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Current Issue
September, 2019
Volume 45, Number 3
  
10 June 2019
Greg Kandra




Syriac Catholic Archbishop Yohanna Moshe of Mosul, Iraq, center, concelebrates the liturgy at St. Thomas Syriac Catholic Church in the old city of Mosul in February. Announcing his desire to visit Iraq in 2020, Pope Francis called for a peaceful resolution to crises in the Middle East.
(photo: CNS/Khalid al-Mousily, Reuters)


Pope hopes to visit Iraq in 2020 (Vatican News) Pope Francis said on Monday he “thinks constantly of Iraq”, where he wishes to travel in the coming year. He was addressing representatives of ROACO, the ‘Reunion of Aid Agencies for the Oriental Churches.’ As he listed countries that fall within the Reunion’s reach and where the faithful continue to suffer, — including Syria, Ukraine and the Holy Land — the Pope focused on Iraq…

Pope Francis releases message for World Mission Sunday 2019 (Vatican News) World Mission Sunday in 2019 falls on 20 October. Instituted by Pope Pius XI in 1926, the annual day encourages prayers, cooperation and help for missions as well as reminding Christians about the fundamental missionary character of the Church and of every baptized person. The theme of this year’s observance is “Baptized and Sent: The Church of Christ on Mission in the World”…

Inside Lebanon’s most dangerous refugees camps (The Independent) The original refugee camp at Bourj al-Barajneh was once a sea of canvas tents. Today it is a concrete labyrinth hiding Lebanon’s social outcasts, more than 20,000 Palestinian refugees, from view…

UN: Up to 2 million Syrians could flee to Turkey (Reuters) Up to two million refugees could flee to Turkey if fighting intensifies in north-western Syria as aid funds run dangerously low, the United Nations said on Monday. Syria’s Russian-backed regime forces have been pressing an assault on opposition and rebels in their last major stronghold with air attacks and ground battles that have already forced tens of thousands to leave their homes…



Tags: Iraq Pope Francis Lebanon Refugees Refugee Camps

7 June 2019
Greg Kandra




In this image from 2015, Pope Francis greets Russian President Vladimir Putin as he arrives for a private meeting at the Vatican. The two will meet again in July, possibly paving the way for a future papal visit to Russia. (photo:CNS/Alexei Nikolsky, RIA Novosti/Kremlin via Reuters)

Putin July trip to Rome could pave way for papal trip to Russia (Reuters) The Vatican said Putin, who will be on a state visit to Italy, will hold talks with the Argentinian-born pope on 4 July. The meeting, their third since Francis was elected in 2013, comes at a time of improving relations between the Vatican and the world’s Orthodox Churches. It also will be their first since Francis and Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill met in 2016, a landmark step in healing the 1,000-year-old rift between the Western and Eastern branches of Christianity…

Lebanon imposes curfew on Syria refugees (Middle East Monitor) Lebanon has restricted the movement of Syrian refugees in the Deir El-Ahmar area until Friday after a fire engine was ambushed yesterday. Governor of Baalbek, Bachir Khodr, imposed the severe restrictions on the refugees after a fireman was hopsitalised in the attack. A Syrian man is reported to have been involved in the attack…

Myths put lives of young Indian women at risk (UCANews.com) In large swathes of rural India, as well as some urban pockets, females are considered impure and segregated when menstruating. They are forced to sleep in separate ”menstruation huts,” which are often cowsheds or barns. Poverty and a general lack of awareness of health issues pushes them even closer to death as they are prone to infections while bleeding, or can be bitten by snakes or other wild animals in the huts, experts say…

Visiting the ’Sistine Chapel of Iran’ shows Christian-Muslim coexistence (B.C. Catholic) Located in the ancient Persian capital of Isfahan, this church is also known as Vank Cathedral (“Vank” is the Armenian word for monastery or convent). An Armenian Orthodox church, this gem is hidden behind walls, a living intersection of Perso-Christian-Islamic culture in one of the world’s oldest civilizations. The church is a part of old Christianity not often seen in that part of the world, a living proof of the harmony that has long existed among Muslims and Christians. In fact, it is one of the best places to observe a coexistence of cultures and religions…

Vatican to launch radio news service in Latin (Vatican News) Starting on Saturday, 8 June, a 5-minute weekly news bulletin in Latin will be broadcast to the world on Vatican Radio frequencies through the Italian language audio channels. Of course you will also be able to follow it on our web portal and listen to it on podcast, and it will soon be available on the English-language audio frequencies as well…



Tags: Syria India Lebanon Muslim Iran

6 June 2019
Greg Kandra




Pope Francis greets people as he visits Our Lady Queen of Iasi Cathedral in Iasi, Romania on 1 June 2019. During his audience Wednesday, the pope expressed joy at being among the Romanian people last week. (photo: CNS/Vatican Media)

Pope expresses joy at being among Romanian people (Vatican News) During his Catechesis at the Wednesday General Audience, Pope Francis recalled his recent visit to Romania following in the footsteps of Saint John Paul II. The motto of the visit was “Let’s walk together” and the Pope expressed his joy at being able to walk as a pilgrim among the Romanian people. The Pontiff said that the various meetings whilst there “highlighted the value and the need to walk together both among Christians, on the level of faith and charity, and among citizens, on the level of civil commitment…”

Syrian airstrikes kill civilians in Idlib (Al Jazeera)At least five civilians were killed by Russian and Syrian government warplanes that targeted Syria’s northwest as residents marked the holiday of Eid al-Fitr. A local source told Anadolu Agency the five people died on Wednesday in air attacks targeting the town of Kansafra and three villages in Idlib…

Pope to meet Putin before Vatican Ukraine meeting (ABC News) Pope Francis will meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Vatican next month, a day before Catholic leaders from Ukraine gather at the Holy See to discuss the continuing conflict there and the fallout from the schism between the Russian and Ukrainian Orthodox Churches…

Child beggars are the face of poverty in Gaza (Haaretz) There’s a fine line between being a peddler and beggar. The peddlers offer bunches of fresh mint, cookies, gum and tissues. When you refuse, they plead: “Please, give me something.” Many of the peddlers are children, who are up late in any event during Ramadan. They could be seen walking around after 1 A.M. hawking their small supply of wares...



Tags: Syria Gaza Strip/West Bank Romania

5 June 2019
Greg Kandra




Clergy from around the world process for the enthronement of Metropolitan-Archbishop Borys Gudziak as head of the Ukrainian Catholic Archeparchy of Philadelphia at the Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception on 4 June 2019.
(photo: CNS/Jonathan Drake, Reuters)


Ukrainian Catholic Church installs new leader (AP) An Eastern Catholic diocese in Pennsylvania has installed a new leader. The Ukrainian Catholic Archeparchy of Philadelphia has named the Rev. Borys Gudziak as the metropolitan archbishop, which makes him the head of the Ukrainian Catholic Church in the United States. Gudziak is a 58-year-old native of Syracuse, New York. He succeeds Stefan Soroka, who resigned for health reasons last year…

Ethiopian Christians, Muslims clean stadium in show of solidarity for Eid-al-Fitr (NAIJ.com) Ethiopian Christians on Monday, 3 June, joined their Muslim brothers and sisters in a clean up exercise to show solidarity and love ahead of the end of the holy month of Ramadan. Leading the group was Ethiopia’s prime minister Abiy Ahmed who was also spotted sweeping the ground where the celebrations are expected to take place on Wednesday when the Muslim community across the world mark Eid-al-Fitr…

UN: crops and farmland being burned in Syria as a ’weapon of war’ (Al Jazeera) Thousands of hectares of vital crops and farmland have been set on fire by fighters in northwest Syria in a campaign that has turned food supplies into a “weapon of war”, the United Nations World Food Program (WFP) said…

Egypt’s president speaks out on Muslim treatment of Christians (National Review) Sunday Egyptian president Abdel Fatah al-Sisi delivered a speech during a ceremony in Cairo for Laylat al-Qadr, which is one of the odd-numbered nights during the last ten days of Ramadan. Since before the Egyptian revolution in 2011 propelled the country into chaos and till this year, Egypt’s Coptic Christian population has been facing a wave of persecution that some Copts describe as the worst in 700 years. President Sisi’s remarks, however, may be a sign of his efforts imploring peaceful coexistence in Egypt between Muslims and Christians…



Tags: Syria Ethiopia Muslim Ukrainian Catholic Church

4 June 2019
Greg Kandra




The video above shows Syrian forces bombing hospitals in Idlib in May. (video: Sky News/YouTube)

In Syria, even the hospitals aren’t safe (The New York Times) After eight brutal years, it is hard to find anything shocking about the Syrian civil war. But somehow, the government forces under President Bashar al-Assad always find a way. On 15 May, Syrian bombs destroyed the Tarmala Maternity and Children’s Hospital in Idlib, the 19th medical facility attacked since late April…

Leprosy patients receive help and hope at center in India (UCANews.com) Some 160 families now live in Leprosy Care Center center with their children and grandchildren. With the third generation growing up here, the place has become their home. All the older residents fled their homes and villages following severe social exclusion…

Westminster Abbey denies Ethiopian Christians permission to pray with relic (Times of Israel) Westminster Abbey has been accused of cultural insensitivity after it turned down a request from Ethiopian Christians to pray beside a tablet that the Ethiopian church considers sacred…

New Ukrainian Catholic archbishop faces challenge of renewal among faithful (The Philadelphia Inquirer) On Tuesday, Borys Gudziak, a native of Syracuse, N.Y., and the son of immigrant parents, will be installed as the metropolitan archbishop of the Ukrainian Catholic Archeparchy, or archdiocese, of Philadelphia, making him the titular head of the faith in the United States. Gudziak, 58, who has helped fuel a resurgence in the church in Ukraine, will work to inspire a similar renewal in this country of a faith — with fewer than 100,000 adherents — that has faced many of the same struggles as other Christian denominations…

Record turnout for Eid prayers in Ethiopian capital (Andalou Agency) More than one million people gathered in and around the Addis Ababa stadium for Eid al-Fitr prayers on Tuesday. The Muslim festival of Eid al-Fitr was celebrated across Ethiopia — a country hosting the largest Muslim community in Sub-Sahara Africa after Nigeria. Muslims account for 34% of Ethiopia’s more than 100 million population…



Tags: Syria India Ethiopia Muslim

3 June 2019
Greg Kandra




Pope Francis beatified seven Romanian Catholic martyrs during his visit to Romania last weekend. (video: CNS/YouTube)

Pope praises, beatifies martyred Romanian bishops (CNS) The memory and witness of Romania’s martyred bishops are a reminder that Christians are called to stand firm against ideologies that seek to stifle and suppress their cultural and religious traditions, Pope Francis said. On the last leg of his visit to Romania, the pope on 2 June celebrated a Divine Liturgy during which seven Eastern-rite Catholic bishops, who died during a fierce anti-religious campaign waged by the communist regime in Romania, were beatified…

Pope Francis says he is strengthened by talks with Benedict (CNS) Pope Francis said that he continues to visit retired Pope Benedict XVI, 92, who is like a grandfather who continues to encourage him and give him strength. ”I take his hand and let him speak. He speaks little, at his own pace, but with the same profoundness as always. Benedict’s problem are his knees, not his mind. He has a great lucidity,” the pope told journalists on 2 June on his return flight from Romania…

Some Syrian refugees being welcomed home with arrest and interrogation (The Washington Post) Hundreds of Syrian refugees have been arrested after returning home as the war they fled winds down — then interrogated, forced to inform on close family members and in some cases tortured, say returnees and human rights monitors. Many more who weathered the conflict in rebel-held territory now retaken by government forces are meeting a similar fate as President Bashar al-Assad’s regime deepens its longtime dependence on informers and surveillance…

Ethnic violence has displaced nearly 3 million Ethiopians (The Los Angeles Times) About 700,000 people have been displaced by the Gedeo-Guji dispute, according to the United Nations. Yet it is just one of many inter-ethnic conflicts raging in Ethiopia that have given the country an unenviable distinction: Last year more people fled their homes there than in any other nation on Earth. In total, 2.9 million people had been displaced by December 2018, more than those dislodged in Syria, Yemen, Somalia and Afghanistan combined, according to estimates published this month…

India faces demand for Hindu temple on site of mosque (UCANews.com) Less than a week after the Hindu nationalist Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) won a landslide victory in India’s general elections, Hindu groups stepped up demands to build a temple in Ayodhya, claimed to be the birthplace of revered Hindu god Lord Ram…



Tags: Syria India Pope Francis Ethiopia Romanian Catholic Church

31 May 2019
Greg Kandra




Pope Francis meets with Romanian Orthodox Patriarch Daniel at the patriarchal palace in Bucharest, Romania, 31 May 2019. The pope is making a three-day visit to Romania.
(photo: CNS/Vatican Media)


Pope Francis arrives in Romania, says he comes as a ‘pilgrim of brotherhood’ (Vatican News) In his address to the Permanent Synod of the Romanian Orthodox Church, the Pope spoke of the Lord’s resurrection, as being at “the very heart of the apostolic preaching handed down and preserved by our Churches.” He noted that in Romania, as in so many other places nowadays, many had experienced the passover of death and resurrection in the form of persecution…

Wave of civilians flee bombing in Syria (The New York Times) Syrian doctors and humanitarian workers voiced growing alarm at the plight of civilians in northwestern Syria this week, as fighting intensified in the nation’s last rebel-held province and hundreds of thousands of people fled north toward the Turkish border…

How Ukraine’s Orthodox split threatens Russia (European Council on Foreign Relations) An average Westerner may well have overlooked the potentially seismic geopolitical event of 6 January 2019. On that snowy Sunday — Epiphany in western Christianity; Christmas Eve in Ukraine — the 39-year-old Metropolitan of Kiev, Epiphanius, received tomos from the Constantinople Patriarchate. This document bestowed autocephalous (self-governing) status on what was now the newly formed Orthodox Church of Ukraine. The event was historic not just for Ukraine, but for Russia and the whole Orthodox world too...

World ignores plight of Indian refugee boat lost at sea (UCANews.com) Somewhere in the Indian Ocean, a boat laden with asylum seekers has gone missing. All souls are feared lost and a sore point with those who have followed the plight of the Daya Mata is that barely no one outside the subcontinent has even noticed. The sad episode began last year when people smugglers set about touting their wares among refugee families living in India whose relatives had already been resettled in Australia…

Caritas elects Aloysius John new secretary general (Vatican News) Aloysius John’s election came at the end of the confederation’s 31st General Assembly during which Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle was reconfirmed as President. John succeeds Michel Roy who finishes his two-term mandate this year. He is no stranger to the Rome headquarters of Caritas Internationalis where he has been heading the Institutional Development and Capacity Strengthening of the network…



Tags: Syria India Pope Francis Romania

29 May 2019
Greg Kandra




The United Nations yesterday denounced inaction that has led to more death and destruction in Syria — particularly among civilians. (video: Al Jazeera/YouTube)

Civilians killed in Syria attack (Al Jazeera) More than 20 civilians were killed on Tuesday as the Syrian government continued its relentless bombardment against the last rebel stronghold in the country’s northwest. The latest attacks came as the United Nations denounced world powers for doing nothing to halt the bloodshed and destruction…

Russian Orthodox official compares protests to Romanov executions (The Moscow Times) Recent mass protests against plans to replace a city park in central Russia with an Orthodox cathedral are akin to the execution of the country’s last royal family, the head of Yekaterinburg’s diocese said. Protests erupted in Russia’s fourth-largest city this month after fencing went up around a riverside park ahead of the church’s construction, resulting in arrests and clashes with vigilantes and riot police. Yekaterinburg is also the site of the 1918 shooting by Bolshevik revolutionaries of Tsar Nicholas II, his wife and five children. The church canonized them as martyrs in 2000...

Kerala police form anti-terror squad (The Hindu) The Kerala police will form an anti-terrorism squad (ATS) to crack down on extremist activity. The move comes against the backdrop of what the State police perceive as the rising danger of religious fundamentalism, Maoist insurgency and far-right fanaticism in south India…

Indian archbishop calls for action against cow vigilantes (UCANews.com) A fresh attack by so-called cow vigilantes has brought a call by a Catholic archbishop for stringent action to ensure peace in India’s multifaith society. Police in Seoni district of the central state of Madhya Pradesh detained five people on 25 May for assaulting three people including a woman who were suspected of transporting 140 kilograms of beef. The meat has been sent for laboratory verification…

Jerusalem sees rise in secular population (The Jewish Press) The Jerusalem Institute for Policy Research (JIPR) on Wednesday issued its annual report, ahead of Sunday’s Jerusalem Day, showing that Israel’s capital has crossed the 900,000-resident mark, with 62 percent Jews and 32 percent Arabs. Of the Jewish population, 22 percent are secular, which is more than back in 2009…



Tags: Syria India Jerusalem Russian Orthodox Church

28 May 2019
Greg Kandra




In this image from 2017, people walk inside the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. A new agreement between three churches will begin a multi-million dollar renovation of the foundations and flooring of the structure. (photo: CNS/Debbie Hill)

Churches strike deal to restore Jerusalem site (AP) The three churches in charge of Jerusalem’s holiest Christian site say they have reached an agreement to begin a multi-million dollar renovation of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Leaders of the Greek Orthodox, Catholic and Armenian churches issued a statement Monday announcing the project to restore the foundations and flooring of the church, where many Christians believe Jesus was crucified, entombed and resurrected…

Pope releases message on migrants, refugees (Vatican News) Pope Francis released his message on Monday for the 105th World Day of Migrants and Refugees, which will be commemorated on 29 September. As the Vatican’s Migrants and Refugees Section announced in March, the theme is “It is not just about migrants”…

Pope names new head of Council for Interreligious Dialogue (Vatican News) Bishop Miguel Ayuso Guixot succeeds the late Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, who died in July 2018, as the President of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue. He has been serving as Secretary of the Vatican dicastery…

Catholic bishops lament setbacks for peace in Holy Land (CNA)Peace, mutual equality, and respect must be the foundation of progress in Israeli-Palestinian relations, despite continued setbacks, the Assembly of Catholic Ordinaries of the Holy Land said last week. Continuing difficulties in Palestine and Israel have caused many people to question “whether international diplomacy and the peace process were ever actually based on justice and good will,” the ordinaries said in a 20 May message...

Kerala on alert over ISIS warning (Economic Times) Kerala Coastal Police have been placed on alert after intelligence inputs about ISIS affiliates setting off towards Lakshadweep and Minicoy Island from Sri Lanka, police sources said on Sunday. According to highly-placed sources aware of the matter, as many as 15 ISIS affiliates have set-off in a white boat from Sri Lanka towards Indian islands of Lakshadweep and Minicoy….



Tags: India Pope Francis Jerusalem Migrants Holy Sepulchre

24 May 2019
Greg Kandra




In this image from 2017, Chaldean Catholic Archbishop Bashar Warda of Erbil, Iraq, celebrates a memorial liturgy for victims of ISIS at the St. John Paul II National Shrine in Washington. In a speech in London this week, the archbishop said Christians in Iraq are close to extinction.
(photo: CNS/Tyler Orsburn)


Archbishop: Iraq’s Christians close to extinction (BBC) The Archbishop of Erbil, the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan, has accused Britain’s Christian leaders of failing to do enough in defense of the vanishing Christian community in Iraq. In an impassioned address in London, the Archbishop Bashar Warda said Iraq’s Christians now faced extinction after 1,400 years of persecution…

The impossible future of Christians in the Middle East (The Atlantic) The precarious state of Christianity in Iraq is tragic on its own terms. The world may soon witness the permanent displacement of an ancient religion, and an ancient people. Those indigenous to this area share more than faith: They call themselves Suraye and claim a connection to the ancient peoples who inhabited this land long before the birth of Christ. But the fate of Christianity in places like the Nineveh Plain has a geopolitical significance as well…

Pope invites new ambassadors to support most vulnerable (Vatican News) Pope Francis accepted the Credential Letters presented by nine new Ambassadors to the Holy See on Thursday. The nations they represent include Thailand, New Zealand, Guinea, Ethiopia, Norway, Sierra Leone, Guinea-Bissau, Luxembourg, and Mozambique. In an address to mark the occasion, Pope Francis recognized the variety of positive contributions these States make to world’s common good. He also said all have “a high responsibility to protect the most vulnerable of our brothers and sisters…”

Unease among India’s minorities after Modi’s win (UCANews.com) Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) swept to power for a second five-year term on 23 May in an election fought largely on the plank of Hindu nationalism…



Tags: India Pope Francis Iraqi Christians Persecution





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