Seeking truth and justice

Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem: Three Gaza projects need funding

Posted on Aug 4, 2015 in Christians, Holy Land, Interreligious dialogue, Muslims, NGO, Palestine, Peace

Abreu003Henrique Abreu reports on behalf of Fr. Imad Twal

Masterplan Gaza Parish Compound – 3 MISSING PROJECTS

Dear Partners and Friends of the Latin Patriarchate,

As a blessing and grace of our Lord, we had a wonderful response from several partners, both institutions and governments, allowing us to fully sponsor eight out of the 11 projects of the Gaza masterplan[see First Days of Work at Gaza Kindergarten]. Our teams have worked very hard in order to provide a sustainable and feasible plan for the compound, and surely this was reflected on the overwhelming support we have received from you in such a short period of time.

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Knights of Columbus to Expand Humanitarian Assistance to Suffering Middle Eastern Christians

Posted on Aug 3, 2015 in Christians, Justice, Middle East, NGO

The Knights of Columbus have announced plans to expand humanitarian assistance to suffering Middle Eastern Christians.



(Knights of Columbus) NEW HAVEN, Connecticut, July 24, 2015 – Having already donated more than $3 million in humanitarian aid to persecuted Christians and other religious minorities in the Middle East, the Knights of Columbus will expand its efforts even further with a national campaign to raise funds and foster awareness of the terrible suffering of Christians and others in the Middle East.

As part of the K of C effort, a new commercial on the issue will be airing nationally beginning this weekend.

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Young Palestinian women exchange exchange experiences with counterparts in Morocco

Posted on Aug 2, 2015 in Human rights, NGO, Palestine, Peace

Three young council members from Palestine give their impressions following a study tour in Morocco

(MIFTAH) Ramallah, July 30, 2015 – It was a unique experience for all. For the three women and members of Palestinian local councils who participated in the study tour to Morocco to learn more about the experience of Moroccan women in decision-making positions, it was beneficial and exciting. For MIFTAH, it was a pioneer initiative, necessary to complement the training workshops and discussion sessions it organizes for Palestinian female local council members. The visit was aimed at exchanging experiences and networking between the women from both countries.

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Unacceptable decision: Israel’s HCJ approves eviction of Nadia Abu al-Jamal and her children

Posted on Aug 2, 2015 in Israel, Justice, NGO, Palestine

Nadia Abu al-Jamal and her children. Photo: courtesy of the family

(B’Tselem) July 29, 2015 – On 22 Jul. 2015 the HCJ okayed deportation [eviction] of Nadia Abu al-Jamal and her three children from their East Jerusalem home as punishment for an attack her husband perpetrated. The justices denied the petition filed by NGO HaMoked: Center for the Defence of the Individual on behalf of Abu al-Jamal. Deportation [Eviction] would not have been possible had not successive Israeli governments, with the approval of the HCJ, created an impossible reality in Jerusalem that forced Abu al-Jamal to live as a stranger in her husband’s home, in a spot not far from her childhood home. The two homes had been a part of the same community until Israel occupied the area and split it up.

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Invitation: Prayers to mark first anniversary of arrival of Iraqi refugees in Jordan

Posted on Aug 2, 2015 in Christians, Iraq, Jordan, NGO

Rasha and her daughter, Tania in their room at one of Caritas Jordan Iraqi Shelters/Mar. Charbel Maronite Church. Photo by Caritas Jordan 2015

(abouna.org) Amman,  August 1, 2015 – On behalf of His Beatitude Fouad Twal, Latin Patriarchal Vicar for Jordan Archbishop Maroun Lahham has the honor to extend an invitation to attend special prayers that will take place on Saturday, August 8, 2015 at the Latin Church in Fuheis Al-Balad at 6:30pm-8:30pm. The prayers mark the first anniversary of the arrival of the first batch of Iraqi refugees in Jordan on August 8, 2014.

This event is organized by Caritas Jordan, the social arm of the Catholic Church, in cooperation with the Syriac and Chaldean Churches, as well as a number of priests concerned with issues relevant to the displaced Iraqis and a number of organizations.

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“The School Curricula and their Role in Respecting the Religion of Others”

Posted on Aug 2, 2015 in Christians, Interreligious dialogue, Jordan, Justice, Muslims, Peace

by Fr. Rif’at Bader

(abouna.org) August 1, 2015 – The Catholic Center for Studies and Media has issued a report which recommends that the school curricula of the Jordanian Ministry of Education be updated. The study states that these curricula contain historical mistakes and fail to mention Christian presence in this homeland.

The Catholic Center for Studies and Media (CCSM) issued on August 1 a detailed report titled “The School Curricula in Jordan and their Role in Respecting Religion of Others.” The study reviews and analyzes the school curricula of the Jordanian Ministry of Education from grade 1 to grade 12.

Following are the main points of the 45-page report which has been forwarded to several concerned personalities that failed to give the report minimal attention or care. Owing to the fact that the Ministry of Education is due to shortly hold its general conference, it is the right time to issue the following recommendations:

This study, relevant to the school curricula of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan’s Ministry of Education, aims at presenting remarks about the contents of these curricula with regards to their abstaining from mentioning the Christian presence in this homeland and to containing historical mistakes–which are mentioned without any review–which lack checking historical facts and considering religious sentiments. Genuine reform starts at home and continues at school through both the school curricula and the way information is conveyed. Both ways need renovation and upgrading.

A seminar was held at the Royal Institute for Inter-Faith Studies (RIIFS) on February 16, 2013 with the participation of the minister of awqaf and Islamic affairs, the mufti of the Kingdom, the minister of education, the director of curricula at the ministry, the RIIFS director, bishops, and a number of priests. The discussions focused on school curricula and whether they are reflect respect for the religion of others.

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A Jewish solidarity project aims to rebuild Tabgha Church

Posted on Aug 2, 2015 in Christians, Interreligious dialogue, Israel, Jews

The Church of the Multiplication damaged by fire – AP

(Vatican Radio) August 1, 2015 – Emerging from the ashes of the Tabgha Church a solidarity project supported by Rabbis and called “Restoring Friendship” aims to raise funds to rebuild the most damaged areas of the Church as well as restore friendship between Jews and Christians.

Last June, a fire believed to have been started by Jewish extremists badly damaged Tabhga Church on the Sea of Galilee built on the site where Christian tradition holds that Jesus performed the miracle of feeding five thousand people with two fish and five loaves of bread.

Among the buildings destroyed in Tabgha is the encounter center, the friendship center, where monks met with people of all faiths and nationalities.

Pointing out that the Benedictine monks who are the custodians of the Church have a deep and principled respect for Judaism, the “Restoring Friendship” project organizers say they wish to give symbolic expression to rebuilding friendship where hatred led to burning.

Supported by Rabbis across Israel, by the Elijah Institute of Jerusalem, by the Speaker of the Knesset and by the Patriarchate of Jerusalem, the project also aims to restore friendship between Jews and Christians through what will be studied and disseminated throughout the campaign, through prizes given, through relationships formed, and through ongoing activities for spreading and deepening this spirit of friendship during the campaign and beyond it.

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Church leaders want Israel to step up protection of Christian sites

Posted on Aug 1, 2015 in Christians, Israel, Jews

An Ultra-Orthodox Jew walks past the Dormition Abbey on Mt. Zion on Monday in Jerusalem. (CNS/Debbie Hill)

by Judith Sudilovsky

(Catholic News Service) Jerusalem, July 28, 2015 – Although Israeli officials have publicly criticized the June arson attack that seriously damaged the Benedictine Church of the Multiplication in Tabgha, anti-Christian violence is not new, said a representative of the religious order.

Benedictine Fr. Nikodemus Schnabel, spokesman for the Benedictine Dormition Abbey on Mount Zion, told Catholic News Service that fires and vandalism have plagued other churches and church property for years.

The abbey was set on fire May 25, 2014, soon after Pope Francis visited the site during his Holy Land pilgrimage. It is located near a yeshiva and the Tomb of David, where the Cenacle, or the Upper Room, site of the Last Supper, is located.

A year earlier, two cars owned by the Benedictines were set on fire. Benedictine monks often are victims of verbal and spitting attacks, and Christian tombstones are smashed, Schnabel said. In March, a Greek Orthodox seminary was damaged in an arson attack and a wall was sprayed with anti-Christian graffiti.

Although there have been photos of people spitting at and verbally abusing the monks, no arrests in connection with any of the incidents have been made, Schnabel said. A Benedictine request that a security camera be installed near their property has gone unheeded, he added.

“We are very thankful for the many signs of solidarity from our friends in the civil society, but [until Tabgha] we never heard any officials respond,” the Benedictine priest said.

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Exhibit honors how St. John Paul changed Catholic-Jewish relations

Posted on Aug 1, 2015 in Christians, Interreligious dialogue, Israel, Jews, Vatican

The opening panel of the exhibit “A Blessing to One Another: Pope John Paul II and the Jewish People” in the Vatican’s Braccio di Carlo Magno hall (CNS/Courtesy of Blessing Exhibit)

by Cindy Wooden

(Catholic News Service) Vatican, July 30, 2015 – Helping to inaugurate an exhibit at the Vatican, the chief rabbi of Rome noted just how much “times have changed.”

“Seeing in St. Peter’s Square the banner announcing the exhibit with an image of a pope — that’s normal — but a pope shaking hands with a rabbi? That’s not normal. It’s a sign of how times have changed,” Rabbi Riccardo Di Segni said.

The banner shows the late St. John Paul II and the late Chief Rabbi Elio Toaff greeting each other in 1986 at Rome’s main synagogue. John Paul was the first pope in modern history to enter a synagogue.

The exhibit, “A Blessing to One Another: John Paul II and the Jewish People,” began at Cincinnati’s Xavier University in 2005. Seen in another 17 U.S. cities over the years, it is open in the Vatican’s Braccio di Carlo Magno hall through Sept. 16.

Admission to the exhibit in the hall just off St. Peter’s Square is free.

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CRS: Rebuilding Community in Fractured Lebanon

Posted on Aug 1, 2015 in Christians, Human rights, Lebanon, Middle East, NGO


Chadi Hobeika, a special needs educator, helps residents paint pottery in late May at Phenix Group Homes, an organization in Beirut that provides residential and day care for people living with intellectual disabilities. The agency participated in an institutional capacity-building program run by Catholic Relief Services and St. Joseph University. (CNS photo/Paul Jeffrey)

by Paul Jeffrey

(Catholic News Service) July 31, 2015 – When Samar Shalhoub and some friends wanted to better protect children in Lebanon from abuse and violence, they turned their dream into a nonprofit organization. They registered with the government and got to work holding workshops on bullying and ways that children could protect themselves against abduction, sexual abuse and violence. But, Shalhoub readily admits, they knew little about how to organize their organization.

“We had a dream, but that wasn’t enough. We had to develop strategies to get us where we dreamed we wanted to go, and reliable tools to get us there,” she told Catholic News Service.

Shalhoub, a music teacher at St. Joseph University, a Jesuit-run institution in Beirut, says they learned their lesson when someone asked to see their financial records.

“We had a sweet box, one of those boxes where someone had bought sweets in the airport. We put all our receipts in there, sometimes with no stamp or no date, and over time the ink faded on some of the receipts and you couldn’t even tell what they were for,” she said.

Shalhoub said her organization, Together for a Safe Childhood, got involved in a capacity-building program run by Catholic Relief Services, the U.S. bishops’ relief and development agency. Together for a Safe Childhood was one of several nascent nongovernmental organizations, or NGOs, that CRS started nurturing.

“We learned that NGOs can’t be run freestyle,” Shalhoub said. “We’ve got to have tough structures. We had lots of volunteers, and to work with them effectively we had to develop a long-term plan and enhance our managerial skills.”

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