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
James Wall writes:
Larry Derfner’s memoir, No Country for Jewish Liberals, is must reading for anyone even slightly interested in the “issue” of Palestine and Israel. Read it before he arrives at a location near you.
The author is expected to arrive in the U.S. soon to begin a book tour arranged by his American publisher, Just World Books.
He should be seen and heard on any platform from which word can go out to decision-makers, tax-payers, and devotees of honest, probing, revealing and inspired writing.
His memoir tells the personal story of an Israeli journalist working in a society which is living a lie, a society that extends from Derfner’s birth state of California, to his present home in the Jewish settlement city of Modi’in.Read More
Following Slaughter in Iblid, Says ‘We witness horrified the latest events in Syria,’ He Condemns the Unacceptable Slaughter
Deborah Castellano Lubov | Zenit | April 5, 2017
At the end of the General Audience today, April 5, 2017, Pope Francis made two appeals. Bergoglio’s thought went to St. Petersburg and to Iblid, in Syria, places struck by attacks in the course of the last hours.
Speaking of the dynamite attack in the metro of the Russian city, which caused several victims and “loss in the population,” the Pope said he entrusted “to God’s mercy all those who tragically died,” and he expressed his “spiritual closeness to their families and to all those suffering due to this tragic event.”
Francis then paused on the chemical attack near Iblid. “I firmly deplore the unacceptable carnage that took place yesterday in Idlib province, where scores of helpless people, including many children, were killed.”Read More
Syriac Patriarchate | March 31, 2017
His Holiness Patriarch Mor Ignatius Aphrem II attended the celebration of the 36th Anniversary of the Foundation of the Christian Education Center in Damascus.
The celebration was held at St. George Patriarchal Cathedral in Bab Touma, Damascus.
The celebration included a short overview spanning the years of ministry and service that the Center has offered since its establishment in 1981, as well as the current activities that they are continuously offering despite the crisis in Syria. The event included hymns chanted by the young members of the Center as well as meditations on Faith, Work and Love, which is the motto of the center.Read More
By Elise Harris
Vatican City, Apr 3, 2017 / 11:23 am (CNA/EWTN News).- The Vatican has taken in three new Syrian families, some members of which were ISIS prisoners before gaining freedom and fleeing the country.
According to an April 3 Vatican communique, the families – two of whom are Christian – took the place of the families welcomed by the Vatican last year, who with the help of various organizations have now become independent, and have moved out of their Vatican apartments.Read More
by Cécile Klos | Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem
JERUSALEM – On March 26, 2017, in Abu Dis, Little Sister Christine of the Little Sisters of Jesus celebrated 50 years of religious life, surrounded by the residents of Our Lady of Sorrows Home, a retirement home where she now serves, the fraternities of the Little Sisters of Jesus of Palestine and Israel and their friends.
Simplicity and Love! By these words one could describe the Mass of Thanksgiving celebrated by Father Rafiq Khoury, a priest of the Latin Patriarchate, on the occasion of the 50 years of religious life of Little Sister Christine. At the same time, the words could also define her life: Simplicity in the service of Love: the love of Christ and, consequently, love of the poorest and most forsaken.Read More
The war in the Middle East has had a massive impact on the whole region, but sadly the Christian community in Iraq have suffered greatly at the hands of the extremist group Daesh (ISIS). The extremists targeted and attacked Christians with the intention of wiping them out from their ancient homelands.
“So much has been destroyed by Daesh (ISIS). At least 50 percent of the homes on the Nineveh Plains have suffered destruction from these extremists – there are still hidden explosives in the villages,” Aid to the Church in Need’s Middle East expert Fr Andrew Halemba reported.
Iraq’s Nineveh Plains have been desolate since Daesh seized them in summer 2014, causing those living there to flee – most Christians sought sanctuary in the Kurdish capital Erbil where they have been cared for by the Church.Read More
The new structure created with the contribution of Ats and two European donors, thanks to the restoration of the Mosaic Center of Jericho: “The Wise Men” will be a meeting point, preserving the Christian heritage of the city.
It is a typical Palestinian hot afternoon and in Bethlehem, over two hundred people, including monks and authorities, volunteers, foreign and locals, have gathered a few meters from Manger Square where, on Wednesday, March 29, there is the opening of a new guest house.
Some 100 young people of the Holy Land took part in a day of spirituality in the Jericho area: this was a way to express their desire to meet Jesus, to get closer to their peers and to walk free from the difficulties of everyday life.
The young people’s silent march started at the Monastery of St. George of Koziba, passed through the Judean desert and ended at the Franciscan Monastery in Jericho. The youngsters were accompanied by several religious and by the youth minister, Father Imad Kamel.
Dear friends and colleagues,
Finally, I was allowed to access my email account after 12 days of being banned from doing so during the most intense phase of the ongoing interrogation I am subjected to by the Israeli authorities.Read More
World Council of Churches | March 14, 2017
In mid-February, 16 African-American pastors from the USA toured the Holy Land to learn more about the Israel and Palestine conflict. The visit was an initiative by the Lott Carey Global Christian Missional Community and led by its president, Rev. Dr Alyn E. Waller, who is a senior pastor at the Enon Tabernacle Baptist Church in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
“This tour will help us help the Palestinians in their struggle for justice and peace. We need to be part of that”, says Waller.Read More
Remy Brun | Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem
AMMAN – On Saturday, March 18, 2017, Our Lady of Peace Center honored the mothers of families with a program of games, shows and dance presentations prepared by the children and teams of the Center, in a festive family atmosphere.
Our Lady of Peace Center organized this gathering, which brought together families whose children benefit, from the services offered by the Center and its medical team, for some on a daily basis, free of charge.Read More
Mosul (Agenzia Fides) – Penalties for those who smoke and those who drink, prohibition for women to leave the house if it is not necessary, death penalty for blasphemy are some of the 14 “rules of behavior” that the militia of the self-proclaimed Islamic State (Daesh) had drawn on the columns and walls of the Chaldean church dedicated to Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Mosul. After having conquered the northeastern Iraqi city, the jihadists had chosen the church as an operations base. In recent days, the church was reconquered by the Iraqi army.Read More
SOME DAYS ago, a man committed an act of terrorism in the center of London, a city I love.
He ran over several persons on Westminster Bridge, stabbed a policeman to death and approached the doors of Parliament, where he was shot dead. All this in the shadow of the tower of Big Ben, an irresistible photographic target.
It was an electrifying world-wide news item. Within minutes, Daesh was blamed. But then the truth came out: the terrorist was a British citizen, a Muslim convert born in England. From early youth he had committed a string of petty crimes. He had been in and out of prison several times.
So how did this individual, of all people, become a religious zealot, a Shahid – a witness to the truth of Allah, who sacrificed his life for the greatness of Islam? How had he become the perpetrator of an act that shook Europe and the world?Read More
Nikki Haley, the new U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, (right) was greeted as a rock star at this year’s AIPAC Washington Conference.
The former governor of South Carolina wowed the crowd of 19,000, in an on-stage interview in which she bragged that she blocked the appointment of former Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad to a high UN position, solely because he is a Palestinian.
She followed up by bragging that she had persuaded the UN secretary general to withdraw a report which described Israeli policies as apartheid.Read More
Correspondent in Nazareth | Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem
NAZARETH – On Friday, March 24, 2017, took place the second round of the Bible Contest for adults, presented by the Annunciation Family Club of the Latin parish at the St. Anthony Pastoral Center in Nazareth and presided by Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa.
As usual for this contest, the participants competed as a duo, sometimes in pairs or in groups of two siblings, two friends, two partners, adults 40 years and older.
The main biblical subjects were: Famous Characters of the Bible, Jesus’ miracles, Parables of the Gospel, Great biblical events, sanctuaries and Holy Places.Read More
The Melkite, Maronite, Orthodox and Anglican parish priests, whose presence was a witness to a good ecumenical life in a city marked also by the presence of Muslims and Druze.
SHEFAAMER – On Saturday, March 18, 2017, the Latin parish of Shefaamer gathered to celebrate Saint Joseph, patron saint of the parish. Twenty-two children made First Communion and received the Sacrament of Confirmation from the hands of Bishop Giacinto Boulos Marcuzzo, Patriarchal Vicar in Israel.
The church hall of this town in northern Israel was was filled with faithful to celebrate St. Joseph: parishioners, relatives and friends of the twenty-two children who responded to the invitation of Father Elie Kurzum, pastor of the parish. The Betharram community was also present, accompanied by Father Jean-Luc Morin, Regional Superior, who was in town for canonical visitation. The Melkite, Maronite, Orthodox and Anglican parish priests, whose presence was a witness to a good ecumenical life in a city marked also by the presence of Muslims and Druze.Read More
by Vivien Laguette | Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem | March 21, 2017
JERUSALEM – On the occasion of its 50th anniversary, the Catholic Delegation for Cooperation assembled on the weekend of March 18 and 19 at the Maison d’Abraham and also during a Mass celebrated in the Basilica of Saint Anne on Saturday night the 19th, at which the French Consul General in Jerusalem, Pierre Cochard, was present
The French NGO, CDC, is an organization licensed by the state to send volunteers worldwide. Its mission: to support local stakeholders in countries of the South Coordination in their development projects. Operating in more than 50 countries, the CDC has over 500 volunteers who contribute to these projects. Of these, 14 are currently in the Holy Land. During a weekend marked by moments of rich exchanges, reminders and feedback, there was the opportunity for everyone to meet at the Maison d’Abraham with Guillaume Nicolas, CEO of CDC, Pierrick Madinier, representative of the CDC Board of Directors, as well as Marie-Bernadette Caro and Frédéric Mounier, Holy Land project managers.Read More
by Myriam Ambroselli | Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem | March 23, 2017
HOLY SEPULCHER – On Wednesday, March 22, 2017, the Churches of Jerusalem gathered in the Basilica of the Holy Sepulcher to contemplate on the result of ten months of restoration of the edicule sheltering the Tomb of Christ in an ecumenical ceremony bearing witness to a unity that has made possible such work.Read More
by James M. Wall | Wallwritings | March 23, 2017
In a 1935 stage production of Billy Rose’s Jumbo, Jimmy Durante is leading an elephant down the street. A policeman stops him and asks, “What are you doing with that elephant?”
Durante responds, “What elephant”? That line became a 1935 nightly show-stopper. Durante repeated the same question in the 1962 film version of Jumbo (right).
Wikipedia speculates that this line may have contributed to the phrase, “the elephant in the room”, which refers to the denial of something as a reality, when that something is obviously in the room.
UN Secretary-General António Guterres last week became the latest official to deny the obvious presence of the apartheid elephant enforced by the state of Israel.Read More
In the fight against extremism, one of the central issue is what the rules for a correct interpretation of sacred texts are
Martino Diez | Oasis | 01 March 2017
We are publishing the excerpt of the speech delivered by Martino Diez, Scientific director of the Oasis Foundation, at the seminar held on February 22 – 23 at the University of Al-Azhar in Cairo on “the fight against fanaticism, extremisms and violence in the name of religion”. The seminar, led by the Deputy of Al-Azhar ‘Abbas Shuman and Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, marks the resumption of the dialogue between Al-Azhar and the Vatican. The full text will be published in a volume curated by the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue and al-Azhar.
[…] Compared to other forms of extremism, owns the specific feature of using the language of faith as a mobilizing force. There is nothing surprising in this: religion is one of the major forces behind man. It would seem easy to dismiss the matter by saying that fanaticism represents an opportunistic use of religion for purposes unrelated to it, for example of political nature, but in reality things are not that simple: the majority of fanatics, including their leaders, acts in good faith, without hypocrisy. Refusing to reckon this basic fact means condemning oneself to not understand the phenomenon from the very beginning.Read More
[The following text is the resignation letter submitted by ESWA Executie Secretary Rima Khalaf in response to the formal request by UN Secretary General that ESCWA withdraw the publication of a report that asserts Israel is committing Apartheid. Click here to access the full ESCWA report, which has since been removed from the UN website.]
March 18, 2017
Dear Mr. Secretary-General,
I have carefully considered your message conveyed through the Chef de Cabinet and assure you that at no point have I questioned your right to order the withdrawal of the report from our website or the fact that all of us working in the Secretariat are subject to the authority of its Secretary-General. Nor do I have any doubts regarding your commitment to human rights in general, or your firm position regarding the rights of the Palestinian people. I also understand the concerns that you have, particularly in these difficult times that leave you little choice.Read More
by Samia Khoury of East Jerusalem
Once again Israel acts with rage because it cannot cope with the Truth. It is very unfortunate that, the UN has not only failed for the last seventy years to bring justice to the Palestinians, it has also lost its credibility for reacting outrageously against any statements or reports that expose the truth about Israel. The recent report of ESCWA describing Israel’s treatment of Palestinians as apartheid led to the resignation of Rima Khalaf, a Jordanian UN diplomat and executive secretary of the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia when she was pressured by the UN General Secretary to withdraw the report. Click here for her letter of resignation. I wish more diplomats had this kind of integrity.Read More
Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem
BETHLEHEM – On March 14 -15, 2017, the Assembly of Catholic Ordinaries of the Holy Land met at Casa Nova in Bethlehem. At the heart of the discussions were the Catholic schools of the diocese and the youth of the Holy Land, in preparation for the October 2018 Synod on the theme “Youth, faith and vocational discernment”.
The Ordinaries held their bi-annual meeting in Bethlehem on Tuesday and Wednesday. The discussions were facilitated by the Greek-Catholic Archbishop of Galilee George Bacouni with the participation of the two Apostolic Nuncios of Cyprus, Israel, Palestine and Jordan, Archbishop Lazzarotto and Archbishop Ortega Martin; the Apostolic Administrator of the Latin Patriarchate, Archbishop. Pierbattista Pizzaballa and the four Patriarchal Vicars, Bishops William Shomali and Giacinto-Boulos Marcuzzo , and Fathers David Neuhaus and Jerzy Kraj. Also present at the meeting were Patriarch Emeritus Michel Sabbah and Bishop Emeritus Kamal Bathish; the Maronite Archbishops Joseph Soueif of Cyprus and Moussa El-Hage of the Holy Land; Greek-Catholic Archbishop of Jerusalem Jules-Joseph Zerey; , Greek Catholic Archbishop Emeritus of Akka Bishop Boutros Mouallem; the Custos of the Holy Land, Fr. Francesco Patton; a representative of the Syrian Catholic Church, Fr. Efrem; and representatives of religious communities.
Fr. Patton, Custos of the Holy Land took advantage of this gathering to invite everyone to the inauguration of the restored Aedicule in the Basilica of the Holy Sepulcher on March 22.
The discussions then focused on the Catholic youth of the Holy Land and the Catholic schools of the diocese, which are still going through a difficult period, particularly in Israel with a financial crisis that remains unresolved, as the Israeli Ministry of Education has not honored its commitments. School leaders from different countries of the diocese presented a joint paper on the mission and vision of Catholic schools that will be further developed in the coming months before being validated by the bishops.Read More
Dr. Frank ROMANO writes:
Freedom Walk 2017
We invite you to contribute to and attendance of the meeting for Freedom in Palestine in several locations in Palestine and Israel listed below. There we will go a peaceful march. To express our freedom of thought and expression and to deliver a message to the world that the people of Palestine deserve to live within the democratic framework. This is about the sanctity of the soil of Palestine. Its people will stay there after the departure of the last occupier. We will continue our steadfastness at all costs arbitrariness and brutality of the Israeli occupation.
And to the dawn of peace, just and lasting peaceRead More
Saher Kawas | Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem
VATICAN/CAIRO – Since their rapprochement in May 2016, the Vatican and Al-Azhar saw their first interreligious symposium last February, after several years of restrained relations. In the meanwhile and awaiting fruitful results, the faithful search for their role and place in interreligious dialogue.
On February 22- 23, 2017, a symposium entitled “The role of Al-Azhar Al- Sharif and of the Vatican in confronting the phenomena of fanaticism, extremism and violence in the name of religion” took place at Al-Azhar University in Cairo.
As an influential Islamic institution, Al-Azhar oversees a national network of schools, where a secular and religious curriculum is taught to two million students, and runs the Islamic Research Complex, which is in charge of issuing edicts that pertain to the public interest.Read More
Jeva Lange | The Week
The year 1291 A.D. was a dark year for Christian Crusaders in the Holy Land. When the Crusader capital of Jerusalem was lost to Saladin in 1187, the Haifa Bay port of Acre became the new landing site for European soldiers, knights, and horses as well as an international trading hub for the export of sugar, spices, glass, and textiles back to Europe. But by the spring of 1291, an Egyptian sultan, Al-Ashraf Khalil, had moved in with 100,000 cavalry and foot soldiers to banish the Crusaders from the Holy Land once and for all.
Marine archeologists have now discovered the remains of a treasure-laden Crusader ship that they have reason to believe was one of many vessels that tried to flee Acre when the sultan stormed the city, Haaretz reports. The wood on the ship dates back to between 1062 and 1250 A.D. but among the keel and planks that remain the archaeologists also discovered 30 gold coins.Read More
Myriam Ambroselli | Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem
CYPRUS – From March 11-13, 2017, Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa, Apostolic Administrator of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, visited the Cyprus parishes, priests and Knights of the Holy Sepulcher. There were many moments of fraternity, sharing, and ecumenical interaction.
The two-day visit began with a Mass in the parish of Nicosia, one of the four Latin parishes of Cyprus. The small island of the Diocese of Jerusalem actually has three parishes run by the Franciscans (Nicosia, Larnaca and Limassol) and a parish run by the Community of the Incarnate Word in Paphos. Mass in the parish of Nicosia was an opportunity for the Archbishop to recall how “the Patriarchate includes different realities, Jordan and Cyprus, for example, but Jerusalem unites us, Jerusalem is the symbol of our unity.”Read More
Beth Griffin | Catholic News Service in America Magazine | March 15, 2017
An “invisible” Catholic organization celebrated 90 years of quiet service to the poor in the Middle East, northeast Africa, India and Eastern Europe.
Msgr. John E. Kozar, secretary of the Catholic Near East Welfare Association, said the agency maintains a low profile because it works through and with the local church.
“They know best how to represent the face of Christ. We trust their experience, holiness and knowledge about how to govern and care for their people,” he said in a Feb 28 interview with Catholic News Service.
The mission of the organization is to serve and accompany Eastern Catholic churches in pastoral and humanitarian activities, generally at the level of the diocese or eparchy, Msgr. Kozar said. A secondary mission is to share the needs of the Eastern churches with people in North America who may be confused about where Eastern churches fit in the larger Catholic picture.Read More
Adam Keller of Gush Shalom writes:
A group of volunteers heads out every Thursday to the Jordan Valley, where the Israeli Occupation has been systematically demolishing Palestinian villages, restricting access to water supplies and grazing lands, and incessantly limiting Palestinian’s freedom of movement.
This coming Thursday, March 16, we will be heading again to our activity in several locations in the area, accompany Palestinian farmers and shepherds to their lands and help them stand up for their rights.Read More
By Rula Samain | The Jordan times | Mar 12,2017
MADABA — Aimed at helping people displaced by war and terror rebuild their lives, a project in the “City of Mosaics” is training Iraqi refugees with skills to face future challenges.
The Living Mosaic project in Madaba, 30km southwest of Amman, is financially supported by the Patriarchate of Jerusalem in cooperation with the Knights of the Holy Sepulcher of Germany, according to Father Imad Twal, a Catholic priest in Jerusalem.
The initiative teaches Iraqi refugees to design and craft mosaics in order to earn a living.
Nihad, not her real name, is one of thousands of Iraqi Christians who took refuge in Jordan after the Daesh terror group took over parts of Iraq in 2014, forcing them to leave their country or risk death.
“I used to be a biology teacher and I loved it. Now I am a refugee, broken, tired and very much desperate, and I say that on behalf of everyone I know,” the 37-year-old told The Jordan Times.
For Nihad and 15 others, life has become a little more bearable since joining the Living Mosaic project.Read More