Mar. 31, 2011
Zenit | An Inside Look at Egypt
Interview With Cardinal Antonios Naguib
By Marie Al-Sameen
CAIRO, Egypt, MARCH 31, 2011 (Zenit.org).- The patriarch of
Egypt's Coptic Catholic Church says his country -- some six weeks
after the Feb. 11 resignation of President Hosni Mubarak -- "lacks
clarity" and citizens are expecting "rapid change toward stability,
work, productivity and security."
ZENIT's Arabic edition spoke with Cardinal Antonios Naguib,
patriarch of Alexandria, to discuss the situation in Egypt after the
people's revolt that brought about the resignation of the president.
He offers his outlook on the political situation, the Church's
mission, and the need to "prioritize national interests over private
interests" since "Egypt needs her faithful children."
Mar. 30, 2011
Zenit | Libyan Prelate Says Church Has Muslim Support
TRIPOLI, Libya, MARCH 29, 2011 (Zenit.org).- The apostolic vicar
of Tripoli says the work of the Church in Libya goes on, and that
Muslims have promised their support for Christian ministry.
Bishop Giovanni Martinelli told the Fides agency that the
situation in Tripoli is "quite calm" despite the ongoing conflict as
rebels seek to overthrow Moammar Gadhafi. The prelate added that the
"mood of the people is brought down by the continual queues for fuel
and the difficulties in obtaining food."
The 69-year-old bishop reported a meeting with representatives
from other Christian denominations in Tripoli as well as the World
Islamic Call Society (WICS).
"It was like a gathering of friends, very positive," he said.
"The representatives from WICS reiterated their appreciation for the
work of Christians in Libya and reaffirmed their willingness to
cooperate with us."
Bishop Martinelli also affirmed that "fraternal solidarity" shown
by other episcopal conferences has been a source of comfort.
He expressed gratitude for conferences including those of Italy,
northern Africa and the United States.
Mar. 30, 2011
Zenit | US Cardinal Defends Rights of Muslims
Underlines Religious Liberty for All
WASHINGTON, D.C., MARCH 29, 2011 (Zenit.org).- Cardinal Theodore
McCarrick is stressing the value of religious liberty for all
faiths, defending in particular the rights of Muslims.
The former archbishop of Washington made this appeal today on
behalf of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in a
testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee on the Constitution,
Civil Rights and Human Rights hearing regarding "Protecting the
Civil Rights of American Muslims."
The cardinal affirmed, "We see religious freedom as an essential
foundation for our life together in our own nation and across the
He noted that this freedom "is destroyed by attacks on people in
some countries because of their religion and by the terrible misuse
of religion to incite hatred and even justify violence."
"A justified concern for security and the appropriate pursuit of
those who pervert religion to attack others cannot be allowed to
turn into a new form of religious discrimination and intolerance,"
the prelate pointed out.
He continued, "This is why we stand with our Muslim brothers and
sisters in defense of their dignity and rights, just as we welcome
and expect their reciprocity and solidarity with us when the rights
of Christians and other religious groups are violated around the
Mar. 29, 2011
Zenit | Pontiff Affirms Communion With New Maronite Patriarch
Bechara Boutros Rai Installed in Lebanon
ROME, MARCH 28, 2011 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI has officially
affirmed communion with the new patriarch of the Maronite Church,
who was installed in the office Friday.
Bechara Boutros Rai, 77, succeeds Cardinal Nasrallah Pierre Sfeir,
becoming the 77th patriarch of Antioch of the Maronites. Cardinal
Sfeir has resigned at age 90.
Ten days before the patriarch's installation, Benedict XVI
granted "Ecclesiastica Communio."
"It is a motive of pride for your Church to be united from the
beginning to the Successor of Peter," wrote the Pope in a letter
granting the official recognition of communion, in conformity with
the Code of Canon Law of the Eastern Churches. "Peter was called by
Jesus to preserve the unity of his one Church in truth and in love.
Following a beautiful and ancient tradition, Peter's name is added
to the patriarch's."
In the letter, the Holy Father said he hoped the new patriarch
would be able to have "all the ardor, illumined by wisdom and
tempered by prudence, to guide the Maronite Church."
He spoke of the glory of St. Marone, who established this Church,
as well as the "array of Lebanese saints."
Mar. 28, 2011
Zenit | Holy Land Custos: Politics Is Mute So Violence Speaks
Reacts to Flare-up of Hostilities in Jerusalem, Gaza
ROME, MARCH 28, 2011 (Zenit.org).- When politics is at a
standstill, the "languages" of violence and mistrust enter the
conversation, according to the Franciscan custos of the Holy Land.
Father Pierbattista Pizzaballa shared this reflection with
Vatican Radio, in response to the new increase in tensions between
Israelis and Palestinians.
A terrorist bombing March 23 at a bus stop in Jerusalem killed
one person and wounded more than 50 others; such an event has not
occurred in Jerusalem since 2008, when a Palestinian extremist
entered a rabbinical school and killed eight students.
The Israeli air force launched attacks against three sites in the
Gaza Strip the next day, as at least 11 rockets were fired into
"I hope that it's not a going back and a reopening of a strategy
of terror, as we saw in recent years," Father Pizzaballa said. "I
hope it will remain an isolated incident. Nevertheless, it's true
that there has been a sort of deterioration, first of all in
political relations and then, consequently, in everything else."
The Franciscan characterized political leaders as seemingly
Mar. 28, 2011
Zenit | Faith Alive in West Bank
A response to:
Christians and the Middle East
I wholeheartedly agree with Mr. Anthony Ordona. I spent some time
in Nablus, in the West Bank, and attended Mass at a lovely little
church with a small, but wonderful congregation. One thing that most
Americans seem not to know is that there are not only generations of
Palestinian Catholics, but other Palestinian Christians living in
the West Bank and in Israel. Their faith lives, while being
fundamentally difficult, are rich and loving. I am deeply grateful
each time I recall the warm familial embrace and welcome I received
from them. We need to do what we can to ensure that these dwindling
populations are supported and helped to grow.
Mar. 24, 2011
Zenit | Carmelites Keep Christians in Middle East
Collaborate to Provide Jobs; Point to Signs of Hope
KOENIGSTEIN, Germany, MARCH 23, 2011 (Zenit.org).- Discalced
Carmelites in Lebanon say it is crucial for Christians to remain in
the Middle East, and they are collaborating to bring jobs and hope
to the faithful there.
This was the report from Father Raymond Abdo, the provincial of
the Discalced Carmelite Fathers in Lebanon, when he spoke with Aid
to the Church in Need.
He told the charity that the most important service that can be
done for Middle East Christians is helping them not to emigrate.
Though the priest acknowledged the difficulties, he affirmed that he
wants his own presence in the Middle East to be a testimony that "it
is possible to stay."
Father Abdo said it is important to convince Christians not to
sell their houses and properties. He said that money coming from
Iran and the Gulf states is being used to purchase real estate.
Mar. 24, 2011
Zenit | Maronite Leaders See Holy Spirit in New Patriarch
Patriarch Béchara Raï Noted as Pioneer for Unity
BKERKE, Lebanon, MARCH 23, 2011 (Zenit.org).- The Maronite
leaders who elected Bishop Béchara Raï as the 77th patriarch of that
Church are affirming the Holy Spirit's role in the decision.
In a statement following the March 15 election, the Maronite
prelates affirmed that this event is "a further confirmation of the
work of the Holy Spirit that continues, and is the essential beyond
the suppositions and expectations."
"We entrusted ourselves to the Holy Spirit to elect the right
person for the right post," they affirmed.
The prelates stated, "This work was carried out with the
inspiration of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit that guides the Church
through the Apostles and their successors; it is the Holy Spirit who
chooses the person to be father, head and patriarch."
The new patriarch of Antioch of the Maronites chose as his motto
"Communion and Charity," expressing the hope that "the Maronite
Church will continue her journey in history under the guidance of
the Holy Spirit and the blessing of Our Lady of Bkerke and of
Lebanon, and this because she will be guided by the Spirit who is
Bishop Raï will be inaugurated on March 25 in Bkerke, Lebanon,
the see of the Maronite Catholic Church.
The Lebanese prime minister, Najib Mikati, received with joy the
news of the election of the patriarch.
Mar. 22, 2011
Zenit | 2009-2010 Report of Custody of the Holy Land
Friars Continue Supporting Holy Places, Christian Community
VATICAN CITY, MARCH 21, 2011 (Zenit.org).- Here is the report for
2009-2010 of the projects completed by the Custody of the Holy Land
of the Order of Friars Minor.
The Vatican press office published the report today in
conjunction with an appeal from Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, prefect of
the Congregation for Eastern Churches, to support the Good Friday
Collection for the Holy Land.
* * *
The Custody of the Holy Land continues incessantly its path for
the protection and preservation of the Holy Places in Jesus’ Land.
Its mission is to keep alive the liturgy in the places of worship,
to take care of pilgrims, to enhance apostolic works, and support
the Christian Community; for these reasons, in the years 2009/2010
the Custody gave special attention to the planning and the
fulfillment of the following projects....
Mar. 22, 2011
Zenit | Vatican Urges Support of Holy Land Collection
Appeals to Faithful to Promote Peace in the East
VATICAN CITY, MARCH 21, 2011 (Zenit.org).- The Congregation for
Eastern Churches is urging Catholics worldwide to support the Good
Friday collection for the Church in the Holy Land.
Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, prefect of that dicastery, sent a
letter with an appeal to recall this "commitment that dates back to
He affirmed that "the Holy Land expects the brotherhood of the
universal Church and desires to reciprocate it in sharing the
experience of grace and suffering that marks her journey."
"The Christians of the East are experiencing the actuality of
martyrdom and are suffering because of the instability or absence of
peace," the prelate observed.
He continued: "The most disturbing sign of this is their
Mar. 20, 2011
Zenit | Iraqi Prelate's Words on Anti-Christian Attacks
"We Do Not Want to Hide Our Faith or Identity out of Fear for Our
DUNDALK, Ireland, MARCH 19, 2011 (Zenit.org).- Here is the text
of an address given Wednesday by Archbishop Bashar Warda of Erbil,
Iraq, at the Armagh Diocesan Pastoral Centre in Dundalk, during the
presentation of the 2011 report of Aid to the Church in Need on
Christians oppressed for the faith.
* * *
For Everything there is a Season
Good afternoon Cardinal Brady, Bishop Clifford, ladies and
gentlemen and fellow clergy. I thank you for the honor to mark the
launch today of the 2011 edition of Aid to the Church in Need's
report on Christians oppressed for their faith, entitled 'Persecuted
This report and the work of Aid to Church in Need is critical to
us as members of the worldwide Christian community. This information
will significantly contribute to building international support and
solidarity for Christians around the world where our human rights to
religious freedom has been stripped away.
Mar. 17, 2011
Zenit | Iraqi Bishop: Christians Ready to Claim Right to Exist
Visits Ireland for Release of 2011 Report "Persecuted and
DUNDALK, Ireland, MARCH 16, 2011 (Zenit.org).- It is said that
one of the Islamic fundamentalists who assassinated Father Ragheed
Ganni in 2007 screamed to his victim before killing him, "I told you
to close the church. ... Why are you still here?"
This scene was brought to mind today by Cardinal Seán Brady,
archbishop of Armagh, Ireland, at an event to mark the launch of the
2011 edition of Aid to the Church in Need’s report on Christians
oppressed for their faith. This year's volume is titled "Persecuted
Cardinal Brady's reflection responded to an address from
Archbishop Bashar Warda of Erbil, Iraq.
Archbishop Warda's speech indirectly provided its own answer to
the assassin's haunting question. "Iraqis," he said, "are a people
who have experienced immense suffering but who are also strong,
resilient and prepared to claim their right to existence."
Mar. 14, 2011
Zenit | Syrian Archbishop: Iraqi Refugees Renewed Our Church
Letter of Maronite Archbishop Nassar of Damascus
DAMASCUS, Syria, MARCH 14, 2011 (Zenit.org).- Here is a
translation of the letter written by Maronite Archbishop Samir
Nassar of Damascus, titled "Thanks to the Iraqi Refugees."
* * *
Syria has facilitated the reception of Iraqi refugees. Thousands
of them have come, above all to Damascus, and hundreds of them
continue to come to flee from death and the violence they have
suffered since 2003. U.N. agencies organize their exodus to other
more clement skies. While waiting for their visas, these refugees
stay in Damascus, at times for two or three years and sometimes
These well-formed Christians, fervent and practicing, take refuge
in Christian faith and hope. They fill our churches, invigorate our
parishes and reinforce the Christian faith in Syria, offering new
encouragement to our parishes.
Iraqi refugees take part assiduously in daily Mass despite the
fact they come from far away, on foot or public transport.
Mar. 4, 2011
Zenit | Israeli Embassy Welcomes Pope's "Positive View"
New Book "Exonerates" Jews From Death of Jesus
ROME, MARCH 4, 2011 (Zenit.org).- The Israeli embassy to the Holy
See "welcomes wholeheartedly" Benedict XVI's new book, in which the
Pope reiterates that the Jews are not guilty of Jesus' death.
A statement released Thursday in English and Italian from the
Israeli embassy responded to excerpts of "Jesus of Nazareth" that
were released to the press this week. The book will be available
"We welcome wholeheartedly the emphasis reiterated by the Pope in
his new book, in which he exonerates the Jews from responsibility
for the death of Jesus," the statement says.
The embassy itself noted that this is not new teaching. In 1965,
the Second Vatican Council declaration "Nostra Aetate" already
explicitly stated that "what happened in His passion cannot be
charged against all the Jews, without distinction, then alive, nor
against the Jews of today."
The embassy observed that the book is consistent with "the
Church's official policy" and added that "Jesus of Nazareth" is a
"confirmation of the Pope's known positive stance towards the Jewish
People and the State of Israel."
Mar. 4, 2011
Zenit | Statement of International Catholic-Jewish Committee
"40 Years of Dialogue: Reflections and Future Perspectives"
PARIS, MARCH 3, 2011 (Zenit.org).- Here is the joint declaration
of the International Jewish Committee on Interreligious
Consultations (IJCIC) and the Vatican's Commission for Religious
Relations With the Jews that was released at the conclusion of its
21st meeting. The four-day meeting, which ended Wednesday in Paris,
focused on the theme "40 Years of Dialogue: Reflections and Future
* * *
The 21st meeting of the International Catholic-Jewish Liaison
Committee (ILC) was held in Paris, France from February 27 – March
The conference, titled "40 Years of Dialogue: Reflections and
Future Perspectives" addressed the past, present and future of
Catholic-Jewish dialogue in its international settings. The event
began with a review of the 40-year history of the ILC, which was
begun in 1970. For the current conference, delegates came from the
United States, Europe, Israel, Australia, Latin America and Africa.
The conference highlighted the positive relationship that began with
the Second Vatican Council and the promulgation ofNostra Aetate (the
declaration on the relationship of the Church to non-Christian
Religions) in 1965.
The ILC sponsored a special three-day pre-conference called the
"Emerging Leadership Delegation", which brought together young
people from both faith communities to discuss the challenges of the
future and to help expand the dialogue to involve more young people
around the world. These delegates were invited to participate fully
in the ILC plenary sessions where their insights and fresh ideas
contributed positively to the proceedings.
A principal outcome of the conference was the deepening of
personal relationships and of a shared desire to confront together
the enormous challenges facing Catholics and Jews in a world in
rapid and unpredictable transformation. Also acknowledged was a
common religious duty to help relieve the global consequences of
poverty, injustice, discrimination and the denial of universal human
rights. Participants were especially sensitive to the call of the
younger generation for true freedom and full participation in their
Mar. 4, 2011
Zenit | Mideast Looks Ahead; Pakistan's Great Loss
Sant'Egidio Gathers Muslim, Christian Leaders
By Edward Pentin
ROME, MARCH 3, 2011 (Zenit.org).- Around this time of year, the
Sant'Egidio lay community in Rome brings together Christian and
Muslim scholars and religious and political leaders for a one-day
conference on the Middle East.
Each one sheds light on the troubled region and offers hope, but
this year's event, which took place Feb. 23, was especially hopeful
and timely in light of the uprisings across North Africa and the
Many speakers expressed their aspirations that the regime changes
that have taken place -- with further ones probable -- offer a
chance for the region to embrace religious freedom and democracy,
although they didn't ignore the risks of extremists hijacking the
levers of power.
Italy's Minister for Foreign Affairs, Franco Frattini, opened the
conference by advocating more European Union funds be spent on
dialogue between Christians and Muslims in the region -- "money that
should be spent, and would be well spent." He noted that an
opportunity exists for those countries going through a transition to
democracy to include principles of religious freedom in any new
constitutions. This can only happen, he said, if it comes from the
people, "not dictated to by Brussels or Rome," and that one of the
added benefits would be to arrest Christian emigration from the
Mar. 4, 2011
Zenit | Church in Lebanon Seeks Greater Role for Laity
Follows Up on Synod Resolutions
BEIRUT, Lebanon, MARCH 3, 2011 (Zenit.org).- The 24th proposition
from last October's synod on the Middle East affirms that the synod
fathers want lay people to have greater responsibility in the
Church, being apostles at work and witnesses to Christ in the world.
The Church in Lebanon is trying to bring this about.
A meeting Feb 25. presided over by the apostolic nuncio,
Archbishop Gabriele Giordano Caccia, gathered key bishops and a
group of about 20 young laypeople to discuss this project.
The laity and their bishops considered the current situation of
laypeople in Lebanon, within its particular context as a nest of
diverse Christian traditions and interreligious dialogue.
Archbishop Caccia affirmed that the plurality of the Churches
existing in Lebanon is a richness for the Church, and the
collaboration between the Christian laypeople living in the seven
Catholic Churches "sui iuris" in Lebanon is a necessity.
Mar. 4, 2011
Zenit | Arab Unrest Leads to Appeals to the West
Iranian Muslim Asks Support for Youth; Priests Note Plight of
ROME, MARCH 3, 2011 (Zenit.org).- The outcome of the revolution
wave in the Arab world is far from settled, but in the meantime,
calls for support are coming in for the young protestors themselves,
and refugees caught in the crossfire.
"If millions of Muslim young people who today cry out against
injustices felt the solidarity of the West and were not
discriminated against, they would become very important and useful
partners and next door neighbors for the future of Europe," one
Iranian Muslim theologian told Vatican Radio.
Shahrzad Housmand is a professor at the Pontifical Gregorian
University. "We ask the Western world and men of faith to help the
leaders of the protest in Arab countries to direct it to a
democratic change," he said.
The theologian suggested that such support is in the best
interests of the West, "because the dictatorships favor
fundamentalist violence. Today young people -- who constitute half
of the Arab world -- are tired of the narrow religious vision,
injustice and oppression that humiliates their human dignity."