Seeking truth and justice

Pope decries ‘vile’ attack on Syrians in Easter address

Posted on Apr 16, 2017


FRANCES D’EMILIO | Associated Press

VATICAN CITY (AP) — On Christianity’s most joyful day, Pope Francis lamented the horrors generated by war and hatred, delivering an Easter Sunday message that also decried the “latest vile” attack on civilians in Syria.

Both in his impromptu homily during Mass in St. Peter’s Square and later in his formal “Urbi et Orbi” Easter message delivered from the balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica, Francis reflected on a litany of suffering in the world, including wars, oppressive regimes, human trafficking, corruption, famine and domestic violence.

He encouraged people to hold fast in their “fearful hearts” to faith, acknowledging that many people wonder where God is amid so much evil and suffering in the world.

Read More

Why New Book The Islamic Jesus May be Key to Peace with Muslims

Posted on Apr 16, 2017

Mustafa Akyol believes that Jesus’ teachings can help Islam overcome its extreme elements.

170416 the islamic jesus 250x375By Bruce Chapman | The Stream | March 25, 2017

Mustafa Akyol is a brave man, smart and sincere. His ideas deserve to be aired.

In The Islamic Jesus (St. Martin’s Press, N.Y., 2017), he encourages Christians and Jews to understand what he and many scholars believe to be the influence of “Jewish Christian” communities of late antiquity on the Qur’an. He contends that offshoots of the “Jewish Christian” faith, which he traces to the apostle James in the Jerusalem church, survived in small sects.

Some of these sects were condemned by Christians as heretical — notably the Arians, Nestorians and Ebionites. These groups taught that Jesus was without sin. And they taught that he was the Christ, the Messiah. But they did not embrace the Trinity or, in most cases, worship Jesus as a member of the Godhead. In the 17th century some of their teachings reappeared in the West as Unitarianism.

Akyol’s message to Muslims could potentially change the dialogue between Muslims and Christians.

Christians will question Akyol’s estimation of James’ differences with Paul. But Akyol is not evangelizing. Nor does his irenic message to Christians (and Jews) radically break new grounds of scholarship. In that sense, Akyol, a Turkish writer on faith, politics and economics, can be said to popularize some less noticed works of scholars.

Read More

The Miracle of the Holy Fire Arrived in Taybeh

Posted on Apr 15, 2017


(Photo courtesy of Maria Khoury)

Dr. Maria Khoury writes:

The Miracle of the Holy Fire arrived in Taybeh from the Holy City of Jerusalem (via Ramallah) with our cousin Ibrahim and his son Philip approximately at 5:30 pm in the afternoon on this Great and Holy Saturday!

A most glorious ecumenical celebration and scouts parade led to placing the flame on the altar of Saint George Greek Orthodox Church for the Holy Resurrection service.

From the very land of Christ’s Holy Resurrection we wish all of our friends a blessed Holy Pascha!

Christ is Risen! Truly He is Risen!

Read More

Orthodox Christians celebrate ‘holy fire’ in Jerusalem

Posted on Apr 15, 2017

Jerusalem (AFP) – Tens of thousands of Orthodox pilgrims gathered at Christianity’s most holy site under heavy police guard Saturday for the traditional “holy fire” ceremony to mark Easter.

Clutching candles, the faithful packed the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem’s Old City, built on the site where Christian tradition holds that Jesus was crucified, buried and resurrected.

Thousands of pilgrims from Eastern Europe thronged the church alongside Arab members of the local Orthodox community.

Read More

Homily of Archbishop Pizzaballa for Easter Vigil 2017

Posted on Apr 15, 2017

Easter Vigil

Church of the Holy Sepulcher

Jerusalem, April 15, 2017

Dear brothers and sisters,

May the Lord give you peace!

We are gathered at the Great Celebration of the entire Liturgical Year. We should say gathered at the “night of nights” or “the great vigil”, but instead we are in the early hours of Saturday. The liturgy throughout the rest of the world on this day celebrates silence and waiting. In fact, there are no liturgical celebrations throughout the day. Around the world, the tomb of Christ and the mystery of his death are “guarded”, in a great and wonderful silence, but not like the watch guards of the Gospel that we just heard. There is no fear in us, not even a tremor (28:4), because in our heart we already know what awaits us. The whole Church is taking care of this waiting, in the certainty of the glorious day of resurrection. Therefore, it is an expectation filled with serene hope.

Read More

“The Islamic Sacred Scriptures Are Not Rental Weapons”

Posted on Apr 15, 2017

The rise of extremism coincides with the reduction of a correct understanding of religion and the meaning of the prophets’ messages

Pope Tawadros II and Ahmad al-Tayyib

Oasis published the text of the speech delivered by the sheikh of al-Azhar, Ahmad al-Tayyib at the conference on “Freedom, Citizenship, Diversity and Integration” which was held at al-Azhar from February 28 to March 1, 2017.

Ahmad al-Tayyib, Grand Imam of al-Azhar | 13 April 2017

[…] This conference […] takes place in exceptional circumstances, and during extremely hard times for the Middle East and the whole world, since our Arab and Islamic world has been set on fire with a war without any reasonable cause, any justification that is logical or acceptable for a twenty-first century man.

The way in which religion is portrayed in this framework of desolation is surprising, not to say sad and painful: as if religion were the ember that lit these wars. People’s heads are filled with the idea that Islam is the instrument of destruction that took down the Twin Towers, with which the Bataclan and subway stations were blown up, and that according to its teachings innocent bodies were crushed in Nice and other cities, in the West and the East. Within this dramatic scenario, a terrifying one that is only getting bigger and darker, what makes us grieve is the increase of extremism and the reduction of a space for a correct understanding of the truth of religion and of the meaning of the prophets’ messages, which contrast dramatically with all the false interpretations which divert religion from its path and with which sacred texts are being misappropriated, […] as if such sacred texts were rental weapons for those who are willing to pay the price demanded by the wars’ traffickers, arms dealers, and by the neo-colonial philosophies’ theorists. […]

We are not here to analyze the phenomenon of Islamophobia, nor that of terrorism, which feeds it. […] But, while the Christian and Jewish extremisms have been overcome in a peaceful and quiet way in the West, without having the images of their corresponding heavenly religions stained, now their third brother is facing trial alone, being the one who is still insulted and defamed.

Read More

At Calvary on Good Friday

Posted on Apr 14, 2017

Claire Guigou | Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem

JERUSALEM – This Friday, April 14, 2017, the Church relived the trial, crucifixion and burial of Jesus. In the Holy Sepulcher, the faithful are gathered at Calvary as close as possible to the site of the Cross. A highlight in the heart of the Easter Triduum.

At Calvary, the place of origin of the World…

“Dear brothers and sisters, in the same place called Calvary, or in Hebrew, Golgotha, in this place which witnessed the passion and death of our Redeemer, we venerate the precious wood of the Cross, aware accompany Christ in his passion here at the center of the world. Here mankind received regeneration, and this place, the world was transformed into a new creature through the shedding of the blood of Christ.”

These are the words spoken this morning by the Apostolic Administrator Archbishop Pizzaballa to introduce the veneration of the Cross. To live this Friday, the faithful of all nationalities were pressed into the Upper Chapel of the Holy Sepulcher, the site of Calvary, to relive the Passion. The Gospel according to St. John, chanted in Latin, rang solemnly in the small chapel. A particularly moving ceremony here in Jerusalem, where the world was saved.

Read More

Easter Message from the Holy Land

Posted on Apr 14, 2017

Easter message from the Holy Land

Easter message from the Holy Land

151126 World Council of Churches logoWorld Council of Churches – The Patriarchs and heads of local churches in Jerusalem offered an Easter message to the world that celebrates the resurrection as well as unity in Christ.

“The message of Easter, which was first announced in Jerusalem, and has echoed down the centuries, now resounds again in Jerusalem, the city of the Resurrection,” reads the message.

This year, the Patriarchs and church leaders in Jerusalem witnessed the restoration of the Holy Aedicule in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, two centuries after the last renovation, and almost one hundred years after steel girders were installed to support it.

“The completion of this challenging work is testament to the support from around the globe involved in the project, and to thank them for their prayers and support,” states the message.

The message describes a service that was held to celebrate the unveiling of the restored Holy Aedicule as “a testimony to our spirit of Ecumenism and a celebration of our unity in Christ.”

Read More

Ethiopia: Cardinal Berhaneyesus’ Easter message

Posted on Apr 14, 2017

Ethiopian Cardinal Berhaneyesus  Souraphiel - AFP

Ethiopian Cardinal Berhaneyesus Souraphiel – AFP

by Makeda Yohannes, Ethiopian Caholic Secretariat in Addis Ababa

In his Easter message to all the Catholic faithful and people of good will in Ethiopia, Cardinal Berhaneyesus Souraphiel, C.M., the Metropolitan Archbishop of Addis Ababa and President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Ethiopia (CBCE) has said that Easter is a time for Christians to reflect on the light that the Lord has granted to the world. He has also encouraged the faithful to refrain from the path of sin and instead follow Christ with faith and a life witness.

“As King David tells us ‘I keep God before me always, for with him at my right hand, nothing can shake me’ (Ps 16:8).The Eternal God who is our protector will lead our path and we, His children, must give Him our hearts and our will completely,” the Cardinal said.

The Cardinal also stressed that Easter is a time to exercise a spirit of charity towards others.

Read More

Homily of Archbishop Pizzaballa for Holy Thursday 2017

Posted on Apr 14, 2017

Holy Thursday 2017

Jerusalem – Holy Sepulcher

Chrism Mass and the Lord’s Supper

Jerusalem, April 13, 2017

Dear brothers and sisters,

We are gathered here in this Holy Place to begin together the Sacred Paschal Triduum. Three intense days of prayer, processions, ancient rites, but always evocative in a way that will lead us to encounter once again the Risen Lord.

We begin these three days with a special celebration and that, here in Jerusalem, because of historical events, is unique, because it combines what, in the rest of the Catholic world, takes place in two distinct celebrations. Here, we celebrate together the Chrism Mass and the Mass of the Lord’s Supper. We celebrate in a unique commemoration many mysteries, all very rich in meaning: the consecration, the anointing, the Eucharist, the mandate of the new commandment, the service. We dwell only on a few brief remarks.

Here we are in the place of the Paschal mistery, which a masterly restoration has brought back to new light, revealing its transforming power, capable of reuniting the dispersed, putting together diverse groups, and recreating communion within our divisions.

Read More

Egypt’s Christians to hold restrained Easter services in light of attacks

Posted on Apr 14, 2017

Credit: Oleg Shishkov/Shutterstock.

Credit: Oleg Shishkov/Shutterstock.

Minya, Egypt, Apr 12, 2017 / 03:42 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- After two bomb attacks on worshippers at Coptic Orthodox churches on Sunday, the Coptic Orthodox Archdiocese of Minya has announced it will celebrate Easter without the typical festive accoutrements.

The observance of Easter in the Minya Coptic Orthodox archdiocese will be limited to liturgical services “without any festive manifestations” in mourning for the nearly 45 Coptic Orthodox faithful who were killed in attacks on Sunday, the AP reports.

Two Coptic Orthodox churches were the targets of Islamic State bombings on April 9, Palm Sunday. The attack on St. George’s in Tanta, nearly 60 miles north of Cairo, killed 28. Shortly after, another bomb went off outside St. Mark’s cathedral in Alexandria, killing 17.

The attacks came only weeks before Pope Francis plans to visit Egypt to promote peace and dialogue between Christians and Muslims in the country. Pope Francis, after celebrating Palm Sunday Mass at St. Peter’s Square, decried the violence and asked God to “convert the hearts of those who sow fear, violence and death, and those who make and traffic arms.” He also expressed solidarity with Tawardos II, the Coptic Orthodox Patriarch of Alexandria.

Read More

Who are Egypt’s Coptic Christians, and why do extremists target them?

Posted on Apr 11, 2017

In this Friday, April 14, 2006 file photo, Egyptian Copts cross their wrists in defiance outside the Saints Church in the Sidi Bishr district of Alexandria in Egypt. Egypt’s Coptic Christians have become the preferred target of Islamic State radicals operating in the Arab world’s most populous nation, seeking to sow discord, undermine President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, and split the country. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis, File)

In this Friday, April 14, 2006 file photo, Egyptian Copts cross their wrists in defiance outside the Saints Church in the Sidi Bishr district of Alexandria in Egypt. Egypt’s Coptic Christians have become the preferred target of Islamic State radicals operating in the Arab world’s most populous nation, seeking to sow discord, undermine President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, and split the country. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis, File)

by Brian Rohan, Associated Press, in America, the Jesuit Review, April 11, 2017

They trace their founding to the voyage to Alexandria of St. Mark, the apostle of Jesus and New Testament author. Just a decade or two after the original Easter, which Christians celebrate around the world, tradition states that Mark founded their church, one of the earliest in the Middle East and the first in Africa. It was to become a pillar of early Christendom.

Some two thousand years later, Egypt’s Coptic Christians have become the preferred target of the Islamic State group, an apocalyptic cult seeking religious war.

Inside the Arab world’s most populous country, IS seeks to sow discord, undermine President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi and split the country. It’s a strategy the group has used before in Iraq, undermining trust in the government and inciting Shiites against Sunnis to provoke a backlash. That strategy looks unlikely to work in Egypt, where Sunnis vastly outnumber the Coptic minority, who make up some 10 percent of the population of 92 million and who are overwhelmingly dedicated supporters of el-Sissi. But it does whittle away at the Christians’ sense of security.

A look at Egypt’s Coptic community, its traditions and challenges in the Middle East:

Read More

San Francisco Religious Leaders Denounce Massacre of Coptic Christians

Posted on Apr 11, 2017

April 11, 2017, San Francisco — At the threshold of this sacred and holy season, when our Christian and Jewish sisters and brothers observe and celebrate the hope of new life and liberation from oppression, we are reminded that terrorism takes no holiday.

Gruesome images of torturous atrocities committed by Islamist militants (so-called ISIS) against Coptic Christians in Egypt, praying on Palm Sunday in their sacred sanctuaries, justifiably haunt the consciences of those who live in lands where the freedom to practice religion is enshrined in and protected by the laws by which they are governed.

As San Francisco Bay Area religious leaders, we speak out with a unified voice to decry these acts of horror and denounce all expressions and acts of religious persecution. We pray for those who have perished and all who have suffered as the result of these crimes against humanity.

We recognize that these actions of so-called ISIS and other terrorist groups, perpetrated in the name of Islam and the Quran, do not reflect the true image and teachings of Islam, and we stand in solidarity with the great number of Muslims who abhor what is being done in the name of their religion.

We affirm the common aspiration of all religious teaching and traditions: the propagation of peace, justice, nonviolence, and civil and human rights for all of creation.

Read More

Egyptian Christians left to bury their dead after church bombings

Posted on Apr 10, 2017

Women cry during the funeral for those killed in a Palm Sunday church attack in Alexandria Egypt, at the Mar Amina church, on Monday, April 10, 2017. (AP Photo/Samer Abdallah)

Women cry during the funeral for those killed in a Palm Sunday church attack in Alexandria Egypt, at the Mar Amina church, on Monday, April 10, 2017. (AP Photo/Samer Abdallah)

by Brian Rohan, Associated Press, in America, the Jesuit Review, April 10, 2017

Egyptian Christians were burying their dead on Monday after Islamic State suicide bombers killed at least 45 people in attacks on Palm Sunday services in two cities, as a state of emergency went into effect amid fears of further violence.

Women wailed as caskets marked with the word “martyr” were brought into the St. Mina monastery in the outskirts of the coastal city of Alexandria, the footage broadcast on several Egyptian channels. Coptic priests, boy scouts, and mourners carrying flowers joined a procession into the church, the pace set by a beat of snare drums.

At least 17 people were killed at St. Mark’s Cathedral in Alexandria, the historic seat of Christendom in Egypt. Another suicide attack killed at least 28 people inside St. George’s Church in the Nile Delta city of Tanta, the Health Ministry said, updating an earlier toll. IS claimed both bombings.

Rev. Danial Maher, of the Tanta church, lost his 23-year-old son, Beshoy, who was among six deacons killed in the attack. He recalled watching his son wearing white vestments and singing at the service. “He was like an angel,” he said.

Pictures of the elder Maher, sitting helplessly in blood-stained vestments after the attack, were widely circulated online. He buried his son late Sunday.

Read More

Trump at the Movies: “Put an Amen to It”

Posted on Apr 10, 2017

Obama made the right decision in 2013. Trump has just made the wrong decision, embracing both the revenge of The Searchers, and the media manipulation of Wag the Dog.

by James M. Wall

A raid has killed members of a frontier family. Ethan Edwards, portrayed by an angry, unforgiving John Wayne, was secretly in love with one of the victims. The quick burial in a nearby hillside cemetery is conducted by a family friend, the Reverend Captain Samuel Johnston Clayton (Ward Bond).

Mourners sing, “Shall we gather at the river”. The Reverend Captain Clayton, formerly of the Confederate army, stands beside three wooden crosses. He prays.

Ethan Edwards abruptly ends the service with an angry shout, “Put an amen to it. There’s no more time for praying.”

A posse prepares to ride out in search of the raiders.

These moments below from John Ford’s 1956 classic western film, The Searchers, begin a long search driven by the dark emotions of hatred and revenge.

Read More

Assessing diplomat George Mitchell’s plan for peace in the Middle East.

Posted on Apr 10, 2017

by Andrew J. Bacevich* | America, the Jesuit Review | January 11, 2017

Books by the bushel purport to offer insights that will advance the prospects of a peaceful end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Few offer anything fresh or novel. A Path To Peace does not number among those few.

It is difficult to understand what prompted the authors to undertake their project. From January 2009 to May 2011, George J. Mitchell, former Democratic senator from Maine, served as President Obama’s special envoy for Middle East Peace. Alon Sachar was a member of Mitchell’s team. Their efforts to promote the cause of a two-state solution, no doubt well intended, yielded nothing of substance. Now, years after the fact, they weigh in with these belated reflections.

The book breaks into two parts. The first part consists of a potted narrative of the Arab-Israeli conflict dating from the launch of Zionism, while summarizing the role played by the United States since the founding of the state of Israel. For anyone completely unfamiliar with that history, it presents a brief, balanced introduction. To anyone with knowledge of the basic facts, it offers nothing new.

Read More

Syrian Catholic leaders criticize U.S. missile strikes, experts question larger strategy

Posted on Apr 10, 2017

The USS Porter, in the Mediterranean Sea, fires a Tomahawk missile April 7. The U.S. Defense Department said it was a part of missile strike against Syria. (CNS photo/Ford Williams, U.S. Navy handout via Reuters)

The USS Porter, in the Mediterranean Sea, fires a Tomahawk missile April 7. The U.S. Defense Department said it was a part of missile strike against Syria. (CNS photo/Ford Williams, U.S. Navy handout via Reuters)

by Kevin Clark | America, the Jesuit Review | April 7, 2017

Just days after it suggested that the world would have to get used to the idea of President Bashar al-Assad as a negotiating partner in Syria, the Trump administration abruptly switched direction on April 6. As images of the aftermath of an apparent nerve-gas attack on civilians in rebel-held Idlib province generated outrage around the world, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told reporters that “with the acts that he has taken, it will seem that there would be no role for [Mr. Assad] to govern the Syrian people.” Later that evening the United States launched a punitive strike on the Syrian air base where it alleged the chemical weapons attack originated.

President Donald J. Trump had given the go-ahead for a barrage of cruise missiles, careful to avoid the possibility of Russian casualties, who had been forewarned. The facility was badly damaged; the Syrian government reports the deaths of nine civilians, including four children, when projectiles hit the base and nearby villages. Others were injured.

Two prominent Catholic leaders in Syria criticized the U.S. missile strikes. Syriac Catholic Patriarch Ignace Joseph Younan described the strike as an act of aggression. He told Catholic News Service: “It is a shame that the United States administration didn’t wait until an honest United Nations investigation was thoroughly made.”

Read More

CCSM condemns the bombings of Egypt churches

Posted on Apr 10, 2017

By Fr. Rif’at Bader | abouna.org

Jordan – As the tragic news about two terrorist explosions that erupted in Egypt and led to the death of several worshippers was disseminated, Director of the Catholic Center for Studies and Media (CCSM) in Jordan Fr. Rif’at Bader expressed his denunciation of the cowardly terrorist acts committed today, April 9, in two peaceful churches while the worshippers were raising palm and olive branches marking Palm Sunday that precedes the glorious Easter celebrations. He called for praying for the souls of the martyrs, for the wounded, for the brotherly children of Egypt, both Christians and Muslims, so that the Almighty God would grant the afflicted families and all the citizens of dear Egypt solace and patience.

Fr. Bader added during the Mass he presided at the Sacred Heart of Jesus Church in Naour, south of the capital Amman, marking Palm Sunday celebrations: “The terror that hit the Egyptian churches is designed to undermine Easter celebrations, to create schism in the Arab Egyptian fabric, including Muslims and Copts, and to let fear and turmoil dominate those who celebrate Easter. The choice of this very day at a time when large masses of people go to churches to pray, including families and children, is designed to mow down the largest number of people and shed innocent blood.”

Read More

Another voice condemns attacks in Egypt

Posted on Apr 10, 2017


American Middle East Christians Conference

by Ramsay F. Dass, MD, President, AMECC / Rfdass@aol.com / www.amecc.us /

The American Middle East Christians Congress (AMECC) adds its voice to that of His Holiness Pope Francis and the World Council of Churches to condemn the heinous crimes against the innocent worshipers in Mar Girgis Coptic Church and St. Mark’s Church in Egypt.

We express our sympathy to His Holiness Pope Tawadros II, the Coptic Church, Christianity and humanity at large, especially on this Palm Sunday.

Read More

Good Friday witness at Livermore Nuclear Weapons Lab

Posted on Apr 10, 2017

Ecumenical Peace Institute / Clergy And Laity Concerned (EPI/CALC) embraces all faith and earth-based traditions bringing to life universal values as we seek truth, work for justice, nurture compassion and courage, reach out to each other and to our larger communities of faith and tradition, bridge the divisions that wound the human family, transform ourselves and our world through dedication to nonviolence in education, advocacy, witness and action.

Click for flyer

Read More

Prof. Mazin Qumsiyeh: Deir Yassin to Egypt

Posted on Apr 9, 2017

Professor Mazin Qumsiyeh writes in his newsletter, Palestinian Christians, on Palm Sunday 2017:

Today is the anniversary of the massacre at Deir Yassin. On 9 April 1948, my mother’s friend in school (both studying to be teachers school in Jerusalem) chose to go back to her village of Deir Yassin. That was the last time my mother saw her young friend Hayah Balbisi and this victim of Zionism remains etched in memorty of my 84 year old mother. Deir Yassin was not the first, last, or the largest massacre committed by Zionist forces during that era of ethnic cleansing. But it was prophetic and emblematic for us because its deliberate effect was magnified to scare the villagers (even some survivors were paraded in the streets of Jerusalem and loudspeakers told of more impending massacres). Dar Al-Tifl AlArabi orphanage was created to house the surviving orphaned children. Dozens of massacres were committed just in the six weeks leading up to Israel’s creation and dozens after. Over 500 villages and towns were depopulated in the bizarre 20th century attempt to transform a multi-cultural/multi-religious Palestine to become the “Jewish state of Israel”. And the price tag is still being paid in areas like Iraq, Yemen, Syria, and Egypt.

Read More

Pope decries war, terrorism and weapons as he condemns Egypt blast

Posted on Apr 9, 2017

By Philip Pullella | Reuters

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – Pope Francis condemned a deadly blast at a church in Egypt and said at a Palm Sunday Mass that the world was suffering from wars, terrorism and “interests that are armed and ready to strike”.

Francis, who has not made any direct public comment on the current Middle East crisis, said the Mass as international tensions increased following the U.S. missile strike on a Syrian air base, which the Pentagon says was involved in a chemical weapons attack that killed 87 people.

While the pope, who is due to visit Egypt April 28-29, was celebrating the Mass for tens of thousands of people, the Vatican received word of the blast that killed at least 21 people and injured 50 in a Coptic church in the Nile Delta.

Read More

WCC condemns terror attacks on churches in Egypt, calls for end to violence

Posted on Apr 9, 2017

People gather outside the Mar Girgis Coptic Church in the Nile Delta City of Tanta, north of Cairo, after a bomb blast struck worshippers gathering to celebrate Palm Sunday on April 9, 2017 (AFP Photo/KHALED DESOUKI)

world council of churches

April 9, 2017 – The World Council of Churches (WCC) condemns the vicious attacks on innocent worshippers in St George (Mar Girgis) Coptic church in Tanta and in front of St Mark´s church in Alexandria, Egypt.

At least 25 people were killed and more than 70 were wounded by an explosion at a Coptic Christian church in northern Egypt during a service to celebrate Palm Sunday, state television reported.

Several hours after the bombing in Tanta, another explosion hit in front of St Mark’s church in Alexandria, killing at least 11 people and injuring more than 30, the health ministry said. Coptic Pope Tawadros II, the head of the Coptic Church, was inside the Cathedral, at the time of the explosion, presiding over Palm Sunday celebrations.

WCC general secretary Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit expresses profound sorrow and offered condolences and prayers for the families of the victims, for the wounded and for all the people of Egypt. He encourages Egyptians to stand firm and united through the many trials and tribulations that continue to threaten.

Read More

Catholic leaders in Syria criticize US missile strikes

Posted on Apr 8, 2017

Catholic News Service | April 8, 2017

Two prominent Catholic leaders in Syria criticized the U.S. missile strikes against their nation, wondering why they occurred before investigations into the origins of chemical attacks reported April 4.

But U.S. President Donald Trump said Syrian President Bashar Assad “launched a horrible chemical weapons attack on innocent civilians” and “choked out the lives of helpless men, women and children.”

“No child of God should ever suffer such horror,” he said April 6, announcing that he had ordered the strike against the air base from which he said the chemical weapons attack was launched.

Syriac Catholic Patriarch Ignace Joseph Younan called the attack an aggression and told Catholic News Service: “It is a shame that the United States administration didn’t wait until an honest United Nations investigation was thoroughly made into what is said to be a chemical air strike in Khan Shaykun.”

Read More

Program of the Holy Week in Jerusalem 2017

Posted on Apr 8, 2017


arالعربية  frFrançais  itItaliano  esEspañol  deDeutsch

JERUSALEM – Please find below the program of the Holy Week in Jerusalem 2017.

9:00 Jerusalem Holy Sepulcher – Calvary: Solemn Mass
17:00 Jerusalem Holy Sepulcher: Daily Procession

07:00 Jerusalem Holy Sepulcher: Solemn Mass
09:00 Bethpage Franciscan Church: Solemn Mass
14:30 Jerusalem Holy Sepulcher: Solemn Entrance of the Apostolic Administrator
14:50 Jerusalem Holy Sepulcher: Solemn Procession
00:40 Jerusalem Holy Sepulcher: Vigil – Chapel of the Apparition & Mass on Calvary

April 9, 2017 – Palm Sunday
07:00 Jerusalem Holy Sepulcher: Palm Procession & Pontifical Mass – Altar of Mary Magdalene
14:30 Bethpage Palm Sunday Procession from the Church of Bethpage, Mount of Olives to the Church of St. Anne
17:00 Jerusalem Holy Sepulcher: Daily Procession

Read More

Taybeh Scouts open their village to the Scouts de France

Posted on Apr 8, 2017

arالعربية  frFrançais  itItaliano

by Cécile Klos | Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem

TAYBEH – On April 1-2, 2017, Palestinian Scouts of Taybeh welcomed a troop of the young Jerusalem Scouts of France coming from Jerusalem for a weekend. Despite the inclement weather, the interaction and exchanges allowed two youth groups’ that cannot easily meet to enjoy mutual discovery.

To accommodate their guests, the Taybeh Scouts planned everything: a landscaped area, where both Palestinian and French flags were fluttering in the wind, awaited the tents of the Scouts, Guides, Cubs and Brownies coming from Jerusalem. The young Palestinians also wished to invite the young French people for meals: though the sunshine, so often present, was lacking, it was not their responsibility!

Read More

One Easter for Western and Eastern Churches

Posted on Apr 8, 2017

In 2017, the Eastern and Western churches will celebrate Easter on the same date. A happy coincidence that can make the life of families and parishes easier and that confirms the recent developments in the international and local ecumenical movement.

Christians living in the Holy Land belong to different Churches: they are Catholic, Orthodox, Protestant and of other denominations. These ecclesial communities have a wealth of history, tradition and spirituality that sometimes unites them and distinguishes them [from one another].

Quite often families are composed of members belonging to different churches, and so, the nuclear family becomes an opportunity to come together and foster dialogue between these communities.

Nazareth – Greek-Melkite Catholic Church

“I was not familiar with the Greek Orthodox Church; I did not used to pray with them. I went to the Latin or Melkite rite mass. Even though I lived very close to an Orthodox church, I had never visited it. When I met Marcelle and we got engaged, she allowed me to get to know this church. It was very nice for me to become familiar with another church.”

In 2017, Easter for the Eastern and Western Churches falls on Sunday, April 16, but this is not always the case, because some follow the solar calendar while others follow the lunar calendar. This difference has an impact on family life.

Read More

Syria: destruction and hope

Posted on Apr 8, 2017

Regarding the use of donations from the Good Friday Collection: by pastor Aleppo

Parish priest of Aleppo, Syria
“It has been six years from the beginning of the Syrian crisis and the question that comes to mind for many people is: < is there still a need to help Syria?”

The question of father Ibrahim Al Sabagh, a Franciscan priest of Aleppo, resonates in our hearts and conflicts with the desire to say: “no, there is no longer need for help”. But the reality is quite different.

Since the beginning of the conflict, the number of victims has reached as many as 400 thousand including 2 million injured (11% of the population), according to the report of the Syrian Center for Policy Research.

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights stopped the tragic count in mid-2014, due to lack of reliable data.

Read More

Uri Avnery: The Tunic of Nessus

Posted on Apr 8, 2017

gush shalom
by Uri Avnery

IN A few weeks, Israel will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Six-Day War. Millions of words, most of them hollow, will be poured out. As usual.

But the event deserves better. It is a drama unique in human history. Only a biblical writer could do it justice. William Shakespeare could have turned his hand to it.

I suppose that most readers were not yet alive at the time, and certainly not yet able to understand what was happening.

So let me try to recount the drama as I saw it unfolding.

IT STARTED on Independence Day, 1967, the annual celebration of the official founding of the State of Israel. It was only the 19th anniversary.

Read More

Collection for the Holy Land: encouraging Christians to stay

Posted on Apr 7, 2017

The Good Friday collection, the proceeds of which are used to support the Christian presence in the Middle East and protect the sanctuaries, will be held on April 14.


The Collection that will benefit the Christians of the Holy Land … An initiative that dates back to the time of St. Paul, when he urged Christians to help the Church of Jerusalem.

Prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches
“Paul VI established for the whole Church that the Good Friday Collection be dedicated to the Holy Land, worldwide. These holy places are for us an indelible testimony of the passage of Christ as a man of the world, therefore our Good Friday must be the day in which we open our hearts to the needs of our brothers in the Holy Land, because today, unfortunately, the Holy Land is bleeding in Syria, in Iraq and in many other places where Christians suffer.”

Read More