Every second Saturday of the month, 4 pm - Divine Liturgy in English of Sunday - Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral of the Holy Family, Duke Street, London W1K 5BQ. Followed by refreshments.
Next Liturgy: Saturday 11th November, 4pm

But see below for the Pontifical Divine Liturgy in Westminster Cathedral on 28th October, to mark the 60th Anniversary of the Ukrainian Exarchate & Eparchy in the UK, served by His Beatitude Sviatoslav, Father & Head of the Ukrainian Catholic Church.

To purchase The Divine Liturgy: an Anthology for Worship (in English), order from the Sheptytsky Institute here, or the St Basil's Bookstore here.
To purchase the Divine Praises, the Divine Office of the Byzantine-Slav rite (in English), order from the Eparchy of Parma here.
The new catechism in English, Christ our Pascha, is available from the Eparchy of the Holy Family and the Society. Please email johnchrysostom@btinternet.com for details.

"It's Now or Never: The Return of the Eastern Christians to Iraq and Syria" - John Pontifex of Aid to the Church in Need gives the annual Christopher Morris Lecture in the Society's 90th year. Monday 27th November at the Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral of the Holy Family. 6-15 pm Divine Liturgy, 7-15 pm Lecture, 8-15 pm Reception. £10 donation requested. RSVP to johnchrysostom@btinternet.com







Saturday, 30 August 2014

An Appropriate Response to the Crisis in the Christian East

The well-known and tragic crises unfolding in close proximity to our European home is showcasing the plight and, to some extent, the character of many of the ancient Eastern Churches. In my recent article for RISU, I argue that it is every Western Christian's responsibility to respond in charity, and that this charity must include knowledge and understanding.

After all, "Ecclesiarum Orientalium also states that ‘Those who, by reason of their office or apostolic ministries, are in frequent communication with the Eastern Churches or their faithful should be instructed according as their office demands in the knowledge and veneration of the rites, discipline, doctrine, history and character of the members of the Eastern rites.’ In other words, the Second Vatican Council envisages nothing less than that Christians in the West should be well-versed in the life of the Eastern Churches."

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Letter from His Beatitude Sviatoslav (Shevchuk) on the difficult situation in Ukraine

To the Catholic Episcopal conferences
То the World’s Religious and Political Leaders
To All People of Good Will
For nine months Ukrainians, have been on an arduous pilgrimage from post-Soviet fear to freedom and God-given dignity. Traumatized by twentieth century World Wars, brown and red totalitarianism and genocide, they seek a just society and a democratic, European future. With patience, endurance, and great human sacrifice they overcame in February the brutal regime of Viktor Yanukovych. This moral triumph was answered in March by Russia’s territorial annexation of Crimea. Now, for months the country endures foreign supported destabilization, separatism, and terrorist activity in the Donetsk and Luhansk Regions, in one word: war. Tragically, as became manifest in the criminal shootdown of Malasian Airlines Flight 17, the Ukrainian trial affects the global community.
All of the Churches and religious organizations of Ukraine stood together against the violence of the Yanukovych regime, the annexation of Crimea, and the division of the country. On the Maydan-Square for months, every day, and hourly in the night, in common prayer they insisted on respect of civil rights, non-violence, unity of the country, and dialogue. This civic ecumenical and inter-religious harmony and cooperation has been an important source of moral inspiration and social cohesion in Ukraine.
In annexed Crimea and in the Eastern war zone some of the Churches and religious communities have been targeted for discrimination, enduring outright violence. In Crimea the most exposed have been the Muslim Tatars. The Tatar community as a whole is in daily danger. Some of its leadership has been exiled, barred from their homeland. The existence of Greek and Roman Catholics ministries, Orthodox parishes of the Kyivan Patriarchate, and the Jewish community in Crimea has been variously menaced.
In April violence was instigated in eastern Ukraine.  According to Ukrainian authorities some1000 people, including international journalist and peace monitors, were kidnapped or detained; dozens were tortured or killed. The anti-terror operation launched by the Ukrainian government faces a foreign aggression that co-opts local rebels and local and international criminal delinquents.  As a result today there are over thousand civilian casualties in the densely populated cities, with the number rising by 50 deaths or more daily, not to mention the 298 victims of MA Flight 17. The infrastructure of the cities including roads and bridges, electric substations, coal mines, and industrial installations are being destroyed to cripple the economy and future reconstruction that will become the responsibility of the Ukrainian state. Hundreds of thousands of people have been forced to flee the warfare that has been brought into the heart of the cities by the so-called separatists.
Amidst the horrors of war the tiny Ukrainian Greek and Roman Catholic minority experience oppression on the territories controlled by the “separatists.” Three Catholic priests were kidnapped: Pawel Witek and Wiktor Wąsowicz (Roman Catholic), Tykhon Kulbaka (Greek Catholic). The later was kept in captivity for 10 days and deprived of medicine he needed. The episcopal residence of the Greek Catholic bishop in Donetsk was robbed and sealed, depriving him of his chancery and all documentation. The Cathedral yard was hit by “separatist” rocket fire damaging the building and windows with shrapnel. The bishop and almost all Greek Catholic priests were forced to leave the environs of Donetsk. Armed representatives of separatist regime entered the church and desecrated the sanctuary. They “allowed” priests to stay and conduct services but put them on travel restrictions. Terrorists blackmail the clergy by threatening to harm their parishioners.
Most recently, on Saturday, August 16, the small monastery of the Sisters Servants of Mary Immaculate in Donetsk was seized and violated. The sisters who generously and humbly served the community and who were on a summer retreat or at summer camps for children outside of Donetsk cannot now return to their home now being used by the “separatists.”
Protestants are targeted by pro-Russian terrorist groups and have suffered the gravest violence: two sons of the pastor of the Evangelical Church “Metamorphosis” Alexander Pavlenko and two deacons of that church, Victor Brodarsky and Vladimir Velichko were taken from a church service, tortured, and killed by the terrorists. Their bodies were exhumed from amass grave in Sloviansk.
Unfortunately, the beleaguered Ukrainian Catholics, Greek and Roman, faithful of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kyivan Patriarchate and Protestants in the east of Ukraine are further endangered by the rhetoric of the Orthodox leadership in Russia, which is becoming increasingly similar to the propaganda of Russian political authorities and media.
In recent documents issued in Moscow at the highest level of the Russian Orthodox Church, particularly in a letter to the Primates of the Orthodox Churches, Greek Catholics and the Ukrainian Orthodox of the Kyivan Patriarchate, disrespectfully called "Uniates" and "schismatics”, are defamed. They are held responsible for the military conflict in Eastern Ukraine and are accused of generating the warfare, especially the violence against Orthodox clergy and faithful endured as a result of military operations. Russian Orthodox leaders spread libelous information about Greek Catholics and other confessions thereby putting them in danger from the separatist militants who identify themselves as warriors for Russian Orthodoxy.
We strongly reject these claims and accusations. The Ukrainian military is not structured as a denominational entity. Therefore, chaplains of various denominations serve in the zone of the Antiterrorist Operation. Chaplains are not permitted to interfere in the life of local religious communities. Accusations that chaplains of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church have committed acts of violence against members of other churches and religious groups are not true.
The tragedy that Ukraine is experiencing today, due to military aggression, is a tragedy for all peoples, believers of all faiths, and all social groups. Buildings, churches and monasteries of all religious and ethnic groups are being damaged or destroyed. Clergy of all faiths who exercise their pastoral ministry in the Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts and Crimea have suffered, some risking their own lives. Two Orthodox priests who were killed in the region are among more than a thousand civilians killed during the conflict and their terrible deaths are not connected with their religious beliefs. They were accidental victims of shelling.
We pray for all the innocent victims and for peace in Ukraine. And our Church is doing everything to bring peace and alleviate the suffering of those affected by this terrible conflict.
Ukraine needs the effective support of the global Christian community and support of all people of good will. In a media context rife with propaganda we ask you to evaluate information critically. We need your prayer, your discernment, your good words and effective deeds.  Silence and inaction will lead to further tragedy. The fate of MA Flight 17 is an example of what may happen if the terrorist activity is allowed to continue.

+ SVIATOSLAV
Major Archbishop of Kyiv-Halych
Primate of Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church

Saturday, 16 August 2014

UGCC Responds to Patriarch Kirill's Accusations

"Patriarch Kirill of the Russian Orthodox Church, has recently called upon the Primates of Orthodox Churches to protect Orthodox Christians in Eastern Ukraine from "uniates" and "schismatics."
Here is the official response of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church:
1 The tragedy that Ukraine is experiencing today, due to military aggression, is a tragedy for all peoples, believers of all faiths, and all social groups. Buildings, churches and monasteries of all religious and ethnic groups are being destroyed. Clergy of all faiths who exercise their pastoral ministry in the Donetsk and Lugansk oblasts and Crimea have suffered, some risking their own lives.

During the months of military confrontation, the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church has continually called upon ways to seek a peaceful resolution. In no way should this resolution be construed as a denial of the rights and obligations of citizens of Ukraine to defend their freedom and independence. The UGCC and representatives of other Churches and religious organizations have taken concrete measures in providing humanitarian assistance to all victims of aggression in Eastern Ukraine, regardless of religious affiliation and national identity.

We strongly condemn all acts of violence against civilians in Ukraine, including its clergy, no matter which denomination, religion or ethnic group they belong to. The All-Ukrainian Council of Churches and Religious Organizations has called for an immediate cessation of violence and the disarmament of all illegally armed militia groups whose atrocities have claimed the lives of hundreds of Ukrainian soldiers, policemen, civilians, women and children.

2 The assertion that the Antiterrorist Operation only affects the Orthodox faithful of the Moscow Patriarchate is a dangerous one. Its purpose is to fan the fires of divisiveness and create the illusion that Ukrainian society at large is victimizing one denominational group. It is unacceptable and evil to place the rights of freedom and independence of the Ukrainian people into a denominational framework. This provokes new tensions and turmoil in Ukrainian society - this time in the area of interfaith relations. Today Ukraine needs religious men and women to nurture peace and not to provoke violence.

3 The Ukrainian military is not structured as a denominational entity. Therefore, chaplains of various denominations serve in the zone of the Antiterrorist Operation. They exercise their ministry in conformity with the regulations of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine. These regulations and guidelines were created by an interfaith pastoral council, whose membership includes representatives of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church [Moscow Patriarchate]. Chaplains are not permitted to interfere in the life of local religious communities. Accusations that chaplains of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church have committed acts of violence against members of other churches and religious groups are not true. We strongly reject such claims and accusations.

4 We call upon the Primates of all Christian Churches, religious and government leaders, and the international community to express their solidarity with the Ukrainian people during this difficult time. We also call upon all people of good will to honestly assess all acts of aggression against our country, regardless of how this aggression is disguised. Let us work together to stop bloodshed so that peace may reign in Ukraine, and that justice and good neighborly relations may exist between all countries and peoples of the modern world."

Protopresbyter Ihor Yatsiv
Office of Communications, Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church
(Translation by Father Myron Panchuk)  see the original Ukrainian here

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Plight of the Church in Iraq: Vice Chairman's Homily for the Ninth Sunday after Pentecost

Sunday of Christ Walking on the Water, Ninth Sunday after Pentecost, 10th August 2014, Ukrainian Greek Catholic Cathedral of the Holy Family, London
Troparion of the Resurrection, Tone 8. You came down from on high, O Merciful One, and accepted three days of burial to free us from our sufferings. O Lord, our life and our resurrection, glory be to You.

1 Corinthians 3:9-17

Matthew 14:22-34


It is difficult at the present time to think of the Church as being built, when daily news arrives of our ancient sanctuaries being destroyed, either as collateral damage in war, or as a direct act of intended destruction on the part of violent, jealous men, who hide behind religious zeal their true identity as bank robbers, as perverts that rape girls and disabled old ladies, and as psychopathic serial killers that are even now murdering our brothers and sisters in the Household of Faith, or condemning them to the searing heat of the desert without food, water or shelter. It looks like the Church is being destroyed in the lands where it first took root, Iraq - the cradle of civilisation, where different peoples (such as the Assyrians, Arabs, Turkics and Persians) and different faiths (such as Sunni and Shia Islam, Zoroastrianism, Assyrian and Syriac Christianity, Catholic and Orthodox) have lived in harmony side by side for centuries.


But somehow and somewhere in all this we are to see the work of the Lord who is faithful to his people and to all humanity, even when we are tested, as St Paul tells us, in the fire. The apostle’s words recalls to us the Lord’s own parable of the house built upon sand and the house built upon the rock. The point he is making is not about the relative strength of faith, but the strength of the grace that we rely on, as opposed to our own efforts. It almost goes without saying that the House of the Lord which is the Church of God in Iraq, led so nobly by the Chaldean Catholic Patriarch of Babylon, Patriarch Louis Raphael Sako, is a house whose foundations are the gold and silver and precious stones that really have been tried in the fire. The buildings and everything they have may have been taken away - as St Paul says “the builder will suffer loss”; and did not our Lord say “from those who have nothing even what they have will be taken away”? – but the grace of God has been shown to be the foundation not just of an ethnic or religious identity, but of the house of their faith.
 
Compare this with the story of St Peter, bidden by Christ to walk on nothing more than water to meet him. Peter did not believe that it was possible, started out, thought again and began to sink. It was the Lord’s hand, not his own efforts and will power, that caught him. Jesus questions the strength of Peter’s belief in him, yet at the same time makes it clear that everything that can be achieved and withstood depends not on our strengths but on the hand of God.
 
Paul speaks of testing construction handiwork by fire; the construction of Peter’s foundations in faith is flooded out by water. But it is the same story. In time, with the help and grace of the Holy Spirit, he rebuilt and became the Rock on which Christ was able to build his Church. Likewise the Christians of the old Roman Empire were able to face the onslaught, knowing what was to be demanded of them, because they saw that Christ is the centre and summit of all existence and of human society, whatever the appearances. Thus Paul clearly recognised the coming of a moment when God’s temple, where the Spirit dwells in Christ’s own people, would be destroyed.
 
I cannot presume to know what our brothers and sisters in Iraq are going through, having lost not only everything they have but, for the second time in a century for some of them, being driven out of their historic lands and holy places. I cannot begin to enter into their grief, bitterness, desperation and mourning: now is not the time for those in the comfort of Britain to exhort them to fortitude, courage and joy in adversity. But we and they can recognise in their suffering and destruction the Lord who trod this path before and who, as he passed through death, spoke somehow of forgiveness, redemption and the promise of paradise.
 
Because of this, we who are Christians pin all our hopes on the resurrection, knowing that it is not some far off after-life, or a dream to console us in our pain and misery. The resurrection of Christ back then, is the same as the coming of the Kingdom of God now. For as we sing today, “You came down from on high, O merciful One, and accepted three days of burial to free us from our sufferings.” 
 
St Paul said that if anyone destroys God’s temple, the holy place which we Christians are, then God will destroy that person. So let our prayer today on behalf of all our suffering brothers and sisters in the temple of God, the House of Faith in which we all dwell in the Spirit, be that those who hate the Church and who hate the humanity made in the image of God’s Christ himself, may be brought not to the destruction of their lives but of all that is wrong in them. Let them now be put to the test – whether it be water or fire – so that all that is evil and vain, and resentful and unforgiving and merciless, may melt away and the underlying structure of God’s handiwork be revealed – a frame on which there can be more grace, more forgiveness, and more humanity. Let them be converted to the Lord and live.
 
And as for us, in this Cathedral of the Holy Family, under the patronage of St Joseph who provided a home for Our Lord and the Mother of God, which began as a Church for inspiring and consoling those in exile, and which now stands as a sign for nations and societies in whom the Temple of the Lord is being rebuilt, let us remember that we have nothing to stand on unless it is the Lord that reaches out his hand to hold us up. We stand because he has stood up having been beaten down by death. Now risen from the dead, he leaves nothing behind that calls out to him, “Lord save me.” For, seeing us, who call upon God’s help to be the human beings that God means us all to be – people of love, and grace, forgiveness and hope –the world recognises Christ and turns to him as Lord. So, hearing our words and our songs ringing true, could it be that those who do not know him and even now oppose him and would bring down his Kingship - could it be that they too - would sing:
O Lord, our life and our resurrection, glory be to You? 
In hope of this, let us say with Patriarch Louis Raphael the prayer he has just written and issued to all the world that the cries of the Christians in Iraq will be our own in complete solidarity:
 
Lord, the plight of our country is deep
and the suffering of Christians is severe and frightening.

Therefore, we ask you, Lord,
to spare our lives, and to grant us patience,
and courage to continue our witness of Christian values
with trust and hope.

Lord, peace is the foundation of life;
Grant us the peace and stability that will enable us
to live with each other without fear and anxiety,
and with dignity and joy.

Glory be to You forever.


 

Saturday, 2 August 2014

IRAQ Patriarch of Baghdad, Mosul Christians should be able to stay in Iraq, not forced into exile - Asia News





08/02/2014

Patriarch of Baghdad, Mosul Christians should be able to stay in Iraq, not forced into exile
Mar Sako thanks France and Bahrain for the proposal to facilitate visas for Iraqi Christians, but calls for support for "a political solution" so the population is not forced to leave Iraq. Desperate need for emergency aid and shelters for refugees.


Baghdad (AsiaNews) - The families that have fled Mosul "must be able to stay in our homeland, Iraq". Facilitating their exile through special visas is not the real solution, rather a political effort is needed that will "allow us all to remain in this nation that we love and to live in safety, equality and dignity with everyone", says the Chaldean Patriarch of Baghdad, Raphael Louis Sako, in a message sent to AsiaNews, after the flight of about 500 thousand Muslims and Christians from Mosul, following the Islamic State's conquest of the city and its establishment of a Caliphate there under strict sharia.

In recent days, France and Bahrain reportedly stated they are willing to offer asylum to Christians from Mosul, facilitating visas for them.

The Patriarch thanked Paris and Sana'a "for their generous proposal", "it honors us and honors the countries that make it", but he stresses that "if we leave our homeland we will destroy the memory of our ancient history". Rather than a temporary, humanitarian solution to the emergency, a "political solution" is what is needed: "all components of the Iraqi nation and the international assembly needs to think about finding a lasting solution that respects everyone and can save our country from this chaos and barbarity. "

The patriarch - who yesterday returned from a visit to the families who have sought refuge in Kurdistan - says that "today, these displaced families have nothing left, the jihadists robbed them of everything and they are in a situation of insecurity, pain and dire need".

While respecting the personal decisions of each of refugees, Mar Sako says that "if France and other countries really want to help, [they should do so] encouraging these families to stay by sending them emergency aid to ease their pain and help the construction of housing in the cities where they can live in security".

He points out that on the other hand, the proposal to accommodate these families abroad, without knowing their number "is no simple thing, and certainly we must also think about the huge uprooting this entails with regard to the difference in language , culture, mentality and customs".

Source: IRAQ Patriarch of Baghdad, Mosul Christians should be able to stay in Iraq, not forced into exile - Asia News

Reflection with Fr Robin Gibbons - ICN

Saturday, August 2, 2014 11:28 am

What does it mean for a Christian in fear of their life in Iraq, a Syrian Christian bombed out of home and church or a child whose whose family has been blown to bits in Gaza or somebody with the Ebola virus, to hear those words of Paul, ‘nothing can separate us from the love of Christ?’. Would they find comfort in a pain beyond words, in a loss we can only vaguely acknowledge.

This is where pious platitudes and sentimental religion collapse, this is the point where the Christ of salvation loses his clothes and church finery, moves out of a safe sacramental world we create and becomes the bloodied Christ of the cross. The one who cries ‘ father forgive, they know not what they do!”.This is the point where the raw love of God remains our hope!

We are all complicit in the savagery of this world, we in the West have it so easy, but that cannot last. If we follow the Lord the cross is ours to carry and transformation comes through bearing one another’s burdens. Jesus in the Gospel sees the crowd and takes pity on them, but before he celebrates a meal with them he is active in curing the sick. A message for us who have weekly Eucharist, that the beginning of our sacramental celebration lies with the care of real people, there the body of Christ is first encountered. The needs of the poor, hungry, homeless come before our need for sacramental celebration which connects with our active love.

Isaiah shows us God literally calling people from want and need to life, but that, on this earth has to be through us! The scriptures are not simply pages in a book or nice poetic readings, they are God’s voice calling us to respond now!

But back to my initial question, how do people who have had far more suffering than we ever will know, who in a true sense take on sufferings far more painful than the Christ on the cross, find that love of God?

As I grow older I notice more that in the tangled mess and problems of the world, there is one thread that never snaps, somehow deep in all of this is the presence of Christ alive, loving, suffering with them. The presence of that loving Christ is our constant loving care for these little ones!

Fr Robin Gibbons is an Eastern Rite Chaplain for the Melkite Greek Catholics in Britain.

Source: Sunday Reflection with Fr Robin Gibbons - 3 August 2014 - Independent Catholic News

Friday, 1 August 2014

Russian-Ukrainian War: High Time to Preach Justice

Below is an abbreviated English translation of the key points from a recent interview by Cardinal Lubomyr Husar, Major-Archbishop (Patriarch)-emeritus of Kyiv-Halych. The complete Ukrainian-language interview may be found at credo.ua.

1. This is a war between Russian and Ukraine, which Russia began preparing 10 years ago. Those in power in Ukraine were, to some extent, agents of Russia. What is happening in eastern Ukraine today is the result of aggressive zombification. After being fed on lies for years and years, they believed them...


2. Russia worked on western Europe the same way they did with our own people. All radio and television programs, in whatever language, were pro-Russian. That's why the Maidan was something strange and fearful to them. They had no freedom and lived in fear. It will take a long time to teach them to be free...


3. We must weed out unworthy people from government, and there are very many...


4. We have 200 registered parties alone: lots of politicians but few national and civic leaders. And that is true for the rest of the world...


5. Moscow's aggression creates a similar situation to Hitler. The problem begins within the structure of Russia itself— it's an empire and Putin did not invent it, he is only fulfilling the role. The roots of this problem go back 400 years. All Russian leaders, from Peter to Stalin and now again, want to build an empire...


6. Communism/Bolshevism was just a continuation of this empire...


7. We have a a very influential body, the All-Ukrainian Council of Churches, which brings together 19 of the largest religious groups, Christians, Jews, Moslems, and all want a united Ukraine. But now, brothers, it's time to preach to the people: tell them that they must be honest, not to steal, not be lazy, not wait for someone else to do your share.Let's get to work! The Church, left to itself, forms responsible people and becomes a danger to any kind of criminal, bandit or dictator...


8. Honor thy father and mother also applies to your father/motherland. This is a healthy patriotism. Unfortunately, the churches found themselves caught between political patrons, including Stalin...


9. The state must support all churches and not interfere in their internal matters. All our former presidents wanted to have at least one church at their side, just like Russia does with Patriarch Kiril.. The Ukrainian Council of churches was also a child of Kuchma who, through his representative, tried to dictate to us what we should do. This quickly ended...


10. Saint John Paul II called the situation in Ukraine an ecumenical laboratory. Despite the number of religious groups, we do not fight with one another. Alhough we are not united, we support one another...

The Priest - "Pop" (Film with English Subtitles) - YouTube





At last, this beautiful and moving film of the faithfulness and suffering of a Russian Orthodox priest and his people during both Nazi occupation and the persecution of the Communists, now on You Tube with English subtitles.


▶ The priest-Pop.(English Subtitles). - YouTube

In Ukraine, the church sets the record straight: Fr Andriy Zelinskyy SJ: Peace, human rights & nothing but love for Russians - YouTube




Source: Catholic News Service ▶ In Ukraine, the church fights back - YouTube

World on brink of third world war - Metropolitan Hilarion Alfeyev: Interfax-Religion

Moscow, July 31, Interfax - Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, head of the Moscow Patriarchate Department for External Church Relations has expressed concern over the current international situation, claiming that the world has found itself one step away from a global war.

"The current situation is increasingly reminiscent of that in the run-up to the First World War. News programs have turned into frontline news summaries, each day we hear about more and more victims. Yes, so far the conflicts have been on a local scale but whole countries and whole military-political blocs are getting sucked into the militaristic rhetoric," the metropolitan wrote in an article published in the weekly supplement to the Rossiyskaya Gazeta (Russian Newspaper - Week) newspaper on Thursday.

Polarization has reached a critical point, the author said. "Various countries create and maintain, through mass media, an image of the enemy. And that is one step away from a declaration of global war," the article said. [Cf. His Eminence's own repeated comments to demonise the new Ukrainian government as fascist and anti-Russian, and to accuse the Catholic Church as its mover and accomplice. Ed. SSJC]

The hierarch thinks the main lesson of both world wars consists in that they had no winners. "The one hundred years since the beginning of the First World War is unlikely to prompt an ardent international response. Some places will build monuments to the heroes, others will clean up the memorial cemeteries, and festivities will be held elsewhere. But will the war anniversary become a reason for rethinking its outcomes on the global scale? Will the outcomes of the two world wars be a lesson to global leaders on whom it depends whether the third one will begin," the hierarch asked.

According to Metropolitan Hilarion, today the parties to the standoff have already used the Malaysian plane crash in Ukraine for mutual accusations, "loud political statements and calls for reprisals and retribution." [Metropolitan Hilarion has himself blamed the Ukrainian government for causing the problems that prevented international investigators to access the crash site. Ed. SSJC]

"The same as 100 years ago when a shooting by a Serbian terrorist of the Austro-Hungarian heir to the throne led to war. It looked as if the leading global powers had been waiting for this shot to start the global slaughter," the article said.

Source: Interfax-Religion

Assyrians Leaving Hassakah, Syria for Fear of ISIS: AINA






(AINA) -- The Assyrian population of Hassakah, Syria is leaving the region because of threats from the Islamic State of Syria and Iraq (ISIS), according to a report by the Adnkronos News Agency (AKI). Citing an official from the Assyrian Democratic Organization (ADO), AKI reports that the Christian Assyrian residents are abandoning their lands and homes because of fear that what happened in Mosul, Iraq will happen here.

Electric and water service in Hassakah is now severely limited and security is precarious, with kidnappings occurring on a daily basis.

According to the ADO official, ISIS's attempt to capture the city is a threat to the Assyrians, Arabs, Kurds and Yazidis, who have lived in the city for generations. Hassakah is also a rich cultural and archaeological area, with many Assyrian sites. The images of ISIS destroying cultural sites in Mosul has cast a shadow of fear over the city's population, particularly Assyrians. ISIS has already destroyed ancient Assyrian monuments and sites in other parts of Syria (AINA 2014-05-17).

The residents of Hassakah are urging the international community to take action against ISIS, which threatens the city, with its diverse ethnic and religious population and cultural heritage.

Muslims have targeted Assyrians in Syria on several occasions. On February 11, 2013 rebel fighters from the al-Nusra Front took control of al-Thawrah (also known as al-Tabqah) and its strategic dam, the largest of its kind in the country. They also seized control of the three quarters that housed dam workers - many of whom were Christian Assyrians. Whilst they allowed the dam's original staff to remain in the city in order to continue its operation, management and upkeep, those who were not Sunni Muslim were not afforded the same privilege (AINA 2013-08-04).

"Everything is now in Jabhat al-Nusra's hands," complained one Assyrian refugee, "All the Muslims stayed there, but if any Assyrians want to go back they have to become Muslim or else they will be killed."

Assyrians reported their property being stolen, their homes being confiscated, and their possessions being sold on the black market in order to buy weapons and ammunition. In many of these cases, those forcefully dispossessed were not even allowed the chance to take with them any of their personal belongings.


Source for full report and maps: Assyrians Leaving Hassakah, Syria for Fear of ISIS

Christians a fundamental part of Iraq, ambassador observes :: Catholic News Agency (CNA)

by Elise Harris, Vatican City, Jul 31, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News).

The Iraqi ambassador to the Holy See has lamented the ongoing persecution of Christians by ISIS forces in Iraq, stating that they are an important and historic part of the country’s origins. “Right now with the entrance of these jihadists, ISIS, they have imposed the sword and want to kill the Christians,” Habbib M.H. Al-Sadr told CNA July 24, 2014.

“This is outside of our culture, of our history, because the Christians are a fundamental, historic component of Iraq…they have origins here,” he continued, noting that “When the ISIS jihadists entered Mosul they forced the Christians to convert to Islam, pay the jizya tax, or to leave or escape, because they told them that ‘this is not your country.’”

Al-Sadr, a Shiite Muslim, has been Iraq’s ambassador to the Holy See since 2010, and spoke in wake of the July 17 departure of the last Christian families in Iraq’s second largest city of Mosul.

The exodus of Christians from the city follows a June 10 initiative launched by members of ISIS, a militant group that operates in Iraq and Syria with the aim of establishing a caliphate in northern Syria and Iraq, who overtook Mosul and the city of Tikrit, 95 miles north of Baghdad, the same day.

Since then the group had seized portions of Ramadi and Falluja earlier; Tal Afar was seized by ISIS June 16, and the group briefly held parts of Baquba, 37 miles outside of Baghdad, the following day.

July 17 the self-proclaimed Islamic Caliphate declared to the remaining Christian community of Mosul that they either needed openly convert to Islam, pay an unspecified jizya tax in exchange for their safety while observing certain conditions, leave their homes with only their clothes and nothing more or face death.

According to BBC News, the Christians had until midday to comply with the conditions of ISIS, who stated that “We offer them three choices: Islam; the dhimma contract – involving payment of jizya; if they refuse this they will have nothing but the sword.”

Following the declaration, the houses of Mosul Christians were marked with the letter “N,” signifying “Nazarenes.” As a result the few remaining Christians left the city, marking the first time in history it has been without Christians.

“These Christians have left Mosul with just their clothes on. They did not have anything else with them,” Al-Sadr observed.

“The houses of Christians in Mosul have been given to the terrorists that have come from diverse parts of the world really. They have taken the houses of the Christians.”

Speaking of the general help that citizens are receiving from the Iraqi Ministry of Migrants and Itinerants and the Ministry of Health, Al-Sadr explained that those who have fled are being provided with basic food necessities as well as one-million Iraqi ‘dinari,’ which is equivalent to 750 U.S. dollars.

Noting how there have been 1 million Iraqi citizens internally displaced by the recent uptick in conflict, the ambassador also drew attention to the 3 million who have left the country “to search for security, freedom and work” following the reign of their previous dictator, Saddam Hussein.

“Immigrants right now prefer not to come back until there is tranquility in the country again,” he said, stating that the government is searching for ways to convince them to eventually return, because they are considered “an integral part of the country and of its social fabric.”

Source: Christians a fundamental part of Iraq, ambassador observes :: Catholic News Agency (CNA)