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




Election returns in Israel show a tight race between Benjamin Netanyahu and Benny Gatz, with Netanyahu’s grip on power hanging in the balance. (video: BBC/YouTube)

Netanyahu faces uncertain future as he trails election (CNN) Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s grip on power was hanging in the balance Wednesday after local TV channels projected him trailing his centrist rival Benny Gantz by just one seat, following a re-run general election…

Iran’s president may skip U.N. meeting (The New York Times) Iran’s president and other officials might not attend a United Nations gathering in New York next week because of obstacles raised by the United States, an Iranian state news outlet reported on Wednesday. Tehran and Washington have been locked in a tense standoff over an attack on Saudi Arabia this past weekend for which American officials have blamed Iran…

Pope has lunch with Patriarch Bartholomew (Vatican News) The meeting between the Pope and the Patriarch was held in “a fraternal atmosphere,” according to a communiqué from the Holy See Press Office…

Turkey’s president: up to three million refugees could return to Syria (BBC) Turkey’s president has said that up to three million Syrian refugees could return to their country to live in a “safe zone” in the north. Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the zone, which is already being set up in co-operation with the US, needed to be extended for the goal to be met…

In Ethiopia, religious extremism fans flames of ethnic division (The Africa Report) Ethiopian Christians took to the streets after morning mass on Sunday to protest multiple attacks on Ethiopian Orthodox churches in the country. The protests were mainly centered in the Amhara region and parts of Addis Ababa, and follow a year-long spate of attacks on both Orthodox and Protestant churches in the country…

Move to make Hindi official language upsets minorities in India (UCANews.com) A move by India’s ruling pro-Hindu party to promote Hindi as the prime language in the country, purportedly for national integration, has upset linguistic minorities…



Tags: India Ethiopia Israel Iran

17 September 2019
Greg Kandra




The cause for the canonization of two missionary priests who were martyred in India in the 19th century, Nicolas Michael Krick and Augustin-Etienne Bourry, has moved forward with the start of a formal inquiry. (photo: Vatican Media)

Sainthood cause for missionary martyrs in India moves forward (Vatican News) The cause of the beatification and canonization of two French missionaries, martyred in the mid-19th century in a remote village in north-east India, took a step forward on Saturday, 14 September, with the inauguration of the Diocesan Board of Inquiry at St. Peter’s Church, Tezu in Arunachal Pradesh…

Priest released from Indian jail; catechist still held (UCANews.com) A court in Jharkhand state, eastern India, has granted bail to a Catholic priest, as some 3,000 mostly tribal people staged a protest demanding the arrest of vandals who attacked a church-run college. The Rev. V.J. Binoy and catechist Munna Hansda of Bhagalpur Diocese were arrested 7 September, in their Rajadah mission area of Godda district, accused of land-grabbing and engaging in forced religious conversions…

Israelis head to polls (NPR) Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his Likud party are facing voters for the second time in just five months in an unprecedented contest that has the potential to end Netanyahu’s decade-long grip on power…

Iran rules out meeting with Trump (The New York Times) Iran has dismissed the possibility of a meeting between the country’s president, Hassan Rouhani, and President Trump on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly next week, the country’s state-run news media reported on Monday…

Church burnings on the rise in Ethiopia (Global Post) Churches belonging to the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church (EOTC) are being burned to the ground throughout Ethiopia — one of the world’s most religious countries, where about 98 percent of Ethiopians claim a religious affiliation. Church members have also reportedly been killed while trying to protect their churches…



Tags: India Ethiopia Israel Iran

16 September 2019
Greg Kandra




Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople prays before a reliquary containing bone shards believed to belong to St. Peter the Apostle, in Istanbul, Turkey, on 30 June 2019.
(photo: CNS/courtesy Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople)


Bartholomew: gift of relics is a crucial step (Vatican News) The Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, Orthodox Archbishop of Constantinople, has described Pope Francis’ gift of a portion of the relics of Saint Peter as “a new milestone” and a “crucial step” in the journey towards Christian unity…

U.S. says photos implicate Iran in Saudi oil attack; Trump hints at military action (The New York Times) The Trump administration intensified its focus on Iran Sunday as the likely culprit behind attacks on important Saudi Arabian oil facilities over the weekend, with officials citing intelligence assessments to support the accusation and President Trump warning that he was prepared to take military action…

Israel’s Ethiopian community denounces racism (Al Jazeera) More than two months after 19-year-old Solomon Teka was shot dead by an off-duty policeman, members of the Ethiopian-Israeli community continue to hold protests across Israel demanding racial equality. ”Justice for Solomon and all those killed,” chanted a dozen protesters in the northern city of Netanya on Saturday night, as they lit candles and waved colourful posters…

An Indian journalist’s struggle for a free media (UCANews.com) n the age of instant information via social media, an Indian journalist has been working to create a “space for ethical journalism” in the so-called mainstream media. For his “people-centered reporting,” Ravish Kumar of India’s New Delhi Television Network has been named one of this year’s recipients of the Ramon Magsaysay Award, “Asia’s Nobel Prize…”

Visiting one of the most important Christian shrines in Egypt (The Arab Weekly) On the western foothill of Mount Qosqam, in the Egyptian governorate of Asyut, the Monastery of Al Muharraq stands as one of the oldest operational monastic complexes in the world. Albeit unknown to many outside the Coptic Church, it is arguably the most important Christian location in the country. The Holy Family tradition states that the complex was built on the spot where Jesus, Mary and Joseph, along with their helper Salome, settled for six Coptic months and a few days during their flight into Egypt some 2,000 years ago…



Tags: India Egypt Pope Francis Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I Iran

13 September 2019
Greg Kandra




Nine shards of bone believed to belong to St. Peter lie inside a reliquary. Pope Francis gave the reliquary to the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew on 29 June. The Vatican has now released a letter the pope wrote to the patriarch about the relics.
(photo: CNS/courtesy Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople)


Pope writes to Ecumenical Patriarch about relics of St. Peter (Vatican News) Pope Francis has written to the Ecumenical Patriarch, Bartholomew, in order, as the Pope says in his letter, “to explain more fully the gift of some fragments of the relics of the Apostle Peter that I presented to Your Holiness.” In the letter to the Orthodox Archbishop of Constantinople, Pope Francis reviews what he calls “the uninterrupted tradition of the Roman Church” which “has always testified that the Apostle Peter, after his martyrdom in the Circus of Nero, was buried in the adjoining necropolis on the Vatican Hill…”

Ethiopia captures suspected ISIS members (VOA) The Ethiopian military has captured an undisclosed number of suspected Islamic State members operating in the country, officials said Wednesday. General Berhanu Jula, deputy chief of staff and director of military operations in the Ethiopian armed forces, confirmed the arrests but did not specify how many extremists were detained or in what part of the country they were apprehended. He said security forces continue to monitor other suspected ISIS sympathizers…

Indian cardinal demands release of priest, catechist (UCANews.com) An Indian cardinal has asked a court to immediately release a priest and catechist who are being detained on charges of conversion and land-grabbing in eastern Jharkhand state. Cardinal George Alencherry, the major archbishop of the eastern rite Syro-Malabar Church, made his appeal on 12 September after a court refused to bail Father V.J. Binoy and catechist Munna Hansda, five days after they were arrested…

600-year-old synagogue collapses in Kerala (India Today) A portion of the over 600-year-old Kadavumbhagam synagogue in Kochi’s Mattancherry collapsed on Tuesday after it was damaged due to rain. The structure had been in a dilapidated condition for the past few years…

Cable cars over Jerusalem spark worries of ’Disneyfication’ of holy city (The New York Times) Trumpeted by right-wing Israeli leaders as a green solution to the challenges of increased tourism and traffic in and around the Old City, the plan [to add cable cars] has provoked howls of protest from horrified Israeli preservationists, environmentalists, planners, architects and others who picture an ancient global heritage site turned into a Jewish-themed Epcot, with thousands of passengers an hour crammed into huge gondolas lofting across the sky. ”A total outrage against a fragile city,” the Israeli architect Moshe Safdie says. “An aesthetic and architectural affront…”



Tags: Ethiopia Kerala ISIS Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople

12 September 2019
Greg Kandra




The video above shows some of the recent devastation in Syria, with a growing number of children suffering casualties. A UN report says Syrian government forces backed by Russian warplanes may have committed war crimes in targeting schools and medical facilities.
(video: Al Jazeera/YouTube)


UN: US-led coalition may have committed war crimes in Syria (Al Jazeera) Syrian government forces backed by Russian warplanes may have committed war crimes while targeting medical facilities, schools, markets and farmland in an ongoing deadly campaign in northwestern Syria, UN investigators say. The UN Commission of Inquiry on Syria also said on Wednesday that Hay’et Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), a former al-Qaeda affiliate fighting government forces in the northwestern province of Idlib, fired rockets indiscriminately and killed civilians…

Indian state’s plan to fund Christian pastors sparks row (UCANews.com) Hindu groups have opposed a move by the chief minister of India’s Andhra Pradesh state to implement his election promise of paying a US$70 monthly honorarium to Christian pastors. The pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the southern state began its resistance after the state government on 27 August asked district officials to count the number of pastors in their areas…

‘Long way to go” before Russia and Ukraine repair relations (CNBC) A high-profile prisoner exchange between Russia and Ukraine is being seen as a boost to the possible resumption of peace talks, but some experts are tempering those hopes…

Shevchuk: marriage doesn’t solve the priest shortage (Crux) Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk, Major Archbishop of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, has urged those considering allowing priests in the Latin rite to marry in order to help solve a crippling shortage, to proceed with caution, saying marriage has not curbed shortages in his own rite…



Tags: Syria India Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church

11 September 2019
Greg Kandra




In this image from 2014, the Rev. M.J. Joseph, pastor of St. Alphonsa Church in India, leads a service for Dalits in a mud hut. Members of this poor and marginalized caste have appealed to Pope Francis for help to fight discrimination. (photo: John Mathew/CNEWA)

Dalits appeal to pope for help (UCANews.com) As Indian bishops prepare for their periodic visit to the Vatican, a group of socially poor Dalit people has appealed to Pope Francis to direct the prelates to work toward ending caste-based discrimination in the Church. The call from the Dalit Christian Liberation Movement (DCLM) came ahead of the Ad Limina Apostolorum meeting between 200 bishops from India’s 174 dioceses and Pope Francis in three groups from 13 September to 3 October…

Attacked Jesuit mission seeks action in eastern India (UCANews.com) A week after a mob of some 500 suspected Hindu hardliners vandalized a Jesuit mission in the eastern state of Jharkhand, church leaders have appealed to the governor to intervene and ensure police act against those responsible. The 11 September appeal to Governor Draupadi Murmu followed an attack on St. John Berchmans Inter College and an attached hostel for tribal students in the Mundli area of Sahibganj district eight days earlier…

Trapped in Jordan, Syrian refugees see no way home (AP) Seven years after fleeing the civil war in his homeland, Zahir Hamshari’s life is filled with questions and doubts: How to pay the rent? How to cover the electricity bill? How to afford even basic staples like bread and bottled water? But one thing is crystal clear for him. Like many Syrian refugees, he cannot envision returning to his war-torn country. ”There is no future for us in Syria,” Hamshari said. “Nothing encourages us to return back to Syria...”

Catholic bishop in Turkey calls for missionary effort, vocations (The Tablet) A Catholic bishop in Turkey has warned his Church lacks enough priests and places of worship to meet the needs of refugees and local residents, many of whom seek to return to Christianity or learn more about it. ”We need priests, nuns and laypeople who can help with the formation and daily pastoral care of Christians, which is made more complex by great distances”, said Bishop Paolo Bizzeti, an Italian-born Jesuit heading Turkey’s apostolic vicariate of Anatolia. “We also have Muslims who don’t intend to convert but wish to learn more about Christianity and help us convey its true values to Turkish society. This really is a land of opportunity for a Church wishing to become missionary again…”



Tags: India Refugees Jordan Dalits

10 September 2019
Greg Kandra




Syrian refugees are seen in 2015 at a makeshift camp in Adana, Turkey. After years of welcoming millions of Syrians, Turkey is now forcing thousands of refugees to leave.
(CNS photo/Nathalie Ritzmann)


Turkey, long a haven for Syrian refugees, is sending them home (The New York Times) Turkey, which for eight years has welcomed millions of Syrian refugees, has reversed course, forcing thousands to leave its major cities in recent weeks and ferrying many of them to its border with Syria in white buses and police vans. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is pushing a radical solution — resettling refugees in a swath of Syrian territory controlled by the United States and its Kurdish allies. If that does not happen, he is threatening to send a flood of Syrian migrants to Europe…

Russian Orthodox churches in Europe may reconnect with Moscow (La Croix) Russian Orthodox churches in Europe are preparing to reconnect with Moscow after nearly 90 years under the protection of Constantinople. An extraordinary General Assembly of 186 members met in Paris 7 September to decide whether to reconnect with the Russian Orthodox Church, which they left in 1931 because of persecution under Stalin’s anti-religious policy…

Kerala on high alert following warnings of possible terror attack (Gulf News) All district police chiefs in Kerala have been asked to stay on high alert, said Director General of Police (DGP) Kerala, Loknath Behera on Monday. Earlier on Monday, the Lieutenant General SK Saini, the General Officer Commanding-in-Chief (GOC-in-C), Army Southern Command had warned that there might be an attack on the southern states, following the discovery of some boats from the Sir Creek region in Gujarat…

UN: Israel may have ’willfully killed’ Gaza protestors (The Jerusalem Post) The UN accused Israel of killing and injuring “peaceful” Palestinian protesters at the Gaza border, when it opened the 42nd session of its Human Rights Council in Geneva on Monday…

Ancient seal found near Western Wall (The Jerusalem Post) A 2,600-year-old seal bearing a Hebrew name was uncovered in dirt excavated in 2013 near the Western Wall, archaeologist Eli Shukron said on Monday. The seal is inscribed with the name of “Adenyahu Asher Al HaBayit,” meaning “Adenyahu by Appointment of the House,” the most prominent role in the king’s court in the Kingdom of Judea that appears for the first time on the list of ministries of Solomon…



Tags: Refugees Jerusalem Turkey Russian Orthodox Church

9 September 2019
Greg Kandra




Alexandria, Egypt is surrounded on three sides by water is now threatened by rising sea levels. (photo: Wikipedia/Creative Commons)

Rising sea levels threaten Egypt’s Alexandria (Voice of America) Alexander the Great established the city more than 2,000 years ago. In that time, it has survived invasions, fires and earthquakes. But, Alexandria now faces severe flooding from rising waters blamed on climate change. Alexandria is Egypt’s second largest city, with more than 5 million people. It is also an important port and home to about 40 percent of Egypt’s industrial activity. The city is surrounded on three sides by the Mediterranean Sea and sits next to a lake…

Gandhi seeks reconstruction payments for flood-ravaged Kerala (The Hindu) Congress leader Rahul Gandhi has written to Union Minister Arjun Munda and Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, urging them for early payment of compensation to tribals and reconstruction measures in flood-hit areas in the State…

Report: ’air strikes’ hit near Iraq border (BBC) Warplanes have struck positions of Iran-backed militias near Syria’s border with Iraq, activists say. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based monitoring group, said at least 18 Iranian and pro-Iranian fighters were killed. It was not clear who carried out the overnight strikes in and around the town of Albu Kamal…

Catholic priest, catechist arrested in India (UCANews.com) A Catholic priest and a catechist were arrested and jailed on Sept. 7 in India’s Jharkhand state after they were accused of grabbing tribal people’s land and engaging in forced religious conversions. The Rev. V.J. Binoy and catechist Munna Hansda, who work in the Rajadah mission area in Godda district under Bhagalpur Diocese, were arrested after a complaint by a villager. Two villagers — village head Rameshwar Thakur and Charlis Hansda — were accused of the same charges but reportedly absconded. The four have been accused of violating the eastern state’s stringent anti-conversion law, which prohibits religious conversion through allurement or force and without informing government authorities…



Tags: Syria India Egypt

6 September 2019
Greg Kandra




Faithful gather to celebrate the parish feast of Holy Savior Church in Addis Ababa. (photo: Petterik Wiggers)

Ethiopia: Ethnic strife threatens church unity (DW) It started out as a legitimate grievance, Reverend Daniel Seifa Michael acknowledges: “There are issues that they have raised which are really of concern. Like the church has to be strong in the evangelical services in the Oromo communities. And the church has to provide Oromo language services,” the head of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church (EOC’s) foreign affairs department told DW. The linguistic problem has been turned into a political one, according to expert Mohammed Girma…

U.N.: More than a thousand civilians killed in Syria over four months (Al Jazeera) U.N. human rights chief says her office has tallied more than 1,000 civilian deaths in northern Syria over the last four months…

Archbishop criticizes India’s Freedom of Religion Act (Vatican News) The government of the northern Indian state of Himachal Pradesh, led by the pro-Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), passed a bill last week to check what it describes “forcible religious conversions”. Cutting across party affiliations, the Freedom of Religion Act, 2019 was unanimously passed in the state assembly on 30 August. Archbishop Felix Machado of Vasai Diocese spoke to Vatican News lamenting the bill saying conversion is a free and conscientious act which should be restricted but respected…

Palestinian refugees seek asylum in Canada (AP) Waving Palestinian and Canadian flags, hundreds of Palestinian refugees gathered outside the Canadian Embassy in Beirut on Thursday requesting asylum in the North American country. Many among the group lamented the deteriorating economic and living conditions in Lebanon, which is going through a severe economic crisis, and said they wanted a more dignified life…

Families press for memorial at site of Ethiopian plane crash (Reuters) Many of the relatives are now pressing for the farmland where the plane crashed to be turned into a permanent memorial. ”Out of respect to the dead, the crash site should be treated as a graveyard,” said Adrian Toole, a Briton whose daughter Joanna died in the crash, the second involving a Boeing 737-MAX in the space of five months…



Tags: Syria India Lebanon Ethiopia

5 September 2019
Greg Kandra




Metropolitan-Archbishop Borys Gudziak, head of the Ukrainian Catholic Archeparchy of Philadelphia, is seen in this undated photo. (photo: CNS/courtesy Ukrainian Catholic Archeparchy of Philadelphia)

Archbishop pushing for a papal visit to Ukraine (Crux) Archbishop Borys Gudziak, one of nearly 50 Ukrainian Greek Catholic bishops in Rome this week, says he and his fellow prelates are pushing harder than ever for a papal visit to Ukraine — a trip that he said is crucial to ending conflict in the country, but which is being held up by fear of potential reprisal from Russia…

A chapter of Jewish history in India comes to a close (UCANews.com) In the city locality of Mattanchery, a grief-stricken crowd had gathered in front of Sarah Cohen’s tiny house-cum embroidery shop which had served as a marker of by-gone time in so-called Jew Town. Cohen was hospitalized last week after she fell from her bed and later died back in her home on 30 August. She was 96 years of age. She was buried at the Jewish cemetery in Mattanchery, close to the synagogue on 1 September. She was the oldest of three Jews left in the once popular Jewish trade center on the coast of the Arabian sea in Kerala…

New archeological findings at Goliath’s birthplace (The Jerusalem Post) A new layer of the ancient Philistine city of Gath has been uncovered in an archeological excavation led by Aren Maeir of Bar-Ilan University — which has the potential to re-contextualize much of biblical history…

Syrian musicians defy limitations (Arab News) Despite the dominance of war and gloom in headlines about Syria these days, and despite the fact that the few positive stories reported via mass and social media are by and large about individual instances of success, the large majority of the Syrian people continue to soldier on. Whether in search of a sense of normalcy in daily life or in working hard to achieve a semblance of stability individually or as families, many Syrians are drawing on hard work, but also on creativity, to overcome difficulty. One particularly hopeful and active group of Syrians appears to be the country’s musicians…



Tags: Syria India Ukraine Jerusalem





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