9-15 July, 2018



Pope Francis prays for seafarers on Sea Sunday           8-7-18


Pope Francis at the Sunday Angelus on 8 July 2018 prayed for seafarers, fishermen, and their families, as the Church commemorates the annual recurrence of Sea Sunday.

“I pray for them and their families,” he said, “as well as for the chaplains and volunteers of the Apostleship of the Sea.”

The Pope made special mention “of those who live in unworthy work situations at sea”. On a related topic, Pope Francis then expressed his appreciation for all the people “who are committed to freeing the seas from pollution.”

The Church observes Sea Sunday annually to highlight the condition of those who work on the world’s oceans. A third of all seafarers and fishermen are estimated to be Catholic, with a large proportion coming from Catholic areas of India and the Philippines.

Also the same day, Cardinal Peter Turkson, Prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, released a message for Sea Sunday 2018, detailing the hardships seafarers face daily.


British prelate ‘profoundly encouraged’ by migrant solidarity march       8-7-18

Bishop Paul McAleenan, the Westminster auxiliary who serves as the English bishops’ lead bishop for migrants, welcomed 60 people who spent ten weeks walking from the Italian-French border to London to express their solidarity with migrants. “My own experience of meeting asylum seekers, both in Calais and in the UK, reminded me how important it is for us to ensure their God-given human dignity is recognized and celebrated,” the bishop said.

Church leaders call for sustainable peace as South Sudan marks 7 years of independence      9-7-18

Church leaders joined the UN in pleading for a sustainable peace for the country, which marked its seventh anniversary of independence on 9 July Monday.

The President, Salva Kiir, and the leader of the opposition, Riek Machar, signed a declaration announcing a “permanent ceasefire” across the country on 4 July. It followed more than four years of fighting, in which tens of thousands of people have been killed and four million have been displaced.

The President of the Sudan and South Sudan Catholic Bishops’ Conference, Archbishop Eduardo Hiiboro Kussala, a partner of CAFOD, urged the country’s leadership to “face the task of rebuilding our broken pieces: social and political relationships, the fragile economy, and the infrastructure of our states, devastated by the conflict. But this can be achieved only through a sustainable peace process.

National Geographic profiles keeper of the keys at Vatican Museums               9-7-18


In a piece accompanied by rich photography, National Geographic profiles Gianni Crea, who holds the keys to the Vatican Museums. He remarks: “The real privilege is being able, every day, to walk through this and each day learn something new.”

Catholics, Russian Orthodox help rebuild Syrian Christian sites            9-7-18

The Russian Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches have begun implementing a plan aimed at reconstruction of Christian churches and monasteries destroyed during the years of Syrian war, Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, the chairman of the Department of External Relations of the Russian Orthodox Church, told TASS on 7 July.

"We have taken on reconstruction, and some churches and monasteries are being rebuilt now. In particular, restoration work is nearing an end in Maaloula. It is one of the major holy sites in the Antioch Orthodox Church, a nunnery built in the location where the Aramaic language was spoken not long ago," the bishop said. "The nuns were forced to leave the place, but we are hoping now they will be able to return."

Philippine bishops declare days of prayer, penance following president’s blasphemy               9-7-18

In a clear reference to Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, the nation’s bishops declared July 16 a “day of prayer and penance, invoking God’s mercy and justice on those who have blasphemed God’s Holy Name, those who slander and bear false witness, and those who commit murder or justify murder as a means for fighting criminality in our country.” In addition, the bishops declared July 17-19 to be “days of fasting, prayer and almsgiving.”

Assist child victims of armed conflict, Holy See diplomat emphasizes at UN         9-7-18

The Holy See attaches “critical importance” to the suffering of children in armed conflict, a leading Vatican diplomat told the UN Security Council on July 9.

The Security Council’s open debate on the issue followed the publication of the UN’s annual report on children and armed conflict.

“For the children already trapped in armed conflict, it is never too late to act to save and rehabilitate them,” said Archbishop Bernardito Auza, apostolic nuncio and permanent observer of the Holy See to the United Nations.

Welcoming the international community’s “unique consensus” on this issue, Archbishop Auza offered three suggestions on how “we can do better in protecting the children who suffer the devastating consequences”: (1) devise programme to protect them from becoming child soldiers, victims of sexual slavery or mass abductions or child-abuses (2) reintegrate former victims into society and (3) uphold their right to education. Let us offer help to help them to realise their dreams and aspirations, he said.

Dominican Rep. - religious orders against trafficking, problem now in new form           9-7-18

An agreement that allows the Adoratrices, the Sisters of the Sacred Heart and the Oblates of the Most Holy Redeemer to work together on the "Casa Malala" project in the Dominican Republic was signed on the day of the Feast of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, June 27. It is a project that underlines the importance of cooperation among religious congregations to manage this reception home for victims of trafficking. "In 2016 we met together with the other institutes with the Prosecutor to talk about human trafficking, and our proposal was to allow us to manage this home" explains Nieves de la Cruz, an Oblate working in the Dominican Republic. The authorities began appreciating the initiative and asked the religious of this inter-congregational network to develop a project of attention towards the victims.

Currently the number of victims of trafficking has not changed much: before they were almost only Dominican women, now the majority of foreigners are falling into this tragedy, and the age of the victims has very much lowered. There are girls of only 14 or 15 years of age who enter, for different reasons, in this criminal mechanism. Sex tourism still continues, according to some NGOs, but it has changed: Dominican women are brought to Europe and the Middle East, while almost all foreigners remain in the country.

Kenya - "Corruption is a cancer that must be eradicated urgently" say religious leaders           9-7-18

"Corruption is a cancer that has pervaded every sector of our society, and which the current laws have proved inadequate to address. There is therefore an urgent need to take radical action to eradicate it and give the nation a new beginning. It is in this regard that we urge the President to declare corruption a national disaster to facilitate adoption of extra-ordinary measures to deal with it", said a Kenyan inter-religious group in a press statement.
The Dialogue Reference group, whose Chairman is Archbishop Martin Kivuva of the Catholic Archdiocese of Mombasa. Its Vice Chairman, General Secretary of the National Council of Churches of Kenya, (NCCK) Rev Canon Peter Karanja, recommended that a new law should be introduced to give amnesty to offenders who confess and give back to the State their loot, and provide very severe penalties and prosecution of corrupt offenders."


Philippines - Focolare Youth in Asia: fraternity in human relations, in politics, in economics


"Pathways to fraternity": is the project launched by over 6,000 young people who participated in the "Genfest", the international festival of the Focolare Youth Movement held in Manila 6-8 July. The project aimed at "bringing individuals and peoples together so that they could contribute towards building fraternal relationships in the fields of economy, justice, politics, environment, intercultural and interreligious dialogue", says the spokesperson.

The event, organized for the first time outside Europe and in Asia’s Manila, was the eleventh edition of the Genfest, and focused on the theme "Beyond all borders". The participants came from 100 countries around the world.
"At a time when migration increases and nationalisms gain ground, as a reaction to an exclusively economic globalization that ignores the diversities of individual cultures and religions, the Genfest has proposed to youth a change of attitude: do not stop at personal, social and political barriers but be ready to accept without fear or prejudice any sort of diversity", said Maria Voce, President of the Focolare Movement.
Maria Voce proposed three words, that are also a life program for all the youth who now return to their countries: "love, start again and share."


Christians had no role in freedom struggle: BJP MP               9-7-18

Mumbai Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP Gopal Shetty has stoked up a controversy by saying that Christians are 'angrez' (British) and did not contribute to the Indian freedom struggle.
Though the senior most city leader made the remarks on 1 July at an Eid Milan function in Malad suburb, videos of his speech surfaced only on 5 July and went viral.
Among other things, the Mumbai North MP said: "Christians were 'angrez', hence they didn't join in the Indian freedom struggle. India was not freed by a Hindu or a Muslim, we fought as one for our Independence."
Sharply criticizing Shetty, Maharashtra Congress President Ashok Chavan said: "It reflects despicably communal mindset of the BJP. Freedom struggle is the epitome of sacrifices made by all communities including Christians. Shetty must know that only RSS was in support of the British."
Besides demonstrations by Christians, two Christian residents from Malad - Mavis Fernandes and Jerard Lobo - submitted a written complaint against Shetty to police in Malvani, demanding action against the MP for promoting enmity between communities.
Agitated members of the Christian community flooded the social media with names of prominent persons who had taken an active part in the freedom struggle, stood with leaders like Mahatma Gandhi and made many sacrifices on the personal and family fronts. They included Thevarthundiyil Titus and his wife Annamma, Accamma Cherian whom Gandhi called the 'Jhansi ki Rani of Travancore', Christian missionaries like Stanley Jones, C.F. Andrews, J.C. Wilson, Ernest Forrester-Paton, Ralph R. Keitahn, Varrier Elwin, John J. Cornelius, J.C. Kumarappa, Paul Ratnasamy, Masillamani Pillai, T.M. Verghese, A.J. John, Anne Mascarenhas, Joachim Alva and many more.


Caritas helps revive flood-hit Kashmir farmers                  9-7-18

In a bid to mitigate the suffering of farmers owing to vagaries of climate, and militant unrest brought about by war, Caritas India, the Catholic Church's social service wing, has come up with a project this year to boost their income so they can avoid penury next time disaster strikes.

The project aims to instill confidence in the farming community, many of whom live in abject fear of seeing their livelihoods destroyed by freak weather conditions that are not uncommon in this part of the world.

"We help farmers receive training from scientists at local agricultural universities. They give them tips and information on how to increase their profits without having to endure further hardship," said Altaf Hussain Lone, a program coordinator for the local branch of Caritas.

He said the goal is to make them self-reliant through more sustainable farming. Horticulturists are also benefiting from the project.


Philippines targets children in war on drugs              9-7-18

A recent proposal by Philippine anti-narcotics officials to test children as young as 10 years old for illegal drugs has rung alarm bells in many circles across the country. Education officials said they are studying a proposal submitted by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency last month. Education Secretary Leonor Briones said she will clarify the aim of the proposed random drug testing of children, especially in state-run elementary schools.

Monsignor Ramon Aguilos of Palo Archdiocese said he is "extremely concerned" about the proposed move. "Will the authorities treat [children] with utmost care and respect as human beings?” said the priest who supervises church-run schools.



Masked government allies rough up bishop, priests in Nicaraguan church siege          10-7-18

Masked supporters of Nicaragua’s government attacked a group of Roman Catholic priests led by Cardinal Leopoldo Brenes on 9 July, Monday as they arrived to help anti-government protesters trapped inside a church. The Apostolic Nuncio to Nicaragua, Archbishop Waldemar Stanislaw Sommertag and Managua’s Auxiliary Bishop Silvio Baez too were in the delegation along with the Cardinal.

Bishop Baez sustained cuts to his arm as the delegation made its way into the San Sebastian Basilica in Diriamba south of the capital. The Episcopal Conference of Nicaragua posted a message saying that pro-government “gangs awaited them, specifically to physically attack them.” The message continued: “Lord, forgive them for they know not what they do.”

The delegation succeeded in safely escorting out people who had been stuck in the church since police and armed pro-government allies violently put down a protest in the city Sunday. The attack on the clerics came a day after both Cardinal Brenes and Bishop Baez made comments critical of Ortega’s government.


Gunman shot dead at archbishop's residence in Cebu            10-7-18


A gunman was shot and killed inside the compound of the archbishop's residence in the central Philippine province of Cebu on July 10.

Remegio Debuayan, who was guarding the residence, said Jeffrey Mendoza Canedo, who was on a motorcycle, was wearing a helmet over a balaclava when he entered the compound.

It was reported he was looking for Archbishop Jose Palma of Cebu and had asked several people if he could talk to him.

Policemen called to the scene ordered Canedo to raise his arms but the man drew a firearm, prompting the police to shoot. Archbishop Palma was in Manila during the incident.

The clergy have come under attack after they began opposing shooting of drug peddlers or suspects.

(11-7-18) Meanwhile, Archbishop Jose Palma of Cebu called on Catholics to remain calm on July 11 after a gunman was shot dead the day before at his official residence.

After Cardinal Farrell’s Marriage-Preparation Remarks, Some Catholics Ask for Clarity           10-7-18

Priests, theologians and lay pastoral workers have responded to recent comments from a senior Vatican official that suggested that priests lack the necessary experience to offer marriage preparation programs for engaged couples.

In a recent interview with the Irish Catholic magazine Intercom, Cardinal Kevin Farrell, head of the Vatican’s Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life, said that “priests are not the best people to train others for marriage.” The Cardinal added, “They have no credibility; they have never lived the experience; they may know moral theology, dogmatic theology in theory, but to go from there to putting it into practice every day ... they don’t have the experience.”


Vatican drafting guidelines on proper uses for sold churches              10-7-18

The Vatican is drafting guidelines to help Catholic dioceses find appropriate ways to decommission unneeded churches so they are used for dignified purposes.

The Vatican's culture ministry is teaming up with Rome's Jesuit-run Pontifical Gregorian University and the Italian bishops' conference to host an international conference in November on managing the sale of churches and handling of their assets.


Nigerian army hands over nearly 200 Boko Haram child 'foot soldiers' to UN         10-7-18

Nigerian army says it has handed over 183 child "foot soldiers" freed from the Boko Haram terror group to a UN agency and the government.

The children aged between seven and 18 years old were released to the Borno State government and UNICEF in Maiduguri, northeast Nigeria, which has borne the brunt of Boko Haram's decade-long insurgency.

Army spokesman John Agim told CNN the children were being used as "foot soldiers" by the militants.

"Boko Haram militants send them for different kinds of operations, but they are under-aged. So, they need to be rehabilitated before they are released to their families," Agim said.


Zimbabwe - The Bishops: "Elections are an opportunity to build a new Zimbabwe"

"Opening a new door" is the title of the Zimbabwe bishops’ pastoral letter in view of the coming presidential elections on 30th July 2018. They say, “"We believe, we hope and we pray, that the coming elections of 30th July 2018 will be such a moment for us all"

"In the six months since the resignation of Mugabe and the appointment of Emmerson Mnangagwa as interim President, we have seen many reasons for hope", say the Bishops, who cite the new spaces of freedom and the fight against corruption undertaken by the government. However, many are disappointed that the effects of these changes are yet to be felt, especially regarding employment. "All Zimbabweans must therefore put any fear and disillusionment of previous elections behind them and prepare carefully for generous participation in the electoral process that is central to our democracy", the Bishops exhort.


Togo - For half a century a "village of charity" at the service of the disabled and the population in the Diocese of Dapaong              10-7-18

The "San Luigi Orione" Centre of Bombouaka, in Togo, celebrated its 50th anniversary on July 7th: it is a centre of excellence that in recent years has become a point of reference for the entire north of the country. Today the Centre, founded in 1968 in the Diocese of Dapaong, offers various services including: specialist consultations in various fields, physical rehabilitation service, psychomotor and speech therapy service, analysis and radiology laboratory, orthopedic laboratory. Two priests and a trainee serve in this structure, entrusted to the Orions in 1987. In Bombouaka there is also a community of the Little Missionary Sisters of Charity. The religious men and women of Don Orione collaborate together.


Venezuela - Priest killed to rob his van         10-7-18

The parish priest of the Nuestra Senora de Fatima parish, in the Archdiocese of Barquisimeto (Venezuela), don Iraluis José Garcia Escobar, 38, was killed yesterday afternoon, Monday 9 July, by bandits who wanted to rob him the van he was traveling on. According to the statement of the Bishops' Conference of Venezuela, the priest was driving the van while traveling around Santa Isabel neighborhood, in the western part of Barquisimeto, well known for vehicle thefts, and was entering his parish, when he was shot by criminals. He was immediately taken to Pastor Oropeza hospital, where he died shortly after. Fr. Iraluis was much loved, cheerful and with a profound spirituality, all dedicated to the Church. The police, who were on patrol, shot dead one of the two, a 20-year old man. The other escaped.

Vietnam relaxes rules as church aids flood victims             10-7-18


Church workers in Vietnam are joining hands with local authorities to provide humanitarian relief to victims of historic floods in the north of the country.

Floods and landslides caused by torrential rain in the four mountainous provinces of Dien Bien, Ha Giang, Lai Chau and Lao Cai from June 23-26 claimed 19 lives, while 11 people were missing. Some 2,200 houses were destroyed or inundated while hundreds of hectares of crops were damaged, thousands of cattle killed and numerous roads and public facilities ruined, the Vietnam Disaster Management Authority said.

"We (the priest, nuns and lay leaders, Red Cross workers and local authorities) visited families of the dead or injured and offered them financial aid of up to 3 million dong (US$130) for every life lost, and 2 million dong for everyone who was injured," said Father Peter Phan Kim Huan, pastor of Lai Chau parish, which felt the brunt of last month's floods. Father Huan said he gave 2 million dong to one family whose house was ruined, adding Caritas Vietnam had already donated 170 million dong in the form of emergency relief.

In the past, the government banned priests from making such visits or giving aid to local ethnic Hmong, Man and Thai groups, but not now.


Dissident's widow allowed to leave China              10-7-18


Liu Xia, widow of Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo, has left China on the eve of the first anniversary of the death of her husband.

After being under house arrest since her husband won the prize in 2010, she left Beijing on a Finnair flight to Berlin at about 11am on July 10, according to BBC China. However, her younger brother Liu Hui has remained in China. Liu Xiaobo, a university professor turned human rights campaigner, was jailed in 2009 for inciting subversion. He died of liver cancer last year.

Duterte agrees to halt attacks on church, but is at it again         10-7-18


Outspoken Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte is to curb his tirades against the Catholic Church after agreeing to a moratorium on statements deriding priests and bishops. The presidential palace announced the president's decision after a 30-minute meeting between Duterte and Archbishop Romulo Valles of Davao on July 9.

The president has drawn flak from Catholics for calling God "stupid" in a speech and for spewing diatribes against Catholic bishops and priests in recent months.

However, less than 24 hours after he declared a moratorium on attacks against the Catholic Church, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said the "separation of powers between any church and state" does not allow church people to criticize his administration. 

"Do not include your god in your platform of your criticism in your attacks because when I attack, if you include God in the issue, son of a bitch, I'll get back at that god," said Duterte.

"I have the right to answer. There is a separation of powers. Why are you f*****g ... the name of the Lord against me?" he added.

Meanwhile,(12-7-18) the bishops’ conference has declared July 17, 18 and 19 days of nationwide prayer and fasting in reparation for blasphemy, killings and calumny.


'Witch hunt' claim after Mother Teresa nun's arrest in India            10-7-18

Christian leaders say the pro-Hindu government in India's Jharkhand state has started a witch hunt against Christian institutions days after police arrested a Missionaries of Charity (MC) nun accused of child trafficking.

Officials of the government, run by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), are conducting searches in Christian institutions, particularly MC homes, in state capital Ranchi and other cities such as Jamshedpur and Gumla.

"The government is targeting our institutions to defame us," said Auxiliary Bishop Telesphore Bilung of Ranchi. The searches and investigations started after MC Sister Concilia, who runs a home for unmarried mothers in Ranchi, was remanded in judicial custody for 14 days on July 5. "Through these search operations, the government is trying to prove that Christians and their institutions are involved in illegal activities," Bishop Bilung said.

Sister Concilia heads Nirmal Hriday (tender heart) home. She was arrested along with a staff member following complaints that the staff member took money to give a baby to a childless couple but failed to keep her promise.



Holy See diplomat: support for global migration compact, calls for change in wording            11-7-18


Archbishop Bernardito Auza, apostolic nuncio and permanent observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, affirmed the Holy See’s support for the ‘Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration,’ whose wording is being negotiated.

Commenting on the latest draft during the sixth round of intergovernmental negotiations, the archbishop insisted that references to three documents that were not part of negotiations be removed from the compact. These documents, he said, “contain controversial language and issues” and “do not share consensus.”

Archbishop Auza also criticized the current draft for failing to affirm protections for migrants that are currently provided for under international law. In particular, he criticized the deletion of a reference to “shelter, health, education and justice.” “All persons, regardless of their migration status, enjoy the same human rights and have the same fundamental freedoms,” he said. He also that migrants have a “prior right” to remain in dignified conditions in their native lands.


2nd church attacked, looted in Nicaragua            11-7-18

A church in Jinotepe, Nicaragua, has been attacked and looted, according to front-page coverage in the Italian edition of the Vatican newspaper. The incident occurred shortly after hooded paramilitary supporters of the Ortega regime attacked and desecrated the Basilica of St. Sebastian in Diriamba on 9 July.


Duterte launches new verbal attack on Church leaders                 11-7-18

Just two days after meeting with the president of the Filipino bishops’ conference in a bid to ease tensions, President Rodrigo Duterte loosed another rhetorical barrage on religious leaders, saying that he would “kill” anyone who used religion as a political weapon against him. Duterte made a point of saying that “I did not mention any religion,” apparently to avoid a conflict with the country’s Catholic majority.


Myanmar’s Cardinal Bo: stop ecological ‘holocaust’          11-7-18

Cardinal Charles Maung Bo of Yangon, Myanmar, has demanded action to stop an “ecological holocaust,” comparing the destruction of the environment to the atomic bombing of Japan. Citing reports by the World Bank, the cardinal predicted that by the year 2050, “there will be 150 million people desperate for the lack of a glass of water,” and said that poor people are the victims of “ecological terrorism.” Cardinal Bo said that the Church is called to protect “the sacraments of nature— water, earth, air, and fire— as the most sacred gifts of the Creator.”


Archbishop Wilson can serve one-year term under house arrest              11-7-18

Archbishop Philip Wilson of Adelaide, Australia, who has been sentenced to a one-year term for failing to report sexual abuse, will be allowed to serve his sentence in house arrest. The sentencing magistrate ruled that the archbishop must serve six months of the sentence before being eligible for parole.


Sixteen Christians arrested for 'forced conversions' of tribals in Jharkhand          11-7-18


Police in Jharkhand, India, arrested 16 missionaries on Sunday 8 July on charges of converting tribal Adivasi by force to Christianity, the Press Trust of India reported.

Speaking to AsiaNews, Sajan K George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC), said that "In Jharkhand, extreme right-wing groups systematically persecute members of religious minorities, especially Christians."

The arrests took place in the District of Dumka, after Ramesh Hembrom, village chief in Phoolpahari, filed a complaint. Seven women were among those taken into custody. Police Superintendent Kishore Kaushal said that those arrested were part of a group of 25 "preachers" held hostage for 2 days "by an angry mob of tribals living in the village" for insulting a place of tribal worship.


Military aggression against Ukraine ‘has not ceased,’ prelate tells fellow European bishops       11-7-18

“An open wound is bleeding in Europe,” Bishop Bohdan Dzyurakh, CSsR, said at a recent meeting of the Council of the Bishops’ Conferences of Europe. “The Ukrainian people are continually paying a high price for their freedom, dignity and future. We cannot forget about it.”


Irish police will block ‘travelers’ from setting up camp before Pope’s visit              11-7-18

Irish police will stop “travelers” (gypsies) from setting up camp near the Marian shrine at Knock in advance of an August 26 visit by Pope Francis. Travelers traditionally congregate around Knock in August, making pilgrimages for the feast of the Assumption.


Thailand - Towards the 350th anniversary of the Apostolic Vicariate of Siam          11-7-18


To commemorate the 350th anniversary of the Apostolic Vicariate of Siam (Mission of Siam: 1669-2019), Thailand’s first mission, the Bishops' Conference of Thailand organized a celebration on July 7 at Chiang Rai Rajabhat University, in Chiang Rai province, northern Thailand. During the celebration two other events were recalled: the creation of the new diocese of Chiang Rai, officially erected by the Holy See on April 25, 2018, and the episcopal ordination of the Bishop-elect Joseph Vuthilert Haelom.
Over 8,000 faithful took part in this important occasion, in the presence of 2 Thai Cardinals, many Bishops of Thailand, Malaysia, and Laos, and of the Apostolic Nuncio to Thailand. Representatives of other Christian confessions and Buddhist religious leaders, Sikhs, Hindus and Muslims participated.
The first seeds of the Gospel were sown in the Kingdom of Siam (now Thailand) in 1544, more than 450 years ago. With the establishment of the new Diocese of Chiang Rai, Thailand is now composed of 2 ecclesiastical provinces and 9 suffragan dioceses.


Nicaragua - The Bishops: "We will not abandon the Dialogue" despite the aggression and hostility of the government            11-7-18


"We Bishops of the Episcopal Conference of Nicaragua, decided today (10 July), to continue to provide the service that the government has asked us, as mediators and witnesses of the national Dialogue. With the same enthusiasm and commitment": with these words Bishop Silvio José Baez, Auxiliary of Managua, announced that the Dialogue will not stop, that the attempts for a peaceful agreement for the democratization of the country will continue – this despite the physical and verbal attacks on Monday 9th in Diriamba suffered by Cardinal Leopoldo Brenes, Bishop Silvio Baez, who was wounded and robbed of his episcopal insignia and by the Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Waldemar Stanislaw Sommertag.


Bolivia - Cardinal Filoni opens CAM 5: "Missionary work has a heart, a centre, a name: Jesus"


Cardinal Fernando Filoni, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, Special Envoy of the Holy Father Francis at the celebrations of the Fifth American Missionary Congress (CAM 5), inaugurate the Congress with a Mass on July 10, Tuesday, in Santa Cruz de la Sierra.dedicated the central part of his homily to this question, during the Mass of inauguration of the continental missionary event, celebrated yesterday afternoon, Tuesday 10 July, in Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia.

"The missionary work has above all a heart, a centre, a name: Jesus; every missionary activity is both proclamation and witness, an announcement of Jesus, of his work, of his love, of his tenderness and witness of life.” The Cardinal cited the great example of Blessed Mother Maria Ignazia di Gesù, whose relics were present at the celebration and who be canonized on October 14. “She was an authentic missionary of our times and I think it is a great thing that this Congress takes place on the eve of her canonization," the cardinal said.


Dozens of govt mosques in Jakarta promote radicalism               11-7-18


Dozens of mosques located at Indonesian government buildings in Jakarta have been promoting radical Islamic teachings, according to the results of a study released by a local NGO on July 8. 

Suggesting the government should look a bit closer to home in its fight against radicalism, the Association of Islamic Boarding School and Society Development and Rumah Kebangsaan — a social organization — said 41 out of 100 mosques located at government offices in the capital have promoted radicalism during Friday sermons.

They include espousing the creation of caliphate and conducting hate speech, according to the study findings.


Catholics urged to help riot-hit Indian state             11-7-18


The Indian state of Odisha has proposed working with the Catholic Church to launch a state-of-the-art health facility in impoverished Kandhamal district, where anti-Christian violence claimed 100 lives a decade ago.

State Health Minister Pratap Jena said the government was open to collaborating with Cuttack-Bhubaneswar Archdiocese or other church bodies to set up a hospital in the district, where maternal and infant mortality rates are among the highest in India. Jena made the proposal when church officials from the archdiocese and representatives from the Indian Bishops' Conference met him and state chief minister Naveen Patnaik on July 2 ahead of the 10th anniversary of calamitous riots that broke out in the state in 2008.

"The minister made the proposal and promised to offer land for the hospital free of cost," said Father Dibakar Parichha, an archdiocesan official who attended the gathering. Father Parichha said that church officials including Bishop Theodore Mascarenhas, secretary-general of the national bishops' conference, "are seriously following up" on the proposal.




Australian archbishops: children less safe if confessional seal compromised         12-7-18


The Australian Catholic bishops have voiced their “grave concerns” about legislation that would threaten the seal of confession. In a letter to political leaders, Archbishops Mark Coleridge and Anthony Fisher (of Melbourne and Sydney, respectively) said that the “spectacle of arresting and trying priests for acting in accordance with their faith would be very socially divisive.” They also said that child-molesters would not confess their sins, and so the law “will either have no effect on child safety or will actually make children less safe.”


Venezuelan bishops condemn ‘perverse ideology, system of government’           12-7-18

Protests in Venezuela against the regime “indicate the failure of a model that the people have been denouncing at the top of their lungs, and for many years,” said Archbishop José Luis Azuaje, president of the bishops’ conference.


UN leader, German government, bishops denounce attacks on Church in Nicaragua (UN News)

UN Secretary-General António Guterres “deplored” the recent attack on Nicaraguan bishops and priests by the Ortega regime’s paramiltary supporters. Human rights organizations and the German government also condemned the attack. In addition, the Mexican bishops and Costa Rican bishops (Spanish-language links) sent messages of support to the bishops of Nicaragua, as did the bishops of the EU.


SSPX elects new leader, pointing toward tougher stand in talks with Vatican              12-7-18

The traditionalist Society of St. Pius X (SSPX) has elected a new superior general, replacing Bishop Bernard Fellay. The new superior, Father Davide Pagliarini, is a 47-year-old Italian. His surprise election is considered a sign that the SSPX leadership will be more skeptical about prospects for reconciliation with the Holy See.


Cardinal Arinze: to receive Communion, become Catholic             12-7-18

Reacting to the German bishops’ proposed policy for intercommunion, Cardinal Francis Arinze has suggested that Protestants who wish to receive the Eucharist should become Catholics. “The Eucharistic celebration of the Mass is not an ecumenical service,” observed the retired prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship. He suggested that a proper approach to Protestant spouses of Catholics would be: “Come, be received into the Church and then you can receive Holy Communion seven times a week.”


Pope wants ‘gesture of reconciliation’ for residential schools in Canada, nuncio says           12-7-18

The apostolic nuncio in Canada has said that although Pope Francis will not deliver a formal apology for the role of the Church in the “residential schools” for children of native tribes, the Pontiff does favour “a gesture of reconciliation.” Archbishop Luigi Bonazzi said that the Church supports “listening sessions” and other efforts to heal ties with the native tribes.


Peru: new scandal hits highest body of the judiciary. Bishops call for clarity and “structural reforms”            12-7-18


The institutional and political life in Peru has been rocked by a new scandal: recordings leaked to the press speak of corruption cases, influence peddling and alleged pressure on ongoing investigations involving two judges and three members of the National Council of the Magistracy (CNM), the highest judicial body in Peru. After an investigation found incriminating conversations between members of parliament and judges, the Peruvian Bishops’ Conference (CEP), through its president, Archbishop Miguel Cabrejos Vidarte of Trujillo, released a statement on 11-7-18 to express its stance on the controversy.

“If we do not shed light on the facts, our citizens will lose confidence in and respect for the judiciary and its institutions, with disastrous consequences for the democratic life of our country”. For the Bishops, “the current situation requires structural changes that citizens have been waiting for for decades.”


Vatican diplomat denounces exploitation of fisheries and fishermen               12-7-18

“For the Holy See, it is essential that effective measures and relevant initiatives are developed to monitor, identify and save fishermen who are victims of trafficking, and inhuman and degrading treatment,” said Msgr. Fernando Chica Arellano, who represents the Holy See at UN organizations related to nutrition and agriculture. He made his remarks at a meeting of the UN Food and Agricultural Organization’s Committee on Fisheries.


Sweden’s cardinal says Pope can still sway immigration debate             12-7-18

“Sweden is not as secular as people think,” Cardinal Anders Arborelius of Stockholm said in an interview. He added that “the arrival of many refugees who were helped by parishes of different denominations has made a great impact” on many Swedes and that “even politicians who have different opinions are full of admiration for the zeal of Christians who try to help refugees and other migrants.”


Sainthood cause begins for Jesuit superior-general Father Arrupe              12-7-18

The cardinal vicar of Rome has approved a request by the Society of Jesus to open the sainthood cause of Father Pedro Arrupe, SJ (1907-1991), who served as Jesuit superior general from 1965 to 1983. During his tenure, the order underwent a marked transformation.


Bolivia - Cardinal Filoni at the inauguration of CAM 5: “solution efficiency is not the right logic to follow”          12-7-18


Cardinal Filoni, speaking at the inauguration of the American Missionary Congress, said

the Fifth American Missionary Congress is called to take up the vision of the Popes (Benedict XV ‘Maximum Illud’, the Second Vatican Council ‘Ad Gentes’, Paul VI ‘Evangelii nuntiandi’ and John Paul ‘Redemptoris missio’) to embrace it and adapt it to the rich variety of situations on the American continent.

The Cardinal mentioned three ambits of action in the work of evangelization indicated by Pope Francis: the spiritual and moral growth of believers, the ambit of baptised persons not living according to the exigencies of their baptism and mission Ad gentes. 
Cardinal Filoni, the Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelizaion of People, warned of the danger “of losing the newness of the Gospel and the enthusiasm of missionary calling and succumbing to personal infidelity or the crisis of efficiency and appearances.”


India - Over 50,000 signatures demand release of innocent Christians in Orissa          12-7-18

As the tenth anniversary of the attack on Christians which occurred in August 2008 in the Indian state of Orissa is approaching, an online signature campaign demanding the release of seven innocent Christians, who have since been in prison, has crossed the milestone of 50,000 signatures.
Thanking all those who have joined the online campaign on, Christian journalist and activist Anto Akkara, called for more signatures for the release of the seven, also from the institutions and civil society. They were accused of murdering of Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati on August 23, 2008; the Maoist guerillas announced that they killed Saraswati.


Central Africa - No to provocations that come from the self-proclaimed "League for the defence of the Church", warn the Bishops          12-7-18


"We are outraged by the statement published by an organization called "The League for the defence of the Church in Central Africa", in which one wants to put in place projects that are contrary to the Gospel, to the ideals of the Church and to its commitment in Central Africa", says a statement by the Central African Episcopal Commission (CAEC) reacting to a statement appearing in internet, inciting the Christians to take revenge against Muslims.
Recalling that the country’s crisis is political, the Bishops ask the faithful not give in to hatred and confessional manipulations that will destabilize the Country.



Holy See will not lodge formal diplomatic protest against Nicaragua          13-7-18


The Vatican’s Secretary of State said that the Holy See will not lodge a formal diplomatic protest against Nicaragua after masked paramilitary supporters of the Ortega regime stormed a basilica in which the apostolic nuncio was present.

Cardinal Pietro Parolin praised the nuncio, Archbishop Waldemar Sommertag, for handling the situation “very well.”

“These paramilitary groups are sowing terror by being active and by killing,” Cardinal Parolin added.


Congolese cardinal does not fear death but takes measures to avoid being poisoned        9-7-18


“A cardinal does not have fear,” said the outspoken leader of one of the most violent and volatile countries in Africa, Cardinal Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya of Kinshasa, Congo. “It is a mission to defend the faith, to the cost of shedding one’s blood. I’m not afraid to do that.”

During a week-long visit to Ottawa,Canada, he said on 9 July he does take measures to stay safe. “Naturally, I am prudent,” since his own nieces prepare his food, he avoids being poisoned.

The Cardinal asked for continued prayers for his country as its political and economic situation continues to deteriorate under President Joseph Kabila.


Catholic lawmaker queries absence of Christians from UK’s saved Syrian refugees                 13-7-18

“Out of more than 1,000 Syrian refugees resettled in the UK this year there was not a single Christian,” Lord David Alton regretted in a letter to the UK’s home secretary.


Central Africa - The Bishops' denunciation: "Who benefits from killing men of dialogue like Don Firmin?            13-7-18


"Who benefits from the violence against the Church?" this is what the Bishops of the Central African Republic officially ask in a statement in which they denounce the killing, on June 29, of Mgr. Firmin Gbagoua, Vicar General of the diocese of Bambari.

"It was evidently a murder aimed at those who denounce armed groups", said Bishop Nestor Désiré Nongo-Aziagbia of Bossangoa and Vice President of the Central African Episcopal Conference. "Don Firmin was a person in search of dialogue among the communities involved in the violence".
The Bishops thus confirm that a campaign is underway to silence the voices of dialogue in the Central African Republic, affecting in particular the priests most committed to the search for peace. The Central African Episcopal Conference has also denounced the hate propaganda launched by a self-proclaimed "League for the defence of the Church in Central Africa", which incites Christians to seek revenge for the death of priests in order to attack the Muslim populations.


Bolivia - Message of CAM 5: "Listen to the cry of those suffering in America"            13-7-18


Here’s a voice from Bolivia at the Fifth American Missionary Congress (CAM 5):

"Gathered under the slogan of the joy of the Gospel we listen to the cry of the weakest, we are particularly struck by the violence, exploitation, persecution that destroys the dignity of our brothers. In these days of prayer and celebration of faith, we remember the pain of each one, express our solidarity and closeness to the families who mourn their dead. "America in Mission, the Gospel is joy", but joy is justice, joy is truth, joy is respect for the rights of all".
"In the name of the Lord we condemn all acts of violence and appeal to those who are responsible, especially the rulers, to commit themselves to living and proposing a genuine culture of defense and promotion of life and for the common good, truth, justice and peace.”


Bolivia - CAM 5: the participation of children in the Church's mission is more and more current and valid               13-7-18


Sister Roberta Tremarelli, Secretary General of the Pontifical Missionary Childhood Society, recalled the following in her speech on July 12, at the Fifth American Missionary Congress (CAM 5), in progress in Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia:

"To carry out their mission as children of God and liv e fully, children need spiritual and material support". The Holy Childhood Society carries out its activities according to the principle of subsidiarity, that is in continuous collaboration with the various local structures, in particular those dedicated to education". Therefore, close collaboration is necessary between all those who work in the world of childhood, because through prayer, catechesis, information, participation in the various charitable actions, they promote the opening of children's hearts to the universal call in the love of Christ.


Bolivia – CAM 5: “Make evangelization image-centred”           13-7-18


“We have to move from an evangelization centered on argumentation to an image-centered one," said Bishop Santiago Silva of the Castrensis and President of the Chilean Episcopal Conference at CAM 5 as he spoke on   "Announcing Christ in today's world."

He said, “Evangelization today is ‘dialogue with the different realities’. Today we need to "take responsibility for the humanity of the person" to present, in a culture of image, "the image of Christ in our person". "We have to move from an evangelization centred on argumentation to an image-centred one."

Sri Lanka to execute drug traffickers


Sri Lanka will carry out death sentences imposed by its courts on drug traffickers despite objections from human rights advocates, a government spokesman announced on July 11.

President Maithripala Sirisena has said he will sign the necessary orders to implement unanimous cabinet approval of executions taking place for the sake of current and future generations. But social activists, including Catholics, said there was a lack of evidence internationally to show that capital punishment significantly reduces drug crime. They added that capital punishment contravenes the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.


India's top court mulls legalizing same-sex unions          13-7-18


India's top court has begun hearing a case that could overturn a law criminalizing homosexual acts, which religious leaders fear may pave the way for same-sex marriages and upset social stability.

The five-judge constitutional bench headed by India's Chief Justice Dipak Misra began hearing a case on July 10 to check the validity of a law the British enacted in 1861 making "unnatural offenses" a crime punishable with 10 years in jail.  The law codifies this as "[voluntary] carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal."

This sparked fresh debate among political and religious groups on the legal validity of same-sex unions.

Archbishop Leo Cornelio of Bhopal said the Catholic Church used to consider "same-sex unions as some kind of sickness and a sin" but "now understands it is merely a different [sexual] orientation." Despite this, he said, marriage should remain a sacred contract between a man and woman "because God instituted it for building 'natural' families. Any challenge to this order would threaten the existence of humanity itself." 


Freeze sought on Mother Teresa nuns' bank funds            13-7-18


Indian officials are seeking to freeze bank accounts of the Missionaries of Charity, founded by St. Mother Teresa of Kolkata, following the arrest of a nun on child trafficking charges in Jharkhand state.

State police chief D.K. Pandey wrote to the federal home secretary on July 11 urging the freeze to facilitate an investigation into whether there were violations of regulations covering acceptance of foreign funding.

Police are probing wider activities of the Missionaries of Charity home for unwed mothers in the wake of both a staff member and the nun being arrested. A childless couple had filed a complaint in relation to a cash payment they made to adopt a baby.

However, Missionaries of Charity spokesperson Sunita Kumar said on July 12 that the broadening of investigations was a deliberate attempt to malign the work of the home for unwed mothers.


Catholic becomes Malaysia's top judge             13-7-18


Richard Malanjum has become the first person from the two predominantly Christian states on the island of Borneo to become Malaysia's chief justice, the nation's highest judicial position.

Malanjum, 65, a Catholic from the Kadazandusun community in Sabah state, acted as the chief judge of Sabah and Sarawak after being elevated to the Federal Court in 2005.

"He has done a lot of work on trying to bring justice to the poor," said a friend who declined to be named. "The native courts that are based in the rural areas of Borneo are his brainchild. He once explained to me that justice was hard to come by for the poor and it had been occupying his mind for a long time."

Malanjum’s appointment is seen as a decisive break from the past following the sacking of several independent-minded judges in 1988 and a raft of subsequent decisions in favour of the government.

Under the previous administration, known to be pro-Islamic, a court ruled in 2013 that non-Muslims were prohibited from using the word Allah to refer to God.


Call to remove Indian bishop accused of rape         13-7-18


Leading Catholic figures and lay people have appealed to the Vatican to remove an Indian bishop facing allegations of raping a nun.

In two July 12 letters separately addressed to Indian Bishops’ Conference president Cardinal Oswald Gracias and to papal nuncio Archbishop Giambattista Diquattro, they asked for the removal of Bishop Franco Mulakkal of Jalandhar. Signatories included leading figures from Indian Theologians Association, United Christian Forum, Indian Christian Women’s Movement, Women Theologians Forum, Women's Network for Solidarity and the Forum of Religious for Justice and Peace. 




Eritrea – Ethiopia-Eritrea Agreement: the Church hopes for "a season of freedom and peace"     14-7-18


Prudence is the word circulating in the environments of the Eritrean Catholic Church regarding the peace agreement between Ethiopia and Eritrea. "As a Church - says Fr. Mussie Zerai, priest of the eparchy of Asmara - we are happy with the agreement, but we await developments and pray that the agreement between President Isayas Afeworki and Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed opens a season of lasting peace that restores stability and freedom to the citizens of both countries".
The agreement could open great spaces for growth first of all in the economic field.


Bolivia - Mission continues: after CAM, towards the Extraordinary Missionary Month          14-7-18

At the end of "CAM 5", the American Missionary Congress in Bolivia, the Church in America, in harmony with the universal Church, is projected towards the next great missionary appointment, October 2019, celebrated worldwide, on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the Apostolic Letter "Maximum illud" of Pope Benedict XV. The aim is "to evangelically requalify mission", so that "every baptized person can burn more and more with the same love of Jesus Christ, so that everyone can receive the gift of salvation", remarked Archbishop GIampietro Dal Toso. President of the Pontifical Mission Societies. October 2019 has been declared by Pope Francis as ‘Extraordinary Missionary Month.” In particular, the archbishop said, in the New Continent, the event coincides with another important appointment: the Synod of the Amazon, a forum which assumes, therefore, a strong missionary connotation.


Pope appoints presidents-delegate for Synod on young people             14-7-18


Pope Francis appointed on July 14 presidents-delegate for the Synod of Bishops scheduled from October 3 to 28 in the Vatican.

The XV Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops which has as its theme, “Young People, the Faith and Vocational Discernment.”

The presidents delegate are: Chaldean Patriarch Cardinal Louis Raphael I Sako of Babylon (Iraq), Cardinal Désiré Tsarahazana, Archbishop of Toamasina (Madagascar), Cardinal Charles Maung Bo SDB., Archbishop of Yangon (Myanmar) and Cardinal John Ribat MSC, Archbishop of Port Moresby (Papua New Guinea).


Bishop Devotta of Tiruchirapalli, India, retires              14-7-18


Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Bishop Antony Devotta, the bishop of Tiruchirapalli of Tamilnadu state, India, on 14 July 2018. Born on 30 June 1943, Bishop Devotta served as professor of pastoral theology in the Major Seminary and as vicar general of the Madras-Mylapore archdiocese before he was appointed bishop of Tiruchirapally in November 2000.




Pope at Angelus: Two characteristics of missionary disciples           15-7-18


At the Angelus on Sunday, 15 July 2018, Pope Francis focused once again on the idea of missionary discipleship, the Pope said, Jesus sends the disciples out ahead of Him “two-by-two” in anticipation of their mission following the Resurrection.

Pope Francis said missionary discipleship, the missionary “style,” can be summarized in two points: “mission” has a centre; and it has a “face.”

The first point recalls that the centre of mission is the Person of Jesus Himself. The disciples proclaim the message of Jesus, and to bring His presence and His work into the world. No Christian proclaims the Gospel on their own initiative, “but only when sent by the Church, which has received her mandate from Christ Himself.”

“The second characteristic of the missionary style,” Pope Francis said, is that the mission has “a face;” this “face” consists in “poverty of means.” He said this means Jesus wants His disciples to be free, depending only on “the love of Him who sends them, strengthened only by His Word which they proclaim.”