Bassora (Agenzia Fides) April 27, 2016 – It was the biggest pilgrimage made by Iraqi Christians in recent years: about 200 Chaldeans from Baghdad went to Ur, the historical site of lower Mesopotamia, now in the Iraqi governorate in Dhi Quar, which is usually identified with the birthplace of patriarch Abraham, father of all believers.
People of all religions will miss Christians’ contribution to education, healthcare
Church destroyed during the war in Syria (ACN – Aid to the Church in Need)
by Father John Flynn
(zenit.org) April 28, 2016 – With no end in sight to the fighting in Iraq and Syria the remaining Christian population continues to experience very difficult conditions.
A recent report, “Salt of the Earth: Impact and Significance of the Christian Presence in Syria and Iraq during the Current Crisis,” details the significant contributions Christians have made to the region and what it stands to lose if they are forced to flee.
General Administration of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem
BETHLEHEM – Following the finished work of the Catholic Scouts Centre project (John the Baptist Scout) in Bethlehem end of March 2015, the enhancement of its external facilities will be completed end of April 2016.
After three months of construction work to facilitate access to the Catholic Scouts Centre, which is located in Area C and expected to be finished by the end of the current month, the project includes an asphalt road, 4 meters in width by 280 meters in length, with 6 street lightning poles. Moreover, it comprises outdoor spaces that will be used as camping sites and parking areas. Another addition to the project is an external theatre that will seat 250 people and special areas equipped with sun shades to block the intensity of the sun during hot weather.
The project wouldn’t have been possible without the support of the Italian government through its work with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
JERUSALEM – On Tuesday April 26, 2016, the Real Madrid Foundation and the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem signed an agreement which aims to implement training courses for coaches at Latin Patriarchate schools in hopes of promoting in students the positive values present in sport.
The Real Madrid Foundation defines itself as an instrument by which Real Madrid is present in society and develops its social and cultural awareness programs. Its main objective is to promote, both in Spain as well as abroad, the values inherent in sport, and the latter’s role as an educational tool capable of contributing to the comprehensive development of the personality of those who practice it. In addition, as a means of social integration of those who find themselves suffering from any form of marginalization, as well as to promote and disseminate all the cultural aspects linked to sport.
Within the scope of its Judaization policy, Israel has changed the names of several cities and places, including the Arabic name it uses to refer to Jerusalem.
Orthodox Jewish men pray in front of the Western Wall in Jerusalem’s Old City on Tisha B’Av, July 26, 2015. (photo by REUTERS/Amir Cohen)
by Daoud Kuttab*
(al-monitor.com)Jerusalem, April 22, 2016 –
Shortly after Israel occupied the West Bank in 1967 it faced a problem in how to refer to Jerusalem in Arabic. Not wanting to use the Arabic name al-Quds, the Israelis came up with a compromise by inserting the biblical Jewish name Urashalim. Listeners to Israel’s radio broadcasts in Arabic, for instance, were informed before and after every news bulletin that the station was reporting from Urashalim al-Quds. Combining the Jewish and the Arabic term reflected what then was the prevalent Israeli attitude of treating the holy city as a crucible of religions. Israel’s mayor of Jerusalem at the time, Teddy Kollek, regularly referred to the mosaic of the city in reference to its diversity and pluralistic nature, residents and religions.
by Adam Keller* in Tel Aviv, April 23, 2016
“We are commanded to recount the Exodus from Egypt.” “The more you recount the Exodus, the better.” “In every generation, every person must see himself as if he came out of Egypt.” So does Jewish tradition tell us.
Historians and archaeologists may well continue to argue for many more years about whether there is any historical basis to the story which appears in the Biblical Book of Exodus. But whether or not it reflects any actual historical events which took place in the land of Egypt more than three thousand years ago, there can no doubt that this story had a profound effect on how Jews perceived themselves throughout the ages. Also this year Jews everywhere were recounting the Exodus – even if many of them only recited traditional texts and did not devote much reflection to its meaning.
It was not only the Jews who were influenced by the story of the Exodus. Christianity took it up in whole, as part of the Old Testament, and as such took care to have it translated into all languages and spread throughout the world. Also Islam took up the story of the Exodus and included its own version in the Qur’an. The story of the slaves who chafed under oppression and of the great liberator named Moses has become part of the common heritage of humanity, a source of inspiration and hope to all who suffer from oppression and dream of liberation.
by Uri Avnery, Founder of Gush Shalom Peace Movement
Tel Aviv, 21/04/16
IN 1975, I was stabbed in the chest at the door of my apartment. The assassin missed my heart by millimeters.
He was caught by my female neighbors and arrested. It appeared he had no political motives – he was upset because I had planted listening devices in his head.
While in hospital, I got a call from London. It was from the representative of the PLO, who conveyed to me the best wishes of Yasser Arafat.
A few minutes later I had a visitor: General Rehavam Ze’evi, known by his nickname Gandhi, an extreme rightist, came to see me. The hospital staff were flabbergasted.
by Myriam Ambroselli, Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem
PALESTINE – April 2016. While the bulldozers are busy in the Cremisan Valley and Beir Onah uprooting ancient olive trees to position the concrete sections of the separation wall, there was the opportunity to have on-site meetings with the Parish Priest of Beit Jala, Father Aktham Hijazin, and Issa al-Shatleh, a Christian landowner, to discuss the confiscation of his lands.
The Cremisan case was somewhat of an unforeseen development. This beautiful valley of olive trees, located between Bethlehem and Jerusalem, belonging to the municipality of Beit Jala, mainly inhabited by Christians, suffered a first round of land confiscations after 1967 for the construction of the settlement of Gilo. Since then, the town Beit Jala has diminished alarmingly. Israeli construction has multiplied in this region that is still classified “Area C” by the Oslo Accords, that is to say intended to “be gradually transferred to Palestinian jurisdiction.” The Palestinians are still waiting.
Media Office of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem) USA – On April 19, 2016, The Atlanta Summit of Churches in the USA and the Holy Land was held at the Carter Center in Atlanta. The conference, entitled “Pursuing Peace and Strengthening Presence” was coordinated by the Higher Committee of Churches’ Affairs in Palestine.
The conference dealt with many issues pertaining to the plight of the Palestinian people, the daily hassles that they face passing through Israeli checkpoints and preventing them from accessing holy sites.
In a speech by His Beatitude Fouad Twal, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, he said: “in light of the continuing tragedy and injustice being perpetrated against the Palestinians, don’t allow the continuing failure of the US government to find a solution but instead you should become stronger advocates”. He added “One of our major challenges is standing alongside all those trying to find a solution to issues that spark violence, conflict and war, like building of new settlements. Therefore Church leaders must have the courage to speak up for justice and freedom, for Jews and Arabs alike.” At the same time the Patriarch emphasized that reaching this aim requires using means that are coherent with the Christian identity.
St. Ives Society, April 14, 2016 – The Catholic Center for Human Rights of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem concluded with a press conference the social campaign undertaken in favor of the rights of disabled persons. The meeting was an opportunity to announce the results of the operation.
Since September 2014, the Pastoral Care of Migrants ministry and the Saint James Vicariate have worked together to enable three-year-old-and-under children of refugees and asylum seekers to be appropriately cared for while their parents are at work.
by Calixte des Lauriers, Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, reporting from Tel Aviv, April 21, 2016
Although the State of Israel welcomes children of refugees to government schools, there is no government structure designed to accommodate children under three. This lack of infrastructure has led to the proliferation of primitive nurseries, where dozens of refugee and asylum seekers’ children are gathered into crowded apartments with dire sanitary conditions, while their parents go to work to provide for their family. In 2015, five children died in these barbaric nurseries, also called “baby warehouses”, victims of the very precarious conditions in which they are kept.
The Pastoral Care of Migrants ministry wished to find a partial solution to this problem. In Jerusalem, a nursery on a classic model welcomes 22 children daily. In Tel Aviv, the scale of demand has led Father David Neuhaus and his team to set up another host system for these young children. In collaboration with UNITAF, an NGO that develops small children home units, the Our Lady Woman of Valor Pastoral Center has adapted the idea of Aliza Olmert to allow these children to be welcomed in a pleasant, suitable and secure setting.
Refugee children at the Sharia Al Haman Hope Refugee Camp in Duhok, Iraq on March 28, 2015. Credit: Daniel Ibanez/CNA.
(CNA/EWTN News) Erbil, Iraq, Apr 21, 2016 / 12:36 am – A delegation of bishops and priests from France are visiting Iraq April 17-21 to aid young Christian school children living in the refugee camps.
The visiting bishops are the Archbishop of Marseilles, Georges Paul Pontier and the Bishop of Pontoise, Stanislas Lalanne. Also accompanying them are Father Pascal Gollnisch, director general of l’Oeuvre d’Orient, a French aid society for Christians in the Middle East; and Father Olivier Ribadeau-Dumas, secretary general and spokesman for the French Conference of Catholic Bishops
These young pupils are part of the group of 120,000 Christians that fled from the cities of the Nineveh Plain when the Islamic State attacked the region in 2014.
Expert Says February Meeting Was Understood in Middle East As ‘Being a Strong Signal That Christian Denominations Needed to Stand United to Face Situation of Suffering, War and Persecution.”
ACN Photo : Members of the delegation meet with local Christians in Syria
by Oliver Maksan
(zenit.org) April 22, 2016 – Last week’s visit of a joint Orthodox-Catholic delegation to Lebanon and Syria was a “tangible reaction” to the common declaration of Pope Francis and Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill—made in Cuba last February, when the two leaders met—in support of persecuted Christians in the region, according to an aid official who was part of the mission.
Pope Francis keeps saying that we priests must be with our people. We just came from a refugee camp where we met a priest who slept outside on his mattress because he said he couldn’t sleep inside if his people were outside. We’ve met with sisters and priests who walked with the people from Mosul as they were fleeing. That’s the model of the priesthood. That’s Jesus. To be with our people all the time, to be especially close to your people in the difficult times. –Cardinal Timothy Dolan
CNS photo/Paul Jeffrey Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York listens to Amal Mare during a visit to a camp for internally displaced families in Ankawa, Iraq, April 9. (CNS photo/Paul Jeffrey) See IRAQ-CNEWA-BISHOPS April 11, 2016.
by Paul Jeffrey, Catholic News Service
IRBIL, Iraq (CNS) — A delegation of U.S. Catholic leaders visiting northern Iraq was challenged to go home and work for peace in the troubled region.
“You have come to listen to your brothers and sisters in Iraq who are suffering. The situation is very hard. We cry out with one voice, ‘Don’t forget us,'” Auxiliary Bishop Shlemon Warduni of Baghdad said during a Mass in the small village of Inishke, near Dahuk.
UN flag outside the United Nations headquarters in New York. Credit: United Nations photo via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0).
(CNA/EWTN News) Vatican City, Apr 20, 2016 / 12:03 am – Terrorism in the name of religion is a lie, the head of the Holy See’s mission to the United Nations said last week.
“In the Middle East, in particular, terrorists must never be allowed to destroy centuries of peaceful co-existence of Muslims and Christians in the region,” Archbishop Bernardito Auza said at the United Nations April 14.
In Syria there is no war between Christians and Muslims. What we’re dealing with here is primarily foreign terrorists coming to fight the jihad. –Patriarch Ignatius Aphrem II
(zenit.org) April 15, 2016 – After visiting the Syrian town of Al Qaryatayn, which had just been liberated from IS, the Syriac Orthodox Patriarch Ignatius Aphrem II said he had mixed feelings. Talking to the international Catholic pastoral charity Aid to the Church in Need, the church leader who resides in Damascus said on Friday that, on the one hand, he was happy about the expulsion of the terrorist militia from the town where Muslims and Christians live. The terrorists had occupied Al Qaryatayn last August. “This is certainly an encouraging development. But the residents who had fled now sometimes wept when they saw what had become of their town. It was particularly painful for me as someone with pastoral duties to see these tears.” The Patriarch went on to say that the infrastructure had been severely damaged. “When I managed to visit the town with our Catholic brothers on Friday I was shocked by the extent of the devastation. Many houses had been completely or severely damaged during the fighting. Fittings had been stolen,” the Head of the Syriac Orthodox Church explained. “It was especially painful to see how the churches had been wilfully defiled by IS. Both the Syriac Catholic Saint Elian monastery and our Syriac Orthodox church had been deliberately desecrated. Our church was even more severely damaged than the monastery.”
Jerusalem’s Christian leaders are jointly asking President Barack Obama not to veto a possible Palestine resolution at the United Nations following a historic summit with their American counterparts.
Please see also Pursuing peace and strengthening presence: The Atlanta Summit of Churches in the USA and the Holy Land
The Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos III (C) attends a Christmas service according to the Eastern Orthodox calendar, in the Church of the Nativity in the West Bank city of Bethlehem, January 6, 2016. (photo by REUTERS/Ammar Awad)
by Julian Pecquet*
(Al-Monitor.com) April 22, 2016 – Leaders of 24 US and Palestinian churches gathered in Atlanta this week for a two-day summit at the Carter Center to chart a path forward for Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. Separately, the Holy Land church leaders wrote to Obama urging him not to use his veto if the UN Security Council takes up a two-state resolution later this year against Israel’s wishes.
“As Holy Land church leaders, we approach you, Mr. President, to stress to you the gravity of the situation in the region. The hopes and aspirations of many of the faithful in the Holy Land for a two-state solution on the basis of the 1967 borders are quickly fading,” the patriarchs and heads of local churches in Jerusalem wrote in an April 20 letter obtained by Al-Monitor. “We plead to you, during the remainder of your term, to invest in a just peace and to refrain from exercising the US veto rights in the United Nations Security Council in order to deliver new hopes for a just peace in the region and an end to extremism, terrorism, death and destruction in the entire Middle East.”
The letter is signed by Greek Orthodox Patriarch Theophilos III, Armenian Patriarch Nourhan Manogian, Latin (Catholic) Patriarch Fuad Twal, Anglican Archbishop Suheil Dawani, Evangelical Lutheran Church Bishop Munib Younan and (Franciscan) Custos Pierbattista Pizzaballa.
Liberation theologies, from Latin America to Palestine, are the results of painful struggle. They are born in situations of oppression, when people of faith strive to interpret their experience through scripture, prayer and worship.
This was the case in Jerusalem during the 1980s, a time when Palestinian clergy and laity met to search for meaning in the midst of a repressive occupation. Together they wrestled with biblical passages that tried their faith, challenged and, at times, consoled them. In this process they created a distinctly Palestinian theology rooted in a faith that had sprung to life in their own land two thousand years before.
In 1990, under the guidance of the Rev. Naim Ateek, a group of laity and clergy organized a conference to explore liberation theology in the context of Palestinian experience. The proceedings of this conference led to the publication of Faith and the Intifada (Orbis Books, 1992) and the founding of the Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center.
Leaders from churches in the Holy Land, among them Latin Patriarch Fouad Twal, met with the heads of faith organizations and churches in Atlanta, Georgia (USA) on 19-20 April 2016 for a summit about the role of US churches in peacemaking in the Middle East. Below is “The Atlanta Church Summit Document” issued at the end of the meeting (click here for PDF: 2016-04-19-20 Atlanta-Document-FINAL-April-14th-PEM-corrections-and-edits).
“Pursuing Peace and Strengthening Presence:
The Atlanta Summit of Churches in the USA and the Holy Land” The Carter Center, Atlanta, GA
April 19 to April 20, 2016
- We have come together in this unique first-time large scale Summit for Christian churches and church-related organizations from the USA and the Holy Land following the example and teachings of our Lord Jesus Christ on peacemaking, the dignity owed to all created in God’s image and kindling the hope that some day there will be a just and lasting peace in the Holy Land.
- 2017 will mark 50 years since the occupation of the West Bank including East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip. In the Bible, the 50th year is a year of jubilee when land is given back to its original owners, a year of freedom forgiveness and mercy.
“What I think we don’t realize is how extremely brutal the suffocation of the people of Gaza is.”
Dr. Mads Gilbert, professor of medicine at the University of North Norway, specializes in anesthesiology and emergency medicine. He provided medical support in Gaza during Israel’s three-week assault in December 2008 and January 2009. Despite the Israeli authorities’ attempt to shut out aid workers and the media from the conflict zone, NORWAC (the Norwegian Aid Committee) succeeded in getting some of its envoys into the heart of Gaza City, including two doctors: Mads Gilbert and Erik Fosse. For some time, the two were the only Western eyewitnesses in Gaza. They describe their experience in his book, Eyes in Gaza.
Below is the link to a three-minute video in which Dr. Gilbert gives his prescription for Gaza.
Ramallah, April 14, 2016—Today, Defense for Children International – Palestine published a new report, No Way to Treat a Child, detailing the widespread and systematic ill-treatment of Palestinian children in the Israeli military detention system. From meals prepared in a makeshift kitchen to adult prisoner “caregivers,” the report also gives a rare glimpse into Palestinian children’s daily living conditions in Israeli prisons.
(Christian Peacemaker Team) Hebron, April 15-21, 2016 – Some children in Hebron are privileged; others face obstacles.
Christian Peacemaker Teams Palestine is a faith-based organization that supports Palestinian-led, non-violent, grassroots resistance to the Israeli occupation and the unjust structures that uphold it. By collaborating with local Palestinian and Israeli peacemakers and educating people in our home communities we strive to help create a space for justice and peace.
CPT’s Palestine team is based in Hebron/Al-Khalil, and provides protective presence in the Hebron area, the South Hebron Hills and Masafer Yatta (Israeli Firing Zone 918).
A school that provides equitable opportunities for the children of Jerusalem, and is characterized by its relationship with the society in general and parents in particular.
Children pose by the “Tree of Moral Values”
Samia Khoury writes: It has been thirteen years since I retired as chair of Rawdat El-Zuhur, but my heart is still there, and I continue to be interested in its welfare, and the welfare of the children. We have breaking news about the establishment of a foundation for the Friends of Rawdat El-Zuhur in the US, and our Spring newsletter has been posted as well. You can read it by following the link below, and I hope you will enjoy it. With warm greetings, Samia Khoury
Thomas Charrière, Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, interviews Alice de Rambuteau, from the Barnabe Network.
HOLY LAND – Barnabe Network (“le Réseau Barnabé” in French) is creating links between schools in France and the Holy Land. It will be 10 years old in 2017. The network organizes every year summer camps in Christian schools of the Holy Land, to enable students to practice French.
Christian Leaders Denounce the Recent Wave of anti-BDS Legislation
(FOSNA.org) In January 2016, the pension board of the United Methodist Church decided to divest from Israeli banks and a real estate company due to their financing of settlement construction in Palestinian territory. In 2015, the United Church of Christ overwhelmingly approved a resolution divesting from companies that profit from Israel’s occupation of Palestinian lands along with a boycott of products from Israeli settlements. In 2014, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) voted at its general assembly to divest from three companies that profit from the occupation, and in 2012 it implemented a boycott of Israeli settlement products. Friends Fiduciary Corporation, the socially responsible investment firm serving over 300 Quaker institutions in the United States, as well as the American Friends Service Committee, also divested from companies benefiting from the occupation.
It makes me mad that my tax money only adds to their [Palestinian] suffering. –Most Rev. Oscar Cantú, bishop of Las Cruces and chairman of the Committee on International Justice and Peace, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
(World Council of Churches) April 21, 2016 – Leaders from churches in the Holy Land met with the heads of faith-based organizations and churches in Atlanta, Georgia (USA) on 19-20 April for a summit that explored the role of US churches in peacemaking in the Middle East.
World Council of Churches (WCC) general secretary Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit helped to open the summit with words about a pilgrimage of justice and peace, saying that churches have a new opportunity to look into the future together with hope. “With a change of heart in the US, there will be a drive to change in the Holy Land,” he said.
Photo: © Pontifical University of the Holy Cross – Rome
by Myriam Ambroselli
ROME – On Thursday, April 14, 2016, at a conference at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross in Rome, His Beatitude Fouad Twal, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, spoke to over 400 people on the situation of Christians in the Holy Land and the many challenges they face in Palestine and Israel.
The Patriarch referred to the historical origins of the first Christian community, the Church of Jerusalem, composed of “Ecclesia ex circumcision” (Judeo-Christians), and “Ecclesia ex gentibus” (Greeks, Romans, Syrians, Canaanites, Phoenicians, Philistines, Nabateans, Moabites, Ammonites, etc.). The Church of Jerusalem has witnessed many regimes, Arab, Crusader, Mamluk, Ottoman and English, and today the ancient Holy Land is divided into three countries, Palestine, Jordan and Israel, three regions which, together with Cyprus, form “the Diocese of Jerusalem” under the jurisdiction of the Patriarchate. Holy Land Christians are a small minority, less than two percent of the population, noted the Patriarch, lamenting the decline of the Christian presence in Jerusalem, which accounted for a quarter of the population in 1948, at the creation of the State of Israel, compared to only 1.97 percent of the total population today.
Throughout much of my life, I have been engaged in attempts to improve Jewish-Arab relations in Israel. But a recent trip to Morocco, where Jews and Muslims lived in harmony for centuries, filled me with hope for my country. Life after the conflict: Act One.
The Jewish cemetery in Fes, Morocco, has remained intact thanks to the government’s upkeep. (Ron Gerlitz)
by Ron Gerlitz
(972mag.com) – Yes, we can. We can imagine good relations between Jews and Arabs here, in the State of Israel, and generally in the area between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. This is the main insight with which I returned from a very meaningful trip together with members of the Shaharit “120″ program a multicultural group working towards a new social partnership in Israel.
Accounts of peaceful co-existence between Christians and Muslims. A report from the “Holy Land” school founded by the Franciscans in the West Bank. Most of the children enrolled here are Muslims. The headmaster, who is also the parish priest, and the local Imam say: “Passion for education is of prime importance here, we educate children about coexistence and mutual respect”
At the Catholic school in Jericho, which is attended by Muslims as well as Christians, there is a cross on every classroom wall.
by Cristina Uguccioni, Vatican Insider
Jericho – A cross hangs on each classroom wall. There are around 580 pupils aged between four and sixteen–38 of them are Christians, all the rest are Muslim. We are in the West Bank, in Jericho, at the “Holy Land” school, which was founded in 1950 by Franciscans of the Custody of the Holy Land, who still manage it today with two friars. The school teaches the Palestinian curriculum and the enrolment fees are quite reasonable (a large portion of the costs are covered by donations from benefactors and pilgrims). Life at this and many other Catholic schools in the Middle East is a daily reminder of how beautiful the work of giving and sharing knowledge is. A knowledge that creates and develops intergenerational and interpersonal ties even between people of different faiths.
Accounts of peaceful coexistence between Muslims and Christians. A journey to Jordan’s poorest province, to a hospital run by the Comboni missionaries
n Karak, there is an Italian hospital where Christian and Muslim doctors work side by side, united by a common goal: to heal patients.
by Cristina Uguccioni, Vatican Insider
Karak, Jordan – Christian and Muslim doctors working side by side in the hospital’s wards, united by a common commitment to healing wounded humans. We are in Karak, Jordan, a town that is home to 60,000 people, situated in the country’s poorest province, 160 kilometres south of Amman. This place, where Christians make up three per cent of the population, is also home to the “Italian hospital”, a non-profit institution founded by ANSMI (National Association for Assistance to Italian Missionaries) in 1935 and since then run by the Comboni missionaries. To keep it going, they rely on donations from associations, parishes and individual benefactors.
The history of this hospital – where last year more than 22,000 people were offered assistance – reveals the strong alliance, wonderful and industrious complicity that forms between humans when they do not give in to evil and fight against sickness and suffering.