Mumbai: The new organization by name "Federation of Syriac Orthodox in Hindustan" (FSOH) was inaugurated by the Chief Guest Dr. D Babu Paul (I.A.S. retd.) in a grand function held at the 'Mor Gabriel Hall' (Goregaon Sports Club banquet hall), Mumbai on the evening of Saturday, 27th February 2010. The function started with a welcome speech by the President of the new organization, Mr. John Mathew (Mumbai) followed by the inaugural speech of Dr. D Babu Paul I.A.S (retd.). His Eminence Mor Osthatheos Ishaq, Metropolitan of Mylapore diocese, delivered the benedictory address. The Metropolitan in his speech emphasized the need for a stronger cultural bond between the Syriacs of the Syrian homeland & India and promised all help to the new organization.

The visiting dignitaries from Netherlands and Sweden, Mr Jonny Messo, President of S.U.A. (Syriac Universal Alliance -http://www.sua-ngo.org) and Mr. Yusuf Aydin, President of SOKU (www.soku.org), who spoke on the occasion extended full support to the new organization which is intended to promote the common Syriac cultural heritage of the suryoyo, worldwide. Sr. Hatuna Dogan (Germany) of Hatuna Foundation also spoke on the occasion.

Adv. A C Jayarj, President of the Karnataka Christian Council & the secretary of the Joppu Jacobite Syrian church of Mangalore, congratulated the organizers for their strenuous effort in starting such a Federation for the Syriac Orthodox in India. At the end of the program an interesting Aramaic (Syriac) Musical program was held by Ms. Babylonia, the renowned singer from Germany along with Mr. Gabriel.

The main aims of the new organization that is expected to function in association with the Syriac Universal Alliance -www.sua-ngo.0rg, is to provide a Socio-Cultural platform for the development of the Syriac Orthodox community across the world and to develop a collective platform of Indian Suryoyo and Aramian Suryoyo community.

Bishops in Iraq urge government to halt slaughter of Christians

Rome, Italy, Feb 26, 2010 / 01:03 pm (CNA).- Various Iraqi bishops have issued a joint message denouncing the continual wave of Islamic violence against Christians in the country, which has left five people dead in the past week. The bishops are demanding that the government take concrete steps to stop the slaughter.

In an interview with the Fides News Agency, Syrian Catholic Archbishop Georges Casmouusa of Mosul called for authorities to "fully assume responsibility for protecting the Christian presence in Mosul. International intervention is necessary to force the central and local governments to act immediately."

The fifth and most recent victim, a 57-year-old Christian orthodox man, was found dead two days ago. This surge in violence moved the bishops to call for greater intervention by the local government. Archbishop Casmouusa provided Fides with a copy of the message which he signed together with Syrian Orthodox Archbishop Gregorios Saliba, and Chaldean Catholic Archbishop Emile Nona. The message denounced the violence against "our Christian sons and daughters in the city of Mosul," with the killing of innocent and peaceful people, thus revealing "a premeditated plan to pressure the Christian Churches to carry out a particular agenda." All efforts by Christian and Muslim leaders have not been able to stop the violence against Christ's faithful, they said, adding, "These continuous acts lead us to believe that we are not wanted in this city, which is our homeland."

"Christians have participated directly and with great effectiveness in building civilization in Mosul" and throughout the region, the bishops said, particularly through art, culture, thought and creativity, as well as the economy and society. Christians are recognized by all as "peaceful members and builders of society."

"Is this how we are rewarded? By being expelled from our city, marginalized from public life, thrown out of our land? Will the state remain indifferent?" they asked. The bishops called on the government of Mosul and the federal government in Baghdad to "fully assume their responsibility to work for the security of citizens, especially for the faithful of the Christian minority, who are the most vulnerable and most peaceful of all."

"We demand government officials give priority to respect for the law and the state, and safeguard the security and the trust of the citizens," they said. "We ask leaders not to waste their efforts fighting for power and hegemony amongst themselves," but rather to "pursue criminal actions so that those who order and carry out violence may be brought to justice."

Fr. Jean Kawak is consecrated Metropolitan

On Sunday March 21, 2010 His Holiness Moran Mor Ignatius Zakka, I Patriarch of Antioch and all the East presided over the Holy Qurbono at Sts. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Ma'araat Saydnaya, Damascus- Syria. During the Divine Liturgy His Holiness consecrated the Very Rev. Fr. John Aziz Kawak Metropolitan in charge of the Patriarchal offices in Damascus. Participating in the service were 13 metropolitans of the Church from different parts of the world. The new Metropolitan was given the Episcopal Name Dyonissios John. At the beginning of the elaborate spiritual ceremony the Fr. John read the profession of his faith and at the conclusion the new Metropolitan delivered his sermon. He thanked God Almighty for choosing him to be one of the Fathers of the Church. He likewise thanked His Holiness the Patriarch for his trust in him promising to execute his duties with faithfulness and tirelessly. He also thanked all the Archbishops and Bishops of our Church and those representing sister churches.

Following the consecration service all dignitaries and guests were invited to a local restaurant for lunch hosted by the council of the Patriarchal Diocese of Damascus.

His Eminence Mor Cyril Aphrem Karim participated in this blessed occasion and offered congratulations to the new Metropolitan Mor Dyonissios John Kawak on behalf of the clergy and all the parishioners of the Eastern Archdiocese wishing him a blessed and fruitful ministry in the vineyard of the Lord. His Eminence was accompanied by Mr. Chamoun Jallo, the president of St. Athansius church board in Tarpon Springs, FL.

Wildfire violence won't stop the Gospel

Nigeria (MNN) ? Nigerian police arrested 164 people in connection with a mostly-Christian slaughter of 500. There are 41 charges of terrorism and homicide. With a movement toward justice, is the trouble over? Todd Nettleton with Voice of the Martyrs likens the violence to a wildfire. "The government or the military comes in and puts a lid on it for a while, and then there's another breakout. " Former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo has said that the violence is fueled more by ethnic, social, and economic problems than by religion.

That may be true, but Nettleton adds: "The level of violence in this case--the fact that it seems to have been a very coordinated effort against Christians--says probably it will happen sooner rather than later, and that it will break out somewhere else."

Some have claimed the attacks were in retaliation for the killing of more than 300 Muslims earlier this year around the same city. Then, on March 17, Muslim herdsmen disguised as soldiers butchered nearly a dozen Christians in two villages near Jos, setting some of them ablaze. Mainly women and children were killed in both massacres. There are reports that indicate youth are calling for revenge against the Muslims.

VOM supports the persecuted church there. Their team is helping hundreds of Nigerian pastors who continue to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ despite persecution. VOM also provides food, clothing and medical aid to Nigerian Christians who are attacked by Muslim extremists.

The threat of violence won't stop their work. Nettleton says, "There is going to be some care given to how and where they meet, especially in light of fact that these were clearly coordinated attacks. But there is still going to be a Christian presence there, and there are going to be believers who are reaching out, who are sharing their faith, and who are praying, even for their persecutors."

Pray that those who lost loved ones or were injured will be comforted by the peace of Christ and that the Nigerian government will begin to protect Christians.