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Current Issue
September, 2019
Volume 45, Number 3
  
15 November 2019
Greg Kandra




A demonstrator walks near burning tires barricading a road during ongoing anti-government protests in Khaldeh, Lebanon, on 13 November 2019. (photo: CNS/Mohamed Azakir, Reuters)

U.S. church leaders pray for peace as religious leaders meet in Lebanon (CNS) The U.S. bishops and the Knights of Columbus offered their “prayerful solidarity” to the Assembly of the Catholic Patriarchs and Bishops of Lebanon as Iraq and Lebanon experience protests against political corruption and foreign interference. The support came in a 13 November letter from Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio of the U.S. Archdiocese for the Military Services, chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on International Justice and Peace, and Carl Anderson, supreme knight of the Knights of Columbus…

Egyptian woman fights unfair Islamic inheritance laws (AP) One Egyptian woman is taking on the country’s inheritance laws that mean female heirs inherit half that of men. Since her father’s death last year, Huda Nasrallah, a Christian, has stood before three different judges to demand an equal share of the property left to her two brothers by their father. Yet courts have twice issued rulings against her, basing them on Islamic inheritance laws that favor male heirs…

Israel-Gaza ceasefire strained by rockets, air strikes (BBC) Israel has launched fresh air strikes on militant targets after renewed rocket-fire from Gaza, as a day-old ceasefire is put under strain. Palestinian media said missiles hit sites belonging to the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) group early on Friday, injuring two people. It comes after five rockets were fired at Israel on Thursday following the ceasefire declaration by the PIJ…

Politics blocks Armenian hopes for genocide recognition (LA Times) On 29 October, the U.S. House of Representatives voted 405 to 11 in favor of a resolution to recognize the killing of 1.5 million Armenians more than a century ago as a genocide. Quick approval by the Senate appeared possible. But the 80-year-old Jamushian, whose parents survived the slaughter by Ottoman Turks, will have to keep waiting…



Tags: Egypt Lebanon Israeli-Palestinian conflict

14 November 2019
Greg Kandra




Lebanon is facing a serious financial crisis, as banks remain on strike over safety fears.
(video: Al Jazeera/YouTube)


Lebanon bank staff union to remain on strike (Reuters) Lebanon’s bank staff union called on Thursday for employees to stay on strike until it receives details of a security plan, especially on how to deal with customers. The union called for the strike over safety fears, as protests against political leaders sweep Lebanon and depositors demand access to their money after banks imposed new curbs…

Photos: Life in Iraqi Kurdistan (The Washington Post) President Trump’s decision to withdraw U.S. troops from northern Syria last month has brought fresh attention to the ethnic group known as the Kurds. For many years, the Kurds have been U.S. allies in the fight against the Islamic State. Trump’s move led to a bipartisan backlash and renewed interest in the Kurds, who also live in Turkey, Iraq and Iran. But who are they?...

Israel, Islamic Jihad agree on ceasefire (The Jerusalem Post) Israel and Islamic Jihad appear to have reach a ceasefire understanding that went into effect at 5.30 a.m, the IDF announced on Thursday morning. An Israeli official said that a restoration of calm could only be measured by the facts on the ground, clarifying that no concessions has been made to the Islamic Jihad. The operative policy remains in place, “we will harm those who harm us,” the official said…

India to set law on women entering temples (DW.com) India’s Supreme Court will set law on women entering places of worship after it was asked to review a 2018 decision to lift a ban on women entering a Hindu temple in Kerala. The court said Thursday that it will appoint a seven-judge bench to working on the case…

U.S. struggles to keep allies in fight against ISIS in Syria (The New York Times) At a high-level State Department meeting scheduled for Thursday, diplomats from 35 nations and international organizations will be asked to stick with the campaign to eradicate the extremist group even after its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, was killed in an American raid last month. But confusion over the Trump administration’s policy in northeast Syria has discouraged allies, according to several diplomats, who said it has fomented doubt that whatever agreements are struck could be reversed by the president…



Tags: India Lebanon Israel Turkey ISIS

13 November 2019
Greg Kandra




Pope Francis greets a person as he leaves his general audience at the Vatican on 13 November 2019. (photo: CNS/Paul Haring)

Pope denounces violence against Jewish people (CNS) Pope Francis warned that violence against Jewish people, which reached a state of horror during World War II, is on the rise again. During his weekly general audience on 13 November, the pope reflected on the lives of Priscilla and Aquila, a first-century married couple who accompanied St. Paul in his ministry and were among the Jews expelled from Rome by Claudius Caesar…

Soldier kills man in Lebanon protest (AP) A local official for a Lebanese political party was shot dead by soldiers trying to open a road closed by protesters in southern Beirut late Tuesday, the army reported, marking the first death in 27 days of nationwide protests…

Mystery: thousands of birds found dead by India lake (CNN) It’s a mystery that has baffled officials in India. What killed more than 2,000 birds near the country’s largest inland lake? Locals spotted the carcasses on Sunday along the shores of Sambhar Salt Lake in the northwestern state of Rajasthan, Arun Prasad, the state’s Chief Conservator of Forests, told CNN Wednesday...

Ethiopian bishops lead prayers for peace (Vatican News) The annual peace prayers are an annual event promoted by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Ethiopia to pray for peace, for the deceased, their families and all those affected in the conflicts that have taken place in Ethiopia…

Inside the world’s biggest Yazidi temple in Armenia (Al Jazeera) Armenia may be best known for its medieval-era monasteries, crumbling hilltop churches that feature in postcards and travel posters. But as of this fall, the small, landlocked nation of three million has a new religious landmark: the world’s largest Yazidi temple — Quba Mere Diwane…



Tags: India Armenia Jews Persecution Ethiopia’s Catholic Church

12 November 2019
Greg Kandra




An Armenian Catholic priest, the Rev. Hovsep Bedoyan, was killed Monday in northeast Syria. His father was also slain. ISIS has claimed responsibility for the attack. (photo: Vatican Media)

Armenian Catholic priest and his father shot dead in Syria (Vatican News) Gunmen shot dead an Armenian Catholic priest and his father as they were traveling in a car in northeastern Syria. The attack was claimed by the so-called Islamic State group (ISIS). The Rev. Hovsep Bedoyan, the head of the Armenian Catholic community in the the Kurdish-majority city of Qamishli near the border with Turkey, and his father, Abraham Bedoyan, were heading to the province of Deir Al-Zor when they came under attack on Monday 11 November. The two men were reportedly due to oversee the restoration of a church in Deir Al-Zor…

Iraqi cardinal calls for prayer and fasting (Vatican News) The head of the Chaldean Catholic Church in Iraq has called for three days of fasting and prayer for peace in the country. Cardinal Louis Raphael I Sako, the Patriarch of Babylon of the Chaldeans, has invited “all sons and daughters of the Chaldean church to fast and pray from 11 to 13 November. The cardinal’s plea used strong imagery of “weapons of fasting and prayer to call for an end to the chaos and violence that are bloodying the country…”

Lebanon banks close over safety fears (Reuters) Lebanon’s banks and schools were shut on Tuesday in a new wave of disruption amid urgent political efforts to form a new government to steer the country out of its worst economic crisis since the 1975-90 civil war…

Testing times for Ethiopia’s Nobel laureate (Andalou Agency) Even the Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali won the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize, he is facing daunting challenges to maintain peace at home and also to continue bonhomie with neighboring Eritrea. The Norwegian Nobel Committee on 11October, conferred the award on Abiy, citing his “decisive initiative to resolve the border conflict with neighboring Eritrea.” Analysts in Ethiopia believe that of late, bonhomie with Eritrea has slowed down…



Tags: Syria Iraq Ethiopia Armenian Catholic Church

8 November 2019
Greg Kandra




A woman reacts during an anti-government protest in Beirut on 5 November 2019. Hundreds of thousands of Lebanese are hitting the streets across the country to demand an end to rampant corruption and poor public services. (photo: CNS/Andres Martinez Casares, Reuters)

Protestors: Lebanon is ‘a beautiful idea’ in need of a reboot (Reuters) From a narrow angle, Beirut looks a picture of elegance and success, its French boutiques, luxury hotels and imported cars blending into Mediterranean skies. Widen the lens, as three weeks of popular anti-government protests have sought to do, and the view that emerges is of a nation struggling against extreme inequality, failing basic services, high unemployment and hardened frustration…

U.S. envoy says not enough was done to avert Turkish attack on Syria (The New York Times) The top American diplomat on the ground in northern Syria has criticized the Trump administration for not trying harder to prevent Turkey’s military offensive there last month — and said Turkish-backed militia fighters committed ”war crimes and ethnic cleansing…”

Pope urges opportunities for prisoners to reform (Vatican News) Pope Francis is urging for a change in the outlook and approach in treating prisoners who, he said, must be offered equal opportunities for reform, development and reintegration. He made the remark to the participants in the international conference on the theme, “Integral Human Development and Catholic Prison Pastoral Care.” The 7-8 November meeting was organized by the Vatican Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development…

Vatican opens clinic for poor (Vatican News) The Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization releases a press statement ahead of the 3rdWorld Day of the Poor, marked on 17 November. The statement says there will be a temporary walk-in-clinic in St. Peter’s Square, just as there was last year. The clinic aims to offer medical attention to those most in need, offering free medical examinations to the poor…

France reopens contested Jewish tomb in East Jerusalem (AP) French authorities reopened one of Jerusalem’s most magnificent ancient tombs to the public for the first time in over a decade, despite a dispute over access to the archaeological-cum-holy site in the city’s volatile eastern half…



Tags: Pope Francis Lebanon Jerusalem Vatican

7 November 2019
Greg Kandra




A woman shouts during an anti-government protest in Beirut on 5 November 2019. Hundreds of thousands of Lebanese are hitting the streets across the country to demand an end to rampant corruption and poor public services. (photo: CNS/Goran Tomasevic, Reuters)

Lebanese want a changing of the guard (CNS) Hundreds of thousands of Lebanese are hitting the streets across the country to demand an end to rampant corruption and poor public services. Cutting across sectarian lines, they also want the current government of entrenched politicians dating back to Lebanon’s 1975-1990 civil war era to step down. ”There is no trust in the ‘lords of the civil war,’ that’s what we call them. The way they are ruling the country since (dozens) of years, it doesn’t work anymore -- sharing the power on a sectarian basis,” Tarek Serhan, a student at St. Joseph’s University in Beirut, told Catholic News Service…

The catalysts behind the protests in Lebanon (BBC) For weeks, Lebanon has been rocked by anti-government protests, the largest the country has seen in more than a decade. The demonstrations have cut across sectarian lines — a rare phenomenon since the country’s devastating civil war ended — and involved people from all sectors of society…

Caritas Europa: migration can benefit all (Vatican News) Entitled “Common Home: Migration and Development in Europe and Beyond,” Caritas Europa’s just-launched publication highlights the links between migration and development in Europe and in other parts of the world…

Temple devotees ’flex their muscles’ over scarce land in India (UCANews.com) It has unleashed deadly riots and set Hindu against Muslim — now it is for the nation’s top court to end decades of discord and decide who owns the most contested plot in India. At dispute is a scrap of land in Ayodhya, a sleepy temple town in northern India that is a holy site for the nation’s two biggest religions, and emblematic of an increasingly contentious fight over land claimed by temples and other religious entities…

Kerala aims for free internet for every household (LiveMint.com) After 100 percent literacy, Kerala now aims for another milestone -- internet for every household and free internet for every poor household. The state cabinet approved the scheme, one of the flagship projects of the ruling Left Democratic Front (LDF) government in Kerala, late Wednesday…



Tags: India Lebanon Kerala Migrants

6 November 2019
Greg Kandra




Protests continue in Lebanon this week, with some focusing on state institutions. In the video above, protestors explain why they are taking to the streets. (video: France 24/YouTube)

Lebanese protesters seek to shut down key institutions (Al Jazeera) Lebanese demonstrators have begun surrounding government institutions in the capital, Beirut, and other cities, as a mass protest movement demanding an overhaul of the country’s political system approaches its fourth week. The move on Wednesday suggests a shift in the focus of protesters from blocking roads and setting up barricades to holding sit-ins at state-affiliated sites as they seek to maintain pressure on the political establishment until their demands for the departure of the ruling elite and an end to chronic economic mismanagement and corruption are met…

Pope: dialogue begins with empathy (CNS) Christians who preach the Gospel must see people who do not know Christ as children of God and not as nonbelievers worthy of hostility and contempt, Pope Francis said. The example of St. Paul’s mission in Greece and his encounter with the pagan culture there serves as a reminder that Christians should “create a bridge to dialogue” with other cultures, the pope said on 6 November during his weekly general audience…

Israel approves controversial cable car plan for Jerusalem (BBC) A controversial plan to build a cable car network in Jerusalem’s Old City to transport visitors to one of Judaism’s holiest sites has been approved by Israel’s housing cabinet. The cable cars will ferry up to 3,000 people an hour about 1.4km (0.9 miles) from West Jerusalem to the Western Wall in occupied East Jerusalem…

Jordan official: Economy buckling under burden of refugees (The Media Line) Jordan’s economy has been suffering due to the presence of some 1.3 million Syrian refugees who have fled that country’s eight-year civil war, according to an official from the Jordanian Planning Ministry. Issam Al-Majali, spokesperson for the ministry charged with overseeing the refugees, told The Media Line that the influx “caused a huge increase in governmental expenses between the years 2011 and 2018 due to the costs involved in responding to the refugees’ needs…”

Why is India’s pollution much worse than China’s? (BBC) As India’s north continues to struggle with extreme pollution levels, the story has put a fresh spotlight on air quality in cities across Asia. Beijing has long been notorious for its smog — but statistics show that India, Pakistan and Bangladesh have worse air by far…



Tags: Pope Francis Lebanon Jerusalem Jordan

5 November 2019
Greg Kandra




Protests are continuing in parts of Lebanon. The unrest is now having a financial impact, as the central bank asks other banks to raise their capital by up to 20 percent. (video: Al Jazeera/YouTube)

As protests continue, Lebanon’s central bank asks banks to raise capital (Reuters) Lebanon’s central bank has asked banks to raise their capital by up to 20 percent by the end of June 2020, according to a central bank circular seen by Reuters, amid nationwide protests that led the prime minister to resign last week. It also asked banks not to distribute dividends for the 2019 financial year…

‘Defeated’ ISIS finds safe haven in parts of Iraq (NBC News) Just months after the Islamic State militant group lost the last of its territory in Syria, and days after its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, was killed in a U.S.-led raid, the group has found safe haven in a remote, ungoverned space in Iraq, as foreign fighters move across the border from Syria, military officials tell NBC News…

Rising sea levels pose threat to India, but scientist says study is flawed (India Today) This risk for the world is three times higher than the earlier studies’ estimates while Indians would face a seven times higher risk from the rising sea levels than previously believed, a new research shows. But an Indian scientist has challenged their findings and said that the study has flaws…

Russian Orthodox Church criticizes boots carrying cross design (RT) The Russian Orthodox Church is apparently displeased with a boot design deemed sacrilegious due to a cross-like shape on the sole. The scandal is the latest in a seemingly endless list of shoe-related social upheavals. A man in the Siberian city of Barnaul launched a crusade against the offending footwear after his wife spotted them at a department store. Manufactured in China, the artificial leather boots reportedly feature cross-shaped slide-stoppers on their soles…

Photos: world’s largest underground cemetery inaugurated in Jerusalem (Haaretz) A new massive underground burial ground was dedicated on Thursday at Jerusalem’s Har Menuhot cemetery consisting of a number of tunnels that are 1.6 kilometers long (about one mile) and 16 meters (52 feet) high. The tunnels have a total of 24,000 gravesides...



Tags: Iraq Lebanon Jerusalem Russian Orthodox Church ISIS

4 November 2019
Greg Kandra




Pope Francis celebrates Mass in the Catacombs of Priscilla in Rome on 2 November 2019, the feast of All Souls. (photo: CNS/Vatican Media)

Celebrating Mass in catacombs, Pope recalls persecuted Christians (CNS) In what he said was his first visit to the catacombs, Pope Francis celebrated Mass for the feast of All Souls with special words of remembrance for Catholics who still today must worship in secret…

Pope prays for persecuted Orthodox Christians in Ethiopia (CNS) Pope Francis Sunday asked for prayer for persecuted Orthodox Christians in Ethiopia, who have been targeted in ongoing ethnic clashes that have left 78 people dead. ”I am saddened by the violence of which Christians of the Tewahedo Orthodox Church of Ethiopia are victims,” Pope Francis said in his Angelus address on 3 November. ”I express my closeness to this beloved church and her patriarch, dear brother Abune Mathias, and I ask you to pray for all the victims of violence in that land,” he said…

Russian Orthodox churches from Western Europe officially return to Moscow (RT) The Archdiocese of Russian Orthodox churches in Western Europe has officially returned to the Moscow Patriarchate’s domain after defying an order from its rival Constantinople to dissolve. Russia’s Patriarch Kirill presented the unity charter to Archbishop John (Renneteau) during a ceremony at the Cathedral of Christ the Savior, the Moscow’s Patriarchate’s largest church. John, who shall remain in charge of the Western European parishes, was previously given the title ‘Archbishop of Dubna’…

Holy See backs global convention on crimes against humanity (Vatican News) The Holy See is backing the creation of a global convention on crimes against humanity saying that international and domestic instruments are needed to fight the plague. ”It is a matter of great concern for us all that the world continues to be scarred by political, religious and ethnic violence,” Archbishop Bernadito Auza said on Thursday…

Protestors killed outside Iranian consulate in Iraq (Vatican News) Dozens of Iraqi protesters gathered in the Shi’ite holy city of Karbala on Sunday night. They set tires ablaze and attacked Iran’s local consulate. Demonstrators chanted slogans like “Iran out, Kerbala remains free.” Some threw firebombs over the walls, others scaled the concrete barriers, and an attempt was made to take down the Iranian flag flying on the property…

What India looks like when the air turns to poison (The New York Times) Air pollution in India’s capital climbed to poisonous extremes over the weekend and into Monday, blanketing streets in an opaque haze, delaying flights and prompting fights between politicians over who was to blame…



Tags: India Pope Francis Ethiopia Persecution

31 October 2019
Greg Kandra




Demonstrators form a human chain during anti-government protests in Tripoli, Lebanon on 27 October 2019. The 29 October resignation of Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri followed 13 days of massive country-wide demonstrations. (photo: CNS/Omar Ibrahim, Reuters)

Lebanon’s Maronite bishops call for unity (CNS) Lebanon’s Maronite bishops, commending the unity of the Lebanese people amid a peaceful mass uprising demanding a new government, called for a “constructive spirit” following the resignation of the country’s prime minister. ”The Lord is leading the ship of the homeland and we hope that this step will be the beginning of the solution,” Cardinal Bechara Rai, Maronite patriarch, said in response to the resignation of Saad Hariri…

Russia and Hungary to discuss persecuted Christians (Vatican News) Hungary’s state secretary, for the aid of persecuted Christians, Tristan Azbej, is worried. He told Vatican News that Christians are now the most persecuted people in the world. That’s why, he says, Hungary wants to set up an international alliance to help Christian believers and other faith minorities during an upcoming conference next month…

Ethiopia mourns dead after ethnic violence breaks out (VOA) Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed says his country remains united after a week of violent clashes left at least 67 people dead and several religious sites destroyed. Now, he is trying to restore calm…

Cyclone brings heavy rains to Kerala (The Weather Channel) Heavy downpour in Kerala and Lakshadweep is set to continue in full swing on Thursday 31 October, as the depression over the Arabian Sea intensified into a cyclonic storm on Wednesday. The cyclone has been named ‘Maha’…



Tags: India Lebanon Ethiopia





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