CATHOLIC WORLD LAST WEEK
17-23 September, 2018
Moscow Orthodox patriarchate breaks ties with Constantinople 17-9-18
The Russian Orthodox Church has announced a suspension of ties with the Patriarchate of Constantinople, in response to the Ecumenical Patriarchate’s decision to recognize an autonomous Ukrainian Orthodox Church.
In a lengthy statement tracing its history, the Moscow Patriarchate insisted that the Russian and Ukrainian Orthodox communities have “constituted a whole for centuries.” Therefore, the statement continues, the action by the Constantinople patriarchate is a “flagrant violation of the ecclesiastical law and an intervention of one local Church in the territory of the other.”
As a result of the latest decision by Constantinople, the statement from the Russian Orthodox Church says, “the Moscow patriarchate has been forced to suspend the liturgical prayerful commemoration of the Patriarch of Constantinople and with profound regret to suspend the concelebration with hierarchs of the Patriarchate of Constantinople.”
Composition of the October Synod of Bishops 15-9-18
In the October Synod of Bishops, some 300 cardinals, bishops, priests, religious and lay participants will be present. This list includes every region around the world, named for the most part by bishops’ conferences, or the pope himself.
In addition to a 15-member ordinary council organizing the synod, elected by participants at the close of the 2015 Synod on the Family, the list this year includes some 151 delegates named by bishops’ conferences and 39 papal appointees, in addition to the heads of all Vatican departments, the auditors, representatives from Eastern Churches and representatives named by the Union of Superior Generals.
Prelates named by Pope Francis for this year’s Synod on Young People, Faith and the Discernment of Vocation, set to take place in Rome Oct. 3-28, represent his attention to social issues and global peripheries.
Mozambique’s president meets Pope 17-9-18
Mozambique’s President Filipe Nyusi met the Pope on 17 September in the Vatican. He discussed with the Pope the work of the Church in Mozambique, reconciliation within the nation (which experienced civil war from 1977 to 1992), poverty, and corruption.
Help Christian refugees return home to Syria and Iraq, Pope asks international community 17-9-18
“As I have recalled on several occasions, there is the real risk that the Christian presence may disappear in the very land from which the light of the Gospel first emanated,” Pope Francis said on 17 September to representatives of Catholic charitable organizations working in Iraq, Syria, and neighbouring countries.
Ecuador: archbishop resigns to enter Trappist monastery 17-9-18
Archbishop Lorenzo Voltolini Esti, a 70-year-old Italian, has resigned as archbishop in order to enter a Trappist monastery. He was appointed auxiliary bishop of Portoviejo, Ecuador, in 1993 and archbishop in 2007.
Algeria: Two Christian cemeteries vandalized 14-9-18
Two Christian cemeteries have been vandalised in Algeria in recent weeks, reports national news site Algerie Monde Infos.
More than 30 graves were desecrated at the La Reunion War Cemetery in Oued Ghir, a town near the northern city of Bejaia, on the night of Thursday 6 September by a group of young people, a source told the news site. The perpetrators smashed the tombstones and ransacked the graves.
Pope to Armenian monks: continue to illuminate the path to unity 17-9-18
Pope Francis praised on 16 September the Armenian Mekhitarist Congregation for their tradition of theological humanism and prophetic ecumenical openness and urged them to continue to provide precious witness. His letter was sent on the occasion of completion of 3 centuries of the Congregation’s existence. The celebrations tool place in Venice, Italy. The congregation belongs to the Benedictine family.
Vatican conference participants issue message against racism, xenophobia 17-9-18
The World Conference on Xenophobia, Racism and Populist Nationalism in the Context of Global Migration was organized by the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development and the World Council of Churches, in collaboration with the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. Here is the summary of the conference’s declarations:
While recognizing the right of refugees to return to their country of origin and live there in dignity and security, we affirm and uphold the institution of asylum for those fleeing from armed conflicts, persecution or natural disaster. We also invoke respect for the rights of all people on the move, regardless of their status.
While migration generally contributes positively to both countries of destination and countries of origin, we recognize that significant challenges are still associated with migration, particularly in the area of protecting the rights of undocumented migrants.
(20-9-18) Pope Francis voiced his fear that racism is spreading, because of political leaders exploiting tensions for their own short-term gains. In an audience on 20 September with participants in a conference on xenophobia and racism, the Pontiff called for “inspiring gestures that contribute to societies founded on the principle of the sacredness of human life and respect for the dignity of every person.”
Diplomat reaffirms Holy See’s support for nuclear-test ban, nuclear disarmament 17-9-18
Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, the Vatican’s Secretary for Relations with States, spoke at the 62nd General Conference of the International Atomic Energy Agency.
He said: The Holy See appeals to all leaders and nations to work towards the common goals of promoting nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament, the peaceful development and use of nuclear technologies, and a sustainable integral human development, particularly for the poorest countries. The pursuit of such goals will contribute in no small way to a true and lasting global peace.
Committee with the Maronite Church to resolve confessional conflicts over land ownership 17-9-18 Lebanese Sheikh Ahmad Kabalan, Mufti Shiite of the Jafaarita school, has suggested creating a joint Committee between the Supreme Shiite Council and the Maronite Patriarchate charged with facing and trying to overcome the conflict between Shiite inhabitants and the Maronite Church in the village of Lassa, in the Lebanese district of Jbeil, due to the dispute surrounding the possession of some land properties.
Malawi - "Do not drag the name of Pope Francis into petty party politics" warn the Bishops 17-9-18
"The attack on the Holy Father, Pope Francis is an attack on the whole Church that is, One Holy Catholic and Apostolic". Thus the Episcopal Conference of Malawi invites political leaders, both government and opposition, to desist from dragging the name of the Holy Father into petty party politics.
In their statement released on September 13, 2018, the Bishops strongly condemned the attack by a section of Malawian politicians during a meeting in Blantyre on 9 September, saying that the current 79-Year old President of Malawi will only resign after Pope Francis, 81, steps down because the Malawi leader is younger. .
Kenya - An impulse to catechesis to counter fundamentalism: the Bishops of AMECEA in view of the Synod 17-9-18
Among the areas of intervention identified in the recent meeting in Nairobi, in preparation for the Synod of Bishops on young people to be held in the Vatican in October, by the Association of Member Episcopal Conferences in Eastern Africa (AMECEA), the Bishops have settled on Catechesis to counter the impact of religious fundamentalism and Pentecostalism; institutional vocational status of single persons with no particular consecration; training of Spiritual Directors; as well as formation for active citizenry in politics; dignity of women; and civil, social and political engagement.
Indian rape scandal spurs reform bid 17-9-18
A campaign to reform laws governing church property and finances has gained momentum in India's southern Kerala state, where a rape case against a bishop has created a furore.
Church activists, including theologians, have for more than a decade sought greater lay participation in managing the temporal wealth of the Catholic Church, purportedly to check embezzlement.
A draft proposal called the 'Church Properties and Institutions Trust Bill' was prepared under the guidance of the late V. R. Krishna Iyer, a former judge of the Supreme Court, and was submitted for the consideration of the Kerala government in 2009.
"We are pressing for it, but the state may not enact it as a law in the near future," said advocate Indulekha Joseph, a Catholic lawyer connected with the movement.
A group of protesters on September 8 demanded justice for a nun allegedly raped by Bishop Franco Mulakkal of Jalandhar. A placard stating 'money is fuel for lust' implied that unaccounted for funds available to members of the Church hierarchy emboldened them to violate other people's rights.
Philippine authorities search for missing in wake of typhoon 17-9-18
At least 65 people were reported killed while 43 others remained missing in the wake of Typhoon Mangkhut that hit the northern part of the Philippines on Sept. 15.
Most of the fatalities came from the northern Cordillera Administrative Region where the search for missing people trapped in an abandoned mine continued on Sept. 17. About 300 police officers, firemen, and volunteers shovelled mud and debris, sometimes with their bare hands, in the village of Ucab, Itogon town, in search of survivors. The mine site has been abandoned since 2009 after the government ordered a ban on all mining activities in the town. Immediate stop has been ordered to all small-scale mining operations in Cordillera region.
Environmental activists have blamed mining operations for landslides that have killed dozens of people following a powerful typhoon at the weekend.
New papal document expands powers of Synod of Bishops 18-8-18
Pope Francis has released a new apostolic constitution, expanding the powers and authority of the Synod of Bishops.
Episcopalis Communio, made public on September 18, contains 27 articles, which expand the role of the Synod as an advisory body and even suggests that the Synod’s decisions, when ratified by the Pope, become a part of the Church’s teaching magisterium.
In releasing the new apostolic constitution, Pope Francis writes that he hopes to make the Synod “ever more a privileged instrument of listening to the People of God.” He writes that bishops should consult with the faithful prior to entering into Synod discussions. In this way, he suggests, the Synod will be “a particular manifestation of the efficacious realization of the solicitude of the episcopate for the whole Church.”
The next Synod of Bishop will take place Oct. 3-28.
Health centre supported by Catholic Mission tops survey 18-9-18
The St Luke Health Centre in Bujuni was assessed by the Ugandan Ministry of Health and scored an 88.9 rating, the highest in the Kibaale District in the country’s Western Province.
“This opens up another opportunity to receive additional funding from the Ministry of Health as well as aid from the World Bank,” reports Sr Mary Goretti, sister-in-charge at St Luke’s, on her visit to Australia.
“Catholic Mission” (of Australia) last year focused its major appeal on the work of Sr Mary and her small staff at St Luke’s. The primary need was for an ambulance, mainly to prevent pregnant women risking their lives to get to the health centre for delivery.
Three Pentecostal pastors investigated for 'forced conversions' in Uttar Pradesh 18-9-18
In Uttar Pradesh three Pentecostal clergymen are under investigation for extorting conversions from Hindus and persuading them to embrace Christianity by spreading false information about Hinduism, said Sajan K George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC).
"In Uttar Pradesh Hindu radicals have fabricated unfounded accusations against innocent Pentecostal Christians," George told AsiaNews. He noted that in the Indian state "there has been a surge in persecution against Christians. Pentecostal pastors and Christian groups are under the constant watch of radical elements and the police." Some 271 people have been charged with various offences but only the names of the clergymen were made public.
Niger - Italian priest of the Society of African Missions kidnapped 18-9-18
"In the night between Monday 17 and Tuesday 18 September, Father Pierluigi Maccalli, of the Society of African Missions (SAM) was kidnapped by probably active jihadists in the area". The news was reported by Fr. Mauro Armanino, a missionary in Niamey.
Italian Father Maccalli, already a missionary in the Ivory Coast for several years, serves in the parish of Bomoanga, diocese of Niamey, quite close to Burkino Faso. He has put together evangelization and human promotion: schools, dispensaries and training for young farmers.
According to the missionaries in the General Curia of SAM in Genoa, a group of armed men entered the village at 9.30 pm local time on Monday, abducted the priest, stole his computer and his phone. It was possible to reconstruct the facts thanks to the testimony of an Indian confrere, who lives with Father Pierluigi, who managed to escape.
Palestine - Gaza, the parish sports centre destroyed during the last war re-opens 18-9-18
In Gaza, Palestine, the parish sports centre in Zaitoun compound devastated by Hamas militants during the last war has been restored for use again, and the Latin Catholic parish has dedicated it to the Holy Family. The playground and the adjacent school, also destroyed in the bombing are now restored thanks mainly to the contribution of the Order of the Holy Sepulcher.
Now, volley ball, basketball and football can be played and there is a pavilion for spectators.
Malaysia - Christian communities renew their commitment to education 18-9-18
The Christian communities in Malaysia, also the Catholic Church, renew their commitment in the field of education, to teach the Christian virtues of discipline, diligence, charity, compassion and integrity. This is what emerged from a recent seminar that involved delegates, managers, priests, teachers, Christian educators and school administrators of the schools run by the Churches in Kota Kinabalu, Eastern Malaysia.
"The role of missionary schools in the current school system", was the theme of the seminar held in the complex of All Saints Cathedral, participated by 43 Catholic and about 60 Protestant schools.
With a Malaysian population of 10.5 million young people between the ages of 1 and 19, the workshop also pointed out the need to make Christian schools a field of mission of evangelization.
Peru - Card. Barreto: "Peru is living a highly democratic moment" 18-9-18
"Peru is going through a highly democratic phase. We fully support President Vizcarra because the other two powers of the State, Legislature and Magistracy, are seriously ambiguous. Now the people have to express themselves with regard to these four proposals of the executive power": said Cardinal Pedro Barreto, Archbishop of Huancayo, speaking to a German newspaper, during a break of the meeting of the Pan-Amazon Ecclesial Network that is being held these days in Germany.
The four proposals presented by President Vizcarra to Parliament on August 9th are: return to the bicameral parliamentary system; non-re-election of members of the Congress; financing for political parties; reform of the National Council of Magistrates (CNM).
"Without a doubt, it was time for citizens to express their will on the four issues raised in the presidential message through a referendum. Thus, democracy is strengthened and politics is reinstated in our Peru", said the Cardinal.
Pioneering Dhaka church marks 150 years 18-9-18
Thousands of Catholics have marked a 150-year jubilee by paying tribute to missionaries and faithful for their contributions to growth of the Church in Bangladesh.
The Holy Cross Church in an area known as old Dhaka, founded in 1868 and administered by the Holy Cross Congregation, celebrated with a Holy Mass, cultural events and a fraternity meal on Sept. 14-15.
Holy Cross Cardinal Patrick D'Rozario of Dhaka, the nation's capital, along with auxiliary Bishop Shorot F. Gomes, concelebrated the Mass and cultural programs followed attended by more than 3,000 people, including Catholics, Protestants and non-Christians.
"A parish Church is the sign of a divine communion and family," Cardinal D'Rozario said. God had especially blessed the Holy Cross Church, so it played a significant role in the growth of the Catholic Church and its contributions to the nation, he added. Apostolic Nuncio Archbishop George Kocherry described the anniversary as a time for spiritual renewal.
Pakistan to grant citizenship to Bengali, Afghan refugees 18-9-18
Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan has said his government will make it a priority to grant citizenship to Afghan and Bengali refugees who have lived in the country for decades in an announcement that has won accolades from marginalized communities and rights activists.
Pakistan is host to more than 1.4 million registered Afghan refugees, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. Similarly, around 250,000 Bengali and Burmese Muslims are estimated to be living in Pakistan, mostly in Karachi, though Bengali leaders say the true number could be as high as 2.5 million. They do not get passports or identity cards, hence not taken for regular and adequately paying jobs.
Caritas Pakistan welcomed the PM's suggestion with some reservations.
UN report confirms Rohingya suffered genocide 18-9-18
The United Nations Fact-Finding Mission found that the Myanmar military's persecution of Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine State amounted to genocide.
In a 444-page report released on Sept.18, it found that the military committed four of the five acts constituting genocide against the minority.
During a U.N. Human Rights Council session on Sept.18, Marzuki Darusman, chairman of the three-member mission, cited the massacre at Min Gyi village in western Rakhine as evidence that Myanmar's military committed the gravest crimes under international law during "clearance operations" last year.
On Aug. 30, 2017, the military accompanied by armed ethnic Rakhine opened fire and began burning houses using launchers from the village's outskirts. Soldiers opened fire directly at the large number of people fleeing toward the shore, according to the report.
Fact-finding mission has condemned 'widespread, systematic and brutal' killing by Myanmar military.
India's religious minorities struggle to attain scholarships 18-9-18
India’s religious minorities have a hard time in getting educational scholarships for studies.
The Central Government educational scholarships, started by the Ministry of Minority Affairs in 2006, offer financial grants from grade one to postgraduate and doctorate levels to encourage poor parents from minority communities to educate their children.
The grants are available to deserving families from Buddhist, Christian, Muslim, Sikh, Jain and Parsi families. Most grants go to Muslim students as their community, 13.4 % of the population, is the largest and poorest minority. Christians are the second largest minority at 2.3 percent, making the other minorities negligible in terms of numbers.
But the loan is risky and expensive in terms of interest. If the loan is not paid back in time, the bank will come to the borrower’s house. Yet, state education grants remain out of reach for many students from poor communities, due of bureaucratic hurdles.
UK politicians call for action against sex-selective abortion 18-9-18
British politicians have called for a review of the availability of early sex detection tests for pregnant women. The proposal was made by Labour Members of Parliament and prompted by concerns that the tests are leading to sex-selective abortions.
The MP’s expressed particular concern that women, especially those in the UK’s Asian communities, are being pressured or coerced into having an abortion if they are pregnant with a girl.
Pro-China rebels threaten Christians in Shan State, want to stop missionary activities 18-9-18
Churches, priests and Christian missionaries working in Wa, a mountainous region in the eastern state of Shan, are victims of the repression of Myanmar’s largest rebel army, the United Wa State Army (UWSA), the armed wing of the United Wa State Party (UWSP). The latter rules the self-proclaimed State of Wa and boasts historical ties with Beijing.
On 6 September, UWSA released a six-point statement instructing all of its military officers and administrators to “find out what the [Christian] missionaries are doing and what are their intensions.”
It bans new church construction and allows only local priests to minister. Beijing’s shadow affects the local peace process.
Former governor-general Bill Hayden baptized 19-9-18
At the age of 85, and after a lifetime as a declared atheist, former Labour leader and governor-general of Australia, Bill Hayden has been baptized as a Catholic.
“There’s been a gnawing pain in my heart and soul about what is the meaning of life. What’s my role in it?” Hayden said. “This took too long, and now I am going to be devoted. From this day forward I’m going to vouch for God,” Hayden told The Catholic Leader. He was baptised at St Mary’s Church, Ipswich, west of Brisbane, on September 9. He attributed his conversion to the influence of his Catholic mother and the Ursuline Sisters who taught him at primary school.
Bishop leads walk in support of homeless 19-9-18
The 1.5 kilometre journey was a display of solidarity as Australia’s Melbourne’s Church represented people experiencing homelessness and those for whom secure housing has yet to become a reality.
The Walk of Witness began at Federation Square and following the reading of the Parable of The Good Samaritan, proceeded towards the steps of the Victorian Parliament before concluding at St Patrick’s Cathedral. The majority of those joining Bishop Edwards were Catholic school students.
Before the group’s departure from Federation Square, Bishop Edwards said the event presented a unique opportunity for the young people in attendance to reflect on the issue of homelessness.
“A million Australians are either homeless, surf-couching or in apartments that are overcrowded, people who have housing stress. That’s one in 25 of us and it’s just wrong,” he said.
Pope Francis: To honour one's parents, follow the saints 19-9-18
There are many saints who demonstrate that even if one comes from a difficult childhood without good parents, hope can still be found in Christ and the mission received from him, Pope Francis said at the Wednesday General Audience. Here are his words:
In our continuing catechesis on the Ten Commandments, we now turn to the fourth commandment: “Honour your father and your mother”. In the version of the Decalogue found in the Book of Deuteronomy, this command is followed by the promise of a long and happy life. We know how important the experience of good upbringing is for our later life, as well as the fact that not all parents are perfect. The fourth commandment bids us respect those who brought us into the world, despite their own limitations and the shortcomings of our childhood or home situation. When we look to the saints who suffered in their early years, we see that whatever our past hurts, God’s grace can bring not only healing but strength to change and to build a constructive future. God has a plan for our life. He is our heavenly Father, who through the death and Resurrection of his Son offers us the possibility of being born anew and to enjoy life in abundance. In this light, we can honour our parents with gratitude for the gift of life they gave us, which finds its fulfilment in the glorious freedom of the children of God.
Ireland repeals Eighth Amendment, clearing path for legal abortion 19-9-18
The Eighth Amendment to the Irish Constitution, which provided legal protection for the unborn, was officially repealed Sept. 18. The repeal was enacted when President Michael D. Higgins signed the country’s 36th Amendment into law, clearing the way for legal abortion in Ireland.
Cardinal 'blanches' while celebrating recurring miracle of saint's liquefied blood 19-9-18
Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe of Naples fainted at the liquefaction of the blood of St Januarius, an early martyr – an occurrence that happens three times a year. Something caused the cardinal to “blanch” and sit down during the Sept. 19 celebration of the miracle.
St. Januarius, or San Gennaro in Italian, is patron of Naples, was a bishop of the city in the third century, whose bones and blood are preserved in the cathedral as relics. He is believed to have been martyred during Diocletian persecution.
Pope sends greetings to the Jewish community of Rome 19-9-18
Pope Francis sent greetings to the Jewish community of Rome on the occasion of Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Sukkot, which are all celebrated in September. His greetings were addressed to the chief rabbi, Riccardo Shemuel Di Segni.
A Message of Patriarch Cardinal Sako to the Chaldean Bishops and Priests in Iraq 19-9-18
Patriarch Cardinal Louis Raphael Sako addressed a message to the Chaldean Bishops and Priests in Iraq while they were meeting in Ankawa 17-19 September 2018 urging them to look for “new lines” of a pastoral plan, especially for young people and families that suits their current circumstances and in light of the upcoming synod of youth in Rome 3-28 October 2018.
In his message Cardinal Sako encouraged his priests to be close to the people, care for the poor, and communicate the Church’s teaching to youth through social media.
South Korea - Cardinal Yeom: "With denuclearization, a leap forward for peace" 19-8-19
The summit in progress in Pyongyang and the relative declaration co-signed by North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and South Korean president Moon Jae-in generate hope and enthusiasm in the Korean population.
Cardinal Andrew Yeom Soo-jung, Archbishop of Seoul and Apostolic Administrator of Pyongyang, commenting favorably on the fruits of the summit, said: "I am very pleased and inspired by the joint declaration made known today, 19 September, which can to be summarized mainly in the permanent denuclearization of the Korean peninsula. I hope this news can be the best gift for all Koreans, waiting for the Chuseok, the Korean Thanksgiving feast, one of the biggest feasts in Korea. I sincerely pray that South Korea and the North can make a leap forward for peace and advance in bilateral relations through today's agreement".
Singapore - Decriminalize homosexual acts: for the Church it is urgent to protect the traditional family 19-8-19
"The Church regards everyone, regardless of sexual orientation, with equal respect: all the faithful are important to me, regardless whether they have same- or opposite-sex attraction. I feel the struggles and pains of those with same-sex attraction who sincerely love God and desire to live up to His divine plan for humanity. I feel with them when they are ostracised or marginalised by society. They too deserve to be loved and treated with dignity and respect". This was written by the Archbishop of Singapore, William Goh, in a Pastoral Letter, who addresses the issue of homosexual relations and the current legislation, while a debate is under way on the possible repeal of Article 377 paragraph a) of the Penal Code, which provides for penal sanctions for homosexual relationship between adults.
However, the Archbishop clarifies that by "accepting homosexual acts as a social norm, the dreadful consequences for the stability of our families, the well-being of our children, and the risks to the common good will be long-term and irreversible ". He pointed out that he would not object to a repeal of a section of the law which makes the act punishable.
Colombia - Former FARC guerrillas return to take up arms, new obstacles on the path of peace 19-9-18
Even as 6 people held as prisoners by the National Liberation Army (ELN) were released on 12 September, to the pleasant surprise of everyone, in some parts of the country a group of FARC guerillas, Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), has resumed arms.
Disillusioned with civilian life and the constant threat of paramilitaries, a group of former members of FARC has returned to taking up arms, putting at risk the peace agreement, which is also contested by President Ivan Duque himself.
The President of the Episcopal Conference, Archbishop Oscar Urbina Ortega of Villavicencio, after having received the news of the release, stressed that these are always decisive "steps" in order to resume the dialogue between the government and ELN and achieve full peace for Colombia. He had played a great role in the getting the peace-agreement signed.
Nuns' historic protest challenges India's patriarchy 19-9-18
The street protest in Kerala by Catholic nuns demanding justice for a nun allegedly raped by a bishop has become a watershed in Indian society to fight for gender equality in a challenge to India's deep-rooted patriarchal values.
"This is a historical turning point. It should be seen as the start of Indian women's open challenge to male domination and the trampling of women with impunity," said Indulekha Joseph, a legal adviser and supporter of the nuns. In the 2000-year history of the church in India, at no point had Catholic nuns taken to the streets seeking justice, especially alleging the rape of a nun by a bishop, she said.
The patriarchal social ethos forced women to suppress rape. "But here the companions of the victim stood with their sister. The families of the nuns stood with them. And, when church officials failed to act, they mustered the courage to go the police … and when police delayed the arrest of the bishop, they started a public protest," said Joseph.
Call for shelter checks after new India sex abuse case 19-9-18
Rights activists have called for India's government to start a promised audit of all shelter homes after police arrested five people accused of sexually abusing physically handicapped orphans at a privately-run but state-funded facility in Madhya Pradesh state. Nineteen current and former inmates of Sai Vikalang Anath Ashram in Bhopal have complained to police since Sept. 14 that its director and several others sexually abused them. Police have arrested five people including director Mahesh Awasthi, 71, who served in the Indian army. The others arrested are a teacher, the home's assistant, her husband and their 19-year-old son.
Turkey court rejects plea to open Hagia Sophia for Islamic prayer 20-9-18
Turkey's top court on 20 September turned down a plea to open the Hagia Sofia, an Istanbul landmark that is now a museum after serving as both a church and a mosque over its long history, for Muslim worshipping.
The Constitutional Court rejected an association's demand that the Hagia Sophia be opened for Muslim prayers on "non-competence" grounds, indicating it was not the proper instance to allow any change, the official Anadolu news agency reported.
In its plea, the association had claimed that barring prayers at Hagia Sophia was breaching the right to freedom of expression and conscience.
Indian archdiocese gathering evidence on martyrs of Kandhamal 20-9-18
The Archdiocese of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar in India’s Odisha state is currently gathering information and evidence on the martyrdom of some 100 people who were killed in the brutal anti-Christian violence that erupted in the state on August 25, 2008.
The initiative is taking place 10 years after Hindu extremists unleashed untold atrocities on Christians, mostly in Kandhamal District, blaming them for the August 23 murder of Hindu leader Swami Lakshmanananda Saraswati and four of his disciples. Even though Maoist rebels claimed the assassination, the carefully orchestrated violence continued unabated for months.
The violence displaced an estimated 56,000 Christians. Many who sought shelter in the forests perished because of hunger and snakebites. Church and social activists reported the destruction of almost 300 churches, besides convents, schools, hostels and welfare facilities.
In a letter on December 3, 2017, Archbishop John Barwa of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar appointed Father Purushottam Nayak to research and prepare a dossier on the martyrs, a process before formally initiating the cause of their martyrdom and sainthood at the diocesan level. After the diocesan process, the cases will be handed over to the Vatican for further examination and verification.
Pope-emeritus Benedict defends his decision to resign 20-9-18
Pope-emeritus Benedict defended his decision to resign in private letter, written last year to Cardinal Walter Brandmüller. The letter has been made public, nearly a year later, by the German tabloid Bild. In it the former Pope said that he understood the pain to some people when he stepped down, but feared that pain had “turned into an anger” against him, and consequently “a papacy itself is now being devalued.” He added that the pain is aggravated by “sorrow about the situation in which the Church now finds herself.”
South Sudan - "The document of agreement for Peace coincides with our meeting with Pope Francis. This is a miracle!", says Bishop Hiiboro Kussala 20-9-18
"The Ad Limina Visit to Pope Francis begets miracle of Signed Peace in South Sudan", writes Boshop Barani Eduardo Hiiboro Kussala of Tombura-Yambio and President of Sudan and South Catholic Bishops' Conference, in a message published on his return from the Visit.
"While we were yet in Rome and around the Holy Father, on September 12th 2018 South Sudanese Political Leaders put their trusting hands on final document of agreement for Peace. This is something which can never fall short of a miracle in a spiritual sense", says the bishop. "The Holy Father, since day one of our protracted senseless war has never ceased from praying, lobbying, appealing and working for end to the conflict in South Sudan. If this has been signed as peace accord when we are still covered by his love and true fatherly concerns, what can we say at the end? This is a miracle!"
About two weeks earlier, he expressed reservations about the difficulties of reaching a definitive agreement to end the bloody civil war which exploded in December 2013.
Pakistan - Religious minorities to the new government: "Need to return to the Pakistan of founder Muhammad Ali Jinnah" 20-9-18
For the protection of the rights of religious minorities in Pakistan, it is urgent that the new government inspires its policies to the vision of the founder of Pakistan, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, and to his speech of 11 August 1947, in which he presented the Constitution of the newborn nation. This speech should become a "guiding document", which directs the laws and policies of the Country: this is what religious minorities in Pakistan are asking for, ie those non-Muslim communities, made up mostly of Hindus, Christians and Sikhs. This was discussed in the recent seminar organized in two sessions, in Karachi and Lahore, by the "Center for Social Justice" (CSJ), in collaboration with the "Justice and Peace" Commission of the Catholic Episcopal Conference (NCJP) and the Organization for peace and development (DOP).
In the seminar entitled "Rights of minorities: beyond promises", the Catholic Peter Jacob, director of the CSJ, addressed about 200 participants and recalled the words of Mohammad Ali Jinnah in the same speech: "You are free; you are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or to any other place or worship in this State of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion or caste or creed that has nothing to do with the business of the State".
Philippines - "No super typhoon can dampen our hope" says Baguio bishop 20-9-18
“We demonstrate once again that, united in a single people of Baguio and Benguet, no super typhoon can dampen our hope, no tragedy can ever defeat the greatness of the human spirit and our faith in God", says Bishop Victor B. Bendico of Baguio
Typhoon Mangkhut hit on September 15th Luzon island of the Philippines, causing 81 deaths, 250 thousand people have been affected in 30 provinces of the country, particularly the northern part of the island. Wind gusts up to 205 kilometers per hour and violent caused floods, landslides, destruction of roofs and crops.
Bishops Bendico says, “Let us leave aside the political policies of blame and focus on the sincere concern for the poor and the marginalized, in the spirit of human solidarity and cooperation.”
Costa Rica - After 10 days of strike and violence first meeting between government and trade unions, the Bishops present 20-9-18
After 10 days of ‘the biggest strike seen in the country in the last 20 years,’ it was possible to organize a meeting on September 19, between the government and the unions to find a solution. The Unions agreed to sit down at the table, which was also attended by some Bishops representing the Episcopal Conference.
Bishop Javier Gerardo Román Arias of the diocese of Limón deplored the recent violent incidents that occurred in the context of the national strike. In Limón province, some groups looted shops, closed the streets and threw artillery bombs against two commercial business vans and a telecommunications tower. The general strike has almost paralyzed the country for 10 days.
Maids for sale adverts in Singapore anger Indonesians 20-9-18
Jakarta has called on Singapore to thoroughly investigate the "slave-like selling" of Indonesian maids on a website in a way that made them "appear like a household commodity."
Activists campaigning for migrant worker rights have voiced outrage after an advert was recently posted on Carousell, a Singapore-based online marketplace, showing the profiles of several female domestic workers believed to be Indonesian. Some profiles were even marked "sold."
Nusron Wahid, head of a government agency dealing with the placement and protection of Indonesian migrant workers, told reporters on Sept. 18 that an official letter had been sent to the Singaporean government demanding thorough investigation.
"There is a correct and proper procedure in finding migrant workers employment. It's not through online selling like this," he said.
Bishops join Japan-Korea anti-nuclear pilgrimage 20-9-18
Bishops and activists from Japan and South Korea took part in a pilgrimage calling for an end to nuclear energy.
The Japan-Korea Anti-Nuclear Peace Pilgrimage, which has been held annually from 2012, was held in Korea from Sept. 13-16 and organized by the Korean bishops' committee for ecology and environment.
With the title "Peaceful World without Nuke! We May Protect Life and Beauty!", the pilgrimage was joined by 19 Japanese participants including Bishop Goro Matsuura of Nagoya and 63 Koreans including Bishop Peter Kang U-il of Cheju, president of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Korea.
Participants spoke to members of the anti-nuclear movement and pledged to work harder for borderless solidarity for the no-nuke movement. They visited Hanbit Nuclear Power Plant in Yeongwang and toured Deungyong, an energy self-help village that uses alternative energy sources.
Catholic charities rally behind Philippine recovery efforts 20-9-18
Catholic humanitarian agencies from around the world have vowed support for Philippine relief and rehabilitation efforts in the wake of a powerful typhoon that devastated several northern provinces.
Caritas Internationalis in Rome has already launched an appeal to help finance relief operations for thousands of families affected by Typhoon Mangkhut.
"After the storm has passed people will need help to restore their livelihoods," the Catholic aid organization said in a statement.
Typhoon Mangkhut, the strongest to hit the country this year, reportedly affected more than a million people in 30 provinces across the country. Of the more than 264,300 families affected, at least 37,160 were displaced.
Father Edwin Gariguez, executive secretary of Caritas Philippines, said ongoing relief efforts must empower communities to harness resilience and sustain long-term recovery.90% of the crops hve been damaged. Caritas reported that there is an urgent need for food, canned goods, clothes and blankets.
Thousands homeless as rivers devour Bangladeshi villages 20-9-18
The devastating erosion of several rivers continues to devour villages and leave thousands of people in central and southern Bangladesh homeless and penniless.
The Padma River, one of the country's four major rivers, has swallowed up more than a dozen villages in Shariatpur district in recent weeks. Shariatpur officials say that more than 15,000 people from 5,081 families have lost their homes in the menacing erosion of the Padma, a tributary of the Ganges that flows through India and Bangladesh. Among the worst-affected areas is Naria subdistrict, where more than 5,500 people have lost their homes.
Cardinal Zen says Secretary of State should resign for ‘betrayal’ of Church in China, Cardinal Parolin defends 21-9-18
Cardinal Joseph Zen has accused Cardinal Pietro Parolin of an “incredible betrayal” of the Church in China, and said that the Vatican Secretary of State should resign. “They’re giving the flock into the mouths of wolves,” Cardinal Zen said, regarding the diplomatic agreement between the Vatican and Beijing. He voiced his concern that many Catholics of the “underground” Church would reject the agreement and “make rebellion.” Meanwhile, Cardinal Pietro Parolin has defended the Vatican against charges that a deal with China, allowing the Beijing regime to appoint bishops, is a “betrayal.” Without naming Cardinal Joseph Zen, who had made that charge, Cardinal Parolin said: “There is no need to be drastic in condemning and rejecting.”
Cardinal Parolin said that the pact would be signed “in the not-too-distant future.” The terms of the agreement will not be made public.
Pope Francis: Work is not a Commodity 21-9-18
“Our world needs a burst of humanity, which leads to open our eyes and see that he who is before him is not a commodity, but a person and a brother in humanity,” said Pope Francis September 20, 2018, to members of the National Association of Disabled Workers (ANMIL), at the Vatican. “With the culture of work and security is at stake the very substance of democracy, which is based on respect and protection of one’s life,” he said.
The Pope wanted, in addition to “solidarity” with the disabled in the workplace, to encourage their professional reintegration, so that they continue to make their “important contribution to the world of work”.
He also called on the civil community not to find equivalence between work and productivity, which leads to measuring the value of people on the basis of the quantity of goods or wealth they produce.
Tanzania: Pope Sends Condolences for Victims of Ferry Accident 21-9-18
Pope Francis sent a telegram of condolences on September 21, 2018, for the victims of the September 20, 2018, shipwreck of a ferry on Lake Victoria in Tanzania. The death toll has been reported at well over 100 and local authorities expect the total to increase.
The telegram was sent to the civil authorities and ecclesial leaders in the name of the Holy Father Francis by the Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin.
India: Muslim University Awards Jesuit Theologian 21-9-18
The Aligarh Muslim University, a Muslim university in Aligarh, a city in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, has awarded German Jesuit theologian Fr. Christian W. Troll the “Sir Syed Excellence Award”, a prestigious award given for his excellent work in the field of Islamic studies and Muslim-Christian relations. The award will be given on October 17, 2018, during a special celebration organized at Aligarh Muslim University.
Troll in his research on the different traditions of Muslims in South Asia tried to understand “the burning issues that so many religious leaders have faced in the last 200 years.”
Troll, currently a professor emeritus at the Jesuit School of Theology in Frankfurt. He has written books on Islam. He was for 12 years a professor of Islamic studies at the Vidyajyoti (Jesuit) Institute of Religious Studies in Delhi. From 1993 to 1999 he was also a lecturer at the Pontifical Oriental Institute in Rome and professor at the Theology Faculty of the University of Ankara. He was a member of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue of the Vatican.
Nigeria - The Bishops: "Release Leah Sharibu", the girl in the hands of Boko Haram who refused to denounce her Christian faith 21-9-18
"We see with great dismay that the violence we denounced in the past continues unabated", the Nigerian Bishops denounce in a statement published at the end of their Second Plenary Assembly held in Sokoto from 6 to 14 September.
"We observe with deep sadness how unarmed Nigerians are brutally slaughtered, owing to religious and political differences, boundary disputes, and other such reasons", says the document. "We equally observe that Government is often slow in responding to these violent occurrences and often allows many of the perpetrators of these heinous crimes to go unpunished, thus creating a culture of impunity", write the Bishops expressing their "total condemnation for these crimes" and call on "the Government to defend the life and property of every Nigerian citizen". The statement continues by asking "Governments at all levels to respect the rights of citizens and groups to practise their religions unhindered".
The Bishops finally launched an appeal for the unconditional release of Leah Sharibu, a student kidnapped in February in Dapchi, together with some of her friends, by a faction of Boko Haram. While her friends were released after four weeks, Leah Sharibu, who is 15, is still a prisoner because she refused to denounce her Christian faith.
Ivory Coast - "Peace bearers": students apostles of the Gospel in a society marked by civil conflict 21-9-18
To educate for peace in a context marked profoundly by the civil war. This is the project that is taking place in Côte d'Ivoire "Porteurs de Paix" ("Peace Bearers"), an association led by the Jesuit, Vincent Foutchantse, in collaboration with the Magis Foundation, the Italian Jesuit NGO. The initiative has been underway for some months and takes on particular significance on 21 September, International Day of Peace.
The project has as its objective the education to peace, based on the teaching of the Gospel, of a group of formators who then, in turn, will work together with the students of the Ivorian colleges.
Asia - Synergy among Churches to protect the dignity and rights of children in Asia
"In Asia children continue to be victims of increasingly unpleasant phenomena and situations that affect their dignity and their rights. For this reason we need to work together in synergy", says Protestant Archbishop Willem T. P Simmermata, moderator of the Christian Conference of Asia (CCA).
During a three-day conference on "Support to the dignity and rights of children: role of Churches in Asia" organized in recent days in Jakarta by the CCA, Simmermata said that "our churches and congregations must be welcoming places for children. Asian churches must cooperate with governments, national, regional and intergovernmental institutions and with civil society organizations to protect children's rights". The meeting was attended by 56 delegates representing churches, religious bodies, intergovernmental institutions, and civil society organizations in Asia.
Hindu appeasement seen in India's ban of verbal divorce 21-9-18
India's government has been accused of placating the Hindu majority ahead of a national election by introducing an emergency law banning verbal divorce among Muslims.
President Ram Nath Kovind on Sept. 19 gave assent to an ordinance banning the practice that allows a man to divorce his wife by saying talaq (divorce) three times in succession.
The ordinance, which needs to be ratified in parliament, comes after several attempts by Prime Minister Narendra Modi's pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to enact a law purportedly to help Muslim women suffering because of the centuries-long triple talaq practice.
"The sole objective is to appease the Hindu vote bank ahead of the 2019 national election," said Molvi Javaid Ahmad, a Muslim scholar in Jammu and Kashmir state. He said it helps consolidate Hindu votes in a religiously polarized election, he added.
India - Catholic education: the precious commitment of the Indian Church 21-9-18
The Catholic Church in India is reviewing and updating its "Teaching Policy", elaborated in its guidelines in 2007, in order to offer an increasingly better qualified service and an ever-increasing commitment in the field of education in the country, considered a precious instrument of evangelization: this is what Salesian Fr. Joseph Manipadam, National Secretary of the Office for Education and Culture, within the Indian Bishops Conference (CBCI) says in an interview.
"We have reached the goal that we set ourselves ten years ago in the All India Catholic Education Policy 2007 and we are taking care of the revision and updating of the Catholic education policy", notes the Secretary.
The Episcopate Office for Education and Culture has launched a national quiz contest for students, called "CBCI Education MasterMinds" for next October, with an aim to make everyone aware that Catholic education is an important commitment and mission for the Church.
The Catholic Church in India runs more than 50,000 educational institutes, including 400 colleges, six universities and six medical schools that carry out their educational mission with maximum commitment and seriousness.
Politician says Indian missionaries keep tribal region poor 21-9-18
The chief minister of India's Jharkhand state has accused Christian missionaries of working to keep the tribal stronghold poor, but Christians claim he is trying to cover up the government's lapses ahead of state elections.
Raghubar Das, who heads the state government led by the pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), told the media in Ranchi that missionaries have been working against his government's moves to develop the state. "There is a motivated campaign to keep Jharkhand backward. This is directly linked to creating the ground for easier conversions of locals into Christianity," Das said, repeating a regular accusation of his party that the church's social services are a ploy to attract the poor to Christianity.
Tribal leaders accused the government of trying to remove protective legal measures to help the government take over their land for industrialists and miners, an accusation also voiced by Bishop Vincent Barwa of Simdega. The government maintained the land acquisition was meant to build roads, schools and other infrastructure, which would bring development to tribal areas. Das claimed the protests were instigated and supported by Christian missionaries.
Prabhakar Tirkey, national president of Rashtriya Isai Mahasangh, an ecumenical federation of Christians, said Das' comments were "political hyperbole" to cover up the failures of the government and the state's poverty. Opposition parties are accusing Das and the BJP of failing to fulfil promises of development and employment. "His party has done nothing for the poor and tribal people in the state. Instead, it has always tried to create discord among people on the grounds of caste, creed and religion," Tirkey said.
Jalandhar bishop arrested on rape charges 21-9-18
Bishop Franco Mulakkal of Jalandhar, India, was arrested in Kerala state on 21 September 2018, accused of raping a nun belonging to the Missionaries of Jesus congregation. This was done after three days of interrogation that exceeded over 23 hours in the course of three days. The bishop was taken in a police vehicle to the Thripunithura taluk hospital for medical examination. Further investigation would be done.
The police officer said that the bishop was arrested after the investigating officer concluded that the rape charge was ‘reasonably true’ The bishop has been charged under four counts including rape, illegal confinement and criminal intimidation.
After the verdict, the protesting nuns had called off their agitation.
Meanwhile, Pope Francis, having accepted the September 13 request of Bishop Mulakkal, has appointed on 20 September Bishop Agnelo Rufino Gracias, Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus of the Archdiocese of Bombay as Apostolic Administrator of the diocese of Jalandhar, sede plena et ad nutum Sanctae Sedis with immediate effect.
Holy See, China reach accord on appointment of bishops 22-9-18
The Holy See has signed an agreement with China, giving the Beijing government a role in the appointment of new bishops.
Although the terms of the accord were not made public, informed sources at the Vatican have confirmed that under the agreement, the Beijing government will name candidates for episcopal office, with the Pope allowed a choice from among the government’s nominees.
In announcing the agreement on September 22, the Vatican said that the agreement is “provisional” and “foresees the possibility of periodic reviews of its application.”
In a statement explaining the accord—recorded in English, in a departure from his usual pattern—the Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, stressed that “the objective of the Holy See is a pastoral one: the Holy See intends just to create the condition, or help to create the condition, of a greater freedom, autonomy, and organization” for the Catholic Church in China.
Proponents of the accord have argued that it will ease restrictions on the Church in China.
In his statement Cardinal Parolin observed that the accord could bring unity to the Chinese Church.
The provisional agreement was signed on September 22 by Msgr. Antoine Camilleri, the Vatican’s undersecretary for relations with states, and Wang Chao, China’s deputy foreign minister.”
Vatican – Briefing Note about the Catholic Church in China 22-9-18
With a view to sustaining the proclamation of the Gospel in China, Pope Francis has decided to readmit to full ecclesial communion the remaining “official” bishops, ordained without Pontifical Mandate: Bishop Joseph Guo Jincai, Bishop Joseph Huang Bingzhang, Bishop Paul Lei Shiyin, Bishop Joseph Liu Xinhong, Bishop Joseph Ma Yinglin, Bishop Joseph Yue Fusheng, Bishop Vincent Zhan Silu and Bishop Anthony Tu Shihua, OFM (who, before his death on 4th January 2017, had expressed the desire to be reconciled with the Apostolic See).
Pope Francis hopes that, with these decisions, a new process may begin that will allow the wounds of the past to be overcome, leading to the full communion of all Chinese Catholics
Pope’s Angelus in Lithuania: fight temptation to dominate by serving others 23-9-18
In his “Angelus” message at the end of the Mass at Santakos Park in Kaunas, Lithuania, Pope Francis urged Lituhuanians to fight the ungodly temptation of dominating others with the antidote offered by Jesus – by being the last of all and the servant of all.
Pope Francis explained that the ungodly who claim to believe that “power is the norm of justice”, dominate the weak, use their power to impose a way of thinking, an ideology, a prevailing mindset. The Holy Father lamented that in the ungodly, evil is always trying to destroy good. Jesus asks us, the Pope said, “to be the last of all and the servant of all; to go to the place where no one else wants to go, where no one travels, the furthest peripheries; to serve and come to know the lowly and the rejected.”