Born in Beirut, Lebanon on August 31, 1950 (Son of Fawzi Francis Kobti and Verginie Elias El-Sharif). Studied at the Latin Patriarchate Seminary of Jerusalem from 1963-1975. Worked as a teacher at Terra Santa College 1973-1974 (Franciscan Fathers of the Custody of the Holy...Read More
Seeking truth and justice
by Rev. Fr. Imad Twal
“Administration Journey” is the personal account of an administrator’s job within Church institutions, especially for the priest or consecrated, in community work and daily life among believers (church, parish, parish activities, visit to the sick and youth programs). Such are grace-filled moments in a priest’s life, where he practices the three-fold ministry and mission of Christ: priest, king and prophet.
In the first Letter to the Corinthians (1 Cor 12:27-31), St. Paul writes about the “gifts” of the Holy Spirit as grace to the Church in her diversity: “ Brethren, you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. And God has appointed in the church first “apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, then healers, helpers, administrators, speakers in various kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? But earnestly desire the higher gifts. And I will show you a still more excellent way”. They will be closer together as members of the same body, each holding special importance, each complementing the function of the other. This diversity serves both the Church’s structures and her members. It remains a concern of the priest, that as everyone with a particular “gift” works together, these gifts will build up the body of Christ.Read More
Christian Peacemaker Team, Hebron – After Friday prayers, Palestinians gathered outside the Ibrahimi Mosque to promote the campaign “Dismantle the Ghetto, Take Settlers Out of Hebron”, which calls for Right to Life and Freedom of Movement. This campaign commemorates the 23rd anniversary of the Ibrahimi Mosque Massacre and subsequent closure of Shuhada Street.Read More
Dr. Frank Romano, University of Paris, writes:
You are welcome to participate in The Interfaith Freedom March, on Friday, March 17th, 2017. The group will meet at 12:30 pm ———- in front of the Ramallah, Central Mosque, West Bank, Palestine, in downtown Ramallah, and then march toward “Al-Monara Square.”
My friends, it’s no longer possible to say, “Ah, that’s the other side of the World, what does this place have to do with me, my family, my world….”
The people in the Holy Land, Muslims, Jews and Christians alike, are enshrouded by deep suffering, terrible restrictions on freedoms, limitation of circulation, restricted access, unfair confiscation of land, water, etc.Read More
The past cannot be changed. But perhaps, perhaps, we can learn from it and draw some conclusions.
SO HOW THE HELL did it all start?
Last week I tried to describe the 1948 war, starting from the shooting at a Jewish bus on the morrow of the UN partition resolution. Some readers dispute the timing. They insist that the war started on May 15, on the morrow of the founding of the State of Israel, when the armies of the neighboring Arab states entered the country.
I have seen this many times. Every serious debate about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict raises the question: “When did it start?” Each side has its own date, proving that the other side started it.Read More
World Council of Churches | February 16, 2017
Intended for an international audience of young people (ages 20-35) interested and engaged in interreligious dialogue, religious leaders, students, lay persons and professionals with a suitable level of religious literacy and/or experience in the field of interreligious dialogue and engagement, especially among the three Abrahamic religions, the Ecumenical Institute’s Certificate of Advanced Studies in Interreligious Studies is accredited by the University of Geneva under the Swiss Higher Education Programme for Continuing Education.
The course encompasses a study period of 6 weeks (3 weeks distance learning, 3 weeks residential). The residential period includes lectures, courses, workshops and study visits to places of interreligious interest.Read More
Deborah Castellano Lubov | Zenit | 15 February, 2017
“I give a warm welcome to the Arabic-speaking pilgrims, in particular those from the Middle East!”, said Pope Francis during the General Audience of Feb. 15, 2017.
This morning’s General Audience was held at 9:30 in Paul VI Hall, where the Holy Father Francis met with groups of pilgrims and faithful from Italy and from all over the world.Read More
AMMAN – In celebration of years of cooperation and dialogue already nurtured in the Holy Land, church leaders from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land (ELCJHL) and the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem (LPJ) made a visual commitment to unity and shared service to its community in the Middle East. The service was co-hosted at The Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd in Amman, Jordan on Sunday, February 12, 2017 and another service is scheduled at St. Catherine Church in Bethlehem on Saturday.
Dr. Frank Romano, University of Paris, writes:
FREEDOM MARCH, “LAND DAY”, PALESTINE – 2017
You are invited to participate in the Freedom March on Thursday, March 30, 2017. It is to commemorate the “Land Day”, 2017. The group will meet at 12:30 pm ——— – At the Qalandia Mosque, in the West Bank, in Palestine, then walk towards the Qalandia checkpoint.
This is the Palestinian land, they will not leave, they will remain attached to this sacred land of Palestine. We will continue our resistance to the occupation! We will continue Palestinian existence until freedom and independence, until the end of the Israeli occupation, until the establishment of a just and lasting peace …Read More
ISRAEL – Fr. David Neuhaus SJ, Patriarchal Vicar for the Hebrew Speaking Catholics and Coordinator for the Pastoral Care of Migrants, sent an appeal to the Minister of Interior on behalf of 14 eleven-year old Filipino children. These children were born in Israel to migrant workers are deemed ineligible for residency and are facing immediate deportation together with their families. The appeal recalls how the Philippines welcomed and saved over 1,300 Jews who fled from Europe in the 1930s to this small Asian country.
Dear Mr. Aryeh Deri,
It is not my habit to introduce politicians to one another. However, in this case, I believe it is essential that you, the Honorable Interior Minister of the State of Israel, get to know the late President of the Philippines, Mr. Manuel Quezon. To be perfectly honest, I had hardly heard of Quezon before I was invited to the premier screening of a new, full-length documentary, detailing the involvement of Quezon in the saving of 1302 Jews fleeing Nazi Germany before and during the Shoah.Read More
A new film, “Open Door,” was shown for the first time in Israel on Wednesday, January 25, 2017, at the Cinematheque in Tel Aviv. Father David Neuhaus, Latin Patriarchal Vicar attended the event.
The Philippine Embassy in Israel and the American Jewish Committee hosted together the premier of the new film, entitled “An Open Door, Holocaust Haven the Philippines”. The film, directed by Filipino award winning director, Noel Izon, tells the untold story of how Filipino President Quezon and Jewish organizations created a haven in the Philippines for over 1300 Jewish refugees, fleeing the Shoah, during the Second World War.
The moving documentary is based upon the testimonies of the last remaining Jewish survivors, members of the Quezon family and others, who recount the generosity of President Manuel L. Quezon, who sought to welcome many more Jewish refugees fleeing Nazi Europe. The event of the premier also marked sixty years of Israel-Filipino diplomatic relations.Read More
by Saher Kawas | Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem
In his homily, Cardinal Woelki affirmed that “in a time of growing nationalism, we need reconciliation and a life derived from the Gospel”. He added “powerful people all over the world today fuel nationalist ideas more than ever before, giving them a religious framework. In this way, they foster demarcation and, in particular, lead young people to hatred and violence.”Read More
AFTER MY last article, in which I mentioned that the Arabs started the 1948 war after the partition resolution of the UN, I received several furious messages.
The writers, who (I suppose) were born after the events, accuse the Zionists of starting the war in order to expel the Arab population.
Since I took part in the events – I was 24 years old at the time – I feel that it is my duty to describe what really happened, as truthfully as possible. (I have written two books about it, one during the war and one immediately after.)
TO DESCRIBE the atmosphere in the country just before the war, let me recount one of the great moments of my life.Read More
‘I reaffirm that the Catholic Church feels particularly obliged to do all that is possible with our Jewish friends to repel anti-Semitic tendencies’ (Full Text)
by Deborah Castellano Lubov | Zenit | February 9, 2017
The Church denounces Anti-Semitism in all its forms, noting it is “completely contrary to Christian principles and every vision worthy of the human person.”
Pope Francis stressed this to a delegation from the Anti-Defamation League, an organization which has maintained relations with the Holy See since the Second Vatican Council, which he received this morning in the Vatican’s Apostolic Palace.Read More
Tonight, we have been reminded that hope is and must be a defiant triumph over pessimism and fear. From our liberation from bondage, we have spent much of our time wandering from country to country. We wandered because people didn’t accept us, we wandered because we were different…and because they just didn’t like us because we were Jews. Substitute Jews with ‘refugee,’ with ‘immigrant,’ with ‘Muslim.’ Our Judaism didn’t only get us chased…Our Judaism got us rejected on our very shores. But the Prophet Isaiah insisted that in times of crisis we must cry aloud, we shall not be silent. We shall make ourselves into a shofar and be the clarion call for every value that we uphold…We the people must form the more perfect union…May our actions tonight make a difference, may they inspire us to further become the clarion call to welcome the stranger, protect the refugee and to never stand idly by in the face of injustice.Read More
Pray with me for all those who are afflicted, especially the poor, refugees, and marginalized, may find welcome and comfort in our communities. Pope Francis
LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) – Feb. 6, 2017 – The 120-second video features Pope Francis’ narration as scenes of society ignoring people in need are displayed.Read More
by Akiva Eldar | Ruti Sinai, Translator | Al Monitor | February 7, 2017
The White House’s recent contention that the existing Israeli settlements in the occupied territories are not an impediment to peace should, it would seem, allay the concerns of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as he licks his wounds after the forcible evacuation of Israeli settlers Feb. 1-2 from the illegal West Bank outpost of Amona. After all, that is exactly what Netanyahu has been insisting for years about the settlements. Now, finally, there is a White House occupant after his own heart — a real estate mogul who doesn’t understand how a construction project can be a bad thing.
Like Netanyahu, President Donald Trump is apparently not bothered by the reality that some 2.5 million Muslims have been living for 50 years under a discriminatory occupation.Read More
Local media praised the king’s diplomatic breakthrough and one commentator, Fahd al-Khitan, wrote Feb. 2 in al-Ghad that Abdullah had fought a diplomatic battle in the US capital on behalf of all Arabs. He also noted that the Jordanian monarch had met the US president even before Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had done so. A number of Amman dailies pointed to a Feb. 2 New York Times article in which the authors credited Abdullah for a shift in Trump’s policy on the construction of new Jewish settlements in the Palestinian territories.Read More
By Andrea Avveduto | terrasanta.net
“Syria has always been a mosaic of cultures and we will not allow war to destroy that,” affirmed the Franciscans of the Custody in Damascus who help the poorest people any way that they can.
In the Franciscan church near Bab Touma (The Door of Thomas) in Damascus, the dome still bears the signs of recent bombings. Br. Bahjat Karakach, the superior of the convent, miraculously escaped the explosion that damaged the sanctuary. The parish center where Br. Antoine Louxa lives along with him is the first stop on our trip to Syria.Read More
Jerusalem – The law the Israeli Parliament passed yesterday which “regulates” even retroactively houses and Israeli settlements built illegally on Palestinian territory illegally occupied by the army of Israel, “makes the solution two peoples-two states almost impossible. It offends justice, the virtue which comes from God and consists in giving God and neighbor what they are due”.Read More
Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem
The Knesset passed a new law on Monday night, February 6, 2017, allowing the Israeli State to appropriate private Palestinian lands on which Israelis have built settlement homes without authorization in the Palestinian Territories.Read More
Washington D.C., Feb 7, 2017 / 06:23 am (CNA/EWTN News).- The Israeli-Palestinian conflict requires wise U.S. engagement to build a better future for both peoples, and this future could be endangered by an embassy relocation, the U.S. Catholic bishops told the new Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson.Read More
Jesus in the Gospels is anything but silent on these questions, and those who follow him cannot be silent either.
The Editors | America the Jesuit Review | February 8, 2017
Strange times for politics make for strange times for preaching. In just one week at the end of January, people in the United States and elsewhere participated in large and sometimes spontaneous demonstrations for the defense of human life, for recognition of women’s rights and for justice for refugees and immigrants. At the same time, in addition to the Senate’s consideration of President Donald J. Trump’s cabinet nominees, commentators discussed revisiting what constitutes torture during the interrogation of terror suspects, the beginnings of a process of dismantling the Affordable Care Act and the abandonment of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, to pick just a few examples.Read More
Beer made by Palestinian Christians in Birzeit and Taybeh is available at the tavern
by Jack Moore | Newseek | Feb. 8, 2017
In the downtown area of the coastal Israeli city of Haifa, a few steps from the Mediterranean, sits the Libira Brewpub. Taking its lead from Europe’s rising number of craft beer establishments, the non-kosher gastropub is one of the most popular drinking spots in the city. Founded in 2007 by Jewish expats—Erik Salarov, a 44-year-old from Tajikistan, and Leonid Lipkin, a 56-year-old from Ukraine—it attracts customers from their twenties into their nineties; a sign that the craft-beer trend is gaining ground in the Middle East. But in a region dogged by stark political, religious and ethnic divisions, this microbrewery has fallen foul of some Israelis.
In December last year, Libira became the target of an online hate campaign which threatened to drive away customers. The reason: It served the product of a Palestinian, West Bank-based brewery.Read More
David Stewart, S.J.* | America the Jesuit Review | February 8, 2017
Significant public figures in church and state have spoken out in recent days in the United Kingdom as the ramifications of President Donald J. Trump’s dramatic first weeks in office continue to provoke the national conversation here. The leader of Roman Catholics in England and Wales, Cardinal Vincent Nichols, archbishop of Westminster, expressed critical views on BBC radio, while a former archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. George Carey, went public with a completely different slant, asking Great Britain to give the Trump administration more time. Then, in a highly controversial move, the Speaker of the House of Commons declared that he would oppose any effort to invite Mr. Trump to address both Houses of Parliament during his state visit that is proposed for later this year.
Cardinal Nichols used an interview on the respected Sunday evening “Westminster Hour” radio program to condemn the “false notion” that Christianity and Islam are in conflict. The cardinal was speaking of the so-called travel ban applied to seven predominantly Muslim countries in an interview recorded before a federal judge’s ruling suspended the ban.Read More
By Hannah Brockhaus | Catholic News Agency | February 6, 2017
In the wake of President Donald Trump’s recent policy on refugees, U.S. Catholics should stay close to their bishops, who are providing a clear, correct and unified response to the issue, a Vatican official said.
Jesuit Fr. Michael Czerny is secretary of the new Vatican Dicastery for the Promotion of Integral Human Development, which includes an office for refugees and migrants, currently headed by the Pope himself.
Fr. Czerny told CNA that right now, the U.S. bishops are doing a good job responding to the policy. “I think the key is for Catholics to stay close to their bishops. Dialogue and unity are the two keys to a moment like this,” he said.
“And the bishops are speaking clearly, they’re speaking loudly, they’re speaking with a great deal of unity. Those who are concerned should listen to them, and also should reach out to help them.”Read More
The Occupation of the Palestinian Territories has been in existence for the past fifty years. There are numerous daily reminders to a Palestinian how this Occupation has wreaked havoc on their lives and the lives of their children. Few Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza are old enough to know what it is to walk freely without Id checks, without fear of being detained, arrested, having ones home broken into by soldiers and/or settlers, or just being able to move freely in their own town, let alone travel easily out of town.
The checkpoint is one of the most egregious obstacles in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, and is a constant reminder to the Palestinian of their lack of ability to navigate through the town freely without having to pass through a metal detector at least once or twice a day on their way to work, school, shopping or just to visit a friend; always having to produce their ID often with bag checks, being detained at the whim of the Israeli Border Police often for long periods, causing teachers, children and adults to be late for school and work.Read More
JORDAN – Our Lady of Peace Center OLOPC is owned by the Latin Patriarchate Amman – Jordan institute that provides free services to people with a variety of disabilities such as, intellectual disability, impaired mobility, hearing impairment, bipolar and down syndrome. The center also plays a major role in raising awareness in society in regards to people with disabilities and how to cooperate with them.
The idea of establishing the Department of Splints and Orthotics in Our Lady of Peace Center, jointly with the Italian Cooperation University (ICU) funded by the Italian Development Agency, aims to strengthen the response of the Jordanian health system that got affected because of the rising numbers of refugees who flocked from Syria, mainly focusing on providing services in orthotics and bone deformities.Read More
The executive orders of the initial days of the Trump administration are causing a mixture of fear, concern and uncertainty for many of the leaders and people of the US, Israel, the Moslem nations and most of the world. It is as if a great river has suddenly changed its course, depth and banks causing the river boats to slow or stop, and the people of the towns along the river bank to be concerned about their future and even survival. The Israeli right wing is elated and is challenging Netanyahu’s leadership (which is too moderate in their opinion) even while he is facing corruption accusations. The TV, radio and print media of both Israel and the U.S. that expresses disapproval of and “fact checks” its elected leaders is experiencing increasing criticism by these same leaders in what has become a contest between observable realities, “facts of the ground” and “post truth” and “alternate reality.”Read More
They [ISIS] had come to destroy us, wipe us out in that specific area where we continue to speak the language that Jesus spoke, Aramaic. The very same area that Saint Thomas evangelized from AD 42 to 49. One of the most ancient parts of our Church. –Father Karam Shamasha
By Hannah Brockhaus | Catholic News Agency | February 1, 2017
Rome, Italy, Feb 1, 2017 / 06:01 am (CNA/EWTN News).- An Iraqi priest who was forced to flee his village when the Islamic State seized the area in 2014 said the hardship and persecution Christians in Iraq have experienced has taught them what it really means to fully live out their faith.
“What we have witnessed is a message for us, so we may reconsider what the objectives of being Christian should be, what it means to live as a Christian to the fullest, not through empty words, and not as something that can be carried away by the wind,” Fr. Karam Shamasha told CNA.Read More
In a land divided by conflicts, where the horizon remains uncertain, Bethlehem University has fostered a deeper dialogue between Christians and Muslims and rekindled the hope for a better future among young Palestinians. Bethlehem University has been and continues to be an oasis of peace.
by Cécile Klos | Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem
ROME / BETHLEHEM – The International Board of Regents of the University of Bethlehem met at the Generalate of the Christian Brothers de La Salle in Rome last month to evaluate the quality of teaching and educational development of the institution.
This assembly, the highest of the University, meet twice a year with the participation of the 22 founding members and benefactors from different countries. Once again, discussions and decisions focused on improving the standards and quality of education and to foster the development of a university that can take pride in its achievements.Read More