Beer festival offers ‘peaceful resistance’ to Middle East conflicts

TAYBEH, West Bank (CNS) — As Palestinians and Israelis in Jerusalem once again became embroiled in violence, locals and guests in Taybeh were enjoying ice-cold beers, grilled meats, frosted doughnuts and throbbing music as the all-Christian Palestinian village celebrated its 11th Oktoberfest. “This gathering is good,” said a beaming Nadim Khoury, who together with his…

Bishops urge people to pray for those who face religious persecution

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Leaders of the U.S. bishops’ conference invited people to pray for “those facing the stark reality of religious persecution in the Middle East and elsewhere.” In a statement, the bishops’ Administrative Committee also called on people to work to protect those who are marginalized and persecuted. The committee urged Catholics to use…

Muslim leaders worldwide issue stern rebuke to ISIS

WASHINGTON (CNS) — More than 100 Muslim leaders — clerics and laypeople alike — have signed on to a letter criticizing the Middle East Muslim military group ISIS, short for the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. In the 17-page letter, the leaders quote extensively from the Quran, the Muslim scriptures, to rebuke ISIS’ tactics…

Terrorism in Mideast has reached ‘unimaginable proportions,’ pope says

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The Middle East, especially Iraq and Syria, are experiencing “terrorism of previously unimaginable proportions” in which the perpetrators seem to have absolutely no regard for the value of human life, Pope Francis said. “It seems that the awareness of the value of human life has been lost; it seems that the…

Christian leaders meet Obama, discuss concerns for Mideast minorities

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Eight Eastern Christian leaders spent 40 minutes talking to President Barack Obama about the situation of Christians and other minorities in the Middle East. “We felt how deeply moved he was by what was happening to the Christians there,” Lebanese Cardinal Bechara Rai, Maronite patriarch, said at a Mass later the same…

Church leaders, politicians, laity meet in D.C. on behalf of Christians

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Emphasizing that diversity does not preclude unity, nearly a thousand Christian leaders, politicians and laypeople gathered in Washington to launch a massive effort on behalf of the minority communities of the Middle East. High-ranking church leaders representing Pope Francis and Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros II, patriarchs of Eastern churches, members of Congress…

Force alone cannot stop ‘religious cleansing’ in Middle East, custos says

VATICAN CITY — Although Christians, Muslims and Jews have struggled for hundreds of years to live peacefully alongside each other in the Middle East, “we have never seen the kind of ‘religious cleansing’ we are witnessing today,” said the head of the region’s Franciscans. “All religious communities must raise their voices against this abomination” being…

Blessed are the peacemakers

You c an be one of them by supporting Catholic organizations aiding war victims By Joe Towalski “Blessed are the peacemakers,” Jesus told his disciples, “for they will be called children of God.” Peacemakers are sorely needed in many parts of the world right now. Each day brings new stories about the ongoing violence in…

Holy Land still safe for pilgrimages, says head of U.S. tour group

WASHINGTON (CNS) — The head of a Michigan-based tour company that leads trips to the Holy Land said the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas so far has not had an impact on pilgrimages he and his associates lead. “Everything is still functioning like in any other normal business day. The sector of tourism industry…