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
Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem
The Knesset passed a new law on Monday night, February 6, 2017, allowing the Israeli State to appropriate private Palestinian lands on which Israelis have built settlement homes without authorization in the Palestinian Territories.Read More
Washington D.C., Feb 7, 2017 / 06:23 am (CNA/EWTN News).- The Israeli-Palestinian conflict requires wise U.S. engagement to build a better future for both peoples, and this future could be endangered by an embassy relocation, the U.S. Catholic bishops told the new Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson.Read More
Jesus in the Gospels is anything but silent on these questions, and those who follow him cannot be silent either.
The Editors | America the Jesuit Review | February 8, 2017
Strange times for politics make for strange times for preaching. In just one week at the end of January, people in the United States and elsewhere participated in large and sometimes spontaneous demonstrations for the defense of human life, for recognition of women’s rights and for justice for refugees and immigrants. At the same time, in addition to the Senate’s consideration of President Donald J. Trump’s cabinet nominees, commentators discussed revisiting what constitutes torture during the interrogation of terror suspects, the beginnings of a process of dismantling the Affordable Care Act and the abandonment of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, to pick just a few examples.Read More
Beer made by Palestinian Christians in Birzeit and Taybeh is available at the tavern
by Jack Moore | Newseek | Feb. 8, 2017
In the downtown area of the coastal Israeli city of Haifa, a few steps from the Mediterranean, sits the Libira Brewpub. Taking its lead from Europe’s rising number of craft beer establishments, the non-kosher gastropub is one of the most popular drinking spots in the city. Founded in 2007 by Jewish expats—Erik Salarov, a 44-year-old from Tajikistan, and Leonid Lipkin, a 56-year-old from Ukraine—it attracts customers from their twenties into their nineties; a sign that the craft-beer trend is gaining ground in the Middle East. But in a region dogged by stark political, religious and ethnic divisions, this microbrewery has fallen foul of some Israelis.
In December last year, Libira became the target of an online hate campaign which threatened to drive away customers. The reason: It served the product of a Palestinian, West Bank-based brewery.Read More
David Stewart, S.J.* | America the Jesuit Review | February 8, 2017
Significant public figures in church and state have spoken out in recent days in the United Kingdom as the ramifications of President Donald J. Trump’s dramatic first weeks in office continue to provoke the national conversation here. The leader of Roman Catholics in England and Wales, Cardinal Vincent Nichols, archbishop of Westminster, expressed critical views on BBC radio, while a former archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. George Carey, went public with a completely different slant, asking Great Britain to give the Trump administration more time. Then, in a highly controversial move, the Speaker of the House of Commons declared that he would oppose any effort to invite Mr. Trump to address both Houses of Parliament during his state visit that is proposed for later this year.
Cardinal Nichols used an interview on the respected Sunday evening “Westminster Hour” radio program to condemn the “false notion” that Christianity and Islam are in conflict. The cardinal was speaking of the so-called travel ban applied to seven predominantly Muslim countries in an interview recorded before a federal judge’s ruling suspended the ban.Read More
By Hannah Brockhaus | Catholic News Agency | February 6, 2017
In the wake of President Donald Trump’s recent policy on refugees, U.S. Catholics should stay close to their bishops, who are providing a clear, correct and unified response to the issue, a Vatican official said.
Jesuit Fr. Michael Czerny is secretary of the new Vatican Dicastery for the Promotion of Integral Human Development, which includes an office for refugees and migrants, currently headed by the Pope himself.
Fr. Czerny told CNA that right now, the U.S. bishops are doing a good job responding to the policy. “I think the key is for Catholics to stay close to their bishops. Dialogue and unity are the two keys to a moment like this,” he said.
“And the bishops are speaking clearly, they’re speaking loudly, they’re speaking with a great deal of unity. Those who are concerned should listen to them, and also should reach out to help them.”Read More
The Occupation of the Palestinian Territories has been in existence for the past fifty years. There are numerous daily reminders to a Palestinian how this Occupation has wreaked havoc on their lives and the lives of their children. Few Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza are old enough to know what it is to walk freely without Id checks, without fear of being detained, arrested, having ones home broken into by soldiers and/or settlers, or just being able to move freely in their own town, let alone travel easily out of town.
The checkpoint is one of the most egregious obstacles in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, and is a constant reminder to the Palestinian of their lack of ability to navigate through the town freely without having to pass through a metal detector at least once or twice a day on their way to work, school, shopping or just to visit a friend; always having to produce their ID often with bag checks, being detained at the whim of the Israeli Border Police often for long periods, causing teachers, children and adults to be late for school and work.Read More
JORDAN – Our Lady of Peace Center OLOPC is owned by the Latin Patriarchate Amman – Jordan institute that provides free services to people with a variety of disabilities such as, intellectual disability, impaired mobility, hearing impairment, bipolar and down syndrome. The center also plays a major role in raising awareness in society in regards to people with disabilities and how to cooperate with them.
The idea of establishing the Department of Splints and Orthotics in Our Lady of Peace Center, jointly with the Italian Cooperation University (ICU) funded by the Italian Development Agency, aims to strengthen the response of the Jordanian health system that got affected because of the rising numbers of refugees who flocked from Syria, mainly focusing on providing services in orthotics and bone deformities.Read More
The executive orders of the initial days of the Trump administration are causing a mixture of fear, concern and uncertainty for many of the leaders and people of the US, Israel, the Moslem nations and most of the world. It is as if a great river has suddenly changed its course, depth and banks causing the river boats to slow or stop, and the people of the towns along the river bank to be concerned about their future and even survival. The Israeli right wing is elated and is challenging Netanyahu’s leadership (which is too moderate in their opinion) even while he is facing corruption accusations. The TV, radio and print media of both Israel and the U.S. that expresses disapproval of and “fact checks” its elected leaders is experiencing increasing criticism by these same leaders in what has become a contest between observable realities, “facts of the ground” and “post truth” and “alternate reality.”Read More
They [ISIS] had come to destroy us, wipe us out in that specific area where we continue to speak the language that Jesus spoke, Aramaic. The very same area that Saint Thomas evangelized from AD 42 to 49. One of the most ancient parts of our Church. –Father Karam Shamasha
By Hannah Brockhaus | Catholic News Agency | February 1, 2017
Rome, Italy, Feb 1, 2017 / 06:01 am (CNA/EWTN News).- An Iraqi priest who was forced to flee his village when the Islamic State seized the area in 2014 said the hardship and persecution Christians in Iraq have experienced has taught them what it really means to fully live out their faith.
“What we have witnessed is a message for us, so we may reconsider what the objectives of being Christian should be, what it means to live as a Christian to the fullest, not through empty words, and not as something that can be carried away by the wind,” Fr. Karam Shamasha told CNA.Read More
In a land divided by conflicts, where the horizon remains uncertain, Bethlehem University has fostered a deeper dialogue between Christians and Muslims and rekindled the hope for a better future among young Palestinians. Bethlehem University has been and continues to be an oasis of peace.
by Cécile Klos | Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem
ROME / BETHLEHEM – The International Board of Regents of the University of Bethlehem met at the Generalate of the Christian Brothers de La Salle in Rome last month to evaluate the quality of teaching and educational development of the institution.
This assembly, the highest of the University, meet twice a year with the participation of the 22 founding members and benefactors from different countries. Once again, discussions and decisions focused on improving the standards and quality of education and to foster the development of a university that can take pride in its achievements.Read More
…true Islam was revealed in Jordan as Muslim delegations visited housing centers in Jordan’s cities and villages to express solidarity and to convey a helping hand.
By Fr. Rifat Bader | abouna.org
Two years ago, Jordan welcomed them with open arms. Now, they pack their luggage leaving for far off countries after they have obtained “visas” that entitle them not only to leave Jordan but rather to leave the entire Middle East. They are the Christians of Mosul whose presence with us provided several lessons and produced streams of tears.
They arrived in Jordan after having been forcibly displaced as a result of political violence or rather religious violence and persecution. It is hard to believe that the 21st century replicates events that took first in the early centuries with regards to the brutal persecution of the followers of the Lord Jesus Christ. They have been uprooted from the Nineveh Plain, namely from Mosul and nearby towns and villages, after having lived there for hundreds of years.Read More
The settlers, of course, are only too happy to get the assistance of BDS in erasing the Green Line.
by Uri Avnery, Gush Shalom
THE MOST incisive analysis of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict I have ever read was written by the Jewish-Polish-British historian Isaac Deutscher. It consists of a single image.
A man lives on the upper floor of a building, which catches fire. To save his life, he jumps out of a window and lands on a passerby in the street below. The victim is grievously injured, and between the two starts an intractable conflict.
Of course, no metaphor is completely perfect. The Zionists did not choose Palestine by chance, the choice was based on our religion. The founder of the movement, Theodor Herzl, initially preferred Argentina.Read More
David Stewart, S.J.* | America the Jesuit Review | February 2, 2017
Protesters choked the streets of London around the evening rush hour on Jan. 30 as a series of emergency marches converged. Demonstrators were objecting to the government’s invitation to the new U.S. president to conduct a state visit to the United Kingdom. An impressive array of groups and individuals came together on short notice, joined by many city workers, normally a phlegmatic set but moved in sufficient numbers to make this an inspiring protest. A group coordinated by the Jesuit Refugee Service here in Britain also joined the large protest outside Downing Street.Read More
Jon Sharman, The Independent
Jewish people in a small Texas city handed Muslim worshippers the keys to their synagogue after the town’s only mosque was destroyed in a fire.
The Victoria Islamic Centre burned down on Saturday and had previously been burgled—the cause is being investigated by federal officials.
But the town’s Muslim population will not be without a place to worship while their building is reconstructed, thanks to their Jewish neighbours.
Robert Loeb, the president of Temple Bnai Israel, told Forward: “Everyone knows everybody, I know several members of the mosque, and we felt for them. When a calamity like this happens, we have to stand together.
“We have probably 25 to 30 Jewish people in Victoria, and they probably have 100 Muslims. We got a lot of building for a small amount of Jews.”Read More
A message from Laura Morrisey*, Operations Manger, Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good
Thanks to all those who have stepped up over the past week to fight President Trump’s ban of refugees from Muslim-majority countries!
Here’s what you can do tonight to help:
We are builders of bridges, not of walls.
Gerard O’Connell* | America the Jesuit Review | February 1, 2017
A top Vatican official has expressed the Holy See’s concern about President Donald J. Trump’s recent directives on the treatment of refugees seeking resettlement in the United States.
“Certainly there is concern because we are messengers of another culture, that of openness,” Archbishop Angelo Becciu said. He was responding to questions from journalists focusing on Mr. Trump’s executive order on Jan. 25 that temporarily blocked citizens from seven predominantly Muslim countries from entering the United States. Archbishop Becciu is the number three official at the Vatican, heading up the Secretariat of State’s Section for General Affairs.
It was the first official Vatican comment on the recent policy decisions by the U.S. president. Vatican officials are well aware that Mr. Trump’s executive orders have drawn a strong reaction from Catholic Church leaders in the United States.Read More
A message from Sister Simone Campbell, SSS
I just returned from Capitol Hill, where this afternoon I stood with Gold Star father Khizr Khan, the ACLU, Representative Keith Ellison, and more members of Congress to say NO to a Muslim ban and oppose President Trump’s executive orders on immigration and refugees.
I stood in front of the Capitol today to speak out because Catholic teaching is very clear: we are called to love our neighbor AND welcome the stranger. President Trump’s actions are antithetical to our faith, and, as Rep. Luis Gutiérrez pointed out, Speaker Ryan’s shared Catholic faith means he should know better.Read More
As members of a global religious order that works to form men and women of conscience and compassion, we unequivocally denounce the Trump Administration’s Executive Order as an affront to our mission, an assault on American and Christian values, and a repudiation of our humanity.
February 1, 2017
Dear Brothers and Friends,
We write to express our dismay at how the national conversation about immigration has taken a sharp and harshly xenophobic turn under the new administration. There is no doubt that the most recent executive order flatly contradicts a fundamental obligation of our Judeo-Christian tradition: “love the stranger, for you were once strangers in Egypt (Dt. 10, 19)” and “I was a stranger and you made we welcome (Mt. 25, 37)”. Pope Francis has also been clear: we are called “see a ray of hope…in the eyes and hearts of refugees and those who have been forcibly displaced,” and to serve immigrants and refugees however we can. By contrast, the President’s Executive Order callously sends large numbers even of women and children back to the horrors of war, starvation, massive repression and even death.Read More
by Michael O’Loughlin | America Jesuit Review | January 29. 2017
Catholic leaders in the United States are reacting with anger to President Donald J. Trump’s newly signed executive order that bars Syrian refugees from entering the country and halts resettlement programs for up to four months and are urging him to reconsider the policy.
“This weekend proved to be a dark moment in U.S. history,” Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago said in a statement on Jan. 29. “The executive order to turn away refugees and to close our nation to those, particularly Muslims, fleeing violence, oppression and persecution is contrary to both Catholic and American values.”Read More
by Teresa Donnellan | America Jesuit Review | January 30, 2017
“All are welcome in this place,” a crowd of people sang in Lafayette Square outside of the White House this afternoon. More that 550 people gathered to attend a Mass organized by young Catholics and celebrated by Father Quinn Conners in Washington, D.C., to express their solidarity with refugees and immigrants.
The event was a result of grass-roots organization and social media promotion. After President Donald J. Trump signed an executive order banning immigrants from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen, Emily Conron and her friend Christopher Hale decided to coordinate a Mass to show a Catholic response to this form of religious discrimination.Read More
International Community called on to launch “a new Marshall Plan,” modeled on the historic US initiative of investment and development aid that helped Western Europe regain economic stability after World War II
ZENIT Staff | January 30, 2017
“Hope is coming back to the Nineveh plains!” That is the verdict of the Middle East expert of Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), the international Catholic charity.
Just back from a fact-finding mission to the region in northern Iraq recently liberated from the grip of ISIS, Father Andrzej Halemba said that “despite the many urgent questions that need clarification, people are willing to return to their villages.” The biggest challenges include the illegal property appropriations of abandoned homes, an investigation into the alleged use of chemical weapons in the destruction of Christian houses, and—for those Christian families who contemplate going home—the ongoing fears of assaults Islamic fundamentalists opposed to the return of Christians to their ancient homeland.Read More
January 30, 2017
“When did we see you a stranger and welcome you?”
WASHINGTON— Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), and Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, vice president of the USCCB, have issued the following joint statement regarding the recent executive order on the new refugee policy announced by President Trump this past Friday. President Trump’s executive order suspends the entry of refugees into the United States for 120 days. The order also indefinitely stops the admission of Syrian refugees and for 90 days, bars individuals from seven predominantly Muslim countries.
Full joint statement as follows:
Over the past several days, many brother bishops have spoken out in defense of God’s people. We are grateful for their witness. Now, we call upon all the Catholic faithful to join us as we unite our voices with all who speak in defense of human dignity.Read More
By Laurie Goldstein | New York Times | Jan. 29, 2017
Over the past decade, Christians in the United States have grown increasingly alarmed about the persecution of other Christians overseas, especially in the Middle East. With each priest kidnapped in Syria, each Christian family attacked in Iraq or each Coptic church bombed in Egypt, the clamor for action rose.
During the campaign, Donald J. Trump picked up on these fears, speaking frequently of Christians who were refused entry to the United States and beheaded by terrorists of the Islamic State: “If you’re a Christian, you have no chance,” he said in Ohio in November.
Now, President Trump has followed through on his campaign promise to rescue Christians who are suffering.Read More
by Cecilia González-Andrieu* | America the Jesuit Review | January 31, 2017
I had never tasted anything so delicious, though in hindsight, the meal was quite ordinary. There was a small piece of cake, a carton of milk and a sandwich. The cardboard box in which the meal came was white and had a large, red cross on the lid. The memory is such a key to my childhood that for years I kept the box neatly preserved in my closet. It would be some time before I could understand the concept of a “box lunch” and what exactly the Red Cross was. For a refugee child who had waited for asylum for half of my short life, this unexpected meal marked the end of a frightening journey and the beginning of a new life.Read More
by James Martin, S.J., America the Jesuit Review | January 31, 2017
This essay originally appeared on Father James Martin’s public Facebook page.
Some people have asked me, in person and on social media, why I’ve been posting so much about migrants and refugees these days, beyond the fact that it is so much in the news. Here are several reasons:
First, because some of the actions of the new administration are so clearly antithetical to Christian values that I cannot stay silent. I’m not a political person, but I am a Christian, and I feel compelled to speak out on this issue. On all life issues, to be sure, but especially on this one, for a reason I’ll soon explain.Read More
by Eloise Blondiau, America, the Jesuit Review | January 31, 2017
Last week was a momentous week in U.S. politics. President Trump signed several executive orders pertaining to immigration and refugees, and tens of thousands of people around the country gathered to protest these measures. Plus, on Friday, the annual March for Life took place in Washington, D.C., with a sitting vice president addressing the crowd for the first time.
We asked America readers if these current events were discussed during Mass on Sunday Jan. 29.
The overwhelming response to the survey was that these political issues were not discussed at all by homilists and congregants were left wanting. Eighty percent of poll respondents agreed that not enough was done in their parishes to address the ongoing political upheaval. Meanwhile only 1 percent wrote that current events were given too much consideration during Mass.Read More
Introduction by Professor Mazin Qumisyeh: Critical Muslim is a journal published in London (website www.criticalmuslim.io) with really good thoughtful articles with a modern intellectual angle. There last issue was on Nature (Volume 19, July-September, 2016). Naomi Foyle has an article titled “Palestine and (human) nature” in which she talks about visiting the museum and other permaculture facilities in Palestine. Here is a relevant section (but please read the rest of the article and other very good articles in the same issue).
In Bethlehem, my birthday, started with a flourish of Arab hospitality. Having insisted over email that I phone him should I encounter any problem at all in Palestine, Mazin Qumsiyeh of the Palestine Museum of Natural History came with his wife Jessie and their American volunteer Deb to my Franciscan pilgrim house, and treated me to dinner in the colourful foyer restaurant. It was almost far too kind.
Mazin, a Christian Arab from Bethlehem, is a world-renowned scientist and indefatigable human rights activist whose blog promotes an uncompromising but radically refreshing ‘pluralist solution to the simmering conflict in the Land of Canaan’. Jessie, a former accountant whom he met in America, is the co-founder of the museum and its parent organisation The Palestine Institute of Biodiversity. Deb’s a permaculturist, artist and political activist. Scanning the menu, and looking around at well-heeled Italian and Japanese tourists, I had the sinking feeling that I was dragging the leadership of the Palestinian Green revolution into horrendous complicity with industrial agriculture and international apathy to the occupation.Read More