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Iraq

Patriarch calls lives of Middle East Christians 'bad' and 'less bad'

Christians in the Middle East are facing difficulties ranging from "bad" to "less bad," said Latin Patriarch Fouad Twal of Jerusalem.

While describing the condition of the Palestinians in the West Bank as "bad," he said their situation is better than the challenges faced by Christians in Syria and Iraq, especially those who have been forced to flee homes in the fact of Islamic State militants.

Twal pushed again for an end to hostilities throughout the Holy Land and the Middle East.

Christians grow weary over rising threat of kidnapping in Syria, Iraq

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Arab Christians are viewing with growing concern and revulsion an uptick in kidnappings of both their clergy and civilians as violence worsens in Syria and Iraq.

In mid-July, another Catholic clergyman went missing in Syria, making him possibly the eighth clerical victim of apparent abduction in the war-ravaged country.

Melkite Fr. Tony Boutros, 50, and his Muslim driver were first reported missing by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Archbishop from Iraq asks West to step up efforts to oust Islamic State

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Syriac Catholic Archbishop Yohanna Moshe of Mosul, Iraq, called on the world's government to oust Islamic State militants from northern parts of the country so thousands of displaced Christians can return home.

Speaking with the pontifical foundation Aid to the Church in Need on the first anniversary of the Islamic State's takeover of Mosul, Archbishop Moshe said that forcing out Islamic State forces was the "best solution" for the 120,000 displaced Christians who fled the city June 10, 2014, and nearby towns and villages that were seized in early August.

Whither the Middle East?

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Authors' note: This blog post is part two of a two-part series. Read part one: "A Middle Eastern House of Cards."

Great uncertainty hovers over discussions of the shape of the new order that will emerge from the violence and chaos sweeping through the Middle East today. The old order, unnaturally born from the Sykes-Picot Agreement 100 years ago, is coming to an end, dealt a death blow by the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq, and alternative visions for the region have proved misguided.

A Middle Eastern House of Cards

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Ninety-nine years ago, on May 16, 1916, the Sykes-Picot Agreement, officially known as the Asia Minor Agreement, laid down the borders of the Middle East as we have known them for a century. The diplomats, Francois Georges-Picot for France and Sir Mark Sykes for Britain, had worked out the details in five months of negotiations, from November 1915 to March 1916.

Iraqi refugees in Lebanon find hope in infant baptisms at Easter vigil

Despite the extreme hardship of being exiled from their homes in Iraq, the Easter vigil was a day of great joy for the parents of eight babies who were baptized in Lebanon.

Carried by his grandmother, 40-day-old Nimar, was the first to arrive at St. Elias Melkite Catholic Church.

Settling into a pew, the grandmother told Catholic News Service that Nimar is the first of her 12 grandchildren to be baptized outside of the family's ancestral parish near Mosul, Iraq, an area overrun by Islamic State militants.

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July 17-30, 2015

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