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Current Issue
July, 2019
Volume 45, Number 2
  
16 April 2019
Greg Kandra




Smoke rises around the altar inside Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris as a fire continues to smolder early on 16 April 2019. Officials said the cause was not clear, but that the fire could be linked to renovation work. Pope Francis expressed his solidarity with the people of France.
(photo: CNS/Philippe Wojazer, Reuters)


Pope offers words of solidarity after Notre Dame fire (Vatican News) “Following the fire that ravaged a large part of Notre Dame Cathedral, I join you in your sorrow, as well as that of the faithful of your diocese, the inhabitants of Paris, and all the French people.” Pope Francis sent those words of solidarity to Archbishop Michel Aupetit of Paris on Tuesday. He assured all the people of France of his spiritual closeness and prayers during Holy Week, as the Church recalls Jesus’ passion, death, and resurrection…

Russian Orthodox: Notre Dame blaze is a tragedy for all Christians (RT) The massive fire that had erupted at the iconic Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris is a great tragedy for all Christians and those who value the cultural meaning of the ancient building, the Russian Orthodox Church has said...

Court reinstates Good Friday holiday in part of India (CNS) The Mumbai high court reinstated Good Friday as a holiday after it had been removed from the list of government-approved holidays in an area in western India ruled by the federal government led by the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party. ”We are very happy to inform you that we have won the Good Friday battle in the Mumbai high court,” Auxiliary Bishop Theodore Mascarenhas of Ranchi, secretary general of the Indian Catholic bishops’ conference, said in a statement after the court’s 15 April ruling…

Indian state government to reopen church (UCANews.com) The High Court in India’s Uttar Pradesh state has directed its pro-Hindu party-led government to reopen a church that was closed seven months ago by state officials. Allahabad High Court on 12April ordered the state to reopen the church in Siddharth Nagar district and provide protection to Pastor Satyen Biswakarma and his community in conducting prayers. The church has been closed since last September after some people claiming to be working for government intelligence services barged into the church and recorded a prayer service…

Police to deploy thousands of officers in Jerusalem for Passover (The Jerusalem Post) More than 3,000 police officers will be deployed across the country, with a focus on Jerusalem, in preparation for and during the Passover holiday, which begins Friday at sundown. Superintendent Micky Rosenfeld, Israel Police foreign press spokesman, told The Jerusalem Post that tens of thousands of people are expect to ascend to Jerusalem for the first day of the holiday, as well as more than 100,000 on the second day for the Priestly Blessing prayer service, which will be held at the Western Wall…



Tags: India Pope Francis Jerusalem Russian Orthodox

15 April 2019
Greg Kandra




The video above shows how Aleppo is slowly coming back to life after years of war. But challenges continue. Just yesterday, rocket attacks on the city killed at least 11 people.
(video: France 24/YouTube)


Rocket attacks kill at least 11 in Aleppo (Al Jazeera) The death toll from rockets fired in the government-held northern city of Aleppo in Syria has risen to at least 11 people, state-run news agency Sana reported on Monday. According to an unnamed police source quoted by Sana, “terrorist groups,” the term used for armed groups in the nearby rebel-held northwestern province of Idlib, launched the attack on Sunday night…

Thousands of pilgrims mark Palm Sunday in Jerusalem (Haaretz) Thousands of Christian pilgrims took part in Palm Sunday celebrations in Jerusalem at the start of the Holy Week. Worshipers carried palm fronds and olive branches and marched from the top of the Mount of Olives to the Old City of Jerusalem. Israeli police say an estimated 15,000 people took part in the procession…

Report predicts long period of one-party dominance in India (UCANews.com) A report prepared for the United States Congress has stated that India’s unfolding national elections could give rise to a long period of dominance by the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. ”Perhaps more crucially, the election pits an unabashedly Hindu nationalist prime minister and ruling party against an array of more secular-minded parties, some focused on the interests of India’s large lower-caste and Muslim minorities,” said the report…

Israeli firefighters battling forest fire in Ethiopia (AfricaNews.com) Israeli firefighters are the latest addition to a growing list of experts in Ethiopia to help authorities deal with a rampaging forest fire that has hit the Semien National Park in the northern Amhara region. Fire have been raging in parts of the historic national park for the past few months but it wasn’t until last week that external intervention was sought for to combat the crisis…



Tags: Syria India Ethiopia Jerusalem

12 April 2019
Greg Kandra




People walk near damaged vehicles after flooding in Shiraz, Iran. Pope Francis has sent a donation to assist tens of thousands of Iranians who lost their homes and businesses in waves of severe flooding that began in mid-March. (photo: CNS photo/Tasnim News Agency via Reuters)

Pope sends aid to flood victims in Iran (CNS) Pope Francis has sent a large donation to assist tens of thousands of Iranians who lost their homes and businesses in waves of severe flooding that began in mid-March. The Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development said Pope Francis was sending 100,000 euros (US$113,000), which will be distributed with the help of the Vatican nunciature in Tehran…

What to look for in India’s election (The Washington Post) India’s national elections kicked off on 11 April — 900 million voters in the largest election in history are eligible to vote in polls that span the next six weeks. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, leader of the right-wing, Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the current coalition government, appears the likely winner, according to the polls, though several outcomes remain possible. BJP will have to duplicate its highly efficient geographic concentration of votes in northern India, or succeed in their eastward push.

Caritas aims to ease India’s hunger pangs (UCANews.com) A Lent campaign spearheaded by Caritas India is fighting chronic malnutrition in the country. The Catholic charity launched its nationwide campaign for this year’s Lent, a seven-week period culminating in Easter Sunday on 21 April, with the theme “Nutrition our right — Unite for a healthy India.” ”It is an effort of solidarity during the Lenten season that the Church reaches out to those on the fringes,” especially children of the socially poor Dalit, tribal and marginalized people, said Father Jolly Puthenpura, assistant executive director of Caritas India…

Ethiopian farmers struggle to make a living in warming highlands (Reuters) At an elevation of 4,000 meters (13,120 ft), the Choke Mountain range has a tropical alpine ecosystem and is home to more than 150,000 people living in six districts. Farmers and herders know their land and water sources are under pressure but have no other options for survival apart from growing crops and breeding animals. They worry the government will close off the areas they now use in an attempt to restore the local environment…

Refugees in Jordan are buying groceries with eyescans (EuroNews) Across Syrian refugee camps in Jordan, technology is helping the United Nations cut costs and combat corruption. Biometric iris scanners positioned at supermarket checkout counters allow refugees to purchase food without exchanging cash…



Tags: Syria India Ethiopia Iran

11 April 2019
Greg Kandra




Voters lined up at the polls on Thursday as India began the first phase of its polling process.
(video: Hindustan Times/YouTube)


Polls open in India (CBS News) Voting began Thursday in India, the world’s biggest democracy, to pick the next central government. The world’s second most populous nation is a key economic and security ally of the U.S., and the outcome of the elections will have a major impact on stability in the region, and possibly on New Delhi’s ties with Washington…

Russia, Turkey, Iran call for Syrian territorial integrity (Haaretz) Lawmakers from Russia, Iran and Turkey are calling for Syria’s territorial integrity to be preserved as remarks from Israel and the United States have renewed long-standing land disputes and after U.S. President Donald Trump had recognized Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights…

Kerala floods to be featured in World Reconstruction Conference in Geneva (The Hindu) The devastating 2018 floods and the rebuilding measures launched by Kerala in the grim aftermath will feature in the fourth World Reconstruction Conference (WRC) to be held in Geneva, Switzerland, next month…

Retired pope publishes reflection on abuse crisis (CNS) Retired Pope Benedict XVI, acknowledging his role in helping the Catholic Church come to terms with the clerical sexual abuse crisis beginning in the 1980s, wrote an article outlining his thoughts about what must be done now…



Tags: Syria India Pope Benedict XVI Kerala

10 April 2019
Greg Kandra




Israel’s Prime Miniater Benjamin Netanyahu appears headed to a record fifth term after yesterday's election. (video: CBS News/YouTube)

Netanyahu on cusp of victory (CNN) Benjamin Netanyahu appeared to be on the cusp of securing a record fifth term as Israeli Prime Minister Wednesday after a dramatic finish to a closely fought election race. Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud party appeared neck-and-neck with the centrist Blue and White party led by his former chief of staff Benny Gantz. With Israeli media reporting more than 97 percent of the vote counted, both sides were projected to win 35 seats each…

Bomb kills eight in Syrian city of Raqqa (Reuters) A bomb attack in the Syrian city of Raqqa killed at least eight people on Tuesday, including four fighters of the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, a security source in northern Syria said. The blast also killed four civilians and wounded three members of the Kurdish-led internal security forces known as the Asayish, the source said…

Syrian refugees in Egypt struggle to live amid economic hardship (Reuters) Tough economic reforms and rising costs have hit refugees and migrants in Egypt particularly hard, aid groups say. More than 77 percent of Syrian families in Egypt were in debt in 2017, up from 73 percent the year before, according to unpublished data seen by Reuters from a UNHCR survey of more than 100,000 Syrians. Nearly 93 percent of families were unable to repay the loans, up from 81 percent in 2016, the year Egypt devalued its currency as part of an IMF loan deal...

Indian Catholics complain to papal nuncio, accuse bishop of selling land (UCANews.com) A group of Catholics in a southern Indian diocese have accused their bishop and a priest of selling off prime church property, causing massive financial loss, but the bishop dismissed the claim as an attempt to tarnish him. Bishop Anthony Swamy Thomasappa of Chikmagalur and his former vicar general, the Rev. Shantha Raj, teamed up to take ownership of two plots of land worth 180 million rupees (US$2.4 million) at a cheaper value, lay leaders told media on 6 April...



Tags: Syria India Egypt Israel Indian Bishops

9 April 2019
Greg Kandra




A destroyed statue of St. Theresa stands in the compound of the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary convent in Tamil Nadu after it was attacked by a mob on 26 March. (photo: UCANews.com)

Police protect Indian convent following mob attacks (UCANews.com) Police are protecting a Catholic convent and a school two weeks after mobs attacked and injured several people, including four nuns, in southern India’s Tamil Nadu state. Indian bishops on 6 April appealed to political leaders in New Delhi and Tamil Nadu “to deal sternly” with criminals who attacked the convent of the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary and its Little Flower Higher Secondary School in Chinnasalem town on 25-26 March…

Russia, Turkey reach deal for joint patrols in Syria (Al Jazeera) Russia and Turkey are ready to start joint patrols to secure the last rebel stronghold in Syria. The deal for Idlib province was announced in Moscow during a visit by Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan…

Netanyahu rallies the right ahead of election (The Guardian) Benjamin Netanyahu has warned Israeli voters his rightwing party, Likud, is in danger of losing its decade-long run in power, in a last-ditch effort to get supporters out to vote on the eve of elections on Tuesday…

Ukraine: the forgotten war (Al Jazeera) The tension between the Ukrainian army and the pro-Russian separatists of the Donetsk People’s Republic and Luhansk People’s Republic, which declared independence in 2014 with military support from Moscow, shows no sign of abating. Despite the Minsk ceasefire agreement, conflict continues to affect everyday life; the hiss of bullets flying overhead and the crack of far-off sniper fire are familiar sounds…

The paradox of India’s most religiously diverse state (The Ground Truth Project/WGBH) Residents of Kochi, a coastal city in the southwestern state of Kerala, call it paradise. From its leftist government to its laid-back vibe, blue-chip schools, spas and wellness centers, the city is home to some 700,000 people with another 1.6 million in the greater metropolitan area. But like Kerala, which bills itself as “God’s Own Country,” Kochi is a place of paradox…

Gaza zoo animals relocated to Jordan (BBC) More than 40 animals have been moved out of “terrible conditions” in a Gaza Strip zoo to a reserve in Jordan, a welfare group has announced. Four Paws say the 47 animals, including lions, monkeys, peacocks and porcupines, have been taken from Rafah Zoo near the border with Egypt...



Tags: Syria India Ukraine Gaza Strip/West Bank

8 April 2019
Greg Kandra




Meetings are taking place to discuss the fate of displaced Syrians trapped in a remote camp. The U.S. is urging Russia and Syria to deliver humanitarian aid to the camp. (video: Al Jazeera/YouTube)

U.S. urges Russia, Syria to facilitate aid to remote camp (AP) The U.S. military says it is not preventing Syrians from leaving a remote displacement camp near an American base in Syria and is urging Russia and Damascus to help facilitate the delivery of humanitarian aid…

Report: Trump plan would grant Jordanian citizenship to Palestinian refugees (The Jerusalem Post) President Donald Trump will push for Jordan to grant citizenship to one million Palestinian refugees as part of his “Deal of the Century,” according to the Lebanese newspaper Al Akhbar. Trump will also ask Egypt to grant citizenship to Palestinian refugees. Granting Palestinians refugees citizenship status from other countries may be a way for Trump to avoid establishing a Palestinian state. The report hints that a confederation of three states may be an option, where there would be a joint government between Israel, Jordan, and the Palestinian Authority for specific and limited purposes…

Indian Christians look to Supreme Court for religious freedom (UCANews.com) Christian leaders and activists in India are pinning hopes on the Supreme Court to set aside guidelines made by a state court on individuals changing religion. India’s top court on 5 April postponed hearing a petition of Christian leaders that challenged the guidelines of Rajasthan high court, saying the directions violate religious freedom guaranteed in the constitution. The court postponed the hearing after the federal government said it needed more time to offer a response to the petition…

Some Russian Orthodox rebel against the digital revolution (AsiaNews) Since 3 April, the Russians have seen their pension card replaced by a personalized PIN number, needed to access electronic services. A part of the Orthodox faithful has rebelled against this measure, which in their opinion expresses the imminent advent of the apocalyptic times. The new law introduces the new rules for the use of state services, which provides a personalized PIN to access public administration. This is a simplification of procedures, part of the “digital revolution” announced by Putin after last year’s election for his fourth presidential term. The most observant Orthodox, who for some time have been protesting against the use of “satanic figures,” such as the tax code, speak of the imposition of the “electronic lager”…

Coffee award ’Cup of Excellence’ to be held in Ethiopia for the first time (Global Coffee Report) The Cup of Excellence (COE) will be held in Ethiopia for the first time in March 2020. The event is made possible through an ongoing partnership between the Alliance for Coffee Excellence, the Ethiopia Coffee and Tea Authority, United States Agency for International Development, and Feed the Future Ethiopia Value Chain (FTFE-VCA). ”The competition finally came home, where the best natural coffee is produced,” says producer Zenabu Alem. “I look forward to entering my coffee in the competition…”



Tags: Syria India Jordan Russian Orthodox

5 April 2019
Greg Kandra




Retired Archbishop Vincent Concessao of Delhi blesses the body of Salesian Father Antony Thaiparambil at his funeral. Father Thaiparambil rescued about 80,000 homeless children from the streets of India. (photo: Bijay Kumar Minj/UCANews.com)

Former street children in India mourn their ‘father(UCANews.com) Bimal Das is no more a street child, nor is he Christian. But the 30-year-old stood inside a New Delhi church and wept as he joined funeral prayers for Salesian Father Antony Thaiparambil. Das flew in from Kolkata to attend the funeral of Father Thaiparambil, who rescued him from a street in the eastern Indian city when he was barely six years old. ”I have not seen God, nor have I seen my parents. But if God is there, I am sure he looks like this man,” he said after the ceremony. The 84-year-old priest died in New Delhi of an age-related illness on 19 March. About 500 people including former street children attended his funeral officiated by Archbishop Anil Couto of Delhi and retired Archbishop Vincent Cocessao of Delhi…

New schools and clinics for religious minorities targeted by ISIS (The Washington Post) For Iraq’s non-Muslim minorities, in particular Christians whose communities are the Trump administration’s top priority, the protracted pace of reconstruction could push them past a tipping point. Already, barely one-seventh of Iraq’s Christian population before the war remains in the country….

Syria’s refugees begin journey home (Foreign Policy) The families had made their way here from Jordan’s capital city, Amman, and from the Zaatari and Azraq refugee camps, where they’ve lived since the conflict in Syria sent them running for their lives. They are the lucky ones—survivors of a war that has killed over half a million people and, as of 15 March, has raged for eight terrible years…

Islamic banking in Ethiopia offers Muslim inclusion (Reuters) Ethiopia’s measured embrace of Islamic banking is offering entrepreneurial-minded Muslims a gateway to financial inclusion. Unlike conventional finance, sharia-compliant financial institutions do not charge interest on loans. Instead, they share in any potential profits or losses of the businesses they underwrite…

Pope asks anti-trafficking nun to write Way of the Cross (CNS) Pope Francis has asked an Italian nun, who has been on the frontlines in the fight against human trafficking, to write this year’s Way of the Cross meditations. Consolata Sister Eugenia Bonetti, 80, will prepare the texts for the evening service 19 April, Good Friday, at Rome’s Colosseum, Alessandro Gisotti, interim director of the Vatican press office, said…

Survival tales from the Kerala flood on fabric (The Hindu) One after another, saris with coloured borders lined with kasavu, replete with embroidered lilies and lotuses, are being unfurled at Tvam design studio. Woven in Chendamangalam, a small taluk in Paravoor, Ernakulam which was severely affected by the floods, these saris are cultural markers and tells the story of survival…



Tags: Syria India Ethiopia Kerala Muslim

4 April 2019
Greg Kandra




The Vatican’s Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, on Wednesday declared that the Holy See remains greatly concerned over violations of religious freedom around the world.
(video: Rome Reports/YouTube)


Cardinal: Religious freedom continues to be violated around the world (Vatican News) The Holy See has expressed great concern over the continuing deterioration of the right to religious freedom around the world and urged for offsetting the trend especially by raising public awareness regarding the grave violations of the fundamental right. ”Despite so many efforts to promote and reinforce the fundamental human right of religious freedom, we are actually witnessing a continued deterioration, we might even say an assault, of this inalienable right in many parts of the world,” said Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin on Wednesday…

ISIS is alive and well in southern Syria (Foreign Policy) The world has been celebrating the Islamic State’s defeat since the final battle of Baghouz on 23 March. In February, President Donald Trump celebrated the United States’ alleged victory claiming that the group had been “100 percent” defeated. The United States and Britain have meanwhile moved on to debate stripping the citizenship of their nationals who joined the Islamic State. But contrary to Trump’s declaration, the terrorist group has not been vanquished, and it is currently regrouping near my hometown, Suwayda, in southern Syria—an area it has long terrorized while the government of Bashar al-Assad stood by in silent complicity…

Indian Christians see Hindu conspiracy in election move (UCANews.com) Tribal people who have converted to Christianity and Islam should not contest India’s general election in seats earmarked for tribal candidates, according to a traditional tribal group. Central Sarna Samiti, an organization of non-Christian tribal people based in Jharkhand state, petitioned state authorities on 31 March as campaigns continue for the April-May polls…

Egyptian policeman sentenced to death for killing Christians (Reuters) An Egyptian policeman found guilty of killing a Christian man and his son in a case that outraged the minority Coptic community was sentenced to death on Tuesday, judicial sources said…



Tags: Syria India Egypt ISIS Persecution

3 April 2019
Greg Kandra




In this image from 2016, children in Aiga, Ethiopia, enjoy biscuits they received as part of a food program supported by CNEWA. A new report says more than 113 million around the world are in dire need of help because of food crises caused by war, climate change and economic downfall.
(photo: John E. Kozar, CNEWA)


Report: millions could be affected by food crises (Vatican News) In its annual report released on Tuesday, the Global Network against Food Crises warns that war, extreme weather and economic downfall in 2018 have left more than 113 million in dire need of help. The report points to conflict and insecurity as the two main causes of the desperate situation faced by 74 million people, or two-thirds of those affected worldwide in the past year…

In Aleppo, restored Armenian church holds liturgy (AFP) Armenians in Syria’s war-torn Aleppo packed their Forty Martyrs Cathedral Saturday for the first Mass in the centuries-old church since its restoration began more than a year ago. Established in the 14th century, it is among the oldest active Armenian churches in Aleppo, a northern Syrian city battered by four years of fighting between rebels and government forces…

Tribal Christians could hold the key to election in key Indian state (UCANews.com) Tribal leaders in India’s Jharkhand state say their people have emerged from political oblivion to become a decisive force in the upcoming parliamentary election. They plan to use their votes to respond to government policies that hurt them, said Catholic leader Prabhakar Tirkey…

Red Cross: hundreds of unaccompanied children flood Syria camp (Al Jazeera) Hundreds of unaccompanied children are living in a camp in northeast Syria, overwhelmed with people who fled the last battlefields of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS), the head of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has said. The children are living without their parents at the al-Hol camp in the Hasakah province, which houses between 80,000 and 100,000 people…

Erdogen says he wants to revert Hagia Sophia into a mosque (Reuters) Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdogan said on Friday Istanbul’s Hagia Sophia should be re-titled as a mosque instead of a museum after Sunday’s elections, but did not say whether the status of the landmark site would be changed. Hagia Sophia, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, was the foremost cathedral in Christendom for 900 years before becoming one of Islam’s greatest mosques for 500 years until 1935, when it was converted to a museum…



Tags: Syria Turkey Hunger





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