Even Catholics Are Tempted by Fake Syrian Passports

A Visit to the Middle East Highlights the Dysfunction of the US System and the Abandonment of Christian Refugees

12/21/2015 Comments (1)

Three Syrian refugees being trained in tailoring skills by Caritas are determined to return home: Two Muslim women from Homs and a Catholic from Aleppo, who've become friends through the Caritas program. (Photo credit: Victor Gaetan)

I learned the step-by-step of buying a fake Syrian passport from my burly and bearded taxi driver, George, while jammed in Beirut traffic on Thanksgiving.

George, age 26, is from Lebanon’s agricultural heartland, the Beqaa Valley, the only boy of six children. He’s no refugee; he’s never left his homeland.

But the Beqaa Valley, bordering Syria, has taken a heavy economic hit from Lebanon’s generosity: Over 1.5 million “visitors” are stuffed into a country half the size of New Jersey.

To make more money, George decided to take the trip north to Turkey, cross the Aegean Sea to Greece, and get to Germany—as a Syrian refugee. (Last summer, the way was cleared for this transit by an unusual...READ MORE

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The Other Paris, the Other France

Despite the Nation's Notorious Secularism, the Catholic Faith in the "Eldest Daughter of the Church" Is Showing Signs of New Life

09/12/2015 Comments (26)
Benh Lieu Song [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.

Notre-Dame cathedral at dusk, as viewed from the Tournelle bridge in Paris.

– Benh Lieu Song [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.

France flaunts its secular identity.

Before entering public schools, students and teachers must remove Muslim headscarves, Jewish yarmulkes, or Sikh turbans based on a 2004 law. Only “discreet” Christian crosses can be worn.

In 1905, France enshrined the strict separation of Church and State. The government took control of Catholic Church property, including Notre-Dame Cathedral, which it owns to this day.

Of course, this attitude can be traced back to the French Revolution. At the height of the Reign of Terror, in 1793, churches were closed, church bells were melted, religious symbols destroyed, and priests and nuns put on trial. Some were even guillotined, as in the case of the...READ MORE

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Signs of the Cross in Romania:  Christianity Thrives in Post-communist Country

05/13/2015 Comments (21)
Wikicommons

President Klaus Iohannis of Romania

– Wikicommons

BUCHAREST, Romania — In some European countries, public expressions of Christianity still dignify daily life.

Standing near an Orthodox church in downtown Bucharest, people, old and young, make the sign of the cross as they pass this sacred site.

Even people tumbling from a public bus manage to cross themselves, recognizing God in the church.

In important ways, Christianity is thriving in post-Communist Romania.

Leaders of the Roman Catholic and Greek Catholic Churches (representing about 8% of the population according to the 2011 census) say participation has exploded when measured by baptisms, weddings, Sunday attendance, and vocations.

Church properties once shuttered have been...READ MORE

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Killing Religion: the Suicidal Savagery of Trotskyite ‘Islamists’

12/10/2014 Comments (21)
alarabiya.net

Arbaeen Wali shrine, which dates to the 11th century, was destroyed by Islamic militants.

– alarabiya.net

Islamic State (IS) fighters in Iraq and militant forces in Syria are often described as extremists, but they are more extremely barbaric than extremely religious.

On Sunday, tunnels hand packed with explosives were detonated by “extremists,” blowing up the al-Sultaniyeh mosque in Aleppo, Syria, built between 1186-1216, sacred to Islam. Some regional media blamed Syria’s al-Qaeda affiliate, al-Nusra Front.

Without pictures, the full extent of destruction isn’t yet known, but Syrian state TV said the mosque itself was destroyed, a result largely confirmed by American experts.

Probably gone forever are delicate calligraphic carvings decorating external walls and inside floors as well as a...READ MORE

Filed under christianity in the middle east, islam, islamic militants, islamic state, mosul, syria, terrorism, terrorist organizations, tikrit, victor gaetan

Kiev: Where the Godly and Wicked Face Off

11/06/2014 Comments (7)

Cardinal Husar and Victor Gaetan

Cardinal Lubomyr Husar, age 81, is a beloved figure in Ukraine.

Born in Ukraine, his family fled turmoil during the Second World War and he grew up in the United States. He became a Ukrainian Greek Catholic priest in 1958, eventually moving back to his homeland to help guide its course after independence from the Soviet Union.

Cardinal Husar even renounced U.S. citizenship in order to fully participate in Ukrainian life — especially, to be able to vote.

Although the cardinal strongly supports Ukraine’s Western orientation in terms of rule of law, greater transparency, and independence from Russia — and he participated in Kiev’s Maidan protests last winter — he is wary of swallowing...READ MORE

Filed under archbishop sviatoslav shevchuk, cardinal lubomyr husar, catholic faith, christianity, communism, corruption, hivaids, human trafficking, kiev, maidan square

Islam on the Beach and the Rapid Islamization of Turkey

09/02/2014 Comments (20)

Signs of Islamic radicalization are everywhere East of the Bosporus, even on Turkey’s legendary beaches.

In early July, small groups of Muslim men and boys, roving Black Sea coastal resorts, confronted women in bathing suits, urging them to cover up. The men distributed a pamphlet titled, “Being the Lady God Wants” with guidance for Muslim modesty.

Among the 70 points were rules such as:

  • A pious woman should not shake hands with a man she does not already know.
  • She should ask permission from her husband to go outside.
  • She should avoid attending weddings where music is played.
  • She should never sit in public places.

 The main message: Pious women should not show skin.

Having...READ MORE

Filed under assad, catholicism, islam, modesty, muslim women, national catholic register, syria, turkey, victor gaetan

Catholic Hungary Discovering Turkic Identity—and Suleyman’s Heart?

08/01/2014 Comments (43)

One hundred years ago, a village priest added a white marble plaque to St Maria Church’s facade out in a field in southern Hungary.

 

Not fluent in Arabic or Hungarian, I can’t read it, but a friend translated: “In 1566…Sultan Suleyman’s princely heart and intestines were buried in this place…God’s mercy be upon him.”

That Suleyman the Magnificent died in his tent of natural causes—as his army closed in on the Szigetvar fortress blocking their march to Vienna—is established fact.

Whether his heart remained in this earth is a historical mystery being tackled by archeologists and historians, financed by the Turkish government.

Suleyman was one of Turkey’s greatest leaders. Under his...READ MORE

Filed under hungary, turkey, victor gaetan

Over a Million Syrian Refugees, Turkey’s PM Erdogan Didn’t Bargain For

Catholic Charities Playing Key Role in Heartbreaking Setting

07/23/2014 Comment

Miserable young women crouch or slump on sidewalks, holding listless babies, every 10 feet on major avenues in Istanbul. I’m heartbroken to see a little girl about 6 years old, alone at the Metro, as lost and mangy as an abandoned dog. 

“Syrian refugees,” tourists tell each other, dodging clusters of very young children, dirty and shoeless, begging for coins.

The refugee crisis in Turkey is overwhelming.

It’s the most stable country in an instable region, bordering eight countries, including Syria, Iraq, and Iran.  For the last 10 years, people fleeing war and fear have cascaded across Turkey’s borders, most intensely since 2011 when civil war began in Syria.

Over one million Syrian...READ MORE

Filed under refugees, syria, turkey, victor gaetan

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About Victor Gaetan

Victor Gaetan
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Victor Gaetan is a senior correspondent for the National Catholic Register, focusing on international issues. He also writes for Foreign Affairs magazine on religious matters. He contributed to Catholic News Service for several years. The Catholic Press Association of North America has given his articles four first place awards, including Individual Excellence, over the last five years. Gaetan received a license (B.A.) in Ottoman and Byzantine Studies from Sorbonne University in Paris, an M.A. from the Fletcher School of International Law and Diplomacy, and a Ph.D. in Ideology in Literature from Tufts University.