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Current Issue
Summer, 2014
Volume 40, Number 2
imageofweek From the Archive
In this 1996 image, children attend a festival in New York celebrating Greek heritage. (photo: Karen Lagerquist)
  
15 February 2013
J.D. Conor Mauro




Clergy from the Diocese of Rome process into St. Peter’s Basilica for an audience with Pope Benedict XVI at the Vatican on 14 February. (photo: CNS/Paul Haring)

Pope warns of church divisions and infighting (Christian Science Monitor) With passing phrases and striking images, Pope Benedict XVI is assembling a last testament to his Roman Catholic Church, urging its leaders to put aside their rivalries and think only of the unity of the faith. The message, slipped into statements both before and after his shocking resignation announcement on Monday, reads like a veiled rebuke to leading cardinals jockeying for influence in the upcoming conclave and in the papacy that it will produce. The German pope urged the faithful on Wednesday to “show the face of the church and how that face is sometimes disfigured. ... I am thinking particularly about sins against the unity of the church, about divisions in the body of the church,” he said. “Overcoming individualism and rivalry is a humble sign,” he added during his last public Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica…

Church seeks contact with kidnappers of Syrian priests (Fides) Christians in Aleppo are seeking contact with the kidnappers of two priests: Armenian Catholic Father Michel Kayyal and Greek Orthodox Father Maher Mahfouz. On 9 February, a group of armed rebels captured them on the road that leads from Aleppo to Damascus. So far, attempts to open channels of negotiation to free the two priests have failed. Armenian Catholic Archbishop Boutros Marayati of Aleppo reported to Fides: “The so-called kidnappers phoned the brother of one of the two priests and said only: ‘They are with us.’ But they did not explain what is behind the ‘we,’ and have not asked for any demands. On our behalf, we have limited the area in which they are held hostage, and we are trying to open a channel of negotiation with the tribal leader of that area. So far our attempts have not had concrete effects. We do not know [the details of this] group of kidnappers, if we are dealing with rebels [or] bandits. … We wonder why this choice of kidnapping the two priests was made, among the many passengers of the bus attacked by the kidnappers”…

Violence against Egyptian street children on the rise (Fides) Walking the streets of Cairo, one can see many homeless, wandering victims of sexual violence and drug abuse. They live in poverty and danger. Although there are no official figures on how many there are, the latest estimates of the Centre for Egyptian Social and Criminal Research reported that 36 percent of street children have suffered sexual abuse, violence and other coercive practices such as prostitution. Some are lucky enough to end up in reception centers. One of these centers, run by the nongovernmental organization Hope Village, is in the district of Nasser where 20 children live eat, sleep, study and play in shared spaces. The N.G.O. is present in various cities of the country, and every year is able to assist an average of nearly 6,000 needy children — abandoned, orphaned or with families experiencing economic difficulties. Most of them have been victims of sexual violence and some need medical care due to physical and psychological trauma. The perpetrators tend to look for younger people because they think they have less chance of contracting diseases such as AIDS. The situation becomes more complicated when the young girls raped become pregnant…

U.N. estimates 40,000 have fled heavy fighting in eastern Syria (Daily Star Lebanon) Tens of thousands of people have fled a town in eastern Syria after three days of heavy fighting between government troops and rebels, the United Nations food agency said. Rebels seized al Shaddadeh in Syria’s oil-producing east on Thursday after the clashes which killed 30 of their fighters and 100 Syrian government troops, a monitoring group told Reuters. “A W.F.P. [World Food Program] team visited the area and estimated that around 40,000 people have fled al Shaddadeh to [the regional capital] al Hasakah,” the U.N. agency told journalists in Geneva on Friday. Northeastern Syria was hit by four years of drought before the revolt against President Bashar al-Assad started nearly two years ago, resulting in high rates of malnutrition among children, WFP spokeswoman Elisabeth Byrs said. “The fighting and displacement only aggravates the misery of these people,” she said, adding the agency had sent extra rations to the area this week…

Armenia tries to help as Armenian Christians flee Syria (USA Today) Aleppo is home to more than 80% of Syria’s Armenian community, and those who are still there remain at the center of the battle for control of the country. The Armenian Christian community in Syria is relatively small — between 60,000 and 100,000 people, according to estimates — but its history has added to its unease. Armenians in Syria are descendants of people who fled to Syria after escaping genocide against Armenians in Ottoman Turkey in World War I. Many worry the same can happen in Syria, where the Christian Armenians are again at the mercy of Muslim factions at war, and they are desperate to get out. To date, the Ministry of Diaspora estimates that more than 7,000 of Syria’s Armenian Christian community have arrived in Armenia since the start of the conflict. Armenian authorities are trying to find ways to speed the exit from Syria and make the adjustment to life here easier. The authorities have simplified the visa process out of Syria. Elementary schools have been established that teach classes in the Arabic language that Syrian-Armenian children have grown up with, according to a familiar Syrian curriculum…



Tags: Egypt Syrian Civil War Refugees Pope Benedict XVI Violence against Christians