Christian Mother Killed in Gaza

07/31/2014 Comments (60)

The latest resumption of hostilities between Israel and Hamas in Gaza has claimed its first confirmed Christian victim: 60- year-old woman Jalileh Ayyad.

Sami El-Yousef, regional director for Palestine and Israel for the Catholic Near East Welfare Association (CNEWA), provided the Register with an update on Christians and Christian institutions in Gaza. El-Yousef’s organization provides vital humanitarian services to Christians and Muslims in the Gaza Strip and elsewhere.

In a phone interview, he said that, although the Israeli army apparently warned the family that their home would be targeted, a missile flew through their roof and into the home before they were able to flee. Ayyad was...READ MORE

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Orthodox Church Opens Its Doors to Displaced Muslims in Gaza

07/25/2014 Comments (12)

Issa Tarazi executive director of Near East Council of Churches Department of Services to Palestinian Refugees in Gaza, told the Register Thursday that the Greek Orthodox Church in Gaza has opened its doors to between 150 to 200 Muslims who lost their homes in the Shijaiyah neighborhood of Gaza City earlier this week.

The neighborhood, a Hamas stronghold, was the site of intense ground battles between Israeli troops and Hamas fighters on July 20. Sixty-five Palestinians and 13 Israelis were killed. It was the third day of Israel’s ground operation aimed at destroying Hamas’ arsenal of rockets and its network of underground tunnels reaching into Israeli territory. Israel decided on the...READ MORE

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Pentecost Prayers at the Vatican: Not ‘Just’ a Religious Meeting

06/05/2014 Comments (3)
Vatican Radio/CTV

Pope Francis plants an olive tree as a symbol of peace during his pilgrimage last month to the Holy Land.

– Vatican Radio/CTV

After he said Mass in Bethlehem on May 25, Pope Francis announced that Israeli President Shimon Peres and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas had accepted his invitation to come to the Vatican to meet together with him. The date set for the meeting is June 8 — Pentecost.

The purpose of the meeting is strictly prayer, not mediation, and that has been made clear by both Pope Francis upon announcing his invitation and by the Vatican Press Office in subsequent statements.

Since the news of the meeting broke, I’ve read reports and commentaries that label it “just” a prayer meeting, and that concerns me. It’s much more than a prayer meeting — it’s a concrete step in the right direction.


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The Girl Who Greeted Pope Francis: ‘One Day, Peace Will Come’

Mika Bachar, 12, said it was a “great honor” to meet Pope Francis and her generation will bring about peace in the Holy Land.

05/28/2014 Comments (1)

Pope Francis meets with Israeli president Shimon Peres in Jerusalem on May 26, 2014.


JERUSALEM — Three children greeted Pope Francis in Jerusalem at the residence of Israel’s president on Monday, each speaking to him in Italian, Arabic and Hebrew. For one of those children, 12-year-old Mika Bachar, the personal encounter with the Pope at the event showed that Jews, Christians and Muslims can live together as friends, and her generation will make peace between Israel and Palestine a reality.

As part of President Shimon Peres’ reception for Pope Francis at the presidential residence in Jerusalem, Bachar, who lives with her family in Ra’anana, greeted the Holy Father in Italian, while two other children, Maya Khouri, 11, from Jaffa, and Itai Mizrahi, 8, greeted him in Arabic...READ MORE

Filed under #popeholyland, holy land, pope francis

Following the Footsteps of the Fisherman

05/24/2014 Comments (3)

Pope Francis' visit to the Holy Land carries enormous significance as the heir of St. Peter. In a real sense, the successor of St. Peter is returning to his roots with this visit to the Holy Land. He is going back to where it all began, and he will be the first successor of St. Peter to offer the Eucharist in the Cenacle, the upper room where the Apostles celebrated the Last Supper with Jesus and where they gathered to pray for the coming of the Holy Spirit until Pentecost.

Pope Francis is making history, but each journey of St. Peter's successor in Rome has such a powerful significance. You almost have to be here to realize 

what this means, and I hope the Register's journey here can...READ MORE

Filed under #popeholyland, holy land, peter jesserer smith, pope francis

Franciscans at the Holy Land

05/24/2014 Comment
Fra Angelico

St. Francis and the Sultan

– Fra Angelico

Francis first visited the Holy Land in the early 13th century. Like Pope Francis today, St. Francis went to the strife filled land with a message of peace and a plea for nonviolence.

Ever since then, Franciscans have been present, looking after holy places, welcoming pilgrims and ministering to Christians, in the land where Jesus walked. The province of the Order of Friars Minor in the region is known as the Custos of the Holy Land.

Church of the Wedding

One of the churches under the care of these Franciscans is the Church of the Wedding at Cana, which marks the place where Jesus performed his first miracle, turning water into wine.

At this site, there’s 19th century Church that...READ MORE

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Bethlehem Awaits Pope

05/24/2014 Comment

On Friday, Israelis and Palestinians were finalizing their preparations for the arrival of Pope Francis, who will spend Saturday in Jordan before spending parts of Sunday and Monday in Bethlehem and Jerusalem, respectively.

A visit to Bethlehem from adjoining Jerusalem via the 300 Checkpoint revealed that Israeli authorities had put a fresh coat of paint on the processing terminal, and removed anti-Israel graffiti from a segment of the security wall Israel erected a few years ago to prevent further terror attacks. There was even a fresh coat of paint on the ground, which a worker was sanding.

The terminal was nearly deserted, and I was surprised to see only a handful of taxis waiting on...READ MORE

Filed under #holyland, #popefrancis, #popeholyland, bethlehem, holy land, michele chabin, pope francis

Shalom! The Register Goes to Israel

05/23/2014 Comment

Shalom! Salaam! Peace! The Register has touched down in Israel and is bringing you this beautiful country just days before Pope Francis makes his historic visit to the Holy Land.

Israel is very beautiful. I can’t tell you how this land feels both very ancient and very alive. Everywhere you look, 4,000 years of history just jumps out at you. Visiting Israel is such a unique experience, and I hope that I can share with you as much as possible what it means to be in this part of the Holy Land. For the first time in my life, I have been walking in the land where our salvation history began.

Thanks to the generosity of the Israeli Ministry of Tourism, five other members of the Catholic Press...READ MORE

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About Pope@HolyLand

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Pope Francis visits the Holy Land May 24 to May 26. The motto of the pilgrimage is “So that they may be one.” At the center of the pope’s pilgrimage will be the meeting with Greek Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople and the heads of the Churches in Jerusalem. The ecumenical gathering marks the 50th anniversary of the meeting in Jerusalem of Pope Paul VI and Patriarch Athenagoras of Constantinople in 1964 to express their commitment to unity.

These writers are covering the Pope’s Holy Land Pilgrimage:

Michele Chabin is the Register’s longtime Middle East correspondent. She has lived in Israel for two decades and has covered religious news in that region for USA Today and Religious News Service among other publications. Follow Michele on twitter at: @michelechabin

Marge Fenelon is a Catholic wife, mother, author, columnist, and speaker. She is a frequent contributor to a number of Catholic media outlets. Marge has written several books about Marian devotion and Catholic family life. Her latest book is Imitating Mary: Ten Marian Virtues for the Modern Mom (Ave Maria Press, 2013). Follow Marge at

Peter Jesserer Smith is a Register staff writer. His writings have also appeared in Our Sunday Visitor and on Peter is a 2011 graduate of the National Journalism Center. Contact Peter at And follow him at