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@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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PODGORICA, Montenegro — Dozens of police on Monday were deployed in Montenegro for Orthodox Christmas Eve celebrations being held amid heightened tensions over a religious rights law opposed by the Serbian church in the small Balkan country.

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Beloved in the Lord archpastors, all-honourable priests and deacons, God-beloved monks and nuns, dear brothers and sisters,
 
CAIRO — Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi appeared at Coptic Christmas Eve Mass on Monday and praised the links between the country’s Christian and Muslim faithful, saying they have prevented the country from descending into sectarian strife like its neighbors.--  El-Sissi, who is a practicing Muslim, arrived at the cathedral in the middle of the Mass and was met by Coptic Pope Tawadros II on the doorstep before greeting churchgoers. Egyptian State television aired his appearance at the new cathedral, just finished last year, and showed people crowding around him to shake his hand, filming with mobile phones.

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"The Holy See fully supports Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity," Cardinal Secretary of State of Vatican Pietro Parolin said at the event held in Tbilisi City Assembly (Sakrebulo) yesterday.  --    Parolin noted that the Holy See (Vatican) was the first among the international communities which recognized Georgia’s independence and opened a diplomatic mission in Tbilisi.

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Tbilisi, December 30, Interfax - Catholicos-Patriarch Ilia II of All Georgia met with Cardinal Pietro Parolin, State Secretary of the Holy See, who is now on a visit to Tbilisi, on Sunday. 
Ilia II and Cardinal Parolin discussed the need to preserve and deepen the relations between the two old churches, the public relations service of the Georgian Patriarchate said.

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In his Christmas and New Year greetings to His Holiness Pope Francis, Vladimir Putin expressed confidence that their meeting in July contributed to strengthening relations between Russia and the Vatican, and expressed his intention to continue to fully develop constructive dialogue with the Holy See,
 
New York City, N.Y., Dec 29, 2019 / 04:02 pm (CNA).- On Sunday, Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York condemned the recent spate of attacks against Jewish people in New York, following a stabbing that left five people injured during a Hanukkah celebration at a rabbi’s home on Saturday night.

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Nous venons de recevoir un communiqué (lire ci-dessous) du bureau du Patriarcat d’Antioche qui nous informe de l’initiative du patriarche de Jérusalem de trouver une solution de la crise provoquée par la reconnaissance de la nouvelle Église orthodoxe d’Ukraine par le Patriarcat de Constantinople. Rappelons qu’il existe un différend des deux patriarcats (de Jérusalem et d’Antioche) au sujet de la juridiction sur le Qatar qui a été la raison du refus du patriarcat d’Antioche de participer au Concile de Crète en 2016.

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As the Taizé community prepared to gather in Poland just after Christmas, World Council of Churches (WCC) general secretary Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit sent prayers and encouragement on behalf of the WCC fellowship.

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MOSCOW — The Russian Orthodox Church has cut ties with the head of the Eastern Orthodox Patriarchate in Alexandria following his decision to recognize Ukraine's new independent Orthodox Church.     The Russian church's Holy Synod ruled late Thursday to rupture all links with Patriarch Theodore II of Alexandria and All Africa.

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Grand Imam of Al Azhar Ahmed El-Tayyeb extended his heartfelt Christmas greetings to head of the Catholic Church Pope Francis and all Christians worldwide.  --   El-Tayyeb highlighted the robust ties between the Muslim and Christian worlds, citing efforts exerted by the pontiff and the grand imam to foster dialogue among followers of different religions and cultures, according to a statement released by Al Azhar on Tuesday.

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PODGORICA, Montenegro (AP) — Serbian Orthodox Church clergy in Montenegro protested on Tuesday against the planned adoption of a religious law that they say will strip the church of its property.  --  Several hundred priests wearing black robes gathered outside the Montenegrin parliament building where lawmakers are set to approve the bill in the coming days.

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  (Peter Anderson) Today (Friday), the Holy Synod of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church – Moscow Patriarchate (UOC-MP) held its last session for the year.  The results of the meeting are summarized here.  The most important item discussed was to adopt a statement urging a pan-Orthodox meeting to examine the situation concerning the “Orthodox Church of Ukraine” (OCU) and the claims of the Ecumenical Patriarchate to be the “first without equals.” 
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Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi on Friday warned that “some embassies” are facilitating emigration for Lebanese citizens in order to “empty Lebanon of its people and Christians.” - Addressing the “young men and women of the civil protest movement,” al-Rahi warned them that “some embassies, which I will not name now, are facilitating the issue of emigration, as if it is a second war to empty Lebanon of its people and Christians.”
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CAIRO - Amid deadly protests in Iraq, a people’s uprising in Lebanon and continued suffering in Syria, Catholic leaders of the Middle East called upon officials of their homelands to “ensure safety, peace and tranquility and stability for their citizens.”
 
Luis Lopez battled nerves as he walked to the front of the crowded prayer hall in Union City with his son. Together, they repeated word-for-word in Arabic the Shahada, the profession of faith required to convert to Islam. -  “There is no God but Allah, and Muhammad is the messenger of Allah," they declared at the mosque, located in a columned brick building that once housed a Cuban community center.

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In solidarity with Iraqi Shiites and Sunnis, the Chaldean Patriarchate urged all its Churches to pray on Sunday Mass of December 1, 2019 for the souls of martyrs of demonstrators and security forces, who offered their life in Nasiriyah, Najaf, Baghdad and other cities, and also for the speedy recovery of the wounded.

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