On 21 July, Iranian President-elect Ayatollah Seyyed Ebrahim Raeisi felicitated with Cardinal Secretary of State of Vatican City Pietro Parolin on Eid al-Adha in a phone call, saying that the greatest Muslim Eid that originated from Prophet Abraham (PBUH) could be considered as a "day of interaction among the Abrahamic religions" for consultation, reflection, and dialogue among all divine religions.   --  Emphasizing that the protection of human rights is the basis of Iran’s domestic and foreign policies, the President-elect said that according to the teachings of the Abrahamic religions, Iran and the Vatican must stand with the oppressed people of the world against oppressing powers. As such, he highlighted the importance of consultation and dialogue among the Abrahamic religions for establishing genuine and lasting peace in the world and said that the Islamic Republic, as a religious democracy, welcomes any interaction and dialogue among the Abrahamic religions, especially Christianity.

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The Ecumenical Patriarch pointed out in his letter that the fragility of the natural environment is a result of the wrong choices and greed of man, who, he added, is still trying to understand the relationship between our very existence and the protection of our Home.  --   He recalled that, since the late 1980s, the Orthodox Church, head of which is the Ecumenical Patriarchate, has emphasized the need to protect the natural environment, highlighting the spiritual and moral dimension of the issue, in the context of man’s relationship with God and His Creation.

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NNA - The Grand Mufti of the Lebanese Republic, Sheikh Abdul Latif Derian, received today at Dar Al-Fatwa, the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch and all the East, John X Yazigi, at the head of a delegation, in the presence of the Secretary-General of the Islamic-Christian Dialogue Committee in Lebanon, Dr. Mohammad Al-Sammak. 

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ZHIROVICHI, 25 June (BelTA) – There are attempts to break Eastern Orthodox Christianity in Belarus, Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko said as he met with the clergy at the Holy Dormition Stavropegic Monastery in Zhirovichi on 25 June, BelTA has learned.  --   “Unfortunately, we are going through turbulent times. I will not go into details. Let me just remind you that against the background of this pandemic, as it was called, they tried to rock the boat here and, as you can see today, to break us. And not even subjugate. A possibility of disappearing as a state and a nation was looming,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.     ...read more
 
(LWI) - Meeting with Pope Francis in the Vatican on 25 June, both the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) President Archbishop Dr. Panti Filibus Musa and Pope Francis expressed the hope that the 500th anniversary of the Augsburg Confession in 2030 can become common ground on which to strengthen the commitment of Lutherans and Catholics to unity and reconciliation.

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Metropolitans Elias Aude (Beirut), Elias Kfoury (Tyre and Sidon), Silouan Moussi (Mount Lebanon), Basilios Mansour (Akkar), Ephrem Kyriakos (Tripoli), Antonios El-Soury (Zahle) as well as His Grace, Bishop Constantine (Kayyal), the Abbot of the Monastery, all attended the meeting.

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The Assembly of Catholic Patriarchs and Bishops in Lebanon (APECL) addressed a letter to H. Em. Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich SJ, President of COMECE, expressing concerns about dangers posed by the current political, social, sanitary and economic crisis confronting the Lebanese population. According to the local Church, the severity of the situation endangers the country’s very own identity forged by “encounter, plurality and fraternity, making it the natural place for dialogue between the diversity of religious and cultural communities.” 

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ERBIL, Kurdistan Region — Turkish forces bombed the vicinity of a Christian village in Duhok province in the early hours of Tuesday morning, damaging several buildings, including the village church, locals have told Rudaw.  -- 
“It was around 2:40 am when the rockets hit near the village. As you can see, it is only 100 meters away,” Dawoud Yukhanna, a villager from Miska, told Rudaw, adding that “people were terrified.”

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(Peter Anderson) On Wednesday, April 28, Bishop Irinej of Bačka (Serbian Patriarchate) gave an important interview to the major Serbian newspaper Politika.  On May 1, the day before Pascha, the entire interview was posted on the website of the Serbian Patriarchate.  (link)  On May 5, the entire interview, translated into Russian, was posted on the website of the Moscow Patriarchate’s DECR.  (link)  It is not surprising that the DECR has posted the interview as it is very supportive of Moscow’s position in its current disputes with Constantinople.  In translating the interview into English, the Google translation tool works much better on the Russian version than on the original Serbian version.  The interview covers such subjects as the authority of the Ecumenical Patriarch, the situation involving North Macedonia, and proposed legislation involving the control exercised by the Serbian Church over the Theology Faculty at the state-operated University of Belgrade.  Because of its importance, the interview should be read in its entirety.  However, in my report, I will focus on the Bishop’s remarks relating to the authority of the Ecumenical Patriarch and primacy.  The Google translation of the Russian is as follows:

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The worst-affected countries last year were Burkina Faso, South Sudan and Yemen. Outside Africa, Yemen, Afghanistan, Syria and Haiti featured were among the 10 worst food crises last year.  By Robin Gomes   At least 155 million people faced crisis levels of food insecurity in 2020 because of conflict, extreme weather events and economic shocks linked in part to Covid-19.  This is an increase of 20 million over the previous year, 2019, when 135 million people in 55 countries and territories faced acute food crisis, which was an already record year for acute food insecurity. 
 
It was said that in western Ukraine, during the elections, it is quite popular to use the Church for PR.
 
On 3 May 2021, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, H.E. Mr. Fuad Hussein, met with Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, the Holy See’s Secretary for Relations with States at the Vatican State Building.   --  The Minister expressed Iraq’s aspiration to activate the frameworks of cooperation with the Vatican in various fields, and in light of the distinguished relations between the two sides. He emphasized Iraq’s keenness to develop relations between Iraq and the Vatican to achieve the goals that serve
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In an address from the balcony of his limestone residence in the town of Bkerke, Lebanon, at the end of February, Lebanon’s senior Catholic prelate, Cardinal Bechara al-Rai, made it clear he believes his country is on the brink of collapse—and the key to rescuing it involves disarming Hezbollah. “There does not exist two or several states within one land,” Rai said before a crowd of hundreds of people, who had gathered despite the pandemic. “There does not exist two or more armies within one united state.”
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The problems faced by Christians in the Middle East in general, as well as how the local Christian churches can deal with them, were examined during today’s first visit of the Apostolic Nuncio of the Roman Catholic Church, Bishop Nicholas, who was received by Patriarch Theodore of Alexandria and All Africa, at the Patriarchal Committee in Hamzaoui, the capital of Egypt.

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Decision of Moscow's Synod and other news

From media reports, it became known that on March 21, 2021, during the Divine Liturgy at the St. George Cathedral in Istanbul, Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople, co-served by the hierarchs of the Patriarchates of Constantinople and Alexandria, as well as a representative of one of the schismatic communities of Ukraine, who did not have canonical consecration, headed the ordination of Metropolitan Andreas confirmed by the publication of the corresponding photographs.

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The Russian Orthodox Church is seeking to deter its followers from carrying out their own exorcisms following a series of deaths and injuries that have cast a spotlight on the religious ritual.  --  Metropolitan Hilarion, who heads the Moscow Patriarchate's department of external relations, said that the church is drawing up a document that would set out rules for the procedure.
The church had warned against people carrying out exorcisms, which led to the deaths of at least two people in Russia in 2019, including a nine-year-old boy who had been gagged and whipped by his father in Yekaterinburg.

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In a Sunday Mass sermon, ’s top Christian leader, Patriarch Mar Bechara Boutros Al-Rahi, expressed his stance on recent calls for a forensic audit and also warned that obstruction of a government formation could lead to exploitation and domination of struggling Lebanese people.
 
An interview of Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, Chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate’s Department for External Church Relations, to RIA Novosti
 
(Peter Anderson) On April 6, RIA Novosti posted an interview with Metropolitan Hilarion.  (link)  On the same day, the DECR of the Moscow Patriarchate posted the interview both in Russian and English. (link) (English)   Usually, there is a delay on the DECR website for an English translation, but not this time.  The caption of the interview is entitled: “Metropolitan Hilarion: Summit of the heads of Churches is possible in foreseeable future.”  The first question in the interview is whether Patriarch Theophilos or any other Church leader was planning another meeting of the kind of the Amman summit this year.  The answer provided by Metropolitan Hilarion is as follows:
 
ROME – One month after Pope Francis’s historic visit to Iraq, one of the country’s top Catholic prelates has outlined his vision for the country going forward, making the bold suggestion of enforcing a stricter separation between religion and the state.

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JERUSALEM – On Friday, April 2, 2021, His Beatitude Pierbattista Pizzaballa, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, presided over the Passion of the Lord service at the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre.
 
As Christians across the world begin to celebrate the Easter Triduum of Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter, The Pillar spoke to a priest in the Holy Land about celebrating the Resurrection in the place where it actually happened.  --  Fr. Francesco Voltaggio is a priest of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem and the rector of the Redemptoris Mater seminary in Galilee.

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Minister of Foreign Affairs Ara Aivazian had a telephone conversation with the H.E. Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, The Holy See’s Secretary for Relations with States.
 
In a joint message for the upcoming Easter, the Conference of European Churches (CEC) together with the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Union (COMECE) affirm sheer hope in Christ’s resurrection in the time of the Covid-19 pandemic. Addressing all people in Europe, especially the poor and the most vulnerable, CEC President Rev. Christian Krieger and COMECE President H. Em. Card. Jean-Claude Hollerich SJ issued the following message on 31 March:

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During the cordial talk, Nuncio Giorgio Lingua congratulated Patriarch Porfirije on his election as the head of the Serbian Orthodox Church, and the Patriarch wished the Pope’s representative in Croatia a blessed Easter, which the Roman Catholic Church will celebrate next week.
 
“Recalling the events of the last ten years and summarizing the fruits of our ecclesiastical strategy of 2020 (The Vibrant Parish - a Place to Encounter the Living Christ), we naturally thank the Lord God for all that He has done and all we have received from Him. But at the same time, we want to look into the future, think about how to live further, in which direction to move,” the Primate said .
 
ABU DHABI, 28th March, 2021 (WAM) -- "The Pope and the Grand Imam: A Thorny Path - A Testimony to the Birth of Human Fraternity" is a newly published book in Arabic and English by Judge Mohamed Abdelsalam, Secretary-General of the Higher Committee of Human Fraternity (HCHF).  --   The book gives a detailed account about the stages in the creation of the Human Fraternity Document (HFD) before it was eventually signed on February 4, 2019 by Pope Francis and the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar in Abu Dhabi.

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Madrid (Agenzia Fides) - Archbishop Giovanni Pietro Dal Toso, President of the Pontifical Mission Societies (PMS), thanked Cardinal Juan José Omella, Archbishop of Barcelona and President of the Episcopal Conference of Spain, for the generosity of the Church in Spain which, despite the pandemic, maintained its commitment and support to the missionary activity of the Church.
According to the letter, released by the National Direction of the PMS in Spain, the     READ MORE
 
By Lisa Zengarini
 
By Vatican News staff writer