Saturday Evening, March 26, 2016 – The Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Monsignor Fouad Twal, presided at the Easter Vigil in the Basilica of the Holy Sepulcher, thus bringing the Mother Church of Jerusalem into the joy of Easter.Read More
(abouna.org) Amman, Jordan, March 24, 2016 – The Latin Vicariate in Amman will celebrate a special Mass at the Mary of Nazareth Church in Sweifieh, for the victims of terrorism who lost their lives in Belgium, on March 27 which coincides with the Easter celebrations according to the Gregorian calendar. The Mass, to be celebrated at 5:30 pm, will be presided by Latin Patriarchal Vicar for Jordan Archbishop Maroun Lahham.Read More
Mercy calls us to bend down to our brothers and sisters so we may dry their tears; cure their wounds, physical and moral; and console their hearts, which have been broken, and perhaps lost. This is not only an appropriate act of charity, but a succour to your own body, because all Christians, by virtue of their common baptism, are ‘one’ in Christ. — Pope Francis in a letter to Iraq Christians in Erbil
(Vatican Radio) March 23, 2016 – (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has called on people to “not forget the tragedy of persecution” in a letter sent Iraq Christians in Erbil, the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan.
The letter – along with a gift of liturgical vestments and monetary support – was brought to the city by a delegation of the Italian branch of Aid to the Church in Need, led by the Bishop of Carpi, Francesco Cavina.
Erbil has been hosting thousands of Christian refugees from Mosul and the Nineveh Plains, which was overrun by the so-called Islamic State in 2014.Read More
In Syria, the Islamic State causes the exodus of minorities who are under attack, and threatens the existence of ancient sacred places of worship
(Oasis) March 21, 2016 – We publish lengthy excerpts from an article published on Œuvre d’Orient, n. 781 (October-November-December 2015), pp. 335-343, which not only explain the situation of the Christian communities in Syria threatened by the extremism of the Islamic State, but also the conditions and the threat to sacred sites and Christian architecture in that country.Read More
Historic Christian sites in Najaf are not only neglected like many other ancient sites across Iraq, but face an even steeper uphill battle for recognition and support as non-Islamic sites.
by Wassim Bassem*, Translated by Mohammad Khalil
(Al Monitor) BAGHDAD, Iraq, March 15, 2016 — Today, the city of Najaf is a religious tourism hub for Shiites around the world. The city is home to the sacred shrine of Imam Ali ibn Abi-Talib — the fourth of the Rashidun Caliphs — built nearly 700 years ago, and hosts the highest Shiite religious authority in the Muslim world. In this overwhelming Islamic presence, scarce other religious representation can be found in the city, as Muslim clerics ban non-Islamic symbols in holy cities like Najaf, including Mecca and Karbala, where the building of other kinds of places of worship such as Christian churches is prohibited. This is an old phenomenon that emerged with the rise of Islam during the seventh century forbidding the existence of multiple religions in the Arabian peninsula.
However, recent archaeological discoveries following excavation works in 2008 show that this conservative Islamic city so averse to churches is one of the oldest Christian cities in the world. The remains of a church and a monastery are believed to be the oldest Christian monuments in Iraq, dating back to the year 270.Read More
We continue to cry out like the prophets did “Until when oh Lord” (cf. Habbakuk 1:2, Zechariah 1:12, Revelation 6:10). We repeat again that we, as disciples of Christ, condemn violence on all sides. Violence is violence and only begets more violence. We, as created in the image and likeness of our Father, need to learn another way to solve the conflict.
Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem
MARCH 21, 2016
STATEMENT OF THE COMMISSION JUSTICE AND PEACE
Beyond occupation and confrontation
Towards a common understanding
In a report published on March 8, 2016, by the renown Pew Research Center, entitled “Israel’s Religiously Divided Society”, it was revealed that almost half the Jewish Israeli population support the idea of expelling or transferring the Arabs from Israel. In reaction, Israel State President Reuven Rivlin ‘urged that the survey be “placed before the decision makers in Israel,” and said it “must serve as a wake-up call for Israeli society, to bring about some soul-searching and moral reflection.”’ (Times of Israel, 8.3.2016). The study showed that Israeli society is deeply divided, socially, politically and religiously. It showed that Israel today is less democratic, less egalitarian, less free than it has ever been.
The report shows that one of the main issues facing Israeli society is the Israeli occupation of Palestine and the future of the process that must ultimately bring justice and peace for Israelis and Palestinians alike. Meanwhile, Palestinian resistance continues, dubbed “the stabbing Intifada”. Five months have passed in which over thirty Israelis, four foreign nationals and over one hundred and eighty Palestinians have been killed. Two thirds of the Palestinians were shot while allegedly attacking Israelis whereas the rest were killed in clashes that have erupted between youth and the Israeli military.Read More
Many Palestinians from Gaza have been given permits to attend Easter celebrations in Jerusalem, though the current easing of restrictions does not mean that Gazans have gained their freedom of movement.
by Daoud Kuttab *
(Al Monitor) March 22, 2016 – Karam Qubrosi can’t believe that Israel is allowing so many Gazans to travel on the occasion of Easter. “This is a dream come true, especially for many of us in the age group of 18-35,” he told Al-Monitor.
Speaking to Al-Monitor after reaching the West Bank town of Beit Sahour, Qubrosi, 28, said that the last time Israel gave travel permits for men under the age of 35 to travel out of Gaza was at Easter 2008. “That was the last time I was able to travel to Jerusalem for Easter,” he said. Qubrosi explained the process of getting permits: “Every church in Gaza gives names of its parish members who want to travel to the Palestinian department of civil affairs in Gaza, which then sends the requests to the Israelis for permission. ”
Qubrosi, who plans to settle in the West Bank, said that Israel has been giving permits to various Gazan groups, including businessmen and Muslim worshippers, in recent months. Two hundred Gazans over the age of 60 were permitted to travel to Jerusalem on Feb. 26 for Friday prayers at Al-Aqsa Mosque. Permission for similar-sized groups have come every Friday. Some individual travel requests for humanitarian reasons are being granted, but not for groups.
Explaining its position, the Israel Defense Forces announced March 21 that 800 entry permits to Israel were issued by the Coordination of Activities in the Territories, and that Gazans are being allowed to travel out of Gaza via Jordan.Read More
Dear friends and colleagues,
We strongly believe that the Via Dolorosa doesn’t end on the Cross at the Calvary but in the empty tomb; the day of the resurrection from where our faith was born and spread from Jerusalem to the whole world. Therefore, it is true that we are currently walking in the Via Dolorosa and we are the Church of the Golgotha, but it is also true that we are the Church of the Resurrection because we believe in the Risen Christ and we are waiting for our resurrection like Him and that it will hopefully come very soon.
The people in Palestine are living in hard times; increased violence, killings and religious hatred are on the rise. Yet we continue to live, love and celebrate life.
Nevertheless, do not refrain from visiting us; show your solidarity by coming to the Holy Land and especially meeting with the Christian community in the Holy Land.Read More
“An ‘old’ duty that the history of recent years has made even more urgent”. In his letter, Cardinal Leonardo Sandri invites all Catholics to support the Land of God.
(Christian Media Center) “An ‘old’ duty, that the history of recent years has made even more urgent”: with these words, the Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches, stressed the importance of the traditional Collection of Passion Friday dedicated to the Holy Land in his letter sent to the bishops of all the dioceses.
“We cannot remain indifferent: God is not indifferent!”: Cardinal Sandri takes up the words of Pope Francis, exhorting all the faithful of the world, “more than ever” “in this Jubilee Year”, “to show mercy and closeness to the brothers of the Middle East where “people experience the darkness and the fear of abandonment, of loneliness and misunderstanding.”Read More
By Lauretta Brown
(CNSNews.com) March 18, 2016 – The sole survivor of an attack by Islamic State terrorists on the Missionaries of Charity home in Yemen earlier this month, Sister Sally, recounted the treatment of her fellow sisters at the hands of the militants who “tied them up, shot them in the head and smashed their heads,” according to the handwritten account obtained by the National Catholic Register.
Sister Sally, the superior of the sisters’ community in Yemen, gave her account of the massacre to Sister Rio, and the account was recorded by another Missionary of Charity, Sister Adriana. Copies of the handwritten account were reproduced in full by the National Catholic Register and the Catholic news site, Aleteia.
Sister Adriana wrote, “5 young Ethiopian men (Christian) began running to tell the sisters ISIS was here to kill them. They were killed one by one. They tied them to trees, shot them in the head and smashed their heads.”Read More