Aleppo mosque on 16 March, killing at least 40 worshipers and injuring dozens more. The U.S. said the bombings targeted a meeting hall hosting Al Qaeda terrorists…

Mideast church leaders affirm Christian presence at Easter (CNS) In Easter messages, Catholic patriarchs in the Middle East deplored the widespread carnage and suffering, yet affirmed the presence of Christians in the region by calling upon their faithful to carry on with hope…

What life is like for Iraqis fleeing Mosul (Al Jazeera) As the Iraqi government’s military offensive against ISIS rages on, hundreds of thousands of civilians have been forced to flee their homes. Since the push to regain control of the western half of Mosul began on 19 February, the Iraqi government estimates that more than 220,000 people have been displaced. About 70 percent of these people are living in overstretched, underdeveloped refugee camps, according to the United Nations…

Coptic Christians mark Easter in the shadow of ISIS (AP) As Christians around the world celebrate Easter Sunday, eight million of them will be praying alongside security checkpoints, police guards and the threat of religious violence. This is the fate of the Coptic Christians of Egypt — an ancient religious minority whose persecution today is “the worst it has ever been,” according to analysts…

Orthodox and Catholics celebrate Easter on same day (RT) This year, followers of the Orthodox and Catholic churches are celebrating Easter on the same day. The next time the two churches will share Easter celebrations won’t be until 2025…



Tags: Syria Iraq Egypt Pope Francis Easter

13 April 2017
Greg Kandra




Pope Francis raises the Book of the Gospels as he celebrates Holy Thursday chrism Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican on 13 April. He will celebrate a special liturgy in memory of “new martyrs” next weekend. (photo: CNS/Paul Haring)

Pope to celebrate liturgy for ‘new martyrs’ (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis will celebrate a special Liturgy of the Word in memory of the “New Martyrs” of the 20th and 21st centuries on Saturday, 22 April. A communique from the Holy See Press Office said the prayer will take place in the Basilica of St. Bartholomew on the Tiberian Island, which is located in the heart of Rome on the Tiber River...

U.S. strike on Syria raises moral questions (CNS) The U.S. cruise missile strike on a Syrian air base days after chemical weapons were dropped on civilians in rebel-controlled territory further endangers innocent people, observers familiar with the just-war theory said. If anything, the observers told Catholic News Service, the unilateral U.S. response could embolden Syrian President Bashar Assad to undertake future attacks, exposing more lives to harm — including those of people fleeing the violence...

Confronting suffering and hope in Syria (CNS/CNEWA) Fifteen Franciscan friars continue to live and work in Syria; two of the friars minister in towns controlled by Islamic State forces. The Rev. Michael Perry, minister general of the Franciscans, visited most of the friars the first week of April, but he could not enter areas controlled by Islamic State or by forces opposed to the government of President Bashar Assad...

Egypt names suicide bomber at Coptic church (Reuters) Egypt has named the suicide bomber who attacked a cathedral in Alexandria, describing him as a fugitive with links to militant cells that carried out previous strikes in the country. Mahmoud Hassan Mubarak Abdullah detonated his explosives at the entrance to Saint Mark’s Cathedral, the historic seat of the Coptic Pope, on Palm Sunday, killing 17 people as mass was being conducted...

Packed Iraq morgue reveals toll of Mosul conflict (Reuters) The stench hits you long before you reach the morgue where the latest casualties of war between Islamic State militants and Iraqi forces are kept. Doctor Mansour Maarouf dons a surgical mask as he approaches the morgue refrigerator and pauses before pulling open the door to an icy blast. “In the name of God,” he says out of respect for the dead. Inside, around two dozen corpses lie on the floor: some in body bags, several wrapped in blankets and a few so torn to pieces they come in sacks...

Christians prepare for Easter in Russia (Asia News) This year Russian Catholics and Orthodox Christians are preparing together in Easter services. As happens every five or six years, in 2017 the date of Easter coincides for all Christian denominations. The Great and Holy Week — as it is called in the Byzantine Rite (also the title of “Authentic Week” or “Passion”) — began three days ago with crowds of faithful gathered with the willow branches (the olive tree does not grow in Russia) in procession around the Orthodox churches, but also Catholic ones (about 300 across the country)...







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