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Grand Ayatollah to Pope Francis: “Thank you for saying Islam is not equal to terrorism”

August 22, 2016. Grand Ayatollah Makarem Shirazi sent a letter to Pope Francis to thank him for his words on the flight back from Poland, a few weeks ago: "It is not right to say that Islam is a terrorist faith.” In his letter, the Shia religious leader has strongly condemned terrorist attacks from fundamentalist Islamic groups. He has also stated that "the vast majority of the Musilm people consider all Takfiri sects to be outside the fold of Islam.” Makarem Shirazi is one of the 64 Grand Ayatollahs in Shia Islam and, as such, one of the highest authorities in matters of Islamic dogma and law.
World

Pope conveys “solidarity and spiritual closeness” for the victims of wildfire in Portugal

August 16, 2016. The fire has killed at least five people and caused hundreds to evacuate their homes. The Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin addressed a letter, on behalf of Pope Francis, to the bishop of Funchal, Antonio Carrilho. The letter was read during the celebration of Holy Mass for Our Lady of the Mount, Patroness of Funchal. In the letter, Pope Francis expressed his condolences and sorrow over the loss of life and property in the Portuguese island of Madeira, where wildfires have killed at least five people and caused hundreds to evacuate their homes. Pope Francis conveys "solidarity and spiritual closeness” for the victims and those displaced by the wildfires and prayed for the wounded and asked them to have "courage and consolation in Christian hope” for all involved.
World

Pope sends condolences to North America in wake of Hurricane Earl

August 9, 2016. Pope Francis sent his prayers and condolences to the victims in the wake of Hurricane Earl through a message sent by the Vatican’s Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin. The hurricane killed at least 45 people in Mexico and 13 in the Dominican Republic and caused an estimated $50 million in damage.
World

Pope sends his condolences following attack that killed 70 people at a hospital in Pakistan

August 9, 2016. The terrorist attack at Quetta Hospital killed dozens of lawyers and left 120 others injured.
Pope Francis

Pope Francis officially establishes the commission to study the diaconate of women

August 2, 2016. Six women and six men will study the diaconate of women "with regard to the first ages of the Church.”
Vatican

Federico Lombardi appointed new president of The Ratzinger Foundation

Aug. 1, 2016. Today Fr. Lombardi officially ceases to be director of the Vatican Press Office and becomes the president of The Ratzinger Foundation. Father Federico Lombardi will chair the board of the Vatican foundation established by Pope Benedict XVI in 2010. Until now it was run by president Monsignor Giuseppe Scotti. The Ratzinger Foundation promotes the study of theology, organizes cultural and scientific congresses and rewards the work of scholars and researchers in different fields.

Is the future of Christianity in Iraq tied to autonomous Kurdistan?

2014-08-01

In a matter of months, Islamist extremists have purged the centuries-old presence of Christians in parts of Iraq. Chaldean Fr. Rebwar Basa witnessed this new reality in early July, when he visited his family, who lives in Erbil, capital of Iraqi Kurdistan.

FR. REBWAR BASA
Antonian Order of St. Ormiza of the Chaldeans
"First of all, when I arrived to the airport and I went out, I saw many, many people. Many Iraqis who are sleeping outside without anything.”

The autonomous region has taken in thousands of people fleeing the wrath of ISIS militants. The fighting has been catastrophic for Christians in the country. Fr. Basa said that their roots date back to Biblical times, and they even share something in common with Jesus.

FR. REBWAR BASA
Antonian Order of St. Ormiza of the Chaldeans
"We as Christians in Iraq, our mother language is Aramaic and also this is very sad that one day we will not find anyone who speaks this language which is very ancient.”

The Chaldean priest, who's currently a doctoral student in Rome, spent nearly a decade in Mosul. But he was unable to visit the city. It was far too dangerous. The monastery he once spent time in, now lies abandoned. 

Like Christian families, his religious order and other religious leaders also left their homes and churches. Fr. Basa acknowledged this violent episode will take a toll in the Church's future.

FR. REBWAR BASA
Antonian Order of St. Ormiza of the Chaldeans
"I studied Philosophy and Theology in Baghdad, and in that period we were more than 70 students. And now they are, altogether, maybe 20 or 25 seminarians. And you know, maybe in the future, they will be fewer.”

In the aftermath of the 2003 invasion, Iraqi Christians began migrating. Many left the country, others settled in Kurdistan. The Chaldean Church followed suit. 

Although based in Baghdad, its seminary is now in Erbil. And June's Synod of Chaldean Bishops took place nearby. And even though he was born there, Fr. Basa said the future of the Chaldean Church is in all of Iraq, not just in Kurdistan. But Christians worldwide need to take notice.

FR. REBWAR BASA
Antonian Order of St. Ormiza of the Chaldeans
"It is our responsibility to help these people and to help ourselves. Because if we want to keep our faith ,we should also be faithful to this part of the world, and we should contribute to help them.”

In his opinion, it's a big loss for the Iraq not to have its Christians, especially when they've been there for so long, and contributed so much. Fr. Basa added that Chaldean Catholics have a responsibility not only to defend their faith, but also their country.


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