Monthly Archives: January 2018

Maronite Archbishop condemns attacks on churches in Syria

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christian-church-syria-omar-sanadiki-reurters

Call for prayers to be said on the feast of St Paul

By Sheraz Khan
Middle East Correspondent for ASSIST News Service

DAMASCUS, SYRIA – Samir Nassar, the Maronite Archbishop of Damascus, has condemned the death of 24 people following military bombardments in many regions in war-torn Syria.

A press release from Aid to the Church in Need, a Catholic charity, said that it had received an update from Archbishop Samir Nassar in relation to theMgr-Samir-Nassar-archeveque-maronite-Damas sufferings of Christians in Syria.

It quoted the Archbishop as saying that the bombs of Jan. 22 had now claimed 24 victims, of which seven were children, who were hit as they left school.

The release stated that the Archbishop in his communication to Aid to the Church in Need described the community’s “fear” and “anguish” following the loss of life.

“At the Patriarchate, there was more, serious damage in addition to the destruction caused by the bomb of Jan. 8,” the release quoted the Archbishop as saying.

It stated: “The initial shelling caused major damage to the Cathedral’s doors and windows as well as fuel tanks and water tanks.”

The Archbishop called for prayers for peace on the feast of St Paul (Thursday, Jan. 25), asking Christians around the world to join with them in prayer when they celebrated Mass.

“The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity has turned towards peace and forgiveness. Please unite with us in our Eucharist on Jan. 25 – the Feast of the Conversion of St Paul,” the press release quoted the Archbishop as saying.

According to the release in Afrin, northern Syria, where Turkey started military action on Jan. 21, the Rev. Valentin Hanan of the Good Shepherdyoung-girl-holds-candle-damascus-syria Church made an urgent appeal for an immediate ceasefire – also asking Christians to pray for them.

“We call for urgent international protection for the believers in Afrin and to stop the Turkish bombardment,” he said. “At this moment, we are subjected to heavy shelling and the Islamic factions vow to enter the city. As a church we ask the Lord first for protection and then ask brethren for prayers and help.”

The press release said the Archbishop described the Christian community as “being under siege,” also saying that the city has experienced heavy shelling.

There are 250 Christian families in Afrin Canton with 190 families in Afrin city, 45 families in Rajo and 15 families in Maabatli, according to the minister, said the release.

It added: “Turkey claimed the bombardments were targeting Daesh (ISIS) fighters in the region, but the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces have disputed this claim.

“According to the Syrian Democratic Forces, up to 150 Daesh (ISIS) fighters were killed in air strikes on the Middle Euphrates River Valley in the south-eastern province of Deir al-Zour take took place on Jan. 20”, it said.

Note: Aid to the Church in Need is a Pontifical Foundation directly under the Holy See. As a Catholic charity, ACN supports the faithful wherever they are persecuted, oppressed or in need through information, prayer, and action. Founded in 1947 by Father Werenfried van Straaten, whom Pope St. John Paul II named “An outstanding Apostle of Charity,” the organisation is now at work in 140 countries throughout the world. Undertaking thousands of projects every year, the charity provides emergency support for people experiencing persecution, transport for clergy and lay Church workers, Child’s Bibles, media and evangelisation projects, churches, Mass stipends and other support for priests and nuns and training for seminarians. Aid to the Church in Need UK is a registered charity in England and Wales (1097984) and Scotland (SC040748). ACN’s UK office is in Sutton, Surrey, and there is a Scottish office in Motherwell, near Glasgow and another office based in Lancaster that covers the North-West.

Photos:

Syrian church damaged after bomb attack. (Omar Sanadiki/Reuters)

Samir Nassar, the Maronite Archbishop of Damascus.

Young girl with a candle at Al-Zaytoun Melkite Greek Catholic Church, Damascus, Syria. (© Aid to the Church in Need).

Brownback confirmation comes at crucial time for religious freedom worldwide

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By Grelan Muse Sr.
Inside The Pew

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Senate confirmed noted human-rights champion Gov. Sam Brownback of Kansas on Jan. 25 as the new Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom.

Brownback will head the State Department’s Office of International Religious Freedom that monitors religious freedom abuses throughout the world. He is the first ambassador under the revised Frank R. Wolf International Religious Freedom Act, the passage of which affirms continued congressional commitment to international religious freedom as a foreign relations priority.

The New York Times reported Jan. 24 that Browback will resign as Kansas’ governor on Jan. 31.

The outgoing governor tweeted hat he looks forward to working hard for the American people and religious freedom around the world.

With roughly 80 percent of the world’s people living in countries with high levels of religious oppression, it is a critical time for international religious freedom. In Burma, Iraq, China, and Nigeria, among other countries, Brownback’s diplomatic experience will be crucial in the months ahead.

“International religious freedom is one of the few, truly non-partisan issues in Washington, both fundamental to our identity as Americans and also essential to our national security,” said 21Wilberforce Senior Fellow Frank Wolf. “In Sam Brownback, we have a leader who not only understands the intricacies of Capitol Hill; he has a heart and the demonstrated passion for the mission of this office.”

While in Congress, Brownback was a Senate leader on international religious freedom, advocating for landmark policy reforms, both domestically and abroad, as well as for prisoners of conscience wrongly incarcerated for their faith. He led the effort to enact the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 which was central to the movement to combat human trafficking. Brownback was actively involved during the Darfur crisis. His travels to that embattled region compelled him to push for a genocide declaration in 2004. He introduced numerous pieces of key human rights legislation, including on North Korea and also Sudan, where he called on the Sudanese government to end slavery, “manufactured” famines, and civilian bombings. Brownback chaired the Senate Foreign Relations Sub-Committee on Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs and co-chaired the U.S. Helsinki Commission.

The Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom post was most recently held by Rabbi David Saperstein. 21Wilberforce President Randel Everett noted, “Ambassador Saperstein’s leadership has been an invaluable asset and he has furthered the cause for religious freedom around the globe.” When Saperstein was asked about Brownback’s support for international religious freedom he responded “It’s an issue he knows, he knows well and cares deeply about.”

Alliance Defending Freedom President, CEO, and General Counsel Michael Farris said Brownback’s appointment is a step in the right direction toward defending international religious freedom.

“America must defend and protect religious freedom globally, and Gov. Brownback is unquestionably capable of engaging this vital mission. It’s clear from history that when any nation abuses or suppresses religious freedom, other freedoms are likewise in danger. America needs a strong advocate for the basic human rights and dignity of those who wish to live consistently with their faith without undue government interference. We commend the Trump Administration and the Senate on the confirmation of Gov. Brownback, whose clear passion and understanding of this issue will work for the good of persecuted people of faith around the world.”

Photo: Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback has been appointed Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom.

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