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Current Issue
December, 2018
Volume 44, Number 4
  
16 January 2019
Greg Kandra




Bishops from North America, Europe and South Africa visit the UNRWA camp and school in Jenin, West Bank. The visit was part of the annual Holy Land Coordination.
(photo: CNS/courtesy Marcin Mazur via catholicnews.org.uk)


Bishops see ‘incomprehensible complexity’ of Holy Land situation (CNS)Visiting with Christian communities in northern Israel and the northern Palestinian Territories has helped bishops participating in the annual Holy Land Coordination see “the great need” to promote an understanding between Israelis and Palestinians, said Bishop Noel Treanor of Down and Connor, Ireland...

Victims of anti-Christian violence in India still denied justice (Vatican News) The Catholic Church of eastern India’s Odisha state organized a meeting on Saturday to assess the state of justice and compensation with regard to the victims and survivors of the terrible anti-Christian violence in the state more than 10 years ago. About 3,000 survivors of the violence of Christmas 2007 and August 2008 and thereafter, together with Catholic Church authorities, lay leaders and rights activists gathered on 12 January in Raikia town of Odisha’s Kandhamal district that was the epicenter of the outrage…

Syrian Kurds reject Turkey-controlled security zone (Al Jazeera) Syria’s Kurds on Wednesday rejected a US proposal for a “security zone” under Turkish control along the Syrian side of the two countries’ border. Russia, meanwhile, said only its ally, the Syrian military, should police the war-torn country’s north…

Gaza health ministry warns of hospital shutdowns (The Jerusalem Post) Gaza hospitals are in danger of shutting down due to a fuel crisis, in particular the hospital in Beit Hanoun, the Gaza Health Ministry warned Tuesday in an English language post its Faceook page. ”In an unprecedented and rapid tragedy, the fuel crisis in hospitals and primary care centers continues to hit critical levels,” it said…



Tags: Syria India Middle East Christians Gaza Strip/West Bank

14 January 2019
Greg Kandra




There are indications ISIS may be making its last stand in Syria, according to forces battling them. (video: BBC/YouTube)

U.S.-backed Syrian force: ISIS is in its ’final moments’ (Reuters) Islamic State militants are “living their final moments” in the last enclave they hold near the Iraqi border, where U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) are attacking them, an SDF official said on Sunday…

India’s Latin-rite bishops create two commissions (Vatican News) The Conference of Catholic Bishops of India (CCBI) that brings together the Latin bishops of the country’s 132 dioceses, concluded its plenary assembly on Monday establishing two new commissions, a CCBI press release said. 143 bishops participating in CCBI’s 31st Plenary Assembly held in Mahabalipuram, Tamil Nadu state, from 7 to 14 January, voted in favour of establishing the new Commissions for Ecology and for Small Christian Communities (SCC)…

Mother sets herself and children on fire at Syrian refugee camp (Sydney Morning Herald) A Syrian mother has attempted to burn herself and her children to death at a refugee camp in eastern Syria after she failed to find food for her family for three straight days, a civil defense spokesman says…

New road divides Israelis and Palestinians (CNN) The newest road in the West Bank is sparking controversy. Designed to ease traffic between Jerusalem and nearby settlements, it looks and feels like any other road. Israeli officials call it Route 4370, but its detractors have another name for it: “apartheid road…”

Kiev military hospital joins new Orthodox Church of Ukraine (Kiev Post) The Church of the Intercession of the Holy Virgin at the Main Military Hospital in Kiev has become part of the newly created Orthodox Church of Ukraine (OCU). The hospital church has been subordinate to the then Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate (UOC-MP) for over 20 years, Ukrainian TV Channel 5 reports…



Tags: Syria India Ukraine Refugee Camps Indian Bishops

11 January 2019
Greg Kandra




In this image from November, schoolchildren walk as U.S. troops patrol in Hassakeh, Syria. The U.S. announced it has begun troop withdrawals from Syria.(photo: CNS/Rodi Said, Reuters)

U.S. forces begin withdrawal from Syria (The New York Times) The United States has started withdrawing its troops from Syria, an American military spokesman said on Friday, further muddling the Trump administration’s plans for disengagement from one of the Middle East’s most complex battlefields…

Syro-Malabar Church to set up internal committees on ’Safe Environment Policy’ (UCANews.com) The Kerala-based Syro-Malabar Church has decided to set up internal committees at the diocesan level co-opting lay leaders to study complaints of sex abuse and financial mismanagements. The ongoing synod of the Syro-Malabar Archiespicoal Church Thursday decided to implement the “Safe Environment Policy” in order to create a “safe environment” for all, including children and vulnerable adults…

Syrian refugees wading through water in Lebanon camps (Al Jazeera) Tarima Ibrahim huddled together with her children to keep them warm as incessant rainfall, heavy winds and hail slapped their tarpaulin tent and lashed the refugee camp around it. ”We are freezing,” she said. “The tent is not heating up because it is flooded with ice-cold water.” Lebanon was hit by Storm Norma on 6 January, heavily impacting at least 360 informal refugee settlements and putting 850 others at risk…

Ukrainian Catholic leader says unity of Catholics and Orthodox is not utopian thinking (Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church) “Today the ecumenical movement at a universal scale is a fact,” he said. “It cannot be stopped anymore…”

Russia-Ukraine conflict enters its fifth year (Newsweek) As Ukraine marked the fifth anniversary of the start of its armed conflict with Russian-backed separatists, Kiev said there were multiple violations of its cease-fire agreement in the eastern part of the country known as the Donbas…

Are Armenian-Israeli relations warming up? (The Jerusalem Post) ”We identify strongly with the Jewish people,” says Armenian Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanyan. “We are very different from our neighbors. We have a long history, and have survived many wars and invasions. We know how to adapt to different cultures…”



Tags: Syria Ukraine Armenia Syro-Malabar Catholic Church

10 January 2019
Greg Kandra




Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state, greets an Iraqi religious man during a Christmas visit to Baghdad. In an interview after his return, the cardinal spoke of being touched by the deep faith of Iraqi Christians. (photo: CNS/courtesy Chaldean Catholic Patriarchate)

Cardinal touched by faith of Iraqi Christians (Vatican News) Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin described his 4-day Christmas visit to Iraq as one full of meaning to a Church that, amidst suffering and tribulation, bears witness to the joy and beauty of the Gospel. He expressed the hope of the Iraqi faithful for a visit by Pope Francis and underscored the importance of collaboration between Christians and Muslims for a peaceful future in the country…

Pope urges Indian Church to bear fruits of faith, charity (Vatican News) Pope Francis has sent his blessings to India’s Latin-rite bishops, wishing their plenary assembly bear much fruit in the service of their faithful, helping them to grow in faith and charity. “His Holiness sends fraternal greetings to you and your brother Bishops gathered on this occasion, and invites you ‘to a renewed personal encounter with Jesus Christ... an openness to letting Him encounter [you]… unfailingly each day (Evangelii Gaudium, 3),” wrote Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin in a message sent on behalf of the Pope to the bishops…

India’s citizenship bill stirs fears of migrant invasion (UCANews.com) Widespread protests continue in northeast India after the government passed a controversial bill this week to grant citizenship to non-Muslim migrants from neighboring nations. Critics have blasted the move as being politically motivated in an election year — the general election is due in the coming months as the ruling party’s term ends in May — and say it violates the country’s secular values…

Turkey says it will launch offensive if U.S. delays pullout from Syria (The Guardian) Turkey will launch an offensive against Syrian Kurdish forces if the US delays the withdrawal of its troops from Syria, the foreign minister has said. ”If the [pullout] is put off with ridiculous excuses like Turks are massacring Kurds, which do not reflect the reality, we will implement this decision,” Mevlüt Çavusoglu told NTV television…



Tags: India Iraqi Christians Turkey Indian Bishops

9 January 2019
Greg Kandra




The video above shows the dramatic impact of a winter storm that devastated refugee camps in Lebanon Monday. (video: Straits Times/YouTube)

Storm wrecks refugee camps in Lebanon (AFP) Heavy rains and snow wrecked several informal settlements housing Syrian refugees in Lebanon and left thousands in need of emergency assistance, aid workers said on Tuesday (8 Jan). Some of the worst affected were the refugees living in Arsal, a mountainous border area in northern Lebanon where the roofs of rudimentary shacks caved under the weight of the snow…

Christians concerned about religious freedom if Turkey enters Syria (CNS) Growing numbers of Christians in North America and Europe are joining Christians in Syria’s northeast in expressing concern for the future of religious minorities and Kurds in that region should the U.S. give Turkey the “green light” to take over the fight against Islamic State. ”News of any Turkish military involvement in northern Syria impacts us strongly and negatively,” Chaldean Catholic Father Samir Kanoon of Qamishli, Syria, told Catholic News Service…

Ethiopia-Eritrea border boom as peace takes hold (BBC) The reopening of the border between former enemies Ethiopia and Eritrea has dramatically changed the towns near the frontier, writes the BBC’s Emmanuel Igunza…

Russian Patriarch: Antichrist will use Internet to control people’s lives (The Moscow Times) The leader of the Russian Orthodox Church has said that humans’ dependence on modern technology will result in the coming of the Antichrist. In an interview with Russian state media, Patriarch Kirill explained he does not entirely oppose gadgets, but warned against “falling into slavery” to smartphones. Patriarch Kirill said that the collection of user data including “location, interests and fears” will make it possible for humans to be controlled by external forces…



Tags: Lebanon Ethiopia Russian Orthodox Church Eritrea Refugee Camps

8 January 2019
Greg Kandra




In the video above, an Egyptian bishop describes the tremendous faith of his people and how it has been strengthened by persecution and violent attacks in his country. The Vatican's Fides news agency reports 40 missionaries and pastoral workers around the world were killed in 2018.
(video: Rome Reports/YouTube)


Report: 40 missionaries killed around the world in 2018 (Vatican News) In the course of the year 2018, 40 “missionaries” and pastoral workers were killed around the world, almost double the previous year’s toll of 23, the Vatican’s Fides news agency reported. Until 2017, the Americas led the way for 8 consecutive years for the highest number of missionaries killed. In 2018, Africa topped the list…

Red Cross rescues hundreds of Syrians from flooded refugee camp (The Daily Star) The Lebanese Red Cross rescued more than 500 people from Akkar’s Semmaqieh refugee settlement Monday after their tents filled with floodwater as storm Norma battered Lebanon with fierce winds, heavy snow and rainfall…

Egypt policeman killed defusing bomb near Coptic church (BBC) A policeman has been killed trying to defuse a bomb outside a Coptic Christian church in Egypt, security officials say. Mustafa Abid was reportedly a specialist in mine clearance. The explosion injured two other officers and an onlooker…

Muslims slam India’s verbal divorce bill (UCANews.com) Opposition to India’s move to criminalize verbal divorce among Muslims continued in early January after the governing pro-Hindu party sought to push a bill through parliament last month that would outlaw the practice, which is still prevalent among Muslims…

For Orthodox churches in Ukraine and Russia, a politically charged Christmas (CNN) This Christmas, however, is a politically charged one for both Russia and Ukraine. On Saturday 5 January, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople signed a decree called a “tomos” that granted independence to the Orthodox Church in Ukraine. The decree furthers a push begun in October to recognize the establishment of an independent Orthodox Church in the country. And it has given Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko an important symbolic victory ahead of a presidential vote slated for the end of March…

Priest turns derelict land into ’Garden of Eden’ in Delhi (UCANews.com) The Delhi Archdiocese has set up an eco-spirituality center for meditation on the edge of the capital powered by renewable energy that features quake-proof cottages, an organic diet and farm animals. It is called Ish Vatika (the Garden of God) and is managed by Father Stanley Kozhichira, national president of the Catholic media organization Signis India...



Tags: India Egypt Ukraine Orthodox Persecution

7 January 2019
Greg Kandra




Pope Francis greets an ambassador during an annual meeting to exchange greetings for the new year with diplomats accredited to the Holy See, at the Vatican on 7 January.
(photo: CNS/Ettore Ferrari, pool via Reuters)


Pope to diplomats: ’Nationalistic tendencies’ threaten world peace (CNS) As it did prior to the Second World War, the rise of nationalism in the world poses a threat to peace and constructive dialogue among nations, Pope Francis said. During his annual address to diplomats accredited to the Vatican, the pope said that the establishment of the League of Nations nearly 100 years ago ushered a new era of multilateral diplomacy based on goodwill, readiness among nations to deal fairly and honestly with each other and openness to compromise…

Two Americans accused of fighting for ISIS captured by Kurds in Syria (The Washington Post) Kurdish forces in Syria said Sunday that they had captured two American citizens hiding out in the country’s final Islamic State stronghold. In a statement, the Syrian Democratic Forces, or SDF, identified the detainees as Warren Christopher Clark, 34, and Zaid Abed al-Hamid, 35. It said the pair had been captured alongside three others suspected of being foreign recruits in the extremist group.

Ethiopians celebrate Christmas (Andalou Agency) Ethiopian Orthodox Christians on Monday celebrated Christmas with religious leaders calling the laity to pray and work for the maintenance of peace and unity. In a sermon on the Christmas Eve, Abune Mathias, Patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, said: “The people, particularly the youth, should work for the maintenance of peace.” Ethiopian Orthodox Christians celebrate Christmas on 7 January, along with other Eastern Orthodox Christians around the world, some two weeks after 25 December, when their Western counterparts celebrate Jesus’ birth…

Survivors of anti-Christian violence in India enter consecrated life (Vatican News) On 27 December, Father Anand was ordained a priest of the Order of Friars Minor and his sister, Anjali, pronounced her final vows as a member of the Society of Saint Anne of Luzern. The two are survivors of India’s 2008 anti-Christian violence in Odisha state. In 2018, Christians in eastern India’s Odisha state marked the 10th anniversary of the terrible massacre and atrocities inflicted on them by Hindu extremists. The year ended with the grace and blessing of the Lord when two siblings who survived the persecution, offered themselves to the Lord in consecrated life…

Putin marks Christmas in St. Petersburg (EuroNews) Russian Orthodox Christians have marked Christmas with a special midnight mass held in churches and cathedrals across the country. President Vladimir Putin attended a service in Saint Petersburg’s Transfiguration Cathedral, where his mother had him baptized in secrecy during Soviet times…

Pictures: Christians around the world mark Epiphany (AP) Christians across the world have been marking Epiphany, with worshippers plunging into icy waters and parades being held in Poland and elsewhere. At the Vatican, Pope Francis marked the Epiphany feast day by urging people to follow the path of “humble love” and care for those who can give nothing back…



Tags: India Pope Francis Ethiopia Russian Orthodox Church

4 January 2019
Greg Kandra




Cardinal Oswald Gracias of Mumbai, president of Catholic Bishops Conference of India, will preside over a meeting of the Latin-rite bishops in India next week. (photo: CNS/Anto Akkara)

India’s bishops to meet (Vatican News) India’s Latin-rite bishops are gathering in the holding their plenary assembly next week in the seaside town of Mahabalipuram in southern India’s Tamil Nadu state. The Conference of Catholic Bishops of India (CCBI) of the Latin-rite bishops, is holding its 31stplenary assembly at the Joe Animation Centre from 8-14 January on the theme, “Evangelii Gaudium”, or “The Joy of the Gospel”, the Apostolic Exhortation of Pope Francis that deals with the Church’s primary mission of evangelizations in the modern world…

Biggest cathedral in the Middle East to be dedicated (Egyptian Streets) According to local media outlets, the New Administrative Capital’s cathedral will finally be inaugurated in time for Coptic Christmas mass on Sunday. The opening of the cathedral, officially called the ‘Cathedral of the Birth of Christ’ and set to be the largest church in the Middle East, will be attended by Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi and Pope Tawadros II…

British report criticizes Indian government for failing to protect religious minorities (UCANews.com) A British parliamentary report has criticized the Indian government for failing to protect religious minorities from violent Hindu hardliners. A report by the British All-Party Parliamentary Group for International Freedom of Religion or Belief said the rise of nationalist “Hindutva” ideology — which defines ‘Indian’ as exclusively Hindu — has led to an increase in religious oppression in the country…

‘Pope for Ukraine’ aims to help displaced families (CNA) ”Pope for Ukraine” is a Vatican initiative that aims to collaborate with non-Catholic entities to respond to the emergency humanitarian situation amid conflict in eastern Ukraine…

‘Walking in the Lord’s footsteps’ in Jerusalem (Reuters) It is three o’clock in the morning and Artak Tadevosyan is wafting incense through the corridors of Jerusalem’s Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the site where Christians believe Jesus Christ was crucified and buried. ”Walking in the Lord’s footsteps, really, you have feelings that cannot be explained,” said the 26-year-old Armenian Orthodox cleric. “We don’t see it as stone, all these are holy places for us…”



Tags: India Egypt Ukraine Coptic Christians

3 January 2019
Greg Kandra




In this image from 16 December, Metropolitan Epiphanius, newly elected head of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, conducts a liturgy at St. Michael's Cathedral in Kiev, Ukraine. Official recognition of this new church is causing conflict and division within Orthodoxy.
(photo: CNS/Valentyn Ogirenko, Reuters)


Official recognition of Ukrainian church roils Orthodox world (RNS) In a few days, Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople Bartholomew, the foremost leader in the Eastern Christian church, is scheduled to recognize the newly founded Ukrainian Orthodox Church. Bartholomew plans to give the tomos, or the formal decree of autocephaly, to primate Metropolitan Epiphanius in an elaborate ceremony in Istanbul that coincides with one of the most important celebrations for Orthodoxy, the Epiphany. But not everyone in the Orthodox world will be celebrating with them…

Kerala paralyzed over protests (BBC) Violent protests have paralyzed the southern Indian state of Kerala after two women made history by entering a prominent Hindu temple. Schools across the state are closed and public transport too has been suspended. One person was killed in clashes on Wednesday. The Sabarimala temple was historically closed to women of “menstruating age” — defined as between 10 and 50. The Supreme Court revoked the ban in September, which prompted outrage…

Water crisis could make Gaza uninhabitable by 2020 (PBS) In the Gaza Strip, 97 percent of freshwater is unsuitable for human consumption, and raw sewage pours into the Mediterranean Sea. Facilities for desalinating and treating water function on only a limited basis, as Israel controls the flow of fuel and supplies into the region. But Israelis, too, could face consequences from contaminated water…

Israel’s new mayor plans to silence mosque loudspeakers (The National) Israel’s new mayor of Jerusalem is planning to push for the volume to be turned down on the city’s mosque loudspeakers during the call to prayer. Israeli television reports indicated that the move would be one of the first policy pushes by Moshe Lion after he won the municipal election in November, replacing hard-right mayor Nir Barkat…

Ethiopia pardons hundreds of prisoners amid Christmas celebrations (Xinhua Agency) The Ethiopian government on Wednesday announced amnesty to some 530 federal prisoners amid Ethiopia’s unique Christmas day celebrations. Prisoners were pardoned amid the unique Ethiopian Christmas, as the country prepares to mark the day on 7 January to remember the birth of Jesus Christ based on the traditions of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, state affiliated Fana Broadcasting Corporate reported on Wednesday…



Tags: India Ukraine Ethiopia Gaza Strip/West Bank Russian Orthodox Church

2 January 2019
Greg Kandra




Pope Francis kisses a figurine of the baby Jesus as he celebrates Mass marking the feast of Mary, Mother of God, in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican on 1 January.(photo: CNS/Paul Haring)

Pope prays for new year marked by tenderness, brotherhood, peace (CNS) A new year is a chance for a new start, a time to remember that all people are brothers and sisters and a time to nurture amazement that God became human to save all people, Pope Francis said. The 1 January feast of Mary, Mother of God, also is a time to remember how strong maternal love and care are, and how they are the secret to making life more livable, the pope said during his homily at a feast day Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica…

Indian cardinal spends Christmas with ’untouchables’ (Crux) Indian Cardinal Oswald Gracias, a leading voice for the rights of Dalit Christians, celebrated Christmas with the Dalit Community from the Cheetah Camp area of Trombay, Mumbai…

Mass grave of Ethiopian Christians killed by ISIS found in Libya (CNA) A mass grave of 34 Ethiopian Christians executed by the so-called Islamic State group in 2015 has reportedly been unearthed in Libya. The bodies have been exhumed and will be eventually repatriated to Ethiopia, the Libyan interior ministry says…

As Ukraine and Russia battle over Orthodoxy, schism looms (The New York Times) Ukraine is on the verge of opening the biggest schism in Christianity in centuries, as it breaks from the authority of a Moscow-based patriarch and this week expects to formally gain recognition for its own church, taking tens of millions of followers. Intensifying a millennium-old religious struggle freighted with 21st-century geopolitical baggage, Ukraine’s security services have in recent weeks interrogated priests loyal to Moscow, searched church properties and enraged their Russian rivals…

Cardinal Parolin visited Iraq for Christmas (Vatican News) From 24-28 December, the Vatican Secretary of State visited Iraq, viewed as a “very welcome visit” by the auxiliary bishop of Baghdad…

Syrian refugees in Lebanon fall deeper into debt (VOA) Syrian refugees in Lebanon are falling deeper into debt, with 2018 being the worst year yet, as more families marry off children to cope financially, according to a U.N. Report…

Top Vatican press officials resign (CNS) Saying they thought Pope Francis should be “completely free to assemble a new team” for Vatican communications “at this time of transition,” the director of the Vatican press office announced he and the vice director had resigned. Pope Francis accepted the resignations of Greg Burke and Paloma Garcia Ovejero, the press office announced on 31 December. The pope appointed Alessandro Gisotti, coordinator of social media at the Vatican Dicastery for Communication, to serve as interim director of the press office…



Tags: Syria India Pope Francis Ukraine Russian Orthodox Church





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