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Current Issue
July, 2019
Volume 45, Number 2
  
31 July 2019
Greg Kandra




Migrants are seen after being rescued by the Libyan coast guard, in Tripoli, Libya, on 26 July 2019. At least 115 migrants were believed dead after their wooden boat headed for Europe capsized near the north African coast of Libya on 25 July. Pope Francis in his Angelus message Sunday appealed for the international community to "act quickly" to prevent future tragedies.
(photo: CNS/Ismail Zitouny, Reuters)


Pope calls for action to prevent migrant deaths (CNS) Days after rescue workers recovered the bodies of dozens of migrants in the Mediterranean Sea, Pope Francis urged the international community to “act quickly” to prevent future tragedies. ”I have learned with sorrow the news of the dramatic shipwreck that happened in recent days in the Mediterranean waters where dozens of migrants including women and children have lost their lives,” he said after praying the Angelus with visitors in St. Peter’s Square…

Catholic group helps India quake victims rebuild (UCANews.com) The Catholic social service group of Rajkot Diocese, Kutch Jyoti Trust Bhuj, offered loans for people wishing to start income-generating projects. Ben took a loan of 12,000 rupees (then US$200) and purchased tools required for her husband to resume his carpentry work in 2003, two years after the quake. Soon the couple started a furniture shop in the village, repaid the loan within two years and got a subsidy of 3,000 rupees…

UN demands inquiry after Syria hospitals bombed (Al Jazeera) As the Syrian government continues to attack Idlib in the country’s northwest, 10 United Nations Security Council members have called on the UN chief to set up an inquiry into why its hospitals have been singled out. They’ve asked UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to take action as the UNSC meets for the seventh time to discuss the growing number of people killed in Idlib…

Ethiopia plants more than 350 million trees in 12 hours (CNN) Ethiopia planted more than 353 million trees in 12 hours on Monday, which officials believe is a world record. The burst of tree planting was part of a wider reforestation campaign named “Green Legacy,” spearheaded by the country’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed. Millions of Ethiopians across the country were invited to take part in the challenge and within the first six hours, Ahmed tweeted that around 150 million trees had been planted…

New entrance could transform Jerusalem skyline (Jewish Press) An ambitious plan for the new entrance to Jerusalem is underway, which will forever change the main entrance to the capital city of Israel. The new complex, expected to be completed by 2022, will feature 24 towers, spanning between 24 and 40 flights tall. The towers will include approximately 1.5 million square meters of space that will be used for office space, hotels, housing units, and commerce…



Tags: India Pope Francis Ethiopia Jerusalem Migrants

29 July 2019
J.D. Conor Mauro




Italian Jesuit Father Paolo Dall’Oglio is pictured in 2008 in an ancient cave near the Mar Musa monastery in Syria. (photo: CNS/John Feister)

Six years after priest’s disappearance, Syrian Christians seek prayers, answers (AsiaNews) Syrian Christians are asking that prayers continue so that one day we may find “the truth” of what happened to Jesuit Rev. Paolo Dall’Oglio six years after he went missing. Originally from Rome, the clergyman was the founder of the Deir Mar Musa al-Habashi community. Over the years, various rumours have circulated about his fate, but none have ever proven reliable. The last known sighting was in Raqqa, the stronghold of the “Caliphate” in Syria. Father Dall’Oglio went missing on the night between 28 and 29 July 2013, after he went to the headquarters of ISIS … demanding the release of several hostages in the hands of the jihadist group…

ISIS threat hovers over Syria camp, rattling authorities (Al Monitor) Stabbing guards, stoning aid workers and flying the Islamic State group’s black flag in plain sight, the wives and children of the ‘caliphate’ are sticking by the jihadists in a desperate Syrian camp. Months after the defeat of the jihadist proto-state, families of ISIS fighters are among 70,000 people crammed into the Kurdish-run Al Hol camp in northeastern Syria…

Church in India lauds public statement against lynchings (UCAN India) Catholic leaders in India have welcomed news that 49 of the country’s most prominent personalities have written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to seek his intervention in religion-based violence…

Goa church opposes garbage plant near UNESCO-listed churches (UCAN India) The Roman Catholic Church in Goa on Sunday expressed its opposition to the proposed garbage treatment plant near the historically significant Old Goa Church complex near Panaji, claiming it is in close proximity to the 17th-century UNESCO-recognised monuments and that the proposal would not be acceptable to any “right-minded” Goan…

Catholic church inaugurated in Minya (Egypt Today) Coptic Catholic Patriarch Ibrahim Isaac inaugurated on Sunday Mar Gerges Church in Minya’s Nagaa al Dek in the attendance of Ambassador of the Holy See Bruno Musaro, Minya Bishop Boutros Fahim, and Sohag Bishop Basilius…



Tags: Syria India Egypt

26 July 2019
Greg Kandra




In this image from 2018, a car in Mosul, Iraq, drives past "I love Mosul" graffiti. At the UN this week, the Holy See urged tolerance, dialogue and acceptance among different peoples living together in the Middle East. (photo: CNS/Ari Jalal, Reuters)

Holy See urges tolerance in Middle East (Vatican News) The Holy See is urging the Middle East to make more efforts in promoting a “dialogue for a culture of tolerance, acceptance of others and of living together peacefully.” “This is a critical moment in which all countries of the region must not squander peaceful advances by falling back into hostilities sparked by the simmering conflicts of the regional powers,” said Archbishop Bernardito Auza, the Holy See’s Apostolic Nuncio and Permanent Observer to the United Nations in New York, on Tuesday…

Syrian refugees panic as threat of deportation rises in Lebanon (Al Jazeera) Lebanese security forces are increasingly carrying out raids at businesses and refugee camps, according to reports, renewing concerns that Syrian refugees are at risk of being unfairly deported and mistreated. Growing reports of raids over the past few weeks follow a Lebanese government drive against undocumented foreign labor, a move Syrians feared was aimed at earmarking them…

UN: More than 100 killed in Syria air raids (Al Jazeera) Air raids by the Syrian government and its allies in the country’s last rebel-held enclave have killed more than 100 civilians in the past 10 days, according to the United Nations, which said the three-month campaign has displaced more than 400,000 people. The 103 dead from the recent air attacks on schools, hospitals, markets and bakeries included at least 26 children, UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet said on Friday, adding that the rising toll had been met with “apparent international indifference…”

Orthodox cathedral reportedly vandalized (Religious Information Service of Ukraine) After the court decision on the transfer to the use of the Russian Ministry of Property of the Crimea, the property of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine Cathedral of the Holy and Equal-to-the Apostles Volodymyr and Olha in Simferopol was “looted and destroyed,” Archbishop Klyment of the Crimean Diocese of the OCU told Krym.Realii…

India’s ruling party reaches out to Christians (UCANews.com) India’s politically dominant pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has launched a bid in the north-eastern state of Mizoram to improve its image among members of the Christian majority there. Mizoram has the highest concentration of tribal people of any Indian state and Christians form 87 percent of its 1.1 million people…

Ukraine says it has seized a Russian tanker (Vatican News) Ukraine says it has seized a Russian tanker in a Black Sea port prompting an angry response from Moscow. The move comes just months after Russia attacked Ukrainian vessels amid an ongoing conflict between the two neighbors…



Tags: Syria India Ukraine United Nations

25 July 2019
Greg Kandra




Refugees at a large camp in Syria complain of endless illness, dirty water and hot tents.
(video: AFP/YouTube)


Residents of Syria refugee camp face disease, dirty water (AFP) Kurdish-led forces expelled the last Islamic State group fighters from the riverside hamlet in March, after streams of people poured out of the jihadists’ embattled holdout. Months later, they are among the 70,000 people — mostly women and children — packed into the camp, where residents depend on aid and complain of endless illness, dirty water and boiling hot tents…

Ethiopian crisis triggers new displacement (Reuters) Ethiopia’s latest displacement is in the southern regional town of Yirgalem, a town that was hit by deadly unrest related to the autonomy push by the Sidama people. The BBC quotes an official who said over 450 people were sheltering in a church having fled their homes for fear of attacks. Sidama is located in Ethiopia’s multi-ethnic Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples’ region, SNNPR. The displaced are said to have fled into a district in the neighbouring Oromio Regional State…

Iraq unearths mass graves (VOA) Four mass graves with dozens of bodies believed to be Kurds killed by the former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein’s forces were found in the desert of al-Muthanna province in southern Iraq. Early exhumation of the mass graves about 80 kilometers southwest of al-Samawah city has found bodies of 70 people, said Jabar Omar, the chief of Kurdistan Region’s Office of Martyrs and Anfal Affairs in Garmyan, who also oversees the unearthing process. The people, consisting mostly of women and children, are believed to have been killed between 1987-1988, during the Iraqi former regime’s “Anfal campaign” against the Kurds…

Muslims, Christians criticize Indian minister’s comments on ’fake’ lynchings (UCANews.com) Leaders of India’s religious minorities have been shocked by a government minister’s claim that most reports of cow-related lynchings were fabricated. Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, the minister for Minority Affairs, said in an interview published online 21 July that the majority of mob lynchings were “concocted and fake.” Christian and Muslim leaders, as well as rights activists, say he was in truth defending his government’s pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which is accused of tacitly approving Hindu violence in the name of protecting the animal revered by orthodox members of their religion...

Archeologists confirm tale of crusaders’ siege of Jerusalem (Ars Technica) Recent excavations south of Jerusalem unearthed a ditch used to defend against siege towers, along with a ruined house Crusaders may have used as cover during a battle. The finds confirm some oft-questioned details of historical accounts of the First Crusade, including how a ditch along the city’s southern wall thwarted the attacking siege engines. And this new evidence provides tangible links to events recorded 920 years ago…



Tags: Syria India Ethiopia Jerusalem

23 July 2019
Greg Kandra




Airstrikes on a busy Syrian market killed dozens of people on Monday, turning buildings into piles of rubble. (video: Al Jazeera/YouTube)

At least 27 killed in attack on Syrian market (AP) Multiple airstrikes hit a busy market in a rebel-controlled town in northwestern Syria on Monday, killing at least 27 people and turning several buildings into piles of rubble, according to opposition activists and a war monitor. Shortly after the strikes, state media said rebels shelled a government-held village, killing seven…

Lynching attacks worry church leaders in India (UCANews.com) Church leaders in India have concerns of further civilian unrest after mob attacks killed eight people in three separate incidents over the weekend. In the latest incident on 20 July, a group of more than 10 men beat and killed four people — two men and two women — in the Gumla district of Jharkhand state. The four deceased, all aged between 60 and 65, came from three different families…

Israel begins tearing down Palestine housing (The New York Times) Israeli equipment arrived before dawn on Monday and began clawing at the first of 10 Palestinian apartment blocks that were scheduled for demolition because the government said they were built too close to its security barrier in a Palestinian area of the West Bank abutting Israeli-annexed East Jerusalem…

Sri Lanka’s bombed church re-consecrated (Vatican News) A Catholic church north of the Sri Lankan capital, Colombo, was re-consecrated on Sunday, three months after it was badly damaged in a string of suicide bombings on Easter Sunday that rocked the Indian island nation. St Sebastian’s Church in Katuwapitiya, Negombo city, unveiled a stone monument inscribed with the names of 114 people who were killed in the 21 April attack, during the re-consecration ceremony that included Holy Mass…



Tags: Syria India Palestine Persecution

22 July 2019
Greg Kandra




A member of the White Helmets, also known as the Syria Civil Defense, uses a saw on rubble after an airstrike in Idlib, Syria, on 16 July 2019. Pope Francis urged Syrian President Bashar Assad to put an end to his nation's eight-year-long conflict and seek reconciliation for the good of the country and its vulnerable people. (photo: CNS/White Helmets, social media via Reuters)

Pope writes Syrian president, calling for peace (CNS) Pope Francis urged Syrian President Bashar Assad to put an end to his country’s eight-year-long conflict and seek reconciliation for the good of the nation and its vulnerable people. ”The Holy Father asks the president to do everything possible to put an end to this humanitarian catastrophe, in order to protect the defenseless population, especially those who are most vulnerable, in respect for international humanitarian law,” said Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state…

Death toll from flood rising in India (Al Jazeera) The death toll in India continues to rise after flooding and landslides ravaged several parts of the country, forcing tens of thousands of people from their homes and millions more affected. At least 142 people have died in two Indian states, Assam and Bihar, since monsoon flooding began earlier this month…

Ukraine votes amid concerns over corruption (Vatican News) Sunday’s parliamentary election was overshadowed by mounting concerns about financial wrongdoing by influential figures ranging from powerful business leaders to politicians, the police and even judges…

Restoring churches seen as key to have Christians return to Middle East (CNS) Speakers at a conference last week in Washington argued that restoring churches in violence-plagued sections of the Middle East will help foster the return of Christians who fled the strife, as well as introduce greater stability to the region. ”Billions of dollars will be needed to reconstruct and rehabilitate the holy places in Syria,” said Archimandrite Alexi Chehadeh, a member of the ecumenical relations department of the Greek Orthodox Church…

At least 17 killed in violence in Ethiopia (Al Jazeera) At least 17 people have been killed in clashes between Ethiopian security forces and activists seeking a new autonomous region for their Sidama ethnic group, according to a local official and hospital authorities. A local district official told Reuters news agency on Saturday that at least 13 people were killed in a town near Hawassa city, 275 kilometers [about 170 miles] south of the capital Addis Ababa, while hospital authorities said on Friday that four protesters had died of gunshot wounds in the city itself…



Tags: Syria India Pope Francis Ukraine

19 July 2019
Greg Kandra




Heavy rains continue to lash Kerala and other parts of India, as the monsoon gains strength.
(video: Al Jazeera/YouTube)


Heavy rains lash Kerala; monsoon gains strength (India Today) Heavy rains lashed several parts of Kerala for the second day Friday as the southwest monsoon intensified in the state after a period of lull. According to the India Meteorological Department website, some places in Kozhikode and Idukki districts, where a red alert has been sounded, recorded around 14 cm rainfall (about 5 inches) in the past 24 hours ended at 8.30 am Friday…

Iran says U.S. may have shot down drone by mistake (USA TODAY) Iran denied Friday it lost a drone in the Strait of Hormuz after the United States said it had “destroyed” an Iranian drone that was threatening a U.S. ship. ”We have not lost any drone in the Strait of Hormuz nor anywhere else. I am worried that USS Boxer has shot down their own UAS (Unmanned Aerial System) by mistake!,” Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi said on Twitter…

Iraqi Christians facing deportation express sense of betrayal (The Guardian) Yousuf is one of over 1,400 Iraqi nationals who the Trump administration is attempting to deport. Most of those are Chaldean — Iraqi Catholics — living in metro Detroit, which holds the world’s largest Chaldean population outside of Iraq. The administration’s deportation efforts are viewed by many Chaldeans as a shocking “betrayal”, not least because many in the community have been enthusiastic supporters of Trump and voted for him in large numbers in 2016…

Church seeks probe into Mumbai building collapse (UCANews.com) Catholics in India’s commercial hub of Mumbai have joined demands for an official inquiry into the collapse of a four-story building that killed at least 10 people. The century-old building in the rain-soaked city collapsed on the morning of 16 July, trapping scores of residents under debris. Mumbai, a western city of some 20 million people, has had several British colonial buildings collapse in recent years…

Miniature Russian icons disappearing (The New York Times) With the collapse of the Soviet Union, the renaissance of the Russian Orthodox Church revived icon painting. It is miniature art now facing extinction…



Tags: India Iraqi Christians Kerala Russian Orthodox Church Chaldeans

18 July 2019
Greg Kandra




Monsoon floods this week have left millions homeless in India. (video: SBS Australia/YouTube)

Church groups join rush to help India flood victims (UCANews.com) Church groups in India’s Assam state have stepped up their humanitarian efforts after catastrophic floods wreaked havoc, leaving 15 people dead and an estimated 4.6 million homeless. More than 4,157 villages in 30 districts are submerged in the northeastern state as rains continue unabated, raising the water level of the Brahmaputra River above the danger level…

As Ethiopia works for reform, Church tries to support people in many ways (CNS) The Catholic Church in Ethiopia is leading peace and reconciliation efforts while it does what it can to help the millions of people who have fled their homes in an upsurge in communal violence. ”The Church is in a good position to help and the Catholic leadership is there,” Argaw Fantu, regional director for Catholic Near East Welfare Association, said in a 15 July interview from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s capital…

What’s the future of Syrian refugees in Turkey? (The New York Times) Of the nearly 3.6 million Syrians in Turkey, only about 100,000 live in camps close to the Turkish-Syrian border, the majority in Turkish cities and towns. Around half a million live in Istanbul. But the Turkish economy is struggling and the unemployment rate stands at 13 percent. Turks in socially and economically-stressed districts increasingly believe that the refugees are competing for their jobs and that the government grants them more privileges…

Pope makes appointments to Holy See press office (Vatican News) Pope Francis on Thursday appointed a new Director of the Holy See Press Office. British-born Matteo Bruni is the new spokesperson of the Holy See, effective on 22 July…



Tags: Syria India Ethiopia Vatican

17 July 2019
J.D. Conor Mauro




Syriac Catholic Rev. Youssef Sakat reads documents of an Iraqi family seeking help from inside the chapel at the Holy Family Syriac Catholic center in Beirut on 8 July 2019. (photo: CNS/Dalia Khamissy)

When Islamic State came, the monks had just finished hiding the manuscripts (Catholic Herald) Already, the four monks at the ancient Syriac Catholic Mar Behnam Monastery in Khidr, Iraq, had felt they were under siege. Ten days earlier, on June 10, 2014, five carloads of militants roared through the peaceful road leading to Mar Behnam, announcing through megaphones that the Islamic State was in control. Not long before that, the Iraqi army had withdrawn from a checkpoint near the monastery, located southeast of Mosul. All the while, Father Youssef Sakat was deeply concerned about how to safeguard the monastery’s extensive collection of religious manuscripts from inevitable destruction by the militants. The 630 manuscripts, dating from the 12th to 18th centuries, were written in a range of languages, including Syriac, Greek, French and Latin…

Archbishop of Basra: The pope’s visit, an opportunity for rebirth for Christians and Iraq (AsiaNews) Pope Francis’ visit to Iraq, scheduled for next year, represents a world stage for the Baghdad government to show itself close to Christians and active in defending the freedoms and rights of the entire population. “[I]t is necessary to prevent the formation of a second class citizenship, especially for Christians and other minorities that are affected and relegated to the margins by the Constitution and a sectarian culture,” says the Chaldean Archbishop Alnaufali Habib Jajou of Basra, according to whom the nation “is in pieces” because of a “widespread and visible corruption”…

Turkish diplomat shot dead in Iraqi city, officials say (The Guardian) Gunmen have killed at least one Turkish diplomat in Irbil, the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan, in an attack on consulate staff gathered in a restaurant, Turkey’s foreign ministry said. The state-run Iraqi news agency identified the dead man as the deputy consul general, the Associated Press reported…

Can Israel’s courts deliver justice for Palestinians? (Al Jazeera) The demolition of Palestinian-owned buildings by Israeli forces in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem is a routine occurrence. But in Sur Baher, a neighbourhood southeast of Jerusalem, an unprecedented mass demolition is looming — with the approval of Israel’s top court…



Tags: Iraq Palestine Turkey

16 July 2019
Greg Kandra




Cardinal Louis Raphael I Sako, the Chaldean Catholic patriarch, speaks during the presentation of the UK Independent Review on Persecution of Christians, in Rome on 15 July 2019. Looking on is Msgr. Antoine Camilleri, an official at the Vatican Secretariat of State. (photo: CNS/Paul Haring)

Cardinal fears Iraq could be caught in U.S.-Iran conflict (CNS) Chaldean Catholic Patriarch Cardinal Louis Sako is concerned by rising tensions between the United States and Iran, fearful that his country, Iraq, could be caught in the middle of any potential conflict. It has also made a proposed visit by Pope Francis to Iraq next year uncertain, he said…

Alert issued for Kerala as monsoon strengthens (India Today) Authorities in Kerala have issued alerts across the state anticipating heavy rains in the next few days. The India Meteorological department (IMD) in its latest weather forecast has said very to very heavy rains are expected in Kerala. Besides this, IMD said the sea along the Malabar Coast in Kerala is expected to be very rough. This corresponds with the strengthening of monsoon in Southern India…

Study looks at how religious restrictions have increased around the world (Pew Research Center) Over the decade from 2007 to 2017, government restrictions on religion — laws, policies and actions by state officials that restrict religious beliefs and practices — increased markedly around the world. And social hostilities involving religion — including violence and harassment by private individuals, organizations or groups — also have risen since 2007, the year Pew Research Center began tracking the issue…

Archeologists unearth 9,000-year-old city near Jerusalem (The Jerusalem Post) A prehistoric ‘city’ — with complex streets, burial grounds and trade items from as far away as the Red Sea and Anatolia — was unearthed near Jerusalem during the work carried out to make a new entrance to the capital. The discovery of the cluster of buildings, homes, public compounds and ritual areas dates back to the Neolithic period and is one of the largest settlements discovered from the New Stone Age in the world…



Tags: Jerusalem Iraqi Christians Kerala Persecution





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