Posts made in May, 2015

Cardinal Koch: Catholic Church has a unique relationship with Judaism

Posted on May 31, 2015

Catholic News Service and America Magazine – A key turning point in the relationship between Catholics and Jews was reached 50 years ago with the Second Vatican Council document on inter-religious relations, a cardinal and rabbi told a group of religious leaders on May 20. The document, the “Declaration on the Relationship of the Church to Non-Christian Religions,” promulgated on Oct. 28, 1965, by Blessed Paul VI, was described by Cardinal Kurt Koch, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, as “the compass of reconciliation between Jews and Christians today and into the future.” Rabbi Irving Greenberg, author and scholar, praised the document for its courage, saying its authors had to “override church fathers.” The two religious leaders spoke at a conference marking the historic document’s 50th anniversary at The Catholic University of America in Washington. Cardinal Koch stressed that the Catholic Church “has a unique and distinctive relationship with Judaism that is has with no other religion, and it cannot understand itself without reference to Judaism.”

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Dr. Maria Khoury: 14 dunums of our land being confiscated

Posted on May 30, 2015

Dr. Maria Khoury of Taybeh

Al Bushra note: Taybeh is the last all-Christian community in the West Bank.

Dr. Maria Khoury of Taybeh writes:

…we were shocked to get news that 14 dunums of our land in Taybeh (14 dunums is approximately 4 acres) will be confiscated by Israel for security purposes. For some people who might be curious as to the location of this land confiscation, it is the main entrance to Taybeh coming from Jerusalem at the Israel military checkpoint.

I will try not to be outraged especially since the order was written on March 23, 2014 and not delivered to the Khoury Family until this week which means the grace period to send a complaint or file a court appeal has past.

May God see the injustice and the discrimination that continues to take place against Palestinians.  All suggestions are welcomed in how we can keep our land and plant more olive trees for a better future and prosperity in Palestine.

When reviled, we bless; when persecuted, we endure; when slandered, we speak kindly.
I Corithians 4:12-13

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Jordan River Baptism Site

Posted on May 30, 2015

Click for video

Last year, during Pope Francis’ pilgrimage to the Mideast, he made a brief stop in Jordan and invited Syrian refugees and disabled young people to join him for a meal at the Jordan River baptism site. Located just across the border from Israel, the spot is revered by many Christians as the place where John the Baptist lived, Jesus was baptized, and Christianity began.

PBS: Religion & Ethics Newsweekly

KIM LAWTON, correspondent: These days, the Jordan River is smaller—and muddier—than first-time visitors are often expecting. But for many Christians, Jews and Muslims, it’s one of the most sacred places on earth. According to the Bible, Joshua crossed the Jordan River when he led the Israelites into the Promised Land. The Jordan River was where the Prophet Elijah was taken into Heaven, and his successor Elisha took up his mantle. It’s where John the Baptist lived and preached, and Jesus was baptized and began his public ministry.

REV. NABIL HADDAD (Executive Director, Jordanian Interfaith Coexistence Center): Our Bible teaches that Christianity was born here.

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STATEMENT: Pax Christi International in favor of recognition of the state of Palestine and a ban on settlements

Posted on May 30, 2015

World Assembly in Bethlehem affirms its stand in favour of nonviolent struggle against occupation

Pax Christi, May 29 – The World Assembly of Pax Christi urges all UN-member states to recognize the state of Palestine and to ban Israeli settlements in occupied Palestine. The 160 participants in the Assembly of the international Catholic peace movement in Bethlehem/West Bank from 13th to 17th of May are deeply concerned about Israeli policies that deny the rights of the Palestinian people and preclude the possibility of a two state solution. Pax Christi International supports Palestinians in their nonviolent struggle to end occupation and Israelis who stand for human rights and international law, including as applied to Palestinians.

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An Iraqi Christian oasis away from the Islamic State

Posted on May 29, 2015

Father Douglas Bazi with Christian refugee children in Erbil, Iraq

29 May –  The news from the Middle East has become so grim I am always looking for a bright spot.

So, on a recent trip to Iraqi Kurdistan, it was a relief and a surprise to come across an upbeat story in an unexpected place: a church in Irbil that houses Christian refugees from northern Iraq who barely escaped the Islamic State invasion in August.

The first hint of something unexpected was the shrieks of children’s laughter when I entered the Mar Elias churchyard. The next surprise was seeing young boys and girls playing volleyball together on a paved court under improvised night lights, a sight I’d never seen in the gender-conscious Middle East.

This scene was a far cry from the dark days when the Islamic State overran ancient Christian towns in Nineveh province and 60,000 Christians fled to Iraqi Kurdistan, where they crowded into cheap apartments or churches or squatted in unfinished buildings.

The Kurds, who are Sunni Muslims but not Arabs, welcomed the Christians but couldn’t cope with the influx (having already accepted 200,000 Syrian refugees and previous waves of Christians fleeing Baghdad and Mosul).

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IS militants destroy Assyrian churches northern Syria

Posted on May 29, 2015

By Zozan Shekho/

16 May 2015 – Radicals of the Islamic State withdrew from several Assyrian villages in Tel Temir countryside in northeastern Syria, after battles with Kurdish and Assyrian forces.
The group has reportedly destroyed most of the churches in the area before withdrawal, military sources reported on Monday.

Speaking to ARA News, Fayez Korko, member of Haras al-Khabur force, said that a huge devastation hit the Assyrian areas in the vicinity of Tel Temir at the hands of IS terrorists, especially the worship places and civilians’ property.

“They dropped the church’s crosses and crashed them all. They also damaged all contents of the churches and painted anti-Christian slogans on the walls,” he added.

“We’ve expected to witness such a scene after the forced departure of the terrorist group from those villages,” Korko said.

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A year ago … Francis on pilgrimage

Posted on May 29, 2015

A year ago … Francis on pilgrimage

LATIN PATRIARCHATE OF JERUSALEM – A year ago, between 24 and 26 May 2014, Pope Francis came on a visit to the diocese, first in Jordan, then in Palestine, before winding up with Jerusalem and Israel. Marked by gestures and impressive words, this pilgrimage had stirred hope on many levels, such as the ecumenical dialogue or the progress of the peace process. A year later, what is remaining of all that ?

A year after the trip of Pope Francis, more images than words may still remain in the memory of all those who welcomed the Holy Father in Jordan, in Palestine and in Israel. Appeals for peace remain linked to strong gestures: a hug with a rabbi and a Moslem near the Wailing Wall, a turn round the separation wall between Israel and Palestine, a gathering in Jordan with handicapped and refugees, an eloquent speech at Yad Vashem …

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Israeli government’s policies threaten Christian schools, Latin Patriarchate charges

Posted on May 29, 2015


Catholic World News, May 28- Two auxiliary bishops of Jerusalem, joined by other Christian leaders and parents, took part in a May 27,2015 protest outside Israel’s education ministry to protest policies that they say threaten the existence of Christian schools in Israel.

According to the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, the education ministry has cut its assistance to Christian schools by 45 per cent in the last decade. At the same time, the education ministry has “issued new regulations that even limited the ability of Christian schools to collect fees from the parents”– in effect imposing a “death penalty” upon Christian schools.

Father Abdel Masih Fahim, who directs the patriarchate’s office of schools, told Fides News Agency that the protest was “a peaceful and respectful demonstration, to say that we want to be treated like the others, both at an economic level and with regards to freedom of education.”

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Unprecedented Christian Schools demonstration in Jerusalem

Posted on May 29, 2015

PRESS RELEASE – On Wednesday, the 27th of May 2015, at 11:00 AM, an unprecedented demonstration in Jerusalem will be held in the plaza in front of the Lev Ram building in Jerusalem (Ministry of Education headquarters) by the Christian Schools in Israel against the discriminative policy of the Ministry of Education.

Press Release from the Office of Christian Schools in Israel

Unprecedented Demonstration in Jerusalem of Christian Schools

On Wednesday, the 27th of May 2015, at 11:00 AM, an unprecedented demonstration will be held in the plaza in front of the Lev Ram building in Jerusalem (Ministry of Education headquarters) by the Christian Schools in Israel protesting on the discriminative policy of the Ministry of Education towards our schools.

Participants in the demonstration will include clergymen (Bishops, Priests, Nuns, and Pastors) in addition to parents of children in Christian schools throughout the country.

The Christian schools in the country consist of more than 30,000 students, almost equally divided between Christians and non-Christians. Most of these schools began operating years before the State of Israel was established. They were built and developed through donations from abroad. They provided and still providing the general Arab community with quality education that has resulted in the high achievements of the Christian schools. This high quality education is displayed, among other things, in the number of Christian schools listed at the top of the Ministry of Education’s published categories. While achieving high academic results, they also teach their students Christian doctrine and instruct them according to the Christian values of loving others, forgiveness and tolerance.

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Samia Khoury: Palestinian Saints

Posted on May 28, 2015

Ever since I heard the news of the canonization of two Palestinian women saints, I could not help but wonder about this new image of Palestinian women who have never failed to meet the challenges of their times. With a country drowned with martyrs due to the grave injustice inflicted upon us as Palestinians and in the absence of any resolve to redress that injustice and the failure of all mediation, maybe our only remaining hope, is the intercession of those saints, whether we believe in saints or not. After all this is the Holy Land where so many miracles have taken place, starting with the birth of Jesus Christ to his resurrection, and throughout his ministry. How meaningful that this event should be taking place under the Papacy of Pope Francis who continues to amaze us with his remarkable changes at the Vatican.

Originally posted in Reflections from Palestine

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