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Current Issue
September, 2019
Volume 45, Number 3
  
6 September 2019
Greg Kandra




Faithful gather to celebrate the parish feast of Holy Savior Church in Addis Ababa. (photo: Petterik Wiggers)

Ethiopia: Ethnic strife threatens church unity (DW) It started out as a legitimate grievance, Reverend Daniel Seifa Michael acknowledges: “There are issues that they have raised which are really of concern. Like the church has to be strong in the evangelical services in the Oromo communities. And the church has to provide Oromo language services,” the head of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church (EOC’s) foreign affairs department told DW. The linguistic problem has been turned into a political one, according to expert Mohammed Girma…

U.N.: More than a thousand civilians killed in Syria over four months (Al Jazeera) U.N. human rights chief says her office has tallied more than 1,000 civilian deaths in northern Syria over the last four months…

Archbishop criticizes India’s Freedom of Religion Act (Vatican News) The government of the northern Indian state of Himachal Pradesh, led by the pro-Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), passed a bill last week to check what it describes “forcible religious conversions”. Cutting across party affiliations, the Freedom of Religion Act, 2019 was unanimously passed in the state assembly on 30 August. Archbishop Felix Machado of Vasai Diocese spoke to Vatican News lamenting the bill saying conversion is a free and conscientious act which should be restricted but respected…

Palestinian refugees seek asylum in Canada (AP) Waving Palestinian and Canadian flags, hundreds of Palestinian refugees gathered outside the Canadian Embassy in Beirut on Thursday requesting asylum in the North American country. Many among the group lamented the deteriorating economic and living conditions in Lebanon, which is going through a severe economic crisis, and said they wanted a more dignified life…

Families press for memorial at site of Ethiopian plane crash (Reuters) Many of the relatives are now pressing for the farmland where the plane crashed to be turned into a permanent memorial. ”Out of respect to the dead, the crash site should be treated as a graveyard,” said Adrian Toole, a Briton whose daughter Joanna died in the crash, the second involving a Boeing 737-MAX in the space of five months…



Tags: Syria India Lebanon Ethiopia

5 September 2019
Greg Kandra




Metropolitan-Archbishop Borys Gudziak, head of the Ukrainian Catholic Archeparchy of Philadelphia, is seen in this undated photo. (photo: CNS/courtesy Ukrainian Catholic Archeparchy of Philadelphia)

Archbishop pushing for a papal visit to Ukraine (Crux) Archbishop Borys Gudziak, one of nearly 50 Ukrainian Greek Catholic bishops in Rome this week, says he and his fellow prelates are pushing harder than ever for a papal visit to Ukraine — a trip that he said is crucial to ending conflict in the country, but which is being held up by fear of potential reprisal from Russia…

A chapter of Jewish history in India comes to a close (UCANews.com) In the city locality of Mattanchery, a grief-stricken crowd had gathered in front of Sarah Cohen’s tiny house-cum embroidery shop which had served as a marker of by-gone time in so-called Jew Town. Cohen was hospitalized last week after she fell from her bed and later died back in her home on 30 August. She was 96 years of age. She was buried at the Jewish cemetery in Mattanchery, close to the synagogue on 1 September. She was the oldest of three Jews left in the once popular Jewish trade center on the coast of the Arabian sea in Kerala…

New archeological findings at Goliath’s birthplace (The Jerusalem Post) A new layer of the ancient Philistine city of Gath has been uncovered in an archeological excavation led by Aren Maeir of Bar-Ilan University — which has the potential to re-contextualize much of biblical history…

Syrian musicians defy limitations (Arab News) Despite the dominance of war and gloom in headlines about Syria these days, and despite the fact that the few positive stories reported via mass and social media are by and large about individual instances of success, the large majority of the Syrian people continue to soldier on. Whether in search of a sense of normalcy in daily life or in working hard to achieve a semblance of stability individually or as families, many Syrians are drawing on hard work, but also on creativity, to overcome difficulty. One particularly hopeful and active group of Syrians appears to be the country’s musicians…



Tags: Syria India Ukraine Jerusalem

4 September 2019
Greg Kandra




In this 11 September photo, displaced children are seen at a camp in Idlib, Syria. (photo: CNS /Khalil Ashawi, Reuters)

Half of Idlib’s children may miss school as battles rage (Al Jazeera) More than half the children living in Syria’s besieged Idlib province will probably be unable to attend school this year as fighting between rebel groups and Syrian forces destroyed hundreds of learning facilities, according to a new report released on Wednesday. Aid group Save the Children found 87 education facilities were destroyed and hundreds damaged during months of fighting. The schools that remain open are under constant threat of air attacks and shelling…

Christians march to protest harassment in India (UCANews.com) Hundreds of young Christians have marched through the street of Ranchi city in eastern India, in protest at the pro-Hindu Jharkhand state government, which they accuse of violating their constitutional rights. The leaders addressed some 500 young people who converged in a public square in the state capital on 31 August and claimed that the government led by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was abusing its authority for harassment and intimidation…

Indian state sharpens laws to check ’forced conversions’ (UCANews.com) India’s Himachal Pradesh state has enacted a new law regulating religious conversions, saying the existing one was not stringent enough to check an increase in forced conversions in the northern state…

The churches trying to save Ethiopia’s trees (BBC) In northern Ethiopia, churches are fighting to protect their sacred forests. In the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, it’s believed that these forests provide protective ‘clothing’ for their sacred spaces. They can also offer the only shade for miles…

Coptic Orthodox communities in Canada welcome Bishop Boulos (Canada Newswire) The Coptic Orthodox communities in Ottawa, will celebrate on Thursday, 5 September the arrival of His Grace Bishop Boulos, the first ever Coptic Orthodox Bishop over Ottawa, Montreal, and Eastern Canada…



Tags: Syria India Ethiopia

3 September 2019
Greg Kandra




In this photo from 2017, Pope Francis prays as he arrives for a consistory to create new cardinals in St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican. The pope announced on 1 September that he will create 13 new cardinals at a consistory in October. (photo: CNS/Paul Haring)

Pope names 13 new cardinals, including key leaders in interreligious dialogue (CNS) two other members of the group are also Vatican officials: 67-year-old Bishop Miguel Angel Ayuso Guixot, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue; and 53-year-old Archbishop Jose Tolentino Medonca, Vatican archivist and librarian. One of the over-80 cardinals-designate is 82-year-old Archbishop Michael Fitzgerald, a Missionary of Africa born in England, who had served as president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue and later as Vatican nuncio to Egypt…

Kerala floods leave dams more vulnerable to earthquakes (LiveMint) As Kerala struggles to recover from the monsoon floods that ravaged the state yet again this season, research has highlighted that floods triggered by heavy rain has left reservoirs and dams highly prone to earthquakes. The state has 43 dams and reservoirs predominantly located in the highly deformed and fractured Western Ghats. Of these 21 are now highly prone to tremors, a phenomenon called reservoir-induced seismicity (RIS), according to the latest geographic information system (GIS) analysis…

Kurdish forces pull back from border in Syria (Al Jazeera) In Syria, US-backed Kurdish forces are continuing to slowly pull back from positions near the border with Turkey. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan threatened to send troops in to push out the YPG if they did not move…

Ethiopia launches online power of attorney service for diaspora (Borkena.com) The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia launched an online power of attorney service to the members of Ethiopian Diaspora community, the state-affiliated Ethiopian Broadcasting Corporation (EBC) reported on last week. The ministry says that it is “Fast, Secure And EasyPower Of Attorney Service”…



Tags: Syria Pope Francis Ethiopia Kerala

30 August 2019
Greg Kandra




In this photo from 2 April, displaced Syrian children walk with bread at a camp in Hassake, Syria. (photo: CNS/Ali Hashisho, Reuters)

Syrians in makeshift displacement camp face ‘impossible choice’ (CBS News)An estimated 11,000 to 24,000 displaced Syrians still trapped in the remote Rukban camp along the eastern Syrian-Jordanian border. They have spent years languishing in a desert no man’s land along the border since fleeing Islamic State attacks on their hometowns in eastern Homs province in 2015. The camp remains an informal settlement, scattered with makeshift mud homes. Since March, nearly 18,000 Rukban residents have left the camp aboard the Syrian government’s buses, headed for government-held territory in Homs, according to the latest U.N. count from August. Hundreds of others have smuggled themselves out of the camp toward Syria’s opposition-held north…

Vicar appointed Major Archbishop for Ernakulam-Angamaly (Vatican Press Office) The Synod of Bishops of the Syro-Malabar Church elected Vicar of the Major Archbishop for the Archieparchy of Ernakulam-Angamaly HE Mons. Antony Kariyil, CMI, transferring him from the Siro-Malabar headquarters in Mandya. The Holy Father raised him to the dignity of Archbishop, assigning him the titular see of Macriana Maggiore…

Ousted Greek Patriarch gets to go home (Haaretz) The ousted Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem, Irenaeus I, departed Israel on Thursday and was headed for Greece. His departure puts an end to a 15-year-old religious and political saga…

Kashmir curfew taking a heavy toll (UCANews.com) For the past three Sundays, Allen Francis has had only one prayer during Mass: Bring normalcy back to Kashmir, where an Indian government clampdown has been enforced for several weeks. The continuing chaos in the state bordering Pakistan has now rendered the 35-year-old mason jobless for almost a month…



Tags: Syria Syro-Malabar Catholic Church Indian Bishops

29 August 2019
Greg Kandra




In this summer 2018 photo, Syrian refugee youth in Lebanon participate in a Caritas Lebanon education program. (photo: CNS/courtesy Caritas Lebanon)

Human rights group calls on Lebanon to stop expulsion of Syrian refugees (Al Jazeera) Almost 2,500 Syrian refugees have been ”forcibly deported” from Lebanon to their war-torn country over the past three months, a rights group has said, urging authorities to “immediately” halt the expulsions. In a statement on Tuesday, Amnesty International cited data from Lebanon’s General Security agency and the Lebanese government which that about 2,447 Syrians had been expelled between mid-May and 9 August...

Kerala court convicts men over murder of Dalit Christian (The Telegraph) A court in India’s southern Kerala state has sentenced 10 men to life imprisonment for killing a low caste Dalit Christian for marrying a higher caste woman. The court in Kerala’s Kottayam district also fined each of the convicted men £456 for killing Kevin Joseph, a 23-year old electrician, in May last year, three days after he married Neenu Chacko, 20, an upper-class Christian, much against her family’s wishes…

Human rights group calls on Lebanon to stop expulsion of Syrian refugees (Al Jazeera) Almost 2,500 Syrian refugees have been ”forcibly deported” from Lebanon to their war-torn country over the past three months, a rights group has said, urging authorities to “immediately” halt the expulsions. In a statement on Tuesday, Amnesty International cited data from Lebanon’s General Security agency and the Lebanese government which that about 2,447 Syrians had been expelled between mid-May and 9 August...

3.8 million-year-old skull found in Ethiopia an evolution game-changer (Al Jazeera) A “remarkably complete” 3.8-million-year-old skull of an early human has been excavated by Palaeontologists in Ethiopia, a discovery that has the potential to change the understanding of human evolution. The find, known as “MRD”, revealed the face of a presumed ancestor of the species famously represented by Lucy, the celebrated Ethiopian partial skeleton found in 1974…



Tags: Syria India Ethiopia Dalits

28 August 2019
Greg Kandra




In this image from April, displaced Syrian children walk with bread at a camp in Hassakeh, Syria. A children’s charity has raised alarm over the number of children impacted by ongoing military operations in Syria. (photo: CNS/Ali Hashisho, Reuters)

Children’s charity voices alarm over child deaths in Syria (Vatican News) Speaking about the alarming situation in the region, Save the Children’s Media Manager for the Middle East, Joelle Bassoul said, “the civilian population is paying the price for this military operation and children who number one million in Idlib are at the forefront and sadly the numbers are increasing by the day…”

Kerala flood and landslide rescue team ends search efforts (Gulf News) Nearly three weeks after rain waters and a landslide buried a mountainside at Kavalapara near Nilambur in Kerala’s Malabar region, the search and rescue team officially ended its operations on Sunday. At least 59 people are believed killed in the incident, and 48 bodies have been recovered so far…

Patriarch urges Christians to return to Turkey (The Tablet) The Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch has urged Christians to return to Turkey, a century after a hundreds of thousands fled following a Greek-Turkish war and the redrawing of bilateral frontiers. ”My homeland continually waits to embrace its estranged children, to tell them it’s alive and breathing”, Bartholomew I told a congregation at Saint Theodore’s church in his home village of Imros…

Gaza on state of alert (Al Jazeera) The Gaza Strip is on a “state of alert” after explosions killed three policemen in the Palestinian enclave in apparent suicide attacks. The police officers died in “two explosions targeting police checkpoints” late on Tuesday, the interior ministry in the Hamas-controlled coastal territory said in a statement…

Jerusalem begins work on underground cemetery (UPI) Running out of places to bury the dead, the holy city of Jerusalem is building an underground cemetery for thousands of new graves. In Jerusalem’s Givat Shaul neighborhood, construction on the underground section of the Har HaMenuchot Cemetery is underway, and the first 8,000 burial spaces will be available this fall. Officials said the underground cemetery will be able to hold 30,000 plots…



Tags: Syria Jerusalem Kerala Turkey

27 August 2019
Greg Kandra




Villages throughout India are struggling to recover from massive flooding from this month’s monsoons. (photo: CNEWA)

Flooded villages cry out for government help (India Today) Phool Kalan village of Punjab’s Roopnagar district has been partially torn through by a torrent of floodwater and mud which hit the village during the recent floods. The floodwater rose as high as 5 to 6 feet and entered every household in Phool Kalan. The water after receding left behind a picture of destruction. Despite the widespread damage caused to the houses, the residents are busy struggling to put their life back on track...

Ahead of meeting, Turkey expects Russia to help rein in Syria (Reuters) President Tayyip Erdogan will seek steps from Russia’s Vladimir Putin to safeguard Turkish troops in the face of an offensive by the Syrian army in the country’s northwest when the two leaders meet on Tuesday, a senior Turkish official said…

Indian faithful urged to support constitution (UCANews.com) Political and social leaders in India addressing centenary celebrations of the nation’s oldest lay Catholic organization have urged church members to stand up for constitutional democratic and secular values. The chief minister of New Delhi, Arvind Kejriwal, stressed the importance of the All India Catholic Union (AICU) safeguarding the multireligious ethos of society…

Russian Orthodox leader: pacifists misinterpret the Bible (The Moscow Times) The head of Russia’s Orthodox Church has said the modern pacifist movement misunderstands Jesus Christ’s sermon about turning the other cheek. ”If we confine ourselves to these words [“if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also”], we could draw the wrong conclusions from a literal interpretation,” Patriarch Kirill said Sunday...

UN calls for eliminating violence against religion (Vatican News) The United Nations on Thursday marked the first-ever International Day Commemorating the Victims of Acts of Violence Based on Religion and Belief, urging for an end to the persecution of religious groups. ”On this Day, we reaffirm our unwavering support for the victims of violence based on religion and belief. And we demonstrate that support by doing all in our power to prevent such attacks and demanding that those responsible are held accountable,” said UN Secretary-General, António Guterres in a message for the occasion…

Amid 2018 floods, new smiles were born (The New Indian Express) Little Subhaan, Aaradhya and Hanna Mariya will be celebrating their first birthday, as the state observes the first anniversary of the worst flood in a century, amid the prospect of another devastation now. Their mothers — Sajitha Jabeel, Krishnendu and Jismi — were in the advanced stage of pregnancy when floodwater inundated their houses last year. In deep anguish, they perched on top of their houses amid gushing waters and crumbling buildings. But, in the nick of time, rescue workers managed to shift them to relief camps. From there, Navy helicopter crew airlifted them to the INHS Sanjeevani Hospital at Kochi Naval Base…



Tags: Syria India Russian Orthodox Church Persecution

26 August 2019
Greg Kandra




Pope Francis and Missionaries of Charity nuns pray in front of a statue of Mother Teresa at the Mother Teresa Memorial during a meeting with religious leaders and the poor in Skopje, North Macedonia, 7 May 2019. (photo: CNS/Paul Haring)

Mother Teresa’s nuns remember her birthday (UCANews.com) Missionaries of Charity nuns celebrated the birthday of their founder St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta three years after her canonization, breaking a Catholic convention. Archbishop Thomas D’Souza of Calcutta led a Mass on 26 August, marking the nun’s 109th birth anniversary in the headquarters of Missionaries of Charity in the eastern city of Kolkata, formerly called Calcutta...

Eleven years after India’s anti-Christian violence, faith still growing (Vatican News) It was on 25 August 2008, that hell broke loose on the Christians of Kandhamal, with Hindu extremists attacking them for the 23 August murder of Hindu leader Swami Lakshmanananda Saraswati, even though Maoist rebels claimed the assassination. In the rioting by radical Hindus that went on unabated for months, some 100 people were killed, thousands were injured, 300 churches and 6,000 homes were destroyed, and 50,000 people were displaced, with many forced to hide in nearby forests where many died of hunger and snakebites. Eleven years on, Archbishop John Barwa of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar says the faith of Christians is growing, the people have no fear, and “they can face any challenge with faith and trusting in God”…

‘Religions for Peace’ pledge concrete actions (Vatican News) The 10th World Assembly of “Religions for Peace”, the world’s most representative, multi-religious gathering of religious communities, concluded on Friday in the German town of Lindau, with participants committing themselves to common action for the common good of humanity. Some 900 senior religious leaders, 100 representatives of governments, intergovernmental organizations and civil society groups, and youth and women of faith from over 125 countries came together, 20-23 August, to discuss their theme “Caring for our Common Future—Advancing Shared Well-Being…”

How a settler saved an Ethiopian family (The Jerusalem Post) Many Ethiopian Jews died on the way to Sudan, and many others who managed to reach Sudan were somehow left behind. A chance meeting in 1999 between Rabbi Aron Katsof and Adina, a young woman who had come from Ethiopia as an eight-year-old child and was going back as a volunteer, added a new dimension to Operation Moses, in that Katsof, too, became part of an historic rescue operation, and succeeded in re-uniting a family from among those who had been left behind…

Pope welcomes new UAE committee to promote human fraternity (Vatican News) Pope Francis and the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Ahmed el-Tayyeb, signed the Document on Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together in Abu Dhabi in February 2019. Now that document has led the UAE to set up a high committee to spread the principles of tolerance and cooperation, especially through education…



Tags: Syria India Ethiopia

23 August 2019
Greg Kandra




Monsoons have caused flooding that has destroyed homes and farmland throughout India.
(video: Al Jazeera/YouTube)


Monsoons batter India, destroying homes, farmland (Al Jazeera) Thousands of people in the southern Indian state of Kerala have lost their homes and livelihoods after weeks of heavy rain. The monsoon rains triggered floods and landslides across India…

Turkey vows not to quit army post surrounded in Syria (AFP) Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Friday that Turkish troops will not quit a military observation post in northwestern Syria where they are surrounded by government forces. ”We are there, not because we can’t leave but because we don’t want to leave,” he told a news conference in Lebanon, denying that Turkish troops had been “cut off” by a government advance into the jihadist-ruled Idlib region…

Archbishop says Christians are close to Muslims in Indian Kashmir (AsiaNews) Archbishop Sebastian Shaw of Lahore released a video message saying that Pakistan’s religious minorities are “praying for the people of Indian Kashmir.” The prelate was reacting to the decision by the Indian government to scrap Jammu and Kashmir’s special autonomy, which sparked renewed tensions between India and Pakistan…

Israel encouraging Gaza residents to emigrate (Irish Times) Palestinians have reacted angrily after Israeli officials confirmed that efforts have been made to encourage residents of the Gaza Strip to emigrate. Israeli officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed that the security cabinet held at least five discussions on the plan, which involved providing financial assistance to residents of Gaza who wanted to leave and allowing them to depart via an airport in southern Israel…



Tags: India Gaza Strip/West Bank Turkey





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