World News in Brief

Syrian prelate thanks God for survival in gun attack

The Syrian Orthodox Vicar of Aleppo has thanked God for his survival during a gun attack as he travelled by car in the country. Msgr Raban Boutros Kassis was struck by two bullets in his shoulder as his car came under attack on the road between Aleppo and Homs on November 6. Though the area of the attack is one controlled by government forces, it is normally closed off at night due to the ongoing threat from rebel activities. Msgr Kassis’ driver drove him to St Louis Catholic hospital in Damascus where he was treated for his injuries.

“I thank God who protected and kept me alive,” Msgr Kassis said of his encounter. “I thank God because in this condition and in this experience I can share the cross with so many people that today suffer in Syria, especially in Aleppo. Every day we suffer assaults and bombings, every day people are wounded and die. I am happy to taste the bitterness of the cross, in communion with Christ and with so many innocent people who suffer. We have the certainty that death is not the last word, but that the end is Resurrection.”


Colombia reaches new peace deal after archbishop’s intervention

The Colombian government and FARC rebels have agreed a new peace agreement following mediation by the president of the Conference of Colombian Bishops. 

Archbishop Luis Augusto travelled at the express request of President Juan Manuel Santos to Havana, Cuba to meet with FARC representatives towards salvaging the peace accord previously rejected by Colombian voters. It is understood the archbishop listened to the concerns of the group’s members ahead of a fresh attempt to rescue the deal, while calling on them to include in their future negotiations a path to “reconciliation” for all and reparations for victims of the conflict. It is hoped the deal will be accepted and bring an end to five decades of conflict.


Historian claims Psalter of St Thomas Becket found

A Cambridge historian has claimed he has found the personal psalter of England’s St Thomas Becket  from the time of his violent death in 1170.

Dr Christopher de Hamel made his find in the Parker Library at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge.

According to Dr de Hamel, he had previously examined the book without any clue as to its origins. Through a chance conversation with a fellow historian subsequently, he was prompted to consult the Sacrists’ Roll of Canterbury Cathedral which, in an entry of 1321, described a book of psalms in jewelled binding that was preserved as a relic in the saint’s shrine at the cathedral. And though that shrine was later destroyed during the reign of Henty VIII, Dr de Hamel points to a note contained in the found psalter, dating from the 16th Century which claims that it is the very book owned by the murdered saint, leading him to believe that the book was rescued and transferred to the library collection at Cambridge with other texts known to be linked with the saint.

Archbishop Thomas Becket was murdered at prayer in Canterbury Cathedral on December 29, 1170 by four knights during the reign of King Henry II.


Council of Churches planned for Iraq

The Chaldean Patriarchate of Babylon is reported to be considering the establishment of a ‘Council of Churches’ for Iraq to strengthen the representation of Christian communities in the wake of the conflict with so-called Islamic State (ISIS). The aim of such an umbrella body would be to bring common concerns in and aims of Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant traditions among others to government and local authorities.