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Current Issue
September, 2019
Volume 45, Number 3
  
21 November 2019
Greg Kandra




Pope Francis visits with Somdej Phra Maha Muneewong, supreme patriarch of Buddhists, at the Wat Ratchabophit temple in Bangkok on 21 November 2019. (photo: CNS/Paul Haring)

Pope meets with Buddhist patriarch in Thailand (Vatican News) The first signs of dialogue between the Buddhist and Catholic traditions appeared half a century ago when the 17th Supreme Buddhist Patriarch visited Pope Paul VI in the Vatican. Pope Francis recalled that visit when he met with the present Supreme Buddhist Patriarch at the Wat Ratchabophit Sathit Maha Simaram Temple in Bangkok, on Thursday morning…

Pope: Mission is seeking family we don’t know yet (CNS) Missionaries are not mercenaries, but beggars who recognize that some brothers and sisters are missing from the community and long to hear the good news of salvation, Pope Francis told the Catholics of Thailand. Celebrating Mass on 21 November, the feast of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, in Bangkok’s National Stadium, Pope Francis looked at the meaning of what he calls “missionary discipleship…”

Fear, turmoil in Lebanon as financial crisis worsens (AP) On one of Beirut’s main commercial streets, store owners are cutting salaries by half or considering shutting down. Shops advertise sales, but still can’t draw in customers. The only place doing a thriving business: the store that sells safes, as Lebanese increasingly stash their cash at home. It’s a sign Lebanese fear their country’s financial crisis, which has been worsening for months, could tip over into disaster…

Vatican reiterates: two states needed in Holy Land (CNS)The Vatican reiterated its call for a two-state solution in the Holy Land after U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the United States would no longer recognize the illegality of Israeli settlements in the West Bank…

In secular India, it’s getting tougher to be a Muslim (CNN) India has a long history of sectarian violence, but over the past few years, there has been a rise in suspected hate crimes against Muslims, who make up roughly 200 million of the country’s 1.3 billion population…

Putin thanks Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill for maintaining peace (TASS) Russian President Vladimir Putin has wished a happy birthday to Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia and thanked him for his assistance to the government in maintaining interfaith peace. A meeting of the president and the head of the Russian Orthodox Church took place in the Patriarchal Chambers of the Moscow Kremlin on Wednesday…



Tags: India Pope Francis Lebanon Interreligious

19 November 2019
Greg Kandra




As Lebanon is engulfed in a massive protest movement, the Assembly of Catholic Patriarchs and Bishops of Lebanon gathered for its annual meeting 11-15 November 2019, at Bkerke, the Maronite Catholic patriarchate north of Beirut. The meeting was led by Lebanese Cardinal Bechara Rai, patriarch of the Maronite Catholic Church, second from left, and included other heads of religious orders. (photo: CNS/Mychel Akl for the Maronite patriarchate)

Lebanon Catholic leaders urge protestors to remain peaceful (CNS) While Lebanon continues to be engulfed in a massive protest movement, the country’s Catholic leaders called on demonstrators to be peaceful and civilized. In a 15 November statement at the end of its annual meeting, the Assembly of Catholic Patriarchs and Bishops of Lebanon hailed the “historic uprising” that has shaken the country since 17 October…

U.S. embassy in Jerusalem warns of Palestinian unrest (The Times of Israel) The US embassy in Jerusalem on Monday issued a travel warning for Americans planning to visit Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, warning of Palestinian unrest in light of Washington’s settlement policy shift announced earlier in the day. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that the US was softening its position on Israeli settlements in the West Bank, and repudiating a 1978 State Department legal opinion that held that they were “inconsistent with international law…”

After massacre, Ethiopia’s leader faces anger, and a challenger (The New York Times) Not long after security forces tried to arrest him in the middle of the night, Jawar Mohammed, a media baron and one of Ethiopia’s most prominent political activists, found himself face to face with Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, the man whose government ordered his arrest…

Pope meets Indian nun bringing hope to the destitute (Vatican News) Pope Francis on Monday received Indian nun Sister Lucy Kurien who has worked tirelessly for over 20 years giving shelter to destitute women, men and children in her country. Pope Francis knows Sister Lucy; they have met before in the Vatican because of her work to provide love, care and shelter to battered, exploited women, destitute men and street children. Sister Lucy is the Director and founder of Maher which she set up in Pune, the second largest city in the Indian state of Maharashtra in 1997…



Tags: India Lebanon Ethiopia

18 November 2019
Greg Kandra




In this undated photo, Pope Francis meets with Archbishop Gabriele Giordano Caccia, whom he named Saturday as the new Permanent Observer to the United Nations. (photo: Vatican Media)

Apostolic Nuncio to the Philippines to be Permanent Observer to the UN (Vatican News) Pope Francis on Saturday appointed Archbishop Gabriele Giordano Caccia as the new Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations. He succeeds Philippine Archbishop Bernardito Auza, who on 1 October 2019 was named by Pope Francis as Apostolic Nuncio to Spain and Andorra. Since 12 September 2017, Archbishop Caccia has been serving as Apostolic Nuncio to the Philippines. In 2009, Pope Benedict XVI appointed him Apostolic Nuncio to Lebanon…

UNICEF: Many children remain left behind (Vatican News) Although the world has made historic gains over the past three decades in improving children’s lives, urgent action is required if the poorest children are to feel the impact, says a new UN report published on 18 November…

Pope: Having a friend who is poor will help you get to heaven (CNS) The poor are the church’s treasure because they give every Christian a chance to “speak the same language as Jesus, that of love,” Pope Francis said, celebrating Mass for the World Day of the Poor. ”The poor facilitate our access to heaven,” the pope said in his homily on 17 November. “In fact, they open up the treasure that never ages, that which joins earth and heaven and for which life is truly worth living: love..”

Ethiopian human rights leader battles scant resources (Reuters) When Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed appointed a former political prisoner in July as head of the state-funded human rights commission, supporters hailed it as a sign the country might finally tackle abuses by security forces and move to break a cycle of bloody ethnic feuds. Now reality has hit…

India may attempt to land on the moon in 2020 (Space.com) Just months after a landing anomaly, India is hard at work pursuing another try at touching down on the moon, according to a news report…



Tags: India Ethiopia Poor/Poverty United Nations

15 November 2019
Greg Kandra




A demonstrator walks near burning tires barricading a road during ongoing anti-government protests in Khaldeh, Lebanon, on 13 November 2019. (photo: CNS/Mohamed Azakir, Reuters)

U.S. church leaders pray for peace as religious leaders meet in Lebanon (CNS) The U.S. bishops and the Knights of Columbus offered their “prayerful solidarity” to the Assembly of the Catholic Patriarchs and Bishops of Lebanon as Iraq and Lebanon experience protests against political corruption and foreign interference. The support came in a 13 November letter from Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio of the U.S. Archdiocese for the Military Services, chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on International Justice and Peace, and Carl Anderson, supreme knight of the Knights of Columbus…

Egyptian woman fights unfair Islamic inheritance laws (AP) One Egyptian woman is taking on the country’s inheritance laws that mean female heirs inherit half that of men. Since her father’s death last year, Huda Nasrallah, a Christian, has stood before three different judges to demand an equal share of the property left to her two brothers by their father. Yet courts have twice issued rulings against her, basing them on Islamic inheritance laws that favor male heirs…

Israel-Gaza ceasefire strained by rockets, air strikes (BBC) Israel has launched fresh air strikes on militant targets after renewed rocket-fire from Gaza, as a day-old ceasefire is put under strain. Palestinian media said missiles hit sites belonging to the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) group early on Friday, injuring two people. It comes after five rockets were fired at Israel on Thursday following the ceasefire declaration by the PIJ…

Politics blocks Armenian hopes for genocide recognition (LA Times) On 29 October, the U.S. House of Representatives voted 405 to 11 in favor of a resolution to recognize the killing of 1.5 million Armenians more than a century ago as a genocide. Quick approval by the Senate appeared possible. But the 80-year-old Jamushian, whose parents survived the slaughter by Ottoman Turks, will have to keep waiting…



Tags: Egypt Lebanon Israeli-Palestinian conflict

14 November 2019
Greg Kandra




Lebanon is facing a serious financial crisis, as banks remain on strike over safety fears.
(video: Al Jazeera/YouTube)


Lebanon bank staff union to remain on strike (Reuters) Lebanon’s bank staff union called on Thursday for employees to stay on strike until it receives details of a security plan, especially on how to deal with customers. The union called for the strike over safety fears, as protests against political leaders sweep Lebanon and depositors demand access to their money after banks imposed new curbs…

Photos: Life in Iraqi Kurdistan (The Washington Post) President Trump’s decision to withdraw U.S. troops from northern Syria last month has brought fresh attention to the ethnic group known as the Kurds. For many years, the Kurds have been U.S. allies in the fight against the Islamic State. Trump’s move led to a bipartisan backlash and renewed interest in the Kurds, who also live in Turkey, Iraq and Iran. But who are they?...

Israel, Islamic Jihad agree on ceasefire (The Jerusalem Post) Israel and Islamic Jihad appear to have reach a ceasefire understanding that went into effect at 5.30 a.m, the IDF announced on Thursday morning. An Israeli official said that a restoration of calm could only be measured by the facts on the ground, clarifying that no concessions has been made to the Islamic Jihad. The operative policy remains in place, “we will harm those who harm us,” the official said…

India to set law on women entering temples (DW.com) India’s Supreme Court will set law on women entering places of worship after it was asked to review a 2018 decision to lift a ban on women entering a Hindu temple in Kerala. The court said Thursday that it will appoint a seven-judge bench to working on the case…

U.S. struggles to keep allies in fight against ISIS in Syria (The New York Times) At a high-level State Department meeting scheduled for Thursday, diplomats from 35 nations and international organizations will be asked to stick with the campaign to eradicate the extremist group even after its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, was killed in an American raid last month. But confusion over the Trump administration’s policy in northeast Syria has discouraged allies, according to several diplomats, who said it has fomented doubt that whatever agreements are struck could be reversed by the president…



Tags: India Lebanon Israel Turkey ISIS

13 November 2019
Greg Kandra




Pope Francis greets a person as he leaves his general audience at the Vatican on 13 November 2019. (photo: CNS/Paul Haring)

Pope denounces violence against Jewish people (CNS) Pope Francis warned that violence against Jewish people, which reached a state of horror during World War II, is on the rise again. During his weekly general audience on 13 November, the pope reflected on the lives of Priscilla and Aquila, a first-century married couple who accompanied St. Paul in his ministry and were among the Jews expelled from Rome by Claudius Caesar…

Soldier kills man in Lebanon protest (AP) A local official for a Lebanese political party was shot dead by soldiers trying to open a road closed by protesters in southern Beirut late Tuesday, the army reported, marking the first death in 27 days of nationwide protests…

Mystery: thousands of birds found dead by India lake (CNN) It’s a mystery that has baffled officials in India. What killed more than 2,000 birds near the country’s largest inland lake? Locals spotted the carcasses on Sunday along the shores of Sambhar Salt Lake in the northwestern state of Rajasthan, Arun Prasad, the state’s Chief Conservator of Forests, told CNN Wednesday...

Ethiopian bishops lead prayers for peace (Vatican News) The annual peace prayers are an annual event promoted by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Ethiopia to pray for peace, for the deceased, their families and all those affected in the conflicts that have taken place in Ethiopia…

Inside the world’s biggest Yazidi temple in Armenia (Al Jazeera) Armenia may be best known for its medieval-era monasteries, crumbling hilltop churches that feature in postcards and travel posters. But as of this fall, the small, landlocked nation of three million has a new religious landmark: the world’s largest Yazidi temple — Quba Mere Diwane…



Tags: India Armenia Jews Persecution Ethiopia’s Catholic Church

12 November 2019
Greg Kandra




An Armenian Catholic priest, the Rev. Hovsep Bedoyan, was killed Monday in northeast Syria. His father was also slain. ISIS has claimed responsibility for the attack. (photo: Vatican Media)

Armenian Catholic priest and his father shot dead in Syria (Vatican News) Gunmen shot dead an Armenian Catholic priest and his father as they were traveling in a car in northeastern Syria. The attack was claimed by the so-called Islamic State group (ISIS). The Rev. Hovsep Bedoyan, the head of the Armenian Catholic community in the the Kurdish-majority city of Qamishli near the border with Turkey, and his father, Abraham Bedoyan, were heading to the province of Deir Al-Zor when they came under attack on Monday 11 November. The two men were reportedly due to oversee the restoration of a church in Deir Al-Zor…

Iraqi cardinal calls for prayer and fasting (Vatican News) The head of the Chaldean Catholic Church in Iraq has called for three days of fasting and prayer for peace in the country. Cardinal Louis Raphael I Sako, the Patriarch of Babylon of the Chaldeans, has invited “all sons and daughters of the Chaldean church to fast and pray from 11 to 13 November. The cardinal’s plea used strong imagery of “weapons of fasting and prayer to call for an end to the chaos and violence that are bloodying the country…”

Lebanon banks close over safety fears (Reuters) Lebanon’s banks and schools were shut on Tuesday in a new wave of disruption amid urgent political efforts to form a new government to steer the country out of its worst economic crisis since the 1975-90 civil war…

Testing times for Ethiopia’s Nobel laureate (Andalou Agency) Even the Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali won the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize, he is facing daunting challenges to maintain peace at home and also to continue bonhomie with neighboring Eritrea. The Norwegian Nobel Committee on 11October, conferred the award on Abiy, citing his “decisive initiative to resolve the border conflict with neighboring Eritrea.” Analysts in Ethiopia believe that of late, bonhomie with Eritrea has slowed down…



Tags: Syria Iraq Ethiopia Armenian Catholic Church

8 November 2019
Greg Kandra




A woman reacts during an anti-government protest in Beirut on 5 November 2019. Hundreds of thousands of Lebanese are hitting the streets across the country to demand an end to rampant corruption and poor public services. (photo: CNS/Andres Martinez Casares, Reuters)

Protestors: Lebanon is ‘a beautiful idea’ in need of a reboot (Reuters) From a narrow angle, Beirut looks a picture of elegance and success, its French boutiques, luxury hotels and imported cars blending into Mediterranean skies. Widen the lens, as three weeks of popular anti-government protests have sought to do, and the view that emerges is of a nation struggling against extreme inequality, failing basic services, high unemployment and hardened frustration…

U.S. envoy says not enough was done to avert Turkish attack on Syria (The New York Times) The top American diplomat on the ground in northern Syria has criticized the Trump administration for not trying harder to prevent Turkey’s military offensive there last month — and said Turkish-backed militia fighters committed ”war crimes and ethnic cleansing…”

Pope urges opportunities for prisoners to reform (Vatican News) Pope Francis is urging for a change in the outlook and approach in treating prisoners who, he said, must be offered equal opportunities for reform, development and reintegration. He made the remark to the participants in the international conference on the theme, “Integral Human Development and Catholic Prison Pastoral Care.” The 7-8 November meeting was organized by the Vatican Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development…

Vatican opens clinic for poor (Vatican News) The Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization releases a press statement ahead of the 3rdWorld Day of the Poor, marked on 17 November. The statement says there will be a temporary walk-in-clinic in St. Peter’s Square, just as there was last year. The clinic aims to offer medical attention to those most in need, offering free medical examinations to the poor…

France reopens contested Jewish tomb in East Jerusalem (AP) French authorities reopened one of Jerusalem’s most magnificent ancient tombs to the public for the first time in over a decade, despite a dispute over access to the archaeological-cum-holy site in the city’s volatile eastern half…



Tags: Pope Francis Lebanon Jerusalem Vatican

7 November 2019
Greg Kandra




A woman shouts during an anti-government protest in Beirut on 5 November 2019. Hundreds of thousands of Lebanese are hitting the streets across the country to demand an end to rampant corruption and poor public services. (photo: CNS/Goran Tomasevic, Reuters)

Lebanese want a changing of the guard (CNS) Hundreds of thousands of Lebanese are hitting the streets across the country to demand an end to rampant corruption and poor public services. Cutting across sectarian lines, they also want the current government of entrenched politicians dating back to Lebanon’s 1975-1990 civil war era to step down. ”There is no trust in the ‘lords of the civil war,’ that’s what we call them. The way they are ruling the country since (dozens) of years, it doesn’t work anymore -- sharing the power on a sectarian basis,” Tarek Serhan, a student at St. Joseph’s University in Beirut, told Catholic News Service…

The catalysts behind the protests in Lebanon (BBC) For weeks, Lebanon has been rocked by anti-government protests, the largest the country has seen in more than a decade. The demonstrations have cut across sectarian lines — a rare phenomenon since the country’s devastating civil war ended — and involved people from all sectors of society…

Caritas Europa: migration can benefit all (Vatican News) Entitled “Common Home: Migration and Development in Europe and Beyond,” Caritas Europa’s just-launched publication highlights the links between migration and development in Europe and in other parts of the world…

Temple devotees ’flex their muscles’ over scarce land in India (UCANews.com) It has unleashed deadly riots and set Hindu against Muslim — now it is for the nation’s top court to end decades of discord and decide who owns the most contested plot in India. At dispute is a scrap of land in Ayodhya, a sleepy temple town in northern India that is a holy site for the nation’s two biggest religions, and emblematic of an increasingly contentious fight over land claimed by temples and other religious entities…

Kerala aims for free internet for every household (LiveMint.com) After 100 percent literacy, Kerala now aims for another milestone -- internet for every household and free internet for every poor household. The state cabinet approved the scheme, one of the flagship projects of the ruling Left Democratic Front (LDF) government in Kerala, late Wednesday…



Tags: India Lebanon Kerala Migrants

6 November 2019
Greg Kandra




Protests continue in Lebanon this week, with some focusing on state institutions. In the video above, protestors explain why they are taking to the streets. (video: France 24/YouTube)

Lebanese protesters seek to shut down key institutions (Al Jazeera) Lebanese demonstrators have begun surrounding government institutions in the capital, Beirut, and other cities, as a mass protest movement demanding an overhaul of the country’s political system approaches its fourth week. The move on Wednesday suggests a shift in the focus of protesters from blocking roads and setting up barricades to holding sit-ins at state-affiliated sites as they seek to maintain pressure on the political establishment until their demands for the departure of the ruling elite and an end to chronic economic mismanagement and corruption are met…

Pope: dialogue begins with empathy (CNS) Christians who preach the Gospel must see people who do not know Christ as children of God and not as nonbelievers worthy of hostility and contempt, Pope Francis said. The example of St. Paul’s mission in Greece and his encounter with the pagan culture there serves as a reminder that Christians should “create a bridge to dialogue” with other cultures, the pope said on 6 November during his weekly general audience…

Israel approves controversial cable car plan for Jerusalem (BBC) A controversial plan to build a cable car network in Jerusalem’s Old City to transport visitors to one of Judaism’s holiest sites has been approved by Israel’s housing cabinet. The cable cars will ferry up to 3,000 people an hour about 1.4km (0.9 miles) from West Jerusalem to the Western Wall in occupied East Jerusalem…

Jordan official: Economy buckling under burden of refugees (The Media Line) Jordan’s economy has been suffering due to the presence of some 1.3 million Syrian refugees who have fled that country’s eight-year civil war, according to an official from the Jordanian Planning Ministry. Issam Al-Majali, spokesperson for the ministry charged with overseeing the refugees, told The Media Line that the influx “caused a huge increase in governmental expenses between the years 2011 and 2018 due to the costs involved in responding to the refugees’ needs…”

Why is India’s pollution much worse than China’s? (BBC) As India’s north continues to struggle with extreme pollution levels, the story has put a fresh spotlight on air quality in cities across Asia. Beijing has long been notorious for its smog — but statistics show that India, Pakistan and Bangladesh have worse air by far…



Tags: Pope Francis Lebanon Jerusalem Jordan





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