We seek to keep you literally "updated" on movement in terms of truth and justice in the Middle East in general with a particular eye on Palestine. The links below will take you to various articles and websites that offer the perspective of leaders in the religious, NGO, and human rights communities. Additionally, Al-Bushra, ever vigilant, provides links to regular reporting as well as opinion pieces by journalists. The dates given here indicate when the link was posted; the most recent posting is at the top. Check the article itself for the date the information was released by the source.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Palestinian Christians missed out on archbishop of Canterbury's tour

Christian communities disappointed Justin Welby did not visit them during first trip to Holy Land since taking office

Harriet Sherwood in Jerusalem
The archbishop of Canterbury tours Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem 
The archbishop of Canterbury tours Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem. Photograph: Hazem Bader/AFP/Getty Images

Palestinian Christians have expressed disappointment that the archbishop of Canterbury did not visit their beleaguered communities to offer solidarity on his first trip to the Holy Land since taking office.

Justin Welby, the head of the Anglican church worldwide, travelled across the imposing separation wall between Jerusalem and the West Bank on Thursday to open an Anglican medical centre in Ramallah. But his three-day schedule did not include a visit to Bethlehem and its surrounding villages, where Christian families have suffered severe economic hardship as a result of the barrier, and many have left the Holy Land.

"Palestinian Christians would have expected a close interest from one of the most important Christian figures in the world," said Xavier Abu Eid, a Palestinian official. "Christianity was born in Palestine, and the followers of Jesus Christ are suffering. These people expected something more."

Hanan Ashrawi, a veteran Palestinian politician and an Anglican, said the archbishop should have "reached out to Palestinian Christians. He should meet people and talk to them to see the impact of occupation and confiscation [of land]."

One of the main aims of Welby's visit was to show solidarity with Christian communities in the region, according to his office. However, his schedule did not permit a visit to the Bethlehem area, it added.
Christian families in the village of Beit Jala, near Bethlehem, have been waging a legal campaign against the route of the wall, which threatens to divide people from their land and cut off the monks of the Cremisan monastery from the local community.

The head of the Catholic church in England, the archbishop of Westminster, Vincent Nichols, has been vocal in his support of the people of Beit Jala and has criticised Israeli land appropriation. The UK government has also taken up the case.

"Christians in Palestine don't even know [Welby] is here," said one Beit Jala campaigner. "He has made no effort to go to the heart of the issues concerning Christians here."

More than 80% of Beit Jala's population is Christian, but overall the number of Palestinian Christians has shrunk to about 2% of the population of the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem.

Speaking in Jerusalem on Thursday, Welby addressed the issue of the persecution of Christians in the Middle East. "I've had a lot of experience of working in areas where there's been killing of Christians. I've stood by mass graves of Christians ... while their killers were still watching," he said. But the right response was to heed Jesus's command to "love our enemies". He added: "It's the hardest thing we can ever say to people, an indescribable challenge."In an address to Christian leaders on Wednesday, Welby said Jerusalem must remain an open city, with Christians, Muslims and Jews having full access to its holy sites.

The ancient city was, he said, "the centre of the world in so many ways. The centre of three great faiths, the centre of much of the news that we hear; the centre in both good ways and bad ways. It is essential that Jerusalem remains an open city, with full access to the religious sites which are holy to three faiths."

His comments came shortly before the US secretary of state, John Kerry, arrived in the Holy Land for his fifth visit in a mission to bring Israel and the Palestinians back to talks in the hope of agreeing a settlement to their decades-long conflict.

The future of Jerusalem is a key element in any peace agreement. Israel, which captured East Jerusalem in the 1967 Six Day war, and later annexed it in a move not recognised by the international community, claims the entire city as its indivisible capital. The Palestinians want East Jerusalem as the capital of their future state.
Later, Welby told reporters that Kerry deserved "every blessing" for his efforts to restart peace talks. "I'm not possibly qualified to talk of the chances of success. Anyone seeking to put together a settlement in this area, we must wish them God speed and every blessing. But I don't think anyone has any illusions about the complexity of the task he's undertaking."

The archbishop emphasised his "very clear emotions and feeling that the State of Israel is a legitimate state... and has a right to exist in security and peace within internationally agreed boundaries". However, the same right applied to all people in the region "without exception", he added.

Welby, whose father's Jewish family fled to the UK more than 100 years ago to escape anti-semitism in Germany, visited Yad Vashem, Israel's Holocaust memorial, with his wife, Caroline, and son Peter.

"This is not a place for words, it's a place for tears and a place for learning and remembering, and I think the fewer words the better," he said. Later, he described it as an "extraordinarily personal and emotional moment".

Source: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jun/27/palestinian-christians-acrchbishop-canterbury

Thursday, June 27, 2013

US Bishops commend President Obama for leadership in peace process

Below is an excerpt from  the letter of June 25, 2013, signed by

Timothy Cardinal Dolan
Archbishop of New York
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops 


Most Reverend Richard E. Pates
Bishop of Des Moines
Committee on International
Justice and Peace
to President Barack Obama

...We write today to commend you for traveling to
the Holy Land in March, and for charging Secretary
of State John Kerry with the urgent task of bringing th
e parties to the negotiating ta
ble. We are aware of his
tireless efforts, affirm the vision of
a two-state solution, and promise our
support for this U.S. initiative for
We know that many consider the conf
lict intractable, but we believe th
at peace is possible. We share
the Easter prayer of Pope Francis: “Peace for the
Middle East, and particular
ly between Israelis and
Palestinians, who struggle to find the
road of agreement, that they ma
y willingly and courageously resume
negotiations to end a conflict that has
lasted all too long.” We urge pers
istent U.S. leadership and promise
our untiring support and encouragement. 

Thursday, June 20, 2013

US Bishops Urging Syrian Ceasefire

 Ask Secretary of State Kerry to Work With Other Governments

The bishops overseeing international peace and relief efforts for the Church in the US urged Secretary of State John Kerry to work with other governments to obtain a ceasefire in Syria, initiate negotiations and provide humanitarian assistance, all in an effort to build "an inclusive society in Syria that protects the rights of all its citizens, including Christians and other minorities."

Bishop Richard Pates of Des Moines, Iowa, and Bishop Gerald Kicanas of Tucson, Arizona, sent a letter to Kerry on Wednesday.

Bishop Pates is chairman of the bishops' Committee on International Justice and Peace. Bishop Kicanas is chairman of the board of Catholic Relief Services, the bishops' international humanitarian agency.

"The Syrian people urgently need a political solution that ends the fighting and creates a future for all Syrians, one that respects human rights and religious freedom," wrote Bishop Pates and Bishop Kicanas. The bishops cited the appeals for peace in Syria made by Pope Francis on Easter Sunday and in his June 15 message to the G8 Summit.

The bishops noted the reported use of chemical weapons, the United Nations estimate of more than 93,000 deaths, the displacement of millions from their homes and the kidnapping of two Orthodox archbishops on a mission of mercy as urgent reasons for a negotiated ceasefire and political solution.

The full text of the bishops' letter is available online: http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/global-issues/middle-east/syria/upload/2013-06-Letter-to-Sec-Kerry-on-Syria.pdf

Source: http://www.zenit.org/en/articles/us-bishops-urging-syrian-ceasefire?utm_campaign=dailyhtml&utm_medium=email&utm_source=dispatch

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Protest to the closure measures at Jaffa Gate

JERUSALEM – Please find below the communique of the Patriarchs and Heads of Churches in Jerusalem, who raise their voices in protest to the closure measures that are taken by the Israeli Police at Jaffa Gate in the Old City of Jerusalem.

Jaffa Gate

We, the Patriarchs and Heads of Churches in Jerusalem, raise our voices in protest against the closure measures being taken by the Israeli Police at Jaffa Gate in the Old City of Jerusalem.

Every year, we write to the authorities to express our frustration with the frequent closure of Jaffa Gate, which is the only access to our Patriarchates, Churches and Convents. Instead of finding solutions to these interruptions that cause great inconvenience and disruption, the situation has gone from bad to worse.

The latest incidents we encountered took place during the “Festival of Lights” when many of our priests, including some of us (the leaders of the Churches) were unable to drive through Jaffa Gate to our homes and Churches. We were held for more than an hour at the Gate waiting to be allowed in.

This is most unacceptable for us, for the pilgrims and all residents of our neighborhood!

We call upon the municipality and police to find practical ways to ensure constant and uninterrupted access through Jaffa Gate, especially, that there are more than forty days that various events take place outside Jaffa Gate during the year.

We hope that this will find listening ears and decisive actions, so that these folkloric and creative events will not negatively affect the life and ministry of our Churches. Thank you for your understanding and forthcoming cooperation in this matter.

The Patriarchs and Heads of Churches in Jerusalem

Source: http://en.lpj.org/2013/06/17/protest-to-the-closure-measures-at-jaffa-gate/

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Priest in Homs Details Syrian Horror

Gives Account of 'Many Explosions' in the Last Week

 London, (Zenit.org)

A priest working in the devastated city of Homs in Syria has given an account of some of the horror he's facing every day.

The priest, who cannot be named, sent a report to the charity Aid to the Church in Need, which is supporting Syrians with an aid package of £25,450 (€30,000) for a center in Homs, on top of £42,450 (€50,000) given last year.

The report details the priest's struggle to provide basic food, shelter and medicine to more than 30,000 people fleeing violence amid ongoing bomb blasts and other violence.

He goes on to give an account of the “many explosions” of the past week in his quarter of Homs, one of which took place very near to his church.

The car bomb left 11 people dead, of whom five were his parishioners.

An earlier explosion caused the death of a 10-year-old boy from the Catholic community centre next to his church. Three other children were injured.

In his report, the priest pays tribute to a Jesuit priest and 74 other Christians living in a “siege[–like] manner” in Homs' ancient Old City, where many historic churches, mosques and other buildings lie in ruins after fierce fighting.

Facing a shortage of food and medicine, the Jesuit and his flock rely on aid parcels being sent to them.
Describing life for the Jesuit and his people, the priest writes that people continue to cling to hope in spite of the difficulties.

He said: “We have a great hope. Churches still ring bells for prayers and all people come and share Mass.”

Quoting Pope Francis, he writes: “Nobody can steal our hope and joyfulness.”

Final Statement From Arab Christian Media Conference

 At the Service of Justice, Peace and Human Rights

Rome, (Zenit.org) | 298 hits

Here is the final statement from a conference on Arab Christian Media, held this week in Jordan.

The Catholic Center for Studies and Media in Jordan in cooperation with the Pontifical Council for Social Communications in the Vatican held their first joint conference in Amman from 10-11 June 2013, under the patronage of His Beatitude Patriarch Fuad Twal, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem . Present at the conference were, the Minister of State for Media and Communications H.E. Dr. Mohammad Momani and H. E. Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli, the President of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications.
The Conference title was: "the Arab Christian Media at the Service of Justice, Peace and Human Rights".

The conference was attended by Christian and Muslim clergymen, media professionals and others. Speakers at the conference were the Patron Patriarch Fuad Twal, Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli, , Father Rifat Bader the Director General of the Catholic Center for Studies and Media, H. E. the Minister of State for Media and Communications and H. E. Mr. Faisal Akef Al Fayez the Former Prime Minister.

The Catholic Cener for Studies and Media announced that it will present the Centre's shield, starting this year, to two intellectual figures. This year, Dr. Isam Sakhnini from Petra University received the Shield in appreciation for his book: "The Genocide Against Christians in Najran 523 and in Jerusalem 614" as well as Artist and Comedian Mr. Mousa Hijazine in appreciation for his contribution in the domain  of political theatre and freedom of expression.

At the end of the conference, the organizers agreed on the following:

1. To send a cable of greetings and respect to His Majesty King Abdullah bin Al Hussein on the occasion of his Accession to the Throne, the Army's and Great Arab Revolution Day, which coincided with this conference.

2. The conference underscores the leading and essential role played by the all kinds of media. The conference agreed on the need to promote the work of media to serve the values of justice, peace and human rights through focusing on what unites people not what sets them apart. The conference concluded that media should aim at spreading harmony and peace among people.

3. The conference underscored the leading role religious media plays today; religious media can serve religion through exploring its true identity but also can destroy and use religion to serve political and other interests.

4. The conference highlights the importance the Arab Christian Media role in serving Arab, human and international causes. Arab Christian media is not a closed one; it puts itself at the service of human causes like justice, peace, respect of and defending if necessary the rights of humans.

5. Media outlets provide a space for communication with Churches, on the ecumenical level,  and also with Muslims, with whom we share the bitter present as well as the past and destiny. The conference stressed the importance of supporting positive dialogue initiatives through the various types of media.

6. The conference calls for more cooperation between the Pontifical Council for Social Communications in the Vatican and the Catholic Centre for Studies and Media in Jordan. The conference calls for continuing their cooperation in publishing books and publications that call for the proper usage of media outlets and the profession's ethics, and place such knowledge in the hands of the younger generations to bring about knowledge,  goodness and love. The conference encourages media professionals to be, as Pope Francis has said in his first meeting with media personnel on 16 March 2013: "Witnesses for the Truth, Beauty and Goodness".

7. The conference called at the closing ceremony for justice, peace and respect for human rights in the Arab region and for stopping violence on the part of all feuding parties in more than one Arab country. The conference praises the humanitarian role played by the Government of Jordan in hosting Syrian refugees from Iraq and Syria. The conference calls for the release of The Syriac Orthodox Archbishop of Aleppo Yohanna Ibrahim and his Greek Orthodox counterpart Boulos Yazaji.

8. The conference “wishes the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan continued Progress, Dialogue and Fraternity” (Cf. Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, speech at the inauguration ceremony of the American University of Madaba, Jordan , 30\5\2013),  and hopes Jordan remains a safe haven for national unity and co-living between all of its citizens without any discrimination.

9. The conference thanks all speakers who enriched the conference with their thoughts that expressed appreciation to the Arab Christian media and to all other media outlets that uphold human dignity.
Amman – Jordan

Source: http://www.zenit.org/en/articles/final-statement-from-arab-christian-media-conference?utm_campaign=dailyhtml&utm_medium=email&utm_source=dispatch

‘Price tag’ attack at Christian cemetery in Jaffa

Jaffa cimetiere 
AFP - Attackers desecrated graves in an Arab Christian cemetery in Jaffa and damaged property nearby, in an incident that bore the hallmarks of a “price tag” hate crime, police said on Thursday.
Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said that headstones in the Orthodox Christian graveyard in Jaffa, a mixed Arab-Jewish area in southern Tel Aviv, were sprayed with Hebrew graffiti and the tyres of five vehicles parked nearby were slashed.

“Apparently the incident took place overnight,” he told AFP, saying the attackers had daubed “price tag” and revenge” at the site.

“Price tag” is the term given extremist hate crimes which generally target Arabs.

Initially carried out against Palestinians in retaliation for state moves to dismantle unauthorised settler outposts, such attacks have become a much broader phenomenon unrelated to any anti-settlement moves.
They tend to involve the vandalism or destruction of property and have included arson attacks on cars, mosques and olive trees.

Two weeks ago anti-Christian graffiti was daubed on the Church of the Dormition, one of Jerusalem’s leading pilgrimage sites.

Police said they suspected Jewish religious extremists of spraying the Hebrew-language insults at the site, where tradition says the Virgin Mary died.

Joint Communiqué of the Bilateral Permanent Working Commission between the Holy See and Israel


VATICAN CITY – On June 4 – 5,  2013, the Bilateral Permanent Working Commission between the Holy See and the State of Israel had a meeting to continue negotiations on economic and fiscal matters of the Catholic Church in the Holy Land. Here below is the joint communiqué of the Commission.
Joint Communiqué
The Bilateral Permanent Working Commission between the State of Israel and the Holy See met today, 5 June 2013, at the Vatican, at the Plenary level to continue negotiations pursuant to the Fundamental Agreement Art. 10 paragraph 2.
The meeting was headed by Msgr. Antoine Camilleri, Under-Secretary for the Holy See’s Relations with States and by Mr. Zeev Elkin, M.K., Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the State of Israel.
The Commission welcomed the two new heads of the delegations, and acknowledged the contribution of Ambassador Bahij Mansour to the negotiations and wished him success in his new position.
The negotiations took place in a thoughtful and constructive atmosphere. The Commission took notice that significant progress was made and the parties committed themselves to accelerate negotiations on the remaining issues, and look forward to an expedited conclusion in the near term.
The Parties have agreed on future steps and to hold the next Plenary meeting by December 2013 in Jerusalem.


Delegation of the Holy See:
Msgr. Antoine Camilleri, Under-Secretary for the Holy See’s Relations with States
H.E. Arch. Antonio Franco, Apostolic Nuncio, Co-Chairman of the Working Level of the Bilateral Permanent Working Commission
H.E. Arch. Giuseppe Lazzarotto, Apostolic Nuncio in Israel
H.E. Bishop Giacinto-Boulos Marcuzzo, Patriarchal Vicar for Israel
Msgr. Maurizio Malvestiti, Under-Secretary of the Congregation for Oriental Churches
Msgr. Alberto Ortega Martín, Official of the Secretariat of State
Mr. Henry Amoroso, Principal Legal Adviser
Mr. Samir Abu-Nassar, C.P.A., Financial Adviser
Archimandrite Maher Abboud, Vicar General Greek-Melkite Archeparchy of Akko
Fr. Elias Daw, President of the Tribunal Greek-Melkite Church in Israel
Fr. Pietro Felet S.C.J., Secretary General of the A.O.C.T.S.
Fr. Ibrahim Faltas O.F.M., Custody of the Holy Land

Delegation of the State of Israel:
Mr. Zeev Elkin, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs
Mr. Zion Evrony, Ambassador of the State of Israel to the Holy See
Mr. Ehud Keinan, Deputy Director General, Legal Division (MFA), Co-Chairman of the Working Level of the Bilateral Permanent Working Commission
Mr. Bahij Mansour, Director of the Inter-Religious Affairs Department (MFA)
Mr. Moshe Golan, Senior Deputy State’s Attorney responsible for Civil Law Matter, Ministry of Justice
Mr. Itai Apter, Department for International Agreements, Ministry of Justice
Ms. Karin Doseretz, General International Law Department, Legal Division (MFA)
Mr. Rony Tzuberi, Chief of Staff, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs
Mr. Gershon Kedar, Policy Advisor to the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Note by the Pontifical Council "Cor Unum" On Relief Efforts in Syria

VATICAN CITY, June 06, 2013 (Zenit.org) - Here is the translation of the communique by the Pontifical Council “Cor Unum” on the Meeting of Catholic Charitable Organizations who are active in the ongoing crisis in Syria.

--- --- ---

Pope Francis renewed his strong appeal for peace in Syria, where one of the most lethal armed conflicts is taking place, with more civilian victims in relation to the military, with the greatest number of evacuees and refugees. The violence and all kinds of abuse have reached unspeakable levels, with no consideration whatsoever of human dignity.

Powerful are the words with which Pope Francis received in audience the participants, manifesting his particular closeness to the Christian community of the region and to the whole population. “How many more sufferings must be inflicted before a political solution to the crisis is found?” “The work of the Catholic charity agencies is extremely significant: to help the Syrian population, beyond ethnic or religious membership; it is the most direct way to offer a contribution to the pacification and building of a society open to all different components.”

From June 4-5, the Pontifical Council Cor Unum convoked a meeting of humanitarian coordination on the crisis in Syria, which was attended by some 25 representatives of the local Churches, of charitable organizations active in the area, of institutional donors of the Catholic world, of the Holy See, and the Apostolic Nuncio in Syria, who reaffirmed the continuity of their commitment and renewed the Holy Father’s appeal, so that all violence will cease and avenues of dialogue and reconciliation open in respect of all.
The local Churches have given concrete responses to the population since the beginning of the conflict, from March 2011 up to today, it in Syria and  in the whole Region. More than 400,000 people are regularly supported, without any discrimination, with humanitarian aid in the social, health and educational realm, for a total amount of more than 25 million euros. The testimonies brought, fruit of direct experience in the area, in Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey and other countries, where refugees continue to arrive, and confirm the extent of the tragedy: there are almost 7 million people in need of humanitarian aid, more than 4.5 million internal evacuees and increasingly more people seeking safety outside the country’s borders (Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey and Iraq have already received more than 2 million Syrian refugees).

A more detailed analysis of the needs in the area has made evident that, with the coming of summer the risk of epidemics will certainly increase, as will the lack of medicines and care for the stricken population, in particular for pregnant women and children, the elderly and the disabled. The general picture of logistics, security and humanitarian protection remains alarming and it will get worse if a way is not found to guarantee respect for humanitarian rights in general and, in particular, safe humanitarian access for aid, especially if a truce is not reached or at least a cease-fire.

All this will require an even greater and more combined effort by Catholic charitable organizations. Because of this, the Pontifical Council Cor Unum launches an appeal, on behalf of all the organizations present at the meeting, to support  -- including financially -- the efforts of humanitarian aid and the pursuit of peace, in view of the hoped for reconstruction of a lacerated and destroyed country.

The international community must provide more support to countries that receive the refugees and humanitarian operations, to be able to respond to their growing needs. The international community’s commitment to mediation, though more decisive compared to the preceding months, still seems insufficient. Thus the risks increase of another endless war in Syria, where the first victims are the defenseless civilians, treated as targets and often as direct and indirect victims of the constant violence, “a pointless slaughter.”
Taking part in the meeting were representatives of the following organizations: Aid to the Church in Need International, AVSI Foundation, CAFOD, Caritas Austria, Caritas France, Caritas Germany, Caritas Internationalis, Caritas Jordan, Caritas Lebanon, Caritas Luxembourg, Caritas Middle East and North Africa (Caritas MONA), Caritas Syria, Caritas Turkey, Catholic Near East Welfare Association (CNEWA), Catholic Relief Services (CRS), International Catholic Migration Commission (ICMC), International Confederation of the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul, Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS), and the Sovereign Military Order of Malta.

Source: http://www.zenit.org/en/articles/note-by-the-pontifical-council-cor-unum-on-relief-efforts-in-syria?utm_campaign=dailyhtml&utm_medium=email&utm_source=dispatch 

Pope Francis: Contemplate Jesus' Suffering in the People of Syria

Pontiff Meets With Relief Organizations Aiding Humanitarian Efforts in War-Torn Country

Vatican City, (Zenit.org) Junno Arocho Esteves 

This morning, Pope Francis met with humanitarian and relief organizations that are dealing with the ongoing crisis in Syria. The meeting was organized by the Pontifical Council “Cor Unum”, which coordinates the Church's charity work.

Among the participants were representatives of the following Catholic charity organizations: Aid to the Church in Need International, the AVSI foundation, CAFOD, Caritas Internationalis as well as the local Caritas organizations in Austria, France, Germany, Jordan, Lebanon, Luxembourg, the Middle East and North Africa, Syria, and Turkey.

Also present was the Catholic Near East Welfare Association, Catholic Relief Services, the International Catholic Migration Commission, the International Confederation of the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul, the Jesuit Refugee Service, and the Sovereign Military Order of Malta.

Pope Francis thanked the relief organizations in aiding those suffering and called for an end to the violence plaguing the Syrian people.

“The Holy See’s concern for the crisis in Syria, and in a particular way, for the people, often defenceless, who are suffering as a result of it, is well known. Benedict XVI repeatedly called for a ceasefire and for a search for a resolution through dialogue in order to achieve a profound reconciliation between sides. Let the weapons be silent!” the Pope exclaimed.

The Holy Father also recalled the efforts of his predecessor to find a peaceful solution to the violence by sending Cardinal Robert Sarah to the region as well as “manifesting his concrete and fatherly solicitude with a donation.”

“The destiny of the Syrian people,” the Pope continued, “is a concern that is close to my heart also. On Easter Sunday I asked for peace: "above all for dear Syria", I said, "for its people torn by conflict, and for the many refugees who await help and comfort. How much blood has been shed! And how much suffering must there be before a political solution to the crisis is found".

Renewing his appeal for peace in the region, and encouraged the intention of the international community to foster a peaceful dialogue with the opposing parties in Syria to bring an end to the war.

The Holy Father also encouraged the charitable organizations working in the region, saying that Church is called in these moments to give a “concrete and sincere witness” to charity.

“May your timely and coordinated work be an expression of the communion to which it gives witness, as the recent Synod on the Church in the Middle East suggested,” the Holy Father said.

Appealing to the international community, Pope Francis asked, apart from negotiating a solution to the conflict, for “the provision of humanitarian aid for the displaced and refugees.”

Concluding his address, the Holy Father expressed his closeness to the Christian communities in Syria and the Middle East, saying that they have the enormous task of offering a “Christian presence” in the region.

“The participation of the entire Christian community to this important work of assistance and aid is imperative at this time,” the Pope said. “And let every one of us, let each of us think of Syria. What great suffering, what great poverty, what great grief experienced by Jesus who suffers, who is poor, who is expelled from his homeland. It is Jesus! This is a mystery, but it is our Christian mystery. Let us contemplate Jesus’ suffering in the inhabitants of beloved Syria.”

Source: http://www.zenit.org/en/articles/pope-francis-contemplate-jesus-suffering-in-the-people-of-syria?utm_campaign=dailyhtml&utm_medium=email&utm_source=dispatch

Saturday, June 1, 2013

In Jordan a silent march for the bishops of Aleppo

marche alepAMMAN – On Tuesday, May 21, about 2000 Christians marched through the Jordanian capital with candles in hand, in a silent march to demand the release of the two Metropolitans of Aleppo – the Syrian Orthodox Archbishop Gregorios Yohanna Ibrahim and the Greek-Orthodox Archbishop al-Boulos Yazigi – one month after their abduction.
H.E. Bishop Maroun Laham, Patriarchal Vicar for Jordan of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem told Fides “that all the Christian Churches joined in the march.” The route went from the Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Amman to the Syriac Orthodox Cathedral passing by the Latin Catholic Church of St. Mary of Nazareth. His Excellency, Bishop Maroun Lahham read a statement, signed by all the bishops and heads of local Churches and ecclesial communities, which strongly condemned the kidnapping of the Archbishops who are “two of the most significant Arab Christian personalities of our time.”

The declaration calls us to pray to “the Almighty Lord so that calm and stability may be restored to beloved Syria.” The statement also calls for “respect for the Holy Places, especially in East Jerusalem.” Fearing that Jordan may be plagued by its neighbor’s conflicts, the Assembly of the Heads of Churches in Jordan raises its prayers to the Almighty to “bless the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and that we cherish the gift of stability, security and precious national unity under the leadership of His Majesty King Abdullah II Ibn Al Hussein.”

Christophe Lafontaine
Source: http://en.lpj.org/2013/05/31/in-jordan-a-silent-march-for-the-bishops-of-aleppo/