6 November 2012
In this 9 January 2001 photo, then-Archbishop Leonardo Sandri meets with Bulgarian Orthodox Patriarch Maxim in Sofia, Bulgaria. (photo: CNS from Reuters)
Patriarch Maxim of Bulgaria dies at age 98 (ABC News) Patriarch Maxim of Bulgaria, who weathered a revolt over his communist-era ties to lead the Balkan country’s Orthodox Christians for more than 40 years, has died. He was 98. The patriarch died of heart failure early Tuesday at a Sofia hospital where he had been for a month, the Holy Synod said in a statement. The Holy Synod of 13 senior clergy will meet to make funeral arrangements and choose an interim patriarch until a larger Church Council is held within the next four months to pick Maxim’s successor, church officials said. Orthodox Christianity is Bulgaria’s dominant religion, followed by more than 80 percent of the country’s 7.4 million people…
Egypt’s Coptic pope says he will reject constitution imposing religious state (AFP) Egypt’s new Coptic Christian Pope Tawadros II has said he would reject a constitution still in the making if it imposed a religious state in the Muslim-majority country, newspapers reported on Tuesday. The Coptic pope, whose minority community has become increasingly fearful of the rise of Islamists to power in Egypt, also urged Christians not to leave the country, stressing that they have coexisted with Muslims for centuries. “A constitution that hints at imposing a religious state in Egypt is absolutely rejected,” he told journalists on Monday, a day after he was chosen pope, the independent al Watan newspaper reported…
Christians seek release of kidnapped Armenian and others in Syria (Fides) Sam Ghannoum is a 28-year-old Christian Armenian songwriter. He comes from an Armenian family that lives in a suburb of Aleppo. He is known in the community for his eastern classical compositions and for songs that present the Christian message of love and peace. Sam is also one of the young Syrians who recently criticized the government on Facebook, voicing support for the original ideals of the Syrian revolution: democracy, freedom and human rights. He received threats in response. About twenty days ago, on 15 October, Sam was abducted by the Syrian secret services. According to the group “Syrian Non-Violence Movement,” his family is in pain and in fear for his life. They reaffirm “the good faith and the purity of Sam’s ideals” and ask for his immediate release…
Catholic groups in India expand presence on web (Times of India) Recently, the pope had asked all clergymen to expand their presence in the virtual world to reach out to youth who have been found to stray away from the path of the church. Further decision on the synod’s deliberations would be taken only after the pope prepares the ‘apostolic exhortation’ on the topic, a compilation of all the deliberations. “Many priests are already active in the cyber world. Once the apostolic exhortation comes, we will have motivational workshops and other deliberations on this topic. It is through these measures that the church can be one of today,” said Archbishop Francis Kallarakkal of the Latin Church. The synod of 260 bishops from around the world was deliberating on ‘new evangelisation,’ to stem the hemorrhaging of the faithful...
5 November 2012
Tags: Syrian Civil War Violence against Christians Indian Christians Patriarchs Coptic Orthodox Church
This photograph of the interior of Kevork Church in Aleppo was captured after clashes between Free Syrian Army fighters and forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad on 30 October. (photo: CNS/George Ourfalian, Reuters)
Bishops’ delegation to Middle East warns of Syrian refugee crisis (U.S.C.C.B.) In a press conference on 1 November, members of a U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (U.S.C.C.B.) delegation to the Middle East warned of a worsening Syrian refugee crisis and urged more international support for Syrian refugees in the region. “Without more international support, the humanitarian situation, both inside and outside Syria, could reach a breaking point in the not so distant future,” said Bishop Anthony Taylor of Little Rock, Arkansas, a member of the U.S.C.C.B. Committee on Migration and head of the delegation. “The international community, led by the United States, must do more to provide assistance to the refugees in order to avert a humanitarian crisis,” he added.
Egypt’s Coptic Christians choose a new pope (Wall Street Journal) Egypt’s Coptic Orthodox Church chose a new pope Sunday, in a ceremony that will mark a new chapter in the relationship between the Arab world’s largest Christian minority and the country’s new Islamist leadership. The name of Bishop Tawadros, bishop of the Nile River delta region of El Beheira, was drawn by a blindfolded young boy from a crystal chalice containing the names of three candidates. The ceremony unfolded in front of a cheering crowd at Egypt’s main Coptic cathedral in downtown Cairo.
Egyptian Catholics welcome election of new Coptic pope (Fides) The election of Patriarch Tawadros II, new head of the Coptic Orthodox Church, is stirring reactions of joy and enthusiasm in the Catholic community in Egypt. “We are all delighted,” says Anba Kirillos William, Coptic Catholic bishop of the Diocese of Assiut. According to the current vicar of the Coptic Catholic Church in Egypt: “The three candidates for the succession of Pope Shenouda III were all worthy people. But with regards to ecumenical relations and cooperation between the Christian churches, we hoped that Bishop Tawadros would be elected — an open-minded and balanced person.”
Holy Sepulchre bank account blocked over water bill (Associated Press) A clergyman from the church built on the site where Jesus Christ is said to have been crucified said Friday that its bank account has been frozen as the result of a long-standing dispute with an Israeli water company. Greek Orthodox priest Isidoros Fakitsas said that the move has impaired the Church of the Holy Sepulchre to pay bills and salaries. As a result, the church is considering closing for a day in protest, shutting the doors to one of Christianity’s most popular pilgrimage sites.
Church in India cautious about reports of crucifix dripping with blood (Fides) “The Catholic Church has never claimed that the phenomenon of droplets of blood or water found on the crucifix in Irla is a miracle. In these cases, the church is always prudent. Every special event is carefully studied, expert advice is asked and strict standards before delivering a judgment is observed.” So says an official statement sent to Fides Agency by the Archdiocese of Bombay, where a phenomenon known as “supernatural” is making a stir in the Christian and civil community.
26 October 2012
Tags: Egypt Syrian Civil War Indian Christians Patriarchs Coptic Orthodox Church
In this May 2009 image, the Al Tawhid mosque is seen from the roof of St. Joseph Chaldean Catholic Cathedral in the Soulimanya neighborhood of Aleppo. (photo: Spencer Osberg)
Bomb explodes during funeral. (Fides) A bomb exploded this morning during the funeral for Father Fadi Jamil Haddad, the Orthodox priest who was kidnapped and found dead yesterday in Damascus. According to local sources of Fides, the explosion killed two civilians and some soldiers.
Update from Aleppo. (Fides) “For a long time the Christians of Aleppo have been living in neighborhoods close to each other. ... These areas are currently under the control of the regular Syrian army, while neighboring areas are occupied by the opposition army. That is why our neighborhoods are daily objects of bombings and shootings by snipers among the rebels.”
CNEWA plans event in Rome. (Vatican Radio) Catholic Near East Welfare Association (CNEWA) is organizing an event in Rome in January 2013 to raise awareness among Italian Catholics about the church’s many different Eastern traditions.
Pass the cheese, please. (The New York Times) Artush Mkrtchyan, 55, an engineer, art critic and activist from the Armenian town of Gyumri has made cheese the medium of contact and cooperation with the neighboring Turkish town of Kars.
In Greece, the poor are not alone. (The New York Times) Life in Greece has been turned on its head since the debt crisis took hold. But in few areas has the change been more striking than in health care.
25 October 2012
Tags: Syria Armenia Greece Aleppo
Children play soccer amid destroyed buildings in the streets of Homs, Syria, 23 October. (photo: CNS/Yazan Homsy, Reuters)
Envoy announces temporary cease-fire in Syria during Muslim holiday (New York Times) Lakhdar Brahimi, the envoy trying to broker a peace deal in Syria, on Wednesday announced a seemingly unlikely cease-fire between the two sides to mark a major Muslim holiday: Eid al Adha, the Feast of Sacrifice. The United Nations Security Council unanimously endorsed his effort...
Kidnapped Greek Orthodox priest found dead near Damascus (Fides) The body of the Greek Orthodox priest Father Fadi Jamil Haddad, pastor of the church of St. Elias in Qatana, was found today in the Jaramana neighborhood, north of Damascus — not far from the place where he was kidnapped on 19 October…
Cardinal-designate on Syria, Lebanon and freedom of conscience (Vatican Radio) Maronite Patriarch Bechara Peter of Lebanon is one of six church leaders to be made cardinal in the November consistory. Tracey McClure caught up with the cardinal-elect at the end of Wednesday’s session of the Synod for the New Evangelization. In a wide-ranging interview, the patriarch speaks of the announcement that a papal delegation will be sent to Syria in coming days. The discussion also turns to the tension in Lebanon following last week’s assassination of a high ranking security official in a Beirut bombing that killed 3 people and wounded more than 80 others…
India’s new cardinal comes from a church that “does a lot for evangelization” (Fides) Joy, congratulations and hope are expressed by the Indian cardinals for the appointment of His Beatitude Baselios Cleemis Thottunkal, major archbishop of Trivandrum of the Syro-Malankara Catholic Church, who will be elevated to cardinal by Pope Benedict XVI in the consistory to be held on 24 November…
Cossacks, Russian Orthodox leaders demand ban on Halloween celebrations (RIA Novosti) Cossacks and Russian Orthodox Church leaders in South Russia’s Stavropol Territory demanded on Thursday cancellation of Halloween celebrations organized by a local city administration. Authorities of the resort city of Pyatigorsk announced they would organize a “Halloween party” at a city square to give young people an opportunity to learn the history and traditions of the holiday…
Pilgrimage to Rome for the Year of Faith (VIS) Three thousand knights and ladies of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem — a tenth of its total membership — will make a pilgrimage to Rome in 2013 for the Year of Faith. The event, which is due to take place from 13 to 15 September, will coincide with the general assembly of the order and will conclude with a celebration of the Eucharist presided by the Holy Father in St. Peter’s Basilica…
24 October 2012
Tags: Syrian Civil War Russia Maronite Patriarch Bechara Peter Priests Syro-Malankara Catholic Church
Maronite Patriarch Bechara Peter, left, walks with Msgr. John Kozar, president of CNEWA, at the patriarchal seat of the Maronite Catholic Church in Bkerke, Lebanon, on 13 September. (photo: CNS/courtesy of Maronite Patriarchate)
Lebanon’s Maronite patriarch, Syro-Malankara archbishop among six new cardinals (Catholic News Service) Pope Benedict XVI surprised pilgrims in St. Peter’s Square on 24 October by announcing he would create six new cardinals, including 63-year-old U.S. Archbishop James M. Harvey, prefect of the papal household. The pope said the consistory to create the new cardinals, who come from six countries, would take place on 24 November, the feast of Christ the King. It will be the smallest group of cardinals created since the 1977 consistory when Pope Benedict XVI, then Archbishop Joseph Ratzinger, received his red hat from Pope Paul VI along with three other churchmen. The new cardinals also will include: Lebanon’s Maronite Patriarch Bechara Peter, 72; Archbishop Baselios Cleemis Thottunkal, 53, head of the Syro-Malankara Catholic Church; Nigerian Archbishop John Olorunfemi Onaiyekan of Abuja, 68; Colombian Archbishop Ruben Salazar Gomez of Bogota, 70; and Philippine Archbishop Luis Tagle of Manila, 55...
Archbishop Shevchuck addresses Synod of Bishops (Vatican Radio) Finding new ways to preach the Gospel, especially in lands that have already received it, and to cultures that have been penetrated and formed by it, is one of the central points of focus for the fathers of the XIII Ordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops. This is a special and particular concern for the major archbishop of the Ukrainian Catholic Church, Sviatoslav Shevchuk of Kyiv-Galicia, who, at 42 years of age, is also the youngest of the synod fathers…
Russian Orthodox Church concerned about persecution of Christians in Syria (Voice of Russia) The Russian Orthodox Church is concerned about persecution of Christians in Syria and other Arab countries which suffered a rapid regime change. This statement was made by the head of the Synodal Department for External Church Relations, Metropolitan of Volokolamsk Hilarion, speaking Tuesday at a meeting of the United Nations General Assembly committee…
Orthodox bishops in America release pastoral letter marking anniversary of Emancipation Proclamation (OCA.org) On Tuesday, 23 October 2012, the Holy Synod of Bishops of the Orthodox Church in America released a pastoral letter marking the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation. Expressing concern for human trafficking and related issues today, the members of the Holy Synod note that, “as the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation draws near, Orthodox Christians in the United States understand that our freedom in Christ compels us to come closer to the world that we are to serve, protect, heal and transfigure. The Church cannot ignore God’s world — God’s creation. She cannot ignore God’s people, especially those deprived of their freedom…”
Planning underway for Egyptian Catholic TV network (Fides) Its name will be “Salam,” which in Arabic means “peace.” It will see the light of day within 2013, but the planning phase has already begun. It will be the first Egyptian Catholic television network…
23 October 2012
Tags: Violence against Christians Pope Benedict XVI Maronite Patriarch Bechara Peter Syro-Malankara Catholic Church Egypt's Christians
Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone (left), Vatican secretary of state, talks with his predecessor, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, dean of the College of Cardinals, before a meeting of the Synod of Bishops on the new evangelization at the Vatican on 9 October. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)
Cardinal Bertone discusses Syria mission (Vatican Radio) Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B. today addressed the Synodal assembly on the subject of the recent decision to send a delegation of Synod Fathers to Damascus, Syria. “Speaking before this assembly last Tuesday”, he said, “I announced the Holy Father’s decision to send a delegation to Damascus to express his solidarity and that of the Synod with the people of Syria who, unfortunately, have for some time been experiencing a tragic situation of suffering. The intention was also to express our spiritual closeness to our Christian brothers and sisters in that country, and to encourage those committed to seeking a solution respectful of the rights and duties of all. The initiative raised wide interest and received a positive welcome, not only in Rome and Syria, but also at the international level...”
Violence in Lebanon over Syria loyalties (Reuters) Four people were killed and 15 wounded in overnight gun battles in the Lebanese city of Tripoli in a second night of fighting between Sunni and Alawite gunmen loyal to different sides in the war in neighboring Syria, a military source said on Tuesday. In the capital Beirut, tension eased after troops fanned out across the city to clear the streets of gunmen who had clashed on Sunday night. The violence flared after Friday’s assassination in central Beirut of senior Lebanese security official Wissam al Hassan, who was opposed to the Syrian leadership...
Orthodox cleric threatened after condemning Golden Dawn (Ekathimerini) A Greek Orthodox cleric has been receiving threatening phone calls after speaking against the country's increasingly popular neo-fascist party, according to press reports. A verger at the Aghios Dimitrios church in West Macedonia has reported that an unknown person recently called and said: “We shall burn that commie.” The church has reportedly received numerous complaints and warnings from what appear to be supporters of Golden Dawn and nationalist activists. Metropolitan Pavlos of Siatista last week criticized Golden Dawn after members of the Greek far-right party protested against the premiere of Terrence McNally’s Corpus Christi in Athens...
Ethiopian Muslim Council election marred by violence (The Africa Report) The Muslim Council election in Ethiopia was marred by violence with two protesters reported to have been killed on Sunday. The incident occurred in the town of Gerba in the Amhara regional state of Ethiopia. Sources say that other civilians were also injured during the clash, and there are unconfirmed reports of the death of one federal police in the clash. The run up to the elections has been characterized by widespread protests by the Muslim community in the past few months. Protesters accused the government of interfering in religious affairs, a charge which has been denied.
22 October 2012
Tags: Syria Ethiopia Lebanon Muslim Orthodox
In this image from October 2011, Maronite Patriarch Bechara addresses the media during a news conference at CNEWA headquarters in New York, attended by CNEWA President John Kozar, seen in the background. Pope Benedict XVI sent the patriarch a telegram of condolence this weekend, following the deadly attack Friday in Beirut. (photo: CNS/Gregory A. Schemitz)
Vatican: Syria mission trip still being planned (VIS) Holy See Press Office Director Fr. Federico Lombardi today made the following statement: “The announced mission to Syria by representatives of the Holy See and the Synod of Bishops is still in the course of being studied and prepared, in order to be put into effect as soon as possible, and to respond effectively to its intended aims of solidarity, peace and reconciliation despite the very serious incidents that have taken place in the region recently”...
Pope sends telegram of condolence for Beirut bombing (Vatican Radio) “Having learned of the terrible attack in Beirut, killing many, His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI prayerfully participates in the pain of the bereaved families and, in the sadness of all the Lebanese people...”
Maronite Archbishop of Damascus addresses fears of Christians in Syria (Fides) in a note sent to Fides Agency, the Maronite Archbishop of Damascus, Samir Nassar stresses the first reactions recorded among the Christians of the Syrian capital after a car bomb exploded in the Christian area of the Old Town causing 13 deaths and dozens of wounded. Archbishop Nassar describes scenes of panic he witnessed, with parents running distressed “to look for their children in schools,” while the sirens of ambulances accentuate the unbearable feeling of living in an apocalyptic time...
Headscarf debate highlights Russian Muslim’s grievances (Reuters) A ban on girls wearing the Islamic headscarf to a school in southern Russia has angered Muslims and forced President Vladimir Putin, who has robustly defended the Orthodox Church, to affirm that Russia is a secular state. Muslims in the town of Kara Tyube in the Stavropol region say the ban on the hijab at School No. 12 forces their children to choose between their religion and a state education...
Russian Orthodox Church seeks land to build in India (Russia & India Times) The Russian Orthodox Church is on the lookout for land to build its first ever shrine in India, IANS said on Sunday. The church has been conducting services within the compound of the Russian Embassy in New Delhi since last year...
In Ethiopia, a pilgrimage to Mount Zeqwala (EthiopSports) Meanwhile, after reaching the top of the mountain, an old woman in her 60s, kissed the ground. After kissing the ground, she sat down solemnly. Trying to catch her breath, she looked down on the mountainous route she had followed. The scorching sunlight of the semi-desert mountainous terrain is a struggle for a couple of hours. One might feel like being roasted on a frying pan. And the reason for the gathering is that every year Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahdo followers celebrate Saint Abune Gebre Menfes Kidus’ Day on Tikimit 5 (15 October) on the mountain...
For the future of new evangelization, look to Ukraine (National Catholic Reporter) Back in 1974, music writer John Landau achieved immortality after attending a set in the Harvard Square Theatre by a then-obscure act out of New Jersey, and declaring: “I have seen the future of rock and roll, and its name is Bruce Springsteen.” In a similar vein, let me say here and now: “I have seen the future of the new evangelization, and its name is the Ukrainian Catholic University...”
19 October 2012
Tags: Syria India Ethiopia Lebanon Russian Orthodox
Men walk on a road amid destroyed buildings in Aleppo’s main Saadallah al-Jabari Square. Chaldean Bishop Antoine Audo of Aleppo tells British legislators that the city he “loves so much” has been left in ruins by fighting, and Christians are struggling to survive.
(CNS photo/SANA handout via Reuters)
Beirut bomb blast kills at least eight, wounding 80 (Reuters) A huge car bomb exploded in a street in central Beirut during rush hour on Friday, killing at least eight people and wounding about 80, witnesses and officials said. It was not immediately clear if the explosion targeted any political figure in Lebanon’s divided community but it occurred at a time of heightened tension between Lebanese factions on opposite sides of the Syria conflict. The bomb exploded in the street where the office of the anti-Damascus Christian Phalange Party is located near Sassine Square in Ashafriyeh, a mostly Christian area.
Bishop of Aleppo: “The city I love is in ruins” (Catholic Herald) The Chaldean Catholic Bishop of Aleppo, Syria, has said he is determined to stay with his suffering people even though his city is in ruins and many have already fled. Bishop Antoine Audo told MPs, charity leaders and peers in the Houses of Parliament: “Aleppo, the city I love so much and where I have been bishop this past 20 years, is now devastated — much of it in ruins.”
Egypt’s nuncio says Christian complaints are valid, but there is greater freedom (Catholic News Service) Some of Egypt’s Christians feel uncomfortable with Islamists in power, but there is greater freedom of speech than before the revolution, said the Pope’s ambassador to the Middle Eastern country. “I think there is a greater freedom now, though they accuse the present regime of also clamping down on people, on trying to control the press ... so they say that the president is becoming a pharaoh,” the Vatican nuncio, Archbishop Michael Fitzgerald, told Catholic News Service.
Russian Orthodox missionaries to work in Moscow train stations (The Moscow Times) Russian Orthodox missionaries will descend on Moscow train stations every Friday starting in November. Graduates of an Orthodox missionary course will have a chance to put theory into practice, serving as train station parish consultants, Interfax reported Wednesday. “During rush hour, professionally trained people will be available at train stations to advise anyone regarding the Orthodox faith and to hand out short texts such as leaflets and missionary booklets with further information,” Priest Dmitry, head of the church’s Moscow missions department, was quoted as saying.
Construction begins on Catholic University in Iraq (Fides) On Saturday, October 20 in Ain Kawa, a suburb of Erbil, capital of Iraqi Kurdistan, the first stone of the Catholic University will be placed. The ceremony will be attended by the governor of Erbil, Nawzad Hadi Mawlood, who in the opening speech will underline the support to civil institutions for an academic project considered of great social impact. The enterprise is, in its way, a fruit of the Synodal Assembly on the Middle East held in Rome in October 2010.
18 October 2012
Tags: Syria Iraq Egypt Lebanon Russian Orthodox
This church, photographed on 23 September, was damaged by fighting in the Old City of
Homs, Syria. (photo: CNS/Shaam News Network handout via Reuters)
Synod meeting calls for dialogue to resolve Syrian conflict (Fides) At the invitation of Maronite Patriarch Bechara, a meeting was held on Monday, 15 October at the Pontifical Maronite College. Attendees included, among others: Cardinals Timothy Dolan, Leonardo Sandri, Louis Tauran and Pèter Erdo, and Melkite Greek Catholic Patriarch Gregoire III Laham. The meeting provided the opportunity for a debate on the role and status of Christians in Lebanon and in the Middle East. The summary of the meeting, sent to the Fides Agency, says that those present at the meeting unanimously called for a solution to the conflict and the implementation of reforms to be achieved “through dialogue and political and diplomatic negotiation.”
Pope Benedict XVI meets with Metropolitan Hilarion (Vatican Radio) Pope Benedict XVI met on Tuesday with the head of the Russian Orthodox Church’s Department for External Church Relations to discuss common challenges, ecumenical developments and a recent landmark agreement between Moscow and the Polish Catholic Church.
Concerns over tensions at Temple Mount (Foreign Policy) Recent developments in Jerusalem pose a threat to the stability of the city and to the region. The world saw a preview over the recent Jewish holidays, when activists challenged the Israeli-imposed ban on Jewish prayer on the Temple Mount, known to Muslims as al Haram al Sharif. Sensitivities at the site tend to peak during any holiday season; however, these latest challenges cannot be dismissed as routine or benign.
Indian Christian cemetery creates an innovative solution to shortage of space (Express India) New Delhi In a city where residential space is shrinking rapidly, availability of land to rest the dead stands little chance. Most cemeteries in Delhi have been reporting a shortage of space, and now St. Thomas Christian Cemetery in Tughlakabad has taken a step forward to solve the problem. Reversing the idea of vertical highrises to increase housing space, the Tughlakabad cemetery is digging a 50-foot deep pit, with compartments for burial.
17 October 2012
Tags: Syria India Middle East Christians Jerusalem Pope Benedict XVI
In this 3 March 2010 photo, Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, greets Ahmad Mohamed al Tayeb, president of Al Azhar University in Cairo, Egypt, as they arrive for a press conference at National Cathedral in Washington. The Catholic and Sunni leaders were among religious representatives participating in a three-day international summit for peace and reconciliation. (photo: CNS/Nancy Wiechec)
Vatican sends delegation to Syria (Salt + Light) The Holy See will send a delegation of cardinals to Syria in the next few days to witness the suffering of Syrians in Damascus. The announcement was made on 16 October during the afternoon session of the Synod of Bishops on the New Evangelization for the transmission of the faith. The delegation will be made up of seven prelates, including Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, and Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of New York and CNEWA's chair and treasurer.
Cardinal Tauran expresses solidarity with Syrians (Vatican Radio) Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, as part of the above delegation, is expected to travel to Syria next week. Making the announcement of the visit on Tuesday, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, secretary of state, said the group was being sent by the Holy Father in order to express solidarity with the Syrian population. Speaking from the synod on Wednesday, Cardinal Tauran said the delegation’s trip to Damascus will have three dimensions. First, there will be an expression of “human solidarity towards people who are suffering — we think for example the elderly … the sick, the poor.” The second dimension is spiritual solidarity with families who are suffering, as well as “those who are rejoicing in this moment of great trial for the Catholic and the Christians in general in Syria.”
Vandals deface Orthodox church in Geneva (The Moscow Times) Vandals smudged red and purple paint on a Russian Orthodox cathedral in Geneva and wrote slogans including, “social peace is corrupted” and “revolution solidarity” on the pavement nearby, the Geneva and West European Diocese said. The attack was carried out early Monday morning on the Cathedral of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, which is affiliated with the Russian Orthodox Church, following a string of assaults on Russian Orthodox churches in recent weeks in Russia and Ukraine.
“Deep concern” over anti-Christian discrimination in Russia (Fides) The Presidency of the Council of the European Episcopal Conferences (C.C.E.E.), today sent a letter to Metropolitan Hilarion, President of the Department for External Relations of the Patriarchate of Moscow, expressing his “deep concern for the numerous and increasing manifestations of discrimination against Christians in various countries, and the spread of anti-Christian feelings and against the Church, especially in the Russian Federation over the past months.”
Leader of Jewish women’s group arrested for ‘singing’ at Western Wall (Haaretz) Jerusalem police arrested the leader of a Jewish women’s group fighting for the right to read from the Torah at the Western Wall on Tuesday evening, with members of the Women of the Wall group claiming that she was detained for singing at the holy site. Yizhar Hess, head of the Masorti Movement, said that the women detained by police “didn’t steal, hit, threaten, or even go over the speed limit. They just sang.” He added: “But, apparently only men can sing near the Western Wall.” In August, four women, two of whom were members of the women’s group were arrested and detained for “behavior that endangers the public peace” and wearing prayer shawls.
Israeli Defense Force beginning to draft ultra-Orthodox (Jerusalem Post) With the invalidation of the Tal Law, which allowed draft deferrals for ultra-Orthodox Jews, Defense Minister Ehud Barak said on Monday that the standard processes to draft recruits have been initiated among haredi youth 16 to 19 years old over the past few weeks. Speaking at a hearing of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, Barak said that although the procedures targeted at haredi teens are ongoing and increasing, he is refraining from drafting current yeshiva students until after the elections.
Tags: Syria Israel Violence against Christians Russian Orthodox Church Women