By Vatican News   Pope Francis is making a special call for prayers for all the sick and suffering, in the context of the global Covid-19 pandemic.

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United Nations Under-Secretary-General (USG) and Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, Adama Dieng, and Special Adviser (SA) and Head of the United Nations Investigative Team to promote accountability for crimes committed by Da’esh/ISIL in Iraq, Karim A. A. Khan Q.C., commended religious leaders for endorsing  an Interfaith Statement on the Victims of ISIL.

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Lahore (Agenzia Fides) - "The barbaric murder of Saleem Masih, a young Christian from the Kasur district, who was beaten, kicked, chained and tortured with electric cables and a red-hot iron bar and died due to his injuries (see Fides 2/3/2020), goes beyond any sentence. The accusations against him were of being 'a dirty Christian' and 'having polluted' the water of a well. This horrible act of violence is a grim .... read more
 
If you are in search of a meaningful Lenten prayer, you might consider one that has been around since the 4th century and attributed to a Doctor of the Church, St. Ephrem the Syrian. It contains the very essence of the Lenten spirit and is recited twice a day (from Monday through Friday) by Orthodox Christians. The worshiper makes the sign of the cross and a “metany” (a prostration) at the end of each petition, bowing 12 times and repeating:“O God, cleanse me, a sinner.” Finally, the entire prayer is recited once again with the final prostration and the sign of the cross at the end..

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In light of concerns about and implications of the current international spread of COVID 19, the coronavirus, the leadership of the World Council of Churches (WCC) central committee has decided to postpone the upcoming full WCC central committee meeting, currently slated for 18-24 March, along with the executive committee meeting that was to precede it.

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We, participants in the joint meeting of the Interreligious Council in Russia and the Christian Inter-Confession Consultative Committee representing Christian, Islamic, Jewish and Buddhist communities in Russia, have gathered in Moscow on the invitation of Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia.

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Ethiopia’s most senior Catholic, Cardinal Berhaneyesus Demerew, has been prevented from attending an event in Eritrea by officials barring his exit from the neighbouring country's primary airport.

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Final press release from the Amman meeting

Following the initiative for dialogue and reconciliation announced by the Patriarchate of Jerusalem, and His Beatitude Patriarch Theophilos III in November 2019, the Amman Fraternal Familial Gathering was hosted today in the capital of Jordan, with attendance of Primates and Delegations from various Orthodox churches. The purpose of the gathering was to renew dialogue and promote unity between brothers within the Orthodox Communion.

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The Apostolic Administrator of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem spoke at the meeting on the ‘Mediterranean frontier of peace’. In his address, he said: “The Churches of the Middle East and North Africa have repeatedly asserted that they do not only need economic aid, but need above all solidarity, to feel heard”. Brotherhood and human solidarity are needed, but also the courage to speak out.

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(Peter Anderson) The Patriarchate of Antioch has just made the surprising announcement that it will not participate in the Amman meeting (official English announcement).  With this, the latest list of attendees consists of six of the fourteen Local Orthodox Churches:  four represented by their primates – Jerusalem, Moscow, Serbia, Czech Lands and Slovakia; two by delegations – Romania and Poland.  The text of the announcement by the Patriarchate of Antioch is set forth below.    
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Heads and representatives of Local Orthodox Churches are to meet next week in Amman on the initiative of Patriarch Theophilos of Jerusalem. In an exclusive interview to RIA Novosti, Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, head of the Moscow Patriarchate department for external church relations, tells who will discuss what and when and what will be the aims of the delegation of the Russian Orthodox Church to be led by Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia.

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VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - The Vatican will on March 2 open up its archives on the wartime pontificate of Pius XII to allow scholars to probe accusations that he turned a blind eye to the Holocaust, but they will find he helped Jews behind the scenes, Holy See officials say.

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WCC condemns terror attack in Germany

As news broke of nine people killed by an alleged far-right extremist gunman on 19 February in Hanau, Germany, World Council of Churches general secretary Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit condemned the violence and extended condolences to family and friends of those who perished.

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Bishop Filotheos of Oreoi performed the Holy Eucharist at the Metropolitan Cathedral of Athens where the relic of Saint Filothei is kept.

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Metropolitan Emmanuel of France traveled to Riyadh, at the invitation of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, in order to chair the Board of Directors of the International Centre for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue (KAICIID), following his recent election as president. The Secretary General of KAICIID and the Advisor to .... read more
 
We discussed the importance of tolerance and understanding both between and within different faiths. Religious tolerance is one of Kurdistan’s great strengths – we must do all we can to preserve it.

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A documentary on one of the greatest saints of the 20th century will soon be released.
 

American Jewish Committee tweet @AJCGlobal



@AJCGlobal AJC Director of International Interreligious Affairs Rabbi David Rosen met this week with Pope Francis alongside leaders from other faiths to discuss ways of advancing the goals of the Document on Human Fraternity issued by the pope together with the Grand Imam of al-Azhar.
 
Ambassador Sam Brownback, who had earlier visited the Holy Trinity Monastery, which is the seat of the historic Halki seminary, and the Ecumenical Patriarch discussed issues related to the ministry of the Mother Church, both locally and internationally, the Greek diaspora, and the status of Christians in Turkey.

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(Islamabad) Un tribunal pakistanais a condamné plus de 80 islamistes à une peine de 55 ans de prison chacun, pour leur participation à des violentes manifestations contre l’acquittement de la chrétienne Asia Bibi, accusée de blasphème contre l’islam, a-t-on appris vendredi auprès d’un responsable de la mouvance islamiste.

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The head of the UAE's Fatwa Council met Pope Francis in the Vatican City on Wednesday.   --   Imam Abdullah bin Bayyah, who is also president of the Forum for Promoting Peace in Muslim Societies, was in Rome for the Abrahamic Faiths Initiative forum this week.

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Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, after the meeting with Prime Minister Oliver Spasovski and his predecessor Zoran Zaev -which took place in a particularly warm climate,- made the decision to invite both sides, the Serbian Orthodox Church, as well as the Church of Skopje, to a joint meeting, in an attempt to find a mutually acceptable solution to the country’s major ecclesiastical issue.

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Assyrian Christian priest Sefer Bileçen, the sole caretaker of Mor Yakup Monastery, a 1,500-year-old church in Turkey’s southeastern city of Mardin, was arrested on Friday after detained in Turkish army's operation in the region.  --  "Assyrian priest Bileçen, who was detained yesterday, was arrested," journalist Sedat Sur said on Twitter. But, he did not mention the reason behind the priest's arrest.

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The head of the Ukrainian Catholic Church has accused Russian Orthodox leaders of blocking a visit by the Pope, as the country's newly independent Orthodox Church continued to seek recognition by other Orthodox leaders. -- "The Vatican's Secretary of State, Cardinal Parolin, has said there are several conditions – first, an invitation from the Catholic Church; second, an invitation from the Ukrainian government; and third, that other Christian Churches don't object," said Archbishop Svietoslav Shevchuk of Kiev-Halych,

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On Friday, January 10, the Catholic Churches in Jordan marked the 20th anniversary of Christian and national pilgrimage to the Baptism Site of Lord Jesus Christ in the modern time, which is considered one of the most prominent Christian holy sites in the world.

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(Peter Anderson) The correspondence between Patriarch Theophilos of Jerusalem and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew has now been made public.  Last week, a photocopy of the letter from Theophilos to Bartholomew was posted. The letter, dated December 11, 2019, was written in English and was very carefully worded in an attempt to avoid the impression that Theophilos was convening a synaxis of the primates.

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Greek Archbishop Ieronymos informed the Holy Synod on Friday that he has refused an invitation from Patriarch Theophilos of Jerusalem to attend a meeting of Orthodox leaders. --   
According to a statement issued by the Holy Synod, Ieronymos refused the invite because the calling of such meetings of Orthodox leaders is the sole privilege of the ecumenical patriarch based in Istanbul.

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Many countries of the world combat surrogacy. And all who want to buy a baby in Europe, unfortunately, go to Ukraine today. The Father and the Head of the Ukrainian Church said this during his sermon to the faithful on the Feast of the Synaxis of the Mother of God and St Joseph the Betrothed (the Feast of the Holy Family).

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Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef recently alleged that the aliyah to Israel of immigrants from the former Soviet Union who are not Jewish according to Jewish law was a conspiracy by the state to negate the electoral strength of the ultra-Orthodox community.

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Cairo (Agenzia Fides) - "Let us continue in an honorable way, in a time without honor, and we believe that God will make honorable people victorious". Thus Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al Sisi expressed himself in his speech before Patriarch Tawadros and bishops, priests, religious and the multitude of faithful gathered in the Cathedral dedicated to the Nativity, in the new administrative capital of Egypt, on the occasion of his participation at the Christmas vigil, celebrated by the Coptic Church on the evening of Monday 6 January.
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