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.
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.
A pontifical aid organization has begun sending aid to families who fled their homes when Islamic State militants raided a cluster of Assyrian Christian villages on the Khabur River in northeast Syria.
The Catholic Near East Welfare Association, upon learning about the Islamic State attacks, contacted Bishop Aprim Nathniel of the Assyrian Church of the East in Hassakeh, with whom the agency had collaborated on previous projects, said Michel Constantin, CNEWA's regional director for Lebanon, Syria and Egypt.
Many Lebanese have spent as much time as possible indoors this winter, protecting themselves from this year's unusually brutal cold season.
The story of the Middle East for 2014 is one of war and displacement, broken families and tireless aid workers and the rise of a new terrorist group.
Bullet holes pepper the front windows of the old city council office and paramilitary police in armored jeeps patrol the main street in this mixed Muslim and Druze village in the Galilee region.
Two weeks ago, more than 40 people were injured in a brawl between the two communities, most of them by a grenade thrown into a group of Muslim rioters.
Imagine this: Suppose the U.S. Constitution required that the president of the United States be a Presbyterian, the speaker of the House be a Catholic, and the president of the Senate be Jewish? Sounds preposterous, right?
What does it mean to defend Christians in the Middle East? What does it mean to maintain their presence in the Holy Land?
The picture was perfect. Four patriarchs of the Maronite, Melkite, Syrian Orthodox and Syrian Catholic churches with the catholicos of the Armenian Apostolic Church sat side by side on the stage on Thursday in Washington at the In Defense of Christians Inaugural Summit. More remarkable was the coherence of the patriarchs' message: Not just Christians, but all religions of the Middle East, including Islam and Judaism, need protection. The future of the region, they declared, must be found in pluralism and inclusion.
NCR Today: It is time to bring political actors, scholars and religious leaders together to explore how to nourish a democratic spirit in the Middle East from indigenous roots.