Orthodox News This Week: Christians are the most persecuted, Church nominated for Nobel Peace Prize, Daesh militants overtake church

Welcome to “This Week in Orthodoxy”, the world’s only online video newscast focused on events in the life of the Orthodox Church.  I’m Emmy Louvaris.  These are some of the stories making headlines this week.

  • New study finds Christians are the most persecuted group in the world
  • Bulgarian Orthodox Church is nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize
  • Daesh militants overtake a Christian church to train their young recruits

New study finds Christians are the most persecuted group in the world

*First Up, If the world hates you, realize that it hated me first…. If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you.” -John 15:18-20 Christians, according to a new study, are the most persecuted religious group in the world.  How serious is the problem? Researchers at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary’s Centre for the Study of Global Christianity report that around 90,000 Christians were killed in 2016. Of those, 30%-or around 27,000-were killed in terror attacks, destruction of their villages, or government persecution. The remaining deaths were attributed to tribal conflicts in Africa in which Christians, for reasons of conscience, were unwilling to take up arms against their enemies. The statistical analysis will be released in its entirety next month.

Bulgarian Orthodox Church nominated for Nobel Peace Prize

From 1943 to 1945 around 48,000 Jews living in Bulgaria were rescued from the grips of  the Nazi terror, thanks in part to Bulgarian Parliament’s Deputy Speaker Dimitar Peshev, Metropolitan Stefan, Exarch of the Bulgarian Church, Metropolitan Paisy of Vratsa, and Metropolitan Kirill of Plovdiv (later to become patriarch), who convinced then-tsar Boris III to defend his Jewish population. The Holocaust trains arrived on March 10, 1943, but the planned deportation never took place. Since 2003, March 10 is known in Bulgaria, as the “Day of the Salvation of the Bulgarian Jews.”  Now the Bulgarian Orthodox Church has been nominated for a second time for the Nobel Peace Prize.

As the Bulgarian Patriarchate’s site reports, the nomination was officially submitted to the Nobel Committee in early January at the initiative of the former Israeli Minister of Health and Deputy General Dr. Ephraim Snekh, Haifa University law professor Moshe Keshet, and attorney Moshe Aloni, boasting the signatures of over 200 surviving Bulgarian Jews who had been rescued.  Many individuals risked their own lives to heroically save Jews from death and persecution during the Second World War, but the Bulgarian Orthodox Church was the only religious institution in territories under Nazi control to officially declare a position in support of the Jewish population. The Church’s consistent position, based on the perfect love which casts out all fear and lays down its life for another, inspired the Bulgarian public to resist the implementation of laws discriminatory against their Jewish neighbors.  The winner of this year’s Nobel Peace Prize will be announced in October.

Daesh militants overtake a Christian church to train their young recruits

And from Sputniknews.com in Moscow, Daesh militants have turned the main Christian  church in the Iraqi town of Tall Kayf into a base for training young recruits, the local media reported Monday.  The Rudaw news agency cited an eyewitness, that children trained were about 15 years old.   Jihadists used this church to train the “Caliphate’s children,” knowing that the Iraqi air forces and the US-led international coalition air forces would not bomb churches, where civilians could be located, the news agency added.  Daesh jihadists have destroyed and burnt most Christian churches in the town; however, this church still stands, despite the fact that the militants have left the area, according to the eyewitness.  Outlawed in Russia and the United States as well as in many other countries, the radical group has become notorious for its brutal acts of terrorism and human rights atrocities.

The battle to retake Mosul from Daesh began in October, 2016. About 90 percent of the eastern part of the city has been recaptured by the Iraqi government forces while the western part is still in the hands of the terrorist group.

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That brings another edition of “This Week in Orthodoxy,” to a close.  Wishing you a Happy New Year and Blessed Week, for everyone here in our OCN studios. I’m Emmy Louvaris.  Let’s go forth in peace.

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Emmy Louvaris is the host of This Week in Orthodoxy,…
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