Expert Says February Meeting Was Understood in Middle East As ‘Being a Strong Signal That Christian Denominations Needed to Stand United to Face Situation of Suffering, War and Persecution.”
ACN Photo : Members of the delegation meet with local Christians in Syria
by Oliver Maksan
(zenit.org) April 22, 2016 – Last week’s visit of a joint Orthodox-Catholic delegation to Lebanon and Syria was a “tangible reaction” to the common declaration of Pope Francis and Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill—made in Cuba last February, when the two leaders met—in support of persecuted Christians in the region, according to an aid official who was part of the mission.
Pope Francis keeps saying that we priests must be with our people. We just came from a refugee camp where we met a priest who slept outside on his mattress because he said he couldn’t sleep inside if his people were outside. We’ve met with sisters and priests who walked with the people from Mosul as they were fleeing. That’s the model of the priesthood. That’s Jesus. To be with our people all the time, to be especially close to your people in the difficult times. –Cardinal Timothy Dolan
CNS photo/Paul Jeffrey Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York listens to Amal Mare during a visit to a camp for internally displaced families in Ankawa, Iraq, April 9. (CNS photo/Paul Jeffrey) See IRAQ-CNEWA-BISHOPS April 11, 2016.
by Paul Jeffrey, Catholic News Service
IRBIL, Iraq (CNS) — A delegation of U.S. Catholic leaders visiting northern Iraq was challenged to go home and work for peace in the troubled region.
“You have come to listen to your brothers and sisters in Iraq who are suffering. The situation is very hard. We cry out with one voice, ‘Don’t forget us,'” Auxiliary Bishop Shlemon Warduni of Baghdad said during a Mass in the small village of Inishke, near Dahuk.
UN flag outside the United Nations headquarters in New York. Credit: United Nations photo via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0).
(CNA/EWTN News) Vatican City, Apr 20, 2016 / 12:03 am – Terrorism in the name of religion is a lie, the head of the Holy See’s mission to the United Nations said last week.
“In the Middle East, in particular, terrorists must never be allowed to destroy centuries of peaceful co-existence of Muslims and Christians in the region,” Archbishop Bernardito Auza said at the United Nations April 14.
In Syria there is no war between Christians and Muslims. What we’re dealing with here is primarily foreign terrorists coming to fight the jihad. –Patriarch Ignatius Aphrem II
(zenit.org) April 15, 2016 – After visiting the Syrian town of Al Qaryatayn, which had just been liberated from IS, the Syriac Orthodox Patriarch Ignatius Aphrem II said he had mixed feelings. Talking to the international Catholic pastoral charity Aid to the Church in Need, the church leader who resides in Damascus said on Friday that, on the one hand, he was happy about the expulsion of the terrorist militia from the town where Muslims and Christians live. The terrorists had occupied Al Qaryatayn last August. “This is certainly an encouraging development. But the residents who had fled now sometimes wept when they saw what had become of their town. It was particularly painful for me as someone with pastoral duties to see these tears.” The Patriarch went on to say that the infrastructure had been severely damaged. “When I managed to visit the town with our Catholic brothers on Friday I was shocked by the extent of the devastation. Many houses had been completely or severely damaged during the fighting. Fittings had been stolen,” the Head of the Syriac Orthodox Church explained. “It was especially painful to see how the churches had been wilfully defiled by IS. Both the Syriac Catholic Saint Elian monastery and our Syriac Orthodox church had been deliberately desecrated. Our church was even more severely damaged than the monastery.”
Jerusalem’s Christian leaders are jointly asking President Barack Obama not to veto a possible Palestine resolution at the United Nations following a historic summit with their American counterparts.
Please see also Pursuing peace and strengthening presence: The Atlanta Summit of Churches in the USA and the Holy Land
The Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos III (C) attends a Christmas service according to the Eastern Orthodox calendar, in the Church of the Nativity in the West Bank city of Bethlehem, January 6, 2016. (photo by REUTERS/Ammar Awad)
by Julian Pecquet*
(Al-Monitor.com) April 22, 2016 – Leaders of 24 US and Palestinian churches gathered in Atlanta this week for a two-day summit at the Carter Center to chart a path forward for Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. Separately, the Holy Land church leaders wrote to Obama urging him not to use his veto if the UN Security Council takes up a two-state resolution later this year against Israel’s wishes.
“As Holy Land church leaders, we approach you, Mr. President, to stress to you the gravity of the situation in the region. The hopes and aspirations of many of the faithful in the Holy Land for a two-state solution on the basis of the 1967 borders are quickly fading,” the patriarchs and heads of local churches in Jerusalem wrote in an April 20 letter obtained by Al-Monitor. “We plead to you, during the remainder of your term, to invest in a just peace and to refrain from exercising the US veto rights in the United Nations Security Council in order to deliver new hopes for a just peace in the region and an end to extremism, terrorism, death and destruction in the entire Middle East.”
The letter is signed by Greek Orthodox Patriarch Theophilos III, Armenian Patriarch Nourhan Manogian, Latin (Catholic) Patriarch Fuad Twal, Anglican Archbishop Suheil Dawani, Evangelical Lutheran Church Bishop Munib Younan and (Franciscan) Custos Pierbattista Pizzaballa.
Liberation theologies, from Latin America to Palestine, are the results of painful struggle. They are born in situations of oppression, when people of faith strive to interpret their experience through scripture, prayer and worship.
This was the case in Jerusalem during the 1980s, a time when Palestinian clergy and laity met to search for meaning in the midst of a repressive occupation. Together they wrestled with biblical passages that tried their faith, challenged and, at times, consoled them. In this process they created a distinctly Palestinian theology rooted in a faith that had sprung to life in their own land two thousand years before.
In 1990, under the guidance of the Rev. Naim Ateek, a group of laity and clergy organized a conference to explore liberation theology in the context of Palestinian experience. The proceedings of this conference led to the publication of Faith and the Intifada (Orbis Books, 1992) and the founding of the Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center.
Leaders from churches in the Holy Land, among them Latin Patriarch Fouad Twal, met with the heads of faith organizations and churches in Atlanta, Georgia (USA) on 19-20 April 2016 for a summit about the role of US churches in peacemaking in the Middle East. Below is “The Atlanta Church Summit Document” issued at the end of the meeting (click here for PDF: 2016-04-19-20 Atlanta-Document-FINAL-April-14th-PEM-corrections-and-edits).
“Pursuing Peace and Strengthening Presence:
The Atlanta Summit of Churches in the USA and the Holy Land” The Carter Center, Atlanta, GA
April 19 to April 20, 2016
- We have come together in this unique first-time large scale Summit for Christian churches and church-related organizations from the USA and the Holy Land following the example and teachings of our Lord Jesus Christ on peacemaking, the dignity owed to all created in God’s image and kindling the hope that some day there will be a just and lasting peace in the Holy Land.
- 2017 will mark 50 years since the occupation of the West Bank including East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip. In the Bible, the 50th year is a year of jubilee when land is given back to its original owners, a year of freedom forgiveness and mercy.
“What I think we don’t realize is how extremely brutal the suffocation of the people of Gaza is.”
Dr. Mads Gilbert, professor of medicine at the University of North Norway, specializes in anesthesiology and emergency medicine. He provided medical support in Gaza during Israel’s three-week assault in December 2008 and January 2009. Despite the Israeli authorities’ attempt to shut out aid workers and the media from the conflict zone, NORWAC (the Norwegian Aid Committee) succeeded in getting some of its envoys into the heart of Gaza City, including two doctors: Mads Gilbert and Erik Fosse. For some time, the two were the only Western eyewitnesses in Gaza. They describe their experience in his book, Eyes in Gaza.
Below is the link to a three-minute video in which Dr. Gilbert gives his prescription for Gaza.
Ramallah, April 14, 2016—Today, Defense for Children International – Palestine published a new report, No Way to Treat a Child, detailing the widespread and systematic ill-treatment of Palestinian children in the Israeli military detention system. From meals prepared in a makeshift kitchen to adult prisoner “caregivers,” the report also gives a rare glimpse into Palestinian children’s daily living conditions in Israeli prisons.
(Christian Peacemaker Team) Hebron, April 15-21, 2016 – Some children in Hebron are privileged; others face obstacles.
Christian Peacemaker Teams Palestine is a faith-based organization that supports Palestinian-led, non-violent, grassroots resistance to the Israeli occupation and the unjust structures that uphold it. By collaborating with local Palestinian and Israeli peacemakers and educating people in our home communities we strive to help create a space for justice and peace.
CPT’s Palestine team is based in Hebron/Al-Khalil, and provides protective presence in the Hebron area, the South Hebron Hills and Masafer Yatta (Israeli Firing Zone 918).