Apr. 25, 2011
Zenit | Outcome of "Arab Spring" Uncertain, Says Patriarch
Hopes Efforts of Protestors Will Bring a Better Future
JERUSALEM, APRIL 24, 2011 (Zenit.org).- While the political
protests sweeping through the Middle East and Northern Africa to
bring an end to oppressive regimes is a positive development, there
is a concern regarding the final outcome, according to Latin
Patriarch Fouad Twal of Jerusalem.
In an interview posted earlier this month on the Web site of the
Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, the patricarch expressed his hope
that the result will be "for the better and the common good."
...Patriarch Twal spoke clearly about the relationship between
the churches in the East and the West, affirming that "it's the same
church, confronted with the same challenges for the youth, family,
The patriarch suggested than an infusion of Christians from the
West would not only "give 'vitamins'" to the Church in the Holy
Land, but that it would be "mutually beneficial."
"Christians who come from the West must not simply help our
Church," he asserted. "They should consider themselves a part of
this Church, which is their Mother Church. They should feel
responsible for the future of Christians living in the Holy Land."
Read entire article
Apr. 24, 2011
America Magazine | Of Many Things [Holy Week in Jerusalem] by Editor
Drew Christensen, SJ
In Holy Week my mind turns to Jerusalem, as I recall my
participation in the liturgies and pilgrim devotions there. It is
also a time for remembering the Church of Jerusalem. Palm Sunday is
a special day for Holy Land Christians as they turn out for the
procession from Bethpage down the Mount of Olives, past the graves
of those buried facing west toward the Golden Gate, where by Jewish
tradition the Messiah is expected to appear to establish the
kingdom, to St. Anne’s in the Old City. During the last two decades,
the Palm Sunday procession has become a festival of Palestinian
Christian identity, with the faithful pouring in from all over the
region, from Galilee and, if possible, the West Bank as well as
The route is so crowded the best word to describe it is
“thronged” with people. Boy scouts in uniform, some quite beyond
adolescence, provide crowd control along the margins of the road.
Religious in a great variety of habits are strung throughout the
crowd, and prelates of the different Catholic churches in their
distinctive robes come toward the end, with the canons of the Holy
Sepulchre and the Latin Patriarch at the very end. When the
procession ends at St. Anne’s, those privileged to squeeze into the
monastery garden hear an exhortation from the patriarch followed by
blessing with a relic of the true cross.
The Palm Sunday procession, a walk of a few kilometers under the
hot sun, pressed around with sunburned, dusty pilgrims from many
lands, may be as close as today’s Christians will ever get to
feeling what it was like to celebrate a holy day in St. Helena’s
Apr. 22, 2011
Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land | Easter
The Rt. Rev. Dr. Munib Younan, Bishop of the ELCJHL
"I am the Resurrection and the Life"
In a world of suffering and death, these words of resurrection
and life transcend us. Jesus first addressed these words to Martha
of Bethany when Jesus stood at the tomb of his good friend Lazarus
(John 11:25). This occasion is one that has profound meaning because
Jesus shows clearly his emotions in the face of death, weeping
openly over the death of his friend.
Martha understood fully that God always stands on the side of
life. “Lord, if you had been here our brother would not have died,”
she said pleading to Jesus. The whole Bible reveals this theology of
life as God meant it to be. God chooses wholeness for us. God
chooses life with dignity. God chooses life abundant. As Jesus
proclaimed in the previous chapter of John, “I have come that you
may have life, and have it abundantly” (John 10:10).
This is the whole reason for Jesus’ life and ministry. This is
the whole reason that John has recorded these stories, including the
story of Lazarus called forth from the tomb. “These signs have been
written,” says John in his summary conclusion, “that you might
believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing
you might have life” (John 20:31). This is why every child in Sunday
School is taught, “For God so loved the world that God gave God’s
only begotten son, that whoever believes in him will not die, but
have eternal life” (John 3:16).
...People ask me about the Christians in the Middle East amidst
all that is going on. What I say is this: Arab Christianity is an
integral part of Arab society. And, as such, we are a part of the
struggle for life abundant for all. Fundamentally, the Middle East
conflict is about life. It is unacceptable for some to have life at
the expense of others. The situation requires a political will that
will assure both Palestinians and Israelis that peace based on
justice is possible—a peace that will allow all of us to have life
and to have it abundantly.
Apr. 22, 2011
Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem Newsletter | Editorial: In One Heart
Like last year, Christians in the world will once again celebrate
Easter together in 2011. This coincidence is a source of great joy
for many Orthodox, Protestants
and Catholics. His Beatitude Fouad Twal, Latin Patriarch of
Jerusalem welcomed this happy coincidence last year: “Our joy is
twofold”, he declared, “we, pastors and faithful of the various
churches, will be celebrating Easter on the same day and in the same
place. It is the same voice”.
For historical reasons, it is rare for Easter to be celebrated by
Christians on the same day. The difference in dates is a result of
the calculations made by the
Christian churches of setting the date for Easter. On one side is
the Gregorian calendar, which dates back to the 16th century is
mainly used by Western Churches and on the other hand, the older
Julian calendar is used by the Orthodox Church.
For John Paul II, the celebration of redemption
is linked to ecumenism.
Apr. 22, 2011
Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem | Passion, death and resurrection in
“Jesus of Nazareth, the crucified”
Born to die, humiliated to reign, died to resurrect!
“Each day is Good Friday”, particularly it is so in Jerusalem and
in the rest of the Lord’s homeland. However, the suffering of Jesus
is not one of a pathological passion for pain nor is it a morbid
pleasure in death. Jesus “the Life” enjoyed living. In Gethsemane,
the oil press, an epitome for His blood squeezed out “for the
multitudes”, even for those who slept, he expresses his apprehension
and his dread.
Apr. 19, 2011
Zenit | Holy Land Churches: Sadness Competes With Easter Joy
Lament the Violence Plaguing Protests in Arab World
JERUSALEM, APRIL 19, 2011 (Zenit.org).- Though the cross is empty
and new life has come, heads of Churches in the Holy Land say that
sadness is competing with Easter joy.In an annual Easter message, 13
heads of Churches in the Holy Land commented on the wave of protests
in the Arab world.
"Christians find their joy is secure in the hope of the promise
of eternal life which our Lord has won for all who believe," they
affirmed. "However, when we in Jerusalem, the city of redemption,
see the suffering of our Christian brothers and sisters in Egypt,
Iraq and elsewhere in our region our joy becomes more solemn.
"We find sadness competes with the joy of Easter as we witness
the violence which has erupted in the face of peaceful
demonstrations by people throughout the Arab world these past
The Christian leaders called for reforms leading to "modern civil
society where freedom of expression, freedom of religion, human
rights – including the rights of those who are considered being a
minority in numbers – are respected."
Apr. 16, 2011
SFGate | Israel unveils hiking trail for Christian pilgrims
By DANIEL ESTRIN, Associated Press Friday, April 15, 2011
(04-15) 09:35 PDT NAZARETH, Israel (AP) --
Israel hopes to attract Christian tourists with a new pilgrimage
route unveiled this week in the Galilee, a network of footpaths,
roads and bicycle paths linking sites central to the lives of Jesus
and his disciples.
Developing sites linked to Jewish history has long been a
priority for the Jewish state. But the Gospel Trail, inaugurated
Thursday by Israeli tourism officials, is a nod to the growing
number of Christians traveling to the country in recent years,
outnumbering Jewish visitors.
More than two-thirds of the 3.45 million tourists in Israel last
year were Christian, double the amount of the previous year, and
about 40 percent of them defined themselves as religious pilgrims,
according to Israel's Tourism Ministry.
The 40-mile (60-kilometer) trail in northern Israel passes sites
including Tabgha, the traditional site of Jesus' miracle of the
loaves and fishes, and the Mount of Beatitudes, where he delivered
his Sermon on the Mount. It ends at Capernaum on the shores of the
Sea of Galilee, where Jesus espoused his teachings.
Giacinto-Boulos Marcuzzo, a Catholic bishop, led Bible students
and reporters on an inaugural hike Thursday on the first section of
the trail — a footpath setting out from a hilltop lookout point on
the outskirts of Nazareth, Jesus' hometown.
Apr. 16, 2011
Zenit | Understanding Church-Muslim Relations (Part 1)
Egypt's Ali Al-Samman on Freezing Relations With Holy See
By Emil Amin
CAIRO, Egypt, APRIL 15, 2011 (Zenit.org).- The president of
Egypt's Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs is noting that a
decision to freeze dialogue with the Holy See from Sunni Islam's
highest authority may have been hasty.
In 1998, Ali Al-Samman was the architect of the joint committee
that brings together the Cairo-based Permanent Committee of Al-Azhar
for Dialogue among the Monotheistic Religions and the Pontifical
Council for Interreligious Dialogue.
In Part 1 of a two-part interview with ZENIT, Al-Samman offered
his perspective on the Jan. 20 announcement of a dialogue-freeze
from the Cairo-based Islamic Research Council of the University of
Al-Azhar, which came in protest of Benedict XVI's statements on
religious freedom following a Jan. 1 attack on a Coptic church in
Apr. 16, 2011
Zenit | Maronite Patriarch Stresses Unity in Diversity
Faithful Affirm Holy Spirit's Action in Leader's Election
ROME, APRIL 15, 2011 (Zenit.org).- The new patriarch of the
Maronite Church was in Rome this week, affirming a vision of unity
Patriarch Béchara Boutros Raï, who last month was chosen to
succeed Cardinal Nasrallah Pierre Sfeir, had a private audience with
Benedict XVI on Thursday to officially receive the "Ecclesia
Communio," already extended by a letter from the Pope on March 24.
After a Maronite patriarch is elected, the Bishop of Rome extends
his official expression of communion.
The patriarchate is based in Lebanon, though the faithful of that
Church are present in Syria, Egypt, the Holy Land, and in countries
of the diaspora, such as Argentina and Australia.
Patriarch Raï said he arrived in Rome "bringing with him the
image of a Lebanon that lives unity in diversity."
Apr. 15, 2011
America, the Catholic Weekly | U.K. Quakers Boycott Israeli Settler
Quakers in Britain have agreed to boycott products from Israeli
settlements in the West Bank. The Quakers consider the boycott a
nonviolent move for peace between Israelis and Palestinians. Half a
million Israeli settlers live illegally in the West Bank, including
East Jerusalem. The settlements on Palestinian land are protected by
the Israeli government and military, and they prevent or restrict
access by Palestinians to their land, water supplies, education,
health services and more. Extensive settlement infrastructure
divides up Palestinian land, creating obstacles to peace.
Palestinian Quakers are calling for Quakers around the world to
consider boycott, divestment and sanctions because of the worsening
situation caused by Israel’s occupation. “People matter more than
territory,” said a statement from the Quakers. “We pray fervently
for both Israelis and Palestinians…. We hope they will find an end
to their fears and the beginning of their mutual co-existence based
on a just peace.”
Apr. 15, 2011
America, the Catholic Weekly | Goldstone Reports Again
Depending on one’s view, the distinguished South African jurist
Richard Goldstone has either once more demonstrated the honesty of
his thinking or has cravenly capitulated to Israeli pressure. In an
op-ed article in The Washington Post on April 1, he admitted that if
he had known what has recently been revealed by internal Israeli
investigations, the U.N. report he chaired on Israel’s Operation
Cast Lead, a 2008 military campaign against Gaza, would have been
different. Israeli officials, who have heretofore reviled Goldstone,
praised him and played his statement as if it were a renunciation of
the report’s conclusions. The former Israeli ambassador to the
United Nations, Gabriela Shalev, went so far as to contend that “if
in the future we have to defend ourselves against terror...there
will be no way to deal with this terror other than the way we did in
But Goldstone later told the press that, with one exception, “as
presently advised I have no reason to believe that any part of the
report needs to be reconsidered at this time.” According to B’Tselem,
the Israeli human rights group, the internal Israeli inquiry cited
by Goldstone “by no means absolves Israel of all grave allegations
regarding its conduct.” Among the issues still deserving scrutiny,
the group said, “are the levels of force authorized; the use of
white phosphorous and inherently inaccurate mortar shells in densely
populated areas; the determination that government office buildings
were legitimate targets; and the obstruction of and harm to
ambulances.” In addition, because of lack of Israeli cooperation,
the Goldstone team was never able to look into Israeli policymaking.
For these and other reasons the U.N. process ought to continue.
At the same time, Hamas, the governing party in Gaza, needs to be
held responsible for its use of rockets against Israeli civilians
and for failing to conduct investigations of alleged war crimes on
Apr. 13, 2011
Zenit | The Role of Scripture in Interreligious Dialogue
Anglican Theologian Addresses John Paul II Dialogue Center
By Andrea Kirk Assaf
ROME, APRIL 12, 2011 (Zenit.org).- The imperative of
interreligious dialogue in modern, multicultural societies was a
recurring theme during the pontificate of John Paul II. The crucial
role of dialogue in civil society may be taken for granted now, but
how that dialogue takes place is still a matter under debate.
Scriptural Reasoning is a method of interreligious dialogue that
is growing in popularity and spreading beyond academic institutions.
Scriptural Reasoning gathers people of different religious
traditions to read and discuss sections of their sacred texts. The
intended outcome is not consensus, but deeper understanding.
One of the founders of this method, Professor David Ford, an
Anglican theologian and Regius Professor of Divinity at the
University of Cambridge, recently presented the approach in a
lecture at the John Paul II Center for Interreligious Dialogue at
the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas in Rome.
Apr. 10, 2011
Yahoo Groups | Christian High Holy Days by Sami El-Yousef
Sami El-Yousef shares his bittersweet Easter in Jerusalem
Childhood dreams. I was 14 years old when my father decided I was
ready to participate in the Holy Fire celebration on Holy Saturday,
according to the Greek Orthodox tradition.
I belong to one of the 13 oldest Christian families in Jerusalem.
Hundreds of years ago, locals commemorated these early Christians by
placing in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre 13 banners, each named
after one of these families. The only privilege the families'
descendants enjoy is that once a year, on Holy Saturday, a
representative from each family carries the banner in a procession
that marches around Christ's tomb in the Church of the Holy
Sepulchre three times.
After the procession, the Greek Orthodox patriarch enters the
sealed tomb where the Miracle of the Holy Fire occurs, symbolizing
the flame of the Resurrection. The fire is then passed out to the
waiting crowds through a small window in the outer chamber of the
edicule, which enshrines the tomb. Within seconds, the whole church
lights up. This must be the most amazing surge of faith I experience
throughout year. At that precise moment, I feel renewed as a
Christian and prepared to face the many challenges we Arab
Christians confront daily in the Holy Land. Since my first
experience, I have never missed this amazing celebration except when
I was out of the country.
Recent trends. Every year, as Easter approaches, we begin
discussing who will represent our family on Holy Saturday. Though I
must admit that, in recent years, with so many of us emigrating from
the Holy Land, selecting our representative has become less of a
problem. The number of adults still around who can carry the heavy
banner has dwindled to a handful. As a matter of fact, about half of
those 13 families have no one left in the Holy Land. For the last
few years, three of my relatives have joined me in carrying the
banners representing these families â€” an honor we deeply cherish.
These days, the discussion has shifted in my family from "who
will carry the banner" to "who can even access the Church of the
Holy Sepulchre." For the past few years, Israeli authorities have
closed the Old City and the area around the Church of the Holy
Sepulchre during Holy Week, preventing local Christian and pilgrims
from attending the Holy Fire celebration.
Apr. 8, 2011
A Texas Lutheran | Ann Hafften introduces David Housholder of the
Ann writes: I sometimes read Pastor David Housholder's blog. I knew his dad
and mom, Tom and Delphine, back in the 1970s when I first worked at
the former American Lutheran Church. Dave was an earnest high school
kid who sometimes came along with his dad on dark winter nights to
pick up Delphine at the Lutheran Vespers office.
Someone recently forwarded this blog post, "Being Pro-Israel?" -
which has some interesting points. Here's a link to the post:
Pro-Israel? by Pastor David Housholder
are a conservative or a Christian (I am both), one of
the boxes you seem to have to “tick” is “pro-Israel.”
also seems to imply, anti-Arab and anti-Muslim.
I am a
great admirer of Israel. They have the best democracy
and the most vital and diversified economy (from
electronics to agriculture) in the Middle East.
Israeli national anthem “Ha-Tikvah” stirs me
Hebrew Bible is one of my happy places. Our
congregation, Robinwood Church, is preaching through the
Psalms (have been at it for a year and a half).
my mentors, Prof. Dr. Ralph Gehrke, read Isaiah in
Hebrew with me every Saturday for ages.
I find that some of the black-and-white pro-Israel
sentiment in the circles in which I run is often
un-reflected at best. Ignorant at worst.
some random thoughts:
Apr. 8, 2011
America Magazine, the Catholic Weekly | Diplomacy as Exit Strategy
Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi hangs on, even as his foreign minister
and others in his inner circle are heading for the exits. If only he
would take the hint. The Libyan leader’s “show no mercy” order
toward his opposition has led to a virtually universal call for his
ouster. Discredited regime change redux? The United Kingdom and the
United States are again cooperating, as in Iraq; both urge Mr.
Qaddafi to go. Curiously, however, only Britain seems serious about
exploring a negotiated end to the military action. While the British
foreign secretary, William Hague, has renounced the idea of arming
the rebel forces, President Obama has left that option open and is
under pressure to oust Colonel Qaddafi by force. He should resist,
consistent with his astute transfer of the leadership of the
intervention to NATO.
Can the U.N.-authorized military action be deemed a success? Yes,
as long as its essential purpose of protecting civilian populations
through the no-fly zone and other appropriate means is not
transformed into an all-out campaign to defeat Mr. Qaddafi.
Tomahawks and the air sorties have loosened Colonel Qaddafi’s
grip, but they are too indirect to dislodge “the leader.” Given his
advantages in troop numbers, heavy weapons and long-range artillery,
he has the means to retake rebel outposts. Nonetheless, the answer
cannot be to arm the rebels, which is one step from training and
then assisting them, which would in turn be a step toward “boots on
the ground,” the trap of Iraq.
Apr. 8, 2011
America Magazine, the Catholic Weekly | Libya: Proceed With Caution
The Editors | APRIL 18, 2011
Libya: Proceed With Caution
As many as 40 Libyan civilians may have been killed in Tripoli in
late March by coalition air strikes meant to weaken forces loyal to
Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi. This is not good news for the
U.N.-sanctioned air campaign intended to protect civilians and
enforce a no-fly zone and an arms embargo against Libya. Nor is it
good news for the emerging doctrine of the responsibility to
protect. More verifiable unintended deaths among noncombatants on
the Qaddafi side should rightly compel the end of this large-scale
intervention. There is more at stake in the intervention now than
the ousting of a despot.
It has taken almost a century for the international community to
come to terms with the problems of genocide and crimes against
humanity. As an international doctrine, responsibility to protect is
still in its youth, emerging out of failures to intervene in Congo,
Rwanda and the Sudan. It will likely take a long time before the
idea hardens into a widely accepted protocol that would trigger
multilateral intervention to forestall a country’s criminal use of
force against its own people. There will surely be missteps as this
doctrine evolves. The multilateral campaign in Libya should not be
one of them.
The coalition has already begun what appears to be a dangerous if
predictable expansion of the aims of the campaign from protecting
civilians to ensuring the survival of the Libyan revolution. More
civilian deaths or the failure to achieve the coalition’s changing
goals could set back the responsibility to protect just as this
important doctrine is beginning to find its place in the diplomatic
world. It could be years before confidence in the responsibility to
protect is restored, while in the meantime any number of people may
perish as new crimes against humanity go unaddressed. The West needs
to proceed with more caution than it has so far demonstrated.
Apr. 7, 2011
Zenit | Pope "Deeply Moved" by Death of Migrants Fleeing Libyas
VATICAN CITY, APRIL 7, 2011 (Zenit.org).- The tragic death of
some 250 migrants fleeing Libya has deeply moved Benedict XVI, a
Vatican spokesman said today.
Early Wednesday morning, a boat capsized with as many as 300
migrants trying to escape the conflict in Libya and reach Italy.
Only about 50 of the people survived; some of those lost at sea were
Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Vatican press
office, told journalists that the tragedy has "deeply moved the Holy
Father." He said the Pope actively follows the "vicissitudes of
immigrants in these dramatic times."
Father Lombardi noted that some of the victims of the
Mediterranean tragedy were Eritrean Catholics who had participated
in the activities of the Catholic community in Libya.
He assured that the Pontiff and the whole Church "remember in
prayer all the victims -- of every nationality and condition,
including women and children -- who lose their lives in the terrible
journey to flee situations of poverty or injustice or violence that
afflicts them, in search of protection, welcome and conditions of
life that are more human."
In the last week, some 22,000 immigrants of various nationalities
have arrived to Italian shores, fleeing the war in Libya.
Apr. 7, 2011
Zenit | European Bishops Discuss Aid for Arab Countries
Prelate Says Secular Freedom Is the Goal
BRUSSELS, Belgium, APRIL 7, 2011 (Zenit.org).- The Commission of
the Bishops' Conferences of the European Community (COMECE) is
currently meeting to discuss means of aiding the Arab countries in
political unrest, and the Christians who live there.
The commission began its three-day spring plenary assembly, which
is focusing on the theme "Christian Churches in Maghreb and Mashriq,"
on Wednesday in Brussels.
In the opening address, Bishop Adrianus van Luyn, retired bishop
of Rotterdam, Netherlands, acknowledged that "very few of us
anticipated the revolutions and regime changes in Tunisia, Egypt and
"The unrest and protests in other countries like Yemen, Bahrain
and Syria, and also -- if somewhat more cautiously -- in Morocco and
Algeria -- make it clear that the Arab world is in a state of
turmoil," he noted.
The prelate observed that "the campaigners for the 'turning point
of 2011' are young -- 60% of the people in the countries of the
Middle East and North Africa are under 30 in age."
He added that they are "comparatively well educated, highly
familiar with the Internet and the possibilities it offers -- and
yet have no real future prospects."
Apr. 6, 2011
Pax Christi USA | STATEMENT: Pax Christi USA official statement on
change and conflict in North Africa and the Middle East
Just before Lent began, we heard Jesus bless peacemakers and urge
us to make nonviolence and reconciliation our own. As Lent began,
protesters demanded change in Libya but the country slid into civil
war very quickly; now the opposition forces are relying on a no fly
zone and multilateral military assistance which escalates the
violence there even further. Pax Christi USA is saddened by the
fighting in Libya, and regrets that the U.S. and other Western
governments intervened militarily, adding to the violence. We take
hope from the successful nonviolent movements in Libya’s neighbors,
Egypt and Tunisia. Whatever the eventual outcomes of the movements
for change across these three North African states, Pax Christi
notes the growing desire for representative government and
guaranteed human rights across North Africa and the Middle East and
urges all national governments and multinational actors to support
nonviolent action in preference to military options.
Egyptians and Tunisians studied nonviolent action and engaged in
years-long efforts to train themselves and others with international
support. This did not happen in Libya, where initially peaceful
protests quickly devolved into armed conflict. Long-term preparation
for nonviolent action has powered nonviolent change in many
circumstances, but leaders conditioned to view military intervention
as the best way to defend human rights and spread democracy do not
understand nonviolence easily, nor does nonviolent action lend
itself to sensationalist news coverage. Outcomes in Bahrain, Yemen,
Jordan and Syria remain unclear, although the steadfast nonviolence
of demonstrators in Bahrain and Yemen witnesses to the viability of
nonviolent training and action as a means to redress injustice.
Apr. 6, 2011
Episcopal News Service | Presiding bishop, House of Bishops issue
letters requesting support for Bishop Dawani of Jerusalem
[Episcopal News Service] Following the March 25 - 30 meeting of
the House of Bishops, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and
the house have written letters requesting support for Anglican
Bishop in Jerusalem Suheil Dawani, who has been denied the customary
residency permit allowing him to live in Jerusalem.
Jefferts Schori's letter is addressed to the Episcopal Church;
the letter from the House of Bishops is written to Israel's
ambassadors serving in nations where the Episcopal Church has
dioceses or presence.
"Change is likeliest when the leaders of our governments know of
our urgent concern," wrote Jefferts Schori to members of the church,
asking them to contact government officials on Dawani's behalf. "In
every part of The Episcopal Church, your response is most likely to
be effective when directed to Israel's ambassador to your nation, to
your national leader – President and/or Prime Minister, and/or to
your legislative representatives in your national government."
The letter from the House of Bishops outlines the difficulties
faced by Dawani and the charges levied against him by the Israeli
government -- charges that Dawani has vehemently denied -- and asks
Israeli ambassadors for their help in resolving the matter as soon
"Because of the current situation the bishop is unable to conduct
any legal business on behalf of the diocese, and is crippled in his
ability to run the day to day affairs of his diocese, which
comprises schools, churches, and hospitals in Israel, the West Bank
and occupied territories, Gaza, Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon," the
"We seek your assistance in resolving this situation as rapidly
and completely as possible. The ability of our brother, Bishop
Dawani, to lead his diocese is severely compromised. We ask your
urgent attention to this matter."
Apr. 6, 2011
Zenit | Bishop Praises Turkey's Peace Efforts in Libya
Urges Consideration of Both Sides
TRIPOLI, Libya, APRIL 5, 2011 (Zenit.org).- The apostolic vicar
of Tripoli is lauding the recent mediation efforts of Turkey in the
attempt to achieve a ceasefire in Libya.
Libya is currently engaged in a civil war between supporters of
Moammar Gadhafi, the country's ruler for 41 years, and those calling
for new leadership, organized in a coalition called the Transitional
As of Monday, 11 of the country's 22 districts were under
government control, and six under rebel control. The other five were
Tripoli remains the center of Gadhafi's government, while
Benghazi is the headquarters of the rebel forces.
The casualty reports have been difficult to corroborate, and the
estimated total death count ranges from 2,500 to 10,500.
Ahmet Davutoğlu, Turkey's
minister of foreign affairs, met with Abdelati Laabidi, Libya's
deputy foreign minister, on Monday in Ankara, Turkey, to discuss a
Apr. 4, 2011
Zenit | Living in Secret in Saudi Arabia
Interview With Scholar on Churches in the Middle East
ROME, APRIL 4, 2011 (Zenit.org).- Saudi Arabia is considered holy
ground by the Muslim majority who live there. Hence, Christians and
even Muslims of other sects, face severe restrictions.
Christians make up only about 3% of the population, but they have
no churches and never display their faith in public.
Professor Camille Eid, a journalist, author, professor at the
University of Milan and expert on the Churches of the Middle East,
spoke about the Saudi Arabia situation with the television program
"Where God Weeps" of the Catholic Radio and Television Network (CRTN)
in cooperation with Aid to the Church in Need.
Q: Saudi Arabia is a hereditary monarchy based on the foundation
of Wahhabi Islam. What is this branch of Islam?
Eid: Wahhabism is a new doctrine of Islam. Its founder is Abd-al
Wahhab, who was a religious scholar of Hanafi Islam, which is the
strictest doctrine of Islam. He decided that all innovations -- "Bida"
is the term in Arabic -- in Islam should be eliminated. A visit to a
cemetery for instance is considered a bida-innovation and is
prohibited. You cannot do anything that the Prophet Mohammed and his
companions did not do. So the alliance between the followers of
Wahhabi and the prince of Najd in central Arabia created the birth
of this Saudi Arabian kingdom. Saudi Arabia takes its name from the
Saud family. This house of Saud alliance with the Wahhabi sect is
still true today and the successors of the kingdom follow this
strict instruction and doctrine of Wahhabism; the laws of the
kingdom follow the strict guidelines of Wahhabism.
Apr. 1, 2011
Zenit | Catholic, Jewish Leaders Stress Need for Prayer
Highlight Religious Leadership in Modern World
JERUSALEM, APRIL 1, 2011 (Zenit.org).- Catholic and Jewish
leaders are together underlining the importance of prayer so as to
give witness to the presence of God in the world.
This was one of the conclusions of a three-day meeting in
Jerusalem of the Bilateral Commission of the Chief Rabbinate of
Israel and the Holy See's Commission for Religious Relations with
The meeting was co-chaired by Chief Rabbi Shear Yashuv Cohen of
the Jewish delegation and Cardinal Jorge Mejía of the Catholic
The concluding statement was publicized Thursday, the last day of
the meeting, which centered on the theme "Challenges of Faith and
Religious Leadership in Secular Society."
The commission noted that "our modern world is substantially
bereft of a sense of belonging, meaning and purpose."
It affirmed, "Faith and religious leadership have a critical role
in responding to these realities, in providing both hope and moral
guidance derived from the awareness of the Divine presence and the
Divine image in all human beings."