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Current Issue
September, 2017
Volume 43, Number 3
  
9 December 2015
Greg Kandra




Lebanese Cardinal Bechara Peter Rai, patriarch of the Maronite Catholic Church, greets people after celebrating Mass on 7 December at Our Lady of the Annunciation Cathedral in Tartus, Syria. He urged Syrian Christians to hold onto their faith amid the country’s conflict, now in its fifth year.
(photo: CNS/Mychel Akl for Bkerke, Maronite patriarchate)


Syrian rebels begin leaving Homs (AFP) Hundreds of Syrian rebels and civilians began evacuating the last opposition-held district in the central city of Homs Wednesday under a local ceasefire deal reached with President Bashar al-Assad’s regime. The deal agreed at the start December, a rare agreement between the regime and rebel forces, will leave the city once dubbed the “capital” of Syria’s revolution fully under government control. Some 2,000 rebels and their families will abandon the Waer district in Homs to travel to other opposition-held areas, after years of siege and heavy shelling...

Lebanese cardinal visits Syria, urges Christians to hold on to their faith (CNS) Lebanese Cardinal Bechara Peter Rai, visiting Syria, urged Christians to hold onto their faith. “Withstand with your faith and values, hold on to your unity. God doesn’t accept injustice, and our God is the God of peace and justice,” he said from the courtyard of Our Lady of the Sea on 7 December in the Syrian coastal town of Tartus. The governor of the coastal town declared a public holiday in honor of the visit of the cardinal, who is patriarch of Maronite Catholics...

Syrian refugees settling across U.S. despite resistance (CBS News) In at least two states where governors had demanded no Syrian refugees be allowed to settle, families from that war-torn country have begun arriving, despite the resistance. The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Indianapolis also said Tuesday it has brought a Syrian refugee family into the state despite Republican Gov. Mike Pence’s request that it not do so. Archbishop Joseph Tobin said the family arrived safely in Indianapolis Monday night...

Report: Ethiopian drought leaves “10 million without food” (BBC) Ethiopia’s government has increased to 10.1 million the estimated number of people who desperately need food aid because of a drought. More than half of them are children, Save the Children says. The drought, blamed on the El Nino weather phenomenon caused by Pacific Ocean warming, was the worst in 50 years, the charity added...

Bartholomew sends a gift to Pope Francis (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis today received a gift from the Orthodox leader, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew 1st to recall the signing of a Joint Declaration between their predecessors exactly 50 years ago. On 7 December 1965, on the eve of the conclusion of the Second Vatican Council, Pope Paul VI and Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras, lifted the mutual excommunications which had been imposed following the great schism of 1054...

Ukrainian icon “Doors of Mercy” brought to Vatican for Jubilee (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis requested the ancient Ukrainian icon “Doors of Mercy” to be brought to the Vatican for the opening of the Jubilee Year of Mercy. This icon, which combines both Western and Eastern traditions, is particularly symbolic and encourages all Christians to unity and peace for the sake of charity...



Tags: Syria Pope Francis Lebanon Refugees Ethiopia

7 December 2015
Greg Kandra




In the video above, officials describe efforts to tighten security in Rome ahead of the Holy Year, which begins on Tuesday 8 December. (video: Reuters)

Rome on alert as Jubilee approaches (The New York Times) On a recent morning on St. Peter’s Square, alongside the bustling priests and nuns, would-be tour guides and vendors hawking cheap umbrellas, military police officers stood guard with submachine guns. But that is just the beginning. On Tuesday — the start of what Pope Francis has declared a holy year, or Jubilee of Mercy, that is expected to draw millions of visitors — anyone entering the square will be subjected to airport-style screening, including metal detectors and X-ray machines. Pilgrims and tourists take note: Expect long lines...

Egypt reports jihadist threats to Coptic monasteries (Fides) In the last hours, according to Egyptian sources consulted by Agenzia Fides, jihadist threats were directed in particular against the Coptic Orthodox Monastery of al Baramos, dedicated to the Virgin Mary. The threats have been accompanied by information about the location and structure of the monastery, already subjected to considerable protection measures by the Egyptian police...

Poll shows Americans favor sending ground troops to Iraq, Syria (The Boston Globe) A poll released Sunday said that a majority of Americans should send ground troops to Iraq and/or Syria to combat the Islamic State group. The CNN/ORC poll, released shortly before President Obama’s Oval Office speech, showed that 53 percent of Americans favored using ground troops to combat the Islamic State. It’s the first time that a majority has favored such an action in an CNN poll, the network said...

Knesset to host first-ever Reform-Conservative Hanukkah event (Haaretz) A first-of-its-kind Hanukkah candle-lighting ceremony that will include representatives of the Conservative and Reform movements in Israel will be held at the Knesset this week. The ceremony, to be held Tuesday afternoon in one of the main halls of the parliament, is the initiative of MK Michal Rozin (Meretz), head of the Knesset lobby for pluralism and civil equality. Among the candle-lighters will be men, women, religious and secular activists, as well as Ethiopian Jewish clergy. The event is meant to coincide with International Human Rights day, which falls this week...

Gaza selling perfumes in bottles shaped like daggers (The Jerusalem Post) The latest perfume trend in Gaza is a new scent being sold in a bottle shaped like a dagger, the Palestinian symbol of resistance in the latest wave of terror to strike Israel in recent months, according to reports by Alkahleej, a United Arab Emirates based media site...

Russian Orthodox priests pose with cats for calendar (Australia Broadcasting Company) In a rare venture into popular culture, bearded Russian Orthodox priests have posed as models for a glossy 2016 calendar — cuddling their pet cats. The calendar put together by an Orthodox news website sees 12 smiling priests in dark robes relaxing with their cats — sitting side-by-side on the sofa, or having the pet sprawled on their chest or draped round their shoulder...



Tags: Syria Iraq Egypt Gaza Strip/West Bank Russian Orthodox

4 December 2015
Greg Kandra




People gather in front of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin on 3 December 2015 to demonstrate against the deployment of German armed forces to fight against ISIS in Syria. Germany’s parliament Friday voted to send military support to Syria.
(photo: Tobias Schwarz/AFP/Getty Images)


Mass graves discovered in Iraq (AP) The U.N. human rights office in Iraq said on Friday that it has received reports of 16 mass graves discovered near the town of Sinjar after it was liberated from the Islamic State group last month. The reports were the latest among many instances of mass graves being uncovered in territory wrested from IS militants in Iraq and Syria — thousands of people have been killed in summary and extrajudicial killings by the Sunni militants and the graves have been a dark testimony to the group’s brutality...

Germany approves military action against ISIS (BBC) Germany’s parliament has voted to send military support to the US-led coalition fighting Islamic State (IS) militants in Syria. MPs approved the plan for a German non-combat role by 445 votes to 146. Tornado jets — for reconnaissance — a naval frigate and 1,200 soldiers will be sent to the region. The vote comes after a French request following last month’s Paris attacks. Ministers believe Germany is now an IS target too...

Egypt reopens Gaza border (AP) Egypt has reopened its border with the Gaza Strip in both directions for the first time in months. Thousands of Palestinians lined up Thursday at the Rafah crossing in hopes of leaving the isolated enclave. Gaza’s borders are largely sealed by an Israeli and Egyptian blockade. It’s unclear if the two-day opening is tied to an agreement the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank reached with Egypt last month to reopen the border crossing...

Friend of Syria’s Assad could become next Lebanese president (Fides) The vacant Lebanese presidency could be filled by Suleiman Franjieh, a Maronite Christian politician, a childhood friend of Syrian President Bashar Assad...

In a first, Kerala church offers Mass in Hindi for migrant workers (The Times of India) The famed St Antony’s church at Kaloor here has started offering Sunday prayers in Hindi, to cater to the spiritual needs of Christians among the migrant workforce. Ernakulam is home to migrant labourers and this is for the first time that a church is offering regular holy Mass in Hindi in the city limits. The Mass in Hindi will be offered every Sunday at 3 pm...



3 December 2015
Greg Kandra




Indian residents carry children as they walk through floodwaters in Chennai on 3 December 2015. More than 40,000 people have been rescued in recent days after record rains lashed the coastal state, worsening weeks of flooding that has killed more than 270 people.
(photo: STRDEL/AFP/Getty Images)


British jets strike ISIS targets in Syria (Vatican Radio) British fighter jets based in Cyprus have carried out the first UK air strikes on targets belonging to the so-called Islamic State in Syria. Britain had already been involved in attacks against the Islamist group in Iraq...

Caritas India rushes emergency aid to flood-ravaged Tamil Nadu (Vatican Radio) Caritas India, the aid agency of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India, has dispatched some 2.5 million rupees as emergency fund to Tamil Nadu, a southern Indian state battered by the century’s worst floods. Amrit Sangma, Caritas India communication officer, told Matters India on 2 December that they will provide food, wash kits and clothes to affected people with the support of its four local partners. Hundreds of thousands of people have been stranded in Tamil Nadu following incessant rains for the past two days. Meteorological Department in the state has predicted heavy rains in the coming four days. More than 270 have been killed in flood and rain related incidents, local newspapers report...

Anguish, shock in Muslim community after San Bernardino shootings (The Los Angeles Times) When Mahmoud Tarifi learned the name of a suspect in Wednesday’s San Bernardino shooting, his heart sank. He said he knew the man may have been Muslim. Tarifi, a leader at the Islamic Center of Claremont, was not alone. After officials announced that a man named Syed Farook was a suspect, members of the faith’s community shared their sense of grief and concern. Tarifi said American Muslims are accustomed to being targeted and scapegoated whenever violent Islamic extremists commit attacks. “Every Muslim worries about being victimized,” he said. “It’s how we felt after 9/11 and after the Paris attacks”...

In Iraq, new Catholic University to open next week (Fides) 8 December is the date chosen for the opening of a new Catholic University, Erbil Campus, CUE in Iraq. The Chaldean Catholic Archdiocese of Erbil has warmly invited everyone to take part in the inauguration of this important centre of studies. In a statement sent also to Fides, people are encouraged to be part of “a path of education which will lead many to a future of prosperity and peace”...

Radio Maria to begin broadcasting in Arabic (Fides) Radio Maria, an Italian Catholic radio station established in 1982 at Arcellasco d’Erba which today broadcasts in more than 50 countries and in as many languages, will begin programmes in Arabic via web on 8 December to mark the Feast of the Immaculate Conception and the opening day of the Holy Year of Divine Mercy...

Caritas seeks to raise awareness about “hidden war” in Ukraine (Vatican Radio) Civil war in Ukraine has left some 3 million people in need of humanitarian assistance. Caritas Internationalis is working to raise awareness about what is increasingly becoming a “hidden war”...



Tags: Syria Iraq India Muslim Islam

2 December 2015
Greg Kandra




Hatice Akdal, a Syrian refugee woman, sits on the floor in a room in Reyhanli district of Hatay, southern Turkey, on 1 December 2015. Many Syrians had to leave their homes after the recent Russian airstrikes. (photo: Cem Genco/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Russia claims it has proof Turkey involved in ISIS oil trade (Reuters) Russia’s defense ministry said on Wednesday it had proof that Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and his family were benefiting from the illegal smuggling of oil from Islamic State-held territory in Syria and Iraq. Moscow and Ankara have been locked in a war of words since last week when a Turkish air force jet shot down a Russian warplane near the Syrian-Turkish border, the most serious incident between Russia and a NATO state in half a century...

U.K. Parliament to vote on bombing ISIS in Syria (CNN) After the November 13 terror attacks in Paris, France asked its allies to bump up their military offensive against ISIS. Now Britain and Germany will decide whether they will. The parliaments of both countries are debating their leaders’ requests for greater military commitment against the terror group. And the measures are expected to be approved...

As many as 50,000 refugees, most from Syria, may enter Canada (The Globe and Mail) As many as 50,000 refugees — at least 70 per cent from Syria — could arrive in Canada by the end of next year, Immigration Minister John McCallum says, adding the federal government is anxious to prevent a backlash from Canadians against this massive influx of newcomers. This rate of intake would be the greatest since 1979-1980 when 60,000 Indochinese boat people found a new home in Canada...

Coptic Church denies claims of normalization with Israel (Middle East Monitor) Egypt’s Coptic Church has refused claims of normalising ties with Israel and affirmed that Pope Tawadros II did not meet with any Israeli officials during his brief visit to Jerusalem, according to a statement released today. Anadolu news agency reported that Tawadros II travelled to Jerusalem in order to pay tribute to Jerusalem Archbishop Anba Abraham who died last Wednesday. The statement said that the Coptic Pope arranged his entrance to Jerusalem with the Palestinian Authority without obtaining an Israeli visa...

Children find calm, order inside Gaza’s only ballet school (Reuters) The group of girls, ponytailed and dressed in pink, stretched their arms out to the sides and pivoted onto their toes, trying desperately to hold still. Eagle-eyed, the instructor surveyed Gaza’s latest crop of would-be ballerinas. Fifty girls aged five to eight are now enrolled in the ballet school at the Al-Qattan Center for Children in Gaza, making it one of the most popular classes the arts institute runs, under the watchful eye of a Ukrainian teacher. Amid the chaos and destruction that has shattered Gaza so often over the past five years, with repeated wars between Israel and Hamas, the school is a haven of calm and order, one many parents are eager for their children to enjoy...



Tags: Syria Gaza Strip/West Bank Russia Turkey Coptic

1 December 2015
Greg Kandra




In this image from 5 November, Palestinian protesters throw stones at Israeli soldiers during clashes in Hebron. Escalating violence has moved the Palestinian Authority to request that municipalities tone down their public Christmas celebrations this year.
(photo: CNS/Abed Al Hashlamoun, EPA)


Palestinian Authority limits Christmas celebrations in West Bank (RNS) The Palestinian Authority has asked municipalities to tone down their public Christmas celebrations this year amid escalating violence between Palestinians and Israelis. Hana Amireh, who heads a government committee on churches in the West Bank, confirmed the Palestinian Authority is requesting “a certain decrease’ in festivities following the deaths of dozens of Palestinians since mid-September. The majority of them were killed during clashes with Israeli forces or carrying out terrorist attacks, according to the Israeli government...

Poll: only small fraction of Syrian refugees want to come to U.S. (The Washington Post) According to a new Gallup poll, a tiny fraction of would-be Syrian refugees say their desired home lies in the United States or Canada. The survey, which was conducted in January through face-to-face interviews, found that only 6 percent of Syrians who said they were contemplating leaving their country imagined North America as their chosen destination...

Pope sends message to Patriarch Bartholomew for Feast of St. Andrew (Vatican Radio) In a message marking the feast of the apostle Andrew, patron saint of the Orthodox world, Pope Francis urges Catholics and Orthodox to offer a “credible and effective witness” to the Christian values of trust, respect, charity and reconciliation. The message was hand delivered to the Orthodox leader in Istanbul by the head of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, Cardinal Kurt Koch, who led a delegation to the Patriarchal Church of St George for the feast of St Andrew on Monday 30 November. By consigning “painful memories to oblivion”, Pope Francis writes, and restoring a “relationship of love and fraternity”, there is no longer “any impediment to Eucharistic communion which cannot be overcome through prayer, the purification of hearts, dialogue and the affirmation of truth...”

Ethiopia faces power cuts while drought dries dams (Bloomberg) Ethiopia may face further power shortages because of low water levels at dams after a poor rainy season, an official said, following two days of sporadic cuts caused by technical faults at hydropower plants...

Sister stresses education among predominantly Muslim populations (Fides) In Pakistan and India, nuns carry out a great job among the population, almost entirely Muslim, in favor of education and the promotion of interreligious dialogue. This is what Sister Monica Joseph, Superior General of the Religious of Jesus and Mary, R.J.M. stresses to Agenzia Fides. Sister Monica is participating at the XIX Plenary Assembly of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples. She also highlights the great efforts of her congregation in favor of children, young people, boys and girls, the poor and abandoned...



Tags: Syria India Refugees Ethiopia Gaza Strip/West Bank

30 November 2015
Greg Kandra




Pope Francis sits next to Imam Tidiani Moussa Naibi during a meeting with the Muslim community at the Koudoukou mosque in Bangui, Central African Republic on 30 November.
(photo: CNS/Paul Haring)


Pope visits Grand Mosque (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Monday morning visited the Grand Mosque of Koudoukou in Bangui, the capital of the Central African Republic, meeting with the city’s Muslim community. The Holy Father was welcomed to the mosque by the Grand Imam Nehedi Tidjani, along with four other Imam, who accompanied him to the podium. In his address, Pope Francis recalled the recent violence which has rocked the country, saying “Christians and Muslims are brothers and sisters...”

Michigan plans to resettle more Syrian refugees (Mlive.com) Washtenaw County is home to approximately 16 refugees from the violence in Syria, and more could be on their way despite Governor Snyder’s call for a resettlement “pause.” Representatives from Jewish Family Services — the only refugee resettlement agency in the county — said they have families in the pipeline waiting for final clearance to make their way to Ann Arbor...

Chaldean Patriarch: let us pray for the liberation of Mosul (Fides) In all the Chaldean churches in the world, during Advent and during the daily celebrations, the faithful will pray to invoke the gift of liberation of Mosul and the entire Nineveh Plain, and ask for the rights of religious minorities living in Iraq to be guaranteed. These are the two prayer intentions that Chaldean Patriarch Louis Raphael I suggested to Chaldean Catholics in Iraq and those in the scattered communities in the diaspora, with a message issued on the first Sunday of Advent...

Ukraine remembers victims of Stalin-era famine (AFP) Ukraine on Saturday held a day of mourning for the millions of victims of a Soviet-era famine, with President Petro Poroshenko describing it as an episode in the “war waged by Russia against Ukraine.” Poroshenko, accompanied by Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk and hundreds of Ukrainians, laid symbolic wheat ears and lit candles before the Holodomor — or “death by hunger” — monument in central Kiev...

The biggest African refugee camp no one talks about (AllAfrica.com) On a sunny November day in Addis Ababa the courtyard of the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) centre is packed with people — some attend a United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees reception clinic, others get essential supplies, while students attend classes, and many simply play volleyball, table football or dominoes to pass the time. Now in its 20th year, the JRS compound resembles a microcosm of Africa’s — and even the Middle East’s — troubles, hosting refugees from South Sudan, Congo, Uganda, Somalia, Eritrea, Yemen, Burundi and more. It aims to assist 1,700 people in 2015...

Multi-purpose room completed at Catholic parish in Gaza (Fides) A multipurpose room has been completed in the Catholic parish in Gaza, which now can be used as space equipped to meet the diverse needs of the local community. The room, equipped with a large stage, can accommodate theater shows, conferences, meetings, weddings and social events of all kinds. The multipurpose space also has a game room, a library, a computer lab and a fitness facility. The inauguration of the new facility — report official media of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem — took place on 25 November in the presence of parishioners and many workers of the teams that worked on the project. The construction of the social space was done thanks to the financial support of the Pontifical Mission for Palestine...

India launches program for Jubilee of Mercy (Fides) “When we are nourished by the Eucharist we can nourish others” is the appeal launched by Abram Viruthakulangara, Archbishop of Nagpur, for the Jubilee Year of Mercy. As reported to Fides, in the diocese, located in the state of Maharashtra, the local community intends to live the time of the Jubilee highlighting the importance of reaching out to others: “Jesus has a two-point programme: love of God and love of one’s neighbor. Where there is love, God reigns”, the Archbishop said, adding, “the Kingdom of Jesus has no boundaries just like love has no boundaries...



Tags: Iraq Pope Francis Ukraine Ethiopia Islam

25 November 2015
J.D. Conor Mauro




A Russian pilot parachutes out of a warplane downed by Turkish forces in northwestern Syrian town of Bayirbucak, near the Turkish border, on 24 November. (photo: Fatih Akta/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Second Russian airman shot down by Turkey is alive, says Moscow (The Guardian) The second Russian airman from the jet shot down by the Turkish air force is “alive and well” after the Syrian army undertook a 12-hour special operation to save him, Russian officials say. Both airmen ejected from the plane after it was hit by a Turkish F-16 on Tuesday, but the pilot was killed by fire from the ground, apparently from Syrian Turkmen fighters. Captain Konstantin Murakhtin, speaking on Russian television after his rescue, said his plane had not crossed into Turkish airspace and Turkish jets had not issued any warnings…

ISIS releases ten Assyrian hostages in Syria (AINA) ISIS released ten Assyrians captured on 23 February when it attacked 35 Assyrian villages on the Khabur river in the Hassake province. ISIS captured 253 in the initial attack and drove 3,000 Assyrians from their villages. Most have not returned. The hostages, five men and five women, are in good health…

Canada pushes back deadline to resettle 25,000 Syrian refugees (Christian Science Monitor) The Canadian government on Tuesday pushed back to the end of February its deadline for accepting 25,000 Syrian refugees, in a concession that its original 1 January target was too difficult to meet. Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, sworn in this month, made the initial pledge part of his election campaign but a wide array of critics said the goal was unrealistic…

Firsthand account of Assyrian refugees in Iraq (AINA) On the northern edge of Erbil, Iraq, in the region known as Kurdistan, Camp Ain Kawa II serves as the last fragile refuge for Iraq’s shrinking Christian population. At its peak, there were roughly 1.4 million Christians in Iraq, yet through the long years of violence and persecution, Iraq’s Christian population has dwindled to fewer than 700,000…

Syrian patriarch: Western media ‘silent, cowardly and complicit’ with ISIS (AINA) Western media have been “silent, cowardly and complicit” with the persecution of Christians by ISIS, said Patriarch Ignatius Joseph III, the head of the Syriac Catholic Church, in a recent interview. “Western democracies have conspired against Syria and produced the destruction of the nation’s infrastructure, the demolition of houses, towns, villages, monuments and archaeological sites,” the patriarch said. “This is the result of a foolish politics and of a conspiracy, under the pretext of bringing democracy to the region…”

Compassion vs. security: What to do with Syrian refugees? (Catholic News Agency) As the U.S. plans to increase its intake of Syrian refugees to 10,000 next year, Americans — including Catholics — are trying to balance national security concerns with compassion for the refugees. Many Americans have expressed deep concerns about extremists infiltrating the resettlement program, especially after 13 November terror attacks in Paris killed 130 and injured several hundred. In the wake of the attacks, U.S. Catholic bishops have asked Americans not to scapegoat all Syrian refugees as possible terrorists and to remember their dire humanitarian plight. “These refugees are fleeing terror themselves — violence like we have witnessed in Paris. They are extremely vulnerable families, women and children who are fleeing for their lives,” said Bishop Eusebio Elizondo, the auxiliary bishop of Seattle…



Tags: Syria Iraq Refugees Russia Turkey

24 November 2015
Greg Kandra




The civil war in Syria is forcing Christians to leave their country. In the video above, the archbishop of Aleppo explains how violence and hopelessness are driving people out every day.
(video: Rome Reports)


Turkey has “all but closed its borders” to Syrian refugees (Al Jazeera) Turkey has “all but closed its borders” to Syrian refugees, many of whom say they have been beaten, detained and expelled by Turkish border guards while trying to escape the devastating civil war that has sent millions fleeing Syria, nongovernmental organization Human Rights Watch (HRW) said Monday. The U.N. refugee agency says Turkey has registered more than 2 million Syrians as refugees since the conflict began nearly five years ago...

Turks down Russian warplane in Syria (Vatican Radio) Russia’s defence ministry said on Tuesday one of its fighter jets was downed in Syria after coming under fire from the ground. The Turkish military said it shot down a plane after it was repeatedly warned about violating Turkish airspace...

Faith leaders say refugees require compassion, acceptance (CNS) A Boston cardinal and the Maryland Catholic Conference were among hundreds of faith leaders who called for compassion in addressing the world refugee crisis and stressed the importance of developing a national immigration policy based on humanitarian need. Acknowledging that the times are “dangerous” and that “enhanced security procedures are needed,” Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley in a statement on 19 November cautioned that in developing an immigration policy, “decisions concerning the specific measure taken require careful deliberation”...

Russia to halt gas supplies to Ukraine (Reuters) Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said Moscow would cut gas supplies to Ukraine on Tuesday or Wednesday because Kiev had not paid up front for more gas and might also halt coal supplies to Ukraine in retaliation for a power blackout of Crimea. Alexander Novak, in comments to Vesti FM radio station, was speaking as Russian-annexed Crimea continued to rely on emergency generators to meet its basic power needs after unknown saboteurs blew up electricity pylons supplying the peninsula with electricity over the weekend...

Airlines cancel flights in wake of Egypt plane crash (BBC) Two airlines have cancelled all flights between the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh and the UK until January. British Airways has cancelled flights up to and including 14 January while Easyjet has suspended flights until at least 6 January. Easyjet said the move was made to provide some certainty to passengers travelling over the Christmas period. BA said the decision was made following discussions with the government about the situation in Sharm el-Sheikh. Monarch, Thomson and Thomas Cook have cancelled flights until dates in December...

Indian Christians struggle for political relevance (UCANews.com) or a long time, Indian Christian leaders depended on others for their political meal, without bothering to know the recipes. But theories of political cooking are fast changing in India, and they are hurriedly looking for some easy-to-learn recipes. A new recipe was successfully tested in the cardamom-growing hills of southern Kerala in November, when village elections were conducted there. What occurred in this small village of Christians could have great lessons for their people across India in their attempt for political assertion...



Tags: Syria India Ukraine Russia Turkey

23 November 2015
Greg Kandra




In this image from last May, Syriac Catholic Patriarch Ignace Joseph III Younan, center, celebrates Mass for displaced Iraqis in Erbil, Iraq. In a new interview, the patriarch says Western nations have betrayed Christians in the Middle East. (photo: John E. Kozar)

Syriac Patriarch: the West has betrayed Mideast Christians (CNS) The head of the Syriac Catholic Church has accused Western governments of betraying Christians in the Middle East and said it was “a big lie” to suggest Islamic State could be defeated with airstrikes. In an 18 November interview with Le Messager, an online Catholic magazine in Egypt, Syriac Patriarch Ignace Joseph III Younan said, “all Eastern patriarchs, myself included, have spoken out clearly to the West from the very beginning: Be careful, the situation in Syria is not like that of Egypt, Tunisia or Libya — it’s much more complex, and conflict here will create only chaos and civil war...

Syrian refugees cling to a haven in Michigan (The New York Times) Presidential candidates and elected officials around the country have suggested closing mosques, collecting Syrian refugees already in the country or creating a registry for Muslims. Sentiments like those are especially jarring in Michigan, which has one of the largest and most vibrant Arab-American populations in the country and a vocal group of advocates for bringing more Syrian refugees to the United States. In the Detroit suburbs, refugees have traded a harrowing war in the Middle East for cold winters, strip malls and neatly arranged subdivisions, with houses as uniform as Monopoly pieces...

Cardinal: Public is “very blasé” about horrors Christians are facing in the Holy Land (CNS) When Cardinal Edwin O’Brien was named grandmaster of the Knights of the Holy Sepulchre in 2011, he found himself embroiled in a war a world away from the jungles of Vietnam where he ministered to dying troops as a young priest. “The forces that are at work now are intent on eradicating the Christian civilisation, nothing less,” said the 76-year-old US cardinal, who was in Sydney in October to reach out to the order’s 600 Australian members. Christians in the Holy Land face “daily horrors,” while “our public is very blase about the whole thing,” Cardinal O’Brien said...

Pope meets with Ukrainian president (CNS) Although the conflict between Ukraine and Russian-backed separatists continues, Pope Francis and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko still share hope that a political solution still can be found, the Vatican said. Welcoming Poroshenko to the Vatican on 20 November, the pope greeted him in Ukrainian. Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, explained that at the age of 11, the young Jorge Mario Bergoglio learned a few phrases of Ukrainian when he served as an altar boy for a Ukrainian Catholic priest in Buenos Aires...

Patriarch Gregorios III: Praying on Lebanese Independence Day (ByzCath.org) I offer my congratulations for Independence Day and say to the Lebanese people, I’m going to pray for love, solidarity, harmony, sincerity, honesty, unity and union: this is the salvation of Lebanon!...

Lombardi expresses “utmost confidence” in security ahead of the Jubilee (Vatican Radio) The Director of the Holy See Press Office, Father Federico Lombardi, SJ, said on Monday he has “utmost confidence” in the Italian authorities to ensure the safety of Rome and St. Peter’s Square during the upcoming Jubilee of Mercy. “On the part of the Vatican, there was not a specific demand to increase security measures during the Jubilee,” Father Lombardi said. “It depends on the Italian authorities, and how they rate the situation...”



Tags: Syria Iraq Pope Francis Ukraine Lebanon





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