Posts made in January, 2016

Coptic bishop from Middle East diaspora reflects on how churches can help refugees

Posted on Jan 31, 2016

Coptic Orthodox Bishop Angaelos    (Photo © Peter Williams/WCC)

Coptic Orthodox Bishop Angaelos (Photo © Peter Williams/WCC)

(World Council of Churches) January 25, 2016 – Coptic Orthodox Bishop Angaelos has a ring of authority when he talks about refugees and Middle East Christians.

Born in Cairo, he is part of the Middle East and African diaspora and now serves as General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom.

He spoke at the World Council of Churches/United Nations (UN) high level conference on the refugee crisis in Europe on 18 January.

“We are not speaking of people leaving one less-than-affluent suburb to go to a more affluent one because they seek a better quality of life; these are people leaving war-torn, poverty-stricken and conflict-filled near-anarchic states to find protection and safety for themselves and for their families.”

Bishop Angaelos noted, “This is a problem that is broader and more complex than any single individual, church, nation or organization, and so the least we can and should do is work to collaborate.”

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First Arab Thinkers Forum: “Interreligious Dialogue and Extremism: reasons and remedies”

Posted on Jan 31, 2016

As believers we pray. We must pray. Prayer is our treasure, which we draw from according to our respective traditions, to request the gifts for which humanity longs. –Fr. Miguel Angel Ayuso Guixot, Secretary of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue

First Arab Thinkers Forum, held in Abu Dhabi from 17 to 18 January at the Emirates Centre for Strategic Studies and Research  (Photo: news.va)

First Arab Thinkers Forum, held in Abu Dhabi from 17 to 18 January at the Emirates Centre for Strategic Studies and Research (Photo: news.va)

(VIS) Vatican City, 19 January 2016 – “Interreligious Dialogue and Extremism: reasons and remedies” was the title of the First Arab Thinkers Forum, held in Abu Dhabi from 17 to 18 January at the Emirates Centre for Strategic Studies and Research. The only non-Muslim speaker was Fr. Miguel Angel Ayuso Guixot, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, who intervened during the first session during which the Grand Mufti of Lebanon, Sheikh Abdul Latif Daryan, also gave an address. In the other sessions there were contributions from various figures from the Arab Emirates, Egypt and Morocco.

Fr. Ayuso Guixot structured his discourse around five key points: extremism, the culture of encounter, the key role of religious leaders, the need for sincere dialogue and the importance of prayer. He emphasised that it was not his intention to pursue considerations on the economic, political, social and cultural reasons for extremism, well known to those present, preferring to focus instead on Pope Francis’ recommendations to the international community on how to construct peace which can serve to counter extremism.

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Pope receives Rouhani: Iran has important role to play in Middle East and in fight against terrorism

Posted on Jan 30, 2016

“Political solutions to the problems afflicting the Middle East” must be sought “together with other countries in the region”. The private meeting between the Pope and Iranian president, Hassan Rouhani, lasted 40 minutes. “I am hopeful for peace,” the Pope said

Pope Francis and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, left, share a laugh during their private audience at the Vatican,Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2016. Iran’s president has paid a call on Pope Francis at the Vatican during a European visit aimed at positioning Tehran as a potential top player in efforts to resolve Middle East conflicts, including Syria’s civil war. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini, Pool)

Pope Francis and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, left, share a laugh during their private audience at the Vatican,Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2016. Iran’s president has paid a call on Pope Francis at the Vatican during a European visit aimed at positioning Tehran as a potential top player in efforts to resolve Middle East conflicts, including Syria’s civil war. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini, Pool)

by Iacopo Scaramuzzi

(Vatican Insider) Vatican City, January 26, 2016 – The Pope and the President of the Islamic Republic of Iran recalled “the conclusion and implementation of the Iran Nuclear Agreement” and “highlighted the important role Iran is called to play along with other countries in the Region, in promoting adequate political solutions to the problems afflicting the Middle East, preventing the spread of terrorism and arms trafficking”.

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The Saudis’ Little Cold War

Posted on Jan 30, 2016

by the Editors, America Magazine

(America Magazine, the National Catholic Review) February 1, 2016 issue – On Jan. 2 the government of Saudi Arabia executed the prominent Shiite cleric Nimr al-Nimr. The cleric, along with 46 other individuals, was accused of inciting terrorism within the kingdom. Following the execution, protesters stormed the Saudi Embassy in Tehran. In the aftermath, Saudi Arabia—as well as Sudan, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates—cut off diplomatic and commercial ties with Iran. In a statement released on Jan. 10, the Arab League also expressed support for the Saudis and condemned the Iranian government for not doing more to protect the embassy in Tehran.

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Brighten the Future for Gaza’s Children

Posted on Jan 29, 2016

160129 brighten gaza children

Please help us send solar lights to the children of Gaza as a sign of our love for children and families.  –Father Labib Kobti

You don’t lose anything when you love.

Love is a win-win.

It lightens your heart, mind, and soul.

And through you it lightens others.

You bring a smile to a child’s face.

A smile is light and love.

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Archbishop Tomasi: Syria peace talks must remember Christians

Posted on Jan 28, 2016

The victims of the violence in Syria and northern Iraq – the majority of the victims – have so far been Muslim, but Christians are particularly targeted for persecution and discrimination. –Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, the Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations in Geneva

Syrian government soldiers walk outside a Church. The Vatican is calling for Christians to be "taken into account" during Syrian peace talks. - AFP

Syrian government soldiers walk outside a Church. The Vatican is calling for Christians to be “taken into account” during Syrian peace talks. – AFP

(Vatican Radio) January 26, 2016 – The Vatican representative to the United Nations agencies in Geneva said on Tuesday the “needs of Christians” and other religious minorities must be “taken into serious consideration” at UN-sponsored talks aimed at ending the Syrian civil war.

The United Nations has issued invitations for talks aimed at finding a political solution to the ongoing Syria crisis. The talks are scheduled to begin on Friday in Geneva, and last for 6 months. The UN said the first priority is a broad ceasefire, providing humanitarian aid, and halting the threat posed by the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.

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We Must Demand a Nonviolent Solution to War and Violence in Syria

Posted on Jan 28, 2016

I call upon all American and European citizens to demand that their governments stop bombing Syria, end their violence, listen to the voice of peace from the suffering Syrian people and actively pursue nonviolent ways to end conflict and suffering in Syria. –Mairead Maguire, 1976 Nobel Peace Prize

"There is hope and Syria is a light to the world," writes Maguire, "because there are many good people there working for dialogue, negotiations, reconciliation and peace." (Photo: AFP/Getty)

“There is hope and Syria is a light to the world,” writes Maguire, “because there are many good people there working for dialogue, negotiations, reconciliation and peace.” (Photo: AFP/Getty)

by Mairead Maguire, 1976 Nobel Peace Prize

(Common Dreams) January 27, 2016 – In November 2015 I traveled to Syria with an International Peace delegation. This was my third visit to Syria in the last three years. As on previous occasions, I was moved by the spirit of resilience and courage of the people of Syria. In spite of the fact that for the last five years their country has been plunged into war by outside forces, the vast majority of the Syrian people continue to go about their daily lives. Many have dedicated themselves to working for peace and reconciliation and the unity of their beloved Syria. They struggle to overcome their fear, the fear that Syria will be driven by outside interference and destructive forces within, to suffer the same terrible fate of Iraq, Afghanistan, Ukraine, Yemen, and so many other countries.

Many Syrians are traumatized and in shock. They ask, “How did this happen to our country?” Proxy wars are something they thought only happened in other countries. But now, Syria, too, has been turned into a war-ground in the geo-political landscape controlled by the western global elite and their allies in the Middle East.

Many of those we met were quick to tell us that Syria is not experiencing civil war but a foreign invasion. They also told us that this was not a religious conflict between Christians and Muslims. In the words of the Patriarch Gregorios III Laham, “Muslims and Christians not only dialogue with each other, but their roots are inter-twined with each other. They have lived together for over 1436 years without wars, despite disagreements and conflicts… Over the years, peace and co-existence have outweighed controversy.”

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Statement Issued by the Syriac Orthodox and Syriac Catholic Patriarchates

Posted on Jan 28, 2016

11- بيان إعلامي عن زيارات البطريركين يونان وأفرام

Click on link to enlarge

(Syrian Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch) January 22, 2016 – Following the recent developments in the political situation in Lebanon, His Holiness Patriarch Mor Ignatius Aphrem II and His Beatitude Syriac Catholic Patriarch Mor Ignatius Youssef III Younan visited the political leaders in Lebanon to demand the establishment of a new parliamentary seat, one for the Syriac Orthodox and one for the Syriac Catholic.

The two patriarchates jointly issued the following statement:

Statement issued by the Syriac Orthodox and the Syriac Catholic Patriarchates.

The Syriac Orthodox Patriarch Aphrem II and Syriac Catholic Patriarch Younan visit the political leaders and heads of parliamentarian blocs:

We do not accept to be classified as ‘minorities’ and we demand to have new parliament seats one for the Syriac Orthodox and one for the Syriac Catholic.

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Ecumenism in the Middle East

Posted on Jan 28, 2016

The lay faithful take more and more initiatives among them. Progress in rapprochement between Catholics and Orthodox is more and more obvious among the faithful. A sign that progress does not always come from the side of the clergy. –Msgr William Shomali

Fr. Frans Bouwen: what development marked the ecumenical dialogue in 2015?

by Thomas Charrière

Bethlehem – On Sunday January 17, 2016, a lecture on the Ecumenical reality was given at the Monastery of the Emmanuel. Fr Frans Bouwen,W.F., specialist of Oriental Churches and dialogue with Christian Churches of the Orient, presented the evolution of the Ecumenical dialogue for year 2015.

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A group of Jews visits Beit Gemal in sign of solidarity

Posted on Jan 27, 2016

A group of Jews visits Beit Gemal in sign of solidarity (Photo: Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem)

A group of Jews visits Beit Gemal in sign of solidarity (Photo: Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem)

(Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem) January 26, 2016 – Beit Gemal: Last December, vandals – not yet identified – destroyed several tombs in the cemetery of Beit Gemal.

On January 22, 2016, a group of Jews came to express their sadness and solidarity following the vandalism.

After welcoming the guests by the Salesians, the group visited the cemetery which is still under construction. Then they planted an olive tree at the entrance of the Salesians’ residence before heading to St. Stephen Sanctuary where Beni Salzberg and a Salesian monk talked about the history of the place.

One remarkable moment of this meeting was when a visitor mentioned the visit of Pope Francis to the Great Synagogue of Rome on January 17. On that same day and while Pope Francis was delivering a speech to the Jews, who he considers as his “elder brothers and sisters”, a group of people had once again written anti-Christian slogans on the walls of the Dormition Abbey in Jerusalem.

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