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
JORDAN – As an initiative to support the Iraqi and Syrian Refugees in Jordan, the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem launched a new workshop called “The Living Mosaic”. This workshop includes a training course to teach the refugees how to design and craft mosaics in different styles using classic tools, such as hammers and hardies. The workshop will take place in Madaba since it is best known for its Byzantine and Umayyad mosaics and its historical connection to ancient art.Read More
Since their arrival to Jordan in August 2014, Iraqi Christian refugees were living in improvised church premises, halls and caravans. The Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem has been helping them unconditionally by paying their accommodations and utilities. The most essential fields of support for the refugees are: first, the educational support – school fees for 1,100 students, transportation for 745 students, book fees for 1,100 students, uniform fees 1100 students, un-formal EDU 300 students, life skill trainings for 450 students. Moreover, the LPJ provided around 11,235 displaced Iraqi families with humanitarian support, such as: cash money, food, clothes, shelter, water, medicine, hospital fees, transportation, etc.Read More
FOSNA’s Inaugural Politics:
Three Ways to Be like Jesus in the Trump Era
(1) Jesus Stood on the Side of the Poor and the Oppressed
Make yourself a sanctuary to others. Stand with those in your community most vulnerable to attack. Uplift their voices and support their work.
The volunteer program that a group of young Palestinians developed three years ago in Ramallah to help their community
Driven by the desire to give, the humanitarian project ‘Qawarib’ (in Arabic: ‘boats’), sails tirelessly, to ferry the needy from one shore of poverty to the other.
The heart of the program is a first assistance center located in Ramallah, where the volunteers work as in a beehive, especially when circumstances like conflicts in the country, hardhips or the beginning of the school year become more critical. The project was created by a group of Palestinian boys and it has been carried out for three years.Read More
Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem | Vatican Radio
HOLY SEE / ISRAEL – The Bilateral Permanent Working Commission between the Holy See and the State of Israel met on Wednesday January 18, 2017 at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Jerusalem. The parties were continuing negotiations on Article 10 Paragraph 2 of the Fundamental Agreement between the Holy See and the State of Israel of 1993.
After their meeting, the Commission issued a statement declaring the “delegations discussed matters of common interest and explored new opportunities for cooperation.”
Article 10 of the Fundamental Agreement states: § 1. The Holy See and the State of Israel jointly reaffirm the right of the Catholic Church to property.Read More
On January 17, in the city of Nazareth, a Mass was celebrated in memory of Saint Anthony. The Egyptian saint of the fourth century was a pioneer of the monastic life.
On January 17, on the feast of St. Anthony the Great, in Nazareth, in a seventeenth century church dedicated to him, a solemn Mass was celebrated by Maronite Bishop H.E. Moussa El-Hage and by many faithful.Read More
The bishops of the Holy Land Coordination traveled to the Holy Land from Europe, North America and South Africa to express the Church’s closeness to the Christian communities of Israel and Palestine.
Challenges, conflicts and attempts at reconciliation: in this context, the Holy Land welcomed the Holy Land Coordination, a group of bishops who arrived in the Holy Land from different countries. The purpose of the visit was to promote dialogue, mutual respect and peace, as constantly requested by Pope Francis.
Among the various appointments: prayers in the holy places, such as the Basilica of the Holy Sepulcher, one of the holiest sites of Christianity. The Apostolic Administrator of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, Mons. Pierbattista Pizzaballa, presided over the Mass. In his homily, he spoke of physical death and ethics in this holy and difficult land. “From this place, however,” he recalled, “Christians must learn to be witnesses of life, which is stronger than death.”Read More
The recognition of the State of Palestine and the opening of its Embassy are not in defiance of Israel, but a step through which the Church hopes to show that reconciliation is possible. –Msgr. Duarte da Cunha
by Saher Kawas, Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem
HOLY LAND – On Tuesday, January 19, 2017, the Holy Land Coordination (HLC) concluded its annual visit to the different Christian communities in the country. The Bishops’ meetings, which started on January 14, witnessed the hopes and daily concerns of Christians of this land.
On Sunday, January 15, the HLC participants comprise of Bishops and their delegations from across Europe, North America and South Africa, celebrated Mass presided by Bishop Declan Lang of Clifton, in the Church of the Annunciation in Beit Jala. In a podcast by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference, Bishop Lang spoke about the “vibrancy of the Christian community” in the city where a part of the Church “had to be enlarged to accommodate the expanding number” of the faithful.Read More
Commentary: The UN Security Council’s Resolution 2334, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s speech concerning the Israeli Palestinian conflict, the Middle East Peace Conference Joint Declaration from the Paris Ministerial meeting: all support a two-state solution with the end of the occupation and settlements. The new Trump administration will have to choose between supporting a viable and just two-state solution, or a one bi-national state which seems to be the de facto “facts on the ground” reality at present. The majority of Israelis and Palestinians still prefer the first option since they are aware that the second option will entail continued and perhaps increased conflict and violence. However the policies and actions of the present Israeli government continue to make a two-state solution less possible. It has become more of a dream than a possibility to the Palestinians who are now increasing their efforts to seek more democratic representation in Israel, the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza.Read More
His Holiness welcomed them and emphasized the importance of visiting the areas that were mostly destroyed.
Syrian Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch, January 13, 2017
His Holiness Patriarch Mor Ignatius Aphrem II received a delegation from the Presbyterian churches from the Outreach Foundation USA, at the Patriarchate in Bab Touma, Damascus.
The delegation was accompanied by Rev. Nuhad Tohme, Coordinator of the Synod of the Evangelical Churches in Lebanon and Syria, and Rev. Boutros Zaour, Head of the National Evangelical Church in Damascus.
His Eminence Mor Nicodemus Daoud Sharaf, Archbishop of Mosul, Kirkuk and Kurdistan Region, and Very Rev. Raban Joseph Bali, Patriarchal Secretary and Media Office Director, also attended the meeting.
The members of the delegation declared that the reason of their visit is to offer support to the suffering Christians in Syria as well as to meet Church leaders and associations who are working closely with the people who are affected by the crisis.Read More
Christians must feel that they are the decision-makers in their own areas. –Rev. Thabet Habib
Author: Dilshad Abdullah* | Translator: Sahar Ghoussoub | Al Monitor, January 17, 2017
ERBIL, Iraqi Kurdistan — Touma Youssef, an Iraqi Christian known as Abu Finan, stood for the first time in 2½ years before the front door of his house in the town of Karemlash, east of Mosul.
Sadness filled his eyes as he looked at what was left. Abu Finan, after retiring from the Department of Agriculture in Ninevah province, had spent his time enjoying his own garden, planting various types of flowers and trees.
Now his garden is gone. Islamic State (IS) fighters destroyed it when they took control of the area in mid-2014 and turned his house into a military base. They wrecked the furniture and looted the family’s belongings. When the Iraqi army liberated the town on Oct. 24, all that was left in Abu Finan’s house was a mess, and walls filled with slogans inciting violence against Christians.Read More
Introduction by Rabbi Michael Lerner
Rabbi Arik Ascherman, the co-founder of Haqel and a recipient of the Tikkun Award at our November conference, needs your help to stop Israel and the JNF (Jewish National Fund) from evicting Bedouins from their homes in order to build a completely Jewish community on the land where they have lived. He is asking everybody who cares to contact the government – if you live in Israel – or your nearest Israeli Embassy or consulate, if abroad, to ask them to stop this outrageous action. Doing this has helped in the past, so it could make a difference again, and all he wants from you is a phone call or letter to the Embassy or Consulate asking them to stop that from happening. Please read Rabbi Acherman’s letter below.
–Rabbi Michael Lerner, editor, Tikkun RabbiLerner.Tikkun@gmail.comRead More
Hewlett-Packard (HP) is one of the largest contractors [sic] of the U.S. defense industry. The technology created by HP helps deport U.S. immigrants on a scale we have never seen, tracks Americans held within the massive and discriminatory incarceration system, and denies Palestinians freedom of movement in the West Bank and Gaza. Hewlett-Packard sells the tools necessary for state repression: surveillance and population registration technologies. The biometric IDs, fingerprinting, and retinal scanning equipment and software developed by HP are critical to Israel’s ability to maintain segregation and apartheid.Read More
St. Anthony of Egypt
January 17 is the feast day of the man known as St. Anthony of Egypt, Anthony the Great, or simply Abba Anthony. One of the early Church’s desert monastics, Anthony followed Jesus’s call to sell all he had and give it to the poor. He spent much of his life in solitude, living a life of prayer and asceticism, and dispensing wisdom that modern Christians can still apply to their lives.Read More
By Adam Keller, Gush Shalom, January 16, 2017
A Palestinian villager and two Israeli activists detained by army when clinging to olive trees in the Qalqiliya area. Army starts uprooting 2000 olive trees to make way for a settler road.
Massive Israeli military forces and numerous bulldozers arrived at arrived at the olive groves privately owned by Palestinian farmers from the villages of Nabi Elias, Azun and Izbat Tabib, and embarked on mass uprooting of olive trees in order to make way for the “Nabi Elias Bypass Road”.Read More
JORDAN – The Catholic churches in Jordan marked on Friday, January 13, the national Christian pilgrimage to Lord Jesus Christ’s Baptism Site which has been observed since 2000.
Apostolic Administrator of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem Most Rev. Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa celebrated Mass. Present at the Mass were a number of bishops, priests, nuns, Minister of Tourism and Antiquities Lina Annab , a number of Arab and foreign ambassadors, as well as a multitude of believers from Jordan, the Holy Land, and neighboring countries.Read More
JERUSALEM – 14 January 2017. Gathered in Beit Jala, Palestine, the Synod of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land (ELCJHL) elected The Rev. Ibrahim Azar, pastor of The Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Redeemer, Jerusalem, as bishop-elect of the church.
In a democratic election, 38 voting members of the ELCJHL voted for Rev. Azar, the only candidate on the ballot, as the bishop-elect. The ELCJHL synod emerged following the vote.Read More
The new UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres greatly believes in collective diplomacy, and intends to imply this concept to advancing a two-state process.
by Uri Savir in Al Monitor, January 15, 2017
The new secretary-general of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, sees in the Paris peace conference on Jan. 15 a realization of his long-held view that peace and conflict resolution can only be achieved and sustained through ongoing multilateral diplomacy. Guterres is now contemplating how to leverage the expected outcomes of the conference.Read More
Click on photos on this page to enlarge
By Junno Arocho Esteves Catholic News Service
1.14.2017 10:11 AM ET
VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas thanked Pope Francis for his support of the country’s new embassy to the Holy See.
“This is a sign that the pope loves the Palestinian people and loves peace,” Abbas told the pope Jan. 14 before heading to the inauguration of the Palestinian embassy to the Holy See in Rome.
The pope welcomed Abbas with open arms, embracing the president and saying, “It is a pleasure to welcome you here.”Read More
By Dale Gavlak/ Catholic News Service
American doctors and nurses on a medical mission to Jordan are performing badly needed surgeries and other medical treatment free of charge to thousands of Syrian refugees who can no longer afford basic health care.
Dr. Bassel Atassi of the Little Company of Mary Hospital, a not-for-profit Catholic community hospital on Chicago’s South Side, led the 80-member mission.
Fanning out across Jordan, under the auspices of the Syrian American Medical Society, teams provided cardiac, eye and orthopedic surgeries; others offered care in pediatrics, obstetrics, dentistry, pain management and nephrology for refugees, inside camps and in the community. They also aided poor Jordanians.Read More
by Saher Kawas, Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem
AMMAN – On Thursday, January 12, 2017, His Royal Highness Prince Al-Hassan bin Talal met with Archbisop Pierbattista Pizzaballa, Apostolic Administrator of the Latin Patriarchate, accompanied by Bishop Maroun Lahham, Latin Patriarchal in Amman and Chancellor George Ayyoub.
The Apostolic Administrator discussed with His Highness the latest developments in the region and the available means to achieve security and stability.Read More
Emphasis was placed on the importance of safeguarding the sanctity of the Holy Places for believers of all three of the Abrahamic religions.
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis met Saturday morning with Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas at the Vatican. Following the audience, the Holy See Press Office issued the following press release:
This morning the Holy Father Francis received in audience His Excellency Mr. Mahmoud Abbas, president of the State of Palestine, who subsequently met with His Eminence Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin, accompanied by His Excellency Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, secretary for Relations with States.
During the cordial discussions, the parties evoked the existing good relations between the Holy See and Palestine, sealed by the Global Agreement of 2015, which regards essential aspects of the life and activity of the Church in Palestinian society. In this context, mention was made of the important contribution of Catholics to favouring the promotion of human dignity and assistance for those most in need, especially in the fields of education, health and aid.Read More
by Uri Avnery, Gush-Shalom
THE ARAB taxi driver who brought me to Ramallah had no trouble with the Israeli border posts. He just evaded them.
Saves a lot of trouble.
I was invited by Mahmood Abbas, the President of the Palestinian National Authority (as well as of the PLO and the Fatah movement) to take part in joint Palestinian-Israeli consultations in advance of the international conference in Paris.
Since Binyamin Netanyahu has refused to take part in the Paris event side by side with Mahmood Abbas, the Ramallah meeting was to demonstrate that a large part of Israeli society does support the French initiative.
SIMPLE AS it sounds, the Ramallah meeting was not simple at all.Read More
Samia Khoury writes from East Jerusalem:
It is never too late to send a greeting for Christmas and the New Year from the Holy Land. The season stretches until January 19 when the Armenians celebrate their Christmas. And tomorrow the Orthodox celebrate the New Year, so I am seizing this opportunity to send you the newsletter of Rawdat El Zuhur with the hope you will enjoy it and appreciate that small oasis that exists in the heart of East Jerusalem.Read More
Wyatt Massey* | America Magazine | Jan 13 2017
The final month of 2016 was a chance for new beginnings for refugees and displaced persons in Iraq eager to learn. Jesuit Worldwide Learning, a collaboration of universities, organizations and companies to provide higher education to people living on the margins, officially opened three learning centers in the country on Dec. 12.
Peter Balleis, S.J., J.W.L.’s executive president, said students gathered outside the schools before the first day, ready to learn new skills or improve their language skills, both of which can be invaluable for making a living in refugee camps.
“A lot of people want to improve their English,” he said. “This is the start.”
The learning centers were opened in Khanke and Domiz camps and the Catholic University of Erbil. Students can earn a diploma of liberal arts at Domiz and at the university. English courses are available at Domiz and Khanke. Balleis said more than 200 students are enrolled in courses between the three facilities. Some of the teachers are refugees from Syria, but most come from Iraqi cities near the camps, which serve both Syrian refugees and displaced Iraqis.Read More
On Jan. 6, following the Julian calendar, the Orthodox Christians celebrate Christmas. Hundreds took to the streets, from Bethlehem to Gaza.
On January 6, 2017, the bells of Bethlehem rang out in celebration and Manger Square was filled with Orthodox Christians of various rites from across the West Bank. It is Christmas time.
As per tradition, dozens of Scout groups, along with the civil authorities and many religious, welcomed the leaders of various denominations, during their solemn entry into the city where the first Christmas, two thousand years ago, revolutionized the fate of the world.Read More
It’s been a great few years for biblical archaeology. Here are three of our favorite examples.
By: Eric Metaxas | BreakPoint
Just before or after New Year’s, everyone—or at least so it seems—comes out with a “Best of” list. These best-known lists can contain movies, music, television shows, books, whatever.
But there are other “Best of” lists worth noting, and in the case of today’s BreakPoint, worth mimicking. Christianity Today recently ran an article entitled “Biblical Archaeology’s Top Ten Discoveries of 2016.”
Great idea. So we here at BreakPoint wondered, “Why not come up with our own list of recent favorites from biblical archaeology?”
Since time does not permit me to list ten finds, I will settle for three that we talked about on BreakPoint in 2016. At a minimum, these finds shed new light on the world of the Bible and help us in understanding the words of Scripture. In other cases, they actually confirm portions of the scriptures whose historicity, until recently, was in doubt. But all are a potent reminder that biblical faith is rooted in actual human history, as befits a people who confess that “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.”Read More
A glimpse at the important excavation work revealed this year.
Gordon Govier, Christianity Today
Archaeological discoveries announced in 2016 help us better understand the Bible and the biblical world, and affirm the Bible’s details about events and people.
Below are the top findings from the important excavations taking place in the lands of the Bible or that have a biblical connection. (This list is subjective, and based on news reports rather than peer-reviewed articles in scientific publications.)Read More
by Ambassador Ilan Baruch, Policy Working Group Peace NGO Forum*
Tomorrow, Thursday 12.1.2017 , a delegation of Israeli intellectuals and former ambassadors will meet with Hélène Le Gal, Ambassador of France to Israel, in order to present a petition of support for the French initiative to organize a Peace Conference in Paris on Sunday January 15.
In recent days, some 1200 Israeli citizens signed that petition in support of the French Initiative. The conference aims to provide a broad international base of support for the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.