In pictures: Entrance of Patriarch Pizzaballa into Holy Sepulchre for 1st week of Lent Available in the following languages: Arabic,  Français
 
Rome — Traveling during an ongoing global pandemic. Heading to a country where suicide bombings are a threat. Preparing for the first meeting between a pope and one of the world's leading Muslim clerics.  --  Even for a pontiff who has undertaken some difficult trips abroad, Pope Francis' planned visit to Iraq, March 5 to 8,  has more than a usual share of complexity.  -- Add to the list: encouraging a small but historic Christian community that is still reeling from three years of devastation wrought by Islamic State militants who destroyed churches and forced hundreds of thousands to flee a brutal fundamentalist regime.

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Services in Orthodox churches have been suspended in Abkhazia until the Russian Orthodox Church resolves the issue of the status of the Abkhaz Orthodox Church in a bid to receive autocephaly. -  The Abkhaz Orthodox Church’s independent existence ended in 1795, and since then it has been officially part of the Georgian Orthodox Church. After the Georgian-Abkhaz conflict in the early 1990s, contacts between them ceased.

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AL-TAHIRA CHURCH IN QARAQOSH (BAGHDEDA) was almost completely destroyed by ISIS, when it occupied part of northern Iraq (2014-2017). Thanks to the generous support of donors of Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), the church has been rebuilt over the course of the last few years and is now almost fully restored. Pope Francis has confirmed that he will visit the Marian basilica on Sunday March 7, as part of this visit to Iraq. during his visit to the country. ACN spoke with Father Ammar Yako, who has been overseeing the reconstruction.

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The head of the Catholic Church's Caritas charity in Bosnia–Herzegovina has urged help for refugees stranded in drastic winter conditions in the Balkan country, and accused the European Union of ignoring their plight and seeking to “wash its hands like Pilate”.  --  “Most people in Bosnia-Herzegovina are hospitable to    ... read more
 
BAGHDAD — In the busy emergency room of Baghdad’s main public hospital, Ali Abbas stood face uncovered, waiting for his sickly father. Dozens of other patients and their relatives mingled without masks.  --   It’s a scene that confounds health workers in Iraq, who warn that the country is entering a new wave of coronavirus cases, in part because many shirk precautions.

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Metropolitan Porfirije of Zagreb-Ljubljana was elected today as the new Serbian Patriarch in the Cathedral of Saint Sava in Belgrade on 18 February 2021.
 
Bishops of Serbia’s powerful Orthodox Church on Thursday elected Porfirije Peric as their 46th patriarch.
 

Vatican delegation visits Imam Ali holy shrine

AhlulBayt News Agency (ABNA): A delegation from the Vatican visited the holy shrine of Imam Ali (AS) in Najaf, Iraq, on Thursday.

The delegation, led by Mitja Leskovar and representing Pope Francis, has traveled to Najaf to meet with senior clerics and sources of emulation to discuss preparations for an upcoming visit to Iraq by the head of the Catholic Church. 

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Russian Catholics have thanked their Bishops’ Conference's Jesuit secretary-general for demanding greater justice and tolerance in their country, after a leading layman urged the Church to take a tougher stance against current repression.

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Le pape François a averti lundi du risque que "le Liban perde son identité et se trouve encore plus impliqué dans les tensions régionales" et plaidé pour un "engagement politique national et international renouvelé pour favoriser la stabilité" du pays, qui fait actuellement face à un faisceau de crises socio-économique, financière, politique et sanitaire. Le souverain pontife avait fait savoir fin décembre 2020 qu'il comptait se rendre au Liban "dès que possible".   read more - leggi tuto
 
The Pope's historic tour of the UAE two years ago will live long in the hearts and minds of all who witnessed the joyous celebration of religious unity.
 
The Latin Patriarch was received by Patriarch Theophilos of Jerusalem and Hagiotaphite Archbishops and Hieromonks.

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MINSK, 1 February (BelTA) – Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko has congratulated Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Kirill on the enthronement anniversary, BelTA learned from the press service of the Belarusian leader.  -- “For centuries the Russian Orthodox Church has been a moral compass for millions of believers. Under your leadership it continues to perform its crucial functions – to promote Christian values relying on love for fellow beings, compassion and mercy,” the message of greetings reads.
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On January 26, 2021, Metropolitan Porfirije of Zagreb and Ljubljana, Bishop Antun Skvorcevic of Pozega, President of the Council of the Croatian Bishops’ Conference for Ecumenism and Dialogue, Bishop Jovan of Slavonia and Bishop Heruvim of Osek-Polje and Baranja met at the Spiritual Center of the Serbian Orthodox Church at Sveti Duh in Zagreb.

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The movement within the Catholic Church to reclaim Gospel nonviolence received a jolt of energy and momentum recently in the form of a Retreat on Gospel Nonviolence. The three-hour Dec. 18 event featured a cavalcade of leading practitioners and teachers of nonviolence from all around the world.

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Ukraine become a world center for trafficking children and women trading
 
Christians and Muslims in Poland came together this week for joint prayers, readings from the Bible and Koran, and discussions as part of the Catholic church’s annual Day of Islam. --  The 21st edition of the event was held online under the motto “Christians and Muslims: together protecting places of worship”. It comes shortly after the church also held its annual Day of Judaism.

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UAE launches Festival of Human Fraternity

Cabinet Member and Minister of Tolerance and Coexistence Sheikh Nahayan Ben Mubarak Al Nahyan, has announced the launch of the first edition of the Festival of Human Fraternity.  Organized by the Ministry of Tolerance and Coexistence, in collaboration with the Higher Committee of Human Fraternity, the festival will be held annually on February 4, marking the United Nations’ recently declared ‘International Day of Human Fraternity’.
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On International Holocaust Remembrance Day, World Council of Churches (WCC) interim general secretary Rev. Prof. Dr Ioan Sauca called upon people to pause to remember the 6 million Jewish victims of the Holocaust and the millions of other victims of Nazism during the Second World War.

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Moscow, January 27, Interfax - As of January 27, 360 clergymen, monks, and nuns of the Russian Orthodox Church are undergoing treatment for coronavirus in Russia, Patriarch Kirill's working group said on Wednesday.
 
(Patriarcato Ecumenico) Beloved friends and dear listeners, Distinguished speakers, guests, and participants:
It is a special privilege to welcome you to this opening webinar of our Halki Summit, which marks the fourth in a series on environmental responsibility and sustainability.
 
BEIRUT (Reuters) - Lebanon's top Christian cleric has urged President Michel Aoun to set up a reconciliation meeting with Prime Minister-designate Saad al-Hariri to form a cabinet and end the country's political deadlock.  --   The country's fractious politicians have been unable to agree on a new administration since the last one quit in the aftermath of the Aug. 4 Beirut port explosion, leaving Lebanon rudderless as it sinks deeper into economic crisis.
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Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem His Beatitude Pierbattista Pizzaballa has lauded His Majesty King Abdullah II's "strong and loud" voice, which is a guarantee of preserving the status quo in Jerusalem, especially with regard to the holy sites, in light of "conflicts in the historical  city."

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MINSK, 12 January (BelTA) - Metropolitan Filaret, Honorary Patriarchal Exarch of All Belarus, has passed away, BelTA learned .--- Holder of the Hero of Belarus title, prominent Orthodox Church figure, Honorary Patriarchal Exarch of All Belarus, Filaret (secular name Kirill Vakhromeev) was born in Moscow on 21 March 1935. He began his church service in 1954 and started out as a sub-deacon of Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow and All Russia.
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For the occasion of Christmas, new year and Epiphany, the Heads of Churches in Jerusalem gathered via Zoom yesterday morning, 11 January, to greet and wish well for each other, as Patriarch Theophilos III shared his hopes for a global relief from the current pandemic.

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 On Monday, January 11, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem His Beatitude Patriarch Pierbattista Pizzaballa met with the priests of the Latin Patriarchate through video conferencing technology. This has been the first meeting of His Beatitude Patriarch Pizzaballa with a group of priests working in Jordan since he assumed patriarchal authority from His Holiness Pope Francis last October.

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More or less, the Russian Patriarch stated that the conversion of Hagia Sophia into a mosque is a punishment from God to the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew for granting the Tomos of Autocephaly to the Orthodox Church of Ukraine.

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The Head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church releases a message to mark the New Year, noting that as we leave a year in which we were forced to reduce social contact, we must enter the new one prioritising building human relationships.
 
Lebanon’s leading Catholic churchman is again urging the country’s political leaders to "overcome the logic of partisan interests" and form a government of "truly independent specialists with a national conscience" to rescue the nation from “a total collapse”.