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July, 2019
Volume 45, Number 2
2 June 2014
Greg Kandra

Pope Francis and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople kiss the Stone of Unction in Jerusalem’s Church of the Holy Sepulchre on 25 May. The two leaders marked the 50th anniversary of the meeting in Jerusalem between Pope Paul VI and Patriarch Athenagoras.
(photo: CNS/Grzegorz Galazka)

Msgr. John E. Kozar, CNEWA’s president, offers some personal reflections and insight into the pope’s recent visit to the Holy Land in a column for the latest edition of Pittsburgh Catholic:

Pope Francis came first and foremost as a pilgrim to pray. He also came as a church leader to unite, as a world figure to invite all parties to renounce violence, and to embrace forgiveness, mercy and justice.

His visit was religious in nature and not political, even though every word uttered, every gesture and facial expression, every venue visited has been dissected for a political angle. But this pope doesn’t “second guess” himself, he is not driven by media reviews. He is the “real deal.”

He came to the Holy Land for a number of reasons: to confirm anew the determination of all Christians to be one, as was boldly affirmed 50 years ago by his predecessor, Pope Paul VI, and Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras; to demonstrate a solidarity with millions of innocent people displaced by war in Syria and Iraq; to highlight the long suffering of the Palestinian people seeking a permanent homeland; and to encourage Christians to remain in this Holy Land and the greater Middle East.

A prayer service, led by Pope Francis and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, took place in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, the site of Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection. Also participating were leaders of the Latin and Eastern Catholic traditions as well as most of the Orthodox churches, most of whom trace their foundation to apostolic times. The pope and the ecumenical patriarch signed a declaration to continue to pursue “communion in legitimate diversity.”

Pope Francis no doubt surprised the Israelis and Palestinians when he invited both sides to come to his “house” in the Vatican to pray together with him for peace. And the good news is that both sides have accepted his invitation.

Read more.

2 June 2014
Greg Kandra

In this image from April, Syrian President Bashar Assad looks at destroyed religious artwork with a member of the clergy during a visit to the ancient Christian town of Maaloula, Syria.
(photo: CNS/Syria’s national news agency handout via Reuters)

Syria poised to re-elect Assad (CNN) In the midst of a bloody and protracted civil war, the Syrian government is set to hold a presidential election Tuesday. The outcome is hardly in doubt: President Bashar al-Assad is almost guaranteed to emerge victorious in a vote that opposition groups and many Western countries say will be rigged from the start...

Christian property seized in Syria (Fides) On Sunday 1 June, militiamen of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, a Sunni jiahdist formation, confiscated houses and land belonging to Christian families in Ein al-Issa, Syria, the area in the province of Raqqa inhabited mainly by Armenian Christians. According to Kurdish sources, the owners of the confiscated property were forced to leave the area...

Pope appeals for peace in Ukraine (Vatican Radio) At the Regina Coeli address on Sunday, Pope Francis prayed “for the victims of the tensions that still continue in some regions of Ukraine, as well as in the Central African Republic.” He renewed his appeal “to all parties involved, that misunderstandings are overcome and that dialogue and reconciliation might be sought with patience...”

Cardinals to determine canonization date for India’s new saints (Vatican Radio) Cardinals who are in Rome will gather around Pope Francis for a consistory on 12 June to decide upon the date for the canonization of six future saints of the Catholic Church, among them India’s Fr. Kuriakose Elias Chavara and Sr. Euphrasia Eluvathingal. Blessed Chavara, belonging to India’s Syro-Malabar Catholic Church based in Kerala state, founded the Congregation of the Carmelites of Mary Immaculate. He lived from 1805 to 1871. Blessed Euphrasia of the Congregation of the Mother of Carmel, also belonged to the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church. She was born in 1877 and died in 1952...

Tags: Syria India Ukraine Syro-Malabar Catholic Church

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