Fr Stephen Smuts

Posts Tagged ‘War

Russia Fights for Christianity in Syria, the US Fights Against It

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So says the American Orthodox Institute:

Russian President Vladmir Putin and Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kyrill

The everyday signs in America show a growing contempt for Christianity. The exact opposite trend is happening for Russia and its leaders—a return to Christian roots.

Read on here.


Written by Fr Stephen Smuts

November 1, 2015 at 12:31

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Confused About Syria? Who’s Fighting and Why

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Tens of thousands are still fleeing this ancient part of the world.


Syria is a country of mountains, deserts and fertile plains, bordering Lebanon, the Mediterranean Sea, Iraq, Turkey, Jordan, and Israel. The country is largely populated by Sunni Muslims, but is also home to many other ethnic and religious groups: Arabs, Greeks, Armenians, Assyrians, Kurds, and Circassians, Christians, Shiites, Alawites, Druze, Mandeans, Salafis, and Yazidis.

The war in Syria has killed over 250,000 people and displaced over 12 million. Just today, tens of thousands are reported to be fleeing Aleppo with just the clothes on their backs, due to a  government offensive on rebel-held areas south of the city.

Although it began as a civil war, it has become much more and divided much of the Middle East, drawing in the United States and Russia. To better understand how Syria arrived to where it is today, Vox put together this simple video.


Written by Fr Stephen Smuts

October 31, 2015 at 21:42

Caught in the Middle: Mortar Shell Hits Church

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Attack occurred during communion, but the only people injured were outside the building.

Aleteia reports:


In an increasingly complicated time for the Syrian city of Aleppo, practically no place is completely safe. On Sunday, a mortar shell hit the Latin Catholic Church of St. Francis, in the al-Aziziyah district of the city, during Mass.

Fides news agency reported that the grenade, from areas held by anti-Assad rebels, hit the roof, tearing its dome but not penetrating it. Rather, the exposing injured seven people outside.

“If the grenade had exploded inside, there would have been a massacre,” commented Bishop Georges Abou Khazen, the apostolic vicar of Aleppo. He said that there were about 400 people in the church for the evening Mass and that the incident occurred as people were receiving communion…

More on the incident here.

Written by Fr Stephen Smuts

October 28, 2015 at 13:21

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The Surprising Rise of Christianity in Russia

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Mystic Post with an interesting read for a Sunday afternoon:

With America clearly in mind, Vladimir Putin recently declared: “In many countries today, moral and ethical norms are being reconsidered. They’re now requiring not only the proper acknowledgment of freedom of conscience, political views and private life, but also the mandatory acknowledgment of the equality of good and evil.” Putin believes in sin and that morality is not a relative moving target that is determined by the dominate culture of the time. In Putin’s world – his Christian world – there are consequences to moral behavior – there is a right and a wrong.

Putin’s words on faith have surprised the world…

Read on here.


Written by Fr Stephen Smuts

October 25, 2015 at 17:23

Priest Blesses Missiles To Be Used For Airstrikes

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In Syria:

Actually, it looks like a Bishop…

In the above photo, an Orthodox priest blesses Russian missiles intended for airstrikes against Syrian rebels. According to Reuters reporter Noah Browning, the priest is sprinkling holy water on the missile before it is put aboard a Russian plane.

The blessing of missiles comes after Patriarch Kirill, the Primate of the Russian Orthodox Church, declared that Russia’s intervention in Syria, which is aimed at the rebels currently aligned against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, is a “holy battle.”

More here.

War. And the need to formulate a proper Christian response. One that is consistent. Sanctifying war? Surely, it cannot be so…

Written by Fr Stephen Smuts

October 24, 2015 at 13:46

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War Crimes Charges Now Extend to the Destruction of Ancient Monuments

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Here’s why.

A view of the side of a damaged house in the historical city of Sanaa

For the first time, the International Criminal Court in The Hague has opened war crimes proceedings against an Islamist militant accused of leading in the destruction of historical monuments.

The charges reflect a heightened global concern about the safety of antiquities across the Middle East and North Africa, including in UNESCO world heritage sites. Islamic State and al Qaeda affiliates are increasingly launching deliberate assaults on treasured religious monuments…

Reuters has the rest here.


Written by Fr Stephen Smuts

October 10, 2015 at 21:33

ISIS Blows Up Arch of Triumph in Syria’s Palmyra

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Discovery News is reporting:

Islamic State extremists have blown up the famous Arch of Triumph in the ancient Syrian city of Palmyra, the country’s head of antiquities said Monday, as the jihadists press their campaign to tear down the treasured heritage site.

ISIS’ destruction of art in Iraq’s Mosul Museum generated a lot of outrage. Was there an ideological reason for the raid or was it vandalism?

“We have received news from the site that the Arch of Triumph was destroyed yesterday (Sunday). IS bobby-trapped it several weeks ago,” antiquities director Maamun Abdulkarim told AFP.

IS has carried out a sustained campaign of destruction against heritage sites in areas under its control in Syria and Iraq, and in mid-August beheaded the ancient city’s 82-year-old former antiquities chief.

The jihadists have already destroyed the shrine of Baal Shamin and the 2,000-year-old Temple of Bel, regarded as Palmyra’s masterpiece, since overrunning the citadel in May.

The Arch of Triumph, situated at the entrance of the ancient ruins’ historic colonnaded street, was an “icon of Palmyra,” Abdulkarim said, warning that IS fighters have already laid explosives in other monuments.

“This is a systematic destruction of the city. They want to raze it completely,” he said.

“They want to destroy the amphitheatre, the colonnade. We now fear for the entire city,” he added, calling on the international community to “find a way to save Palmyra.”…

Rest here.

I’m afraid it may already be too late for the site by now.

Written by Fr Stephen Smuts

October 5, 2015 at 20:48


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