Iran’s shameful detention of ‘Post’ reporter

jason-resaian washington postIt’s an absolute outrage.

Iran’s treatment of Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian is far beyond the pale.

It’s bad enough that Iran has imprisoned Rezaian since last July on what are widely regarded to be trumped-up charges, but the way the Iranians have treated him and handled his case have compounded the felony.

In the latest travesty, the powers that be decided that Rezaian’s trial would be closed to the public. His mother and wife came to the courthouse for the beginning of his trial Tuesday but weren’t even allowed on the floor where the proceedings were taking place. The trial adjourned after a couple of hours with no clue when it might resume. Read more at The USA Today.

Did the pope call Abbas an ‘angel of peace’? Depends who you ask

times of israelDid the pope call Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas an “angel of peace”? Did he, less dramatically, express the hope that the PA leader would become an angel of peace? Or did Francis say something else when he presented Abbas, at their Vatican meeting on Saturday, with a medallion representing an angel of peace destroying the evil spirit of war?

Two days later, despite unequivocal reporting by three of the world’s most prominent news agencies that the pope called Abbas an “angel of peace,” and despite Italian newspaper La Stampa’s equally unequivocal report that Francis merely expressed the hope that Abbas would become such an angel, the Vatican’s own website and news agency have not specified. And this could well be because the Vatican is not sure itself.

The Vatican’s chief spokesperson, Father Federico Lombardi, who was present when the pope hosted Abbas in the Apostolic Palace’s papal apartment, told The Times of Israel that he “did not hear the exact words spoken.” This, Lombardi elaborated, was “because they were said in a very colloquial manner between the pope and the Palestinian president, who were in close proximity to one another.” The Times of Israel.

Pope Francis canonizes first modern Palestinian saints in heavily symbolic move

The-Washington-Times1In a ceremony fraught with diplomatic and security overtones, Pope Francis on Sunday canonized the first two saints from the modern region of Palestine at a consecration mass in St. Peter’s Square in Vatican City.

The move was long in the works, but comes just days after the Vatican angered Israel by upgrading its diplomatic ties with the Palestinians, and also comes amid intensifying concerns among Catholic leaders about the future of the Christian faith in its Middle East birthplace.

Church officials said the two nuns will be the first figures from the Middle East to be recognized as saints since the early days of Christianity. They will also be the first Arabic-speaking Catholic saints. Read more at The Washington Times.

CUFI Talking Points: The Pope and the Palestinians

talking pointsWe were disappointed to see initial reports that Pope Francis called Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas an “angel of peace.” We were relieved to see reports this morning that the Pope was likely misunderstood.  It seems that what he said to Abbas was that he “could be” an angel of peace.

And indeed, President Abbas could be an angel of peace.  In order to rise to this role, he would first have to his express his moral — not just tactical — rejection of terrorism. He would have renounce the unrepentant  terrorists  of Hamas as a legitimate  governing  partner.  He would have to recognize Israel as a Jewish state and reject the so-called  Palestinian  right of return.  And he would have to bring himself to accept one of Israel’s generous offers of a Palestinian state in Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

If he did all of these things, then Abbas certainly could  be an angel of peace.

Having done none of these things, Abbas is far from earning his wings.

Sadly, however, we fear that the Vatican’s recent decision to formalize its recognition of the “State of Palestine” will not prod Abbas towards compromise.  We believe the opposite to be true.  As recently as 2008, Abbas refused a Palestinian state because he was unwilling to risk his career — and his life — by taking the steps outlined above.  As an increasing number of nations around the world have since rewarded him with recognition, Abbas has less incentive than ever to take these risks for peace.  He now sees that he can have it all — intransigence and peace.   And this is a tragedy for all concerned, Christian, Jew and Muslim alike.