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Current Issue
September, 2019
Volume 45, Number 3
  
27 March 2019
Greg Kandra




In this image from August 2018, an aerial view shows a partially submerged road in the Indian state of Kerala. Many in the country want the upcoming election in India to focus on climate change. (photo: CNS/Sivaram V, Reuters)

Following 2018 floods, Kerala residents want climate change to dominate election (NDTV.com) With memories of last year’s devastating floods still fresh in the minds of people of Kerala, they want the issue of climate change to be a dominant theme of the electoral discourse in the run-up to Lok Sabha polls beginning 11 April. A total of 483 people died in the August 2018 floods, which were the state’s worst in a century…

Syria requests urgent UN meeting on Golan Heights (The Jerusalem Post) The Syrian mission to the United Nations is urging the U.N. Security Council to call a meeting regarding President Donald Trump’s decision to sign a proclamation recognizing Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights. A U.N. official toldThe Jerusalem Post he estimated a meeting on this matter would take place in the upcoming weeks…

Voting to go ahead on Holy Thursday in India (UCANews.com) Voters in 13 Indian states will go to polling stations on Maundy Thursday in parliamentary elections after the High Court in Tamil Nadu state dismissed a petition from church officials to reschedule the date. The federal Election Commission has scheduled polling in 97 constituencies of 13 states on 18 April when Christians observe Maundy Thursday this year, starting their Easter Triduum leading to Good Friday and Easter…

Pope’s visit to Morocco shows ’Christians and Muslims are not enemies’ (Crux) Even though Abdellah Redouane has spent the past 20 years of his life as the director of the Islamic Cultural Center of Italy, the Morocco-born man can’t disguise his hope for the upcoming 30-31 March papal visit to his homeland. ”This is not just a regular visit,” Redouane told Crux on Tuesday. “I believe it’s particularly important because 99 percent of the population in Morocco is Muslim. Inviting the pope, who is the leader of the Catholic religion, is something important, and we must thank those who worked to organize this visit…”

Jewish artifacts found in Arab neighborhood of Jerusalem (The Jerusalem Post) 2,000-year-old olive and wine presses, a burial cave and mikvah from the descendants of the Maccabees were found in a south Jerusalem neighborhood…



Tags: Syria India Jerusalem Israel

26 March 2019
Greg Kandra




In this image from 2016, Syrian refugees stand in snow outside their tents in Lebanon's Bekaa Valley. Lebanon's president says many Syrian refugees in his country today may end up migrating to Europe. (CNS photo/Lucie Parsaghian, EPA)

Lebanon president: wave of refugees may soon flood Europe (TASS) The economic situation in Lebanon, which provides shelter for 1.5 million Syrian refugees, may push them toward migration to Europe, Lebanese President Michel Aoun said on Tuesday at a meeting with State Duma Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin…

Kerala bishops will not support any political party in elections (Business Standard) The Kerala Catholic Bishops Conference (KCBC) declared Tuesday that it will not support any political party in the Lok Sabha elections but will be with those who “protect democracy and secularism”. Kerala goes to the polls on 23 April to elect 20 Lok Sabh candidates. A circular issued by KCBC President Archbishop Soosa Pakiam said: “KCBC wishes to make it clear that they will not support any political front or political party or any candidate. We do not wish to interfere in the freedom of our laity…

Russian businesses wary of Syrian reconstruction (Al Monitor) On 24 March, Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Vershinin met in Moscow with Mirjana Spoljaric Egger, the UN Development Program’s director of the regional bureau for Europe, and David Akopyan, the UNDP’s country director in Syria. The Russian Foreign Ministry reported, “UNDP representatives in Syria have informed us about the current state of affairs in Syria’s early reconstruction and about the results achieved in the context of the implementation of projects with Russia’s donor participation aimed at rebuilding residential areas and basic infrastructure in Syria…”

Gaza tense after heavy fire overnight (AP) Israeli aircraft bombed targets across the Gaza Strip and Gaza militants fired rockets into Israel early Tuesday, the second day of cross-border fighting that erupted in the last stretch of a closely contested race for Israeli prime minister between the long-serving incumbent and an ex-army chief…

Jerusalem becomes most accessible ancient city in the world (Israel Today) The Old City of Jerusalem and its walls are a UNESCO World Heritage Site and therefore are subject to special preservation rules designed to present the city and its heritage to its visitors, while developing and upgrading it to the benefit of its residents. The Old City is the most visited place in Israel with about 10 million visitors each year. A new accessibility plan costing over 20 million shekels was recently implemented by the East Jerusalem Development Company, with funding coming from the Ministry of Jerusalem Affairs, the Jerusalem Development Authority, the Ministry of Tourism, the Jerusalem Municipality and the Israel Antiquities Authority. It was an innovative and groundbreaking project that now enables the disabled to enjoy the historic and cultural wealth of the city…



Tags: Syria India Lebanon Jerusalem

25 March 2019
Greg Kandra




In this image from August 2018, young Syrian refugees are seen atop a vehicle at a camp in June in the village of Arsal, Lebanon. The head of Caritas Lebanon has expressed concern that Syrian refugees will end up forgotten and abandoned by the world community.
(photo: CNS/Nabil Mounzer, EPA)


Caritas leader expresses concern that Syrian refugees will become forgotten (AsiaNews) The “risk” is that Syrian refugees “will become like Palestinians, abandoned for decades” on Lebanese territory. This “is the great fear” of the majority of the citizens of the land of the Cedars, who “are close to those who need” but, at the same time, “cannot solve all of the problems and are themselves experiencing great suffering,” says the Rev. Paul Karam, president of Caritas Lebanon…

Bishop criticizes Catholics who spread fear of Muslims (CNS) An Irish bishop has criticized Catholics who identify as “faith-filled” while spreading fear and mistrust of immigrants, particularly those who are Muslims. Bishop Kevin Doran of Elphin, chairman of the Council for Life of the Irish bishops’ conference, told The Irish Catholic newspaper: “I’ve found that people who would classify themselves in some cases as traditional Catholics and faith-filled people seem to, in relation to migration and care of asylum-seekers and stuff, they’ll say ‘oh well these Muslims are putting our civilization at risk and they pose a threat to us…’”

Iraq ferry accident sets off political upheaval (The New York Times) In a rare show of deference to the anger of Mosul citizens over government abuses, the Iraqi Parliament on Sunday voted overwhelmingly to remove the province’s governor, citing accusations of corruption, self-dealing and negligence. Although Mosul citizens had pleaded with the central government to remove the governor for more than two years, it was only after a ferry disaster brought angry citizens into the street that senior political figures decided to act…

Nuns, priests in India concerned over income tax order (UCANews.com) Church people in India’s Tamil Nadu state are seeking legal ways to counter a High Court order that asked priests and nuns to pay income tax if they draw a salary from state-funded educational institutions. The 20 March order in the southern state ended a long-time practice that exempted Catholic priests, brothers and nuns from paying tax on their salaries on grounds that they donate their salaries to religious homes or dioceses engaged in social services…

East Jerusalem neighborhood targeted in apparent hate crime (The Jerusalem Post) Police opened a probe into a suspected hate crime targeting a Palestinian section in a predominantly Jewish neighborhood of East Jerusalem, where residents woke up Monday to discover over 25 vehicles vandalized. On a number of the cars in the French Hill neighborhood, red Stars of David were graffitied and on an adjacent wall the Hebrew phrase, “Jews wake up, Jewish blood is not cheap.” Tires were also slashed on several vehicles…



Tags: Syria Lebanon Refugees Muslim

22 March 2019
Greg Kandra




President Trump's tweet calling to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights has sparked widespread condemnation. (video: DW News/YouTube)

Trump’s Golan tweet inflames tensions (The Washington Post) Syria and its Russian and Iranian allies slammed President Trump’s call to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights on Friday, inflaming regional tensions at a time when the Trump administration is seeking to curtail Iran’s expanding influence. A statement by Syria’s Foreign Ministry said the move would increase Syria’s determination to recover the territory occupied by Israel “by all available means,” and Russia and Iran both said it violated international law. Turkey, a U.S. ally, said it risked creating a new Middle East crisis…

Pope releases message for World Water Day (Vatican News) World Water Day is commemorated annually on 22 March as a way of concentrating efforts to resolve the water crisis that afflicts people, often the poorest, around the world. Pope Francis marked the Day on Friday with a message to the Director General of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, José Graziano da Silva. “Water is an essential asset for the equilibrium of ecosystems and human survival, and it must be managed and cared for so that it is not polluted or lost,” he said…

Women in Iraq push to criminalize domestic violence (Al Jazeera) Domestic violence has been on the rise in Iraq, with women’s groups blaming instability and the break down of law and order. However, there has been a growing awareness of the issue at the highest levels of government and the women’s rights groups are hopeful that the legislature will finally pass a law criminalizing what they see as a “national crisis”…

Leaders in India target politicians who exploit religious differences for votes (UCANews.com) Groups of Indians including Christians are on a campaign to popularize a “manifesto against hate” aiming to block political efforts to garner votes by dividing citizens on religious lines though hate speeches. Indians are set to elect members to their 543-seat national parliament in a seven-phase election from 11 April 11 to 19 May. The world’s largest democratic exercise has almost 900 million eligible voters, an estimated 80 percent of them Hindus…



Tags: Syria India Pope Francis Israel

21 March 2019
J.D. Conor Mauro




A young Syrian refugee holds a watermelon at his shop in the Zaatari refugee camp near Mafraq, Jordan, on 22 June 2018. (photo CNS/Muhammad Hamed, Reuters)

Caritas Lebanon: As with Palestinians, Syrian refugees forgotten by the international community (AsiaNews) The Rev. Paul Karam, president of Caritas Lebanon, says there is a risk that Syrian refugees “will become like Palestinians, abandoned for decades” on Lebanese territory…

Trump: Time to recognize Golan Heights as Israeli territory (BBC) President Donald Trump says it is time the U.S. recognizes Israel’s sovereignty over the occupied Golan Heights, which it captured from Syria in 1967. Israel applied its administration and law to the Golan in 1981, but other governments did not recognize the act. Syria has consistently sought to regain sovereignty over the region…

Aoun: Lebanon wants to be part of Syria reconstruction (Daily Star Lebanon) Lebanese President Michel Aoun said Thursday that his country wishes to be part of the reconstruction of Syria, emphasizing that ties between the two countries were never formally severed…

Ahead of Romania trip, pope recognizes seven martyrs of communist era (Crux) On Tuesday, ahead of a late May/early June trip by Pope Francis to Romania, Greek Catholic Bishop Vasile Aftenie and six of his fellow bishops who died under the Romanian communists have been officially recognized as “martyrs” by the pontiff…

Iraqi museum unveils 100 looted artifacts (AINA) Over 2,000 artifacts, including about 100 that were looted from Iraq and found abroad, were unveiled Tuesday in a museum in the Basra province on the southern tip of Iraq, authorities said…

Holy island feast helps Sri Lankans, Indians bury the hate (UCAN India) Over 6,500 Sri Lankans and 2,100 Indians came together to celebrate the feast of St. Anthony, the patron saint of seafarers, on Kachchathivu Island from 15-16 March, with many Sri Lankans using the occasion to pray for national reconciliation. This uninhabited, Sri Lanka-owned isle hosts the pilgrimage every year, providing a rare window for Sri Lanka’s Tamils and Sinhalese to mingle after years of war. It also brings fisher folk from both nations together to cement their fraternal bonds in the face of adversity…

Scores dead as ferry sinks in Tigris River near Mosul (Al Jazeera) Scores of people have died after a ferry carrying families celebrating the Nowruz holiday capsized in the Tigris River near the Iraqi city of Mosul, according to officials. Major General Saad Maan, a spokesman for the interior ministry, said at least 71 people were killed in Thursday’s accident. A separate source told Reuters news agency that 72 were confirmed dead. Another 55 people, including 19 children, were rescued…



Tags: Syria India Iraq Romania

20 March 2019
Greg Kandra




In this image from 2018, migrants are seen before disembarking from a dinghy at Del Canuelo in southern Spain. By mid-2018 the number of migrants arriving in Spain, usually from Morocco, had surpassed the number arriving in Italy. Pope Francis is planning to draw attention to the plight of migrants during his upcoming visit to Morocco. (photo:CNS/Reuters)

Pope’s trip to Morocco to highlight migrants, relations with Muslims (CNS) Pope Francis wanted to go to Morocco to draw attention to the need for international cooperation in assisting migrants and in alleviating the situations that force people to seek a better life outside their homeland. His meeting 30 March with migrants at the Rabat archdiocesan Caritas center also will highlight the very practical form Catholic-Muslim relations take in the country of more than 35 million people, almost all of whom are Muslim…

Bishops see Indian vote as minorities’ big chance (UCANews.com) Christian leaders and activists are rooting for minority groups, whose rights have long been overlooked in India, as the country prepares for six weeks of polls in the world’s biggest democracy. ”The coming elections are going to be very important for the country’s overall future, and especially for minority groups,” said Bishop Theodore Mascarenhas, a spokesperson for Indian bishops…

Ethiopian Jews call Netanyahu racist (Andalou Agency) Andualem Wugu, manager of the Ethiopian Jewish community in Addis Ababa told Anadolu Agency that members of the community had been regularly praying for God’s help to immigrate to Israel for over two decades. ”In our beliefs, the more we beg God for help the more he listens and responds” he noted, adding: “We are sure, God will not sit idly by while the racist Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu keeps us languishing here…’’

Armenian Christians in Turkey mourn patriarch (Euronews.com) Mourners gathered at the Armenian Patriarchate in Istanbul on Sunday for the funeral of their spiritual leader, Mesrob Mutafyan. Patriarch Mesrob, who was 62, had been incapacitated with early onset dementia since 2008. Archbishop Aram Artesyan took over as acting patriarch for Turkey’s Armenian community, which numbers some 70,000 people…

Arabs are humans, too: a Jerusalem doctor’s video goes viral (The Jerusalem Post) When Dr. Nadav Granat read the Instagram post of Israeli model Rotem Sela in which she reminded the country that “Arabs are also human beings,” he decided he wanted to take action, too. As a religious Jewish doctor who works alongside Arabs every day, he launched his own online campaign to show the inclusive face of Israel. The campaign has gone viral...



Tags: Refugees Armenia Muslim Migrants Ethiopian Jews

19 March 2019
Greg Kandra




The battle to clear ISIS from Syria has entered a final critical phase, after weeks of intense fighting. (video: CBS News/YouTube)

ISIS camp captured (NPR) The U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces are now in control of an ISIS encampment in Baghouz, after weeks of operations and attacks on the village. But isolated gun battles are continuing in the area, seen as ISIS’s last remaining redoubt. ”This is not a victory announcement, but a significant progress in the fight against Daesh,” said Mustafa Bali, the head of the SDF press office. In a tweet, he added, “Clashes are continuing as a group of ISIS terrorists who are confined into a tiny area still fight back…”

Hundreds of parishes join new Orthodox Church of Ukraine (UNIAN.info) Over 500 parishes have already taken the decision to move from the Russian Orthodox Church in Ukraine, formerly known as the Moscow Patriarchate, to the newly formed Orthodox Church of Ukraine. Volyn region remains Ukraine’s transition leader with a number of parishes that have switched to the OCU having already exceeded a hundred. The total number of registered religious communities of the former Moscow Patriarchate in the said region is one of the largest in Ukraine — more than 600, according to the Dukhovniy [Religious] Front online outlet…

New Zealand attack hits close to home for Canadian bishops (Canadian Catholic News) The horrific murder of 50 Muslims at prayer at two New Zealand mosques on 15 March hit close to home because of a similar attack in 2017 on Muslims at prayer at a Quebec City mosque…

Farmers concerned about crops, lives near border with Pakistan (UCANews.com) With the harvest season a month away, farmers near the India-Pakistan border are praying the nuclear-armed neighbors end their skirmishes over the disputed state of Kashmir without destroying their crops, their livelihoods, and their very lives. Last month, when fighter planes from both sides began hovering over Vijay Kumar’s single-story mud house, his biggest concern was the Basmati rice crop on his two-acre plot in the Ranbir Singh Pura area of the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir…



Tags: Syria Ukraine Muslim ISIS Orthodox

18 March 2019
Greg Kandra




Clergy gather for a Requiem Mass in Addis Ababa to pray for the victims of the Boeing 737 crash. (photo: Vatican Media)

Ethiopians offer Mass for crash victims (Vatican News) The Boeing 737 Max 8 plane bound for Nairobi, Kenya went down last Sunday morning near Bishoftu, southeast of Addis Ababa, killing all passengers and crew. Thursday’s Requiem Mass was held at the Holy Savior Parish in Addis Ababa and was organized by the Ethiopian Catholic Church and the international Catholic community in Addis Ababa…

Pope appeals for prayer and peace after New Zealand attacks (Vatican News) The Pope’s thoughts during the Angelus on Sunday were with the people of New Zealand following the horrific attacks that took place there during the week. Speaking to the faithful in St Peter’s Square the Pope said, “In these days, in addition to the pain of wars and conflicts that do not cease to afflict humanity, there have been the victims of the horrible attack against two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand. I pray for the dead and injured and their families. I am close to our Muslim brothers and all that community. I renew my invitation for prayer and gestures of peace to combat hatred and violence…”

Syrian refugees who fled to Turkey face backlash (NBC News) In the conservative Fatih neighborhood where many refugees have settled, the streets are lined with stores selling Syrian perfume, jewelry, food and spices. The Arabic writing on signs normally signal that the owners are Syrian, and that you are in an area unlike most of Turkey, which uses the Latin alphabet. These signs are becoming increasingly common, to the unease of many…

Indian bishops seek to postpone voting on Holy Thursday (UCANews.com) Catholic bishops have urged authorities to change the 18 April date for parliamentary elections in India’s Karnataka and Tamil Nadu states as Holy Thursday falls on that day. The federal Election Commission has announced a seven-phase schedule for national elections running from 11 April to 19 May. While all 39 parliamentary constituencies of Tamil Nadu are scheduled to go to the polls on 18 April, voting in Karnataka is set for 18 and 23 April. The poll date falls in Holy Week and is one of the holiest and important days for Catholics as well as the Christian community, Archbishop Antony Pappusamy of Madurai, president of Tamil Nadu Bishops’ Council, told ucanews.com…

Report: Military leaders to have rare meeting in Damascus (Reuters) The military chiefs of staff of Syria, Iran and Iraq will hold a rare meeting in Damascus to discuss “ways to combat terrorism”, the pro-Syrian government al-Watan daily reported on Monday…



Tags: Syria India Ethiopia Turkey Muslim

15 March 2019
Greg Kandra




An injured man is loaded into an ambulance following a shooting at the Al Noor Mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand, 15 March 2019. New Zealand's Catholic bishops expressed their horror and distress at terrorist attacks on two mosques in Christchurch; at least 49 were people killed. (photo: CNS/Martin Hunter, Reuters)

New Zealand’s bishops tell Muslims ’We hold you in prayer’ after attack (CNS) New Zealand’s Catholic bishops have expressed their horror and distress at a terrorist attack in two mosques in Christchurch which saw at least 49 people killed. The shootings took place at or near the Al Noor Mosque, where 41 people were killed, and at the Linwood Mosque, where 7 were killed. One more person subsequently died at Christchurch Hospital. Muslims had gathered at the mosques for Friday prayers. Some of those killed were children, it has been reported…

Pope sends condolences to victims of New Zealand attack (Vatican News) His Holiness Pope Francis was deeply saddened to learn of the injury and loss of life caused by the senseless acts of violence at two Mosques in Christchurch, and he assures all New Zealanders, and in particular the Muslim community, of his heartfelt solidarity in the wake of these attacks…

Report: Kerala has more than 20,000 mothers under the age of 19 (India Today) Kerala, known for its high literacy rate, also has a large number of mothers aged below 19 years: 22,552. The shocking statistics reveal the prevalence of child marriage in the state…

Archbishop of Erbil: Iraq’s Christians need to thrive, not just survive (Rudaw.net) Speaking to Rudaw on Wednesday at the Cathedral of Mar Yousif, Ankawa, Archbishop Warda explained how the church has supported families like those living above Neshtiman Bazaar and what donors can do to help rehouse them…

Eight years of war in Syria (Vatican News) Eight years of war in Syria have led millions of Syrians into hunger and poverty. War has displaced and forced them to find shelter where possible. Many are now trying to return to their homes but find their homes uninhabitable…



Tags: Syria India Iraqi Christians Kerala Muslim

14 March 2019
Greg Kandra




In this image from 2018, An Indian farmer sits on a dry field outside Chhatarpur. The Catholic Church agency Caritas has launched a campaign against malnutrition for Lent.
(photo: CNS/Harish Tyagi, EPA)


Caritas India launches campaign against malnutrition (Vatican News) Caritas India, the charitable arm of the Catholic Church of India, has launched a Lenten campaign against hunger by creating an awareness among people regarding solidarity, food security, medical care and a dignified life for all citizens. The theme of the Lenten campaign 2019, launched last month, is, “Nutrition: our right.” It aims at fighting the scourge of malnutrition, which it regards as a “painful and shameful for humanity”…

New Ukraine church endures inter-Orthodox feud, but offers Catholics hope (NCR) With Russian Orthodox leaders rejecting the new church and cold-shouldering the ecumenical patriarchate for approving its creation, the feud looks set to continue and intensify in the run-up to Ukraine’s crucial presidential elections on 31 March. Yet Catholics in Ukraine and Eastern Europe remain optimistic that the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, once up and running, could herald a turn for the better in ecumenical relations…

Deadly plane crash a setback for Ethiopia’s rise (AP) The crown jewel in Ethiopia’s transformation to a continental power in recent years has been its state-owned airline that calls itself “the new spirit of Africa.” Sunday’s crash of an Ethiopian Airlines jet that killed 157 people has set back those grand designs that were undertaken by a reformist new leader who has vowed to hold free and fair elections next year. Now, Africa is mourning not only the victims of the aviation disaster but also a symbol of the continent’s rise…

World ‘affirms commitment’ to Lebanon on refugees (The Daily Star) The international community voiced its commitment to helping Lebanon cope with the Syrian refugee crisis during a conference in Brussels, a member of the Lebanese delegation to the conference told The Daily Star. ”Everybody is still committed to helping Lebanon cope with the crisis through all programs that support Syrian refugees,” Social Affairs Minister Richard Kouyoumjian said over the phone from the Brussels conference, being held to discuss the future of Syria and the region…



Tags: India Lebanon Ukraine Russian Orthodox Church





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