Nation and World News

Iraq Christians’ status more stable but still precarious

The ruins of the Chaldean Catholic cathedral are seen Aug. 3 in Kirkuk, Iraq. Iraq was home to about 1.5 million Christians at the start of the U.S.-led war against Iraq in 2003; some estimates put the current total at 175,000 Christians.

WASHINGTON — Although life in Iraq for Christians has stabilized since the routing of Islamic State from the country, their numbers are down from 2014, when the militant group began its insurgency, with their towns largely wrecked and infrastructure in shambles.

This was the assessment of panelists at a Nov. 28 roundtable in Washington sponsored by the Knights of Columbus in recognition of a week of "Solidarity in Suffering" declared by the U.S. Catholic Church that began Nov. 26 to raise awareness of the situation of persecuted Christians throughout the world.

Rohingya crisis shows danger of identity politics

A Rohingya family sat outside their tent Nov. 20 at a refugee camp in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh. More than 600,000 Rohingya refugees have fled to neighboring Bangladesh from Myanmar. Myanmar considers the group undocumented Muslims from Rakhine state and has not granted them standing as a recognized ethnic group in the country.

DHAKA, Bangladesh -- The themes chosen by the local bishops for Pope Francis' visits to Myanmar and Bangladesh -- "Love and peace" and "Harmony and peace" -- sounded naive or just too "nicey-nice" to some people.

But when love, peace and harmony are missing, the situation is pretty much hell on earth. The Rohingya refugees from Myanmar now living in teeming camps in Bangladesh could testify to that.

Pope Francis, on the other hand, wanted to testify to the Gospel. And that meant emphasizing love, peace and harmony.

Defend God's image by defending the Rohingya, pope urges

Pope Francis touched the head of a young woman as he met Rohingya refugees from Myanmar during an interreligious and ecumenical meeting for peace in the garden of the archbishop's residence in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Dec. 1.

DHAKA, Bangladesh -- Each human being is created in the image and likeness of God, yet so often people desecrate that image with violence, as seen in the treatment of Myanmar's Rohingya minority, Pope Francis said.

"Today, the presence of God is also called 'Rohingya,'" the pope said Dec. 1 after meeting, clasping hands with and listening intently to 16 Rohingya who have found shelter in Bangladesh.

"They, too, are images of the living God," Pope Francis told a gathering of Christian, Muslim, Buddhist and Hindu leaders gathered in Dhaka for an interreligious meeting for peace.

MESSAGE FOR WORLD PEACE DAY | Build peace by welcoming migrants, refugee

Pope Francis gave a reflection at a prayer service for peace in South Sudan and Congo Nov. 23 in St. Peter’s Basilica.

VATICAN CITY — Exploiting a fear of migrants and refugees for political gain increases the possibility of violence and discrimination and does nothing to build a culture of peace, Pope Francis stated in his message for World Peace Day 2018.

"Those who, for what may be political reasons, foment fear of migrants instead of building peace are sowing violence, racial discrimination and xenophobia, which are matters of great concern for all those concerned for the safety of every human being," the pope stated in the message, which was released by the Vatican Nov. 24.

Pope meets generals after brief welcome by children in Myanmar

Pope Francis greeted children as he arrived at Yangon International Airport in Yangon, Myanmar, Nov. 27. After the welcome at the airport, the pope met with the leaders of the nation's military on what was described as a "courtesy visit." The pope is making a six-day visit to Myanmar and Bangladesh

YANGON, Myanmar -- Greeted by two dozen children wearing traditional attire and by the nation's bishops, Pope Francis arrived in Myanmar Nov. 27 for a four-day visit.

The arrival ceremony at the Yangon airport was brief and led by an envoy of the president, because the formal welcome was scheduled for the next day in Naypyitaw, which has been the capital since 2005.

‘Invest in love,’ pope says on World Day of the Poor

Pope Francis led grace before eating lunch with the poor in the Paul VI hall after celebrating Mass marking the first World Day of the Poor Nov. 19 at the Vatican. About 1,500 poor people joined the pope for the meal.

VATICAN CITY — People have a basic choice in the way they live: either striving to build up treasures on earth or giving to others in order to gain heaven, Pope Francis said.

"What we invest in love remains, the rest vanishes," the pope said in the homily Nov. 19, the first World Day of the Poor.

Between 6,000 and 7,000 poor people attended the Mass in St. Peter's Basilica as special guests, the Vatican said. While almost all of them live in Europe, they included migrants and refugees from all over the world.

Syndicate content