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13 February 2016
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    13/02/2016 - RUSSIA – VATICAN

    The leaders of two hieratic religious traditions hugged in a bare "Soviet" atmosphere, sterilised from the presence of people, but with dignitaries, politicians and journalists. The Joint Declaration contains important points, and sets the stage for missionary work for the coming centuries. Putin overshadows the Syrian issue. Kirill wins over Uniatism and Ukraine. However, the real world will be the test of the agreement.


    by Vladimir Rozanskij

    12/02/2016 - VATICAN

    Pope: the Missionaries of Mercy cannot absolve unlawful bishops


    In a letter, Mgr Fisichella does not include this in the list of sins reserved for the Holy See that the Missionaries of Mercy can absolve. This involves bishops ordained "without papal mandate” in China and within the Lefebvrian community.


    12/02/2016 - SYRIA

    Patriarch Laham: Syria agreement a positive step, now common front against the Islamic State


    Gregory III hopes that the agreement "can be beneficial to the country and its people." He urges continued alliance against Daesh and other jihadist groups. And he calls for mediation between "the Syrian government and the real internal opposition." Only foreign mercenay fighters do not want peace. Encounter between Francis and Kirill the hope of a united and fixed Easter.
     


    12/02/2016 - SYRIA

    World powers agree to "cease hostilities" in Syria. But skepticism reigns


    The fighting should end within a week. Agreement also reached on increased aid distribution as of today. Battle against jihadist groups to continue as well as siege of Aleppo. Skepticism in Damascus: "For five years we have had statements, but few hard facts." Dimitri Medvedev: Dialogue is better than the outbreak of  "a new world war."

     


    12/02/2016 - CUBA – VATICAN – ORTHODOX

    Francis-Kirill meeting in Cuba: “Finally! We are brothers. We have everything in common”


    The first meeting in centuries between the Pope and the Patriarch of Moscow took place in a relaxed and fraternal atmosphere. Two hours of private talks were followed by the signing of a Joint Declaration. As he thanked Raul Castro, the pope said, "If things continue like this, Cuba will be the capital of unity." Both leaders are committed to defending Christians around the world and support "the foundations of morality, the family and the person".


    12/02/2016 - VATICAN – CUBA – ORTHODOX

    Francis and Kirill: Orthodox and Catholics united vis-à-vis persecuted Christians and the secularised West


    In the Joint Declaration signed in Havana, the Pope and the Patriarch of Moscow emphasise the world’s evils and the need for Christians to bear witness together. Both stand for the natural marriage of a man and a woman, the right to life, and the need for inter-faith dialogue. Both are saddened by the scandal of division, and jointly appeal for an end to religious persecution, for peace in Ukraine and for unity based on "tangible gestures." The full text of the Declaration follows.


    11/02/2016 - VATICAN - HOLY LAND

    Raising funds for Holy Land on behalf of “Refugees, displaced persons, the elderly, children, and the sick” who “are all in need of our help”


    Raised funds will finance the upkeep of holy sites in the Holy Land, as well as pay for educational activities, housing for young couples, and aid for Syrian and Iraqi refugees.


    11/02/2016 - INDIA

    Survivors of the Orissa pogroms in solidarity with persecuted Christians in Syria

    by Santosh Digal

    The survivors of the most ferocious massacre against the Christian community in India met for the first time. During the meeting they expressed solidarity with the suffering Christians in Syria and the Middle East. "As refugees, we can truly understand your pain." "The wave of violence directed at implementing an ethnic and religious cleansing against Yazidis and Christians is a crime against humanity."

     


    11/02/2016 - SYRIA

    Red Cross: 50 thousand civilians flee battle for Aleppo


    The escalation of the conflict has exacerbated the humanitarian crisis. Much of the city is without water. The government army blocks supply routes to areas under siege, "enormous pressure" on civilians. MSF: health system near "total collapse". Kurdish fighters wrestle a military air base from militia.


    10/02/2016 - VATICAN

    For pope, “Lent should be a time of beneficial ‘pruning away’ of falsehood, worldliness, indifference”


    During Ash Wednesday Mass, Francis stressed states that at this liturgical time God invites us to "be reconciled" to Him and to "return" to Him "with your whole heart." After the service, the pope commissioned the Missionaries of Mercy to “open the doors of the heart, to overcome shame,” and not to “flee from the light”.


    10/02/2016 - SYRIA

    Vicar of Aleppo says Syrian people do not want war which is fomented by foreigners


    The regular army advances in the region. Thousands of civilians and militants in flight. For Msgr. Georges Abou Khazen Christian migrants are a resource "in pastoral and ecclesial service". He urges them to witness to the Gospel to Muslims, a mission "in the sign of the times." From the drama of the Christians to the miracle of the meeting between Francis and Kirill. Lent and the ecumenism of blood.


    10/02/2016 - VATICAN

    Jubilee an occasion for solidarity, says Pope, "if the jubilee does not reach our pockets it is not a true jubilee"


    "Let us pray, that during the Jubilee the Lord remove this desire to have more from all our hearts". "We should all ponder whether we have too much. But why not give something to those who have nothing? ".Condemnation of usury which leads so many “in desperation, to suicide."


    09/02/2016 - VATICAN

    For pope, the Missionaries of Mercy should bear witnesses of how God loves and forgives


    “[W]e are called to be the living expression of the Church that, as a mother, welcomes anyone who approaches her,” said the pontiff. “Being a confessor in accordance with Christ’s heart is like covering a sinner’s heart with the blanket of mercy, so that he or she may not feel ashamed anymore and regain the joy of their filial dignity". Sadly, “One can do a lot of harm to a soul if it is not accepted as by a father, as by a mother Church."


    09/02/2016 - VATICAN

    Pope: The confessor who feels himself to be a sinner is man of forgiveness, reconciliation


    "Forgiveness is a seed, God’s caress".  When a person approaches the confessional: "it is because he or she feels something weighing them down and wants to be freed", they may not know how to say it, but "tell them with gesture to come closer." "There is no need to ask questions."


    09/02/2016 - VATICAN

    "Missionaries of Mercy" will have faculty to absolve "most grave" sins


    Tomorrow Francis will grant them the authority to forgive those who steal consecrated hosts, use violence against the Pope, absolve an accomplice, illegitimately ordain a bishop, attempt to ordain a woman, violate the secrecy of the conclave, and even those who are complicit in an abortion or commit acts of pedophilia.


    08/02/2016 - SYRIA

    For Nuncio in Damascus, pope's efforts on Syria to be admired, but peace needs a miracle


    Mgr Zenari welcomes the pontiff’s call for a "political solution" to the conflict. For the prelate, civilians want more than words; they want "concrete steps" towards a ceasefire. However, a miracle is now needed, like the one that led to the elimination of chemical weapons. As Gulf States put pressure for a ground operation, Syrian government forces push north.


    06/02/2016 - VATICAN

    Pope: prayer works miracles, it is a key that opens God’s heart “which is never padlocked"


    Greeting the Padre Pio Prayer Groups Francis says that prayer "is not a good practice for peace of  heart,  neither a pious way to obtain from God what we need. If it were so, it would be moved by a subtle selfishness: I pray to feel good, like taking an aspirin. No, it is not this. I pray to get this thing. That is just making a deal. Neither is it this. Prayer is something else. Prayer, is a work of spiritual mercy". " In a word, it means entrusting: entrust the Church, people, situations to the Father, so that He may care for them".


    06/02/2016 - RUSSIA - VATICAN

    Francis and Kirill, a Holy Alliance for the future of Christians and the world

    by Vladimir Rozanskij

    The meeting between the Pope and the Patriarch of Moscow Kirill has been eagerly desired for quite some time. Expected under John Paul II; hoped for with Benedict XVI, it has taken time to realize. Catholics and Orthodox face the same challenges of persecution and relativism. Orthodox nationalism, backed by Putin, causes some reticence. The Middle East crisis and risk of Russia’s isolation fosters collaboration.


    06/02/2016 - RUSSIA - VATICAN

    Moscow and Rome: A history of clashes and dialogue

    by Ieromonaco Ioann

    Good relations until the fifteenth century. The Council of Florence, the Union of Brest and the birth of the Catholic Churches of the Eastern rite. The anti-Christian persecution of the Soviet Union and the conflict between Catholics and Orthodox in Ukraine. The Catholic mission in Russia.


    05/02/2016 - RUSSIA – VATICAN

    For Russian Patriarchate, the “genocide of the Christian population” made the Kirill-Francis meeting urgent


    Metropolitan Hilarion told a press conference that despite unresolved issues such like the expansion of the Greek Catholic Patriarchate in Ukraine, the Moscow Patriarchate hopes that the meeting "will open a new page in the relations between the two Churches”.


    05/02/2016 - VATICAN - RUSSIA

    Francis to meet Kirill in first meeting in history between a pope and a patriarch of Moscow


    Their meeting will take place in Cuba, where Francis will stop before he travels to Mexico. The two are expected to sign a joint statement after a two-hour private talk.


    05/02/2016 - VATICAN

    Pope: "God’s style is not man's", God wins with humility


    Commenting on the death of John the Baptist, Francis invites us to "ask the Lord for the grace of humility that John had without bestowing us with the merits or glories of others. And above all, the grace that there is always space in our lives for Jesus to grow and that we abase ourselves, to the very end. "


    05/02/2016 - SYRIA

    Moscow accuses Ankara of wanting to invade Syria. Riyadh prepares for ground operations against Isis


     The Russian Defense Ministry has accused the Turks of preparing military "operations" in Syria. Saudi Arabia ready to support the US coalition in case of ground operations against the Islamic state. Geneva peace talks suspended, while tensions rise over Syrian arena.


    04/02/2016 - LEBANON – SYRIA

    Caritas Lebanon asks donor countries for more aid, calls for a stop to the war and arms trade


    Fr Paul Karam is in London for the Syria donor conference. For him, the priority is to stop the conflict. So far, "personal interests" have prevailed with "the civilian population" paying the price. The Middle East is "a raging volcano" that can be stymied by following the path of peace outlined by Pope Francis.


    04/02/2016 - VATICAN

    Pope: the best inheritance we can leave is faith in God who "never disappoints"


    Thinking of our "final passage" which is "a light which illuminates life", "is a reality that we must always have before us".  We must ask God to not fear death.


    04/02/2016 - JORDAN - SYRIA

    Syrian crisis brings Jordan to verge of collapse amid risk of silent fanaticism


    An AsiaNews source describes a situation "at breaking point. There is no housing, water  or work". The government has so far maintained "control", but long-term projects are needed as well as peace in Syria, because the refugees "want to return to their country”.  The increasing risk of a "silent fanaticism" that could flare up. In the midst of chaos, the reality of Karak Hospital, whichcontinues to assist pregnant women and children.


    04/02/2016 - UN - SYRIA

    Geneva UN negotiations for peace in Syria suspended. Both sides play blame game


    Special envoy Staffan de Mistura claims it is just a temporary break and is not a sign of the failure of the talks. But experts say: "Negotiations never really begun." Opposition accuse the government of bombing and starving people. Damascus says rebels backed by Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar.


    03/02/2016 - VATICAN

    Pope: God wants to save us all; His mercy "fulfills justice"


    Forgiving and helping the offender to recognize and reject evil is also "a way to resolve conflicts within families, in relationships between spouses or between parents and children, where the offended love the offender and want to save the relationship that binds them to each other. Do not cut off that relationship." "It is a great responsibility to be confessors, so great, because the son, the daughter who comes to you only wants to have a father. And you, the priest, you're there in the confessional, you stand there in the place of the Father who does justice with His mercy".


    02/02/2016 - VATICAN

    Pope calls on consecrated persons to be a sign of God’s closeness and sharing of humanity’s wounds today


    In the Mass ending the Jubilee of Consecrated life, Francis said, “woe betide routine in spiritual life; woe betide the crystallization of our charisms in abstract doctrine”. In fact, “Our founders were moved by the Spirit and they were not afraid to get their hands dirty with everyday life, with people’s problems, they were not afraid to courageously walk the geographic and existential peripheries.”


    02/02/2016 - SYRIA - JORDAN

    As UN mediates in Geneva, fighting continues in Syria, and the refugee situation reaches a boiling point in Jordan


    On the second day of ‘proximity talks,’ Damascus agrees to let aid into three besieged towns, including Madaya. However, diplomatic efforts have yet to halt fighting in places like Aleppo, where combat is intensifying. Jordan’s king warns that his country has reached a boiling point.






    Editor's choices

    CUBA – VATICAN – ORTHODOX
    Francis-Kirill meeting in Cuba: “Finally! We are brothers. We have everything in common”



    The first meeting in centuries between the Pope and the Patriarch of Moscow took place in a relaxed and fraternal atmosphere. Two hours of private talks were followed by the signing of a Joint Declaration. As he thanked Raul Castro, the pope said, "If things continue like this, Cuba will be the capital of unity." Both leaders are committed to defending Christians around the world and support "the foundations of morality, the family and the person".


    VATICAN – CUBA – ORTHODOX
    Francis and Kirill: Orthodox and Catholics united vis-à-vis persecuted Christians and the secularised West



    In the Joint Declaration signed in Havana, the Pope and the Patriarch of Moscow emphasise the world’s evils and the need for Christians to bear witness together. Both stand for the natural marriage of a man and a woman, the right to life, and the need for inter-faith dialogue. Both are saddened by the scandal of division, and jointly appeal for an end to religious persecution, for peace in Ukraine and for unity based on "tangible gestures." The full text of the Declaration follows.


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