Online This Week: The Vatican's Astronomer and Videos from the Holy Land

A few notable online items this week:

First, an interview with George Coyne, S.J., of the Vatican Observatory. Fr. Coyne explains how the Vatican became involved in astronomy and responds to Stephen Hawking's recent statements on the origins of the universe (see minute 15:40).


Kevin Clarke, recently returned from the Holy Land, has filed two reports on the status of Christians in the Middle East. The first, a video interview with Steven Barhoum, the vicar of the Church of the Holy Family outside of Nazareth, can be found here. Below is a narrated slideshow of his trip.


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8 years ago
I was at Mass at a neighboring parish on Sunday and a representative of a  group of wood carving Christians in Bethlehem was there selling some very nice olive wood religious items.  There were many creches, Last Supper carvings, statue, crucifixes and rosaries.  They were all hand carved in Bethlehem.  Each year they make the rounds of parishes in the New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania area selling these very attractive wood works.
The head of the group said that Christians were disappearing in the Holy Land.  Bethlehem supposedly had 80% Christians 25 to 30 years ago is now down to 13% Christians and the number in Palestine and Israel was just 1%.  
The wood carvers used to do a great business with tourist to Bethlehem but this has pretty much disappeared in the last 20 years as conflict has shut down tourism to a great extent.  

8 years ago
This post is going off the page which means it is going to oblivion but before it does, I recommend that everyone click the link to the interview  with Fr. Coyne.  It is a delightful interview and goes over the history of the Vatican Observatory which is mainly in Arizona.  The Vatican Observatory is not a Jesuit project but is mainly staffed by Jesuits.

He also spends a couple minutes on the Stephen Hawkins book which he says is old news.  


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