Up to 2,000 people from the Iraqi Christian community in the United Kingdom, together with British Christian and Muslim supporters, held a vigil near Parliament Square, Westminster on Saturday, 26 July, to protest at the persecution of Christians in Iraq. There were readings, prayers, hymns and chants, before a delegation walked down Whitehall to Number Ten Downing Street to present a petition. The vigil was led by Syrian Orthodox Archbishop Toma Dawood, Syrian Catholic Monsignor Nizar Semaan, Chaldean Catholic
Read More ... Jo Siedlecka - Posted: Monday, July 28, 2014 5:44 am
Dear Muslim Brothers and Sisters, It gives us great joy to offer you our heartfelt congratulations and good wishes on the occasion of 'Id al-Fitr at the conclusion of Ramadan, a month dedicated to fasting, prayer and helping the poor. Last year, the first year of his ministry, Pope Francis personally signed the Message addressed to you on the occasion of ‘Id al-Fitr. On another occasion, he also called you "our brothers and sisters" (Angelus, 11 August 2013).
Bishop John McAreavey, Bishop of Dromore and Chairman of the Irish Bishops' Council for Justice and Peace has called for for prayers for peace in the Middle East. In his message he highlights the plight of persecuted and endangered Christian communities, inviting everybody "to join in solidarity with all who are suffering in the Middle East and to pray, both personally and at Masses, for peace and justice in these lands." Bishop McAreavey writes: "The death and destruction that we are witnessing
Here is something we can do about climate change! We are always being told that it’s urgent and that the time to take action is short. But there is so much doom and gloom that it’s only natural to wonder if it’s worth even trying. But it is, and what we can do is simple, and can make a big difference. It’s about churches acting together in letting our MPs know that we really care about climate change; that we want our children and grandchildren to inherit a planet on which they can live and flourish.
Caritas has launched an emergency appeal to help the people of Gaza. Following attacks by Israel, over 600 Palestinians have died and over 100,000 people have fled their homes to seek shelter elsewhere. Twenty-seven Israelis have been killed in the conflict. Fr Raed Abusahlia, director of Caritas Jerusalem said: “Most of the victims are children, women and old people. We strongly believe that the Church of Jesus Christ cannot remain silent; we cannot stand aside and do nothing.
Where are the voices of the international community and our Church leaders about the plight of our brothers and sisters in faith and also others of faith and good will in Iraq? The reporting of what is going on is sporadic and never makes any front page. The silence of the world and let it be said, of many Church leaders, is almost deafening except for the few. The situation there in one of horror and as local Bishops and other leaders have said, this violence, and it is violence of a horrendous kind will, unless it is stopped, spread throughout the whole Middle East.
Read More ... Fr Robin Gibbons - Posted: Sunday, July 27, 2014 6:32 pm
Pax Christi (Pat Gaffney) and Kairos Britain (Ann Farr) ran two timely workshops on Palestine at the National Justice and Peace Network Conference last weekend. The following outlines their workshop structure, a vigil for Gaza and follow-up action ideas. Participants were invited to look at a series of photographs as they came in and to choose the one that challenged them most. Images illustrated the situation in Palestine today: the restriction of movement, the arrest of children by the Israeli military, the demolition of homes.
Read More ... Pat Gaffney and Ann Farr - Posted: Sunday, July 27, 2014 5:54 pm
Pope Francis is marking the Day for Life in the UK and Ireland this Sunday, with a call to all people of good will to cherish life, particularly the life of society’s most vulnerable. In a message sent to the Church in England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales, signed by the Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Pope urges Catholics to “to bring the merciful love of Christ as a life-giving balm to those troubling “new forms of poverty and vulnerability” increasingly evident in contemporary society (cf. Evangelii Gaudium 210).”
Schola Affectus writes in his blog: Enjoying the experience of directing a long retreat, 30-days of silence, following the Spiritual Exercises, in North Wales. I am with six other ‘youngish’ Jesuits of my generation, so as well as accompanying people through the four weeks it is great to discuss the dynamics with them (whilst respecting the confidentiality). We are have just spent a few days with the ‘Principle and Foundation’ a consideration that Ignatius gives us before we enter the retreat.
Aspects of our contemporary society in the west are fixated on wealth, status, celebrity. It occurs in almost every group especially those with power attached to their work, such as police, medics, the legal profession, politicians, celebrities, academics, and yes, the Church. Now we know the Church isn’t community of saints, conversion of life is a continual call of the Gospel and we deal with a mixed bunch of people across all continents and islands.
As the widespread violence and aggression facing Christians and minority groups in Mosul, Iraq, intensifies, it is increasingly evident that the fundamental right and freedom to practice one’s Faith and belief is, and continues to be, grossly violated. We are currently witnessing an unacceptable widespread implementation of extremist religious ideology that threatens the lives of all Iraqi’s who do not fit within its ever-narrowing perspective.
The Hebrew word for a “psalm” is mizmor which translates as “something sung”. The psalmist instructs, “Sing to the Lord with the harp/with the sound of music.” (Psalm 97)... When the psalms are sung their original state is, in some sense, restored and renewed. They are God breathed poems that find their fullest expression when sung – divinely inspired tone poems or as St Augustine describes them, “love songs of our fatherland”… When the Psalms are sung, the heart expands and is more ready to receive God. This twofold effect means
Jews, Muslims, Christians, and people of conscience have been holding a continuous vigil outside the Israeli Consulate in downtown Toronto, Canada, since Thursday. Campaigners plan to continue until Saturday afternoon, The vigil condemns the indiscriminate targeting of civilians, the seven-year blockade of Gaza and Canadian complicity in the Israeli military occupation of Palestine. It is calling for the immediate cessation of the Israel’s assault on Gaza, now in its eighteenth day. Canadian Jewish Holocaust survivor Ursula Franklin,
An unexpected visitor came to the Vatican staff canteen on Friday, Vatican Radio reports. Pope Francis arrived unexpected shortly after noon, much to everybody’s astonishment, and after taking a tray and cutlery joined the line with all the employees to be served his lunch. Staff said he ate pasta without sauce and cod served with grilled tomatoes. He ate his lunch at a long table alongside a group of employees. Describing the papal visit as " a thunderbolt out of the blue,"
Hundreds of people have died from the deadly Ebola virus in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia. CAFOD’s partners are on the ground, helping communities to protect themselves. An outbreak of Ebola Virus Disease has hit communities in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia. To date, the World Health Organisation estimates that 786 people have been infected, and 442 people have died, making it the largest outbreak ever known. Ebola is a severe acute viral illness often characterized by the sudden onset of fever, intense weakness, muscle pain,
As Chair of the International Department of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, I condemn in the strongest possible terms, the ISIS insurgents ultimatum to the Christian population of Mosul to convert, pay a religious levy or vacate the city. This threat to Iraqi citizens is a sin against God and a violation against life. We must not forget that Christians have lived and witnessed in Iraq for almost two millennia. The desecration of Mosul’s holy places and the systematic attempts to change the cultural and religious landscape of this ancient city are crimes
Meriam Ibrahim, the woman who was sentenced to death in Sudan for refusing to renounce her Christian faith, arrived in Italy yesterday, and met with Pope Francis in Casa Santa Marta. During the meeting, she was accompanied by her husband Daniel Wani, son Martin (a year and a half), and baby Maya, born in prison two months ago. Her family was accompanied by the Italian Deputy Foreign Minister, Lapo Pistelli, who helped negotiate and arrange her departure from Sudan and travelled with her to Italy.
Pope Francis has said he is praying for the success of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham's forthcoming 'Called To Be One' exploration day, which it has planned with the aim of increasing understanding of the Ordinariate's purpose and reaching out to those who may feel called to join it. The endorsement was delivered in a letter from the Apostolic Nuncio to Great Britain, Archbishop Antonio Mennini, to Monsignor Keith Newton, the Ordinary of the Ordinariate.
The Iraqi Christian community in the United Kingdom and their churches are organising a vigil for the victimised Iraqi Christians in London on Saturday 26-July-2014 with the support of many Eastern and Western Churches and various Christian organisations and charities in the United Kingdom. The assembly will start at 11.30am near Parliament Square. The demonstrators will then move from the assembly point to stand in solidarity outside the Parliament building for a period of silence and prayer
Kairos Britain - a network of individuals, organisations and faith communities seeking a just and lasting peace in Israel and Palestine has issued the following statement today: End the suffering in Gaza NOW. Now is the time for Christians to take action to end the suffering in Gaza and promote a just, lasting, and sustainable peace between Israel and the Palestinians. The situation in Gaza is desperate. Over 600 Palestinians have been killed since Israel began military operation over two weeks ago. The UN says the majority of these are civilians, a third of them children.
What is happening to the Christian communities in the Middle East is nothing less than martyrdom and destruction of their heritage and our ancient origins. The news in Iraq is more than grim, it is catastrophic, and yet, where is the voice of the Western Christian community? The Anglican Church voted for Women Bishops last week and good for it, but in all their rejoicing did anybody in General Synod raise a voice to speak out for the daily martyrdom and destruction of a faith that has remained rooted in a country and culture for 2000 years? They may have, but all those bottles of champagne
Read More ... Fr Robin Gibbons - Posted: Thursday, July 24, 2014 11:14 pm
Meriam Ibrahim and her family have arrived safely in Italy after criminal charges against her and her husband were dismissed and they were permitted to leave the Sudan. On 24 June, Mrs Ibrahim and her husband Daniel Wani were detained as they attempted to leave Sudan, and were later charged with forgery and provision of false information under article 123 and 97 of the 1991 Criminal Code, due to alleged irregularities with her travel documents.
In a dramatic appeal to the international community the Archbishops of Mosul, Iraq have asked for more outside help for minorities in Iraq. Their declaration calls for pressure to be put on the militants to end the destruction of Church buildings – including historic churches. With violence still ongoing in parts of the country, they said: "We, the Archbishops of Mosul, coming from all the denominations gathered in Erbil, Ankawah, headed by His Beatitude Patriarch Raphael Louis I Sako,
Read More ... Reinhard Backes - Posted: Thursday, July 24, 2014 2:46 am
Jesuit astronomer, Brother Guy Consolmagno SJ, has been awarded the prestigious Carl Sagan Medal for “outstanding communication by an active planetary scientist". The award was made by the American Astronomical Society’s (AAS) Division for Planetary Sciences, which described him as “the voice of the juxtaposition of planetary science and astronomy with Christian belief, a rational spokesperson who can convey exceptionally well how religion and science can co-exist for believers”.
The Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations in Geneva, Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, delivered a statement today, during a special session of the UN's Human Rights Council on the human rights situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem...As the number of people killed, wounded, uprooted from their homes, continues to increase in the conflict between Israel and some Palestinian groups, particularly in the Gaza Strip, the voice of reason seems submerged