Place of Jesus’ baptism in Jordan declared a UNESCO heritage site

From CNS: UNESCO declared Bethany Beyond the Jordan, on the eastern side of the Jordan River, as a World Heritage site and the location of Jesus’ baptism.“The decision is logical. The Eastern side is where all the Byzantine antiquities and churches are located,” said Franciscan Father Eugenio Alliata, professor of Christian archaeology at Jerusalem’s Studium [Read More...]

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Kidnapped Franciscan freed in Syria

Great news:  The Custody of the Holy Land announced that the Father Dhiya Azziz has been liberated. The Custody had had no news of the Father Dhiya since Saturday, 4 July, in the late afternoon. Conflicting news had nevertheless led people to believe that he had been taken by jihadists affiliated to Al-Nusra Jabhat, which [Read More...]

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Franciscan abducted in Syria

Details:  This morning, two Catholic priests from Homs told me of the abduction of the Rev. Dhiya Aziz, who belongs to the Franciscan missionaries serving in the Holy Land. The kidnapping took place on Saturday 4 July, while he was in his parish of Yacubiyeh, a village in Syria’s Idlib province, more than 56 miles [Read More...]

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Abu Dhabi opens second Catholic church

You may remember this item from a few days back. Now, it’s official:   A second catholic church in Abu Dhabi was inaugurated on Thursday evening in the presence of Shaikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, the UAE Minister for Culture, Youth and Community Development, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican’s secretary of state and Bishop Paul Hinder, [Read More...]

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New Brooklyn bishop-elect to offer Latin Mass for persecuted Christians

You may remember that Pope Francis last month named a devotee of the Mass in the Extraordinary Form, Rev. James Massa, as an auxiliary bishop to Brooklyn.  Fr. Massa has a special interest in issues affecting the people of the Middle East. He worked for the USCCB for several years as Executive Director of the United States [Read More...]

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Iraq’s Sister Diana: “We need to gain back our humanity”

I got to meet the now-legendary Sister Diana Momeka this morning and wrote about it over at CNEWA’s blog:   The first thing that struck me about the veiled woman in white standing in our reception area was: “She’s so little.” The petite Dominican sister with the piercing eyes and dark hair didn’t look like someone [Read More...]

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Muslims call on world to protect endangered treasures of Palmyra from ISIS

From my colleague Fr. Elias Mallon, over at the CNEWA blog One-to-One: Now that ISIS has gained control of Palmyra — and, some fear, could destroy many of the priceless artifacts in the ancient Syrian city — an important Muslim voice has been raised, calling on the world to protect and defend these treasures. Al [Read More...]

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Syrian Catholic archdiocese confirms priest kidnapped; deacon also missing

Details from CNA:  The Syrian Catholic Archdiocese of Homs confirmed on Friday that a priest in the diocese has been kidnapped, and has asked for prayers for the priest’s safe release. According to Fides, the Homs archdiocese “asked all the faithful to invoke the Lord in prayer so that Father Jacques is released and can return [Read More...]

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Iraqi Christians speak: “They wanted us to know they were believers”

I spent last evening at the Immaculate Conception Seminary in Huntington, New York with some of my colleagues from CNEWA, hearing a first-hand account of life in Iraq, from someone who was jus there. It was a great evening:     When CNEWA’s president Msgr. John Kozar looked at those gathered around the room Wednesday, he [Read More...]

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Words the world needs to hear

  They are the words of a 12-year-old Iraqi refugee named Tamara in Ankawa, Iraq, as reported by CNS, and they are beautiful: “ISIS took everything,” she said,  “but we still have our faith in Jesus Christ, and they will never take it.”   CNEWA President Msgr. John E. Kozar, meeting these extraordinary people while [Read More...]

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