VILLANOVA, Pa. – Consensus about the Middle East and its long-simmering tensions might seem hard to come by, but a dozen international scholars, government officials and leaders of nongovernmental organizations found a few points of agreement during a meeting at Villanova University.

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BEIRUT – The Syriac Catholic patriarch said he was horrified to see widespread devastation and what he called "ghost towns" during a recent visit to northern Iraq.

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At the age of three, I was a refugee.

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VATICAN CITY – In a meeting with the Patriarch of the Assyrian Church of the East Thursday, Pope Francis criticized ongoing violence in Iraq and Syria, saying no motive can justify or allow the killing of innocent people, especially children.

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AMMAN, Jordan – Iraqi Christians are cautiously welcoming the start of the battle for Mosul and the Ninevah Plain, their ancestral homeland of the past 14 centuries from which they were brutally driven out by the Islamic State group more than two years ago.

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IRBIL, Iraq – Chaldean Catholic bishops, meeting for their annual synod, pleaded for peace in the Middle East and for the liberation of areas seized by the Islamic State group so that the displaced can return to their homes.

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August 18, 2016

Break the silence

Is the West’s tepid response to the religious cleansing of Syrian and Iraqi Christians a sign of naivety, greed or maybe cowardice? Or is there a Machiavellian strategy to ease religious tension in the region by silently watching a 2,000-year-old Christian presence simply fade away?

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AINKAWA, Iraq – Iraqi Christians appear divided about whether they will be able to return home after Islamic State militants are flushed out of the battle-scarred Ninevah Plains region. They say their safety must be guaranteed at all costs.

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IRBIL, Iraq – The upcoming military offensive to root out Islamic State militants from Mosul and surrounding villages will be a "huge challenge," the United Nations says, as it expects about 1.5 million people to flee the warfare in a short amount of time.

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WASHINGTON – Security tops the list of what Christians of Iraq and Syria want before they'll consider returning to areas they fled when the Islamic State and other extremist groups took over.

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MONTREAL – It was a record year for donations to Aid to the Church in Need, but it is not exactly something the organization is celebrating.

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OTTAWA – Catholic Near East Welfare Association (CNEWA) Canada national director Carl Hetu reports Catholic aid agencies contributed $150 million in 2015 to help the people of Iraq and Syria.

Published in International
June 23, 2016

Protection for all

Give credit to the federal government for recently acknowledging that the systematic murder, rape and enslavement of the Yazidi people of Iraq and Syria constitutes genocide. But why stop there? 

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LONDON – Catholic Relief Services and other international aid agencies are working with local Christian and Muslim charities to help about 70,000 people fleeing Fallujah, Iraq, as conflict deepens between Islamic State militants and Iraqi forces seeking to regain the beleaguered town in Anbar province.

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BEIRUT – Syriac patriarchs, marking the two-year anniversary since the Islamic State group expelled Christians from a large part of Iraq, denounced "the ethno-religious genocide" of their people and called for the liberation of those areas.

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