The current political triangle made up of Turkey, the Islamic State and the Kurds in the Middle East is a textbook example of realpolitik in its rawest form.
NCR interviewed the vice president for communications and strategic planning for the Knights of Columbus, about its new Christian Refugee Relief Fund to aid persecuted Christians in Iraq and Syria.
Pope Francis has welcomed the election of a new patriarch for the Armenian Catholic Church, extending what is known as "ecclesial communion" to Patriarch Gregoire Pierre XX Ghabroyan of Cilicia, who was elected Friday by his fellow Armenian bishops.
The day after the election, the pope wrote to the new patriarch offering his congratulations and praying that God would shower him with an "abundance of divine gifts."
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.
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.
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Pope Francis and the patriarch of the Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch expressed their desire to work toward full communion of the two churches.
The pope met with Patriarch Ignatius Aphrem II at the Vatican Friday. This was Aphrem's first official visit with Francis. The two church leaders spoke privately, after which each gave a public discourse.
Faith and Justice: "If [the Islamic State group] does come in ... it will be a major humanitarian disaster."
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.
Last week's New York Times had a story about the continued use of chemical weapons in Syria; namely, chlorine gas, which aid workers are convinced is being deployed by President Bashar al-Assad's government forces. Here's an excerpt from the story: