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Current Issue
September, 2019
Volume 45, Number 3
  
29 August 2019
Greg Kandra




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

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

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

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

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



Tags: Syria India Ethiopia Dalits

28 August 2019
Greg Kandra




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

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

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

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

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

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



Tags: Syria Jerusalem Kerala Turkey

27 August 2019
Greg Kandra




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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Tags: Syria India Russian Orthodox Church Persecution

26 August 2019
Greg Kandra




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

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

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

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

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

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



Tags: Syria India Ethiopia

23 August 2019
Greg Kandra




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


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

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

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

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



Tags: India Gaza Strip/West Bank Turkey

22 August 2019
Greg Kandra




Dozens of houses have been destroyed by landslides caused by massive rain and flooding in parts of Kerala. CNEWA has received urgent requests for aid, and is launching an appeal to support those whose homes and livelihoods have been wiped out. (photo: CNEWA)

CNEWA launches emergency appeal for flood-ravaged Kerala (CNEWA) Catholic Near East Welfare Association has received urgent requests for aid from partners in flood-ravaged Kerala in southern India. The Syro-Malabar Catholic Eparchy (diocese) of Palghat reports that torrential rains have triggered landslides in the hilly areas of the Palakkad District, burying houses, people, livestock and patches of agricultural lands in mud several feet deep. CNEWA’s regional director in Kerala, M.L. Thomas, adds that flash floods have ravaged the lower regions of the district, destroying houses and fields located along its rivers and streams. ”Raging floodwaters have caused massive mudslides in the hilly areas,” he writes. “Farm lands have been wiped out and houses have disappeared. It is heartbreaking to watch…”

Caritas India responds to monsoon disaster (Vatican News) Caritas India, the relief and development arm of the Catholic Church in the country, is collaborating with its local partners in various dioceses to bring relief to millions of people affected by the floods and landslides caused by heavy monsoon rains…

Syria opening ’humanitarian corridor’ (Al Jazeera) Syria’s Foreign Ministry has said it is opening a “humanitarian corridor” for civilians to leave the rebel-held northwestern region of Idlib and northern Hama, where the army has advanced against armed fighters with fierce air and ground attacks…

How geopolitics tore apart the Orthodox Church (Financial Times) The Russian church severed ties with Constantinople, creating one of the biggest rifts in Christianity since the Great Schism of 1054, when the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches divided. Far from being an arcane squabble over centuries-old church doctrine, Patriarch Bartholomew’s decision had geopolitical significance. The fallout has affected the lives of priests and politicians, of ordinary worshippers and oligarchs…



Tags: Syria India Kerala Russian Orthodox Church

21 August 2019
Greg Kandra




Kerala continues to struggle to recover from the devastating monsoons that have afflicted the country. (video: Al Jazeera/YouTube)

India’s monsoon season on track to become deadliest ever (The Express) India’s monsoon season runs from June to September and is dominated by stifling humidity and relentless rain. According to the Times of India, more than 1,000 people throughout India have been killed as a result of the weather since May. Last year, the death toll was 1,211, setting 2019 monsoon season on course to become one of the deadliest in India’s history…

Catholic pilgrims attacked on way to Marian shrine in India (UCANews.com) Indian police have arrested six suspected members of a hard-line Hindu group for attacking 40 Catholics taking part in a 280-mile pilgrimage to a Marian shrine in Velankanni town in Tamil Nadu state. The attackers were accused of blocking the pilgrims on a public road on 18 August, beating them up and verbally abusing them, said Santhalingam, an inspector at Natrampalli police station in Vellore district. A Marian statue the pilgrims were carrying in a decorated hand-pulled cart was destroyed in the attack, he told ucanews.com on 21 August...

What ‘victory’ looks like: a journey through shattered Syria (The New York Times) Picking our way around the ruins of the Damascus suburb of Douma, it took a little while to realize what was missing. There were women carrying groceries, old men droning by on motorbikes and skinny children heaving jugs of water home. But there were few young men…

Religious sisters are painting icons, the light of Christ, in Ukraine (National Catholic Reporter) With God’s help and the support of many people, it was possible to build the monastery church by 2014, where there was a wonderful opportunity for me to test the theory of the need to “paint with the heart.” We sisters decided to use our own talents and skills to paint the church, and I was given the responsibility of directing the painting of icons in our monastery church. I will not say that the responsibility was easy — but it was a ministry to which God called me…

In a first, women to drive Kerala government vehicles (Gulf News) Gone are the days when the post of a driver in Kerala state government departments and state owned public sector undertakings could be filled only by a male. The state cabinet, on Wednesday, decided to open this post for women also…

Egypt will reopen historic Cairo palace after $6 million restoration (CNN) Egypt is just months away from reopening the Baron Empain Palace after a $6m restoration project on the historic Cairo building. The Baron Empain Palace, also known as “Le Palais Hindou” or the Hindu palace, was built by Belgian millionaire Baron Edward Empain in 1911, in the Heliopolis district of the Egyptian capital...



Tags: India Egypt Ukraine Ukrainian Catholic Church

20 August 2019
Greg Kandra




In this image from 2018, a damaged church in the old city of Mosul, Iraq, is marked as unsafe because of the danger of unexploded ordnance and improvised explosive devices. This portion of the city was heavily damaged in 2016 and 2017 when Iraqi forces combated ISIS fighters. Reports indicate ISIS is gathering new strength in Iraq and Syria. (photo: CNS/Paul Jeffrey)

ISIS is regaining strength in Iraq, Syria (The New York Times) Five months after American-backed forces ousted the Islamic State from its last shard of territory in Syria, the terrorist group is gathering new strength, conducting guerrilla attacks across Iraq and Syria, retooling its financial networks and targeting new recruits at an allied-run tent camp, American and Iraqi military and intelligence officers said. Though President Trump hailed a total defeat of ISIS this year, defense officials in the region see things differently, acknowledging that what remains of the terrorist group is here to stay…

India expels nun who worked with the poor (UCANews.com) The Indian government has refused to renew the visa of an elderly Spanish nun who had worked for the country’s poor for five decades. Sister Enedina, 86, from the Daughters of Charity congregation, had her visa renewal refused on 11 August and was then told she had 10 days to leave the country. The nun, who trained as a medical doctor, had helped poor people in the country’s east since the mid-1960s. She flew out from New Delhi on 20 August on a flight to Spain…

Kerala struggling to recover from floods (Al Jazeera) More heavy rain is expected in many parts of India, bringing a threat of floods. Monsoon rains have been falling for weeks. More than 270 people have been killed and approximately half of the victims were in the southern state of Kerala…

Former Greek Orthodox patriarch wants to go home (Haaretz) In a spacious private room at Saint Joseph Hospital in East Jerusalem, an 80-year-old man lies tethered to an oxygen tank, handicapped and very ill. For a short time, he was one of the most important and powerful people in Jerusalem, but he will be remembered as the tragic protagonist of a scandal that has yet to die down, nearly a decade and a half after it first came to light. The man is Irenaeus I, the 140th Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem, who was ousted from his position 14 years ago when he reportedly sold strategic church properties to the Ateret Cohanim settler organization…



Tags: Syria India Iraq ISIS

19 August 2019
Greg Kandra




Kurdish fighters in Qamishli, Syria, take part in a military parade in March. Groups representing Syriac Christians in northeast Syria are appealing for prayer, fearful that Turkey plans to make good on its numerous threats to invade the region with its military forces. (photo: CNS/Rodi Said, Reuters)

Christians in northeast Syria appeal for prayer for safety (CNS) Groups representing Christians in northeast Syria are appealing for prayer, fearful that Turkey plans to make good its numerous threats to invade the region with its military forces…

Residents rebuild, again, after flooding in Kerala (UCANews.com) Unusually heavy rain in the first 14 days of August caused massive landslips and flash floods, particularly in the hilly areas of the state, killing 100 people and destroyed 1,115 houses, the state government said. ”The destruction is less than last year,” said the Rev. George Vettikattil, who heads the relief operations of Kerala’s Catholic dioceses that help people like Velayudhan…

Russian Orthodox Church takes mission to drug addicts (AsiaNews.it) On 20 August, the first free private rehabilitation center for drug addicts will be inaugurated in Moscow, organized by the Orthodox Church at the Church of the Most Holy Life-giving Trinity in Kozhevniki, a central district near the “Paveletskaja” train station. The news was released by the Moscow Patriarchate Synodal Department for Charity…

In Jerusalem, a glimpse into life in a segregated city (Al Jazeera) Jerusalem, which hosts sites holy to all three monotheistic faiths, is at the heart of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. While Palestinians aspire to make it the capital of their future state, Israel says it wants total sovereignty over the city. The film A Rock and A Hard Place was born out of that historical development back in 2017. I wanted to explore why so many people worldwide are so attached to the city of Jerusalem…



Tags: Syria Jerusalem Kerala Russian Orthodox Church

16 August 2019
Greg Kandra




Pope Francis speaks as he leads the Angelus from the window of his studio overlooking St. Peter's Square at the Vatican on 15 August 2019. (photo: CNS/Paul Haring)

Pope prays for victims of India flooding at Angelus (Vatican News) Following the recitation of the Angelus, Pope Francis prayed for the victims and the displaced, and for all the families left homeless. “May the Lord give strength to them and to all those who help them,” he said…

Tawadros: All Christian churches want unity (Egypt Independent) Pope Tawadros II of the Coptic Orthodox Church said that all Christian churches around the world want religious unity, not only the Coptic Orthodox Church. He pointed out that unity among churches is based on unity of faith, but this issue is still subject to individual discussions and has not yet been decided…

Eight years on, Syria’s neighbors weary of war refugees (AFP) Syria’s conflict has displaced millions of people since 2011, and its neighbors have absorbed the majority of those fleeing abroad. But today, with no political solution to the conflict in sight, Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan — who together host at least 5.2 million Syrian refugees — are increasingly seeing that population as a “burden…”

Thousands visited Western Wall, marched to mark Av (The Jerusalem Post) Thousands of people participated in a march through Jerusalem on Saturday night, commemorating the 9th of the Hebrew month of Av and the destruction of the First and Second Temples. According to the Western Wall Heritage Foundation, between Friday night and Sunday at sundown, some 150,000 people visited the Western Wall…



Tags: India Egypt Refugees Jerusalem





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