On Tuesday 25th April, in Damascus, Melkite Catholic Patriarch Gregory III Laham of Antioch finally celebrated the funeral Mass for five Syrian Christians who had been abducted in 2013 by Islamist extremist rebels in the city of Maaloula. Following the Mass, their remains were finally laid to rest in this majority Christian city from which they had originated.
*Below is a letter written by Cardinal Piacenza, the President of Aid to the Church in Need, that was sent to all the bishops of the Nineveh Plains in Iraq and read out during the Easter celebrations.
By Maria Lozana
On 18th April a deliberate arson attack caused some damage to the rectory attached to the church of the Assumption, the cathedral church of the apostolic vicariate of Nepal, which is situated on the outskirts of the capital Kathmandu. No one was injured and the damage was solely material. Nonetheless, according to the vicar general, Father Silas Bogati, the attack “has harmed the tiny Catholic community, which is now afraid. We are trusting in God, but what has happened is a call to be vigilant.” The attack took place in the midst of a very delicate political situation in the country, as the county prepares for the forthcoming local elections on 14th May – the first to be held in Nepal for almost 20 years. The local elections are expected to be followed by Parliamentary elections in January 2018.
Father Samir Khalil Samir, is a Jesuit priest and specialist in Islam, and a professor at the Institute of Oriental Studies in Rome. An Egyptian himself, born in Cairo, he was recently interviewed by the Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) in light of the forthcoming visit of the Pope to Egypt. During the interview he spoke about his views on the papal visit, on the importance of dialogue between Islam and Christianity and the fear of seeing the Middle East emptied of Christians. Below are some extracts from the interview.