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June, 2018
Volume 44, Number 2
  
6 July 2018
Greg Kandra




Pope Francis celebrated Mass at St. Peter's Basilica on Friday to mark the 5th anniversary of his visit to the Italian island of Lampedusa. (photo: Vatican Media)

Pope urges open hearts, doors toward supporting refugees (Vatican News) Pope Francis on Friday mourned the refugees and migrants lost at sea and reminded the world that their blood cries out to the conscience of each one of us. The response to the Lord’s appeal, “Where is your brother? His blood cries out to me”, “even if at times generous, has not been enough, and we continue to grieve thousands of deaths,” the Pope said during the 6 July Mass in Rome’s St. Peter’s Basilica to commemorate the 5th anniversary of his 8 July 2013 visit to the tiny Italian island of Lampedusa…

Church mourns passing of Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran (Vatican News) Created and proclaimed Cardinal by St. John Paul II in the Consistory of 21 October 2003, Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran was known to the world for his tireless work to promote peace through inter-religious dialogue. He became a familiar figure also for having announced to the world the election of Pope Francis on 13 March 2013 from the balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica. Tauran, who was currently President of the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue and Camerlengo of the Holy Roman Church, died in the United States where he was receiving treatment for Parkinson’s disease which had afflicted him for many years…

Thousands flee ’earth-shattering’ bombs in Syria (Al Jazeera) Thousands of Syrians from a string of rebel-held towns in eastern Deraa have fled to an area overlooking the Jordanian border, as President Bashar al-Assad and his allies press on with their offensive to capture southwest Syria…

Christian families expelled from eastern India (Crux) Several Christian families have been assaulted and expelled from their village by local extremists for refusing to renounce their faith, drawing protest from an American group who says the attack violates the families’ rights under Indian law…

The day a 1,500-year-old Byzantine church was unearthed in Turkey (Aleteia) It was in February 2016 that archaeologists unearthed a unique rock-carved underground church in Nevsehir, in the central Turkish region of Cappadocia. The church was decorated with never before seen frescoes depicting Jesus’ Ascension, the Final Judgment, Jesus feeding the multitudes, and portraits of saints and prophets…



Tags: India Pope Francis Refugees Interreligious

5 July 2018
Greg Kandra




Pope Francis meets with Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk at the Vatican. (photo: Vatican Media)

Pope meets with head of Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church (Vatican News) Pope Francis met on Tuesday with the Father and Head of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church (UGCC), Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk, on the occasion of the 1030th anniversary of the baptism of Rus’-Ukraine. During the audience, Major Archbishop Sviatoslav drew attention to the UGCC’s relations with the other churches that are “heirs to the Baptism by Saint Volodomyr.” Speaking of the Orthodox Churches in Ukraine, his Beatitude spoke of the “painful reality” of divisions. He emphasized that, although the UGCC looks positively on efforts to overcome division, it nonetheless considers such matters internal to the Orthodox Churches, insisting that the UGCC never interferes in or takes part in such efforts…

Syria bombardment resumes after cease fire breaks down (Al Jazeera) The Syrian government and its closest military ally — Russia — have intensified their bombing campaign in the southern province of Deraa, after ceasefire deal between rebels and Russians broke down on Wednesday. Al Jazeera’s Zeina Khodr, reporting from Beirut, said that had airstrikes intensified on Thursday as government troops advanced steadily to recapture lost territory…

Another pope to celebrate liturgy in Rome: Tawadros (Crux) On Friday, the second largest church in Rome will be hosting a papal liturgy, though this time it won’t be the usual suspect celebrating. Tawadros II, the Pope of Alexandria, Egypt, and Patriarch of the See of St. Mark will be officiating at a service for the growing community of Copt-Orthodox Christians in the eternal city…

Wireless in Gaza: kids making code, not war (The Guardian) Tight restrictions on the movement of goods and, vitally, people, have been the death of much industry here. But Gaza’s first coding academy hopes its hi-tech business model — which operates in the virtual rather than real world — will be somewhat immune to physical barriers to trade. ”That’s the reason we started this. It ignores boundaries,” says 31-year-old Ghada Ibrahim, who was in the first class of coders, which started a year ago. The blockade is a huge factor. It’s a reason why we have a lot of people who have come to sign up…”



Tags: Syria Pope Francis Ukraine Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church

3 July 2018
Greg Kandra




Pope Francis on Tuesday named the Rev. Peter Paul Saldanha to be the new bishop of the Diocese of Mangalore in India. (photo: Vatican Media)

Pope appoints new bishop for Mangalore, India (Vatican News) Pope Francis on Tuesday appointed a new bishop in Mangalore Diocese of southern India’s Karnataka state. The Rev. Peter Paul Saldanha, the 54-year old professor of theology at the Pontifical Urban University of Rome, Italy, is the new Bishop of Mangalore. He takes over from Bishop Aloysius Paul D’Souza, who has resigned having reached the canonical retirement age of 75 two years ago. Bishop D’Souza stepped down after heading the Diocese of Mangalore for 22 years…

UN: war took heavy toll on children in 2017 (Vatican News) More than 10,000 children were killed or maimed in conflict last year while more than 8,000 youngsters were recruited or used as combatants, a United Nations report said last week. The annual report, “Children and Armed Conflict” (CAAC) released on 27 June pointed out that a total of more than 21,000 violations of children’s rights were reported in 2017 — a sharp increase from the previous year…

Jordanians launch aid campaign for refugees (Al Jazeera) Hundreds of people in Jordan have flocked to the border with Syria for a second consecutive day to deliver aid to some of the 270,000 refugees who have fled ongoing violence in Syria’s Deraa province…

‘I hope to God we will be safe’: refugees in Lebanon begin return to Syria (NPR) This group of refugees comes from camps around the Lebanese border town of Arsal. Approximately 3,000 people answered a recent call put out on Facebook to people from this area by the General Security agency, according to a local negotiating committee that represents Syrians who want to go back. Only a small number have been cleared by the Syrian government to return so far…

How Pope Francis is bringing down walls with the Orthodox for Middle East peace (Crux) With peace in the Middle East as the goal, Pope Francis on Saturday will host an ecumenical prayer in the southern Italian city of Bari to be attended by the representatives of the Christian churches with a presence in the region, including the Russian Orthodox Church. The pilgrimage to Bari, an ecumenical city per excellence due to the presence of the remains of St. Nicholas of Bari, venerated both by Catholics and Orthodox, has the motto of “Peace be upon you! Christians together for the Middle East”…



Tags: Syria India Pope Francis Refugees Indian Bishops

2 July 2018
Greg Kandra




Pope Francis speaks to the crowd in St. Peter’s Square during his Angelus address on 1 July. (photo: Vatican Media/AFP)

Pope prays for peace in Syria, Horn of Africa (Vatican News) After praying the Angelus in St. Peter’s Square, Pope Francis on Sunday issued a series of appeals for prayers for peace in different parts of the world…

Syria war: 270,000 reported displaced (BBC) At least 270,000 people have fled their homes in south-western Syria since the military launched an assault on rebel-held areas two weeks ago, the UN says. Many of those displaced by the fighting in Deraa and Quneitra provinces have headed towards the borders with Jordan and the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights. But neither country has said it will allow an influx of refugees, sparking fears of a humanitarian crisis…

Christians in India elated, as Arunachal considers scrapping anti-conversion law (New Indian Express) Christians in Arunachal Pradesh are happy following the state’s BJP government’s move to repeal the Arunachal Pradesh Freedom of Religion Act or the Anti-Conversion Law which was passed in 1978. Once the law is repealed, the state’s 32 percent Christian population may have a favorable view of the BJP, which is generally perceived as a party not so favourable for the minorities…

A look at the Fratelli project in Lebanon (Vatican News) Fratelli is an educational project run by the Marist brothers and the De La Salle Brothers (Institute of the Brothers of the Christian Schools) in Lebanon’s Rmeileh, near the ancient city of Sidon.The project offers some 70 refugee children from Syria and Iraq the chance to get an education and prepare to return to school…

Unesco adds sites in Turkey, India to World Heritage List (Khaleej Times) Unesco added Saudi Arabia’s Al-Ahsa Oasis and Oman’s ancient city of Qalhat to its World Heritage List on Friday, the world cultural body said. Mumbai’s Art Deco buildings — believed to be the world’s second largest collection after Miami — were added on Saturday, alongside the city’s better-known Victorian Gothic architecture…

Vatican cricket team tours to strengthen interfaith relations (Vatican News) The Vatican’s cricket team takes off on a fourth UK tour on Tuesday, with the goal of strengthening interfaith relations high on their action-packed agenda. The team, officially known as St Peter’s Cricket Club, was established in 2013 and is made up of young men who are studying for the priesthood in Rome. It operates under the auspices of the Pontifical Council for Culture and was set up to promote ecumenical and interfaith relations through a shared love of cricket…



Tags: Syria India Pope Francis Interfaith

29 June 2018
Greg Kandra




New Cardinal Louis Raphael I Sako, the Chaldean Catholic patriarch, greets U.S. Cardinal J. Francis Stafford during a consistory at which Pope Francis created 14 new cardinals in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican on 28 June. (photo: CNS/Paul Haring)

New Cardinal Sako: my appointment is a message for Iraqi Christians (Asia News) Strengthening the unity of Christians, relaunching the principle of citizenship as an element common to all Iraqis and supporting the work of rebuilding homes and people, devastated by war and jihadist violence. These are the objectives set by the Chaldean Patriarch Mar Louis Raphael Sako, whom Pope Francis just made a cardinal…

Leaders of Ethiopia, Eritrea to meet soon (Bloomberg) The leaders of Ethiopia and Eritrea will meet soon, Ethiopia’s Foreign Ministry said, the latest sign of thawing relations between the Horn of Africa nations at odds since a border war two decades ago. A meeting between Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki would cap landmark talks that began this month between officials from the two countries that fought a 1998-2000 war in which about 100,000 people died. Eritrea seceded from Ethiopia in 1993 after decades of conflict...

Metropolitan Hilarion: Patriarch has stated there will be no legitimization of schism (The Moscow Patriarchate) During his stay in Athens, Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, head of the Moscow Patriarchate department for external church relations, gave in interview to the Greek Romfea new agency…

Looking at Syria’s war through a Syrian photographer’s eyes (The Washington Post) For most of the war, journalists have had trouble getting into the country because of the dangers. Many have been kidnapped and killed. And, of course, Syrian journalists have been working under extraordinarily dangerous conditions. Photojournalist Hosam Katan is one of those Syrian journalists, and his new book, “Yalla Habibi: Living with War in Aleppo”, takes us into the conflict that has been ravaging his country for nearly a decade…

Outrage as winery shuns Ethiopian workers (The Times of Israel) Barkan Wineries is facing a furious backlash after an undercover investigation revealed that the company banned Ethiopian employees from coming in contact with its wine due to an ostensible doubt about their Jewishness. Israel’s chief rabbi condemned the ban as “pure racism,” the president castigated the winery and the Knesset speaker called it shameful…

Photographer captures colorful Christian churches in Kerala (The Architects Newspaper) A mixture of postmodern motifs can be seen in the architecture. Sculptures of stars, crosses, globes, and Bibles populate the facades, conveying the world-encompassing, light-radiating themes of Christianity…



Tags: Syria Ethiopia Vatican Chaldean Patriarch Louis Raphael I Chaldeans

28 June 2018
Greg Kandra




Pope Francis met with members of the Delegation of the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople on Thursday. (photo: Vatican Media)

Pope Francis meets with delegation representing Ecumenical Patriarch (Vatican News) Pope Francis on Thursday received members of a delegation representing the Ecumenical Patriarch, Bartholomew I, the primus inter pares (first among equals) of the heads of the autocephalous churches the make up the Eastern Orthodox Church. At the audience, Pope Francis welcomed the delegation as a “a sign of the growth of communion between the Catholic Church and the Ecumenical Patriarch,” while also recalling “the common roots of our sister Churches…”

Syrian refugees begin returning from Lebanon (Reuters) Nearly 400 refugees began leaving the Lebanese border town of Arsal to cross into Syria on Thursday, a rare case of returns which Lebanon’s government wants to encourage…

Home as a hospital: Gaza families struggle to care for wounded (Al Jazeera) Hospitals, overwhelmed by a series of injured people, have already reached the limit of their capacity. Medical staff are constantly faced with the dilemma of either discharging patients early, or having no space to receive new ones. The burden that hospitals could not handle fell on the shoulders of the families, adding emotional, financial and logistical stress to already difficult lives…

Pope creates 14 new cardinals Thursday (Vatican News) Pope Francis will create 14 new cardinal from 11 countries during the Ordinary Public Consistory in Rome’s St. Peter’s Basilica Thursday evening, 28 June…

Copts mark 50th anniversary of cathedral dedication (Ahram.org) ”The Coptic Church is an ancient pride of the Egyptian nation that deserves a modern glory like its old ones.” This is how Taha Hussein, a towering figure in modern Arab literature, described in his book “The Future of Egyptian Culture” the project to establish a new headquarters for the Coptic Church. This week, 50 years have passed since the inauguration of the Coptic Church headquarters in Cairo’s Abbaseya district, opened by late Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser…

Unseen Armenia: the Surb Sargis Monastery in Ushi (Asbarez.com) Ushi, roughly 17 miles northwest of Yerevan, is on the west side of the Kasakh river valley. The road to Ushi is good — travel time from Yerevan is about 40 minutes. Cab fare is affordable, but it’s best to first negotiate an approximate fare with the taxi driver. The Surb Sargis Monastery complex, dating from the 5th—18th centuries is on the west edge of the village. On a small rise next to the monastery are the remnants of a late Bronze Age to early Iron Age settlement, dated to the 2nd to 1st millennium B.C. The monastery is spectacular…



Tags: Syria Lebanon Pope Francis Refugees Patriarchs

27 June 2018
Greg Kandra




Syrian refugees wait outside their shelters in late January at Zaatari camp near Mafraq, Jordan. Jordan said Tuesday it is sealing its border and will not receive any new refugees from Syria. (photo: CNS/Muhammad Hamed, Reuters)

Jordan insists on sealing borders amid new wave of refugees (Albawaba.com) Jordan will not take in any more Syrian refugees and the border with Syria will not be reopened, officials reiterated Tuesday. ”The Kingdom will not receive any new refugees from Syria under any circumstances,” Prime Minister Omar Razzaz said Tuesday after a meeting with Lower House Speaker Atef Tarawneh and heads of the chamber’s committees…

UN: Torture is always unacceptable (Vatican News) The United Nations chief has called on the international community to end the “abominable and useless practice” of torture, saying it is “unacceptable and unjustified at all times, including during states of emergency, political instability, or even in a war…”

Syria’s Christians reckon with survival (Sojourners) Since 2011, Bashar al-Assad’s violent crackdown on dissent combined with ISIS’s aggressive expansion has dispossessed nearly one million Syrian Christians from their ancestral homeland. While Assad portrays himself as the vanguard of the country’s religious minorities, Christians have suffered considerably during the ongoing civil war. Up to 60 percent of the country’s churches have fallen as a result of the war, and many Christians — including human rights lawyer Khalil Maatouk and activist Bassel Shehadeh — have been detained or killed by the regime…

Ethiopia prime minister ready to open new chapter in Eritrea ties (Al Jazeera) Ethiopia’s prime minister said his country was ready to open a new chapter in their relations with long-time foe Eritrea following a high-level meeting with a delegation from Asmara. Abiy Ahmed received on Tuesday a delegation led by Eritrean Foreign Minister Osman Saleh and President Isaias Afwerki’s right-hand man, Yemane Gebreab…

War in eastern Ukraine seems a distant storm to Kiev (The Washington Post) The war between government forces and Kremlin-backed separatists — and, by all indications, actual Kremlin troops — in Eastern Ukraine is only a six-hour train ride from the country’s capital, but for some Ukrainians, it might as well be in another universe. Though it has entered its fifth year, with no end in sight, Europe’s only active conflict has dropped from the headlines, inside Ukraine and abroad. In Kiev, residents have other matters to occupy them, now that summer has finally arrived, the street cafes are overflowing, and life seems to become slower with each degree the temperature rises…



Tags: Syria Ethiopia Jordan United Nations Eritrea

26 June 2018
Greg Kandra




Pope makes changes within College of Cardinals (Vatican News) With a rescript dated 26 June 2018, Pope Francis has named four Cardinals to the Order of Bishops within the College of Cardinals. The rescript, signed by Cardinal-elect Angelo Becciu, the Substitute of the Secretariat of State, says the new Cardinal Bishops will be equal “in all respects to the Cardinals holding the title of a suburbicarian Church…”

Syria assault intensifies as thousands flee (Al Jazeera) Forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad are intensifying their offensive over key rebel-held towns in the southern province of Deraa, as thousands of people continue to flee the area, witnesses tell Al Jazeera…

Is love a winning message in Ethiopia? (Christian Science Monitor) As Africa’s second most populous country and its fastest growing economy, Ethiopia is extraordinary in many ways. It weaves together 80 ethnic groups as well as Christians and Muslims. On a continent with the world’s youngest population, the median age of Ethiopia’s 102 million people is 18. Yet now add to this list a new prime minister, Abiy Ahmed, who took office in April as Africa’s youngest ruler with this extraordinary trait: He could be the only leader of any country who frequently tells people, “Love wins…”



Tags: India Ethiopia Vatican Indian Bishops

25 June 2018
Greg Kandra




Pope Francis has just appointed Jesuit Bishop Felix Toppo of Jamshedpur to be the new archbishop of Ranchi in India. (photo: Diocese of Jamshedpur)

Pope appoints new archbishop in Ranchi, India (Vatican News) Pope Francis on Sunday appointed a new archbishop in Ranchi in the eastern Indian state of Jharkhand. He transferred Jesuit Bishop Felix Toppo of Jamshedpur to Ranchi as its new Archbishop. Bishop Felix takes over from 78-year old Cardinal Telesphore Toppo whose resignation the Holy Father has accepted. The cardinal reached the retirement age of 75 in 2014 as stipulated by the Code of Canon Law…

Grenade blast kills one, injures dozens at rally in Ethiopia (Vatican News) The Ethiopian Prime Minister has condemned a grenade blast that killed at least one person and injured at least 154 others at a rally in Addis Ababa. The explosion struck a rally by supporters of Ethiopia’s new Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed. He had just wrapped up delivering a speech, when the blast — thought to have been caused by a hand grenade — went off…

Five women from Jesuit school gang-raped in India (UCANews.com) Five women were abducted from a Jesuit-managed school and gang-raped in a forest near the Khunti area of India’s Jharkhand state, police said. Unidentified men on six motorcycles took away the women on the afternoon of 20 June while they were performing a play about social awareness, said A.V. Homkar, the area’s senior police official…

Jordan says it can’t accept more Syrian refugees (The Jordan Times) Jordan warned on Sunday that it cannot receive more Syrian refugees, saying it was intensifying talks with the US and Russia following air strikes on rebel-held towns in southern Syria. ”We have received enough numbers of Syrian refugees; we already have a large number and we simply cannot receive more,” Minister of State for Media Affairs Jumana Ghunaimat told The Jordan Times over the phone on Sunday…

Photo essay: the Syrian women and children waiting in the shadows of Lebanon’s camps (The Independent) There is real compassion and sympathy from landlords, employers and neighbors to what is perhaps the world’s greatest humanitarian crisis. Lebanese families have been known to take in refugees, also help set them up with furniture for their homes…



Tags: India Ethiopia Jordan

22 June 2018
Greg Kandra




Pope Francis speaks about the plight of Christians in the Middle East, in an audience with members of ROACO. (photo: Vatican Media)

Pope: Middle East is a ‘crossroads of suffering’ (Vatican News) ”The Middle East today is a crossroads of difficult situations, suffering,” Pope Francis said on Friday, in unscripted remarks to representatives of ROACO, the Reunion of Aid Agencies to the Oriental Churches (Italian: “Riunione Opere Aiuto Chiese Orientali”). ROACO coordinates assistance and provides funding for initiatives that aid Eastern Catholic churches. In his extemporaneous comments, Pope Francis warned that there is the risk of “eliminating Christians” from the Middle East although he was careful to say that this did not mean this was anyone’s intention…

Report: Only ten Christian refugees from Iraq and Syria resettled in U.S. In 2018 (Christian Post) As the Trump administration has promised to help Christians and other religious minorities who faced genocide at the hands of the Islamic State, the U.S. government has resettled only ten Christian refugees from Iraq and Syria since the beginning of 2018…

Gaza border communities economically battered by kite fires (The Jerusalem Post) Gaza border communities are facing a new type of attack unlike rocket salvos from Hamas. Today, flaming kites and explosive condoms have scorched farmlands in nearby areas, backed-up highways as police sappers close roads to defuse incendiary devices, and led to a wave of canceled guests at local hotels and bed-and-breakfasts. While the burning kites have yet to kill or maim any Israeli civilians, they are increasingly inflicting an economic toll...

Syrian refugees creating items for IKEA (Mental Floss) After debuting the Tilltalande Collection at its Amman, Jordan location last year, IKEA is finally bringing it to the U.S. As Curbed reports, every item in the collection was created by women from Jordan and refugees from Syria. The new line is a collaboration between IKEA and the Jordan River Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to improving the lives of Jordanians, especially women and children…

Meet Maxim, the champion powerlifting Russian Orthodox priest (Metro.co.uk) This is Maxim Pastuhov. He’s a Russian Orthodox priest… and also a champion powerlifter. When he’s not tending to his flock in Belgorod Oblast, Russia, the 41-year-old is down the gym getting busy with dumbells and barbells. Despite only having started weight training seven years ago, he’s already gained the title of “master of sport” — a prestigious title across Russia and former Soviet countries. ‘Weightlifting is a sport and is just my way of life,’ Maxim says…



Tags: Syria Pope Francis Vatican Russian Orthodox





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