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Current Issue
July, 2019
Volume 45, Number 2
  
5 March 2019
Greg Kandra




The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) are struggling to take over the last ISIS-held area of Syria. The Kurdish-led group has slowed down its offensive after ISIS resorted to using civilians as human shields. (video: Al Jazeera/YouTube)

ISIS members ‘surrendering in large numbers’ in Syria (Al Jazeera) Thousands of people, including armed fighters, have left the last area held by ISIS in Syria, a spokesperson for the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) said. Mostafa Bali of the SDF tweeted that about 3,000 people had come out of the village of Baghouz in eastern Syria on Monday through a humanitarian corridor established by the Kurdish-led group for those who want to leave or surrender…

US: Gulf countries helped ease conflict between India and Pakistan (Voice of America) The United States says it used its allies across the world, particularly those in the Gulf, to help defuse tensions between India and Pakistan, after military skirmishes between the nuclear-armed neighbors last week raised fears of a war…

India sees rise in lynchings of Christians (Catholic News Agency) Violent attacks including public lynchings against Christians in India are reportedly becoming increasingly common, with international NGOs and the country’s Catholic bishops raising their voices in protest against mob violence. ”The common man of the country is feeling insecurity in his own country due to the increasing cases of mob lynching,” Archbishop Leo Cornelio of Bhopal wrote on 27 February…

U.S. closes Jerusalem consulate that gave Palestinians a link to Washington (NPR) The U.S. officially shut down its Jerusalem Consulate General on Monday, severing a connection that for decades served as a direct link between Palestinians and Washington. The consulate’s work is being folded into the new U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem — a move Palestinian officials have condemned…

A decade on, anti-Christian riots inspire the Indian Church (UCANews.com) More than a decade after the worst anti-Christian persecution in the history of India, victims and their families are turning out to be biggest witnesses and inspiration of the Christian faith in the country, church leaders told the 22 February gathering in Bengaluru (formerly Bangalore) city. ”When Christians die for their faith, it is a time for the Church to remember that martyrdom is like a seed,” said Archbishop Peter Machado of Bangalore. Martyrdom helps faith grow more quickly than can be achieved by theology or the Bible, he said…



Tags: Syria India Jerusalem Palestinians Persecution

4 March 2019
Greg Kandra




Indian passengers are shown returning from Pakistan on the Samjhauta Express, also called the Friendship Express. (photo: Vatican Media/AFP)

Tensions ease between India and Pakistan (Vatican News) A key train service between Pakistan and India resumed on Monday, signaling an easing of tensions between the two nuclear-armed countries after a major escalation of tension last week over the disputed Kashmir region…

Hundreds leave ISIS-held region of Syria (AP) Hundreds of people including fighters from the Islamic State group evacuated their last foothold in eastern Syria Monday hours after U.S.-backed Syrian fighters said they were forced to slow their advance because the extremists are using civilians as human shields…

Kerala denies it aims to control Catholic Church property (Asia News) The Kerala government, led by the Communist-Marxist party of India, denies it wants to control the local properties of the Catholic Church. According to party secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan, it is “mere speculation. Already there are laws to look into it and hence a new law is not required. Some people with vested interests are spreading rumors about this…”

Detained Ukrainian archbishop released in Crimea (Radio Free Europe) Authorities in the Russia-annexed Crimean Peninsula have released the head of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine in the region after briefly detaining him, a Russian lawyer says. The reason for the arrest on 3 March is not clear…

Leaders of Ethiopia, Eritrea, visit South Sudan for high-level talks (Africa News) Ethiopian Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed and Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki are in South Sudan on an official visit. The two departed from Asmara International Airport on Monday morning and have arrived in Juba to bolster existing ties between their countries. Abiy had visited Asmara on Sunday along with Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta...

Pope Francis to open archives on Pius XII next year (Vatican News) Reflecting on the reign of “the Servant of God Pius XII, of venerable memory”, Pope Francis said that he “guided the Barque of Peter in one of the saddest and darkest moments of the twentieth century”. The figure of Pius XII, he said, “has already been investigated and studied”, and widely discussed and even criticized — at times in a prejudiced or exaggerated manner. Today, he said, the pontificate of Pius XII is being re-evaluated, in the hopes that a more balanced historical judgement might emerge. To further those efforts, the Pope said that Vatican archival materials pertaining to Pius’ pontificate (1939-1958) will be accessible to scholars beginning on 2 March 2020…



Tags: Syria India Ethiopia Vatican Pope

1 March 2019
Greg Kandra




Indian forces remain on high alert along the border with Pakistan. (photo: Vatican Media)

Indian and Pakistani bishops urge peace between their nations (Vatican News) The Catholic bishops of India and Pakistan are appealing for peace and dialogue as tensions and armed exchanges between the two nuclear-armed neighbors escalate. ”We pray and work for peace between India and Pakistan. We call on the rulers to choose the path of dialogue, the situation today is very delicate and we must not make false or hurried steps,” said Indian Cardinal Oswald Gracias Archbishop of Mumbai. ”We condemn any act of terrorism against Indian forces. But we say ‘no’ to any war option: we must work for a peaceful solution, in favor of South Asia and will be meaningful for the whole world,” Cardinal Gracias, the president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI), told the Vatican’s Fides news agency…

Russia urging Syrian asylum seekers to return home (Reuters) In pre-war Syria, Safaa Al-Kurdi sold wedding dresses. Fed up with the conflict, the mother-of-three fled Damascus four years ago and sought asylum in Moscow. Now, Russia is saying she must go home…

Students rescued from Jerusalem school cut off from flooding (Times of Israel) Some 1,200 trapped students were evacuated Thursday from a school in southern Jerusalem that was cut off by flooding across an access road, amid unseasonal rains in the capital…

Kerala headed toward fiscal collapse (Times of India) Due to acute fiscal crisis, state government imposed stringent treasury restrictions in addition to the restrictions in force. This has paralyzed all planning and development activities of the state, including rebuilding activities for the rehabilitation of flood victims...

Ethiopian coffee ritual being exported (Quartz) In the 2018/2019 financial year, Ethiopia produced about 426,000 metric tons, exporting nearly 4 million bags, yet Africa’s largest coffee producer has few locally produced brands. Now, with a large diaspora that has introduced Ethiopian dining to the world, and domestic growth that has reintroduced the country to the global economy, Ethiopian coffee has the opportunity to take advantage of global consumer trends. Exporting a culture may require some watering-down though…



Tags: Syria India Ethiopia Kerala

28 February 2019
Greg Kandra




'Long live tribal unity' reads a banner behind the podium of a 26 February meeting in Madhya Pradesh state, where tribal groups joined to oppose a Supreme Court order to evict forest-dwelling people without title rights. (photo: Saji Thomas/UCANews.com)

Bishop expresses concerns over possible evictions of millions of Indian tribal people (UCANews.com) Millions of India’s indigenous people face eviction from their natural habitat following a court order that has alarmed Catholic Church leaders. The Supreme Court ordered governments of 21 states to evict people living on forest land whose claims to land title rights or user rights were rejected as proscribed in a 2006 law. ”We are worried. The fate of millions of indigenous people is threatened,” said Bishop Vincent Barwa, the head of the Indian bishops’ office for indigenous people…

Pakistan to release captured Indian pilot in ‘peace gesture’ (The Washington Post) Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan told parliament Thursday that his country will shortly release an Indian pilot it captured the day before, calling it a “peace gesture” after Pakistan and India engaged in their first aerial combat in nearly 50 years. The pilot’s release will take place on 1 March, Khan said, and the move is likely to de-escalate the current hostilities between the two nuclear-armed neighbors…

Yazidi children in Syria await family reunions (Voice of America) U.S.-backed Syrian forces battling Islamic State militants in their last hideout in eastern Syria said they have rescued dozens of Yazidi children held by the militant group for years. Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a Kurdish-led alliance, said last week that they had successfully freed more than a dozen Yazidi children from ISIS as they evacuated civilians from the Syrian town of Baghuz…

Russian church fires back over performance controversy (Radio Free Europe) A choral reinterpretation of a Cold War ditty depicting a Russian nuclear attack on Washington has variously drawn wild cheers, contrition, and ridicule for its glib message amid mounting nuclear tensions between Russia and the West. The St. Petersburg eparchy of the Russian Orthodox Church eventually expressed regret over the 23 February show.…



Tags: Syria India Russian Orthodox

27 February 2019
Greg Kandra




A parishioner raises a candlestick as a symbol of light during the Greek Catholic Divine Liturgy. Learn more about the rich traditions in one Slovak village, and how they are being carried on by Those Who Remain Behind in the January 2009 edition of ONE. (photo: Andrej Bán)



Tags: Greek Catholic Church

27 February 2019
Greg Kandra




The crisis between Pakistan and India escalated Wednesday morning, when Pakistan announced it had shot down two Indian fighter jets. A leading bishop in the Pakistan, meanwhile, is appealing for peace talks. (video: BBC/YouTube)

Pakistani bishop appeals for peace talks with India (Vatican News) With the risk of war escalating between India and Pakistan following an Indian airstrike inside Pakistan on Tuesday, a Pakistani bishop has appealed for peace talks. The Indian government claimed it carried out air raids against an Islamist militant training camp of Jaish-e-Mohammed, killing “a very large number” of fighters, raising the risk of a war between the nuclear-armed neighbors. Pakistan denied there had been any casualties but condemned the Indian action and vowed it would respond…

Pakistan shoots down two Indian jets; crisis deepens (CNN) Pakistan says its air force shot down two Indian fighter jets over the disputed border region of Kashmir, in a significant escalation of the crisis between the two nuclear-armed powers. India confirmed the loss of one plane and said it shot down a Pakistani jet as it responded to the incident…

Russia and Syria urge U.S. to withdraw troops (Al Jazeera) Russia and Syria have called on the United States to leave Syria and to allow people inside a refugee camp in the southeast of the country to be evacuated by Russian and Syrian forces. A joint statement released on Wednesday by Russia’s Ministry of Defense said Russian and Syrian forces had prepared buses to relocate refugees at the camp in the Rukban area and would guarantee them safe passage so they could start new lives.

Ethiopian bishops speaks out on protection of minors (Vatican News) Bishop Gebremedhin said that Ethiopia as a nation is committed to protecting children and has signed the United Nations Convention on the Protection of Minors. However, the cultural priorities with regard to protecting children in his country are several, such as sexual abuse, child trafficking, early marriage and others…

European Russians break ties with Constantinople (AsiaNews) Since 23 February, the Russian Orthodox exarchate, linked to the patriarchate of Constantinople, has decided to break ties with Bartholomew, following his choice to approve the autocephalous Church in Ukraine…



Tags: India Ethiopia Ukraine Russian Orthodox

26 February 2019
Greg Kandra




India confirms it struck targets in Pakistan early Tuesday, escalating the tensions between the two countries. (video: BBC/YouTube)

Indian fighter jets attack Pakistan (NPR) India says its fighter jets crossed a disputed border before dawn Tuesday into neighboring Pakistan, conducting airstrikes on a militant training camp and killing “a very large number of terrorists.” Pakistan confirmed by tweet that Indian planes entered its airspace. But the spokesperson for the Pakistan Armed forces said they were forced to drop their payload in an open field, after Pakistan scrambled its own jets, and that there were no casualties or damage…

Iran to build 200,000 housing units in Syria (Middle East Monitor) Iran has agreed to build 200,000 housing units in the Syrian capital Damascus, the Tasnim News Agency reported on Sunday. Tehran province Vice Chairman of Mass-Housing Constructors Association Iraj Rahbar revealed the plan, noting that it was one of a number of agreements on civil construction, tourism and the agriculture industry, the news agency reported…

Copts concerned about death sentence for monks convicted in murder of bishop (AsiaNews) A court sentenced two monks to death over the murder of the abbot of the monastery of St Macarius in Wadi El Natrun. For Egyptian Christians and the leaders of the Coptic Orthodox Church, this is a sad day and represents a catastrophe that will be appealed as soon as possible. The details of the case are still murky. Many of the pieces of the puzzle are missing, nor is it clear why the death penalty was imposed. Sources that spoke to AsiaNews, said that they will wait for further developments before commenting on the matter…

Opioid crisis hits Gaza (Times of Israel) An opioid crisis has quietly spread in the Gaza Strip, trapping thousands in the hell of addiction and adding another layer of misery to the blockaded and impoverished Hamas-controlled coastal territory. The scourge can be traced to the mass import of cheap opioid-based Tramadol pain pills through smuggling tunnels under Gaza’s border more than a decade ago. A more addictive black-market form of the drug called Tramal has since taken hold…

Death toll in Ukraine conflict now up to 13,000 (Radio Free Europe) Some 13,000 people have been killed, a quarter of them civilians, and as many as 30,000 wounded in the war in eastern Ukraine since it broke out in April 2014, the United Nations says…



Tags: Syria India Ukraine Iran

25 February 2019
Greg Kandra




Pope Francis receives the Apostoliki Diaconia of the Orthodox Archdiocese of Athens.
(photo: Vatican Media)


Pope to Greek Orthodox: ‘We have more in common than what keeps us apart’ (Vatican News) Pope Francis on Monday reflected on the fruitfulness and importance of Catholic Orthodox dialogue on the journey to full communion. He was speaking to the Apostolikí Diaconía and the Centre for the Family of the Orthodox Archdiocese of Athens whom he received in the Vatican…

Ukraine’s crisis of faith (Politico) For years, Father Vasily spent his Sundays behind the altar at St. Nicholas, a church in the small town of Vorsivka, in north-central Ukraine. That all changed in early January, not long after the Ukrainian Orthodox Church officially split from the Moscow-based Russian Orthodox Church in one of the biggest schisms in Christian history…

‘Kerala will become an aged society soon’ (The Times of India) Kerala would become a fast-aging society in the near future, said Geojit Financial Services managing director C. J. George…

Bootleg liquor kills dozens in India (UCANews.com) The church is assisting those affected by a mass toxic alcohol poisoning that has killed more than 140 tea-estate workers in India’s northeast. Some 350 people continue to fight for lives in hospitals in Assam state after they consumed bootleg alcohol on 21 February. A similar tragedy occurred earlier this month with bootleg liquor killing more than 100 people in northern states of Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand…

Press briefing announces initiatives for protection of minors (Vatican News) There have been four Press Conferences, coinciding with the four days of the Meeting. Each one has provided a synthesis of the day’s discussions and reflections, and allowed journalists an opportunity to engage with participants and speakers in what was often a lively Q&A session. One implicit (and explicit) question underscored the concluding press briefing on Sunday: “What now”? Expectations were high, especially given Pope Francis’ mandate to participants, at the start of the Meeting, to come up with “concrete” initiatives to help the Church in protecting minors…



Tags: India Ukraine Russian Orthodox Orthodox Greece

22 February 2019
Greg Kandra




Sukhbati Gand with her children in a photo taken before her husband Anant Ram Gand was found murdered in India’s Odisha state. His pastor says he had been given an ultimatum to renounce Christianity or face death. (photo: UCANews.com)

Christian man beheaded in India (UCANews.com) A Christian man has been found virtually beheaded in an interior village of India’s Odisha state in what family members and many others believe was an anti-Christian attack. They dismiss a police claim that he was killed by politically motivated Maoist rebels. The body of 40-year-old Anant Ram Gand, father of four girls and a boy, was found on a road in Bhenas village of Nabarangapur district, local pastor Chandan Jani told ucanews.com…

Report: religious minorities in India ’attacked with impunity’ (UCANews.com) Religious and ethnic minorities in India continue to face violence at the hands of Hindu groups that support the federal government led by the pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), according to a new report by Human Rights Watch. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government has failed to prevent or credibly investigate growing mob attacks on religious minorities and marginalized communities, said the report released in New Delhi on 19 February...

U.S. says 200 troops to remain in Syria (Al Jazeera) The United States will leave around 200 troops in Syria for a period of time, the White House has announced, as President Donald Trump backed away from a complete withdrawal of forces from the war-torn country. ”A small peacekeeping group of about 200 will remain in Syria for a period of time,” White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said in a statement on Thursday…

Eritrean delegation visits Ethiopia to discuss improving relations (AfricaNews.com) Eritrea’s information minister, Yemane Gebremeskel, said the delegation which arrived in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa on Thursday, had delivered a message from president Isaias Afwerki to prime minister Abiy Ahmed…

Lebanese leader visits Damascus to discuss repatriation of refugees (The Telegraph) Fears are growing for the 1.5 million Syrian refugees in Lebanon after the country’s new refugees minister made a surprise visit to Damascus this week to discuss their return. Saleh Gharib, an outspoken supporter of the regime of Bashar al-Assad, said Lebanon would work to ”secure the return” of refugees to Syria, where human rights organizations report they are subject to abuse and arbitrary detention. He explained that the Syrian government ”believe that the failure to return the displaced Syrians would be a blow to the victory of the Syrian state…”



Tags: Syria India Ethiopia Eritrea Persecution

21 February 2019
Greg Kandra




As tensions escalate between India and Pakistan, Pakistan has vowed retaliation if India attacks. (video: BBC/YouTube)

Pakistan prime minister authorizes use of force in case of Indian attack (AP) Pakistan’s prime minister has authorized the armed forces to “respond decisively and comprehensively to any aggression or misadventure” by India, as tensions soar between the nuclear-armed rivals. India has vowed a “jaw-breaking response” to a suicide bombing in the disputed Kashmir region last week that killed 40 Indian soldiers…

Hundreds evacuated from ISIS’s last Syria holdout (Al Jazeera) Hundreds of people, including women and children, have been evacuated from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant group’s (ISIL, also known as ISIS) last holdout in Syria, bringing US-backed forces closer to retaking the last sliver of the ”caliphate.” AFP correspondents reported on Wednesday seeing at least 17 trucks carrying men, women and children out of the last patch of ISIL territory in the eastern Syrian village of Baghouz…

Jordan’s prime minister appeals for more aid, as refugees are set to stay (Reuters) Jordan’s Prime Minister Omar al-Razzaz appealed on Wednesday to major donors to continue multi-billion dollar funding for Syrian refugees in the kingdom, saying most of those who had fled the eight-year conflict had no intention of returning any time soon…

Ukraine remembers Maidan massacre (NBC News) Bricks, safety helmets and remnants of barricades are piled in makeshift memorials in the cobbled streets near Kiev’s main square. At least 50 anti-government protesters were killed here five years ago Wednesday, including many who were shot by snipers. It was the bloodiest day in months of demonstrations triggered by pro-Moscow President Viktor Yanukovych’s refusal to sign an agreement to forge closer ties with Europe…

Pope: Hear the cry of the little ones who ask for justice (Vatican News) The “Protection of Minors in the Church” meeting began on Thursday with prayers, readings, and brief periods of silent reflection, before Pope Francis gave his opening remarks in the Vatican’s Synod Hall. In front of the patriarchs, cardinals, archbishops, bishops, religious superiors and other leaders, the pope told them that, “in the face of the plague of sexual abuse perpetrated by men of the Church against children”, he had called them together so, “we may listen to the Holy Spirit and with docility to His guidance we may hear the cry of the little ones who ask for justice…”



Tags: Syria India Pope Francis Ukraine





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