14-20 May, 2018


German bishop: only universal Church can settle dispute on intercommunion            14-5-18

Bishop Rudolf Voderholzer of Regensburg, Germany, who has led opposition to a proposal for intercommunion in the country, argues that the policy approved by a majority of German bishops cannot properly be implemented without the approval of all the world’s bishops, since it involves a shift in Catholic doctrine. Pope Francis has asked the German bishops to reach their own settlement of the dispute.


Australian prosecutors seek to try Cardinal Pell in secrecy              14-5-18

Australian prosecutors have applied for a blanket injunction on media coverage during the sex-abuse trial of Cardinal George Pell. If approved by the court, the rare move would allow for the entire trial to be conducted in secret. Prosecutors have not yet revealed the details of the charges against Cardinal Pell, who has vigorously denied any wrongdoing.

Assassination attempt on archbishop in Cameroon, critic of president              14-5-18

Archbishop Samuel Kleda of Douala, Cameroon, an outspoken critic of the country’s president was the object of an apparent assassination attempt. Shots were fired on May 3 into the archbishop’s residence, causing some damage but no injuries. "Projectiles were shot at the Archdiocese of Douala headquarters, breaking its windows," the local vicar general, Msgr. Dieudonne Bayemeg, said in a statement. "There were no human injuries, and the police arrived immediately, accompanied by the archbishop, cathedral rector and household guards."

Archbishop Kleda has argued that Cameroon’s President Paul Biya, who has held office since 1982, should step down, saying that his government has been “paralyzed and destroyed by corruption.” The archbishop also demanded a government dialogue with separatist groups.

Pope Receives Romania Prime Minister Viorica Dancila                  14-5-18


Pope Francis received in audience on May 11, 2018 Viorica Dancila, Prime Minister of Romania.

Highlighted in the cordial conversation were the steps taken to foster cooperation in the educational realm, expressing the hope that the latter will soon be reinforced through opportune agreements.

Prospects were examined for the future of the European project, in view also of the Presidency of the Council of the European Union, which Romania will assume in the first semester of 2019.


Cardinal Zen: deal would not ease restraints on Church in China                14-5-18

In an interview with Al Jazeera, Cardinal Joseph Zen, retired bishop of Hong Kong, continued to argue against a Vatican diplomatic accord with China, disputing the notion that an agreement would allow greater freedom for the Chinese Church. “If all the bishops—or the majority of the bishops—are slaves of the Communist regime, there is no improvement,” he reasoned.

Vatican and Jordanian institute underscore dignity of human life            14-5-18

The Royal Institute for Inter-Faith Studies of Jordan and the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue have issued a statement urging for the protection of and respect for human life, especially that of migrants, refugees and victims of human trafficking.  They had a colloquium in Amman May 9-10.

At the end of their meeting, the participants issued a joint declaration stating that “life is God’s gift to all members of the one human family; therefore, it should be protected from its conception to its natural end.” The colloquium also underscored that the human being is the apex of creation, endowed with dignity, rights and duties, hence each deserves respect, love and all means necessary for a dignified life.

Congo - Bishops' appeal to the Countries in the north of the world: "Help us to recover money unfairly stolen from our development"            14-5-18

Corruption, poor management of oil revenues, lack of dialogue between majority and opposition, an unjust international system of economic exchanges and debt financing: these are the causes of the profound political, economic and social crisis in which the Republic of Congo lives. This is what the Country's Bishops say in the message published at the end of the extraordinary session of their Assembly, which was held in Brazzaville on 8 and 9 May.

The Bishops say they are "deeply convinced" that the difficulties that have afflicted the Country for at least three years derive from the reform of the Constitution that was not shared by the opposition.

Among the recommendations proposed by the Bishops there is a sincere dialogue between the political forces; an international audit on the Congolese debt; the creation of an independent body to fight corruption. Finally, the Episcopal Conference launches an appeal "to the governments of the Countries in the north, to help the Congolese to recover the money unfairly stolen. These funds could be used by us for development".

Indonesia - Attacks on three churches, the Catholic parish priest: "Let us forgive the terrorists"          14-5-18

Three attacks on Sunday, May 13, 2018, struck three churches in the city of Surabaya, in the eastern part of the island of Java, just before the start of Sunday Masses/services. The first explosion took place in the Catholic Church of Mary Immaculate at 7.15 am; the second in front of a Pentecostal Church and the third in the Church of Christ (Anglican), five minutes after the first attack. A new attack hit a police station in Surabaya on Monday, May 14: the total toll of the victims of two days of violence, as reported by the authorities, has risen to 25 dead (of whom 13 suicide bombers) and more than 50 injured.

According to Indonesian police chief Tito Karnavian "the perpetrators of the attacks on churches are all members of the same family: father, mother, two sons and two daughters, involved in the attack.

The parish priest of the church of Mary Immaculate, Fr. Alexius Kurdo Irianto, said that the explosion in front of his church killed five people: three are his parishioners and the other two are young suicide bombers, as well as several wounded. "Despite our profound sadness - says Father Irianto - we forgive the perpetrators of crimes and pray for the guilty and organizers of these horrible acts: may the Lord enlighten their minds".

“It is traumatic to know that a whole family of suicide bombers carried out the attacks: what do we instill in the minds of children? Extremism? This is the most profound question that these attacks bring with them": says Fr. Siprianus Hormat, Executive Secretary of the Bishops' Conference of Indonesia,

Ecuador - Young people who evangelize young people: leadership training workshops            14-5-18

"Our apostolate is the mission Ad Gentes, in particular the evangelization of young people", says Juan Manuel Rubín de Celis Alba, national coordinator of the "Movimiento Juventud Católica México" (JUCAMÉX), which is located in the diocese of Azogues, in Ecuador, from 17 April to 17 May, to lead the first training seminar on leadership for the youth of parish communities, movements and schools of the diocese.

JUCAMÉX is the Catholic youth movement of Mexico characterized by a missionary spirit: its purpose is to proclaim the Gospel to the whole world, with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, according to the motto: "Christ sends us and the world needs us".

Iraq - Nihil obstat of the Holy See to recognize the martyrdom of Father Ragheed Ganni and of the three deacons killed in 2007            14-5-18

The Congregation for the Causes of Saints has given the nihil obstat - permitting to begin the process of canonization of Chaldean Iraqi priest Ragheed Ganni and the three deacons - Basman Yousef Daud, Wahid Hanna Isho and Gassan Isam Bidawid - killed June 3 2007 by a commando of armed men in Mosul, near the Chaldean church dedicated to the Holy Spirit.

The martyrdom of Father Ganni and of the three deacons occurred on Pentecost Sunday, near the Chaldean church dedicated to the Holy Spirit, after the celebration of Holy Mass.

India's government accused of shaping top judiciary             14-5-18


The collegium of India's Supreme Court has met to reconsider its recommendation to elevate a Christian judge to the top court amid allegations that the pro-Hindu federal government had rejected him for ideological reasons.

The collegium of judges met on May 11 to consider its January recommendation to elevate Chief Justice K.M. Joseph of Uttarakhand High Court to the Supreme Court, local reports said. The federal government, run by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), rejected the recommendation on April 26 and asked the collegium to consider other names.

"The government turned down the collegium recommendation as he is a Christian and may not toe the pro-Hindu ideological line," said Govind Yadav, a Supreme Court lawyer.


Kashmir seeks conflict ceasefire             14-5-18

Jammu and Kashmir state has asked the Indian federal government to seek a ceasefire between militants and security forces during the month-long Muslim holy period of Ramadan from May 17.

Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti said hopefully such a ceasefire could be extended until the end August to also cover the Muslim period of Eid and the Hindu pilgrimage season of Amaranth Yatra.

There have been heightened tensions and outbreaks of violence since May 6 when the army killed five militants, including a former professor of sociology from the University of Kashmir, Mohammad Rafi Bhat. News of the killings triggered large scale street protests in which six civilians died, prompting separatist leaders to call for strike action.



German president: Catholic Church should allow intercommunion              15-5-18

German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier has said that the Catholic Church should allow Protestants to receive Communion. Addressing a Catholic conference, the German leader said that he was speaking “as an avowed Evangelical Christian.” He also made a point of saying that he regularly pays Germany’s “church tax,” noting that since the Catholic Church receives funds from the government.

Pope reflects on resignation                  15-5-18

During his homily at a weekday Mass on May 15, Pope Francis referred to the possibility that he may eventually resign. Commenting on the day’s reading, from the farewell message of St. Paul to the Ephesians, the Holy Father said: “When I read this, I think about myself, because I am a bishop and I must take my leave and step down.”

Chilean cardinal explains delay in addressing abuse complaints              15-5-18

Cardinal Javier Errazuriz, the retired Archbishop of Santiago, has written to his fellow bishops in Chile defending his response to sex-abuse complaints lodged against Father Fernando Karadima. The cardinal admitted that Karadima’s influence and popularity weighed heavily in his decision not to take action for several years, AP reports. Cardinal Errazuriz is not participating in this week’s gathering of the Chilean hierarchy with Pope Francis in Rome.

Jakarta archbishop decries jihad families as new form of violence                15-5-18

Following attacks on 3 Indonesian churches, the archbishop of Jakarta (the nation’s capital) said that “planning and implementing a suicide attack by taking their children with them is a new [form] of violence.” The ultimate target of the attack, he added, was a pluralist Indonesia in which members of different religions have a place. The parish priest of one of the targeted churches forgave the perpetrators and said, “Catholics in the Diocese of Surabaya are in deep pain, but the Catholic Church is not afraid of terror.”

Cardinal Parolin: children need protection against online crime                15-5-18

In a message to an international conference on “cybercrime,” Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican Secretary of State, emphasized the need for measure to protect children, who are exposed to new dangers. He observed: “The proliferation of ever more extreme images of violence and pornography profoundly affects the psychology and even the neurological functioning of children.”

Canadian archbishop lauds teens who refuse pro-abortion pledge, lose summer jobs           15-5-18

Archbishop Thomas Prendergast of Ottawa has praised young Canadians who are ineligible for summer work grants from the government because they refuse to sign a pro-abortion statement. The archbishop—who has described the government’s stance as “bullying,” said that teens who lose summer jobs are showing their Christian commitment, “and if it means losing money, if it means losing status, so be it.”

New report finds 40% of Catholics in US are Hispanic          15-5-18

“About 40% of all Catholics in the US are Hispanic; 50% of Catholics ages 14 to 29 are Hispanic; and 55% of Catholics under 14 are Hispanic,” according to the report, which also found that “61% of immigrant Hispanics were Catholic, as were 50% of the 2nd generation and 43% of the 3rd and higher generations.”

Remains of ‘Coptic martyrs’ returned to Egypt               15-5-18

The bodily remains of the 21 Coptic Christians who were beheaded by Islamic terrorists in Libya in 2015 have been returned to Egypt. They will be buried in a new Coptic Orthodox shrine, currently under construction, dedicated to their memory.

Chilean bishops: We have come to Rome in ‘pain and shame’                 15-5-18

Summoned to the Vatican to address the clerical abuse crisis, the bishops will listen to the Pope “in a spirit of humility and openness,” said one prelate, “ready to collaborate with him and do whatever he asks.”

Iowa’s bishops welcome heartbeat abortion ban           15-5-18

In the US, the Iowa Catholic Conference has welcomed the Legislature’s action on 4 May in Senate File 359 to stop any trafficking in fetal body parts following an abortion and supports the life-affirming intent of the provision to stop abortions after a heartbeat is detected. They called upon all to respect and love human life, especially vulnerable life in a mother’s womb.” They also called upon the judiciary to once again recognize that all life should be protected from the moment of conception to natural death.

Church in Columbia has provided 300,000 food rations to Venezuelans                15-5-18

Fleeing their nation’s economic and political crisis, an estimated 37,000 Venezuelans enter Colombia each day.  The Church in Colombia has provided 300,000 food rations to Venezuela. On 9 May, Msgr Héctor Fabio Henao, the director of the National Secretariat of Social Pastoral work in Colombia added that they also provide medical help, legal and psychological counselling.

CDF hosts conference on the Inquisition and its archives              15-5-18

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) is hosting an international conference May 15-17 on Roman Inquisition and Its Archives. This is held on the occasion of completion of twenty years after opening of the Archives of CDF.

Vatican confirms high regard for contemplative life       15-5-18

The Vatican confirmed on May 15, 2018, its high regard for the contemplative life in issuing “Cor Orans” that provides instructions on how to apply Pope Francis’ 2016 Apostolic Constitution “Vultum Dei Quaerere”. The document is addressed to Catholic women religious in contemplative communities.

Nigeria - Protest demonstration promoted by the Bishops against massacres of Christians committed by the Fulani             15-5-18

A mass demonstration in Nigeria is being organized for May 22 by the nation’s Catholic Bishops in Nigeria to protest the continued killing of Christians by Muslim Fulani herdsmen.

Since the beginning of the year more than 100 people have died in these attacks. The last one was carried out on April 24th in the parish of St. Ignatius of Ukpor-Mbalom in Mbalom, in the Gwer East Local Government Area in the State of Benue.
According to a press release from the Nigerian Episcopal Conference, the protest demonstration will be held in Makurdi, the capital of the Benue State, which is part of the so-called Middle Belt, in the center of Nigeria which divides the North, mainly Muslim, from the south largely inhabited by Christians. The two priests murdered on April 24 will be buried the same day. All the clergy and faithful are invited to organize peaceful rally or rosary procession to demonstrate solidarity.


Nicaragua - "National Dialogue" begins: the Church is mediator and witness         15-5-18

The Catholic Church in Nicaragua, through the Episcopal Conference (CEN), has announced that "National Dialogue" in Nicaragua will begin on Wednesday 16 May. In his announcement, Cardinal Brenes, Archbishop of Managua, emphasized the role of the Church as "a mediator and witness", but at the same time he pointed out the topic to be discussed: "the institutionalism of the country to move towards democratization". Cardinal Brenes, said that "the conditions for dialogue are not the best, but dialogue will nevertheless take place in Nuestra Señora de Fátima seminary". He recalled the violence that rages on the streets of some cities must be immediately stopped.

The bishops, in their letter to President Daniel Ortega, have laid down four conditions in order to continue the dialogue: to allow the entry of the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights in the country; to stop the action of paramilitary bodies; to stop repression and give credible signs of willingness to dialogue and simply to accept to act as a mediator in this National Dialogue.

United States - Hispanic/Latin Pastoral Meeting, racism and religious freedom among the topics on the Bishops' agenda           15-5-18

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has announced that it will hold its Annual General Assembly on June 13-14, 2018 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, to discuss racism, religious freedom and other issues.

During the Assembly, Bishop Nelson Pérez, Bishop of Cleveland, chairman of the USCCB's Cultural Diversity Subcommittee on Hispanic Affairs, will offer the Bishops an update on the V Hispano/Latin Pastoral Meeting, a major national event to be held from 20 to 23 September in Grapevine, Texas. Thus far, the preliminary path has engaged hundreds of thousands of Latino Catholics during local and regionally held meeting events across the U.S. Approximately 3000 diocesan delegates representing the dioceses throughout the country will take part in the V Meeting of Grapevine.


Delhi archbishop launches election prayer campaign           15-5-18

Delhi Archdiocese has started a year-long prayer campaign ahead of federal elections, saying India faces a turbulent political future that threatens the country's democracy.

In a pastoral letter read out on May 13 in all the national capital's parishes, Archbishop Anil Couto of Delhi called on Catholics in his archdiocese to start a campaign of prayer and Friday fasting ahead of elections due in April 2019. "As we look forward towards 2019 when we will have a new government, let us begin a prayer campaign for our country" from May 13, on the anniversary of the Apparition of the Blessed Mother at Fatima in Portugal, it said.  The pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) five-year term ends in May 2019. 

Pakistani families of detained Christians get church aid               15-5-18


The families of Pakistani Christians imprisoned in relation to the murder of two Muslim men during violent riots that erupted in 2015 received financial assistance from the Church, which believes they are falsely accused.

Father Emmanuel Yousaf Mani, national director of the Pakistani Catholic bishops' National Commission for Justice and Peace (NCJP), distributed 10,000 rupees (US$87) on May 11 at St. Anthony's Church, Lahore to each of the 41 relatives of the 39 Christians who remain imprisoned over in the Youhanabad lynching case.

Their imprisonment followed Taliban suicide bombings outside St. John Catholic Church and Christ Church in Youhanabad in March 2015. At least 15 Christians were killed and 85 others injured. The bombings sparked mass riots involving thousands of Christians who smashed vehicles and property, prompting the deployment of over 1,000 officers. Police detained two suspected militants in relation to the bombing but they were taken away by the rioters and subsequently beaten to death. Some 160 Christians were arrested over the killing of the two men and 119 were sent to prison.


Churches become refuges in Myanmar's Kachin State             15-5-18

The Myanmar military's ongoing offensive against rebels in northern Kachin State has resulted in thousands of people taking refuge in churches.

Father Peter Hka Awng Tu, parish priest of St. Columban's Cathedral in Myitkyina, said more than 600 people from Ingyanyang township wanted to flee a military build-up. The military was being asked to allow their rescue, Father Awng Tu said. The priest added that nearly 2,000 people had already taken refuge at Catholic churches in Myitkyina, Tanai, Tangphre and Namti townships.  And another group of about 200 people were being given shelter at a Catholic-run internally displaced persons' camp in Waimaw township, near Myitkyina.

"The situation is worrisome as more people flee their homes as a result of the military's major offensive in several townships in Kachin," Father Awng Tu said.


Philippine bishop warns of Duterte's fall from power            15-5-18

A Filipino bishop has warned Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte that he could be next following the ouster of Maria Lourdes Sereno, the country's chief justice.

Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo, a vocal critic of Duterte's administration, said Sereno's May 11 removal by Supreme Court judges "subverted democracy." "The Supreme Court fell.... It self-destructed by granting the quo warranto. It fell from being a bastion of independence in our democratic system," said Bishop Pabillo.

quo warranto is a special legal action to resolve a dispute over whether a person has the right to hold a public office he or she occupies.  Sereno's supposed failure to declare her assets and liabilities before she was named head of the judiciary in 2012 was cited as the reason for initiating the proceedings.

"The fight now moves from the Supreme Court to [the presidential palace] because people clearly see the dictatorial moves of the Duterte regime," said the prelate.


Pope concludes series of Wednesday talks on Baptism                 16-5-18

At his general audience on May 16, Pope Francis delivered the last in a series of catechetical talks on Baptism, explaining the significance of the white garment and the lighted candle given to the newly baptized.

Here are his words:

In this, our final catechesis on Baptism, we turn to the rites illustrating the grace of the sacrament. Following an ancient tradition, the newly baptized are robed in a white garment signifying their new life in Christ, and are admonished to preserve it unstained for eternal life. Since, as Saint Paul says, the baptized have been clothed in Christ (cf. Gal 3:27), they are called to cultivate every virtue, especially charity, which binds the others together (cf. Col 3:14). So too, the taper lighted from the paschal candle symbolizes the light of Christ and the warmth of his love, which, with the help of the parents and godparents, must be nurtured through education in the Christian life. These rites evoke not only our communion in the Church on earth but also point to its fulfilment in the heavenly Jerusalem, where God will be our light for ever (cf. Rev 22:5). The rite of Baptism concludes with the Our Father, as the expression of our dignity as God’s adoptive children in Christ.

The Pope asked everyone to cherish the gift of grace received on the day of our Baptism, and let ourselves be guided at every step by the Holy Spirit who dwells in our hearts.

Pope urges prayers to counter ‘escalation of tensions’ in Holy Land             16-5-18

At his regular weekly public audience on May 16, Pope Francis said that he is “very worried and saddened by the escalation of tensions in the Holy Land and in the Middle East.” He offered his prayerful sympathy for victims of the recent bloodshed, and insisted that “the use of violence never leads to peace.”

Holy Land’s bishops lament killing of Palestinian protestors, call for prayer         16-5-18

“It is of great concern learning that 60 Palestinians were killed on May 14, 2018, and about 3,000 were wounded during protests that were held near Gaza border fence with Israel,” stated the Assembly of Catholic Ordinaries of the Holy Land. “These casualties, or most of them, could have been avoided if non-lethal tools had been used by the Israeli forces.” As the funerals of the Palestinians took place, protests broke out in the West Bank.

Pope gives Chile’s bishops themes for prayer, meditation               16-5-18

Chile’s bishops, summoned to Rome to discuss the clerical abuse scandal, held their initial meeting with Pope Francis on May 15. The Pope gave them themes to pray and meditate upon until the following day.

Pope speaks to Roman priests, recommends treatment for ‘spiritual sickness’            16-5-18

Speaking to priests of the Rome diocese in the Lateran Basilica on 16 May, Pope Francis said that Roman parishes’ reflection on their “spiritual sicknesses” has been fruitful and proposed a “revolution of tenderness” as a cure.

Vatican diplomat: human person, rural families should be at centre of agricultural policy decisions                16-5-18

Msgr. Fernando Chica Arellano, the Vatican diplomat at the Food and Agricultural Organization, spoke at the 31st regional conference of FAO in Europe and said that the human person and the rural families should be at the centre of agricultural policy decisions. The conference took place on 16 May at Voronezh, Russian federation.


Pope meets Buddhist delegation        16-5-18


Pope met a Buddhist delegation from Thailand on 16 May before the General Audience. While he thanked them for the gift of their Sacred Book translated into today’s language by the monks of Wat Pho Temple, he wished “that Buddhists and Catholics grow increasingly closer, advance in knowledge of one another and in esteem for their respective spiritual traditions, and offer the world a witness to the values of justice, peace, and the defense of human dignity.”


Pope’s remarks to Dharmic religions               16-5-18


Before the General Audience on 16 May Pope Francis received members of Dharmic religions who had come to attend the conference “Dharma and Logos – Dialogue and Cooperation in a Complex Age.”

He appreciated the efforts of those who made possible this initiative, which brought together Christians, Hindus, Buddhists, Jains and Sikhs. In the midst of increased tensions and conflicts, accompanied by violence, “it is a cause for thanksgiving to God when religious leaders actively foster a culture of encounter by offering an example of fruitful dialogue and by working together effectively in the service of life, human dignity and the care of creation.”


Card. Bechara Rai, condemns the Gaza massacre by Israel         16-5-18


The Maronite patriarch of Lebanon, Card. Bechara Rai, condemns the "massacre by Israel of more than 60 Palestinians” in harsh criticism and asks the international community to pressure Israel on the implementation of UN resolution concerning Jerusalem.

Kenya - The diocese of Nakuru launches a collection of aid for the victims of the Solai dam

Tragedy            16-5-18

"I personally went there and saw the destruction caused by the dam where many people lost their lives and properties destroyed. I appeal to you all to give a special contribution from 13th, May 2018, to the Sunday of Pentecost, which will be on 20th, May 2018. This can be in form of finances, food, clothing, blankets and in any other way that you can to help the Victims", urged Bishop Maurice Muhatia Makumba of Nakuru, reporting on his visit to the population affected by the collapse of the Solai dam, which caused 45 deaths and left more than 100 people homeless.

Bishop Muhatia addressed in particular the 50 parishes of the diocese and all people of good will, to help support the efforts of the local Caritas that assists the victims of the tragedy that occurred.

South Sudan - High taxes: Catholic radios risk closing             16-5-18

The National Communications Authority has imposed very high annual taxes for the registration of local radio stations. This is a major challenge for all stations belonging to the Catholic Radio Network (CRN), as some of those present in South Sudan are forced to close, unable to bear these costs. During a coordination meeting which just ended in Juba, Father Elario Bazia Boro, director of "Anisa Radio", in the Catholic diocese of Tombura-Yambio, said that the National Ministry of Information asked all the stations of CRN members a registration tax of 5,500 US dollars per year. Fr. Bazia adds that private radios are asked to pay $ 20,000 and $ 1,500 to government radio stations.

China - During the Marian month, new workers in the "most isolated vineyards of the Lord"    16-5-18

New priests were ordained in mainland China in the Marian month to serve the provinces of Gui Zhou and Hai Nan. For the province of Hai Nan, an island of 33,920 km with 9 million inhabitants, including about 6,000 Catholics, this is the third ordination of a priest in its history. The province of Gui Zhou, which is the poorest in the country, has welcomed as many as 4 new priests.

The third priest in the history of the community is a young man from the Archdiocese of Xian, in the province of Shaanxi, but incardinated at the Apostolic Prefecture of Hai Kou, the capital of Hai Nan.

Malaysia - The Bishops: pray for peace and reconciliation after the elections, in the "new Malaysia"            16-5-18

"We exercised our democratic right of vote on May 9, 2018. Malaysia has a golden opportunity, the future lies in the hands of the people. We Catholic Bishops of Malaysia, propose a moment of prayer and thanksgiving for our beloved nation during the Pentecost Novena, between 12 and 20 May": says a message signed by the Bishops of Malaysia the day after the political elections. For the first time in the history of the nation, the vote saw the victory of the opposition coalition, compared to the "National Front" that governed for 60 years.

"We are grateful for a matured electorate" the Bishops say, noting that, thanks to the commitment of the Election Commission officials and thousands of volunteers, the vote took place peacefully, in a transparent and almost incident-free manner. They call for a mass of thanksgiving and an hour of adoration and prayer, including a special prayer intention for peace in the country. The bishops encourage all citizens to personal commitment to peace and unity.

Holy Land - Catholic Bishops: the massacre in Gaza could have been avoided. Jerusalem can also be the capital of Palestine               16-5-18

The dozens of deaths and about 3 thousand people wounded during the Palestinian protests organized at the border fence between the Gaza Strip and Israel could have been avoided "if non-lethal tools had been used by the Israeli forces". The Catholic Bishops of the Holy Land are pointing their finger at the Israeli army, who on May 15, issued a statement about the tragic events that bring bloodshed to the land where Jesus Christ was born, died and resurrected. Released through the official channels of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem the message of the Ordinary Catholic Bishops' Assembly of the Holy Land calls to end the siege imposed on about two million Palestinians in Gaza Strip as soon as possible.

The decisions about the Holy City of Jerusalem, "does not contribute to advancing the long-awaited peace between Israelis and Palestinians". They reiterate the stand of the Church to make Jerusalem "a city open to all peoples, the religious heart of the three monotheistic religions". The Catholic Bishops of the Holy Land say “We believe that there is no reason that could prevent the City from being the capital of Israel and Palestine,", adding that this should be done through "negotiation and mutual respect".

Bangladesh's 560 mosques project comes under fire            16-5-18

Bangladeshi minority leaders including a top church official have condemned a US$ 1.07 billion mosque project initiated by the government, calling it a blatant attempt to win over Muslim voters ahead of national elections at the end of the year. The government has said the mosques are a bid to combat extremism.

On May 3, Bangladesh's Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina inaugurated the project, although Saudi authorities have yet to release the promised funds. The government has taken this initiative so that people can receive the real teaching of Islam and exercise Islamic culture properly, the United News of Bangladesh reported Hasina as saying.

Theophil Nokrek, secretary of Catholic Bishop's Justice and Peace commission called the initiative unfair to adherents of other faiths. "The question is whether the government could have released such a huge amount for the welfare of other faiths," he said.


Anwar free at last as Malaysia charts new course               16-5-18

Former Malaysian deputy prime minister Anwar Ibrahim has been released from prison and appears on track to become prime minister of the country.

In his first address to the media after meeting the nation's king and returning home on May 16, Anwar said he would not seek an immediate return to politics and would instead spend time with his family.

He also calmed early fears of rifts in a new post-election government alliance by supporting Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad's prerogative to form the cabinet.

The early release of Malaysia's most famous political prisoner is expected to secure a new phase of political and social reform in a country that was becoming increasingly repressive under now ousted leader Najib Razak.


Indonesia's terror death toll hits 36 with Sumatra attack              16-5-18

As another deadly attack by Islamic radicals rocked Indonesia on May 16, a new anti-terrorism group backed by former first lady Sinta Nuriyah Wahid and consisting of dozens of religious leaders has been launched.

The People's Movement for Counter-Terrorism has committed itself to fighting against terror attacks that have "destroyed the values of humanity, spread fear and ruined national unity," said Sinta, wife of former president Abdurrahman Wahid.

On May 16, four men carrying sharp weapons attacked the police headquarters in Sumatra's Riau province, one policeman was killed and two others injured before the perpetrators were shot dead.

In preceding days, two separate families of suicide bombers attacked churches and a police station in Surabaya killing 25 people including the terrorists.

A few days earlier, terrorists sparked a prison riot that saw five policemen and a prisoner killed.


Hindus oppose Muslims praying in India's public places            16-5-18

Hindu groups' opposition to Muslims using public places for congregational prayers is creating tension in India, with some suspecting there is a hidden agenda afoot linked to the national elections expected early next year.

An amalgam of 22 leading pro-Hindu groups have intensified their calls for a total ban on the country's 172 million Muslims conducting congregational prayers on public grounds and some roads. Muslims have traditionally used public places for prayers if their mosques were too small to accommodate large congregations on Fridays at noon and during feast days.

The push back began on April 20 in northern Haryana state when some Hindu groups disrupted Friday prayers at a vacant plot. The six arrested men were released the next day, stoking concerns that the groups enjoy government patronage as India is governed by the pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

Now the United Hindu Forum for Resistance (Sanyukt Hindu Sangharsh Samiti) are accusing Muslims of encroaching on public land to facilitate their prayers and converting the land into mosques.


Pope concludes meetings with Chilean bishops; no immediate action announced           17-5-18

On May 17, Pope Francis concluded three days of meetings with the bishops of Chile, whom he had summoned to Rome for an urgent discussion of the sex-abuse scandal in that country. The Holy Father thanked the Chilean prelates for their commitment to “all the changes and resolutions that we will have to implement in the short, medium, and long term to restore justice and ecclesial communion.”

(18 May) It was announced on May 18 that all 31 active members of the Chilean Catholic bishops’ conference have submitted their resignations to Pope Francis.

In announcing their willingness to resign, the Chilean bishops said that they had offered freely to step down and had left their future status “in the hands of the Holy Father,” allowing the Pope to decide which bishops should be removed. The bishops thanked the Pope for his “fraternal correction” and offered their apologies to the victims of sexual abuse.


New Vatican document on economic, financial system              17-5-18

The new document was written by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development. Entitled “Oeconomicae et pecuniariae quaestiones: Considerations for an Ethical Discernment Regarding Some Aspects of the Present Economic-Financial System,” the text is dated January 6 and was made public on May 17. The 34-paragraph document offers “fundament al considerations” and “some clarifications in today’s context.”


Venezuelan Church blasts change in election date, laments economic catastrophe          17-5-18

Even as the Venezuelan economic crisis swells in unimaginable rate, the government has suddenly decided to hold presidential elections on May 20, 2018, rather than in October or December as originally planned. In its most recent communiqué, the Venezuelan bishops’ conference declared that these elections lack legitimacy, because, the statement said, “as conceived, and without the necessary guarantees common to every free, trustworthy and transparent electoral process, and with the innumerable disqualifications of potential candidates, such an election, far from bringing about a solution to the crisis the country is facing, may even aggravate this crisis and lead to a humanitarian catastrophe without precedent.”

Pope to new ambassadors: ‘Shared conviction of the unity of the human family’             17-5-18


Pope Francis received the new ambassadors of Tanzania, Lesotho, Pakistan, Mongolia, Denmark, Ethiopia and Finland on 17 May. He told them: “The patient work of international diplomacy in promoting justice and harmony within the concert of nations is grounded in a shared conviction of the unity of our human family and the innate dignity of each of its members.”

Burundi - Burundi votes in referendum on President Nkurunziza's power          17-5-18

4.8 million voters are called to vote in Burundi on 17 May 2018, for the referendum on the controversial constitutional review aimed at allowing the President Pierre Nkurunziza to remain in power for another 15 years, until 2034. The referendum is boycotted by the opposition and civil society groups, but President Nkurunziza has signed a decree that criminalises campaigns to boycott the vote.

The referendum campaign took place in a heavy climate of intimidation, as denounced by the Burundian Bishops themselves in their pastoral letter published in early May, stigmatizing "the actions of some Burundians who use violence and abuse the authority they hold to oppress the freedom of expression and opinion of their political opponents.

China - Inauguration of a statue of St. John Wu Wen Yin, canonized in 2000            17-5-18

The statue of St. John Wu Wen Yin, a catechist and Chinese martyr canonized on 1 October 2000 by Pope John Paul II, was inaugurated. As reported by the website of the diocese of Han Dan, in the province of Hebei, the blessing and unveiling of the new statue took place during a solemn celebration presided over by the diocesan chancellor Don Pietro Zhou Qing Gang, with 35 priests with celebrants and numerous faithful.

During the Mass, the new altar of the parish of Dong Er Tou was also consecrated, where the saint was born. In his homily, the Chancellor recalled the courageous testimony of faith of this 19th century saint who was fervent in faith, was the guide of his community, engaged in social works and was inspired by the profound faith of his mother. Peter Zhou therefore invited all the faithful to follow his footsteps because "the blood of martyrs is the seed of Christians".
In the persecution unleashed by the Boxers (in 1900), he was tortured and condemned to death for having refused to abandon the Christian doctrine.

Myanmar - Bishops' alarm: Over 7,000 Kachin Christians forced to flee              17-5-18

Bishop Francis Daw Tang of Myitkyina, of Kachin state, has expressed alarm over the fact that over 7,000 Christian citizens belonging to the Kachin ethnic minority, in northern Myanmar, have been forced to abandon their homes due to the escalation of violence between the Burmese army and the Kachin independentist rebels.

Christian Pakistanis slam 'illegal' police arrests, raids            17-5-18

Fear and panic has swept through a Christian slum in Pakistan's port city of Karachi after more than a dozen youths were rounded up by police in a series of pre-dawn raids, residents say.

The raids took place in the Gulishan-e-Iqbal area of Karachi during the past month. "Four men in police uniforms and plain clothes forced their way into our house by breaking the room lock with a cutter at 5 a.m.," Sumera Khurram, 26, a nurse, said. "They first told us that they wanted to verify identity cards and then took my brother away without producing any arrest warrant."

She was not allowed to meet him even at the police station. Police claim that her brother was involved in criminal activities which claim she denies.

A teenage boy, Akash Masih, who was released on bail after three days of detention, said that he was subjected to brutal torture. So too, a young man, as reported by his brother Normal Gill a(220 was arrested along with 13 more persons.

Caritas Asia commits to develop sustainable agriculture            17-5-18

Caritas Asia has resolved to develop sustainable agriculture and revive food sovereignty with the aim to boost the income of farming communities.

The church's social action arm made the commitment at a May 8-11 conference held in Ruteng Diocese in Indonesia's East Nusa Tenggara province. The diocese has about 791,200 Catholics, more than half of whom are farmers.

Representatives from 13 Asian countries, that included India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Philippines, Kazakhstan and Timor Leste, attended the conference. Father Yuvens Rugi, director of Caritas Ruteng, said participants discussed the development of sustainable agriculture through organic farming, which has been adopted in pilot projects in Cambodia and Indonesia. "Participants agreed that using natural fertilizer can address productivity and environmental problems facing many farming communities," he said. Conference attendees had the chance to visit two farmer groups assisted by the diocese, where farmers showed them how to make organic fertilizer.


Philippine aid groups unite to plug disaster response gaps            17-5-18

The social action secretariat of the Philippine Catholic bishops has joined forces with networks of non-government groups to address "financial gaps" in responding to disasters.

Father Edwin Gariguez of Caritas Philippines said the aim of the alliance is "to strengthen and expand" the networks and resources of various groups.On May 15, the groups launched an app called SAFER, or Shared Aid Fund For Emergency Response, spearheaded by Father Gariguez.

The priest said the mechanism would ensure that funds would reach those most in need "in the fastest possible time."


Priest, rights activist barred from leaving Vietnam            17-5-18

A Catholic female rights' activist and a priest have accused the Vietnamese government of breaking undertakings by blocking them from traveling abroad.

On May 16, Maria Do Thi Minh Hanh, president of the civil society Viet Labor Movement was stopped at Tan Son Nhat International Airport in Ho Chi Minh City, where she planned to take a flight to Germany to visit her mother. Officials told her that Hanh, 33, was denied permission for ‘security reasons’. Her written complain ws not accepted.

On May 14, Redemptorist Father Joseph Dinh Huu Thoai was stopped by army officers at a land border with Laos when he intended to travel on to the United States to visit relatives and friends.


Indonesia's Muslims tighten security during Ramadan              17-5-18

A series of deadly terror attacks that recently rocked several parts of Indonesia has prompted mosques in the predominantly Muslim country to tighten security during the observance of the holy month of Ramadan, which began on May 17.

On May 16, Istiqlal Mosque in Jakarta installed metal detectors at its entrance when President Joko Widodo and thousands of Muslims performed the first tarawih (evening Ramadan prayers). More than 1,000 police were deployed to guard the country's biggest mosque, according to police.


Pakistan army kills top Islamic militant            17-5-18


Pakistan says the army has killed an Islamic militant who was a chief suspect in the killing of more than 100 minority Shia Hazaras and police in the southern city of Quetta.

An army colonel commanding the operation was also killed in the raid. Security forces conducted an intelligence-based operation in Killi Almas village near Quetta, Balochistan, on a tip off from an already apprehended high value target, the army's media wing said in a statement on May 16.


Korean lay groups petition court to keep anti-abortion law          17-5-18

Amid growing calls to legalize abortion in South Korea, the Catholic Lay Apostolate Council of Korea (CLAK) and the Catholic Women's Organization of Korea petitioned the Constitutional Court to maintain the nation's strict anti-abortion law on May 11.

The petitions were submitted by Augustine Sohn Byeong-seon, who serves as chairman of the CLAK, and Elizabeth Park Hyun-sun, president of the Catholic Women's Organization of Seoul Archdiocese.

"Koreans recognize the dignity of life from the moment of conception," one of the petitions read.


Holy See urges action to halt Middle East violence                18-5-18

The Holy See pushed for action on May 18, 2018, to halt Middle East violence as Archbishop Ivan Jurkovic Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations and Other International Organizations in Geneva, echoed the remarks by Pope Francis during his May 16, 2018, general audience.

The Archbishop’s statement came during the Twenty-Eighth Special Session of the Human Rights Council on the deteriorating human rights situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, in Geneva.


From competition to collaboration’ is theme of Vatican’s annual Ramadan message to Muslims             18-5-18

“Interreligious competition wounds the image of religions and their followers, and it fosters the view that religions are not sources of peace, but of tension and violence,” the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue stated. “To prevent and overcome these negative consequences, it is important that we Christians and Muslims recall the religious and moral values that we share, while acknowledging our differences.”

President of Benin meets Pope           18-5-18

Pope Francis received in audience on 18 May the president of Benin, Patrice Talon. In their talk, the two leaders focused on the socio-economic situation of the country, with particular reference to matters of common interest such as development, the fight against poverty, reforms in process in the country and the importance of interreligious dialogue.

Pope auctions Lamborghini-Huracan car; proceeds help resettle Iraqi Christians           18-5-18

“We are very grateful to Pope Francis for making this fatherly gesture,” said the Patriarch of the Chaldean Catholic Church. “The Pontiff is the father of the whole Church and thinks of everyone, particularly those who are suffering as greatly as we are.” Huracan—which the car-maker had given to the Pope last fall—had been auctioned off May 12, 2018 for approx. $840,000.

Pope sends condolences at the demise of Cardinal Darío Castrillón Hoyos         18-5-18

Pope Francis condoled the death of Cardinal Darío Castrillón Hoyos who died in Rome at the age of 89. He was the prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy (1996-2006) and President of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei (2000-2009).

Born in Medellin, Colombia, he held a doctorate in Canon Law and another in Sociology. As bishop he served the diocese of Pereira, was General Secretary of CELAM (Latin American Episcopal Conference) and later its president. Pope Saint John Paul II appointed him Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy in Rome and two years later he was made a cardinal.

Cameroon - Humanitarian crisis in the English-speaking area of the country: Bishops exhort to dialogue              18-5-18


The Bishops of Cameroon denounce "gruesome violence" while 160 thousand people are forced to be internally displaced and another 26 thousand to Nigeria. Caritas Cameroon reports "areas of conflict persecuted by fear and death". Soldiers "are burning villages, people live in the forests, they risk being killed if they even approach the edge of the road", reads a note by the local episcopate.
The Catholic Bishops of Cameroon have expressed their enormous concern condemning "the brutal repression of the army against an independence movement in the English-speaking regions of the country" that has fueled an escalation of humanitarian crisis. They called for dialogue in order the resolve the crisis.

DR CongoBishops: "Beware of the upcoming deadlines of the electoral calendar in view of the December vote"

As violence mounts in the Democratic Republic of Congo, as a result of people’s protest against the repressive measures of the government, CENCO (National Episcopal Conference of Congo), presented some recommendations to the government, the Independent Electoral Commission (CENI), the Supreme Council of the Judiciary, courts, political parties, civil society organizations and the international partners of the DRC, ahead of the presidential and parliamentary elections on December 23rd.

CENCO said, "We appeal to the Congolese people to pay particular attention to the implementation of important milestones in the electoral calendar, including the convening of the electorate on 23 June 2018 and the beginning of the reception and preparation of candidacies on 24 June 2018; and to ensure respect for the peaceful nature of public events." CENCO asked the authorities to restore the security conditions in areas of the country that do not have them.

Brazil - Indigenous leaders: a greater presence of the Church in the most distant communities is urgent            18-5-18

Understanding the lives of indigenous peoples should lead us to reflect, to discover the value of what is fundamental in our daily life. This is said by Braz Garrido Melgueiro, Catholic leader of the community of Iabe, located on the banks of the Rio Negro, in the Brazilian Amazon.

The community leader says that the arrival of foreigners, in the name of "globalization”, threatens to exploit the region.” The indigenous want "a greater presence of the Catholic Church, more visits, deepening of the knowledge of the Bible, catechesis, are needed, because teachers do not seem interested in our young people."


Philippines lifts worker deployment ban to Kuwait             18-5-18

The Philippines has lifted its deployment ban of workers to Kuwait following the signing of a deal that provides additional protection for Filipinos in the Gulf state.

President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the lifting of the ban on May 16, ending months of tension with Kuwait that resulted in the expulsion of the Philippines's ambassador to the oil rich country in April.

An estimated 262,000 Filipinos work in Kuwait, more than half of them as domestic workers.


Hong Kong cleaners exploited under outsourcing           18-5-18

Hong Kong's mostly elderly cleaners, some more than 80, are falling victim to government outsourcing of two-year contracts to companies employing them. Contractors lower their bids by minimizing labour costs.

Augustine Yu Siu-po, supervisor of the Catholic Church's Pastoral Centre for Workers in Hong Kong's New Territories said that companies fiddle contracts.

Lee Ngan Kwan, formation officer of the Hong Kong Catholic Commission for Labour Affairs, called on the government to ensure that workers such as cleaners are protected from abuses under outsourcing.


Nepal - Five Christian churches attacked           18-5-18

Five churches including a Catholic church have been attacked in the course of a week.

Unidentified people set first to St Joseph’s Catholic Church in Banke district on 18. Having sked newsmen to stay at home, ten men forced their way into the church, poured petrol and set the church on fire. The church of St Joseph is a new church with about 20 faithful. Though no one was injured, the inside of the church is completely destroyed.

The National Federation of Christians in Nepal (FNCN), an ecumenical organization, asks the government to identify the attackers. Three Christian churches were set on fire between 9-13 May. Christians wonder why they are hated and ask the government for protection as guaranteed by the Constitution.