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Current Issue
September, 2019
Volume 45, Number 3
  
18 January 2019
Greg Kandra




The Vatican yesterday announced guidelines to help the fight against human trafficking.
(video: Rome Reports/YouTube)


Vatican releases guidelines to help in fighting human trafficking (CNS) The Vatican has created a set of pastoral guidelines to inspire and improve the church’s work in addressing the crime of human trafficking and the care of its victims worldwide. The Migrants and Refugees Section of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development released its “Pastoral Orientations on Human Trafficking” 17 January at a Vatican news conference…

Week of Prayer for Christian Unity at heart of ecumenism (Vatican News) The joint celebration that kicks off the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is a powerful symbol of unity and of the recognition that Christian denominations are on the path to unity and getting closer in doctrine. The Week of Prayer, traditionally observed from 18 to 25 January, unfolds this year on the theme “Justice, and only justice, you shall pursue” inspired by Deuteronomy…

Ukraine approves property law affecting thousands of churches (AP) Ukraine’s parliament on Thursday adopted a bill spelling out procedures for transferring church property after a new unified Ukrainian Orthodox church was granted independence. The bill could potentially affect some 12,000 churches in Ukraine and vast amounts of property, including the gems of Orthodox Christianity like the vast Pechersk Monastery in the Ukrainian capital of Kiev…

Ethiopia allows almost one million refugees to live and work outside camps (Reuters) Ethiopia passed a law on Thursday giving almost 1 million refugees the right to work and live outside of camps, in a move praised for providing them with more dignity and reducing reliance on foreign aid…

Jerusalem hit by rare snowstorm (The Daily Mail) Snow covered Jerusalem in a rare flurry which swept across the Holy Land last night, including at the Dome of the Rock and Western Wall. Citizens of Jerusalem flocked to the streets to enjoy the rare sighting, with some even grabbing hold of their toboggans…



Tags: Ethiopia Ukraine Jerusalem Christian Unity

17 January 2019
Greg Kandra




Pope Francis speaks during his general audience in Paul VI hall at the Vatican on 16 January.
(photo: CNS/Paul Haring)


Pope: Christian unity is not optional (Vatican News) Pope Francis has reminded the faithful that “Ecumenism is not something optional.” Speaking during the weekly General Audience, the Pope looked ahead to the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity that takes place from 18 to 25 January. He noted that the annual “Week of Prayer”, on the theme “Justice, and only justice, you shall pursue,” kicks off with the celebration of Vespers in the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls on Friday…

Bishops visit West Bank refugee camp (Vatican News) The camp is run by UNRWA, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, which is also aiding refugees in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, East Jerusalem and Gaza. Travelling with the Bishops on this annual trip to support the Christian community living in the Holy Land, is Sean Farrell, Head of International Development with Trócaire, Ireland’s Catholic Development agency…

Pope appoints new bishop in India (Vatican News) The Holy Father on 17 January appointed the Rev. Stephen Antony Pillai as the new Bishop of Tuticorin, who takes over from retired Bishop Yvon Ambroise…

Indian court rules in favor of Christian missionary (UCANews.com) Delhi High Court recently quashed an order to deport a Christian doctor, India-born U.S. citizen Christo Thomas Philip, by ruling he has the right to practice his faith and offer his services for free, even if that involves propagating his faith…

Report names worst places of Christian persecution (The Express) Christians around the world are facing increasing levels of persecution, shocking new research has revealed, with those in Asia most likely to risk imprisonment, torture and even death for practicing the faith…



Tags: India Gaza Strip/West Bank Christian Unity

16 January 2019
Greg Kandra




Bishops from North America, Europe and South Africa visit the UNRWA camp and school in Jenin, West Bank. The visit was part of the annual Holy Land Coordination.
(photo: CNS/courtesy Marcin Mazur via catholicnews.org.uk)


Bishops see ‘incomprehensible complexity’ of Holy Land situation (CNS)Visiting with Christian communities in northern Israel and the northern Palestinian Territories has helped bishops participating in the annual Holy Land Coordination see “the great need” to promote an understanding between Israelis and Palestinians, said Bishop Noel Treanor of Down and Connor, Ireland...

Victims of anti-Christian violence in India still denied justice (Vatican News) The Catholic Church of eastern India’s Odisha state organized a meeting on Saturday to assess the state of justice and compensation with regard to the victims and survivors of the terrible anti-Christian violence in the state more than 10 years ago. About 3,000 survivors of the violence of Christmas 2007 and August 2008 and thereafter, together with Catholic Church authorities, lay leaders and rights activists gathered on 12 January in Raikia town of Odisha’s Kandhamal district that was the epicenter of the outrage…

Syrian Kurds reject Turkey-controlled security zone (Al Jazeera) Syria’s Kurds on Wednesday rejected a US proposal for a “security zone” under Turkish control along the Syrian side of the two countries’ border. Russia, meanwhile, said only its ally, the Syrian military, should police the war-torn country’s north…

Gaza health ministry warns of hospital shutdowns (The Jerusalem Post) Gaza hospitals are in danger of shutting down due to a fuel crisis, in particular the hospital in Beit Hanoun, the Gaza Health Ministry warned Tuesday in an English language post its Faceook page. ”In an unprecedented and rapid tragedy, the fuel crisis in hospitals and primary care centers continues to hit critical levels,” it said…



Tags: Syria India Middle East Christians Gaza Strip/West Bank

15 January 2019
Greg Kandra




President Trump spoke with Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan yesterday and discussed the possibility of a ‘safe zone’ in Syria. (video: CBS News/YouTube)

Leaders discuss possible ‘security zone’ for Syria (Al Jazeera) Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his US counterpart, Donald Trump, have discussed the situation in northern Syria over the phone amid rising tensions over the fate of Kurdish fighters in the war-torn country…

Syrian refugees brave harsh weather (Al Jazeera) Some 574 settlement structures and more than 22,000 refugees across the country were affected by the time the “ruthless” storm subsided a few days ago, according to figures from the UN refugee agency (UNHCR). Lebanon is home to more than one million Syrian refugees, most of whom live in informal settlements made out of tarpaulin tents supported by wooden frames. A major issue faced in the camps during rainfalls is the overflowing septic tanks, which leads to the seeping of sewage water into the camp’s crammed tents…

Number of student suicides climbing in India (UCANews.com) Exam stress and students’ fear of disappointing their parents, who often have high expectations, have been suggested as the main reasons for the spiking number of suicides in the country at this time of year. ”One student kills self every hour in India,” ran the headline of a Times of India story last year, citing the latest available government data from 2016. It said 9,474 students committed suicide in 2016…

Protesters block priests from entering church in Ukraine (Radio Free Europe) There was a confrontation at a church in northern Ukraine, as residents prevented priests affiliated with the Moscow Patriarchate from entering on Sunday, 13 January. There has been tension in the Orthodox community since the Orthodox Church of Ukraine recently split from the Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate…

Orthodox Church has no plans to change date of Russian Christmas (The Moscow Times) The Russian Orthodox Church has said it has no plans to move the date Christmas to 25 December in line with other Christian churches. Orthodox Christians follow the Julian calendar, which celebrates the birth of Christ on 7 January. Some Russian officials, including the firebrand leader of the LDRP Vladimir Zhirinovsky, have previously called for Russians to celebrate Christmas on 25 December as dictated by the Gregorian calendar…



Tags: Syria India Ukraine Russian Orthodox Church Refugee Camps

14 January 2019
Greg Kandra




There are indications ISIS may be making its last stand in Syria, according to forces battling them. (video: BBC/YouTube)

U.S.-backed Syrian force: ISIS is in its ’final moments’ (Reuters) Islamic State militants are “living their final moments” in the last enclave they hold near the Iraqi border, where U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) are attacking them, an SDF official said on Sunday…

India’s Latin-rite bishops create two commissions (Vatican News) The Conference of Catholic Bishops of India (CCBI) that brings together the Latin bishops of the country’s 132 dioceses, concluded its plenary assembly on Monday establishing two new commissions, a CCBI press release said. 143 bishops participating in CCBI’s 31st Plenary Assembly held in Mahabalipuram, Tamil Nadu state, from 7 to 14 January, voted in favour of establishing the new Commissions for Ecology and for Small Christian Communities (SCC)…

Mother sets herself and children on fire at Syrian refugee camp (Sydney Morning Herald) A Syrian mother has attempted to burn herself and her children to death at a refugee camp in eastern Syria after she failed to find food for her family for three straight days, a civil defense spokesman says…

New road divides Israelis and Palestinians (CNN) The newest road in the West Bank is sparking controversy. Designed to ease traffic between Jerusalem and nearby settlements, it looks and feels like any other road. Israeli officials call it Route 4370, but its detractors have another name for it: “apartheid road…”

Kiev military hospital joins new Orthodox Church of Ukraine (Kiev Post) The Church of the Intercession of the Holy Virgin at the Main Military Hospital in Kiev has become part of the newly created Orthodox Church of Ukraine (OCU). The hospital church has been subordinate to the then Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate (UOC-MP) for over 20 years, Ukrainian TV Channel 5 reports…



Tags: Syria India Ukraine Refugee Camps Indian Bishops

11 January 2019
Greg Kandra




In this image from November, schoolchildren walk as U.S. troops patrol in Hassakeh, Syria. The U.S. announced it has begun troop withdrawals from Syria.(photo: CNS/Rodi Said, Reuters)

U.S. forces begin withdrawal from Syria (The New York Times) The United States has started withdrawing its troops from Syria, an American military spokesman said on Friday, further muddling the Trump administration’s plans for disengagement from one of the Middle East’s most complex battlefields…

Syro-Malabar Church to set up internal committees on ’Safe Environment Policy’ (UCANews.com) The Kerala-based Syro-Malabar Church has decided to set up internal committees at the diocesan level co-opting lay leaders to study complaints of sex abuse and financial mismanagements. The ongoing synod of the Syro-Malabar Archiespicoal Church Thursday decided to implement the “Safe Environment Policy” in order to create a “safe environment” for all, including children and vulnerable adults…

Syrian refugees wading through water in Lebanon camps (Al Jazeera) Tarima Ibrahim huddled together with her children to keep them warm as incessant rainfall, heavy winds and hail slapped their tarpaulin tent and lashed the refugee camp around it. ”We are freezing,” she said. “The tent is not heating up because it is flooded with ice-cold water.” Lebanon was hit by Storm Norma on 6 January, heavily impacting at least 360 informal refugee settlements and putting 850 others at risk…

Ukrainian Catholic leader says unity of Catholics and Orthodox is not utopian thinking (Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church) “Today the ecumenical movement at a universal scale is a fact,” he said. “It cannot be stopped anymore…”

Russia-Ukraine conflict enters its fifth year (Newsweek) As Ukraine marked the fifth anniversary of the start of its armed conflict with Russian-backed separatists, Kiev said there were multiple violations of its cease-fire agreement in the eastern part of the country known as the Donbas…

Are Armenian-Israeli relations warming up? (The Jerusalem Post) ”We identify strongly with the Jewish people,” says Armenian Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanyan. “We are very different from our neighbors. We have a long history, and have survived many wars and invasions. We know how to adapt to different cultures…”



Tags: Syria Ukraine Armenia Syro-Malabar Catholic Church

10 January 2019
Greg Kandra




Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state, greets an Iraqi religious man during a Christmas visit to Baghdad. In an interview after his return, the cardinal spoke of being touched by the deep faith of Iraqi Christians. (photo: CNS/courtesy Chaldean Catholic Patriarchate)

Cardinal touched by faith of Iraqi Christians (Vatican News) Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin described his 4-day Christmas visit to Iraq as one full of meaning to a Church that, amidst suffering and tribulation, bears witness to the joy and beauty of the Gospel. He expressed the hope of the Iraqi faithful for a visit by Pope Francis and underscored the importance of collaboration between Christians and Muslims for a peaceful future in the country…

Pope urges Indian Church to bear fruits of faith, charity (Vatican News) Pope Francis has sent his blessings to India’s Latin-rite bishops, wishing their plenary assembly bear much fruit in the service of their faithful, helping them to grow in faith and charity. “His Holiness sends fraternal greetings to you and your brother Bishops gathered on this occasion, and invites you ‘to a renewed personal encounter with Jesus Christ... an openness to letting Him encounter [you]… unfailingly each day (Evangelii Gaudium, 3),” wrote Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin in a message sent on behalf of the Pope to the bishops…

India’s citizenship bill stirs fears of migrant invasion (UCANews.com) Widespread protests continue in northeast India after the government passed a controversial bill this week to grant citizenship to non-Muslim migrants from neighboring nations. Critics have blasted the move as being politically motivated in an election year — the general election is due in the coming months as the ruling party’s term ends in May — and say it violates the country’s secular values…

Turkey says it will launch offensive if U.S. delays pullout from Syria (The Guardian) Turkey will launch an offensive against Syrian Kurdish forces if the US delays the withdrawal of its troops from Syria, the foreign minister has said. ”If the [pullout] is put off with ridiculous excuses like Turks are massacring Kurds, which do not reflect the reality, we will implement this decision,” Mevlüt Çavusoglu told NTV television…



Tags: India Iraqi Christians Turkey Indian Bishops

9 January 2019
Greg Kandra




The video above shows the dramatic impact of a winter storm that devastated refugee camps in Lebanon Monday. (video: Straits Times/YouTube)

Storm wrecks refugee camps in Lebanon (AFP) Heavy rains and snow wrecked several informal settlements housing Syrian refugees in Lebanon and left thousands in need of emergency assistance, aid workers said on Tuesday (8 Jan). Some of the worst affected were the refugees living in Arsal, a mountainous border area in northern Lebanon where the roofs of rudimentary shacks caved under the weight of the snow…

Christians concerned about religious freedom if Turkey enters Syria (CNS) Growing numbers of Christians in North America and Europe are joining Christians in Syria’s northeast in expressing concern for the future of religious minorities and Kurds in that region should the U.S. give Turkey the “green light” to take over the fight against Islamic State. ”News of any Turkish military involvement in northern Syria impacts us strongly and negatively,” Chaldean Catholic Father Samir Kanoon of Qamishli, Syria, told Catholic News Service…

Ethiopia-Eritrea border boom as peace takes hold (BBC) The reopening of the border between former enemies Ethiopia and Eritrea has dramatically changed the towns near the frontier, writes the BBC’s Emmanuel Igunza…

Russian Patriarch: Antichrist will use Internet to control people’s lives (The Moscow Times) The leader of the Russian Orthodox Church has said that humans’ dependence on modern technology will result in the coming of the Antichrist. In an interview with Russian state media, Patriarch Kirill explained he does not entirely oppose gadgets, but warned against “falling into slavery” to smartphones. Patriarch Kirill said that the collection of user data including “location, interests and fears” will make it possible for humans to be controlled by external forces…



Tags: Lebanon Ethiopia Russian Orthodox Church Eritrea Refugee Camps

8 January 2019
Greg Kandra




In the video above, an Egyptian bishop describes the tremendous faith of his people and how it has been strengthened by persecution and violent attacks in his country. The Vatican's Fides news agency reports 40 missionaries and pastoral workers around the world were killed in 2018.
(video: Rome Reports/YouTube)


Report: 40 missionaries killed around the world in 2018 (Vatican News) In the course of the year 2018, 40 “missionaries” and pastoral workers were killed around the world, almost double the previous year’s toll of 23, the Vatican’s Fides news agency reported. Until 2017, the Americas led the way for 8 consecutive years for the highest number of missionaries killed. In 2018, Africa topped the list…

Red Cross rescues hundreds of Syrians from flooded refugee camp (The Daily Star) The Lebanese Red Cross rescued more than 500 people from Akkar’s Semmaqieh refugee settlement Monday after their tents filled with floodwater as storm Norma battered Lebanon with fierce winds, heavy snow and rainfall…

Egypt policeman killed defusing bomb near Coptic church (BBC) A policeman has been killed trying to defuse a bomb outside a Coptic Christian church in Egypt, security officials say. Mustafa Abid was reportedly a specialist in mine clearance. The explosion injured two other officers and an onlooker…

Muslims slam India’s verbal divorce bill (UCANews.com) Opposition to India’s move to criminalize verbal divorce among Muslims continued in early January after the governing pro-Hindu party sought to push a bill through parliament last month that would outlaw the practice, which is still prevalent among Muslims…

For Orthodox churches in Ukraine and Russia, a politically charged Christmas (CNN) This Christmas, however, is a politically charged one for both Russia and Ukraine. On Saturday 5 January, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople signed a decree called a “tomos” that granted independence to the Orthodox Church in Ukraine. The decree furthers a push begun in October to recognize the establishment of an independent Orthodox Church in the country. And it has given Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko an important symbolic victory ahead of a presidential vote slated for the end of March…

Priest turns derelict land into ’Garden of Eden’ in Delhi (UCANews.com) The Delhi Archdiocese has set up an eco-spirituality center for meditation on the edge of the capital powered by renewable energy that features quake-proof cottages, an organic diet and farm animals. It is called Ish Vatika (the Garden of God) and is managed by Father Stanley Kozhichira, national president of the Catholic media organization Signis India...



Tags: India Egypt Ukraine Orthodox Persecution

7 January 2019
Greg Kandra




Pope Francis greets an ambassador during an annual meeting to exchange greetings for the new year with diplomats accredited to the Holy See, at the Vatican on 7 January.
(photo: CNS/Ettore Ferrari, pool via Reuters)


Pope to diplomats: ’Nationalistic tendencies’ threaten world peace (CNS) As it did prior to the Second World War, the rise of nationalism in the world poses a threat to peace and constructive dialogue among nations, Pope Francis said. During his annual address to diplomats accredited to the Vatican, the pope said that the establishment of the League of Nations nearly 100 years ago ushered a new era of multilateral diplomacy based on goodwill, readiness among nations to deal fairly and honestly with each other and openness to compromise…

Two Americans accused of fighting for ISIS captured by Kurds in Syria (The Washington Post) Kurdish forces in Syria said Sunday that they had captured two American citizens hiding out in the country’s final Islamic State stronghold. In a statement, the Syrian Democratic Forces, or SDF, identified the detainees as Warren Christopher Clark, 34, and Zaid Abed al-Hamid, 35. It said the pair had been captured alongside three others suspected of being foreign recruits in the extremist group.

Ethiopians celebrate Christmas (Andalou Agency) Ethiopian Orthodox Christians on Monday celebrated Christmas with religious leaders calling the laity to pray and work for the maintenance of peace and unity. In a sermon on the Christmas Eve, Abune Mathias, Patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, said: “The people, particularly the youth, should work for the maintenance of peace.” Ethiopian Orthodox Christians celebrate Christmas on 7 January, along with other Eastern Orthodox Christians around the world, some two weeks after 25 December, when their Western counterparts celebrate Jesus’ birth…

Survivors of anti-Christian violence in India enter consecrated life (Vatican News) On 27 December, Father Anand was ordained a priest of the Order of Friars Minor and his sister, Anjali, pronounced her final vows as a member of the Society of Saint Anne of Luzern. The two are survivors of India’s 2008 anti-Christian violence in Odisha state. In 2018, Christians in eastern India’s Odisha state marked the 10th anniversary of the terrible massacre and atrocities inflicted on them by Hindu extremists. The year ended with the grace and blessing of the Lord when two siblings who survived the persecution, offered themselves to the Lord in consecrated life…

Putin marks Christmas in St. Petersburg (EuroNews) Russian Orthodox Christians have marked Christmas with a special midnight mass held in churches and cathedrals across the country. President Vladimir Putin attended a service in Saint Petersburg’s Transfiguration Cathedral, where his mother had him baptized in secrecy during Soviet times…

Pictures: Christians around the world mark Epiphany (AP) Christians across the world have been marking Epiphany, with worshippers plunging into icy waters and parades being held in Poland and elsewhere. At the Vatican, Pope Francis marked the Epiphany feast day by urging people to follow the path of “humble love” and care for those who can give nothing back…



Tags: India Pope Francis Ethiopia Russian Orthodox Church





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