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Current Issue
September, 2017
Volume 43, Number 3
  
11 September 2017
Greg Kandra




Pope Francis answers questions from journalists aboard his flight from Cartagena, Colombia, to Rome on 10 September. Earlier, the pope cut and bruised his face on the popemobile window when he was greeting people. (photo: CNS/Paul Haring)

Turkey halts migrants in Black Sea (Vatican Radio) Turkish authorities say they have stopped 313 migrants on the Black Sea attempting to reach Balkan countries in the last two days, suggesting the emergence of an alternative route to Europe...

Report: Iraq holding hundreds of wives, children of ISIS suspects (BBC) The Iraqi authorities are holding more than 1,300 foreign family members of suspected Islamic State militants at a displaced people’s camp south of Mosul, officials and aid workers say. The women and children, from at least 13 countries, mostly fled Tal Afar as troops recaptured the city last month. The Norwegian Refugee Council, which is providing assistance at the camp, said they were in “de-facto detention”...

Pope injured during visit to Colombia (CNS) Driving through the streets of the Caribbean coastal city of Cartegena, the popemobile braked suddenly, and Pope Francis hit his head. A big bump appeared quickly on his left cheekbone and a few specks of blood from his scratched eyebrow stained his white soutane. After a quick treatment with ice, according to the Vatican, the pope was back in the popemobile making his way to the Church of St. Peter Claver, the Jesuit who devoted the last 40 years of his life to caring for and ministering to African slaves...

Gaza poverty rate reaches 80 percent (Middle East Media Center) Chairman of the Popular Committee Against the Siege on Gaza said, on Friday, that poverty rate among Palestinians in the territory has reached 80 per cent. “This has had disastrous effects on all aspects of life,” explained Jamal Al-Khodari in a press statement...

Ethiopia marks new year (The Herald) Ethiopia, with its own calendar, will be starting its New Year 2010 today, and citizens were busy preparing for celebrations...



Tags: Ethiopia Gaza Strip/West Bank Turkey Immigration

8 September 2017
Greg Kandra




In the video above, children return to school in Mosul, many for the first time in three years.
(video: TRT World/YouTube)


Mosul reveals the future of high-tech warfare (Wired) Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared victory in the city on 10 July after almost nine months of devastating fighting, but ISIS remains dangerous even in defeat. Every door, window, side street and vehicle will have to be checked and cleared. Meanwhile, the jihadists still cling on elsewhere in the country, where they are expected to employ the same tactics...

Severe drought adds to number of displaced in Ethiopia (Fides) As a result of the dramatic drought, the phenomenon of the displaced people of the southeast villages of Ethiopia, bordering Somalia, continues...

Refugees from conflict zones opt for war-torn Syria (The Jordan Times) Millions of Syrians have fled their country’s war as refugees, but for tens of thousands of people escaping conflict elsewhere, Syria is also a place of refuge...

Ukraine fears Russia will use exercises to invade (BBC) Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko says he fears that Russia could use massive military manoeuvres next week as a cover for invasion. In a major speech, Mr. Poroshenko said Russia’s Zapad-2017 exercises with Belarus might be “a smokescreen to create new Russian army assault groups to invade Ukrainian territory.” Russia says 13,000 troops will take part in Zapad, on 14-20 September...

Catholic priest in India advocates for cremation (UCANews.com) An acute lack of space has forced Christian cemeteries in New Delhi to reuse graves after five years, with a Catholic priest advocating that Christians opt for cremation...

In Lviv, auxiliary bishop for Philadelphia ordained (ByzCath.org) In St. Yura Cathedral, on 3 September 2017 during the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy led by the Father and Head of the UGCC His Beatitude Sviatoslav, Bishop Andriy (Rabiy) was ordained...



7 September 2017
Greg Kandra




People hold placards and candles during a vigil for Gauri Lankesh in Ahmedabad, India on 6 September. The previous day, the Indian journalist was shot dead outside her home. The Catholic Church in India Wednesday strongly condemned the murder. (photo: CNS/Amit Dave, Reuters)

Syria says Israel bombed military base (The New York Times) Syria accused Israel on Thursday of conducting an overnight strike on a military base said by analysts to house chemical weapons and advanced missiles. The Syrian military reported the attack, saying it had left two people dead near the town of Masyaf in western Syria and had caused unspecified material damage...

Indian Catholic Church condemns death of journalist (Vatican Radio) The Catholic Church of India on Wednesday strongly condemned the murder of a noted Kannada journalist, on Tuesday in Bengaluru who fought the forces of evil, hatred and corruption...

Syrian refugees trade violence for thirst (Al jazeera) Currently, 1.4 million Syrians live in Jordan, while another 1.5 million have resettled in Lebanon. Both countries have historically struggled with seasonal water shortages, low investment in infrastructure, and poor management of water resources. The dramatic population increases have added another layer of stress, with demand for water rising by 22 and 28 percent respectively in Jordan and Lebanon since the Syrian crisis started...

Mosul students volunteer to restore library (Rudaw.net) Citing inaction by the Iraqi government and politicians, a group of student volunteers came together this weekend to clean the debris from the University of Mosul’s Ibn Khaldun Center Library. “We are young, we saw our city destroyed and the government is unable to help,” the organizer of the volunteer group, Mustafa Khaled, told Rudaw English of their work on Saturday and Sunday...

Pope Tawadros visits Canberra congregation (The Canberra Times) Canberra’s Coptic community hopes the Coptic Orthodox pope’s visit to the region will shine a light on the plight of Copts across the Middle East. Pope Tawadros II visited Canberra for the first time yesterday meeting Kaleen’s St Mark Coptic Orthodox congregation after earlier meeting with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull...

From one refugee generation to another (Catholic Register) Dr. Nhung Tran-Davies will never forget the January day she saw the Alshablis, a family fleeing war in Syria, walk through the doors of Edmonton International Airport...



6 September 2017
Greg Kandra




Embed from Getty Images
In this image from July, Syrians gather with pictures of victims during a memorial in Khan Sheikhun, a rebel-held town in the northwestern Syria, 100 days after a toxic gas attack that was reported to have killed 88 people, including 31 children. (photo: Omar Haj Kadour/AFP/Getty Images)

Report: Syria used chemical weapons 27 times (The Guardian) Syrian forces have used chemical weapons more than two-dozen times during the country’s civil war, including in the deadly attack that led to US airstrikes, UN war crimes investigators said on Wednesday. In the most conclusive findings to date from investigations into chemical weapons attacks during the conflict, the UN commission of inquiry on Syria said a government warplane dropped sarin on Khan Sheikhun in April, killing more than 80 civilians...

Jerusalem churches warn of ‘systematic’ erosion of Christian presence in Holy Land (Haaretz) Church leaders in Jerusalem took the unusual step of issuing a statement protesting a recent ruling by a court in the capital instructing the Greek Orthodox Church to sell three buildings in the Old City to a Jewish settler organization. The statement also expressed opposition to an Israeli bill that would transfer ownership of church land sold to private citizens to the state...

Ethiopia faces worsening drought (AP) More than eight million people in drought-hit southeastern and southern Ethiopia are in need of emergency food assistance, officials said as the heads of the World Food Program, Food and Agriculture Organization and International Fund for Agricultural Development made a rare joint visit over the weekend. Despite economic growth in the past decade that has made Ethiopia one of Africa’s fastest-developing countries, rural areas are suffering as the nation faces its worst drought in years...

Latin Patriarchate names new coordinator for pastoral care of migrants (Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem) On 2 September 2017, Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa, Apostolic Administrator of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, appointed the Rev. Rafiq Nahra new coordinator for Coordination of the Pastoral Among Migrants...

Climate change threatens survival of Jordan River (Climate Change News) Hydrologists and climate scientists have just calculated the future of one of the world’s most celebrated waterways, the River Jordan. Their conclusion is that the outlook is poor — and getting poorer...



5 September 2017
Greg Kandra




Embed from Getty Images
Syrian forces sit in the back of an armed vehicle west of Deir al-Zour on 4 September, after taking control of the area in the ongoing battle against ISIS. State media are reporting that the military has broken the siege of the city after more than two years.
(photo: George Ourfalian/AFP/Getty Images)


Syrian army reportedly breaks ISIS siege in Deir al-Zour (BBC) The Syrian military has broken a siege of the eastern city of Deir al-Zour, surrounded for years by so-called Islamic State, state media say. The official Sana news agency reported that troops and allied militiamen had joined up with forces at the Brigade 137 base on the city’s outskirts. An estimated 93,000 civilians have been trapped in an enclave on the western bank of the River Euphrates since 2015...

Vatican calls for new efforts to combat trafficking of migrants (Vatican Radio) Politicians, business leaders, civil society and faith communities must step up efforts to combat the alarming increase in human trafficking. That message was at the heart of a statement given at a meeting in Vienna on Monday by the Holy See’s representative to the fifth thematic session on the Global Compact for safe, orderly and regular migration...

Charity warns of ‘unlivable’ conditions in Gaza (Aljazeera) One million children are suffering from “unlivable” conditions in the Gaza Strip, according to Save the Children, an international charity that promotes children’s rights and provides aid worldwide. “One million children in Gaza are living in dire conditions,” the group said in a statement on Tuesday. “Save the Children considers Gaza to be unlivable now...”

Mother Teresa to be co-patron of Archdiocese of Calcutta (Vatican Radio) As the first anniversary of the sainthood of Mother Teresa was marked on Monday, the Archdiocese of Calcutta, in eastern India, is set to declare her as its co-patron...

Items stolen by ISIS from Mosul museum recovered (IraqiNews.com) Eight artifacts, stolen by Islamic State from Mosul museum, have been recovered after a displaced family returned them to police, an official said. “A displaced family found pivotal artifacts as it returned back to house in al-Zanjili district. The relics were returned back to Federal Police elements deployed there,” Moss’ab Jassim, head of Nineveh monuments department, told Baghdad Today on Sunday...



1 September 2017
Greg Kandra




After three years, priests are again able to celebrate Mass in Mosul, in the ruins of churches. The image above is from a documentary on Christians in Iraq and Syria, “Guardians of the Faith.”
(photo: Facebook)


UN: Last ISIS stronghold in Syria could soon fall (The Guardian) Raqqa, the last Islamic State stronghold in Syria, will fall by the end of October, allowing credible democratic elections to be held within a year, according to the UN special envoy for the country. Setting out a highly optimistic scenario for the end of the civil war, Staffan de Mistura said the country would face a “moment of truth” after the reclaiming of Raqqa. He urged President Bashar al-Assad to recognise he must make a political gesture if he didn’t wish to see a version of Isis return under a new name within months...

After three years of ISIS, the Mass returns to Mosul (CNA) Following the liberation of Mosul, Iraq, from the hands of the Islamic State, Christians are cautiously returning to the city. And as they return, so does the Mass. The Rev. Luis Montes, a priest of the Institute of the Incarnate Word, celebrated Mass in August at Saint George Monastery. The priest traveled to Mosul to record part of a documentary entitled Guardianes de la Fe (Guardians of the Faith), which seeks to show the reality of life for Christians in Iraq and Syria...

Israel builds underground wall (AP) Israel is pressing ahead with construction of an underground barrier along the border with the Gaza Strip in an ambitious project meant to halt the threat of attack tunnels built by the Hamas militant group...

Football among the Old Believers in Alaska (The New York Times) Voznesenka is a community of Old Believers, a secluded offshoot of the Russian Orthodox Church that resisted reforms in the mid-17th century and still adheres to traditionalist worship, customs, dietary restrictions and styles of dress...



31 August 2017
Greg Kandra




Embed from Getty Images
Iraqi forces flash the sign for victory as they advance toward the al-Ayadieh area, north of Tal Afar, during the ongoing battle to oust the last pockets of Islamic State group jihadists from the area on 30 August 2017. Iraq’s prime minister today declared the area liberated.
(photo: Ahmad Al-Rubaye/AFP /Getty Images)


Iraq announces ‘liberation’ of Nineveh province (BBC) Iraq’s prime minister says Nineveh province has been "fully liberated" from so-called Islamic State, after the district of Tal Afar was recaptured. Haider al-Abadi’s announcement followed the defeat of the jihadist group in the town of Ayadiya, where the militants had fled to from the city of Tal Afar. It leaves ISIS in control of just a few urban areas and some barren desert in central and western Iraq...

Pope greets rabbis in Rome (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Thursday greeted a delegation of rabbis in the Vatican for the presentation of the Statement “Between Jerusalem and Rome...”

Syrians adapt to life in Jordanian camp (AP) Signs of refugees settling in are everywhere. Zaatari residents have painted walls and planted gardens. More than 3,000 refugee-run shops — typically single-room market stalls, but some more elaborate — line several main streets in the camp. Businesses include restaurants, fruit and vegetable stalls, hair salons, bridal shops and art galleries...

Coptic Patriarch Tawadros: Let us pray for the evil who attack churches (Fides) Following the attacks on churches and the massacres of Christians that have bloodied Egypt in recent months, “the Coptic Church has prayed for all,” even for “the evil people” who have attacked churches and Christians. With these words, the Coptic Patriarch has again given witness of the transparent faith with which many Coptic Christians have experienced the many experiences of martyrdom that have marked the recent journey of their Church. He did this during an interview with the Japanese television network Asahi, reiterating his confidence in the power of prayer, “which can change hearts...”

Christians in India install wooden cross atop hill (Times of India) The indefinite agitation carried out by the believers under Neyyatinkara Latin Catholic Diocese at Vithura in protest against the demolition of crosses at a hill in Bonacaud took a dramatic turn on Sunday, when a section of agitators defied the police personnel to reach the top of the hill and installed a new wooden cross there...



30 August 2017
Greg Kandra




Embed from Getty Images
Jordanian security forces stand guard at the Al-Karameh border point with Iraq on 30 August 2017. Jordan and Iraq reopened their only border crossing, saying security had been restored three years after ISIS seized control of frontier areas. (photo: Khalil Mazraawi/AFP/Getty Images)

Pope Francis urges African nuns to offer credible witness (Vatican Radio) The Holy Father Pope Francis has asked members of the Association of Consecrated Women in Eastern and Central Africa (ACWECA) to deepen the bonds of friendship and communion among themselves so that they may offer a more convincing witness to society and the Church. He has also called on them to embrace a united apostolate to the poor, the sick and the marginalized...

Jordan and Iraq open border crossing (AFP) Jordan and Iraq on Wednesday reopened their only border crossing, saying security had been restored three years after the Islamic State group seized control of frontier areas. In a joint statement, the two countries’ governments said the crossing, called Turaibil in Iraq and Al-Karameh in Jordan, was reopened after it was “secured... against attacks by criminal gangs...”

Pope and patriarch prepare statement for World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation (Vatican Radio) At his General Audience, the Pope said he and “our dear brother Bartholomew, Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople” had prepared a Message to be released on 1 September. “In [the message],” the Holy Father said, “we invite all to assume a respectful and responsible attitude towards Creation...”

Helping Ethiopian Jews (Times of Israel) Sometimes, it’s easy to read a continual drip-drip-drip of headlines and forget about the people behind them. Take, for example, the headlines these past couple of years about the Falash Mura, the former-and-perhaps-future Jews of Ethiopia, who want to move to Israel...

Pilgrims return to abandoned coal town (Newsworks.org) Only a few structures still stand in what was Centralia, Pennsylvania. Even fewer are visible through the tree cover from the top of an adjacent mountain overlooking what was once a thriving community. The most notable and recognizable structure is the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Ukrainian Catholic Church, whose bright-blue domes rise out of the foliage on the side of the mountain. Though all but seven of the town’s residents relocated because of the ongoing fire in the anthracite coal mine below its surface, the church continues to serve a successful parish...



29 August 2017
Greg Kandra




In the video above, a Syrian Christian refugee describes the warm welcome he has received at Vatican parish. (video: Rome Reports/YouTube)

Christian prisoner freed in Iraq (Fides) Rana Behnam is a Christian woman who was freed in the suburbs of Tal Afar after having been held for a long time in a place of segregation by the jihadists of the self-proclaimed Islamic State in Tal Afar, along with other yazida women. Her release — according to Iraqi media reports — took place during the offensive that was launched last Sunday by the Iraqi army...

Top Vatican official discusses terrorist threat, immigration debate (CNS) The Vatican obviously is concerned about terrorist threats, “especially for the senseless hatred” it represents, and will continue to remain vigilant, said Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state. Speaking to reporters on 26 August Cardinal Parolin said he had seen the most recent video attributed to Islamic State in which the pope and Vatican are threatened, and “one cannot help but be concerned.” However, he said, he did not believe the video prompted extra security measures beyond those that have been in place for some time...

Hostility grows toward Syrian refugees in Lebanon (Reuters) For six years, tensions have simmered as 1.5 million Syrians poured into Lebanon, equal to around a quarter of its population. Refugees have faced waves of hostility since the conflict in neighboring Syria took hold. But the debate over their presence has taken a harder edge in recent months, fueled by political leaders who say Lebanon has lost patience with the social and financial burden of the refugee crisis...

Pope Tawadros dedicates first Coptic church in Japan (Egyptian Streets) Egypt’s Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros II has inaugurated the first Coptic Orthodox church in Kyoto Japan, state-run MENA news agency reported on Sunday. The church was established in 2016 to serve Egyptian, Ethiopian and Eritrean Coptic communities living in the East Asian country. The inauguration was attended by a number of Coptic bishops including Daniel the bishop of Sydney in Australia in addition to Egyptian Ambassador to Japan Ismail Khairat...

Syrian refugee earns high marks in Canada (Catholic Register) Peace, order, good government — that’s all Jomanah Chahrour’s family needed to succeed when they arrived in Edmonton almost six years ago, fleeing Syria’s chaotic, brutalizing civil war. Headed for McMaster University in Hamilton, Ont., with an $80,000 Schulich Leader Scholarship and her high school diploma from Windsor’s Catholic Central High School in her back pocket, Chahrour doesn’t count her success as merely personal. For the 19-year-old future astrophysicist, success is a family affair...



28 August 2017
Greg Kandra




Embed from Getty Images
Indian residents walk through flood waters in the Indian state of West Bengal on 24 August. The death toll from the floods have climbed about 1,000. Pope Francis offered prayers for the victims during his Sunday Angelus. (photo: Diptendu Dutta/AFP/Getty Images)

Pope Francis offers prayers for India flood victims (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis offered prayers on Sunday for the victims of massive flooding in Bangladesh, Nepal, and northern India over the past several days. “I express my closeness to all the [affected] populations, and pray for the victims and for all who suffer because of this calamity,” Pope Francis said…

Car bombing in Baghdad kills 12 (Al Jazeera) A car bombing has struck a busy market area in eastern Baghdad, killing at least 12 people, Iraqi officials say. The explosives-laden car went off at the wholesale Jamila market in Baghdad’s Shia district of Sadr City on Monday morning, a police officer said. The explosion also wounded 28 other people, he said, saying the death toll was expected to rise further…

Pope pleased with ‘constructive’ visit of Cardinal Parolin to Russia (Vatican Radio) In an exclusive interview with Vatican media on Friday, Cardinal Pietro Parolin reviewed his state visit to Russia this week, pointing out its highlights and the issues as yet unresolved between the Holy See and the Russian Federation. Cardinal Parolin said he briefed Pope Francis immediately upon his return to the Vatican on Thursday. He said the Pope “was pleased with the impressions and positive results which I shared with him...”

Church in India remembers 2008 anti-Christian riots (Crux) On 25 August, Christians around India marked Kandhamal Day, commemorating the ninth anniversary of the worst anti-Christian attacks in India’s history, and some of the worst anywhere in the world…

Hundreds in Gaza go to the movies for the first time in 30 years (The Independent) Film lovers in Gaza were able to watch a movie in a cinema for the first time in 30-years at a screening of the premier of a film about the treatment of Palestinian prisoners. Gaza City’s Samer Cinema has been closed since the 1960s, but this weekend the building played host to around 300 moviegoers, along with a gaggle of press…



Tags: Iraq India Gaza Strip/West Bank Russia Relief





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