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Current Issue
March, 2018
Volume 44, Number 1
  
22 July 2016
Greg Kandra




This image from May 2015 shows the interior of the damaged Immaculate Conception Church in Suez, Egypt. Vatican Radio reports today on the dramatic rise in attacks on Christians in Egypt.
(photo: John E. Kozar)


Bishop in Turkey: Catholics watchful during crackdown after failed coup (CNS) Bishop Ruben Tierrablanca Gonzalez, apostolic vicar of Istanbul, said Catholics were following closely the government crackdown that followed an attempted coup. He told Catholic News Service 21 July there had been no news of detentions or injuries among local Catholics, or reports of restrictions on church life. He said most religious leaders had “stood with the civil community against violence and injustice” in the wake of the failed coup...

Attacks on Christians in Egypt on the rise (Vatican Radio) Egypt has seen a sharp rise in sectarian violence, with particular emphasis on Christians. This week a Christian man was stabbed to death by a mob of Muslim men, causing tensions to rise within the Christian community which has seen several attacks on both men and women in the last month alone. Vatican Radio’s Georgia Gogarty spoke with Christian Solidarity Worldwide’s (CSW) Egypt Advocacy Officer, to find out why there has been a sudden spike in violence, and why little is being done to resolve it...

Church joins project to resettle Syrian refugees (CNS) The Catholic Church in England and Wales has joined a government project to resettle an estimated 20,000 refugees from the Syrian war. A parish in the Diocese of Salford will be the first to welcome a family from a refugee camp in the Middle East as part of a sponsorship plan, which involves welcoming and helping to rehabilitate families of Syrian refugees...

Syrian refugees suffering on Jordan’s border (Al Jazeera) After a suicide car bomb at the remote Rukban border crossing in northeastern Jordan in late June, the government declared the area a closed military zone. It barred access even for the UN and aid agencies that have provided food, water, and medical care to the refugees. More than a dozen newborn infants and elderly have since died in the camp, according to activists. They say the bodies are buried near the road to Damascus...

Report: both sides in Ukraine conflict using secret detention and torture (Amnesty International) Both the Ukrainian government authorities and Russia-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine are holding civilians in prolonged arbitrary and sometimes secret detention and torturing them, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch said in a joint report released today. The report “‘You Don’t Exist.’ Arbitrary Detentions, Enforced Disappearances, and Torture in Eastern Ukraine,” is based on interviews with 40 victims of abuses, their family members, witnesses, victims’ lawyers and other sources...

Syrian children hold Pokemon photos praying ‘world will find them’ (The Telegraph) Children in war-torn Syria have been pictured holding up photos of Pokémon in a ‘plea to the world to come to their rescue’. The Revolutionary Forces of Syria Media Office shared photos of the children which have been widely circulated on social media...



21 July 2016
Greg Kandra




A mother and her daughter mourn after the airstrikes carried out by Russian and Syrian war planes targeted a school, in which refugees had taken shelter, in Aleppo, Syria, on 21 July 2016. The city has been under siege for 13 consecutive days.
(photo: Ibrahim Ebu Leys/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)


Half a million people trapped in Aleppo (Al Monitor) The city of Aleppo has been under siege for 13 consecutive days. The Syrian regime imposed the blockade on the areas under the control of the Syrian opposition after government forces took over strategic areas on 7 July in al-Mallah region in northern Aleppo province. As a result, the regime forces were able to closely monitor Castello Road, the only road leading to the northern and western countryside of Aleppo and the sole humanitarian route that allows the daily passage of merchandise and food from Aleppo’s countryside and from the Turkish-Syrian border areas to the neighborhoods in Aleppo that are in the grip of the armed opposition...

Turkey declares three-month state of emergency (CNN) Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced the nation is imposing a three-month state of emergency in the aftermath of last week’s bloody coup attempt. Erdogan met Wednesday with his national security council and council of ministers, the latter of which approved the state of emergency recommendation...

Report: churches targeted during attempted coup in Turkey (Pakistan Christian Post) Two churches in cities in eastern Turkey infamous as the sites of historic killings of Christians were vandalized during the attempted coup on 15 July, reports Middle East Concern...

Sectarian clashes in Minya, Egypt (Fides) Four Christian Copts and five Muslims were injured in sectarian clashes which broke out in recent days in the village of Edmo, located in the governorate of Minya in Upper Egypt. After the clashes, the police have increased the level of control in the village, with the intent to prevent new clashes...

The dangerous route of Ethiopian migrants (The New Yorker) The modern flow of people to the Middle East waxes and wanes as wars and crises afflict the countries surrounding Djibouti. Over the past decade, though, the number of migrant arrivals in Yemen from the Horn of Africa has increased more than threefold, to about ninety-two thousand last year...

Canadian Church seeks open door for immigration (Catholic Register) As Canada launches another overhaul of immigration policy, the Church has an interest in maintaining open doors, whether it’s to refugees, regular immigrants or temporary foreign workers. “We’re a country of immigrants and we’re a Church of immigrants,” said Canadian Church historian the Rev. Terry Fay, author of New Faces of Canadian Catholics: The Asians. “If we can think of ourselves as any other type of Church, we’re not. We’re not establishment people. We’re a Church of immigrants...”

Order of Holy Sepulchre launches new website (Fides) The initiatives and projects implemented and supported especially in Holy Land by the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre now have a new instrument in order to be known throughout the world: the new international Web site of the Equestrian Order www.oessh.va, inaugurated recently by Cardinal Edwin O’Brien, Grand Master of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre. The site is already available in five languages...



20 July 2016
Greg Kandra




Family members of detained Turkish soldiers wait in front of the Istanbul Justice Palace on 20 July, following the failed military coup attempt of 15 July. The government has launched a massive crackdown on those believed to be connected to the coup attempt.
(photo: Bulent Kilic/AFP/Getty Images)


Thousands suspended, fired after failed coup in Turkey (CNN) Turkey has now fired or suspended about 50,000 people after a failed coup over the weekend as it intensifies its vast purge — battering the country’s security forces and many of its democratic institutions...

Ukraine journalist killed in car bombing (The Guardian) A prominent journalist working for a Ukrainian online investigative newspaper has been killed by a car bomb in central Kiev. Pavel Sheremet, who wrote for Ukrayinska Pravda, was driving to work in the car of the newspaper’s owner on Wednesday morning when it was blown up, an adviser to the interior minister, Anton Gerashchenko, said...

Indian Christians step up caste protests (Episcopal News Service) Churches throughout India are stepping up protests against the country’s discriminatory caste system which disadvantages Dalit Christians and Muslims. The caste system is a Hindu-based status system that grades different groups of people on a social scale. The National Council of Churches in India have designated a national day of protest on 10 August “to raise our protest to the continual negligence of the government to the cry for the rights of Dalit Christians in the country...”

Gaza couples struggle with financial difficulties (Mondoweiss.net) Gaza’s crippled economy leaves more and more graduates unemployed and incapable of achieving economic independence, which in turn prevents them from forming secure and stable marriages. Every year, 32,000 students graduate from Gaza schools, only to face bleak prospects of ever finding jobs, leaving the Gaza Strip with soaring unemployment rates that reach up to 70 percent among youth. In response, some local and foreign charities launched programs to aid in mitigating the social crisis resulting from the suffocating Israeli restrictions...

Photo of kidnapped priest posted on Facebook (Fides) “We have no further news, and today, with technical means available, everything is possible in this field. But the photo may be authentic. There are those who, however believe that father Tom is still alive. And I also think he is alive.” This is how Bishop Paul Hinder, OFMCap, Apostolic Vicar of Southern Arabia, comments on the publication of the photo which appeared on Father Tom Uzhunnalil’s Facebook account. The Indian priest was kidnapped on 4 March in Aden by terrorist commandos who stormed a nursing home, slaughtering four Missionaries of Charity, along with 12 other people...

Russian Orthodox Church Synod rejects status of Crete Council (Interfax) The Council, which took place in Crete on 20-25 June cannot be regarded as pan-Orthodox, the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church said in Moscow on Friday. “The Holy Synod determined that the Council, which took place in Crete, cannot be regarded as pan-Orthodox, and the documents it approved as expressing a pan-Orthodox consensus,” said the head of the Synodal Department for Church, Society and Media Relations Vladimir Legoyda, commenting on the results of a Synod meeting...

Indian archdiocese welcomes African migrants (Vatican Radio) The Archdiocese of Bangalore in Karnataka welcomed migrants from Africa with open arms at the St. Josephs Boys School, where the Archdiocesan Commission for Migrants organised an event just for them on 17 July. Msgr. Bernard Moras, archbishop of Bangalore, told AsiaNews that “the Jubilee of Mercy provided the impetus for the meeting. It is important to take care of the pastoral needs of migrants and dedicate ourselves to their well-being...”



19 July 2016
Greg Kandra




In this photograph from last month, Syrian Kurdish women mourn during the funeral of eight members of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) who died during an assault against ISIS in the town of Manbij. A monitoring group says US-backed forces led airstrikes against the town Tuesday, killing at least 56 civilians. (photo: Delil Souleiman/AFP/Getty Images)

Airstrikes kill 56 civilians in Syrian town (Al Jazeera) At least 56 civilians, including 11 children, have been killed in US-led air strikes against areas in Syria held by the Islamic State of Syria and the Levant group (ISIL, also known as ISIS), a monitoring group said. “We believe that the raids which were carried out Tuesday were by US [or] allied planes, but it was by mistake,” Observatory director Rami Abdel-Rahman told DPA news agency...

Alleged coup supporters to face trial in Greece (The Wall Street Journal) Greece faces a delicate balancing act as it confronts the spillover of Turkey’s failed coup on its territory: Eight Turkish officers who supported the coup and fled to Greece want asylum, while Turkey wants them handed over swiftly...

Gaza tunnel collapse kills terror operative (The Times of Israel) A Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror operative was killed in the Gaza Strip Monday night when a tunnel used by the group collapsed east of the town of Khan Yunis, according to various media reports...

In Lebanon, Syrian refugees fear rising discrimination (AFP) Lebanon hosts more than one million Syrian refugees — roughly a quarter of its population — and has regularly been praised for opening its borders to those fleeing the brutal conflict in its neighbor. But the refugee influx has strained resources and tempers, with some Lebanese viewing the years-long presence of Syrians as a burden, even an imposition...

Olympic champion: world must not forget about Ethiopia’s food crisis (Reuters) Millions of Ethiopians in the grip of a severe hunger crisis are at risk of being forgotten by the international community and urgently need more aid to help them recover, former Olympic champion Haile Gebrselassie said on Monday...

In Egypt, law on the construction of churches delayed (Fides) The start of parliamentary debate on the new Egyptian law that should regulate the construction of churches and places of worship had been announced for the end of May, but almost two months later, the text of bill has not yet been brought into parliament, and is subjected to constant changes...

During trip to India, Cardinal Dolan celebrates Syro-Malankara Catholic Church, praises CNEWA (CardinalDolan.org) Today, we in America praise Jesus for your priests, sisters, and lay faithful whose deep Catholic faith, joy, and sense of family is an inspiration to us all. I praise Jesus Christ for the apostolic work of the Catholic Near East Welfare Association, which allows us to accompany you with our prayers and alms, and am glad that Monsignor John Kozar is here with us. I praise Jesus Christ for the lessons Mar Ivanios has taught us: especially his trust, his emphasis on the Imitation of Christ, and his thirst for unity and reconciliation...



18 July 2016
Greg Kandra




At a funeral in Adana, Turkey, on 18 July, relatives mourn around the coffin of Turkish police officer Yunus Ugur, who was killed during the failed military coup attempt.
(photo: Muzaffer Cagliyaner/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)


Turkey crackdown continues after attempted coup (The New York Times) Turkish authorities moved to widen their purge of perceived opponents on Monday by removing thousands of police officers from their posts, part of the crackdown that followed a failed military coup that was aimed at toppling the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan...

Syrian army takes main road leading to Aleppo (CNN) The Syrian army and pro-government forces have taken control of the main road leading into rebel-held areas in Aleppo, effectively cutting off the rebels’ main supply route, the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported Sunday...

Report: Poorest countries shouldering responsibilities for world’s refugees (CNN) The world’s six wealthiest countries host less than 9 percent of the world’s refugees, according to a new Oxfam report. While the United States, China, Japan, Germany, France and UK make up more than half the global economy, last year they only hosted 2.1 million refugees and asylum seekers — just 8.88 percent of the world’s total, the aid organization said in its report released Monday...

Report: 15 arrested for arson attacks on Copts’ homes (Christian Today) Police have arrested 15 people after an arson attack on homes belonging to Coptic Christians in an Upper Egyptian village, in the latest of a series of attacks on Christians in the country. The arson attack on five houses in Abou Yaboub in the Minya governate came on Saturday after rumors spread about a church being built in the area. The arrests reportedly came hours later...

Ethiopia’s ancient sites fueling tourism boom (Quartz.com) Named the world’s best tourist destination of the year in 2015, Ethiopia says it post a 20.7 percent spike in tourism dollars last year hitting a record of $3.4 billion. Much of the growth of Ethiopia’s tourism has been due to its nine UNESCO world heritage sites, such as the 13th century rock-hewn churches in Lalibela, which continue to be a big draw...

Cardinal Dolan: India is an example (UCANIndia.in) Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan, Archbishop of New York, said that India constituted a great example of good relations among religious groups and that rare outbursts of hostilities among the groups were exceptions not representing the country. This is Cardinal Dolan’s first visit to Kerala and he was speaking to reporters in Kochi yesterday...



15 July 2016
Greg Kandra




A man prays in front of a makeshift memorial on 15 July in Nice, France, as people pay tribute near the scene where a truck ran into a crowd, killing more than 80 people the previous evening. (photo: CNS/Pascal Rossignol, Reuters)

French president links attack in Nice to conflict in Middle East (ABC News) In a late-night address to the nation, French President Francois Hollande linked the deadly “terrorist attack” in Nice to the conflict in Iraq and Syria — and said France will intensify its military operations there in the aftermath of today’s tragedy. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack, in which a large truck plowed into a crowd in Nice, France, killing at least 80 people late Thursday. But Mr. Hollande said that “the terrorist nature” of the attack “cannot be denied”…

Pope condemns attack in Nice (Vatican Radio) In a telegram sent on his behalf by the Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Pope Francis has condemned the terror attack in Nice and expressed his profound sadness and his spiritual closeness to the French people…

Portion of Holy Sepulchre remains open during restoration (Fides) The restoration work, which started a few weeks ago, has completely surrounded the aedicule of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre with scaffolding and tarpaulins. But the place where, according to tradition, the body of Christ was laid after crucifixion will remain accessible to pilgrims during the work of restoration and consolidation of the structure…

Agreement near on dispute surrounding Coptic monastery land (Fides) Egyptian lawyer Ihab Ramzy, who protects the interests of the Coptic Orthodox Church, has announced details of an imminent agreement between the parties that should put an end to the long dispute which arose around the territories linked to the Coptic Orthodox Monastery of San Macarius, in the area of Wadi el Rayan…

Losing everything to drought in Ethiopia (TRTWorld) There are currently 10,000 men, women and children at this facility for internally displaced people. It includes a school, a medical unit, a food storage area, and little else. And according to the camp’s water supply expert, only ten people work here…



Tags: Ethiopia Church of the Holy Sepulchre France

14 July 2016
Greg Kandra




Smoke rises from the site of air strikes conducted jointly by Syrian government and Russian planes against opposition forces controlling the Anadan district of Aleppo, Syria, on 5 June. (photo: Ahmed Muhammed Ali/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

U.S. reportedly offering Russia military pact to battle ISIS (The Washington Post) The United States is offering Russia a new military pact against the Islamic State and Al Qaeda in Syria, according to a leaked U.S. proposal that, if finalized, could dramatically alter America’s role in the Arab country’s five-year civil war…

U.S. trying to confirm air strike killed high-ranking ISIS leader (CNN) The United States is trying to verify that an airstrike recently killed a high-ranking ISIS commander, and the Pentagon confirmed Wednesday that in a separate action it took out a commander of the Pakistani Taliban who was responsible for the deaths of more than 130 children…

Syrian refugees graduate from Caritas-run school in Jordan (CNS) Exuberant Syrian refugee children sang, danced and played with colorful clowns as they celebrated graduation at their Caritas-sponsored school in this sleepy suburb of the Jordanian capital, Amman. Some 170 Muslim children, ages 5 to 17, proudly strode up on the outdoor platform of the Latin Patriarchate School of Naour, festooned for the occasion with red, yellow and orange balloons. They wore big smiles as they collected their certificates allowing them to move from primary to secondary school, while others completed high school…

Gaza farmers seek damages for Israel’s crop-spraying (Al Jazeera) Ibrahim Abu Taaymeh has grown spinach on land in the Gaza Strip for more than a decade. But the Palestinian farmer from Khan Younis, in southern Gaza, says his harvest was destroyed after the Israeli army sprayed an unknown herbicide on lands in the buffer zone near the Israel-Gaza border fence in October 2014…

For Palestinians, raising Arabian horses is the ‘hobby of the poor’ (The New York Times) The two gleaming black horses, certified purebreds named Rawnaq and Furys, provided a glimpse of a Palestinian passion — some call it an obsession — for raising show horses, racehorses and more modest steeds in what might seem like impossible conditions. The horses are bred and to some extent trained in gritty East Jerusalem neighborhoods like Issawiya, Tur and Jabal al-Mukaber, often by families who struggle to share tiny, cramped homes. “In America, they call raising horses the hobby of the rich,” said Muhamed Hamdan, 25, a Palestinian trainer who studied in the United States. “Here, it’s the hobby of the poor…”

Film on Indian martyrs to be released in Kerala (Vatican Radio) A documentary film that captures the agony of Kandhamal villagers of the eastern Indian state of Odisha is all set for release in Kerala, India. Directed by K.P. Sasi, “Voice from the Ruins — Kandhamal in search of Justice,” will be screened at three different places in Kerala, southern India, in the second half of July…



Tags: Syria India Refugees Palestine War

13 July 2016
Greg Kandra




In this image from May, Syrian refugees arrive at the Jordanian military crossing point of Hadalat at the border with Syria after a long walk through the Syrian desert. Hadalat was reportedly bombed by a Russian jet Tuesday, killing at least 12 people. (photo: Jordan Pix/Getty Images)

Syrian rebels say Russian jet bombed refugee camp along Jordan border (Reuters) Jets believed to be Russian on Tuesday struck a refugee camp along Jordan’s north-eastern border with Syria, killing at least 12 people and injuring scores in the first such Russian strike near the Jordanian border, rebels said. Several jets flying at high altitudes struck at noon a makeshift camp where a few hundred, mostly women and children, are stranded in a no-man’s-land on the Syrian side of the border, they said. The Russian Defense Ministry was not immediately available for comment...

Holy See’s UN observer speaks on Israeli-Palestinian crisis (Vatican Radio) The halted Israeli-Palestinian peace talks and the ongoing Syrian crisis were among the topics touched on by the Apostolic Nuncio and Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations in statement Tuesday. In his statement to the UN Security Council during an open debate on “The situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian Question,” Archbishop Bernardito Auza reiterated Pope Francis’ denouncement of those responsible for the Syrian crisis, especially those who provide weapons to fighters...

Civilians killed in Indian state of Orissa (Fides) The Catholic Church in Orissa is on alert after the killing of five civilians, including two Christians in the district of Kandhamal in the Indian state of Orissa...

Refugees seen as resilient (CNS) Refugees arriving in the United States are resilient people who want to contribute to society, believes Darwensi Clark of the U.S. bishops’ Migration and Refugee Services. He’s seen it among the refugees he has worked with through the years...

Residents of Gaza turn to Turkey for medical care (The Los Angeles Times) More than 40 Palestinian men from Gaza... are sharing a rented apartment building [in Istanbul] while undergoing surgery and rehabilitation for injuries related to the ongoing conflict between Israelis and Palestinians. They said they have no ties to the militant group Hamas, which rules Gaza. The United Nations has said the few hospitals in Gaza are unable to cope with the demands for surgery and rehabilitation. Thousands of people wait long periods for appointments or apply for treatment in countries such as Turkey, Egypt, Israel or Jordan...

U.S churches to Russia: we’re not leaving (RNS) Several American-based religious denominations remain defiant in the face of new laws that would ban them from proselytizing in Russia. The so-called “Yarovaya laws” make it illegal to preach, proselytize or hand out religious materials outside of specially designated places. The laws also give the Russian government wide scope to monitor and record electronic messages and phone calls...

Iraqis to pray ‘Our Father’ in Aramaic at World Youth Day (Fides) There will be more than two hundred young Iraqi Christians who from all the dioceses of the Country will participate in the forthcoming World Youth Day, to be held in Krakow in late July. And in that context, during the Via Crucis, some of them will have the chance to recite the Lord’s Prayer in Aramaic, Jesus’ language, before the Pope. “It will be an important moment for all of us, to be confirmed in faith and communion with the whole Church of Christ,” says Chaldean Bishop Basel Salim Yaldo, who will accompany the young Iraqis in their trip to Poland with Archbishop Bashar Warda, a dozen young priests and seven nuns...



12 July 2016
Greg Kandra




In this image from 3 July, Iraqis who fled from their villages due to the clashes, go to Dibege Tent Camp in Mosul’s Mahmur district as Mosul rescue operation continues. The United States announced plans to send more troops to Iraq to help retake Mosul.
(photo: Hemn Huseyin/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)


U.S. deploying more troops to Iraq to retake Mosul from ISIS (The New York Times) President Obama will send 560 more troops to Iraq to help retake Mosul, the largest city still controlled by the Islamic State, a deployment intended to capitalize on recent battlefield gains that also illustrates the obstacles that Mr. Obama has faced in trying to wind down America’s wars. The additional troops are the latest escalation of the American military role in Iraq by Mr. Obama, who withdrew the last American soldiers from Iraq at the end of 2011...

Group works to save Syria’s ancient sites from destruction (Al Jazeera) A group of scholars, historians and activists have been working to protect and preserve the rich cultural heritage of war-torn Syria. The members of the initiative, a joint effort by people on the ground and an organisation called “The Day After — Heritage Protection initiative (HPI)” have been carrying out the dangerous work in places such as the Ma’ara mosaic museum, in Idlib province’s Maarat al Numan. They use sandbags in a bid to shield Roman and Byzantine era mosaics, some of which are 600-years-old, from bombs and shrapnel...

Ethiopian Jews on life in Israel: ‘It was always my dream to come to Jerusalem’ (The Washington Post) Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s historic trip to East Africa last week was aimed at boosting relations. But his last stop, in Ethiopia, held special meaning for many of the 135,000 Jews of Ethiopian origin who live in Israel today. Netanyahu is the first Israeli leader to visit the East African country. Formal ties were established between the two states in 1992...

Vatican sends official to Cairo, hopes to restart dialogue with Sunnis at university (CNS) The Vatican and Sunni Islam’s leading institution of higher learning have begun looking for ways to restart formal dialogue. Acting on Pope Francis’ expressed desire, the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue was sending a top-level official to Cairo to visit al-Azhar University, the council said in a written press release 12 July...

India aims to plant a record 50 million trees (Vatican Radio) Hundreds of thousands of people in India’s most populous state are jostling for space as they attempt to plant 50 million trees over the next 24 hours in hopes of setting a world record...

Russian Orthodox priest attempts to fly around the world in a balloon (International Business Times) Russian adventurer Fedor Konyukhov is attempting to fly around the world in a hot air ballon in record time. Lifting off from The Northam Aero Club, western Australia on 12 July, the 64-year-old Orthodox priest was given a warm send off by his wife and children, who watched him depart at sunrise. The Aero Club was used by American aviator Steve Fossett on his 4th solo attempt to fly around the world in a balloon. It took Fossett 13 and a half days — a time that Konyukhov hopes to beat...



11 July 2016
Greg Kandra




A man carries an injured girl after an airstrike in Aleppo, Syria, on 8 July. Rebel fighters have launched an assault on some districts of the city. (photo: CNS/Abdalrhman Ismail, Reuters)

Syrian rebels launch attack in Aleppo (BBC) Syrian rebel fighters have launched an assault on government-held districts of Aleppo, after troops cut their only route into the divided northern city. The rebel operation began at dawn on several fronts, with hundreds of shells being fired at western areas. State media said eight people were killed and dozens hurt by the barrage...

Report details life of Syrians under al-Qaeda affiliate (Al Monitor) Amnesty International released on 5 July a groundbreaking account of the “reality of life” for Syrians living in Idlib and Aleppo under the rule of Jabhat al-Nusra, al-Qaeda’s affiliate, and other armed groups, including those backed by US regional allies...

Vatican outlines pope’s upcoming trip to Georgia, Azerbaijan (Associated Press) The Vatican says Pope Francis will meet with Christian, Muslim and Jewish leaders during his 30 September-2 October trip to the former Soviet republics of Georgia and Azerbaijan, adding a strong interreligious dimension to an already politically delicate trip. The Vatican on Monday released the itinerary for the Caucasus trip, which was originally planned as an extension of Francis’ recent visit to Armenia but was split up...

Report: Child labor surging in Iraq (Reuters) More than half a million Iraqi children are estimated to be at work rather than at school as violence and displacement hurt the income of millions of families, according to UNICEF. The number of children currently working, more than 575,000 has doubled since 1990, the year when Iraq attacked Kuwait, setting off a chain of events that led to the 2003 US-led invasion and the sectarian strife that continues to this day...

CNEWA food program keeping girls in Ethiopia’s classrooms (Catholic Register) Most of the more than 10 million Ethiopians now dependent on direct food handouts will survive the country’s worst drought in 60 years, but how they survive will depend on the generosity of Catholics abroad. The Catholic Near East Welfare Association has launched a cash appeal to help feed students at Catholic schools and youth in parish summer programs. The food aid will keep students in school and help secure their futures once the drought is over...

Russian Orthodox monastery may open in Washington, D.C. (Sputnik) The first Russian Orthodox monastery could be opened in the US capital of Washington D.C. or in its vicinity, Metropolitan Jonah, a bishop of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR), told Sputnik. “In the area, not necessarily in D.C.... It will be Russian tradition, of course, you know, the services will also be in English, as well as in [Church] Slavonic... [The monastery] has a very specific outreach [program] to educate people about Orthodoxy and Russian culture and Russian spiritual culture,” Metropolitan Jonah said, answering a question about his plans to establish a monastery in Washington D.C....

American journalist Greg Burke appointed to succeed retiring Vatican spokesman Lombardi (Vatican Radio) The Rev. Federico Lombardi S.J. is stepping down after ten years as Director of the Holy See’s Press Office. Father Lombardi, who also served as Director of Programs and later, Director General of Vatican Radio from 1991 to February 2016, will be replaced by 56 year old American journalist Greg Burke, currently Vice Director of the Vatican Press Office. Father Lombardi, who turns 74 in August, was also Director General of Vatican television (CTV) from November 2005-January 2013...







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