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Current Issue
September, 2019
Volume 45, Number 3
  
6 September 2016
Greg Kandra




In this image from June, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople celebrates Vespers of Pentecost in the Church of St. Titus in Heraklion, Greece. The Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople has branded as “false allegations” reports that the patriarch was involved in Turkey’s failed coup in July. (photo: CNS/Sean Hawkey, handout)

Patriarchate rejects ‘false allegations’ that Bartholomew was involved in attempted coup (Fides) The Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople deplores the “false allegations” that have circulated in recent days in the Turkish press regarding the involvement of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I in the failed coup attempt in Turkey on 15 July...

Russia launches military drills near Ukraine’s borders (Vatican Radio) Moscow has launched large-scale military drills on Ukraine’s eastern border and around Ukraine’s Russia-annexed Crimean Peninsula, despite international concerns it could lead to a further escalation of tensions between the two neighbors...

India, Pakistan mark Mother Teresa’s sainthood (Vatican Radio) Bells chimed, people cheered and nuns sang hymns at the mother house of Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity (MC) in eastern India’s Kolkata city, formerly Calcutta, as Pope Francis declared her a saint at a canonization Mass in the Vatican. They broke into an applause when they watched on big TV screens the live ceremony of the canonization. Hundreds of local people, including nuns, volunteers at the Missionaries of Charity houses from India and abroad had gathered at the motherhouse of the congregation where St. Teresa died and was buried 19 years ago...

Summit of church leaders to discuss fate of Middle East Christians (Fides) On Tuesday, 6 September, the XI General Assembly of the Council of Churches of the Middle East begins in Amman, with the participation of leaders and representatives from all ecclesial realities in the Middle East...

Syria tourism video spotlights sunny beaches (NPR) The aerial footage shows bright beach umbrella, palm trees, swimming families, jet skis. The sun is shining. The music is upbeat. The message? “Syria: Always Beautiful.” Over the last few weeks, the Syrian government’s Ministry of Tourism has released more than a dozen videos on Youtube, each promoting the charms of Syria as a travel destination. One video spotlights ancient ruins — with no acknowledgment that many cities in Syria are new ruins, destroyed by the brutal civil war raging there...



2 September 2016
Greg Kandra




Children are seen in Jarabulus, Syria, on 1 September, after part of the city
was liberated from ISIS terrorists during the ‘Operation Euphrates Shield.‘
(photo: Cem Ozdel/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)


Airstrikes kill 25 civilians in Syria (AP) Syria’s government secured a deal to restore its authority over another rebellious Damascus suburb on Thursday while Syrian rebels captured new ground in a lightning advance on the central city of Hama and suspected government airstrikes killed 25 civilians in the surrounding province...

The endless battle for Aleppo (Al Monitor) another battle is taking place that could significantly affect the fight for Aleppo. To the city’s north, in the border town of Jarablus, Turkey is fighting its first direct battle in Syria against the Islamic State — though the objective of this military campaign is not to defeat ISIS as much as it is to prevent Kurdish militias from creating an autonomous area in Syria that could foster Kurdish separatism within Turkey itself...

Palestinian journalist arrested in Gaza (AP) The wife of a prominent Palestinian journalist and critic of the Islamic militant group that rules the Gaza Strip says Hamas has arrested him. Mohammed Othman’s wife, Huda, says Hamas officers arrested him at this home on Thursday...

Patriarch Kirill thanks president of Uzebekistan for encouraging dialogue (Fides) While diplomatic sources cited by international agencies announced the death of the President of Uzbekistan, Islam Karimov, the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Kirill in a message sent to the same Karimov thanked him for the “care” with which he encouraged dialogue between the different religious components of the Uzbek nation, protecting the rights of those who are called “traditional communities...”

More court officials sacked in wake of Turkey coup (BBC) A further 543 judges and prosecutors have been sacked in Turkey, bringing the number of dismissals since July’s failed coup to at least 3,288. The new dismissals were reported as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan celebrated the start of the new judicial year in Ankara...

Indian leaders head to Vatican for canonization of Mother Teresa (Time) As Pope Francis prepares to declare Mother Teresa a saint of the Roman Catholic Church on 4 September, a string of top Indian politicians are heading to the Vatican to witness her canonization, underlining her popularity in her adopted home...



1 September 2016
Greg Kandra




In this image from April, displaced Iraqis celebrate Mass in Inishke, Iraq. Pope Francis yesterday told Christians in the Middle East to keep the flame of faith alive. (photo: CNS/Paul Jeffrey)

Pope Francis urges Arab Christians to ‘keep the flame of their faith’ (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis told Christians in the Arab-speaking world to “keep the flame of their faith,” despite the darkness of the trial.” The Holy Father was speaking during his General Audience to Arab-speaking pilgrims from Iraq, Jordan, and the Middle East...

Ukraine cease fire holding (BBC) Ukraine’s defence minister says a new ceasefire has been holding in eastern Ukraine since midnight, despite a recent intensification of shelling. “This morning I’m pleasantly surprised that at 09:00 (06:00 GMT), since midnight, we haven’t had a single shot fired,” Stepan Poltorak said. It is the first time there has been a true halt to fighting in 11 months, says BBC correspondent Tom Burridge...

UN: situation in blockaded Gaza ‘grim’ (Andalou Agency) Robert Piper, the UN’s humanitarian coordinator for the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories, has described current living conditions in the Gaza Strip — which continues to groan under a decade-long Israeli/Egyptian blockade — as “grim.” “Gaza continues to face difficult conditions even though the Palestinian people have great potential,” Piper said during a Wednesday visit to Gaza City’s Islamic University, according to a statement issued by the university...

Lebanon’s trash crisis threatens to return (Voice of America) Rubbish is again accumulating on some Beirut streets after protesters blocked access to a dump, raising fears that last summer’s garbage crisis, which provoked unprecedented street protests, could return...

Ecumenical autumn: Pope’s calendar filled with opportunities for dialogue (CNS) Pope Francis will open his season of ecumenical engagements on 20 September when he joins other Christian leaders and representatives of other religions in Assisi to commemorate the 30th anniversary of St. John Paul II’s interreligious peace gathering. Ten days later, Pope Francis flies to Georgia, a predominantly Orthodox nation. In October, he will meet and pray with Anglican Archbishop Justin Welby of Canterbury and, at the end of the month, he will fly to Sweden to take part in ecumenical events launching commemorations of the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation...



31 August 2016
Greg Kandra




In this photo from June, Pope Francis poses for a photo with refugees during his general audience in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican. The pope invited more than a dozen refugees to sit near him on stage during his catechesis. Wednesday, the pope created a new dicastery to focus on needs of migrants and refugees. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Pope creates new dicastery for for migrants and refugees (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has created a new dicastery to better minister to the needs of the men and women the Church is called to serve. The new “Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development” was instituted in a Motu Proprio published on Wednesday in the Osservatore Romano...

Leading ISIS figure reported killed in Syria (Al jazeera) The main spokesman for ISIS, Abu Mohamed al-Adnani, has been killed in the Syrian province of Aleppo, according to an ISIS-linked website. Amaq, the ISIS-affiliated media, said on Tuesday Adnani was killed while monitoring military operations in Aleppo...

Meet Gaza’s only fisherwoman (Forbes) What’s the hardest part of being the only fisherwoman in Gaza? I ask Madeleine Kulab. “Starting the engine is hard and it takes a lot of strength,” she says. Then she shows me how to yank the cord and grab the tiller to steer, and we go spinning over the water, her wooden boat tilting into the small waves. A decade ago Kulab took over her father’s fishing boat as a 13-year-old, after he became disabled. She was the only girl working the waterfront, defying cultural norms to feed her family...

Marking Buhe in Ethiopia (Africannews.com) For weeks in August, Ethiopian boys dress up and perform songs from door to door in neighborhoods across the country. In return, the boys get ‘Mulmul’ — bread freshly baked for the occasion in each house. Known as Buhe, the festival — like most cultural celebrations here has its origins in the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. It marks the transfiguration of Jesus on Mount Tabor...



30 August 2016
Greg Kandra




In the video above, Muslim leaders speak out to condemn Islamic radicals, in a chorus of public criticism that is growing louder. (video: Rome Reports)

Human rights group: Iraq recruiting displaced children to fight ISIS (Human Rights Watch) Iraqi government-backed militias have recruited children from at least one displaced persons camp in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq to fight against Islamic State forces. All security forces and armed groups should abide by international law and demobilize any fighters under age 18...

U.S. welcomes 10,000th Syrian refugee (CNN) he Obama administration will reach its target Monday of resettling 10,000 Syrian refugees by 1 October, National Security Adviser Susan Rice announced in a statement. Rice said that the final Syrian refugee to hit this target would be arriving Monday afternoon, more than a month ahead of schedule...

Turkey detains more journalists (Indian Express) Turkish authorities detained an editor at the prominent Hurriyet newspaper in the latest round-up of journalists and others accused of links to last month’s failed coup, Hurriyet’s English-language publication said on Tuesday...

Russian Orthodox cathedral nears completion in Paris (The Tablet) A huge Russian Orthodox cathedral complex is to be dedicated in October in central Paris, according to a senior official, at a ceremony attended by Patriarch Kirill and President Vladimir Putin. “This center will provide a great educational environment, with training and formation programmes in Russian,” premier Dmitri Medvedev told a World Forum of Compatriots in Moscow. “Its main pearl will, of course, be the Holy Trinity cathedral, which will conform with the traditional canons of Russian Orthodoxy...”



29 August 2016
Greg Kandra




Chaldean Catholic Patriarch Louis Sako of Baghdad, Iraq, is seen at the Vatican in this 2014 file photo. The patriarch recently said the political future of parts of Iraq remains “uncertain.”
(photo: CNS/Paul Haring)


Pope sends message to Catholic-Orthodox meeting (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has sent a message to Cardinal Kurt Koch, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, on the occasion of the XIV Inter-Christian Symposium taking place in Thessalonika from 28-30 August...

Patriarch: unwise to talk now of self-determination in Iraq (Fides) The future political and administrative arrangement of Mosul and the Nineveh Plain, after the eventual liberation of those areas, is an issue which is “still uncertain,” and “it is not wise to talk about self-determination,” according to Chaldean Patriarch Raphael Louis I said during a meeting he had on Thursday, 25 August...

Turkish forces deepen push into Syria (Reuters) Turkish-backed forces pushed deeper into northern Syria on Monday and drew a rebuke from NATO ally the United States, which said it was concerned the battle for territory had shifted away from targeting ISIS. At the start of Turkey’s now almost week-long cross-border offensive, Turkish tanks, artillery and warplanes provided Syrian rebel allies the firepower to capture swiftly the Syrian frontier town of Jarablus from Islamic State militants...

Israel delays delivery of textbooks to Gaza (Haaretz) The Palestinian school year began on Sunday, but Israel has yet to deliver thousands of textbooks for over half a million students to Gaza Strip schools, the Palestinian Education Ministry said on Saturday. An Israeli official in the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) said the books must first be examined and approved by Israel, before being allowed into the Gaza Strip...

Pope to discuss nonviolence in World Peace Day message (CNS) When nonviolence is the basic approach of political decisions and public policy, it promotes the restoration and consolidation of peace, the Vatican said. In his message for the 1 January celebration of World Peace Day, Pope Francis will offer reflections on the importance of nonviolence as a political choice, the Vatican said in a statement on 26 August...

Seminar in India: Practice mercy in the media (Fides) Put into practice mercy even in working with the media: in this spirit the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians in Mumbai lived a seminar in which they deepened some techniques and the use of certain computer software and shared competences in the field of communication...



26 August 2016
Greg Kandra




Syrian army soldiers rest in a street in the government-controlled part of the besieged town of Daraya on 26 August 2016, as thousands of rebel fighters and civilians prepared to evacuate under an accord struck a day earlier. (photo: Youssef Karwashan/AFP/Getty Images)

Residents plan to evacuate Syrian town (BBC) A deal has been reached to allow rebel fighters and civilians to leave the Syrian town of Daraya, which has been under government siege since 2012. The evacuation of the town, near the capital Damascus, is expected to begin on Friday. Syrian Red Crescent vehicles are poised to enter the town. Residents have faced near-constant bombardment and shortages of food, water and power...

Thousands of refugees trapped in Jordanian desert (The Telegraph) The Arab kingdom of fewer than seven million people has taken in around 700,000 Syrians since 2011 and earned the praise of Western countries whose own doors have been mainly shut. Britain has taken in around 5,000 Syrians and the US only slightly more. But this year Jordan’s fears of an Isil attack have risen sharply and, after a jihadist suicide bombing in June, it closed its borders entirely to new refugees. That decision has left around 75,000 Syrians stranded on a sand berm on the Jordanian border...

Shadowy group is assassinating ISIS members within its borders (Business Insider) With such an oppressive regime and a weakening infrastructure, the organization that touts itself as the caliphate is facing growing dissent within its civilian populace. And it looks like this gap is widening, especially after the efforts of a secret group called the Mosul Battalions...

Egypt accused of discriminating against Christian athletes (AINA) Non-profit organization Coptic Solidarity has filed formal complaints with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and FIFA alleging that Coptic Christian athletes in Egypt face “systematic religious discrimination...”

Orthodox cathedral named among top ten “most endangered historic properties” (OCA.org) Historic Saint Michael the Archangel Cathedral in Sitka, AK, is one of two Diocese of Alaska churches on this year’s “Ten Most Endangered Historic Properties” list compiled by the Alaska Association for Historic Preservation [AAHP]. Also on this year’s list is the Ascension of Our Lord Church, Karluk, AK, which was built in 1888. Located on the far side of Kodiak Island, the Karluk church is considered the state’s oldest extant Orthodox sanctuary...



25 August 2016
Greg Kandra




Members of Free Syrian Army (FSA) patrol part of Aleppo, Syria, after taking control from ISIS terrorists during ‘Operation Euphrates Shield’ on 24 August 2016.
(photo: Cem Ozdel/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)


Why Turkey sending tanks into Syria is significant (CNN) More than 80 ISIS targets were attacked in the first hours of “Operation Euphrates Shield” early Wednesday, officials say, as Turkish armor and warplanes targeted a key ISIS-held town across its border with Syria. Jarablus is one of the few towns in northern Syria that ISIS still controls and is a critical location for supplies, money and fighters coming into ISIS-held areas...

Attacker killed in assault on Coptic church (AP) Egypt’s state news agency says a knife-wielding attacker has been shot and killed after he stabbed a guard at a Coptic church...

Russia orders military drills amid tensions with Ukraine (The Wall Street Journal) Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered snap military drills Thursday to test the combat-readiness of troops on the country’s western flank. The exercises, announced by Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, come amid heightened tensions with Ukraine. Russia, which is covertly supporting separatists in its neighbor’s east, blamed Ukraine for the deaths of two service members earlier this month in Crimea, which Russia annexed in 2014...

India seeks to ban ‘commercial surrogacy’ (Vatican Radio) It will no longer be possible to exploit the female body for commercial purposes. This was decided yesterday the Government of India, presenting the new bill that regulates the practice of surrogacy to the public...

In Gaza, animal rescue complete as ‘world’s worst zoo’ closes (The Times of Israel) Rescued by an international animal welfare nonprofit from horrific conditions in a Gaza Strip zoo, 15 surviving animals were brought across the Israeli border on Wednesday morning. They represent the last survivors of a zoo described as “the world’s worst,” many of whose “inhabitants” were crudely taxidermied carcasses on display alongside their living neighbors...



24 August 2016
Greg Kandra




In this image from 1 August, a woman in Donetsk, Ukraine, is seen in her apartment damaged by a shelling attack. Pope Francis on Wednesday issued an appeal for peace in Ukraine.
(photo: Mikhail Sokolov/TASS via Getty Images)


Pope appeals for peace in Ukraine (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Wednesday once again appealed for peace in Ukraine, urging all parties in the conflict, as well as international bodies, to “strengthen the initiatives to resolve the conflict, release the hostages, and respond to the humanitarian emergency...”

After failed coup, Turkey enjoys rare moment of unity (The New York Times) President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey an Islamist who has run the country for more than a decade, has unabashedly used the aftermath of the mid-July coup to focus the country on a common enemy. His approval rating has shot up to 68 percent, from 47 percent before the failed coup. He has not only toned down his divisive language but also said he would rescind the numerous criminal cases he has pursued against Turks for insulting him, a crime under Turkish law...

U.S. Calls on Americans to leave Gaza ‘as soon as possible’ (Newsweek) The United States on Tuesday called on Americans in the Gaza Strip to leave the coastal enclave “as soon as possible...”

Aleppo faces humanitarian crisis (Al Jazeera) The humanitarian situation has gravely deteriorated in Syria’s northern city of Aleppo where Syrian government forces and Russian warplanes continue to attack civilian neighborhoods, according to activists and residents. “In the last four days, food supplies have close to disappeared from the markets, and prices have skyrocketed,” Salem al-Atrash, a resident in the city, told Al Jazeera on Tuesday...

Vatican calls for wider definition of ‘weapons of mass destruction’ (Vatican Radio) The Vatican has called on the international community to expand the definition of a ‘weapon of mass destruction’ to include “devastatingly powerful conventional weapons used to perpetrate war crimes and crimes against humanity...”

India conference hears message that ‘mercy goes beyond borders’ (Fides) To be merciful means going beyond borders and barriers: this is the meaning of the interfaith meeting organized in recent days in Wadala, one of the main areas in Mumbai, in the Indian state of Maharashtra. In the parish of Our Lady of Sorrows, speakers, intellectuals, experts, theologians of different religions gathered to reflect on “the wonderful theme of mercy that embraces the heart of every man and woman without distinction of any kind, religious, ethical, cultural,” said Sr. Teresa Joseph FMA, Secretary of the Office for dialogue and ecumenism within the Bishops’ Conference of India...



23 August 2016
Greg Kandra




A photo taken from Turkey shows smoke rising over Syria after the Turkish army shelled ISIS positions on 23 August 2016. (photo: Ensar Ozdemir/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Turkey launches new artillery strike across Syrian border (The New York Times) Turkey’s artillery shelled ISIS targets across the border in Syria for the second consecutive day on Tuesday, a senior Turkish official said, amid reports that Turkey-backed Syrian rebels were preparing an offensive against an ISIS-held border town in northern Syria. The latest developments have thrust the town of Jarablus into center stage in the ongoing war…

Iranian religious leader thanks Pope Francis for comments on Islam (Vatican Radio) A senior Iranian religious scholar has written to Pope Francis, thanking him for his recent remarks that Islam is not equal to terrorism. In his letter, posted on his official website on Sunday, Grand Ayatollah Makarem Shirazi of Qom also stressed that it is necessary for religious leaders to adopt clear stances when it comes to accusing religions of violence…

ISIS using child bombers (Reuters) Saturday’s attack at the wedding in Gaziantep marked not only Turkey’s deadliest this year, but also the first time in Turkey that militants may have deployed a child bomber in a way already used to deadly effect in wars from Africa to Syria…

Lebanon church leader decries terrorism in visit to South Korea (CNS) Maronite Patriarch Bechara Peter, visiting the South Korean capital of Seoul, urged the international community to end the wars raging in the Middle East “fueled by foreign countries…”

Church building law sparks disputes in Egypt (Egypt Streets) Egypt’s Coptic Orthodox Church released a statement objecting to the “complexities and obstacles” in the governmental amendments to a long-awaited bill on church building in the country, privately-owned Al Shorouk reported…

Data shows reconversion of Dalit Christians in Kerala (The New Indian Express) If statistics are any indication, Kerala is witnessing an upward curve in ‘Ghar Wapsi’ — the controversial reconversion drive launched by some Hindutva groups — resulting in the dwindling Dalit Christian population in the state...



Tags: Syria Egypt Pope Francis Turkey





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