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September, 2019
Volume 45, Number 3
  
1 May 2013
J.D. Conor Mauro




In this December 2012 photo, Patriarch Youhanna X of Antioch, accompanied by Melkite Greek Catholic Patriarch Gregory III of Antioch, lights a candle upon his arrival to the Orthodox patriarchate in Damascus, Syria. (photo: CNS/Khaled al Hariri, Reuters)

Syrian patriarch: Violence won’t drive Orthodox away (Pravoslavie.ru) Patriarch of Antioch and All the East Youhanna X has urged the world community to end the violence in Syria and help free the two abducted Orthodox leaders of Aleppo. “I take this opportunity to extend, on your behalf, in the motherlands and abroad, an appeal to the international community, urging it to do everything it can toward the release of hostages whose absence affects us deeply. … Since we are the children of the Resurrection, we are not afraid of whoever takes violence as a way to achieve his purpose. To be killed, or kidnapped, or to have our institutions destroyed, will not change our resolve to uphold our civil life and our coexistence … and to seek the reign of justice and rights in our homelands,” the patriarch said…

Pope Francis issues appeal against slave labor (Vatican Radio) Marking the feast of St. Joseph the Worker and World Labor Day this Wednesday, 1 May, Pope Francis launched an urgent appeal to Christians and men and women of good will worldwide to take decisive steps to end slave labor. “I would like to add a word about another particular work situation that concerns me: I am referring to what we could define as “slave labor”, the work that enslaves. How many people worldwide are victims of this type of slavery, in which the person is at the service of his or her work, while work should offer a service to people so they may have dignity. I ask my brothers and sisters in faith and all men and women of good will for a decisive choice to combat trafficking in persons, which includes slave labor.” Included are an audio report and a transcript of the Holy Father’s audience…

Child labor rising in Gaza (Al Monitor) Child labor has been on the rise due to growing poverty and unemployment among Gaza’s population, more than 80 percent of whose families, according to United Nations reports, depend on humanitarian aid. While it cannot be separated from the political situation and the Israeli occupation, most analysts trace it back to 2006, when Israel started its blockade policy, causing tens of thousands of Palestinian laborers who worked in Israel to lose their jobs due to an inability to commute. Representatives of Palestinian civil society organizations have consistently stressed the need to make every possible effort to curb the widening tide of this phenomenon. However, very few seem to be directly engaged in addressing the problem…

Could water bring Israelis and Palestinians together? (Christian Science Monitor) The Joint Water Committee (J.W.C.), an Israeli-Palestinian group set up in 1995 under the Oslo Accords, was never meant to be a permanent body for managing water resources. Like many other Oslo-era arrangements, it was intended as more of a temporary tent until the Palestinian house could be built. Some 17 years later, with no Palestinian state in sight, the troubled workings of the J.W.C. illustrate the difficulties Israelis and Palestinians face in piecing together a tenuous coexistence under an interim tent tattered by lack of trust. But despite the current challenges, better water management — perhaps more than any of the other five issues to be determined in final-status negotiations — holds the possibility for improved cooperation and trust-building, because the welfare of both peoples is linked by their dependence on this vital shared resource…

Iraq plans to launch satellite to aid water crisis (Al Monitor) As part of an effort to combat water shortages across the country, Iraq is working to build and launch a satellite before the end of the year. The satellite will allow close monitoring of desertification and freshwater reserve losses…



Tags: Pope Francis Children Syrian Civil War Israeli-Palestinian conflict Water

30 April 2013
J.D. Conor Mauro




Pope Francis shares a light moment with Israeli President Shimon Peres during a private meeting at the Vatican on 30 April. Peres officially invited Pope Francis to Israel and left their meeting saying that “all the people of Israel” are expecting him. (photo: CNS/Ettore Ferrari, pool via Reuters)

Pope meets with Israeli president (Vatican Radio) Today in the Vatican’s Apostolic Palace, Pope Francis received in audience Israeli President Shimon Peres. President Peres went on to meet with Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, S.D.B., and Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, secretary for Relations with States. During the cordial talks, the leaders discussed the political and social situation in the Middle East. A speedy resumption of negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians is hoped for, so that an agreement may be reached that respects the legitimate aspirations of the two peoples, thus decisively contributing to the peace and stability of the region…

Huge explosion rocks Damascus (Al Jazeera) A blast near Syria’s interior ministry has rocked the central Damascus district of Marjeh, killing 13 people and injuring over 70 others, state television said, just a day after the country’s prime minister survived a car bomb attack. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) gave a lower toll, saying nine people were killed in Tuesday’s blast. The group, which relies on a network of activists based in Syria, did not immediately provide details on those reported casualties, but warned that the number of casualties was expected to rise…

Car bombs across Iraq kill at least 22 (L.A. Times) Shiite-dominated areas in southern and central Iraq were rocked Monday by car bomb explosions that killed at least 22 people and fueled fears that the country is sliding into a civil war. The bombings Monday — particularly in the city of Amarah, which has largely avoided such attacks — appeared aimed at jarring the country’s Shiite majority. Car bombs also exploded in a market in the center of Mahmoudiya, just south of Baghdad; a factory area in the southern Shiite shrine city of Karbala; and a restaurant in Diwaniya, also in the south. With the country in crisis, the parliamentary speaker, Usama Nujaifi, called for the government to be dissolved and for a caretaker government to be formed ahead of early elections to save the country from civil war…

European bishops meet to analyze Christian-Muslim relations (VIS) The Council of Bishops’ Conferences of Europe will be meeting in London from 1-3 May to discuss Christian-Muslim relations. Cardinal Jean-Pierre Ricard, archbishop of Bordeaux, will chair the meeting. Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue will be a keynote speaker…

Pope Francis to meet with Coptic pope (Fides) The next visit of the Coptic Orthodox Patriarch Tawadros II to Pope Francis, scheduled for Saturday, 11 May, “could have important and positive results,” says Coptic Catholic Bishop Fahim Awad Hanna. “I also hope that we can resume the thread of theological dialogue and really start to walk towards full communion.” The event will occur 40 years after the meeting in Rome between Pope Paul VI and Shenouda III, the previous Coptic pope. On that occasion a theological dialogue between the two Churches began which in 1988 led to an agreement and a joint declaration on Christology that was to put an end to centuries of misunderstanding and mistrust…

Catholic Church in Ethiopia is a ‘small reality’ appreciated by all (Fides) “We are a small reality but our contribution to the social and spiritual life of the Country is appreciated by all,” says Father Hagos Hayish, secretary general of the Episcopal Conference of Ethiopia. “Catholics in Ethiopia represent about 1 percent of the population, [the rest belonging] to the Ethiopian Orthodox Church or to the Islamic religion,” explains Father Hayish. “The Catholic Church, however, is well regarded by both the population and the authorities for its social activities and its attitude of openness to all, Christians and Muslims.” To promote interfaith dialogue the Interfaith Council of Ethiopia has been created, in which the Catholic Church has been called to play an important role, a sign of respect and trust…



Tags: Iraq Pope Francis Syrian Civil War Middle East Peace Process Ethiopian Catholic Church

29 April 2013
J.D. Conor Mauro




In this October 2011 photo, Lebanon’s Maronite Patriarch Bechara Peter holds a press conference at CNEWA's New York office, discussing topics including hostilities between Israel and Lebanon. (photo: CNEWA/Erin Edwards)

Israel fencing off Lebanese village would violate U.N. resolution (Al Monitor) Recently, Israel began to build a fence around the northern part of Ghajar, a Lebanese village that it has occupied since 2006. Lebanese security forces revealed to Al Monitor that Israel had previously erected a barbed-wired fence around the northern Lebanese part of the village, to prevent — according to their claims — armed men from infiltrating the southern part of the village located in the occupied Syrian Golan Heights. Israel, however, is now intent on replacing this with a five-meter-high fence. This act ignores the 2006 United Nations Resolution 1701, which called for Israel’s withdrawal. Maronite Patriarch Bechara Peter, in a press conference at CNEWA’s New York office in October 2011, had asked the world community to “commit itself to implementing” this resolution…

Eastern churches’ Holy Week begins with prayers for kidnapped bishops (Fides) The Christian communities in Syria are working together to plead for the release of the two bishops of Aleppo kidnapped — the Syrian Orthodox Metropolitan Mar Gregorios Yohanna Ibrahim and the Greek Orthodox Boulos al Yazigi — through prayer vigils, liturgical celebrations, demonstrations and sit-ins. Amid the chaos of civil war, Holy Week for the Eastern churches has begun…

Assassination attempt on Syrian prime minister sends warning to regime (Christian Science Monitor) The Syrian prime minister survived a bomb attack on his convoy this morning in a wealthy neighborhood of Damascus, though his bodyguard was killed and several others were injured in the blast. The attack in the upscale neighborhood highlights the increasing vulnerability of the Assad regime, as it is home to many government officials and several embassies — including the Swiss embassy, located only 100 yards from the blast, according to the Associated Press…

Cardinal Dolan prays for kidnapped archbishops in Syria (U.S.C.C.B.) “We join with our Holy Father, Pope Francis, in ‘praying that they may return to their communities soon.’ The kidnapping of two men of peace is a sign of the terrible violence that is destroying the fabric of Syrian society. We will continue to work through all channels with the Holy See, the diplomatic and international community and all agencies of good will. I plead for their release and for a political solution that ends the violence and protects the citizenship rights of all Syrians, including minorities”…

Settlers burn Greek Orthodox church land in Jerusalem (IMEMC) On Sunday evening, 28 April, a group of extremist Israeli settlers set fire to lands that belongs to the Greek Orthodox church in Wadi Hilweh, in occupied East Jerusalem. On Saturday, three Palestinians, member of the Al Maghribi family, in Sheikh Jarrah, were injured after the settlers burnt the family’s land near their home, and the fire reached their residence…



Tags: Lebanon Syrian Civil War Israel Israeli-Palestinian conflict Separation Barrier

26 April 2013
Greg Kandra




In this photograph from November 2012, Coptic Pope Tawadros II conducts an interview in Cairo.
(photo: CNS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany, Reuters)


Jordan calls on U.N. to act on Syria crisis (The Daily Star) Jordan on Thursday called on the U.N. Security Council to declare the exodus of refugees from Syria a threat to international security and to organize a visit to the region. Jordan fears that with more than 505,000 Syrian refugees now in the country it risks being overwhelmed and drawn into the crisis, diplomats said. Jordan’s U.N. ambassador Prince Zeid al Hussein said in a letter to the Security Council that the huge influx across the border since the Syria conflict erupted in March 2011 “threatens the security and stability of our country”…

Coptic Pope says Christians feel sidelined and neglected (Reuters) Egypt’s Christians feel sidelined, ignored and neglected by Muslim Brotherhood-led authorities, who proffer assurances but have taken little or no action to protect them from violence, Coptic Pope Tawadros II said. In his first interview since emerging from seclusion after eight people were killed in sectarian violence between Muslims and Christians this month, the pope called official accounts of clashes at Cairo’s Coptic cathedral on 7 April “a pack of lies”…

Syrian bishops’ kidnapping raises fears (The Daily Star) The abduction of two Christian bishops in Aleppo earlier this week has heightened Christian fears and deepened sectarian tensions in Syria and the region, senior Christian leaders told The Daily Star on Thursday…

Separation wall to be built in Cremisan Valley (Society of St. Yves Press Release) The Israeli Special Appeals Committee for land seizure under emergency law released its verdict last Wednesday, in the case of the Cremisan Valley against the separation wall. The verdict ruled in favor of the proposed second route, which leaves the convent on the Palestinian side of the wall…

Knights of Columbus international headquarters mounts display of Russian icons (Connecticut Post) Orthodox Christians revere Russian icons as sacred devotional pieces. But to others around the world, they are magnificent treasures, collected and cherished for their beauty, artistry and history. Simply put: The appeal of Russian icons is international, extending beyond religious or ethnic background. With this in mind, the museum at the Knights of Columbus’ international headquarters in New Haven (where the organization was founded) has mounted “Windows into Heaven: Russian Icons & Treasures,” which will be on view for more than a year — through 27 April 2014. The exhibition has opened in time for Orthodox Easter on Sunday, 5 May…



25 April 2013
Greg Kandra




In this photo from February, a Syrian refugee woman who asked not to be identified is pictured in the room where she lives in the Syriac Center of St. Gabriel Syriac Orthodox Church in Ajaltoun, Lebanon. When violence escalated in her hometown of Qamishli, she fled, carrying with her a statue of Mary, which she keeps in her room. (photo: CNS/Dalia Khamissy)

Syrian government faces intensifying religiously-motivated attacks (Fides) The recent destruction of the minaret of the Umayyad mosque in Aleppo and the kidnapping of two Orthodox bishops symbolize “crossing a red line” in the Syrian conflict…

Plea for unity of Christians in Middle East (Vatican Radio) An urgent appeal for an end to the violence in Syria has been made by the Global Christian Forum, a broad ecumenical network of Christian churches, communities and movements which met earlier this month in Amman, Jordan...

Russian official begins visit to Lebanon (The Daily Star) Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov will begin a three-day visit to Lebanon Thursday with developments in Syria high on the agenda. Bogdanov will hold talks with Lebanese officials including President Michel Sleiman, Speaker Nabih Berri, interim Prime Minister Najib Mikati and Prime Minister-designate Tammam Salam, the source added. The Russian envoy will also hold meetings with Lebanese political and spiritual leaders…

Holy See’s permanent observer to UN issues call to eradicate poverty (Vatican Radio) Archbishop Francis A. Chullikatt places “the integral development of the human person at the center of all efforts to eradicate poverty” in a statement to the United Nation’s Ad Hoc Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals…

Ukrainian Christian honored for saving ruined synagogue (Jewish Times) A Ukrainian Christian who saved a dilapidated rural synagogue was honored at an interfaith forum in Kiev. Boris Slobodnyuk of Satanov received the forum’s 2013 Crystal Noah Tolerance Award on Tuesday at the Kiev Interfaith Forum for guarding the 500-year-old Stanovskaya synagogue in western Ukraine and initiating renovation work there…



Tags: Ukraine Refugees Middle East Christians Syrian Civil War United Nations

24 April 2013
J.D. Conor Mauro




A member of a Free Syrian Army walks past destroyed buildings and debris in Deraa on 17 April. Pope Francis is offering “intense prayers” for the safety and liberation of two Orthodox archbishops kidnapped in Syria, for effective responses to the humanitarian crisis created by the civil war and for peace in the nation, the Vatican spokesman said. (photo: CNS/Thaer Abdallah, Reuters)

Fate of clerics held in Syria is disputed (New York Times) A Christian advocacy group, L’Oeuvre d’Orient, which assists Middle Eastern Christians, posted a statement on its Web site that the two kidnapping victims — Syriac Orthodox Metropolitan Gregorios Yohanna of Aleppo and Greek Orthodox Metropolitan Paul of Aleppo — had been freed early Tuesday afternoon. The group, based in Paris, said the archbishops were staying in a Greek Orthodox church in Aleppo, the northern city that has been a combat zone since last summer. Despite the reports that the archbishops had been freed, there was no confirmation, and as the day progressed contradictory accounts emerged. Abdel-Ahad Steifo, a Syriac Orthodox member of the National Coalition of Revolutionary and Opposition Forces, the main political opposition group, said in an interview on Al Jazeera that the archbishops were still being held by the kidnappers…

Pope offers prayers for Orthodox archbishops kidnapped in Syria (CNS) Acknowledging “conflicting reports” about two Orthodox archbishops kidnapped in Syria, Pope Francis prayed for them and for an end to the war in their country. At his audience, Pope Francis said the kidnappings were “another sign of the tragic situation the dear Syrian nation is living through with violence and weapons continuing to sow death and suffering.” The pope said: “While I keep the two bishops in my prayers so that they would return quickly to their communities, I ask God to enlighten hearts”…

Syria’s Christians threatened by ideology, geography (Al Monitor) Throughout the two-year-old Syrian civil war, the world powers as well as the Syrian parties involved have said that the country’s minorities, especially its Christians, face an existential threat. The tragedy of Syria’s Christians is linked to not only fundamentalist and ideological motives but also to geostrategic calculations. Wadi al Ouyoun and Wadi al Nasra, which have a million Christians and are the largest continuous Christian settlements in the Middle East, sit on the banks of the Orontes River. This region separates the Syrian Desert from Syria’s “green areas.” Military experts assert that whoever controls the area of the valleys would be able to split Syria in two, cut the road to Aleppo at either Homs or Hama and cut the Latakia-Tartus road on the coast. To put it even more simply, the experts say that whoever controls the Christian areas can control the war in Syria…

Iraqi violence sparks fears of a Sunni revolt (L.A. Times) Security forces for the Shiite-led Iraqi government raided a Sunni protest camp in northern Iraq on Tuesday, igniting violence around the country that left at least 36 people dead. The unrest led two Sunni officials to resign from the government and risked pushing the country’s Sunni provinces into an open revolt against Prime Minister Nouri Maliki, a Shiite. The situation looked to be the gravest moment for Iraq since the last United States combat troops left in December 2011…

Iraqi refugees finally beat the odds (The Catholic Register) The Meera family have endured two wars, ethnic cleansing, religious persecution and a lot of bureaucracy, but with the help of a Catholic parish in Brampton, Ontario, the six Iraqi Christian refugees have fought their way into Canada. The Meeras arrived at Pearson International Airport April 8 after seven years living as refugees in the poor Jermannya neighbourhood in Damascus, Syria. The big surprise waiting for them at the airport was a noisy, excited welcoming delegation from St. Anthony of Padua parish, the Meera’s sponsors. “We never thought there would be that love, that support,” said the Meera patriarch, 57-year-old Habeeb Meera. The Meeras beat the odds over and over on their way to Canada…

Romanian U.S. eparchy expands to include Canada (Eparchy of St. George) The Holy See announced on 23 April that it has extended the jurisdiction of the Romanian Catholic Eparchy of St. George the Martyr in Canton, Ohio, to include Romanian Catholics in all of Canada. The Romanian Greek Catholic Church is one of the Eastern Christian churches in full communion with the Pope, which in 1948 was abolished by communists in Romania but continued to exist underground in Romania and in diaspora. Currently, the Romanian Catholic Eparchy of St. George in Canton is the only Diocese for the Romanian Greek Catholics outside of Romania, encompassing 21 parishes and missions as well as two monastic communities in the United States and Canada. To learn more about this church's history, see our profile of The Romanian Church United with Rome from the May 2006 issue of ONE



Tags: Iraq Syrian Civil War Iraqi Christians Violence against Christians Romanian Catholic Church

23 April 2013
Greg Kandra




In the video above from October 2012, one of the two hierarchs kidnapped by gunmen yesterday — the Syriac Orthodox archbishop of Aleppo, Yohanna Ibrahim — says religion can play a positive role in Syria. (video: Huffington Post)

Pope Francis offers prayers for kidnapped Syrian bishops (Vatican Radio) The Director of the Vatican Press Office on Tuesday released a statement on the kidnapping of the Orthodox bishops in Syria...

Prayers requested for kidnapped Syrian hierarchs (OCA.org) In a portion of a letter dated 22 April 2013 and signed by His Grace, Bishop Basil, Secretary of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of North and Central America to all member hierarchs, prayers were requested for two Syrian hierarchs who had been abducted earlier that day...

Israel: Syria used chemical weapons against its own people (CNN) The Syrian government is using chemical weapons against rebel forces, the head of the Israel Defense Forces’ intelligence research departments said Tuesday. “In all likelihood they used sarin gas,” Brig. Gen. Itai Brun said Tuesday in a speech at a conference in Tel Aviv. This comes as a civil war between the government and rebels rages across Syria — which borders Israel. Analysts believe the Syrian government may have one of the largest stockpiles of chemical weapons in the world...

Egypt’s street children, victims of political instability (Middle East Voices) Egypt’s street children had a lot to gain from the country’s revolution. However, change has come slowly if at all, and in many ways, their cause has been pushed off course. Increasing poverty, a growing shadow economy, and continued political instability, have proven challenges to the safety of these children...

On his feast, remembering St. George in Turkey (Catholic Herald) In fact George is not just Catholic, but also catholic in the widest sense: he is also revered by the Orthodox. He is even honored by some Muslims...



Tags: Syria Egypt Turkey Orthodox

22 April 2013
Greg Kandra




A protester opposed to Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi holds up a crucifix and the Quran as demonstrators chant slogans against the political leader near Cairo’s Tahrir Square on 19 April. Many Coptic Christians have left the unrest in Egypt and sought refuge in the United States.
(photo: CNS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany, Reuters)


Activists report record number of bodies found in Syria (CNN) The bodies of at least 566 people who were killed over a six-day period across Syria were found Sunday, according to Local Coordination Committees in Syria, an opposition group based in the country. That is the highest number of victims discovered in a single day since the war began in March 2011, LCC spokeswoman Rafif Jouejati said. At least 450 bodies were found in the Damascus suburb of Jadidat al-Fadel, LCC activist Abu Aasy said Sunday...

In Jordan, tensions rise between Syrian refugees and host community (Washington Post) More than 500,000 Syrians have fled to Jordan since the onset of the conflict in their country more than two years ago, according to the Amman government and the United Nations — a figure equal to nearly one-tenth of Jordan’s population. While 160,000 are housed in refu gee camps, the vast majority have been living in cities, where their presence is stoking tensions with an increasingly resentful host community and posing what Jordanian officials call one of the greatest crises the country has faced in decades...

Chaldean patriarch expresses hope during Iraqi voting (Vatican Radio) Iraqis went to the polls Saturday in their first provincial elections since the United States withdrew its military presence. Despite weeks of violence and bloodshed leading up to the elections, voting in 12 of Iraq’s 18 provinces took place in a state of relative stability and amid tight security. Reports of scattered violence during the first several hours of voting did not prove deadly and seemed not to dissuade voters. The Chaldean Patriarch of Babylon, Archbishop Louis Raphael of Baghdad, said interest among Iraqi citizens in exercising their right to vote was good. “I think the situation is much better today because of the security, and the police and the army are controlling the city of Baghdad in which we are living,” he said...

Chechnya casts long shadow over bombings in Boston (The Telegraph) The publication of the images of suspects by the US authorities, followed by a shoot-out, man-hunt and the lockdown of parts of Boston during Friday were accompanied by revelations that the two suspected bombers — the brothers Jokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev — were of Chechen origin. Attention quickly turned to the restive Southern Russian republic of Chechnya, and the Islamist regional insurgency led by veteran fighter, Doku Umarov, in an attempt find motives for the marathon bombing. But what motivated two young men who had spent most of their lives in the US to attack a marathon in Boston? Did the bombers really have any direct connections to Chechnya, why did they decide to launch such a deadly attack, and how were they radicalized?...

In New York, finding refuge from the unrest in Egypt (New York Times) Ever since the 2011 revolution that toppled President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt and ushered in the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood, Copts — Egypt’s Orthodox Christian minority — have been flooding out of the country and into the United States. The New York area has been a major gateway for these new arrivals, and churches in Brooklyn, Queens and Jersey City have had their rosters swell accordingly. Within a few months of the revolution, so many people had arrived from Egypt that the membership of St. Mary and St. Antonios had doubled, to about 1,000 families, and the church has not been quite the same since...

Indian bishops speak out against abuse of children (Fides) “What is the value of human life? What meaning does it have?” From this question one must start to seek answers to the sad phenomenon of violence and sexual abuse on minors, which in India reached a record of 48,338 cases in the last decade. This was stated to Fides Agency by the spokesman for the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India, commenting on the latest case of a 5-year-old girl in Delhi, kidnapped and raped repeatedly for 48 hours by two torturers, who were arrested by the police...



Tags: Syria India Iraq Egypt Copts

19 April 2013
J.D. Conor Mauro




Dozens killed in Baghdad cafe explosion (Al Jazeera) Up to 27 people have been killed and dozens more injured in a suicide bombing in a Baghdad cafe, a government source has told Al Jazeera. The source said that a suicide bomber walked into the popular Dubai Cafe late on Thursday and detonated explosives. Police said the cafe was full of young people enjoying water pipes and playing pool…

Syria’s Christian refugees seeking European future (Albawaba) Christian refugees from Syria have not been in Lebanon for very long. Or at least, you don’t hear much from them, as many are averse to reporters. Off the record, one refugee said that Syrian Christians are often accused of being partisans of President Bashar al Assad. Now, many have voiced a desire to move to England, France and other European nations. However, many obstacles stand in the way; for one thing, the visa procedures are very complicated…

Franciscan church destroyed in Syria (Fides) A violent explosion destroyed the church and convent of Capuchin Franciscan friars in Deir Ezzor, Syria, according to Father Tony Haddad, vice provincial of the Friars for the Near East, who oversees the Capuchin presence in Lebanon and Syria. The explosion occurred on 15 April. “It was the only church in Deir Ezzor still remained almost untouched so far.” Details of the cause of the explosion have not yet become clear…

Chaldean patriarch speaks out against ghettoization (Fides) Christians and other people of Iraq cannot live in enclaves drawn on the basis of ethnicity and religion. And the “militarization of the Arab Spring” represents “a loss for everyone,” according to Chaldean Patriarch Raphael Louis. In a recent interview, the patriarch replied to those who continue to voice concerns about the establishment of a special autonomous area reserved for Iraqi Christians — usually identified with the Nineveh Plain — and affirmed that neither Christians nor those belonging to other ethnic or religious groups should live in a ghetto…

Do Gaza’s Christians feel safe? (Al Monitor) Following Hamas’s rise to power in the Gaza Strip in 2006 and subsequent “Islamizing” campaigns, the region’s Christians have faced increasing animosity and often felt targeted. There are approximately 1,500 Christians in the Gaza Strip, down from some 5,000 in the 1970’s. Opinions vary about the reasons for this exodus; war, fear of religious extremism and the pursuit of a better future are all concerns. Some suggest the Hamas government has not succeeded in serving as a government for everyone and, in specific, has neglected those who disagree with it intellectually and ideologically. Government spokespeople dispute this, arguing Christians receive the full protection of law, and that most of the incidents committed against Christians have been criminal rather than sectarian incidents…



Tags: Iraq Refugees Middle East Christians Syrian Civil War Iraqi Refugees

18 April 2013
J.D. Conor Mauro




In this February 2011 photo, His Beatitude Christopher, archbishop of Prague and metropolitan of the Czech Lands and Slovakia, celebrates the Divine Liturgy at the Synodal Cathedral of Our Lady of the Sign in New York. Metropolitan Christopher resigned from his position as head of the Orthodox Church of the Czech Lands and Slovakia on Friday. (photo: Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia)

Scandal claims head of Orthodox Church of the Czech Lands and Slovakia (Prague Daily Monitor) The head of the Orthodox Church in the Czech Republic and Slovakia resigned Monday amid allegations that he has breached his oath as a monk, carrying out affairs with women and fathering illegitimate children. Having already denied the charges, Metropolitan Christopher, 59, opted to resign to help maintain the unity of the church. Metropolitan Christopher of Prague was elected in 2006 soon after the death of Metropolitan Nicholas of Presov. After his resignation, the church’s acting head will be the Olomouc-Brno Archbishop Simeon, 87, for about 40 days until a new primate is chosen. To learn more about the Orthodox Church of the Czech Lands and Slovakia, see our profile from the November 2011 issue of ONE

Chaldean patriarch says politics is the domain of the laity (Fides) Chaldean Patriarch Louis Raphael has encouraged Christians to participate in the upcoming elections and to make serious and positive proposals to contribute to the common good. According to the text released by the Chaldean Patriarchate, the participation in the elections is “an essential national task.” Father Albert Husham Zarazeer, the communications manager of the Chaldean Patriarchate, expresses the conviction that “Iraqi Christians, who have deep roots in Iraq and have played an important role in its construction, will participate in the local elections in many of the provincial councils”…

Egyptian Copts reject ‘reconciliation meeting’ (AINA) A customary “reconciliation” meeting took place yesterday in Al Khosous to address the recent sectarian violence that resulted in the death of six Christians and one Muslim. Organized by the regime, the meeting included the governor of Qaliubia, Mr. Abdel-Ghafour; the assistant to the Egyptian President for social outreach; top ranking security personnel; representatives from Al Azhar; and two priests from St. Georges church in Al Khosous. The government delegation encountered anger and outright rejection from Copts, believing as they have learned from the past that such reconciliation meetings are useless. The Copts stressed the need to apply the rule of law to all — Christians or Muslims…

Syrian patriarch asks Vatican to increase peace efforts (CNA) The most powerful Catholic leader in Syria met Pope Francis today to ask the Vatican to get more involved in bringing peace to his tortured homeland. “I think it’s time the Vatican plays a bigger role, when we hear about weapons here and there,” said Melkite Patriarch Gregory III. “We want to hear the voice of the Holy Father saying, ‘This is a sin, it is against humanity,’ ” he told reporters on 17 April at Rome’s Basilica of Santa Maria. The Patriarch of Antioch, who is the spiritual leader of the Greek Melkite Catholic Church, said the voice of the Holy See “is now extremely important for us, both Christians and Muslims.” For more, read our profile of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church, which appeared in the March 2006 issue of ONE



Tags: Orthodox Church Chaldean Church Coptic Christians Melkite Patriarch Gregory III of Antioch Czech Republic





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