Seeking truth and justice

Jordan River Baptism Site

Posted on May 30, 2015 in Christians, Jordan

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.

Read More

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

Posted on May 30, 2015 in Christians, Human rights, Israel, NGO, Palestine, Vatican

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

Pax Chrisi, 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.

Read More

An Iraqi Christian oasis away from the Islamic State

Posted on May 29, 2015 in Christians, Iraq, Muslims, Narrative

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).

Read More

IS militants destroy Assyrian churches northern Syria

Posted on May 29, 2015 in Christians, Iraq, Narrative

By Zozan Shekho/ ankawa.com

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.

Read More

A year ago … Francis on pilgrimage

Posted on May 29, 2015 in Christians, Interreligious dialogue, Israel, Jordan, Palestine, Peace, Vatican

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 …

Read More

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

Posted on May 29, 2015 in Christians, Israel

Photo: Abouna.org

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.”

Read More