5-11 November, 2018




Injustice toward migrants, refugees takes place with complicit silence, Pope says in message

In his message to the 8th World Social Forum on Migrations, 2-4 November in Mexico City, Pope Francis said that injustice towards migrants takes place with complicit silence.

The “throwaway culture” has become a pandemic today, and it leaves migrants and displaced people without a voice and at the mercy of those who exploit them, the Pope said.

He called for help to “restore dignity to those who live with great uncertainty and who are unable to dream of a better world.”


Four ‘underground’ Chinese priests arrested                  5-11-18

Four priests of the “underground” Catholic Church in the Chinese province of Hebei have been taken into custody by police, because they refused to join the government-backed Patriotic Association even after they are subjected to indoctrination and isolation. The whereabouts of the arrested priests are not known. Two of them belong to the ancient Diocese of Xiwanzi; the other two to that of Xuanhua. The arrests come soon after the agreement between Beijing and Rome governing the appointment of new Catholic bishops.


Ukrainian president, Orthodox Patriarch in accord on self-government                  5-11-18

Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople has signed an agreement with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, preparing for the official recognition of an autocephalous (self-governing) Ukrainian Orthodox Church. The Patriarchate of Moscow has bitterly denounced the move.


Iran urges Pope Francis not to be indifferent to US sanctions               5-11-18

Not to remain indifferent to the US sanctions against Iran – is the message to the Pope that appears in Iran Front Page, which operates with the approval of Iran’s Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance. The US has re-imposed on 5 November sanctions lifted during President Obama’s administration. An Iranian foreign ministry spokesman said that his government was not concerned, while France, the UK, Germany, and the EU condemned the US sanctions.


Christians flee Henan to escape persecution                5-11-18


As a province with one of the largest population of Christians in East Asia, Henan has always been under the Chinese authorities’ radar.

At the beginning of this year, the provincial authorities launched a campaign to persecute religious belief. As a result, numerous churches, including the government-approved Protestant Three-Self places of worship, have been sealed off or forcibly demolished.

Believers are fleeing their hometown church and its congregation has been frequently harassed by the local government. Officials came to the believers’ houses to register their personal information, including their religious beliefs. If believers were identified, all of their government subsidies and benefits were revoked. Religious items and books found in households were destroyed or confiscated. In its most intense crackdown on religions since the Cultural Revolution, the Chinese authorities are first attacking provinces with long Christian traditions, such as Henan, Anhui, and Zhejiang.

Caritas criticizes Austria for withdrawing from global migration pact            5-11-18

Caritas Internationalis, the Church’s federation of relief and development agencies, has criticized Austria for withdrawing from global migration pact.  In June 2018, the nations of the UN (apart from the United States) agreed to the text of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration. In withdrawing from the pact, Austria cited concerns about its national sovereignty.


Church desecrated in French Guyana                5-11-18


A church in French Guyana has been desecrated. According to a public radio report, the desecration took place in the Good Shepherd Church of Saint-Laurent in Maroni, a town of 40,000 in the French overseas region.

The altar of the Church of the Good Shepherd of Saint Laurent in Maroni town of 40,000 inhabitants has been turned down on 2 November night.

During the night of 2-3 (Friday-Saturday) some individuals have entered the church, unlocked the back door of the building to enter the sacristy of the principal church of the second large district. It appears that the thugs wanted to take away the artfully carved altar but, facing difficulties, they had thrown it to the floor causing damage. The close-circuit camera reveals these details.


Paraguay president meets Pope                  5-11-18


The President of the Republic of Paraguay, Mario Abdo Benítez, had audience with Pope Francis on5 November. During the cordial discussions, the importance of Christian values in the history and present moment in the country was emphasized. The leaders also discussed the situation of the country particularly with special reference to social development and support for the family, and combating poverty, corruption and drug trafficking.


Asia Bibi case: Church tells Christians to refrain from making negative comments about Islam on social media            5-11-18


After Asia Bibi’s acquittal, and the countrywide protests by  Islamic radicals, the Catholic Church of Pakistan has called on Christians to refrain from making negative comments about Islam on social media.


PNG Catholics urge Australia to resettle refugees            5-11-18

The conference, along with the Catholic Professionals Society of PNG, hosted a panel discussion in Port Moresby last week about the refugees’ plight.

The panel, which featured about 100 people, including the governor of Port Moresby and students, teachers and professionals, declared Australia has a moral obligation to look after all refugees and asylum-seekers.

The secretary of the conference, Fr Ambrose Pereira SBD, said Papua New Guinea is not able to care for the refugees as it lacks resources. He said the PNG government must pressure Australia to resettle about 650 men it has exiled to Manus. “We are hoping for an end to this refugee situation where all will be sent into Australia or to any other country. But it needs to be Australia’s responsibility to ensure that this happens.”


Egypt - After the massacre of pilgrims, the Copts will not cancel the November liturgies               5-11-18

After yet another massacre of Christian pilgrims by jihadist terrorism, the Copts will not close churches and will not follow the calls of those who invite to suspend ordinary liturgical and pastoral activities in November as a sign of mourning and denunciation of the violence suffered. And this precisely because the Church is called to celebrate her martyrs as winners if she really intends not to deny the apostolic mission to which she has been called. This is what Egyptian media reported, citing the official sources of the Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate.
the massacre of Seven Coptic pilgrims were massacred on Nov. 2 by a commando of jihadist terrorists while returning from a visit to the monastery of Anba Samuel, in the governorate of Minya.


Afghanistan - Fr. Scalese: "The path of dialogue is the only path for the future of the country"             5-11-18

"The future of Afghanistan is entrusted to a hope: that the forces in question are willing to carry out a targeted negotiation, on the one hand, to the renunciation of the use of Taliban force, on the other to their being recognized as a political movement, which participates in the democratic life of the Country". This is stated by Father Giovanni Scalese, a Barnabite missionary, titular of the Missio sui iuris of Afghanistan, analyzing the post-electoral situation in the country. The priest adds: "As the Afghan Consul General in Peshawar declared last week, the only path to peace for a country in conflict for 40 years is dialogue. After these last elections, I believe that the only thing left for the Talibans is to sit at the negotiating table".


Mother Teresa nuns back in India's adoption system         5-11-18

The Missionaries of Charity (MC) congregation has agreed to resume its service of giving children for adoption.

The congregation founded by St Teresa of Kolkata, commonly known as Mother Teresa, has revised its stance and will join the centralized adoption service system set up by the government, said Maneka Gandhi, who heads the Ministry of Women and Child Development. A delegation of three MC nuns including Sister Mary Prema Pierick met the minister on Oct. 29 and decided that children in its 79 homes can go into family care.

The nuns in a Nov. 2 press release said they had agreed to register all their childcare homes with respective state governments as mandated by the Juvenile Justice Act of 2015.The Congregation discontinued giving babies from their orphanages for adoption in October 2015 after disagreeing with a new federal law that allowed single and divorced woman to adopt children.

Gandhi has asked them to undergo registrations of all their homes and link them with specialized adoption agencies who would carry out the placement of children declared legally free for adoption.


Pakistan govt accused of caving in to Asia Bibi protesters         5-11-18

Pakistan's independent human rights body has condemned the government's inability to preserve "the writ of the state" during protests that erupted after the acquittal of Catholic woman Asia Bibi in a blasphemy case. The government agreed on Nov 2 to a travel ban preventing Bibi from leaving the country.

The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) condemned the government's submissive response to protests by Islamist group Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP), terming the rapid agreement to the group's demands as "a mockery of the rule of law."

"What was hailed as a landmark judgment and a human rights victory unravelled into a situation in which there was no distinction between the peaceful right to dissent and the thuggery of mobs who claimed a moral right to wreak public havoc, to attack citizens and law enforcement personnel, to wantonly destroy property and to incite hatred against religious minorities," said HRCP in a statement on Nov. 4.

"HRCP strongly urges the government to take an unequivocal and consistent stand against groups and individuals that have no qualms about employing violent, extraconstitutional means to have their way."


Malaysia sets example by abandoning the noose      5-11-18

Malaysia's decision to abandon the death penalty is winning praise and adds further momentum to a growing global trend that human rights advocates hope will spell an end to state-sanctioned killing.

From Pakistan and India to Japan, Indonesia and Vietnam, executions for a range of crimes — murder and treason to drug trafficking and blasphemy — remain on the statute books. 

Rights groups say at least 2,000 people were executed by lethal injection or firing squad in 2017.

That's more than the rest of the world combined., but Beijing's methods pale when compared to North Korea where torture often precedes public executions.


Indonesia holds first national Catholic choir festival     5-11-18

Papua and East Nusa Tenggara provinces of Indonesia were among 34 provinces that participated in the Pesparani, which attracted nearly 7,000 choristers from many different age groups. 

The Catholic National Pesparani Formation and Development Agency, known as LP3KN, organized the weeklong festival, which was held in Ambon, capital of Maluku province. The country's first National Catholic Choir Festival ended on Nov. 2. 

Choirs competed against each other to come out winners in 12 categories during the vocal Olympiad, which also included a psalm chant and Bible quiz.

"The Gregorian chant is one of the Catholic Church's greatest treasures but it has slowly been forgotten by many people. The Pesparani serves as a way to revitalize interest in this form of singing," said Ernest Mariyanto, one of the festival organizers.




World Day of Peace theme: politics in service of peace                 6-11-18

The Vatican has announced the theme of the papal message for the 52nd World Day of Peace: “Good politics is at the service of peace.” The message will underline the duty of political leaders in “safeguarding the law and encouraging dialogue between figures of society, among generations, and among cultures.” The World Day of Peace is celebrated in January 1; the papal message is traditionally released in advance.


Pope recalls Holocaust, deplores anti-Semitism               6-11-18

The Holocaust must be commemorated so that there will be a living memory of the past. Without a living memory, there will be no future, for if the darkest pages of history do not teach us to avoid the same errors, human dignity will remain a dead letter, Pope Francis said as met on 5 November rabbis of World Congress of Mountain Jews of the Caucasus.

As he called for friendship between Jews and Catholics, he said we are called to commit ourselves to ensure anti-Semitism is banned from the human community.


Indian Christians to celebrate Dalit Liberation Sunday on Nov 11            6-11-18


Christians of various denominations in India are joining hands in jointly observing the Dalit Liberation Sunday (DLS) on Sunday, 11 November. 

The Office for Scheduled Castes/Backward Classes (SC/BC) of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI), and the National Council of Churches in India (NCCI), that comprises Protestant and Orthodox Churches have called for this observance with the theme, “As for Me and My Household, We will serve the Lord”, taken from the Book of Joshua. “The celebration of DLS is a clarion call to the whole Christian community in India to renew our faith and to awaken our consciousness to be the voice of the voiceless and to stand with the vulnerable Dalits in society,” Father M. Devasagayaraj, the secretary of the CBCI Office of SC/BC, said.

The SCs are called “Dalit” which means ‘broken or "trampled upon" and is used to refer to those outside India’s rigid four-tier Hindu caste system, who were once called "untouchables."   Christian and Muslim BCs are denied the privileges that Hindu, Buddhist and Sikh Dalits enjoy. The SCs feel that they are discriminated against even in the Church.


Kathmandu, four Christians arrested for 'forced conversion' of dalit           6-11-18

Four Christian women, two of whom Japanese, were arrested in Nepal on charges of trying to convert some Dalits and nomads without land to Christianity by force. Sajan K George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC), told AsiaNews that "there is a law in the country that criminalizes religious conversions and states that no one can perform or encourage 'religious conversions'".

The arrest of these women took place on November 4 in the Butawal area, near the capital Kathmandu, where they were filmed making door to door visit with a view to conversion.


Gunmen abduct 4 priests in Nigeria           6-11-18

Gunmen abducted on 6 November four Catholic priests between Agbor and Umutu in Ukwani Local Government Area of Delta State of Nigeria.

PUNCH Metro learnt that the priests were on their way to Uhielle in Ekpoma, Edo State, for an alumni meeting when they were kidnapped by the gunmen.

A source identified the victims as Rev Frs Victor Adigboluja of the Ijebu Ode diocese; Anthony Otegbola, Abeokuta Diocese; Joseph Ediae, Benin Archdiocese; and Emmanuel Obadjere, Warri Diocese.


Cameroon - Anglophone crisis: 79 students kidnapped in Bamenda; the Church organizes a fundraiser in Douala for displaced persons                6-11-18


The crisis is worsening in the English-speaking regions of Cameroon, where on 5 November, 79 students and three heads of the local Presbyterian secondary school were kidnapped in Bamenda in the north-west of the country. The kidnappers belong to the "Amba boys", the English-speaking separatists. The serious incident occurred on the eve of the oath of President Paul Biya, recently re-elected for the seventh time.
More than 200,000 people were forced to flee because of the violence of the army and the clashes between the military and secessionist groups.
In Douala, the Catholic Church has organized a fundraiser for displaced persons. "Our city of Douala is home to thousands of displaced people who have abandoned their cities, villages and properties in the hope of finding shelter, survival and relief" reads the letter sent to the parish priests of the archdiocese by Archbishop Samuel Kleda of Douala and President of the National Episcopal Conference of Cameroon (CENC), who announced an extraordinary collection held on Sunday 4 November.
(7-11-18) The 79 students of the Presbyterian Secondary School in Bamenda, who were kidnapped on 5 November have been released.


Togo - A new secondary school in the former "village of lepers"               6-11-18


"We have officially begun the construction of a secondary school in Kolowaré. In 2007 we had already built a structure for junior school. Now the construction of the new institute begins": says Father Silvano Galli, missionary of the Society for African Missions (SMA) in Togo sharing some events celebrated in the community of Kolowarè in recent days.
The history of the village of Kolowaré begins in 1935 with the creation of a leper colony. The village of Kolowaré considered once "a village for the segregation of lepers," has now a primary school for the education of children, then a clinic. In Kolowaré today there is a community with a thousand Christians, including baptized people and catechumens.


Pakistan - Islamic religious leaders: "We defend the Prophet, but Asia Bibi is innocent"           6-11-18

"No one tolerates a blasphemy against the Prophet Muhammad and we are ready to sacrifice our lives for him. But how can the Court ever punish a defendant when there is solid evidence of her innocence? The decision of the Supreme Court of Pakistan to absolve Asia Bibi is remarkable and gives a message to the whole world: justice exists in Pakistan, for all citizens, regardless of religion, culture or ethnicity": says Mufti Akeel Pirzada, President of the "Council of the Ulema for Peace" in Pakistan. He was commenting on the Supreme Court’s verdict of 31 October absolving Asia Bibi, a Christian woman unjustly condemned to death for alleged blasphemy in 2010.

Argentina - Assembly of Bishops: "courage and unity" to face today's complex and conflictual situations            6-11-18


The 116th Plenary Assembly of the Argentinian Episcopate (CEA) is taking place, from November 5th to 9th in Pilar.  The Assembly discusses the reality and pastoral care of each diocese, therefore every CEA Commission has the opportunity to express their views and finally some important issues that involves the Church in this country will be addressed. The 93 convoked bishops, plus the invited guests (43 emeritus), will have to discuss in particular the situation of the country, which has undergone major changes in the last year as eg the social and economic crisis affecting the entire Argentine people and widespread abortion and its impact on the young in schools and communities.


India's crackdown on porn sites draws mixed reaction       6-11-18

India has banned more than 800 pornographic sites in a move that has drawn ridicule and accusations of infringing on people's privacy. The federal government's Department of Telecommunications on Nov. 1 ordered internet service providers "to take immediate necessary action" to block 827 adult websites.

The decision follows a Sept. 27 judgment by the High Court in Uttarakhand state. It said that "unlimited access to pornographic sites should be curbed" to avoid an adverse influence on children. It was hearing a case involving the rape of a 16-year-old girl by four schoolmates who had watched porn videos.

But social workers and rights activists say a blanket ban could be counterproductive. "The ban will make people, especially youngsters, more prone to watching them [adult sites]," said Anita Aakash, a social activist based in New Delhi. The government instead could have taken steps to create awareness "about the ill-effects of watching porn. Banning is in no way a solution," Aakash said.

About 25 percent of search engine queries are related to porn, while 35-40 percent of content downloaded from the internet is pornography. 


A former sex slave and a nun working for destitute women among Mother Teresa awardees


This year’s 17 awardees selected by Harmony Foundation for the Mother Teresa Award for Social Justice included 32-year old Yazidi woman, Laila Talo Khuder Alali, who was sold six years ago as a sex slave to eight men. Most of her family were killed by Islamic State (ISIS); only eight rescued. She has now become a crusader for women’s empowerment. Her husband and a child are among the nearly 3000 people missing. Her rescuer, AlIdris Bashar Silo Taha, a 40-year-old Yazidi, was also honoured on October 21 at Mumbai for rescuing nearly 300 Yazidi women from captivity.

Yazidism combines elements of Islam, Christianity, Judaism and Zoroastrianism. It is a minority religion in Iraq.

Included in the list of honorees was Catholic Sister Lucy Kurien, founder-director of the 22-year-old inter-faith organization in India called Maher, which translates as 'Mother's Home'. She takes care of some 1,500 destitute and abandoned women in 44 homes spread across three states.


Rights group warns Thais over Pakistan asylum seekers        6-11-18

Thailand should ensure recently arrested Pakistani asylum seekers are not returned to face persecution, torture, or other serious abuse in Pakistan, a leading international rights group said on Nov. 6 in a letter to the Thai prime minister, Gen. Prayut Chan-ocha.

Almost all of the dozens of detained asylum seekers are from Christian and Ahmadiyya communities that have been prosecuted under discriminatory laws or attacked by religious extremists in Pakistan, Human Rights Watch said. It called for the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) to have constant and unimpeded access to the asylum seekers to help ensure that no one is deported to a place where their lives or freedom are threatened.

Pakistani refugees and asylum seekers have been targeted for arrest and prosecution for illegal entry or visa overstays as a part of a Thai immigration crackdown called Operation X-Ray Outlaw Foreigner in which thousands of people have been detained.




Theme of Pope’s general audience: ‘You shall not steal’         7-11-18


On November 7 Wednesday, the Pontiff spoke at the General Audience about the Seventh Commandment.

Here are his words: The 7th commandment “You shall not steal” deals specifically with theft and with respect for the property of others. Yet it also invites us to consider, in the light of faith and the Church’s social doctrine, that the goods of creation are destined for the entire human race. The universal destination of goods does not detract from the right to private property, but sets that right in proper perspective. The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that “the ownership of any property makes its holder a steward of Providence, with the task of making it fruitful and communicating its benefits to others” (No. 2404). Our world has sufficient resources to meet the primary needs of all its inhabitants, yet so many members of our human family continue to suffer extreme want and even starvation for lack of sound economic decisions inspired by solidarity and justice. The example of Christ, who, though rich became poor for our sake (cf. 2 Cor 8:9), reveals the true meaning and purpose of all wealth: it stands at the service of love, freedom and human dignity.


Persevere in fight against child sexual abuse, Pope tells French bishops           7-11-18


In his message to the French Bishops’ Conference on the occasion of their Plenary Assembly which is being held in Lourdes, Pope Francis thanked the bishops for all that “has already accomplished in the service of accompanying and evangelizing young people, especially within Catholic education.” He asked them to persevere in the fight against child sexual abuse. He also stressed the importance of listening to the victims whose wounds, he added, will never be healed by a prescription.


Cardinal O’Malley to head Papal Foundation            7-11-18


Boston’s Cardinal Sean O’Malley has been elected as the new chairman of the Papal Foundation. The group has been troubled during the past year, first by disputes over the allocation of funds without approval of donors, then by the scandal surrounding former cardinal McCarrick, who was instrumental in establishing the group. Cardinal O’Malley has served on the foundation’s board for 12 years.


Italy promises help for Asia Bibi            7-11-18

The Italian government has promised to help Asia Bibi and her family, after the Pakistani woman was returned to prison despite a top court decision overturning her conviction on blasphemy charges. Bibi’s family has asked Western countries, including the US and Ireland, to offer asylum, since the family faces death threats from Islamic militants. Italian prime minister Matteo Salvini promised to “do everything humanly possible” once Asia Bibi is freed.


Over 200 mass graves discovered in territory once controlled by ISIS            7-11-18

The Islamic State’s “horrific crimes in Iraq have left the headlines but the trauma of the victims’ families endures, with thousands of women, men, and children still unaccounted for,” a leading UN official said. At least 200 mass graves in Iraq, says the report of the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) and the UN Human Rights Office of the UN.


Church, aid groups sound alarm over humanitarian crisis in Yemen            7-11-18

Aid agencies and Catholic officials are sounding the alarm on Yemen's spiralling humanitarian crisis, calling on the combatants to end the war and make badly needed assistance available.

Yemen is facing the largest humanitarian crisis of this time, according to the United Nations. The impoverished nation at the tip of the Arabian Peninsula is now the most food-insecure population in the world due to the four-year-old conflict. Nearly 21 million people in Yemen need humanitarian aid; two-thirds of the population is on the brink of starvation.


Human rights, social outreach at the center of Indonesian bishops’ assembly                    7-11-18

The annual assembly of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Indonesia (KWI) is underway in the diocese of Bandung. Its theme is the ‘Church’s vocation in the nation – becoming a relevant and significant Church in the society’ with focus on human dignity, moral conscience and human rights. The bishops of the country’s 10 archdioceses and 27 dioceses are meeting in the West Java capital.

The gathering opened yesterday and is scheduled to last until 13 November.


Malawi - New Media Centre of Montfort Missionaries, at the service of evangelization         7-11-18


Montfort missionaries inaugurate a new multimedia center in Malawi on Saturday 10 November. They hope this centre will be a communication hub that will strengthen the Catholic presence in the world of television and print media at the service of evangelization in the country.

The Montfort Missionaries’ press at Balaka has already contributed to evangelization as well the country’s democratization process.


Sudan - Torture, ill-treatment against Christians, forced to renounce their faith             7-11-18


The African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies (ACJPS) calls upon the Sudanese government to urgently investigate the reported torture and ill-treatment of 9 Christian citizens who were detained on 13 October by the National Intelligence and Security Services on allegations of apostasy. ACJPS further called on Sudan to: drop the pending apostasy charges against the Darfuri priest, ensure the respect for religious rights and guarantee the individual’s freedom of religious creed and worship as provided for under the Interim National Constitution of 2005.

Three of the 12 Christians first detained come from the Nuba (Kawaleeb) tribe of South Kordofan and were released after 2 hours. On 21 October 2018, 8 of the 9 Darfuri Christians were released after they renounced Christianity and returned to Islam. Before their release, they were charged with the offence of "public disturbance". The Priest, was charged with apostasy under Article 126 of the Sudanese Criminal Act of 1991 after he refused to convert to Islam. He was released on bail on 22 October 2018.


Mexico - Mass at the border for the migrants who died while trying to cross it, while the caravan proceeds            7-11-18


While the caravan of Central American migrants crossing Mexico to reach the US border continues, a Mass was celebrated at the border for those who died trying to cross it. The celebration, called "Misa Binacional 2018" has over the years, become a custom, took place at the foot of the "Maglia de Anapra" or border wall.


Human rights lawyer shot dead in central Philippines          7-11-18

A human rights lawyer in the central Philippines who helped a group of farmers after nine sugar cane workers were murdered in Negros Occidental province last month was shot dead on Nov. 6.

Benjamin Ramos was shot three times while talking to a shop owner in the town of Kabankalan and declared dead on arrival at a local hospital. Ramos was shot by at least two men on motorcycles, according to witnesses. He was 56. He is the 34th lawyer killed since Duterte came to power.


Philippine Church supports renewable energy        7-11-18

The Philippine Catholic Church supports the wider use of renewable energy, including solar power, as it gives Filipinos, especially those living in poverty in far-flung municipalities, the means to improve their lives.

Caritas Philippines, the social action arm of the Catholic bishops, is now exerting greater effort to promote the use of solar power to light up poor communities in off-grid areas. It has partnered with a local solar power provider to accelerate the country's transition to renewable energy. Of the 85 dioceses in the Philippines, 43 are already in the process of installing solar panel systems as alternative power sources.

On July 31, Caritas Philippines inaugurated three pilot project sites in Sorsogon Diocese in the Bicol region, some 500 kilometers southwest of Manila, to demonstrate its commitment to accelerating renewable energy use.


Pakistan TV channel removes promo after Christian backlash              7-11-18

Pakistani entertainment channel Geo TV has apologized to the country's Christian minority over a teaser for a new drama series that was said to be promoting religious conversion.

It has also withdrawn the trailer and reassured Christians that Maria Bint e Abdullah will not hurt religious sentiments. The apology came during a meeting between Christian leaders and Geo TV executives at St. Patrick's Cathedral in Karachi on Oct. 31.

Geo TV recently released the trailer showing Maria, the daughter of a Christian mother and a Muslim father. It begins with images of Sacred Heart Cathedral in Lahore, the crucified Jesus and Maria crying with a rosary in her hand and later saying that she is now a Muslim.

The promo provoked a backlash from Pakistani Christians who felt that the drama would show that Christianity was inferior to Islam. 




Martyrs and heroic men and women advance for canonization and beatification         8-11-18


The Vatican has issued sixteen decrees advancing the causes of candidates for canonization and beatification.

With the approval of Pope Francis, the Congregation for the Causes of Saints proclaimed the martyrdom of Brother James Alfred Miller, an American religious who was killed in Guatemala in 1982. The Congregation also confirmed the “cult from time immemorial” of Michele Giedrojc, a layman who lived in the 15th century in what is now Lithuania and Poland. The decree, equivalent to beatification, gives him the title of “Blessed.”

In other decrees, the Congregation recognized ten martyrs of the Spanish Civil War; certified miracles attributed to two Italian women, who now become eligible for beatification and confirmed the “heroic virtue” of ten other candidates for beatification.


Lack of access to clean water is ‘great shame’ for 21st-century humanity, Pope says in message                 8-11-18

The Pontiff addressing his message to participants in an International Conference on 8 Nov. at the Pontifical Urban University, whose theme was “the management of a common asset: access to drinkable water for all,” said Lack of access to clean water is ‘great shame’ for 21st-century humanity.

He said: ‘The Holy See and the Church are committed to promoting access to drinkable water for all. This commitment is made manifest in many initiatives such as the realization of infrastructure, training, advocacy, assistance to endangered populations whose water supply is compromised, including migrants, and the reiteration of the set of ethical references and principles that spring from the Gospel and from a healthy anthropology.

Diocese will not pay defence costs of bishop accused of rape              8-11-18

The Diocese of Jalandhar, India, has announced that it will not pay the defence costs of Bishop Franco Mulakkal, who has been accused of rape. The legal expenses are being borne by the bishop’s family. The diocese said that, if asked, it would consider paying legal costs for the woman religious who has accused Bishop Mulakkal.

Cardinal Parolin: bones found under nunciature not connected with missing girl’s case             8-11-18
Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican Secretary of State, has discouraged speculation that human bones discovered in excavations under the apostolic nunciature in Rome may provide clues about the disappearance of a teenage girl in 1983. “There has been no connection made with Emmanuela Orlandi,” the cardinal said.

Take ‘great precaution’ in using nuclear energy, Holy See diplomat says at UN               8-11-18

In the light of nuclear accident like those of Chernobyl (Ukraine) and Fukushima

(Japan), great precaution is necessary in the use of nuclear energy, said Archbishop Bernardito Auza, apostolic nuncio and Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, in his remarks at a November 6 UN committee meeting on the effects of atomic radiation.


Alabama voters (US) affirm sanctity of unborn life            8-11-18

59% of Alabama voters affirmed “that it is the public policy of this state to recognize and support the sanctity of unborn life and the rights of unborn children, most importantly the right to life in all manners and measures appropriate and lawful; and to provide that the constitution of this state does not protect the right to abortion or require the funding of abortion.” In addition, 72% of voters approved an amendment allowing the display of the Ten Commandments in schools and on public property.

USCCB president renews call for ‘reasonable gun measures’ following California mass shooting             8-11-18

The bishops continue to ask that public policies be supported that would enact reasonable gun measures to help curb this mad loss of life, said a statement by the US Bishops following California mass shooting.
Thirteen people were killed and at least 25 injured in the Thousand Oaks shooting on 7 November. Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, president of the United States’ Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), called for prayer and changes in public policy. Archbishop José Gómez of Los Angeles, California, lamented the violence and led a prayer vigil at a local parish.

DR Congo - Elections: a delegation of the Southern African Community pays tribute to the positive role of the Bishops             8-11-18


The role played by Congolese National Episcopal Conference (CENCO) to reach the New Year's Eve Agreement for democratic elections was recognized by Leshele Abel Thoahiane, head of the delegation of the SADC Electoral Consultative Council (Southern African Development Community), which met on 6 November in Kinshasa with the General Secretariat of CENCO, Don Donatien Nshole. The elections are scheduled for 23 December 2018.

Thanks to the intervention of the Bishops, there was agreement for elections to be held in December 2016, but owing to moves by President Joseph Kabila, that did not materialize even last year. As of now Kabila will not seek a new mandate for presidentship.

SADC Electoral Consultative Council has requested CENCO “to follow the pending issues because we want to be sure that the elections in the DRC are credible".


Pakistan - Asia Bibi is out of jail, in a safe place             8-11-18


Asia Bibi, the Christian woman condemned to death for blasphemy and acquitted by the Supreme Court of Pakistan on October 31, has been released from prison and is in a safe and secure place. Prison authorities released her on the evening of 7 November. In conditions of maximum security, the woman was taken, by air, from the prison of Multan, where she was, to the capital Islamabad, and then transferred to a secret and safe place. Zawar Hussain Warraich, director of prisons in the province of Punjab, confirmed: “In Asia Bibi’s case, the order of release was issued late and arrived at the penitentiary on 7 November".

Saiful Malook, Asia Bibi's lawyer, after threats received, left for Holland for security reasons.

According to the Foreign Ministry, she will leave the country if the Supreme Court rejects the request for the revision of the verdict, presented against her acquittal.


Colombia - Day of the Poor: not only welfare, but a commitment to transforming society          8-11-18

To react to the culture of waste, promoting the culture of encounter, strengthening the Christian communities so that they may be more and more a concrete sign of Christ's love for the last and the most needy: these are the objectives of the "Day of the Poor", on Sunday 18 November, which the Colombian Church invites to celebrate through the National Secretariat of Social Pastoral Care (SNPS) - Caritas Colombia.

This year the Pope appeals to all Catholics and people of good will ‘not to be indifferent to those who invoke our help and our solidarity.’ The Colombian Church wants all the poor to have active participation in the Mass and “on this Sunday we can invite them to share lunch in our family as "guests of honor" which will help us to live our faith in a more coherent way.”


'Lost tribe of Israel' could help BJP in election        8-11-18

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's friendly approach to Israel could be an electoral help to his pro-Hindu party in the Christian-majority Mizoram state where some people claim to be descendants of a lost tribe of Israel.

Former Pentecostal pastor H. Lalruata, who recently joined Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), said ethnic Mizo people were happy to see Modi moving away from the foreign policy of previous governments that distanced India from the U.S. and Israel.

Lalruata, who is a BJP candidate for the Nov. 28 state election said that he joined the BJP appreciating Modi's "close friendship with the U.S. and Israel and his strong bond" with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Ethnic Mizos were animist until Christian missionaries came to the area in the early 19th century and the Jewish claims were made only later.


Benedictines resist unwelcome temple construction in Vietnam        8-11-18

A group of Benedictines are fighting the construction of a temple being built on their land without permission in central Vietnam.

Hue resident Nguyen Dang Tuan is building an ancestor temple on property belonging to Thien An Monastery but has said he has papers proving ownership of the land just outside Hue City.

The monastery's superior Father Louis Gonzaga Dang Hung Tan has demanded that the local government withdraw what he says are Tuan's false ownership papers. Father Tan has likewise requested the government ask Tuan to stop building on the monastery land, which has been owned by Benedictines since 1940.


Christian coalition fights Hong Kong reclamation project            8-11-18

Christian groups and individuals have set up Bonum: Christians Caring for Creation to oppose a reclamation plan in Hong Kong.

Members of the coalition include the Justice and Peace Commission of Hong Kong Diocese, Hong Kong Christian Council's land committee, Hong Kong Christian Institute, Christian Social Workers, Good Neighbour North District Church, Christian Earth Concern, Ecumenical Pastoral Platform for Youth and Chan Han Ming.

The reclamation plan was proposed by Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam in her second policy address on Oct. 10. Besides causing economic drain to Hong Kong, it will bring a huge ecological disaster," the Christian coalition said.


Indonesia presents award to Catholic women              8-11-18


The Catholic Women of the Republic of Indonesia (WKRI) received the 2018 Best Mass Organization Award on Nov. 6 in the category of Long-Life Achievements for its contribution to the protection of national sovereignty through works in different fields, such as health, education, culture and the environment.  

Established in June 1924, the WKRI is an independent social organization committed to working for the sake of people's welfare and human dignity. It currently has about 90,000 members.

It was among 15 mass organizations honored this year at an annual awards ceremony in Jakarta by the Home Affairs Ministry.



Chinese ‘underground’ bishop taken into police custody              9-11-18

Bishop Shao Zhumin of Wenzhou has been taken into custody by police and expected to undergo 10 to 15 days of compulsory indoctrination. Bishop Shao is an “underground” bishop, whose status has never been recognized by the Chinese government. His arrest comes on the heels of a Vatican-Beijing agreement, in which the Holy See recognized bishops who had been appointed by the government without approval from Rome.

Pope and Assyrian patriarch decry oppression of Christians in Middle East             9-11-18

Pope Francis met on November 9 Mar Gewargis III, the patriarch of the Assyrian Church of the East. In his greeting, the Pope spoke of “the tragic situation endured by so many of our brothers and sisters in the Middle East.” The two religious heads issued a joint statement in which they spoke of “a common suffering” under the oppression of Christians in the Middle East.

Pope Francis receives Danish royal couple                    9-11-18


The Pope received in audience on 9 November the Crown Prince of Denmark and his family. They are members of Lutheran Church of Denmark.


Romanian, Moldovan bishops met Pope on 9 November on their five-yearly ad limina visit.

Vatican - "Being Church is the basis of every collection of funds for missions": the reflection of the Pontifical Mission Societies


"The basis of fundraising comes from the Gospel itself: when one thinks of donations, the offerings to be devolved to the missions of the Church, we must go back to the roots to find the motivation of the donation": this is what Katja Haidemanns said, at the Head of the Communications Department of "Missio Aachen", in Germany, speaking at the special Conference, under way at the International Center for Missionary Animation (CIAM) from 7 to 9 November, on the theme "Animation & Fundraising in the Digital World". The meeting, organized by the Pontifical Mission Societies, brings together about fifty participants from all over the world. It also considers the role of the digital media in connecting and informing the members of mission societies.


Israel - US Churches write to Pompey: no to Israeli law on the confiscation of ecclesiastical properties              9-11-18


Dozens of heads of churches in the United States sent a letter to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo expressing concern over the 'Properties Bill,' which has recently been advanced in the Knesset. "Jerusalem Patriarchs and Heads of Churches" reads the letter "consider this legislation to be an existential threat", and this concern "cannot be overstated". The letter of the heads of the US churches to Pompey also recalls that last February, when the bill was submitted for the first time to the attention of the Knesset, the Heads of Churches of Jerusalem protested by closing the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in a historic act of solidarity for three days to denounce the "systematic campaign against the Churches and the Christian community in Holy Land, in flagrant violation of the 'Status Quo'", attributed to the Israeli authorities. The government wants to scrap the sale by ecclesiastical units and confiscate the property.


Bolivia - The Bishops: "overcoming formal democracy and deepening participatory democracy"         9-11-18


"For years we have asked to overcome a purely formal democracy and deepen participatory democracy", said the President of the Bolivian Episcopal Conference (CEB), Bishop Ricardo Centellas of Potosi, during the inauguration of the 105th Plenary Assembly of the Bishops of Bolivia, which takes place from 8 to 13 November in Cochabamba.
The President of the CEB highlighted that the Church cannot remain closed in itself and reaffirmed its purpose to objectively orient people in different historical processes. The Church also points out the failure of the Hague Court in not taking active steps to encourage dialogue among politicians in the country.


Christians in Indian state seek religious freedom          9-11-18

Christian leaders in India's poll-bound Chhattisgarh state have presented a charter of demands to major political parties seeking to end discrimination and violence.

The charter prepared by leaders of the ecumenical Chhattisgarh Christian Forum expressed concerns over the security of the miniscule Christian community in the central state, now ruled by the pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). It also calls on the next government to ensure freedom to practice religion.

The state of 25 million people, where Christians make up barely 2 percent of the population, is scheduled to elect its 90-seat legislative house in two phases on Nov. 12 and Nov. 20.

All parties except the BJP have responded favorably to the forum's demands. The charter of demands includes withdrawal of more than 400 "fake" land-related cases and "bogus" conversion charges filed against Christians in Chhattisgarh. It also wants adequate representation for Christians in the state's Minorities Commission and its subcommittees, scholarships and grants for needy Christian students and an end to discrimination against Christians in government jobs.


Cardinal Zen presents letter to Pope warning him on China            9-11-18

Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun flew to Rome and handed a seven-page letter to Pope Francis appealing for him to pay attention to the crisis facing the underground church in China.

The Hong Kong emeritus bishop informed on Nov.8 that underground clerics have cried to him since the Vatican-China deal on the appointment of bishops. "They said officials have forced them to become open, to join the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association and to obtain a priest's certificate with the reason that the pope has signed the Sino-Vatican provisional agreement," said Cardinal Zen.

He said some parts of the agreement had not been made public, meaning that brothers and sisters of the underground church did not know what they should do.


Wa army expels more clergy in northern Myanmar          9-11-18


A third group of Catholic clergy have been expelled from Myanmar's Shan State by a China-backed ethnic minority army.

A priest from Kengtung Diocese in Shan State and three nuns from the Sisters of Charity congregation were ordered by the United Wa State Army (UWSA) to leave the Wa hills bordering China.

Local officials sealed off St. Paul's Catholic Church in Mong Pawk parish on Nov. 2 and told the clergy to pack their belongings and leave the region, according to church sources.




India -Ten years after Orissa anti-Christian massacre, impunity to the guilty and “a profound witness to faith”      10-11-18


“The Christians of Kandhamal in Orissa state have offered the most beautiful testimony to witnessing to Christ in the 2000-year history of Christianity in India,” said Archbishop Leo Cornelio of Bhopal in a recent meeting in which he recalled the tenth anniversary of violence against Christians in Orissa.

“Following the murder of the Hindu leader Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati, the Hindu extremist movement, Sangh Pariwar, said that Christianity was banned in Kandhamal and the Christians must embrace Hinduism. Those who refused were tortured live, buried alive or cut to pieces; about 100 martyred were killed, 300 churches and 6000 houses were destroyed and put to flames, leaving 56,000 roofless. Thousands of victims could not set foot again in their villages for years since they did not want to undergo a conversion to Hinduism, which Hindus called “Returning Home -Ghar Wapsi”, but they were as a tribe never Hindus. Ten years later no culprit has been punished and Christians have not abandoned their faith; rather they, even hundreds of victims, have allowed the Christian sense of pardon to take hold of them.”

The views of the archbishop have only confirmed the research findings of Anto Akkara and the statement of a Catholic leader Biprocharan Nayak, president of Kandhamal Survivors’ Association.


Holy Land – Bishop Pizzaballa: “In Gaza, hope is not lost”         10-11-18


“This is my second visit to Gaza – a most beautiful occasion to meet the community, to live with them their worries and their hopes.” This is said by Bishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa, the Apostolic Administrator of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, after his Nov.1-4 visit to Gaza Strip, where about two million Palestinians live.

Besides meeting various people he also visited Christian institutions like schools, social work centres, youth centres. And therefore, the Apostolic Administrator could see for himself the difficulties the Palestinians go through, the passes at the Gaza Strip closed for persons and goods, the economic and social constraints. Bishop Pizzaballa said, “Nonetheless I have seen in the face of surging questions there is courage, also for me.”  He met Christians and Muslims. He inaugurated a home for the aged.


Argentina – Caritas: Dramatic situation of the sick with no access to medicines           10-11-18


The dignity of the sick person must be at the centre of our consideration when we think of medical treatment, says the Argentina Bishops’ Commission for the Pastoral Care of the Sick. This was said on the occasion of the Day of the Sick which is observed in Argentina on 11 November.  The bishops also say that parishes and medical centres are to follow this as essential and necessary mission. The bishops further say that medicines must be available in good number and must be within the economic reach of the common man.

Apart from the Government the common people also must feel that they have to care tenderly for the sick, the chronically sick and the incurables.


Colombia: Amazzonia : The Pre-Synod meetings conclude with the pro-indigenous stand           10-11-18

The pre-Synodal meetings in Colombia’s Amazonian region held in three phases concluded with the strong pro-Indigenous voice.

With the free dialogue with the leaders of the indigenous, in the presence of the eight bishops of the region, it was agreed that the evangelization of the native people must receive priority of attention, said Elena Gómez, reviewing the three meetings, the last being held at Puerto Inírida. The first two were held in Bogota 5-9 November. These meetings were in preparation for the 2019 Synod of Bishops of the Amazonian region.

CELAM Latin American Episcopal Council (CELAM) promoted the meetings.



Pope at Angelus: ‘Let’s think of the widow’           11-11-18

Basing himself on the Gospel of the day, Pope Francis asked the faithful at the Sunday Angelus prayer to emulate the “poor and generous widow as the model of Christian life.”

Of the two groups of people seen in the Gospel, the first group includes “the important, the rich, and the influential”; the second, “the least, the poor, and the weak”. The former looked down on the latter, he said.  Jesus “denounces the oppression of the weak categorically based on religious motives”. He offered his disciples a living example—the poor widow—in order to impress this lesson on them. Her gesture of offering all she had is filled with “religious and spiritual significance”, the Pope said. Hence what matters to God is the quality and not the quantity. In conclusion, the Pontiff said, “We can think of her when we are tempted to do things for appearance sake, or when we want to attract attention to our good works.”


Pope draws attention to three important dates                11-11-18

After the Angelus on 11 Nov. Pope Francis drew attention to the beatification of 16 people in Spain, the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I, and the World Day of the Poor.

Pope Francis announced that Father Teodoro Illera of Olma and 15 other Spanish martyrs were beatified. The Beatification Ceremony took place in Barcelona on Saturday, 10 Nov.

The group, Pope Francis explained, is composed of 13 men and women religious and three lay people. Nine of the newly Beatified were religious and lay people who belonged to the Congregation of St Peter in Chains. Three of them were women religious from the Capuchins of the Mother of the Divine Shepherd, and one was a sister of the Franciscans of the Sacred Heart.

All of them lost their lives due to the Faith in different parts of Spain and on different dates during the religious persecution that took place during the Spanish civil war in the last century.

“Today”, the Pope said, marks the centenary of the end of the First World War, which my predecessor, Benedict XV, defined as the ‘useless slaughter.’ " Bells throughout the world are to ring at 1:30pm Italian time to honour the date, he said. He also said that World War I is a “strong warning” to reject the “culture of war” and to “seek every legitimate means to put an end to those conflicts that are still making blood flow in many regions of the world”. He proposed St Martin of Tours, whose Feast is celebrated today, as a symbol of investing in peace.  “He cut his cloak in two to share it with a poor man. May this gesture of human solidarity indicate to everyone the way toward constructing peace”, Pope Francis said.

The final date the Pope spoke of is the Second World Day for the Poor to be celebrated next Sunday with many initiatives. He said that a First Aid station will be set up in St Peter’s Square where those in need can receive medical care. “I hope that this Day will encourage greater attention to the needs of the least and the marginalized”, he said.