Christian world

Pope Francis Visits Sri Lanka Amid Hopes for Peace

Less than a week after its longtime president was surprisingly voted out of office, Sri Lanka welcomes Pope Francis on Tuesday, with the island nation's Catholic minority hoping he can help heal the lingering wounds of the country's 25-year civil war.

The war between minority Tamil rebels, who are mostly Hindu, and the central government, dominated by the overwhelmingly Buddhist ethnic Sinhala majority, ended in 2009. Catholics make up less than 7 percent of Sri Lanka's population, but they come from both the Tamil and the Sinhala communities, making them a potential bridge between the two sides.

Egypt: Christian Girls Kidnapped, Authorities Indifferent

Yet another young Coptic Christian girl, Sabrine Mushir (right), has been kidnapped in Egypt, from the village of Dalga.

Coptic activists are complaining that not a single person from among the authorities and security apparatus has done a single thing to try to find the hapless girl, adding “If this was the daughter of one of the local authorities, she would have been retrieved in seconds.”

Dalga, where the young Christian girl was kidnapped is the same Upper Egyptian village where, in September 2013, Muslim Brotherhood sympathizers had forced the Christian inhabitants to pay Islamic jizya—the money, or tribute, that conquered non-Muslims historically had to pay to their Islamic overlords “with willing submission and while feeling themselves subdued,” in the words of Koran 9:29. In some cases, those not able to pay were attacked, their wives and children beaten and/or kidnapped.

Egypt: Church Courtyard Set Aflame Before Christmas Prayers

The courtyard of St. George the Martyr, a partially constructed Catholic church in Hijazh village in Egypt was set on fire by unknown persons on Christmas day (January 7 for Egyptian Christians).

Christian worshipers were planning on praying in the church’s courtyard — since the church building had been left unfinished for 23 years due to reasons of security — and had furnished the courtyard with chairs and tents. They “were surprised” to find “flames” engulf much of the courtyard.

Armenian Catholic Cathedral in Aleppo Bombed Hours Before Mass

Armenian Catholic Cathedral in Aleppo Bombed Hours Before Mass
Armenian Catholic Cathedral in Aleppo Bombed Hours Before Mass
Armenian Catholic Cathedral in Aleppo Bombed Hours Before Mass
Armenian Catholic Cathedral in Aleppo Bombed Hours Before Mass

Terrorists on Jan. 9 reportedly bombed the Armenian Catholic Cathedral Our Lady of Pity (also known as St. Rita), located next to the Armenian Catholic Archeparchy of Aleppo, leaving the church partly destroyed. No casualties were reported.

Turkey permits first new church in 90 years

Turkey’s Islamic-rooted government has authorized the building of the first church in the country since the end of the Ottoman empire in 1923, AFP has learned.

The church is for the country’s tiny Syriac [Assyrian] community and will be built in the Istanbul suburb of Yesilkoy on the shores of the Sea of Marmara, which already has Greek Orthodox, Armenian and Catholic churches.

Sisi makes surprise Coptic Christmas visit

Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi visited the main Coptic Christian church on Tuesday night to attend the Christmas service, in a move dubbed by local media as a first in Egypt’s history.

In footage broadcast by Egyptian television, Sisi made a surprise visit to Saint Mark’s Coptic Orthodox Cathedral in Cairo, wearing a red tie and dark suit and surrounded by security guards. He saluted Pope Tawadros II and stood next to him to make a brief speech in front of  a  jubilant crowd.