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New Oklahoma law bans nearly all abortions from fertilization stage

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt signed into law one of the nation's most restrictive abortion bills May 25, saying he has kept his promise to voters to "sign every piece of pro-life legislation that came across my desk."

Armenian patriarch to represent Catholics at Middle East Council of Churches

Patriarch Raphaël Bedros XXI Minassian. / Screenshot from MECC - The Middle East Council of Churches YouTube channel.

London, England, May 27, 2022 / 03:00 am (CNA).

Patriarch Raphaël Bedros XXI Minassian is the new representative of Catholics at the Middle East Council of Churches.

The Armenian Catholic leader was elected to represent “the Catholic family” at the closing session of the council’s general assembly, held on May 16-20 in Wadi El-Natrun, northern Egypt.

He succeeds Patriarch Louis Raphaël I Sako, the leader of the Chaldean Catholic Church, reported ACI Mena, CNA’s Arabic-language news partner.

The Middle East Council of Churches was founded in 1974 to bring together the region’s Evangelical, Oriental Orthodox, and Greek Orthodox Christians. Catholics joined the body in 1990. The council has four presidents, each representing one of its four constituent communions.

Patriarch Minassian, 75, became the 21st Catholicos-Patriarch of Cilicia of Armenian Catholics in September 2021.

He succeeded Patriarch Gregory Peter XX Ghabroyan, who died in May 2021 at the age of 86.

The Armenian Catholic Church is one of 23 Eastern Catholic Churches in full communion with Rome. It has more than 700,000 members worldwide.

Before his election as patriarch, Minassian served as the bishop of Armenian Catholics in Eastern Europe since 2011.

He was born to an Armenian family in Lebanon on Oct. 24, 1946. He was ordained in 1973 in Beirut as a priest of the Patriarchal Congregation of Bzommar, an Armenian Catholic religious congregation of priests founded in 1750.

From 1990 to 2006, he served as a pastor in California, where he helped to create a foundation supporting humanitarian projects in Armenia. He also initiated the construction of St. Gregory the Illuminator Armenian Catholic Church in Glendale.

In 2005, he was appointed leader of the Armenian Catholic Patriarchal Exarchate of Jerusalem and Amman. In 2009, he established perpetual Eucharistic adoration at the church marking the Fourth Station of the Way of the Cross on the Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem.

In a statement at the end of their general assembly, members of the Middle East Council of Churches said that they were praying “for the stability of the Middle East, the end of wars and conflicts, the lifting of the epidemic and inflation, and the establishment of security and peace in the East and the world, so that everyone may explore the path of peace.”

Holy See and Mongolia: 30 years of good relations

A delegation of Buddhists from Mongolia pays its first official visit to the Vatican 30 years after the establishment of diplomatic relations between the Holy See and the Mongolian government. An interview with the head of the Apostolic Prefecture of Ulaanbaatar highlights a positive and collaborative relationship.

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Eurasian Economic Forum focuses on changing scenarios

The annual Eurasian Economic Forum has taken place in Bishkek, the capital city of Kyrgyzstan. This Year’s Forum gained significant international interest and impact as Russia’s pivot to Asia and Supply Chain movements placed Central Asia in the spotlight.

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Holy Land Co-ordination: Christians essential to Jerusalem's identity

At the end of a visit to Israel and Palestine, The Holy Land Co-ordination 2022 upholds the rightful place of the Christian community in Jerusalem’s identity.

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Burkina Faso: Armed assailants kill 50 civilians

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In troubled South Sudan, missionaries are a sign of hope

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Bishops lament threats facing Jerusalem's Christians

Members of the Holy Land Coordination meet with young people of Jerusalem at St James the Apostle Beit Hanina parish, May 21, 2022. / Mazur/ via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Denver Newsroom, May 26, 2022 / 18:00 pm (CNA).

At the end of a trip to the Holy Land, a group of European bishops lamented the threats to Jerusalem’s Christians, noting in particular the attack on mourners at the funeral of Shireen Abu Akleh.

“The Christian community is essential to Jerusalem’s identity, both now and for the future. Yet its continued presence is threatened by occupation and injustice,” read the May 26 final communique of the Holy Land Coordination group.

“Many of those we encountered are facing violence and intimidation by settler groups, restrictions on their freedom of movement, or separation from their families because of the status they are assigned.”

Six bishops from across Europe visited Jerusalem May 21-26. Since 2000, the Holy Land Coordination has taken an annual trip to the Holy Land, promoting awareness, action, and prayer for the region. The group was founded by the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales.

“We share the concerns expressed by the Christian community about unilateral restrictions on freedom of worship during Easter, imposed by the Israeli police,” the bishops stated. “We experienced the deep sorrow and anger felt by local Christians at the killing of Palestinian Catholic journalist Shireen Abu Akleh and the shameful attack on mourners at her funeral.”

Abu Akleh was a Melkite Greek Catholic and a Palestinian American who was killed while covering an Israeli raid on a refugee camp in the West Bank May 11. During her funeral procession May 13, Abu Akleh’s coffin nearly fell as police waded into the crowd brandishing batons and using stun grenades.

The bishops said that Jerusalem is a “common patrimony” of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, and it must “never become the exclusive monopoly of any one religion.”

“We came to meet and pray with our sisters and brothers, mindful of Patriarch Pizzaballa’s message that it is our right and duty as Christians to uphold the city’s openness and universality.”

They noted that “people of all backgrounds are living in poverty, which has been compounded by the pandemic. The absence of pilgrims during the past two years has devastated livelihoods, including among Jerusalem’s Christian community, leaving some families struggling to afford housing, food, or other essentials.”

The bishops added that there are “signs of hope,” however. “We visited Christian organisations taking responsibility for the wellbeing of their community and wider society. They are working tirelessly to alleviate hardship and improve lives. We met young people who, despite facing daily violations of their fundamental human rights, refuse to be the last generation of Christians in the city.”

They urged pilgrims “to support Christians in Jerusalem and throughout the Holy Land,” saying, “It is essential that all pilgrims understand and engage with the reality of life for the Christian community here.”

“All Christians must help preserve the city’s sacred character,” they wrote, “and promote an authentic vision for Jerusalem as a place of dialogue and unity.”

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