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Current Issue
June, 2018
Volume 44, Number 2
  
8 June 2018
Greg Kandra




Russian planes have reportedly attacked the rebel-held province of Idlib in Syria. The video above shows how some displaced Syrians are living in the region after settling in makeshift camps. (video: Doctors Without Borders/YouTube)

Pope names two new bishops for India (Vatican News) Pope Francis on Friday made two appointments in India. He nominated the Rev. Fulgence Aloysius Tigga as Bishop of Raiganj Diocese in the eastern state of West Bengal, and the Rev. Dennis Panipitchai has been appointed Auxiliary Bishop of Miao Diocese, in Arunachal Pradesh state, northeast India…

Syria: Russian warplanes bomb rebel-held area, dozens dead (Al Jazeera) Air attacks believed to have been carried out by Russia on a village in Syria’s rebel-held Idlib province killed at least 44 people overnight, inflicting the highest death toll in a single attack on the region this year, a monitoring group said on Friday…

Putin: Russia has no plans to pull out of Syria (Al Jazeera) President Vladimir Putin says Russia has no plans to pull its military out of Syria, but isn’t building permanent facilities there. The troops “will stay there for as long as it is to Russia’s advantage, and to fulfill our international responsibilities,” Putin said during his annual televised call-in show on Thursday…

Gaza anti-blockade protest on ’Jerusalem Day’ (AP) Palestinians burned tires and Israeli troops fired heavy volleys of tear gas Friday to push back large Gaza crowds from the area of the fence separating the blockaded territory from Israel. It was the latest in a series of protests against the decade-long blockade of Gaza by Israel and Egypt. Friday’s march also coincided with the annual “Jerusalem Day,” instituted by Iran to protest against Israeli rule of the holy city. Israel and Iran have been arch enemies since Tehran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution…



Tags: Syria India Russia Indian Bishops

7 June 2018
Greg Kandra




Archbishop Bernadito Auza underscored the importance of faith-based organizations in helping migrants. He addressed an event at the UN on 4 June. (photo: Vatican News)

Holy See commends service of faith-based organizations to migrants (Vatican News) The Holy See has underscored the importance of faith-based organizations in providing protection and integration to migrants. Their efforts, alongside those of other key stakeholders, are essential in helping implement the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM), the first intergovernmental agreement coordinated by the United Nations that will cover all dimensions of international migration…

To go or not to go: Syrians’ dilemma in Lebanon (Gulf News) With the Syrian regime seemingly on the path to winning the war, there have been growing calls in host countries for the refugees to go back. Nowhere else has this been more pronounced than in Lebanon…

Rights group: Gaza children on brink of mental health crisis (Al Jazeera) A generation of children in the besieged Gaza Strip are on the brink of a mental health crisis, a children rights group said. ”A whole generation of children in Gaza is balancing on a knife edge where one more shock could have devastating life-long consequences,” Marcia Brophy, a senior health adviser at Save the Children, said in a statement..

Tensions rise between Ukraine and Russia in territorial waters (Newsweek) kraine’s navy is in a state of heightened alert in the Sea of Azov, a body of water shared by the Eastern European nation and Russia. ”The security service said: ’Watch closely, the Russians are preparing countermeasures. They are planning seizures and hijackings of Ukrainian ships,’” a Ukrainian shipowner told Radio Free Europe in a video published on Wednesday…

Soccer match canceled over Jerusalem (The New York Times) A decision by Argentina’s national soccer team to cancel a World Cup warm-up match against Israel after protests by Palestinian activists has set off hand-wringing and recrimination here in a nation obsessed with the sport and geopolitics…



Tags: Syria Gaza Strip/West Bank Vatican

6 June 2018
Greg Kandra




A Franciscan priest in the video above describes his efforts to help rebuild a devastated Syria. (video: Rome Reports/YouTube)

Lebanon leader says Iran, Hezbollah forces to remain in Syria until it is ’liberated’ (Reuters) Lebanese Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri said Iranian and Hezbollah forces will not withdraw from Syria until the country is “liberated” and its “territorial integrity is restored,” Russia’s RIA news agency reported on Wednesday…

Street protests continuing in Jordan (Vatican News) King Abdullah II says he wants a review of a draft income tax law, after days of protests against new austerity measures which led to the resignation of the prime minister. Several thousand protesters gathered in Amman soon after premier Hani Mulki stepped down…

Ethiopia says it will ‘fully accept’ Eritrea peace deal from 2000 (The New York Times) Ethiopia announced Tuesday that it would accept a 2000 peace agreement with Eritrea over their disputed border, potentially a major step toward resolving one of post-colonial Africa’s bloodiest and most protracted conflicts. A statement by the governing party of Ethiopia, the second-most populous country in Africa, said it would “fully accept and implement” the agreement with Eritrea, a former province of Ethiopia, which was signed but never honored…

Lebanon presses UNHCR on refugee return strategy (The Daily Star) Lebanon Tuesday gave the UNHCR a fortnight to respond to a request to develop a strategy to facilitate the return of Syrian refugees to safe zones in their homeland. The Foreign Ministry’s political affairs director, Ghady al-Khoury, met with the body’s Lebanon representative to voice Lebanon’s reservations over the UNHCR policy on the Syrian refugee crisis in Lebanon, a statement from the ministry said…

Italy calls on Israel not to demolish Bedouin village in Jerusalem (Middle East Monitor) The Italian foreign ministry has called on Israeli occupation authorities not to demolish a Bedouin village and an Italian-funded school in eastern Jerusalem, expressing concern that such a step threatens the two-state solution and the establishment of an independent Palestinian state…



Tags: Syria Ethiopia Jordan

5 June 2018
Greg Kandra




The Rev. Rajeev Philip, ordained on 2 June 2018 at a ceremony in Tampa, Florida, is pictured meeting with Pope Francis in 2017. He has become the first U.S.-born priest to be ordained for the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church. (photo: CNS/courtesy Syro-Malabar Diocese of St. Thomas)

First U.S.-born Syro-Malbar priest ordained (CNS) In a 2 June ceremony in Tampa, Florida, the Rev. Rajeev Philip became the first U.S.-born priest to be ordained for the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church…

U.S.-backed forces withdraw from Syrian border town (AP) The United States says the Syrian town of Manbij will be governed by “locals” who are “mutually agreeable” to the U.S. and Turkey following the withdrawal of U.S.-backed Syrian Kurdish forces from the city…

Syria tells Lebanon it wants refugees to return (Voice of America) Syria has told Lebanon it wants refugees to return to help rebuild the country, its envoy to Lebanon said on Monday, after Beirut expressed concern that a new land redevelopment law could discourage them from going home. Lebanon, which is hosting about a million registered Syrian refugees, wrote to the Syrian government last month over “Law 10,” which aid and rights groups fear could result in Syrian refugees losing their property in the country…

Refugee agency recommits to serving Syrians (CNS) The Jesuit Refugee Service pledged to continue supporting some of the 11 million displaced Syrians as the U.S. government’s response to the world’s worst humanitarian crisis since World War II is in “retreat”…

India’s bishops support strike by desperate farmers (UCANews.com) Millions of farmers across India’s seven major states have launched a ten-day strike demanding higher prices for their produce and loan waivers with rights activist and church groups pledging support to their struggle. Days after beginning on 1 June, the strike has begun to affect urban areas of central and northern India where farmers are refusing to provide produce to markets resulting in soaring food prices…

Jerusalem artist wants to give Prince William a tattoo during his visit (Haaretz) The Duke of Cambridge is preparing for a solo Middle East tour in late June, when he is set to visit Israel, Jordan and the West Bank…



Tags: Syria India Lebanon Jerusalem Syro-Malabar Catholic Church

4 June 2018
J.D. Conor Mauro




Protesters wave flags near Jordanian security forces during a demonstration outside the prime minister's office in the capital Amman late on 3 June 2018. (photo: Khalil Mazraawi/AFP/Getty Images)

Jordan PM Hani Mulki quits after austerity protests (BBC) Jordan’s Prime Minister Hani Mulki has resigned after days of protests against tax rises and austerity measures. The recent demonstrations in the country, which is a key Western ally, are the biggest in years. Protesters have chanted anti-government slogans and clashed with police, who have fired tear gas and blocked roads…

Greek Catholic Annunciation Society targets youth dropout rate in Jerusalem through remedial education (Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem) For the past six years the Greek Catholic Annunciation Society in Jerusalem, has been working through its remedial education project to reduce the rate of youth dropout, as well as to offer the mothers of these young people awareness sessions and social activities. The project, which is funded by CNEWA and now by the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, aims to reduce the dropout rate among 200-300 students by providing them with support lessons and extra-curricular activities such as educational trips to museums and historical sites with certified tour guide…

Iraq’s water crisis traced upstream to Turkish, Iranian dams (AINA) The water crisis has spread in southern and central provinces of Iraq and the Kurdistan Region as dams built by Turkey and Iran, irrespective of international laws, slow the flow of rivers into Iraq to a trickle. There are growing fears up to seven million people will be displaced due to the dramatic fall in water resources…

Bethlehem: A Franciscan priest attacked for defending pilgrims (Fides) Franciscan priest, Father Fadi Shalufa was attacked on 1 June by one of the two young men who had previously harassed a group of pilgrims in visit to the birthplace of Jesus. The two attackers were arrested by the Palestinian police…

Thousands of Palestinians mourn ‘reprehensible’ killing of Gaza medic (TeleSUR) Thousands of Palestinians attended the funeral procession of Razan Najjar, the Palestinian medic who was killed while trying to save an injured protester at the Gaza-Israel border during a demonstration Friday. Various U.N. officials issued statements Saturday condemning Najjar’s killing. “The killing of a clearly identified medical staffer by security forces during a demonstration is particularly reprehensible,” said Jamie McGoldrick, the local U.N. humanitarian coordinator…

Patriarch Kirill confirms metropolitan of Estonian Orthodox Church (Err.ee) Patriarch Kirill on Sunday confirmed the election of Archbishop Yevgeny (Eugeni) of Vereya as the new metropolitan bishop of Tallinn and All Estonia and the head of the Estonian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate…



Tags: Iraq Gaza Strip/West Bank Jerusalem Jordan Catholic education

31 May 2018
Greg Kandra




Pope Francis met with a delegation of the Orthodox Patriarchate of Moscow and assured them he has no interest in meddling in the affairs of their church. (video: Rome Reports/YouTube)

Pope Francis assures Russian Orthodox he has ‘no desire whatsoever’ to interfere in their affairs (The Tablet) Pope Francis has assured leaders of the Russian Orthodox Church that he has “no desire whatsoever” to interfere in the affairs of their church. At a high-level meeting at the Vatican between the Pope and a delegation from the Russian Orthodox Church, Pope Francis’ emphasized the common ground between the churches, while telling Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk that the Vatican has no desire to interfere in internal Russian Orthodoxy…

Vote fraud allegations trigger recount in Iraq (Al Jazeera) Iraq’s electoral commission says it is canceling the results from more than 1,000 polling stations used in this month’s parliamentary vote. It says it has evidence of fraud at voting centers both in Iraq and for citizens living abroad. Iraqi MPs called for votes in the predominantly Sunni provinces of Anbar, Diyala, Salahuddin and Nineveh and all ballots cast by Iraqis living abroad to be manually recounted…

Assad raises prospect of U.S. clash in Syria (Reuters) The United States should learn the lesson of Iraq and leave Syria, President Bashar al-Assad said in an interview, responding to U.S. President Donald Trump’s description of him as an animal by saying “what you say is what you are…”

Ahead of elections, a risky battle for Ukraine’s soul (Reuters) Religious divisions deepened in 2014 after the annexation of Crimea by Russia and subsequent conflict between Ukrainian and Russian-backed separatist forces over the Donbass region in the east. Those tensions are back in focus after Petro Poroshenko, the pro-Western president who faces a tight election race next March, stepped up efforts to create an independent, or “autocephalous,” national church…

Israel’s love-hate relationship with Jerusalem (NPR) A short walk from the new U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem is a stone apartment building on a leafy street that might as well be a metaphor for Israelis’ love-hate relationship with the city and its religious character…

Kerala’s Christians wary of new hard-line Hindu governor (UCANews.com) India’s pro-Hindu government has appointed Kummanam Rajasekharan, an active member of the ruling Bharatiya Janta Party, to serve as the 18th governor of Christian-majority Mizoram state. The federal government nominated Rajasekharan while he was serving as president of the party’s Kerala state unit, eliciting mixed reactions from Christian leaders on the fairness of slotting an ideologically biased politician into what is supposed to be an apolitical role…



Tags: India Iraq Pope Francis Russian Orthodox Church

30 May 2018
Greg Kandra




In the video above, Christians in Jerusalem explain why it is important to maintain a Christian presence in the Holy Land to “seek political peace in Jesus’ land.” (video: Rome Reports/YouTube)

Battle to stamp out ISIS in Syria gets new momentum, but threats remain (The New York Times) A return of Kurdish commanders has revived a stalled American-backed ground offensive to wipe out the last pockets of ISIS militants in eastern Syria. But the campaign may have only little more than six months to hunt down the few hundred fighters — not enough time to extinguish a threat that is quickly moving underground…

Israel and Palestinians trade fire on Gaza border (The Washington Post) Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip fired more rockets and mortars into Israel Wednesday morning, and Israeli jets retaliated by striking some 25 targets belonging to Hamas even as talk of a cease-fire surfaced. The restless night, with consistent rocket fire from Gaza on Israeli communities, followed a sharp escalation Tuesday as Palestinian militants in the besieged coastal enclave fired more than 100 rockets and mortars into Israel…

Chaldeans take step into the global spotlight with new cardinal (The Catholic Register) Roman Catholics are used to belonging to a global church, one that transcends borders, encompasses cultures and finds expression in all the languages of the world. But it’s a whole new ball game for Chaldeans, which is why appointing Chaldean Patriarch Louis Raphael to the College of Cardinals on 20 May is particularly significant, the Chaldean bishop of Canada told The Catholic Register…

Video shows Hindu leader calling on Christians to be thrown out of India (UCANews.com) A hardline Hindu group has called on Christians to be thrown out of India and stamped on images of Pope Francis while accusing him of promoting terrorism in a video being circulated on social media since 25 May. The video shows controversial Hindu leader Om Swami Maharaj with a group of about 20 people carrying placards and banners with pictures of Pope Francis not far from Sacred Heart Cathedral in New Delhi…

U.S. State Department issues annual report on religious freedom around the world (The Los Angeles Times) U.S. ally Saudi Arabia continued to torture, execute and discriminate against minority Shiite Muslims last year, according to the State Department, but the Trump administration followed the Obama administration and has granted the Sunni-ruled kingdom an exemption from sanctions normally placed on countries with bad records on religious freedom. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo unveiled the annual report on international religious liberty on Tuesday…



Tags: Gaza Strip/West Bank Jerusalem ISIS Chaldean Patriarch Louis Raphael I

29 May 2018
Greg Kandra




Pope Francis greets Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople during a meeting in the Apostolic Palace at the Vatican on 26 May. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Pope, patriarch call for ethical intervention in economy (CNS) Pope Francis and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople called on Christians to work together to build a culture of solidarity in the face of growing economic inequality and a lack of respect for the human dignity of the poor and of migrants. The two leaders met privately 26 May before addressing an international conference sponsored by the Centesimus Annus Pro Pontifice Foundation, which seeks to promote the teaching of St. John Paul II’s 1991 encyclical on social and economic justice…

‘Honor’ killing in Catholic family shocks Kerala (UCANews.com) The murder of a socially poor Dalit Catholic man who had married a woman belonging to an upper-caste Christian family has fueled protests across India’s southern state of Kerala. Kevin P. Joseph, 26, a member of Vijayapuram Diocese, was murdered on 28 May, five days after he married 20-year-old Neenu Chacko of an affluent Christian family in Kollam district against the wishes of her family…

Syria takes rotating presidency of U.N. conference in Geneva, U.S. protests (PressTV) Syria has taken the rotating presidency of the U.N.’s Conference on Disarmament in Geneva, prompting disruptive objection by the United States. The chairing of the Conference on Disarmament rotates alphabetically among the body’s 65 members every four weeks, and Syria’s turn came on Monday. The U.S. delegation briefly left the room in protest and returned shortly afterwards…

Palestinians risk losing Jerusalem ID over Israel loyalty law (Al Jazeera) On 29 April, Israel’s Interior Minister Aryeh Deri upheld the deportation of four parliamentarians, after Israel’s parliament passed a law in March granting the interior minister full power to revoke the Jerusalem residencies of Palestinians over allegations of “breaching allegiance” or “loyalty” to the Israeli state. Rights groups have raised serious concerns over the new law, noting that the legislation is a clear breach of international law and threatens the basic rights of Palestinians in occupied East Jerusalem...

Ethiopian church hopes to grow in Halifax (The Chronicle Herald) In a tiny, white one-story house near an industrial area outside downtown Halifax, a small group of Ethiopian Orthodox Christians has been meeting quietly for three years. Now the congregation is making plans to create a larger, dedicated worship space…



Tags: India Ethiopia Jerusalem Ecumenism

25 May 2018
Greg Kandra




Palestinians wait in a bus to cross to Egypt following the opening of Rafah border gate in Khan Yunis, Gaza, on 18 May 2018. (photo: Abed Rahim Khatib/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

In Gaza, border opening brings relief and anxiety (AP) Egypt has opened Rafah for the duration of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, temporarily easing a border blockade of Gaza that it has enforced, along with Israel, for the past 11 years. But thousands of people hoping to travel are on a waiting list, a backlog created by long periods of closures, and Egyptian border officials are processing them at an excruciatingly slow pace…

Kerala monitoring spread of deadly virus (UCSNews.com) India’s Kerala state has imposed restrictions on public functions in four northern districts because of a virus spread by fruit bats that has killed 11 people, including a nurse who treated infected people. Health authorities on 24 May advised travelers to the region to guard against the Nipah virus. Senior official Rajeev Sadanandan told journalists that the infection was currently linked to only one family and people who came into direct contact with them. Lini Puthuserry, 32, the nurse who succumbed to the infection, had treated a member of the family in a hospital. The situation was described as being under control…

Syriac Christians hail return of churches, monasteries in Turkey (Daily Sabah) In 2014, ownership of churches, monasteries and cemeteries belonging to the ancient community were transferred to the state after Mardin, the southeastern city where they are located, was designated as the “greater city municipality.” The community fought for their return but faced bureaucratic red tape and a lengthy legal process. Finally, they were formally handed title deeds yesterday, crediting President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for helping them to settle the issue…

Coptic Peace Association distributes food to poor for Ramadan (Egypt Today) In celebration of the holy month of Ramadan, the Coptic Peace Association distributed cartons of basic commodities to the poor people of Cairo’s Shubra district on Wednesday. The ceremony was held in the hall of Marjerjis Hospital in Shubra. Matta Sawiris, head of the association, said that this day is an extension of the 50-year march, adding, “We set up the first Iftar in the church in 1969 until we inaugurated it in 2004; Egypt is mentioned in the Gospel more than 500 times and five times in the Qur’an.” Sheikh Mohammed Qutb said that the Muslims and Christians are one blood, stressing that the distribution of such aid without distinction between Muslim and Christian is an important message and must appear in the public opinion…

CNEWA Canada launches Middle East campaign (Catholic Register) Under the banner “Christians Can’t Survive Without You,” the Catholic Near East Welfare Association in Canada has launched a year-long fundraising campaign to help Christians remain in the Middle East…



Tags: Egypt Middle East Christians Gaza Strip/West Bank Turkey

24 May 2018
Greg Kandra




In the video above, Iraqis describe challenges in observing Ramadan in the post-ISIS era. (video: Al Jazeera English/Youtube)

Syrian state media says U.S. hit army posts, U.S. denies (Reuters) Syrian state media reported that the U.S.-led coalition fighting Islamic State struck Syrian army positions in eastern Syria early on Thursday, but the U.S. military denied knowledge of it…

Ramadan in post-ISIS Iraq (Al Jazeera) More than a billion Muslims around the world are observing the month of Ramadan, a time for reflection, worshipping and self-restraint. And it has a special meaning for more than two million Iraqis displaced by the conflict ISIS…

Violence in Gaza prompts calls for prayer, dialogue, investigation (The Catholic Register) With at least 60 killed and over 2,700 injured, Canadian Catholics can’t just shrug and say the violence on the Israel-Gaza border is not their problem…

Controversy surrounds Indian archbishop’s call for prayer ahead of elections (UCANews.com) Archbishop Anil Couto of New Delhi has sparked a political controversy after Hindu groups accused him of undermining Indian interests and working with the Vatican to tarnish the government’s image. The prelate launched a year-long prayer campaign 13 May, saying India faces a “turbulent political future” that threatens the country’s democracy. He asked Catholics in the capital to have special prayers and fast on all Fridays until national elections due in April next year. Hindu groups reacted angrily and said the archbishop’s statement was politically motivated…

Turkey hands out money and flags in east Jerusalem (Israel Hayom) he Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency has handed out about $420,000 in $500 checks to eastern Jerusalem merchants and residents as a gift for the holy Muslim month of Ramadan, Israel Hayom discovered. The move exacerbates already tense relations between Israel and Turkey, which called for Israel to be tried at the International Criminal Court for its use of force to deter violent weekly demonstrations along the Gaza border…



Tags: Syria India Iraq Gaza Strip/West Bank Ramadan





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