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Page One: Headlines for 7/22/13 Posted: Jul 22 2013 11:50AM

In this 2011 image, Abbot Mar Christo tends to the vegetable garden in St. George’s Monastery in Syria’s Wadi al Nasarah. Dating back to the sixth century, the monastery is the region’s oldest extant Christian site. For more, see Syria’s Christian Valley, from the January 2011 issue of ONE. (photo: Sean Sprague)

The plight of Syrian minorities (Counterpunch) As the conflict in Syria rages, the dire reality of religious and ethnic minorities comes to the surface. On July 18, BBC World News featured reportage on the Syrian government shelling of the town of Al Husun, which lies at the foothill of Krak des Chevaliers. The 11th-century Crusader citadel rests magnificently at the top of a massive hill at the heart of a valley in western Homs known as Wadi al Nasarah — “the Christian Valley.” To its southwest nestles the historic Antiochian Orthodox St. George’s Monastery. As early as March 2011, the Christian Valley became the most sought refuge of the people of Homs, regardless of religion or sect. The valley constitutes some 32 villages, of which 27 are inhabited by Christians — mostly Greek Orthodox. Among the remaining five villages, four are mainly Alawites, leaving only Al Husun inhabited largely by Muslim Sunnis. Despite rising sectarian tensions, the people of the Christian Valley, largely peasants who live off their farms, remain hospitable. Many of them host their neighbors who had to flee Homs and, more recently, Aleppo…

What’s become of Syria’s Christian sites? (Huffington Post) As politicians debate the fate of Syria’s Christian minority, reportedly targeted by Muslim fundamentalists for supporting President Bashar al Assad’s regime, the country’s Christian sites seem to have been forgotten in the two-plus-year civil war. “They cut off the head of the statue of Mary (Lady of the Two Worlds) in Syria’s Jisr al Shaghour region,” wrote Rev. Georges Massouh, a Lebanese Greek Orthodox priest, adding that it was still more acceptable than slaughtering human beings. If the attack aimed to terrorize Christians, they will remain in Syria — whose every grain of soil is a witness to its Christianity — and will be martyrs of love, peace, and Christ’s eternal presence in them, he said this week in the daily Annahar. But the ongoing conflict has definitely taken a toll on Christians, their sites, and the language of Christ…

Orthodox delegations arriving in Moscow for commemoration (Voice of Russia) Delegations of the Orthodox churches of Jerusalem, Antioch, Romania, and Cyprus arrived in Moscow today to take part in the festivities marking the 1,025 years since the adoption of the Christian faith by Kievan Rus. The delegations from the Orthodox Patriarchal Church of Jerusalem and the Orthodox Church of Cyprus are led by the supreme hierarchs of these churches — Patriarch Theophilos III and Archbishop Chrysostomos II, respectively. The events are scheduled to run from 24-29 July…

Orthodox patriarch calls for reopening of Istanbul’s Halki Seminary (Hurriyet Daily News) Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew repeated his call to the Turkish government for the reopening of the Heybeliada Halki Seminary, saying that the religion was entering a dangerous phase due to a lack of proper religious officials. Bartholomew was speaking at an iftar event organized by the Istanbul Mufti office, with Mufti Rahmi Yaran present, where the patriarch mentioned the closed Halki Seminary. “We would like to mention at this time the importance of qualified religious officials in the society. Religious officials should always be properly educated and set examples based on their training throughout their life…”

Israeli-Palestinian peace talks’ resumption put in doubt by both sides (BBC) Moves towards a resumption of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks were mired in rumors, rebuttals, criticism and confusion on Sunday. In a high-profile dismissal of the embryonic process, Israel’s former foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman, wrote on Facebook that there was “no solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, at least not in the coming years, and what’s possible and important to do is conflict-management.” Naftali Bennett, economics minister, insisted construction on Jewish settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem would continue, regardless of talks…