Our father, Arthur Stern (z”l), was a Holocaust survivor, so like many Jews, today’s Yom Ha’Shoah – Holocaust Remembrance Day –touches us personally.
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
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Saturday evening, during his return from Egypt, held his traditional inflight “press conference” with journalists onboard the Papal plane touching on a wide range of issues.
Amongst the topics elaborated upon, he spoke of his concern for the North Korea crisis for which he urged diplomatic mediation, of the phenomenon of populism in Europe and across the world and of the dramatic situation of forced migrants and refugees in many refugee camps.Read More
(Vatican Radio) Friday evening saw an unscripted moment between Pope Francis and a group of some three hundred young people gathered in the small square before the entrance to the Apostolic Nunciature in Cairo, where the Holy Father stayed the night between Friday and Saturday.
After supper, the Holy Father went to greet the young people gathered the square, saying, “Good evening to you all, I’m glad to find you!”Read More
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Saturday told Egypt’s priests, religious and seminarians to be sowers of hope, builders of bridges and agents of dialogue, despite the many difficulties they face.Read More
(Vatican Radio) In a meeting with Egypt’s Coptic Orthodox leader Pope Tawadros II on Friday, Pope Francis said the two communities must oppose violence and work more closely together to witness to Christ in the world.Read More
(Vatican Radio) In his address to leaders of government and civil institutions in Egypt, Pope Francis focused on the country’s role in seeking solutions to the complex issues that face the Middle East.Read More
Apr 30, 2017
Pope Francis and Pope Tawadros II of the Coptic Orthodox Church in Egypt have taken a significant ecumenical step by signing a common declaration that Roman Catholics and Copts recognize each other’s baptisms. The agreement is, in the eyes of the World Council of Churches (WCC), a “sign of hope”.Read More
COMMISSION JUSTICE AND PEACE
ASSEMBLY OF CATHOLIC ORDINARIES OF THE HOLY LAND
PRISONERS’ HUNGER STRIKE
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives. (Lk 4: 18)
I was in prison and you came to see me. (Mt 25: 36)
More than 1500 (out of 6500) Palestinian political prisoners have begun an open hunger strike, initiated on April 17,2017. The aim of this desperate act is to shed light, both locally and internationally, on the inhuman conditions in which they are detained by the Israeli Authorities. They plead for the respect of their human rights and dignity as recognized by international law and the Geneva Convention, and the end of administrative detention.Read More
by Morgan Windsor,Terry Moran, and Clark Benton | GMA | April 29, 2017
Pope Francis drew a crowd of 15,000 to an open-air Mass in Egypt on his last day visiting the overwhelmingly Muslim nation, where Christians and their churches have been the target of recent attacks by Islamic militants.
Francis led the Mass on Saturday in Cairo at the country’s Air Defense Stadium, which has a capacity of 25,000. In his homily, Francis urged attendees to be good to their fellow Egyptians and not be hypocritical in their faith, saying “the only fanaticism believers can have is that of charity.”
It was Francis’ first papal visit to Egypt, where Catholics haven’t seen a pope on their soil since St. John Paul II visited in 2000.Read More
by Nick Danforth | Foreign Affairs
On display at the Smithsonian’s Sackler gallery earlier this year was “The Art of the Qur’an: Treasures from the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts.” The exhibit featured a number of lavishly decorated Korans collected by the Ottoman Empire during its six-century rule over much of the Muslim world. One, seized by Suleiman the Magnificent from the tomb of a long-dead Mongol ruler, has sprawling gold medallions set amidst lines of multi-colored calligraphy. Another, read with unknowable results for the salvation of Selim the Second’s soul, features whimsical foliage-like shapes interlocked above a deep lapis lazuli background.
But beyond the beauty of the books on display, their history is also illuminating. Whereas commentators frequently describe modern Turkey as torn by a rivalry between secularism and Islamism, this exhibit inadvertently reveals the complex ways in which the two ideologies always co-existed. In Turkey, as elsewhere, religion has always been important to even the most secular governments, and power remains important to even the most religious.Read More
Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem | Nazareth
Just before Holy Week, a group of engaged couples from Nazareth attended a meeting with Bishop Giacinto-Boulos Marcuzzo, Patriarchal Vicar in Israel, as part of their marriage preparations. The bishop spoke with them on the “Theology of Marriage.”
Everyone knows the excesses that the modern family can encounter and experience. Everyone also knows the efforts being undertaken by the Church to seriously prepare engaged couples, especially after the recent Synods of Bishops on the family and through Amoris Laetitia, the exhortation of Pope Francis.
For the marriage preparations, the papal exhortation strongly encourages formation courses. This is not new in the Church of the Holy Land, which had already made this preparation mandatory with the Diocesan Pastoral Synod. Now it is a pastoral activity carried out in all Catholic parishes.Read More
Vatican Radio | Philippa Hitchen | April 28, 2017
In a common declaration, signed by Pope Francis and Coptic Pope Tawadros II, Catholics and Copts declare for the first time that they will recognise each other’s sacrament of baptism.
The joint statement was made public following a meeting of the Catholic and Coptic leaders in Cairo on Friday. It comes forty-four years after Pope Paul VI first met with the previous Coptic Pope Shenouda III in May 1973. That encounter marked a milestone in relations, following centuries of separation, and it led to the setting up of a Commission for theological dialogue with the whole family of Oriental Orthodox Churches.Read More
CAIRO (AP) — Pope Francis demanded that Egypt’s Muslim leaders teach a rejection of violence in God’s name during a delicate visit Friday to the Arab world’s most populous country, and he strongly backed its uncompromising crackdown on political Islam and militancy.
Brushing off security concerns after a series of attacks by Islamic militants on Egypt’s Coptic Christians, Francis rode through Cairo in a simple blue Fiat with his window rolled down — not the armored “popemobiles” of his predecessors.
And at every stop on his first day, he issued variations on the same hard-hitting theme: “No civilized society can be built without repudiating every ideology of evil, violence and extremism that presumes to suppress others and to annihilate diversity by manipulating and profaning the sacred name of God.”Read More
One of the objectives of this training is also to continue to encourage dialogue between Christians and Muslims, one of the pillars of the school.Many parents are sending their children here for coexistence education, specific to the institution. In this region, where Christians represent only two percent of the population, the Church plays a major social and educational role. Father Ibrahim Shomali
by Claire Guigou | Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem
RAMALLAH – Al Ahliyyah School in the Latin parish of the Holy Family will open a new cooking school in the fall. This facility is for 16-18 year-olds, and will offer new job opportunities to young people in Palestine. The province of Hainaut in Belgium, has long been associated with the region and has committed to support this project of the Latin Patriarchate Project Development Office.Read More
On Monday, April 24, at the Cathedral of St. James in Jerusalem, the Armenian community commemorated the 102th anniversary of the Armenian genocide.
One hundred two years later, the pain is still there. The Armenian community of Jerusalem has once again commemorated this tragic event: the genocide of over a million and a half Armenians. For the occasion, a mass presided over by Father Nerseh Aloian was celebrated in the Armenian Cathedral of the old city of Jerusalem, in the presence of many faithful.Read More
The exhibition at the Israel Museum, Christmas through Easter, revealing an unusual Jesus: a faceted path that represents a new milestone in the relationship between Jews and Christians.
The picture of a rabbi preaching in the temple.
A chest X-Ray
A cross made of tanks remnants and scrap military uniforms.
These are some of the unusual representations of Jesus displayed in the exhibition “Behold the Man: Jesus in Israeli Art” at the Israel Museum.
…continuation of the ecumenical path” towards Christian unity
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Friday travels to Cairo to meet with Sheik Ahmed el-Tayeb, Grand Imam of Egypt’s al-Azhar university. The pope will spend just over 24 hours in the Egyptian capital, where he’ll also meet with the head of the Coptic Orthodox Church, Pope Tawadros II and leaders of the small Catholic community there.
At al-Azhar university Pope Francis will speak at an international peace conference which the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew is also be attending. His visit to the prestigious Islamic institution comes just two months after the resumption of talks between the university and a Vatican delegation.
Professor Gabriel Said Reynolds teaches Islamic Studies and Theology at the University of Notre Dame in the United States and was a member of the Catholic delegation for the talks at al-Azhar in February, which came after years of tension and mistrust between the two sides.Read More
CAIRO (Reuters) – Pope Francis arrives in Cairo on Friday hoping to mend ties with Islamic religious leaders but his message of peace comes as Egypt’s Coptic Christian community faces unprecedented pressure from Islamic State militants who have threatened to wipe it out.
Below are some facts about Egypt’s Coptic Christians:
— The Coptic Orthodox Church is one of oldest in the world. It is the principal Christian church in predominantly Muslim Egypt. Its members are called Coptic Orthodox, distinguishing them from Copts who converted to Catholicism and from the Eastern Orthodox, who are mostly Greek.Read More
…a threshold of hope designed to strengthen Islamic-Christian relations
abouna.org, CAIRO – Apostolic Administrator of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa has entrusted Fr. Rif’at Bader, director of the Catholic Center for Studies and Media in Jordan (CCSM) to represent him at Al-Azhar International Conference on Peace due to convene in Cairo on Thursday, April 27, as well as at the audiences of His Holiness Pope Francis in Egypt on Friday and Saturday April 28-29.Read More
German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel arrived in Jerusalem for a prearranged meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The Prime Minister canceled the meeting.
Ma’an reported Thursday that a general strike has begun in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.
As part of the strike, Palestinians shut down their shops and businesses in solidarity with the more than 1,500 Palestinian prisoners now enduring the 11th day of their “Freedom and Dignity” hunger strike.
The Arabic graffiti above means, “Salt and Water,” the only nutrients striking prisoners allow themselves. Placed on the locked door of a Palestinian sh0p, “salt and water” signals support for the strike which was organized by imprisoned Palestinian leader Marwan Barghouthi.
The general strike calls for a Day of Rage on Friday, April 28, during which Palestinians are expected to show their solidarity with the Palestinian prisoners’ movement.Read More
April 27, 2017 – “What is the role of churches in peace-building? How are they actually involved? Which are the ecumenical challenges, and especially which are the ecumenical opportunities that arise from joint efforts at peace building?”
These were some of the questions on the table as the Executive of the Joint Working Group (JWG) of the World Council of Churches (WCC) and the Roman Catholic Church met in Dublin, Ireland on 24-26 April.
In a communiqué issued on 27 April, the group stressed that migration and peace-building in situations of violence are the two burning issues that the JWG wants to address more specifically during its present mandate.Read More
Tveit reflected that, together, Christians and Muslims represent about half the world’s population. “So as we are here, we are not talking about only ourselves,” he said. “We are talking about humanity in many ways. We should address these questions from a basic theological perspective. What does it mean to believe today in one God that created the one humanity?”
April 26, 2017 – The second meeting of a delegation of the Muslim Council of Elders led by the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, His Eminence Professor Dr Ahmad Al-Tayyeb, and a delegation of the World Council of Churches (WCC) led by Dr Agnes Abuom, Moderator of the Central Committee of the WCC and Rev Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, general secretary, took place at Al Azhar, Cairo, Egypt, 26 April. Dr Al-Tayyeb opened the gathering by welcoming the World Council of Churches to this important meeting which was taking place at a critical time in the history of the Middle East and the world.Read More
There is much interest in how Francis will frame his peace message at the conference, particularly in relation to the ongoing terrorism that claims to find its justification in the Quran and what ways he will suggest for Christian and Muslim religious leaders to combat terrorism and work together for peace in Egypt and the Middle East.
by Gerard O’Connell | America, the Jesuit Review | April 26, 2017
Pope Francis’ two-day visit to Egypt on April 28-29 will be a significant interreligious and ecumenical event as well as a pastoral one: interreligious, as it aims to foster joint Christian-Muslim efforts for peace and the rejection of the use of the name of God to support violence and terrorism; ecumenical because it seeks to further deepen the growing friendship between the Catholic and Coptic churches; and pastoral, since it hopes to bring consolation and encouragement to the country’s tiny, hard-pressed Catholic community.
He will arrive in a country under a state of emergency declared by President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi following terrorist attacks—claimed by ISIS—on the Coptic churches of Tanta and Alexandria on Palm Sunday that killed 44 believers and injured over 100. The Egyptian leader then ordered the army to maintain security in the cities and to protect places of worship.Read More
What does Israel’s West Bank settlement policy have to do with international soccer?
Dr. James M. Dorsey, a senior fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies and the co-director of the University of Würzburg’s Institute for Fan Culture, is the leading world expert on this subject. He is the author of The Turbulent World of Middle East Soccer, a book that among other things explores the topic of this episode’s discussion. Dorsey closely follows the way in which the Israeli-Palestinian conflict plays out on the soccer field, in FIFA, the international soccer association.Read More
Americans for Peace Now | April 20, 2017
With a heavy heart, we are writing to let you know that we have decided to suspend our 2017 Israel Study Tour, pending clarifications from the government of Israel regarding the new “Entry Law,” which could be used to deny entry into Israel to individuals and organizations that publicly support boycotting settlement products.
We are therefore canceling our planned June tour. We do not know yet whether we will reschedule this tour to another date this year or whether we’ll have to suspend our Israel Study Tour program indefinitely, until the law is either revoked, amended or applied in a way that does not impact APN, its staff members, Board members and activists.Read More
Children Representing Holy Land Offer the Lesson on April 27, During Catholic Action’s International Congress, Will Help Pope Prepare for Trip to Egypt
by Deborah Castellano Lubov | zenit.org | April 25, 2017
A family from Bethlehem will teach Pope Francis the words of the Sign of the Cross in Arabic, the day before he leaves for Egypt for his 18th Apostolic Visit to Cairo, April 28-29.
“In this way, the Pope will be more prepared for his visit,” said children Anthony and Lea, who together with their parents, Vincenzo and Carol Bellomo, are representatives of the Holy Land in Catholic Actions 2nd International Congress.Read More
Devin Sean Watkins | Vatican Radio | April 25, 2017
Pope Francis sent a video message to the people of Egypt ahead of his Apostolic Journey to the country, saying the “world needs peace, love and mercy”.
Pope Francis began his video message to the people of Egypt with the traditional greeting in Arabic: “As-salamu alaykum! (Peace be with you!)”
He said he is “coming as a friend, as a messenger of peace, and a pilgrim to the country that, over two thousand years ago, gave refuge and hospitality to the Holy Family as they fled the threats of King Herod.”Read More
Yale University | April 23, 2017
Introduced by Rebecca Vilkomerson, Executive Director of Jewish Voice for Peace, Gandhi Peace Award Honoree Omar Barghouti describes victories of the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement (BDS) in the effort for Palestinian justice.Read More
Charges dropped against AMP staffers
Thanks in part to public pressure from activists and attention from major media outlets around the world, the federal government has dropped all charges against American Muslims for Palestine (AMP) staffers Taher Herzallah and Kareem El Hosseiny.Read More
Dad applied lessons from the Holocaust into a commitment to human rights, equality and justice in the US and in Israel.
Our father, Arthur Stern (z”l), was a Holocaust survivor, so like many Jews, today’s Yom Ha’Shoah – Holocaust Remembrance Day –touches us personally.
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Israeli authorities have notified Israeli travel agencies that they will be forced to sign a commitment pledging not to take groups of tourists to the occupied West Bank, according to a copy the notification obtained by Ma’an on Sunday.
In the Hebrew-language document dated April 23, the Border Control Department of the Israeli Population and Immigration Authority notifies travel agencies that as of May 15, the day when Palestinians commemorate the 1948 Nakba, they will have to “attach, with each request to bring a group of tourists into the country, a special form pledging that they will not send tourists to Judea and Samaria,” using the Israeli term for the occupied West Bank.Read More