middle east

While Christians who follow the Western calendar celebrated Easter earlier this month, a party of pilgrims from Britain celebrated it last weekend. Their pilgrimage to Jordan focused on meeting and worshipping with the Christian communities as they celebrated Holy Week and Easter together. In Jordan, Catholic and Protestant Christians observe Easter on the same date as the Orthodox churches, which this year was 12 April. “The pilgrimage provided us with opportunities to visit sites of...
The mother of the first Western hostage killed by Islamic State, the Jesuit alumnus James Foley, has reflected on hope, grief, and a faith that conquers hatred and death, in an on-line interview released on Good Friday.Freelance journalist James Foley was a student at Marquette University, the Jesuit university situated in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. During the time he was held captive in Libya in 2011, he said that it was prayer and his faith that kept him going.  In August 2014, he became the...
As we approach Holy Week and Easter, our thoughts once again are naturally turned towards that part of the world where the great events of our Christian faith took place: the Holy Land.  The lands of the Bible.  And as we hear the story of Jesus’ journey to Jerusalem, his death and resurrection, we cannot but be conscious of the human tragedies being played out today in the region.  A region torn apart by conflict and war, the evil of terrorism, and so also a new exodus of...
Pilgrims from the UK will have the opportunity to show their solidarity with Christians of the Middle East by taking part in a pilgrimage to Jordan to coincide with the Orthodox Easter. Among those leading the pilgrims will be Fr Dominic Robinson SJ of the Farm Street Church community in London.The ecumenical pilgrimage in April will focus on meeting and worshipping with the Christian communities in Jordan as they celebrate Holy Week and Easter together.  In Jordan, Catholic and Protestant...
Destroyed tanks in Azaz Syria
When the uprising began in Syria, there was great hope and fear. Syrians of all colours knew reform was vital, but that it would come at a heavy cost. Some were hopeful and encouraged the reform movement, others, more fearful, resisted it. There was extremism and moderation in both camps.We Jesuits have always wanted to be present at that universal middle ground Syrians long for; but finding it is no easy task. Syrian Jesuits do not represent themselves, but the work of a particular group, '...
Pope Francis yesterday welcomed the Israeli and Palestinian presidents to the Vatican for an evening of prayers for peace in the region. The occasion came just weeks after the last round of US-sponsored negotiations collapsed and following the Holy Father’s pilgrimage to the Holy Land last month at which he invited the two men to his 'home' for what has been termed a Prayer Encounter.Israeli President Shimon Peres and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas embraced in the...
Pope Francis’ three-day visit to the Holy Land was billed principally as a religious occasion: to cement relations with the Orthodox Church by marking the 50th anniversary of Pope Paul VI’s historic meeting in Jerusalem with Patriarch Athenagoras I. But the Jesuit pontiff’s pilgrimage was filled with symbolic acts of reconciliation and spontaneous events of prayerfulness that few could have anticipated.The Pope’s arrival in Bethlehem direct from Jordan was interpreted as...
Pope Francis is due to arrive in Amman later today at the start of his three-day visit to the Middle East. After a courtesy visit to meet the King and Queen of Jordan, he will celebrate Mass at the International Stadium before meeting refugees and disabled young people in Bethany.Tomorrow, the Holy Father will fly to Bethlehem where he will celebrate Mass in Manger Square and join pilgrims at the traditional site of Jesus' birth. He will also meet with Palestinians at the Dheishe refugee...
On 27 February in the House of Lord, Lord David Alton took part in a debate on Syria and the Middle East. He pointed out how Christians and other minorities in the country are being systematically targeted in the ongoing civil war and he asked: "What news ... about the Jesuit, Father Paolo Dall’Oglio, kidnapped in July 2013 after entering rebel-held territory?" Read the full text of his speech on Independent Catholic News.
Dr Zoughbi Zoughbi, the Founder and Director of the Wi'am Palestinian Conflict Resolution Center in Bethlehem, will be speaking at Heythrop College, University of London, in Kensington tomorrow (Wednesday, 8 January). Dr Zoughbi is a prominent Palestinian Christian leader and has spent his life working in the field of conflict resolution in the heart of the Israeli/Palestinian context. The Wi'am Palestinian Conflict Resolution Center began in March 1995. It focuses on helping to resolve...

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