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Current Issue
September, 2019
Volume 45, Number 3
  
17 October 2019
Greg Kandra




Smoke rises over the Syrian city of Ras al Ain on 16 October 2019, as seen from the Turkish border city of Ceylanpinar. Humanitarian concerns are growing as people caught in the crosshairs of the Turkish incursion into northeastern Syria try to flee for safety. (photo: CNS/Murad Sezer, Reuters)

Pence arrives in Turkey as U.S. seeks to halt Syria offensive (The Washington Post) Vice President Pence arrived Thursday in Turkey’s capital on a mission to persuade President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to halt a military offensive in northeastern Syria that has set off a hasty U.S. troop withdrawal and posed political problems for the Trump administration. Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo were scheduled to meet with Erdogan, the State Department said Monday. The United States and other Western allies have reacted with alarm to the Turkish military operation, aimed at beating back Kurdish militants from Turkey’s border region and creating a zone where Syrian refugees could be resettled, Ankara says…

Turkish offensive sends new wave of refugees to Iraq (The Washington Post) As foreign powers jostle for control of northeast Syria, a new wave of refugees is trudging into Iraq, fearful, uncertain and worn out. Aid groups said Wednesday that more than a thousand Syrians had crossed the Iraqi border in the days since U.S. troops pulled back and Turkey moved in to push Kurdish-led forces from its southern frontier. Should the violence worsen, humanitarian agencies are preparing to receive as many as 50,000 people by January…

Hundreds of ultra-Orthodox teens attack Palestinians in Jerusalem (Haaretz) Hundreds of ultra-Orthodox teens rioted on Wednesday overnight in central Jerusalem, attacking Palestinians that drove by them and vandalizing their vehicle. Seven were arrested by police on suspicion of causing property damage…

Archbishop urges dialogue between Pakistan, India (Vatican News) A Catholic bishop of Pakistan has expressed concern over the confrontation between Pakistan and India over the disputed region of Kashmir and wishes the leaders of both the nuclear-armed nations take on the path of dialogue to save humanity. ”Atomic weapons will never be needed or used if world leaders remain firm in their commitment to build global peace,” Archbishop Sebastian Shaw of Lahore said last week, during a ceremony to commemorate the historic meeting between St. Francis of Assisi and Sultan al-Malik al-Kamil of Egypt, 800 years ago in Egypt 1219…



Tags: Syria India Jerusalem Turkey

16 October 2019
Greg Kandra




In this image from 2016, children in Aiga, Ethiopia, enjoy biscuits they received as part of a food program supported by Catholic Near East Welfare Association. To mark World Food Day, 16 October, Pope Francis issued a message calling on the world to “realize that what we are accumulating and wasting is the bread of the poor.”(photo: John E. Kozar, CNEWA)

Pope’s message for World Food Day: wasting the bread of the poor (Vatican News) Pope Francis sends a message to the FAO Director General, Qu Dongyu, for World Food Day, observed on 16 October, expressing his concern for the “distorted relationship between food and nutrition.” The pope begins his message by referring to the theme for this year’s World Food Day: “Our Actions Are Our Future. Healthy Diets for a #ZeroHunger World”. The Pope notes that “despite efforts made in recent decades, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is yet to be implemented in many parts of the world…”

Turkey urges Kurdish fighters to lay down their arms (The New York Times) President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey called on Wednesday for Kurdish fighters battling his troops in northeastern Syria to lay down their weapons and withdraw from the border area “this very night.” Resisting Western pressure to halt the operation, Mr. Erdogan also requested international support for his country’s battle against Kurdish fighters whom Turkey considers terrorists but who had been allied with the United States against the Islamic State…

A look inside Egypt’s most embattled minority, Christians in ’Garbage City’ (The New York Post) Enormous bags of trash litter the streets and fill every nook and cranny, and the ambient scent is correspondingly pleasant. Pictures of Coptic popes and Jesus and Mary cover the walls, often next to hand-painted scenes from Mecca. Emaciated cats lounge about. If any place epitomizes the decrepitude and magic of the Egyptian capital — presenting both qualities in equal and abundant measure — it is this place called Garbage City...

Heavy rainfall warning issued for Kerala (The Times of India) A low pressure formation in the Arabian Sea will bring intentness rains and thunderstorms to Kerala for the next couple of days…

Jerusalem opens natural spring, but not to Palestinians (Haaretz) Police allowed a natural spring in southern Jerusalem to be opened to visitors on Tuesday, but on the explicit condition that Palestinians not be allowed to enter the site…



Tags: Egypt Pope Francis Kerala Turkey

15 October 2019
Greg Kandra




Turkish-backed Syrian rebel fighters raise the Syrian opposition flag at the border town of Tel Abyad, Syria, on 14 October. (photo: CNS/Khalil Ashawi, Reuters)

Syriac Catholic patriarch pleads for peace in Syria (CNS) The patriarch of the Syriac Catholic Church pleaded for “immediate and lasting peace in northeastern Syria and the preservation of innocent lives, especially for Christians, who are the original and founding component of Syria.” Celebrating Mass on 13 October in the patriarchal Church of the Virgin Mary in Rome in the presence of people uprooted over the years from Syria and Iraq, Syriac Catholic Patriarch Ignace Joseph III Younan said, “We Christians of the East are neglected and abandoned by this world, which searches for its immediate material interests…”

Fighting in Syria displaces more than 100,000 (Vatican News) Turkish troops moved on Saturday to seize key highways that link towns in northeast Syria. It marks the 4th day of the Turkish offensive against Kurds living near the border in Syria. Turkey says its goal is to push back Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units at least 20 miles from the border. Turkey considers the YPG a terrorist organization. At least 30 civilians have so far been reported killed in the violence. The United Nations said Saturday that at least 100,000 people have been driven from the towns of Ras al-Ain and Tal Abyad alone, where the heaviest fighting is going on…

Indian archbishop, priest die in car accident in U.S. (Vatican News) Archbishop Dominic Jala of Shillong of north-east India’s Meghalaya state and the Rev. Mathew Vellankal, a 58-year old Indian-born priest of the Diocese of Oakland, died last week a road accident in California in the United States. Archbishop Jala was 68. Father Vellankal was driving the archbishop and another Indian priest, the Rev. Joseph Parekkatt, to Clearlake in California, when the tragedy took place. Their car was hit by a semi-truck in Colusa County…

Greek Church recognizes Orthodox Church of Ukraine (Radio Free Europe) An extraordinary meeting of the leadership of the Church of Greece decided on 12 October to recognize the autocephalous Orthodox Church of Ukraine (OCU), making it the first of the Eastern Orthodox churches to take such a step. The Orthodox Times said the Greeks’ formal recognition will take place on 19 October in Thessaloniki, with Archbishop Ieronymos and the OCU’s Metropolitan Epifaniy of Kyiv and All Ukraine present...

Leaders of Egypt, Ethiopia meet to discuss dam standoff (Reuters) A long-running diplomatic standoff over building and operating the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam has heightened tensions between the two countries. Egypt worries that the dam will threaten its already scarce water supplies…



Tags: Syria Ethiopia Turkey Indian Bishops

11 October 2019
Greg Kandra




In this image from January, Pope Francis shakes hands with Abiy Ahmed, prime minister of Ethiopia, during a private audience at the Vatican. The Ethiopian prime minister was awarded the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize on 11 October. (photo: CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Ethiopia’s prime minister awarded Nobel Peace Prize (The New York Times) Abiy Ahmed, the prime minister of Ethiopia, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday, for his work in restarting peace talks with neighboring Eritrea, ending a long stalemate between the two countries. Mr. Abiy, 43, broke through two decades of frozen conflict between his vast country, Africa’s second most populous, and Eritrea, its small and isolated neighbor. When he became prime minister of Ethiopia in 2018, he threw himself at a breakneck pace into reforms at home, and peace negotiations with the rebel-turned-dictator Isaias Afwerki, president of Eritrea…

Turkey claims hundreds of ’terrorists’ killed in Syria (Bloomberg) President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he would “open the doors” for 3.6 million refugees currently in Turkey to seek shelter in Europe, should his country come under undue criticism. Erdogan’s threats on Thursday came a day after Turkish troops began a major incursion into northeastern Syria, drawing criticism from the U.S., many European nations and Arab states. The cross-border military offensive, code-named “Peace Spring,” resulted in deaths of hundreds of “terrorists” since it began on Wednesday, according to Turkey’s military…

Why strong monsoon rains are not good news for Indian farmers (India Today) India, one of the world’s biggest agricultural producers, experienced its heaviest monsoon rains in 25 years this year. While rain would normally cheer the agricultural heartland, the monsoon was erratic and has left many crops damaged…

The young women who share language in Jerusalem (Haaretz) Two years ago two women decided to try to expand their mutual circle of friends in Jewish and Arab neighborhoods of Jerusalem. They started a Facebook page where they proposed creating a women’s group in which Arab women would teach their Jewish counterparts Arabic and the Jewish women would teach the Arab women Hebrew…



Tags: Syria Ethiopia Turkey

10 October 2019
Greg Kandra




A multirocket launcher fires in an unknown location on 9 October 2019, in this still image from a video. Turkish warplanes have begun attacking northeastern Syria, causing widespread panic among Christian and other religious communities caught up in the aerial bombardments.
(photo: CNS/Turkish Defence Ministry via Reuters)


Turkish bombing causes panic about Christian community (CNS) Turkish warplanes have begun attacking northeastern Syria, causing widespread panic among Christian and other religious communities caught up in the aerial bombardments. ”Christians and others are extremely worried,” Syriac Christian political leader Bassam Ishak told the Catholic News Service by phone on 9 October. “The Turkish bombing seems designed to push people out of their towns, if, in fact, they manage to escape alive.” Ishak heads the Syriac National Council. A graduate of The Catholic University of America in Washington, he is also a member of the political bureau of the Syrian Democratic Council…

Archbishop of Aleppo condemns Turkish offensive in northeast Syria (Vatican News) The news on Wednesday afternoon that Turkish armed forces and Syrian rebel allies had launched a military attack “east of the Euphrates” has raised fears of a worsening humanitarian crisis and more civilian victims. In an interview with SIR news agency, Archbishop Jean-Clement Jeanbart said he fears “a slaughter and many innocent deaths…”

Pope prays after synagogue attack in Germany (Vatican News) Before concluding the Wednesday evening session in the Synod Hall, Pope Francis prayed for victims of the attack on the synagogue of Halle, in Germany. Two people died and several bystanders were injured in the attack, which took place on the Jewish holy day of Yom Kippur…

IDF nears completion of new Gaza border fortifications (The Times of Israel) Israel is nearing completion of new defense works being constructed on the Gaza border in response to weekly border riots, threats from anti-tank missiles and other terror attacks, according to a Channel 13 report broadcast on Wednesday. The project includes defenses against missiles and improved sniper posts, which have been better fortified, placed higher up and in more strategic locations…



Tags: Syria Gaza Strip/West Bank Turkey Jews

9 October 2019
Greg Kandra




Turkish troops have reportedly begun crossing into Syria. (video: Bloomberg/YouTube)

Kurds mobilize in Syria as Turkey is poised for attack (AP) The Kurdish-led civilian administration in northeastern Syria issued a “general mobilization” call along the Syrian border with Turkey on Wednesday as Ankara poised for an imminent invasion of the area in the latest major escalation in the war-ravaged country…

India’s Christians, Muslims face higher persecution (NCR) While most reported cases of persecution are against the country’s Muslim population, Christians have also come under attack. Jesuit Fr. Stanislaus Alla, theologian and professor at the Vidyajyoti College of Theology in Delhi, told NCR that the church in India was “paying the price for standing up for human rights.” Alla was on a trip to the United States to present a paper on public health in South Asia…

Syrian refugees issued more than 153,000 work permits in Jordan (The Jordan Times) The Ministry of Labor has issued over 153,000 permits for Syrian refugees since the beginning of 2016, a United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) official said. More than146,000 work permits were issued to male refugees and over 7,000 were issued to female Syrian refugees, according to UNHCR Spokesperson Lilly Carlisle. ”Male Syrian refugees work mostly in the agriculture and construction fields while women prefer to work in home-based activities,” Carlisle told The Jordan Times…

Ethiopia’s prime minister emerges as Nobel favorite (Reuters) The deal with Eritrea won Abiy Ahmed international plaudits. He is the bookmakers’ favorite to win a Nobel Peace Prize on Friday after climate activist Greta Thunder. But Abiy’s unpredictable style annoys some Ethiopians…



Tags: Syria India Ethiopia Turkey Persecution

8 October 2019
Greg Kandra




In this file photo, Pope Francis greets Riccardo Di Segni, the Chief Rabbi of Rome. The pope sent a message to the rabbi to mark the Jewish holy days. (photo: Vatican Media)

Pope sends wishes to Jews on their holy days (Vatican News) Pope Francis has sent a message to the Chief Rabbi of Rome, Riccardo Di Segni, on the occasion of the Jewish holy feasts of Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Sukkot. ”On the occasion of the solemn anniversaries of Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Sukkot, I am happy to offer you and the Jewish Community of Rome my sincere good wishes,” the Pope Francis wrote Rabbi Di Segni…

Turkey balks at Trump tweet warning to limit Syrian incursion (AP) Turkey will not bow to threats over its Syria plans, the Turkish vice president said Tuesday in an apparent response to President Donald Trump’s warning to Ankara the previous day about the scope of its planned military incursion into northeastern Syria. Mr. Trump said earlier this week the United States would step aside for an expected Turkish attack on Syrian Kurdish fighters, who have fought alongside Americans for years, but he then threatened to destroy the Turks’ economy if they went too far…

Pulling troops out of Syria could aid Assad and ISIS (The New York Times) Before dawn on Monday, at a military base in northeastern Syria, an American general delivered the bad news to his Syrian counterpart. The United States was going to allow Turkish forces to move into the area, leaving the Kurdish-led Syrian militia vulnerable. ”You are leaving us alone,” the Syrian commander, Mazlum Kobani, responded angrily, and accused the United States of complicity in a looming Turkish attack, according to a United States official and another person with knowledge of the meeting…

Imphal: a missionary Church in India’s northeast region (Vatican News) Archbishop Dominic Lumon of Imphal, the capital of Manipur state, was recently on his so-called “ad limina” visit to Rome, which bishops of dioceses around the world are required to make every five years or so. He noted that despite the remoteness and poverty of the North Eastern Region, people there have embraced Christ. Today, the Church of the region has many native bishops who are sending missionaries to other dioceses…

Portals to history and conflict: the gates of Jerusalem (Reuters) Jews, Muslims and Christians pass daily through the gates of Jerusalem’s Old City, on their way to and from prayers or simply to go about their everyday business in one of the most politically sensitive spots on earth. There are eight gates — seven are open and one is sealed — along the Old City walls that were built in the 16th century by Turkish sultan Suleiman the Magnificent…



Tags: Syria Jerusalem Turkey Jewish-Catholic relations

7 October 2019
Greg Kandra




In this image from July, young women row a makeshift raft past submerged houses in the flooded village of Karbi Anglong, India. Nearlyl 1,900 people reportedly were killed during this year's monsoon season in India. (photo: CNS/Anuwar Hazarika, Reuters)

Officials: nearly 1,900 killed during India’s monsoon season (NDTV) Nearly 1,900 people lost their lives and another 46 were reported missing this monsoon season in rains and floods which affected more than 25 lakh in 22 states, Union Home Ministry officials said on Friday. The highest 382 people died in Maharashtra, followed by 227 deaths in West Bengal in rains, floods and landslides that hit as many as 357 districts in the country…

Trump endorses Turkish military operation in Syria (The New York Times) In a major shift in United States military policy in Syria, the White House said on Sunday that President Trump had given his endorsement for a Turkish military operation that would sweep away American-backed Kurdish forces near the border in Syria…

Opening Synod, pope says fear, status quo smother God’s love (CNS) The Catholic Church’s mission in the world is to spread the fire of God’s love and must not be limited to the “‘ordinary maintenance’ of those who already know the Gospel,” Pope Francis said. Celebrating the opening Mass of the Synod of Bishops for the Amazon on 6 October, the pope said, “Jesus did not come to bring a gentle evening breeze, but to light a fire on the earth…”

Massive underground necropolis being built in Jerusalem (VOA) A massive, new underground necropolis is being built in Jerusalem to help overcome a looming shortage of grave sites for Jewish people in the holy city. The mile-long labyrinth, with 23,000 burial chambers lining the walls and ground, was tunneled into the hillside beneath Jerusalem’s main Jewish cemetery, Givat Shaul, which is quickly running out of space…



Tags: Syria India Turkey

4 October 2019
Greg Kandra




This aerial image from 2018 shows downtown Idlib, Syria. Shells hit a hospital in Idlib, wounding at least seven people. (photo: CNS/Ammar Abdullah, Reuters)

Syria: artillery shells hit hospital in Idlib (Al Jazeera) An artillery attack has hit a hospital in Syria’s rebel-held Idlib province, wounding seven people with one in a critical condition, according to a UK-based charity. Save the Children said artillery shells struck the southern wing of a health centre it supports on Thursday in the town of Maarat al-Numan in northwestern Syria…

Report: India witnessed worst rains, flooding in 25 years (Financial Express) Monsoon rains in the country stood at 10 percent above average this year and recorded the highest numbers in 25 years, the weather department said on Monday, adding that as seasonal rainfall went on longer than it was expected. In a country where the monsoon brings nearly 70 per cent of annual rainfall, the longer monsoon has wreaked havoc in several states killing hundreds of people due to flood…

Lebanon’s labor minister asks Syrian refugees to register newborns (Xinhua) Lebanese Labor Minister Camille Abousleiman called upon Syrian refugees on Friday to register their children who were born in Lebanon, a statement by his ministry said. ”Not registering children of Syrian refugees born in Lebanon will have negative effects on Syrians and the Lebanese,” he said…

Pope dedicates upcoming synod to Francis of Assisi (Vatican News) During a highly symbolic tree-planting ceremony in the Vatican Gardens on Friday, Pope Francis places the upcoming Synod for the Amazon under the protection of Saint Francis of Assisi…



Tags: Syria India Pope Francis

3 October 2019
Greg Kandra




In this image from 2014, Pope Francis kisses a cross during his weekly audience at the Vatican. The cross is made from wooden boards recovered from the wreckage of boats carrying migrants from northern Africa to Lampedusa, Italy. (CNS photo/L’Osservatore Romano via Reuters)

Remembering Lampedusa (Vatican News) On 3 October 2013 a migrant boat sank while sailing towards the Mediterranean island of Lampedusa. The final death toll is never to be known, but 194 bodies were recovered and 363 people were declared missing. “Never Again” said Europe, as leaders and institutions released a series of well-intentioned statements. Thus, 3 October was established as the National Day in Remembrance of the Victims of Immigration…

Lebanon slammed for deporting undocumented refugees (Al Jazeera) Lebanon is being criticized for its decision to send back Syrian refugees who arrived after April without proper documentation as another way of pressuring Syrians to return home. Human rights groups are accusing Lebanon of putting the lives of refugees in danger. Nearly 3,000 of them have been sent back in the past four months…

Syrian war refugees in Turkey face hardships reaching Europe (The Washington Post) Fleeing Syria’s eight-year civil war has always been a trial, full of risk and toil, but it has never felt as dangerous, as impossible, as it does these days. The shifting fortunes of the Syrian conflict pose new peril, while hostility to refugees is on the rise in neighboring states. Some Western countries have adopted immigration policies criticized as incoherent or simply cruel, as refugees, struggling to enter Europe, languish in teeming camps on the continent’s edge…

Christians pray for Gandhi on birth anniversary (UCANews.com) Hundreds of Christians from various denominations prayed together for India on 2 October, marking the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, father of the nation. Delhi Archdiocese organized an ecumenical program, Prayer for India, in New Delhi, recalling Gandhi’s ideals of peace and non-violence…

Looted Ethiopian crown resurfaces in Netherlands (The New York Times) In 1998, Sirak Asfaw, a Dutch civil servant who was born in Ethiopia, noticed something shiny in the suitcase of a guest who was staying at his house. Curious, he opened the case to find a glittering gilded crown inside. ”I couldn’t believe my eyes,” Mr. Sirak, who moved to the Netherlands a political refugee in the 1970s, said in a recent interview in Amsterdam…



Tags: Syria India Refugees Migrants Immigration





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