12-18 Mar, 2018


Pope-emeritus Benedict sees continuity with teaching of Pope Francis            12-3-18


Pope-emeritus Benedict XVI writes of the “interior continunity” between his teaching and that of Pope Francis, in a letter made public on March 12. As the Vatican unveiled a collection of books on “The Theology of Pope Francis,” Msgr. Dario Edoardo Vigano presented the former Pontiff’s letter.

In his letter, Benedict rejects the notion that Pope Francis is not properly trained in theology. The retired Pontiff also rejects the idea that he himself was not attuned to the pastoral needs of the faithful.

Benedict writes of “the foolish prejudice of those who see Pope Francis as someone who lacks a particular theological and philosophical formation, while I would have been solely a theorist of theology with little understanding of the concrete lives of today’s Christians.”


Vatican cardinal boosts annual Good Friday collection for Church in Holy Land        12-3-18


Cardinal Leonardo Sandri has appealed to the world's Catholics to support the faithful in the Holy Land, in a message released on March 12.

Promoting the annual worldwide collection for the Church in the Holy Land, which is traditionally held on Good Friday, Cardinal Sandri—the prefect of the Congregation for the Eastern Churches—writes:

Building the Church in the Holy Land, through the edifices of cult and the living stones —the Christian faithful, is the responsibility of all the Particular Churches of Christianity, recognizing that the Christian faith had its first impulse from the Mother Church in Jerusalem.


Most stores shut in Poland as Sunday Trade Ban takes effect         11-3-18


A new Polish law banning almost all trade on Sundays has taken effect, with large supermarkets and most other retailers closed for the first time since liberal shopping laws were introduced in the 1990s after communism's collapse.

The change is stirring up a range of emotions in a country where many feel workers are exploited under the liberal regulations of the past years and want them to have a day of rest. But many Poles also experience consumer freedom as one of the most tangible benefits of the free market era and resent the new limit. (AP)


Cardinal Karl, 81 Lehmann, passes away              12-3-18


Pope Francis has sent his condolences on the death of German Cardinal Karl Lehman. He was 81.
Ordained to the priesthood in 1963, the one-time assistant to theologian Father Karl Rahner served as bishop of Mainz (1983-2016) and president of the German Bishops’ Conference (1987-2008). St. John Paul II created him a cardinal in 2001.

With Cardinal Lehmann’s death, there are now 215 members of the College of Cardinals, 117 of whom are eligible to take part in a papal election.


Chinese delegation joins Vatican conference on organ trafficking              12-3-18

A delegation from China is taking part in a Vatican conference on organ-trafficking this week. The Chinese participation is seen as another indication of efforts to promote ties between the Vatican and Beijing, at a time when rumors are circulating widely that a diplomatic accord is near completion.


Serve the common good, Pope tells French lawmakers             12-3-18

“It is all the more important, on the basis of the principles of subsidiarity and solidarity, in the great effort of political dialogue and of consensus building, to have at heart the search for the full development of all,” the Pope told political figures from Marseilles. “You are called always to try to be close to others, especially to those in a situation of vulnerability; never to resign yourself to social inequality, the root of the ills of society, but to promote an integral ecological conversion at the service of the preservation of our common home.”


Irish pro-life campaigners jubilant after massive rally          12-3-18

After a crowd estimated at up to 100,000 gathered in the rain in Dublin to support the retention of Ireland’s pro-life constitutional plank, the “Save the 8th” campaign is showing new vigor, leading observers to wonder whether the grassroots campaign can overcome the heavily funded effort to allow abortion on demand.

Pope received Martin Luther King’s daughter Bernice             12-3-18

Pope Francis on March 12, 2018, received Bernice Albertine King, youngest daughter of the late civil-rights crusader Martin Luther King, Jr.

King presented the Holy Father with the sixth volume of the series entitled “The Papers of Martin Luther King, Jr: Advocate of the Social Gospel, September 1948-1963”, Vatican News reported.  She was in Italy to receive an award from the Gandhi Centre located in Pisa.

King was just five years old when her father was assassinated in 1968.  She has been a life-long advocate of civil rights and non-violence.


England’s top Catholic prelate warns against gender ideology             12-3-18

Cardinal Vincent Nichols said that schools should not encourage children to change their gender, and insisted that Christians should accept the reality of their God-given sexuality. In a denunciation of gender ideology, the cardinal said: An ideology proceeds by destroying what is in its way.”


Kenya – Inimical leaders meet – Christians:“Our prayers have been answered!”         12-3-18


"The meeting between President Uhuru and the leader of National Super Alliance (NASA), Raila Odinga, comes in answer to our prayers. Catholics and other Christians have prayed with faith for peace in our country. President Uhuru and Raila can be symbolic figures of a new healing for our nation, say Catholic lay people. They describe the meeting as “the most recent miracle that has happened in Kenya!”
On March 9, the President of Kenya Uhuru Kenyatta held in Nairobi a surprise meeting with his political rival, Raila Odinga leader of the National Super Alliance (NASA). The two leaders in a joint address to the nation promised to work together to bring healing and reconciliation among Kenyans.
This is an important turning point after the contested elections in 2017, which were repeated in October after the Supreme Court declared void the vote held in August. In both votes Kenyatta was proclaimed the winner.


Syria - In Ghuta, evacuation of civilians begins. Bishop: Aleppo method can work        12-3-18


At least 52 civilians, including 26 children, were evacuated on Sunday 1 March from east Ghuta, an enclave east of Damascus controlled by anti-Assad militia and under siege by the Syrian army, where, according to UN sources there are an estimated 400,000 Syrians. Talks seem to work between government forces and anti-Assad militia to find a solution to the crisis, to avoid further suffering and bloodshed, allow civilians to leave areas under siege and guarantee safe exit also for armed groups.
Ghuta has for weeks been the centre of government army attack– including also air raids – to take the stronghold held by the opposition including those connected with Jihadist groups.

Franciscan Bishop Georges Abou Khazen OFM, Apostolic Vicar of Aleppo for Latin rite Catholics says, “In Ghuta they could adopt the evacuation system used in December 2016 to transfer thousands of civilians and militiamen from the eastern districts of Aleppo.”


Indonesia - The local government repairs damaged church in Palembang            12-3-18


In a mainly Muslim area the local government, composed of Muslim administrators has allotted funds to repair a Catholic chapel dedicated to Saint Zacharias, damaged by vandals during the night of 7 March in the archdiocese of Palembang, in the south of the Indonesian island of Sumatra. The chapel, which had been inaugurated on Sunday 4 March by the local archbishop Aloysius Sudarso is situated about 50 km from Palembang, provincial capital of South Sumatra. "We are grateful to the local authorities for repairing the chapel," said Archbishop Sudarso. "Let us hope similar incidents will not occur in the archdiocese or the rest of the country. We are encouraged to keep watch and to work for peace and harmony in villages, parishes and everywhere" the archbishop added.

Colombia- Elections won by right wing contrary to negotiations for peace             12-3-18


General elections in Colombia, held Sunday 11 March, saw a clear win for right wing Parties which openly oppose peace talks tabled with guerrilla groups of Marxist matrix. According to first results released, the right wing Democratic Centre group- opposed to peace talks with Colombia’s FARC (revolutionary armed forces of Colombia) - is now the main political group in the country. The Party founded by former president, Alvaro Uribe who led a bitter campaign against the Peace agreement signed in November 2016, obtained the highest number of votes in the Senate (17%), followed by the Social Democratic Party with 13%, with 95% of the votes counted. President Juan Manuel Santos’

party came third. The bishops had exhorted all the faithful to go to the polls.


Pakistan - Declaration of religious belief on official documents: a hard blow for religious minorities              12-3-18


The High Court of Islamabad has sentenced that citizens must declare their religion before applying for jobs in the state administration, civil service, armed forces, or the judiciary. The Court also decided that the act of altering religious identity will be considered “betrayal of the state”.
For human rights activists this is a hard blow for the country’s religious minority groups, like Christians, Hindus and Sikhs. The requirement will “increase pressure on the Ahmadi, who are not allowed to call themselves Muslims or to use Islamic symbols in their religious practices, crimes punished with the blasphemy law in Pakistan,” said the Christian NGO Centre for Legal Aid, Assistance and Settlement (CLAAS).


Growing number of young Filipinos committing suicide           12-3-18


Mental health experts in the Philippines have voiced alarm about the number of young people committing suicide. Of 2,413 suicide cases recorded in 2016, more than 2,000 were male and the rest female, according to the Department of Health.

Church leaders warned that family members of migrant workers might be susceptible to stress and look for a way out of problems. Bishop Joel Baylon of Legazpi, former head of the Episcopal Commission in Youth, however, said suicidal tendencies among young people these days are not limited to families of overseas workers. He said there is a need for parents "to really have more time with their children, especially those who may manifest symptoms of depression." The bishop said the dialogue could even involve priests and social workers, who should always be available for counseling.


Sri Lanka president pledges inquiry into religious riots             12-3-18


President Maithripala Sirisena is to appoint a three-member commission to investigate attacks on Muslims by Buddhist mobs in Sri Lanka.

A police curfew imposed in Kandy district on March 6 was lifted on March 10 but a 10-day nationwide state of emergency declared on March 6 remains in place. Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said compensation will be paid to affected families. 

According to police, 465 houses, vehicles and businesses have been destroyed or damaged in the religious violence as the nation struggles to recover from the civil war (1983-2009) that wreaked immeasurable loss and destruction.


Korean Church calls upon Japan to atone over 'comfort women'           12-3-18


A coalition of Catholic institutions in South Korea has called on the Japanese government to apologize for forcing "comfort women" from Asia to provide sexual services for its troops during World War II.

Unlike Germany, Japan has never committed itself to making amends for alleged war crimes against its Asian neighbours, a constant source of torment for countries like South Korea that fell under its colonial rule.

The National Catholic Action for Nullity of Korea-Japan Comfort Women Agreement and Just and Evangelical Settlement conducted a Mass in front of the Japanese embassy in downtown Seoul on March 1 and asked Tokyo to settle the matter in a just and fair manner.


Chinese bishops break silence to back Vatican deal            12-3-18


Chinese bishops have broken the taboo about rarely talking about Sino-Vatican relations by backing a proposed deal on bishop appointments.

They said the agreement is developing in a good direction and expressed support for President Xi Jinping, saying their citizenship takes priority over religion and beliefs.

The bishops gave their views during the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) and the National People's Congress (NPC) held recently. The issue of whether the Vatican or Beijing should control bishop appointments in China has aroused widespread concern among Catholics around the world.


Religious leaders oppose Indian court euthanasia verdict                12-3-18


India's top court has ignited a new religious debate after permitting passive euthanasia, allowing patients to prescribe in their "living will" the withdrawal of medical support if they slip into an irreversible coma.

Leaders of India's Catholics, Muslims and Hindus have opposed the March 9 Supreme Court verdict, which said the right to life also includes the right to die with dignity.

Permission is solely for a terminally ill person to choose death over life support but does not allow doctors or families to take that decision on behalf of the patient, the court said.

"The church rejects any proposal concerning active euthanasia as well as passive euthanasia," said Bishop Theodore Mascarenhas, secretary-general of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India.

India's Muslim Personal Law Board, which deals with the application of Islamic law in personal affairs, also objected to the Supreme Court judgment. Bansi Lal Sharma, a Hindu priest based in Jammu said that there is no place for euthanasia in the Hindu ethos.  

Bishop Mascarenhas said the right to life enshrined in the Indian constitution does not include the right to die.


Duterte puts UN special rapporteur on 'red list'             12-3-18


Indigenous peoples expert one of 600 individuals govt is accusing of being communist terrorists

March 12, 2018

Church and human rights groups in the Philippines have condemned the "red tagging" of at least 600 activists listed by the government as communist rebels. "Red-tagging" or accusing people of being communist has become a common practice of the military to harass perceived critics of the government.

Among those on the list is Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, special rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples at the United Nations. Tauli-Corpuz, a known advocate for the rights of Philippine tribal people, denied the allegation, calling the list "baseless, malicious, and irresponsible."

In a statement, Human Rights Watch said the Justice Department court petition "is a virtual government hit list" that puts at "grave risk" leftist and human rights activists.


Filipino, Indian to sit on global Catholic migration body               12-3-18


Bishop Ruperto Santos of the Philippines was named one of Asia's representative to the International Catholic Migration Commission during its meeting in Rome last week.

The Filipino bishop was elected to represent the region along with Father Jaison Vadassery Joseph of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India. The bishop, currently head of the Episcopal Commission on Migrants and Itinerant People of the Philippine bishops' conference, said his election was recognition of what the Catholic Church in the Philippines has been doing and what it can still do for migrants. Meanwhile, Bishop Theodore Mascarenhas, secretary-general of the Catholic Bishops Conference of India called Father Vadassery's election, "a great recognition for the church in India and of the work the church does for the migrants in India." Father Vadasserry, 48, is the secretary of the Labor Commission of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India.



On Pope Francis’ Five-Year Anniversary, a ‘Lexicon’ to understand him             13-3-18


‘A Pope Francis Lexicon,’ Cardinal Kevin Farrell says, is a wonderful tool for understanding the Argentine Pontiff. Two American journalists have edited this special book, which compiled essays from powerful cardinals, bishops, theologians and journalists.

The book was edited by Rome Bureau Chief of Catholic News Services, Cindy Wooden, and Rome correspondent of National Catholic Reporter, Joshua McElwee and was presented in Rome at the Jesuit headquarters.

The volume is composed of 54 essays on various themes by prominent figures such as Cardinals Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila, Donald Wuerl of Washington D.C., and Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga of Tegucigalpa, Honduras.

Filipino priests told to undergo lifestyle check             13-3-18

Catholic priests need to undergo a "lifestyle check" to see if they are living their mission as followers of Christ in their daily lives, according to a Philippine bishop.

Even a priests' choice of gadgets – like phone - should be scrutinized, said Bishop Gerardo Alminaza of San Carlos, head of the Episcopal Commission on Seminaries. He said a financial statement is a "spiritual document" that reveals a priest's values and priorities. He said members of the clergy should check themselves and look at who they go out with. He said priests must spend more time on ‘prophetic’ activities.

He told priests to consider a "paradigm shift" based on the Vatican document Ratio Fundamentalis Institutionis Sacerdotalis or "The Gift of Priestly Vocation." "The first mindset that this [document] puts forward is that … the formation of priests means following a singular journey of discipleship that begins at baptism and ends at death," said the bishop.


Indonesia urges religious tolerance for elections in June            13-3-18


Indonesian President Joko Widodo has stressed the importance of maintaining religious tolerance as the political situation heats up ahead of regional elections this summer and next year's presidential election.

The General Elections Commission (KPU) said the regional electoral campaigns will conclude on June 23 with votes to be cast on June 27 for 17 provinces, 115 districts and 39 municipalities. It also set a series of guidelines to curb sectarianism. The campaigns officially began on Feb. 15. The presidential election will take place in May 2019.

Widodo urged people not to let their political views get in the way of religious tolerance.


Catholic church in China has crosses removed                13-3-18


Crosses on Shangqiu South Church (Cathedral of the Sacred Heart of Jesus) in China have been removed by the district government.

It is the first Catholic church in Henan province to have crosses removed. Officials later installed new ones but they were much smaller in numbers and size. A source who asked to be unnamed said that street office and district committee officials on March 8 asked the church to remove its crosses.

Church staff reported the incident to both the municipal and district religious affairs bureaus. They also disagreed with the crosses' removal but the street office and the district committee insisted.

Officials from both bureaus visited district officials, who refused to listen and removed the crosses on March 9 by using a crane.


Catholic mission hospital, nuns attacked in central India             13-3-18


Suspected Hindu activists demolished the wall of a Catholic mission hospital and manhandled staff including nuns in the latest incident in Madhya Pradesh state, considered a hotbed of anti-Christian violence in central India.

Some 60 people with the help of a bulldozer razed the boundary wall of 44-year-old Pushpa Mission Hospital in the temple town of Ujjain on March 12. They blocked its emergency entrance and destroyed equipment including power generators. The hospital has 200 beds for maternity cases.

The hospital has been facing trouble since January after Gagan Singh, the personal assistant of a local parliamentarian, staked a claim over disputed land, said hospital director Father Anthony Pulickamandapam. He said that the land in front of the hospital was given to the hospital by the local civic body for use as a parking area and to maintain its greenery.

The dispute has gone to court because of members of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the pro-Hindu party that runs the state government. As the case was transferred to the lower court the stay order obtained by hospital was found unnecessary. However, two days after an application was submitted for another stay order the attack happened.

Father Pulickamandapam said the attackers came armed with a bulldozer and sharp-edged weapons. They demolished the boundary wall, erected a fence and put up some makeshift shops to claim the land. "Our staff including Catholic nuns who attempted to resist the advance were manhandled and forced to flee for safety," he said. "They also destroyed the back-up power generator and disconnected the water supply, putting the lives of nearly 200 patients including 12 in the intensive care unit in serious danger."

Bishop Sebastian Vadakkel of Ujjain said hospital staff were surprised by the police's inaction. The local police station and other senior officials refused to respond to calls for help; so too the women’s police station.

Archbishop Leo Cornelio of Bhopal said the attack was part of "a systematic plan to bring disturbance and violence among a peace-loving community." He wanted the state government to arrest the culprits immediately.

Bishop Vadakkel met the Governor Anandiben Patel and sought protection for Christians and their property. It was a "despicable and inhuman" attack: this is how the Indian Bishops define and condemn the violent acts against the hospital. A delegation of the Bishops visited the missionary hospital on March 15.




Liturgy prepares us to receive Christ in Holy Communion – Pope’s General Audience      14-3-18


At the Wednesday General Audience on 14 March, Pope Francis continued his explanation of the liturgy of the Mass and in particular spoke of Communion rites preceded by ‘Our Father’ recitation.

He said:

The prayer ‘Our Father’ we offer to the Father as his adoptive children in Christ, disposes us to receive the Lord’s body and blood in Holy Communion. We ask the Father for “our daily bread”, for the forgiveness of our sins and for deliverance from evil. These petitions are then expanded in the following prayers, which invoke God’s peace and unity upon the Church and our world. In the exchange of the sign of peace, we demonstrate our commitment to be reconciled with one another, so as to worthily approach the altar to receive the Lord’s gift of himself. The rite of the breaking of the bread, accompanied by our invocation of Christ as the Lamb of God, acknowledges the saving presence of the risen Lord among us and implores the peace he won for us on the Cross.

The Pope concluded: May our conscious celebration of these rites help us to experience ever more fully the Eucharist as the sacrament of our communion with God and with all our brothers and sisters.


Holy Spirit guides the Church to reform itself to transformed into missionary Church - Card, Filoni            14-3-18


Opening the International Conference “Reforms in the Church, Reforms of the Church”, Cardinal Fernando Filoni, the Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, said that it is the Holy Spirit that moves the Church to a permanent purification and reformation of itself, not in any way conditioned by historical-cultural structures.

In the midst of current epochal change, dominated by the imperative of economic progress to be achieved at all costs the Church of Christ lives its universal messianicity "in its tension to remain constantly faithful to Christ's mandate to "go everywhere" and "make disciples all peoples" listening to the Spirit and in dialogue with anyone, said the cardinal who is also the Grand Chancellor of the Pontifical Urbaniana University, Rome,  where the conference was held on 14,15 March.


Nigerian diocese’s administrator calls for reconciliation, sees ‘new springtime’        14-3-18

Nigeria’s Bishop of Umuahia Diocese and newly appointed Apostolic Administrator of Ahiara Diocese, Lucius Iwejuru Ugorji, has called for healing, reconciliation and unity in the diocese. The Bishop was speaking during the Inaugural Mass at the Mater Ecclesia Cathedral to mark the start of his ministry in the erstwhile-troubled Ahiara Diocese.

Bishop Ugorji has said it was a very happy coincidence that the “new springtime” he has declared, for Ahiara Diocese, was taking place during the season of Lent. He asked for authentic healing and renewal to start with reconciliation with God and men.

He regretted the horrible crisis at the appointment of Bishop Okpaleke,  which shook the Church in Ahiara Diocese to its very foundation like an earthquake, inflicted deep wounds of division in this local Church and in the Church in Igbo land and badly damaged the image of the Church in Nigeria and beyond,”


Chaldean Catholic patriarch nominated for Nobel Peace Prize              14-3-18

Patriarch Louis Raphaël I Sako has has been nominated for Nobel Peace Prize. He led the Chaldean Catholic Church since 2013. “The Catholic association L’Oeuvre d’Orient put forward his candidacy in late January, which the Norwegian Nobel Committee accepted,” according to the report.


Cardinal Zen contrasts Pope Benedict, Pope Francis on Vatican’s China policy            14-3-18

“While Pope Benedict XVI knew very well the situation, the people in the Vatican did not follow his directives,” the retired Hong Kong bishop said. “Now while Pope Francis does not know much about the Chinese communists and is so optimistic, the people around him are pushing him further in his optimism, and avoiding informing him about the very negative side of the present reality.”

Later he said, that the agreement would not enhance, but detract from, the religious freedom of the country’s Catholics. “There is still a certain degree of freedom for the ‘birds outside the cage,’” the cardinal said. “The Vatican is coming to help the government to push everybody into the cage.” 

Arab bishops praise Pope for ‘strong attention’ to Middle East          14-3-18


“Great encouragement came from the strong attention with which Pope Francis follows the events of the Middle East, from his prayers, and from the tireless work he does for peace and justice and for ecumenical and interreligious dialogue,” Arab bishops stated following a recent visit to Rome. “The same nearness was felt during the visit to the Secretariat of State.


Society of Catholic Scientists grows to 600 members             14-3-18


According to the communique by the Vatican Observatory Foundation, the Society of Catholic Scientists now counts 600 members.
The Society was founded in 2016; its president said that “many Catholics in science—especially students and young scientists—feel isolated because they do not realize how many other scientists share their faith. That is because most religious scientists are quiet about their faith. This sense of isolation can be demoralizing.”


Vatican official, Taoist leader agree to 7 common goals               14-3-18

The president of the Bao’An Gong temple in Taiwan and the Secretary of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue agreed to seven common goals; the Vatican has released the text of the seventh (“to promote and safeguard universal values, namely, justice, peace, solidarity, friendship, freedom, and religious harmony”). Pope Francis offered on 14 March brief remarks to members of the Taoist delegation.


VATICAN - Cardinal Filoni: the reform of the Church to transform it into a missionary sense    14-3-18


"Let us not forget that it is the Holy Spirit, dominum et vivificantem, the agent that incessantly moves the Church to a permanent purification and reformation of itself, so that it goes ahead without being conditioned by the burdens of historical-cultural structures, which have now become sterile, and quickly directs its steps on today's most bitter and arduous paths of the human family". This is what Card. Fernando Filoni, Grand Chancellor of the Pontifical Urbaniana University and Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples said during the opening of the international Conference "Reforms in the Church, reforms of the Church", which takes place at the Missionary university until March 15th., He said, “The inculturation of the Gospel takes on a rich meaning of spiritual humanization of different cultures and of integral development of peoples".
The Church of Christ lives its universal messianicity, the Cardinal continued, "in its tension to remain constantly faithful to Christ's mandate to "go everywhere" and "make disciples all peoples" listening to the Spirit and in dialogue with anyone.


Egypt - Coptic Orthodox Church calls the faithful to participate in the presidential elections        14-3-18


The Coptic Orthodox Church is increasing appeals and initiatives to remind its faithful of the "national duty" to participate in the upcoming Egyptian presidential elections, scheduled from 26 to 28 March. A message from the Coptic Orthodox Church in support of popular participation in the upcoming elections was also published by the Egyptian media, while in dioceses like that of Shubra al Khaymah "Citizenship Committees" organize political and social awareness meetings on the "challenges of Egypt". 
Also the Bishops take part in meetings and conferences to underline the necessity and civic duty of not deserting the polls.
The presidential elections, according to the opinion of all observers, will represent a plebiscite for current President Abdel Fattah al Sisi, who is running for the second term.


Philippines - The Filipino government: divorce law before Easter           14-3-18


The Government of the Philippines led by President Rodrigo Duterte intends to approve the bill of divorce in Parliament before Easter. As confirmed by Senate spokesperson Pantaleon Alvarez, a final version of the bill will be in parliament for the third and last reading on March 23. The law aims to provide couples in crisis with a legal way to end marriage. 
The Filipino Church, is showing strong opposition to the bill. Associations and lay Catholic movements have signed a joint letter in which it highlights that "the Philippine Constitution recognizes marriage as an inviolable social institution, which is the foundation of the family and must be protected by the State".


Young Indian Christians shrug off scandals             14-3-18


Most young Christians in India are proud of their church despite scandals involving sex and money, says a study conducted by a major seminary in the western city of Pune.

However, almost half of respondents from southern India, which often reports such scandals, said they were "embarrassed" by the church.

Only one in three Indian Christian youths has a high sense of purpose and education does not necessarily help young people find the meaning of life, revealed the survey conducted among 5,300 young people from 26 states speaking 11 different languages.

Filipino priest bikes for life to call for end to killings            14-3-18


Redemptorist priest Amado Picardal, a vocal critic of President Rodrigo Duterte's war against drugs, is making a 1,500-km bicycle ride from March 14 from Manila, Philippine capital, to the southern region of Mindanao to protest drug related killings.

Human Rights Watch says that more than 12,000 drug suspects have been killed in the country's anti-narcotics war.


Pope's love for Asia stressed on fifth anniversary              14-3-18


Pope Francis appreciates Asia's spiritual richness and inspires its bishops for dialogue with religions, according to Cardinal Oswald Gracias of Bombay.

The president of the Asian bishops' forum was speaking at a special prayer gathering on March 13 at the St. Pius X College seminary in Mumbai to mark the fifth anniversary of Pope Francis' election.

Thirty three bishops along with the Cardinal and the Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Giambattista Diquattro prayed for the bishops in India and in Asia "so as to understand and put into practice the thoughts of the Holy Father," Cardinal Gracias said.

Cardinal Oswald, one of nine cardinals Pope Francis handpicked to help him renew Vatican administration, said that during private meetings the pope always "asks me about Asia as he has great love and respect for Asia."  Pope Francis is appreciative of Asia's rich spiritual traditions belonging to different religions. He wants these traditions to be equally respected, treated with friendship, the cardinal said.




Criticism of pope: He is calm, but the words still hurt – Archbishop Becciu            15-3-18


The Vatican’s undersecretary of state has told reporters that Pope Francis is calm in the face of criticism, but troubled by suggestions that he is not faithful to Catholic doctrine. “He does not accept this,” said Archbishop Angelo Becciu; “and it is the most serious accusation that one can receive.”

He is the substitute for the Secretary for Vatican Secretariat.

"He is calm. To confront this, he uses the Jesuit spirit and the third degree of asceticism: that of being indifferent to some things. But he is a human being, so he also suffers. Some critics, besides being gratuitous, reach the core of one's being. Like him betraying Church doctrine... this is not true. He does not accept this and it is the most serious accusation that one can receive," Archbp Becciu said.

During a presentation of a book on St. Francis, he also revealed the simplicity with which the pope celebrated the fifth anniversary of his election.


In US San Diego bishop rips border wall                          15-3-18

“It is a sad day for our country when we trade the majestic, hope-filled symbolism of the Statue of Liberty for an ineffective and grotesque wall which both displays and inflames the ethnic and cultural divisions that have long been the underside of our national history,” said Bishop Robert McElroy. “Our faith is in the God who is the Father of us all, and who urges us to see Jesus himself in the immigrants and refugees who seek safety and freedom.”

US Catholics more concerned about climate change than persecuted Christians             15-3-18

“Most think persecution is severe, but only half are very concerned or strongly support asylum

m or financial aid,” according to the evangelical magazine’s report, which was based on a survey conducted by Aid to the Church in Need.


Pakistan’s bishops meet Pope              15-3-18


The six bishops of Pakistan met Pope Francis on their five-yearly ad limina visit on 15 March.
Archbishop Joseph Coutts of Karachi, the nation’s largest city, said that “the Holy Father was keen to know about the situation in the Church” and “made them feel at home.”


CELAM: Pastoral Letter on: Common Home and Laudato Si, An Integral View of Creation”       15-3-18


“Missionary disciples, custodians of the common home – Discernment in the light of the encyclical Laudato Si’” – this is the title of the Pastoral Letter of the Latin American Episcopal Council (CELAM), which is officially presented on 15 March in Bogota, the capital of Colombia, to the presidents and secretaries general of the Bishops’ Conferences of Latin America. An extensive document in which Laudato Si’ is a constant reference which proposes a reflection on the safeguarding of Creation and the need for an integral ecology for Latin America.?

As CELAM general secretary, Bishop Juan Espinoza, auxiliary of Morelia (Mexico), wrote in the presentation, the letter, divided into 144 paragraphs, starts with the conviction “that genuine development will not be achieved if we damage our common home, that is, our planet Earth, which is God’s Creation”.




Turkey – Turkey demands life sentence for the evangelical pastor accused of belonging to Gülen’s “network”         15-3-18


The Turkish Prosecutor of the Court of Izmir has formally demanded a life sentence for American evangelical pastor Andrew Craig Brunson, who was arrested in Turkey in 2016. He is charged in the indictment with belonging to the leadership of the group of preacher Fethullah Gülen who Ankara says masterminded the failed coup of July 15, 2016. Brunson, who on February 7th rejected all the accusations. If the Court accepts the prosecutor’s request, the evangelical pastor will be put on trial and could be condemned for life in Turkish prisons.


India - Rewriting the history of India: a dangerous move for religious minorities            15-3-18


The Hindu nationalist organizations are trying to rewrite the history of India: a dangerous move for religious minorities such as Christians and Muslims.
The ongoing effort is being promoted by the ruling party, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and by well-known Hindu extremist groups Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and Sangh Parivar. "This effort to 'saffronize history' is a blow to the secular and religious fabric of Indian society, and goes against the commitment of historians who have the noble task of presenting the truth without manipulation", notes Verbite missionary Fr. Jesuraj Rayappan, SVD, professor of Church history at the "Khristo Jyoti Mohavidyaloyo" institute of Sambalpur in the Indian state of Orissa.
Last week a team appointed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been working for six months to show that Hindus are the direct descendants of the first inhabitants of India and that the ancient Hindu scriptures are facts, not myths. The objective of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Hindu nationalist groups is "to shape national identity to satisfy their religious opinions, and to legitimize the assumption that India is a nation of Hindus and for Hindus", say the historians.


Sudan - An ecumenical coalition to cope with the cholera emergency in Darfur            15-3-18


A coalition of organisms representing Christian Churches is offering effective contribution to countering cholera epidemic in Sudan.

The threat of the spread of cholera which is now flooding the central and western areas of Darfur is particularly serious in the villages of Nierteti and Jebel Marra. Contagions continue to increase, while registered deaths vary from village to village. Local sources said that in the medical isolation centres of Kuweila, Mara, Nierteti and Korifal, people suffering from "acute watery diarrhea" continue to arrive every day, which according to the medical standards of the World Health Organization corresponds to cholera.
The commitment of Caritas Internationalis to face the ongoing emergency continues through initiatives promoted through the dioceses of El Obeid and Khartoum and other programs offered in the country. 


Kenya - The Bishops: "We urge all leaders across the political divide to support the newly found collaboration           15-3-18


"We urge all leaders across the political divide to support this path so that it does not remain a public relation exercise or a show of two individuals", said the Bishops of Kenya at a press conference on 14 March, during which the Church leaders have expressed their collective appreciation for the surprise meeting between the country’s President Uhuru Kenyatta and opposition leader, Raila Odinga.
During their meeting, held on March 9, the two political leaders had launched an appeal to national unity, to overcome the divisions arising from the contested elections of 2017. Even in the repeated election Kenyatta was the winner.
"We wish to acknowledge the gesture of our two leaders in meeting and extending hands of reconciliation among themselves, and as a sign of their commitment in collaborating towards uniting the deeply divided and polarized Country", said Bishop Philip Anyolo of Homabay and President of the Conference of Catholic Bishops of Kenya (KCCB).


Cameroon - Youth from unemployed to entrepreneurs, thanks to the Jesuits              15-3-18

"Give a man a fish and you will feed him for a day, teach him how to fish and you will feed him for life". The Jesuits of West Africa have taken this ancient proverb to the letter. And, faced with the emergence of uneducated and unemployed youth in Cameroon, they thought of a project that would teach young people how to breed fish and sell it.

Aware of the grave situation of widespread illiteracy, drop-outs and unemployment, the Jesuits have decided to respond to the problem through an entrepreneurial initiative in Douala region.

Selecting 165 boys and girls among a group of unemployed young people coming from the marginalized, agronomists and fish farming experts gave technical-practical training; young people were taught the basic principles of marketing (on media, social networks, etc.) to deal with not only the problems of production, but also those of the sale of products. Already by end of February, results were visible.


Seoul cafe becomes 'shrine' to persecuted Christians             15-3-18


A cafeteria at the Jeoldusan Martyrs Shrine in Seoul, which symbolizes the persecution the Church has faced in Korea, has been turned into an exhibition hall raising awareness of the suffering that Christians face in various parts of the world.

The Korean branch of Aid to the Church in Need (ACN Korea), a pontifical foundation that helps persecuted and poor churches around the world, opened a permanent exhibition on March 10 at a cafeteria near the shrine. Cardinal Andrew Yeom Soo-jung of Seoul, also chairperson of ACN Korea, said a Mass before launching the exhibition.


Indonesian Catholics on alert for Holy Week           15-3-18

Church officials have called on Catholics in Indonesia to stay alert in the run up to and during Holy Week following a number of attacks on churches in several parts of the country.

Holy Week begins on March 25 this year.


Philippines withdraws from International Criminal Court             15-3-18


President Rodrigo Duterte has announced the Philippines' immediate withdrawal from the International Criminal Court (ICC) following "outrageous attacks" by the court and United Nations officials.

Duterte, who is under scrutiny by the international court over his deadly war on drugs, claimed that there is a "concerted effort" to undermine his administration. He accused U.N. special rapporteurs and ICC investigators of painting him as a "ruthless and heartless violator of human rights who allegedly caused thousands of extrajudicial killings."


Pro-Hindu party suffers shock poll defeat in two Indian states              15-3-18


India's pro-Hindu party lost three parliamentary seats on March 14 in by-elections conducted in two key Indian states, which political pundits say is a wake-up call for the ruling party to abandon any sense of complacency ahead of next year's general election.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) lost two seats in northern Uttar Pradesh state and one in Bihar. Both states are considered part of the Hindu heartland and the loss of the seats reveals a national mood against the BJP, say observers.


Indian Jesuits release book to mark pope's five years              15-3-18


Marking Pope Francis' five years in office, two Indian Jesuits have compiled a book collecting reflections of more than 50 church leaders on how they have applied the Jesuit pope's insights in their own lives.

Jesuit Fathers Kuruvilla Pandikattu and Father Vadappur Jose, both professors at the Jesuit-run Papal Seminary in Pune city in western India, edited the book, Francis Effect.

The book carries reflections of 51 authors, 49 of them Indians, explaining the influence Pope Francis has had on the Indian Church and society as well as wider matters.



Catholic leaders mobilize against divorce initiative in Philippines              16-3-18


The Catholic bishops of the Philippines are staking out their opposition to a government plan to allow for easy legal divorce. The bishops warn that the plan, “while it may indeed provide quick legal remedies for some seemingly ‘failed’ marriages, might end up destroying even those marriages that could be saved.”


US adult Catholic population slipping, study shows              16-3-18

The US adult Catholic population has dropped by 0.9% since 2010: a loss of more than 500,000, according to the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA). While America’s overall adult population was growing by 6.3%, the number of adult Catholics fell. In 2010, 25.2% of adult Americans identified themselves as Catholics; in 2016 the figure was down to 23.5%. The CARA report also found declines in the number of births to Catholic women, the number of new entries into the Church, and the proportion of Catholics marrying in the Church.


In Damascus, rebel bombardments have Christians fear for their lives              16-3-18

“Eastern Ghouta is only about 2.5 miles from the city centre,” said a priest who works for Aid to the Church in Need. “It is important not only to talk about the actions of the government, but call attention to the fact that Islamists [in Eastern Ghouta] have set their sights on the capital city: with terrorist attacks on the inside, mortar attacks from the outside.”




Nicaragua - The Church: "No" to the censorship of social media             16-3-18


"The state should not control or censor social media because it would limit freedom of expression, nor should it stand as a moral arbiter of people": this is what Bishop Silvio José Báez, the auxiliary of Managua says, pointing out the serious danger for Nicaraguan society.
The intervention of Bishop Baéz, followed by that of other Bishops, was among the first public reactions after Rosario Murillo, vice president, and wife of President Daniel Ortega, announced that he talked with the president of the National Assembly to "review the use of social networks" in the Central American country. According to observers, the government is studying ways to censor the criticisms that are being addressed through social media every day. Criticisms are silenced with violence. Bishop Baéz said, "We deplore the attempts of public authorities to block access to information, on the Internet or other social media, preventing legitimate freedom of expression and opinion".


Bolivia State-Church convention violated: Catholic education "in a state of emergency"          16-3-18


The Bolivian Bishops raise their voices and with concern they address the parents of the pupils of the 1,523 Catholic educational institutions of the country: schools "cannot guarantee teaching, Christian education and integral quality education", is what is stated due to a recent provision of the Bolivian Ministry of Education.

The order issued does not allow institutes and universities the competence regarding the choice of teachers, who will be designated by the ministry, in flagrant violation of the Church-State convention on cooperation in the educational field. The catholic educational institutions may have to go on a strike or close down altogether, say Catholic officials.

Phones, internet to shut down for Bali Hindu holiday             16-3-18

Hindu leaders in Bali have won approval from the central government to turn off all internet connections and cellphone coverage for the first time during Nyepi, a Balinese Hindu festival known as the Day of Silence.

It means there will be an almost total 24-hour blackout — hospitals and vital services are exempt — for the annual celebration, which this year falls on March 17 in the tourist hotspot.




Burkina FasoMaking waves: Radio Sahel, the Gospel reaches the poor and illiterate             17-3-18

The diocese of Ouahigouya, in the North of Burkina Faso, has decided, with the collaboration of Jesuits, to relaunch "Notre Dame du Sahel" radio to proclaim the Gospel in a mostly illiterate country where oral culture is very strong. "The radio - explains Fr. Victor Ouedrago, head of the Diocesan Centre for Communication - is a powerful means of evangelization and religious education, and transmits Mass for those who do not have the opportunity to attend the Church every day. It teaches the Bible, the social doctrine of the Church, catechesis, prayer to Christians".
The radio is also a tool to weave relationships between people of different ethnic backgrounds and faiths.


Lebanon - First monument dedicated to Pope Francis inaugurated in the Middle East             17-3-18


The first statue dedicated to Pope Francis in Lebanon and throughout the Middle East was inaugurated in Hadath, municipality of the district of Baabda, considered part of the southern suburbs of the capital Beirut. 
The initiative, sponsored by mayor George Aoun, wants to be a sign to encourage local Christians on the importance and fruitfulness of the presence in the Middle East, in the sign of coexistence with the different religious communities and in the horizon of a common citizenship.


Pope Francis: "The Christian life is not an 'I like' but an 'I give' "           17-3-18


Pope Francis celebrated Mass on Saturday in the square outside of the Shrine of St Pio of Pietrelcina on the occasion of his pastoral visit to San Giovanni Rotondo.

The pope chose three words from the biblical texts proclaimed during Saturday’s liturgy and expanded on them in his homily. These words are: prayer, littleness, and wisdom.

The Lord regularly went off by himself in solitary places to pray because “dialogue with the Father was a priority.” The Pope said, “If we want to imitate Jesus, we can also begin  where he began, that is, from prayer.” Pope Francis reminded the faithful that Padre Pio used to recommend: “Pray often, my children, pray always, never get tired of praying.”

Moving on to the second word the Pontiff talked of Casa Sollievo della Sofferenza (the House for the Relief of Suffering), which Padre Pio used to call the “temple of prayer and science.” “Jesus is found in those who are sick. And the loving care of those who bend over the wounds of their neighbour is the way of encountering him,” the Pope said.

The third word, wisdom. Like Jesus, Pope Francis said, Padre Pio battled wisely against evil his entire life—“humbly, obediently, with the cross, offering the pain out of love.” How many imitate him in this way? “Many people are ready to click ‘like’ on the pages of the great saints, but who does what they do? Because the Christian life is not an ‘I like,’ but an ‘I give,’” the Pope remarked.

Padre Pio decided to give himself to others especially as a Confessor. It is in the Sacrament of Reconciliation that we “begin to live a wise life … that is where the healing of the heart begins,” Pope Francis said.




Pope at Angelus: To know Jesus, one must gaze upon the Cross


At the Sunday Angelus Pope Francis reflected on the death of Jesus as the supreme act of love, the font of salvation for humanity of every age.

Referring to the Gospel of the day, where we find Greek pilgrims wanting ‘to see Jesus’, the Lord’s response is “surprising”, the Pope said, but ultimately reveals a deeper truth than a simple yes or no answer. Jesus answers their desire by pointing to His imminent Passion and Death: “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.”

“One who wishes to know Jesus must gaze upon the Cross, where His glory is revealed,” Pope Francis said. The Cross is not simply a decoration, much less a fashion accessory, but is, instead, “a religious sign to contemplate and comprehend.” He continued, “In the image of Jesus Crucified is revealed the mystery of the death of the Son of God as supreme act of love, font of life and of salvation for the humanity of all time.”

Turning to the Gospel image of the grain of wheat which falls to the ground and dies, producing “much fruit,” Pope Francis said Jesus uses an imagery of a grain to help us understand His Death and Resurrection “is an act of fruitfulness which bears fruit for many.” Jesus’ coming to earth in the Incarnation is not enough, the Pope said. Jesus “must also die, to redeem human beings from the slavery of sin, and to give them new life reconciled in love.”