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Current Issue
September, 2019
Volume 45, Number 3
  
26 April 2019
Greg Kandra




Both Christian and Muslim public prayers have been suspended in parts of Sri Lanka, and many Muslims say they fear reprisal attacks, following last weekend's suicide bombings reportedly carried out by a group linked to ISIS. (video: SkyNews/YouTube)

Sri Lanka fears new attacks as weekend prayers begin (CNN) The ongoing hunt for terrorist suspects in Sri Lanka, and fears of reprisal attacks, have cast a shadow over the country still reeling from the devastation of the Easter Sunday bombings. Sri Lankans of different faiths were being urged to pray privately amid fears of further attacks Friday, as the country’s prime minister told CNN that security forces were also working to pick up any terrorist “sleepers” — who could activate to initiate another round of attacks…

Daily life in war-weary Damascus (Bloomberg) The road to Damascus from the Lebanese border leaves nobody in doubt who has won the war that’s cast a dark shadow over the Middle East for eight years. “Welcome to victorious Syria,” a billboard says with a picture of a beaming President Bashar al-Assad superimposed over the country’s red, white and black flag. Instead of a frenzy of reconstruction and the promise of revival, Syrians have found themselves fighting another battle. Weary and traumatized from the violence, they’re focused on trying to survive in a decimated economy that shows no signs of imminent revival and with no peace dividend on the horizon…

New generation of refugees emerging in Jordan camp (Al Jazeera) Zaatari camp in Jordan near the Syrian border is home to almost 80,000 refugees — 40 percent of them aged under 11…

Indian archbishop seeks apology from pro-Hindu politician (UCANews.com) Archbishop Peter Machado of Bangalore has sought an apology from a pro-Hindu politician for describing Christians as dishonest and unpatriotic. Archbishop Machado, who heads the bishops’ council in Karnataka state, said K.S. Eshwarappa, a senior leader of the pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), should publicly apologize for his statement…

Orthodox mark Good Friday (The Times of Israel) Orthodox Christians from around the world marked Good Friday with a procession through Jerusalem’s Old City, retracing the steps Jesus is said to have taken on the way to his death. Thousands of pilgrims, many carrying wooden crosses and at least one wearing a crown of thorns on his head, visited the 14 Stations of the Cross marking the traditional sites of Jesus’s condemnation up to his crucifixion…



Tags: Syria India Muslim Orthodox Damascus

25 April 2019
Greg Kandra




A prelate swings a censer over the casket of a victim during a funeral Mass in Negombo, Sri Lanka on 24 April 2019, three days after a string of suicide bomb attacks on churches and luxury hotels across the island. (photo: CNS/Athit Perawongmetha, Reuters)

India’s Latin-rite Church dedicates Divine Mercy Sunday to Sri Lanka bomb victims (Vatican News) India’s Latin-rite Church has pledged its closeness and solidarity with the victims of the terrorist bomb attacks in Sri Lanka on Sunday, dedicating Divine Mercy Sunday on 28 April as a day of prayer and solidarity with the Church and people of the island nation. Archbishop Felipe Neri Ferrao of Goa and Daman, the president of the Conference of Catholic Bishops of India (CCBI), that comprises the country’s Latin-rite bishops, released a statement on Wednesday, inviting CCBI member dioceses and the major superiors of religious congregations to join the initiative…

Sri Lanka: Interreligious dialogue vital to healing process (Vatican News) Father Indunil Janakaratne is Undersecretary at the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, which sent its condolences to President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference in Sri Lanka following the attacks. He underlined that interreligious dialogue has never been so vital. “Interreligious dialogue helps us to overcome these prejudices; interreligious dialogue also helps us to heal the wounds; interreligious dialogue helps us to build bridges,” he said…

Human chain in India honors Sri Lanka victims (UCANews.com) About 100 people including Muslims held hands to form a human chain in front of New Delhi’s Sacred Heart Cathedral to pay homage to the victims of suicide bomb attacks in Sri Lanka that killed 359 people, mostly Christians. Leaders from Christian, Muslim, Hindu and Sikh faiths joined hands on 23 April to express solidarity with families of victims of the Easter Sunday blasts…

USCCB names new head of ecumenical and interreligious affairs (USCCB) Rev. Walter Kedjierski of the Diocese of Rockville Centre, New York has been appointed as Executive Director of the Secretariat of Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), based in Washington D.C…

Former Coptic monks sentenced to death for killing bishop (BBC) Two former Coptic Christian monks have been sentenced to death in Egypt over the murder of a bishop last year, officials have confirmed. Bishop Epiphanius, 64, was found dead in a pool of blood in July 2018 at a desert monastery north-west of Cairo. Authorities blamed the killing on unspecified “differences” between the monks and the bishop…



Tags: India Egypt Interreligious Coptic Christians Persecution

24 April 2019
Greg Kandra




Police stand guard at the gate of Sacred Heart Cathedral in New Delhi following the terror attacks in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday. (photo: Bijay Kumar Minj/ucanews.com)

Police guard churches in New Delhi after Sri Lanka attacks (UCANews.com) Security has been beefed up at churches in Indian capital New Delhi after a series of suicide bombings killed more than 300 people in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday. Armed police are guarding Sacred Heart Cathedral in the capital and asking churchgoers to pass through metal detectors. They also frisk visitors who enter the 88-year-old building…

How Sri Lanka’s Christians became a target (The Atlantic) The deadly bombings in Sri Lanka over the weekend follow a pattern of religious terror that has become grimly familiar around the world. The attackers targeted churches on Easter Sunday, when Christians would be gathered in large numbers and vulnerable during worship. They also chose crowded and exposed public spaces, including hotels likely to be hosting foreign tourists…

Iraq cardinal says 25,000 Christians have returned to Qaraqosh (The National) Nearly 25,000 Iraqi Christians have returned to their homes in Qaraqosh over the past two years and were able to celebrate Easter last weekend, Iraq’s top Cardinal said on Wednesday. Also known as Bakhdida and Al Hamdaniyah, the town on the Nineveh Plains in northern Iraq was once home to 50,000 Iraqi Christians, making it the religious minority’s largest community in the country…

Israel lets hundreds of Gazans celebrate Easter in Jerusalem (Haaretz) Israel has allowed 500 Christian Palestinians to leave the Gaza Strip to celebrate Easter in Jerusalem, the Palestinian Authority’s Interior Ministry announced Monday, days after reports of an Israeli decision to give special permits to only 200 of the 1,200-strong Gazan Christian community drew criticism of Israel’s “arbitrary” change in policy…

Easter party brings together different religions in India (UCANews.com) Some 3,000 people including Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs joined Christians this year in celebrating Easter at an event in central India’s Bhopal city aimed at promoting religious tolerance. Archbishop Leo Cornelio of Bhopal was the main organizer of the inter-religious gathering in the capital of Madhya Pradesh state on Easter Sunday…



Tags: India Gaza Strip/West Bank Jerusalem Iraqi Christians Persecution

23 April 2019
Greg Kandra




Nuns pray during Mass near St. Sebastian Church in Negombo, Sri Lanka, on 23 April 2019, two days after a string of suicide bomb attacks on churches and luxury hotels across the island.
(photo: CNS/Athit Perawongmetha, Reuters)


Pope, bishops renew solidarity with Sri Lanka after terror attacks (Vatican News) Churches, groups and individuals joined Pope Francis as he reiterated his spiritual and fatherly closeness to the people of Sri Lanka following terrorist attacks on 3 churches and 3 hotels on Easter Sunday. Speaking to a large crowd in Rome’s St. Peter’s Square at midday on Easter Monday, the Pope said he was very close to Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith and Archdiocese of Colombo, the capital, and prayed for the numerous victims and wounded. While urging the international community to offer the needed help to Sri Lanka, he called on them not to hesitate in condemning these terrorist and inhuman acts that are never justifiable…

Holy Land Easter message calls for lasting peace in Jerusalem and the world (Vatican News) The 13 patriarchs and heads of Christian Churches in Jerusalem have expressed their Easter greeting to the people of the Holy Land, the larger Middle East and the world, wishing that the words of Christ, “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly,” be realized everywhere…

Pope: Only risen Christ can bring peace to a world at war (CNS) As the machine of warfare continues to churn out more dangerous weaponry, only the power and joy of Christ’s resurrection can fill hearts with comfort and peace, Pope Francis said before giving his Easter blessing…

Religious minorities across Asia suffer amid surge in sectarian politics (The New York Times) The deadly attacks in Sri Lanka on Sunday highlighted how easily religious coexistence can be ripped apart in a region where secularism is weakening amid the growing appeal of a politics based on ethnic and sectarian identity. In India, the country’s governing right-wing Hindu party is exploiting faith for votes, pushing an us-versus-them philosophy that has left Muslims fearing they will be lynched if they walk alone…

During Easter season, some Russians look to strengthen bonds with Syrian Christians (The Washington Post) When Russians celebrate Orthodox Easter on 28 April, leaders in Moscow will send their annual messages of kinship to fellow Orthodox Christians around the world. In Syria, however, the bonds are part of a wider strategy endorsed by the Kremlin. A group of clerics, humanitarian groups and members of government has been quietly cementing ties with Syria’s tiny and embattled Christian communities, whose roots in the faith go back to its earliest centuries…

U.S. withdrawal from Syria threatens Kurdish language, too (Haaretz) Rojava University, opened only three years ago in the autonomous region established by Syria’s Kurds in northeastern Syria, is part of the revival of the long-suppressed Kurdish language. However, this revival is now under threat as the future of the region hangs in the balance following an announcement on the drawdown of the U.S. forces whose presence has protected the Kurds from a regime takeover or Turkish invasion…



Tags: Syria India Pope Francis Russian Orthodox

18 April 2019
J.D. Conor Mauro




Bulgarian Orthodox men take part in a Good Friday liturgy at St. Alexander Nevsky Orthodox Cathedral in Sofia on 10 April 2015. Pope Francis will be visiting Bulgaria in early May. (photo: CNS/Stoyan Nenov, Reuters)

India general election: world’s biggest exercise in democracy begins (Vatican News) India’s general election kicked off on Thursday with tens of millions heading to the polls, in what is described as the world’s biggest exercise in democracy. There are some 900 million eligible voters in the world’s biggest democracy — more than the combined population of the United States, the European Union and Australia. Of these, 15 million are young first-time voters. The seven-phase election that began on 11 April, will conclude on 19 May…

Islamic-Christian dialogue in Abu-Dhabi after the Pope’s visit (AsiaNews) Roberto, an Italian engineer who has been in the Emirates for years, says that since the Pope came, his Muslim colleagues — especially Egyptians and Pakistanis — have been bombarding him with questions to understand more about the Christian faith, the rites of Holy Week, the Bible. In short, the pope aroused curiosity and interest in the faith of Christians…

Israeli water pipeline threatens Palestinian agricultural lands (Al Monitor) Some Palestinians in the West Bank governorate of Qalqilya hope to stop construction of a water pipeline Israel plans to build that threatens to destroy agricultural areas there. The residents see the project as an attempt to uproot villagers and seize land…

Bulgarian Orthodox Church expresses ‘deepest support’ for the French people (Sofia Globe) Bulgarian Orthodox Church head Patriarch Neofit on 18 April expressed sorrow over the fire at Paris’s Notre Dame Cathedral — an event representing “a huge impact on the world’s cultural heritage.” In the two-paragraph statement, issued three days after the fire, Neofit said that the Bulgarian Orthodox Church’s Holy Synod expressed its “deepest support” for the French people, wishing that the emblem of the country would be restored soon, and that the upcoming Easter holidays would not be dimmed…



Tags: India Pope Francis Palestine Bulgarian Orthodox Church Abu Dhabi

17 April 2019
Greg Kandra




People attend a vigil near Notre Dame Cathedral on 16 April 2019, a day after a fire destroyed much of the church’s wooden structure. Pope Francis during his Wednesday General Audience thanked the many who risked their lives to salvage the beloved cathedral. (photo: CNS/Paul Haring)

Pope thanks rescuers who risked lives at Notre Dame (Vatican News) Speaking to French pilgrims present at the Wednesday General Audience, Pope Francis thanked the many people who risked their lives to salvage Notre Dame as fire tore through Paris’ Cathedral. ”The gratitude of the whole Church goes to those who did everything they could, even risking their lives, to save the Basilica,” he said…

Fuel lines grow in Syria (Reuters) Syria has suffered oil shortages since an Iranian credit line was halted six months ago and not one oil tanker has reached the country since then, a pro-government newspaper said on Wednesday, as a fuel crisis worsened. Syrians say shortages grew more acute a week ago: hundreds of cars waited in line at one Damascus petrol station on Wednesday, a witness said. State news agency SANA showed a photo of snarled traffic and said Syrians faced an “economic war”…

Christians, Muslims protest vigilante attacks (UCANews.com) Five days after a mob of Hindus beat to death a Catholic man for suspected cow slaughter in India’s Jharkhand state, Christian and Muslim activists joined in New Delhi to protest about violence against minorities. A mob attacked Prakash Lakra and three others on 10 April after suspecting them of slaughtering a cow in Jhurmu village in the eastern state’s Gumla district. Lakra died from his injuries hours after the attack, church sources said.

Sister presents her meditations on the Way of the Cross for Good Friday (Vatican News) Sister Eugenia Bonetti is a Consolata Missionary and President of the Association “Slaves No More.” Pope Francis invited her to prepare the meditations for this year’s Way of the Cross at the Colosseum in Rome on Good Friday. Drawing from her experience in fighting the scourge of human trafficking, Sister Bonetti has highlighted the plight of those who are suffering new forms of crucifixion in society today…



Tags: Syria India Pope Francis

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





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